Small Wars Journal

Strategic Implications for the Army in the Post-2012 Election Environment

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 6:09am

Editor's Note: Doug Macgregor presented this originally as a powerpoint brief to intermediate-level education students.  It is converted from its original format for ease of online reading, though the slide and bullet structure was maintained.

Slide 1

Strategic Implications for the Army in the Post-2012 Election Environment


•Don’t fight the problem!

•What are the broad strategic trend lines?

•What will America’s Post-Election Defense Establishment look like?

•What should the Army senior leadership do?

•Truthful, open debate is vital.

•Summary of Key Points


Slide 2

  • “Don't fight the problem, decide it.” George C. Marshall, General of the Army America’s military technological edge and advantages in training, discipline and flexibility have been eroded by the U.S. failure to sustain investment in strategic and operational forces. This condition is the direct consequence of our self-defeating obsession with hegemonic nation building, military occupations and resulting counter-insurgency campaigns in the Middle East and Afghanistan. This period is ending. Now, Army Force Design, Modernization and Thinking about warfare must adjust to radically new strategic conditions.
  • The Central Idea: “Cross-domain synergy. The complementary vice merely additive employment of capabilities in different domains such that each enhances the effectiveness and compensates for the vulnerabilities of the others…”  JOINT OPERATIONAL ACCESS CONCEPT (JOAC) VERSION 1.0 17 January 2012


Slide 3

Trend lines: Russia, NE Asia and India

  • Russia: Down from 14 million in the armed forces to less than a million. Russian forces are hard pressed to modernize, let alone secure Russia, which borders 14 nations. Russia’s focus is on restive Muslim at home and in Central Asia, not on the US and the West.
  • China: Stability‐obsessed leaders are focused on maintaining rapid economic growth to create enough jobs for China’s 1.3 billion people and keep a lid on unrest. China’s Military (PLA) is riddled with corruption and professional decay, compromised by ties of patronage, and asphyxiated by the ever‐greater effort required to impose political control.
  • Japan and the ROK: Japanese and Korean Defense Ministers will soon sign a general security of military information agreement and an acquisition and cross‐servicing agreement. The foundation for a military alliance that will turn the tables on China and change the strategic balance in NE Asia.
  • India: China’s acquisition of Coco Island from Myanmar and build up of Gawadar Naval base in Pakistan have induced India to build up its own naval forces. India’s naval base at the mouth of the Malacca Strait, is critical to India’s strategy for blocking Chinese shipping through the Strait of Malacca.


Slide 4

Trend lines: The Islamic World and Latin America

  • Muslim Societies in North Africa, ME and SWA are in meltdown. Islamism is rising because it is rooted in the societies and their supporting cultures. The growing Islamist majorities will struggle for decades to govern themselves.
  • Turkey and Iran are in direct opposition in Syria; attempts to remove Assad from power in Syria are reinforcing Iran’s perception that it needs a nuclear deterrent to hold the Sunni Peninsular Arabs, Israel, Turkey, and potentially U.S. Forces at risk. Securing Iran and its new Shiite Satellite State, Iraq, and competition for regional dominance will pit Turkey and Iran against each other for decades.
  • Criminality, terrorism and human trafficking from Latin America, especially, Mexico, presents an immediate and growing threat to the internal stability and national security of the United States. Mexico is in the midst of a drug war, with rival cartels fighting for control of a $30 billion market for illegal drugs inside the United States.
  • The future key terrain of the world will be oil, minerals, water and the infrastructure that supports these resources. Al Faw in the Persian Gulf pumps out roughly $17,000 a second in crude oil. 42% of Nigeria's oil already goes to the United States… The West with Japanese participation is dividing up the World’s resources on the Yalta model. The Chinese are not invited …


Slide 5

Trend lines: Debt Matters!

  • When interest rates on the U.S. Treasury’s securities rise – and they will – the U.S. Government’s cost of servicing the nation’s ballooning debt will soar confronting Americans with a new fiscal crisis;
  • In Senator Tom Coburn’s words, “the specter of default.”
  • International Financial Outlook is grim.  EUROZONE will implode followed by UK;
  • NE Asia: Chinese economic downturn already underway. Japan and Korea will follow.
  • Near Term: Probability of ‘Great power’ war low, but a Korean‐Style Emergency that demands ready, deployable Army combat forces capable of decisive, Joint offensive operations remains a strong possibility. Until borders are secure, Americans at home are at risk.
  • Long‐term: The prerequisite for any fight with U.S. Forces is to neutralize U.S. space-based assets. This fight involves kinetic and non‐kinetic (cyber) capabilities and will only intensify.


Slide 6

What do the trend leans mean for America's post election defense establishment?

  • Critical Task for incoming Defense Team in January 2013: Optimize today’s forces within the trend lines to guide strategic investment over time.
  • Industrial Age paradigm inefficiencies and duplications reduce operational impact and perpetuate unsustainable “cost exchange ratios” with our adversaries (Vietnam/Iraq/Afghanistan).
  • Optimizing “capability at cost” in new paradigm dramatically increases operational impact of each dollar spent – maintaining/enhancing security at reduced spending levels.


Slide 7

Implications for Army Ground Forces:

  • The U.S. will no longer sustain open‐ended military interventions in failing or failed states with the object of imposing cultural and political change with general purpose ground forces.
  • The Army can learn more about the future character of warfighting operations from the Falkland Islands Campaign than from its experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Lines of Communications will be the life or death of force projection over vast distances. In the Pacific, Australia is key. (See Key State Strategy outlined in Breaking the Phalanx, Praeger January 1997)
  • The Army must offer a modular continuum of response that is flexible and inherently joint in design and assert a leadership role in Joint operations and concepts.
  • Without a new force design in place, the Army will not get a new strike vehicle or C4ISR package is the start point for change. Standardization of sensors, networks, C2 data, and intelligence is vital.


Slide 8

What should the Army’s senior leaders do?

  • In December 1905, three years after the Boer War ended, Richard Haldane became Secretary of State for War. Obstructed by a nation obsessed with the Royal Navy, and a political culture opposed to conscription, Haldane began preparing the British Army for a future conflict very different from colonial warfare.
  • Haldane set out to determine the form future war was likely to take, then, adopted the organization and weapons to fight it. In other words, software (thinking carefully about things, contemplating likely issues and problems) must come before hardware. What happened?
  • Haldane concentrated on reorganization, modernization and training to maximize capability at cost;
  • In practice, Haldane built a ground force suited to a global Maritime Power, not a regional Continental Power;
  • The result was an elite force of 6 infantry divisions and 1 cavalry division, designed for rapid deployment as a British Expedition Force (BEF), backed by a reserve of 14 Territorial divisions of volunteers;
  • In 1914, the BEF arrived in time to slow, then, cooperate with the French to halt the German advance.


Slide 9

Implications of the Haldane Model for today’s Army:

  • The Haldane approach demands rigorous analysis to link strategy with concept and capabilities; an integrated, joint military command structure with a self‐contained organization for combat. An Army for a global Aerospace‐Maritime Power, not a continental power!
  • New Army Force Design must:
    • Create powerful synergies with the technologies and concepts developed by U.S. Aerospace and Maritime Forces.
    • Punch above its weight, mobilizing fighting power disproportionate to their size;
    • Operate in a non‐linear, nodal and dispersed, mobile warfare environment inside a much more lethal battle space.
    • Possess the capability to close with the enemy, take hits, sustain losses, keep fighting and strike back decisively (employ accurate devastating firepower from tracked armored platforms to ensure survival and victory in close combat).


Slide 10

The Light Reconnaissance Strike Group (LRSG) breaks the WW II/Cold War paradigm!

  • The post‐election Army must be resilient. It must be survivable, effective and act as a Joint enabler across a range of alternative futures.
  • A Light Reconnaissance Strike Group performs critical tasks in the context of Joint operations:
    • Provides a credible land component with the mobility, firepower, protection and organic sustainment to operate autonomously under Joint C2 in dispersed mobile warfare;
    • Signals escalation dominance to the enemy;
    • Bypasses or punches through enemy resistance for operational maneuver to encircle and destroy sub‐national groups or nation‐state forces;
    • Shifts rapidly between close combat and peace enforcement.


Slide 11

Post-Industrial/Information Age Joint, Integrated C2 Warfighting Paradigm

  • Integrated “All Arms” Warfare: Warfighting Operations that integrate functional capabilities – Maneuver, Strike, IISR, Sustainment – across service lines inside an integrated Joint C2 operational framework.
  • “High lethality, low density”: Army Forces that punch above their weight, capable of operational reach in an environment of mobile, dispersed warfare.


Slide 12

In the absence of truthful, open debate nothing changes

  • “The question of whether to invade the Soviet Union is a political decision. My focus is on the military issues important to such an undertaking… It may be the campaign is over in 4‐6 weeks. Perhaps, the whole thing will collapse like a house of cards in the first attack.” Lieutenant General Friedrich Paulus, Chief Planner for Operation Barbarossa, 1940
  • “I've never been more encouraged during my entire, almost four years in this country. I think we're making real progress. Everybody is very optimistic that I know of, who is intimately associated with our effort there.” General William Westmoreland, 16 November 1967
  • “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell, 1929
  • No Accountability = No Integrity = No Change


Slide 13

Summary of Key Points:

  • The future of the Army is a constrained future‐‐especially in the budgetary sense. The Haldane model points the way forward.
  • Meanwhile, reorganize Army Forces to expand the nation’s range of strategic options; forces capable of conducting integrated, “all arms” operations in dispersed, mobile warfare against a mix of potential opponents, conventional and unconventional.
  • Like the Navy, Air Force and Marines, the U.S. Army exists to raise, train, and equip modular/mission focused capability packages and C2 elements designed for commitment to the COCOMs and plugged into Joint Force Headquarters which have the authority and the responsibility to fight and win the nation's wars.


Move Forward

Sat, 05/19/2012 - 5:44pm

Why the emphasis on post-election? Secretary Panetta will probably still be there if President Obama wins. If Governor Romney wins, he has already announced an intent to build up Naval forces. Neither result seems conducive to major Army changes, other than already announced smaller active/RC Soldier force structure. If sequestration kicks in, those numbers are certain to be even smaller.

It appears more likely we will see larger and fewer Army BCTs with a third maneuver battalion...not one-star joint commands with more Armed Recon Squadrons (we know you mean Cavalry) and fewer maneuver battalions. A Joint command could make sense if they were joint Army/Marine commands because either an Army or Marine one-star could effectively command it. However, what are the odds of that given Marine paranoi about being integrated into the Army?

Trend Lines? Where are the threats with thousands of modern armored vehicles that are poised to invade neighbors? Russia is in chaos as he shows on Slide 2 which also depicts a Chinese PLA as corrupt and untested. The PLA is a ground force likely to stay within its borders that neither could conquer nor hold Taiwan or South and East China Sea islands. We cannot predict where we will fight, but can predict it would take decades for any new threat to field thousands of modern heavily armored vehicles. Does that mean there is potential for compromise midway between the level of armor of an Abrams/GCV and a Stryker/LAV/AAV?

South Korea is not in need of new organizations since it is the sole forward presence contingency that is easily predicted. Treaties prescribe some "MP" organizations near the border. Someone just posted pictures of M2A3s arriving in Korean ports. How long did that take and how long would it take after North Korea initiated an attack until more such "armed recon" vehicles arrived by sea?

The Middle East remains a likely source of conflict in many unpredictable countries that could draw in the U.S. How can an overly large Army armored force get its RO/ROs and fast sealift to deep water ports in time to deter and defeat problems? How can our relatively few sealift ships get anywhere thousands of miles away without risk of being sunk en route or at chokepoints like the Straits of Hormuz?

Slide 7: “Without a new force design in place, the Army will not get a new strike vehicle or C4ISR package is the start point for change. Standardization of sensors, networks, C2 data, and intelligence is vital.” Why would he say that? Unless you prove you have armored "strike" vehicles that can air deploy to the Pacific or Middle East, how is the Army relevant to the Pacific pivot and AirSea Battle?

Slide8: Richard Haldane’s WWI British Expeditionary Force got infantry and horse (not heavy armor) cavalry troops across the English Channel...not a daunting deployment challenge until WWII.

Slide 9’s illustration immediately points out a central weakness...dependence on satellites and centralized control assets like AWACS (or targetable JAOCs). “An Army for a global Aerospace‐Maritime Power, not a continental power!” Agree completely, however that quote implies to me that we should size our force to realistically available airlift that far surpasses any other adversary nation, but that remains constraining.

The Marines size their force to amphibious ship and MV-22/CH-53K capabilities and now are struggling with how to replace the EFV. Why can't that vehicle be common with the Army's air deployment vehicle? Why can't you create modules that allow either sea deployment to shore from an amphib or airdrop to shore? Could you then replace those deployment modules with armored combat modules? Ever see a Palletized Loading System (or Load Handling System) Truck offload a flatrack?

Gotta agree with all of this below. Not certain how an Army with Abrams/GCV or just Stryker accomplishes the goals:

<i>• New Army Force Design must:
o Create powerful synergies with the technologies and concepts developed by U.S. Aerospace and Maritime Forces.
o Punch above its weight, mobilizing fighting power disproportionate to their size;
o Operate in a non‐linear, nodal and dispersed, mobile warfare environment inside a much more lethal battle space.
o Possess the capability to close with the enemy, take hits, sustain losses, keep fighting and strike back decisively (employ accurate devastating firepower from tracked armored platforms to ensure survival and victory in close combat).</i>

Slide 10: No maneuver or close combat battalion is depicted here as shown later on slide 12. When two or three maneuver battalions are added to the five battalions shown in slide 10, nothing is very light about the Light Reconnaissance Strike Group as a one-star command. As pointed out in the SWJ synopsis, the LRSG appears modeled along the lines of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Would the commander be either Army, Navy, Marine, or Air Force?

What does the Armed Recon squadron look like and what type of vehicles. How does it overcome A2/AD threats to deploy and employ without overtaxing that single sustainment battalion. We determined in FCS that trying to get three vehicle per C-17 or one per C-130 was unrealistic unless as thinly armored as a Stryker. It isn’t even certain whether a double V-hull Stryker is light enough for a C-130, but many could fit on a C-17...but couldn't do much once on the ground. The GCV and Abrams are at the opposite extreme and fight well, but allow only one per C-17 and require a constant stream of fuel to forward lines that may not be easily forthcoming.

It is clear that in a constrained budget environment, Joint Vertical Lift of heavy armor is unlikely anytime soon as spelled out in the JOAC and GMA concepts. Could we split the difference and get two heavily armored 75k-80K vehicles on each C-17 or some major module component of that vehicle on a C-130? Could that vehicle be Joint to exploit the same cooperating service synergies the USAF and Navy will exploit in AirSea Battle?