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Here is a breakdown of an article from the Parameters Autumn issue, an official US Army War College newsletter. Great stuff here. A basic premise:
An American Army still grappling with the lessons from Afghanistan must embrace the Russo-Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to drive progress toward the creation of a force and strategic direction as forward-thinking and formidable as the one TRADOC built for the United States ahead of Operation Desert Storm. In fall 2022, a team of faculty and students at the US Army War College assembled around this call to action. The team believed the Russia-Ukraine War unfolding in front of them was a wake-up call for the Army across the traditional warfighting functions that also required a culture change across the Army’s education, training, and doctrine enterprise to embrace new lessons learned and to drive change across all echelons of the Army.
And what have they been learning?
Twenty years of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in the Middle East, largely enabled by air, signals, and electromagnetic dominance, generated chains of command reliant on perfect, uncontested communication lines and an extraordinary and accurate common operating picture of the battlefield broadcast in real time to co-located staff in large Joint Operations Centers. The Russia-Ukraine War makes it clear that the electromagnetic signature emitted from the command posts of the past 20 years cannot survive against the pace and precision of an adversary who possesses sensor-based technologies, electronic warfare, and unmanned aerial systems or has access to satellite imagery; this includes nearly every state or nonstate actor the United States might find itself fighting in the near future. The Army must focus on developing command-and-control systems and mobile command posts that enable continuous movement, allow distributed collaboration, and synchronize across all warfighting functions to minimize electronic signature. Ukrainian battalion command posts reportedly consist of seven soldiers who dig in and jump twice daily; while that standard will be hard for the US Army to achieve, it points in a very different direction than the one we have been following for two decades of hardened command posts.
Guess what: Russia and China have all the capabilities listed above.
Or how about this?
How many cruise missiles do you need to take out all of the above?
The standard will be hard to achieve? Yeah, that’s a nice understatement.
We have lost the Soldiers initiative. It used to be the Soviets were envious of the Western military approach, which relied on the individual officers the ability to carry out mission objectives without a heavy hand of bureaucracy micromanaging the front line. Well, as we can see with the above photos, that management is happening.
From the article,
Mission command is not doctrine to be written, tested, and shelved. It must be lived, trained, rehearsed, and embraced as an integral part of daily operations and training in garrison and combat at every echelon. The advent of artificial intelligence affords the US military the opportunity to reimagine mission command and test it with virtual simulation environments. We cannot expect a brigade that micromanages garrison tasks to execute combat operations successfully at the attrition rate incurred in modern large-scale combat operations. Disciplined disobedience requires initiative both to provide and to understand the commander’s intent, end states, constraints, and restraints. Leaders and followers must be brilliant at the basics but must also be able to embrace change and think critically. Trust is the essential ingredient in mission command, but changing the Army’s organizational culture to encourage senior leaders to empower and support subordinates is an enormously difficult task that will require focused attention from senior Army leaders.
Enormously difficult? In WW2 the USA had 7(!) four-star generals. The current military has 44. Each one of those generals requires a host of lesser generals and colonels and the staff that goes along with it. None of those guys see a foxhole. All Western militaries have severe officer bloat. How many of those bloated officers can pass a basic training PT do you think? They are much too busy flying around in their own personal jet.
I have been told I am Putin’s Stooge for reporting the Ukrainians’ likely army losses. Well let’s see what the US Army is looking at planning for casualties if they go to war with Russia or China, shall we?
The Russia-Ukraine War is exposing significant vulnerabilities in the Army’s strategic personnel depth and ability to withstand and replace casualties. Army theater medical planners may anticipate a sustained rate of roughly 3,600 casualties per day, ranging from those killed in action to those wounded in action or suffering disease or other non-battle injuries. With a 25 percent predicted replacement rate, the personnel system will require 800 new personnel each day. For context, the United States sustained about 50,000 casualties in two decades of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. In large-scale combat operations, the United States could experience that same number of casualties in two weeks.
You see that? In one month’s conflict with, say, Russia/China, the US Army is planning on losing twice as many people than lost in ten years of Vietnam.
Saying the Ukrainians are taking 800 a day is the surest sign of being in bed with the Russians. Then why is the US Army worried about taking 800 dead a day?
Oh, and guess how they plan on solving this shortfall. You’re going to love it.
In addition to the disciplined disobedience required to execute effective mission command, the US Army is facing a dire combination of a recruiting shortfall and a shrinking Individual Ready Reserve. This recruiting shortfall, nearly 50 percent in the combat arms career management fields, is a longitudinal problem. Every infantry and armor soldier we do not recruit today is a strategic mobilization asset we will not have in 2031. The Individual Ready Reserve, which stood at 700,000 in 1973 and 450,000 in 1994, now stands at 76,000. These numbers cannot fill the existing gaps in the active force, let alone any casualty replacement or expansion during a large-scale combat operation. The implication is that the 1970s concept of an all-volunteer force has outlived its shelf life and does not align with the current operating environment. The technological revolution described below suggests this force has reached obsolescence. Large-scale combat operations troop requirements may well require a reconceptualization of the 1970s and 1980s volunteer force and a move toward partial conscription.
There you have it, people. The draft. They are now talking about bringing back the draft because of the enormous losses they will face against fighting a near-peer enemy.
I’m sure that will go over well.
The whole newsletter can be found here. Read it for yourself.Published in