Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Rebalancing Forces

 

BrownLandSalesTwo news items caught my eye this weekend, both of them in Stars and Stripes. One story was from Korea, and the other from Germany. Together, they told a story of rebalancing our forces in the world.

The first story is about the activation of a group of new Army Reserve units in Europe. This was a growth in the total number of units or end strength in the Army Reserve. Instead, this was a relatively typical rebalancing of types of units in different parts of the world.

It may seem odd to you to hear of Army Reserve units based in Germany, but this has long been so. There is a very small full-time staff, then unit members either fly in from the States or fly/rail/drive from their American expat civilian jobs in Europe. I had a War College classmate, a native-born American citizen, who lived with his Finnish wife and kids in Finland, working for a tech company. He drilled in Germany.

What is really newsworthy is the why: “Army activates new units in Europe to support Poland.”

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Army Reserve activated seven new units this week, including a regional support group capable of supporting thousands of soldiers such as those in Poland, where troops are deployed to deter Russian activities.

Col. Scott K. Thomson, deputy commander of the 7th Mission Support Command, presided over the activation ceremony for the 510th Regional Support Group and six subordinate units at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, Sembach Kaserne.

[…]

The brigade-level command and headquarters can support base camp operations for 6,000 or more soldiers in-theater, such as the more than 4,500 troops deployed on a rotational basis at about half a dozen bases in Poland, the Army said.

The kind of units being activated, with a Regional Support Group as the O-6 (colonel) level headquarters (think “brigade” if that makes more sense to you), give capability to not only conduct logistics support but also to manage real estate, planning out temporary or permanent locations in the field or on concrete and pavement. I used to describe RSGs as “town halls in a box.”

On the other end to the Eurasian landmass, we have a story of jostling between allies, centering on South Korean political posturing: “Pressured to speed returns, the US military says South Korea can have 15 bases now.”

SEOUL, South Korea — The U.S. military wants to set the record straight as it faces South Korean pressure to expedite the handover of bases as part of a drawn-out relocation plan.

[…]

South Korea “recently announced that it desired to expedite the return process of 26 U.S. military installations,” USFK said. “Fifteen of the 26 U.S. military installations, including four sites specifically requested for transfer at the earliest possible date … have been vacated, closed and available for transfer to the (South Korean) government.”

However, the transition process has been slow in large part because of disputes over dealing with polluted soil and other environmental concerns as the land is returned. The status of forces agreement between the two countries essentially throws the burden of paying for any clean-up on South Korea.

South Koreans have long been eager to regain control of Yongsan, which was originally on the outskirts of an impoverished Seoul but has become prime real estate since the South Korean capital has grown into one of Asia’s most prosperous cities.

The tree-lined base is expected to eventually be transformed into a park similar to New York City’s Central Park.

You can see the internal conflicts for South Korean politicians. They face pressure to get the land into Korean developers’ and city officials’ hands. Yet, they own the environmental clean-up bill and President Trump is the last guy to go asking for a change in the contract if it hits America’s wallet.

This is all perfectly normal politics and perfectly respectable defense policy in action. Actually, the shift of planned logistics support towards Poland (and the border countries by implication) are a serious counter move, without high drama, in the European power game. Tucker and Ingraham would fume, and Hannity would squeal in delight, if we were talking an Armored Brigade Combat Team. Yet, such units can’t move more than a day without serious external logistic support. These two stories are about serious defense planning.

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You could subscribe to The Atlantic, Bloomberg, or contribute to The National Interest and still not equal the quality of thoughtful, deeply knowledgeable post that Clifford A. Brown is ideally qualified to make. 

    • #1
    • September 23, 2019, at 2:13 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  2. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    You could subscribe to The Atlantic, Bloomberg, or contribute to The National Interest and still not equal the quality of thoughtful, deeply knowledgeable post that Clifford A. Brown is ideally qualified to make.

    From Gary McVey’s serial history of television in America, to the very long running, always informative Hank Rhody series that started with “How to Build a Computer, Part 1 of N: Silicon,” to SeaWriter’s weekly book reviews, to SkipSul’s ongoing series on Orthodox iconography, this is an amazing value web publication.

    That does not even touch the poetry and food and photography posts, some singular and some occasional. “She” provides both recipes and fine stories in her “Friday food and drink posts.” You won’t find articles in any other publication as good as LC’s occasional posts on Khmer history and culture. I would not have pulled my DSLR camera out of storage and done several original reporting stories, were it not for RightAngles responding to a monthly theme prompt with an amazing, informative, illustrated article on the state of the stock photography business.

    Hmm, in fact, this is worth its own short post, I believe.

    • #2
    • September 23, 2019, at 5:08 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    There is a lot to love about Ricochet.

    • #3
    • September 23, 2019, at 6:03 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Thanks Clifford. Interesting stuff about Poland. If you’re looking at your plans around where and how to mobilize, the logistical tail, etc, would be one of the first things. Paving the way, so to speak.

    • #4
    • September 23, 2019, at 5:37 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Skyler Coolidge

    Interesting.

    I have often believed, based on absolutely no experience of any time stationed in Europe, that it’s long past time to move out of Germany and pick up and move to Poland and other former denizens of the Warsaw Pact. I know that Azerbaijan was very interested in hosting us, and I’m sure the Ukraine is as well. It was a wasted opportunity not to move there and help those people be free from the Russians. It’s not too late for Poland.

    My impression is that Germany has become a very comfortable place to be for the army and the air force, and that’s never a good thing for the military. I don’t think every place should be primitive or austere, but we’ve gotten far too comfortable there, and our German “friends” abuse our good will. 

    Of course, I’ve never been stationed there (except for two weeks in Naples one time, but that hardly counts), so perhaps I’m missing a bigger picture.

    • #5
    • September 23, 2019, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Interesting.

    I have often believed, based on absolutely no experience of any time stationed in Europe, that it’s long past time to move out of Germany and pick up and move to Poland and other former denizens of the Warsaw Pact. I know that Azerbaijan was very interested in hosting us, and I’m sure the Ukraine is as well. It was a wasted opportunity not to move there and help those people be free from the Russians. It’s not too late for Poland.

    My impression is that Germany has become a very comfortable place to be for the army and the air force, and that’s never a good thing for the military. I don’t think every place should be primitive or austere, but we’ve gotten far too comfortable there, and our German “friends” abuse our good will.

    Of course, I’ve never been stationed there (except for two weeks in Naples one time, but that hardly counts), so perhaps I’m missing a bigger picture.

    Two things:

    1. You don’t want to catch your logistics tail in your teeth. Germany gives operational depth with existing physical and legal/contract/SOFA arrangements. Smallish footprint on a very longstanding U.S. forces base.

    2. In stationing a new Reserve or Guard unit, you have to think about the population of potential members, within established planning factors and demographic data, to fill your new unit to required strength, with required training qualifications, by a specified date.

    Think about it this way: “I’d like to plan for about 1,200 drilling reservists to spend at least one weekend a month and two or thee weeks annual training in Poland.”

    Not disagreeing with your observations at all.

    • #6
    • September 23, 2019, at 6:12 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Skyler Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Interesting.

    I have often believed, based on absolutely no experience of any time stationed in Europe, that it’s long past time to move out of Germany and pick up and move to Poland and other former denizens of the Warsaw Pact. I know that Azerbaijan was very interested in hosting us, and I’m sure the Ukraine is as well. It was a wasted opportunity not to move there and help those people be free from the Russians. It’s not too late for Poland.

    My impression is that Germany has become a very comfortable place to be for the army and the air force, and that’s never a good thing for the military. I don’t think every place should be primitive or austere, but we’ve gotten far too comfortable there, and our German “friends” abuse our good will.

    Of course, I’ve never been stationed there (except for two weeks in Naples one time, but that hardly counts), so perhaps I’m missing a bigger picture.

    Two things:

    1. You don’t want to catch your logistics tail in your teeth. Germany gives operational depth with existing physical and legal/contract/SOFA arrangements. Smallish footprint on a very longstanding U.S. forces base.

    2. In stationing a new Reserve or Guard unit, you have to think about the population of potential members, within established planning factors and demographic data, to fill your new unit to required strength, with required training qualifications, by a specified date.

    I confess your points are obscure to me. Could you be so kind as to say that again?

    • #7
    • September 23, 2019, at 6:17 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Interesting.

    I have often believed, based on absolutely no experience of any time stationed in Europe, that it’s long past time to move out of Germany and pick up and move to Poland and other former denizens of the Warsaw Pact. I know that Azerbaijan was very interested in hosting us, and I’m sure the Ukraine is as well. It was a wasted opportunity not to move there and help those people be free from the Russians. It’s not too late for Poland.

    My impression is that Germany has become a very comfortable place to be for the army and the air force, and that’s never a good thing for the military. I don’t think every place should be primitive or austere, but we’ve gotten far too comfortable there, and our German “friends” abuse our good will.

    Of course, I’ve never been stationed there (except for two weeks in Naples one time, but that hardly counts), so perhaps I’m missing a bigger picture.

    Two things:

    1. You don’t want to catch your logistics tail in your teeth. Germany gives operational depth with existing physical and legal/contract/SOFA arrangements. Smallish footprint on a very longstanding U.S. forces base.

    2. In stationing a new Reserve or Guard unit, you have to think about the population of potential members, within established planning factors and demographic data, to fill your new unit to required strength, with required training qualifications, by a specified date.

    I confess your points are obscure to me. Could you be so kind as to say that again?

    On the second point, I hope my edit made it clearer: 

    Think about it this way: “I’d like to plan for about 1,200 drilling reservists to spend at least one weekend a month and two or thee weeks annual training in Poland.” How likely are you to find enough qualified reservists, today, within commuting range of some base in Poland? This may change over time.

    On the first point, there were two subpoints. First, we don’t want the logistics “tail” taking up precious, so far limited, space that should be used by the rotating maneuver forces. This may well change over time, with development of infrastructure, bases/camps.

    Second, we have existing developed logistics infrastructure, starting at German ports and railheads, that Poland cannot yet match. We also have agreements right now that let us use bases we have controlled and maintained for decades. Even if we thought a drilling Reserve footprint in Poland was viable from available manpower, it would not have already happened. 

    • #8
    • September 23, 2019, at 6:35 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. Locke On Member

    I hereby nominate @cliffordbrown as Ricochet’s official S2. Any second?

    (Yeah, it’s not normally an elective office, but we all are different, right?)

    • #9
    • September 23, 2019, at 8:42 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I nominate @cliffordbrown as Big X, head of our escape organization. We may not in the end escape our current historical situation, but it’s our job to cause sufficient hubbub to tie up as many enemy resources as we can in an endless, futile exasperated attempt to make Ricochet obey. 

    • #10
    • September 23, 2019, at 9:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Skyler Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    Think about it this way: “I’d like to plan for about 1,200 drilling reservists to spend at least one weekend a month and two or thee weeks annual training in Poland.” How likely are you to find enough qualified reservists, today, within commuting range of some base in Poland? This may change over time.

    Hmm. I was in the Marine reserves for 12 years and we would never do it that way. A reserve unit would be mobilized and deploy for 6 months. Manning a brigade sized unit with reservists in a drilling status, even for their two week annual training is completely unsustainable. I don’t think even the army has enough people to do that and to manage the turnover. I took it to mean the reserve units would be mobilized.

    For example, the Marines have long had what we call UDP, unit deployment program. For the air wing one active duty squadron would be in Japan for 6 month. Another would take six months to work up to deploy, and a third would be back and recovering from their deployment. Starting in about 2008 or so, the Marines decided it made a lot of sense to send a reserve unit in the UDP program to free up an active duty unit to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. I wonder if such a scenario is what the army has in mind.

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):
    On the first point, there were two subpoints. First, we don’t want the logistics “tail” taking up precious, so far limited, space that should be used by the rotating maneuver forces. This may well change over time, with development of infrastructure, bases/camps.

    You know what? My last unit in the Marines was in Combat Logistics Regiment 4 headquarters (we transitioned from an infantry regiment in 2014). What I learned is that the Marines are so bad at logistics that they give major operational logisitcs missions to our reserve unit because the active duty knows that they can’t possibly do it and they don’t even care if it gets done. We use the navy for our aviation logistics, and sponge heavily off the army for green side logistics. I have no idea how anything gets done. In the Iraq war, in the initial run from Kuwait to Tikrit, the number of spare parts delivered to the Marine Divisions racing all the way north was 0. Zero. Yes, not a single spare part was delivered by the Marines. The units stole what they needed from whoever before they left (I know that some army units took pity and gave them some parts) and made things work somehow. So I have nothing to add to your comments about logistical tails, knowing that you were a logistician and that I never saw Marine green-side logistics do anything good in in my 20 years in the military.

    • #11
    • September 23, 2019, at 9:46 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Interesting.

    I have often believed, based on absolutely no experience of any time stationed in Europe, that it’s long past time to move out of Germany and pick up and move to Poland and other former denizens of the Warsaw Pact. I know that Azerbaijan was very interested in hosting us, and I’m sure the Ukraine is as well. It was a wasted opportunity not to move there and help those people be free from the Russians. It’s not too late for Poland.

    My impression is that Germany has become a very comfortable place to be for the army and the air force, and that’s never a good thing for the military. I don’t think every place should be primitive or austere, but we’ve gotten far too comfortable there, and our German “friends” abuse our good will.

    Of course, I’ve never been stationed there (except for two weeks in Naples one time, but that hardly counts), so perhaps I’m missing a bigger picture.

    Two things:

    1. You don’t want to catch your logistics tail in your teeth. Germany gives operational depth with existing physical and legal/contract/SOFA arrangements. Smallish footprint on a very longstanding U.S. forces base.

    2. In stationing a new Reserve or Guard unit, you have to think about the population of potential members, within established planning factors and demographic data, to fill your new unit to required strength, with required training qualifications, by a specified date.

    I confess your points are obscure to me. Could you be so kind as to say that again?

    On the second point, I hope my edit made it clearer:

    Think about it this way: “I’d like to plan for about 1,200 drilling reservists to spend at least one weekend a month and two or thee weeks annual training in Poland.” How likely are you to find enough qualified reservists, today, within commuting range of some base in Poland? This may change over time.

    On the first point, there were two subpoints. First, we don’t want the logistics “tail” taking up precious, so far limited, space that should be used by the rotating maneuver forces. This may well change over time, with development of infrastructure, bases/camps.

    Second, we have existing developed logistics infrastructure, starting at German ports and railheads, that Poland cannot yet match. We also have agreements right now that let us use bases we have controlled and maintained for decades. Even if we thought a drilling Reserve footprint in Poland was viable from available manpower, it would not have already happened.

     

    Yeah we do!

     

    • #12
    • September 24, 2019, at 3:53 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Interesting.

    I have often believed, based on absolutely no experience of any time stationed in Europe, that it’s long past time to move out of Germany and pick up and move to Poland and other former denizens of the Warsaw Pact. I know that Azerbaijan was very interested in hosting us, and I’m sure the Ukraine is as well. It was a wasted opportunity not to move there and help those people be free from the Russians. It’s not too late for Poland.

    My impression is that Germany has become a very comfortable place to be for the army and the air force, and that’s never a good thing for the military. I don’t think every place should be primitive or austere, but we’ve gotten far too comfortable there, and our German “friends” abuse our good will.

    Of course, I’ve never been stationed there (except for two weeks in Naples one time, but that hardly counts), so perhaps I’m missing a bigger picture.

    Yabbut, Rammstein is a fully-developed, sophisticated facility, particularly when it comes to the medical facilities. Also, Rammstein’s central location makes it valuable for supporting missions in the Middle East and Africa. Seems like a waste to give that up to start from scratch in Poland. 

    • #13
    • September 24, 2019, at 10:25 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MACHO GRANDE' (aka – Chri… (View Comment):

     

     

    “Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.”

    George S. Patton would not have been a fan of G.I. Joe. Tanks belong on the field, not in a garage!

    ;-)

    • #14
    • September 24, 2019, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Misthiocracy grudgingly (View Comment):

    MACHO GRANDE’ (aka – Chri… (View Comment):

     

     

    “Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.”

    George S. Patton would not have been a fan of G.I. Joe. Tanks belong on the field, not in a garage!

    ;-)

    Patton never fought Cobra.

    Image result for Cobra Commander

     

    • #15
    • September 24, 2019, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MACHO GRANDE’ (aka – Chri… (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy grudgingly (View Comment):

    MACHO GRANDE’ (aka – Chri… (View Comment):

    “Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.”

    George S. Patton would not have been a fan of G.I. Joe. Tanks belong on the field, not in a garage!

    ;-)

    Patton never fought Cobra.

    Image result for Cobra Commander

    If only he had! He would have nipped that Cobra problem in the bud, pronto!

    “Cobra Commander, you magnificent bastard, I read your comic books!”

    • #16
    • September 24, 2019, at 2:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Skyler Coolidge

    Misthiocracy grudgingly (View Comment):
    “Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.”

    That’s one of those quotes that makes people feel smug, but is not at all true. Fixed fortifications have been tremendously effective at different times in history, and more often than not.

    • #17
    • September 24, 2019, at 4:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes