10 March 2013

Is it Wise to Cut Personnel from the Army?

This is a really interesting piece by Jim Lacey at National Review Online: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/342546/why-armies-matter-jim-lacey

It's hard to imagine any thoughtful person seriously proposing a 50% cut in our land forces on the basis that the sea and air forces can't accept any cuts.

Lacey's historical analysis is powerful and convincing, but I'm sure of his conclusions.

While it is true that ground forces remain the fist that can pound an enemy into submission, I believe that the Army can handle serious personnel cuts. To clarify, the nation's need for land forces would not be seriously hampered by a reduction in active duty Army soldiers.

That is not to say that we should automatically cut combat troops. Certainly not.

Right now there are about 560,000 active duty Army troops,  200,000 Army Reservists, 400,000 Army National Guard Soldiers, and 230,000 Marines (40,000 of whom are reservists). Not all of them are combat ready. And even more are in occupations unintended to be sent to fight.

The total land force could be cut significantly without a major loss of combat power. Military science is, more than anything, an exercise in the efficient use of force. Just as planners in the 1970s had to create new strategy and doctrine in the face of Soviet numerical superiority and the end of the American military draft, today they will have to figure out how to meet U.S. security needs with the resources that the civilian leadership gives them.

That shouldn't be a license for Congress to cut willy-nilly. Some cuts are reasonable, about which reasonable people can disagree. While engaged in the debate to preserve the status quo, the generals can formulate plans to allocate personnel resources more appropriate to the wars we will be in for the next decade.

Those wars will require fighting Soldiers. So, as Lacey quotes the historian T. R. Fehrenbach:
You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it, and wipe it clean of life — but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men in the mud.
More of the land forces should be trained and prepared to do the hard work in the mud. Soldiers are Soldiers first, whether they join the military with an eye to doing paralegal work, administrative service, cooking, or public affairs.

Our ground forces must exert force. 

Photo by: Spc. Tia Sokimson

No comments:

Post a Comment