Skip to comments.The Force Structure Problem
Posted on 01/08/2005 7:23:20 AM PST by COUNTrecount
January 6, 2005
"Rumsfeld should have hit the panic button on Army force structure when the insurgency picked up steam."
The Force Structure Problem
By George Friedman
A memo written by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, head of the U.S. Army Reserve, was leaked to The Baltimore Sun. Addressed to the chief of staff of the Army, the memo stated that the Army Reserve was in danger of becoming a "broken force," due to personnel policies adopted by the Army and the Department of Defense. Helmly wrote, "The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you of the Army Reserve's inability . . . to meet mission requirements associated with Iraq and Afghanistan and to reset and regenerate its forces for follow-on and future missions."
When a three-star general writes a memo containing these words to the chief of staff, and then leaks the memo to the press (it did not arrive at the Sun through telepathy), what you have is a major revolt by senior Army commanders. Helmly may have been more incautious than others, but he is far from alone in his view that the force in general is broken. More directly, if the Army Reserve is unable to carry out its mission, the same can likely be said for National Guard units. This means that the Army in general, which is heavily dependent on both to carry out its mission, won't be able to do so. What the generals are saying is that the Army itself is unable to carry out its mission.
Part of this is a discussion of several procedures governing call-ups and other issues that have not changed since the Sept. 11 attacks. Some of it has to do with the extreme stress that reserve components are experiencing. All of it has to do with a revolt against Donald Rumsfeld and his policies toward the Army, policies that go back to Rumsfeld's view of warfare.
Rumsfeld believes that there is a revolution in warfare under way. As the author of The Future of War, I completely agree with him. However, as I stated in that book, the revolution is just getting under way and will not be mature for generations. It is not ready to carry the warfighting burden of the United States, although it can certainly support it. Until that revolution matures, traditional forces, particularly the Army, will need to be maintained and, in time of war, expanded.
Rumsfeld's view is that the revolution is more mature than that and that warfare can now be carried out with minimal Army forces. In some ways, Rumsfeld was right when he focused on the conventional invasion of Iraq. A relatively small force was able to defeat the main Iraqi force. Where he made his mistake, in my opinion, was in not recognizing that the occupation of Iraq required substantial manpower and that much of that manpower was in the reserves.
He compounded that mistake enormously when he failed to recognize that an organized insurgency was under way in Iraq. Counterinsurgency operations is one area in which the revolution in warfare has made little progress, and Rumsfeld should have hit the panic button on Army force structure when the insurgency picked up steam. In Iraq, Rumsfeld was going to fight a guerrilla war, and he was going to need a lot of infantry and armor to do it. If, in addition to fighting the guerrilla war, Rumsfeld planned to carry out other operations in the region and maintain a strategic reserve, he needed to expand the Army dramatically.
Rumsfeld made three mistakes. First, he overestimated the breadth and depth of the revolution in warfare. Second, he underestimated the challenges posed by counterinsurgency operations, particularly in urban areas. Mistakes are inevitable, but his third mistake was amazing: he could not recognize that he had made the first two mistakes. That meant that he never corrected any of the mistakes.
There is another way to look at this. The United States is in a global war. Personnel policies have not been radically restructured to take into account either that the U.S. needs a wartime force structure or that that force structure must be congruent with the type and tempo of operations that will be undertaken. Not only doesn't the force stretch, but the force is not built to stretch. Hence, Helmly's memo.
Essentially, this memo is an open challenge by Army generals to Rumsfeld, with the chief of staff caught in the middle. The situation is now officially out of hand. If the commander of the Army Reserve says that his command is not capable of carrying out its mission, and says it publicly, there is no way to cover that up. He is either going to be relieved of his command, or he is going to be given the tools to fix the problem. If he is going to be given those tools, then Rumsfeld's view is being repudiated and Rumsfeld has to go.
There is something more than politics at work here. It's called reality. Helmly is right. It seems to me that the handwriting is on the wall. Once the elections in Iraq are completed, dramatic changes will take place. Bush will call for an expansion of the Army and the reserves. In Iraq, U.S. forces will be shifted out of security responsibilities, where they are not effective anyway. And, incidentally, Rumsfeld will retire. Or, Rumsfeld will purge the senior ranks of the Army. Since that is not a viable option, we expect Bush will be forced to act on their recommendations.
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Opinions are like noses, everybody has one.
I was wondering, earlier this morning, if the US military hasn't become even more formidable on the world stage over the past 3 years, since our fighting and supporting forces have gained a lot of experience.
The NCO's are what makes things happen on the ground and they need to understand things that cannot be tought but must be experienced.
Rumsfeld is Wrong ... maybe General Luck can convince him of that ... these 'wonder weapons' really aren't so wonderful and can be easily neutralized. It's time to quit wasting time, mobilize and fight this war as a war ... wait I forgot .... we did not declare war .... /sarcasm
I agree with every word in this article, especially those quoted above.
The conquest, reconstruction, and reformation of Arabia and Islamic SW Asia is required to win this world war. The force to do this job has not been created and is not being created.
The enemy masses will not enlist in the effort after they are occupied. Perhaps their children will, after 30 years of occupation.
This is interesting, and disturbing. When the head of the Reserves sends a memo like this, it's pretty certain that there is, indeed, a problem.
I don't see how we're going to be able to carry out this mission if we're going to rely so heavily on reserve and NG troops. For a year or two, that will work but, at some point, it will stop working.
I'm not sure what the solution is going to be, but one is going to have to appear pretty soon. A lot will depend on what happens after the elections in Iraq.
Panic button? If you want panicky leaders, you need a brain adjustment. I'll stick with Rummy, thanks.
You and the other negadits are wrong. The overall mission is well in hand and going very smoothly. Yours is the kind of misinformed sentiment that lost the Vietnam war.
Stop drinking the media cool-aid. Soldiers die in battle....that is what they do. Try not to lose courage over it.
I am not a negadit and I do not drink the Bushade either .... On 9-11 we were given a choice ... convert or die ... we have to give our enemies the same choice. Bush chose 'convert light'. Rumsfeld is trying to make a losing choice work. That is not an easy task. Our force structure cannot handle it. The 'partial' mobilization will now go beyond the 5 years set in 2001. What do we do then? Put on more band-aids? Bush said his plan will take a generation to work ... ok 20+ years .... what's Rumsfeld 20 year plan? Rumsfeld's 'whiz-kids' will lose this war despite the best effects of the military!
We don't seem to do that much these days (post 1941), do we?
It seems a dilemma - if we declare war, the importance of and commitment to our objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq would be less in doubt, but on the other hand, who or what would we declare war against?
Declaring war on "Terrorism" is right out, as it cannot be party to negotiations nor sign surrender documents.
Declaring war on Al Qaeda and it's affiliates and supporters is more the mark, but then we have the thorny issues of what organizations go on the list, what to do if said organizations re-organize & re-name, what specifically constitutes support, and how to carry out any threats of action against citizens or members of governments of our nominal allies who can't or won't cease providing financial aid to our declared enemies.
In short, some sons of bitches need killin', but since they're not organized or acting along traditional lines, we need to codify some new procedures, so it's all nice and legal-like, as befits a nation like ours wed to the concept of the rule of law, and will still be acceptable should the political pendulum swing back to the left in our own government. ("In the news today, the Democrat controlled Congress has identified the RNC as an organization affiliated with Al Qaeda...")
I suppose I should just be happy knowing that our best and brightest are wrestling with these very issues right now in Washington, making the hard choices which will allow us to attack our enemies wherever they may be rather than opting for continuing to work with a dysfunctional paradigm in the name of political expediency, and as a result of their deliberations and work even peripheral mopes like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Omar Janjalani shall soon be either sporting stylish new orange jumpsuits or pushing up daisies.
Good Points, I can't argument with you there.
It has. Not only have individual soldiers and units gotten experience in dealing with urban and conventional fighting, but the officers have gotten time to evaluate what works and what doesn't, and training programs have been able to incorporate what has been learned.
That said, the militarys size should have been increased significantly more than it has, and if 130,000 troops are needed in Iraq, the Reserve should have only been used during the training period, with more soldiers being allowed to join the Regulars. The Reserves and NG are not designed for being kept in the field.
STRATFor....hmmm, I wonder what their agenda is?
Let's try and do a review:
Rumsfeld is pushing to change the military and doctrine.
He inherited a military bereft of women in many areas, combat and support, that is an effective drain on overall tactics and efficiency.
He beat up the Taliban and Iraq with the inherited force using new tactics (SpecOps and Surveillance).
He assumed (big word) that the Iraqis would join in a new army and police force, repudiate Saddam, and begin to rebuild their country. This insurgency was beyond his (or anyone's forecast).
He still assumes that when the Iraqis develop a capable police and national guard force, the U.S. military will return home. The "when" is the Key! If we suppose 1 year, then that would be insufficient time to recruit, train and deploy a new army. Therefore, he must rely on the Iraqis to develop and grow.
So now we have this Lt. General is defiance. 1st the CYA memo. Then the leak. The CYA is required. The leak is insubordination - deserves termination, immediately.
One does not reach the 3/4 Star level without Senate support. It requires Senate approval and sponsorship.
Who vouches for this Lt. General? Is he, like Zinni and Clark allied with a political cause? Clearly, an agenda at work.
Watching and reading - see the tagline!
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