Chief of Staff on the Future: Smaller Units, Smarter Soldiers?

General Mark Milley spoke recently at a conference on what the Army of the Future might look like.

Urban warfare is the next battlefield frontier, and the Army will have to rethink both its command structure and soldiers themselves in order to adapt, the service’s top general said Tuesday.

This is nothing new. We’ve been saying for 30+ years that an increasing urbanized world means changes for both the traditional culture of fight-em-in-the-wilderness, and the special operations culture of sneak-by-when-they’re-not-looking. For special ops, it probably means more clandestine operations and tradecraft. (Something to learn from Russian use of SOF in the war to undermine Ukrainian independence, here).

However, it’s encouraging to see a general, the guys we pay to think big, indulging in some big-picture thinking. All the rest of the Army is off the clock when they’re thinking big, not that it stops us.

The Army isn’t going to an all-special operations model, but there’s some inspiration the conventional Army can take from that culture, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said at the Future of War Conference in Washington, D.C.

“I think you’ll have smaller organizations, in 10 years and beyond,” he said.

That might look like company- or battalion-sized operational units, he added, but it wouldn’t mean doing away with brigades and divisions.

There’s a limit to how much span of control one individual has, whether he’s directing men or directing drones.

“The fighting element will probably end up having to be much smaller,” he said. “Think of special operations — that may be a preview of how larger armies operate in the future.”

One future factor that seems to be not overly considered is the increased lethality of fires. The same sorts of reasons that once militated against massing in the Pentomic Division days of battlefield nukes now apply to anyone fighting a conventional military. The artillery fires of the 21st Century are not like anything we’ve seen before, and while we developed much of the technology, we haven’t developed doctrine to support it, and we haven’t fielded it in quantity.

Meanwhile, regional and near-peer powers retain and make technical progress in non-nuclear WMD.

The future will also bring more unmanned capabilities and, as a result, possibly a lower risk for loss of life.

“We’ve lost a lot of soldiers in the past 15 years who were driving convoys, from point A to point B, and were attacked by [improvised explosive devices], and they were delivering food or ammunition,” Milley said. “Think about, if you could, a logistics convoy delivering the required supplies to a forward unit, but there’s no drivers in the convoy.”

And this also moves your war into the electronic and cyber domain, where the US military has not displayed world-class aptitude.

That technology already exists with driverless cars created by Google and others. It will take some time to make something that can negotiate rough battlefield terrain, Milley said, but it will happen.

Of course, lefties dread and fear the Army, which goes back to their ancestral memories of pogroms in the night, or worse, a draft notice to be evaded.

To those on that end of things, any change in the military brings us further down the slippery slope to overt Francoism, and means that Doctor Strangelove will be immersing us in nuclear Armageddon just for the sheer atavistic joy of hearing the bang.

Then the question becomes whether that lowers the bar for risk when deciding to go to war, said Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the New America think tank and moderator of the session with Milley.

via Milley: Future conflicts will require smaller Army units, more mature soldiers.

Then, there’s this:

Soldiers will have to be highly trained in discriminating fire, able to quickly and effectively tell who is a combatant and who is a bystander. Leader development will be key, Milley added, and lessons could come, again, from the special operations community.

“We’re probably going to have to have more mature, more seasoned leaders at lower levels than perhaps the organization design calls for now,” he said.

For example, special operations companies are led by majors instead of captains, as they are in the conventional Army. But special operations also often has the benefit of older, more experienced soldiers rather than brand new, 19-year-old privates.

“Our leaders at the pointy end of the spear are going to have to have very, very high degrees of ethical skill and resilience to be able to deal with incredibly intense issues in ground combat,” Milley said.

So the next task, over the following 10 to 15 years, Milley said, is figuring out how to recruit and quickly train the type of people who can take that special operations-style expertise and bring it to the regular Army.

SOF Maturity for General Purpose Forces?

Hard to do. And not because GPF guys are bad (after all, who’s the recruiting pool for most SOF?) But because there is no royal road to maturity, and no short course to combat and tactical judgment.

Basically, you can’t make privates into SF or SEAL type guys in the time you have for training a private. Truth be told, it takes ten years to make a versatile, well-rounded SF guy. You get some good work out of him during those ten years of seasoning, sure, but it takes that long just to be exposed to a significant percentage of the mission sets that come with the job. (We’d guess something similar applies over in the Teams — a 3-year or 5-year Frogman is a pretty good asset in most missions, but he’s still learning more than he’s teaching. But that’s just a guess; we don’t pretend to grasp SEAL culture or to speak for our web-footed friends).

You can make privates into Rangers in about double the time it takes to make them nugget infantrymen, but (1) you need a wide recruiting base and (2) you absolutely need attrition in your pipeline.  You can’t make everybody SF-like (and we’re aware of the important limitations on what the Chief was saying) for the same reason all the kids can’t be above average. Indeed, the stuff the Chief was carving out from SOF that he wants to see in the regular forces — the maturity, the low level leadership — are just the things that take longest to inculcate.

But there will be a Future Army, and it will be Different

There’s a line from an Al Stewart song (a song about smuggling guns, actually):

In the village where I grew up nothing is the same
But still, you never see the change from day to day

When we cynically dismiss Big Think conferences and the brainstorming of senior generals and their horse-holders, we forget that, even though we never see the change from day to day, the Army that holds your retirement parade isn’t the Army you were sworn into a generation earlier. Otherwise we’d still be this Army:

…or this Army:

US Army Tank Destroyer patch, never official but very widespread.

 

And we think you’ll agree that, for better or for worse, we’re not that Army any more.

Everything we take for granted today, such as attack and utility helicopters, anti-tank missiles, and satellite communications, was once somebody’s crackpot idea that caught the imagination of some general and took off.

44 thoughts on “Chief of Staff on the Future: Smaller Units, Smarter Soldiers?

  1. Boat Guy

    Well…it’s not just the “lefties” that fear the idea of a standing Army; our Founders did too. Simply because we now have a CINC who’s less likely to order our forces to do things they oughtn’t doesn’t mean everything’s hunk-dory. We still have a whole buncha SJW’s in positions of power.
    We are fortunate that many of our smarter enlistees go Infantry in the first place; but as you note maturity and leadership skills take a lot of time and good training to inculcate. A demonstration for me in maturity levels was one of our NEO’s in Africa in the 90’s; we went in with a SEAL TU as security stayed a week or so, pulled about 2000+ people out and nobody got shot – a MEU finally turned up and once they took over they shot several folks. The environment was less chaotic when they took over, but a 20-something LCpl sees things differently than a 30-something Team Guy

    Reply
  2. jim h

    interesting that a command level guy is picking up on the needs to change, and why. I think he’s really probably just drawing on some of the things he knows from being around a bunch of other long-tabbers. reading his comments a second time to digest it, it sounds like he’s really talking about an increase in training more than shrinking. I agree that the move to automated everything is not really a wise idea, both because it could potentially lower the aforementioned bar, but also because I think it’s really, really dumb to entrust so many things to computers and automation.

    now for some abstract thoughts to couple with his talking points:

    *does this mean that he is thinking about an analogue rise in PMC/defense contractors to offset the shrinking pool of manpower?

    *does this mean overall that he is thinking of turning Big Green into a more strategic force as opposed to a tactically based one? it’s no secret that the targets and missions in SOF forces are of a different nature than that of conventional unit structures.

    *does this mean that there will be an increase in focus on recon and strike tactics as opposed to conventional maneuver or force on force tactics? SOF type units, while highly effective, are not sent into meat grinders like heavy armor and mech infantry engagements for a reason. that’s not what they’re built for.

    *all well and good that the leaders at the pointy end of the spear are going to be really good at those choices. however, guess how many of these leaders are dealing with making those decisions on the spot now? how about focusing on revamping the NCO corps, so that this inst-sergeant crap goes away and we are putting our best foot forward in the fire team and squad levels, where they’re needed most. it does nobody any real good (in my eyes at least) to have a guy wearing all these stripes in leadership roles who’s got less time in service than about half of the current various MOS school’s training times. that’s a very Darwinian thing to do, and fixing that could fix a lot of the maturity problems I think the general is concerning himself with, along with:

    *getting rid of all of the mandatory trash (SHARP, EEO, etc.) and focusing on actual MOS duty training. cutting out social engineering and focusing on what an army does best – breaking things and killing people in highly efficient ways – would allow for the natural progression of NCO leaders mentioned above AND a more highly skilled force.

    *I wonder if the good general even recognizes that there are so many folks in conventional units who *don’t* want to be similar to SOF types. there are huge amounts of folks who are more inclined, more mentally prepared, better equipped, and more motivated to remain conventional, heavy, Big Green. I was able to see this when we moved from the brigade and maneuver structure into the “unit of action” gayness. the troops still did their jobs, but I don’t think the thinkers ever took into account that changing the deployment capabilities of these units as they were would alter their combat abilities so much. in their search of “modularity” or whatever other buzzwords were being thrown around, they took away a lot of the things that made each unit so effective at what it was trained to do. not every unit needs to be airborne/air assault/sapper/sniper/pathfinder/heavy but still light/mountain/ranger/special forces/delta operations capable. all of those things take a certain personality, selection, and/or tons of training, as you’ve referenced. and with such a small percentage of soldiers filling all of these roles, out of a really small percentage of fit and capable American public, where are you thinking these really cool super soldiers are gonna come from?

    change is inevitable, yes, and I applaud the general for at least trying to think ahead. but why not just fix the problems we’ve put on ourselves instead of trying to reinvent the wheel?

    Reply
    1. Alan Ward

      +1. Double entendre intended I believe.
      I’m thinking careerism and ticket punching will get in the way, as always.

      Reply
    2. Kirk

      Not to mention, a lot more of them…

      The proliferation of flag ranks since WWII is something amazing to behold; the ratio of junior enlisted to the managerial staff is truly mind-boggling.

      And, of course, that’s a feature of all government institutions across the US, so… We’re just part of the problem.

      Reply
      1. Sommerbiwak

        any bureaucracy in any country in any time tends to sprawl and grow new head positions with less and less people doing actual work. Be it processing insurance claims or doing maneuver warfare. The endstate is an organisation perfectly playing with itself totally self-centered and accomplishing nothing in meetings about the next meeting.

        I bet Gilgamesh or Hammurapi hated their bureaucracies already. The first chinese emperor most certainly did.

        Only cure I can think of is weeding out and pruning the wild growth from time to time.

        Reply
        1. Kirk

          The syndrome has been avoided occasionally, but it does seem endemic to human enterprise.

          I keep thinking there has to be a better way to do these things, and I’m sure there is; problem that we have is that the hierarchy and bureaucratic impulse in our cultures is so strong that it has become the default for everything we do, the rote solution to things we encounter.

          There’s got to be a better way to do business, and I think it starts small, like with how we organize ourselves at the very basic level.

          Ah, well… Subject for another time and venue, I suppose.

          Reply
  3. William O. B'Livion

    > Urban warfare is the next battlefield frontier, and the Army will have to rethink both its
    > command structure and soldiers themselves in order to adapt, the service’s top general said Tuesday.

    Haven’t the Marines been training MOUT since, IDK, the early 1980s? I know I got a merit badge in it when I were a young sea-soldier, and the grunts over at Geiger were certainly practicing small unit tactics in house clearing etc.

    Reply
  4. Kirk

    I’ve been saying stuff along these lines for years; see any of my major rants for examples and ideas.

    Root problem here is this: The nature of war is undergoing another shift, akin to the one that destroyed the old regime professional armies of the 17th-18th Centuries with the advent of mass mobilization armies under the French Republic. Shit be changin’, yo…

    Adaptation to this fact is something we’re going to have to do, and I’m not sure that the rigidly stratified and hierarchical US Army is capable of it. We generally only do reform after a major defeat, sadly.

    What’s really sad is that the US should be fielding the most adaptable and flexible Army in the world; how the hell we got this rigid inflexibility is something that just puzzles the shit out of me, along with how the hell a putatively egalitarian country like ours produced a military with such rigid class distinctions between the officers and enlisted. Ferchrissakes, the ‘effing Brits are less class-conscious, in some rather important ways… Howinthehell…?

    Were it I, I would advocate for a fully polyvalent Army, one that did not have branches or specific MOS categories–Just units and individuals with qualifications for specific missions. Everyone ought to be a basic combatant, period, with the skills and mentality of an as-currently conceived infantryman. Men and women ought to join, be trained as a basic combatant, serve a few years in the ranks, and then be assessed for retention, progression, and further specialist training.

    The idea that you can be in a uniform, carrying a gun, and not present a lethal threat to the enemy, whenever and wherever encountered? That just baffles me… The entire set of circumstances surrounding the 507th Maintenance Company represents criminally backwards thinking–If those kids were to be maintained in a state like they were, in terms of combat training, then they should never have been in uniform, period. They should have been unarmed civilian contractors, because the fact that they were in uniform and carrying weapons just allowed their command to mistake them for actual soldiers that could both take part in combat-related activities and protect themselves. The facts of the case were far different, and entirely up to the Army that didn’t bother to properly train or prepare those young men and women for what it thrust them into.

    Going forward, there can be no dichotomy between combat and support troops–Everyone on the battlefield is a combatant, and must be capable of performing the basic mission of fighting the enemy. You can’t have two classes of soldier–It simply does not work, and will not work going forward.

    Reply
    1. Eagle 46

      Kirk-
      I agree with what I “think” you are saying, not what I understand you to say.

      If you’re saying that every soldier needs to be, well, a soldier (rifleman if you want to steal a term from the Marines), I agree 110%, preach it Brother! That is one thing that pisses me off most about the GPF/Big Green Machine – CSS troops more worried about their nail color than their inability to handle a weapon as a senior ranking soldier. That rifle isn’t a prop for your soft cover, buddy…

      If you’re saying that we shouldn’t have MOS positions with different training for different skill sets, there I’ll respectfully disagree. As an Engineer with combat engineering experience (secondary mission – reorganize and fight as infantry), I have a pretty good understanding of what my counterparts in the Infantry and Armor communities do, and could get up to speed pretty quickly in those spots since I had to study a lot of the same material to be proficient in my job. Less so with the Redlegs – I know I point to the map and they make it go boom. While I understand the theory – I’ve never practiced it, and I want trained bubbas slinging those rounds (and plotting them in the FDC) if I’m downrange of the tubes. It gets even worse if I’m supposed to be your data network manager or such.

      Maintain a combat focus, be ready to act as infantry (like the band, dammit!), and be proficient in your MOS/Branch skills. Even the Marines have MOS’s (more sub specialties than we do) and “Branches”.

      Reply
      1. Kirk

        Eagle, I’m another Combat Engineer with just a bit of enlisted time before the flag–Like 25 years worth.

        I’m not saying to do away with specialty MOS, at all. I’m just saying that the mentality which says “Gee, Johnny Rotter, we’re going to sign you up for a contract guaranteeing you a “safe job” in a supporting branch that carries ten months of specialty training that’s pretty expensive and which will set you up for civilian life, kinda-sorta-maybe…” is fundamentally wrong-headed on the face of things.

        For one, it’s a huge gamble on the part of the Army–We’re gonna bet you can be a good soldier, commit to training your ass, and you have no track record for even being able to handle wearing a uniform? WTF? In today’s world of couch potatoes and whinging little SJW bitches? Yeah, right–That’s a good way to spend money on training… Not.

        On the other end, what are we offering to reward good soldiers for their faithful performance, really? Basically, dick. Let me run things, and you’ll do a minimum of two years junior enlisted time in a combat arm with a very stringent training program, and then if you perform well…? Yeah, then we’ll start talking about shit like West Point, advanced skill training, and all the rest. Everybody does their two or so years in the same stressful combat arms environment, and then gets the option of making a change. Perform well? Gee, maybe then we’ll think about sending your ass off to Airborne, or trades training. I’d also put control over things like your post-military benefits under control of the commanders. Little Johnny Jackass wants to go to college after the Army? Fine; he’d better make damn sure his commander sees him working his ass off for that honorable discharge, because without the commander hacking off on it, he’s getting a general discharge and no post-career earned entitlements.

        Of course, you’d have to have really tight overwatch on those commanders, and make sure they’re of commensurate quality to entrust them with that kind of power, but I’d make the first commander in the chain of command a damn major, upgrading company command slots to O-4. Captains can be deputy commanders or executive officers.

        The Army I’d run would be powered down to the lowest level possible, and make that mean something. You want to go do great things as an enlisted technician? Baby, you’re gonna have to prove you can soldier, first–And, oh-by-the-way, that combat arms mentality we’d get from having everyone start out there would eventually permeate the force. Ideally, in my Army, all the support arms would be filled with crotchety older guys who were former combat arms types who were tired of taking shit from people, and anyone deciding to engage a support unit would come to really regret doing so. As in, really, really regret it–Cranky old Warrant Officers are the last fucking people you want to start shit with, as I’ve observed. It’s a really bad choice of target when that cranky old Warrant is a medically-dropped Ranger who did time in Vietnam as a LRRP, and who can put out a better oral OPORD than most Ranger-tabbed Infantry officers.

        I don’t think we can get away with the dichotomy between combat troops and support troops for much longer. Either we do away with it, or we’re going to see more and more cases like the 507th, because ain’t nobody going to be stupid enough to tackle actual combat arms units directly. Far easier to shut them down by killing off or stopping their enablers like logistics…

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        1. William O. B'Livion

          To do that you’re going to *have* to run wimmen through Combat Arms training and stick them into co-ed units.

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          1. Kirk

            Yep. And, there would have to be actual gender-blind standards in place.

            No idea what that would mean to the numbers, but I imagine a significant reduction of women in the forces would ensue, right along with the rise in actual combat utility for the remaining ones who could hack the job.

            We’ve been lying to ourselves about the nature of war for a long time; along with that, we’ve let the American public develop some really severe delusions on the same issues. About the time we experience our next Chosin River campaign, or Bataan Death March, the chickens will come home to roost. At that point, all this bullshit fantasy we’ve been operating under as if it were true is going to get a lot of young men and women killed fucking dead. Hubris says we will never have those sorts of things happen again, because… Well, nobody knows; we are simply assured by one and all that they won’t. Nemesis always trails Hubris, so expect that when reality catches up to us, it will be ugly as sin.

          2. Aesop

            Not a problem whatsoever.
            Step One-A) Drop the female PRT/PFT standards in toto, service-wide.
            The male standard is the only standard. Go/No-Go.
            Step One-B) All other training standards (Airborne, Ranger, SF, etc.) revert to the male standards in place prior to the circa 1993 RIFs, and as such, are enforced with gender neutrality.
            Step Two) if any of the seven women left afterwards can also pass the physical requirements of combat arms MOS training, like field marches with full packs, slinging tank track, and/or hefting 95# howitzer shells, they may continue to serve anyeffingwhere they fit for their initial term of service.
            Step Three) If any of them successfully complete a tour in combat arms, they are henceforth eligible for any specialty service/support MOS they desire, commensurate with other MOS aptitude testing and successfully completing the training for same.
            Problem solved, QED

            You could then also budget for the gender-accommodation of the total number of successfully serving women annually in all four branches combined out of the average company beer fund.

            And the 1 or 2 women annually who passed muster would be exactly the tomboy badass Amazons you’d want if you were forced to open the doors in the first place, rather than the Pvt. Benjamins, enlisted prostitutes, bulldykes, Ranger Barbie princesses, and EEOC landmines we’ve suffered from for decades and currently got by the busloads.

          3. Kirk

            @ Aesop,

            Although, on consideration, I think that what needs to be dropped isn’t necessarily the “female standards”, but the entire idea that there can be such things.

            It’s a binary question; either you’re fit for combat service, or you’re not. Doesn’t matter what you’ve got between your legs, at all. The idea that there would be two sex-based (not gender; that’s a construct, donchaknow?) standards is ludicrous–The machine gun doesn’t have a weight setting for “boys”, and another for “girls”–It is what it is. Same with everything else.

            And, if you’re unfortunate enough to possess a body that can’t perform the mission, well… Sorry. You’re not gonna be the guy or girl we try to assign that to, and you should just cope with that fact.

            As a nation, we need to get away from this idea that things can be made “fair”. That’s not the way the universe works, and when we make believe that it does, we get things like the half-ass way we have gone about utilizing women in the military.

            Bluntly put, the job is the job. Either you can do it, or you can’t; trying to adjust the facts of reality is only going to lead to a lot of unnecessarily dead people, male and female.

            I’d also argue that the current PT test paradigm is flatly fucking insane. I don’t give a fuck whether little Jimmy can run, do pushups and situps galore with his own bodyweight as the standard to be measured against. There are too many different body types out there for that to be even sane; our current system embodies the idea that a 90lb female who can do 60 pushups is physically superior to a 210lb male that can do 48, and we all know that’s a fucking lie. Even the most ardent feminist officer acknowledges that fact, whenever she calls someone over to help her move something that she can’t even budge. Whatever we do for physical fitness testing, it needs to be objective in nature–Not “Can you lift your own bodyweight”, but “Can you lift this functionally arrived-at weight, which represents what the job actually entails…”.

    2. Seans

      The thing is. Fighting is the easy part of combatives with gun. Its also the fun part to train. And it could be done relatively cheap. Don’t need live ammo or even weapons to teach fundamentals. The hard part of things is the capability of getting to the target undetected in a variety of terrains. Teaching a unit enough fundamentals to go from a easy target to being able to make someone regret attacking them isn’t rocket science. Look at how uncomfortable even most of the infantry is wearing and walking around with night vision. The things run on double A batteries. It should be almost practically free for the guys to train with them. But unless you are SOF the chances of something as simple as walking up to your armory and grabbing some nods and walking around base in civilian cloths with helmet and night vision without setting up some form of notification in advance is practically none.

      Reply
    3. John M.

      “What’s really sad is that the US should be fielding the most adaptable and flexible Army in the world…”

      I think that flexibility across all aspects of warfare, including design, manufacturing and logistics is going to be the key to winning whatever we call WWIII. I’m not an expert at this stuff, but if somebody voted me CinC, I’d be asking my military for equipment, organizations and men that allowed me the greatest flexibility in accomplishing military objectives. That includes keeping things inexpensive, because inexpensive things can always be produced in large quantities if they are useful in a war, or mothballed if they prove un-useful in a particular conflict.

      -John M.

      Reply
      1. Kirk

        Agreed. I think the way we are wedded to the concept of developing the perfect vehicle ,or what have you, that can do everything for everyone, everywhere…? It is insane, in a world of rapid custom manufacture. So what if we need a vehicle adapted for a specific theater; build the damn thing and get it out there. Same with everything else, manpower and units included. Ad hoc the hell out of shit, and get into the mindset of focusing on the mission and victory–How we get there, and what we are wearing, carrying, or riding in is unimportant.

        Reply
        1. John M.

          Exactly. Need a vehicle? Build one that can be built with light armor or heavy(er) armor, as needed for the job. Need a ship? Build one that can be easily reconfigured for different jobs as required. Need a plane? With the flexibility of modern computing tech, and the power of COTS stuff, plug-n-play should be the order of the day.

          And building and maintaining a flexible manufacturing base that can respond quickly to the needs of the moment is crucial. How quickly can the military-industrial complex go from idea to procurement today? Very, very slowly. Fix that yesterday. Lots of those problems are in the DOD procurement rules that are so focused on “saving money” in the details that they waste entire programs.

          -John M.

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          1. Kirk

            I’m not thinking along the lines of making everything so general-purpose and “adaptable” to the theater that it’s gonna cost a mint to build, either–I’m just saying that we ought to be flexible enough to look at the situation in say, Afghanistan, and say “OK, a Bradley doesn’t fit here… What do we need? Mine-proof, agile, light enough to get places, maybe a boom for a RWS/camera to get above compound walls…?”, and then build the damn thing out of off-the-shelf components, and get it into the field.

            If it were I, I’d look at these things from a standpoint of role/platform. Need an infantry carrier? What’s the threat? Armored vehicles? OK, build it to suit and get it into the field. Is the threat IEDs, and we’re mostly able to get by with wheels? Fine; the platform is wheeled.

            The troops should be trained not on “Bradley”, but on “vehicle-borne operational techniques”. Some theaters, we can get by with wheeled platforms; others? Tracked.

            I’d have TACOM develop and keep updated a set of resources like engines, drivelines, and so forth that they can keep “on the shelf”, and which can be adapted and integrated into new vehicles on an as-needed basis. Everything ought to modular, and capable of being worked on with a specific limited tool set.

            One of the big flaws to how we do things is that the system takes the view that everything we procure is going to be the last of its kind, so it’s got to be perfect. Me? I say throw something together, get it out there, and then let operational experience refine the design through improved iterations. It’s not like we haven’t sped up the speed and responsiveness of manufacture by several orders of magnitude, or anything… And, a lot of our mindset about how to do this process is why it takes forever and a day–The framing is that we have to “get it right” from the beginning, because there are no second chances. That was true in WWII, when it took months to get some parts into the pipeline and overseas, but now? LOL… Has anyone told the people in charge of all this about FedEx, and have they really internalized the implications thereof?

          2. RT

            You and kirk would would downright love a concept my buddy and I have been kicking around.

            For simplicity sake we just use quad hexa and octapod as working names, but it essentially lives and breathes this concept.

            The bonus being that the very light quad pod version should get up just about anything a goat can, and some things a goat wouldn’t be stupid enough to try.

    4. Daniel

      “along with how the hell a putatively egalitarian country like ours produced a military with such rigid class distinctions between the officers and enlisted. ”

      You should spend time in the Navy and observe real class segregation between officers and enlisted. Right down to the officer’s Wardroom .

      Reply
      1. Kirk

        I really have no clue about the Navy, its needs, or what you need for shipborne operations in terms of military culture. As such, I wouldn’t presume to even begin to discuss those aspects of the military, or suggest reforms of that culture.

        Reply
  5. robroysimmons

    I doubt the American lead NWO lasts another decade, maybe the generals ought to take that into account.

    Reply
  6. James F..

    “Everything we take for granted today, such as attack and utility helicopters, anti-tank missiles, and satellite communications, was once somebody’s crackpot idea that” the Regular Army and the Pentagon tried very hard to suppress.

    Army Aviation, Special Forces, machine guns, parachutes, repeating rifles…you can increase the list yourself.

    Reply
  7. Eagle 46

    To Miley’s point – it sounds good, and I’ve loved leading units that were all comprised of experience, mature leaders, but they have to get that education and experience somewhere. All of us were young and dumb at some point and got it beaten out of us via the school of hard knocks.

    Also, when you need to hold ground – it is hard to do that with a very small unit.

    Reply
  8. redc1c4

    why do we need to fight in cities?

    in the Pacific, back during the late unpleasantness with our allies the Japanese, we routinely bypassed, cut off and then left certain positions to whither and die.

    Air-Land Battle meets Island Hopping:

    don’t fight for the terrain, blockade it and wait for them to give up.

    (yeah, i know, propaganda: both sides can play that game)

    Reply
    1. Kirk

      To paraphrase Willie Sutton, because “…that’s where the people are…”.

      Like it or not, the center of military gravity is the urban area. Well, at least as long as we’re operating under the current set of cultural constraints. The Ghengiz Khan or Adolf Hitler approach would more resemble what happened to Leningrad/St.Petersburg than anything else. And, I rather doubt we’d be up for starving out Mexico City, Shanghai, or wherever we wind up having to fight, sooo… Guess what? You want a military solution, you’re going to have to dive into the urban soup to get it. Hope you have an appropriate set of gear…

      Reply
  9. rotorhd

    Didn’t we just inactivate or deactivate all the Recon units in the US Army recently to save a $?

    Reply
    1. Kirk

      LOL… Lookit the funny man, boys and girls…!! He actually thinks these things are related to common sense, instead of political and budget expediencies.

      Silly rabbit, recon is for armies that intend to avoid destruction and win wars with their actual peer competitors. Not to mention, it’s an easy sell to vaguely-familiar-with-military-needs-and-operations types in Congress, who can be snowed with tales of modern electronics and unmanned vehicles which can be produced in their home districts for fun and profit…

      I’ve watched the same set of facts come into being, and with a decidedly jaundiced eye. It’s all of a piece with the assumptions going into the failure to actually understand the lessons of the recent wars we’ve been in–You’ll look long and hard for anyone actually institutionalizing all the things we’ve had to adopt, like full-time, on-MTOE PSD elements at every headquarters above company. In the future, we’re going to have to “fight for leadership” as much as we “fought for reconnaissance”, because the enemy is going to identify our lack of security focus while getting our commander’s eyes on the objectives and activities of our units as a potential center of gravity. As such, they’re going to attack there, and shit will ensue. Mostly due to our lack of comprehension and inability to flexibly adapt to changing circumstances.

      Reply
      1. Kirk

        Should have read “…it’s an easy sell as something to cut to…”.

        WordPress, how I loathe you…

        Reply
      2. bloke_from_ohio

        About saving money and the military…

        I tried to kill a useless R&D program as a brand new butter bar at AFRL. We could not kill it without giving the failing contractor more money to fail harder. The company not so subtly threatened legal action should we end the program and put a black mark on their record without paying them more to fail. It seems it was somehow my fault they sucked and they needed more money to try to not suck. Instead we just stopped putting money on the contract and the inept prime kept charging us $22.78 to send me an email every month. Said email was always a formal declaration that they did not have enough money to actually do what their contract said they were supposed to do after they wasted the first $400K and I told them to stop screwing around and comply with the statement of work.

        I did get to meet one of the VPs of a major aerospace player when he showed up to complain about my stop sucking memorandum to my leadership. It turned out they knew each other and I got real acquainted with the underside of a bus.

        That was a great learning experience for the type of back stabbing politics I mostly missed out on as an ROTC guy from State U. So, at least I caught up with my academy brethren quick in that light.

        Reply
        1. Kirk

          Yeah, most of the morass stems from stuff like this. Too many people in the system view the military as a cash cow, in whatever aspect they see it from. And, we let them…

          Reply
          1. Aesop

            Such officers as do this, of whatsoever rank, should be publicly identified, court martialed, and sentenced under the UCMJ to forfeiture of all rank, pay, and benefits, including to dependents, and immediate punishment by the land force equivalent of “flogging around the fleet”, wherein every person in an entire division (or higher) should line up to whip them with tire chains as they are carted past at a walking pace, on their final trip off the post. Expiring during the process would not be grounds for suspending the sentence.

            Their headshot pictures, with name and former rank plainly visible, would be printed on the deodorant holders of the entire service’s stand up urinals, on the individual sheets of all rolls of toilet paper consumed by that service, and pasted onto the heads of any bayonet or field fire pop-up targets, for an entire year following execution of sentence.

            Pour encourager les autres.

            One example per generation would probably suffice, but should two in any ten-year timespan be required, the second one and any subsequent for the duration of the decade would be televised on AFNTV worldwide, and broadcast to mandatory audiences of all personnel.

            Following any such punishment, any officer not on a combat deployment desiring to immediately resign their commission would be processed out, no questions asked, for 72 hours afterwards, on an immediate same-day basis.

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