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Army Strong or Army small?

widowsonwidowson Registered User regular
edited October 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
Interesting article by Joseph Galloway of We were soldiers once....and young fame:


http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/first-person-singular-2.htm


Basic thesis is that the army is in the middle of a vicious circle, personnell-wise. A small army means people deploy more often. However, they get tired and get out, making the army smaller so people deploy even more often and get out, ect. ect.

A total of 35 percent of the West Point Class of 2000 left the Army in 2005; 46 percent of the Class of 2001 left in 2006, and a staggering 58 percent of the Class of 2002 left active duty when their obligation expired this year.

Those figures are mirrored among officers who are commissioned through university ROTC programs, with attrition rates now at a 30-year high. The Army Reserve reports that the situation is even worse for critical ranks and specialties: The Reserve has only 58 percent of the sergeants first class it needs, 53 percent of the needed captains and 74 percent of needed majors.

It’s clear that we’re grinding up our seed corn in Iraq and Afghanistan. For much too long, the administration and former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sought to fight their wars on the cheap, without adding desperately needed but expensive manpower to an Army that started with only 486,000 troops on active duty.


I'm beginning to wonder if we're eventually going to see a "hard break" where some young SGT on hit 4th or 5th deployment flips out and mows down a village with his M-249 or we get to the point where we're taking felons because so few want to join and the vets start leaving.

Consider that during 'nam most vets didn't do more than 1 tour, 2 was rare, 3 was only the real hardcore. If we keep even pre-surge levels of soldiers in Iraq, you're going to have infantrymen on their 4th or 5th tour. That's *REALLY* pushing it, patience and sanity wise, especially with these tours being 15 months and only a 12 month break in-between with most of that spent in the field training.

Even your WW2 guys didn't spend that much time in the dirt. I'd argue that I.E.D.s and counterinsurgent warfare are, at times, more stressful than straigh-up combat because it's more jarring and you're not allowed the release of fighting back hard (restrictive R.O.E.s).

To me, this just confirms Senator McCains' view that "Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst Secretaries of Defense in History" He got warned that the army needed 12 divisions and 200,000 to pacify Iraq and he completely blew that advice off and now it's too late because people are so burnt-out on the war, the post 9-11 willingness to enlist has been exhausted. The surge may be working, but it may also be 4 years too late

Also, we as a nation are really treating our soldiers like shit, either by overdeploying them in this Forever War, or not having the stones to just end it. Yeah, they're volunteers, but even a volunteer can be pushed too hard and choose not to reenlist, or just stop caring. In 'nam, "Everything was asked of a few and nothing was asked of most." Same here.

Thoughts?

EDIT: Solution? I think the Army *must* begin to draw down soon. They either do less and salvage what they can from a bad situation (or write it off), or risk the "hard break" where the Army turns into the post-vietnam army. Demoralized, resentful, angry, and tainted by too many felons, drug users, and men with shattered minds.

-I owe nothing to Women's Lib.

Margaret Thatcher
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Posts

  • TalousTalous Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The kind of military Rumsfeld wanted was great -- small, elite, highly effective. It was his idea that it would be the kind of army that goes in to a country, can defeat any force in an incredibly short period of time, and get the hell out. Unfortunately that was the opposite of what was needed to realistically fulfill this administration's goals for Iraq.

    There are some who say that if we can just maintain these troop levels with the kind of losses we're having now for ten more years, we'll certainly win the war. What they don't seem to realize is that we won't have an army anymore because it can't sustain these kinds of casualties for that long. It seems like we're entering a pattern in which every twenty five years, the army has to rebuild itself from what is nearly scratch because of complete and total failure in the hands of a civilian-run administration.

    There's a very interesting article about opinions on Iraq from all the angles this month (Edit) in Mother Jones.

    Talous on
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  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    widowson wrote: »
    I'm beginning to wonder if we're eventually going to see a "hard break" where some young SGT on hit 4th or 5th deployment flips out and mows down a village with his M-249 or we get to the point where we're taking felons because so few want to join and the vets start leaving.
    Haven't both of those more or less happened.

    Quid on
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Quid wrote: »
    widowson wrote: »
    I'm beginning to wonder if we're eventually going to see a "hard break" where some young SGT on hit 4th or 5th deployment flips out and mows down a village with his M-249 or we get to the point where we're taking felons because so few want to join and the vets start leaving.
    Haven't both of those more or less happened.
    I didn't want to say it, but I'm fairly certain they have.

    redx on
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  • widowsonwidowson Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    redx wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    widowson wrote: »
    I'm beginning to wonder if we're eventually going to see a "hard break" where some young SGT on hit 4th or 5th deployment flips out and mows down a village with his M-249 or we get to the point where we're taking felons because so few want to join and the vets start leaving.
    Haven't both of those more or less happened.
    I didn't want to say it, but I'm fairly certain they have.


    There was that sicko who raped that 14 year old girl and killed her family. Unfortunatly you can't filter out all the morons in any organization, no matter how good your quality control is. And with the Army being so despreate for bodies, more will get through....

    I also worry about a normal kid freaking out. There was premeditation and planning in the above incident, I worry about someone just loosing it and opening up on a village on full auto because he's seen one too many of his buddies die and he just snaps. That's dozens of dead, or a hundred; I fear another My Lai.

    I worry about the overuse of the word "hero". People who sacrifice and do hard things are to be respected, but not everyone is a hero. Not everyone is strong 24-7, can do the work of 3 people, ect.

    widowson on
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    Margaret Thatcher
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I think it's beyond question that the army doesn't have the manpower for an Iraq-style deployment. The fact that you have members of other services doing things like driving trucks and an untold number of contractors providing "security" is proof enough of that.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Except it's not just one guy freaking out. I remember seeing some new case every couple weeks in The Stars and Stripes about some squad being charged with killing civilians unecessarily. Which is to say nothing of the shit you hear from the front lines guys themselves.

    Quid on
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Wasn't there a soldier a few years back who rolled a grenade into an officer's tent? I never heard of him afterwards since the media focused on John Walker.

    Blackwater guards get immunity from a branch of the State Department.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21533017/

    emnmnme on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    That was back at the start of the war. I believe the guy claimed to be a Muslim of some sort and was prosecuted.

    Quid on
  • TalousTalous Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Did anyone hear about the first general (brigadier) who just got injured today? He was being protected by one of the private security firms, apparently.

    Edited in a link to the article.
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Blackwater guards get immunity from a branch of the State Department.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21533017/

    Thanks for linking to the update on this story, I was wondering what the hell happened to their trial.

    Talous on
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  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Talous wrote: »
    Did anyone hear about the first general (brigadier) who just got injured today? He was being protected by one of the private security firms, apparently.

    Edited in a link to the article.

    How fucked up was it, that I checked to link because I wanted to know if they were just incompetent, or actually shot him?

    I think this war is going to make some good literature in a few years. How many great wwI and wwII novels focus on how fucked up the war is from the soldier's perspective. Catch 22, Slaughterhouse 5, it will be great. Give it a couple decades.

    I can't even imagine what will come out of Iraq once it unfucks itself enough to have serious literature again.

    redx on
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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Quid wrote: »
    Except it's not just one guy freaking out. I remember seeing some new case every couple weeks in The Stars and Stripes about some squad being charged with killing civilians unecessarily. Which is to say nothing of the shit you hear from the front lines guys themselves.

    Yeah, I remember reading the occasional story like that as well. And like you said, I heard plenty (and saw a bit first-hand) regarding slightly less severe issues: things like unwarranted (and intentional) property damage, treating the locals like shit for laughs (bribing children with food to beat each other up, for instance), that kind of thing.

    And pretty much all these guys were only on their first deployment (though we hit 17 months gone from home, with 12 in-country, by the time it was over).

    But yeah, things are pretty fucked up. There's only so much recruiting/retention bonuses can do, and eventually you start to attract the kind of people you don't want to hand automatic weapons to and send to live among people our society (at least some segments, and the segment such recruits tend to come from) has done their best to dehumanize.

    mcdermott on
  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    redx wrote: »
    I can't even imagine what will come out of Iraq once it unfucks itself enough to have serious literature again.

    So when do you expect that to be then?

    subedii on
  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Can I just say that the recruitment campaing "Army Strong" is retarded? The whole never stood for anything, now taking a stand timeline in the adds? Cause IMO it is.

    Yeah, you are taking a stand; its 3000 miles from home in a desert with crazy Jihadist Insurgents and IEDs. Smart move. Its almost as bad as the crapy "Army of One" slogan before it. What was wrong with "Be all that you can be"?

    Kipling217 on
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  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    subedii wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    I can't even imagine what will come out of Iraq once it unfucks itself enough to have serious literature again.

    So when do you expect that to be then?

    Well, once they are a first world nation, where the people are reasonably secure, and the government is not horribly oppressive. Gilgamesh was really good, and it's really just a matter of time.

    redx on
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  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    redx wrote: »
    subedii wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    I can't even imagine what will come out of Iraq once it unfucks itself enough to have serious literature again.

    So when do you expect that to be then?

    Well, once they are a first world nation, where the people are reasonably secure, and the government is not horribly oppressive. Gilgamesh was really good, and it's really just a matter of time.

    As long as they are sitting on top of all that oil, they'll never become a first world nation.

    So I suppose it'll take a little longer than a few decades.

    ege02 on
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    ege02 wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    subedii wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    I can't even imagine what will come out of Iraq once it unfucks itself enough to have serious literature again.

    So when do you expect that to be then?

    Well, once they are a first world nation, where the people are reasonably secure, and the government is not horribly oppressive. Gilgamesh was really good, and it's really just a matter of time.

    As long as they are sitting on top of all that oil, they'll never become a first world nation.

    So I suppose it'll take a little longer than a few decades.

    Notice how the couple decades thing was in a paragraph where I was talking about stuff written by western service men, and what you quoted refers to something written 4700 years ago.

    redx on
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  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    redx wrote: »
    ege02 wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    subedii wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    I can't even imagine what will come out of Iraq once it unfucks itself enough to have serious literature again.

    So when do you expect that to be then?

    Well, once they are a first world nation, where the people are reasonably secure, and the government is not horribly oppressive. Gilgamesh was really good, and it's really just a matter of time.

    As long as they are sitting on top of all that oil, they'll never become a first world nation.

    So I suppose it'll take a little longer than a few decades.

    Notice how the couple decades thing was in a paragraph where I was talking about stuff written by western service men, and what you quoted refers to something written 4700 years ago.

    Earth didn't exist back then you heathen.

    ege02 on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The army wouldn't be so bad off if it actually kept to its actual purpose thus making it more attractive to sane people.

    Did they ever get the national guard back all the way inside, you know, this nation?

    Incenjucar on
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The army wouldn't be so bad off if it actually kept to its actual purpose thus making it more attractive to sane people.

    Did they ever get the national guard back all the way inside, you know, this nation?

    from the bitching about national guard not responding to most of california being on fire--and by the way they think some of them were started by people, so you might want to look out-- I would assume not. Course that is just lefty hay making, or whatever, I have no idea if it is actually true, because I'm too lazy to research stuff.

    redx on
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  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    The army wouldn't be so bad off if it actually kept to its actual purpose thus making it more attractive to sane people.

    Did they ever get the national guard back all the way inside, you know, this nation?

    Won't happen. In fact, there are National Guard brigades on their second rotations (within what, 4 years?) and more brigades set for second rotations soon.

    And while obviously the optempo the active-duty military is facing is definitely hurting both morale and retention (making your numbers by offering huge bonuses and instant promotions really doesn't count), I think the strain on the Guard is really going to start to show soon. Because, you know, we're expected to maintain civilian careers to feed our families between deployments and that's not easy when you're spending 3 years out of six deployed (including train-up time and time in-country).

    For instance, the fact that it's possible that I won't be able to finish my degree without getting deployed again, especially considering that I had already completed a year of it before I left the first time, is absolutely ludicrous.

    mcdermott on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Won't happen.

    Okay so yeah the military is forever fucked.

    Incenjucar on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Won't happen.

    Okay so yeah the military is forever fucked.
    Not forever fucked. Give it, what, 10-20 years without a repeat of Iraq and recruitment would probably return to it's normal sort of cross-section.

    electricitylikesme on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Not forever fucked. Give it, what, 10-20 years without a repeat of Iraq and recruitment would probably return to it's normal sort of cross-section.

    How long has it been since we've gone 10-20 years without a stupid military event?

    Incenjucar on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Not forever fucked. Give it, what, 10-20 years without a repeat of Iraq and recruitment would probably return to it's normal sort of cross-section.

    How long has it been since we've gone 10-20 years without a stupid military event?

    Desert storm lasted like five days. Bosnia, while not a cakewalk, wasn't exactly Iraq. Even Somalia wasn't. Really, I think we'd had a pretty good run since Vietnam. Most of the really "shitty" military operations we've been involved in have either been short in duration, not required multiple deployments, or been performed largely by the kind of units that actually kinda dig this shit.

    Look at who went into Grenada: pretty much Marines, Rangers, and Airborne. Most of the action in Somalia involved, I believe, either special ops or units like the 10th Mountain. And neither lasted particularly long.

    I know I'm kind of rambling (could be the alcohol talking), but what I'm trying to say is that for the last twenty to thirty years, unless you went into units that are known to deploy a lot (Marines, special ops, a few select light infantry units, etc.) we really haven't had a lot of stupid military events going on.

    mcdermott on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Not forever fucked. Give it, what, 10-20 years without a repeat of Iraq and recruitment would probably return to it's normal sort of cross-section.

    How long has it been since we've gone 10-20 years without a stupid military event?

    Provided the US military doesn't do any more prolonged costly occupations getting recruits will eventually become easier again. The promise of the modern military is "we'll go in, kick all their asses and leave" and most people can be ok with that. It's not having a distinct enemy or criteria for victory which is the real issue.

    electricitylikesme on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Mn. Desert storm was enough to get two of my uncles out of the military, so I tend to include it in crazy stupid things, especially considering our catalytic relationship there.

    Anyways, I suppose ultimately people will always forget about wars of the past in their decisions, or else glorify said past. But the same cycles seem to be fairly inevitable every generation or two.

    Incenjucar on
  • TalousTalous Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Obviously there isn't such a thing as a 'good war', but Desert Storm has typically been used as an example of getting things done the right way. 'Stormin' Norman' is pretty well respected. The biggest criticism I've heard is that we didn't depose Saddam then. Of course there are little things like Gulf War syndrome and depleted uranium use.

    Talous on
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