“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower
Be warned—I’m not technically trained. However—as befits my role as a writer—I’m normally able to become sufficiently familiar with a device to explain its principles, functionality, and (if it is a weapon) tactical relevance and deployment.
To that end, I have a keen interest in technology with a strong bias towards matters military—and, particularly, the Army. And, of course, I not only researched the Army in the Nineties—I worked for the Vice (Vice Chief of Staff of the Army) in 2001/2.
In all, I have been researching, thinking about, and otherwise studying the Army for 20 years in some detail—and for decades in general terms. Flaws and all, I hold it in high regard and consider it with considerable affection. Many of the people I have met during that period, I consider my friends. To a man or woman, they have one characteristic in common—they care. I don’t know one I don’t regard with respect and affection.
Do I agree with their mindsets? Well, in most cases we have shared values, but some of us have different views in other ways. I hold to the view that no disrespect is implied by disagreeing. If nothing else, it demonstrates concern.
Let me make a conceptual leap here: To my mind, it’s questionable as to whether there should be a separate Army—as currently constituted—today. Air and ground have the potential to be so tactically integrated that it is highly questionable as to whether the two forces should operate as two separate services—or even as two branches.
In fact, fairly soon it should be regarded as unthinkable for a mission to be conducted without air and ground operating as one—and for air virtually always to be incorporated. Despite all the hype about PGMs, drones, and satellite surveillance (to mention just some elements) air and ground are still far from integrated, and there are still considerable capability gaps. These exist not just for technical reasons, but because higher command has not yet committed to the notion that total integration is the way to go. In fact, total integration is not even understood.
Yes, combined arms is the official doctrine, and that involves a high level of cooperation, but integration is a further step forward—and a massive one at that. Integration means you recruit, train, deploy and fight as one unit.
Whether that will happen as fast as will be technically possible is a good question. In fact, it is far from certain it will happen at all for a considerable time—even though the arguments in favor of enhancing combat effectiveness would seem to support it.
If I convey a certain doubt here, it is because the integrity of war games can be suspect—and is vulnerable to the wishes (whether expressed or implied) of higher command. If the CSA (Chief of Staff of the Army) is backing a particular approach to Army modernization, it will take a brave officer indeed to thwart him—and facts are not an adequate excuse.
How do I know this? Call it first-hand experience. The CSA, in those days, was General Shinseki—the same man who resigned recently from the Veterans Administration.
The different services are fiercely territorial—and branches have a tendency to be little better. This is caused by history, training, environment, the availability of limited resources, command structures—and good old-fashioned human greed and ambition. Don’t knock the latter qualities. They tend to be front and center.
In short, the different branches are not only conditioned to think of themselves as belonging to the best branch, but their members are actively concerned to secure their maximum share of the spoils. This is very human and understandable—particularly where higher command has been conditioned to think a certain way for decades—but it is not the right mindset to have when facing the degree of change the U.S. Army is.
This is an opinion—no more—offered in respect. Will it upset some people?
It seems highly likely. It needs to be said.