Interesting article in the Washington Post. Apparently there is concern among the Army’s officers with the service’s unremarkable performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with a dark future of small budgets and strategic irrelevance.
Big Army’s response, led by SMA Chandler, is to tighten restrictions on backpacks and sideburns.
I can’t imagine why anyone is concerned…..
Often times the central question of strategy is not whether we are able to do something, i.e. Do we have the means to accomplish the ends, but whether we ought to do something.
One of the most insightful, straightforward articles I’ve come across.
A writer going by the name of “Petronius Arbiter” recently posted a series of articles entitled How to fix the Army in 66 easy steps on Tom Ricks’ blog. Although there’s been much discussion on the blog about many of his recommendations, I feel a few deserve some additional attention.
It’s probably best to being by asking “What is the problem?” Not that I don’t think the Army has problems that need fixing (as it certainly does), however, the Petronius never defines what problem he is trying to fix. The closest he comes is when he leads off his series with “A few small things, some annoyances, and some big fixes that could make a good Army better:”
Really? Better at what?
He follows with his 66 steps, not all of which makes Ricks’ blog. Some are ok; most are the kind of pointless drivel that essentially boil down to “Let’s go back to the way we used to do it.” The “way we used to do it” is sacrosanct in the Army. If it was done at some point in the past it must be good – nevermind that WHY it was done in the past is rarely known.
Among the more stupid:
- “Since 75th Ranger Regiment is not an Infantry Regiment do not allow Infantry personnel in that organization to declare 75th Infantry as a regimental affiliation.” Oooooooh. Now there’s a HUGE problem. (WTF, over?!)
- “Re-instill drill and ceremonies so that units can at least have confidence in unit abilities to conduct a pass in review at ceremonies. Oh, and when supervised properly, it is a tremendous discipline builder and junior NCO developer, but most officers don’t know that.” Really? With all the time pressures on Army units, to suggest that they should waste time marching around and doing facing movements is, quite frankly, idiotic. Soldiers are still going to war every 12-15 months. They need to be training on mission-oriented tasks, not wandering around a parade field.
- “Restore unit designations that make sense and are understandable. We know what an artillery unit is and does. We don’t understand what a Fires unit is and does.” Go a mouse in your pocket? Speak for yourself, bub. “We” understand what a Fires unit does just fine, thanks. Perhaps you meant YOU don’t understand. Here’s a suggestion – pick up an FM and read a bit.
- “Bring back the bayonet.” Wow. Between that and Drill/Ceremonies we could be just like the British in WWI.
Bottom line: Let’s just go back to the way we used to do it.
- Fixing the Army (By Ruining It) (outsidethebeltway.com)
You see, back in the day the Army had only only two combinations of physical training uniform: T-shirt/shorts and sweatshirt/sweatpants. Soldiers wore summers until a designated date (usually 1 October), then switched to winters.
It sucked because Mother Nature failed to abide by the Army’s command sergeant major-approved switchover date.
One day, some smart Army guy saw how civilians were dressing at various levels for working out based on the temperature outside. Aha! We should do that too! The Improved Physical Fitness Uniform (IPFU) was born. Soldiers could wear any combination they wanted of shorts/pants/short sleeves/long sleeves/jacket – depending on the temperature outside, of course. Brilliant.
Of course, the idea never caught on. AR 670-1 clearly states “There are no restrictions on the combination of IPFU items worn, unless the commander has prescribed a particular combination for formation.” Yeah right. We still switch from summers to winters on one magic day each autumn, and from winters to summers on another magic day each spring. And if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with your switch date….too fucking bad. Freeze. Or fry. Either way, at least we are all wearing the same goddamn thing…and THAT’S the most important thing.
There’s a word for this…stupidity.
The Army set a somber record in July when 32 Soldiers took their own lives, the most since the Army started keeping stats in 2009. Despite millions of dollars spent to lower suicides, they remain regrettably high.
Army Vice Chief of Staff GEN Peter Chiarelli said recently, “While the high number of potential suicides in July is discouraging, we are confident our efforts aimed at increasing individuals’ resiliency, while reducing incidence of at-risk and high-risk behavior across the force, are having a positive impact.”
Carl Prine has a great post at his blog “Line of Departure” on the reflective belt as a metaphor for all that is stupid in today’s Army. Somehow his image of a Soldier wearing a reflective belt while playing kickball (right) captures the essence of modern Army stupidity and risk aversion. Highly recommended.
You can get more information on the history of the Army’s ubiquitous reflective belt here:
Sep 20th came and went without so much as a riot or mass AWOLs. That’s right; as of Tuesday gay persons may serve openly in the military. Aside from numerous gay service members “coming out” on the internet, the day was like any other.
Notably, the U.S. Navy led all services into this new era as Lt. Gary Ross exchanged wedding vows with Dan Swezy (pictured) just minutes after DADT expired.
Their early a.m. wedding provides a fitting description to the end of DADT:
- Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal: Navy Lt. Gary Ross, Partner Dan Swezy Wed As Military’s Gay Ban Formally Ends (huffingtonpost.com)
- As Ban Ends, Navy Officer, Partner Wed In Vt. – NPR (news.google.com)