Archive for the ‘Transformation’ Category

On Hats

August 18, 2011 2 comments

image Thousands of Soldiers finally got their wish.  The Army dumped the beret and went back to the good ole’ patrol cap (Read the Army Times article).

The most frequent complaints about the beret were:

1. It takes two hands to put on.

2. It does not shade the eyes from the sun.

3. It’s hot.

So, now that we have the patrol cap back, these problems should be solved…right?  To test this, I recently took some time after morning physical training to conduct an un-scientific experiment.  I grabbed a coffee and sat down on a bench outside the post gym.  For 30 minutes I surveyed the Soldiers emerging from the gym to determine how well the implementation of the patrol cap was going.  Here is what I found. Read more…


A Crisis in Army Leadership? Recent Brigade Commander Fails Have the CSA’s Attention

April 18, 2011 3 comments

General Martin Dempsey, commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, photographed at the Pentagon on Wednesday, May 20, 2009. (Sheila Vemmer/Staff)

A few months ago, I asked this question: Is the Army finally getting serious about toxic leaders?  It appears that the answer may be yes, although much remains to be seen.  What is clear is that the recent relief of two brigade commanders, COLs Frank Zachar and James Johnson, along with other embarrassing revelations of bad brigade leadership, has got the new Chief of Staff’s attention.  In the 25 April Army Times cover story, the new CSA promises action to curb these leadership failures.

Read more…

The (Not So) New Military-Industrial Complex

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Long-time defense reform advocate Franklin Spinney has authored a new article, “The Domestic Roots of Perpetual War” which examines the military-industrial complex in the context of the post-9/11 environment.  Here are the salient points:

  • Despite huge defense expenditures, we (Americans) don’t feel that much more safe.
  • Budgetary and debt pressures will soon bring the defense spending issue to a crisis point.
  • Our troops are stressed out by repeated deployments and our equipment is getting older rather than newer, even as we spend nearly three quarter of a trillion (with a T) on defense.
  • Continuous small wars serve the corporate strategies of defense contractors, who have failed to diversify following the Cold War.
  • Greater weapons system complexity is increasing rather than decreasing friction on the battlefield.
  • The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) process is broken.
    While Spinney does not make specific recommendations on a way forward vis a vis ends-ways-means, he does provide a good context for a wholesale strategic review of the defense budget.  His conclusions suggest that the U.S. should drop most of our complex weapons systems in favor of investments in our most important resource – people.

Sharks with Laser Beams, and Other Strategic Goals

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

David Ignatius writes in today’s Washington Times about the need to cut the defense budget (Ike was right: Defense spending must be cut).  Once again, a voice at large calling for defense cuts.  Once again, the call is utterly devoid of strategic thought.

Ignatius calls for the elimination of pork-barrel weapons programs.  A noble argument, however, which weapons are pork and which are vital to the national defense?

Ignatius’ argument is completely devoid of a strategic ends-ways-means analysis.  Without it, cutting weapons systems based on a perception of what constitutes pork is simply fumbling in the strategic darkness.

On a positive note, Ignatius makes an argument for lasers:Drevil million dollars.jpg

Lasers are only a few years away from being practical weapons, Pentagon officials say. Ground-based lasers could revolutionize air defense, and a new generation of solid-state lasers may be small enough for airborne platforms. “Directed-energy systems will be among the key ‘game-changing’ technology-enabled capabilities,” wrote Dahm.

Now, if we can get some sharks with some frickin’ laser beams in the procurement pipeline, we’d be well on our way to a 21st century military.

True Transformation ….. to what, again?

January 4, 2010 1 comment

This is a response to an article posted to Armed Forces Journal by Mr. Gregory Foster.  The article is a call for military transformation.  You can read the entire article here:

Mr. Foster presents us with something of a top ten list of things to do to transform the military. Some of his points are right on while some are questionable. Right or wrong, all ten are tinged with and undertone of harshness as his utter contempt for the military bleeds through his text.

Still, however unable the author is to separate his emotions, his list warrants consideration as many of his arguments are salient.

The real problem with the article (aside from the vitriolic innuendos), however, is that despite the merit of many of his recommendations, Mr. Foster fails to deliver on his primary thesis. He calls for:

…a strategically effective military: an instrument of power capable of fulfilling the larger aims of society and even of humanity — a self-contained, self-sufficient, full-service enterprise that can be projected over long distances and sustained for extended periods of time to deal successfully and conclusively with a full range of complex emergencies and

Achieving such a capability will be a matter, first, of reorienting the military from one charged with preparing for and waging war to one whose purpose and preparations are to prevent war, to secure and preserve peace. These two profoundly different missions — preparing for and waging war and securing and preserving peace — call for profoundly different militaries.

Unfortunately, his list of ten items don’t have anything specifically to do with achieving the type of military he calls for with the above statement. Most of his recommendations are advisable whether for a war-waging or peace-preserving military. I really don’t understand what the difference between these two militaries is, and I don’t think that Mr. Foster does either (or perhaps he just didn’t mention it here).

Having been on multiple combat deployments, I’d be interested to know exactly what Mr. Foster envisions a peace-securing mission to look like. What type of capabilities and doctrine does he recommend we develop?

I think that Mr. Foster has confused policy and grand strategy with defense transformation. In an ideal world the military serves to preserve the peace, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the military is not capable of fighting wars. Rather, it is the skillful strategic employment (or threat of employment) within a broad grand strategic framework supported by governmental policy.

Now, within such a grand strategic framework focused on securing peace, the military should develop capabilities which support more limited, focused objectives (a scalpel) as well as broader, full spectrum combat objectives (broadsword). What those capabilities should be is beyond this forum, but intelligence, civil affairs, information operations, humanitarian assistance, foreign internal defense, and special operations all come to mind.