REAL Transformation

Schumpeterian reform for the U.S. Army

We know all about the Army’s transformation into a force designed to fight tomorrow’s wars. Generally speaking, “transformation” usually means something along the lines of “faster and lighter…with digital computers”.

Some new programs, like the Stryker light armored vehicle, pinpoint on-call air support, the XM8 assault rifle, improved body armor, and the Future Combat Systems plan, effect the transformation by their implementation. Others, like the Crusader mobile artillery and the Comanche helicopter, effect the transformation by their cancellation.

Today’s war is different than the wars we planned to fight yesterday.

In addition to new gadgets and better weaponry (all of which is vital), “transformation” can take on a more mundane form. Giving the soldiers a new vehicle or a new rifle may allow them to do things in way that’s different than the previous ways of doing that thing, but it’s still basically the same thing that they’re doing. It’s good that we transform in this way, of course, but there is another form of transformation that we must not ignore.

That is the transformation of the Army into a force that does new things. Or at least old things on a new scale not previously seen or needed.

Intel Dump points out an article on that begins:

More than 100,000 Soldiers will move from “Cold War” jobs to positions such as military police and civil affairs as part of Army Transformation, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston said.

This is a crucial step in the right direction. The Army’s primary job, of course, is to kill people and destroy things. But as we’re seeing in Iraq, there is more to it than that.

Between this shift to far more civil affairs and military police units and the training of non-front line soldiers in combat, this sort of transformation will make our Army not only more efficient at what they’ve always done but make it more capable to win today’s war.

One thing about transformation, though, is that change for the sake of change isn’t good. And just like today’s war is not like yesterday’s wars, tomorrow’s wars will not be like today’s war. So while I commend the Army on what it’s done so far and what it plans to do in the future, they had better be careful to not over-correct.

Never mind that tanks and heavy artillery often are handy to have while waging 4th-generation asymmetrical warfare. Sometimes you need them to fight an enemy who uses tanks and artillery instead of hand-me-down assault rifles and roadside bombs.