Assumptions

Land Warrior Helmet

Got this email in response to a post last week which noted that funding for the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) had been cut:

The biggest issue I have with these big ticket programs such as FCS and LandWarrior is that they are predicated on the assumption that we know the type of war and adversary we will fight decades down the line, without taking into account the revolutionary nature of warfare.

I wish I could remember the name of the book, which had a bunch of essays concerning the future of war. One essay in particular struck a nerve, about a combat unit of the future that has come to totally rely on its netcentric and computer systems, to include a novel “simulation” program that basically would crunch the numbers of all the relevant data and spit out the course of action that should be taken and its probability of success.

The story ends, of course, with the destruction of that unit by an adversary who took advantage of their reliance on that system and was able to corrupt its results. In the end, though, the actual action that ends with the annihilation of said unit was carried out with comparatively primitive weaponry.

We have to stay focused on the future, certainly, but we have a ‘here and now’ war going on that is going to require a refitting of our forces in the near future, especially the Guard. That was one of the biggest complaints about the Whiz Kids who ran the war in Vietnam . Most of the braintrust in the Pentagon was more concerned with the strategic aspects of the Cold War and our nuclear capabilities and gave very short shrift to the actual combat that was going on in the field at that time.

We have to train and equip to fight the war we’re in while also remaining capable of fighting the next ones. The danger of “over-correction” is very real.

Regarding “refitting the Guard,” I’d like to state again my suggestion that perhaps the National Guard could be designated to provide mostly “major war” capabilities with mostly heavy combat brigades trained for mech anized warfare. This would simplify the training of part-time troops yet provide bulk for the heavy hitting if needed. The active duty Army, of course, would retain much of its big war capability, but full-time troops are more easily retrained for new missions as needed.

This would also cut down on the lengthy deployments of Guard troops to campaigns such as the current ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. This would be a good thing.

A problem with this plan would be that some of the new-fangled equipment for big wars might not be so financially successful if the active Army buys less of it.

Worse things could happen, I guess.