“Last year, the sudden budget cuts known as sequestration forced the Army to cancel crucial training for 78 percent of its combat brigades. The budget request for 2015, released today, buys back a lot of that lost readiness — but not all. In fact, the Army has now officially resigned itself to what it once said it would never do: a system of readiness haves and have-nots, in which some units are never fully trained. That’s something the Army Vice-Chief of Staff, Gen. John Campbell, admitted was on the tablewhen he talked to me in August, but now “tiered readiness” is the official Army plan. The 2015 budget creates an Army Contingency Force — whose size is still to be determined — whose units will be funded to receive the latest equipment and the full training program, whose climax is a brigade-sized wargame at a Combat Training Center. The same priority of training and equipment will apply to the Army’s existing Global Response Force, a brigade of the 82nd Airborne (plus reinforcement) ready to airdrop into crisis zones on short notice, and to the remaining Army brigade in South Korea.”
“With the president’s 2015 budget request and a fresh four-year strategy review in hand, Pentagon leaders in recent speeches, interviews and testimonies have set out to give clarity to their vision for the future, post-Afghanistan purpose of the United States military. “With this budget, we are repositioning the military for the new strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Senate on Wednesday. It’s a sweeping declaration being echoed across the Joint Chiefs and top political defense leaders. But repositioning to do what?”
“Legislation to curb sexual assaults in the military by stripping senior commanders of their authority to prosecute rapes and other serious offenses is headed for a highly anticipated vote in the Senate. The bill, which is expected to come up for a vote Thursday afternoon, is firmly opposed by the Pentagon's leadership, which argues officers should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the troops they lead.”
“Defense cuts are coming. The only question is how much. As it has grappled with the fiscal realities of sequestration, the U.S. Army has sought to define its mission in a post-war environment. The Pentagon’s latest budget request would reduce Army end strength to 440,000. While this reduction has caused a great deal of consternation in some quarters, this is not nearly enough.”
“The National Guard has lost the budget battle inside the administration. But it has hardly lost the war. “We are disappointed by today’s budget preview, but we are not surprised. Nor are we defeated,” declared retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, president of influential National Guard Association of the United States, in a statement released shortly afterDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s budget briefing yesterday afternoon. In fact, the odds are looking pretty good for NGAUS because the next fight will be on Capitol Hill, where the Guard’s home-state roots give it a home-field advantage. That fight will center on the NGAUS-backed proposal to get an independent entity to make decisions about the entire structure of the Army — regular active-duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve. That entity would probably be the same kind of commission a gridlocked Congress has already created for the Air Force and military compensation.”
“Standing just over 5 feet, Army Spc. Karen Arvizu is barely a foot taller than the anti-tank missile she carries in both arms and loads into an armored vehicle. She stands on her tip-toes to wrestle open the 300-pound top hatch. "I have to step on the seat to get the missile into the launcher," said Arvizu, a 24-year-old soldier from Los Angeles. "It's half my body weight." Arvizu typically drives Humvees or transport trucks at Fort Stewart in Georgia, but for the past three weeks, she and 59 other women soldiers have been getting a taste of what it takes to serve in combat. By spending their days lifting 65-pound missiles and .50-caliber machine guns, all while wearing 70 pounds of body armor, they're helping make history as part of an Army study that will determine how all soldiers — including women, for the first time — will be deemed fit to join the front lines.”
“The Fort Bragg-based U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command will get a new commander, according to the Pentagon. Brig. Gen. Erik C. Peterson will become commanding general of the one-star command, which oversees people, hardware and training for Army special operations aviation, whose helicopter pilots specialize in high-risk, low-level, nighttime missions. Peterson will take the place of Brig. Gen. Clayton M. Hutmacher, who will become deputy commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division, Eighth U.S. Army in Korea, according to a Department of Defense release.”
“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told hundreds of troops Tuesday that the historic reductions in military compensation he proposing is, in part, an effort to keep them safe. A day after announcing the first-ever rollback of housing allowance, a cut to military commissary subsidies and new Tricare fees for military families, Hagel visited two installations in Virginia and met with troops because he wanted to explain to them “face to face, as your Secretary of Defense ... why we made the decisions we made.” “I would never put any of you in harm’s way without the very best training, equipment, modernization and support,” Hagel told officers and enlisted airmen at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.”
“Only a small fraction of Army women say they'd like to move into one of the newly opening combat jobs, but those few who do say they want a job that takes them right into the heart of battle, according to preliminary results from a survey of the service's nearly 170,000 women. That survey and others across the Army, publicly disclosed for the first time to The Associated Press, also revealed that soldiers of both genders are nervous about women entering combat jobs but say they are determined to do it fairly. Men are worried about losing their jobs to women; women are worried they will be seen as getting jobs because of their gender and not their qualifications. Both are emphatic that the Army must not lower standards to accommodate women.”
“The Army this week started handing out more than $11 million in new mountain-climbing gear to U.S. troops, who count on the equipment to move across rough terrain in places like Afghanistan. For years, the Army’s inventory of climbing equipment has focused on utility, meaning soldiers were equipped with items such as carabineers that were plenty strong, but also plenty heavy. Since 2007, however, engineers at the Project Executive Office Soldier program have been testing equipment used by sport climbers with a view to upgrading the combat gear. As a result, soldiers will now be traversing cliffs and crags with the same ropes, harnesses, carabineers, crampons, ice axes, avalanche transceivers and rock anchors used by mountain climbers throughout the world.”
“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has fired a shot across the bow of business-as-usual at the Pentagon by announcing significant cuts in the U.S. Army. Trimming the active component of the Army from 580,000 to 450,000 would hardly take us back to the interwar Army of 280,000 that gave birth to great wartime leaders like Dwight Eisenhower, George C. Marshall, George A. Patton or Douglass MacArthur, but it still represents a significant reduction in manpower. It undoubtedly will start World War III on the Hill and among other elements of what Ike referred to as our "military-industrial complex," but Hagel should hold the line as the time is ripe for an audacious move on this front. He should stand by these cuts for three reasons...”
“The Pentagon's new strategy calls for an active-duty Army of 450,000 soldiers — the fewest number of full-time soldiers since before World War II. That would be just 10% less than the average since the mid-1990s to halfway through the Bush years — not a huge change. Marines and Army Guardsmen and Reservists would be cut slightly less, in percentage terms. Even so, how much is enough? Since 1992, the U.S. has based its planning for ground forces around the possibility of fighting two large regional wars at once. We thought they'd be Iraq and North Korea. They turned out to be Iraq and Afghanistan.”
On February 24th the Brookings Institution held an event entitled “The Future of Land Power and U.S. Ground Forces” that consisted of two panel discussions with senior military leaders and academics. The first panel moderated by Dr. Michael O’Hanlon comprised of Major General Christopher Haas, Major General William Hix, Colonel Jim Zientek, and Dr. Peter Singer. The discussion focused primarily on “Strategic Landpower” and the importance of the “human domain” vis-à-vis ground forces. This concept was presented as an attempt by the Army, Marine Corps, and SOCOM to institutionalize the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan in order to be better prepared for future operational challenges. Generals Hix and Haas along with Colonel Zientek argued that ground forces are of utmost importance in achieving national strategic goals and emphasized the linkage between the human domain and geographic realities. In their opinion, land power matters because people live on the land. There was disagreement between the military panelists and Dr. Singer over the unique ability of landpower to affect to human domain. Dr. Singer argued that all military activity inevitably aims to effect human will and thus this domain. Despite this disagreement, all the panelists agreed that the human aspect whatever term you use must be more completely addressed to succeed in future conflicts.
The second panel, consisting of Major General H.R. McMaster, Dr. William Galston, Dr. Michael O’Hanlon, and moderated by Dr. Peter Singer, was more theoretical than the first. MG McMaster expressed his concern with a lack of balance between the military services and discussed some fallacies he perceives about military power. He sees an overreliance on firepower, an overreliance on special operations forces, an overreliance on partner capacity, and a false belief that the US can simply opt out of undesirable conflicts. According to MG McMaster, the US must be ready and willing to take action on the global stage. In order to be best prepared for future conflicts, Dr. O’Hanlon argued that we must maintain a “credible imagination” when analyzing potential future conflicts. Rather than chasing black swans, the armed forces should war game and prepare for plausible situations such as conflict between India and Pakistan. Dr. Galston tied ideas from both panels together in remarks on the role of the American public. In his view, the American public has a decreased interest in future wars, especially ground conflicts. When asked about this issue, MG McMaster added that military support for a land war has never alone been sufficient and public support is essential to a successful war effort.
“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s plans to cut back the size of America’s army to pre-World War II levels are likely to run into political opposition on Capitol Hill. The cuts are also at odds with the views of Americans who say spending should be kept as it is, or increased. Almost half (47%) of the public said military spending should be kept about the same, according to a survey conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 6, 2013. An additional 23% said it should be increased while 28% favored reductions. The findings reflect roughly the same sentiment found in a survey conducted a year ago.”
“In shrinking the United States Army to its smallest size since 1940, Pentagon officials said Monday that they were willing to assume more risk the next time troops are called to war. But assuming more risk, they acknowledged, meant that more of those troops would probably die. “You have fewer troops, fewer ships, fewer planes,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference on Monday as he formally unveiled the department’s $496 billion budget for the 2015 fiscal year. “Readiness is not the same standard. Of course there’s going to be risk.”
“When it comes to the US Army and Marine Corps, there were no real surprises in Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s peek today of the 2015 defense budget. The Marines only merited one line, when Hagel confirmed that the Corps would lose 8,000 grunts in coming years as it drops to 182,000 personnel, and if sequestration returns in 2016, would shrink further to 175,000. The Army, on the other hand, actually leaped ahead of the secretary in recent months, laying out time and again everything that would happen to the force in coming budgets. In summing up his budget, Hagel nodded to the obvious reason for the pain that the services have been enduring, acknowledging that “as we end our combat mission in Afghanistan, this will be the first budget to fully reflect the transition DoD is making after 13 years of war — the longest conflict in our nation’s history.”
Walking around Silicon Valley with an augmented reality display on your face makes you a glasshole. On the battlefield, though, similar technology will soon turn U.S. soldiers into a lethal cross between the Terminator and Iron Man. Q-Warrior, the newest version of helmet-mounted display technology from BAE Systems’ Q-Sight line, is a full-color, 3D heads-up display designed to provide soldiers in the field with rapid, real-time “situational awareness.” With a high-resolution transparent display, Q-Warrior overlays data and a video stream over the soldier’s view of the world. Q-Warrior also includes enhanced night vision, waypoints and routing information, and the ability to identify hostile and non-hostile forces, track personnel and assets, and coordinate small unit actions."
“There are three things you need to know about the administration’s new budget plan and what it means for the Army. Most importantly, the fact the Army will be its smallest since before World War II is not one of them. In the dystopian mirror universe that is Washington under sequestration, being cut by 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers is actually a win for the Army. Everyone I’ve talked to inside and outside of the Army knew the service would go below 490,000 regular active-duty troops, the previous plan. The only question was how low. Sec. Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review studied a 380,000-soldier option and many sources speculated about 420,000, while Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno entrenched himself at the 450,000 line. Hagel’s plan to reduce the Army to “440,000 to 450,000″ looks pretty good for Gen. Odierno…”
With the sudden collapse of the government and the flight of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych from Kyiv, Ukraine has entered into a period of major uncertainties. The next few weeks will be critical as Ukraine prepares for elections now scheduled for the end of May. The situation remains extremely fluid, and all of the major outside players—the U.S., European Union, and Russia—have an interest in preventing a resumption of violence. Their actions will play a major role in determining whether Ukraine gets back on its feet.
At this link ARCIC provides a report on the future mission of the United States Army to be a ready and modern force with the ability to engage worldwide while still maintaining regional engagements and relationships.
At this link ARCIC provides ten observations about the current state of the Army including but not limited to the increased role of the soldier, integration with the National Guard, and global mission of the United States Army.
In this December 11, 2013 interview, former PEO-Soldier BG(Ret) Jamey Moran describes how the Army buys soldier systems very differently, and much less efficiently, than it does other programs. The best solution, he argues, is to aggregate the requirements and take a systems approach.