• '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer

    @Gargantua:

    To play devil’s advocate,

    Necessity is the mother of all invention. In my industry we constantly do more with less.  Work smarter, not harder.

    that said - I believe the US Military can and will adapt, with less, and still achieve the same goals.

    Sure, it won’t be easy, and perhaps more people will die. (That’s a reality).  But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

    Consider the troop surge.  Yes, it was very helpful, and brought an ends to the means sooner rather than later.

    But it wasn’t necessarily required, as the status quo probably would have met the same end eventually.

    You are probably correct, however, I for one do not think that reducing our expectations or ability in a war is a good thing. Hopefully, we do not get into another Iraq/Afghanistan situation any time soon, or ever… that would be the real evidence of being smarter and doing more with less: not getting into those situations in the first place.

    Americans have historically not been very permissive of allowing more lives to be lost than is absolutely necessary. I believe that whatever needs to be done to lessen American or other allied casualties should be done (within reason). Half-assing it because we don’t have the money or the material would be unconscionable in my eyes. We should always have the ability to get out of a hard situation like that, but the real intelligence is to not allow it to develop in the first place. For the most part, that can be accomplished… unlike preventing terrorist attacks from ever again occurring. Our actions can always be measured, what the enemy does can not.


  • I’m speculating (and it’s just pure speculation) that the reasoning goes something like this:

    1. There has been no general war (i.e. no full-scale war between coalitions of major powers) since WWII, nor is it assumed that such a war (essentially meaning a NATO vs. Warsaw Pact ground war in Europe and an associated naval war in the Atlantic) is probable now that the Cold War is over.

    2. The US retains a large and diverse nuclear force, which presumably is considered satisfactory to provide a strategic nuclear deterrent (against both the threat of a wholesale attack by Russia and a retail attack by, let’s say, North Korea) as well as a tactical nuclear strike capability (potentially applicable in small- or medium-sized wars, though I imagine the situation would have to be pretty extreme for the US to consider using nukes in conflicts of such sizes).

    3. There have been countless wars since WWII, but many of them have been internal wars (i.e. civil wars / insurrections) within countries rather that wars between countries.  Several of these turned into proxy wars between the US and the USSR during the Cold War, but from what you’re saying it sounds as if the US plans to be a lot more choosy in the future about getting involved in these kinds of conflicts.  A related situation would be US involvement in someone else’s two-sided war – for example, the Russian war in Afghanistan, during which the US provided Stinger missiles to the Afghan resistance.  Again, it sounds as if the US plans to be more choosy – though in fairness, such marginal involvement by definition does not require the commitment of large ground forces.

    4. Since WWII, there have been several medium-sized wars between medium powers and/or which have involved one of the major powers, and a handful of much larger conflicts – for example the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Indo-Pakistani Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Falklands, Gulf I (Kuwait) and II (Iraq), Afghanistan (the current one and the earlier Russian one I mentioned) and so forth.  Only some of these have involved the US – but of the ones which did so, some have been recent enough (some are still ongoing) to show that the US needs to retain the capability of fighting a medium-sized war (though preferably not more than one at a time).  That’s probably where the validity of the “large-scale ground conflict is off the table” assumption would need to come under the most scrutiny.

    5. On the other hand, it’s probably safe to assume that the US will need to continue to be involved for a long time in asymmetrial warfare situations (such as the war on terrorism), so in that respect investing in capabilities such as special forces (you mentioned expanding SOF in your original post) would seem to be appropriate for dealing with that particular need.

    Anyway, that would be my guess.  Does the water cooler discourse at the Pentagon run anywhere along those lines?

  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Let’s ask a different question.

    If the USA downsizes to say 250k, and then a nation scale global conflict erupted, how long would it take the USA to build, train, and equip, a million man army?

    18 months?

    3 years?

    Any takers?

    ‘Experience’ aside.


  • 250k Army + 200k Marine Corps + 200k Army Reserve + 360k National Guard = over one million ground pounders and support units. So I give it about a month if we’re kicking it into full gear and take those thousands of armored units sitting in storage sheds out to play.

    EDIT: If you mean downsize the entire military (not just the Army) to 250k, then 6-9 months probably, presuming that the draft is instituted for a war that would require a million men.

  • Customizer

    “The World Without US” is by no means a fantastic documentary but shows why the US is deployed all over the globe and what the impact could/will be if the US were simply to withdraw from the world stage militarily. It also shows some of the misconceptions citizens in the US and around the world have about the US and it’s Armed Services and why they are there.

  • '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer

    @Gargantua:

    Let’s ask a different question.

    If the USA downsizes to say 250k, and then a nation scale global conflict erupted, how long would it take the USA to build, train, and equip, a million man army?

    18 months?

    3 years?

    Any takers?

    ‘Experience’ aside.

    That was one of my points (or requirements if I was in a position of power)… downsizing is okay, but we need a plan for re-arming quickly  if the need arises. As for how long it would take, I have no idea of how to estimate that.


  • @LHoffman:

    That was one of my points (or requirements if I was in a position of power)… downsizing is okay, but we need a plan for re-arming quickly  if the need arises.

    The catch, however, is that the concept of rearming quickly is difficult to apply to high-tech major weapon systems.  I once saw a documentary (dating from the 1980s) which compared the WWII production rate for top-of-the-line US fighter planes versus contemporary production rates for the F-15 Eagle.  I can’t recall the figures, but it was on the order of hundreds (maybe even thousands) per month for the WWII planes versus maybe a dozen or so per month for the F-15.  And note that the figures were for operational production lines, not for weapons whose production had been suspended.  The documentary went on to state that a modern full-scale war between major powers would probably therefore be a “come as you are” war: it would be fought with the weapons that were on hand when the shooting started, and virtually no replacements could be anticipated in any practical timeframe for the losses that would be sustained in combat.


  • The downsizing of the army, if it occurs like the Navy, will be handled ineffectively and cause severe gaps in specific manning areas.  The Navy tried this 3 years ago and killed many people’s careers. They kicked out some good people with the trash, and now ratings are still trying to recover.  A shift in HYT (high year tenure) would seem to be a more effective way to wittle down along with volunteer seps in certain fields that you can afford to lose people in.  The ERB that the Navy had will probably be used in the army and will do more harm than good.

    I could see a total force reduction of 10% of the military happening to support budget and shift in technological warfare spending. As mentioned before, we have cut costs before to spend money elsewhere.  The F-35s and drones will probably get more funding (especially the drones under current policy usage, despite the controversial issues with drone attacks).  More spending is also being slated for special forces, which have taken sever punishment over the last 13 years.

    RJPeters mentions TSP about effecting the budget.  TSP is cost to the government because of the administration of it, not because of the money the government provides to people (because that is zero by the way).  The TSP is more like a traditional IRA than it is a 401K.  It just has to get transferred over to a 401K or IRA.  If financial management was pushed in the military to our young sailors/soldiers (I do train my division regularly), the cons of TSP greatly outweigh the benefits, and I recommend NOT to use the TSP.  TSP is a waste of government money because it is harmful and an adminstrative blackhole for tax money.

    I would see the downsize of forces as such:
    Army would reduce its forces to about 375K enlisted and about 85K officers.
    Navy would eliminate its 7 CGs, cut about 10K in enlisted, 1K in officers.
    Marine Corps would probably be stagnant (would not see any significant cuts)
    Air Force would be looking at about 15K cut enlisted, and proably 1K in officers. 
    Spending would increase in drones, missles/missle defense, and other “flight” tech areas.

    Due to cuts in personnel and increase in other areas, you are probably only saving about 10 billion in spending.  So in essence, the Military budget WILL NOT CHANGE with this change in force posture.

    And to answer Gargs question, I would say it would take about 12 months to get boots trained up and on the ground…whether they are effective, is a different story.  I wouldn’t see a cut down to 250K though…The army could not survive on 250K…


  • I guess the first half got cut off…

    Do realize that Healthcare and Federal Pensions including Social Security are now bigger than the military budget and projected to be 300 billion more with in 3-4 years.  Interest alone on the debt will be half the military budget in that same time frame. I don’t want to get political, but don’t just look at the military for cuts when you see these other areas take up so much of the budget/debt.

  • Customizer

    @Jermofoot:

    I think this is a good thing.

    We spend way too much on the military, and I find it unnecessary.  We need to lean on diplomacy and international, unified approaches to issues/crises more and breaking out the guns less.  Economic measures can be effective weapons as well.

    I’m a bit sad some people want to take the A-10 away, though.

    That’s what happened in WW2.
    If the allies had used force to keep Germany from growing there might have never been a WW2.
    “Peace in our time” didn’t work then and the US wasn’t even a player in those discussions since we felt that the Europe’s problems were not ours. And that doesn’t even take into account what was happening in China. We punished the Japanese by withholding metal scrap shipments.

  • Customizer

    @sgtwiltan:

    @Jermofoot:

    I think this is a good thing.

    We spend way too much on the military, and I find it unnecessary.  We need to lean on diplomacy and international, unified approaches to issues/crises more and breaking out the guns less.  Economic measures can be effective weapons as well.

    I’m a bit sad some people want to take the A-10 away, though.

    That’s what happened in WW2.
    If the allies had used force to keep Germany from growing there might have never been a WW2.
    “Peace in our time” didn’t work then and the US wasn’t even a player in those discussions since we felt that the Europe’s problems were not ours. And that doesn’t even take into account what was happening in China. We punished the Japanese by withholding metal scrap shipments.

    I sometimes get tired of people comparing WWII geopolitical affairs to current geopolitical affairs (or even Cold War geopolitical affairs for that matter).

    We exist in a completely different world than our parents and grandparents, a world of nuclear weapons and the memories of two world wars. We can’t go around saying that diplomatic efforts are a complete waste of time, because the alternative now is literally annihilation. The only wars that major (read: nuclear) powers can afford to get involved in now are local conflicts against non-aligned, non-nuclear powers.

    Coupled with the fact that the globalized economy gives us greater leverage than ever to hurt other nations economically, this is why massive military spending will (and should) go by the wayside.

    Opponents to this view should reference the fact that before both world wars, American military spending was borderline pathetic; the U.S. has always had the ability to quickly spin up and increase military readiness in the event of a larger conflict. Peace time military spending is a waste of resources.

  • Customizer

    You’re correct about the current world we live in. I went to war to help our economic trading partners whose economies affected our own. Kuwait’s occupation did not directly affect us and despite the peaceful embargo threats, Saddam continued to assert his claim of rightful conquest. It was also our military stance after the ceasefire that prevented Saddam’s expansion and the embargoes embittered the Iraqis against us when we finally decided to dethrone him. History does not only consist of WW2 as an example. the same thing has been happening for millenia. Tibet and Kosovo are polar opposites of bellicose decisions. Rome fell from internal dissension and civil war when those energies could have been better spent keeping the borders secure in offensive actions. The problems we face now have always plagued empires. We just happen to be lucky enough to be somewhat isolated an our economic empire is falling apart due to our society’s inability to adapt to the fact that the world is changing.
    We have to protect that empire and a soft and weak military will cause that economic empire to be taken advantage of. You can use post war Germany and Japan as examples of weak military and economic growth but remember that their economies were heavily subsidized by our military might protecting their trade from others who would take it from them. I’ll just mention the Ukraine for a contemporary example and you can research the history, both economically and politically and come to your own conclusion.

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