Friday, February 16, 2007

War and Military Readiness

Westhawk posted about an article today in which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace spoke about military readiness. In the article, Gen. Pace told the Senate Armed Services Committee that
risks have increased because U.S. forces are not training for the full range of operations that may confront them. Pace said the U.S. military needs to be ready to counter a conventional enemy in a conventional war, such as could break out on the Korean Peninsula, Pace said. “We did not expect in 2001 to have to conduct conventional operations in Afghanistan, but we did,” he said. “There are other countries out there that are gaining (military) capacity.”

American forces have such a short turnaround time before heading back to places like Iraq and Afghanistan that some aspects of their training for these higher ends of war are being shorted, Pace said. For example, combined arms training is being purposely shorted to concentrate on aspects of war that soldiers will need in Iraq, he said.

This testimony is interesting, although most of General Pace's points can be countered rather effectively. Here are some salient counterpoints:

U.S. forces are not training for the full range of operations . . . but United States forces are conducting a broad range of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. In Afghanistan and Iraq, military units have conducted several conventional operations at the task force level, often employing joint assets and working combined, with allied or partner nation forces. American forces are also involved in humanitarian operations in both theaters as well. The Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan are key non-kinetic enablers on the battlefield. And Special Operations Forces are honed in the full range of their missions more than any other time in their history.

While units may not be rotating to train at the national readiness centers in Fort Irwin, Fort Polk, and the like with the frequency they did prior to 9/11, the experience that Soldiers and Units have gained on the battlefield is immeasurably more valuable than ten days in either of these places.

What conventional military could America face in the coming days that is more seasoned than the United States' forces are at this moment? The senior commanders in the Army and Marines planned and executed a conventional invasion in Iraq, and have deployed to combat numerous times in both Iraq and Afghanistan; most junior officers, NCOs, and Soldiers have done the same.

the U.S. military needs to be ready to counter a conventional enemy in a conventional war. . . General Pace has a point when he says that American ground forces are stretched thin due to requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan; however, there is excess, untapped capacity in the Navy and the Air Force, which play only an ancillary role in both theaters of combat; the capabilities of these two services are a credible deterrent to conventional threats, and provide a potent capability to engage belligerent nation states militarily should the need arise. Also, at any given time, there are Army and Marine Ground units in the United States that could react in short order to an emerging threat. These units may have just completed a combat tour in either theater, but there is a reason soldiers take oaths when they enlist.

inability to conduct peacekeeping operations is impeding foreign policy objectives. . . The United States military continues to conduct humanitarian activities around the world, and remains engaged in all theaters. American Special Forces soldiers and Marines conduct foreign internal defense operations in Colombia, which aid the Colombian government's ability to combat the FARC narcoterrorists who have wreaked havoc in the countryside for over three decades. American Soldiers continue to deploy and conduct humanitarian and stability operations in the Phillippines. There is also a robust military presence in the Horn of Africa as well. Recently, the United States Navy projected power into the Persian Gulf with a Carrier Group in light of the continuing standoff with Iran. The arsenal is far from emptied due to Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the senior uniformed service member, the Chairman must provide sound military guidance to the President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense. While General Pace may see shortfalls in operational capability, the military would be better served if the Chairman bolstered the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan with his testimony, rather than fret about low probability hypotheticals.

The schwerpunkt of military operations is in these two theaters; failure in either one endangers longstanding alliances, and global stability itself. THAT is what the uniformed and civilian members of our government should be focused upon at this very moment.


Tiger said...

Super article, Bob W! Looks like Pace is saying we're not keeping pace, and I would agree.

Another thing we're still doing wrong is being too PC here at home. Just read all the articles at FrontPageMag on Islam (from 2 years ago to now)and you'll see a pattern of infiltration, pro-Islamic Political and educational Institutions that all support Radical Islam. The Bush Admin is ignoring all of this! To our peril!

We have a lot of work to do.

Bob W. said...


thanks for reading, I appreciate it; I will check out FPM as well.


rufus said...

Pace is a "puzzlement" to me. Has he ever been in combat?

rufus said...

Pace is a "puzzlement" to me. Has he ever been in combat?

Mrs. Davis said...

Pace is more politician than general, as is any incumbent in that position. His responsibility is for the DoD, not victory in any war. JCS wriggles dimes from congresscritters for favors, just like any other department.

sexy said...