No more DivArty?

Read this on StrategyPage.  Over-lightening the divisions on the presumption that we can avoid WWIV by playing Russia and China via Great-Power politics, or a flexibility issue, on the presumption that Boot & Co. are right, and the Army’s going to be doing a lot more small wars?

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9 Comments

  1. Mike

     /  April 22, 2007

    Interesting read. Of course this is a bit old news for me. The Texas Army national Guard Division (the 36th ID) lost its DIVARTY at the beginning of 2007. Same theory, you have a fires element (usually a battalion) in each brigade and a division level Fires Brigade (usually Radar, MLRS or HIIMARS) to go long range.

    This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Its kind of a pain for artillerymen, as now its a bit tougher to get that O-6 slot (some divisions have fires BDE’s others don’t). But given the capabilities we have not this isn’t a problem. We can mass fires using our communications systems from all services and across the world (I have seen people have realtime IM chats with units in the field in Korea talking to guys in Texas). AF, Navy, Marine Air, Heliocopters, all the way down to company mortars.

    To be effective, we just have to talk. We no longer need to mass everything under one commander to synch.

    And our firepower is much improved too. WE now shoot over 99% smart munitions on aircraft, and we are getting that way on artillery and mortars. YOu don’t need a Battalion 6 of HE when you can put the rounds through the window everytime, all the time from 15 kms away. Our MLRS rockets are now all pretty much GPS guided. Artillery is working that way.

    That being said, I do have an issue with the reduction of guns and artillery units. Just because we are better and have greater capabilities doesn’t mean we should immediately cut down the size. I like the capabilities and I would much more like to have a larger amount of units capable of doing it.

    I figure if China seems to be more of a threat later then maybe some buildup. Right now, well, the Taliban certainly can’t match us so its not a problem.

    Hell, I can’t think of anyone who can right now. Number-wise certainly but if any one lesson has been learned this last decade its that numbers are becoming less and less important against training and good equipment.

    Reply
  2. Alex

     /  April 22, 2007

    Very interesting – and probably just a matter of time before one has a “shoot and scoot” 105mm unmanned ground vehicle.
    Seems like the trend is for combined arms regiments and brigades rather than separate arms and branches.
    Hey Mike – here’s something for your military history class – which ancient civilization had combined arms units or is this a strictly modern invention in response to particular situations and technological changes?

    Reply
  3. This is NOT a modern invention.

    Reply
  4. Mike

     /  April 22, 2007

    Combined Arms has been around forever. Or at least since man figured out how to ride a horse. The killer part (in more ways than one) is being able to get them to work together as a supporting team. Our modern commo makes this easy (or easier) to do, and our incredibly long ranged weapons allow us to spread out. This is where we are having our great dis-connect right now.

    In order to fight an insurgency, you need presence. Visible “Hi we are the US troops and we live next door” kind of presence. The Phase IV Cluster(*&^ which we are now dealing with is a result of discovering that our pretty much unbeatable maneuver warfare style is opposite of what we needed for winning the peace (we won the War so to speak, Saddam dead, Iraq overrun, victory dance).

    I love Rumsfeld for his breaking up of the last of the Cold War mentality (even if he did have to crush some people to do it, the Fulda Gap senario is gone and many in the Army couldn’t get that through their heads). But he focused so much on this that he didn’t realize that when fighting the insurgency, you have to be manpower intensive to win over the people and make them FEEL safe(r).

    Reply
  5. Alex

     /  April 23, 2007

    Whoops – I left out a word. Which ancient civilization first had combined arms? Or at least got them to all work together in one unit.
    As for Rummy…..yes the cold war mentality did have to go, and yet all of learned Army history seems to have went out the window as well with him. So MANY people were screaming for more troops on the ground and for how to fight a counterinsurgency that the fact it was ignored for this long is downright criminal.

    Reply
  6. Mike

     /  April 23, 2007

    Son of a $%^&**. I had a great post and the blog ate it.

    So a quick recap. Learned army history did not go out the window with Rumsfeld. Do not ever think it does. Shenseki was a moron who lucked into being right once. His vision (or lack thereof) was a major reason I got off of active duty back in the 90’s (one word on him: Beret).

    We don’t ever seem to learn from these wars is because everyone hates them. These little brushfire wars are dirty, unpleasant, hard to explain, take a long time and most professional soldiers hate them as they are often not “real” wars (i.e. the Fulda Gap types). We do them, everything about them sucks so we say never again.

    And then 10 years later here we are again, doing the same thing because the UN/EU/fill in blank can’t fix the problems and someone finally gets fed up and sends in the Marines to fix it and get out. Only we can’t just fix it because the country has been run into the dirt for decades so (since we can’t leave a vacuum and get a media black eye) we have to “fix” it. And so we sit there, getting bombed and sniped at, trying to fix things, media harping on us, politicians using us as part of the political game while trying to fix things.

    THen we leave, and vow again to “never again”. Until we do it again.

    Everyone (who is a power) has their problem children to deal with, so its not just the US dealing with this issue.

    Reply
  7. Alex

     /  April 23, 2007

    I concur that the “beret” from Shinseki was dumb, but it wasn’t just him saying large numbers of ground troops were needed – many other generals (most of them forced out I might add) were saying it too – and – even some generals after they got out of the service during the Rumsfeld era. Rumsfeld’s biggest problem was that he was inflexible and unwilling to change – two things that always lead to defeat.

    As I read through your post again it appears you’re saying that the US Army never did learn how to deal with insurgents even after the Vietnam War and for that matter – it is the Achilles heel of modern armies everywhere. Which leads me back to history. Insurgents have been dealt with successfully in the ancient world to the early 20th, and if the US Army is only good with “real wars”, then the current administration had no business planning a war where they had no idea how to win it after the set piece battles were completed. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, there were not plans for the peace after the war.

    Reply
  8. Mike

     /  April 23, 2007

    Oh don’t disagree on that. The Phase IV of this was a joke (that is the rebuilding phase). And the sad thing is the US DID know how to deal with insurgents and has done successfully before in numerous locations. The only problem is we seem to get generals who do the bionic man approach: We have the Technology, we can do this better, faster, stronger. And then get pissed when amazingly enought it doesn’t work (yet again).

    Of course, the rules have changed a bit. We can no longer go in an play the “Bad Cop, worse cop” that is sometimes part of the winning formula. The Media is now so damned prevalent it is hard to do anything mean, and nasty or not it is sometimes required.

    Reply
  9. Alex

     /  April 23, 2007

    Your last paragraph sounds like the new “holy grail” of strategic theory for the modern age: How does one win a war AND secure a peace with constant media scrutiny?
    Find that solution and you REALLY clean up in the 21st century power struggle.

    Reply

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