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Transformatively Moving Forward, Brit-style.

As I ponder my response to LTC Yingling's piece (I'm generally favorably disposed after finally getting a chance to read it) I'll leave you with this, from Free Market Fairy Tales, on some of the Brit issues with moving ahead transformatively... h/t, CAPT H, of course.

A sample to get you to click that link:

1. This guidance is being issued to remedy a perceived difficulty experienced by Staff at all levels in understanding the rationale behind recent Defence re-structuring. In particular many Staff Officers seem not to understand how reducing the numbers of aircraft, ships, tanks, artillery and soldiers results in a more flexible, robust and effective fighting force.

2. In particular it seems that much of the confusion stems from a systemic misunderstanding of the correct use of military terminology. A list of common terms and actual meanings follows.

3. In addition there follows an explanation of the key assumptions embedded within the Defence Review. All Staff Officers are encouraged to seek clarification through their Chain of Command if they still have any questions.

4. Staff Terminology used in the new Defence Plan;

Flexible- a. Smaller. b. unable to operate unless under US protection

Robust- a. Smaller b. Lacking reserves or regeneration capability

Networked- Smaller, but still unable to talk to each other

Capable- Smaller

Agile- Really, really small

Deployability- Method of making the Forces, primarily the Army, able to send higher percentages of their manpower to a distant location. This is achieved by reducing the overall numbers involved, i.e. “In future the Army will be able to send 50% of it’s manpower to Africa in the back of a Cessna, thus achieving greater deployability”.

Reach- The distance the American’s are willing to fly us

Efficient- Much, much smaller

Streamlined- Just unbelievably small

There is more cynical goodness to be had.

It is itself harvested from a Brit army website, but I figure FMFT went to the trouble, he should get the traffic!

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I know I am showing up late to the discussion - but to be honest - I didn't see the shocking nature of his article. I saw Bubblehead mention it on MilBlogs, kind of yawned and moved on. There just didn't seem to be much "there" there. But, after boun... Read More


I loved this nugget from Yingling: "Civilian policymakers have neither the expertise nor the inclination to think deeply about strategic probabilities in the distant future." Surely this rings a bell? In the film Dr Strangelove, the crazed Air Force general Jack Ripper, certainly an independent thinker and no mere institutional automaton, says: "Politicians have neither the time, nor the inclination, for strategic thought." He then proceeds to blow up the planet with his B52 wing.
Also, I notice Yingling quotes Frederick the Great, in his argument that more thoughtful, educated officers should be promoted. But he omits my favourite Frederick the Great quote: "If my officers ever started to think, not one of them would remain in the Army."
Seriously, though, if Yingling were right, the US would always be preparing to fight the last war. Thus, in 1990, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, the US Army would have been set up to fight a low-intensity counterinsurgency, because that's what its last major war had been in Vietnam. Instead, the US Army was ideally prepared to destroy Iraqi armour in 1991, because the US is ALWAYS set up to fight high-intensity interstate wars. Yingling fails to realise that the major reason for this is the arms industry. Policy posts in the Pentagon are entirely held by executives from the arms industry. The arms industry makes paltry profits from guerrilla wars, and prefers heavy stuff for obvious reasons. Thus the focus on equipment that is designed not to deter threats or defeat enemies, but to maximally enrich the arms tycoons running Pentagon policy. The generals know that cosy directorships in arms firms await if they don't rock the boat. They mostly have to retire pretty young, so need the money. The system is hard-wired to enrich arms dealers. That means more taxpayer dollars on equipment, less on paying soldiers' salaries, which is money wasted as far as the arms industry is concerned. Of course the huge lead times on these heavy weapons make the system even more unwieldy. Study the curriculae vitae of those in Pentagon policy posts and all becomes clear.
Snerk. Owen, you show up at the oddest times. Come back tomorrow, when I have my bit up. Are you going to be *defending* the Generals?