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There are many ways to break an Army.

And in some respects, I think that's exactly what the Democrats, or more accurately, "Progressives" want to do.

Break it.

Make it less effective.

Because, in their heart of hearts, they don't like the whole concept of an Army, and want to change it into some sort of fluffy-bunny simulacrum. That and because DoD is the one institution they can play with that will just do what it's told. Oft times reluctantly, but in the end it does what it's told.

While, ironically, they make domestic law enforcement, especially on the Federal level, more and more like... an Army.

Noting that the Feds building an internal Army has been a decades-long bipartisan process.

But I find it instructive that the government is sharpening it's skills and capabilities to act internally, while at the same time pruning back it's ability to act externally.

I'm not arguing that DoD should be a static entity, and that there aren't good reasons to build up and build down as the world changes.

But I don't like the trend of that the Federal government that seems to find greater threats internally than present externally.

Because that's a cultural problem that has built over decades, and is hard to reverse, given the Leviathan nature of government, however constituted. There is a huge gestalt and inertia.

Ironically, you can break the Army's culture rather quickly, if you want to.

And it will take decades to recapture.

But I have the feeling that for the Progressives, that's a feature, not a bug.

Until you need it, of course. Then it's just body bags until you get it back, or the other side settles the question for you.

And no, this isn't about any single policy change. All of them having good arguments to be made, pro and con, and I'm pro more of them than most will give me credit for (but then, I'm a well known squish).  This includes discussions with combat arms officers, veterans of the current wars, when working with them on the things I do at work.  They are different in many surprising (well, not so surprising when you think about it) than the officer corps from the 70's through the 90's that I worked with.  Back when we went through a back-breaking drawdown and build-back.

And different in worrisome, to me, ways.

This is about the pace of change, and the gestalt that goes with it, and no blog post is going to capture the breadth and depth of the feeling.

14 Comments

When I headed to Rucker for flight school, the Army was a depressed organization. However, the basic culture was intact, even if the function of NCOs had been partially lost. the fact that most of the senior officers and NCOs could still remember what the proper place and function of an NCO was supposed to be and they jerked a knot in the Army's tail and force marched it back to the future.

The current battle, however, may destroy the Military. Not in the sense it ceases to exist, but as an effective force for the defense of the country. The social engineers have been tinkering for years, but Slick Willie started for serious to set the changes in concrete. Bush II did nothing to correct the problems caused by Willie, and now Obama intends to shove those concrete blocks down all our throats. Progressives will only destroy. We can't afford squishiness because that plays right into their hands.
 
 And to be clear - other than the piling on nature of it, my gripe doesn't revolve around gays or girls.

It's actually deeper than that, and goes to the core of what being a soldier is.
 
I am very concerned about the domestic threat and domestic response language that is appearing in our doctrine and CONOPS documents.  We are openly building a capability to counter this perceived threat and we are apparently putting into place the institutional mechanism to execute it without question when the time comes.  This goes way beyond the Support to Civil Authorities (Garden Plot) missions that we have had for years. Army officers are now writing about this in outside publications and our doctrinal manuals are being crafted to include this as an integral part of Army 2020.  We should all be worried, because once we have trained a generation of leaders that this is a legitimate use of military power, the politicians will be able to wield a big stick at their whim.
 
Nice start to the conversation.  I believe that this is, combined with the troubling arming of the government civil departmens and the appallign amounts of ammunition bought by DHS these past 16 months, just part of the alternate armed force candidate Obama spoke of during his first presidential campaign. 

The last time we really broke the Army (end of Vietnam and immediately after the war) it took a decade to regain balance.  Rebuilding the NCO Corps was key.  This time it will require rebuilding the NCO Corps and the Officer Corps. 

What is really troubling is the apparent aquiesence of the flag officers to this destruction.  While civilian control is dominant where are the retirements and resignations in protest?

I am guessing that the progressives are anticipating massive rioting or worse on the domestic front.

Hard times are coming.
 
The stunning numbers and incredible spread of different armed federal law enforcement agencies and officers (and to a lesser extent, large municipal police forces) are the very standing Army that our founders feared.

The long US paranoia against domestic standing armies has long held the actual US Army in check. But government, being government, found a way to outflank that traditional aversion.
 
Especially when you consider that the "police" as we know it didn't exist at the time the nation was founded.  There were Sheriffs and Constables, which had similar, but different, duties and responsibilities.

Many of the things that Police now do were the province of soldiers, back in the day. 

You are exactly correct, methinks.
 
Brad has pretty much nailed it. If the original attitudes we had towards the High sheriff and Constables had been maintained, then it would be fine. However, the Police have been militarized and because their own increasingly bad and arrogant behavior, they have acquired an "us against the world" attitude. That has not only resulted in a number of deaths among their fellow civilians, caused by the misbahvior of the Police, but will, in the end, cause a large number of deaths among the Police as well.

A lot of people in the US will not take an occupying Army lying down. Too many guns, and too many people with military training.
 
QM, you just fed their beast, you know that, right?

 
There is a quote I remember reading somewhere, not sure who said it but I believe it was Robert Heinlein:

"A nation which despises its army will soon have a despicable army."  

We were there once, in the aftermath of Vietnam.  Are we really headed that way again?
 
Wolfwalker - I think perhaps Jerry Pournelle, which is certainly not a category error!
 
John, as I read your piece, it caused me to first, stop and think before I wrote any comment. We are not talking about "weapons of war", "technology of war", "tactics of war", or "strategies of war". We are not even talking about the history or traditions of war, we are going to the most basic principle of war. This is like that old saying, "amateurs study tactics, but professionals study logistics". The paradigm has changed on some of the most basic levels.  What do we mean by the term, "logistics"? What do  we mean by the term, "national security"? I believe we will have a definition in our minds, when we use these terms. In some ways, I believe we are having this debate, way too late in the process. This discussion should have been discussed before, "The First Persian Gulf War". As I look back, there was something that was too good to be true and that will be right. The idea of winning a war in less then 100 hours on the ground, something was primarily wrong with that view. I know, I am looking at these events  with the luxury of hindsight. But even so, we must learn from those events. This is the reason that the military is so focused on, "after action reports", so that we learn at some point. When Eisenhower started with the Federal Highway System, this was not an infrastructure issue, but one of national security. Infrastructure and national security are not competitors, but compliment each other. As much as we don't like it, we cannot have two ongoing wars with tax cuts, unless it is proven that those cuts are actually producing jobs in the US. We need to find new ways of education, for both children adults. As we do this, we provide better individuals for both the military, technology and other areas of support for this new paradigm. 

Does this mean we are headed back to the horrors of Post-Viet Nam War? *NO*, only if we allow it. First, we need to look at our expectations, we can't solve the World's problems. We can't rebuild the World, we need to rebuild the US as a Nation and her Military. This is not a short-term answer, but a very long-term answer, about another 50 years.


 
Armorer, that's the quote, all right.  And the source.  I remember first seeing it in the preface to Hammer's Slammers, and it's stuck with me ever since.  Along with the paragraph or so about how soldiering is by definition not a rational act. 

To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you’re all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike, to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King, to be rear guard at Kunu-ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead drill; these are not rational acts.

They are often merely necessary.
WHAM!  Man, I wish I could write like that...

 
hey, wha' happened to my indented quote-block?
 
I am reminded of something I read on the 'net written by a retired Marine officer, in re the normalization of homosexuals in the forces. He said something like, the main fault of the Marines is the defect of their main virtue, in that you can always count on them to obey orders. In this case, the order is to embrace the policy about same-sex attraction in the services. I betcha most Marines think the new policy is batso-insane, but being Marines, will grit their teeth and do what they're told.