Not your daddy’s infantry anymore

The military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with ‘tax breaks for the rich’ are used as talking points to excuse the current government debt. That talking point ignores many issues in trying to divert blame and excuse poor policies. Some of these issues include the base cost of defense and the gains achieved. The gains achieved in such things as ‘culture change’ in the mid-east are difficult to qualify and, hence, easy to argue about in terms of such things as relevance to U.S. efforts and amount and type of change.

One gain achieved is a bit more visible. That is the change in the U.S. armed forces. This includes equipment, tactics, strategies, and focus. Strategy Page describes some of this in A Decade That Changed Everything.

“It’s not just the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which gave the troops invaluable combat experience. There’s also the rapid appearance of so much new technology. … The combination of combat and technology led to many changes in training and how troops go about fighting. As a result, the army has been revamping its training and operating manuals to reflect what was learned (or, often, relearned). … The army has also adopted a custom long practiced by the marines: “every marine a rifleman.” With most (over 80 percent) of army troops doing jobs that should never take them into, or even near, combat, there was a tendency not to prepare these soldiers for combat. This was a big mistake, which was made clear in Iraq. … The army also discovered in Afghanistan that, while you can win a war with a few hundred guys on the ground, aiding (with smart bombs) local allies, you can’t always maintain that victory.

The new FM 3-0 appeared to make sense of a lot of new ideas, equipment, tactics and training methods. It’s not a revolutionary document, but an evolutionary one. And the evolution continues. With more emphasis on troops getting to know the locals, using police techniques to hunt down the bad guys, and adapting new technology (computers, UAVs and robots) to old needs. All this change came about during wartime and, unlike previous wars, the experience, and lessons, was captured for future use. That, in itself, was one of the most important innovations of the last decade.”

The basic idea is that the military exists to ‘kill people and break things.’ The armed forces have always, through history, distinguished themselves from terrorists or gangs by the manner in which they do this. What has been achieved over the last decade is not only better tools for the job but a better appreciation for finesse and skill in achieving a more carefully defined goal and focus. The spear is much sharper than it has been in the past. That makes it less painful yet more lethal.

Comments are closed.