Saturday, May 26, 2007

How our infallible generals planned not to have enough troops to fight a war like the one in Iraq

Patrick Lang writes about Abram's Army (page 11) in The Policy Monitor (Medley Global Advisors)05/25/07:
By the end of the Vietnam War, the United States Army was nearly destroyed as a fighting force. It had to be rebuilt from the "ground up" over the next few decades, and the man who designed that reconstruction was General Creighton

Abrams, for whom the Abrams tank is named, deliberately re-designed the structure of the three components of the Army to prevent the civilian leadership from ever sending the Regular Army to fight alone as they had in Vietnam. And his success in doing so is exactly what limited the military options when President Bush chose to go to war in 2003 without the recommended number of troops or the political support for a sustained war, and likewise, is what still limits Bush's options as he gropes for a way out of Iraq. (my emphasis)
He also writes about the ways decisions by the uniformed military critically affected the morale and fighting capabilities of "troops in the field", as the currently popular phrase has it:
At the same time, the Army made similarly misguided decisions.

First, the Army decided that officers lucky enough to obtain command in Vietnam were limited to six months in that position before they were sent to staff jobs. This decision was intended to give as many officers as possible a chance to command, but the concept deprived troops engaged in combat of seasoned leaders. Second, the Army decided that a fear of having units who had arrived as one group in Vietnam leave all at the same time required that units be broken up as they arrived in Vietnam and repopulated with people from other units.

This destroyed unit cohesion and the loyalty of man to man so necessary in combat. As a result, units in Vietnam remained there as organizations for the duration of the fighting while a continuous stream of individual replacements arrived in units where they knew nobody and where they served under leaders who would be gone in a few months. The net result of these mistakes was an Army that by the end of Vietnam was broken in spirit and internal cohesion. This effect "spilled over" into Europe and America itself where troops were undisciplined and on the edge of mutiny for several years. (my emphasis)

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