The Army’s Uncertain Furture

Greg Jaffe over at the Washington-Post has a great article on the U. S. Army.

As many are aware I am not a fan of the current Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler.  It is clear that there is a distinct divide in the Army between the NCO’s like Chandler who put an emphasis on spit and polish, order, as being a sign of discipline and those who after eleven plus years of war put a premium on common sense.

“His solution has been a raft of new regulations governing tattoos, the length of soldiers’ sideburns and the color of the backpacks they are allowed to carry while in uniform. The tighter standards are intended to improve discipline in a force that is recovering from an exhausting decade of war.”

Whereas many are fearful that the Army is turning its back on transformation and resorting to a familiar pattern of painting rocks and garrison bull shit.  Major Lujan’s comments remind me that the Special Forces, unlike many other of the Army’s elite units, focuses on common sense solutions rather than stupidity.

Jaffe’s article highlights the concerns inside the Army; not only about the force, but whether in an era of constrained resources whether the Army can successful compete against Air-Sea Battle.  More on this soon.



  1. Slater says:

    Not going to say that parades give me nostalgia or anything. But something our young soldiers don't seem to know well is how to march at all. Talking to Drill Sergeants down here, I've been told to watch out because they are putting out trash. I was shown a spreadsheet of how many repetitions a soldier in OSUT would be allowed to do for each exercise of corrective training.

    I was once told that I may have been co-located with OCS too long when I brought forth the idea of parades and branch ascots. Not that the Army should parade every Friday as we did at VMI, but the Army has lost some things. Things that drill brought was possibly the ability to react quickly. And in regards to tattoos, we're just being progressive and more professional as the Marine Corps went to the nothing lower than the elbow policy a long time ago. If you can't be a good garrison and field soldier that means you're not adaptive and agile.

    We were held to a high standard when we went through the Institute, why not maintain the standard? My Tactics Officer was a Marine and one of the many mantras that he and our troop commander had about maintaining a high one was always posed in a question. "What do you do when you degrade the standard?" Answer being you set a new one. The British, possibly because of the size of their force have been able to maintain the solid habits of a garrison force whilst keeping the proficiency of battle-hardened combat soldiers.

    Painting rocks is bullshit: but being able to be a garrison soldier, train for combat, and stay out of trouble is not.

    • Townie 76 says:

      I have nothing against Drill and Ceremony as it builds teamwork when done properly. I have nothing against training soldiers how to properly perform maintenance, conduct supply operations, conduct equipment inspections and layouts–all of those are required in order to be ready to execute your combat mission. Unfortunately we will resort to performing our garrison mission to time and not to standard. Regardless of whether we have completed our assigned mission to standard, we will mandate that all train until 1600, 1700 whatever is on the "training schedule."

      Regarding your comments about OSUT; I have heard for thirty plus years, from Drill Sergeants et al, that what we are putting out of Basic Training is inferior. So how are we putting out inferior soldiers and yet have the best Army in the world!!!!!!!!

  2. bruno80 says:

    I think that there is clearly a middle ground between Starching fatigues & "Today's Army wants to join you". While the SMA may be getting chicken shit with some of his pronouncements, it doesn't necessarily follow that junior soldiers and junior officers automatically will gravitate to being professional, forward thinking and prepared to react to a world of multiple possible threat environments without some institutional framework. SF isn't the only world, and it's not necessarily a template that you can build the entire Army around.

    As far as the future of the Army- political question. employing the Army to combat never shows up on anyone's Crystal ball for what "the future of Warfare" looks like- because it's slow, expensive and casualty producing, while th eAF and Navy seem to offer fast, flashy, and remote with few to no casualties and the added benefit of being able to say that all of that hardware produces high tech jobs and industires. And yet- the Army alwayswinds up on the ground because reality never seems to line up with the bright boys visions and the enemy just doesn't roll over becasue of all of that StarWars stuff.. The big question is what is the worst and most likely threat that the Army could be employed against and how do you train and equip for those two events? I don't think that we need to build soldiers who are automatons, but reality WE NEVER HAVE. Personally, I think that most of the current griping about Regular Army chicken shit is just soldier bellyaching- but acting as though the Army institutions mostly stifled individual intitiative if baloney. We have always developed, depended on and encouraged intelligent and independent soldiers who think fast on their feet and don't need a Field Grade officer looking over their shoulder telling them what's what. IMHO I think that the biggest threat to a fast reacting, situationally aware Army is the overabundance of remote monitoring that technology is fostering. where we used to take it as gospel that powering down authority and responsibility was the right thing to do- technology is allowing exactly the opposite. That is what worries me.

  3. DaveO says:

    SMA Chandler has the challenge of justifying his existence. An SMA is as necessary as 3 levels of Private. 4 if you count Sham Shields as high-paid privates. SMA Chandler is being encouraged by GEN Odierno and a number of general officers and Greybeards. These folks believe in a myth that the Army of the 1990s was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it was a damn shame a war came along to ruin that rosy view.

    It is time to consider stepping back and letting the Army gut itself. We here lack the power to stop the stupidity, just as we here won't be able to determine the difference between chicken shit and chicken gumbo when it comes returning the Army to preparing for its legal mission. It is a matter of degree.

    I recommend we return to the old way of doing things: wait for the next Kasserine Pass, line up all the GO and E-9 responsible and shoot them, kick their corpses in a ditch and cover with lime.

    Oh wait, those folks were CEO and SVP of Defense Contractors and we had to buy their crap at newly raised prices.