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[P]
Stealth Transformation of the US Army

By CitAnon in Technology
Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 09:29:19 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

While air assets have become the preferred method of power projection for the US, the army is attempting to reassert the strategic relevance of its armored corps by quietly committing itself to a truly revolutionary transformation in land warfare spearheaded by the Future Combat Systems.


Under the lead of systems integrator Boeing, defense companies will develop a system of networked manned and unmanned command, sensor and shooter platforms that that will leverage US expertise in network centric warfare and advances in other technologies to offer main-battle-tank-level firepower, improved crew/platform survivability and improved tactical mobility. At a combined weight of 20 tons, this system of systems will also offer vastly improved strategic mobility and time to deployment over the 60 ton M1 Abrams tank.

If successful as envisioned, the FCS, together with the Objective Warrior Program, will allow the army to form a networked, mechanized guerilla force capable of reaching any location in the world within only days of prior notice. This US Army Objective Force will rain annihilating firepower on the enemy while remaining hidden and dispersed and will be capable of fighting in terrain unreachable by current heavy armored divisions.

The formation of the US Army Objective Force will  not only transform the way the army fights, but the types of missions it will be asked to undertake.  For example, the projected improvements in strategic mobility of the Objective Force may lessen US dependence the support of local allies, such as Saudi Arabia, with large basing and port facilities.  As a consequence of this independence, an American administration may undertake ground invasion of an enemy nation, such as Iraq, over the objections of those allies.  As another example, the pervasive use of unmanned platforms and advanced communication devices may increase the urban warfare survivability and effectiveness of US soldiers enough so that the US may again be willing to embark on "peacemaking" missions in urban environments, such as the failed mission in Somalia, that are costly and dangerous quagmires for the current US Army.  Thus, the army's transformation may lead to significant political repercussions.

Already, most of the world believes that the US relies too much on military force as a flawed solution to essentially political and social problems. With the increasing capabilities of the US Armed Forces, and in particular, the revolutionary leap in ground force capability enabled by US Army Objective Force, will our leaders move further towards unilateralist policies and military hegemony? Or, will it enable the US to make the world a better place by combating evildoers (in Dubya lingo) more effectively? The answer may well be a combination of both, but the non-existence of public policy debate regarding this stealth transformation is deeply troubling.

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Poll
Do you believe the US Army Objective force:
o Will contribute to world peace and stability. 28%
o Is destabilizing but necessary. 7%
o Is destabilizing and unnecessary. 13%
o Will entrench injustice and US hedgemony. 48%

Votes: 104
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Future Combat Systems
o systems integrator Boeing
o network centric warfare
o advances in other technologies
o M1 Abrams tank
o FCS
o Objective Warrior Program
o US Army Objective Force
o failed mission in Somalia
o Also by CitAnon


Display: Sort:
Stealth Transformation of the US Army | 65 comments (49 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
Oh. Yes, baby yes! (2.78 / 28) (#8)
by elenchos on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:56:08 AM EST

Air assets! *unh* Power projection! *mmm* Strategic relevance! *ooooooh* More! More! Systems integrator! Networked shooter platforms! Leveraged! Yes! Yes! Yesssss!

Oh baby! Buzz me again! Do it baby!

Survivability! Objective Force!!!! *unggggg!* *ohhhhhh*

God, your the best baby, you're the best. Tissue?

Adequacy.org

Yeah (none / 0) (#10)
by CitAnon on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 01:05:59 AM EST

I got a kick out of writting this one. :-)

[ Parent ]
I`m (none / 0) (#35)
by FredBloggs on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:48:47 PM EST

still stuck on the first sentence!

[ Parent ]
Problems with the drawn conclusions (4.20 / 10) (#15)
by Stickerboy on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 01:46:05 AM EST

The formation of the US Army Objective Force will not only transform the way the army fights, but the types of missions it will be asked to undertake. The projected capabilities of the Objective Force will make it easier for political leaders in the US to send the army on everything from large scale unilateral military adventures, such as the invasion of Iraq, that are currently considered too risky without allied help to "peacemaking" missions in urban environments, such as the failed mission in Somalia, that are considered too costly for an army currently geared towards fighting large armored battles on open fields. Thus, the army's transformation may lead to significant political repercussions.

The core of the FCS is basically a light tank with datalink capabilities to hook up with unmanned combat support systems (small UCAVs (unmanned combat air vehicles), etc.). FCS will change the capabilities of the US Army in one important respect: the ability of a small, mobile, and airlifted force to project power anywhere around the globe and fight effectively. Current US armored divisions require shipping by sea or prepositioned equipment in order to carry the fight to distant locales, both of which are both undesirable options. Let's look at your two examples and why the FCS won't help that much in either case.

Invading Iraq.

Iraq fields a very large, semi-modern army (~1970s US force) that has armor, mechanized infantry, and paratrooper operational units with a decent, if damaged, air defense capability. Let's compare that against a smaller, more mobile FCS force, which will be outgunned and outnumbered in such a battle. The key to winning guerrilla warfare is fighting on your own soil, where you have the home advantage and hopefully a good outside source of supplies - see the North Vietnamese and Tito-era Partizans of Yugoslavia for examples of this. If its true that the FCS is supposed to be a "guerrilla"-type army, invading Iraq would hardly seem like a place to try to use it. Iraq is much more likely to be beaten much more effectively by conventional US forces, encompassing heavy armored divisions supported by naval carrier air wings and Air Force air support. In other words, the FCS gives us no new, useful capability in a situation like Iraq.

A Future Somalia

And now for peacekeeping, which is done not by armored vehicles, but by having boots in the mud, i.e. lots and lots of infantry. If you're in a situation where armored vehicles like the FCS are needed in a strategic sense (as opposed to having them around for backup in isolated incidents), it isn't peacekeeping anymore. See the Battle of Mogadishu for an example of where troops should not be in the first place. Yes, having the FCS there would have helped - having any armored vehicles on immediate call would have helped. But the fact that those vehicles were needed on a large scale means to me that we shouldn't be there in such a situation, at least not there ostensibly as "peacekeepeers". Peacemakers, maybe, but that's an entirely different mission. And once again, the FCS offers nothing in a peacekeeping situation over a more traditional, infantry-heavy formation such as the newly-forming Interim Brigade Combat Teams, which are centered around lots of infantry and the new wheeled APC, the Stryker (no, I'm not kidding. Apparently they named it after two Medal of Honor awardees from WW2).

So to summarize, I don't see how this will cause the US to suddenly become more reckless in ground interventions. The FCS simply doesn't offer real advantages in the most relevant situations.

I can see a situation... (5.00 / 5) (#16)
by Eater on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 02:14:06 AM EST

Perhaps something like Kosovo? After all, I recall there were some rumors of plans for sending in ground troops. I suppose if the US had the capability to deploy ground troops as rapidly as it could deploy fighter-bombers, a Kosovo-like situation could turn into a ground war. Politically, fast ground intervention would likely cause less civilian casualties than air strikes, but on the other hand it might result in more losses on the side of the US - losses which couldn't be covered up as easily. You are correct however in that something like this wouldn't be of much use in a major conflict against, say, Iraq.

[ Parent ]
furthermore (4.00 / 4) (#17)
by streetlawyer on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 02:14:13 AM EST

furthermore, both Iraq and Somalia are characterised by the presence of lots of sand, which gold-plated overpriced US defence contractor welfare projects have a really bad history of dealing with. Lots of them don't like to be exposed to too much sun either.

What's the betting that they put "modern" aluminium armour plating on the tank, too?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

aluminum (none / 0) (#42)
by CodeWright on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 04:43:19 PM EST

is so pretty when it burns

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
I'm not joking (none / 0) (#46)
by streetlawyer on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 02:25:55 AM EST

At least one recent US-made troop carrier had aluminium plating on it. The Israelis bought a bunch, and began to complain when they noticed that troops were so scared of it that they would rather walk along behind it than ride. It's being revised so as to shield the lightweight aluminium plating with non-flammable steel plating, thus obvious obviating the point of having made it out of aluminium in the first place.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
aluminum burning? (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by JonesBoy on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 10:23:54 AM EST

What are you talking about? Aluminum really doesn't burn unless it is in the presence of a strong oxidizing agent. Its not like leaving a piece of aluminum in the sun will burst into flames. I would be willing to bet that there is enough mass in the armor to sink the heat of a moltov coctail, and prevent melting.

Perhaps you were thinking of magnesium?


Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
willing to bet? (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by streetlawyer on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 11:51:00 AM EST

Aluminum really doesn't burn unless it is in the presence of a strong oxidizing agent

Or if it is exposed to really hot temperatures. Like those produced by ... oh I dunno, take an example at random ... an anti-tank missile?

I would be willing to bet that there is enough mass in the armor to sink the heat of a moltov coctail, and prevent melting.

Perhaps indeed. But very few armies take to the field armed with Molotov cocktails these days; the Iraqis and Sudanese certainly don't.

Perhaps you were thinking of magnesium?

Perhaps you were thinking of a family sedan, rather than a battlefield transport?

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Ok, mister sarcasm (none / 0) (#58)
by JonesBoy on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:53:13 AM EST

Hmmmm. If your aluminum armor tank was hit by an antitank missile, the least of your worries will be a little fire on the outside. A weapon like the LAW sends a happy little brass ball inside the tank that rattles around like pebble in a tin can. That is concern #1. Say that missile sent a wee bit of fire inside the tank. You have casks of powder, high explosive munitions, and even small arms rounds. That is concern #2. When the aforementioned round enters the vehicle, I am sure it will send high speed particles of metal around called shrapnel. Concern #3. Burning armor? Get real. I have never heard of a vehicle burning down from an aluminum fire. I don't even think, if an aluminum fire was started, that it would be able to sustain itself. I will check, however, and tell you what I find.

Anti tank munitions are generally based on shrapnel, hyperbarics, or penetrators that burn the fuel/explosive/propellant in the vehicle (or break the engine). Can you name a munition that was designed to burn the armor down, and kill the vehicle that way?

Anyway, thin aluminum is not THAT bad. Thin steel was used on some APC's in WWII. Small arms rounds had a bad tendency to enter the vehicle, but were unable to exit. They rattled around and caused multiple wounds. Aluminum would allow them to exit, or slow faster on riccochets.

Can you provide a link to something describing aluminum burning? Espically alloys used in armor? Or even a link to someone using steel as a fireproofing shield to aluminum?
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
ahem (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by streetlawyer on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 08:35:23 AM EST

Link -- number 47 under "Technical Lessons" refers to Israeli troops being so frightened of being burned alive inside MFC113 armored personnel carriers that they would rather walk along beside them.

Thank you, thank you.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

No thanks (none / 0) (#60)
by JonesBoy on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 09:31:46 AM EST

Aluminum does not burn, unless it is in powdered form. Here are my refrences:

http://www.aluminum.org/AluminumNow/features/0304feat/0304f3boats.htm
With regard to flammability, aluminum does not burn and requires a temperature of 1200 degrees F to melt.

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/chem_profiles/aluminum_powder/working_alu.html
Bulk aluminum metal itself is not combustible.

http://www.meridianeng.com/aluminum.html
In sheet or block forms, aluminum will not normally propagate or sustain combustion.

Now go to http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m113.htm
Read, and you will notice that the A3 revision of the APC moved to external fuel tanks to increase crew survivability. Older versions have internal fuel tanks. Thats right, it was incoming rounds that puctured the fuel tanks and burned people alive. When your link says armor, they are refering to the entire vehicle. (an armor batallion is a bunch of vehiecles, not people wearing armor)

It is not the aluminum armor burning, but the fuel inside the vehicle.

Thank YOU, thank you very much.
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
HMS Sheffield (none / 0) (#64)
by PenguinWrangler on Wed May 01, 2002 at 08:24:40 AM EST

The use of aluminium was a major factor in the sinking of the HMS Sheffield when it was struck by an Exocet missile during the Falklands war.
It just melted. The ship would have been much easier to evacuate without that.
"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]
material tradeoffs (none / 0) (#65)
by JonesBoy on Tue May 07, 2002 at 12:24:18 PM EST

If you are worried about melting, well, thats a different story.    My guess is that if the aluminum is melting, people are cooking.   If you are trying to escape through a hatch that previously melted shut, well, life sucks, but it will be over soon.   Thats why ships shoot missiles at each other.   They want to kill people, and sink the ship.   It worked.   Anyway, from a quick search on the net, it seems like more people are concerned about an officer not being at his post, rather than the evacuation.

You have to consider the material tradeoffs.   Aluminum is used because it is light, and it is cheap.    Not every vehicle can have Ti or depleted uranium armor.   APC have to be lightweight so they can travel at high speeds for long times without incredible amounts of fuel and large heat signatures.   They are not tanks; they only provide small arms fire resistance.   Aluminum works well in this situation.   I am sure it was the same with the ship.   They wanted it to go farther, faster, cheaper, with more weaponry.

My point is not that aluminum has its limitations, but that aluminum does not burn, and the addition of steel armor had absolutely nothing to do with fireproofing.
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]

double check (none / 0) (#61)
by JonesBoy on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:00:57 AM EST


Since I work at the US Army Armaments Research Development Engineering Center, I asked around. No, there has not been a problem with the actual aluminum armor burning.


Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
i know (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 10:33:09 AM EST

I didn't think that you were joking -- I agreed with you.

The original versions of the M113 APC were all clad in aluminum armor. One would think that the APWP (armor piercing white phosphorus) rounds used by the Viet Cong during the Southeast Asian Police Action would have taught the US Army a thing or two about using flammable armor on AFVs.

Unfortunately, it is all too obvious that they haven't learned a g*d-damn thing. As another example: "Blackhawk Down" was the dumbest feel-good dress-up of a total f*cking failure that I have ever had the misfortune to read.

I mean, really, if you're going to precipitate a conflict by shooting up civilians, at least be prepared to suppress them with sufficient infantry and light armor when they decide to fight back....maybe even a good old pattern- or fire-bombing.

Of course, only with recent doctrine developments in MOUT is the US Army even beginning to face its decades-old morbid fear of city fighting... (historically, the US Army SOP for dealing with this morbid fear was to ignore it, pretend like urban combat was no different than set-piece field combat, and grind up countless leg-infantry and armor in futile frontal assaults until the enemy could no longer resist).

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Iraq and Somalia (4.85 / 7) (#19)
by CitAnon on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 02:56:44 AM EST

The important point is that altough these optimistic claims about the capabilities of FCS and Objective Force may not turn out to be true in reality, a US policy maker may still be more likely to resort in military force if he believes in these claims.

Aside from that, the problem with Iraq is that the Saudis won't let the US to put in heavy ground forces. Even if they were to give such permission, it would take months of shipping tanks and artillery on big cargo ships for the army to be ready. Even if the army got heavy forces into Iraq, it would still have a hard time fighting in cities like Baghdad.

There are some who have proposed an Afghanistan style campaign with special forces acting as spotters for air power and local rebels taking the role of the Afghan army.  The problem with that is that special forces and local rebels don't have the firepower to protect themselves from being overrun by an enemy like the Republican Army.

The claimed advantages of FCS is that you'll be able to ship them in C17s to places with no large bases in a few days.  Then, provided the US seized air superiority, which is almost a pre-condition for any significant US ground attack, you would be able to have companies of FCSes, or even special forces driving FCSes to spot targets and battalion or brigade sized units to take on the role of the Afghan army, that is, exert pressure on the ground so that the enemy is forced expose himself to attack.  Unlike current special forces, the Objective Force would still have enough firepower and mobility to fight off and break away from pursuit by heavy armor if things went south in a hurry. 

My point regarding Somalia was not that FCS would be better for peace keeping, but that having it might make politicians think they can go in and stop a civil war.  Conventional heavy infantry with light armored vehicles (LAV) don't fight well in urban environments because they are unable to deal with the complexity of the landscape of cities.  If you're sitting in a LAV, as far as you know guys could be popping up from every window and a direct hit from an RPG may take you out.  The claimed advantage of Objective Force is that by combining unmanned sensors that tell soldiers where the enemy is and weapons that will allow him to attack without exposing himself in an urban environment, you'll be able to get an order of magnitude increase in lethality and survivability.  This is more the domain of Objective Warrior Program than FCS, but both will be in the Objective Force. 

Kosovo was probably one of the scenarios army planners had in mind when they came up with the FCS idea. 



[ Parent ]
Iraq, Republican Guard (none / 0) (#29)
by wiredog on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 08:50:42 AM EST

The problem that Iraq would have is that the Republican Guard would be eliminated very quickly. Tanks in the desert are deathtraps in the face of an enemy with air superiority. See "Highway of Death" for details.

Once Iraq's heavy Armor was gone the FCS, or regular mech infantry, could operate effectively outside Bagdad, and light infantry would do the fighting in the city. The light fighters would probably take the most casualties, although the Israelis had relatively few casualties in Jenin.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

What are the chances Iraq (none / 0) (#36)
by mami on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 01:10:28 PM EST

uses chemical and biological weapons against the regular and light infantry guys ?

[ Parent ]
Chemical (none / 0) (#37)
by wiredog on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 01:22:34 PM EST

The US chemical suits are effective, though they reduce the effectiveness of the soldiers. The main deterrent to the use of those weapons is the likely US nuclear response.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Understatement (none / 0) (#48)
by farmgeek on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 09:21:10 AM EST

"...though they reduce the effectiveness of the soldiers."

There's an understatement if ever I heard one. I can remember having a hell of a time trying to stay awake while wearing full NBC gear.

Fortunately, the Army's general response to chemical agents is to wear NBC gear long enough to get the hell out of there.

[ Parent ]
Annnnd (none / 0) (#54)
by wiredog on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 11:29:12 AM EST

Firing an M-16 while wearing those was, ummmm, a challenge.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Easy (none / 0) (#56)
by nusuth on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 04:35:25 PM EST

You'll nuke them to the ground. Wasn't that the announced policy about chemical weapon use against USA? Even if it weren't I'm sure dubya would be delighted to be able to play with nukes, finally!

[ Parent ]
Republican guard (none / 0) (#63)
by PenguinWrangler on Wed May 01, 2002 at 08:21:34 AM EST

How does the Bill Hicks routine go?

"We have yet to face the elite Republican Guard. Yeah. After a while, they were just the republican guard, then when we'd still not seen them, it became 'the republicans lied to us about there being a guard.'"

I paraphrase heavily.
"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]

It's horses for courses... (4.00 / 4) (#24)
by gordonjcp on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 04:41:47 AM EST

The whole FCS idea would work just great against a similarly advanced army, or against people armed with stones and pointy sticks. Against anyone with good, low-tech defences, I think this might actually be a disadvantage...
Did you know, that in theory a Sopwith Camel could take out low-level fast jets almost effortlessly? The reason being, the Camel is so slow, and being made of wood and fabric has damn near no radar signature (in fact, many wood and fabric aircraft carry radar reflectors inside the fuselage these days, for operating in controlled airspace). Despite the obvious technical limitations of the Camel, it still has a bloody great big 50-calibre machine gun up the sharp end, which will penetrate even a modern aircraft's armour.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Re: It's horses for courses... (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by gymir on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:48:30 AM EST

In theory, everything is possible. There's always a finite chance that what you described might happen.

I don't claim to be a weapons expert but I think that some of the proposed FCS armament choices are pretty interesting. The ETC version of the 120-mm M256 main tank gun has, for example, has a 14-MJ muzzle energy, and increased armor penetration (~10%) over the currently fielded 120-mm gun. and it seems that this is what the US DoD is looking for (improved range, effectiveness and penetration of weapons systems at a lower cost).

I believe the idea behind the FCS was to demonstrate that the use of revolutionary technologies can result in reductions in manpower, maintenance, reliance on logistics support, etc. The DoD seems to be looking for potential transitions from, and upgrades for, a lot of the current military equipment.

As the main diary entry says:
The formation of the US Army Objective Force will not only transform the way the army fights, but the types of missions it will be asked to undertake. For example, the projected improvements in strategic mobility of the Objective Force may lessen US dependence the support of local allies, such as Saudi Arabia, with large basing and port facilities.


[ Parent ]
Camels had twin Vickers 303's (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by cam on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 12:36:10 PM EST

it still has a bloody great big 50-calibre machine gun up the sharp end

The Sopwith had twin Vickers machine guns on it, they were .303 calibre. I dont know of any WWI aircraft carrying .50 calibre machine guns. The French put a cannon in a Spad, but it took a couple of minutes to reload and filled the cockpit up with smoke which adversely affected the pilot. IIRC Guynemer claimed a victory in it, but it was too impractical as a fighting scout to be used other than as a prototype.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

I stand corrected... (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by gordonjcp on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 04:11:13 PM EST

I thought it was a variant of the Vickers Armstrong .50 that was kicking about at the time. They were still pretty vicious though.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Interrupter gears (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by cam on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:34:18 PM EST

They were still pretty vicious though.

They actually shot pretty slowly as the aircraft of the time had big slow turning props with large amounts of torque. The original cam gears flexed as well, so the props got holes in them pretty often. Which wasnt good for efficiency. The later hydraulic gears were more reliable but they were still at the mercy of the big slow spinning props, 1200 rpm was the normal rotation of rotary engines, inlines sometimes 1400 rpm. The aircraft of the time also were a bit shaky, so bullets coming from an aircraft had a wide spatter range or dispersion cone. It is not uncommon in the Combat in the Air Reports of the time to see pilots saying they opened fire at 15 yards from the opposing aircraft.

I have a passionate interest in the history of the era and this subject, www.australianflyingcorps.org .

;)

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Sopwith Camel vs. jet (none / 0) (#62)
by PenguinWrangler on Wed May 01, 2002 at 08:17:03 AM EST

The pilot would have to get a shot in from almost head on though...

Any WWII warbird could fly rings around and take out an F117, though.
"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]

Military (4.00 / 6) (#20)
by ariux on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 03:14:08 AM EST

I don't buy that having military capability necessarily drags a nation kicking and screaming into an aggressive military policy. Take Switzerland and Japan, for example.

For another thing, most of the power and leverage our leaders abuse stem not from military power, but from financial clout and from institutions designed during the Cold War to make the United States the indispensable center of its areas of the international world.

Europe is working its way up to mounting an earnest challenge to that set of institutions - quite possibly an effective challenge.

I wouldn't deny that our military policy does have the potential to evolve in an alarmingly aggressive direction, but I don't think capability would be the cause. I think we have a problem with too many think-tanks and a (perhaps formerly) uninformed and apathetic public.

Japan When? (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by TON on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 04:35:28 AM EST

The military certainly did it's bit to get Japan into an aggressive military policy. The Army and Navy were at such odds over what to do, they did both, with disastrous results. If the army hadn't had such a free hand in Manchuria, and a vested economic interest in aggression, Japan might not have been dragged into such a quagmire in China. The US may have let Japan get away with more limited gains proposed by the Navy in Southeast Asia.

Just because Postwar Japan has a significant military now, and hasn't been dragged into anything recently, doesn't mean they won't be again. They have a serious barrier to get over before the military regains a more central role, but it could happen. North Korean SCUDs over Tokyo?

"First, I am born. Then, the trouble begins." -- Schizopolis

Ted


[ Parent ]

Escalation (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by Betcour on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 10:35:36 AM EST

The bigger the military bugdet, the more powerful the military lobby gets. And to justify its existence and its extensive influence, it needs wars. Every nation who started stockpiling weapons at a rapid rate ended up starting wars (Nazi Germany, Japan... USA in Iraq or Afghanistan). When you have lots of unused weapons, the other countries look weak and it is tempting to make all this equipement useful.

[ Parent ]
"USA in Iraq or Afghanistan" (none / 0) (#39)
by Stickerboy on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 02:41:33 PM EST

I beg to differ... the US' military involvement in the Gulf War started with an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The US' current military involvement in Afghanistan began at the World Trade Center.

So, if the World Trade Center had not been bombed, our military would not be fighting a war in Afghanistan right now. If Iraq had not invaded Kuwait, there would have been no need for Operations Desert Shield or Storm.

[ Parent ]
Disagree (3.66 / 3) (#47)
by Betcour on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 05:27:23 AM EST

US' military involvement in the Gulf War started with an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

And ? US is the one who declared war on Iraq. They are the ones who attacked. US did so because they wanted to keep the oil prices low and get a hold in the Arab countries. And they also did because there equipement was vastly superior en quantity and efficiency. Iraq never attaqued the US. Because something happens somewhere else in the world doesn't grant the US the moral right to send troops and bomb people.

The US current military involvement in Afghanistan began at the World Trade Center.

And again ? Bin Laden is not and never was the leader of Afhganistan. He is not even Afghan, he is from Saudi Arabia. Would US have attaqued China if Bin Laden was in China instead ? Certainly not. Again the US attaqued because they had a huge advantages, not because they were right or something. It's not like it wasn't possible to infiltrate Afghanistan, find Bin Laden and send a cruise missile on him while he was making a video. Of course for that to happen the CIA would have to stop making coup in Venezuela and move its ass and do some real information work.

[ Parent ]
Excuse me (none / 0) (#49)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 10:03:09 AM EST

Yes, Kuwait was about oil, but our attack on Iraq was supported and encouraged by most other countries. Europe because they were threatened as much as we were, and the Saudi's because they knew they were next to be invaded. As for Bin Laden, he wasn't FROM Afghanistan, but he was IN Afghanistan and protected by the leaders of Afghanistan aka the Taliban.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
You watched too much CNN (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by Betcour on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 10:14:21 AM EST

but our attack on Iraq was supported and encouraged by most other countries

That's what the US propaganda told you. Europe participated since it was in NATO and had some obligations to help. Saudi Arabia was presured into accepting US troops and is looking forward to get rid of them as soon as possible. Beside, even if it was really supported by other countries (which it wasn't), it still doesn't make it morally right. "But your honor, I was OK to kill my neighbour, my wife and familly encouraged me !". Duh !

As for Bin Laden, he wasn't FROM Afghanistan, but he was IN Afghanistan and protected by the leaders of Afghanistan aka the Taliban.

Which was a good reason to carpet bomb the country. Carpet bombing a country and innocent inhabitant is horrible way to catch 1 (one) person. That's probably why the NYPD carpet bombs New-York when they are after a criminal ?

[ Parent ]
Reasons (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Apr 24, 2002 at 10:40:36 AM EST

Europe is just as oil-hungry as we are. They didn't do it for "obligation". The Saudi's don't really like us, but they didn't want to get eaten by Saddam either. Morally, we were more in the right than Iraq was for attacking Kuwait. And decisive action was needed against Bin Laden. If we had done nothing, we would have sent a message that they could get away with blowing up our buildings. Admittedly our military is a blunt instrument and they killed a lot of innocents, but there wasn't much choice. Our intellegence network in that part of the world had been dismantled by the previous administration, and you can't rebuild that by transferring manpower from some other part of the world. Military action was our only option.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Saudi Arabia (1.00 / 1) (#57)
by Betcour on Thu Apr 25, 2002 at 03:41:29 AM EST

Saudi Arabia never needed the US for its own defense and was strong-armed into accepting the US troops on its land. Out the CIA Factbook (hardly an anti-American source !) :
  • Military manpower fit for service : males age 15-49: 3,291,185 (2001 est.)
  • Military expenditures : 18,3 B$ (that's 13% of their GDP, France for comparison only put 2.5% and US less than 3.5%)
There's no numbers for Iraq (they would be pointless nowadays), but if you take Iran, who waged war against Iraq for a while and managed to resist Saddam's army, their military expediture is ONLY 5,7 B$ ! Or if you take France, which is still one of the top 5 most powerful army, they only spend twice as much.

Not only that, but Saudia Arabia is the home of the most sacred Muslim place in Mecca, and attaquing it would be alienating the whole Muslim world, from Algeria to Indonesia. And the country is very big as well. Iraq obviously never wanted to invade Saudi Arabia, they had a personnal conflict with Kuweit, and the US used the invasion as an excuse to install itself over the region.

In light of all this, the US medias obviously lied about Saudi Arabia, they never needed the US military support. But of course you can't go on CNN and say "we bullied Saudi Arabia into letting us use their country for our private war and interests"

[ Parent ]
Poll option: 1 *and* 4 (4.42 / 7) (#21)
by Vs on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 03:51:06 AM EST

Why are options 1 and 4 mutually exclusive? Depending on your world view, an injust american world-state signifies world peace ;)
--
Where are the immoderate submissions?
Smart Armor (4.25 / 4) (#26)
by imrdkl on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 06:32:08 AM EST

In at least one of your links Smart Armor, and other weight-lightening techniques are mentioned. This article is also pretty informative about the proposed technique, using magnetic pulses to stop incoming shells.

Pax Americana (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by wiredog on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 08:28:16 AM EST

The New American Way of War, and why it could lead to World Peace. By Bruce Sterling. From Wired.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
Also known as (none / 0) (#30)
by chbm on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 09:46:46 AM EST

Rotten Peace

-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --
[ Parent ]
Solving the wrong problem (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by jet_silver on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:58:38 AM EST

Attrition among company grade officers is the challenge the Army most needs to resolve. The means by which the Army seems to be trying to resolve the problem don't appear to be very useful.

The evidence my friends in the service give me is that loyalty downward exists as the exception to the rule. Junior officers are 'hung out to dry' on a routine basis in order that field grade officers may enjoy a serene progression in grade.

Without a cultural shift in the Army, all these toys will be without operators.
"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling

Small is beautiful (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by DodgyGeezer on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 02:41:32 PM EST

One of the reasons I heard recently why the US didn't eventually commit ground forces against Serbia in the Kosovo conflict was due to the size of the US main battle tank. Too wide for many of the roads, and too heavy for many of the bridges. This meant that it couldn't effectively confront the smaller and lighter Soviet main battle tank that posed the biggest threat to unarmoured ground forces.

Another possibility (4.00 / 3) (#40)
by dennis on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 03:41:00 PM EST

will our leaders move further towards unilateralist policies and military hegemony?

One reason we (speaking as a USian) put our fingers in so many pies is that we figure we need them as bases for conflicts in other places. The less we need bases for heavy armor and such - the more we can just launch attacks anywhere we want, using mobile equipment - the more we can leave places like Saudi Arabia alone to do what they want, because we don't need them as a base against Iraq.

You could call that "unilateralist," but it also means that maybe our leaders won't go around propping up so many oppressive governments around the world, just because they're nearby someone we really don't like.

Bases to secure important territory (5.00 / 2) (#43)
by Rhodes on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 08:02:18 PM EST

There is another reason for our bases to be in Saudi Arabia- to support and protect the oil fields and production / refining facilities; not just to provide area to amass troops prior to invasion.

[ Parent ]
THE TRANSFORMATION IS NOT STEALTHY (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by RHSwan on Tue Apr 23, 2002 at 11:00:11 PM EST

The transformation of the United States Army from the cold war force to the new the new style force has not been in secret. I have seen news articles in various papers over the past several years and seen articles in trade magazines.

There are two reasons for this transformation. The first reason is logistics. The Army does not want to spend six months or more building up a significant force to enact some desired result. As a result, because of the limitation in Air Lift (even the C-5 can only carry one M1A2 Abrahms tank), they need to make the armoured vehicles smaller and lighter. If Sadamm Hussein had not stopped at the Kuwaiti border, the US would have a much harder time in the Gulf War.

The other reason is the Army has a vision of combat it is working toward. The closest approximation is the Nazi Blitzkrieg. Only on steroids. Imagine roving bands of soldiers with significant firepower and capable of high speed, some dropped behind enemy lines, some blasting through enemy defenses, all coordinated together towards some common goal. If one band needs help, they can call for help and get it.

This is not being done to enable the US to act more unilaterally. The Army is guessing at what type of combat they will be involved in. Yes, they are doing this in concert with the political authorities to get guidance on what the politicians think will happen, but then most people consult their direct bosses when some sort of transformation of this magnitude. The mechanism of war is different than the will to wage war. This is only a transformation of the mechanism, not the will. In the United States, that is up to the President and Congress, not the Army.

If you see someone buy a gun, you shouldn't assume they are going to go home and kill their family. Army's designed to fight the last war invariably lose the next one. Without evidence of some other reason, treat the transformation as a desire to win the next war, not the last.

Richard Swan

Stealth Transformation of the US Army | 65 comments (49 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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