Remember when critics said that the U.S. Army had unlearned the lessons of prior “small wars,” was unprepared to conduct counterinsurgency, and had trained too exclusively to fight conventional campaigns in places like Europe and Korea? Well, now some critics are saying that our soldiers are becoming incapable of fighting future conventional wars in places like, well, Korea.
According to a Baltimore Sun report:
The Army’s senior leaders say there is scant time to train on the high-intensity skills and practice large mechanized maneuvers when combat brigades return home.
With barely 12 months between deployments, there is hardly time to fix war-damaged gear and train newly arrived soldiers in counterinsurgency operations. Some units have the time to train but find their tanks are either still in Iraq or in repair depots.
There is growing concern, Gen. Richard Cody recently told reporters, that the Army’s skills are eroding and that if the war in Iraq continues at current levels, the United States eventually could have “an army that can only fight a counterinsurgency.”
While we should want our military leaders to always be thinking ahead and heading off future problems, this situation reminds me of some of the commentary during the initial military campaign in Iraq, during which we were told by supposedly authoritative sources that our armor columns were bogged down, they were moving too fast to be supplied, the initially clear skies helped the enemy, the storm helped the enemy, etc.
If we get to the point that the Army does counterinsurgency so relentlessly and so well that their tank-battle skills have atrophied, let’s celebrate and then fix the problem.