The Effects of the Long War on Military Readiness

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 11 months ago

We have previously argued for properly resourcing the long war.  This argument was primarily based on multiple deployments and the affect that they have on warrior morale.  Said a different way, consider Ernie Pyle.  For a generation that has been raised on video games, World of Warcraft and rap, Ernie Pyle is unknown.  Yet his prose serves as some of the best philosophical analysis of war that has ever been published, and should be required reading in professional military programs.  Pyle had previously described the belief of World War II veterans that the only way home was through Germany.  Winning the war meant going home, and permanently so.  Going home for modern day warriors means being deployed again in a year with all of the stress and strain on troops and their families.

There is currently a debate within professional military circles regarding a somewhat different concern, that being that prosecution of counterinsurgency taking the focus off of more conventional operations, one of which is artillery (h/t Small Wars Journal Blog).  Three active duty Army Colonels weigh in with a white paper entitled The Impending Crisis in Field Artillery’s Ability to Provide Fire Support to Maneuver Commanders.  In it they argue that the practice of field artillery has languished with the exclusive practice of counterinsurgency.

Professor Lt. Col. Gian Gentile argues the same in “Breaking the American Army.”

Six years of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has atrophied the Army’s ability to fight conventional battles like the kind fought in the first Gulf War against Iraq.

Recent analyses of the Israeli army’s performance in southern Lebanon in summer 2006 show that its skill at conventional fighting atrophied because of many years of conducting counterinsurgency operations in the Palestinian territories. In southern Lebanon the Israeli army suffered a significant battlefield defeat at the hands of Hezbollah militants who fought them tenaciously and ferociously using tactics reminiscent of the way the World War II German army fought the Americans in the hedgerows of Normandy in the summer of 1944. When Hezbollah fighters attacked Israeli armored and infantry columns in 2006, the Israeli army had severe difficulties at simple command and control and coordination between tanks and infantry.

The American army is in a similar condition today and the American people and their political leaders should be worried. For example, when combat brigades return from Iraq or Afghanistan and are looking at only a year or so back home before heading back the short amount of training time almost guarantees that the brigades will train almost exclusively on counterinsurgency operations.

Last summer a group of combat soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division wrote critically in a New York Times opinion article about Iraq and the long-term effects that continued American military presence would produce. Although these soldiers were doubtful of American military power solving Iraq’s deep-rooted problems, they acknowledged that as soldiers they would carry on despite their doubts about the mission. They said: “we need not talk of morale, as committed soldiers we will see this mission through.”

Those words by battle-hardened, combat soldiers from the 82nd Airborne reflect the ethic and commitment of the American army to accomplishing the assigned mission, even if it means breaking the Army in the process. Just as our political leaders can employ the American army as they see fit, so, too, can they keep it from breaking.

The Captain’s Journal will not weigh in on a solution to this dilemma.  However, properly resourcing the long war, as we have argued for multiple times (basing this argument on the mental health of our warriors) would go a long way towards solving this problem as well.  Morality must undepin our prosecution of the long war, this morality being applicable to our very own warriors and how we treat them, whether concern for their hearts or concern for their skills.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks




You are currently reading "The Effects of the Long War on Military Readiness", entry #1078 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Department of Defense,The Long War,War & Warfare and was published May 7th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (675)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (28)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (6)
Ammunition (12)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
AR-15s (32)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (34)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (24)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (42)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (15)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (4)
Body Armor (16)
Books (2)
Border War (6)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (25)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (1)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
CENTCOM (7)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (5)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (213)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (1)
Department of Defense (112)
Department of Homeland Security (9)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (5)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (1)
Featured (156)
Federal Firearms Laws (14)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (206)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (38)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
GITMO (2)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (173)
Guns (422)
Guns In National Parks (2)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
HAMAS (7)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (10)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (12)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (24)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (376)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (32)
Islamists (35)
Israel (17)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (70)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (8)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (1)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (11)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (7)
Logistics (46)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (229)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
MEDEVAC (2)
Media (22)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (20)
Mexico (19)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (2)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (9)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (13)
NATO (15)
Navy (19)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (199)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (16)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Police (77)
Police in COIN (2)
Policy (15)
Politics (113)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (64)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (73)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (27)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (132)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (22)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Survival (7)
SWAT Raids (40)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (86)
Thanksgiving (4)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (9)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (4)
U.S. Border Security (11)
U.S. Sovereignty (13)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (2)
Uncategorized (38)
Universal Background Check (2)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (2)
War Reporting (17)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (5)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (11)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2014 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.