2009/04/19

Ability to adapt TOEs quickly

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We had military organizations more or less tailored for specific tasks in the past - like the divisions that faced the Warsaw Pact divisions.

We've seen some reorganizations to modernize the organizations, but these reorganizations take years.

Now we've got different tasks and the response is to tailor task forces of units, sub-units and incomplete units to the job. Some units do very different jobs than they were conceived for (like artillery batteries on checkpoint duty).

This picture is missing something in my opinion. It's been widely acknowledged that the present missions require much more (military) police and low-level military intelligence capacity than the traditional missions, and that we need more infantry.
The mess in Afghanistan is going on since about six years, with involvement of many NATO nations since about five years - but I've yet to learn about any major reorganization to meet the new profile. I've read more spin about how the previous new organization form (IBCT, for example) coped supposedly well with the difficulties.

Temporary TO&E reforms should be an easy thing for our forces, not a horror.

This shortcoming of the past few years is in my opinion part of a wider problem.
It's common to re-organize companies in the economy - and no shame. Managers do it almost all the time. A change of business strategy every five years with accompanying change of structure is being considered as healthy reaction to challenges, not as organizational chaos (well, by shareholders - employees are often less friendly because some changes don't convince them).

States are different. Most of their institutions are made to provide the same service for decades, and changes are seen in a different light. This applies also to armies. We seem to lack the ability to simply reorganize on the spot - not only as improvisation, but as real change. It takes more than a year to reorganize a brigade.

The German Luftwaffe (air force) showed a comparable dismal performance in its organization:
It was clear since many years that the "fighter" wings with their F-4F (modernized in the 90's with AMRAAM and APG-65, the F/A-18A/B radar) were not worth their operating costs. The aircraft were pretty much crap by modern standards, a serious contender barely in the BVR fight, not in dogfights.


The Luftwaffe somehow had to bridge the time till the arrival of the Eurofighter/Typhoon. It bridged the gap with the update and by keeping the fighter wings - despite their poor capability - active. Few fighters wings had to be disbanded after many years of wasting taxpayer money.
We did not borrow more efficient fighters (like F-16's, even A's would have been a good preparation for the Typhoon) to bridge the gap. No, we kept the wings - instead of getting rid of the almost useless fighter wings and simply re-establishing them later. The necessary competencies would have been kept in the fighter-bomber and recce wings.
We didn't get 100+ Typhoons in a single year anyway. We had plenty time to rebuild wings for new aircraft.
Some politics might influence high profile decisions like fighter inventories, but such an excuse doesn't hold water for army structures.
We could and should have raised temporary units that match the new missions instead of adapting old structures.

Our armed services fear reforms - they are too slow (and not self-confident enough) when they need to re-organize.
Many nations were able to raise entire divisions in a matter of months in World War 2, but nowadays it's difficult to re-organize a brigade from one structure to another. Our organizations evolve in slow motion. It's about time for some serious kicks in the butt to break that slow-motion and kick off a series of organizational experiments. We can afford experiments - no-one threatens to invade us - and it would help to improve the adaptability of our armed services.

Sven Ortmann
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1 comment:

  1. Obviously there are Feldjäger missing from that picture. They're part of SKB, not the Heer. :)

    Other than that a very good post. I think the problem with structural and operational changes is just that ... well, we don't need them. Not for this kind of "mission". Yes, we could get more infantry units ... but we don't patrol anyway. We could get more MPs, but we don't really train the ANP anyhow. And so on ...

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