By Robert H. Scales and Paul van Riper
Scales and van Riper do correctly point out that peacetime efforts of armies are supposed to give an unfair advantage over the enemy in wartime. They complain that this was not done for modern infantry, as evidenced by (in their opinion) fair infantry combat in Afghanistan.
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I would like to point out several problems in this article:
Is infantry combat in Afghanistan really "fair"? They appear to have very high expectations, for I would count bulletproof vest plates, marksmanship training, indirect fire support and air support in the available quantity already as very unfair.
They appear to have believed in the Revolutions in Military Affairs (RMA) fashion's promises, have observed how RMA largely failed in Iraq and Afghanistan and now they aren't irritated by the failure the slightest bit. Instead, they demand a greater push for RMA (for perfect situational awareness thanks to robotic eyes in the sky). This appears to be a 'little bit' inflexible.
Granted, they also point out movement mistakes (not securing the high ground), but those movement mistakes are a result of the addition of heavy hard body armour.
"Yet as a proportion of total combat deaths, infantry deaths have increased from 71 percent in World War II to 81 percent in wars fought since."
This doesn't seem to be a proper remark because this statistic is dominated by the wars in Korea and Vietnam, not by the two 2000's wars. The infantry's share of losses has in fact dropped to a low recently because the enemies target everyone who's on the road, not just and not primarily infantry. Non-infantry units had to serve as auxiliary infantry and had casualties in those missions as well.
How exactly do these two quotes fit together without a serious dissonance?
Too often defense gurus inside the Beltway still view war as a science project.
After nine years of war, no small unit in such peril should ever cede the high ground to the enemy, particularly when unmanned vehicles are capable of monitoring constantly overhead and transmitting clear pictures of the surrounding terrain.
Ortmann to Scales and van Riper: You should not blame technology whores and then propose a high tech fix yourself!
They should be asking why the richest nation on Earth could not have done more to help this small infantry unit spot the enemy ambush from the air and defeat them with overwhelming killing power.
Did they seriously suggest that the U.S. should spend more on the military? The quote certainly sounds as if they blame the civilian world for the infantry's woes. This sounds ridiculous with the incredible spending levels in the background. They should rather blame the dysfunctional procurement system and the military service itself - than the nation.
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Here are my proposals for fixing the problem:
Don't fight stupid, useless wars of choice.
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OK, maybe readers would want to read alternatives just in case
someone really believes the occupation_war_against_the_guys_
the_guys_who actually_attacked_the_U.S._many_years_ago (and
died in the process) is a war of necessity even many years after
they lost power:
Don't red tape them with excessive force protection requirements (armoured vehicles which cannot leave the 'roads', heavy body armour plates, airspace deconfliction).
Don't force them into stupid behaviour (commute to war, predictable patrols).
Re-structure the ground forces if you're in a multi-year fight in order to meet the demand for military police and infantry troops (instead of retaining the peacetime all-round structure).
Re-think the American Way of War, which fared poorly every time it faced infantry-centric forces which were neither trapped on small islands nor composed of elderly and boys. Produce something different than the extreme caricature of this way of war that is known as "RMA".
Think about diversifying infantry into light and heavy again - for combined operations, not for very different battles. The fight for hill and mountain tops was the job of lightly laden light infantry before the 19th century when all infantry became standardized. The skirmishers with their light weapons and no or light armour fought for the hill tops and ridge-lines, the heavy infantry with body armour and large shields advanced in the valley and was sent into the larger fights.
Maybe modern infantry could split up into lightweight and full kit as well to be both superior in firepower+protection and in positioning?