Well, not my tanks anymore, but you get the idea. Like a lot of people, I’m going through this CNAS paper on the effects of potential DoD budget cuts. There is a lot of good stuff in it and some stuff I don’t think cuts it. For example @brettfriedman pointed out a very valid point that the recommended ground force end strengths are nearly useless unless those numbers are put into the context of capabilities: MEFs, MEUs, BCTs, whatever.
I’m also a little concerned about the authors’ passing remarks on armor (and some other big-ticket items that I don’t know as much about). From the “Guiding Principles” section:
Given the changing operational environment, today’s force has too many heavy armored formations, short-range strike fighters,amphibious capabilities and manned aircraft.
The “changing operational environment”? What “changing operational environment”? This comment is just thrown out there without context and I don’t know what the authors think of whatever environment existed before and where it’s headed now and in the future. For all I know, this is a true statement, but I’ll remain skeptical until shown otherwise.
In the third guiding principle we get this:
Given that the defense budget is likely to remain constrained for years to come, DOD should return to a more restrictive planning and acquisition system that applies limited resources to the most serious threats to U.S. vital interests.
Absolutely. But this just doesn’t jive with the statement above. If you’re arguing that the U.S. needs to narrow its definition of interests, presumably we will face fewer Iraqs and Afghanistans and only deploy ground forces only in the event of our own direct security being at stake. I may be wrong, but I think that would require more than a few airborne infantry brigades. But I guess since we don’t know what the “changing operational environment” means, to say nothing of “vital interests”, then it’s hard to do these sums.
I also want to point out that while armor forces are a bit of a logistical bear (to move around the globe and to keep operational once in theater), you get quite a large combat capability from a small platform. Tanks aren’t a cure-all for whatever wars we find ourselves in, but they’re pretty damned useful.
I fully acknowledge that as a former tanker I’m biased on this topic, but I don’t think this report gets to the level of detail required to make recommendations such as mothballing large swaths of the Army’s mechanized forces.
On a more positive note, I fully support their suggestion of using the Guard and Reserve more often in strategic and operational roles. This is one of the first widely-distributed papers to make that recommendation.