Note the contradiction between the planned personnel cuts and the comments on the urgency of keeping the volunteer force intact and coherent.
The Washington Post, 13 June 2012
“The face of war, the face of how we do business, is changing.”
That’s retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sharing how he sees the military’s future at a National Press Club session for reporters Tuesday. Cartwright, who was known for his forward thinking while on active duty, has apparently decided to share his ideas through a series of public appearances.
One area that he sees changing in the military is what he calls “the platforms” — by which he means tanks, troop carriers, ships, aircraft, heavy guns and even rifles. They are becoming less important in Cartwright’s view than the new electronics, sensors and other gadgetry.
He recalls being with then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Georgia reviewing an Army unit ready to deploy to Central Asia with new systems that included iPads and droids for individual soldiers. Cartwright said Gates asked one sergeant during a barracks walkthrough, “What do you think of all this stuff?”
The sergeant replied, “I’d sooner leave this barracks without my rifle as to leave without these things.”
The lesson for Cartwright was that the new electronics, which the military calls information technology (IT), will replace in importance the current platforms — in which the side with the most modern guns, tanks and aircraft often won. Platforms, however, take time to develop.
Phi Beta Iota: This is a useful–but uncritical–contribution from the author. The planned manpower cuts are irresponsible, especially when contrasted with the fraud, waste, and abuse characteristic of all of the service systems now under development, including Marine Corps Aviation. As General Robert Scales, USA (Ret) has pointed out, 4% of the force takes 80% of the casualties, and receives 1% of the Pentagon budget. The last thing the US needs right now, on top of 18 veterans a day committing suicide, on top of 75,000 amputees and fully disabled veterans unable to find employment, is more cuts in active duty structure. What SHOULD be cut are big ticket items and the secret intelligence collection that produces less than 4% of what the President needs and virtually nothing for everyone else. The bottom line here is that the US Government and the Department of Defense have not been, and will not be, serious about defining the threat, developing a strategy to meet the real threat rather than the invented threats, and then defining a force structure that–as General Cartwwright points out–something many of us said decades ago–cannot be developed over decades. In other words, Secretary of Defense Panetta is playing politics and managing money rather than leading the men and women of the Armed Forces, who deserve much much more.