Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Quadrennial Defense Rubbish

On February 2006, SecDef Rumsfeld signed off on the Quadrennial Defense Review Report. This is a typical Pentagon report in which the competing demands of the various factions within the various services staple their druthers under a cover sheet that blesses them all without resolving the differences between them. For example, the preface of the QDR lists a number of the “shift of interest:” including the following:

-From “one size fits all” deterrence - to tailored deterrence for rouge powers, terrorist networks, and near-peer competitors.

-From threat based planning – to capabilities planning.

-From focus on kinetics – to focus on effects.

-From static defense, garrison forces – to mobile, expeditionary operations.

-From battle ready forces (peace) – to battle hardened forces (war)

-From large institutional forces (tail) – to more powerful operational capabilities (teeth).

-From forces that need to deconflict – to integrated, interdependent forces.

-From exposed forces forward – to reaching back to CONUS to support expeditionary forces.

-From set-piece maneuver and mass – to agility and precision.

-From predetermined force packages – to tailored flexible forces.

The “From-To” dichotomy creates a false picture of what was in place in order to provide a nifty counterpart for the new Light Fantastic. Combat veterans of the last fifty years would dispute the assertion that their battles were set-piece, needing “deconfliction” to maneuver, and that their battles were fought from static garrisons. This never happened.

What is more important is that the “to’s” are contradictory. The rejection of “one size fits all”, flies in the face of the current Army plan to create “one size fits all” modular expeditionary brigades. Likewise, the other services are devising identical “expeditionary” forces.

Of greatest oddity is the assertion that threats are to be ignored and focus should be made on effects and capabilities. Rogue powers, networks, and near-peer competitors are very different threats each with differing strengths and weaknesses. It is contradictory to prattle on about intelligence integration if the intelligence is going to be ignored in favor of “capability and effects”.

Likewise, basing forces stateside (CONUS) presumes that forces can be deployed faster to the Muddle East from Kansas than Germany or Kuwait. The intent here is to rotate one size fits all modular brigades to “Spartan” exposed bases without adequate logistics support while the family remains in Kansas so the spouse doesn’t have to change the drapes every PCS. Small wonder the divorce rate is sky rocketing. This smacks of Dien Bien Phu and Little Big Horn.

Only a corporate whiz kid could come up with the notion that out-sourcing the logistics “tail” would change a ton of ammo into a pound. In the event that we have to fight a near-peer, the needs for artillery ammunition will once again drive the logistics train. The default calculations (the old FM 101-10-1) for near-peer warfare call for an average of one ton of artillery ammunition per rifle squad or tank across a near-peer battlefield. This equates to ten tons per gun per day. Ten tons per gun means one 5-ton truck with 5-ton trailer on the road every day which requires engineer support to maintain the roads, MP’s to secure the routes, fuel dumps and pipelines, and mechanics with spare parts to support the whole structure. Tails tend to be five to ten times the size of the teeth, even in the VC/NVA forces operating against us in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

In Iraq, Field Artillery battalions are being used as infantry leaving convoys without artillery support in the mounting pace of ambushes. Meanwhile, unarmed civilians are being shot up, decapitated, and charred in convoys sent in what is best described as behind enemy lines. That is murder by government decree.

This QDR is more an agreement to disagree between the defense department factions than a Chinese Menu. Rumsfeld likely did not read it, or maybe he didn’t care as he likely he had no intention to let the DoD staff think they knew what they were going to do. To do would ruin his fun in jerking the brass around. The QDR is a mish mash more like the Emperor’s New Clothes than coherent policy. If implemented as intended, the entire war making capability will be rendered useless and impotent.

Of lasting concern is the focus of DoD’s focus “from battle ready (peace) to battle hardened (war)” which is another way of stating that DoD intends to wage war without end which goes maintaining the problem so the warrior stays in business.

Congress has the powers to determine what the shape of the military is to be. Given the utter nonsense in the QDR, perhaps it is time for Congress to form a Blue Ribbon Panel of a wide variety of combat veterans, and other experts from the diplomatic community and the defense industry to determine what kind we need. This QDR continues the disastrous policies that have led to the edge of defeat despite having the best trained, best equipped, best led, and best motivated combat force this nation has ever fielded.

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