Friday, December 28, 2007

A Cadre Defense

Against that day when the big balloon goes up, where the forward deployed forces have been shredded as have the grand plans from inside the magical Beltway, a backup military establishment with industry to match would be nice to have. The principal principle against that day is to follow Bedford Forrest’s dictum – “get thar fustest with the mostest!” – in short be able to muster the talent on hand, that which takes the longest lead time to develop, up and running rapidly.

The long lead time items include the larger capital ships like heavy cruisers, carriers, and Fancy Dan fighters. It includes investing in R&D, more pure than applied. And, most of all it means preserving the combat experience and military training of those who have served. Our current personnel policies are wasteful and wanting in this regard, tossing the trained to the wolves with disdainful regard, then when the fit hits the shan, searching the bottom of the barrel.

Long lead people are the noncoms, specialists, and officers with experience, of two to five or more years. It is in the initial four or five years of service that is the investment, the grounding and framework of the experienced fighter. In peacetime service, the majority of souls serve without being in the fleet or in the field, but in jobs tangentially related to core tasks, after their core service.

Since the most numerous of trooper is at the bottom, and the time to train up to entry level service is short range, a defense establishment prepared for the long haul, should focus on the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of the mid level enlisted and officer. One old training policy of days gone by, and also adopted by the German Army of between Great Wars was a skinny chain of command with lateral expansion of the command on paper, and with those serving at one level trained to operate at two levels higher. In this manner, the German Army could expand from a force of 100,000 to several millions of well led troops in short order.

The Germans and Soviets also instituted training in military skills in their youth groups like the Hitler Youth, Komsomol, and the Young Pioneers who trained the youth in political action, and, some military training, and skills needed for military operations. The Boy Scout movement was started by Lord Baden-Powell to maintain a skill base capable of skilled military use. The term “scout” is a military role requiring more than the average level of outdoorsy skills. Our CAP and Sea Cadets follow in this role, without the political clap trap.

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The merit badge approach of short courses for veterans who wish only to keep their skills up to snuff, could be crafted to include marksmanship, paint ball competitions, military communications exercises, and a whole host of “fun” things to do to maintain a skill base, and to keep tabs on those we may need.

The military structure of forces not on active service should include, as today, units ready to rock and roll on the drop of the hat. This was the intent of the Capstone program which facilitated the fantastic rise in military competence of American Arms in peacetime ever. It had the down side of presenting the Congress with a fully capable military establishment at one third to one sixth the cost of an equivalent Active force.

Recent experience has proven that despite Pentagon assurances (and Federal Law) the Pentagon never really intended to call up trained units as such. From the start, given Defense Officers Management Act, the Pentagon as a replacement depot and to be kept in a separate pile from the Active service to facilitate post conflict reductions in force without resorting to RIF or the UP/Out promotion system. That provision of Law that required units to be called as such seems to have disappeared in a reshuffle of the law for administrative reasons, and needs to be reissued by the Congress.

It, however, must be recognized that under existing laws and plans, there is no systemic method of providing trained mid career personnel to replace losses and start new units except by cannibalization of existing units of all components. It is in the regard that a new division of labor between the components be drawn. Active forces must be geared to the most exigent of circumstances, particularly from foreign sources. The National Guard has a dual mission, of state and federal requirements. The Guard is the default national defense force for war, courtesy of the Second Amendment. And it has been the back bone of our national wars up through WW2.

The Reserves (USAR, USNR, USAFR, etc) were initially Federal Forces raised for the duration of a war. As such they were known as “US Volunteers” which included the famed “Rough Riders” After WW1, Reserve forces were developed to preserve certain skills and provide a pool of qualified individuals for service. After WW2, the Reserves were organized into field units such as Corps and Divisions, but after Vietnam, the structure was integrated into specific war scenarios called contingencies.

But these structures did not provide for replacements for extant units of any component. In this regard, the Reserves as opposed to the Guard have the capabilities to maintain replacements for any component. The only program in existence that met the criterion were non-pay mobilization units of those interested in keeping a hand in but generally consisted of lectures by individual members. The IRR, once considered a ready pool of replacements, proved to provide a third of those listed. Clearly, the need for small detachment and individual replacements for all components be made ready with such incentives in pay and challenge to keep those not in units.

The technology of the computer supported CPX can allow units without equipment to train in realistic environments with the clear expectation that they could be called as individuals or as the nexus of a whole new unit. A battalion consisting of a staff and part of a chain of command could be filled with entry level personnel and replacement from any component and made ready to deploy in short order.

What takes time in the development of a deployment ready unit is it’s chain of command, and not in the lowest level who consist of those who can be raised and trained in less than a year. It is time to re-institute cadre units.

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