NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
An active duty Army officer is urging a thorough house cleaning of Army generals and a restructuring of the service after more than a decade of leadership failures.
“The U.S. Army’s generals, as a group, have lost the ability to effectively function at the high level required of those upon whom we place the responsibility for safeguarding our nation,” Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis stated in an article published online by Armed Forces Journal.
In Col. Davis’ view, senior leaders have produced a 20-year record of organizational, acquisitional and strategic failures.
“These failures have been accompanied by the hallmarks of an organization unable and unwilling to fix itself: aggressive resistance to the reporting of problems, suppression of failed test results, public declarations of success where none was justified, and the absence of accountability,” he wrote.
To compound the problem, the Army is preparing to reorganize the service into smaller and less-capable forces, as threats become more unpredictable and adversaries more dangerous.
Col. Davis said the purge of generals should be similar to what occurred 70 years ago when Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall found an officer corps ill-suited for winning World War II. He forced scores of generals into retirement.
“Today’s times, like Marshall’s, call for a reformation of the general officer corps,” Col. Davis said.
Recent Army failures include the canceled Comanche helicopter that cost $6.9 billion; the canceled Crusader mobile cannon that wasted $7 billion; and the Future Combat System, scrapped after $20 billion was spent on it.
High-budget programs currently facing problems include the Ground Combat Vehicle Program and the Joint Tactical Radio system.
The Army also has failed to properly modernize its decades-old division structure. Col. Davis said the “modular” brigade combat team (BCT) system was introduced despite concerns it would produce less-capable forces.
“After spending nearly nine years and reportedly $75 billion on the reorganization, Army leaders are now trying to reverse course by returning the third battalion to the BCT,” Col. Davis said.
On combat operations, Col. Davis stated that since 2004, senior military leaders claimed combat successes in Afghanistan despite substantial evidence the conflict is not being won and a stalemate is likely.
Another major concern is that, after a decade of counterinsurgency warfare, the Army is not ready for a future “state-on-state” war, he said.
China, in particular, has been preparing for decades for a future conflict, and the United States needs to be prepared for contingencies involving a modernized Chinese military.
“In short, during a decade in which the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have been focused almost exclusively on counterinsurgency and small-unit warfare, a new generation of Chinese military leaders has deepened its understanding and application of conventional warfare,” Col. Davis said.
The Army’s Strategic Guidance for 2013 states that the service is preparing to deal with the Asia Pacific but lacks specifics, he said.
“There is little in the way of explaining what missions the Army will need to be prepared for beyond the bumper sticker of ‘across the range of military operations,’ ” Col. Davis noted.
“What is needed now is real change, not mere cutting.”
Al Qaeda in Sinai
As the military crackdown on civil unrest continues in Egypt, al Qaeda-linked terrorists are quietly building networks in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel’s government in the past played down the threat and Egypt’s military currently is engaged in covert military operations there.
A U.S. official said the al Qaeda threat in the Sinai was brought home to the Israelis this week. On Tuesday, terrorists fired a missile at the Israeli city of Eilat. The rocket was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile interceptors.
Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, the terrorist group that operates in the Sinai, carried out the attack.
The rocket assault followed an Israeli drone strike on the group that killed four terrorists several days earlier, as they were preparing to fire a rocket into Israel.
Egyptian military and security forces, meanwhile, have stepped up air strikes and other operations in the Sinai against the terrorists since the recent military takeover that ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
Egyptian military spokesman Ahmad Ali stated in a Facebook post Aug. 11 that the military is working covertly to pursue terrorists and criminals in the Sinai.
China precision strike
China’s military is building conventional precision-guided missiles in an effort to become Asia’s “hegemon” and force the U.S. military to operate thousands of miles from China’s coasts, according to a study made public this week.
China’s growing arsenal of highly accurate, land-based ballistic missiles is the most conspicuous element of Beijing’s anti-access, area-denial weapons, writes former Pentagon official Barry D. Watts in a report produced by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
China’s unique DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, which can hit aircraft carriers 1,200 miles out at sea, is the weapon “causing the greatest concern to the U.S. Navy,” he states in the report, “The Evolution of Precision Strike.”
However, Mr. Watts says, the new missile faces challenges in coordinating its strike capabilities at long distances against maneuvering ships.
It would take a DF-21D about 10 minutes to reach a nuclear-powered carrier. Moving at 30 knots, the warship could cover five miles during the flight, requiring the precision-guided missile’s maneuverable warhead to cover 79 square miles during the attack.
“The [Chinese military’s] over-the-horizon radars could detect and track a carrier strike group well out in the western Pacific, but the long wavelengths of those radars would not provide the accuracy needed for target updates against a fast-moving naval combatant,” he states.
The Chinese would need reconnaissance satellites to guide the missile. China currently is deploying navigation satellites.
China’s goal is to force U.S. air and naval forces to operate up to 1,500 miles from China, complicating U.S. efforts to knock out Chinese facilities in a conflict, including those located in thousands of miles of underground tunnels.
Mr. Watts offers several steps to meet the challenge. They include:
• Developing high-energy lasers to knock out missiles;
• Using sea mines to divert Chinese military efforts to minesweeping operations;
• Adopting alternative satellite systems to reduce reliance on large and vulnerable satellites.
• Fielding new low-yield, highly accurate nuclear warheads for use against underground facilities.
Mr. Watts states that the U.S. military “has shown little inclination” to develop new operational and organization steps to deal with the threat.
“Instead, the military services have largely taken evolving American capabilities for reconnaissance strike and layered them onto existing operational concepts and organizations,” he says.