2003 June 08 Sunday
Half US Army Active Division Strength Tied Down In Iraq

With a total number of troops committed to Iraq adding up to half the 10 active US Army divisions the United States does not have a large enough force to deal with any other problem that may arise.

While the stress on the Army can probably be sustained for a few more months, the official said, any delay beyond that could seriously disrupt troop rotation schedules for Afghanistan and South Korea and erode the Army's ability to maintain an adequate reserve for other contingencies.

Asked if he had ever seen the Army so stretched, the official said: "Not in my 31 years" of military service.

The United States isn't going to attack Iran or North Korea for many months to come because the US military is not big enough to manage anything more than its current commitments.

In light of the strains that occupation of Iraq are putting on the US military it is interesting to note that Donald Rumsfeld would like to cut the US Army size by two active divisions. He wants to free up the money to buy equipment that will revolutionize American war-fighting capabilities. This brings up the question of what the US military is for at this point. If the biggest job it is going to have is to invade countries that are developing nuclear weapons then the problem with Rumsfeld's plan is that it already takes a lot more soldiers to occupy a country than it does to invade it. Perhaps he should put more funding toward the development of equipment that will automate more of the work of an occupying army rather than built fancier equipment for doing the invasions.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 08 06:38 PM  Military War, Rumours Of War


Comments
James Jones said at June 11, 2003 1:46 PM:

Sustained ground combat operations are manpower-intensive. So are sustained occupations and nation-building. Enhanced automation is not going to eliminate the need for continuous American military contact with the Iraqi population to gather intelligence, build relationships, fix problems, and organize a new society.

The answer is obvious. Increase the size of the Active Army by 5-7 combat divisions, plus related Corps and Army-level support units. There is also a tremendous need for more Special Operations troops, Civil Affairs units, Military Police units, and Military Intelligence groups. In terms of actual manpower numbers, this translates to another 200,000 to 250,000 soldiers.

The main problem with doing this is domestic politics. The Bush Administration would have to acknowledge that we are in a real war that will require large increases in active duty military strength. This would further increase military spending and weaken the argument for additional tax cuts.

A secondary problem for the Bush Administration is that it would reverse Secretary of Defense Rumfeld's policy of transforming the Army by making it smaller and lighter and by equipping it with a new generation of weaponry and C3I devices. Rumsfeld was/is going to pay for the new equipment by reducing the Army's active duty divisions from 10 to 8 and mothballing most of its heavy war-fighting weapons. M1 tanks, Bradley IFVs, and Paladin self-propelled artillery are expensive to maintain/operate and more difficult to transport than Hummers, light tracks/wheeled vehicles, and truck-hauled artillery.

Of course, the Iraq war has graphically demonstrated, again, that heavy ground forces are much more combat-effective and much more survivable than light forces in most situations. There is a high probability that large ground forces will be needed to destroy hostile regimes in Iran, N. Korea, and Syria during the next few years. The occupation of Iraq will continue for the next 3-5 years. The Bush Administration is going to have to decide if it is willing to adequately fund and staff the military for this war or not.

Randall Parker said at June 11, 2003 2:59 PM:

James, we could equip the occupation troops with all manner of video and other remote sensing tech so that they could watch more streets at once just as police forces now do in some Western cities. I can also imagine the development of assorted information systems that would make it far easier for troops on patrol to report suspicious activities and to ask for help. Plus, I can imagine electronic means to allow translator services to be available to troops on patrol who are interacting with civilians. Picture a civilian talking into a microphone while the soldiers hear real-time translation by some guy in their ear broadcasting the translation into their ear piece.

I agree that shrinking the active army makes no sense when it obviously ought to be bigger. Agree too on the value of heavy armor. But I really do think that some of what occupation forces do could be automated. Also, the quality and effectiveness of the patrolling could be greatly enhanced if the soldiers were networked in with intelligence and translation services. Plus, there's a big logistics train supporting them, portions of which could be automated as well.

Warwick Smith said at November 21, 2003 11:23 PM:

As Australian who served in our army, our view is that the U.S.Army is a great conventional army at divisional level operations ,but displays less tactical expertise at what we call,Infantry Minor Tactics,that is the section(squad),platoon and company level operations.Hence ,the U.S.Army needs to focus more on small-unit tactics/training and your units need to be smaller.Divisions should be 12,000-13,500,not the 18,000-20,000 heavy units used in the level low combat operations currently being fought.
1.Yes, you need more divisions,but different divisions,some of your armour/mechanized divisions,needed to be converted to airmobile(air assault)units, increasing moblility.The 1st Cavalary would once again become the ,1st air cavalary division
2.Stop traveling on the roads,go across country,ambushes occur as a result of poor tactics.Flank sercuity(on foot) and reonnaissance if done properly reduce the likelyhood of ambushes.Regards Warwick Smith,Sydney,Australia

John Smith said at March 27, 2004 4:39 PM:

I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT RUMSFELD IS THINGING. WE NEED TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF DIVISIONS TO AT LEAST 16 ACTIVE DIVISIONS. IF HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF, N KOREA OR IRAN OR SYRIA IS GOING TO ACT UP AND WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO MANY DIVISIONS TIED UP IN IRAQ. WE ARE ALSO NEED TO KEEP ARE HEAVY ARMOR, BECAUSE A MAJOR WAR NEED TANKS AND ARMORED VEHICLES. WE ALSO NEED MORE THAN JUST THE 10TH MOUNTAIN IN AFGHANISTAN. WE NEED MORE DIVISIONS EVERYWHERE. THE WAY TO DO IT IS TO FREE UP SOME JOBS IN THE ARMY LIKE MAKING FOOD, DELIVERING MAIL, ETC, AND HAND THEM OVER TO CIVILIANS. THIS SAVES THE GOVERNMENT MONEY BECAUSE ALL SOLDIERS IN THE ARMY HAVE AT LEAST BASIC TRAINING. THE 82ND AIRBORNE SHOULD BE CONVERTED LIKE THE 101ST TO A AIR ASSAULT DIVISION. THE ARMY ALSO NEEDS AT LEAST 1 MORE HEAVY INFANTRY DIVISION AND AT LEAST 5 MORE LIGHT INFANTRY DIVISIONS. WE ALSO NEED ANOTHER CAV AND ARMORED DIVISION. TEN DIVISIONS IS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH.

Roberto L said at May 2, 2004 10:45 PM:

I believe that the US does need to increase the number of divisions...

2 additional heavy armored divisons, 3 air assault divisions, 4 light infantry, and some extensive revamping of
the special forces units to increase their sizes.

Instead of 12 man teams....have 75 man teams go out and engage the enemy and if coming under fire...having backup not too far away and ready to outflank and surround the enemy.

American Army is the best in the world for moving blitzkrieg....a lighting war....

What America needs to do is to attrite these insurgents by using these special forces lightning squads...
Perform raids on known targets....and have the mobility and backup available to engage enemies for long periods of time.

It is much like the police forces here work....except imagine being able to have swat team pop up within 5-10minutes...

Quicken the pace and increase the response....demoralize these chumps.

Dave Jone said at July 10, 2004 9:17 PM:

If you all feel so strongly about making the Army better, why not go to your local recruiting office and raise your right hand? Beyond that, the whole, "the Army is too small" notion has been screamed by every head of the Army since pretty much forever. Given that's there job. However, look at the numbers. From what I've gathered from a google search, the Army has a total strength of around 800 thousand. About 450k of that is reserves. 200k are deployed (including Korea, Kosoveo, etc.) Somehow I don't see the army needing too much. I think the real reluctance is for the Army to actually deploy its people. Given again its the generals' job to worry about other commitments, but there as simple answer to that. Stop invading other countries. Or actually insist the rest of the world handle a problem for once (assuming they can). There is also the argument of troop deployment and such. While I don't feel we should be stretched so thin that troops are pulling 5 year tours in Iraq, currently we're still far from that. Yes it will hurt retention and whatnot but, sorry, that is what the Army does. If fights America's wars. We don't pay for all those troops just to make sure the bars around Fort Dix stay busy. Plus the longer people go there, with in reason, the better they know how to handle it. If Rummy want's to free up some dough, consolidate. Instead of having all these little bases scattered all over the country (thereby making Army wide increases favorable to Congressmen with a base in their district) shut most of 'em down.

john f, hull army vet 1960-1963 said at October 4, 2004 9:58 PM:

LOVE THIS COUNTRY OR LEAVE IT ! THE DRAFT DIDN'T HURT THE RICH KIDS , DADDY USED HIS INFLUENCE TO GET THEM IN THE NATIONAL GUARD, AKA GEORGE BUSH SR. THE KIDS FROM WEST VA -KENTUCKY TENN MICH OHIO PENN N.JERSY, ALL OF THESE KIDS DID THE TIME. DICK CHENEY WOULD NOT BE RUNNING FOR THE VICE PRESIDENCY IF HE WOULD OF BEEN SENT TO VIET-NAM , HIS NAME MIGHT HAVE BEEN ON THE WALL WITH ALL THE REST OF THE BRAVE SOULS THERE !!!!! SO IF IT HAS TO BE THE DRAFT AGAIN, NO LOTTERY, NO DEFERMENTS GO DO THE TIME AND COME BACK A PROUD AMERICAN NOT A POLITITION !!

JOHN F. HULL
VIET -NAM ERA VET
U.S. ARMY 1960-1963

me said at December 16, 2004 11:20 AM:

What is being forgotton is the US debt. No matter what we do, there is no way that we can pay it off unless we seriously reform the country, and thus the army. We need to pull our troops back to the US as soon as we can, and let the rest of the world deal with some problems. After we get the army into the US, we need to warehouse the heavy equipment, whhile keeping it maintained so that it is useable. We then need to eliminate the trade imbalance with China. As it is I doubt that we can pull out of the hole we have put ourselves into, but we should try.

Ernie Pope said at March 29, 2005 9:24 AM:

I see some pretty well stated arguments about what types of divisions we need. But I do think some consideration needs to be paid to fortifing our southern border. I recently saw a news article about troop build up in northern Mexico. It's only 6,400 troops but they are concentrated in a very small area. Also compared to our troop location, Mexico could reinforce their troops alot quicker than we could. Plus they would have a benefit that no other force in recent history has had. Will the US use its aircraft and heavy artilly to bomb Arizona's cities? Vicenty Fox has always struck me as man eager to "regain ground" lost in the Mexican American war. I'm seriusly afraid that America has become so cocky that we are setting ourselves up for another sneak attack. Just look at our history. Pearl Harbor, the battle of the bulge, even recently with 9/11. The one common factor, we never saw it coming. The American army IS stretched thiner than ever before, Bush is the worst war leader I have ever seen, and close to 50% of southern Arizona's people are first or second generation Mexican Nationals. Historical examples for a dangerous situation are in alarming numbers here in Arizona. Our defense strategy for Mexico is based on "well were tougher than they are, plus they're are freinds". Look how many times Allies have turned on each other for personal gain. Plus if you consider the "strength" of our forces are not in position to defend Arizona. One of the biggest airforce bases in the country, Davis Monthan, lies less than two hours from Mexico. If they could capture that, they would gain control of one of our largest stock piles of mothballed military aircraft that we have. Plus all of the supplies and equipment to put them to use. Also Davis Monthan is were we try out our new aircraft so they would probably get alot of our new toys to boot. The only major obstacle between Mexico and this treasure trove is the under staffed intelligence base at Fort Hauchucha, which would be a hell of a prize by itself. We have alot of basicaly undefended loot just lying around Tucson too. Are National Guard depot has four selfpropeled 155mm cannons plus at least eight towed guns, and has not even one on duty armed guard at the post. Plus the air national guard base has a varity of attack and support choppers in similar conditions. The mexican military was trained by us with US equipment that we gave them so I guarantee they could put that stuff to effective use. Don't forget the lessons Hitler taught the world about getting cocky when the Germans consistently beat more numerus AND beter armed opponents in France, North Africa, and Russia. They were able to do that because their opponents said "it can't be done". I'm not convinced that our best defense against ou "freinds to the south", is to say it ain't gona happen.

Matthew Hintermaier said at April 8, 2005 12:09 AM:

I for one have wanted to join the military for some time. Now I am finally going to get the chance to serve my part in the grand scheme of things. I am only 19, and yes I know that there are kids younger than me who have fought in previous wars. I think coming from the soldiers' viewpoint people forget to realize that they/we have volunteered to put ourselves in harms way so that others can be free. But at the same time we must also look at history, as many of you have mentioned above, and how it plays a pivotal role in the way the future takes form. I think that yea Americans have become "cocky" but for a good reason. We as American soldiers have the best equipment to fight on today's battlefield, I just think that the way that we are going about the whole thing is really....well: elementary. Roberto L had a good point in that why are we spreading the Army's resources out when we could just build up, gain the numbers advantage and go en masse to take out what we need to. I mean as far as planning goes in this war it seems as though someone was using it as a science experiment with the outcome being horrificly flawed. I mean its like, "Hey lets see how we bring the world's greatest army to its knees, in the longest period of time." The whole idea of why we are there in the first place has been shattered and now we have to look to other countries for help when we were all too hasty to show that we were badasses. I mean these are just my thoughts and though as scattered as they may be I think that as Americans we should start to exercise our right to speak up and say "Hello get the job done and bring those Heroes home to there families." GO ARMY

tomas said at May 17, 2005 2:30 PM:

It seems most people are focused on Iran and North Korea. Though these are
more pressing developments, contigencies should be drawn for the following
events:

A)A major rogue State called Venezuela which has been not so quietly
stirring up trouble and on the acquiring weapons binge to do more
than sabber rattling. Venezuela could develop into the Cuban Missile
Crisis of our era.

B)Cuba after Fidel. There will be a power vaccum which Raul Castro
won't be qualified to fill. There has been talks about Venezuela
become an overseer of the Cuban people. In any event, with Fidel
gone it will be the best chance for the U.S. to bring Democracy
to Cuba and counter the gains Communists have amassed in the
Continent.

C)Taiwan. How sad would it be if Taiwan falls to the Communist
Chinese. It would be history repeating itself in the worse
fashion again. Recall that Fidel and the Soviets had bank on
that the U.S. tired from Vietnam would not intervene in
Angola. 50,000 Cuban troops would arrived there backed
by the Soviets. South Africa with one of the best armies
in the region made sure some of these 50,000 would return
to Cuba in body bags. However, the Communists predicted
right. The U.S. did not supported South Africa, and did
not send troops to kick Fidel's butt. I hope history will
not repeat itself in Taiwan.

D)Somalia et al. May the U.S. never again experience 3 October
1993. No matter how well trained, equipped and armed,
Special Forces can only do so much. Both SgtFc Shugart and
Msgt Gordon did the right thing, but with an estimated thousands of
guerrilla fighters high on khat running towards their
location they sadly perished needlessly. The U.S. never again should
experience some third world ragtag army defiling Special Forces
soldiers like they did in Somalia.

E)Israel. Though well armed, well trained, and well informed
by its own intelligence sources, Israel is more than never
very vunerable. Even if a Palestinian State[which I am against]
would be created, trouble would be in the horizon by several
factors. 1)The Palestinian population is set to overpower
Israel in sheer numbers due to their high birthrates. 2)
Iran and Syria are in the wings waiting to strike at any
Israeli weakness. 3)Some Russian and Chinese weapons could
in the coming years erode Israel air superiority. 4)Leftist
in the U.S. and the E.U. are increasingly more anti-semitic
militants and forging alliances with radical groups. 5)
Brazil, Venezuela et al. are now forming economic alliances
with Arab nations which could in a not so distant future prove
a stone in the U.S. and Israel's shoes.

Though Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has his reasons for
base closings and cuts in the military personnel, the possible
and real scenarios depicted above substatiate that there is
a need for more troops and not less. If funds are the issue,
the U.S. could outsource some of the figthing to non U.S.
Citizens in a Foreign Legion style units outside the U.S. borders
and therefore cheaper to maintain [salaries, etc]. The Brits have
the Ghurkas and the French have their Legionnaires. The U.S.
could train and maintain such foreign force in various parts of
the globe inside U.S. bases dedicated to these forces. In case
of figthing, they would do the brunt of it, thus sparing Army
Reservists from long tours with little rotation. It is just
an idea in this times of budget cuts, huge deficits, and
the shrinking number of volunteers in the Armed Forces rolls.

Vincent Costello said at August 23, 2005 12:35 PM:

seen the picture at a lot of levels during the fuel shortages in the 70s, cold war, and more cuts than you can figure during my time and if we want to keep our way of life and i mean the whole ball of wax its got to be able to maintain at the very least 20 divisions. because and i know this is hard to belive but nobody likes us! and we consume 90% of all resores on the planet. want to keep it like that then we need to face up to the truth we have to kill a lot of people to keep this meat grinder going. if you think for a new york minute we are going to do with out any thing in this country you have been miss lead as a child. if you do not put people on the walls and out to meet them they will come for us and pop our bubble and kill our children. rome was big and had every thing dropped the ball didnt keep a large standing army for there time they bit the big one inside and out. This can happen to us if we roll over and play dead. we build up for the russians in the cold war and won from a place of power but when the big one fell 10 small countrys took their place and most times in 10 differant locations so someone talked us into dropping 15 division where it is said that we dont need them because the bad wolf is dead dont think so. and when congress told us the round out bridgade would be made of the guard from some state only to be used incase of world war 3. we sure are using a lot of the guard and they are getting killed whole sale! why you asked! well its because we dont have enough division to take care of what we need to do and now we are killing our reserves first not for world war 3 just for any battle we are in hell they need to be here maning the walls and our divisions taking it to them. we need to make sure that americans are the only ones dictating terms to the rest of the world cause we are the ones to be feed if not we will go hungry. and you know and i know we dont go hungry here is the USA so some one is going to have to give up their pie.

Randall Parker said at August 23, 2005 1:05 PM:

Vincent,

No, the US consumes about a quarter of the world's energy and similar percentages of minerals.

No, we don't have to kill a lot of people "to keep this meat grinder going".

You ought to learn how to use the Shift key.

Vincent Costello said at August 24, 2005 2:11 PM:

well randall you should know that high speed remote automated toys cant stop emeny troops and the police in western countrys dont have rpg's being shot at them. its numbers, high tech only goes so far. and we have been killing one form of indian or a nother our whole history if they are sitting on something we want, we cut trees in south america so we dont cut in the usa. it goes on and on and who care about the shift key but you darling!

NorthOf49 said at October 6, 2005 5:55 PM:

Speaking of troupes on the mexican border, a lot of Canadians are steamed at being treated like Mexicans for the last few years. And we have a few scores to settle ourselves. Only five divisions left...hmmm. I wonder how many snowmobiles they have, eh?

warwick smith said at March 10, 2006 11:00 PM:

If America wishes to remain relevant for the early 21st century,at least in military terms,the American Army and Marine Corp will need to change fundamently.Despite,changes to Brigade size formations,instead of Divisions,the real changes need to be made in the following area
COMBAT DOCTRINE,a realistical approach to Counterinsurgency Operations needs to be the major focus for U.S Ground Forces.This means that military forces alone will not win in Iraq.Thus,tactics,training,Leadership and force structures must be focused to small unit operations.Higher levels of training at squad,platoon and company will be required.As Roberto indicated previously,Special Forces should be reorganized.This should be done along Commando lines,we use in the Australian Army.
A Squad would be 12,comprising 2 fire teams under a Lt.
3 squads under a Capt,making a platoon
3 platoons under a major,making a company,
Fighting in a non-linear manner,at night,using patrolling and ambushing,steatlh and infiltration.Operating with a low profile manner,they would be a Hunter/Killer units that would infest the Iraq countryside.This worked very well in Rhodesia with elite light infantry.
The more conventional units would be used in the cities,but if you control the countryside you will come to control the cities.


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