06 August 2014

The Most Anticipated Surprise of the War: the Post War Army



We are now entering an era of relative ease for the military in relation to the past decade of war. As with the end of every war, the military must assess its structure for the anticipated lack of a large-scale conflict. As we all know, the Army grew during the Global War on Terror as we were shifting from peace keeping to War Fighting. As with Newton’s Third Law of Motion; what goes up must come down.

What is more astonishing than the reduction of the force is how it is being portrayed. I am often on the receiving end of unrelenting statements that we won’t be able to project our military might with such a small force or how soldiers are being forced out while serving in a combat zone. I can understand how and why they came to such a conclusion but their arguments are not founded in history.

A statement arose among the criticism of our force in the early stages of the Iraq war that defines reality. Donald Rumsfeld said "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Prior to the attacks that launched us into the battlefields of WWII, the Army had approximately 269,023 soldiers. That number rose to 8,267,958 at the peak of the war and reduced to 593,167 post WWII. The draft played a role with the reduction of the force as many were resumed their lives now that their service was over.

Having to maintain a large Army, as opposed to having to rapidly build one, would prove far too costly and unnecessary as we were entering an era of relative peace. During the war the Army mobilized 18 National Guard divisions and 26 Army Reserve divisions. A large reserve force being readily able to be mobilize would only contribute to the justification of a smaller active duty Army. This would play out in Vietnam where the Army, consisting of 873,078 soldiers, growing by 50 percent and then being reduced to 784,333 with an overall loss of ten percent from pre-war levels.

Our Army has been drastically reduced to 480,801 soldiers before the GWOT started. Time would show that technology would significantly impact the numbers of those needed to effectively wage war.  Yet, the GWOT would cause the Army to increase its ranks by 17 percent. With the projected number of the Army currently being 440,000 we would only see an overall loss of eight percent of the Army from pre-GWOT numbers. This being the smallest overall reduction of the Army since Vietnam. 

We are led to believe that we are crippling our Army with the troop reductions. We are only continuing the life cycle of a war fighting Army. We will still be the world’s best military and our defense budget is still larger than the next best ten highest spending counties in the world. What do you see in the Army’s and overall military’s future?

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*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.

2 comments:

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