Tuesday, January 01, 2019

For 2019, Everything Needs to Get Harder

So, you want to get ready for a peer/near-peer conflict? Then act like it.

We need to break our intellectual adhesions. We need to send more of our most driven and career minded junior officers to Ukraine, Colombia, Vietnam, Mongolia and to work with those nations militaries during their most difficult exercises. Double down and expand our JO exchanges so they can be there for years.

We have a lot to learn from all those nations ... and they won't mind building relationships with us either.

At our own training facilities, as we hopefully decouple from imperial garrisoning hither and yon, we need extended and difficult exercises.

The last few decades we've assumed to much ownership of our FOBs, our airspace, our electromagnetic spectrum, our satellites. When the next big war comes, and it will, we cannot assume the safety and access to any of it.
Our ground combat forces are not ready for the harsh realities of combat against a near-peer adversary. Our enjoyment of air supremacy and uncontested control of the electromagnetic spectrum—and the unlikelihood that either will continue in a major combat scenario—have been well documented. But arguably, the characteristic of our recent wars that represents the largest vulnerability is our unchallenged theater logistics—and the culture it has created among our soldiers and Marines, across all ranks, who have become conditioned to expect (and demand) uninterrupted access to civilian-like communications systems and infrastructure. Internet cafes, readily available WiFi, and freedom to use smartphones and tablets have become normal features of even the most remote patrol bases in Iraq or Afghanistan. What’s more, such access to instant personal communications in war zones has transferred to our pre-deployment training environments. Soldiers and Marines in the field use their personal devices to stay in touch with friends and family, play video games, or otherwise occupy idle time.

Commanders err, though, in believing this is somehow essential to troop welfare. This is not troop welfare; it actually causes immense damage to readiness. The fact that these seemingly innocent and routine parts of modern American culture have been adopted, accepted, and embraced by even our most Spartan-like units has not received the critical examination it deserves. As a military, we do not yet understand the consequences to our formations when these privileges disappear. What happens to morale, discipline, and unit cohesion when—not if—constant access to technology and connectivity comes into conflict with the harsh realities of future warfare envisioned by our leaders? More immediately, how does it affect discipline and readiness now?
Great post by Maj. Travis Onischuk, USA over at MWI. Give it a full read - the concept applies to our navy too.

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