19 August 2004

Winning Future Wars

It's nice to see that a professional of some kind is finally getting his/her voice heard on overseas troop deployment. There's an old, and historically reliable, progression in competence in military affairs: amateurs think about combat hardward; dilletantes think about tactics; government officials think about strategy; and professionals think about logistics. The plan to shift toward a logistics-forward instead of a force-forward permanent-basing paradigm in Europe and Northeast Asia is only about fifteen years overdue—but who's counting, right?

That said, replacing the existing bases in Western Europe and Germany isn't the smartest way to handle this. Realign them, absolutely; but try to play politics by moving them to Eastern Europe? Not a very good idea. We already have experienced, well-oiled logistics pipelines into those bases, including critical major aircraft maintenance facilities. No matter what the proponents of new bases say, major aircraft maintenance requires more than just building a big fucking hangar—it requires a highly trained, long-term staff of mechanics and managers who will, over the years, discover how to make up for what the facility itself does not provide them. This is only going to become more vital as we increasingly depend upon relatively delicate precision-guided munitions as a force multiplier; one unit that who can hit the target 90% of the time is nearly as effective as three that hit 30% of the time. I don't know AFVs (tanks and personnel carriers) very well, but I'd be surprised if there isn't a parallel problem.

I'm not quibbling at the "big-concept" stage, just the "mid-level-concept" stage. Maybe we can go "purple-suit" in the meantime, too; that by itself would probably reduce the real burden on logistics by a significant chunk. Remember the Army's radios in Grenada that couldn't talk to the Navy? That problem has not gone away—it has merely shifted to other areas, such as spare-parts and munitions-delivery incompatibilities among the services.