Monday, October 18

Two signs of an Army in trouble

I had heard or read rumors about the 11th cavalry being deployed to Iraq to join the fighting. The unit is designated OPFOR for Opposition Force. This is an elite unit used to accurately play the enemy during wargames training. This is another example of the penny wise pund foolish straegies presently employed by the bush administration to the detriment of he long term health of our ground forces. This would be akin to the deployment of the teachers at the Top Gun School and replacing them with pilots of lesser quality, good for a short term impact but bad for the long term. From an excerpt of the LA Times.
Staging such scenes has long been the work of the fabled 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, or Black Horse Regiment. But starting next month, the 3,500-member unit will begin shipping out to Iraq from the Ft. Irwin National Training Center, near Barstow. Deployments are nothing new in the Army, of course, but there is a special sense of urgency about dispatching the Black Horse to tackle situations that it has trained roughly 500,000 soldiers to handle since 1994. Now the bombs and bullets they encounter will be all too real.

"No one ever thought the Black Horse would be taken out of the National Training Center; they are just too valuable here," said Maj. John Clearwater. "But the Army is stretched too thin, and Iraq is a big mission."
Bigger than we could have anticipated? Not at all. Did it need to get this bad? Of course not. While we are removing our finiest training force into compat and begging the brits to add some paratroopers, can anyone tell me that it had to come to this, that this is not representitive of incompetence and pie in the sky planning. We know from Clarke that
Iraq was on the table in January 2001, long before we were attacked by terrists, We know that Franks was asked to start the operational planning for an invasion of Iraq in Feb of 02. In those 26 months on the one hand and 13 months on the other, how much actual planning regarding the post war occupation occured. Intel Dump adds a bit more to the picture of the importance of the 11th Cav.
The article misses the most important point: deploying the OPFOR is like eating your seed corn. This unit is responsible for training other units and raising their level of expertise and combat readiness. The 11th ACR is being replaced by a National Guard unit. That's like replacing the Dodgers with a high school baseball team. Sure, they can both play baseball and wear the uniform — but one is a whole lot more proficient and experienced at its job. The OPFOR has a reputation as a tough enemy, and that's a good thing because it forces units training at the NTC to become better themselves. By replacing this unit with National Guard troops, the Army has hurt its ability to produce good units for Iraq in the future. Suffice to say, National Guard and active units that go through Fort Irwin aren't going to get the same tough experience they would have with the Blackhorse regiment as OPFOR — and that means they'll be less ready for combat when they get to Iraq. This is a desperation measure, and I think the Army will come to regret it.
Yes they will, in fact we all will. Meanwhile expect the president and his posse to tell us "notheing to see here move along."

Meanwhile Atrios posted a discription of an email he has recieved, which may lend a small amount of credence -- What? you say the credence account is empty? What, Wont get fooled again for shame? While the following may be a way to temporarily dance around the nearly clear necesitty of a draft, Bet your bottom dollor that Bush if re-selected there will be a draft.
According to an emailer, who signed it "An Afghanistan and Iraq Veteran For Truth," the Bush administration does have a cunning plan to avoid reinstituting the draft. Their plan is to extend allowed reservist mobilization to 5 years, up from the current 2. Obviously I can't confirm the information one way or the other, but there's reason to think the person is credible.
With all the other Back Door Draft-lite scenarios that have been put in place, there is nothing to suggest that this is yet another ploy out of a pentagon bean counters office to lock our troops into service after their time has expired.