We dont have any more soldiers to send to Afghanistan

#1
The Army's Math Problem

We don't have any more soldiers to send to Afghanistan unless we take some out of Iraq.

By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, May 5, 2008, at 4:56 PM ET

Robert Gates
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to send 7,000 more U.S. troops—about two brigades—to Afghanistan, according to the May 3 New York Times. But there's a problem, which the story underplays: We don't have any more troops to send. The Army is in a zero-sum state: No more soldiers can be sent to Afghanistan without a one-for-one reduction of soldiers in Iraq.

Let's look at the numbers.
More on the link
http://www.slate.com/id/2190661/?from=rss
 
#2
Skynet said:
The Army's Math Problem

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to send 7,000 more U.S. troops—about two brigades—to Afghanistan, according to the May 3 New York Times. But there's a problem, which the story underplays: We don't have any more troops to send. The Army is in a zero-sum state: No more soldiers can be sent to Afghanistan without a one-for-one reduction of soldiers in Iraq.

Let's look at the numbers.
More on the link
http://www.slate.com/id/2190661/?from=rss
Are you just refering to US soldiers? if so you should specify (British army rumour service)
 
#3
How does a good old fashioned draft sound? do you think anyone in the US would mind?

If the situation is really that bad then perhaps a draft is warranted.
 
#4
We seem to have the same maths problem and the only way to get round it is by longer tours. The Americans would very much like us to do the same tour lengths as they do which means if they are going to take on a bigger role in Helmond it would make sense. However the Brits would take some convincing and if they did watch the retention go south!
 
#5
fusil89 said:
How does a good old fashioned draft sound? do you think anyone in the US would mind?

If the situation is really that bad then perhaps a draft is warranted.
But not politically possible. If western democracies cannot or will not find the necessary manpower despite all their sophistication they are in danger of being beaten by soldiers with spears and shields!
 
#6
Skynet said:
fusil89 said:
How does a good old fashioned draft sound? do you think anyone in the US would mind?

If the situation is really that bad then perhaps a draft is warranted.
But not politically possible. If western democracies cannot or will not find the necessary manpower despite all their sophistication they are in danger of being beaten by soldiers with spears and shields!
Pardon me, when you say politically possible do you mean to say it is not legal or do you mean it would lose votes? I believe you mean the second, if so I dont think that getting our troops killed due to insufficient manpower is going to be much of an election winner.
 
#7
Skynet said:
We seem to have the same maths problem and the only way to get round it is by longer tours. The Americans would very much like us to do the same tour lengths as they do which means if they are going to take on a bigger role in Helmond it would make sense. However the Brits would take some convincing and if they did watch the retention go south!
If they can't get their own Marine Corps to do longer tours (US Army does 12-15 month tours, USMC 7 months) I don't think they have much chance of getting anyone else to do so.
 
#8
fusil89 said:
Skynet said:
fusil89 said:
How does a good old fashioned draft sound? do you think anyone in the US would mind?

If the situation is really that bad then perhaps a draft is warranted.
But not politically possible. If western democracies cannot or will not find the necessary manpower despite all their sophistication they are in danger of being beaten by soldiers with spears and shields!
Pardon me, when you say politically possible do you mean to say it is not legal or do you mean it would lose votes? I believe you mean the second, if so I don't think that getting our troops killed due to insufficient manpower is going to be much of an election winner.
The latter will be difficult to prove and NS is a no go for any politician at the moment so little point on having an interventionist foreign policy if you can't back it up with troops. I suppose we will just muddle on. The idea that technology would make up for the shortfall in troops really does not cut the mustard. Though a great help the best technology is often boots on the ground.
 
#9
It is well documented that the increase in tour lengths, a tool the US has already used, has led to hugely increased incidence of PTSD in returning soldiers. I am sure the MoD is itching to do the same. Resist it at all costs.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#10
The Economist, fed the line somewhere by a yank, said that longer tours were a good idea, they quoted a yank saying "as soon as the brits learn what they are doing, they leave, for a new lot to arrive". Fortunately a well informed extremely smart reader wrote in and pointed out extending tours caused more PTSD, made tours into slogs instead of missions and pointed out that 6 months was not chosen on a whim, that it had its background in WW2 studies (american btw) that pointed that 6 months was the optimum tour length.
 
#11
Experts have advised the Defence Committee on the very same point.

Also worth noting that Harmony Guidelines were also very well chosen.

Troops routinely working outside of Harmony are putting themselves at massively increased risk.

Duty of Care?????
 
#12
Trouble with low troop numbers is Joe public does not think its a problem.

Everyone still seesm to have the impression we are fighting some Sci-Fi future war, and numbers dont really matter.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#13
I was having a beer with a mate of mine recently and he wondered what an extra 30,000 troops surging was doing that the 150,000 weren't. I answered I believe that most of the 30,000 were infanteers rather than the hodge podge that was the 150,000

I started by explaining that the US roughly had a 1:10 ratio of door kickers to REMFs. For every infanteer, there's a 10 blokes in base. 10 blokes in base need protecting, so you need more infanteers, etc etc. The British, have, I believe a 1:3 ratio. The US however isn't solely backed up by blokes in Burger Kings however, their reliance on kit and "material expendeture" is very high, from 5.56 to mavericks. All those Apaches need servicing. The maintainance schedules on most US kit is far higher than comparable Brit kit. They also have properly staffed med-centres as opposed to our 23 PFA armed with some band aids..

I suspect the US's problem, is that in its army of 700,000 or so, it only has 70,000 infanteers. What they (the yanks) could do, is get some more Chefs on the range and then out into the field. Of course, badly trained troops will shoot up the population and lose hearts and minds but it'll solve their manning issues. As far as I can tell, the British maxim of soldier first, trade second doesn't apply in the US army. If a yank can confirm or deny that would be appreciated.
 
#14
Sigh... I have had a few interesting if heated debates with Fred Kaplan in the past (the article's author.) He's a good writer and usually does his homework but he also is prone to sifting intel for what fits his theories. The US Army is not out of personnel by a long shot. We have about a quarter of our combat power (ie. line infantry units) deployed between Iraq, A-stan, and a few other places. Roughly the same number are recently returned from being deployed and in recovery mode while another twenty-five percent are in the pipeline to go. That leaves that last quarter unmolested and without a mission. Mind you... this is counting active and national gaurd forces rather than active personnel alone. The active Army would be quite stretched indeed without our gaurdsmen being an intigrated part of the deal. In hard numbers this means we have at least six brigades put aside for an emergency... mainly heavy mechanized ones.

Far as the tooth to tail ratio mentioned by Mr Happy above... he is quite accurate with the break down. The US Army does have an enormous margin between their trigger pullers and the folks that support them. In fact, I'd say the ratio is closer to 12 to 1 or even higher...

Oh, and I'm happy to report to you Mr Happy that the US Army learned a hard lesson during OIF-1 and now all of our REMF sorts are exposed to some actual combat training in basic these days... not enough if you ask me but at least something is being done. I really wish we'd take a page from the USMC's playbook and put everyone through infantry basic training but the powers that be are too afraid of the attrition rates that would result (I'd much rather see kids having their fragile ego's shattered than their bodies...) At least the treadheads are getting the same lumps these days (armor school was moved to Ft. Benning, GA recently so infantry, cav scout, and tanker privates are learning the basics together.)
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#15
Thanks Khyros, the 1:3 and 1:10 figures were from 1991. I'm not surprised they've increased, all the fancy gear needs folks to service it. I suspect we've moved from 1:3 to 1:4 or more too.

When I hung around in Frankfurt (and my wife worked on base) pre 9/11 I got a reasonable handle on the types of troops and found it very strange that the attitude of REMF soldiers was that they'd never need to fight.. Normally an attitude in Brit forces maintained only by the navy and air force...
 
#16
i say have a draft, followed by anyone with an A.S.B.O get em to play the tough guy over there ow and nuk em all .....but im probably just ranting again
 
#19
Mr Happy, The REMF attitude was a development that started in Viet Nam and was never stamped out despite the obvious (too all of us grunts at any rate) risks it was causing. Support leadership went about like an ostrich for so long that they actually believed they either wouldn't be targeted or would be easily protected by line dogs. Great example... during an exercise in Korea circa 1992, my scout platoon was tasked with disrupting logistical efforts of a visiting unit. We emulated a NKPA special purpose element and proceeded to create all sorts of havoc. During the AAR that followed, this one female colonel was indignant that we had terrorized her command and gone so far as to steal their SOIs and radios! The look on her face when we informed her that we merely did to her outfit what we are supposed to do to the enemy was priceless. It never occured to her that a potential enemy would be so rude as to actually kill her "non combat soldiers" and destroy their equipment.

Anyway... back to the discussion at hand.
 
#20
Excellent points by Mr Happy and Kyros who put into much better perspective the true extent of the problem.

People also seem to forget, that while Iraq and Afghanistan are blazing, the US Army has reconfigured itself from a 30 equivalent-BCT sized force to 43 transformation-BCT sized force. In plain language, this means they've reshuffled the pack and come up with 43 smaller brigades with approximately the same manpower as the original 30.

Can you imagine the British Army restructuring itself in this way while fighting 2 rather nasty insurgent campaigns? The US Army has only managed this feat as there is no regimental system blocking personel transfers.

However, you cannot escape the fact that the US Army truely is stretched at the moment. The extension of tours from 12 to 15 months was specifically promulgated because there is not enough troops to go around. The National Guard was deployed in large numbers for OIF2-3 on the assumption that it will all be over and done with sharpish, and the regular troops needed to reset themselves for other adventures. Unfortunately, this then eliminated those NG units from the active roster for the next 4 years. In order to make up the numbers now, the NG is generating units from individual replacements that have volunteered for 'additional rotations' or those new recruits that didn't deploy first time round.

CGS famously spoke of the need to ensure the British Army is not "broken" by the increased operational tempo demanded of it without the resources needed to support that increase. Like for like, the US Army is being asked to work more than twice as hard as the British Army - although it has received signifcant increases in resources - and thus serious questions must be asked of the future state of it.
 

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