Why Military Primacy Doesnt Pay As Much As You Think

Why Military Primacy Doesnt Pay As Much As You Think – It’s a Navy World Now: Preserving the Right Army Force Structure in an Era of Seapower Strategic Primacy

The People’s Liberation Army Navy is growing rapidly in size, capability and proven aggression – with no apparent signs of slowing down. China’s ongoing construction of Type 052D destroyers, Type 055 cruisers, a third aircraft carrier, and several other frigates—combined with increasingly aggressive maneuvers to intimidate its neighbors—increases the challenge for the U.S. Navy to respond effectively to a geopolitical crisis with China in the Indo-Pacific . Meanwhile, in the United States, the mounting national debt, exacerbated by the unchecked pandemic, threatens to balance, if not reduce, the US military budget in the coming years. With China as the trigger threat of the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the Indo-Pacific region as the corresponding theater of operations, analysts—and even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—recognized that the military must be prepared to adapt to a supporting role. to the strategic primacy of the Navy in the coming years.

Why Military Primacy Doesnt Pay As Much As You Think

While the military must rightfully fight for its fair share of the defense budget to meet its mandate under the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the comments of America’s top military officer — an Army officer — must be taken seriously by planners. At the very least, it would be wise to plan to meet your NDS derived mission requirements with a reduced budget. With proper planning and analysis, the Army can determine where it can accept and mitigate risk to its sustainment strategy should it be forced to reduce its budget. Some observers have concluded that in the coming budget battles, the Army and Air Force must be prepared to sacrifice as much as $10 billion a year to support the Navy’s Battle Force 2045 plan, which calls for five hundred manned and unmanned vessels to combat China’s rapidly growing naval capabilities. . In a worst-case scenario, where the Defense Department expects most of that $10 billion a year to go to the military, it would be prudent for the service to have a plan that preserves the capabilities and force structure that best fits the military’s mission. requirements. This analysis is based on such a scenario and assumes a requirement to find in the Army budget 75 percent of the funds necessary to implement the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, or approximately $7.5 billion.

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A regional approach to meeting critical U.S. interests will help the military determine its force requirements and clarify both the force structure that is vital to maintain and one that it should consider reducing if budget pressures dictate. Such an approach must recognize two truths. First, in order for the Army to meet its service component commitments even in the face of looming budget headwinds, it must prioritize its force structure and ability to conduct large-scale combat operations with armored forces in Europe. Second, the military should prepare to provide highly capable support assets in the Indo-Pacific. Following these regional force structure priorities, the Army will find that the best way to meet its mission requirements while weathering the storm of fiscal constraints will be to consider divesting three or more of its Light Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs). Taking this step while maintaining a clear emphasis on two regional priorities would preserve the military’s critical warfighting responsibilities in the most important regions with geostrategic implications while providing more than $7 billion in cuts to support the U.S. Navy’s expanding shipbuilding operations.

As the United States prioritizes its long-term strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific, the European continent will remain a vital secondary arena for US interests in the great power competition. US interests in Europe consist primarily of ensuring the territorial and political integrity of NATO allies and other key regional partners. If competition with Russia, as the most capable potential adversary, were to escalate into conflict, the Russian military would likely challenge US strategic interests in a primarily land campaign—with important but ultimately supporting air and sea campaigns. The U.S. military must maintain its ability to conduct traditional combined arms maneuvers in large-scale combat operations in the European theater to secure and defend key U.S. interests in the region. While the U.S. Marine Corps contains unique amphibious capabilities well-suited to the Indo-Pacific, it lacks the logistical capacity or force structure to operate with strategic overlap against Russian ground forces in Europe. Therefore, the military should focus regionally on Europe to meet US strategic objectives that cannot be adequately defended by another service component with the same capacity.

While there are several potential approaches to prioritizing the appropriate force structure, the traditional land maneuver requirements of the European collective defense scenario encourage stratification between the Army’s three main battle formations. Armored Heavy Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs) – composed of M1 Abrams, M2 Bradley, M109A7 Paladin artillery platforms and logistic support – are the most dangerous of the three and will serve as the focal point for occupying terrain and defending key positions in the European Conflict Scenario. Stryker Medium Combat Teams (SBCTs) are likely to play an important support role by using their mobile anti-tank units to rapidly attack and defend urban targets and other areas of restricted terrain. Lacking the organic ability to move infantry forces without significant external support, light infantry brigade combat teams are likely to play a more limited role in defending severely restricted terrain and conducting airborne and airborne assault operations in support of decisive combined arms maneuver. ABCT units. With Europe as the most important geographic area of ​​focus, the Army must prioritize protecting its eleven active-duty and five National Guard ABCTs in upcoming budget analyses.

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The Army should position the Indo-Pacific as its secondary area of ​​focus to support and complement US Navy and Marine Corps operations throughout this area of ​​responsibility. Rather than providing forces for traditional combined arms maneuvers, the U.S. military must be prepared to provide critical assets in support of primary service components throughout the region. Indeed, the military must be able to provide long-range precision fire, logistics, cyber capabilities, special operations forces, and security force assistance in competition or conflict with the Chinese military. These Army assets would support US Navy and Marine Corps sea control and maritime denial campaigns against the Chinese Navy. Open conflict with China, with the notable exception of an unlikely full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula, is unlikely to require traditional large-scale ground maneuver forces from the military. Instead, US Marine Corps Amphibious Forces will use expeditionary forward operations at the base to support the Navy’s sea-denial operations or prevent Chinese naval forces from seizing control of vital waterways throughout the Indo-Pacific. By supporting the US Navy and Marine Corps with the necessary capabilities, the US military will achieve mission success in its support role during conflict or competition in the region.

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Using a regional approach to determining force structure requirements, the US Army appears to have overinvested in light infantry forces. IBCTs provide only limited utility in both theaters of war—they are not mobile enough to move and maneuver under their own power within Europe, nor do they carry the inherent amphibious capability of the US Marine Corps to provide significant utility in the Indo-Pacific. If annual cost reductions were required, the Army could save over $7 billion annually while maintaining critical warfighting capabilities in both Europe and the Indo-Pacific by being prepared to cut three IBCTs and their support units. To that end, the Army could, for example, reduce each light infantry division in the 18th Airborne Corps from three to two IBCTs. At a total annual cost of $2.41 billion, this would save the DoD a total of $7.23 billion annually. For further savings, the Army should also consider permanently stationing ABCTs in Korea and others in Europe, rather than relying on more expensive nine-month rotations that provide questionable combat capability. That could save the Defense Department an additional $270 million a year while providing Korean and European allies with a more visible sign of America’s commitment to collective defense.

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While some analysts may argue that the reduction of three IBCTs is too drastic a measure, it would still leave the active service with a total of ten IBCTs, with an additional eleven ABCTs and seven SBCTs in the active component. When National Guard units are added, IBCTs would still make up a significant majority of the total combat force—a total of thirty IBCTs, sixteen ABCTs, and nine SBCTs. Additionally, the U.S. Army offers the ability to quickly convert any of its six Security Forces Advisory Brigades to BCTs with newly trained soldiers in times of crisis—transforming to IBCTs would be the fastest and least expensive option. While perhaps not impossible, it seems unlikely that the military will find itself in a military conflict lacking IBCTs in the near future.

While reducing the Army’s force structure can be a politically and institutionally challenging task, changing expectations about the future global operating environment—specifically, the prioritization of naval power—makes planning for this move imperative, as the Army could face subsequent budget cuts in the coming fiscal years. Alternative options such as significant reductions to the last

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