I am returning to the blogosphere for this post. Ricks and others have been picking up the ‘future of armory’ discussion the past couple of days. Given our trip to the holy land yesterday it seems appropriate to continue the conversation.
This dialectic was going on behind the scenes and saturated our trip to Ft. Knox. The tensions between conventional and COIN seem to be grinding at the base. Thinking about the conversations I had with armory enlisted and officers yesterday some of the highlights for me were:
• Listening to a 17-year active duty Sergeant First Class or Master Sergeant (can’t remember) explain how his deployments in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan shifted from being a Bradley gunner, to a M1A1 operator, to a light infantry platoon leader on the Pakistan border (i.e. HMMWV) – respectively;
• Seeing the Stryker and Abrams simulators side-by-side;
• Hearing the interesting opinion of the Major who thought COIN has always been a part of Army doctrine;
• The opinion from the Staff Sergeant on the panel who was slightly annoyed by COIN (it makes sense - to me - that all COIN has done from him is create more work);
• And finally, the opinion from our soon-to-be Pattersonite Capitan who thinks FM 3-24 has fundamentally and permanently altered Army strategy to ‘Hybrid Warfare.’
There is plenty of reading on this subject. Some covering interpretation of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, others flat-out stating armory is dead, and those who disagree. I highly recommend taking a look at the debate.
Clearly COIN has impacted Army culture but in my opinion the final verdict is still out on whether or not it will stick. It has been a ‘less-bad’ solution to Iraq and Afghanistan but there is no consensus that when the troops come home it will hang around. If you read some of the comments from officers in these blogs posts they sometimes allude to when ‘things can go back to normal.’
Thinking about this from another angle though, what role does armory have in RMA anyway? If that argument is right, and missiles are the new war, then the days of Patton sweeping across the plains are gone. I am not saying tanks will be completely irrelevant, but I would think missiles reduce the value of tank columns in conventional warfare and change their tactical purpose.
On an interesting side note. Ricks suggests tanks are important because they boost morale of the troops.
“When [infantry] are in a bad fix, there is nothing like hearing an M1 clanking around the corner to help out”
Ok. But I would not rest an argument on that.