Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Force Employment in Changing TImes

Stephen Biddle writes about the importance of force employment, more so how we use the resources we have, not whether we have them or not. For example, are we taking advantage of cover and concealment, do the weapons we have integrate well with other weapons in a combination of superior fighting power and are we efficient in our tactics? Having the best weapons or greatest technology does not guarantee victory if used unwisely in the operational and tactical stages. However, today we see a growing movenment away from ground troops due to budgetary constraints, war fatigue and the general growth in technology. Thus, will this movement lead our military to be weaker due to infamiliarity with force employment?

First, the recent budget proposals have hinted at dropping 70,000 troops from the armed forces. Biddle states that often soldiers are unable to pick up on the nuances of finer force employment due to short-term enlistment. While the U.S. has a respectable average service of 6-8 years (outliers not accounted for), one has to ask if force employment will be as strong in this era of troop cutting and budgetary concerns. Less troops are not an issue, but their ability to serve for longer stints and gain knowledge of strategy is important and may be endangered comparatively to other states.

Secondly, technology is also decreasing the use of manpowered instruments. Will force employment be as strong if war should break out if less individuals are interacting with possible theatres, and will knowledge of proven tactics prove incompetent without longer enlistments and familiarity of the enemy and environment? These are questions I cannot answer, but I think they are important to pose.

Take for example drones. They lessen the need for manpower in the region of concern. Further, U.S. tactical advantages will become less once other states begin to manufacture drones comparable to ours. It seems that will be soon, China's drone will resemble a U.S. drone, thus will force employment be negated by similar weapons and an emphasis on hard targets instead of soft. Overall, progress will continue on drones, but it seems there has become a focus on reducing manpower, which could reduce tact in force employment, not because of reduction in men, but reduction in skills and time to learn the skills.

Thus, in a world where war could be fought without man, how will guaging the likely victor change? It seems force employment can only go so far without the human element. In accordance, new criteria may be needed to improve our chances in victory and this possibility should begin to be analyzed now.

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