Author Topic: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"  (Read 2891 times)

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Offline bayonetbrant

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"The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« on: November 03, 2015, 11:50:56 AM »
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/11/pentagon-fight-over-russia-213316

Quote
For those villagers eagerly snapping pictures on the side of a road in the Czech Republic in late September, the appearance of the line of U.S. “Stryker” armored fighting vehicles must have seemed more like a parade than a large-scale military operation. The movement of some 500-plus soldiers of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment from Vilsack in Bavaria to a Hungarian military base was intended to strengthen U.S. ties with the Czech, Slovak and Hungarian militaries and put Russia’s Vladimir Putin on notice. Dubbed “Dragoon Crossing,” the tour traced a winding 846- kilometer tour that featured airdrops and simulated bridge seizures to show America’s Eastern European allies that the U.S. military could respond quickly to any threat. “We are demonstrating operational freedom of maneuver across Eastern Europe,” Col. John V. Meyer III told a reporter for the Army’s website, “and that is having the strategic effect of enabling our alliance, assuring our allies, and deterring the Russians.”
But not everyone is convinced. “This Stryker parade won’t fool anyone in Moscow,” says retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor. “The Russians don’t do many things well, but they have been subverting, destabilizing, invading and conquering their neighbors since Peter the Great. And what’s our response: a small unit of light armored trucks.”

Vladimir Putin has done more than make headlines with his aggressive military moves from Ukraine to Syria, along with displays of force on the high seas and in the air. The Russian leader has also escalated an intense debate inside the Pentagon over the appropriate response to the Kremlin’s new, not-so-friendly global profile—and over the future of the U.S. Army. And now the debate has spread to Capitol Hill: later this week the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing addressing the same issue.
Ironically, this Washington war of ideas has pitted against each other two brainy career Army officers who fought together in one of the most famous battles of modern times.
On one side is Macgregor, an outspoken and controversial advocate for reform of the Army– whose weapons he describes as “obsolescent,” its senior leaders as “self-interested,” and its spending as “wasteful.” Viewed by many of his colleagues as one of the most innovative Army officers of his generation, Macgregor, a West Point graduate with a Ph.D. in international relations (“he can be pretty gruff,” a fellow West Point graduate says, “but he’s brilliant”), led the 2nd Cav’s “Cougar Squadron” in the best-known battle of Operation Desert Storm in February 1991. In 23 minutes, Macgregor’s force destroyed an entire Iraqi Armored Brigade (including nearly 70 Iraqi armored vehicles), while suffering a single American casualty. Speaking at a military “lessons learned” conference one year later, Air Force General Jack Welsh described the Battle of 73 Easting (named for a map coordinate) as “a stunning, overwhelming victory.”
In the wake of the battle, however, Macgregor calculated that if his unit had fought a highly trained and better armed enemy, like the Russians, the outcome would have been different. So, four years later, he published a book called Breaking The Phalanx, recommending that his service “restructure itself into modularly organized, highly mobile, self-contained combined arms teams.” The advice received the endorsement of then-Army Chief of Staff Dennis Reimer, who ordered that copies of Macgregor’s book be provided to every Army general.
But Macgregor is still fighting that battle. In early September he circulated a PowerPoint presentation showing that in a head-to-head confrontation pitting the equivalent of a U.S. armored division against a likely Russian adversary, the U.S. division would be defeated. “Defeated isn’t the right word,” Macgregor told me last week. “The right word is annihilated.” The 21-slide presentation features four battle scenarios, all of them against a Russian adversary in the Baltics – what one currently serving war planner on the Joint Chiefs staff calls “the most likely warfighting scenario we will face outside of the Middle East.”
In two of the scenarios, where the U.S. deploys its current basic formation, called brigade combat teams (BCTs), the U.S. is defeated. In two other scenarios, where Macgregor deploys what he calls Reconnaissance Strike Groups, the U.S. wins. And that’s the crux of Macgregor’s argument: Today the U.S. Army is comprised of BCTs rather than Reconnaissance Strike Groups, or RSGs, which is Macgregor’s innovation. Macgregor’s RSG shears away what he describes as “the top-heavy Army command structure” that would come with any deployment in favor of units that generate more combat power. “Every time we deploy a division we deploy a division headquarters of 1,000 soldiers and officers,” Macgregor explains. “What a waste; those guys will be dead within 72 hours.” Macgregor’s RSG, what he calls “an alternative force design,” does away with this Army command echelon, reporting to a joint force commander–who might or might not be an Army officer. An RSG, Macgregor says, does not need the long supply tail that is required of Brigade Combat Teams – it can be sustained with what it carries from ten days to two weeks without having to be resupplied.
Macgregor’s views line him up against Lt. General H.R. McMaster, an officer widely thought of as one of the Army’s best thinkers. McMaster fought under Macgregor at “73 Easting,” where he commanded Eagle Troop in Macgregor’s Cougar Squadron. McMaster, however, had more success in the Army than Macgregor, is a celebrated author (of Dereliction of Duty, a classic in military history), and is credited with seeding the Anbar Awakening during the Iraq War. Even so, McMaster was twice passed over for higher command until David Petraeus, who headed his promotion board, insisted his success be recognized. McMaster is now a lieutenant general and commands the high-profile Army Capabilities Integration Center (called “ARCINC”), whose mandate is to “design the Army of the future.” David Barno, a retired Lt. General who headed up the US command in Afghanistan, describes McMaster as an officer “who has repeatedly bucked the system and survived to join its senior ranks.”
For many, McMaster is as controversial as Macgregor, with comments about him spanning the spectrum from condemnation to praise. “H.R. is an excellent officer and a good friend,” a senior JCS officer says, “but you don’t get to three stars by being an outsider, and you don’t get to head ARCINC by bucking the system.” Retired Brigadier General Kimmitt waves away claims that McMaster has traded his ideals for promotion (“clichéd nonsense,” he says) and describes McMaster as “a giant in a land of midgets. He’s the one true intellectual in the Army’s corporate culture. He’s smarter than almost any of them.”

much more at the link
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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2015, 02:44:30 PM »
Huh. I just showed my cadets a video in class on 73 Easting with H.R. McMaster talking about the battle.

I'm leery of Macgreggor's conclusions. I'm no fan of underestimating your opponent, and I certainly agree we will be in for a rude awakening in terms of casualties if we ever go up against another well-organized and -equipped military, but we shouldn't over-state their abilities either.

Offline bayonetbrant

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2015, 03:49:31 PM »
I've met both at different times, and actually served with McMaster at Ft Irwin briefly in the late 90s
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Offline mirth

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 04:27:29 PM »
Great stuff, Brant. Worth the read and the thinking about.
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Offline Gusington

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2015, 05:32:29 PM »
I agree a bit with AR that it seems the author gives a little too much credit to the Russians. He was almost like a Soviet fanboy.
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Offline Swatter

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2015, 01:18:30 PM »
I like his self contained modular organization ideas. It sounds a lot like object oriented programming. Combined arms combat groups have a long, successful history. In Ralph Peterson's Red Army, it's a Soviet combined arms recon group that makes the crucial lightning fast thrust that cracks NORTHAG's line.

Offline Bison

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2015, 10:07:35 PM »
Gen. McMaster was Col McMaster during the Anbar reference and was the commander of the 3d ACR.   I was a peon, but I served under his command at the time.  The battle of Tal Afar was one his crowning achievements.



There's a number of videos, but Gen McMaster is one of the geniuses behind the counterinsurgency effort to turn around Iraq leading into the surge.

Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2015, 05:10:01 AM »
The current deputy head of my department was a battalion commander under McMaster when he was head of the Maneuver Center at Ft. Benning and has nothing but amazing things to say about his s leadership and ability.

Offline Mr. Bigglesworth

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2015, 08:47:42 AM »
“The image that Russian official sources convey is that they’re preparing for large-scale interstate war,” said Johan Norberg of the Swedish Defense Research Agency. “This is not about peacekeeping or counterinsurgency.”


http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/24/world/asia/russia-arming.html?ref=world&_r=0
« Last Edit: December 24, 2015, 08:49:24 AM by Mr. Bigglesworth »
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Offline Gusington

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Re: "The Pentagon's Fight Over Russia"
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2015, 01:24:19 PM »
^I was just beginning to read that article this morning. Gotta dive into it when I get a chance, looks like a good read.
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