10 July 2005

Troop Transformation.

The Inventor of the Puppy-based Milkshake cites a few sources generally regarded as reputable to downplay the recruitment problems the army is having.

They say it doesn't mean much because the combat troops can be gained by transferring troops from support to combat, and filling the support roles with civilians...

The army is using a lot more civilians now. In a war like this, it’s cheaper to hire additional civilians, on short term contracts, than it is to recruit and train more troops.
says strategypage.

Short term contracts are cheaper if you're in a short term war. The theater may change, but this war will, by all assurances, go on a very long time. If the civilians are, on average, being paid more than their military counterparts then it's a waste of money in the long term to hire civilians for jobs that could be done by uniformed troops (giving us more accountability as well). If they're being paid less, than it undercuts the argument that high-paying civilian jobs are drawing away potential recruits, a claim Strategypage has also put forth. So Strategypage holds that we can't find enough recruits because they can get paid more to do the same job if they stay a civilian, and this is good because it'll cost us less to pay them more. Nonsense.

Frankly, person for person civilians are capable of doing as good a job as the green suiters and in many cases can do it better.

The primary reason is that the military duty cycle at a given position is one or two years. In extreme cases it can go as high as four to five, but that is truly extreme and requires special circumstances. On the Civilian side, we commonly work at in a given position 5 to 7 years just like in private industry. We don't stop being the new guy until a year or two in, but by that time the green suiters are already moving on to their next posting.
- Not Strategypage

This is really only true for officers. Enlisted soldiers can stay in the same field for their entire career, and the army created the specialist ranks (4-7) to accomodate people who did this. The 5-7 ranks were abolished and those people were made NCO's of the same paygrade, turning the SP4's into SPC's, who get paid the same as a corporal but haven't the same authority. The wisened old sergeant who excelled in his field was a hallmark of army training from it's founding over 200 years ago, but has been discarded recently in favor of a jack-of-all-trades. The old system worked well, providing the framework around which the nco corps was scaled up with each new war. If they weren't suddenly short on combat troops, the pentagon would probably be happy to let it continue forever.

This is also why the National Guard is trained in a lot of technical fields like communications.

This just isn't true. The Army has been fighting to speed up the process of redesignating and retraining national guard units to fill other roles. Primarily they want to turn reserve component combat units into mp's so that they can be deployed on more peacekeeping missions. This requires a restructuring of troop assignments as well as retraining, voiding decades of experience and cohesion.

The reason a lot of support unit were put in the reserve component (and primarily the reserves, not the national guard) is that the army felt it didn't use those assets regularly enough to justify paying for them full-time. making them reserve units kept direct pentagon control (no state interference), and kept a pool of trained soldiers with the maintained equipment just in case they were needed. the expertise one gets through years of experience is not something the army has ever planned on or counted on, and is something actively discouraged in the officer corps, which has a doctrine of "up or out", get promoted or leave, but don't stay put.

His position only makes sense if you believe officers are the only people in the army who do anything, but their not. They're there to give orders.

A side note to both is the role of civilians in combat. Since the pentagon has chosen a war strategy based on firebases seperated by great distances, everyone outside of a firebase perimeter is in a combat zone. (and I know I'm using the term firebase loosely, the fob's we've set up in Iraq don't have the artillery that gave firebases their fire, relying on airstrikes instead, but the general principle of their usage is closer to firebases than to any other modern warfare concepts... non-modern, they're flat forts from which the soldiers rally forth to patrol and fight).

With our support and logistical train in the combat zone, we've packed it with civilians, who can either remain unarmed and die quickly, or arm themselves for self-defense making the larger paycheck the only difference between them and the troops they've replaced.

No matter what happens with civilians in combat or recruitment levels, I'm confident that Instapundit and Strategypage will claim it's good news.

Goe, doesn't understand how a toe-mah-toe would be cheaper than a toe-may-toe.

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