U.S. ARMY: Learning to Win in a Complex World [UPDATE]
AUSA: So Many Tanks, So Little Time.
UPDATES to clarify late night — sometimes clunky –writing, and add background and perspective.
The Association of the United States Army’s massive annual conference and exposition just ended. And while there were few, if any, tanks on display, enough trucks, and armored vehicles — including a vintage Volkswagen bus with a rooftop machine gun — were on view to satisfy any military gadget junkie
During its three-day run in Washington’s Convention Center there was much discussion at AUSA about where the U.S. Army is going — and how it’s going to get there– in a world where a war, insurgency, terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks or natural disasters seem to be breaking out every day. Compounding the problem — thanks to budget cuts — which Congress may reintroduce in a year or so — the Army is shrinking and disposing of war-worn equipment to stay within its budget.
But Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno said those previous across-the-board budget cuts meant developing projects like the Ground Combat Vehicle had to be scrapped and there is little money to buy new vehicles, aircraft and weapons that will be needed to tackle future crises. They also said more budget cuts starting in Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015) will mean even less money for training and that will lower the Army’s readiness for the complex world it faces. Assistant Army Secretary Heid Shyu explained that congressional budget cutting through sequestration has drastically reduced research and development for new technologies that could help a smaller Army deal with multiple challenges.
We heard at least two generals and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, himself a former Army sergeant, say they didn’t want to see another Task Force Smith as an example of what could happen if a major crisis breaks out after precipitous, post-war cuts to defense spending. Task Force Smith was a disastrous delaying action by an understrength, poorly equipped and makeshift Army battalion cobbled-together in Japan and rushed to Korea during the first days of the Korean War. The valiant but ineffective effort to stop the Communist advance in July 1950 came as a shock to U.S. leaders and the public just five years after America ended World War II with the largest, best-trained and best-equipped army in the world.
Despite the often grim forecasts about defense funding, thousands of military and civilian visitors turned out for AUSA 2014 to see hundreds of armored vehicles, unmanned aircraft, helicopters, small arms and body armor on display in the two floors of exhibits by industry and service organizations. Also on display: the latest sensors and video cameras, robots and communications equipment.
While the AUSA exhibit floor has often been used to unveil industry’s latest solutions to the Army’s problems — like coping with roadside bombs or lightening soldiers’ equipment loads — several big defense contractors this year trumpeted new contracts to upgrade, or extend the lifespan, of aging equipment like the Humvee or Stryker armored vehicle. In addition to pavilions for foreign exhibitors and products, there was also a homeland security pavilion that emphasized the links between defending America over here as well as over there.
In coming days we’ll be exploring some of the things we heard discussed at AUSA 14 including developments like the new Army Operating Concept of what it takes to win in a complex world. We’ll also be discussing the regionally aligned force concept and the Pacific Pathway initiative to facilitate America’s strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.
Entry filed under: Army, Asia-Pacific, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, Disaster Relief, Homeland Security, International Crime, International Relief, Iraq, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Special Operations, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Unmanned Aircraft, Unmanned Systems, Washington, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: armored vehicles, Army, Army Operating Concept, AUSA 2014, helicopter, military aviation, Topics, U.S. Army budget, UAS, UAV, unmanned aircraft.