Friday, October 31, 2008
US Army RIP-2
"The U.S. Army appears determined to cripple itself. Cuts in field artillery strength promise to weaken the 'king of battle' to the point where the Army will have sacrificed its greatest historical advantage: the ability to put a storm of steel precisely on target faster than the enemy can react. ... Artillery skills are plummeting, while doctrine veers ever deeper into fantasies of precision strikes by airpower as the universal answer. ... The Army can't prepare only for asymmetrical warfare against terrorists and insurgents. It has to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time--to fight irregular wars today and be prepared for the big, hyper-conventional war that might come tomorrow. ... The stock answer these days is that the Air Force will be the Army's 'flying artillery,' hitting targets precisely with low-yield warheads and reducing collateral damages. That's not merely foolish, it's nuts. In a conflict between major powers, it may be the collateral damage that ultimately forces the enemy to surrender (remember Japan?). In a real war--a long slugging match--the new generation of Air Force fighter-bombers would be confined to bunkers for heavy maintenance within weeks. There won't be enough of these planes either. ... You can't just impress an enemy into surrendering. You have to defeat him. ... We can't send our troops into battle without deep reserves of robust killing power, and artillery has long been America's strong suit. ... We won't always we chasing snipers down Baghdad's alleys. When the next 'big one' comes, our Soldiers on the front lines had better be able to call for responsive, overwhelming fires--in all weather, in all terrain. If we're unwilling to pay the price in steel, we'll pay it in blood", my emphasis, Ralph Peters (RP) at Armchair General, November 2008.
Air power's replacing artillery was a World War II fantasy which still haunts the Pentagon. Most estimates are that artillery accounted for about 60% of the total damage the US military inflicted in WWII. Our artillery is mostly upgraded WWII stuff, 105 MM and 155 MM howitzers and the like. We still debate how many F-22s to build, 183 may be the number. We built 15,875 P-51s and 10,037 P-38s, among other planes, which we used in WWII and Korea. I realize the F-22 is a much more capable plane. So? I am fond of a Russian saying: "Quantity is its own quality". Amen! We used aircraft as artillery in Gulf Wars I and II. Would we have such a luxury fighting a real enemy? Book suggestion, Brute Force by John Ellis, 1999, about America's real way of war. RP is a retired Army Colonel.