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Modern American Infantry: Technology Over Quantitiy Over Quality

Modern American Infantry: Technology Over Quantitiy Over Quality

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Published by bawb-2

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Published by: bawb-2 on Jan 07, 2011
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07/16/2013

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Lt. Col Scott McMichael is a retired U.S. Army officer who is aprofligate writer on military issues in general and light infantry in
 
particular. I have always really enjoyed his works on the latter subject. His
is aparticularly well-done analysis. I just ordered his
, a look into the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, althoughI have not yet read it.I suppose he retired as a colonel and not a brigadier generalbecause he dared to blaspheme the Party Line of technologyfixes and overwhelming firepower and instead spoke of thosepesky old-fashioned concepts of good training and good men.Afghanistan in particular bears out his theories, but theAmerican military institution is incapable of learning from thepast nor deviating from the Party Line.At any rate, I happened to stumble across an old article of hisfrom
Military Review 
on
. Responses to itby "professional" officers were pretty vicious in some cases.When I first read it, I too thought it was a bit overdone, makinglight infantry out to be a cross between Special Forces andSuperman.Mulling it over, I came to realize that it was something that couldvery well be done. In the past, the American military was capableof producing and training such units...The First Special ServiceForce, the Marine Raiders, Army Rangers and the 10th MountainDivision in WWII, Merill's Marauders, the Alamo Scouts, LRRPs,Hackworth's Hardcore Bn., modern Special Forces, etc.Other nations have done it as well with specialized mountaintroops (
Gebirgsjaeger, Alpini, Chassuers Alpin, Cazadores deMontana, Vanatori de Munte
, etc, etc, etc) Commandos, theChindits, the Long Range Desert Group, Popski's Private Army,Gurkhas,
Sissi 
, the Rhodesian Light Infantry and SealousScouts, the Brandenberger Regiment, 502nd SS J
ager Bn Mitte
,Royal Marines, etc. Need I go on?So, if it could be done in the past, why not today?The reasons are too numerous to even get into, but it all boilsdown to high-level leadership, or the lack thereof. The"professional" military has always stoutly resisted
any 
kind of 
 
special or elite forces. Conformists get promoted; non-conformists win wars and then get the boot. Infantry trainingisn't glamorous, doesn't get the big bucks the techno projectsdo, and doesn't provide you with a six-figure income as a"consultant" for a defense contractor after retirement. Moreover it requires
work 
, and an even dirtier word,
change
. In a zerodefect environment, no one benefits from lessons learned intraining, as no mistakes are allowed and any training toughenough to do some good on the battlefield could cause atraining casualty, leading right back to the zero defect thing.Check all the boxes, cross all the t's, and make the trainingnumbers all "good to go" on paper...it's the only safe way.Additionally, all Americans are guilty, myself of course included,to some degree of impatience, laziness, and looking for the"quick fix". That quick fix is usually expected from hightechnology.A Finnish veteran of the Winter and Continuation Wars, Lt. Col.Erkki Lahdenpera, called us on this even before the VietnamWar.
“It is vital to have good equipment, but too much time,effort, and funds have been devoted in the past to testing and experimenting with new items of equipment and clothing at the expense of combat training [original emphasis]. In extreme environmental conditions it is far more important to have well-trained troops withsatisfactory equipment than average [or mediocre] troopswith excellent equipment. First-class training with a highstate of morale is the foundation for successful operationsin rugged terrain and extreme climates. This is not to say that we do not need the best possible equipment, but the primary effort must be on tough, realistic combat training.Wartime experience showed that success depended moreupon the knowledge of how to use available equipment than upon the equipment itself.” 
Over the centuries, the "professional" military experts andtheorists have pronounced the Infantryman "dead" on far too

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