Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday News & Notes: #ARMYNAVY

I'm gonna swim, hit the gym, and then start getting ready to have some friends over this afternoon.  Only one thing matters today, and that's beating Navy!


So let me get this straight: we just finished the longest war in American history, a war in which dismounted infantrymen were so scarce that we had to dismount tank crews and pull artillerymen off their guns in order to have enough guys to do foot patrols, and now the Army is having layoffs?!

I'm having this week where I'm highly dissatisfied with the Army's brass.  Generals at the Pentagon, you are not making the case to your people as to why they need an Army.  If that's not clear enough, let me spell it out for you--the average American has NO IDEA what you do or why you are important.  They're happy for your service, but they think that supporting the troops means tying a yellow ribbon around the tree in their front yard.  Granted, Dr. Crane spelled it out pretty clearly a few weeks ago, but y'know, the civilian populace doesn't know who he is, and anyway, Foreign Internal Defense is a complicated topic.  Your Average Joe doesn't have the background to talk about international stability frameworks.  As far as he's concerned, all those "foreigners" can go fuck themselves.

There are many reasons why Navy has pulled ahead of Army in both the football and swimming series.  Their athletic funding is organized differently.  In the middle of a very long war, I think a lot of potential service academy recruits prefer the idea of not having to serve in the middle of the war zone--or they at least prefer to punt the decision a few years rather than signing up for it at age 18.  Going to Annapolis gives them the option to go on a ship OR join the Marines.  That choice has undoubtedly looked pretty appealing these last ten years and more.  Beyond that, though, is the fact that the nation's oldest, most successful military academy is tied to a service that's having something of an identity crisis.  Sure, anyone will tell you that West Point is a great school, but the best and brightest are also concerned with what they're going to do after graduation.  This is why Navy's acceptance rate is slightly lower despite the fact that the school itself doesn't have quite the same kind of national rankings.

Someone has to make the case for the importance of the Army.  It's frustrating, but it's true.

I get it, really.  Businessmen and congressmen alike prefer capital spending to operations and maintenance spending.  Congressmen have an additional incentive to put major capital projects in their districts, bringing home jobs and money.  Aircraft carriers and stealth bombers are massive capital projects that create jobs in a way that even the best tank and artillery programs do not, and in any event, it's very hard to make the case that we need a new tank when it's manifestly obvious that what we need is more dismounted infantrymen.  But infantrymen are a cost whereas aircraft carriers are a capital budgeting line item, and unfortunately, nobody is so afraid of Vladimir Putin that they're ready to seriously discuss the need for new land force organizations and equipment in the event of a Russian invasion of Poland.  Of course, you could have focused national attention on the topic by pushing for an armored brigade to do extensive "training" in Lithuania and Latvia as a counter to Russian aggression, but nobody did that.

Here we are.  International stability is eroding, the Army's having drawdowns, and I know almost no one who realizes it's an issue or has even spent ten minutes thinking about it.

A photo posted by U.S. Military Academy (@westpoint_usma) on

Yes, that is a cadet.

I saw this one early in the week.  It's great, too.

Finally, here's the one from the 2nd ID in Korea.

Enjoy the game, folks.  Go Army!  Beat Navy!!!

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