When is the Army Broken?

All this week Phil Carter and Austin Bay are debating the size of the US military and its use online at the Los Angeles Times. Today the topic was “When is the Army Broken?

Today, Austin Bay started the discussion (this is my Reader’s Digest version, go to LATimes for the whole thing):

Let’s establish a personal and historical context for these “descriptors.” As a second lieutenant in the mid-1970s—in the immediate aftermath of Vietnam—I witnessed several of my senior officers and sergeants characterize the Army as “sick.” I recall a cavalry platoon sergeant describing the deteriorated personnel and discipline situation as an illness. He was embarrassed at the institution’s decline….Our boss made this gut point: Officers and noncoms who stayed in the service the next ten years were committed to rebuilding a debilitated institution…The military leaders who “stayed in” helped create the Army of Desert Storm—a high quality force…Transformation is a process…In terms of personnel, the Navy and Air Force are “basically fine” but the Marines and Army are “stretched.”

Phil responded:

However, during the 1970s, there was no giant “CRACK!” when the Army broke apart, nor any specific moment to which officers could point to as the point of no return. By the time rampant drug use, racial problems and widespread insubordination pervaded the ranks, as cited by recently retired Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker to Time magazine, the Army was long since broken…The signs of strain on the military today read like the post-mortems on the Army after the Vietnam War…Two of these symptoms— manpower and equipment— worry me most…I believe today’s Army is broken, past tense. It cannot sustain the current wars, nor can it effectively train, equip and deploy units for future deployments. The cupboard is bare.

Other news on recruiting and readiness:

See previous posts on military recruiting and readiness on MountainRunner.