Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Trump’s Vision & NATO’s Future: Streamline The Alliance For Modern War

It would be wrong for Europeans to conclude that President Trump wants to withdraw all US forces from Europe. The President simply wants the US military to be NATO’s security guarantor of last resort, not NATO’s "first responder."

on July 18, 2018 at 1:30 PM

US Army M1 Abrams tanks train in Bulgaria

President Trump’s harsh words for Germany set the tone for a tense NATO summit — but America’s allies now know they have no right to assume the US will keep cutting fat checks to cover the cost of Europe’s defense. However, it would be wrong for Europeans to conclude that President Trump wants to withdraw all US forces from Europe. The President simply wants the US military to be NATO’s security guarantor of last resort, not NATO’s “first responder.”

One reason is the character of the Russian threat. Instead of the massed motor rifle regiments of the Cold War, we’re now seeing disinformation and infiltration by Russian Special Operations Forces (little green men) on the pretext of aiding disaffected Russian minorities in countries like Estonia, Latvia, or Moldava. When Moscow thinks the time is ripe, it sends in the second wave: a rapid intervention by Russia’s standing, professional forces — primarily mobile armored formations ranging in size from 3,000-8,000 soldiers, tightly integrated with precision rocket artillery, surface-to-surface missile groups, and aerospace power. All of these forces are designed to operate under the cover of Western Russia’s formidable integrated air defenses (IADS) to keep NATO airpower at bay.

SOURCE: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (

NATO’s preferred response is simultaneously too fragile and too sluggish. The first responders would be a spearhead of light forces, followed by a large U.S. military presence planted in Cold War-style garrisons, and ultimately the mobilization of European reserves. But Russian forces would not only rapidly crush the light infantry spearhead and achieve their strategic objectives long before the first European reservist shows up to fight: The Russians would also destroy US forces in their garrisons with precision strikes.

SOURCE: NATO data (2017)

Extended nuclear deterrence is an even less appealing solution. Tossing nuclear pebbles at an opponent that will likely respond with nuclear boulders makes no sense. If it did, Great Britain and France would have committed their nuclear forces to NATO’s defense, but they have declined to do so. Unless Moscow takes the unlikely step of opening an offensive against Eastern Europe with nuclear strikes, any future Russian intervention must be defeated with conventional weapons, not intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS) from the United States.

A second reason is not as widely understood: World War II and its sequel, the Cold War, are behind us, not in front of us. The age of mass mobilization-based armies has given way to limited, high-intensity conventional warfare — an era of integrated, “all arms-all effects” warfighting.

This new brand of “come- as-you-are” warfare requires highly trained professionals ready to fight effectively when the hostilities begin. The unified application of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, the whole range of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, widely dispersed joint strike systems, and mobile, armored maneuver forces across service lines cannot be executed on the fly. To effect change in the way Europeans and Americans think about defense, the President must issue new marching orders to the Department of Defense:

  1. Turn US bases in Europe into austere Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) designed to receive deploying forces and then project them into training exercises or combat. Stop the expensive practice of building elaborate facilities for military communities in foreign countries, complete with family housing, schools, and grocery stores, that create jobs for foreign nationals, but do nothing for the U.S. economy.
  2. Establish permanent bases in the United States from which future forces will deploy and where service members’ families can live. End accompanied tours overseas except for the few specialists needed to sustain forces deploying through the FOBs.
  3. Build regionally focused, lean Joint Force Command (JFC) organizations to replace today’s overly large single-service headquarters. These bloated relics of World War II and the Cold War are too slow to deploy and they obstruct the rapid decision-making required in future warfare. Flatten command with the JFCs and exercise them regularly on short notice.
  4. Build self-contained Army formations of 5,000-6,000 soldiers for rapid deployment under joint command. Disband the large 15,000-18,000-man divisions. Extract billions in savings by shedding equipment and organizations that are no longer needed.
  5. Invest in new airlift and sea-lift to meet demands that commercial transport cannot. Invest in transportation support systems to off-load military cargo in unimproved locations.
NATO needs these reforms and European military leaders know it. But though these measures would save billions of dollars and dramatically improve the US armed forces’ readiness to fight, America’s senior military leaders will resist them. This, however, is a problem for President Trump, not NATO.

Gen. Curtis LeMay

History provides a model for how to fix this. When General Curtis LeMay took over Strategic Air Command, he discovered that SAC lacked the right operational focus and military capability; there were no detailed war plans, only broad directives. LeMay concluded there were not enough leaders with the elasticity of mind to meet the Cold War’s new demands for fast-paced exercises and deployments. LeMay found the ‘right people,’ he appointed them to command and staff positions, and SAC became the model of warfighting readiness. LeMay’s approach may be helpful to the President as he moves the Department of Defense and NATO in a new strategic direction.

Colonel (ret.) Douglas Macgregor, US Army, served as the Director of the Joint Operations Center during the Kosovo Air Campaign in 1999. He is a decorated combat veteran, a PhD, and the author of five books. His latest is Margin of Victory, (Naval Institute Press, 2016).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Army Modernization Needs Experimental Force 
June 20, 2018

The Army says it's learned its lessons from more than two decades of failed acquisition. Its Big Six will work. The service will build the weapons it needs to overmatch the Russians and Chinese and it will do it at reasonable speed and cost. Doug Macgregor, a retired Army colonel famous for his penetrating analyses and critiques of the Army he loves, isn't buying it. Why? Read On, dear reader! The Editor. 

 Combined operations during exercise Operation Pacific Reach in South Korea
The Army says it’s learned its lessons from more than two decades of failed acquisition. Its Big Six will work. The service will build the weapons it needs to overmatch the Russians and Chinese and it will do it at reasonable speed and cost. Doug Macgregor, a retired Army colonel famous for his penetrating analyses and critiques of the Army he loves, isn’t buying it. Why? Read On, dear reader! The Editor.
The Senate Armed Services Committee recognized that the Army was falling behind in key warfighting capabilities in 2015. Thanks to the leadership of Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mack Thornberry, with their colleagues in both houses, the Army stopped shrinking and was provided with bipartisan support to modernize the ground maneuver force.
Today, the Congress and the nation expect action, not a five-year, multi-billion dollar Army effort to better define the problem, as the service currently plans. Asking industry to provide solutions without an initial Joint Operational Concept, a viable warfighting doctrine, and a new force design based on rigorous field experimentation that informs technical requirements is worse than foolhardy; it’s irresponsible and wasteful. John Jumper, former Air Force Chief of Staff,described the problem in November 2002 when he said, “We never do the CONOPS, which tells how we are going to integrate up, down and sideways, before we start talking about programs…” 
Soldiers already know what is required: integrate new but mature technologies inside new maneuver formations at progressively lower levels within a Joint command and control structure, one that combines and assimilates powerful capabilities across service lines quickly and effectively. 
To make the leap into this future now, not in a decade, the Army needs shock therapy, not a Big Six, as it calls the key areas of interest that promise marginal optimization of outmoded legacy means, methods, and systems. Shock therapy would mean:
1. A coherent, compelling and understandable vision to match the goals in the NDS. The NDS demands an operationally decisive ground maneuver force for Joint Warfighting. How will the Army build and field this force?

2. A 21st Century Ground Maneuver Force in close cooperation with aerospace and maritime power. There is not enough money in the U.S. Treasury to afford the Army’s parochial single-service programs that promise no change and will likely result in some duplication of effort. Air Force and Navy officers must help build the 21st Century Army. FCS and the current Army Modernization Plan ignore this.

3. The fighting power of an Army lies in its organization for combat. The U.S. Army is more than a collection of equipment and soldiers. Increasing the numbers of soldiers on active duty only make sense if the increases are tied to new formations inside a new Joint force design with far greater lethality and survivability than the current Army ground force with its roots in WW 2 and the Cold War.

4. Rigorous, honest and unconstrained experimentation in the field with real soldiers, new equipment and weapon systems. An experimental force was absent from FCS and it is absent from the Army’s Modernization Plan.

5. An Experimental Force and place it, along with enabling capabilities, under a Combatant Commander who is beyond the parochial and deleterious influence of the Army’s branches. Cultivate a totally new, forward-looking cadre of operators, thinkers and planners. Direct the Experimental Force to conduct full spectrum rapid prototyping; testing and evaluating the best available technology inside a new organizational construct with a new human capital strategy—not just the technology. 

The challenge to Army Modernization is no longer constrained budgets; it is investing to maximize the potential of the Army’s human capital in combination with new technologies; to capitalize on commonsense recommendations from soldiers in the field, as well as, from engineers. As always, leadership is essential. 
The Army’s senior civilian and military leadership must provide what’s missing: an understandable and compelling vision for the future Army and a plan to resist the forces of romanticism in military affairs that defy reason. Describe the threats we face in vivid terms: One precision strike from five BM-30 Smerch (multiple rocket launchers) can devastate an area the size of New York City’s Central Park (843 acres or 3.2 square miles) with the impact of a 1 Kiloton nuclear explosion in a few minutes. Clearly, this environment is not the place for nostalgia.
Building a future ground maneuver force also means explaining what attributes and capabilities Army forces require to defeat the threat. Self-organizing and self-contained fighting formations with thinking leaders capable of rapid decision-making when faced with mountains of data are essential. An abundance of headquarters is not the answer. 
Finally, the Army’s senior leaders must drive toward realistic, attainable objectives that produce tangible concrete outcomes on a relevant timeline
Douglas Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, is a decorated combat veteran, a PhD, and the author of five books. His most recent is: Margin of Victory, (Naval Institute Press, 2016).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Doug Macgregor on SoundCloud Radio

Action Radio with Greg Penglis. One of my most incredible talks ever. Except for that one spot where I wasn't sure he had finished his point. But what we have here is an extremely knowledgeable, experienced, analytical, candid, and direct military and foreign policy analyst with the ability to put them both together. We started with North Korea and the President, and related it to a ton of other issues. We covered the Gulf Wars, whether we need foreign military bases, or aircraft carriers, was Iraq worth it and why are we still in Afghanistan? We covered nation building and the globalist war class that wants to keep the military doing something, anything, to not waste the resource. Why is the military a social experiment? Is Trump being served by his generals? We covered how all the Obama holdovers and swamp rats are always holding back the President, rather than serving him. Why South Korea and Japan can take care of their own security and we don't have to be there. We covered history back to WWII and how that relates today. We took on tough questions like are our soldiers really fighting for freedom, and our freedom, all over the world, even though that's what we keep telling them, and us? I don't think so. I think it's a distraction from the real mission. And this is an area filled with veterans. There is so much more, just sit back and listen. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

The National Guard deployment to the border is a sham

The author is correct. The Regular Army secured America’s border with Mexico from 1846 to 1948. It’s time for the President to commit America’s professional soldiers to the border again. Thanks to years of experience with border security missions in Germany, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Regular Army has the expertise and the technology to do the job. 

Doug Macgregor

June 15, 2018

The National Guard deployment to the border is a sham

By Ed Straker

Remember when President Trump's supporters were outraged when Trump signed a budget that prevented him from building a border wall?  Trump was so stung by the criticism that he decided to show he was tough on border security by sending the National Guard to the border.  The only problem is, restrictions on the Guard have made their participation almost useless.
A month after President Trump called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the national Border Patrol union called the deployment "a colossal waste of resources."
"We have seen no benefit," said Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents 15,000 agents, the National Border Patrol Council.
More from Politico:
Back in April, Trump hailed the deployment as a "big step," claiming, "We really haven't done that before, or certainly not very much before."
But that isn't accurate, either: Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama sent the guard to the border under similar circumstances; Bush in far larger numbers than Trump – some 6,000 compared with up to 4,000 now, and Obama to the tune of 1,200.
A few National Guard helicopters and crew have also been enlisted to join the Border Patrol fleet for aerial surveillance, but more troops are clearing vegetation, serving as office clerks and making basic repairs to Border Patrol facilities.
They're as far away from the border as possible.  In reality, the hundreds of troops deployed in southern Arizona are keeping up the rear, so to speak; in one assignment, soldiers are actually feeding and shoveling out manure from the stalls of the Border Patrol's horses.
Shoveling manure is symbolic of the nature of this assignment.  It was announced to give President Trump cover while he signed that terrible budget which tied his hands on border security.  I suspect that the specific limitations on the Guard are probably not President Trump's doing; rather, they probably fall under the responsibility of either his secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen "Lady DACA" Nielsen or his secretary of defense, James Mattis, who loved the Iran deal and hated waterboarding Islamic terrorists.
President Trump has done some good things to try to secure the border – namely, prosecuting illegals and tightening up asylum rules.  But this border deployment is a sham, and the way it has been executed is a total disgrace.
Ed Straker is the senior writer at

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Multi-Domain Battle Space Scenario

TRADOC obviously lifted a lot of material from my 2003 book, Transformation under Fire. It’s similar to what previous Chiefs of Staff did with my book Breaking the Phalanx: Lift the language, create the appearance, but substantively it’s another Potemkin Village. The critical ISR, STRIKE, MANEUVER, SUSTAINMENT functionality that is essential to Joint integrative operations is missing.

However, the Army dramatically overstates the impact and capability of cyber and SOF,  treats the enemy as static and unthinking, assumes that IADS can be easily defeated with just artillery and seemingly ignores the requirement for armed reconnaissance. The notion that air assault infantry can maneuver in this battlespace presumes the absence of widespread tactical air defense systems. Although the Army acknowledges ASM the Army later ignores it when the marines show up. The Marines are even lighter and less survivable than the current Army. The CONOPS assumes mobility and the Army’s ability to stand toe to toe in a fight. I don’t see how this is possible with the current Army Force structure. Logistics including the short-legged armored force with its red hot tank engines detectable from LEO satellites is not addressed. 

Features of the 2003 book were borrowed, but without the Joint Force Commands that must exist to integrate capabilities across service lines and without the battlegroups organized around ISR, STRIKE, MANEUVER and SUSTAINMENT that contain enough mobility, firepower, protection, striking power and logistics to be operationally independent in a dispersed battle space.  Thus, MDB falls short in both conceptual depth and execution. 

Doug Macgregor