New Recon Vehicle, more downsizing

JLTV chosen for Light Recon Vehicle.

This isn’t a bad choice, and it is definitely a logical choice. The JLTV is already in production, the JLTV has very good reliability (a massive amount more than the HMMWV recon vehicles it would replace) and the JLTV has more platform growth potential.

The downsides of course are that it’s big, it’s tall, and it’s expensive and as of right now doesn’t fit a sixth person in the vehicle or hold a weapon big enough to break contact away from an enemy armor push. Ideally a 30mm cannon would be mounted on a basketless turret to complement a dismounted Javelin team.

But for the bulk of units with wheeled scout teams, this is a good thing compared to what we have right now. Is it “optimal”? Propbably not, and “interim solutions” have a way of becoming permanent. However we shouldn’t let “great” be the enemy of “good” and so I think this is a good thing overall, especially now that our forces are getting smaller it is a good idea to harden our light formations as much as possible.

And speaking of cuts….

Snafu Solomon is getting his panties in a twist over the Army getting smaller, again. His complaint is that Army leaders didn’t bitch harder, sooner. Evidently Sol gets hit in the head a lot, because

Here is a recap from 2012:

Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno said the Army leader survey results are taken seriously. The general clearly has some housecleaning to do in order to reverse the widespread perception the Army “is not headed in the right direction” and Congress must do its part to vaccinate the Army from “political correctness” and to protect the world’s best ground force from becoming the bill payer for the president’s unproven Asia-Pacific pivot.

Also from that year Army Leaders warned of what Sequestration would do if Congress simply mandated “across the board” cuts instead of allowing the services to restructure under a budget cut (transfer personnel allocations from active to reserve cuts the budget but maintains readiness). If no one remembers, Congress reached an impasse and sequestration became the budget reality.

But Leon Panetta and other senior Pentagon officials counter such claims by pointing out two things: The $350 billion cut came from the last-minute debt-paring law Congress approved in August and lawmakers can remove the threat of the additional $500 billion national defense cut by reaching a $1.2 trillion debt-reduction accord by the end of this year.

Huffpo explains sequestration:

GEN(Ret) Sullivan warns about troop cuts beyone 700,000 total:

A recap:

SECDEF Hagel tells exactly what will happen if Congress doesn’t get their act together:

And yet another warning

So there you go, FIVE YEARS of military leaders with 4 stars or higher warning what mandatory troop strength cuts will do, the cutting/gutting of the Army is a direct result of politicians who cannot agree to come up with a workable budget as explained by GEN Odierno, SECDEF Hagel, GEN(ret) Sullivan all beating the drum that Congress is screwing with the security of the Nation by politicking the budget. The OPTEMPO is a direct result of a President who decided to topple Lybia and Syria with a shrinking military all the while Russia getting antsy raised the OPTEMPO in Europe, and the “Pivot to the Pacific” ramped up in that theater.

Solomon’s criticism that leaders didn’t do enough to explain to Congress the consequences of their decisions is simply wrong from a historical perspective. Congress knew the risks, what Solomon doesn’t seem to understand is that Democrats got the outcome they wanted, a much reduced US in terms of influence on the world stage. Republicans couldn’t stop that, at best they could play long game politics and try to come out as a better choice than Dems for national defense in the next election cycle.

The Army was going to shrink after the war ended, there was no getting around that. The problem is that Congress is mandating cuts below the level that the Army was at before the wars started, and while the equipment is every bit as good as it was in 2001, the rest of the world has gotten better.

However it is easier to modernize a smaller military, which is why the USAF planned to cut 500 planes under sequestration, save money on operating costs to purchase shiny new toys. Unfortunately the F-35 turned into a gold plated albino elephant and between it and sequestration you could make the sound argument that the F-35 has been worse for end strength and readiness.

Of course Sol really complained that they didn’t beat the warning drums louder, which I think is a bit naïve. When the American people, wear of decades of war, see their entitlement programs being cut, do you really think that a warning about the size of the Army is going to resonate in the middle of the longest economic downturn since Jimmy Carter’s “stagflation”? Me neither.

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