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unhappycamper

(60,364 posts)
Sun Dec 1, 2013, 09:32 AM Dec 2013

An Army in transition awaits West Point cadets as wars end, military budgets shrink

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/an-army-in-transition-awaits-west-point-cadets-as-wars-end-military-budgets-shrink/2013/11/28/591fabf4-53c2-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html?hpid=z3



New challenges await West Point graduates:?The seniors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point are poised to become the first in a generation to enter a force preparing not to fight insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan but to confront shrinking budgets and a postwar identity crisis. In doing so, they will take the helm of Army units made up of combat-seasoned veterans.

An Army in transition awaits West Point cadets as wars end, military budgets shrink
By Ernesto Londoño, Published: November 28

WEST POINT, N.Y. — They were fourth- and fifth-graders when terror struck on Sept. 11, 2001, and they have only hazy recollections of the day that galvanized the young men and women who filled these halls in the decade that followed.

Now, the seniors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point are poised to become the first in a generation to enter a force preparing not to fight insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan but to confront shrinking budgets and a postwar identity crisis. In doing so, they will be taking the helm of Army units made up of combat-seasoned veterans.

Unlike the cadets that came before them, those in West Point’s class of 2014 have learned about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as historical examples, rather than conflicts that would soon dominate their lives and careers. With graduation just months away, the students at this idyllic campus of gothic buildings on the banks of the Hudson River are wrestling with the same existential questions bedeviling Army leaders: What kind of military does the country want? And how much is it willing to spend on it?

“A lot of people want to frame this issue as if the American people, particularly politicians, want us to do more with less,” said Luke Schumacher, 22, a fourth-year cadet from Indianapolis. “If that’s the case, we’re playing a fool’s game. The fundamental challenge for our generation of officers is not learning how to do more with less but selectively determining what we’re going to do and what we’re going to do well.”
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bemildred

(90,061 posts)
1. I like that last para:
Sun Dec 1, 2013, 09:50 AM
Dec 2013
“A lot of people want to frame this issue as if the American people, particularly politicians, want us to do more with less,” said Luke Schumacher, 22, a fourth-year cadet from Indianapolis. “If that’s the case, we’re playing a fool’s game. The fundamental challenge for our generation of officers is not learning how to do more with less but selectively determining what we’re going to do and what we’re going to do well.”


And stop depending on mercenaries, draft them and give them the benefits they deserve, they are citizens, not employees, and they deserve much better treatment for the sacrifices they make.

MADem

(135,425 posts)
3. NO to draft. NO. It produces a resentful and unwilling servicemember.
Sun Dec 1, 2013, 10:11 AM
Dec 2013

The AVF is -- despite the fact that everything is reported and every transgression noted --- the most professional forces in the history of the planet.

By far.

bemildred

(90,061 posts)
4. I don't want a "professional" force. I want a loyal, commited force who know it's not about money.
Sun Dec 1, 2013, 10:26 AM
Dec 2013

Money corrupts. Money is not why you have wars, if you must have them. Sooner or later the Mercs decide to cut out the middle man, they've been working on it here already.

MADem

(135,425 posts)
5. I do. And as someone who did it as a career, believe me, it's a better option.
Sun Dec 1, 2013, 10:35 AM
Dec 2013

Do I necessarily want servicemembers to be battling like gladiators for decades at a pop? Hell no. But this is the 21st Century and the learning curve is STEEP. The time to teach people how to do what needs doing is before the poop hits the fan.

You do understand that when I say "professional," I mean trained, educated, responsible uniformed service members, under oath to support, protect and defend the Constitution, and if enlisted, to obey the orders of the commissioned officers appointed over them....?

And sorry--it IS about money. The laborer is worthy of his or her hire. The military member has as much right to a spouse and family as anyone else. And you can't have that with just love and pale moonlight. You need a decent paycheck, safe and affordable or subsidized housing, good schools for your children, and regular promotions.

bemildred

(90,061 posts)
6. Well, I'm glad we can agree about something, if not this.
Sun Dec 1, 2013, 10:56 AM
Dec 2013

I refer you to the post you responded to:

And stop depending on mercenaries, draft them and give them the benefits they deserve, they are citizens, not employees, and they deserve much better treatment for the sacrifices they make.



MADem

(135,425 posts)
7. It was a bit unclear--not sure if you wanted to draft the mercenaries.
Mon Dec 2, 2013, 03:34 AM
Dec 2013

That is what you seemed to be saying.

See, they get great (almost unbelievable) pay, but their benefits suck. Their benefits depend on what their contractor wants to give them, and that ain't much, usually.

IF they are lucky enough to survive without injury, they can make a nice payday. If they are injured, their long-term care is down to how good their private insurance is. They get no support from the military. They're pretty much hung out to dry.

Most "mercenaries" (the Blackwater Contract Security Personnel types) are older--they want a massive payday and they all think they can play the odds and come out a winner. And most do. It's the ones that don't that make it all rather sad. And they are usually military retirees--they have great knowledge and skills, but they don't want to go back in the service. They want that BIG payday.

In any event, I like an AVF. You have a motivated, quality force--not smartass trouble makers who are joining the military as a diversionary program to avoid jail, or people who would rather be somewhere else.

bemildred

(90,061 posts)
8. I've thought what you said over.
Mon Dec 2, 2013, 06:13 AM
Dec 2013

I am OK with the new professional Army (AVF), I met many fine officers who came out of that, before it was too corrupted, what I am not OK with is private Armies (Blackwater or whatever they call themselves now) or large standing forces and a MIC roaming the world looking for trouble. What we need (IMHO) is a trained professional cadre, all the time, and enough draftees to keep them busy and proficient, and us ready to deal with minor problems without training up a real army.

Edit: the draftees, once out again, form a ready reserve, spread military knowledge around, etc. We had a whole bunch of ex-Gi's running around after WWII, and it was not a bad thing. It keeps the connection between the public and the military clear and open. You don't want a whole bunch of people who think war is their key to success. We need to find economically productive uses for most people, not dump them in the military because the private sector is too greedy to give them decent work.

I have been amazed that the numbnuts in DC do not understand the danger that private armies (Mercs) and the obese security apparatus we have constructed pose to THEM. History is not ambiguous about where these things wind up.

We also need to rebuild our own nation before the issue becomes moot. We are not doing well, as a nation.

MADem

(135,425 posts)
9. We don't need draftees and we'll never go that way again.
Mon Dec 2, 2013, 10:17 AM
Dec 2013

That is probably the one thing that every senior military leader agrees upon, and has agreed upon since Saint Ronnie of Raygun left office. I promise you, if you see a draft happening ever again, kiss your butt goodbye, because it will be WW3 and not a good thing at all--everyone to the ramparts, the end is nigh.

The reason we now have--as of 2012-- a reservist general (Chief of the National Guard) serving on the JCS is because the reserves -- who do their little weekend warrior/2 weeks a year stuff--are getting more training and more funding to make their training more "real world." They're no longer neglected step-children training with embarrassingly out of date equipment for the "last" war.

I agree that contractors are out of control; a new paradigm is needed, perhaps one that incorporates civilian (or even retired) assets but is run out of reserve shops. This would probably cost more over time, if we're to be decent and not leave injured contractors to fend for themselves. There needs to be more oversight of the overseers, and that just isn't happening with the current system. They'll have time to think about this stuff in the outyears--it's a good topic for a graduate thesis at the war colleges.

bemildred

(90,061 posts)
10. Well, let's agree on what we can, and leave the rest.
Mon Dec 2, 2013, 05:53 PM
Dec 2013

I'm not in the mood to write more dissertations at the moment, and I suspect you know the arguments anyway.

MADem

(135,425 posts)
2. We, the People, know how to do this.
Sun Dec 1, 2013, 10:10 AM
Dec 2013

We have done it before. Now that we put a lot of the load on the reserves, it's not so hard to pivot and shrink--and that is what needs to happen.

USAF is getting ready to do a Selective Early Retirement Board for 0-5 and 0-6, that will break up their logjam re: promotion flow.

You'll see some iteration of that elsewhere too--either voluntary calls or "Out You Go's" with the other Services....

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