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The Two-Phase Army - they stole my idea!

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  • The Two-Phase Army - they stole my idea!

    I posted a little while back about a force change theory I thought was necessary in this SASO/OOTW dominated world. I called it the Two-Phase Army, and gave a list of sttributes I thought each "Phase" should have...

    and now;

    US military faces future as Jekyll and Hyde force
    (Filed: 26/06/2004)

    The idea that an army makes war and makes peace is gaining ground, writes Alec Russell in Washington

    The sprawl of neat, identikit Virginian suburbs south-west of Washington is familiar to any aficionado of Cold War thrillers: this is the heartland of America's "military-industrial complex". It is here that military and intelligence chiefs make the decisions that shake - or at least shape - the world.

    And it is here that, early one steamy morning recently, a dozen top officials and analysts gathered in a glistening plate-glass office block for a briefing that was to shake them to their core.

    They had come to hear a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and former teacher of Marxist studies argue that the American military should be split in two. The first, dubbed "Leviathan", would fight. The second, the "System Administrators", would rebuild failed states to pre-empt crises and so help secure America.

    Together they would reshape the "Gap", a swathe of the world stretching across Africa and the Middle East, and much of Latin America and south-east and central Asia.

    Tom Barnett, a professor at the US Naval War College, "packages" his message with a mix of very "un-Pentagon" allusions from Monty Python to Star Trek. But any shock at his zany approach is quickly overshadowed by the reaction to his thesis. It is, he concedes, an explosive idea.

    "It's a generational thing," he said after a lively opening session. "A lot of the guys who fought this were the oldest in the room. They say it's their '*******ed' army and they fear it's going to be turned into a bunch of peacekeepers.

    " 'You want us to take someone down, tell us who it is and we'll go do it,' they say. 'Let us remain a warrior force. Don't screw us up'."

    But with the American military clearly struggling in Iraq, his radical solution to the Pentagon's dilemma in how to confront the post-September 11 world is not seen as the heresy that it would have been a few years ago. His briefing has made its way through the upper levels of the Pentagon to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary.

    If you walk into the Pentagon's "transformation" headquarters, carrying Prof Barnett's book, The Pentagon's New Map, officials nod and say "ah, the book" - even if in some other parts of the Pentagon officials snort when you mention its name.

    "There comes a time in history when rule sets are out of whack," says the professor. "There isn't any situation we can't go into where we can't run up a score of 100 to nothing at half-time. The problem is that we have a first half team and don't invest in the second half.

    "We don't have any four-star generals working the second half. There are no four-star military police generals. Why? Because their work has been seen as a sideshow, an attitude that many in the Pentagon may be regretting given the scandal over prisoner abuse in Iraq.

    "Leviathan will be like a metropolitan Swat team. They go in and do their stuff and as soon as the smoke clears they are out of there. Then there will be a force that is closer to society. It is 'your mum's military'. Its members will be older, married, more educated.

    "In Iraq now, guys who aren't built for war-fighting are being forced to do it. I get calls from the corps of engineers out in Iraq and they're saying, 'Thank God somebody said this'."

    Mr Barnett has expounded his theories at a time of extraordinary change for the American military. There are plans to cut by nearly half the 70,000 troops based in Germany by withdrawing the First Infantry and First Armoured divisions and replacing them with a brigade. Over the next two years about a third of the 37,000 troops in South Korea are being withdrawn.

    The redeployments are in part a response to the changing nature of the military threat to America since the end of the Cold War. But they also reflect the zeal for radical change that marked Mr Rumsfeld's arrival in 2000 for his second stint as secretary of defence - his first was under President Gerald Ford - and the difficulties in Iraq.

    The Rumsfeldian vision has not been well received in the Pentagon. Many uniformed officers see him as too overweening, and view his revolutionary proposals for cuts and changes with deep suspicion.

    "I smile when I hear what is going on now," said one former high-ranking general. "Almost every sec def has spoken of transformation and yet their talk ends up full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

    "There is an institutional bias to keep things as they are. A lot of things Rumsfeld has agreed will drop dead if he leaves. And there are an awful lot of people who will be pleased to see him go. He came in saying, 'No more of this or that'."

    Yet the course of events in Iraq and the need for rapid reaction forces across the globe have given an impetus to calls for change. "This is the age of the small, the fast and the many," said Retd Vice-Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, the head of the office of transformation in the Pentagon. "We are moving away from the slow, the ponderous and the few."

    The admiral has backed the Barnett vision, even if his experience suggests he is more of a natural "war-fighter" than a "nation-builder". And while a formal division of the army appears far-fetched, in light of the mishandling of Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion, the need for a radical overhaul of the army's ancillary units is undeniable.

    Michael O'Hanlon, a senior analyst at Brookings Institute, said: "Barnett has already won. He should declare victory. It's not so much that he won the argument. Iraq won the argument for him."

    This is not the first time that Prof Barnett has been "ahead of the curve". In 1991, as a young analyst, he briefed top admirals on the need to "embrace" the Soviet navy. Such was the outrage of his audience he had to break off his lecture.

    "It went down like a lead balloon. Several admirals questioned my sanity. One wondered aloud if I was a 'pinko' or 'just plain stupid'. That got a lot of laughs and immediately my credibility was shot to pieces."

    Six months later the Soviet Union was in ruins and he no longer looked so daft.
    Now listening too;
    - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.

  • #2
    pfff - at least mine used the right jargon

    "Leviathan" indeed...

    initial Two-Phase Army post;
    Now listening too;
    - Russell Robertson, ruining whatever credibility my football team once had.


    • #3
      Well Ivan, as usual, you were a few steps ahead of all of us. Unfortunatley though, you were a step behind this guy. I guess that's what happens when a full time job gets in the way of the important work.

      This guy actually came in and briefed my boss on his new book. Unfortunately, I wasn't around for the briefing. The books been sitting on his desk for a few months now...I may have to grab it off his desk.

      Take care,


      • #4
        Hey Ivan,

        I just wanted to follow up and let you know I'm about 3/4's of the way through the book ... "The Pentagon's New Map" and have yet to read anything about his "Two Phase" army. It must come a little further back.

        The book itself is fairly interesting and is really as much about foreign policy as retooling the Army.

        Here's a link to the article this book is based on in case you're interested.

        Take care,


        • #5
          Hey Ivan,

          Just finished the book and he finally talks about the 2 phase army towards the end. Though he doesn't go into much detail except to say there will be one force, the "Leviathan" force that can go around and kick butt. And one force, more of a police force that will help restore peace. No real specifics on how he'd restructure, but generally, he would have the airforce and navy as the primary components of the Leviathon along with heavy army units. The marine corps and light army units would serve as the police force, but like I said not much detail. If you're serious about pushing the concept forward, there is certainly room for more comprehensive thinking about how things would have to be restructured.

          Take care,


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