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The Problem with Women Soldiers

I read with interest and general agreement your July article on the expense of today's Army personnel.  I am in agreement with your contention that bloated overseas basing is a significant contributor to excess personnel costs as well as depleting the number of "trigger pullers" we can field.  However, I think you missed an equally significant contributor to the problem - increased gender integration over the last decade.

The increased gender integration is a product of two phenomena:  rabid political correctness combined with the manner the post-cold war restructuring occurred.  The PC problem is self evident.  The restructuring problem is that the percentage of combat units in the downsized army was significantly reduced to permit sufficient staff and rear echelon jobs to remain in the structure.  The army's true function in America today is as a jobs program rather than a combat force.

My point is that the percentage of females in the army has increased, which in turns greatly increases personnel costs (due to their greater medical and family requirements, as well as need for special facilities,  which cost burden is picked up by Uncle Sam) while decreasing readiness (fewer females are deployable percentage-wise than males, and one only needs to witness VH-1 on cable TV to see the effect on good order and discipline they have)  And I will leave unspoken the concept of whether females are superior to the males they have replaced in ground combat units (a theory so absurd I am perplexed why it is discussed).

I will finally add one comment for consideration: has the influx of females in the military been the over riding psychological reason for our avoidance of ground combat?  Do you really intend to join a deadly close combat situation surrounded by women?  I'm not talking about a few token athletic women who are the exception, but rather the typical female you see at any military base who, while patriotic and well-meaning, could not fight their way out of the proverbial paper bag.

                                                                                                   Captain US Army

Ed: I liked a scene in the movie Patton where he is told they have no more replacements to send forward to bloodied infantry units.  Patton told him the anti-aircraft units weren't needed, so break them up and send their soldiers.  But what if they are women in the next war?  Read about the 1942 battles around Coorigedor  in the Philippines when all soldiers, office staff, aircraft ground crews, and even sailors where given rifles and put into the line as infantrymen.

Similar events can happen any day.  The US now has numerous airbases in unstable Muslim countries.  A sudden revolution, like what happened in Iran, could send thousands of locals storming one of these bases.  I doubt the Air Force is prepared to issue rifles to all airmen to defend themselves.  I was at Clark AFB in the Philippines when civil war threatened, and was shocked that during base defense drills only the few security police took up arms.  The rest of the airmen rushed to their "dorms" and sat in their rooms.  When I suggested they issue all airmen M-16s, I was told they didn't have enough rifles, and the airmen weren't trained to fire them anyway.

Ships and Saddam

Firstly, U.S. forces in Germany: Why, for Pete's sake, don't we put brigade sets aboard ships based in, say, Gibraltar, or the Canary Islands, so as to reduce the shipping distance, and depend on moving the troops in by air to mate up with their equipment when and where required? I believe we do the same thing with the ships at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean right now.  Another bunch of ships and materiel could be based in Japan or Korea, if desired.

This way the equipment is going to be fairly safe, and the troops will be back in the States and not adversely affecting the balance of payments. Secondly: we have been hitting on Saddam Hussein's anti-aircraft batteries for quite a while now. I am assuming that the planes that fly/defend the "no-fly" zones are armed with precision-guided weapons, and that when we bomb a site we hit it.

IF this is so, then where is Saddam getting all the replacement equipment sets from?  Huh?  Does he wave a magic wand and they just appear out of thin air?  Is he buying them from someplace? If so, maybe we ought to hit the equipment while it is being shipped, either by rail, sea, or truck. He can't be flying the stuff in. Or is it the case that he has an enormous stockpile? If so, why not go for that? Or maybe he manufactures them in-country.  Then maybe the appropriate response would be to turn the factory(s) into rubble.

                                                                                      Ed Oleen

Ed: The Army needs more T-AKR cargo ships, but they come out of the Navy's budget.  They Navy hates them, and the Army refuses to shift procurement money to the Navy to pay for them. Same problem with C-17s and the Air Force.

That's a good question about the Iraqi anti-air batteries.  If all our high-tech intel and precision weaponry has been unable to destroy them after a decade, there seems to be a gap between what whiz-bang warfare proponents claim and what really happens each week in Iraq.  People who worship the airpower God, like that warmongering draft dodger Wolfowitz, refuse to admit that the Air Force is not "all knowing and all seeing".

Getting Saddam

1st, a couple clichés.
"The most dangerous enemy is one who has nothing to lose."
"If I'm going down, I'm taking everyone with me."

*Israel* Pray neither Sharon nor Netanyahu nor anyone from Likud is in power when Gulf War2 (aka WW3) starts.

*Turkey* Saddam fires Scuds at Turkey this time (i.e. Incirlik Air Base).  NATO's article 5 is invoked. This would cause equal or greater dissension within NATO than Kosovo in 1999. Turk's economic situation before Gulf War2 was bad but gets worse.  Kurds and even Greece could take advantage of any chaos caused by Gulf War2.

*Iran* Biggest wild card.  Controls Straits of Hormuz.  Iranian anti-ship missiles would cause trouble for sea-based logistics.  Shahab3 can reach Israel plus US bases on Arabian peninsula, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan.  If Bush's Evil Axis rhetoric unified Iran, more US bases in Iraq would unify them more. Most likely possibility: Iran finds the Southern Iraqi equivalent of Ismail Khan in Herat, Afghanistan for a proxy war in post-Saddam Iraq.

More extreme scenario: Iran believes it intolerable to be completely surrounded by a US Military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Caucasus (i.e. Georgia), Turkey, and several Persian Gulf countries.  Under this "It can't get any worse than being completely surrounded" attitude, Iran pulls the Gulf War2 equivalent of the Chinese crossing the Yalu river in the Korean War.  Iran would wait until the US gets bogged down either along the march towards Baghdad or during the city fighting in Baghdad itself.  Iran would seriously disrupt if not completely cut off the US's already stretched supply lines in Southern Iraq and Persian Gulf.  US is quite dependent on foreign merchant ships and foreign factories --Japan in particular-- for various military supplies & components, and they may choose to sit out this one.

*Syria* Would probably join Turkey and Iran in terms of competing for influence in post-apocalyptic Iraq. Syria, like Iran, has quite a few bio/chem weapons. The question is whether or not Syria and Iran would launch their bio/chem warheads at Israel if their soon-to-be-occupied neighbor Iraq gets nuked by US or Israel due to Saddam using his own bio/chem weapons against US and Israel. Darth Bush's pre-emptive surprise attack doctrine lowers the threshold at which Pakistan, Syria and others believe they are in a use-it-or-lose it situation.

*Iraq* Waits until US gets bogged down in cities, Baghdad in particular, before launching whatever bio/chem weapons it may have.  Would Sharon retaliate with Israeli nukes even if tens-of-thousands of US troops were in Baghdad? Israel has gotten away with killing US troops on the USS Liberty in 1967. Possible Sharon sound-bytes: "It was an accident."; "It's about Israel's survival."  Hopefully Bush would withdraw troops dozens or hundreds of miles away before nuking Baghdad. If US soldiers do get nuked either by Tel Aviv or DC, expect Neo-Cons (aka Neo-Nazis) to blame Saddam, shout "Saddam did have nukes" and "Saddam has now Nuked & Gassed his own people."  Remember radiation testing in 40's and 50's, Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome (Depleted Uranium, Anthrax vaccine, or something else). Quite cynical and depressing, but Neo-Cons would do it.

*Winners* Iran's #1 Arab enemy is defeated. One of Israel's enemies is defeated but at what price -- worse Jordanian, Egyptian relations or even an unexpected regime change? al-Qaeda and Iran are the biggest winners! Neo-Cons (aka Chicken Hawks) are such idiots.  Their only goal is chaos at the expense of US taxpayers and American lives.

*Losers* American GI's replace Iraqi GI's in order to "contain" Iran.  US taxpayers replace Iraqi taxpayers in order to fund the Military force to keep Iraq in one piece and to "contain" the HobGoblin called Iran.  

*Post Saddam Iraq* I've heard people compare post-Saddam Iraq to a giant Lebanese civil war.  It could even turn into another Afghanistan in the sense that multiple internal factions and outside powers are influencing the area at the same time.  US uses radiation contamination --either due to Depleted Uranium or Saddam "Nuking his own people"-- as an excuse to keep Iraqi oil exports low and oil prices high.  Gulf War2 could be the biggest mistake since Hitler's Operation Barbarossa.  Maybe Baghdad should be renamed Stalingrad.

Saddam along with Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and Tricky Dick Cheney allow the "mainstream" media to continue playing the "Where's Waldo" game of mentioning caves and "undisclosed locations".  If Caeser Bush goes ahead with Gulf War2, all those opposed should rename it Operation Barbarossa 2.

*China, India, others* 50% of US ground forces or 250,000 troops would be committed.  50% or 1000 US planes would be committed. 100% of logistics would be committed. 4-5 of 12 Aircraft Carriers would be deployed in Persian Gulf and elsewhere.  China and India would take more risks and more overt action to reduce and eliminate US influence in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Central Asia. Russia and EU would support both Iran & Iraq up to a certain point.

*Iran, Iraq, Saudi axis* Previous temporary alliances: Chiang Kai-Shek & Mao Tse Tung against the greater external threat called Japan.  USA & USSR against Stalin's 2 arch-enemies Japan & Germany.  Could these 3 countries bring enough pressure on Kuwait while helping Saudi Arabia resist US pressure?


Ed:  Remember that we easily routed the Germans from France during World War II and planned to sweep to Berlin by Christmas.  With their backs against the wall and using bad weather to foil airpower, the Germans shocked the US with a counter-offensive called the "Battle of the Bulge".  I doubt the Iraqis are as clever as the Germans, but Westerners have often underestimated "Asian devils".  The Republican Guard is unlikely to throw down their arms since they must be aware that POWs the US captured in Afghanistan were taken to a concentration camp in Cuba for indefinite confinement in cages.

Our current ally in Pakistan was a renegade General who overthrew his elected government and has installed nuclear weapons in missiles ready to launch.  He was a big supporter of the Taliban and bin Laden, and was one of only two countries to recognize that government. (the other was Saudi Arabia)  He made little effort to catch fleeing al Qaeda or to search for them hiding in Kashmir.  Nevertheless, the US Government has rewarded him with praise and a billion dollars in aid.  

In contrast, President Bush threatens to attack Iraq, in violation of the UN Charter and the US Constitution (unless Congress declares war), and with no public support from any Arab nation, including Kuwait.  Iraq has been fighting Muslim fundamentalists for decades and has never been linked to terror groups, unlike several other Arab nations.  Meanwhile, the US has spent a billion dollars supporting Kurd terror groups in Iraq, and funds an Iraqi dissident group in the US which diverts the money to powerful American public relation firms to build American hated toward Iraq by paying professional liars to appear on TV news shows.  Then the Bushites are frustrated that other nations see no value in destabilizing the Persian Gulf by "getting Saddam".  And if the US takes over Iraq, GIs will have to disarm the Kurds of their American supplied weapons in order to unify Iraq.  

If this is only about oil, terrorism, and finding the next target for the American war machine, we should invade Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.  They had dozens of al Qaeda operatives, and the FBI has declared a Kuwaiti as the 9-11 mastermind.  They are rather docile and would be happy to lose their dictators and provide us with cheap oil.  Women would be freed to throw off their veils and drive cars, like Iraqi women are allowed. We'd certainly have the element of surprise and wouldn't have to rebuild those nations.  If we wanted to do it quick with no casualties, we can offer Saddam amnesty if he employs his Republican Guard as our proxy army.

Other Podded Drive systems

There is another system that achieves the same result - the cycloidal propeller. It consists of several propeller blades on a rotating disc. The disc is flush with the hull bottom and as it rotates the blades articulate (directional cycloidal motion) to provide thrust in any desired direction. I know the Germans had several WW2 tugs with this system installed.

                                                                           Bjorneby Walter

Wheeled Vehicle Disaster

You're right about the IBCT being a very confused concept.  It seems to be a classic case of "reinventing the wheel."  We've been using combined arms teams a long time.  The Regimental Combat Team was very successful in WWII and Korea and continues in the excellent Armored Cavalry Regiment organization.  Besides being "digitized" the only real difference is the IBCT will have armored cars instead of APCs and tanks.

Seems like someone in the Pentagon should talk to the Russians about their experience with BTRs in Chechnya before we fully commit to LAVs.  Over 90% of the Russians armored vehicles were destroyed in the first 72 hours of fighting and the favorite target was the BTR because of its ease of immobilization, the Chechens could then terrorize the occupants (who were too afraid to get out) and then destroy it at their leisure.

The Mobile Gun System is delayed and it probably costs more and is less effective than the ARMORED Gun System we should've had years ago.  The Mobile Gun System is obviously not deployable by C-130 due to its overall height.  Why don't they just green light the AGS? Seems like the biggest problem the Army is facing though is personnel stabilization.  Until that problem is corrected it won't matter if the LAVs are suitable or delivered on time or not.  Any combat veteran (WWII, Korea or Vietnam) can tell you one of the biggest killers of our people was the individual replacement system.

Regardless of the outcome of the air deployable vehicle issue, we still need to have an Armored Cavalry Regiment of Bradleys and M1's etc preloaded on RO-RO ships (like the LST).  One should be stationed on the East Coast, one on the West coast (and probably one each in the Pacific, Indian and Med).  The Army needs to get over this attitude that deploying by ship is too much like the Marine Corps.  Don't get me wrong, I love air deployment, I think air-mech-strike is a great concept (certainly much better than "Light" Infantry), but it still has limitations in terms of combat power and sustainability.  In spite of technological advances, at this time we still don't have the capability of deploying major sustainable combat power rapidly by strategic aircraft.  We simply don't have enough heavy lift aircraft, so our only alternative is ship.

I think culturally the Army by virtue of frequently working with the Air Force always thinks of planes when it comes to deployment.  The influence of the Fort Bragg country club (82nd Abn) on Army thinking is probably a factor.  How many Army officers have been on Air Force aircraft? All of them. How many have been on a Navy ship?  Very few.  Those who have been on ships know that you can put vastly much more payload on ships.  Certainly ships are slower, but in terms of payload delivery (and definitely in terms of cost) they're very competitive with aircraft.  The Marines are the pro's in terms of amphibious assault, but in WWII the Army actually conducted many more amphibious assaults than the Corps and the Rangers we're not airborne but rather seaborne.  The Army shouldn't go back to that, but we certainly should be more comfortable with using Navy assets for strategic deployment.  Some would say quit living in the past, but in terms of our ability to deploy not that much has changed.  The Army needs to realize we need the Navy as well as the Air Force for deployment of combat power.

In the IBCT document it mentions an organizational structure of 3500 personnel and 890 vehicles.  Is that a typo or am I reading that wrong?  A brigade with slice support should have something like 1/3 that many vehicles.  Even if they are lighter weight vehicles it will still take every cargo plane we've got to get something like that anywhere in 96 hours.

Also why aren't there any aviation assets?

The Armored Cav Regiment organization is looking better and better.

                                                                               Reid Smith

Armored/Tracked Supply Vehicles

Damn fine idea.  One of those no brainers that logical, intelligent individuals curse themselves for not thinking about.  The idea that a armored/mechanized unit should be "Fully" armored or mechanized is lost on the US Army...and other services.  This should immediately be done.  In fact...should have already been done.

                                                              Chris Louviere

Ed: The Marine Corps' huge amtracks are great supply vehicles in nasty terrain.

Tracked Supply Vehicles are  Essential

Could not possibly agree with you more on bringing the boys home from abroad (spent 16 months in Korea at Camp Casey).  Rest of the articles look good too.

Some things to consider on the tracked supply vehicle - this is my area of expertise so I've done a LOT of thinking on this area.  You're looking at the concept too narrowly.  Light units need tracked supply as much if not more than the armor because they have a really bad habit of going places where vehicles cannot typically go.  Simply put, the need is force-wide and the system needs to include two key elements.

One is that it needs to be a Palletized Loading System (PLS).  The current PLS is one of the most ridiculous ideas ever conceived because it is so friggen huge it can only operate in areas where material handling equipment is readily available.  A TSV will not have that luxury by any means and virtually all MHE is wheeled.  I spent a number of days KIA at Ft Chaffee (before JRTC moved) trying to fish a 10K forklift out of a hole on a drop zone.  OPFOR hit us about three times trying to fish that damned thing out - ended up having to use two wreckers plus a third 5-ton as an anchor - but I digress.

Second, you want to target a weight limit for the pallets and that limit should be 8 tons (I've got an article on this I hopefully will be done with soon).  I know Phil will tell you to go down to 2-ton pallets but he's wrong (HMMWV chassis is completely incompatible with PLS type of system that will work on this platform).  Supplies are either light and bulky, or compact and ungodly heavy, and because of that the medium weight trucks end up broke all the time from getting overloaded with ammo.  An 8 ton pallet for this platform would allow you to go PLS on the HEMTT as well.  It also fits nicely with current helo weight limits allowing a CH-47 to carry it farther or higher if need be.  A C-130 could carry two without getting near its weight limit.  Realistically, the existing PLS could be modified to carry four of these.  Combine this weight limit with PLS and you get some awesome possibilities.

Now you can build pallets or platforms to whatever need you have and you don't need a new truck to field it.  Need more water, send in more water pallets.  High demand for fuel, switch to fuel.  Need an armored box, slap one on.  Also can be weaponized offering all kinds of artillery options.  Load up a 105mm, keep it mounted for shoot and scoot or dismount and use the TSV for ammo resuppply.  Additional pallets for HIMARS, EFOG-M, and AMRAAM; same mounted or dismounted options and all can be helo'd in if need be.

You can even get wild and build a reloading box for heavy arty - instead of a big moving target accompanying the gun, establish a rally point, back up and the box reloads ammo and charges.  Another box could be a med set for in the BSA so they aren't looking like a unit rejected from "MASH".  Van boxes would be another, them are a bitch to handle normally, most units just leave them permanently hogging up a 5-ton because they are just to difficult to move otherwise so the unit loses a truck.

This platform in an 8-ton PLS would turn a really F***'d up mess into something a whole lot more manageable and flexible.  HEMTTs and current PLS can get these pallets around in the rear to C-130 or CH-47, move them in by air, TSV pulls up, loads up and direct delivers the supplies - no MHE involved except in the rear where it belongs.

The M1108 has a current payload of 7.5 tons so all we need to do is come up with a way to handle the weight of the PLS system itself and we can have the complete system and all its capabilities.  Its compatible with the existing UK system and it should be relatively compatible with our current PLS vehicles, including the new HEMTT PLS vehicle

Here are links for the article and COTS information:

The Tracked Supply Vehicle

Boughton Military pallet loading system (P.L.S)

XM1108 Universal Carrier

XM1120 HEMTT Load Handling System (LHS)

Palletized Loading System: Not Just Another Truck


Ed: Here is a link to a recent BBC article about the "Korean Threat" racket.  A US Army Colonel arrested for taking huge bribes to award contracts to Korean firms so they can profit as we defend them.

Hydrogen-Nuke Engine

      One of the most promising developments in space travel was a nuclear reactor actually used as an engine for possible manned space flight to Mars.  The engine was simple, it heated hydrogen gas and used that as thrust.  Hydrogen heats and develops energy unlike other gases… at a certain temperature point the energy levels in the hydrogen suddenly doubles.  Affix a thrust nozzle, and you have a very powerful engine capable of thrusting a manned flight to Mars in a quarter of the time.  The Hydrogen-Nuke engine was tested at Groom Lake [aka Area 51 right] but the results were not conclusive.  Using a test nozzle and not an actual thrust nozzle, they had a very hard time measuring the thrust.  This was due to the fact that the test nozzled engines were pushing the engine mount platforms that are usually pretty rock solid and normally don’t move…  being embedded into the ground like that…  And that wasn’t a thrust nozzle either.  You could call the design a success… beyond expectations within the program.  It was also found that these engines are also very fuel efficient and relatively little hydrogen is expelled to produce huge amounts of thrust. However after those billions of dollars spent (who know how much!) and the program rolling forward ahead of schedule… the program was cut.

                                Name Withheld

Ed: I continue to add new stuff to the Space Ramp Technology website.  Click the New Stuff link on the left side.

Editor Update

     Last February I finally got around to attacking the Marine Corps' new amphibious strategy in my article Modern Amphibious Operations.  I had long considered it a bogus concept to justify ultra-expensive platforms like the V-22 and AAAV.  I know many Marines agreed with me, but I was the first to put such heresy in print.  I knew some people in Quantico read it when a Colonel from there tried to set me straight with some demeaning remarks about my intelligence.  A couple months later, the Marine Corps Gazette published a letter from me critical of the related idea of "sea basing".  

     So I almost fell out of my chair while reading the June issue of Naval Proceedings.  An article by Brigadier General James Feigley, the Commanding General of the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico stated:

     "Until recently, the Marine Corps emphasized the doctrine of operational maneuver from the sea (OMFTS), with its reliance on over-the-horizon operations. .... Now, OMFTS is being looked at as a 'worst case scenario.'  Major General William Whitlow, Director of Expeditionary Warfare (N-75) in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, notes that the Corps needs to shift from OMFTS to a more comprehensive operational concept. 'We will always need and require our source.  Without a Navy, there wouldn't be a Marine Corps--it's as simple as that.  We come for the sea and we return to the sea.'

      However, General Whitlow notes, OMFTS is quite limiting.  'What you want to be able to do all these advance force operations, hitting them hard before they can build up.  Do all that first.  Then, if you are not successful, you still have the ability to kick the door down and bring all that power to bear on one point.  This approach will require looking at the multiple options for accomplishing the mission.'"

   So I guess Marine Generals are not as hard-headed as I thought, and maybe G2mil had some effect.