Sunday, July 31, 2011

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Friday, July 29, 2011

An Army of One

The Army replaced its slogan, "An Army of One" with "Army Strong," but it may someday need to go back to it with development continuing on the XOS Exoskeleton. The weapon system is being created at Sarcos-Raytheon, a U.S. military facility in Utah and could just change the face of warfare forever.

It can walk, climb stairs and run with hydraulic components duplicating and augmenting the soldier's movements. While the XOS has a long way to go, it is not hard to imagine where the Army would like to take this: the Mobile Infantry power suits of "Starship Trooper" fame. Perhaps in a decade or so these suits could be tank, gunship, cannon and infantry platoon all rolled into one. If this technology was made to work than the Army would theoretically only need about 1,200 grunts instead of the 49,000 it currently fields.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight

There is no doubt that the U.S. military has a lot on its plate including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, transformation and looming budget cuts.  With all of this to deal with you have to wonder why the services have no been able to get their act together when it comes to camouflage.

 The particular digital patterns used by the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force seems like a minor issue at best. Maybe so, but why then is everyone still on a different page? The Army decided on a digital greenish-tan pattern, the Marines went with a more brown variation, but both continue to perform studies and are considering making changes. The Navy rolled out an eye-catching, but inexplicable sci-fi, bluish-green pattern that seems designed to blend in with the ocean.  The Air Force also went digital, but in a salute to nostalgia, opted for a tiger stripe pattern.

The military services have preached jointness and inter-service cooperation for the last two decades and they made some progress, but cooperating on a workable and economical camouflage uniform is a bridge too far. If they cannot solve this  then how are the really tough decisions regarding future weapon systems, force structure and strategic planning going to get done?

Friday, July 1, 2011

U.S. Army Marine Corps?

The last time the Marine Corps conducted an opposed amphibious landing was at Inchon, South Korea in September of 1950.  A lot has changed in sixty-one years, but the Marine Corps remains. What is to come of the Corps as the 21st century unfolds? Lt. General Dennis Hejlik wants to retain COIN skills as the Corps is steered back to its traditional role and away from its post 9/11 role as a conventional infantry outfit.  The problem is that the Marines' traditional role is amphibious assaults of defended beaches and its apogee came on Iwo Jima in 1945.

Today's missile technology makes an Inchon or an Iwo Jima type lading almost inconceivable today. This means hover crafts amphibious troop carriers are obsolete and amphibious assault ships are inefficient as currently configured. They need to be redesigned as helicopter/osprey assault ships or perhaps their function could be transfered to some existing and future aircraft carriers.

The Marine Corps must embrace a COIN role and its well positioned to do so as it is a lighter, more nimble force than the Army. More accurately, the Corps resembles the lighter Army units such as the 101st Air Assault and 82nd Airborne so it might make sense to blend the Corps into the Army. (Before Marines start sending me threats they might consider why it would be worse to be part of the Army than to be part of the Navy.) While the glory days of the past cannot be recaptured, with some reorganization, the Corps can remain a vital part of America's military in the 21st century.