Washington Post Jan 5, 2012
Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general, is a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.
Here we go again. President Obama made the same mistake Thursday in announcing his new military strategy that virtually all of his predecessors have made since the end of World War II. He said:
“Moreover, we have to remember the lessons of history. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past — after World War II, after Vietnam — when our military was left ill-prepared for the future. As commander in chief, I will not let that happen again. Not on my watch.”
Unfortunately, Obama’s plan does exactly that. It forgets the lessons of history. Some facts: Harry Truman seeking to never repeat the costs of World War II reduced the Army from 8 million Soldiers to fewer than half a million. Without the intervention of Congress, he would have eliminated the Marine Corps entirely. The result was the evisceration of both land services in Korea, a war Truman never intended to fight.
Battlefield staff rides originally were developed at Fort Leavenworth as a means of training officers to “think their way through” tactical and operational problems. Staff rides use the terrain and historical context of actual battles as a forum for sharpening tactical skills, refining intelligence interpretation and logistics planning, and gaining insights into combat leadership challenges. ALFI’s staff rides in Little Big Horn, Gettysburg and Antietam exemplify its commitment to enhancing the survivability and performance of the nation’s warriors, in the military services and also in law enforcement across America.
America’s Soldiers, Marines and Special Operations forces have carried the greatest burden in all of our contemporary wars. Since World War II, land forces have comprised only 4% of the entire Armed Forces, but have suffered 84% of all military fatalities.
Yet in spite of this horrific down payment in blood, this nation still fails to provide our ground forces with the support these brave men and women require to allow them to win our wars at the lowest cost in human life.
We are dedicated to the proposition that America’s historic neglect of our ground forces must not be allowed to persist.