Bouhammer’s Plan

I have wanted to write about this for a while, and I think it is time. What you are about to read is controversial. It may make some people dislike me, if not hate me. It may make some never read my blog again. If so, I can only say it is a shame that you would let a disagreement with my opinion offend you that much. I have felt this way for a long time and have been very verbal about this for quite a few years, to include an editorial I wrote in the Army Times several years ago.

This article http://www.military.com/news/article/general-defends-15month-tours.html does not necessarily support my opinion, but it is partially there. See here is what Bouhammer thinks….

I think that we as a country, government and military need to get off of this notion of a 12 or even 15 month tours and then rotate out. I call this the Vietnam mentality, and it does not serve us well. It may have been needed then, when we had a draft for a highly unpopular war, but it does not fit now. Every war prior to Vietnam was fought with troops that essentially stayed until the job was done. We won all of those wars, hands down. There is controversy and disagreement about the outcome of Vietnam and if we won or lost there. It really depends on who you ask.

Prior to Vietnam (WWI, WWII, Korea, etc), we sent divisions and armies to the war front and they stayed until they were done. Sometimes, they were rotated out in order to spread the honors and lineage or after facing more than their fair share of combat and personnel losses. However, for the most part they stayed. Soldiers were not stop-lossed, they were rotated in and out as their time was done or they joined and got orders for that unit. If a unit had heavy losses, then they put in a request for fillers and they got them from either other units or from the supply of new soldiers joining the Army.

Ever since Vietnam our wars have been short. You can look at Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, etc. and easily see they were short in actual combat time frame. The Global War on Terror which consists of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and smaller actions in many other countries has been going on since our country was attacked in 2001. We have been rotating Division HQs, and Brigade Combat Teams in and out over and over since we first got into Afghanistan and Iraq. Reset, refit, dwell times, and all of that have caused our army to look thin, and even broken in some eyes. Not only Active duty Army, but also Army Reserves and Army National Guard. Not to mention Active and Reserve Marine units too.

All of the problems of trying to rotate people back every 12 months, millions of dollars in costs relating to moving personnel and equipment and not to mention the loss of intellectual knowledge of the battle-space and people in the battle-space can all be avoided if we got off of the Vietnam 12 month and out mindset.
When I was active duty (for almost 10 years) I knew that was my job. I was a soldier full time, 24/7/365. I had nothing else on me schedule. I trained year around, all hours of the day and through holidays and weekends. When you are a soldier, you are a soldier all the time. If Desert Storm combat actually lasted 2 years instead of a few weeks, then I would have expected to stay, not rotate back. So why do we expect that now?

A unit that rotates into a new area of operation spends at least 4-6 weeks getting acquainted with the area, the people, the culture, etc. It typically takes another 6-8 weeks to develop the relationships and hopefully trust of the locals, the local military and police reps, etc. As the unit gets closer to the 12th month (around month 11) all the soldiers can think about is coming home and trying to survive until that last plane or helo ride out. So out of a 12 month tour, about 3 months is not really productive. Not to mention the fact that (based on the tempo over the last few years), that soldier will only be home 12 months and then back again. This disrupts families, schedules, new babies being planned, and lives being planned.
So, based on all of that I propose the following:
1. Deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan the appropriate number of Brigade Combat Teams in order to fulfill mission needs.
2. Do not give them an end date.
3. Try to put in the units that are best fit for the environment (1st Cavalry Div, 3rd Infantry Division, 101st Air Assault Division in Iraq and 10th Mountain Division 173rd Airborne Division in Afghanistan) with all appropriate Division HQs, and BCTs to include any specialty BCTs like Strykers that they may need.
4. End Stop-loss
5. PCS soldiers in and out as normal timeframes call for
6. Keep using National Guard units when needed, but should try to fit them into the MiTT and ETT training missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Also they would be on 12 month rotations as they have full time civilian commitments since they are not full time soldiers.
7. Any Reserve units deployed would be on a 12 month rotation cycle.
8. Deploy and Active Duty Military Police Brigade to Afghanistan for the training of their Police forces.
9. Keep the 82nd Airborne as the Country’s strategic reserve and to respond to any other threats that may arise or for any surge into GWOT.
10. Keep other units (4th ID, etc.) stateside as dwell units, and in case a surge is needed for short term need.
11. Keep the 25th in the Pacific theatre and focused on operations in Korea if needed, the Philippines, etc.
12. Keep 1st Infantry Division focused on Europe.

With a plan similar to this, we would not have units stretched thin, we would not have Reserve and National Guard units deploying time and time again, we would not have employers unwilling to hire on members of the military in fear of them being deployed. We would not have to worry about stealing troops from Iraq in order to surge forces into Afghanistan.

We would have institutional knowledge that can be built upon, we would have consistency on the battlefield, and we would have enough forces stateside to respond to threats anywhere in the world. We would save millions of dollars in transportation costs in moving units and troops back and forth. And I am sure we would accomplish our military and political goals much faster and thereby winning our battles and the war faster and easier.

This would be tough to enact right now in our current rotation pattern, but not impossible. What it would mean is that expectations would have to be set with soldiers and families. A line in the sand would have to be drawn and the SecDef would just have to say “Units x, y, and z are staying in theatre, and aren’t coming home until the war is over”, “Units a, b, and c are coming back stateside (either on time or early) to dwell and be stationed back in the US”.

The bottom line is this; we cannot be PC (Politically Correct) about war or deployments. It is a tough job, it is a sucky job and there is nobody I know or ever met that has been to war who likes it. It is a necessary evil for living on this planet, and I am sure always will be as long are more than one person is occupying the same space. I know families want their soldiers home, just as I wanted to be home when I was deployed and just like I want my son home now. However those that sign up now know what they are getting into. Those on active duty especially know what they are getting into. It has been seven years since the attacks of 2001, which means every single person serving today has either enlisted or re-enlisted since then. The days of reserve component weekend warrior’s “will never deploy” mentality or the active duty “I came in for the college money” mentality is long gone. Those that are here today, have either been to war and stayed or know they will soon go to war.

If you agree, spread the word to your Senator, Congressman, and friends. If you don’t…well then leave a comment to this blog.

15 thoughts on “Bouhammer’s Plan”

  1. Dear Sir,

    Thank you so much for your posting. I do agree with much of your post if we were still living in a society fifty years ago. Please allow me to explain my ideology here. Back in the great war of WW2 we had volunteers ranging from 17 yrs of age up too 55 years ( I have not checked the statistics as I do more worrying about my son returning from Afghanistan in one piece ) and they were rushing recruiters from the left and the right. Korea we saw a change in War tactics from conventional to Non-conventional towards the end which resulted in a stalemate and not victory. Thus a truce struck and still divided.

    Vietnam is a whole new story and I have to agree with you. Something I mention is that our society was beginning to change and it was mostly a draft war. Picture many young Americans newly inducted into the Military via the draft seeing graphic pictures of our young worriers being flashed across Americas Televisions being killed, and dragged through streets as trophies. We lost heart and Mao said so He states this himself in his diaries. “Why did you stop bombing Hanoi? We were ready to give up”.

    The other Military actions were swift in do part of not only small Armies we faced and we were having awesome technologies we have achieved. Faster and quicker units and weapons as well.

    Hey, Aircraft Carriers speeds changing from 25 knots to 60 mph, Tanks from 20 to 55 mph in some cases. Units CBT’s being able to deploy just like the 82nd in 72 hours or less. hey Strikers will never work in Afghanistan because of the terrain.

    So Sir, I ask you this finale question. Do you think we would have an all volunteer Military if they knew they would have to do at lest three years in combat operations?

    Yeah, the 10th should have replaced the 173rd since they already have already built a reputation with the locals. I guess all I am happy with is that my ONLY son will return after 15 months in intense combat. Did I mention his Birthday is 09?11?2001?

    Stay intouch,

    Larry

    Larry Arnone

    AKA (A Bluestardad ) and I want to keep it that way

  2. Dude!! You are SPOT ON!!! I’ve been complaining about this mentality for years myself. And, like you will get, I got hated on as being a “poor example of an NCO” and accused of “not taking care of Soldiers.” Are we really that weak? Is our military today really incapable of handling the sorts of deployments our grandfathers had to endure? Maybe. Maybe not. I can’t stand to hear Soldiers complaining about long deployments, but I hate it even more when civilians do it.

  3. Larry,

    I think if we went with this approach, we wouldn’t be in combat 3 years. If we went with this approach, we would not have had to scrape to put together a surge force. If we went with this approach, we would not be scraping now to try and find units to surge to Afghanistan. In fact, I think soldiers would be extending to stay in forward units in order to get the job done and I think those back in units in the states would be trying to do whatever they could to get into country.

    Enjoy your time with your son when he gets home. It is an awesome feeling and I am sure you are looking forward to the day.

    Troy

  4. Dead nuts on. There is a reason that the Army and Marine Corp have specialized units like the 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightening) 10th Mountain, etc. These units train for the particular mission year in and year out.

    The problem is too many politicians trying to be war-fighters. I would have to agree, refocus the Armed Forces to their specific missions and the wars will be won.

  5. I both agree and disagree with you, 1SG. I agree that that’s a great plan for winning a war. But I don’t believe we’re in a war right now, especially in Iraq. We’re an occupying force. Staying until we’ve won? What does that mean for Iraq? There’s no way to win an occupation-you can only ever lose or not-lose.

  6. Much as I would hate to serve in an open ended assignment, I pretty much agree with your assessment. The time it took our rotation to get our feet under us was really just so much wasted time; and the same for every rotation before and after us.

    ArmySergeant’s comment is partially correct. But, if we’re in an occupation, look to the past again. In Europe, we started drawing down forces and turned what was left into a ‘constabulary’ force.

    Larry is mistaken about the draft in WW II vs Viet Nam. See http://www.ddaymuseum.org/education/education_numbers.html for draft numbers during WW II. 2/3 of everyone that served were drafted.

    During Viet Nam, 1.8 million men were drafted between 1964 and 1974. 2,590,000 Americans served, making the drafted/volunteered ratio nearly the same for both wars.

    My home town had a draft riot. In 1943.

  7. War?! What war? Don’t you know most Americans have no clue nor care about what is happening in Iraq or Afgan?

    Whether the troops rotate ever 12 mos or for that matter every 4 years doesn’t concern me. What concerns most Americans is the war that’s taking place right at home. I’m talking about the bailout proposal by Paulson, Wall Street’s front man, which is nothing more than the biggest con job on the US Taxpayer in our history. Paulson’s, and this administration’s, plan declares war on America’s middle and working class. It places in jeopardy the financial security of our future making our children and grandchidren responsible for this criminal act of wealth distribution. This bailout proposal undermines the principles and values that have made this country great by rewarding fraud, greed, and those leeches with the right political connections. We’re talking an initial add of $1 Trillion to our national debt that will line the pockets of Paulson’s Wall Street cronnies instead of going towards productive investments for our future.

    This plan with do absolutely nothing for main street America yet that doesn’t stop the Treasury and Fed from using terro and fear tactics, ‘crisis capitalism’ to rush the passage of this bailout bill and taxpayer give-away.

    Instead, of the rotation cycle the troops need to be more concerned about the country they’re coming back to. They’ve been deceived, the enemy isn’t some insurgent or militant trying to protect his family or repel an occupying force, the enemy lies within.

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