I am wondering if the days of sidewalks next to Disney Drive (the main road at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan) are about to be empty. Is it possible that the base could shrink or maybe the Burger King truck could go hours without a customer? Is Bagram about to become a Ghost Town?
I ask all of this because it appears that the military has found a way to increase the number of combat troops in country without adding in a lot of new soldiers. They are looking to replace admin and support troops with real trigger pullers and door kickers.
U.S. officials are planning to add as many as 14,000 combat troops to the American force in Afghanistan by sending home support staff and under-utilized Soldiers and replacing them with infantry units, Defense officials said.
Forces that could be swapped out include units assigned to non-combat duty, such as guards or look-outs, or those on clerical and support squads.
"It makes sense to get rid of the clerks and replace them with trigger-pullers," said one Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans have not been announced.
Of course I am being a little sarcastic because not all the support types are at Bagram (Pogadishu), but it by far as the largest concentration of them (as pointed out by my buddy Old Blue, http://afghanquest.com/?p=345) . There are support types who donâ€™t work hard all the way down to FOBs in some instances.
I mean, how many FOB Mayors do we need? How many BDE or Corps TOC staffs do we need that work 8 hour days and then go back to their hooch every night, but never provide for the perimeter security? I know there are some that work multiple jobs, but there are also many who donâ€™t.
I saw it when I was there and I have talked with many friends and fellow soldiers that still see it. There are some in Afghanistan that think they are on one long AT (annual training exercise that reserve component soldiers do once a year), there are those that are in for their â€œcombat tourâ€ block check.
Of course many support jobs still need to be performed as the trigger-puller needs the support to do his job. What does that mean then? As the article points out, it means probably more civilians and more contractors coming into country to perform those duties. A contractor with management and maybe facilities experience can easily serve as a FOB Mayor. A armed security firm can take over the security at FOBs or even a place as big as Camp Phoenix. I mean if it is good enough for the embassy (of course I am joking about the embassy), why not the large bases in Kabul?
Overall this makes sense. If politically it is not wise to increase the overall number of troops in country, then make sure the ones you have there are the right ones to support the mission, and not people just looking for a combat patch and some hazardous duty pay without performing hazardous duty.