The Budget Control Act’s (BCA) guillotine is poised to slice off part of America’s ground combat brain with across-the-board 25-percent cuts to Army headquarters. In addition to smaller staffs, active duty billets in those headquarters are to be replaced by part-time reservists and guardsmen.
Conrad Crane and John Bonin have intervened in this process with a recent War on the Rocks article (“The Next Task Force Smith: The Danger of Arbitrary Headquarters Reductions”), pointing out history’s verdict on this downsizing activity and skillfully showing what the cleaver hath wrought. Their assessment finds that in the post-war rush to make efficiency gains through staff reduction, the United States always, literally always, has paid with initial combat ineffectiveness in the next war. Crane and Bonin’s lesson — less is not more: “The harsh reality is that modern warfare requires big headquarters.” Their essay’s title invokes the sad experience of a tactical headquarters in Korea, “the Army’s metaphor for lost readiness” — Task Force Smith, circa 1950.
But what of another tactical headquarters in Korea — the 2nd Infantry Division, circa 2015, where I currently serve? These soldiers are the modern embodiment of Crane and Bonin’s military ghost story, which raises the question: What is the “Smith’s-Eye” view of Army headquarters reduction from the Korean Peninsula?
Read the rest at War on the Rocks.