A Smith’s-Eye View from Korea on Army Headquarters Reduction

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on December 7, 2015. It can also be found online here (or PDF).

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.

 

Author: ML Cavanaugh

Unequal parts strategist, assistant professor, wordsmith, runner, wine-o, reader, philosopher of firepower, and hopeless lover of three ladies named Rachel, Grace, and Georgie.

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