Monday, July 31, 2017

Army Gets It

ComNavOps has stated repeatedly that we’ve forgotten what war is.  It’s not even debatable.  Unfortunately, the only service that has even begun to acknowledge the problem and begin preparing for real war is the Army and, interestingly, they seem to be almost frantic about doing so.  They’re desperately up-gunning vehicles and working on the entire electronic/cyber warfare problem.  In the latest example, the Army is trying to “re-field” the SMART-T satellite terminal that was designed to be resistant to jamming and electromagnetic pulses (EMP) but that was fielded and, literally, parked away and forgotten (1).

The Army is also belatedly recognizing that what they’ve developed in the past was unusable by average soldiers.

“What we’re learning after 17 years of war and multiple years out at NIE (Network Integration Evaluations), is what we have out there is far too complicated for our soldiers.” (1)

The Army is also recognizing that their dependence on highly skilled manufacturer’s representatives won’t work in combat.  The reps simply won’t be there.

“Complexity isn’t just a training problem. It’s an operational problem. Systems that only function in the hands of highly trained contractors — the term of art is Field Service Representatives, or FSRs — were awkward but workable in Afghanistan and Iraq, where US troops rotated in and out of well-established Forward Operating Bases. In a Korean crisis, Eastern European war, or Third World flare-up, US forces would have to rapidly deploy all their equipment and people, set up their networks quickly and keep them running with little or no support.”

I’ve done posts on this.  The Navy is sending ships to sea which are totally dependent on manufacturer’s reps to make systems work.  That’s horribly wrong.  If the average sailor can’t operate and maintain the system then the Navy either needs to drastically enhance its training and create super techs or they need to simplify the systems. 

The former is unlikely given that many manufacturer’s reps have spent years acquiring their knowledge and expertise and have advanced degrees.  The Navy just can’t produce that level of capability starting from an 18 year old with no particularly relevant background.

The later is unpalatable to Navy leadership which uses the promise of technology to coax Congressional funding but the alternative is systems that won’t work in combat.  Would you rather have an Aegis/AMDR that can’t be maintained or an old-fashioned revolving SPS-49 that, while limited, works flawlessly and can be maintained and repaired?

The Army is frantically trying to improve their combat capability.  I think what we’re seeing is the recognition that the Army is a lot closer to facing actual combat than the other services and suddenly they’ve woken up to the fact that they’ve been sleeping on the job for decades.  There’s nothing like the threat of actual combat and death to motivate a person or organization to weed out the unnecessary and ineffective systems!  I only wish the Navy would follow the Army’s lead and wake up.  War with China is inevitable and the Navy is still sleeping.



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(1)Breaking Defense website, “Army Struggles To Streamline Its Networks For War”, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., 24-Jul-2017,



4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. An FSR is also not in the chain of command. They have no direct responsibility to those commanding in the field, but rather to their company. Anyone remember the scene in the movie "Apollo 13" where they are talking about using the landing module as a lifeboat and the Grumman rep keeps saying "it wasn't designed for that, it wasn't meant for that, we're not responsible." ? Now apply that to when an LCS is in combat and wants to push the engines or something else that exceeds peacetime limits. Or the luckless pilots of F-35's want to forgo refinishing the stealth coatings (which are said to be high maintenance) in order to increase sorties and lighten an overweight plane. Will contractors on the Osprey balk when some inventive grunts put a 25mm facing out a hole because they need some firepower at a landing field? How much of the brown water navy or Army modifications to vehicles in Vietnam were field expedient?
    If we depend solely on the contractor, the risk taking that is part of combat goes out the window. To a manufacturer there is no such thing as field expediency.

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    1. Excellent point about the chain of command.

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    2. "Hello, ComNavOps, I wish to have a discussion with you."

      Based on your previous comments, no you don't. You want to try to win some argument using insults and intimidation.

      That said, you're welcome to comment on any post, however, I strongly suggest you read the Comment Policy page, which you'll find tabbed at the top of the blog, to avoid having your comments deleted, as has already happened.

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