Any coach will tell an athlete that practicing poorly is worse than not practicing. The only thing worse for an athlete than not practicing is to practice incorrectly and develop bad habits. Bad habits are worse than no habits. It’s much easier to teach someone new habits than it is to try to unlearn bad habits. Closely related is the mindset that develops from bad habits. The athlete thinks they’re better than they are because they’ve been practicing but they don’t realize that all they’re doing is practicing the wrong things and getting good at the wrong things. When the actual game comes, they fail and wonder why.
The job of the
armed forces is to fight and win major wars. You can throw in all the deterrence and peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance and embassy protection and whatever other missions but those are just sidelights – necessary, to be sure, but not the real, overriding mission. The way the armed forces prepare for their main mission is to practice (train). Unfortunately, for the last couple of decades the armed forces have been engaged in a seemingly endless series of nation-building, police actions that have had the unintended consequence of developing bad habits in the military. We’ve forgotten what major war is and we’ve certainly forgotten how to wage it. United States
We have high level unit commanders (battalion and above) who have never exercised their units as complete entities. We have rank and file who think combat is a carefully scripted and highly regulated set of rules of engagement that are intended to prevent collateral damage. We have Marines who have served an entire career without ever setting foot on a ship. We have a Marine Corps that is shedding tanks and artillery to become lighter. We have a Department of Defense that is more focused on women’s issues, gender integration, hair styles, number of pull-ups, diversity, and humanitarian assistance than trying to figure out how to kill as many enemy as possible in the most efficient manner possible.
We think war is going out on a patrol in the morning and coming back at night for a hot meal, some video game time, and a good sleep.
It’s not just that we’ve forgotten what war is, it’s that we’ve developed bad habits without knowing it and now we think we know what war is even though we’re not even remotely close. Instead of developing new and more powerful tanks and artillery, we’re focused on developing better IED resistant HUMVEEs because we think that’s what combat is. Instead of training how to apply a division’s worth of combat power in a coordinated and devastating fashion, we’re training how to talk to a villager while respecting their culture and sensitivities. Instead of emphasizing area munitions that can kill anything in a wide range, we’re trying to develop non-lethal weapons.
Let me ask you a question. How big is a carrier strike group today? Answer, it’s four or five ships due to budget concerns. When war comes, we’re going to attempt to operate multi-carrier strike groups (as we learned the hard way in WWII and the Cold War) and yet we’re only practicing with mini-single groups. Our Admirals have no idea how to operate a multi-carrier group, tactically, because we aren’t practicing it. Worse than not knowing how, is that we’ve developed bad habits and think we know how to operate a carrier group.
, China , Iran N. Korea, or will come as a rude awakening. Russia