January 03, 2006

How to Make Things Not Go to Hell in Peacetime

StrategyPage has a very informative list of items showing how military preparadness will inevitably backslide once peace breaks out. I can see why they've been true in the past but I don't see why all of them have to be true in the future. Out of five items, I think that two are solvable.

@ Make sure all troops have their basic infantry skills down cold. This means making sure that, during Basic Training, the civilian recruits get that necessary mental adjustment needed to deal with stress and combat. But Basic tends to get watered down in peacetime, mainly for political reasons. Too many (or just any) injuries during training can get the media and politicians in an uproar. During the 1990s, there was a major flap over the problems female trainees had keeping up with males. It wasnít fair. For the moment, everyone is getting pretty strenuous Basic, but that will change one peacetime returns.

Why not make it a requirement to calculate the likely increased battle deaths that will be incurred by reducing training in infantry skills? By making the blood for money tradeoffs explicit, backsliding can be minimized.

@ Let the troops fire their weapons a lot, with real ammo. Marksmanship is a perishable skill, so you have to find the time, and money (for the ammo and building enough firing ranges) to do this. Gunfire is unpopular in peacetime, no matter how important it is. In wartime, itís easier to get this done. Which is why the U.S. Department of Defense has, since September 11, 2001, been buying three times as much rifle and machine-gun ammo for training. Come peacetime, the amount of ammo bought will shrink, as will all that damn (to the increasing number of civilians building homes near military bases) noise.
There are two cures for this. First, privatize the training bullet budget by creating a trust that will make up for congressional shortfalls in peacetime. If you manage the trust well enough, the skinflints in Congress aren't going to have their usual deleterious effects. The second half of the cure (noise issues) can be mitigated or entirely eliminated by sound cancellation. Posted by TMLutas at January 3, 2006 03:27 PM