Speaking at the Association of the United States Army on the 12th, Admiral James Winnefeld, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the audience that in future ground wars the tempo will be “shorter, faster-paced and much harder” because America’s adversaries will work to create a “fog of war.” Thus, the Admiral suggested that the Army “place more emphasis on the growth industry…of protecting American citizens abroad” in order to adapt to the fluid geostrategic environment.


VCJCS Admiral James Winnefeld speaking at the Association of the United States Army on September 12th.

Indeed, since the sequestration went into effect in March, many defense experts have been debating what the future may hold for the Army, the Marine Corps and the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Whatever their respective views may be on the utility of landpower in future wars, all seem to agree on one thing: that in the sequestration era, the ground components must fight leaner and smarter.

For John R. Deni, a research professor at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, the answer seems to lie in the “Army-led military-to-military activities” which may provide stability in politically volatile regions “if only because most military forces around the globe are army-centric.”

Others beg to differ. Generals James Amos and Raymond Odierno and Admiral William McRaven seem to second Admiral Winnefeld’s claim when they argue that today “the need to conduct large-scale aid and consequence management missions, both within the United States and internationally, is certain to grow.” General James Amos, the Marine Corps Commandant, also recently echoes this view when he advocates a lighter but mobile Marine Corps because he believes tomorrow’s conflicts will likely involve “violent extremism, battles for influence, disruptive societal transitions, natural disaster, extremist messages and manipulative politics.”

However, if the United States Armed Forces is truly concerned about raising a cost-efficient and versatile ground force, it can merge the Army, the SOCOM and the Marine Corps into one unified service branch. This idea is not new. As far back as 1994, the late Colonel David Hackworth advocated the merger of the Army and the Marine Corps because their missions seemed to overlap. He went so far as to claim that the Department of Defense (DoD) could save “around $20 billion a year.” Nevertheless, absent in Hackworth’s column was a coherent blueprint for how the DoD could effectively unify its ground components into a cohesive service because Hackworth did not flesh out his strategic vision for what 21st Century wars may look like.

Which raises a very salient question as to what America’s strategic priorities should be. In a perceptive op-ed, Mark Fitzgerald, David Deptula and Gian P. Gentile aver that the United States must choose to go to “war as a last resort and not a policy option of first choice.” To this must be added another imperative. The United States Armed Forces must prioritize homeland defense as its primary mission and rethink the mistaken belief that the United States can somehow secure its interests through “lengthy military occupations of foreign lands.”

Thus, this newly merged service must redirect its focus towards countering cyber warfare and CBRNe (Chemical, Biological, Radiation, Nuclear and explosives) attacks and should work towards bolstering its counterterrorism (CT) capabilities. This is because, due to the convergence of the global community, the United States may be vulnerable to attacks from within by homegrown terrorists and drug cartels—all of which may wreak havoc and may even cripple America’s domestic infrastructures.

Reorientation of its mission focus may also require that the new service reconfigure its size. After all, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey wrote in Foreign Affairs, “Washington should remember that the size of the armed forces is not the most telling metric of their strength.” One solution is to adopt the so-called “Macgregor Transformation Model (MTM)” centered around the combat group concept which may reduce the strength of the new service “yet in the end produce a force that has greater combat capability…[and] more sustainable.” This model may provide the United States with a deployable fire brigade in the event of a national emergency or an international crisis. Already, the bases from which to adopt this viable model exist in the form of Army brigade combat teams (BCTs) and Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs) of various sizes.

Should the United States decide that it needs to project its hard power abroad to guard its interests, it could deploy the Special Operations Forces (SOF) components of the new service in tandem with UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to selectively target and neutralize potential threats. While the SOF and UAV surgical raids should not be viewed as substitutes for deft diplomacy, they can provide cheaper and selective power projection capabilities. Moreover, doing so could minimize the risks inherent in power projection and anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) missions which may potentially mire the United States in messy and protracted conflicts.

Marines from MARSOC honing their rifle marksmanship skills. Photo by MARSOC Public Affairs

Last but not least, this new service could buttress interoperability and capabilities of allied forces around the globe through military-to-military exchanges. Although Deni was referring specifically to the Army-led initiatives when he suggested this, he may be correct that military-to-military engagements may help to promote America’s image abroad as a trusted guarantor of peace. But even more important, such activities may “mean fewer American boots on the ground.” However, implementing what the retired Marine General James Mattis refers to as the “proxy strategy” may be a better means by which the United States could “lead from behind.” Under this arrangement, while “America’s general visibility would decline,” its allies and proxies would police the trouble spots on its behalf.

Contrary to what many in the defense establishment believe, the austerity measures wrought by the sequestration have not been entirely negative. If anything, this perceived “crisis” has provided the much-needed impetus for innovative approaches to national defense. The proposed merger of the ground forces may provide the United States with most cost-effective and versatile service branch to defend the homeland and safeguard its interests abroad.

Posted by Jeong Lee in Army, Cyber, Foreign Policy, Hard Power, Homeland Security, Innovation, Marine Corps, Tactics
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

  • Todd Zeigler

    mmmmmm no.

  • Eric Hahn

    “$20 billion a year”, if true, applied to actual combat power vice redundant command and overheads (at operational and strategic levels if not the tactical) is obviously a better return on investment for taxpayers. It would be a worthwhile effort to find out how accurate Col. Hackworth’s claim actually is.

  • BSmitty

    Hope you have your Nomex undergarments on, Jeong.

    The desire to merge the USMC and US Army goes back much further than that. Gens Eisenhower and George C Marshall put forth a concerted effort after WWII, but were thwarted but a high-powered USMC lobby.

    • des111168

      George Washington initially opposed the creation of a Marine Corps. He didn’t see the point. And he balked when Congress wanted to draw from his own Continental Army the necessary troops to create the Corps.

  • TomD

    The USMC and the US Army are too dissimilar.

    The only parts of the US Army that is comparable to the USMC in terms of quick reaction are the two airborne divisions. These two divisions have nothing like the organic air and armor units (especially with the M551 Sheridan retirement) that the USMC has, so they are dependent on other US Army and USAF units. Furthermore, the USMC can easily be forward deployed afloat, while the airborne units must either use friendly airfields or a large midair refueling contingent.

    The only similarity between the two Army airborne divisions and the three Marine divisions (ahem, sorry, Marine expeditionary forces) is that all are undermanned and under funded.

    • BSmitty

      Army Airborne brigades are highly dissimilar in organization, equipment, tactics and deployability from Army heavy brigades, yet they still manage to exist in the same service.

      • XBradTC

        Actually, they’re highly similar in organization, training, tactics, doctrine and to a surprising extent, equipment. Further after the initial entry, the logistical organization to support them (and fires support, and army aviation support, and intel support and virtually all other combat support and combat service support) is almost identical.

      • BSmitty

        Heavy Battalion

        2 x Tank companies
        2 x Mech Inf companies

        Full organic tactical mobility. Lots of heavy armor. Lots of AT systems. Low strategic mobility.

        Airborne Battalion
        3 x Inf companies
        1 x Weapons company

        Minimal organic tactical mobility. Minimal/No armor. Minimal AT systems. Highly strategic mobility.

        And that’s just at the battalion level.

        The two formations are the same where it makes sense, but are radically different because they have different missions. Yet they still exist in the same service.

        I don’t see why an Army Amphibious formation need be any different. Use the same tactics, training, doctrine and equipment where it makes sense, and develop new to meet the specific mission.

      • XBradTC

        I’m not saying you couldn’t design amphib BCTs for the Army, and merge the Marines in. I’m saying I don’t think it is worth the cost (and there would be costs) and the upheaval. Mr. Lee’s proposal is DOA.

        I just wanted to point out that the differences among different BCT types aren’t as great as they are between a BCT and an RLT/MEB.

      • BSmitty

        I think there would be long term benefits, but yes, definitely short term costs and upheaval.

        I agree, the proposal is DOA. It would require an act of Congress, and we know how likely that is.

        Yes, there are differences between a BCT and a MEB. A full MEB is something like 14,500 Marines. That’s the size of some Army division organizations. Do they really need to be that big? The MEB ACE has more Marines in it than the GCE. Does it really need the 80 or so fixed wing aircraft? Why can’t they fight joint and rely on the USAF and USN for that, just like the Army? Are their CAS needs really THAT different? I don’t think so. Seems like a giant waste of air power to devote to one reinforced regiment.

        IMHO, the MEB should look more like an Amphibious Army BCT, and should use common components as much as possible. It should fight joint like Army units. It doesn’t need to be an all signing, all dancing, jack-of-all-trades, division-sized behemoth.

        Unfortunately, the fact that the USMC and Army are separate services drives them in different directions, not towards commonality. The USMC needs to be different to justify its existence. It needs its own expensive programs (e.g. F-35B, V-22, CH-53K, MPC, EFSS, ITV). It can’t just rely on joint air power or use modified versions of Army systems (e.g. H-47/60, Stryker, Cardom).

        IMHO, this isn’t good for the nation or our military as a whole.

        Even just moving the still separate USMC from under the Navy to the Army could help.

  • TomD

    Another issue with this article are the two paragraphs relating to the “perceptive” op-ed by Mark Fitzgerald, David Deptula and Gian P. Gentile. Since the time of Theodore Roosevelt U.S. military strategy has been built around the intention that enemies were to be kept at a distance from the United States. They are arguing that this needs to be abandoned.

    In reality, the real problem is the so-called “convergence of the global community”. A United States that is exporting Somali terrorists back to Somalia, for example, is a country that is not being successful in promoting its internal core competencies and strengths. “Homegrown terrorism” of this sort is nothing more than a “convergence” of global culture at the expense of American culture.

    One could suppose that since the makeup of American culture is outside the U.S. military’s responsibilities – for good reason – then the military has no choice but to react to negative trends within that culture. Yet is would seem that the best answer is for some way to be found for American society to defend itself against such “convergences” without closing itself to the traditional immigration convergences that have always strengthened it.

    • RightCowLeftCoast

      Part of the reason why this is happening is because our education system is not teaching a respect and loyalty to our nation. Often times, especially in institutions of higher education, the youth of our nation who attend are taught the faults and unfortunate historic events thus presenting our nation in a negative light. Although our nation is far from perfect, unless we instill within our youth of every race and ethnicity nationalism and to have loyalty to the ideals that founded this great nation, and sets it apart, the internal strife that is written about in this article will only get worse.

      • vtbikerider

        Hi RightCowLeftCoast.
        As a teacher I can say that we do teach respect and loyalty to our nation but unfortunately the news is full of stories that engender disrespect. When politicians commit crimes, and get away with it, students notice. When companies do things that harm ordinary citizens and the government seemingly doesn’t do anything, students notice. They’re very smart, savvy and know when they’re being pandered to. One of my kids’ siblings got busted for burglary– he got 5 years. However this student brought in an article about a white collar crime that cost people millions of dollars and the guilty party got a suspended sentence and a fine. How can you explain “equal justice under law” when that happens? I couldn’t.
        One of the biggest misperceptions about today’s youth is that they’re uninformed and dull. Nope– they are very informed and can figure things out faster than anyone thinks. They just don’t talk to adults about it much.

  • Chuck May

    I found the post to be a bit misleading in it’s layout (not necessarily the fault of the blogger). In putting the picture of VADM Winnefeld close under the headline and leading with the quote from the Admiral, the implication is that the Admiral was advocating the merger of the land forces. There was nothing in his quoted remarks that supports that implication.

    • okitree

      You’re right….idea was purely the authors and to which I say blasphemy!

  • hhpsm

    There are many reasons why we have more than 2 or 3 branches of service, as illustrated by this simple example.

    If ordered to ‘secure that building’;

    The Air Force will find the owner and secure a lease.

    The Army will post a sentry at the entrance.

    The Navy will post a watch stander who will tour the building hourly for signs of fire, flooding or forced entry, and record the results in a log book.

    The Marines will assault the building to insure that it is clear of enemies, and then establish a defensive perimeter.

    • William T. Sherman


  • Matthew Hipple

    “Leaner” and “smarter” are not the same thing. That’s like saying, “Jump without a backup chute… just do it smarter.” No backup chute isn’t smart, period.

    Like the failure of the F-35, LCS, the F-111, and a whole series of other “everything for everyone” attempts, there is a point at which we differentiate. We already have unified combatant commanders.

    Like those who look at the USCG and USN and ask, “why the difference?” They do different things. It’s good that they have independent voices and fight for their own interests in that vein. It is also good to have different “shops” for ideas.

  • mike

    This is a non-starter. A grab for budget based on interservice rivalry for dollars. Truman and his SecDef Louis Johnson tried it. Army General MacArthur would not back him on it and good on him. May be why Truman turned on him later. The American people and Congress would not let Truman get away with it either.

  • Matthew Hipple

    Also, to note, the innovative impetus started long ago and has little to do with the sequestration. It’s an unhappy, but useful, coincidence.

  • XBradTC

    Ah. the SOF raids.. always the answer!

    But the results of every SOF raid is highly contingent upon intelligence, and in many regions, we simply don’t have sufficient actionable intel. One of the secrets of the past decade of COIN warfare has been how much of the intel gathering operation has been done by the non-SOF combat units.

    • RightCowLeftCoast

      The idea of a punitive raid is one as old as sailors plied the oceans of the world, with the United States being involved in several during the 19th century.

      That being said, given the new liberal international system (liberal in the international relations definition), it is highly unlikely that punitive raids of any siginificants would be looked kindly upon without the backing of intergovernmental organizations.

  • Joe Black

    We have enough good idea fairies in the service. Time to retire.

  • RightCowLeftCoast

    Wasn’t their an article recently on this very same blog from a retired army colonel that spoke about reducing most of the army’s non highly deployable divisions to standing cadre only, which allows for a quick training to fill their billets in times of war? Wouldn’t that be keeping with the constitution’s “raise an army” statement? Couldn’t a significant number of soldier, for standing units, be maintained at lower cost (while maintaining training) if the majority were in national guard and/or reserve units? Could the nation maintain more BCTs, at lower non-deployed operating costs, if we go with this suggestion?

  • grandpabluewater

    The notion is not innovative, just recycled.

    If one must hold a shotgun wedding, marry the Army and the Air Force, minus Transport and Refueling Aircraft for Naval and Marine Air, which can be handled by a Navy type commander. I even have a title, The Naval Air Transport Service. Kinda catchy, doncha think?

    The Army (the name of the consolidated Army and Air Force) will go into garrison and cadre status.

    The Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines can continue live in quarrelsome polyamorous sin, just like Neptune intended. They will continue to thrive in their natural environment – the Sea and the Shore. The Army can keep the commando raids in the mountains.

    The Sea Services will deploy regularly, and get used in support of foreign policy objectives frequently and unpredictably.

    SOF can send their Marines and Seals home to Mother – err…the Dept of the Navy. The others can moonlight for the CIA until the next big war comes, as come it must.

    Thus the various skills and traditions are maintained. Mothball excess equipment.

    Cheap fixes for the cheap uns.

    • Sperrwaffe

      Grandpa Bluewater,
      as always a good remark on heritage and history.

      Let me take this issue up because I see a lot of Non-Arguments in the above Post. A lot of replication, duplication but for me this is clearly not a critique or review of the mentioned authors and arguments. I am missing own statements and the debate beginning with the different purposes of the services mentioned here.
      I will now take some mission statements of USMC and US Army in order to bring these into the discussion. These mission statements are the basis for the dispute about purpose of forces. And because you mentioned some of the keywords hidden inside these mission statements I use your post as my starting point. I hope you don’t mind 😉

      “The Marine Corps has been America’s expeditionary force in readiness since 1775. We are forward deployed to respond swiftly and aggressively in times of crisis. We are soldiers of the sea, providing forces and detachments to naval ships and shore operations. We are global leaders, developing expeditionary doctrine and innovations that set the example, and leading other countries’ forces and agencies in multinational military operations. These unique capabilities make us “First to Fight,” and our nation’s first line of defense.”

      Keyword: Expeditionary
      Keywords: first line of defence

      Extract from Headquarter USMC
      “[…]The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is a branch of the U.S. military responsible for providing power projection from the sea, utilizing the mobility of the U.S. Navy to rapidly deliver combined-arms task forces to global crises. Alongside the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps operates under the United States Department of the Navy.[…]”

      Keywords: power projection from the Sea
      Keywords: utilizing the mobility of the U.S. Navy

      Extract from 2-25 Army Mission
      “[…]Army forces are to be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained combat incident to operations on land. The Army is responsible for preparing the land forces necessary to effectively prosecute war except as otherwise assigned. It is also responsible, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for its expansion to meet the needs of war. […]”

      Keywords: sustained combat
      Keywords: operations on land Keywords
      Keywords: preparing land forces Keywords
      Keywords: the needs of war
      …seems like somebody read Clausewitz for this one…

      Extract from 2-26 Army Mission
      “[…]Specifically, the Army mission is to provide to combatant commanders the forces and capabilities necessary to execute the National Security, National Defense, and National Military Strategies. Army forces provide the capability-by threat, force, or occupation-to promptly gain, sustain, and exploit comprehensive control over land, resources, and people. This landpower capability compliments the other Services’ capabilities. Furthermore, the Army is charged to provide logistic and other executive agent functions to enable the other Services to accomplish their missions. The Army is organized to accomplish this mission. […]”

      Keywords: comprehensive control over land

      Key Sentence:
      “Furthermore, the Army is charged to provide logistic and other executive agent functions to enable the other Services to accomplish their missions.”

      Do I really need to say more?

      So now we could start a real discussion. You start with Mission and Purpose. From functional to technical. And then you might come with Models and Cost-Effectiveness. There is no sense in starting the argumentation from the point that for instance especially the marines have been misused with regard to their original mission of “expeditionary” and “power projection from the sea”. And that even since Vietnam.

      A good friend of mine (he is a Fallschirmjaeger) has stated it recently during one of our discussion in a very simplified way:

      “If you want to take part in a bar brawl send the Marines! The Army will only deploy for real wars!”

      I like that statement a lot, because it gives you something to chew on.


      • Jeong Lee

        If its sole function is to perform as America’s expeditionary force, I’d say the Marines have clearly outlived their purpose. Look, the incontrovertible fact is that the Marine Corps has functioned as a second ground force–perhaps as an adjunct of the Army–during the Iraq War and in Afghanistan War when they performed and still perform COIN which was not what they were designed for. The same was true during the Vietnam War when the Marine regiments from 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions established firebases all over South Vietnam.

        Besides, when was the last time that the MAGTFs performed amphibious landing? Expedition implies short-term strike mission meant to shock the enemy into submission and not protracted occupation. However, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show that Marines have been performing anything but expeditionary warfare.

        Also, how does one account for the fact that the Marine Artillery Regiments field 155mm howitzers as do their Army counterparts? And what of M1A1 tanks? Need I mention that that MARSOC Regiment is essentially a Marine version of the 75th Ranger Regiment? The point is, it doesn’t matter what their Organizational Tables look like–be they regimental or brigade systems–if the missions overlap and the ground forces do not perform their intended missions.

        Last but not least, do we really need to police the world when we don’t even have the wherewithal to police our own broken system? No wonder the United States military is resented by many–I won’t say every!–countries in the world.

        Think about this. Really.

      • Sperrwaffe

        If you would stop treating people who are not following your position as “idiots”, discussions with you would be a lot easier. Just because you receive opposing winds does not mean it is personal. So please stop using your hidden and insulting undertones when discussing here. Leave at least some quotation sings or other marks if you don’t use irony and sarcasm in a understandable way.
        If I wouldn’t be thinking I would not be taking part in these discussions and insert my ideas and points. And I am neither U.S. nor U.S. Navy or Marines. However, I am a Naval Officer who likes to take part in discussions like these here.
        Just to make myself clear before we continue here.

        You mention the use of marines during Iraq and even Vietnam. If you read my post again you will find that I made that same point. However, it is not the fault of the USMC per se if they have been used for operations like that.
        It is a result of the missions Marines where trained for. As a highly capable fighting force for operations also like COIN. Because expeditionary operations need flexible and adaptable forces which can handle multiple, regular and irregular forces. You sound like Omar Bradley who had to step back very fast from his statement very shortly after having been made.
        Just because you have not conducted expeditionary operations doesn’t mean you don’t have to be prepared for them any more. I will come back to this point later.

        Your arguments, and those of your associates are coming from the operations. You are discussing bottom up. I am discussing top down. Coming from the missions. Which then lead to purpose and for what operations forces can be used. And that there is an overlap in some aspects inside the mission statements is a logical aspect of armed forces. Because these overlaps are needed for totally engaging an opposing force. To conduct operations in a joint environment.
        Referencing some of the points you are making I can state that they are complementing to points which are currently under discussion in Europe and in DEU. “Smart Defence”, “Pooling and Sharing”. You can combine efforts and use synergies by smart defence initiatives. But you also loose capabilities by putting a focus on depth against breadth. And you underestimate national caveats. Something which is hampering efforts to streamline forces and to be able to rely on your allies.
        Rely on your allies. We are in a environment of alliances. From my point of view NATO is still the most important alliance. We are contributing to this alliance. Sometimes not enough, sometimes also hampered by national caveats. But the existing alliances are reliable and provide stability in the geopolitical environment. A lot of this is driven by the U.S., a logical result of the geostrategy of the U.S.
        You are proposing a isolationist approach for the United States. “Stop conducting operations ashore and concentrate on the use of armed forces from inside the U.S.” Believe me, Ias a German I now this argumentation a lot. So you become isolationist. Get rid of the marines. But then you can get rid of the other force important for expeditionary. The Navy. Because there is no need for expeditionary any more, right? You can defend yourself from inside the country. Well, that does not work any more. We are in the maritime century. Economies are reliable on free shipping routes and trade. You have to protect these routes and free trade. Therefore expeditionary forces are needed. Even more in a more combined approach. Something known to NATO countries, You will not do this by staying home. Isolationism will lead to the strengthening of extremism and radicals. History has a lot examples for that.
        Maybe you should also start to explain to the national command authority of the U.S. to rethink their strategy with regard to amphibious capabilities no longer needed for the pacific?
        Seriously, you could start by putting a larger focus on distinction of Army, USMC and SOCOM mission. That is why a inserted them into my original post. But when I read them, the distinction is there. And that very clearly if you look at the keywords I extracted. So now what? Missions are there, purpose has been elaborated. Now you could start by putting a focus on the operations conducted by the different services. Only then you will end up with solutions for saving and combining efforts. By asking yourself, does this operation fit into my mission statements? That must be the starting point from my point of view. It is a three step: Missions, Purpose, Operations and then comes the debate about synergies.

      • Jeong Lee

        I wasn’t treating anyone like an idiot nor is it my intention to do so. Now, since you brought up a very salient point about maritime trade and globalization, I’ll just say this.

        Many advanced, industrialized maritime nations by which I mean, China, Japan, South Korea–although to a lesser extent–Indonesia and even Australia and Britain are interconnected but they don’t have imperial outposts all over the world. Why? Because they can safeguard their economic interests without stationing Marines and soldiers on foreign soil. So why should the United States? I am not suggesting isolationism. I am only suggesting that the United States be careful about where it intervenes. Or elsewhere it will have a bloody nose.

        There is a better way to project national power and that is through soft power–America’s strong suit. It used to be that people around the world admired what the United States stood for: economic justice, wealth, high quality education as represented through its prestigious research universities and think tanks, multiculturalism, high-tech gadgets–American-made cars, Apple computers and smart phones–and tolerance for others.

        Now, after having traveled to the Philippines, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong, I am not even sure they even like Americans.

      • Sperrwaffe

        Finally found some time to answer. National Unification Day an prolonged weekend.
        Your point of outposts is debatable. Is it necessary to maintain the number of outposts?
        You might downsize or close even some. But this cannot result in a merging of ground forces. It will be even more important to keep the current spezialisation of forces. With a focus on original missions and purpose. And then you might come up with saving potentials. But merging ground forces could end up in a “ground force in being” like the “fleet in being” unable to use it at all.
        Soft power is a good example of putting a bit more focus on. There I can follow you.

        However, coming from a country which is putting even more focus on soft power than reasonable, since 90% of our export is depending on sea lines of communication. And our politicians like this soft power “checkbook diplomacy” because it prevents you from having an open debate about international security issues and strategy. Could cost votes.

        With a focus on too much soft power your risk loosing capabilities of strong power. And there I follow Leslie Gelb: soft power without hard power is no power.

        And this hard power is in my eyes the expeditionary power. With expeditionary you are flexible enough to react. In order to be able to “buy some time” for full scale conflict with respective army components.
        Therefor you have too nurse these capabilities, Navy, USMC, Sea Basing and some outposts (but not as much as now).
        If you don’t nurse these capabilities and don’t keep a focus on “traditional” naval capabilities of AAW, ASuW, ASW(!!), MW(!!) and EW as a basis for bringing your expeditionary force to the place where you need them, you will be a sitting duck.

        And by the way. It is not about being liked but about being respected. And your references to “American made” and admiration are nice but gone for a long time. Since when has Detroit been “dying” now? As a country you don’t need to be loved. You need to respected as a power. BUT only if you are able to use power the right way.
        But this rather philophical side discussion is really OT and I will not continue it here since we where coming from “merging of ground forces”.

        I say merging is not right. Go back to the missions, remember the purpose and find solutions for differentiation in use. Only then you adapt to the challenges like budgets cuts are putting on you. Because the strategical challenges remain. Do more with less is not an option.

  • Derrick Lau

    I’m confused. I thought the US military was an unified fighting force thanks to their network-centric warfare model? So depending on the operation the army, marines, navy and air force can operate as one, regardless of the org chart indicating them as separate services? Wasn’t this happening in 1991 Gulf War? I thought the same was happening in Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001? I guess the advantage would be the reduced cost in senior management/officers?

  • Jeong Lee

    To my readers, I just received an e-mail from COL Gian P. Gentile regarding my article. He wrote:

    Dear Jeong:

    Of course I read it as soon as it came out, along with the two flags that I co-authored the piece.

    Your argument is spot on correct; and I have also found that any suggestions of changing the status quo brings about heated criticism. I have argued forcefully within certain army circles that there is no longer a need for the stupidly expensive 82nd airborne. For me, that is like you saying to do away with the marines, which is also a correct argument.

    I see no other way forward than the suggestions you made in the piece; the question will be how those changes are brought about. Either by externally forced change or by some catastrophic strategic event.


  • Mark

    Jeong Lee betrays his sentiments on U.S. foreign policy by echoing the party line of the American political left. He adduces Gentile, et al.’s “perceptive” op-ed. They share Lee’s dim view of U.S. military action abroad, lamenting “occupations of foreign lands” and forwarding the preposterous assertion that war has been a “policy option of first choice” for America (see WWI and WWII for counterexamples).

    Why is it that those who advocate a radical restructuring of the U.S. armed forces–such as eliminating the Marine Corps–invariably hail from the political left, and most often have never been in the military? (For instance, Lee has blogged from Seoul about South Korea’s unsustainable “militarization”–a catch-phrase of the left. An odd position considering that the neighbor to his left, China, increased military spending 7.8 percent in real terms in 2012, and 175 percent since 2003.) “Last but not least, do we really need to police the world when we don’t even have the wherewithal to police our own broken system?” Lee comments, sounding like a HuffPo piece. “No wonder the United States military is resented by many–I won’t say every!–countries in the world.”

    Given Lee’s worldview, his suggestion of recasting U.S. military structure needs to be taken with appropriate weight: is it an altruistic assessment of U.S. military structure? A considered article forwarding an idea to improve U.S. capability? It is neither–it is simply advocacy of retrenchment. Its message is to reduce, consolidate, cut back, eliminate. Because he feels that United States is a bully and needs to keep its nose out of world affairs. He advocates a central mission of the military toward “homeland security” such as cyber, CBRN, and countering domestic threats of “homegrown terrorism.” We’ve seen this before from progressives reluctant to appreciate that homeland defense–i.e. America’s security–and counter-terrorism begin outside U.S. borders. Finally, Lee sounds like a paid shill of China when he discourages deploying A2/AD capabilities “which may potentially mire the United States in messy and protracted conflicts.” And, I may add, keep strategic parity in Northeast Asia, protecting our allies Japan, Taiwan, and…South Korea.

    • Jeong Lee

      Thanks for your rather shallow ad hominem attacks on my left-leaning articles. You’re right. I am of the left and am proud of this. But being a leftie does not mean that I am less pro-American.

  • jeff zayn

    Informative post ! I was fascinated by the details , Does anyone know if I could possibly get access to a sample a form version to use ?

  • Eufemia Pickett

    Hi . my colleague got a fillable a form example at this site http://goo.gl/kF2Z6R