View Full Version : Politics May Derail Redeployment Plan

08-28-04, 07:44 AM
08-26-2004 <br />
<br />
Politics May Derail Redeployment Plan <br />
<br />
<br />
<br />
By William F. Sauerwein

08-28-04, 07:44 AM
These planes must land for refueling and crew rest, which involves support personnel at these facilities. Troops debark the aircraft for “comfort stops,” food and exercise, requiring facilities and personnel manning them. The amount of security personnel needed at these facilities depends on the threat level, even in peacetime.

Commercial airliners are not combat aircraft and do not land in close proximity to the battlefront. Debarking troops require facilities, manned by support personnel, for assembling and gathering their personal gear. They now require transportation to their final destination, meeting other support personnel when they arrive.

Military vehicles are not fuel-efficient, and maintenance of these high-tech platforms is very expensive. Our high-tech ordnance and equipment is also expensive, but necessary for enabling the survival and victory of our troops. That includes the equipment needed for protection against nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons, and necessary decontamination gear.

“Experts” often ignore the military’s massive logistical tail, which begins with the maneuver unit and reaches back to the home station. This “tail” moves all manner of supplies needed for sustaining the maneuver unit, and all supporting units along the way. These lines of communication require security provided by air, ground and naval assets, depending on the threat level.

Another problem concerns rapid deployment versus firepower for our troops arriving in theater. If units deploy with their home station equipment it renders them combat ineffective until that equipment arrives. The length of time depends on the resources available for rail-loading at home station, transferring this equipment from rail to ship and the length of sea travel. Off-loading requires port facilities, and personnel, and moving the equipment from the port.

During the Cold War we addressed this problem by pre-positioning equipment at POMCUS sites. These sites contained the full complement of combat vehicles enhancing the rapid deployment of CONUS-based units. Other sites contained ammunition, fuel, supplies, etc., for rapidly uploading these units, and moving them into combat.

The major disadvantage, all these sites required on-site maintenance personnel and guard detachments from forward-deployed units. They were highly visible, and certainly known by the enemy, and therefore subject to attack. During my tour in Germany, I read in the Stars & Stripes about sabotage at a POMCUS site.

Any break in this chain can cause failure throughout the entire system until we fix the break. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, it debunked our whole Pacific strategy, and doomed our troops in the Philippines. Had the Soviets bombed our air bases, or disrupted our sea lanes, it could have debunked our Cold War strategy. With al Qaeda cells in 60 countries, including the United States, we can ill-afford half-hearted security measures.

These choices are not easy or cheap. However, as the world’s sole superpower we must make them. Our leadership and strength extend no further than we can project and sustain our military power. Events move quickly, requiring timely decisions on troop commitments, and rapidly moving sufficient forces into crisis situations.

My greatest fear is that our political divisions may prevent any rational debate over implementing any military strategy. Even in the midst of a war, political partisanship dominates the nation, affecting the war effort. If we cannot sustain a coherent military strategy during war, we certainly cannot sustain one during peace.

Our internal bickering displays a lack of focus, which encourages our enemies and discourages potential allies. The unstable nature of the post-Cold War world requires that the United States demonstrate strong leadership. Only then can we deter our enemies and build alliances for winning today, and meeting future challenges.

William F. Sauerwein is a Contributing Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at mono@gtec.com. Please send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@yahoo.com.