Airmechanization

By Grange, David L.; Liebert, Richard D. et al. | Military Review, July/August 2001 | Go to article overview

Airmechanization


Grange, David L., Liebert, Richard D., Jarnot, Chuck, Military Review


Superior mobility must be achieved if we are to surprise our opponent, select the terrain on which we are to fight and gain the initiative. There is no alternative. If we are slow in movement, awkward in maneuver, clumsy in deployment-in a word, not mobile-we can expect to be forestalled, enveloped or constrained to launch costly frontal attacks against an enemy advantageously posted.

-Infantry in Battle, The Infantry Journal, Washington DC, 1939

TRANSFORMATION IS A TIME for developing new concepts, organizations and capabilities for dealing with adversaries and maintaining relevance with our national security strategy. In concert with the other US Armed Forces, the Army should have rapid global reach for conducting major theater wars, smaller-scale contingencies and peacetime military engagements. The current geopolitical environment, effects of globalization, critical regional resources, vulnerable trade routes and continued economic growth require an Army that can access landmass interiors and resolve a situation quickly and decisively with tailored overmatch. All this must be done while operating from exterior lines, a requirement no other country has on the scale of the United States.

To be strategically deployable, the Transformed Army must maximize critical airlift to move heavy, medium and light force packages anywhere in the world rapidly. This transformed force must optimize the synergistic use of US Army and US Air Force (USAF) systems for immediate operational maneuver regardless of enemy strategies to deny use of airfields, seaports and forward bases. To have tactical mobility in all types of terrain, forces must have fast-moving, protected vehicles and a vertical lift capability. A force today must have multipurpose systems for versatility, organizational flexibility to act freely throughout the area of operations and adaptability to immediately move from peace support operations to combat. It is unadvisable to depend on only one method of operation, which the enemy has been studying to counter.

Operational Reality

During the Cold War the US National Military Strategy (NMS) centered on a policy of containment, which required robust forces forwardly deployed in Europe and Asia. Extensive basing with welldeveloped interior lines and mature infrastructure characterized US force disposition. Mobilization and methodical phased deployment focused on sending troops to stored equipment sites to support a defensive doctrine. Rapid deployment was a relatively low strategic priority. Without the influence of two superpowers, regional stability has decreased since the end of the Cold War. Irregular forces, rogue states, terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations have found the environment ripe to exploit. In response, US forces have conducted operations from humanitarian assistance to peacekeeping, to smallerscale contingencies-all while maintaining readiness for major conflict-- despite fiscal constraints and a massive reduction in force structure.

Today's requirements demand the ability to project forces rapidly worldwide with an overmatch capability throughout the spectrum of conflict. This means operating almost exclusively from exterior lines with versatile, substantial, joint forces capable of swift offensive action. Potential adversaries recognize our dependency on secure ports and airfields along with the time required to build combat power. It is unlikely that US forces will be allowed Desert Storm buildup luxuries in future conflicts. Dangerous geopolitical and technological trends, along with antiaccess weapons such as long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction, demand an extended-range, power-projection, forced-entry capability.

The US Navy and Air Force strike capability, along with the littoral reach of the US Marine Corps, provides rapid projection of US forces, a vital component of the NMS. Projecting decisive Army land power also depends on the Navy and Air Force. …

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