Thursday, February 21, 2013

Everything old is new again...

In an older post, WeaponsMan wrote of the parlous state of the Army in the mid-'70s:
Money for training dried up. Ammunition was cut, to the point where even an SF unit had to fight to get its men 40 rounds a year to fire the qualification table and another 10 or so to zero. The conventional Army didn’t even try, conducting rifle qualification with the “M1 Pencil.” Forget about blanks for force-on-force training: they were doled out like rubies, and many exercises ended like childhood games, with both sides standing on the objective after shouting “bang, bang!” during the TOT, arguing about who killed whom. It was not only deleterious to readiness, it was unseemly.
Those were dark days in the U.S. military, much as they were in the nation's 1930s economic crisis, and they look fair to repeat, says OldNFO.

I think I've said before that we can't write bad checks for the military any more than we can for the myriad social programs that weigh on the treasury, that we would have to find a way to trim fat from the defense budget, too. The problem is that they never trim fat. They trim muscle and backbone and leave fat untouched. Budget cuts happen as far away from the flagpole as possible.


Sebastian said...

That's because the fat brings pork to congressional districts.

I grew up in the town where the Chinook and V2 Osprey were made. The Pentagon wanted to kill the Osprey for a while, but that was never going to happen. Why? Because the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee was my Congressman, and nothing helps your chances for re-election better than a massive defense that keeps a huge helicopter plant open.

He fought his own party for a while on the Osprey, but Clinton managed to find more money for it after the area conveniently delivered for him in the Presidential election of that year, after having been generally regarded as a solid GOP district.

Funny how that works.

Anonymous said...

Also consider the ethnic and political makeup of the military. Combat units are recruited overwhelmingly in the deep south, the Rocky Mountain west, and among blue collar whites in urban areas. The infamous "Crackers, Cowboys, and Cops".

Support units, there most often for three hots, a cot, an easy eight hour workday, and a pension at 48, tend to look like the inner city, right down to the obeastly teenaged mommies.

Please note that the Obama cuts are almost entirely to the pointy end of the stick.

staghounds said...

Considering that in its featured match the U. S. military has been held to a draw by Afghan farmers for the last twelve years...

Armed Texan said...

This is the hoary, old "you can't cut the city budget because we'll have to lay off firefighters and police," when in reality there are about fifteen clerks in the water department who could use a change in career, just writ large.

Anonymous said...

Quick, the number of times the front-line US Military units entered into war fully equipped with modern weapons, fully-manned and trained up. Yes, I refer to it's entire history, Revolutionary War to present.


Tam said...


"the U. S. military has been held to a draw by Afghan farmers"

You know how you always talk about the judges that sign the warrants? From where I sit, it seems the US military has done everything asked of it in AFG the last twelve years... every stupid, senseless, contradictory thing, it has saluted, about-faced, and executed.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Not just the Army, Tam. True Story from the '70s. It got so bad, that my ship was docked for 3 extra days in Rota, Spain because we did not have enough Toilet Paper to support our ship for our next Deployment. Supposedly, we had gone over our "Consumables" Budget for the Year, and Naval Supply refused to Authorize any disbursement from the Store in Rota. The ONLY way we were able to get Toilet Paper was for the Skipper to inform the Chain of the Command that we would NOT be able to carry out our orders and deploy to sea.

Now, the Skipper was a Good Guy, but do you know what sending that Message out to the Higher Ups did to his Record? And it STILL took a 3-Star Admiral in the Pentagon to get us our Bog Rolls.

Trust me, if the U.S. didn't have Nukes, Idi Amin could have attacked the U.S. back then.

And you won't believe the Tricks we had to pull just to get Ammo for the Ship's Defense, let alone Quals.

But, since we know who's running things in the Obama Regime, weakening the U.S. Military is probably Higher up on their Agenda than taking away your AR.

Remember the Madeline Albright Doctrine: "It's not FAIR that the U.S. is the World's only Superpower! That's Too Provocative!"

staghounds said...

You are right about the part of the Army that gets dirty. Hats off to them.

And yet we are still held to a draw.

Your analogy is an apt one.

Squeaky clean Generals are part of the Army too, and part of a General's responsibility is to sometimes NOT say "Can do, Sir!"

Sometimes his responsibility is to say "No, Mr. President, I owe you my judgement. This thing is beyond us, or futile and stupid, here are my stars."

Just as in Vietnam and on the Western Front, the Generals won't say "I can't" to the politicians.


Pakkinpoppa said...

Ah...I thought the whole "BANG! You're dead!" "No, you missed me!" was over when I was playing "war" and whatnot in the backyard. After the ten seconds of extremely rapid cap-gun fire in which every cap was expended...

At least we got the caps every so often.

G*d help us all. Especially those on the sharp end of the spear...who may find out they're suddenly out of supplies and yet not out of things to do.

Bram said...

Don't despair, the F35 program will be fully funded - as will drone programs.

The 800k civilian employees might take an unpaid vacation, but don't fear - we certainly wouldn't consider laying any of them off.

Anonymous said...

During the Carter administration we had no replacement sprockets for our armored vehicles. We coped.
1. We stripped every vehicle that went back to depot. Not a working light bulb or within spec track part went back. Depot workers were still paid.
2. We set up a shop to heat the sprockets, apply welding rod metal, and oil temper them. We could still get welding rods and argon for TIG welding.
3. We tested the product. They worked.
Worse was Carter's project 100,000 which added 100,000 men of low mental capability to the infantry. Soon to be followed by 400,000 more. I taught a second grade reading class, taught drivers how to subtract to keep their vehicle log books. We had a tough time finding people who could perhaps be a sergeant.

Fred said...

We're pretty much planning on an extra few days, if not a week, for de-mobilization at the end of this deployment purely due to hour reductions and mandatory furlough days for civilian DOD employees. Really looking forward to sitting at Ft. Bliss waiting on a three-day weekend in the middle of just wanting to get home....

Fred said...

And Staghound, speaking from my current location at the pointy end of the stick, the Afghan farmers are NOT the ones we're fighting over here. Most of the bad guys aren't even Afghan.

staghounds said...

Yes, Fred, that was shorthand. I know that imported Jihadis- and those from other, um, ethnic groups- are the main dangers. Something else our masters don't really think we need to learn about.

I hate seeing it, how the politicians insist on using the services as their magic fix-it men.

Generals and Admirals lack the moral and career courage the fighters, and the citizens, deserve to get.

And on point, of course the fat won't be cut, the fat = VOTES!!

Stretch said...

Has the current administration done anything different than what a ComIntern cell would have done?

Chris said...

I was at Fort Knox 1973-77. Lots of similar stories, but the most annoying one was that, while we had trouble getting various needed supplies (ammo, parts, etc.), there was plenty of money to install all new armored vehicles (including a helicopter) in the "Home of Armor" display in the main traffic circle. Troops going without, generals get their ego-trip. (Yeah, I know that's how things work. Don't have to like it.)

Woodman said...

What I never understood was the fact that while we were scrambling for ammo all year, at the end of the year we had to burn the barrels out of everything to shoot it up.

And 99% of it was in bunkers that had been loaded during Vietnam. What the hell did a draw down have to do with that?

Keep in mind, in Afghanistan, a draw is a win, and we have both arms tied behind outs backs.

rick said...

Navy, 74-79. I was on the in-port security team when I had the duty. If a drill was called, I'd run to the weapons locker and draw one of 1911 (Colt Government), an M14, or a Remington riot shotgun, and go to my station. We never drilled or shot these weapon. Except for the 1911 when we were at sea, quarterly. We'd get called down to the fantail of our destroyer, handed a 1911 with the slide locked back and a magazine with 5 rounds in it. On command, load the pistol, rack the slide, and let loose. If you hit water 5 for 5, you were qualified! I always felt like a crack shot (not). But ripping off five rounds was a nice change of pace from CIC.

perlhaqr said...

Armed Texan: Yep. Everytime the public school holler about needing more money, it's always "We can't afford enough teachers that your kids don't have to be packed like sardines, 90 to a classroom, in buildings originally built right after Noah landed his Ark."

And it's always 10,000 bureaucrats singing that tune out of their 15 story building with all the latest computers and pretty office furniture, too. Bah.

Sebastian: I dunno that it's the fat that brings in the pork so much as it being the fat that decides where the checks get made out to. No REMF is ever going to cut short his own desk-flying days, even to the detriment of the service.

Steve Skubinna said...

Yup. First enlisted in '75. The Carter military cut training, parts, and maintenance to the bone and beyond. Combine that with the residual contempt from many civilians towards the service, not a fun time to be in. Looking back I wonder at my obtuse determination to enlist and stick it through. There must be some benefit to pigheadedness or else there wouldn't be so many stubborn people running around.

To those who always pipe up at times like this and claim "But there's plenty of fat to trim!" just ask yourself where is the fat? Then ask yourself where are the trimmers? The pointy end is not in charge of the purse strings, nor do they get to determine TOEs or even mission profiles.

Firehand said...

Talked to son a few days ago, their brigade commander advised that 'if sequestration goes into effect, training will be further cut.'
Since, as of now, "We've got guys who can't qualify unless you sneak them points or give them an extra try, if they cut training any more I don't want to deploy ANYWHERE with this."

And yeah, the troops have taken their orders- including idiotic and suicidal ROE(written by an asshole general or admiral who never has to live by them) and done their best. And been shit on by said generals and admirals and the politicians.

Anonymous said...

What stinks is that I think if it got as bad as it did in the mid/late 70s that would be the best case scenario we could hope for. Even then, if this makes all the politicians take the darn budget seriously then I would be willing to accept it as long as it didn't affect the pointy end...but it will. Damn unhappy sigh.

Ted N said...

Tam 11:06; thanks for standing up for us.

Wars are a bit harder with the force divider that is the political collars they've thrown around our necks, along with the media's fucking us over every chance they can get.

I have a good friend that is high enough up to see well, and a solid guy. He says we're fucked, and if he says it, I don't have reason to doubt it. Try to fight it anyway, but no reason to doubt it. I'll ping him and see if he wants to chime in, but he probably won't.

Dan A said...

I joined the Marines in 2006, and real ammo (or real blanks) were still in short supply. Only instead of yelling "bang, bang" we yelled "press, press."

Ted N said...

Joined Army (aviation) in 2002. Still in, still have never thrown a live grenade. *sad face*

Boat Guy said...

"The 800k civilian employees might take an unpaid vacation, but don't fear - we certainly wouldn't consider laying any of them off. "
ONLY because then we'd be eligible for unemployment.
Bride and I are both taking a 20% pay hit for the rest of the year - simply as a political bludgeon, not for any real fiscal reason.
And yes, I remember "the bad old days", actually a couple of cycles of them. Yeah 73-79 largely sucked, but SOME folks used imaginative ways to train. During "Uncle Bill's Ecellent Adventures" we (SOF) became the poster child for "High-Demand, Low Density" forces.
So yeah, they'll keep the pogues, hassle the warriors (those that remain) and cut the "muscle" 'cause we're not the "base" of ObaMao's power. Still, that cut muscle's gonna go somewhere - like back home to Free America.