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  • Armed Forces Branch Structure

    A topic that I have been interested in for a long time.

    If you were to completely reorganizing a military (without existing institutional bias) or start a new national military (yes, fairy-tale land), how would you organize it? Primary in respect to the administrative/training role of the branches and not related to how forces are deployed or operationally commanded.

    -Do you think the US military has it figured pretty well with it's six branches?
    -Could amphibious assault be better served by giving marine aviation to the navy and the army fielding marine divisions?
    -Environmental branches like the Canadian Forces, where for instance the air force owns all aircraft?
    -Should the army own the airspace (and airplanes) above its battle space like the US Navy does?
    -Some other arrangement?

    Basically I'm looking for ideas on what the optimal armed service branch setup would be for a military, which may differ based on the size of military of course.

    Curious to get everyone's opinion. I have never served, but have a deep respect for the military and an interest in their equipment and organization. Plus a touch of OCD which drives me to find the "best" way to do something.

  • #2
    There is a lot of culture involved. For the British cultured, our home unit is the regiment (ex PPCLI). For the Americans, it is the division (82bd Airborne). For the Soviets/Chinese, it is the army (1st Moscow Crack Army).

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    • #3
      1. Leave amphibious assault to the Marines. It is a core competency and what they are best configured for.

      2. Fixed wing aviation is not and Army competency and has not been after 1945. The Army needs to concentrate on rotary wing and if anything improve the anti ballistic missile capabilities to it forces.

      3. Space Force is an idiocy and should be a Unified Command under SECDEF/CJCS...just like US Transportation Command, US Special Operations Command, etc. Doesn't need it's own separate branch. It will lead to wasteful redundancies.

      4. Air Force needs to concentrate on strategic, theater & tactical fixed wing, to include space operations.

      Also keep in mind we have to deal with Title 10, US Code. All missions are baked into that and come from it...i.e., the Army always has the responsibility to build, develop and operate the theater of operations. That is why there are a LOT of Army force structure tied up in higher level units, mostly in the Reserves.
      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
      Mark Twain

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
        1. Leave amphibious assault to the Marines. It is a core competency and what they are best configured for.

        2. Fixed wing aviation is not and Army competency and has not been after 1945. The Army needs to concentrate on rotary wing and if anything improve the anti ballistic missile capabilities to it forces.

        3. Space Force is an idiocy and should be a Unified Command under SECDEF/CJCS...just like US Transportation Command, US Special Operations Command, etc. Doesn't need it's own separate branch. It will lead to wasteful redundancies.

        4. Air Force needs to concentrate on strategic, theater & tactical fixed wing, to include space operations.

        Also keep in mind we have to deal with Title 10, US Code. All missions are baked into that and come from it...i.e., the Army always has the responsibility to build, develop and operate the theater of operations. That is why there are a LOT of Army force structure tied up in higher level units, mostly in the Reserves.
        So Albany, you think the US branch system is pretty close to ideal for that size of armed forces? Despite all the history and institution bias that got them to this point?

        I confess I'm not sure how much inefficiency is baked into the US system where for instance five branches operate aircraft (three of them operating fix wing tactical aircraft).

        One of the more interesting comments I've heard is that fix wing tactical aviation should be moved back under the Army. This would allow them to control the air above their battle space in a similar manner to how the Navy trains and operates to control on, under, and above the surface of the ocean.

        I couldn't agree more with you about the Space Force, right now it should be handled the same as Cyber Command.

        Everything seems to stem from Title 10, I will have to brush up on that.
        Last edited by JA Boomer; 14 Sep 20,, 20:21.

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        • #5
          1. Fixed wing aircraft are NOT one size fits all. What some see as redundancies actually is application of core competencies. Air Force fixed wing is to gain and maintain air supremacy as well as to engage in strategic bombing, provide tactical air support to ground forces and provide theater level intelligence. Navy fixed wing is meant to project power forward across the globe. A carrier is 5 acre of sovereign US territory which can go anywhere in the globe and react to situations. The type of training and operations Naval Aviators get are completely different than USAF pilots and are not interchangeable. They provide air coverage to all operations to include amphibious operations. Marine air is purely to provide direct air support to engaged Marine and other ground forces. Their task is to get the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) ashore and sustain them there. This is why they have integrated rotary and fixed wing assets. USN/USMC squadrons can operate from land bases but USAF cannot operate from carriers.

          2. US Army aviation has a completely different mission. It is almost exclusively rotary wing and is dedicated to troop lift, antiarmor and maneuver support in support of the ground commander's mission. Each Army division has its own combat aviation brigade. Those assets are his...no one elses. The corps commander cannot take them away from them. The corps has it's own aviation brigade (2 in fact) to conduct corps level aviation tasks which are outside of the divisions. The Marines can augment these but not replace. Since the 1950s this has been a core competency of the Army. The AIr FOrce cannot meet this need, especially as it has a major responsibility within the Nuclear Triad.

          3. Amphibious operations is a very niche task best left to the USMC. While the US Army had a massive amount of expertise in amphibious assault in WW 2 that is in our history. It would take a massive investment in blood and treasure which would be a total waste. If the Army needs to make a forced landing on a hostile shore it would be done with an airborne assault on an airfield by an airborne brigade combat team augmented by Rangers and Special Forces. Follow on forces are flown in and reinforce. This mission is going to be near a port if needed and follow on forces flow through the court. The theater commander would have forces from across all Services dedicated for each part of their mission based on their core competencies.

          4. The concept of inefficiency is really an outdated term. There are some areas of overlap but that has really shrunk over the last decades. For instance in Astan there are Army, Navy & Air Force medical facilities. But they are aligned regionally where they each specialize. Air Force pararescue units will evacuate Army/Marine/NATO casualties to the facility best postured to handle the care needed. If the wounded needs to evacuate them they are cared for by an Air Force aeromedical evacuation squadron and flown out in a medevac configured USAF C-17 to Germany, where they are taken to the US Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center right next to the USAF's Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. If they are a burn victim they go to Brooke Army Medical Center in SaN Antonio regardless of service. From there they go to a service hospital in the States. And why does each service have their own hospitals? Cause the medical personnel rotate from there to the field.

          5. FYI we have streamlined a lot. The US Army buys the majority of the tactical ground equipment for the Marines. All US military cooks and ground vehicle mechanics are trained here at FT Lee, VA, along with air load training (which is why I have a mock up of a C-130 & C-17 right outside my office.

          So I think we just about have it right.
          “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
          Mark Twain

          Comment


          • #6
            i'd also mention that "inefficiency" only makes sense in the context of the overall mission.

            for instance, the entire structure of the US Cold War military was designed with "inefficiency" baked in, so that the military could rapidly expand in the event of WWIII. and we'd avoid the enormous growing pains that the US military went through in WWI and WWII.

            There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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            • #7
              Originally posted by astralis View Post
              i'd also mention that "inefficiency" only makes sense in the context of the overall mission.

              for instance, the entire structure of the US Cold War military was designed with "inefficiency" baked in, so that the military could rapidly expand in the event of WWIII. and we'd avoid the enormous growing pains that the US military went through in WWI and WWII.
              Yup...a rapid expansion for an international war was not something baked into the American Defense psyche until post World War II. Also what some see as inefficiencies were redundancies in order to survive and win in an NBC environment.

              Also we had a lot of redundancy 2005-2015 to meet the requirements of rapid rotations to Iraq & Afghanistan.
              “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
              Mark Twain

              Comment


              • #8
                This article looks at the opportunity, and the reopening of the debate over roles and missions of the current defense structure, that the creation of the Space Force gives the US.

                Two sentences from the last paragraph give a summary.

                "Defense and service departments are temporary constructs, reflecting national choices that are therefore worthy of continual examination as they often lose sight of their beginnings."
                In theory our service departments are indeed "temporary constructs." To the people in them their service branch becomes part of their ethos and self image. On an individual level it becomes hard to see that what you put anywhere from three to forty years of your life into can be "temporary." At a congressional level the money that comes in for whatever activity happens to be going on in the district is a strong incentive to make that particular activity....... as permanent as possible.

                "The first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, stated in 1947: “Defense organization is driven by emotion, not by intelligence.” He could have added that sentimentality — worshipping prophets and false narratives — when creating an organization defines its culture and hinders its ability to find wisdom from the repository of experience while thinking of how to address and respond to genuine questions and challenges."
                The power of emotion over reason.


                LInk-
                https://warontherocks.com/2020/09/sp...e-unification/

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