Leadership: The Curse Of Combat Experience


May 9,2008: A nasty battle is going on in the U.S. Army over how to deal with the fact that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused a decline in conventional warfare skills. Most worrisome to many generals and colonels is the use of artillery troops, and even tank crews, as light infantry. This means artillery and tank skills have declined, making the U.S. more vulnerable should it get into a conventional war.

The other side of this argument holds that the most likely, and dangerous, threats now, and in the foreseeable future, are "asymmetric" (terrorists, irregulars and guerillas). The army has done a splendid job of getting troops trained for Asymmetric Warfare. And it is believed that, because of the combat experience gained there, it would take only a few months to regain skills needed to fight a conventional war with, well, who? A North Korean attack on South Korea is unlikely these days, given that North Korea is falling apart. Iran? Hmmm, no, as that would play into the hands of the clerical dictatorship currently running that country. China? Not with ground troops, or not with many of them. If China made a move on Taiwan, it would be the U.S. Air Force and Navy that would get involved. Same deal if North Korea went after its southern neighbor.

Thus the conventional warfare enthusiasts are left frustrated in their quest for some relief from all this Asymmetric Warfare stuff. Meanwhile, the combat experience and huge boost in training (even if for non-conventional warfare) has greatly increased the combat and leadership capabilities of the troops. This has benefits for conventional warfare. For example, a U.S. M-1 tank crew in Korea recently got a perfect score (very rare) in their main combat skills evaluation (Table 8 Gunnery.) Foreign military professionals don't see the U.S. Army as overspecialized in the wrong area. They see them as the most combat experienced force on the planet, and most capable for any kind of fight.


Article Archive

Leadership: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close