As the new year begins, we all make resolutions in an effort to be better than we were last year. Working to improve, year over year, is a fundamental value of the military, so we think they deserve some resolutions of their own. Let's start with the Army, which spent 2017 fighting two wars.
So, what should the Army resolve to do better in 2018?
4. Start work on new armored vehicles
The M1A2 Abrams and the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting vehicles have served well, but they're designs from the late 1970s, and upgrades can only do so much. Russia is developing the Armata family of armored vehicles, which have a number of new technologies, like active-protection systems, installed.
The Army needs to start work on new armored vehicles that can show the same superiority over the Armata family that the Abrams and Bradley demonstrated over the T-72 and BMP once upon a time.
The M2 Bradley has seen a lot of desert miles. (National War College Military Image Collection)
3. Develop a new scout helicopter
The OH-58 retired in 2016. It outlasted two planned replacements, the RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopter and the ARH-70 Arapaho. The Army is now trying to make do by using the AH-64 Apache as a scout helicopter.
This just isn't gonna work. The Apache has a good sensor suite, but why would you send it out carrying less than full firepower? Furthermore, putting firepower on a scout helicopter might just tempt a pilot to go beyond the call of a recon mission. So, getting a new scout helicopter, like the H145M from Airbus, has to be on the Army's "to do" list for 2018.
Airbus H145M helicopter showing a gun pod on the left pylon. (Photo from Airbus Helicopters)
2. Stock enough munitions
The Heritage Foundation reported that the Army's chief of logistics warned of shortages of some crucial weapons. Among them are MIM-104 Patriot missiles, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, Excalibur GPS-guided 155mm shells, and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missiles.
This shortage affects those on the front — and not just because they may run out of ammo, having to resort to spitballs. Proper training on weapon systems helps to keep troops proficient, and proper training requires munitions.
A Patriot Air and Missile Defense launcher fires an interceptor during a previous test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The latest configuration of the system, called PDB-8, has passed four flight tests and is now with the U.S. Army for a final evaluation. (Image from Raytheon)
1. Improve readiness
The Heritage Foundation report noted that only 10 of the Army's 31 active brigade combat teams are combat-ready. That number is actually a misnomer, since of those 10, only three are able to fight right away. There's a word for this: Unacceptable.
The Army needs to get more of its "combat ready" brigades ready to fight right away. That means making sure the troops have enough training, that their gear is in top shape, and that they have enough munitions to fight.
A U.S. Army Paratrooper, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, engages targets during a recon and sniper break contact live fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Feb. 6, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gerhard Seuffert)
What resolutions do you want to see the United States Army make for 2018? Comment below!