Article: The US Army is preparing to fight in Europe, but can it even get there?

Ooh-Rah

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#1
I love/hate these types of articles. In this case, “hate”....

The US Army is preparing to fight in Europe, but can it even get there?

WASHINGTON — With Russia’s reemergence as a menace in Europe, the U.S. Army has been laying the foundations to fight once again on the continent it defended through most of the 20th century. But if war were to break out tomorrow, the U.S. military could be hard-pressed to move the number of tanks, heavy guns and equipment needed to face off with Russian forces.

And even if the Army could get there in numbers, then the real problems would start: how would the U.S. sustain them?

The U.S. sealift capacity — the ships that would ultimately be used to transport Army equipment from the states to Europe or Asia — is orders of magnitude smaller than it was during World War II. Combine that with the fact that the commercial shipbuilding industry in the U.S. is all but gone, and the U.S. can’t launch the kind of massive buildup of logistics ships it undertook during wartime decades ago.

Among the ships the country has for sealift and logistics forces, the Government Accountability Office has found a steady increase in mission-limiting equipment failures, which raises questions about how many might actually be available if the balloon goes up

“The American people far too often seem to believe that we could fly everything we needed over to Europe but that’s just not the case,” Hendrix said. “We’ve been practicing with Brigade Combat Teams but if we needed to respond to a large-scale contingency with Russia, you’d be looking at the need to move a corps — two or three divisions.”
 

Devildoc

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#2
You know who else besides Clancy fans read Red Storm Rising? The Soviets. Everyone knows that the US will need massive sealift to sustain a war. Hello, does World War 1 and World War II ring any bells?

You're right, the volume and type of shipping we have is totally unacceptable and pointless. We have ships driven by steam turbines that are 50 years old. now I am all four forward staging bases like Diego Garcia and some of the others, but you can't put a whole Division there and you still have to transport it.
 

Ocoka

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#5
I doubt very much there will be a conventional ground war with Russia. We stood poised to annihilate one another with nuclear warheads for decades; an almost continuous belligerancy complete with proxy wars in Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Central America, the African continent and the Middle East...and open warfare with the USSR never happened.

Why would it happen now? Why would the risk be higher now than during the height of the Cold War? The threat level just isn't there. Putin is aggressive where Russian interests are concerned but far less antagonist than any past Soviet regime.

The article I think is probably more alarmist than the situation actually warrants.

Many areas of our logistic and defense capabilities can be criticised. It's pretty easy to find waste, incompetence and short-comings within any huge military industrial bureaucracy. No, we don't have the sealift capabilities of the 2nd World War, of course not. We could never maintain anywhere near the expense...nor should we. The circumstances are far from that dire.
 
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Teufel

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#6
I doubt very much there will ever be a conventional ground war with Russia. We stood poised to annihilate one another with nuclear warheads for decades; an almost continuous belligerancy complete with proxy wars in Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Central America, the African continent and the Middle East...and open warfare with the USSR never happened.

Why would it happen now? Why would the risk be higher now than during the height of the Cold War? The threat level just isn't there. Putin is aggressive where Russian interests are concerned but far less antagonist than any past Soviet regime.

I've spent 40 years reading and analyzing and writing defense and military articles. The one above I think is probably more alarmist than the situation actually warrants.

Many areas of our logistic and defense capabilities can be criticised. It's pretty easy to find waste, incompetence and short-comings within any huge military industrial bureaucracy.
I don’t think it’s inconceivable that we see drawn into a limited ground war with Russia in the Baltics. Especially since Poland is itching for a fight worse than Khabib Nurmagomedov.
 

Ocoka

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#8
I don’t think it’s inconceivable that we see drawn into a limited ground war with Russia in the Baltics. Especially since Poland is itching for a fight worse than Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Not inconceivable, sir, no...but I doubt it. And a massive confrontation of armor on the plains of Europe as envisioned during Cold War, something that requires the kind of sealift capabilities of WW2? I just don't see it. I think the PRC presents more of a threat.
 
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Teufel

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#10
Not inconceivable, sir, no...but I doubt it. And a massive confrontation of armor on the plains of Europe as envisioned during Cold War, something that requires the kind of sealift capabilities of WW2? I just don't see it. I think the PRC presents more of a threat.
You don’t always get to pick your battlefield. China is the bigger threat but Russia is more belligerent. Hopefully we are all wrong.
 

SpitfireV

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#11
I agree that Russia won't go *much* further west. They make too much money selling energy to Europe to put that at risk IMO and that would then interfere with Putin's "director's fees". Maybe some limited stuff with former Soviet states a la South Ossetia but right now they're pretty tied up and still in the process of restructuring their armed forces IIRC (they might have finished that up though).

With China they're throwing their weight around in so many places it's hard to tell where it would kick off. India/China border? SCS? Kashmir? I can see more riots against the Chinese like in Tonga in 06 happening in the Pacific.

I think if anywhere South Africa will be the next big blow up- and if there's a big war in Africa, god save us all. I don't know what the US position is on South Africa if you guys would militarily support the government or not but that shit would be *messy*.
 

Kakashi66223

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#12
I believe a title reflects the gist of the document.

To back up @Ocoka as it's alarmism.

Scuba diving the title leads the reader to believe that we or US Army can no longer hold eastern Europe. The article is mostly saying Army requires naval and commercial sea transportation. Now this is all conjecture anyhow, or a big "guess" on my part. Most equipment in the inventory should be able to be loaded in a "large aircraft" at least it was Army doctrine at one time. I'm assuming the US Army base realignments are under indirect fire from this article too. I figured out long ago the Army moves faster than it appears to show off. I'm sure they could set up another V Corps in Germany in 72hours. Especially since Rangers can be ANYWHERE in 24, and they need support so it would be too far fetched to say that Big Army would not be far behind.
 

AWP

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#13
We can only preposition so much equipment before we start talking about hundreds of millions/ billions to set up a Corps' worth of equipment waiting on troops. The sea bridge is vital. One good thing is there isn't a navy on the planet that can stop us from moving equipment to Europe. If you talk about limited engagement (between superpowers..how is that possible?), then will the shipping lanes even factor? The second Russia tries to interdict our sea routes, that escalation makes this a world war.

In the event of a war, anywhere, we're the only limiting factor on the high seas.
 

Kakashi66223

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#15
@Ooh-Rah and @Teufel, This particular MilitaryTimes author writes mostly NAVMC from what looked into. Nothing about it says he has an axe to grind either, with the Army that is.

The points are valid, but if there was some conflict I'd be really let down if the US President doesn't say "Everyone pitch in, get it done." And like magic we are moving. Considerations are also given to European allies allowing us to use their ships, their freight and Navy to move equipment. I'm guessing the writer might not have taken allied European shipping/return shipping into account, it's never mentioned. I'd imagine if the European countries want the U.S. help they need to help get the U.S. back there.

Still want to believe that Putin is an enemy of an enemy, for what it's worth. Edit: device died, He is definitely not our friend but why not turn a negative into a positive?
 
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Teufel

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#16
I didn’t read the article to be honest. I think the biggest mobility challenge will be the incompatible rail lines in the Baltics. This will be an Army dominated coalition fight. The Navy would probably focus on sea control outside of the Baltic Sea to stay outside of CDCM range of Kaliningrad. Russia knows that any ship she sorties in the Baltic Sea would quickly decorate the sea floor. A conflict with Russia would either be short and incredibly violent, and fought entirely outside of Russian territory, or protracted and apocalyptic.
 

Ocoka

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#18
You don’t always get to pick your battlefield. China is the bigger threat but Russia is more belligerent. Hopefully we are all wrong.
Yes sir, hard agree. Nobody can predict the future.

My doubts about the likelihood of direct combat between US and Russian troops rest on the risks involved, not just to those two countries but to Europe and the world. MAD is still on the table even with reduced nuclear stockpiles. Everybody has too much to lose in the event of escalation...which, given precedent, is almost a given.

I agree with @SpitfireV re PRC, India and Pakistan as a possible flashpoint and the potential for dangerous encounters with China at sea or virtually anywhere.

As far as sealift capabilities, @AWP summed it up for me.
 
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Devildoc

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#19
I believe a title reflects the gist of the document.

To back up @Ocoka as it's alarmism.

Scuba diving the title leads the reader to believe that we or US Army can no longer hold eastern Europe. The article is mostly saying Army requires naval and commercial sea transportation. Now this is all conjecture anyhow, or a big "guess" on my part. Most equipment in the inventory should be able to be loaded in a "large aircraft" at least it was Army doctrine at one time. I'm assuming the US Army base realignments are under indirect fire from this article too. I figured out long ago the Army moves faster than it appears to show off. I'm sure they could set up another V Corps in Germany in 72hours. Especially since Rangers can be ANYWHERE in 24, and they need support so it would be too far fetched to say that Big Army would not be far behind.
My disclaimer is that I am not 'Army,' but I am pretty sure it isn't doctrine to predominantly transport via AC. The only viable option to transport anything with teeth is at sea. Yeah, the Rangers can be anywhere in 24 hours, the 82nd less than that, the Marines, even less than that in many places, but none of those can hold out without quick resupply and massive reinforcement. The Marines DO have forward-deployed tracks and supplies, but aside from the stash in Norway, everything else still needs to be moved by ship.

@SpitfireV , the US view on South Africa: "South Africa? Is there a South Africa?"
 

Ocoka

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#20
I think if anywhere South Africa will be the next big blow up- and if there's a big war in Africa, god save us all. I don't know what the US position is on South Africa if you guys would militarily support the government or not but that shit would be *messy*.

The ANC is historically a communist entity. They're in bed with China (the strategic Beijing Agreement) and have denounced opposition as US-led imperialism. And, IMV, corrupt as hell. What could possibly go wrong? I suspect there is much discontent brewing down there.

What would the US do in a blow-up? Hard to say. Socialists or communists or not, any significant support of anti-ANC factions would instantly be labeled racist. At this juncture, we are so sensitive to the slightest hints of racial inequality in this country...no matter how ridiculous they may be. You will recall that we condemned Rhodesia even though, just like us, it was engaged in a struggle against communist-backed forces. They, however, just happened to be predominantly black at a time when we were experiencing widespread racial violence.

A democratic US administration might materially or financially lend support to the government. A republican administration would probably stay out of it to spare itself the misery. I don't think either party would lend military aid.
 
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