- By Kori SchakeKori Schake is a fellow at the Hoover Institution and contributor to Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government blog.
Our Army is really struggling to define its mission and its force structure going forward. With the president and defense secretary having ruled out sizing the force to fight a sustained counterinsurgency, and with intelligence assessments rendering implausible the need for a quick-trigger large-scale land war, the Army is in a bind. It doesn’t want to reclama the strategy, but it has yet to offer an argument that justifies the 490,000 active-duty end strength in its Future Years Defense Program. So it is experimenting with amphibious deployments in the Pacific — but America already has a land force optimized to that role and it’s by no means clear the Army can best the Marine Corps at its core competency. If the strategy requires more amphibious capability, why not plus up the Marine Corps instead of retool the Army?
That’s the argument in a post I wrote for War on the Rocks, a blog that debates defense issues. While the Ryan-Murray budget deal takes some of the pressure off in the near term, the Army really needs to find a persuasive mission for such a large and expensive active-duty force, because if the administration budgets to its strategy, Army end strength will come dramatically down. If I were betting my own money, I’d wager the Marine Corps will enthusiastically support the argument for an expanded expeditionary force and then take the Army’s lunch money.
John Reed is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He comes to FP after editing Military.com’s publication Defense Tech and working as the associate editor of DoDBuzz. Between 2007 and 2010, he covered major trends in military aviation and the defense industry around the world for Defense News and Inside the Air Force. Before moving to Washington in August 2007, Reed worked in corporate sales and business development for a Swedish IT firm, The Meltwater Group in Mountain View CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter at the Tracy Press and the Scotts Valley Press-Banner newspapers in California. His first story as a professional reporter involved chasing escaped emus around California’s central valley with Mexican cowboys armed with lassos and local police armed with shotguns. Luckily for the giant birds, the cowboys caught them first and the emus were ok. A New England native, Reed graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in international affairs and history.| The Complex |