Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Hey, shut up about being the best military in the world, because we might not be (A)

After eight years at Foreign Policy, here are the ten most popular Best Defense posts.

A German designed Leopard AS1 Gun Tank from the Australian 1st Armored Regiment at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia. (U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons)
A German designed Leopard AS1 Gun Tank from the Australian 1st Armored Regiment at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia. (U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons)

Next month, this column will be moving to another platform. But before we go, in celebration of eight happy and productive years at Foreign Policy, here are the most popular items ever to run on the Best Defense. This item, which originally ran on May 2, 2016, is number 10.

So writes Army Lt. Col. Terrence Buckeye in the new issue of ARMOR magazine.

After two years of teaching at the Australian Army’s School of Armour, he reports, “My primary takeaway from this assignment is that Australian mounted tactics training at the company level and below is much better than our U.S. tactics.” They’re notably better at live fire training, he adds.

Next month, this column will be moving to another platform. But before we go, in celebration of eight happy and productive years at Foreign Policy, here are the most popular items ever to run on the Best Defense. This item, which originally ran on May 2, 2016, is number 10.

So writes Army Lt. Col. Terrence Buckeye in the new issue of ARMOR magazine.

After two years of teaching at the Australian Army’s School of Armour, he reports, “My primary takeaway from this assignment is that Australian mounted tactics training at the company level and below is much better than our U.S. tactics.” They’re notably better at live fire training, he adds.

If you don’t believe me, he adds, just go and look. “For those who doubt how poor our tactics training is now, a visit to an Australian ROBC [Regimental Officer Basic Course] or Crew Commander’s Course (six-week tactics course for corporal and sergeant vehicle commanders) will likely change your view.”

Tom intervention: The interesting thing to me is that intelligent people sense this state of affairs. That is, if a military school has high standards and teaches valuable skills, graduating from there will mean something to other soldiers. As Buckeye notes, “Graduation from Armoured Corps ROBC carries a degree of prestige that is noticeably missing when lieutenants graduate from ABOLC.” In other words, you don’t need to talk about being the best if you can walk the walk.

I have to say that this is one of the more candid articles I have read recently in an official U.S. military publication. That candor is to be saluted, because it reflects an integrity among those writing, editing, and approving the publication of thoughtful articles. Genuine improvement can only begin with a sober, honest assessment of one’s performance — as an individual, unit, branch, or service.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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