Gruntworks History Safety

Weekend Safety Brief 16 MAR 2018

Anyway – they aren’t gonna listen to me – so just be prepared for more half-assed fixes, repeat deployments, and the RC getting shafted with more drill weekends, and working off the clock for SNCOs and Officers.


At ease – rest.

I want to apologize to you guys for not reminding you of daylight savings time. I didn’t know that I needed to micromanage a bunch of grown-ass-men and your direct leadership when your fucking clock/smartphone updates automatically – you bunch of whiney puss-bag little malcontents.  Platoon Sergeants – those fucksticks that were late Monday have an appointment with the Sergeant Major and me this weekend, so you had better hold their little snowflake hands to report to duty.

That being said – it looks like the POTUS is making like he is still on Celebrity Apprentice, and firing people all over the place. Let’s hope GEN Mattis isn’t on the list.

There is more rumbling about the Reserve and National Guard slipping on its readiness, the “Active” forces being overtaxed, and the whole shebang in a sad state. Well, I am a Joe, so I can’t speak to the inner-workings of you Crayola Cowboys, but I do know a bit of history – especially ARMY history – and I can tell you why that all is.

Look, the purpose of the Reserve Component is to be available as backup for the regular military during wartime. The genesis of these units can be found in the Militia units of the colonial era.  While these units were armed and trained (notionally) to the standard of the regular armies of the day, they were not expected to be the main force or spearhead of any major engagement.  In the American colonies, they were often called upon to defend against Indian attack, or encroachment by rival colonial powers.

This is not to say that the Militia, or its progeny in the Guard and Reserve of today is not effective in its mission. Indeed, Washington’s first commission was as a Major in the Virginia Colony Militia.  This was not a Royal commission in the British Army – and he would not receive a Regular Army commission, in spite of eventually being appointed as the Regiment Commander of the Virginia Regiment (then the only full-time British Army unit in the Americas) until appointed Commander in Chief of the rebel Continental Army in 1775.  Additionally, the first battle (and eventual victory) of the Revolution was fought largely by the “Minutemen” of the local Militias in Lexington and Concord (see also the first two streamers on the Army flag).

Further, the United States Army, per both the Constitution and subsequent law, encompasses the Army of the United States (AUS – temporary positions, ranks, and divisions), the Regular Army (RA), the United States Army Reserve (USAR), and the Army National Guard (NG) – but the AUS has effectively been under suspense since 1973, with the end of conscription. So, the US Army has always had a strong tie to the Militia/USAR/NG.

Through the next century or so, the Militia was called upon to help fight the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and the Spanish War (among other smaller engagements). In most cases, Militia or State units performed exceptionally well, and many modern US Army regiments find roots in these humble beginnings. Overall, the numbers of RA Soldiers engaged in the Civil War is actually very low with 96% of the Union Army and 80% of the Confederate Army being drawn from state or militia formations.  In fact, ALL AUS, militia, and state units what participated in these wars were eligible for pensions, just like the troops in the Regular Army.

While the National Guard claims its founding in 1636, the actual establishment of the National Guard wasn’t until 1903, and the US Army Reserve was established in 1916. During World War I, many of the National Guard units were mobilized (400K troops), and integrated with the Regular Army as the full national mobilization of manpower began.  The personnel in these units were mustered out, along with AUS draftees and temporary promotions, at the end of the war.

At the beginning of World War II, entire divisions were built upon the base of National Guard units (300K troops). Indeed, most officer commissions were USAR, NG, or AUS Commissions during the war (and remain mostly USAR now).  Similarly, troops that served in Korea and Vietnam could have been part of the Regular Army, Army Reserve, National Guard, or the Army of the United States (Draftees).  In the case of these two wars, generally speaking, only very specialized troops would be called to active service in the war zone from the ranks of the USAR/NG with the majority of deployed combat arms troops coming from the RA and AUS.

With the final suspension of the Army of the United States at the end of the Vietnam Era draft, and a transition back to an All-Volunteer Force, the US Army had to think about quick mobilization in the event of a major war – specifically with the Soviet Union. Thus, mobilization plans always called for USAR and NG (collectively called “Reserve Component” [RC]) units to come on line with their RA counterpart “Capstone” units.  These units would “round out” the various brigades and divisions of the RA in the event of war.  Massive training exercises to this effect such as “REFORGER” in Europe keep readiness of these RC units at an acceptable level.

The Gulf War was the first instance of this new scheme being used in practice. Brigades of Combat Arms, as well as Battalions and Companies of Combat Support and Combat Service Support Soldiers were mobilized to round out their Regular Army Capstone units. While there were some hiccups during the certification process (notably with NG Combat Arms units caught in a combination of poor readiness and turf squabbles that kept them from actually going overseas), many units, especially those that reported to elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps, performed spectacularly, earning accolades from their RA commanders and Unit Citations for combat actions.

After the successes of the Gulf War, the Clinton era US Army leadership began to look to the RC units as one-for-one on the line replacements for units that were serving in the many wars of the 1990s. This was because the “peace dividend” drawdown of the RA from Cold War era levels, to much smaller numbers across the board, saw a deficit in available RA troops for deployments, while maintaining the various manning levels needed to be able to fight a major “two-front” war, should they be needed.  So from Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and finally Kosovo, the RC were employed as part of a regular rotation, often using the same capstone structure as the late Cold War era, to relieve RA units in the line of fire.

Then came the attacks of 9/11. Suddenly the United States was engaged in what has turned into a low boil, World War III. Ports, Airports, Military Installations, and other facilities all needed to be secured – immediately – by trained Soldiers.  Meanwhile, the fight had to be taken to the enemy thousands of miles away in several different countries.  Neither the Congress, nor President Bush wanted to revive the draft, and the Army of the United States – so again they had to rely upon the RC.  Hundreds of thousands – probably millions – of RC Soldiers (Sailors, Airmen and Marines – as well as puddle pirates) in critical units would be mobilized for duties ranging from guarding facilities, to Direct Action by Green Berets overseas (Yes, there are 2 NG SF Groups).

By the time the Iraq War kicked off, the RC was fully integrated into the war plan (OPPLAN COBRA II – which was tactically brilliant and strategically dumb as fuck). By 2010 more than 1.9 million troops have served in over 3 million individual deployments in the AOR – 40% of those numbers at any given time have come from the RC.  In the intervening years, the RC leadership (and any RC Soldier with any common sense) has recognized that not only is the GWOT not going away, with 73% of all RA troops with at least one deployment overseas under their belt by 2011, and most with multiple tours – but, maintaining readiness to fight a major conventional war has become a challenge.

Consider that in the GWOT, the Army, being the senior and largest branch, has also provided the bulk of the “boots on the ground” – at 54% of all those deployed, and over 1.8M troop-years spent in country by 2011. There is little doubt that the RC has had to bear a considerable amount of that burden.  Compare this to the monthly commitment of the average RC Soldier of “just 1 weekend per month and 2 weeks out of the year” – while maintaining a full time job, school, and family – one should not expect readiness to be maintainable at high levels for extended periods.  What was designed as an emergency force, has morphed into a full time partner on part time commitment.

What do I think can be done? First and foremost, we need to ditch the euphemism “Global War on Terror” – that shit was a PC term that G-Dubs came up with to avoid pissing off Muslims.  Global War = World War.  “Terror” is a tactic – not an enemy.  So let’s just be frank – it is World War III (granted a low intensity conflict compared to the two previous world wars) and our primary enemy is radical Islam.

Once that is clarified, we would reconstitute the AUS and either mobilize the RC for the duration of the war plus 6 months – or bring back the draft – along with actual funding (and taxes if needed) to support such an action. This would eliminate the pussy footing around many of the issues, bring the American people into the game, and solve our troop readiness issues.  Combine this with Mattis’s call for being deployable or GTFO, we could rebuild the military to where it needs to be very quickly.  Of course, no stop loss would need to be enforced, and we could fill vacancies as they come with regular recruiting.

There is only one way to WIN this thing – and that is to commit to winning. Enough of the bullshit.  Let’s either start drawing down and getting out of bullshit nation building projects like Afghanistan (which we should do regardless) or come correct and take the leash off the troops.  That means mobilizing for a punitive campaign, going in, kicking the shit out of the enemy with no holds barred, and then leaving their shithole country in ruins.

Anyway – they aren’t gonna listen to me – so just be prepared for more half-assed fixes, repeat deployments, and the RC getting shafted with more drill weekends, and working off the clock for SNCOs and Officers.

This weekend is a regular one – and the regular shit applies. I just about lost my voice now – Platoon Sergeants, reiterate the usual admonitions.  Take Charge!



E. Michael Davis II, OMar, CPP, 1SG USA (Ret) served nearly 25 years in the United States Army as a Military Police Investigator. His work focused on Investigations, Anti/Counter-Terrorism Operations, Police Special Operations, Intelligence Operations and Force Protection with multiple Joint and Combined Commands. The impact of his work spanned the spectrum from tactical actions to strategic planning and engagement. In this capacity, he worked closely with nearly every security and law enforcement agency of the United States government, as well as dozens of police, security and intelligence agencies of friendly foreign governments. He experienced multiple combat tours in the Gulf War, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and three tours in Iraq. He is a recipient of two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart amongst many other awards and honors. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Military History, Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Studies and Master's Degree in Post 1945 Military History from the American Military University - all with honors. He is still active in the anti/counter-terrorism community as well as a freelance author, historian and blogger.

2 comments on “Weekend Safety Brief 16 MAR 2018

  1. I’ve been say this same shit since 12 September 2001. I was a year away from finishing my three year sentence on recruiting, and six months from finding out I could leave early if I went to Korea. All I wanted was to get my ass back on a tank, and get some retribution. As a then junior NCO, the only people that listened were also in agreement.

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