December 1, 2005  

Land power revisionism

Readers who wonder why the joint force remains handcuffed by parochialism and a chronic shortage of trust need only read “The shape of brigades to come” in the October issue to find some understanding.

In his otherwise interesting article, retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales confines the audience to a soldier’s account of selected moments in military history: the beginnings of mechanized warfare; the lessons of the interwar period; the irregular warfare successes of Afghanistan; and the distributed operations in the north and west of Iraq in 2003. Trapped in a “muddy boots” perspective, General Scales flagrantly omits the pivotal role of air power in military operations. I can only assume the omission is purposeful considering the general’s past leadership of the Army War College and current endeavors in the service of “land power.”

Fortunately, the facts speak for themselves. Joint air-power employment was central to Germany’s concept of blitzkrieg, [U.S.] irregular operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and distributed operations in Iraq in 2003. What’s more, the Future Combat Systems concept he seems desperate to defend against reality checks coming from battle-blooded soldiers depends upon air power for its viability. Yet all General Scales can muster is a backhanded hat tip to a “fleeting moment in Bosnia.”

America should feel fortunate that the majority of Army officers who were my classmates during Command and General Staff College and the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies had a clearer and more realistic view of joint warfare theory, history and doctrine. I trust that they — the future leaders of America’s Army — can still recognize revisionism when they read it.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey D. Macloud

Air Force

Alexandria, Va.