The Pentagon’s latest budget request would reduce Army end strength to 440,000. While this reduction has caused a great deal of consternation in some quarters, this is not nearly enough.
In this age of budgetary and strategic uncertainty, the best course of action is to radically transform the Army by cutting the number of active-duty personnel by more than 75% to 125,000. To compensate for the resulting downsizing, the Army should adopt a multifaceted-approach to increase the quality, flexibility, and combat power of the force. This approach would entail stricter recruiting and promotion selection standards, significantly higher pay, greater emphasis on education and training, lengthier enlistment terms, longer deployments, a no-tolerance policy for criminal and disciplinary infractions, an increased use of private contractors for non-combat roles, and a rethinking of our reliance on the National Guard and Reserve.
It is possible to radically increase the lethality of an individual soldier, given enough money and technology. What tech can’t replace is boots on the ground. Or as Lenin put it, “Quantity is quality of its own.”
But I like the American version better: No replacement for displacement.