'Each soldier a rifleman': radical shift in the U.S. Army

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Sep 12 23:39:22 MDT 2003

The following article shows that the growth of resistance in Iraq --
and the "morale" problems the commanders in Iraq are facing at present
has not changed the basic direction toward transforming the US army
into a highly professionalized formation capable of waging full-scale
ground combat on a long-term basis.  The Israeli army -- an occupation
army in its very essence -- is a good choice for a model.

(The comparison with the Cuban army is useful for the light it sheds
on the military planner's rather poor grasp of the obstacles they will
face in reshaping the human factor, the working people who make up the
recruits, along these lines.)

Although these concepts have yet to be tested with decisive success in
any real military conflict, they are absolutely necessary to maintain
a viable combat army involved in an unlimited series of colonial
wars -- especially if this is to be done without an enormous increase
in military personnel including introduction of the draft.

This strategic course requires a transformation of the human material
as well as the units and troops assignments, something which has far
from fully taken place yet.  Ultimately it also requires big
changes -- including a sharp reduction in democratic rights -- on the
home front.  The actual shape of the US military that emerges out of
the current wars will be determined not primarily by Pentagon
planners, however dynamic, but by the class struggle.

This article highlights the fact that there has been no reversal of
the basic U.S. imperialist  course toward more wars like the invasion
and occupation of Iraq, despite the rise of resistance there, and the
too-rapid (for the Bush administration) exposure of their pretexts for
the war and triumphalist posturing as a pack of lies.
Fred Feldman

The Militant   Vol. 67/No. 32           September 22, 2003

‘Each soldier a rifleman’:
radical shift in U.S. Army
(front page)

“Every soldier is a rifleman.” That’s a credo of the U.S. Marines. It’
s now also becoming the motto of the U.S. Army—a radical shift in how
the Army trains all its enlisted troops.
Unlike the Marine Corps, the Army has too many soldiers who are
specialized as clerks, cooks, or mechanics but get little training or
experience in using weapons or fighting, according to what Gen. Kevin
Byrnes, the Army’s top training officer, told reporters September 4.

“We’ve become too specialized,” said Byrnes, the head of Training and
Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, Virginia. “Ask a junior
enlisted who they are, and they’ll tell you, ‘I’m a mechanic,’ not a
soldier. We need to change that culturally in the Army.” Beginning
next year for soldiers, and in three years for officers, the Army
plans to formally inculcate a “warrior ethos” throughout its ranks, he

“I think the Marines do a good job on their basic combat training, and
we’re trying to pull the better aspects out and embed them in our
training,” Byrnes said.

This is part of a broader transformation of the entire U.S. armed
forces, which includes giving central role to Special Operations
units, combining commands of various branches of the military,
outsourcing jobs like running military prisons and hospitals to
non-military entities, and enhancing the military’s volunteer
character. This is happening, as U.S. defense secretary Donald
Rumsfeld put it in a Jan. 31, 2002, speech to the War College in
Washington D.C., because “In the 21st century
we need rapidly
deployable, fully integrated joint forces capable of reaching distant
theaters quickly and working with our air and sea forces to strike
adversaries swiftly, successfully, and with devastating effect.”

In other words, the White House aims at turning the U.S. military into
an instrument more like that of Israel’s armed forces, or even those
of Cuba’s—not politically, of course, but in terms of rigorous
training aimed at making it a more effective fighting machine for

After praising the military’s performance in the assault and
occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, Byrnes said, “The initiatives
TRADOC is leading now will ensure that the lessons of war are well
learned and that every disciplined soldier thinks of himself or
herself as an infantryman first. It is the Warrior Ethos—the culture
of disciplined initiative, teamwork, determination, sacrifice, and
self-reliance—that guides our soldiers today and tomorrow.”

These initiatives include adding a six-week leadership course to the
officers’ training. The course would come before the officers’ 8- to
14-week training in their specialties, such as intelligence, infantry,
or logistics, and emphasize small-unit leadership skills, similar to
those possessed by Special Operations forces.

“They are very agile, very adaptive,” Byrnes said of those elite
soldiers. “They are intelligence collectors, they’re war fighters. How
can we take some of that goodness and bring it into our regular

Like Marine mechanics and supply clerks who pride themselves on their
shooting skills and ability to defend themselves in battle, GIs will
undergo similar instruction. “Thus, mechanics not only will be
required to fix engines but to repair them at night after a long road
march. And all Army personnel, not just front-line combat units, could
be required to qualify on marksmanship twice a year instead of just
once,” said an article in the September 8 Washington Post.

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