Just a day after her report about U.S. cyber-unreadiness, AP Pentagon star Lolita Baldor is back with another great read: This time it's based on an interview with the new boss of Army Forces Command, Gen. David Rodriguez, who acknowledges that the soldiers serving in Afghanistan over the coming years will be spread ever-thinner as many of their colleagues come home as part of the planned withdrawal.
Beyond Afghanistan, tomorrow's Army in general will be smaller, which means each soldier needs to be prepared for more jobs, more threats and familiar with more new equipment than ever before, Rodriguez said. Translation: Just because the Army's end strength may come down, the force is still counting on the high-tech soldier radios, electronic equipment and other modern-day accessories it has wanted for years:
Soldiers today must be trained not only on how to use their weapons and conduct operations, but they must also master an ever-expanding array of high-tech intelligence, surveillance, communications and other equipment. That will be particularly important, Rodriguez said, as forces shift to the hotly contested eastern border region of Afghanistan, where the rugged terrain and often isolated tribal communities force a greater reliance on long-range observation, a stronger link between manned and unmanned surveillance equipment and dependence on a fragile human intelligence network. "In my first 20 years in the Army, we probably got about 20-30 new systems," Rodriguez said. "In 15 months [in Afghanistan] when I was a division commander, I got 172 new ones."It leads to a new variation of a classic question in warfare: Instead of asking, "Can a small force of motivated troops defeat a larger force of conscripts," now it becomes: "Can a smaller group of highly trained, well equipped troops be as effective as a larger group of highly trained, well equipped troops?"