Small Wars Journal


Wed, 02/25/2015 - 6:48pm


Morgan Smiley

As discussions about the size and purpose of the US Army continue, the recent National Security Strategy (NSS) as well as events unfolding in Iraq may point the way for what we will see in the years to come and how we can expect to deal with it.

The NSS makes clear that protecting the US homeland, from catastrophic attack, terrorist actions, WMDs, etc, remains the primary focus of our strategy.  That strongly suggests that we maintain/reinforce strong air, naval, cyber, and special operations (SOF) capabilities, along with strong interagency fusion efforts (the recent activation of the 1st Special Forces Command as well as the soon-to-be-created Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center are examples of this).  Expect dwindling dollars to be surged towards these areas, with CYBERCOM potentially becoming as prominent as SOCOM if not more so.

In protecting the homeland, the US Army may not be expected to play a significant role other than as a visible deterrent feature, ready and equipped for “Big War” which, hopefully, will cause others to think twice about getting too bold with us.  However, as the NSS identifies “Building Capacity to Prevent Conflict” as a strategy, and given our previously stated preference to work with others to conduct military-to-military security-building activities, coupled with our desire to avoid any more major operations, it seems that Iraq (and possibly Ukraine) will serve as the template for how the Army (conventional & SOF) will be used in the future:  using small elements to advise and assist host-nation forces in executing regionally-focused combat/security missions that have our attention but not necessarily our full interest.  The Army may shrink even more from the current 490,000 but will likely level off at roughly 400,000-430,000…..large enough (with our Reserve Component) for the unlikely “Big War” scenario but still sizeable enough for the more likely mil-to-mil/ combat advising scenario.  Don’t be surprised if the conventional Army permanently reorganizes certain formations to better support regional advise & assist missions in order to expand the influence of a smaller force.

That’s my two-cents.

Morgan Smiley is a retired US Army officer currently working in Saudi Arabia.


About the Author(s)

Morgan Smiley is a DoD civil servant and a retired U.S. Army officer.



Thu, 08/11/2022 - 5:18am

 I have a prediction for you. I predict that in the coming months, people will look back at 2016 and wonder where the world went wrong. Here you check this Driveway paving and get more new things about morris paving. Well because this year has been so full of misinformation, genuine news being replaced by false news, and the media being played for fools by those who see themselves as gods well suddenly it all seems like a dark age.


Fri, 02/27/2015 - 5:05pm

I do not challenge your predictions. I do think the comments about our strategy and as such the type of military and capability of response is due to the limitations of very passive, poor, even dangerous thinking of the current administration. Even openly announcing this type of a strategy simply invites bad guys to fill a vacuum.

Soon enough the appeasement and disarmament approach of the marxist liberals in control of our military will get us in a situation which will cost untold blood and treasure.

The approach predicted/outlined is isolationist and clueless. It means the terrorists will come here... sooner rather than later... It also assures and overly aggressive Russia. Invites an aggressive China. and Iran.

From the author of "Predictions:"

"Don’t be surprised if the conventional Army permanently reorganizes certain formations to better support regional advise & assist missions in order to expand the influence of a smaller force."


But I suggest that it is not the smaller force that is driving the (a) possible reorganization and (b) actual deployment-of-forces train but, rather, a change in our perception of the strategic environment.

If one perceives of the strategic environment, as we recently did, in such unrealistic terms as "universal values," "the end of history" and "a few dead-enders" (think Paul Wolfowitz), then one can have an Army of a size, shape and deployment to simply overthrow uncooperative regimes, liberate the "oppressed" populations from same and assist with some very limited "nation-building" requirements.

If, on the other hand, one perceives of the strategic environment -- as we do today -- in more realistic terms ("diverse and conflicting values," "a clash of civilizations" and, thus, "the West versus the Rest"); then, in this very different strategic environment, one must have an Army that is -- if not sized and shaped much differently -- then one that is certainly deployed much differently.

Thus, given:

a. Our enduring political objective -- of outlying state and societal transformation -- on a very grand scale. And given

b. Our new/old understanding that such activity will not be welcomed but, indeed, will be opposed.

Then, given in this new strategic light, we can understand why we must deploy our forces in such a way (regionally aligned, advise and assist, build partner capacity) so as to multiply their reach and effect.

Minus this such deployment of forces (and the reorganization suggested by the author?), then we would have no hope of:

a. Achieving our "grand scale" political objective.

b. Of worldwide outlying state and societal transformations.

c. In a strategic environment best characterized as one of "resistance and opposition" rather than as one of "welcoming and embrace."