March 17, 2011:
The U.S. Army is getting a chilling message these days from its civilian bosses in the Department of Defense. The message is that, for the foreseeable future, the nation will not need a large army, equipped with heavy weapons. Special operations forces and some light infantry is OK, but any plans for lots of armored units slugging it out with similar foes is, well, no longer on the menu. The army thus becomes an expeditionary force, to be sent overseas for emergencies America can't avoid. But not to stay and get involved with another Iraq or Afghanistan.
This means that there will be less (if any) support for new armored vehicles. The army will be under pressure to downsize. Since the army is being told to be more like the marines, the marines will be under pressure to get smaller. The army and the marines will be fighting over the same jobs. It could get ugly.
But there will be surprises, there always are. While the current thinking is that North Korea will quietly implode eventually, as its once mighty military falls apart from poverty and declining discipline, things could get out of control, and South Korea might call on American troops to help sort it all out. These things happen.
Then there's Iran, getting more and more aggressive against their Arab neighbors. If Iran makes a move, all those well equipped Arab armies may not be able to stop the aggression. That's what has happened so many times in the past. What are you going to do?
There are many other hot spots where things might get so ugly that the American public calls for "something to be done." Politicians cannot withstand that sort of pressure for too long, no matter what plans are being made for the army now.