- The US Army recently deployed hundreds of soldiers to Europe with almost no notice, part of a strategy reminiscent of its Cold War approach to fighting, Stars and Stripes reported.
- Rapid mobilization, critical when a clash with the Soviets was possible, is returning as part of the Pentagon’s new Dynamic Force Employment strategy, meant to make the US military less predictable.
- Unpredictability and the ability to quickly surge forces into the theatre would allow the US and partners to catch Russia off guard in a conflict.
The US military is pulling a Cold War-era “zero notice” mobilization strategy out of mothballs in order to be faster, more unpredictable, and ultimately deadlier in any high-end conflict with Russia.
Earlier this month, hundreds of US soldiers were suddenly informed they were deploying to Europe. A week later, they were on their way to Poland for training.
“We got zero notice,” Col. Chad Chalfont, commander of the 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, told Stars and Stripes.
During the Cold War, the US and its European allies maintained the ability to rapidly mobilize to deter Soviet aggression. After the fall of the Soviet Union, those warfighting muscles atrophied and readiness declined.
Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014 was a major wake-up call for the US and its allies and partners, and it had military leaders scrambling to find their old Cold War playbooks.
The US military has brought back rapid mobilization as part of the Pentagon’s new Dynamic Force Employment strategy, which is designed to make the US strategically predictable but operationally unpredictable. The ability to surge troops into Europe is essential to that goal.
But that is easier said than done. US troops have at times found themselves stuck or separated from their equipment when moving between training exercises in Europe. The last thing anyone wants is armoured units arriving without their armour.
“We have to be able to move as fast or faster than Russia in order to be an effective deterrent,” Ben Hodges, formerly the US Army’s top general in Europe, said last year, The Washington Post reported.
“Our ability to rapidly surge combat-ready forces into and across the theatre is critical in projecting forces at a moment’s notice to support the NATO alliance,” US Army Europe said of the recent rapid deployment of Army armoured units.
This approach is going to be the new norm as the Department of Defence prepares the armed services for a difficult fight in an era of renewed great power competition.
“We are going to see this on a regular basis,” Maj. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commanding general for Army National Guard at US Army Europe, told Stars and Stripes.
“For any of our adversaries anywhere, it is going to be unpredictable for them. And that is good for our national security. This is all about deterrence and readiness,” Gronski said, adding that he believes the Army can still get faster.
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