Do we need ground troops?


March 11, 2003, 03:18 AM
A student of mine asked me the question, and I thought it a fairly good question, so I'll throw it on the forum.

She asked, "with the technology (smart bombs, stealth planes etc..) today, do we REALLY need ground troops anymore? Do we need to put young men and women in the line of fire in order to win a war?"

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March 11, 2003, 03:29 AM
Of course we need ground troops. Thats a no brainer. Who is going to take the real estate?

Lord Grey Boots
March 11, 2003, 04:00 AM
Yes. The rule is that you don't control land until you can put a 19 year old with a rifle on it.

The high-tech stuff makes it easier and safer for the 19 year old, but you still need to put him there.

March 11, 2003, 04:50 AM
That question was being asked in the 60's when I was in the army.The answer is a big YES.You never take and control ground from the air.It takes grunts-tanks -arty and air working as a cordinated unit to fight and win a war.
One of reasons our units are getting more and more effective( even though there are less people) is is the high teck commo now in use.Communications between all the units now is faster and more reliable then it ever has been.

March 11, 2003, 04:55 AM

Even though smart bombs and new technology are advancing its still necessary to have the guys on the ground taking real estate.

Of course if you look at Desert Shield/Desert Storm, airpower did a great job of blowing up alot of equipment and breaking the Iraq ground forces will to fight.

March 11, 2003, 07:23 AM
It's very hard to hold real estate without a snuffy smith with a rifle on the ground.

Do we need to put young men and women in the line of fire... No, not the women. The only ones I've heard about are in non-combatant positions.

Jim March
March 11, 2003, 08:35 AM
Actually, no you don't, so long as you have the morals of a syphallitic sewer rat. :scrutiny:

You can always nuke the enemy till they glow, and not risk any ground troops at all. Or rather, not yours.

We don't do that because we're fundamentally *moral*. So we send ground troops in to deal with the enemy on a *precision* basis.

Believe me, Liberal weenies who hate ground troops haven't considered the alternatives. Par for the course :barf:.

March 11, 2003, 08:39 AM
...the morals of a syphallitic sewer rat.
Let's leave the Clintons out of this, OK Jim? :p

March 11, 2003, 08:44 AM
As one who has studied and practised the application of air power all of my adult life, the answer is an unqualified "YES!".

Air power and Sea power can do a lot of things to help defend the country and prosecute hostilities when necessary. But since our fundamental view of warfare (today, but not always in the past) is stop our enemies from harming us, we are not in the business of wholesale destruction of other countries. Air and Sea power can help weaken an enemy's resolve and damage their forces, but it takes a man on the ground to sort out combatants from non-combatants and deliver the real pin-point application of force necessary to accomplish our mission in light of the view expressed above.

We will always need soldiers, marines, and those land-based portions of the Navy and Air Force to be able to do the job properly.

March 11, 2003, 09:05 AM
An airplane can't rescue a hostage or snatch a high value prisoner for interrogation or seize documents, etc. IMHO, the tough guys with muddy or slimy or dusty boots will always be required. Heaven help them if they don't have airplanes and ships and Lord knows what else to back their play.

March 11, 2003, 09:33 AM
Somebody needs to be there for the Iraqis to surrender to. :D

March 11, 2003, 09:34 AM
Without troops on the ground, who will Iraq's Army surrender to?

Edit: Chandlerm. you beat me by less than a minute.

March 11, 2003, 09:55 AM
Wars are won by guys on the ground w/ guns.

Bombers and missles just make sure our guys have fewer of their guys to shoot...:evil:

March 11, 2003, 10:14 AM
You could probably take France without ground troops! :D :D

March 11, 2003, 10:26 AM
Perhaps you should ask her if she really thinks there is a reset button in war?

It's normal for the very young to seek out what they believe is a better or easier solution. Yes, as stated above, the smart bombs etc.. reduce the enemy's ability to resist and strike back, but they can't occupy territory or enforce rules and laws.

Ground troops are essential for controlling a given area of a country. That ground control is neccesary for the next stage of redeeming Iraq and installing the seeds of a Democratic government there IMNSHO.

As mentioned above, Japan surrendered with out a ground war on their home territory. But we all know that it took two nuclear strikes for them to wake up and smell the coffee.

Conquer with out ground troops? Sure, just be ready to handle the guilt of killing millions of civilians. Nuclear air bursts do not discriminate between a combatant and a child, the way a man with a rifle can.

Don P.

March 11, 2003, 10:40 AM
Actually, no you don't, so long as you have the morals of a syphallitic sewer rat.

There you go Jim, always adding Feinstein to the mix ;)

Me and the other two guys in the room thought (of course you need ground troops!) but it seems that some women have no clue about wars; but of course they have 150% more opinions about them then men do.. Wish they all had Runt or Tamara's mentality...

March 11, 2003, 11:21 AM
Absolutely! It takes people on the ground to control the infrastructure.

March 11, 2003, 11:36 AM
No Air Force or Navy in the world can clear and hold a piece of land other than an air base or a sandbank. ;)
From Clancy's Armored Cav:
"When I went into KUwait I had thirty-nine tanks," one captured Iraqi battalion commander said. "After six weeks of air bombardments, I had thirty-two left. After twenty minutes in action against the M1s, I had none."

March 11, 2003, 11:51 AM
You could probably take France without ground troops!

You could probably take France w/ a Girl Scout troop...:D

March 11, 2003, 12:05 PM
You'd still have to defeat at least the Foreign Legion! :rolleyes:

March 11, 2003, 12:08 PM
On the other hand, an M-16 is a personal protection device to be used by the guys with the IMPORTANT weapons - the radios...

March 11, 2003, 12:08 PM
We didn't use ground troops on Japanese soil in WWII.
Just used 2 bombs.

Byron Quick
March 11, 2003, 12:30 PM

Assign your student the reading of Robert A. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" (nothing like the movie) As the air and space capabilities of the military in the novel are orders of magnitude greater than our current capability, it is instructive that ground troops were still needed. Have her look up Roger Young's posthumous citation for the Congressional Medal of Honor for extra credit.

March 11, 2003, 03:32 PM
"We didn't use ground troops on Japanese soil in WWII.
Just used 2 bombs."

Actually, that is not true. There were ten's of thousands, if not more, ground troops there afterwards as occupation troops. The two atomic bombs certainly convinced the Japanese to surrender, but they did not surrender until we had troops on the ground.

March 11, 2003, 03:35 PM
"Assign your student the reading of Robert A. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" (nothing like the movie)"

Good point! I first read ST shortly after it came out. Have re-read it many times. I consider it one of the finest novels ever written.

The movie on the other hand stunk.

John G
March 11, 2003, 03:43 PM

Everything else is just support.

Mike Irwin
March 11, 2003, 03:49 PM
This very subject has reared its head any number of times through the last 100 years.

Guilermo Douhet (I think that's who it was) predicted that the aircraft, through strategic bombing, would A) make wars unfightable and B) would make ground and naval forces obsolete.

In the United States Gen. Billy Mitchell was such powerful, and abrasive, proponent of air power in the 1920s that he was actually court martialed for his advocacy. He didn't have a lot of tact, and he also greatly upset the Navy, whom he said would be totally outmoded by aircraft.

With the dawning of the atomic age the Air Force and Army tried to A) gut the Navy and Marine Corps, and B) predicted that with all wars of the future being atomic, only a few ground troops would be necessary to take and hold the ground.

In all cases, though, the need for an integrated, broad-base force comprising air, ground, and naval assets was shown to be absolutely critical.

World War II showed the gaping holes in Douhet's and Mitchell's theories.

Korea proved that only the United States Navy had the ability to provide the kind of support that ground troops needed.

Mike Irwin
March 11, 2003, 03:52 PM
No Navy can clear and hold a piece of ground...

Well, the United States Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy, so if you really want to split a hair... :)

Navy joe
March 11, 2003, 03:52 PM
I always like the quote attributed to an A-10 driver that you can dsetroy all you want from the air but it does you no good to RTB to find the Russian tank commander drinking coffee in your ready room.

America's biggest armor chink is that since mid 1942 we have not known what it is like to fight on a battlefield without air superiority. Eventually someone will figure out how to put us in that fix. Our dependence on air superiority is so great that it is intertwined with our military psyche. Regarding Somalia, the Somali leaders considered the beating they took to be a victory because they knocked a hole in our aerial infallibility and made us bleed. But that leads into another psych problem regarding the viewing public, post-vietnam POW squeamishness, etc....

Derek Zeanah
March 11, 2003, 04:07 PM
Sure. Until someone's standing on the ground saying "this is now ours," you haven't won.

Bombs and air-power are more about softening up the enemy before the ground troops move in. :neener:

Having said that, I remember something like that question on a Frontline on Desert Storm; apparently Air Force officials thought enough bombing would push the enemy to surrender. Didn't happen, and I don't know if there's been a more effective air campaign in history.

March 11, 2003, 04:18 PM
Two Blink: you might want to consider suggesting that your student do some reading on different types of military deception - especially at the tactical and operational levels. She'll have to do some digging to find much current info on it, since it's obvious that for such things to work they must not be common knowledge. Even so, if she just takes the stuff done in WWII and extrapolates she may well be able to see that the whole idea is to get the other side to bomb, shell, and generally rip the :cuss: out of areas of little value while protecting those of high value - like troop concentrations, FARPs, headquarters units, and that sort of thing.

If she can see that much it should become obvious that the ONLY way to actually secure any piece of real estate is to have somebody on our side standing on top of it prepared to deal with anything that comes along.

Mike Irwin
March 11, 2003, 04:35 PM
Navy Joe,

There were many times when the local air superority issue was in question during Vietnam, as well. The Vietnamese had very credible anti-aircraft assets, and sited them extremely well.

They took an especially heavy toll on American helicopters.

It was largely American experience in Vietnam and the tactics and weapons that were developed in the aftermath that allowed the United States and coalition to deal so effectively with Iraq's integrated AA defenses in the opening days of the Gulf War.

Iraq had an extremely complex AA suite, and yet it was cut out with minimal losses and in a minimal amount of time.

March 11, 2003, 05:45 PM
All the high tech, geewhiz stuff we spend money on is designed to extend and make better the life of Pvt. Rufus Grunt. Wars are won and lost with those people. I hope we never forget that Pvt. Rufus Grunt is the ultimate weapon.

Navy joe
March 11, 2003, 10:07 PM
Mike, I'm aware of the Viet mess, but I still say we had air superiority in that no enemy planes were blistering our troops and air support could still be had despite the cost. Yes we became helicopter dependent, we still need other plays in the book to put troops on the ground since doing the same thing time and again with a helicopter was re-underlined as a really dumb idea in Somalia. Vietnam was easier since with much of the terrain any competent opposition commander could pick possible insertion sites and site heavy weapons to make the landing zones rather untenable to sustained airframe life. Excellent counter-tactics were detailed in Hack's book "Steel my Soldier's Hearts".

Another battlefield given has become that we have artillery superiority. Sooner or later someone is going to make an effort to fight us like we fight. In Vietnam the troopers could usually count on prompt artillery support and the redlegs could deliver it from fixed firebases with zero fear of counter-battery of any kind. I hope we never see the day where all of our advantages are nullified by an enemy with some fight in them, but I fear we may. At that point it will most certainly be the well-hardened ground troop that we need.

March 11, 2003, 10:26 PM
Hmmm... twoblink assigns two books to read, they are:

Anthem (Ayn Rand)
Starship Troopers (Heinlein)

Gee guys... I beat you all to it! :D As a libertarian, of course I'd start with these two authors!!

I pondered joining the Marines in my younger days; and they said I was "intelligent enough" to carry the radio... One of the toughest jobs in the world; all the snipers in the world are trained to pick you off, and the guy standing next to you!

I see on the history channel sometimes though; these "ivory towered" professors talking about a future where wars are done with all bombs from the air, and no troops are needed..

What is amazing is, you see the serious bombings; and then afterwards, there are still buildings standing etc...

Bombs can't tell a civilian vs. enemy trooper...

March 11, 2003, 10:32 PM
Wars are still won by, and only by, the kid with the rifle, pistol, knife, e-tool, sharp pointy stick, or rock.

I think that most people, especially those who are too young to remember Vietnam, have forgotten that the sterile CNN wars they've been watching on TV are the EXCEPTION and NOT THE RULE.

I, too, am too young to remember Vietnam but I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by survivors of WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

God bless the infantry!

March 12, 2003, 09:44 AM
NOPE ............... not if we nuke them!


March 12, 2003, 07:59 PM
"Well, the United States Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy, so if you really want to split a hair..."

Speak that in the wrong company and you may find yourself on the wrong end of the attention of some proud Devil Dawgs.


Byron Quick
March 12, 2003, 09:01 PM
Personally, I have more sense than to say such. And I've ALWAYS known it. Dad taught me.

Dad's fighting weight was 160 and he liked to brawl up into his thirties He lost one fight but won the rematch.

This is what he had to say about the Marines (he was Navy and Army National Guard): "Son, you can start a fight with any Marine you please with a good chance of success...just make sure it's a Marine and not Marines .

March 17, 2003, 09:48 PM
My army buddy has a different version of that saying:

"You can start a fight with a Marine; but don't start a fight with a Marine if you don't think you can finish it before the other Marines finish their beer..." :D

Ala Dan
March 17, 2003, 11:40 PM

Ground troops are America's backbone of our own
existence. Without them, NO war could be won!

Thumb's Up for the Ground Pounder's


Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

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