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Direction of the Armor Branch: Waiting for Another Yom Kippur War is Too Late

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Technical Report,26 Jun 2017,24 May 2018

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Over the last fourteen years, the US Army focused on counterinsurgency and stability operations. General Milley has described as his greatest concern the resultant loss of functionality and competency in the ability to conduct ground operations of sufficient scale and ample duration against a highly competitive peer adversary in the unforgiving environment of ground combat. The US Army was in a similar situation following the Vietnam conflict and it took the Yom Kippur War of 1973 for the United States to recognize its own significant vulnerability. Observing the effects of the Yom Kippur War, the US Army transitioned to face the near-peer threat of the Soviet Union. In doing so, the US Army focused on rebuilding its armored formations equipped with new materiel solutions, paired with increased readiness and improved training. Seen as a watershed event, the US militarys campaign in Desert Storm and Desert Shield appeared to validate the new principles of the AirLand Battle concept developed following Vietnam. However, since 911, the US Army transitioned its training, materiel, and readiness focus away from its previous Gulf War experience of large scale combat operations. As the nation faces rising near-peer competitors, the US Army must again require its maneuver forces to be more agile and flexible, rather than a myopic focus on COIN. This recognized shortfall should serve as the catalyst to bring about a change in the Armor Branch to refocus readiness on large scale combat operations. Waiting for another Yom Kippur to stimulate the sense of urgency may be too late.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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