US Army Turns 242 Years-old; Ready to Win the Next Big War
The U.S. Army -- the most combat experienced; technologically sophisticated and pampered fighting force on the planet -- celebrated its 242nd birthday June 14 and is re-learning how to fight the war it's historically been good at: conventional warfare.
The army's been fighting Muslim insurgents or terrorists in the Middle East since its 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Its experience in asymmetric warfare is unparalleled among conventional armies.
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But in fighting Iraqi, Afghan and Syrian insurgents, the army's conventional warfare skills have gotten rusty. It focused on developing short-range weapons and tactics that will, however, be inappropriate for the long-range precision fires in tomorrow's conventional war against either Russia or China.
The army is also trying to find the balance between deterrence missions in Europe and Asia while preparing for combat operations in the Middle East.
"It is important to look at those types of things that go on," Speer said.
"You've got to be ready," said acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer.
"So, to be ready, part of what's going on with the national defense strategy review that the secretary of defense is working on, what's the Army's role to that?"
He said that what the army needs is to achieve a balance between the numbers it needs for capacity, and what it needs to be able to execute its current mission."
To attain these disparate missions, the army plans to add 550,000 soldiers to the active force, a number 74,000 larger than this year's goal of 476,000.
"What do we need to do five, 10 years from now?" said Speer.
"Because if you don't start doing it now, you can't wait five to 10 years and then say let's change it. It won't happen. And then that will be where you're in a situation where you're not ready for the thing that comes next."
The Army is the oldest of the four services. It was created on June 14, 1775 when the 1775 Congress adopted "the American Continental Army."
The army is four months older than the United States Navy; five months older than the United States Marine Corps and 172 years older than the United States Air Force, which began as part of the Army.
Flag Day is also celebrated on June 14.