Why is the US always fighting proxy?

Do we think about why the United States willingly unleashes conflicts, but without special need does not get involved in them, in most cases trying to stay on the sidelines? Is this behavior an implementation of the ancient principle of “raking in the heat with the wrong hands” or are they simply not strong enough?

It would seem, what lack of strength? We are talking about the third largest army in the world. Nevertheless, this is worth thinking about.

Obviously, there can be many answers to the question why the United States always fights by proxy. And all of them to a certain extent will be true, well, or part of the truth. But we will consider exactly that part of the truth that can be easily represented in numbers.

How many wars has the US been in?

Over the past 30 years, the United States has been involved in three major armed conflicts. Viewed in reverse chronological order: Afghanistan, Iraq and…. Iraq again.

Yes, there were many other military conflicts, such as:

  • Yugoslavia,
  • Libya,
  • still ongoing Syria.

But in most of these cases, this is just an example of work by proxy, “on the ground” mainly local warring parties fought. one of which the United States provided support. The ground component of the United States was involved here rather weakly, mainly special operations forces, small units of the Marine Corps. But aviation in such operations is, please, the favorite means of US foreign policy.

Uncle Sam likes to punish others, while he himself remains unpunished. Modern aviation makes it possible to strike hundreds of kilometers from the target without endangering the lives of pilots. And with the advent of drones, the sense of impunity for the US military and decision-makers has become almost absolute.

But this is if you are fighting with a weak army. It is impossible to win a war with a strong enemy with one aircraft. And the US infantrymen still periodically have to literally land on foreign soil with their feet.

What is the size of the US Army

And how many of these “legs” does the US Army have? According to the authoritative foreign publication Military Balance, the US armed forces are about 1,400 thousand people. Plus about 800 thousand people in the reserve, which is known as the National Guard. We will return to the reserve a little later.

In the meantime, it is important for us to single out from these 1,400 thousand that part of the army that is directly intended for combat operations on the “ground”.

These are the ground forces (about 500 thousand) and the marine corps (180 thousand).

The figure of half a million people in the ground forces seems quite impressive. But this is only at first glance.

The real number of infantry, mechanized and armored brigades, which during the fighting are assigned the task of capturing and holding enemy territories, in the US ground forces is only three dozen. Which in total is about 150 thousand people.

But even these figures do not show the real number of combat “bayonets”, in terms of the First World War. At best, it will be half of 150 thousand, that is, about 75 thousand. Because, as you know, half or even two-thirds of any military unit is made up of combat and logistics support units:

  • signalmen,
  • sappers,
  • medical unit,
  • field kitchens,
  • car park

etc. And these soldiers do not go on the attack.

This principle is true for the armies of any countries. The same technique can be applied to the Marine Corps. But here it must be borne in mind that this is a separate branch of the US armed forces, which even has its own aviation group, and a very impressive one at that. There are more than 300 combat aircraft in the Marine Corps alone.

And thus, in the case of the Marine Corps, the proportion of combat units in the total strength can be reduced. But considering that the size of the Marine Corps battalion is larger than its purely infantry counterpart, that is, it is corny more powerful, we will use the same principle as in relation to the ground forces. That is, let’s take only half – 90 thousand.

With this approach, the total number of combat “bayonets”, that is, infantrymen directly, will be approximately 165 thousand people.

Global territorial distribution of the US Army

But, with regard to the Marine Corps, the following should also be noted. All this great power is dispersed throughout the entire territory of the Earth. Somewhere in the form of expeditionary units on landing ships, some of the units serve as ship detachments. By the way, the US Marines are also guarding the embassies. For example, even in “land” Moscow, American marines are serving at posts in the US embassy.

But more importantly, a significant part of the entire armed forces are serving on foreign military bases, of which the United States has more than 800.

And if you imagine that at each base there can be at least 100 US military personnel, then this will be 80 thousand out of 1400 thousand of the entire armed forces. Which is quite a lot. Moreover, these 80 thousand are tied to their bases and cannot leave them in any way.

Generally speaking, global territorial distribution is a key feature of the American military. This is both the strength of the United States and its weakness.

The ability to control and influence military-political processes in every part of the world and the inability to gather more or less large forces into a powerful fist in one place for operations are two sides of the same coin called “US Army”.

It is no coincidence that the United States always acts in coalition with NATO allies. But even these forces are not always enough.

Mobilization in the USA

For this reason, the US Army resorts to the good old practice called “mobilization” and regularly calls in reservists from the reserve. So, in 1990, the US simultaneously called up about 250,000 reservists for the war with Iraq. And then calls for reservists were regularly held from 2001 to 2016. In small parties, when there are two or three thousand people, when there are more.

But the total number of people called up from the reserve over these 15 years turned out to be close to 200 thousand people.

This, by the way, is a note to opponents of partial mobilization in Russia. The United States quite themselves apply this practice, absolutely not embarrassed, but they do it without any fanfare. And, by the way, the world media also perceive this quite routinely, or even do not notice at all. At the same time, we all know that the army in the United States is recruited entirely on a professional basis, that is, there is no universal conscription there.

But in fairness, we must admit that a reservist in the United States is not the same as our soldier or reserve officer, who, having retired from the army, may never even get to the training camp again.

The US reservist is required to attend four hours a week for combat training and once a year to participate in training camps lasting two to three weeks. For service in the reserve, an American receives a salary from the Pentagon. At the same time, the rest of the time it is an ordinary person with an ordinary civilian job.

A similar system appeared in our country a few years ago under the loud name “BARS – a special combat army reserve.” But at the moment, in the conditions of a special military operation, this mechanism is not able to cover the army’s need for mobilization resources.

Armies around the world always need a reserve

The above figures and examples clearly show that no matter how large the army is, in the event of major military conflicts, an increase in numbers is always required. A backup is always required.

Of course, the calculation described is crude and primitive. But it allows you to quickly assess the real combat potential of the army of any state. For often large numbers give us the illusion of self-confidence when it comes to our army, and no less illusory fears when we look at the enemy.

But we must not forget that we have considered the US Army only from the point of view of the potential of ground operations. No one has canceled other types of armed forces, including the aviation and missile component. But whatever the number of missiles and combat aircraft, the lack of ground forces will always be a limitation for combat operations on the ground.

From here we come to the conclusion and answer the question of the heading: in addition to the principles of a conceptual nature, which, in particular, include the strategy of controlled chaos, small local conflicts, the principle of “divide and rule”, etc., because the United States does not want to get involved in military conflicts are worth banal quantitative restrictions. There is simply nothing to fight. Or not to anyone.

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