How Thin Is the Ice?: The Potential for Collapse in Today's Army   [open pdf - 273KB]

From the thesis abstract: "Is it possible to determine how close an army is to collapse? Are there indictors that give warning that the force is reaching the limits of its endurance? With the U.S. Army in its seventh year of sustained combat in the War on Terror with no end in sight, these questions are of more than passing interest. Many people, from military leaders to security experts to elected officers have voiced concerns about impact of sustained combat operations on the Army. How thin, really, is the ice upon the U.S. Army now skates? An examination of some historical examples of military collapse leads to the conclusion that early warnings are frequently seen in an army's individual discipline, small unit cohesion, and effective leadership, with the most typical pattern being a slow but steady rise in warning signs followed by a rapid acceleration leading up to collapse. A survey of individual discipline, small unit cohesion, and effective leadership in today's Army reveals that, although there are many signs that the Army remains more healthy than often depicted, there are clear indicators of problems in all three areas. These conclusions lead to specific recommendations about the Army's unit rotation policy, the balance of experience and education in its leader development programs, and the Army's role in maintaining national will during protracted conflicts."

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