Forget the old-school grunt. Imagine a future American infantrymantrained as intensively as a fighter pilot through hundreds of virtual and real-world drills, culminating in a “small unit Top Gun.” Imagine infantry going into battle with swarms of drones serving as scouts and fire support. Imagine Army and Marine infantry exempted from the Pentagon’s bureaucratic personnel policies so they can build teams of experienced soldiers in their late 20s and early 30s, much like Special Forces.
“Special Forces, Marine infantry, Army infantry….these are the forces that are overused, overextended and the most likely to die,” said Bob Scales, a leading advisor on infantry to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “There’s no one administration or one service one can fault for this, because this has been a nagging problem…. since World War II.”
But it doesn’t have to stay that way, Scales told me: “To get a quantum increase in the quality of close combat forces, we can do it in the next two years, (and) the cost compared to the rest of the DoD budget is very small.”