By Jane Benson, NSRDEC Public AffairsJanuary 11, 2018
NATICK, Mass. -- The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center hosted retired Maj. Gen. Bob Scales on Jan. 9 for a presentation to the workforce.
Scales, a highly regarded author, discussed the future of the U.S. military and the risks the Armed Forces will face, emphasizing the importance of close combat units.
Scales is the author of the 2016 book, Scales on War: The Future of America's Military at Risk, as well as several other books. He believes that Army and Marine small units are key to U.S. victory in future wars and that the infantry is inadequately funded and undervalued.
At the heart of this belief are some startling numbers. Scales pointed out that 81 percent of all Americans dying in war at the hands of the enemy are members of the infantry, but that members of the infantry make up only 4 percent of the uniformed force.
Consisting of small units, squads and teams, this very small group receives a mere .89 percent of the total defense budget.
This means that less than 1 percent of the defense budget goes toward funding equipment and training for this small but all-important group.
He emphasized that the nation continues to shortchange those most likely to die.
"Wouldn't it make sense for America to spend the resources to keep alive those most likely to die as a strategic necessity, as well as a humanitarian imperative?" asked Scales.
To be most effective, the United States needs to change the way it fights wars.
"My point is this," said Scales. "There is a Darwinian force at work here. We are going to be forced eventually to adhere to the movements of the enemy before too long. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have aircraft carriers, but if you buy aircraft carriers at the expense of the guys who are on the tip of the spear doing the killing and dying then that's wrong."
Scales recognized NSRDEC's commitment to the small unit.
"You do more to maintain the combat capability of the small unit than any other institution that I know of in the Army -- which is why I keep coming back," said Scales.
As a science and technology leader, NSRDEC is dedicated to increasing the lethality and optimizing the performance of the warfighter. NSRDEC is a leader in cognitive science, biomechanics, human performance, field feeding and nutrition, clothing and protective equipment, load carriage, precision airdrop systems, expeditionary maneuver support, communication systems, and ballistic, chemical and laser-protection systems.
Douglas Tamilio, director of NSRDEC, emphasized how fortunate and privileged the NSRDEC workforce was to have the chance to hear Scales speak.
"This is the right time for the Army to move forward and get the right capabilities to our squads," said Tamilio.
"I want to thank you for what you do here," said Scales to the NSRDEC workforce. "The lives of a lot of Soldiers and Marines depend on what you do."
The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.