The $100-million Army, 1980

JohnWolf

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About 40 years ago a book called "The Arsenal of Democracy" was published listing US Military equipment with a particular emphasis on foreign arms deals. What made the book interesting is how it included the prices of many weapons that were being sold in the late 1970s. Years ago I did a little mental exercise to see what 100 million dollars could buy at the time.


What I came up with does not include support, spares or ammunition because the book itself did not include any of that… and thus such things are outside the scope of this article. (an exception is the Hawks, which were packaged with spares and support)

I did try to create balanced forces on the fly, and I think I did pretty well. The main point here is to show what could have been had back then, and ALSO to show the vast difference between what an Army costs vs. a Navy and an Air Force. It would be interesting to compare this to what you could get today for the same amount of money…
{For those of you that insist on a good scenario; With the idea that a 3rd World suddenly comes into existence in 1980 and the US has to help them build a military out of scratch with a $300 million aid package, how would the money be best spent?}


ARMY;


—armored vehicles —

40 x M-60 Tanks ………………………………………………………………………… 45 million

2 x CEV Tank Retrievers ……………………………………………………………….. 1.36 mill.

10 x “reconditioned” M-4 Sherman tanks ……………………………………………….. 2.15 m.

150 x M113 Armored Personnel Carriers …..…………………………………………… 15 m.

10 x Cadillac Gage Armored Cars w/90mm gun ..………………………………………. 1.7

4 x “ “ w/twin MGs .……………………………………… 0.5




—artillery—


10 x Self-Propelled 175mm cannon ……………………………………………………….. 16.4 million

100 x 4.2” (107mm) Mortars ………………………………………………………………. 0.57 m.

500 x 60mm Mortars ………………………………………………………………………. 1.25

30 x M-167 Vulcan A.A. ………………………………………………………………….. 7.5




—Infantry weapons—


500 x 50.cal M-2 MGs ……………………………………………………………………. 0.75 million

600 x M-60 MGs ………………………………………………………………………….. 0.9 m.

6,000 x M-16 rifles ……………………………………………………………………….. 1.35

1,000 LAWs rockets ……………………………………………………………………… 0.135

3,000 x 9mm pistols ………………………………………………………………………. 0.45

33 x TOW missile launchers + 810 missiles ……………………………………………… 4.9



— bargain basement/Territorials—

50 x Browning M1919 .30-cal MGs

100 x BAR

1,000 x M-1 rifles

100 x MAC-10


TOTAL ……………………………………………………………………………… 0.19 million



A part of this will be used to cover the needs of other services, particularly small-arms.

What this gets you is a Mechanized Brigade, a “straight-leg” Infantry Division, a Special forces Company and a large battalion of Territorial militia to be covered later.

What a difference 40 years, makes, eh?
I think that some of it is explained by the continued availability of WW2 left-overs (that will be especially obvious in the Navy section later) but also the volume of traffic going on in the darkest days of the Cold War. Today's arms industry seems to be more of a Boutique sort of thing by comparison. Yes, the value of the Dollar itself has declined drastically, but inflation alone does not explain it.

++ Before I go any farther; I was not sure where to put this thread, is this the right section for this?++
 

ngatimozart

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We require links / references for sources, so please supply the link or reference for the book.

Please also familiarise yourself with the rules.

I am not sure where this goes either so I will leave it here. One of the other Moderators may move it to what they consider an appropriate thread.
 

JohnWolf

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We require links / references for sources, so please supply the link or reference for the book.

Please also familiarise yourself with the rules.

I am not sure where this goes either so I will leave it here. One of the other Moderators may move it to what they consider an appropriate thread.
This is the book;


Some of my fellow old-timers may remember it. I never cared for the editorial style, but the memorable part was how it revealed the pricing of the items listed in it. I find this interesting because of what it says about the realm of the possible.
Budgeting rarely seems to be a major topic of discussion in most places, so maybe this blast from the past will attract some interest?

It should also serve to make an interesting comparison .... I also wanted to show what the difference was for Naval and Air Force costs were like, and see if anyone would comment on how things have changed, and if the proportions of what is shown still remain the same.
 

JohnWolf

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With that in mind, here is the Navy.... also known as "the money pit" when it comes to Defense budgeting.





NAVY;

1 x Fletcher Class DD ………………………….. 20 million

1 x Tang Class Submarine ………………………. 18 million

50 x guided Torpedoes …………………………… 20 million

2 x Asheville Class Patrol/Gunboats …………….. 28 m.

6 x PBR patrol boats …………………………….. 3 million

2 x Bell “Jet Ranger” ASW Helo w/torpedo rack ………………. 3 mill.


At that point there was not enough money left to make any major additions (8 million) and I looked around for ways to stretch the budget a little. So, why not see about hardware for a Marine "Corps" ?

—marines—

10 x LVPT-7 Amtrack

10 x Dodge 3/4 ton Trucks

10 x Cadillac Gage Armored cars w/20mm guns

2 x LST

6 x LSM

1500 x Stoner System rifles/LMGs

12 x 81mm mortars

4 x Stinger AAM launchers, 40 x missiles

TOTAL …………………………………………………………. 8 million

For 8 million I could have tripled the number of Helos and brought the PBRs up to 10, but having two Battalions of Marines plus their transport looked like a much better buy. The LSTs and LSMs are WW2 left-overs but still serviceable …. just like the Fletcher and the Tang.

About the Navy-
The Submarine is the “prestige” ship. Aside from showing off, it is meant to force any 1st-world power to include ASW elements into any force sent to push this nation around… making what would be a simple operation a bit more complex for the antagonist.

Fifty Torpedoes is enough to fully stock the Sub and the DD and leave a few for the Helos, but not enough to do that twice. I have forgotten the exact type, but they were standard issue for the USN at the time, if a bit dated.
So, yes, I am building a front-loaded military here with an emphasis on deterrent, not a conflict lasting years.

The Fletchers were upgraded for export in various ways, featuring either all 5 x 5” guns and two pairs of 76mm “sky sweepers” or 4 x 5” and three pairs of 76mm, and retained at least five torpedo tubes. I don’t think that there was ever a Fletcher with a Heli-pad because the stern is low and narrow, but at the time I was thinking that one with folding sides could be rigged for something as small as the Kiowa.
On second thought, it does not look like a very good idea.
This means the LSTs could be the real home of the ASW Helo that is out on patrol. They came poorly armed (5 x 50.cal for the LSTs) so turning that into a good thing means keeping the decks clear for Helicopters. This also means that Air Force and Army assets become easier to accommodate. There will only be 2 Battalions of Marines, after all.

The Ashevilles are good for normal patrols or as escorts for the Fletcher. At that time, Guided Missile attack boats were becoming all the rage, but the US had none for export, and no Fletcher ever had missiles. However, some Asheville were rigged up with a pair of Talos or Standard AAM to be used as SSMs. Not much of a punch there, but enough to wreck any Missile-Boats coming at you. The Asheville also had a 40-knot speed and a 76mm with Mark 64 fire control, making it a good nemesis for any Osa or Komar class boats, or any torpedo boats in the world.

The PBRs are strictly Brown-Water boats, but I selected them not only because they were so cheap, but also because they would be useful for Harbor/Base security. That is something I have seen neglected in most of the dozen or so ports that I have dealt with in the past, especially in pre-9/11 days.


That is a hell of a lot of Navy for the money, even by the standards of the day. A better option might be so skip the Sub, get one more Ashwville and more Helos, but once again I was looking for a good deterrent and a serious headache for any would-be aggressor.
I can go into more detail with the Marines later, but I wanted to go into the Air Force next.
And if you thought the Navy was disappointing compared to the Army....
 
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JohnWolf

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AIR FORCE;


10 x F-5e

2 x F-5f (two seater)


1 x Beechcraft Model 200

3 x C-47/DC-3


8 x Bell Huey

2 x Cobra Gunship w/TOW racks

2 CH-47 Chinook


6 x Hawk Triad Misile batteries

6 x 20mm Vulcan (towed)

42 x 50ca. MGs


That’s all, and the 50ca. MGs are borrowed from the Army.

About half a squadron of jet fighters used up most of the budget, leaving enough for a dozen Helos and four utility aircraft.
Sad to say, I lost the part of the notes that showed individual prices, but this appears to be a relatively balanced force for as tiny as it is.


I suppose that one good thing about having such a small Air Force is that one main base and a couple of satellite fields is all you will need. So why all the Hawks and light AAA? Those are not only to protect the base, but also the capitol city and another high value target, such as your major port or naval base. If all three are in close proximity, you will also have something left to give the Army some support.

The only item that has to be covered OOB-wise is the AA defense units. Each is built around a Hawk battery, with one Vulcan to protect the Hawks and 6 x 50cal. MGs to cover not only the Vulcan, but the surrounding real estate.
The Air Force was given 42 of these MGs, so there will be enough to give a couple to the CH-47s and to equip a Dummy Battery (or two) with some real guns. Just about any country has what they need to construct fake missiles and Gatlings that look like the real thing from above, so why not take advantage of that?

The Beechcraft is there because the head-honchos will probably demand some VIP transport, and when they don’t it could be handy to have a plane for light recon duty.

You have to have two Jet trainers because one will probably be lost eventually, and I doubt anyone will lease any trainer jets for that very reason. Sensor pods and drop-tanks should be acquired so that one of them can do serious recon work, especially over the ocean.

The C-47 was old even then, and I would not expect them to last many years, but they can still serve as the nucleus of a transport unit that can grow into something better. Keep in mind that the DC-3 wsa still carrying a third of the world's air cargo in the 1960s, the USMC did not retire its last C-47 until 1981, so there are still spare parts to be found.

They Huey and Cobra have the same rotor, engine and tail, so keeping them in the same squadron makes sense. It is the Chinooks that worry me, and if I made a mistake it is probably there…. but having heavy vertical-lift can be a vital in an emergency so I included them.


I also have some OOBs for the Army to show how all this opportunity-buying could create a balanced force, if anyone is interested.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
With that in mind, here is the Navy.... also known as "the money pit" when it comes to Defense budgeting.





NAVY;

1 x Fletcher Class DD ………………………….. 20 million

1 x Tang Class Submarine ………………………. 18 million

50 x guided Torpedoes …………………………… 20 million

2 x Asheville Class Patrol/Gunboats …………….. 28 m.

6 x PBR patrol boats …………………………….. 3 million

2 x Bell “Jet Ranger” ASW Helo w/torpedo rack ………………. 3 mill.


At that point there was not enough money left to make any major additions (8 million) and I looked around for ways to stretch the budget a little. So, why not see about hardware for a Marine "Corps" ?

—marines—

10 x LVPT-7 Amtrack

10 x Dodge 3/4 ton Trucks

10 x Cadillac Gage Armored cars w/20mm guns

2 x LST

6 x LSM

1500 x Stoner System rifles/LMGs

12 x 81mm mortars

4 x Stinger AAM launchers, 40 x missiles

TOTAL …………………………………………………………. 8 million

For 8 million I could have tripled the number of Helos and brought the PBRs up to 10, but having two Battalions of Marines plus their transport looked like a much better buy. The LSTs and LSMs are WW2 left-overs but still serviceable …. just like the Fletcher and the Tang.

About the Navy-
The Submarine is the “prestige” ship. Aside from showing off, it is meant to force any 1st-world power to include ASW elements into any force sent to push this nation around… making what would be a simple operation a bit more complex for the antagonist.

Fifty Torpedoes is enough to fully stock the Sub and the DD and leave a few for the Helos, but not enough to do that twice. I have forgotten the exact type, but they were standard issue for the USN at the time, if a bit dated.
So, yes, I am building a front-loaded military here with an emphasis on deterrent, not a conflict lasting years.

The Fletchers were upgraded for export in various ways, featuring either all 5 x 5” guns and two pairs of 76mm “sky sweepers” or 4 x 5” and three pairs of 76mm, and retained at least five torpedo tubes. I don’t think that there was ever a Fletcher with a Heli-pad because the stern is low and narrow, but at the time I was thinking that one with folding sides could be rigged for something as small as the Kiowa.
On second thought, it does not look like a very good idea.
This means the LSTs and about half the LSM/LISL will be the real home of the ASW Helo that is out on patrol. They came poorly armed (2 x 50.cal for the LSMs, 5 x 50.cal for the LSTs) so turning that into a good thing means it is easy to keep the decks clear for Helicopters. This also means that Air Force and Army assets become easier to accommodate. There will only be 2 Battalions of Marines, after all.

The Ashevilles are good for normal patrols or as escorts for the Fletcher. At that time, Guided Missile attack boats were becoming all the rage, but the US had none for export, and no Fletcher ever had missiles. However, some Asheville were rigged up with a pair of Talos or Standard AAM to be used as SSMs. Not much of a punch there, but enough to wreck any Missile-Boats coming at you. The Asheville also had a 40-knot speed and a 76mm with Mark 64 fire control, making it a good nemesis for any Osa or Komar class boats, or any torpedo boats in the world.

The PBRs are strictly Brown-Water boats, but I selected them not only because they were so cheap, but also because they would be useful for Harbor/Base security. That is something I have seen neglected in most of the dozen or so ports that I have dealt with in the past, especially in pre-9/11 days.


That is a hell of a lot of Navy for the money, even by the standards of the day. A better option might be so skip the Sub, get one more Ashwville and more Helos, but once again I was looking for a good deterrent and a serious headache for any would-be aggressor.
I can go into more detail with the Marines later, but I wanted to go into the Air Force next.
And if you thought the Navy was disappointing compared to the Army....
You have actually got you Fletcher’s mixed up. The 1980 Fletcher was in fact the 2nd Ship of that name, and the 13th Spruance class Destroyer. The original Fletcher was lead ship of a class of 175 Destroyers that served in the USN from 1942 to 1971 and carried a main Armament of 5x5in Guns.
The only USS Tang was a Balao class Submarine which was actually sunk by its own Torpedo in 1944
 

JohnWolf

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You have actually got you Fletcher’s mixed up. The 1980 Fletcher was in fact the 2nd Ship of that name, and the 13th Spruance class Destroyer. The original Fletcher was lead ship of a class of 175 Destroyers that served in the USN from 1942 to 1971 and carried a main Armament of 5x5in Guns.
The only USS Tang was a Balao class Submarine which was actually sunk by its own Torpedo in 1944
No, I mean the classes of those ships.
From wiki;
USS Tang (SS/AGSS-563), the lead ship of her class was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tang.

The class is not famous for much of anything, but Tang itself was nearly transferred to Iran and ended up in Turkey in 1981where it was retired in 2004 and it preserved in a museum of some sort.
And the WW2 Fletchers were still working in startling numbers in the 1980s, I think the last one to be scrapped was in Mexico only a decade ago.

40 years wasn't all that long ago, but things sure have changed, haven't they?


And that is something I would like to go into here; the decline of some armed forces in minor nations. I have noted that several african countries that used to operate tanks and jet aircraft no longer do.
I suspect that the cost of arms has increased out of proportion to inflation, or that 3rd World countries now have a disproportionatly smaller GNP.
 
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JohnWolf

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This is getting a lot of views, so I will get into the tables of organization I was talking about -


—ARMY OOB—


The Mechanized Brigade;

-Tank Battalion; 3 x Companies with 12 x M-60 MTB each, + 2 x Command tanks.

- Armored Infantry Battalion; 3 x Companies + Battalion Command unit

— each Company has
15 x M-113 to carry Squads with 1 x m-60 MG and 9 x M-16 ea.

2 x M-113 with 2 x 60mm mortars each

2 x Command & Communications M-113

2 x Medic M-113

2 x TOW M-113

Total; 23 x M-113 per Company

— Battalion HQ has 4 x Command M-113 and 6 x Combat Engineer M-113


Brigade HQ;
6 x Command M-113

4 x Forward Observation M-113

4 x Medic M-113

6 x Maintenance M-113 + 2 Tank retrievers



Artillery Battaltion;
4 x 175mm SP + 8 x M-113 (ammo carriers)

20 x 4.2” mortars SP M-113 + 10 x M-113 (ammo)

16 x Vulcan SP AA guns

Recon Squadron;
12 x M-113

12 Armored Cars (3 x MG, 3 x 20mm, 6 x 90mm)

The Rule of Three is isn full force here, even the Recon are made to be divided into 3 equal groups.

I hesitated to give the infantry any TOWs, there are four tanks for every five squads of Infantry, but then I realized that there are places that an M-113 can go that an M-60 might not be able to. This ended up short-changing the Infantry Division, but this Mechanized group is the army’s arm of decision.

There are many Medics and each Infantry Battalion can operate very independently while the Tank Battalions can’t to ensure that they stay with the infantry and “combined arms” remains the operating principle.


The remaining quarter of the Army budget can provide a large back-up formation;



The Infantry Division;

In brief; a fairly standard TO&E with 3 squads to a platoon instead of the 5 in the Mechanized Brigade. Each Infantry Company has 2 x 50.cal and 6 x 60mm mortars.

Battalions have 4 x 50cal, 6 x 4.2” mortars and another 8 x 60mm in the Heavy Weapons Company.

Each of the three Regiments have 6 x 4.2”, 8 x 50cal and 6 x TOWs (two more TOW are held at Division HQ)

The Artillery Battalion has 6 x 175mm SP and 12 x Vulcans.
(This would seem weak until you remember that here are half a dozen 4.2” mortars with each Battalion with another dozen with each Regiment. The disadvantage of this is it makes it almost impossible to mass the fire of the Division’s artillery, but the short range of the Mortars makes that unlikely in any case. The advantage is that each Mortar Battery spends it’s career with a particular infantry unit, where they can become familiar with the men they are tasked to support and become known to the unit leaders as a force that is always going to be available to those men.)

It is hoped that the large number of mortars (72 x 4.2” + 228 x 60mm) will make up for the shortage of more conventional artillery.

The 175mm guns serve the same purpose here that they do in the Mechanized Brigade, and will be subject to transfer to that Brigade to replace combat losses. There are far fewer Vulcans available here because this Division is not as mobile and not likely to be exposed to the same risk of air attacks.

Sherman tanks; this was a batch of ten Shermans that had been refurbished on spec. and offered on the open market at a price that I found irresistible. The original idea was to give them to the Territorials, but this Division needs some offensive punch so 3 x plantoons of 3 tanks each are included here to serve as Assault Artillery.

Lastly, there is and expanded Company of Scouts with 144 x M-16, 36 x m-60 MGs and 12 x 60mm mortars.


This seems to work, but there are problems. My best guess left us with a shortage of some weapons and far too many in the Reserve Stocks, and I may go more into that later on.
 

JohnWolf

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I am going to skip ahead to the Territorials here, and that 190k I spent on very old weapons.



— Territorials—

This is bound to be controversial, but every nation has it’s bad areas and all newly-founded ones have questionable borders. There are not just insurgents to worry about, but Cartels dealing in drugs and slaves that can be even worse that terrorists. This is a way to harden threatened areas that are remote, valuable and could be loyal if given some consideration.

In addition to what was already listed, we give them 25 x 50-cal MGs and 50 x 60mm mortars, and we get a militia that can go a long, long way… in 4 categories of defense.

(1) The hide-outs. Total; 20
Some small village populations can fall back on caves or Mao-style tunnels for protection. To seal the entrances is a nine-man squad with 6 x M-1, 1 x BAR and 1 x 30cal MG.

(2) The Bunkers. Total; 20
Where there are no caves or tunnels, a bunker-type redoubt can be constructed with 15 defenders armed with 9 x M-1, 1 x BAR, 1 x 30cal MG and a 60mm mortar. If there is nothing overheard to block it, they may as well have the mortar to scare off minor threats and to illuminate the night sky in response to a sneak attack.

(3) The Stockades, Total; 10
Where the place itself has value and there are good fields of fire, a proper defense can be set up, or perhaps a Beu Gets style of fort.
20 men will be armed with 12 x M-1, 1 x 30cal, 1 x 60mm plus a 50cal. MG.

IN ADDITION to all of the above, 10 towns can be defended with MG nests all around the perimeter and a platoon-sized reaction force. This group is armed with 58 x M-1, 6 x BAR, 5 x 30cal & 4 x 50cal. MGs plus 2 x 60mm mortars. Total personell would come to 96 if 8 stretcher bearers and a command team of 6 men are included.

Part of the bonus of having the old weapons is they don't have ammunition common to the rest of the military. That means that a regular Army commander can't pull in and pinch all their ammo if he feels like it. Okay, he could, but he gets no gain from doing so. It only takes one abusive commander to turn a good thing into a mess, after all.

So what you have is 50 villages and 10 towns that a capable of resisting enemy infiltration and criminal intimidation … for less than a quarter of a million (1980) dollars. That works out to something like a dollar per civilian given a degree of immediate protection.
And the point is; this is not to arm an insurgency, but to turn armed civilians into a counter-insurgency force.
A radical idea, but it does prevent your people from being pushed around by a few dozen men armed with sub-standard weapons.... which is one of the things that make life hell in places like the Congo and Nigeria these days.


Not sure when I will be back, things got busy at my end.
 
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