Friday, February 11, 2011
Preparedness for War
We Cycle Up and Down Needlessly
Virtually every statesman and general of note has taken the position that America must make steady and continuing preparations for possible wars, even in times of relative peace. There is great controversy as to just what this means in practical terms. Just how big a military force must we maintain on a yearly basis, and just how much must we spend on development of new weapons and equipment to support war activities? To figure this out, many analysts have resorted to the postulation of how many of what kinds of wars we should be ready to fight at the same time.
For years, the criteria were, first, to defend America from attack, and then to be able to conduct two major wars, one in Europe and one in Asia or the Middle East. Plus, added to that were one or two minor wars or “police actions” involving at the utmost a few divisions of troops plus air and sea support. From this basic threat definition our forces were allocated funds to achieve full preparedness to execute these missions.
Obviously, the European mission was to foil the USSR expansion into Western Europe. The second mission, somewhat vaguely defined as Asia or the Middle East, was supposed to cover a number of contingencies: a) Taiwan vs China; or, India vs Pakistan; or North vs South Korea, but not all three, and not a direct confrontation with China.
In hindsight, one of these became a major war with NK, and the other two have sputtered for decades verging on open hostilities rather regularly.
The foremost contingency was the USSR Cold War, which absorbed the lion’s share of our development budget and a major share of our troop expenses, especially in Europe itself under NATO. We relied upon the US Navy to intervene in Taiwan, and kept hands off in the various India vs Pakistan fights until more recently, since both of these nations have joined the nuclear club.
Another incidental effort included the Falklands fight by England vs Argentina, where we lent England considerable intelligence support, but little else.
In this mission set are several other highly significant tasks that need to be set forth: 1) we must maintain control of the seas if we are to support our troop deployments in wartime and our commerce in peacetime, in spite of other’s wars; 2) we must do our best to contain the proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide; 3) we must continue our support to the United Nations, especially the Security Council, whether they are really useful to us or not, simply because they are the source of legitimacy for a conflict in the eyes of the rest of the world, whether we like it or not; and 4) we must continue the façade of the NATO organization for the defense of Europe, although our role and money could be reduced drastically over time.
The concept of sending contingents of troops to act as tripwires guaranteeing US support to any war that might break out must be ended: that means about 85,000 troops in Europe should be withdrawn from there, and another 31,000 troops withdrawn from South Korea, all of this with adequate preparations and gradual timelines. The fundamental ideas behind these withdrawals are twofold: we cannot afford their expense now; and the host nations can and should step up to their own defense given some time.
With these considerations in mind, we need to reestablish the base possible wars we should be prepared to meet.
My oh so very personal belief is that we need somewhere around 70 to 80 combat brigades of all types, instead of the currently planned 48. The world today seethes with resentment and the smell of revolution, combined with the musty and fetid odor of Muslims massing for a really big Jihad, and the acrid smell of AK-47 rounds being shot in the air in celebration of the fall of Egypt, the mess in Tunisia, and the verging revolutions elsewhere in the Middle East.
Along with these brigades we need a bunch of Air Force wings to manage about 3,000 seats in F-15s, F-16s, F-22s, And F-35s plus a host of transport and other aircraft.
The Navy has 10 carrier groups now, and I believe they should be increased to 12, with a parallel increase in other naval forces, especially heavy landing equipment.
Starting right now, these forces will not be available for from two to five years at best, the way things are going in the world of finance, industry and the government. Thus, we will have to make do with what we have per usual for some time to come. I do hate to see the multiple tour call ups that our reserves and guard units are forced to make because of the lack of a sufficient standing army.