Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Pairing Down Our Military Forces

It is yoyo time again.

 The problem with all of this pairing down or building up the military is the time constants involved. It takes many years to create a well-led, well-trained and well-equipped military, perhaps as much as five to ten years, depending on either keeping both guns and butter, or going all out for guns, so to speak, as we did in WWII. Good leaders, both officers and NCOs, easily take ten years to develop fully. Pair down by half inside of a year or less and you have invoked a time constant of as much as ten or more years, or else a very costly short-term buildup.

So what may Iran, China or Russia do over such an interval of time to build up their military? They could surpass us, especially if they develop and deploy new kinds of weaponry in those ten years or so for which we haven't had the money to pursue in our pair down. So we keep the R&D cycle going to "avoid technological surprise" as the saying goes.

We learned from Korea and Vietnam that the other guy's weapons, training and tactics were highly effective, and we had to accelerate developments and production of aircraft to just equal the Migs in capability, for instance, and the anti-air missiles they used in Vietnam were not shabby either--ask John McCain. We seem to forget that Russia can supply all manner of weaponry to client states and help train the locals in their use.

So, in a time constant much less than ten years, we can be faced with one or more well-equipped foes that today are relatively toothless, but with lots of manpower--Korea all over again or, say, a combined, nuclear-armed Iran/Iraq threatening Saudi Arabia, or  even China threatening Taiwan yet again.  Pakistan might well go at it with India again.

I watched firsthand the military pair down under Clinton. It reached about a 33% reduction, but the damage was much greater in that we lost a whole generation of well-trained people, only to have to ramp it up again at a wasteful pace to meet the combat situations we faced a few years later, and to go to war with lesser-trained troops in the bargain.  The galling fact about this pair down was that the supposed savings were spent or committed by congress, even before they had been realized, on the usual political boondoggles, so we wound up with no money actually saved and a far less capable military that had to be revived later under costly emergency conditions. That makes zero sense to me. This yoyo of our forces over time needs to be moderated and better planned.

We need to protect the United States with adequate forces in country, well-equipped, well-trained, and well-led.

We need to be able to meet our mutual defense treaty obligations around the world, including NATO, Korea, and other world hotspots.  This must include the military assistence programs we have sponsored.

We need to keep control of the open seas, on the surface and under.

We need to be able to combat the aggressions of large states on smaller states, or else agree to forego our role as defender of the weak.

We need to be able to fight at the Korean or Vietnam level somewhere around the globe. Historically, this kind of conflict has occurred to us every five to ten years or so, and our superior firepower has not been a deterrent to anyone. (WWII was 1941-1945; Korea was 1950-1954; Vietnam was 1962-1975; Gulf I in Kuwait was 1990-1991; Gulf II in Iraq was 2003 -2010; Afghanistan will be 2002-2014)

We need to keep our triad of strategic nuclear systems in being and up to date.

We need to maintain our space-based systems for intelligence gathering, communications, weather reporting and navigation.

We need to maintain our other intelligence, reconnaissance and tracking capabilities on land, in the air, and on and under the seas.

We need to maintain our military research and development programs and, very importantly, our military technology, production capabilities and skilled workers.

We thus need to continue building ships, aircraft, missiles, subs, tanks, vehicles and weapons.

The motivation behind this is very simple. Maintain a strong military and we will likely avoid ambitious nations trying us out. Reduce the military and for sure someone will start a war that we end up fighting and having to rebuild our strength simultaneously at enormous cost.  Getting us involved should mean a sure victory for our side because we have the superior guns ready at hand; strength prevents adventurous wars.


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?