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July 13, 2009

The Pentagon's Wasting Resources (chad)

Since Ace opened up the blog I figured I would expose you to a little more of my ill-informed commentary. I was reading the July / August issue of Foreign Affairs magazine and came across an article entitled The Pentagon's Wasting Resources.

I know - I looked at the title and thought it was gonna be some screed about how tanks burn too much diesel and the circuits in cruise missiles require too much platinum or some such, but its actually a fairly well thought out piece about what the author sees as growing threats to America's military dominance and the unwillingness of congress to address them.

Recently, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argued in these pages for a more "balanced" U.S. military, one that is better suited for the types of irregular conflicts now being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, he also cautioned, "It would be irresponsible not to think about and prepare for the future." Despite this admonition, U.S. policymakers are discounting real future threats, thereby increasing the prospect of strategic surprises. What is needed is nothing short of a fundamental strategic review of the United States' position in the world -- one similar in depth and scope to those undertaken in the early days of the Cold War.

Starting with the victory of Iranian forces in Millennium Challenge 2002 wargames, in which swarming attacks by the Iranian effectively wiped out the US fleet, the author points out a number of areas in which the technological dominance of the American military has been eroded or eliminated. They include cyber attacks on C4I infrastructure, such as the attacks in Georgia and Estonia (and now South Korea), China's growing ability to project power into space, as well as their growing area denial abilities, and the increasing ability of irregulars to deny forces a logistical safe haven and project power much further thru the use of technologically improve munitions.

All worthwhile concerns. I start to disagree when the author gets to his suggestions for dealing with the problem. His main solution is economic - maintain our economic dominance, and I agree with him whole heartedly on that, but his secondary is a rehash of the same diplomatic initiatives that haven't worked or had limited effect in the past. (i.e. we need to engage emerging Muslim democracies such as Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and india. Japan needs to shoulder more of it's share of the strategic load etc.). His answers are just too formulaic. We have been engaged with Turkey since the 50's for god's sake if we haven't won them over by now I don't know when we will. The same with his other solutions.

What we really need is bold answers and reassessments. Unfortunately at this point I don't even really know all the questions we need to be asking. The major one that rolls around in my head is how do we contain China, but we need to go further than that too.

All in all the article is worth a read so give it a shot and see what conclusions suggestions you can come up with.

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posted by xgenghisx at 08:22 PM

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