Friday, February 08, 2008

Ancient Weapons put our Troops at Risk

The pitfalls of the hi tech military is revealing itself, says Joseph F. Callo:

The Army has been wearing out equipment at a rapid rate in Iraq. Tanks, trucks and Humvees, for example, are operating in an environment that degrades equipment very rapidly. And rocket-propelled grenades and IEDs "degrade" equipment instantaneously.
Meanwhile, the Navy remains far below the minimum level of ships it needs. In fact, at 280 ships, its force level is at a 90-year low - and even the most powerful ship can't be in more than one place simultaneously.
While the technologically advanced tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft significantly increases the Marines' tactical flexibility, funding for this aircraft remains low because of defense-budget limitations.
The Air Force is flying bombers that were built 50 years ago; its tanker fleet inadequate in terms of age and numbers of aircraft. And the Coast Guard is making do in its expanding missions with the oldest fleet of coastal vessels in the world...America's safety is being compromised - and the situation can't be fixed quickly. It takes years to rebuild a military force, in terms of material and people. The men and women of the armed forces will eventually pay in blood for the seriously pinched defense funding.

It is a shame and disgrace that the world's richest country can't even replace its weapons on a one-on-one basis, even more so since our defense budget dwarfs all others. Yet, extremely poor spending practices and the exploding costs of Industrial Age armaments as our manufacturing capacity shrinks, has us in this Catch-22 situation.

Congress, not Bush, is mostly to blame. For decades they have indulged the spending excessive of the generals and admirals, without expecting the quality such budgets demand. We need to build not just the military we want for the types of wars we prefer to fight, but good enough weaponry designed for the kind of wars we most often find ourselves in, like Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq.