Friday, March 21, 2008

The Stagnation of Warfare

After the foundation of the Roman Empire under Caesar Augustus, the art of war advanced very little for centuries. The dominant Legion that carved a Latin domain out of the entire Mediterranean World and much of Western Europe was little altered until the Fall of Rome in 476 AD, save for becoming increasingly lighter and far more mobile, the type of troops needed to defend such a far-flung empire.

At the turn of the 21st Century, the US Military finds itself in a similar position. Weighed down by heavy tank armies, giant carrier based battle fleets, and a huge but aging aerial armada, it is forced to defend it's Post Cold War interests on an ever tighter budget each year. Plus, it's wish list of new stealth fighters and bombers, robots for air-sea-and land, laser weapons, anti-missile missiles, and stealthy warships designs seem increasingly out of reach.

For most of the world militaries, updated versions of last century armaments are the norm. Even the world last remaining superpower is feeling the crunch, as the US Navy is unlikely to achieve its stated goal of a 313 ship fleet due to the astonishing cost of new warships. Likewise is the USAF unable to field the number of $300 million Raptor fighters it wants, while the Army struggles to build a tank replacement for the 25 year old M-1 Abrams.

Most in the Pentagon leadership are fearful to make the required sacrifice and cease production of ever more difficult to construct and risky when deployed weapons system, for the tried and true weapons mass produced by nations such as Russia and China. There is little to fear, however, for such good and plenty arms are already forming the backbone of our forces fighting the War on Terror. Warplanes designed in the 1950's, armored cars based on 1980's technology, destroyers first deployed in the 1990's currently are holding the line against America's enemies for the present and likely far into the future.

With the new century, the West is continuing its slow decline began in the early 1900s. There is no reason to admit defeat though, while ignoring our essential role in world affairs. There is reason to admit that the astonishing technical advances of the past may finally be over for our Civilisation, with the need to hold on and defend what remains now upon us.