Saturday, April 19, 2008

High Tech Hi Jinks

As we stated here earlier, the high tech military and especially the US Navy has yet to be tested in full scale combat. We also maintain the various Gulf Wars America has fought in the past three decades haven't been a adequate testbed of the capability limits of the modern armed forces, since they have been fought exclusively against Third World competitors and not against a First World antagonist such as the former Soviet Union, or perhaps China.

Though the military powers of Iraq, Iran, or their proxies often deploy first-class weapons purchased either from the West or the former Soviet Union, the leadership and training is sub-par when compared to the heritage and initiative exhibited by the US fighting man.

The American soldier has been tested, however, and proven as resilient and adaptable to modern warfare as during any war in our nation's military history. Whatever loss of reputation the troops suffered following the Vietnam conflict has been more than reversed by his courage and sacrifice during years of attrition warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. Where the soldiers have been let down most often is the choice of equipment forced on them by politicians and military leaders, arms which have not proven as enduring when decades of constant service is forced on them. Such armaments are often so expensive they are not easily replaced. Patched up for each new war, as the design and testing of ever more complicated machines continues unabated, they quickly become worn and tired and faced with block obsolescence.

America currently possesses an individually power army, navy, and air force that are steadily shrinking in numbers of combat equipment. In some future conflict a technically less capable but numerically superior power can conceivably attack us on more than one front in a "divide and conquer" stratagem. He can then swamp our tiny and overstretched forces at his leisure, as is detailed in this fictional tale "Not By Might".

In our obsession with smaller high tech forces, we repeat the same mistakes suffered by the Germans in World War 2. In the early stages of this conflict, Hitler's vaunted military held numerically superior weapons, or thanks to its superbly trained and swift moving tank divisions, local superiority where it counted. As the war dragged on, however, through carelessness and by choice the Nazis soon lost this advantage, though not the individual excellence of its soldiery. Hitler increasingly turned to grandiose vision of wonder weapons, a futile hope that he clung to even as Allied Armies finally crushed his dreams of a Thousand Year Reich.

Some, though, were quite good. Most notable were the Tiger and Panther tanks, that held up Allied armies for several crucial weeks at Normandy. Then there was the fearsome Me-262, the world's first production jet fighter that provided a rude awakening to the mass American and British bomber forces over Germany. Also, the Kriegsmarine possessed in the Type XXI U-boat a super stealthy sub that was the direct ancestor of today's mighty nuclear boats. The V-1 missile was the precursor of today's Tomahawk cruise missiles, while the V-2 rocket was man's first step towards conquering space.

Even these astonishing triumphs of Nazi engineering with their too few numbers, failed to stave off defeat. Gradually the noose tightened as the overwhelming production capacity of the superpowers easily replaced sizable battlefield losses, and crushed the pitiful remnants of Germany's war machine. Wrecked factories, no fuel and unstoppable armies was enough to spell doom to Hitler's dream of a Thousand Year Reich.

So too is the danger faced by Western Powers today if we trust in our technology alone to save us.