Monday, April 14, 2008

"Now" versus "Maybe" Wars

I take issue with those who say our conflict in the Middle East is causing us to neglect future wars, readiness, and equipment needs. If we are ever going to straighten out the mess that the Arab world has been in for decades, thus ensuring our own safety, it is now not later. Here is Jim Hoagland at the Washington Post:

On one side are the "fight-win guys," as some describe themselves.
They are led by Gen. David Petraeus and other commanders who argue that the
counterinsurgency struggle in Iraq must be pursued as the military's top
priority and ultimately resolved on U.S. terms.

In this view, the Middle
East is the most likely arena for future conflicts, and Iraq is the prototype of
the war that U.S. forces must be trained and equipped to win.

against them are the uniformed chiefs of the military services who foresee a
"broken army" emerging from an all-out commitment to Iraq that neglects other
needs and potential conflicts. It is time to rebuild Army tank battalions,
Marine amphibious forces and other traditional instruments of big-nation warfare
-- while muddling through in Iraq.

This seems to be the attitude of the"future war" advocates-that the military should never fight conflicts unless they are quick and easily decided blitzkrieg battles, like Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Sadly, such victories are few and far between in history, and usually end with paving the ground for the next war, as in the endless series of Arab/Israeli Conflicts.

This comment from the same article is my favorite-" The "now" war has to trump the "maybe" wars, at least for the year ahead."

Here's more on the same subject via Ares:

With two very expensive shooting wars going on in Iraq and
Afghanistan, there’s an obvious—and undeniable—tension in the military between
funding troops in the field while still pouring money into research and
development back home to ensure that new systems are developed and

“How can you look at the future and the modernization of the
force while you’re still trying to fight the war today?” Gen. Mundt asked,
before answering his own question with, well, another question: “How can you not
do that?” You’ve constantly got to be thinking about modernization.”
At the
same time, Gen. Mundt said, officers in charge of procurement plans need to be
more careful when choosing between needs and wants. When programs get stretched
out well beyond their original budgets and timeframes, “you end up getting
caught in evolutionary rather than revolutionary advances in our technology.”
Unsurprisingly, his answer is more money...

This is astonishing! Not only is the Army leadership attempting to fight the last war, but when Iraq is over, they will still be fighting the war before the last one, meaning the Cold War. Has this ever occured anywhere in the history of warfare?!