Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Military Suffers From 'Next-war-itis'

This from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who I think is determined to get lynched! Except he's right, from

"I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called
Next-War-itis - the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in
favor of what might be needed in a future conflict," Gates said.
But in a
world of limited resources, he said, the Pentagon must concentrate on building a
military that can defeat the current enemies: smaller, terrorist groups and
militias waging irregular warfare.
If it means putting off more expensive
weapons for the future or adding to the stress on the Army - that is a risk
worth taking, he said.

And Gates points to specific high tech weaponry:

He also issued a warning to the military services, which have long
set their sights on pricey, sophisticated weapons systems that take decades to
develop and get onto the battlefield.
The Army has its $200 billion Future
Combat System, the Air Force has its F-22 jet fighter. Both programs have been
plagued by delays and escalating costs, as well as criticism from Congress.
Going forward, such weapons programs will have show they can be useful now
against terror groups and insurgents, he said.

Thanks Mr. Secretary, for echoing what we have been railing against on this blog. After each war in our history, including the Civil War, the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam, the arms produced during these conflicts were often the backbone of our fighting forces. Most of the WW 2 warships didn't leave frontline service in the USN until the 1970's, and the Iowa class battleships famously soldiered on into the 1990s. As Gates contends:

“Overall, the kinds of capabilities we will most likely need in the
years ahead will often resemble the kinds of capabilities we need

Yet, some of our military leaders want to discard still useful weaponry long before they have outlived their usefulness, like the A-10 attack plane and naval frigates. They whine about our military being "stretched thin" from fighting in the Middle East, as if they are allowed to choose the wars we fight, rather than making the best of a bad situation; in this case the sudden terror attacks on our homeland in 2001. Even of we hadn't invaded Iraq in 2003, we surely would have been at war somewhere at some point in time.

The generals and admirals always seem to want the weapons they don't need, and need the weapons they don't want. But its not really up to them to decide, is it?

The original speech is here.