Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Murtha Goes after Army's Future Combat

The anti-war Democrat Congressman Jack Murtha actually might be doing the Army a favor, by forcing the service to focus on current threats first. By David Axe:

Getting more reliable and capable robots to the troops in Iraq is a
possible result of one congressman’s radical plan for the Army. Rep. John Murtha
(D-Penn.), the powerful chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, is
seeking to revamp Army technology plans to focus on current wars, rather than
looking forward to some projected future threat, as some senior Army officials

His target is the $160 billion Future Combat System:

Future Combat Systems was launched in 2002, before the current wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program was designed for a U.S. Army that would be
fighting high-tech battles similar to those of the 1991 Gulf War: tank versus
tank on open terrain. By contrast, low-tech insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan
move on foot, blend in with the civilian population and prefer ambushes, sniping
and roadside bombs to any stand-up fight. For this reason, some critics contend,
FCS is outmoded before it even enters service...But the $160-billion, 20-year
program does have a number of secondary technologies that might be useful for
current wars – provided they’re finished fast enough.

I do think hi-tech has a place in current wars, but there should be limits. We shouldn't continue building super-costly hi-tech platforms like the F-22 fighter, or the DDG-1000 super destroyer that have little or no purpose in our current wars, but construct cheap but good weapons like the Burke class destroyers, F-16 fighters, and off-the-shelf wheeled armored cars like the Stryker, then adding new technology to these affordable platforms that won't bankrupt our defense budget. But the Pentagon wants to have its cake and eat it too. It won't sell.