Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thoughts on Warfare

The type of arms (tanks, stealth fighters, aircraft carriers) the US military possesses are too costly for the Third World conflicts we consistently find ourselves fighting, and too vulnerable to modern precision weapons for the type of Great Power battles we prepare for.

Replacing the tanks, jet fighters, and gun-armed warships of the last century are new robot weapons including precision guided bombs, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles.

Expensive platforms like the Abrams Main Battle Tank, F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, and Nimitz class supercarriers are not required to carry the new robot weapons.

The new capital ship at sea is the attack submarine. Of all the legacy warships developed around the turn of the 20th century: aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers, only the new U-boats possess the inherent stealthiness to survive in the cruise missiles age.

With the "one shot, one kill" accuracy of modern missile weapons, has the gun itself become obsolete? Its very purpose was centered on the need to bracket a target with multiple shells to ensure a hit. The microchip has made the need for such wasteful expenditure of ammo unnecessary.

Robot weapons have returned the initiative on land to the foot soldier, taken from him early in the 20th century by mass firepower and the tank. We saw this dawn in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, then vanish deceptively during the 1991 Gulf War, only to reemerge dramatically in the insurgent conflicts at the opening of the 21st Century.

Man portable surface to air missiles (SAMs), and antitank guided missile (ATGM) have leveled the field between industrial age planes and tanks and the infantryman.

The submarine is the only evolutionary warship, currently duplicating the missions of all major surface warships. It's cruise missiles make it an aircraft carrier, its torpedoes a destroyer, while stealthy eavesdropping abilities mimics the traditional role of cruisers from early last century.