Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You Can't Fix Stupid

“we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space can no longer be taken for granted,” Chuck Hagel

In order to ensure that, we will be cutting the Armed Forces down to levels not seen since before World War II.

“While this smaller capacity entails some added risk if we execute extended or simultaneous ground operations our analysis showed that this force would be capable of decisively defeating aggression in one major combat theater, as it must be, while also defending the homeland and supporting air and naval forces engaged in another theater against an adversary,”  

How many of you think we can "decisively defeat aggression in one major combat theater" like Iraq and Afghanistan now?

Lessons not learned

If we have learned anything from our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan it is that you can't win wars with high-tech weaponry.  Sure you can blow shit up, but it takes boots on the ground to take advantage of it, otherwise it's nothing more than a very expensive fireworks show.  High tech weaponry is a lot like a ribbed condom, it is a force multiplier and force protection, but it's useless unless you're willing to go in the bush.  The defense cuts proposed are, in my opinion, backasswards.  No one in the field is saying "You know... we're really at a significant technological disadvantage here!" No, they're asking for more boots on the ground.

Size Matters

When looking at the total force structure (Active, Reserve, and Paramilitary) there are eight nations with a larger armed forces component than the United States. They are in order from largest to smallest the North Korea, China, Vietnam, South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Russia, and Iran. As far as risk goes, we probably only need concern ourselves with North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran.

The US military is 1/3 the size of China's and 2/3 the size of Russia's, and about the same size as Iran's.  Iran, I think, we can dismiss as little more effective than Iraq.  Which leaves China and Russia.

People like to point out that China spends much less than the US does on its military.  The 2013 'published' Chinese budget was roughly 120 billion dollars (720 billion yuon) compared to the US spending 672 billion.  But there is a reason you find practically everything marked "Made in China"... it's called purchasing power parity.  120 billion in China is worth much more than 120 billion in the US, you get more bang for your buck, so to speak.  SIPRI, RAND, CIA, and DIA put that purchasing power disparity at anywhere from 4:1 to as high as 6:1.  In effective purchasing power China is spending effective the equivalent of anywhere from 480 to 720, or roughly...parity. Slave prison labor anyone?

You Can't Fix Stupid

Hagel's proposal is too tech centric at the expense of boot centric, fancy toys for fancy boys.  We maintain a distinct military technical advantage over most adversaries, remember that Force Multiplier bit, although China is rapidly catching up.  Chinese military related patents have increased 35% over the past decade. China can put three times the boots on the ground than the US can, do you think we have better than a 3:1 tech advantage?

The US has had great difficulty maintaining the necessary boots on the ground especially with high-demand, low-density capabilities.  If Iraq and Afghanistan (third-world) has taught us anything, it is that short of a nuclear exchange, we are ill prepared to engage a first world power.

Remember that Selective Service Administration card you filled out when you turned eighteen?  Hang on to it.

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