July 05, 2005

The Direction of Defense

There's a discussion at QandO on the overall strategy for the US armed forces and whether the two-front war is still as applicable and necessary today as it might have been a few decades ago. I'm reposting my comment to that thread and explaining why I think that being perpetually prepared for a two-front war with a massive conventional army is unnecessary.

We should focus on keeping a kick-ass Navy and streamlining the special forces command. If China started moving in on Taiwan - which it probably won’t, by the way - then the Navy could pester them to stay the fuck back. Groups like Delta, Night Stalkers and so forth can more effectively handle antiterrorism missions around the world than cumbersome armies, but they can also be used to cripple transportation and communication routes for conventional forces.

The last guy to try and beat the US in a conventional matchup, Saddam in 1991, got his ass kicked so bad that a month-long air war and 100 hours of a ground campaign thoroughly destroyed his ability to project real force against us.

We always have the nuclear deterrent and we still have the capacity to produce large amounts of tanks and infantry units if a WWII-like situation somehow came again. What we should be focusing on is 1) a Navy capable of protecting us and of projecting force around the world, 2) Special Forces to be sent around the world by the Navy if necessary in order to destabilize dictators, destroy terrorist camps and harrass major threats, and 3) a huge emphasis on new technology. Technology is one of the most valuable things the military gives us and one of the most sought-after aspects of any major conflict. Developing newer weapons, defenses and detections systems is what we need to focus on - not useless tank columns and more cannon fodder.

Conventional warfare is on hiatus right now. We need to adapt to the way things are today and get ready to project hi-tech force around the globe with unbelievable speed and inhuman accuracy. That’s how we can impress on our enemies our ability to fight.

A two-front war just isn’t that likely. Several minor- and a few medium-scale engagements with terrorists is the current situation. We need to start improving the individual effectiveness of each soldier rather than trying to compensate for individual incompetence with sheer volume (like the Russians in WWII throwing waves of unarmed peasants at the Germans).

Technology and precision can replace the old-style armies just as laser-guided bombs have replaced inaccurate mass bombing.


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