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Why a World War 2 Military?

August 28, 2008

This is something which I compared Russia’s military to in its invasion of Georgia. The article concerns the US Military and has a few good points, via

The US military is the military of World War II, but with better technology. The Navy still consists of carriers surrounded by ships intended to protect the carriers. The heart of the army is still armored and infantry divisions with artillery and close-air support. The Air Force too. All are designed to fight enemies like themselves. However, there are no enemies like themselves, and WWII forces do not well fight the enemies they do have, such as ragtag dispersed guerrillas, because they are not intended to fight them.

Why a World War II military? Because of institutional inertia, because men delight in fast, powerful things that make loud and stirring noises, because the ships and tanks and submarines are magnificent. Relinquishing them is too painful to contemplate. Instead of changing its forces to suit present needs, the Pentagon keeps them as they are and tries to use them where they do not work well.

WWII militaries are intended to destroy expensive point targets and to conquer crucial territory. For example, they try to destroy the enemy’s aircraft and conquer his cities. This America does very well indeed. The difficulty is that dispersed guerrillas do not have any expensive point targets, crucial territory, or cities. The Pentagon is using baseball bats to fight mosquitoes. The absurdity of using a B1 intercontinental bomber for close air support is manifest. But you’ve got the plane, the pilots don’t want to miss the war, and so you find something for them to bomb.

Which is why we keep having trouble sustaining a last-century military while making it more high tech. We should keep the high tech in my view, the new robot weapons like UAVs, smart bombs, and cruise missiles, but relieve ourselves of these over-burdensome war-era platforms like hot fighters,supercarriers, and heavy tanks. Instead, we should fight warfare “off the shelf” with cheap but good platforms like armored cars, light fighters for close support, and corvettes/patrol ships.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. charbookguy permalink
    August 28, 2008 8:09 pm

    I would abandon last century tactics for 21st Century plans. The same smart bombs and missiles which helped win both Gulf Wars would lead the fight, not be subordinated to WW2 style platforms like planes, tanks, and surface battleships. Of course they would still need platforms to get them where they’re needed, and these would consist of cheap, easy to build vehicles which I mentioned above.

    Warfare never changes, but weapons do, and our tactics and building plans must change along with them. How much longer can we continue to build carriers, whose cost is the amount of many nation’s entire defense budgets, or jet fighters which are approaching the cost of navy frigates. There has to be a better way, and I think there is!

  2. samer rida permalink
    August 28, 2008 7:45 pm

    Your vision of the US military equal to abandoning most of the conventional warfare capability. in the long term, this will turn the US army into a large SWAT force world wide that spends billions of dollars to fight small threats such as piracy or few taliban in the mountains. At least currently the billions are spent to support both functions , it is always the Combination that wins, the US will never maintain sea dominance without aircraft carriers and will never be able to fight piracy without smaller ships.

  3. charbookguy permalink
    August 28, 2008 2:36 pm

    A “jeune ecole” ? Might be happening if you consider the submarine as the new cruiser, and when the insurgents move their mostly successful land tactics to the sea. This latter is currently happening off the coast of Somalia.

  4. west_rhino permalink
    August 28, 2008 9:46 am

    Why a “WW2 military”? I think that question is off the mark. I’ll defer to Bill Mauldin and the observation that Willie and Joe, hunkered down in their foxholes, with fixed bayonets still win the frickin’ battle and the war.

    Now is fixed bayonet a WW2, WW1, Vietnam, FrancoPrussian War, French and Indian War thing or do we need to distill the bayonet to a “pointy strck”?

    Yes we have more elegant technology and leftists trying to “look butch” have flattened aspsiring factories and empty tents while depleting our stocks of cruise missiles and leaving fragments for the opposition to examine in the process of back engineering the technology that wasn’t traded for campaign funds.

    True, we have a heiarchy that seems to have trouble thinking outside the box that sunk Duke Cunningham in its dealings and keeps pushing on the Pentagon some systems that are pork to a home district (a number of shipyards come to mind there, as do airframe manufacturers).

    IMHO, KISS principle has been tossed with Ochams razor about the same way the USAF scuttled the B-58 and the Navy hosed the non Grumman TFX (did I mean the F-111B?) as being too complex for their needs. Perhaps a new “jeune ecole” needs to be accomodated, at least one that the Gunnys can keep from a real SNAFU.

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