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Dueling Democrat Defense Alternatives Pt. 2

December 16, 2008

Yesterday we studied the Center for American Progress’ report on how the future US military should be shaped. Today we turn to the Center for National Policy, whose advisor’s include Norman Friedman and Loren Thompson, with their defense proposals for the incoming Democrat administration titled “Agility Across the Spectrum: A Future Force Blueprint“:

On Expanding the Forces

  1. The Army should increase by 65,000 troops, the Marine by 27,000 by 2013.
  2. The Army should boost its Civil Affairs Units.
  3. Special Forces should grow to 100,000 by 2020.
  4. Mandatory National Service for High School Graduates, for civil or military purposes.

Weapons’ Procurement

  1. A two year “Strategic Pause” on new and experimental weapons systems outside what is necessary for “today’s wars”.
  2. Proceed with and perhaps expand deliverer of Army Future Combat System.
  3. For the Navy-A goal of 325 ships for deterring near-peer competitors like China, contributing to the Global War on Terror, combating pirates, and humanitarian missions.
  4. Cancel last DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyers for more DDG-51 Arleigh Burkes. Incorporate DDG-1000 technology into DDG-51s.
  5. Navy should add unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) to aircraft carrier airwings, for their greater range and persistence over manned planes. A goal should be to eventually build an “all-UCAV carrier”.
  6. Support a force of at least 50 nuclear attack submarines.Increase Virginia buy to 2-3 per year. Escalate the Virginia replacement. Build conventional submarines for training purposes and export.
  7. Congress should review amphibious ship capabilities and build as needed.
  8. Air Force should increase the roles of UCAVs in service, while decreasing dependence on manned fighters. A further goal would be constructing UCAVs with a global strike capability.
  9. Possibly reopening the C-17 transport assembly line.
  10. Air Force should develop a “Cyber Warfare Corps” under a Department of Defense “Joint Cyber Command”.

Cutting Costs

  1. Reduce speed on 40 knot littoral combat ship (LCS). Add Marine module to increase versatility (motherships?), along with a surface fire module, special operations module, and humanitarian module.
  2. Cease F-22 procurement at 203. Shift focus to F-35 Lightning II production.
  3. Downsize the number of F-35s to be procured.

It is pretty obvious Democrats are serious about expanding troop strength, though whether this will mean more warriors or an increase in civil affairs personnel remains to be seen. The “Strategic Pause” proposal is interesting, except I would expand this from 5-10 years until troop, aircraft, and ship numbers are restored from the wear and tear received in recent years.

Two horrible ideas for the budget is continuance of the too costly FCS, an attempt to keep the tank viable in a new era of counter-insurgency, and continued production of DDG-51 destroyers, which I described yesterday as over-kill. We need more littoral ships not battleships. With more small patrol ships from corvette size on down, you could increase fleet numbers beyond the proposed 325 (which makes little since anyway. What difference would another 10 ships make, when 50-100 would save the Navy and strike fear in our enemies). The best idea is to increase sub production which would negate the need for large and vulnerable destroyers.

As for amphibious ships, considering these have only been used in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions of late, or simply expensive troop carriers when they do go to war, Congress should look to reducing the cost of this “navy within a navy”. One idea is placing Marines onboard warships in its traditional role. Another might be using commercial designs to offset the cost of building purpose built amphibs. The placing of UCAVs on board carriers is a must if the Navy wishes to see these vessels which are being forced future from the shoreline as viable in future warfare. Otherwise, consideration might be given to this purpose-built UCAV carrier which should be far smaller than a supercarrier, considering the persistence of armed drones and the effectiveness of precision weapons in modern war.

As for C-17 production, this is almost a no-brainer considering how overly-used the current C-17 fleet has been in all our recent wars. The entire fleet needs to be replaced post-haste. The Air Force proposals as in yesterday’s post are on the money. The idea that we need to replace Cold War era fighters on a one-for-one basis is ludicrous considering again the effectiveness of modern weaponry, the rising use of lower-cost unmanned aerial vehicles in warfare, as well as the lack of a peer enemy. Major savings will also be found in the other services, as we noted, by canceling or delaying any big ship production save for submarines, plus continued purchase of armored vehicles off the shelf to replace battle-worn equipment instead of the untried and unbearably expensive Future Combat.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink
    December 17, 2008 8:47 pm

    Thanks for the link Sven. I still say that size isn’t necessarily a measuring stick for a military force’s eliteness.

  2. December 17, 2008 8:07 pm

    @Mike Burleson:

    The Waffen-SS was no elite. Only about three of their divisions had a kind of elite status, as had a similar number of army divisions.
    The initially strict physical fitness requirements of the Waffen-SS were dropped quite early.

    USSOCOM is even large enough to question its elite status – unless you accept good training already as “elite”.

    @DesCorp: IIRC there’s a law that mandates/authorizes two USMC divisions (or division equivalents). THE USMC is larger than that (194,000 personnel – either they are larger than two divisions or they have the worst divisional slice ever).

  3. December 17, 2008 8:03 pm

    Here’s another think tank-like work (actually, a loose union of authors with different degrees of previous cooperation):

    “America’s Defense Meltdown”

    It’s more about military policy reform in general.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink
    December 16, 2008 8:55 pm

    I disagree Des that the marines do not qualify as elite because of their large size. Recall that the Germans used entire divisions in the World war as elite forces, the infamous Waffen SS numbered about 40 divisions. The Turkish Janissaries once totalled about 200,000.

    Also, I think the 100,000 takes in all Special Forces including the Rangers. Like you I think this a little excessive and would instead have more well-trained infantry-the boots on the ground!

  5. DesScorp permalink
    December 16, 2008 6:00 pm

    The Marines shouldn’t grow, they should shrink. They may be the proud, but they certainly aren’t the few anymore. You can’t really call yourselves an elite service if you’re bigger than the combined forces of major NATO allies.

    100 grand more Green Berets? From where? If the kind of men that were suited for Special Forces grew on trees, we wouldn’t need a Special Forces.

  6. Mike Burleson permalink
    December 16, 2008 4:44 pm

    I agree Mrs. D. Socializing the military in the Cold War only gave us successive battlefield defeats in Korea and Vietnam. More education
    on military issues in our schools and colleges would work just as well.

  7. Mrs. Davis permalink
    December 16, 2008 11:31 am

    Mandatory National Service is also a terrible idea. We fought a war to eliminate involuntary servitude and it should only be resumed if the nation’s survival is in question. Maintaining the draft after WWII did not help the Army and the AVF has. This is a no brainer unless the motive is to harm the institution.

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