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Talking Ourselves into a Cold War

March 9, 2009

David Axe makes a good point, with his imaginary “Military Power of the USA” to coincide with the Pentagon’s very real annual report on China:

Let’s imagine some highlights from the pretend 2009 edition of Military Power of the United States of America:

* In 2007 and 2008 the U.S. Navy purchased two large destroyers and one high-speed corvette, for a surface-combatant force of around 100 ships. More worryingly, these 100 ships carry an average of 75 missiles apiece, compared to just 20 for Chinese ships

* The U.S. Navy has bought a nuclear attack submarine every year for nearly a decade, and now has a fleet of around 50 such vessels, compared to China’s six

* The United States maintains five production lines for tactical fighters, including two solely for export; U.S. Pacific Command now has some 1,800 aircraft, including 220 carrier-borne fighters plus two squadrons of F-22 stealth fighters, with a third on the way

* America maintains hundreds of thousands of troops in peacetime garrisons in Europe and Asia

* Some 200,000 U.S. troops are engaged in active combat in no fewer than three conflict zones in Africa, Asia and the Middle East

Such alarmism, in my view, can only be an excuse to keep in production obsolete types of Cold War era equipment long past their usefulness in Hybrid Wars, which is the new type warfare we should be concerned about. In fact, the Pentagon understands little of such 21st Century conflicts, in which insurgent type armies as deployed by Chechnya, Hezbollah, and the Taliban have managed to hold their own against conventional armed opponents like Russia, Israel, and the USA. For the most part, the insurgents have been beaten back, but only after the full force of the traditional powers’ arsenal has been brought against it, at a vast disproportionate cost.

Congress is of little help in trying to transform the military to face modern threats, and may even be the problem. The Washington Post details how Pentagon’s Unwanted Projects in Earmarks.

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