USA Should Heed Britain’s Defense Woes
Currently the struggle for the soul of the British military is ongoing, what the outgoing Army chief of staff describes as the “horse and tank moment“. Our motherland across the Atlantic isn’t the only nation facing tough defense choices in the next few years, but here in America a struggle is waging for the future course of our military strategy, which will in turn define our national security. The F-22 Raptor battle ongoing between the White House and Congress might be the catalyst of whether we have a force able to defend us from the rising asymmetrical threats facing the nation, or should we plan for future imaginary wars against peer adversaries. Everyone wants reform, but no one wishes to give up a particular pet project, as this recent article from the UK Telegraph “Big guns don’t win today’s wars” reveals:
The RAF will not give up its attachment to strategic bombing and the Royal Navy ardently clings to its aircraft carriers, advanced destroyers and fighter wing. There are many unglamorous parts of the Air Force that quietly go about achieving a great deal – from air transport to helicopters and surveillance. But those leading the RAF are fighter pilots who are loath to yield to the realities in front of them.
Some might also argue we must have a very costly Ballistic Missile Defense to counter rogue missiles from Third World nations like Iran or North Korea, aside from the colossal delusion that we can have an arms race against impoverished nations who would care little to see most of their citizens starve first. Most likely it would be us spending ourselves into bankruptcy by attempting to copy Reagan’s strategy against the Soviets in this new era.
Getting back to Britain, it seems equally ludicrous that soon they will build two giant supercarriers which may not even have planes for their spacious decks. This is not as unthinkable as it sounds, seeing as how the RN was forced to give up her excellent Sea Harriers a few years back for her three light carriers for economy reasons. Why have carriers at all if you can’t deploy enough adequate planes to use from them? Imagine the battleships going to sea in the 1930s without their guns! Such enormous and costly platforms then become hollow shells.
This is not to say that conventional weapons are still not important, just that in wartime other weapons become more important and should receive the bulk of attention and funding. No more weapons for the “just in case” scenario. No more decades long development and procurement cycles. No to billion dollar warships used to fight Third World countries. No to jet fighters built to fight an enemy long gone. No to multi-billion dollar R & D and whiz bang superweapons.
Yes to more UAVs and missiles. Yes to more troops, battlefield robots that save lives, and light armored vehicles. Yes to small corvettes, high speed vessels, and auxiliary multi-role ships. Yes to ground attack planes, helicopters, and tactical transports. Yes to off the shelf weapons.
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11, 2001 should be our focal point, where a group of non-state actors wielding box cutters used our own airliners as weapons of mass destruction. In such a case, our giant supercarriers, main battle tanks, and fast stealth fighters were of little use, but more information, more troops, agents, shoreline-hugging warships, and foreign workers lurking in the terrorist havens overseas will garner vast rewards.