Problems of Weapons Procurement
Much of the difficulties replacing worn-out stocks of weapons lately has been blamed on our ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nowhere is this clearly revealed than with the British military, specifically in the RAF, as Strategypage points out:
Facing large budget cuts, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) is reducing its personnel strength by 25 percent (10,000 airmen) and closing five of 19 air bases. It will retire most of its Cold War era Harrier and Tornado aircraft early, and reduce flying hours. This is all brought about by growing problems with the national budget, which result in sharp cuts to defense spending. It’s not a sudden problem. Budgets have been shrinking since the Cold War ended in 1991. But they keep getting smaller, and many air forces have not adapted to the post Cold War conditions. This has caused other problems.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Royal Air Force was suffering from shortages of more than just helicopters, spare parts, and pilots. The entire force was facing a massive shortage of manpower in all its branches…
The ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are, unsurprisingly, the primary culprits of this shortage.
This last sentence is mostly true, but also not the whole story. All militaries at some point must be involved in war, and at seem point tired, worn out equipment must be replaced. To me our current problems in the West has less to do with any particular wars, but our practice of building only very capable high tech weapons which are hard to replace in any numbers. They have become “exquisite”.
In other words, what we might consider an attribute of creating militaries where our soldiers “never have to fight fair” has actually become a millstone because the insurgents and Third World powers can replace their stocks far quicker and easier. In contrast, our weapons designed for quick and easy conflicts where the enemy theoretically will be overwhelmed with minimal losses on our side, doesn’t work so well in conflicts that last for years, even decades. They have adapated to our way of thinking, while we continue business as usual.
Actually these ongoing wars have been a wakeup call, shaking us out of our post Cold War lethargy into a new era of conflict, where different tools are required. Yet, it is not so new but a natural cycle of conflict, for those of you who know history.
I will discuss the subject more the first of the week, offering possible solutions.