Calming the Cold Worriers Pt 1
Let me describe the two extreme cases here: the Transitioneers, who wanted to manage the here-and-now world of lesser includeds, and the Cold Worriers, who wanted to wait for the Big One down the road…
If the Transitioneer advice had been followed, the Pentagon would have bought high numbers of relatively cheap platforms, or ships and aircraft full of technology we already had and therefore did not have to spend a lot of money developing…
In contrast to that particular vision, the Cold Worriers argued that America needed a force that emphasized high tech above all else as the key to staying prepared for the Big One. Because all that high technology is supremely expensive, you needed to sacrifice numbers of platforms for quality of platforms. You would end up with fewer ships and aircraft, or a smaller force structure, but your military force would rock’n’roll like nobody else’s on the planet…
Why did the Pentagon feel it had to argue for the high-tech strategy even as it put the squeeze on the number of platforms and personnel so desperately needed to manage this messy world? The military knew it was running itself largely on an industrial-era model that said you defeated your opponents by overwhelming them with stuff (ships, aircraft, bombs, tanks, etc.). But the military also realized this type of warfare was disappearing, because great powers, including the United States, simply could not afford that sort of massive military establishment anymore.
Thomas P.M. Barnett writing in The Pentagon’s New Map
Asking the pertinent question “Are Tanks Obsolete?” in the Atlantic Wire, Max Fisher leaves several posts for varied sites, all of which come resounding to the conclusion that we should relearn conventional armor tactics or face the consequences. For instance:
Priorities Starbuck, Wings Over Iraq The Israel Lesson Judah Grunstein, World Politics Review Tanks in Small Wars Tom Ricks, Foreign Policy Hybrid War David Johnson, RAND The Death of Armor Gian Gentile, Small Wars Journal
We can no longer afford to build a last century military, and the excuses given for shrinking numbers of assets, with ancient weapons forced to continue in service long past their prime, no longer make sense. Most of the giant warships, superfighters, heavy tanks designed for conventional warfare are not relevant for the type of wars we fight, but obviously we need some type of platform for the 3 services.
Specifically, the Cold Worriers fear we will be caught unprepared for some future obscure conventional conflict, tank versus tank, fighters dueling over the Central Front, carrier versus carrier (?). This idea becomes all the more absurd when you notice historic wars, wherein lightly armed and armored Hybrid Armies have fought superpowers to a standstill, and very often have beat them.
In Korea, in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, the Iraqi Insurgency, Afghanistan twice, the Chechnyan Conflict, and more recently with the Israelis in Lebanon. Always when such powers contend with Western armies in a stand-up slug fest with heavy weapons, the Euro-style forces win decisively. When they attack us using asymmetric or insurgent tactics, it is much harder for the West to prevail. Why then should we continue to spend increasingly sparse resources and funds on conventional armies, when the Hybrid Warfare is so much more cost effective and, equally if not more effective?
When conventional armies lose to the unconventional, somehow the former makes the case that they didn’t fight conventional enough. We pointed this out last week when Rand analyst David Johnson declared we should fight more like the Israelis, who lost a 2006 Conflict with a Hybrid Army. The US Army, who has been increasingly effective with their insurgent adversaries, thanks to the war-winning tactics of General Petraeus and his officers, would do well to ignore the Johnson report, since it would be a step backward, to the days when the terrorists of Iraq were winning.
Tomorrow-How Hybrid Armies Win