Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Budgeting For 3rd Generation Warfare in a 4GW Environment

The big bucks for the defense contractors comes from big weapons systems, most of which are not the kind of things currently being used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The defense industry lobbyists have their way in Washington. I would not expect the recommendations below to be acted upon.

From a piece by George Wilson originally published in CongressDaily.

The terrorizing tactics of the bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan all but unfurl a banner reading, "It's asymmetrical warfare, stupid."

Yet nobody in Congress, the White House or Pentagon seems to have read the banner and considered what it means for our armed forces and defense policies.

Asymmetrical warfare is a fancy term for finding the chinks in your enemy's armor and stabbing into them until he either gives up or bleeds to death.

The have-nots in military hardware have adopted this strategy, like the Vietcong before them. They are not trying to match the United States tank for tank, plane for plane, gun for gun, soldier for soldier. They are instead using terror, infiltration and propaganda to level the fighting field.

When all is said and done, the wars confronting the United States are for men's minds, not territory. So terror, infiltration and propaganda can be great equalizers.

Anti-American leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan are demonstrating their appreciation of these arts every day. Given that reality, our leaders in Congress and the executive and judicial branches need to be asking some tough questions on behalf of our country.

In the military realm, Congress -- whom the founding fathers put in charge of "the common defense" -- need to ask such politically incorrect questions as these:

What will the Army's $162 billion Future Combat System do to reduce casualties from Improvised Explosive Devices and their successors? The Pentagon says these hidden bombs account for 80 percent of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

How will the Navy's $3 billion-a-copy Virginia class killer submarine help us combat asymmetric warfare? Same question for the Air Force $355 million-a-copy F-22 fighter and Marine Corps $119 million-a-copy V-22 Osprey.

Granted, all the military threats facing us would not be carbon copies of the war in Iraq if it came to that.

Pentagon hawks are quick to say the Chinese are coming. But it will be years, probably decades if ever, before China or any other potentially hostile nation will field weapons as deadly and sophisticated as the ones in our arsenal today.

So why not redirect some of those billions earmarked for super weapons like the Future Combat System to resuscitate our worn-out Army? There is no threat out there to justify a hurry-up approach to fielding these colossally expensive super weapons.

Nobody in Congress since the late House Armed Services Chairman Les Aspin, D-Wis., left that office has shown the boldness to ask such "emperor has no clothes" questions in a systematic way.

The jobs attached to weapons inhibit the politicians to such an extent I think only a non-partisan royal commission comprised of former Defense secretaries can do the much-needed matchup of enemy threats and Pentagon plans.

This interregnum between the exit of the current administration and entrance of the next is a good time for qualified outsiders to assess where the Pentagon plans to go and where it should go, in view of radically changed threats.

The House and Senate Armed Services committees could appoint such a commission and make the most of its report public. The White House National Security Council would do the country a favor if it did a serious study of the matchup between forces planned and threats envisioned.

The series of toothless, stick-to-our-knitting, self-endorsing Quadrennial Defense Reviews issued by the Pentagon have proved anew that government agencies cannot be entrusted to devise the right strategies and tactics to win future asymmetrical wars.

The decisions that gave us Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, the murder of civilians by our troops in Iraq, denial of legal rights of suspected terrorists and parts of the USA PATRIOT Act have handed ammunition to our enemies.

We desperately need our best and brightest legal brains to stop giving our enemies fodder and embark on a cleansing mission. The House and Senate Judiciary committees have raised crucial questions about whether the PATRIOT Act has proved to be more drag than lift for our democracy and about what we lose as a democracy when we deny people their legal rights.

The panels would do well to name an impeccable commission, perhaps of retired judges, to tell us where we've been, where we are and where we should go to regain our reputation as a democracy respectful of legal rights.


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