8 years, 4 months ago
Defense Tech links an editorial by the New York Times on How to Pay for a 21st Century Military. Ward at Defense Tech doesn’t like the editorial very much, and neither does The Captain’s Journal. Ward summarizes the recommendations as follows:
End production of the Air Force’s F-22. (Recommends the use of “upgraded” F-16s until the F-35 comes into production.)
Cancel the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer. (Advises the production of the Littoral Combat Ship instead.)
Halt production of the Virginia class sub. (Recommends extending the life of existing Los Angeles class submarines instead.)
Pull the plug on the Marine Corps’s V-22 Osprey. (Recommends buying more H-92s and CH-53s instead.)
Halt premature deployment of missile defense.
Negotiate deep cuts in nuclear weapons.
Trim the active-duty Navy and Air Force.
Some, if not most, of these recommendations are stupid to the point of being dangerous. We have already discussed the fact that existing nuclear weapons systems are in need of refurbishment in order to maintain viability, and also the fact that new nuclear weapons systems must be pursued in order to maintain deterrence and modernize the force.
While aircraft carriers can project U.S. power deep into foreign terrain, and guided missile cruisers even deeper, the Navy hasn’t given us a single viable littoral combat scenario or reason to believe that the littoral combat program is anything but daydreaming. On the other hand, every single ship in the active U.S. Navy has produced and participated in the national defense, whether actively or passively through deterrence.
As for the F-22, we have already halted production after 183 have been purchased. Good enough. Continue with the 183 and halt any further production after that. The proposal to cut the 183 that have been purchased comes from the same presupposition as the proposals to cut the nuclear weapons program deeply, pursue the littoral combat ships and halt missile defense. This presupposition is that the only thing we will ever face in the 21st century will be asymmetric threats, guerrilla warfare and insurgencies.
The Captain’s Journal believes in fighting and winning the current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s foolish and shortsighted to assume that the future will necessarily look like the present. Finally, short cutting planning, training and equipping for a conventional struggle and proper deterrence might just ensure that that’s the threat that is faced in the future by creating the very weakness that larger near-peer nation states seek.