2013-04-04 by Ed Timperlake
Recent events centered in Washington have perfectly captured the difficulty of politically protecting America. No enemy should ever discount the skill, training and weapons of the American military.
U.S. soldiers, sailors airman and marines and their leaders in the field, instinctually grasp exactly what General Patton stated–“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
However, Inside the Beltway, political decisions are often way off or out of cycle with reality.
A treasure trove of historical data is already available for some future scholar to explain the epic myopic disconnect of some self-asserted National Security experts and a minority of Senators during the Hagel confirmation Hearings. The public debate and hearing was so backward focused it was striking.
The real world evidence is simple, because at the same time of the hearings Kim Jung-un the Supreme Leader of North Korea was preparing to nuke the US. Once confirmed, Sectary Hagel’s immediate and correct instinct was a perfect response to the nutter running North Korea, he answered the threat with mobilized directed action.
Hagel announced almost immediately at the onset of the crisis that the U.S. is deploying 14 new ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska to counter renewed nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran. “That will boost U.S. missile defense capability by 50 percent and “make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression.”
However, there is a time and technology lag of adding additional missiles to achieve a fully functioning extremely accurate ground-based missile defense system.
But all it will take is one North Korean ICBM hitting Anchorage, Honolulu or the West Coast and money will not be a problem.
And that is the point everyone seams to be missing. Indeed, with the deployment of stealth aircraft, first B-2s and then F-22s, Hagel understood the importance of putting advanced US technology and capabilities up against the problem. The B-2, now operating from more than 20 years, and in limited numbers and that “Cold War” weapon – the F-22 – suddenly recaptured recognition for what it is – part of deterrent warfighting capability against a lethal adversary with designs on American forces, lives and territory.
Instead of being a Cold War weapons, the question asked of the F-22 from the theater was a different one: how many can you send?
It is important to remember that all current 21st Century technology was built on the vision and commitment of bipartisan 20th Century politicians.
We need a similar commitment by Republicans and Democrats to band together and build out the capabilities needed for the next decades of the 21st century.
When America is threatened, our core history shows that as a nation we have often been rudely awakened but rally to fight back. The danger since the World War II arsenal of democracy was built we have forgotten much.
In the presence of recent wars have been actually slow motion engagements with relatively little loss of aircraft, ships and even tanks, we too often assume dominance which actually has to be built, developed, and deployed.
Slow motion wars are not the norm, but the aberration. Saddam Hussan attacking Kuwait and then giving the US and fellow UN fighting forces an unbelievable amount of time to marshal forces was an epic military miscalculation on his part. Our recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been captured perfectly by a young Marine writing on a white board in Iraq. “America is not at war, the Marine Corps is at war, America is at the mall.”
Meanwhile in DC every day after day there is more and pack journalism stories on the effects of sequestration. Much of this is written apparently with the ultimate political agenda of tagging one political party or the other in a never-ending blame game of horror. Unfortunately, for DOD, the effect of losing some previously counted on appropriations is very real and must be appropriately addressed by the Secretaries and Service Chiefs.
However, there is a very unfortunate law of unintended consequences of downward cycles and lack of investment on what is and will be needed to ensure success. By focusing totally on sequestration as if it were a strategy, the national command authority and the Congress think about downward spirals, not leadership for the future.
A corresponding question is not being addressed at the highest levels and in public debates—What if America is drawn into a high intensity war almost over night?
Where is the arsenal of democracy, not the cutting board?
It appears that little has been done in prudent mobilization planning and requirements to address a simple statement –if money is not the problem what can we do to build the right forces for the right challenges?
Shifting from MRAP wars to power projection requirements is crucial to shaping the future.
Planning for a war that can be violent and deadly will destroy significant numbers of military platforms and it takes analytical insights to understand the use of the most precious commodity available which is time.
The events unfolding with the bellicose actions of Kim Jung-un can serve as a immediate catalyist to address significant mobilization planning and requirements thinking at the NSC.
Some of the questions which must be asked from this perspective are the following:
How fast can more ABM missiles and sensor launch platforms be perfected and built?
How many B-2s, or now a follow on bomber can be enough?
How fast can the F-35 factory in Fort Worth Texas ramp up to produce more than approximately 3 a month F-35s?
What enhanced training should be funded to bring all necessary DOD combat assets in a high state of readiness?
Should trade offs be made quickly in the never ending MRAPs Afghan War with the need for resources to put additional combat teeth in the Air/Sea Asian pivot?
What happens if Iran is struck and Russia and China either or start a rearmament race into Iran which will have a motive to fight back?
Can US and Allies handle both a North Korean combat engagement and a Middle East fight with Iran?
Will rapid runway repair teams have the necessary equipment to act decisively on many fronts?
Is the US ready for quick battle damage repair to ships and planes which we have in diminishing numbers?
Will the training pipeline for combat warriors, air land and sea being killed provide skilled and capable replacements quickly?
What platforms, weapons and people can be traded off to fill attrition gaps?
Mobilization planning and requirements is not equivalent to studying the future of the supply chain. It is about surging capability to the warfighter to prevail and not simply cope with negative results.
It is about creating the future, and not repairing the damage of nuclear armed and violent adversaries.