Archive for the ‘Debates’ Category

What happens when ‘demand’ for the Army exceeds its ‘supply’?

Robert Haddick. Small Wars Journal, 29 November 2011.
http://defensealt.org/KAZEeg

History shows danger of arbitrary defense cuts

Paula G. Thornhill. CNN, 23 November 2011.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/23/opinion/thornhill-defense-cuts/index.html

Excerpt:

The nation’s leadership needs a Plan B so that a heroic assumption — or hope — about the unlikelihood of future wars does not inadvertently lead to strategic disaster. This is harder than it seems. Plan B would allow more flexibility to meet what could go wrong in the strategic environment rather than just making budget cuts.

Editor’s Comment:

Plan B is to maintain a good ‘strategic reserve.’ As neo-conservatives like to point out the United States spends only 4.5% of its GDP on its military. If new threats pinch, the U.S. can easily ramp up spending and engage its still considerable industrial and knowledge base. The problem this country faces with a reconstitution strategy is lack of political will. Civilian leaders are loathe to ask the American people to sacrifice. A robust National Guard and Reserve force that is not abused by frequent deployments to unnecessary wars and a societal expectation to pay a tax surcharge in times of national emergency are the fundamentals of what this country needs to be strategically prepared while maintaining a small standing peacetime force. With such a strategic plan the U.S. can be well provisioned for any threat.

A 1% Solution Gives Pentagon Strategic Choices

Matthew Leatherman. Bloomberg Government, 21 November 2011.
http://defensealt.org/veAUPs

If You Want Peace, Stop Clamoring for War

Kelsey Hartigan. Democracy Arsenal, 10 November 2011.
http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2011/11/if-you-want-peace-stop-clamoring-for-war.html

Excerpt:

If Romney believes that he can waltz into the Oval Office, give a few rough and tough speeches and suddenly Iran will open its doors to IAEA inspectors, well, he’s in for a rude awakening.

Belligerent rhetoric won’t solve the situation with Iran. In fact, most experts will tell you that it will make it worse. Threats of military action, or worse, actual military action, will only play into the hands of Iran’s hardliners…If a U.S. military presence was going to convince Iran to cooperate, I would have thought it would have happened by now.

Strategic Adjustment to Sustain the Force: A survey of current proposals

Charles Knight. Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #51, 25 October 2011.
http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/1110bm51.pdf

Excerpt:

…modest changes to U.S. military strategy and global posture implemented over the next ten years can reliably offer deficit-reducing savings from the Pentagon budget ranging from $73 billion a year to $118 billion a year.

To achieve the savings only requires the application of different means to attaining strategic goals. That is precisely what any good strategy does when conditions change.

The world’s best policeman

Jeff Jacoby. Boston Globe, 22 June 2011.
http://defensealt.org/HzhtEB

Excerpt:

…with great power come great responsibilities, and sometimes one of those responsibilities is to destroy monsters: to take down tyrants who victimize the innocent and flout the rules of civilization. If neighborhoods and cities need policing, it stands to reason the world does too. And just as local criminals thrive when cops look the other way, so do criminals on the world stage.

Our world needs a policeman. And whether most Americans like it or not, only their indispensable nation is fit for the job.

Editor’s Comment:

When three-quarters of Americans reject a role of global policeman for the U.S. perhaps they understand something fundamental about policing that Jeff Jacoby doesn’t. A police force without oversight by a judiciary and a guiding body of law is surely a formula for tyranny.

Jacoby would never endorse tyranny, but the avocation to be global policemen by White House occupants who are elected by and responsible to only 10% of the world’s people is a decision to be a vigilante on the global stage. Consider that Americans would be up in arms if China or Russia took it upon themselves to be global vigilantes.

For the leaders of the U.S. to so gladly to take up this role only serves to delay the day when we have capable international judicial and policing institutions. If our leaders attempt to think even a few years into the future it should be clear to them that the practice of vigilantism does not serve American interests.

[A version of this comment was published as a letter to the editor in the Boston Globe, 28 June 2011.]

Advice to the Pentagon: Stop Fiddling, Come to Grips With Impending Fiscal Doom

Sandra Erwin. National Defense , 10 June 2011.
http://defensealt.org/HtE3zx

Excerpt:

Not only are there internal disagreements within the Pentagon and the Obama administration over what the military services will be doing in the future, but factions within Congress also will be pushing individual agendas. “In Congress, you have 535 individuals and every one of them thinks they’re in charge,” O’Keefe said. “If you don’t have some benchmark to work with to start the discussion,” the Pentagon will lose control over what gets cut in future budgets.

“If there is no strategic framework, that is what will happen: The process takes over,” said O’Keefe. Defense leaders should come up with a reasonable strategic framework as early as possible that they can sell to Congress, he said. “Absent that, it is going to be the programmers and bean counters driving the train to meet a number.”

A coherent message from the Defense Department is “missing right now,” said John J. Hamre, president of CSIS and former deputy defense secretary.

“What are we really trying to plan for, as a Defense Department, that is good for 20 years?” he asked. “Are we going to get the hell out of these wars and never fight them again? What are we preparing for?” he added. “That, I think, is the work for the next six months.”

There has to be a sense of urgency about articulating a plan for the future of the U.S. military, because increasingly the American public is losing patience with seemingly endless wars and gridlock over how to move forward, Hamre said

Steps Toward Defense Budget Discipline

Steps Toward Defense Budget Discipline, a Hill briefing sponsored by Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Project on Defense Alternatives, 7 June 2011, video by the Stimson Center. Featuring: Amy Belasco, Carl Conetta, Benjamin Friedman, Matthew Leatherman, Laura Peterson and Winslow Wheeler.