U.S. military decimated under Obama, only ‘marginally able’ to defend nation

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by MemberLG, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news...ecimated-under-obama-only-marginally-/?page=2

    My opinion, the heading is misleading.

    I found following comments interesting

    "It grades the Army, which is shrinking from 570,000 soldiers to 440,000 or lower, and the Navy, which is failing to achieve a 300-ship force, as only “marginal” in military power. The Air Force’s fleet of fighters and long-range bombers is judged “strong.”"
    "Today, the House Armed Services Committee member said the Air Force “would say we are dangerously close to no longer being able to guarantee that air dominance that we could guarantee in Kuwait.”"
    “If you listen to the Army, they will give testimony they can no longer guarantee. You talk about two wars — they testified they can’t guarantee that we could win one war,” Mr. Forbes said. “The Navy will tell you if we get to 260 ships, we cease to be a superpower; we become a regional power.”

    The question I have is how is our ability to fight two wars and being a superpower align with our national security interest?
     
  2. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    There is some fascinating science around people's actual ability to objectively peg things. Maybe that's at work here.

    For example... A classic training exercise we did for years involved blindfolding people and having them dip their hands in bowls of water and say "hot, warm, or cold". Invariably, they would get it wrong (usually very wrong) and contradict themselves if we first let their hand adjust to a bowl of cool or warm water before switching. Watching someone flinch and recoil from a bowl of room temperature water that just minutes before in the first trial they were fine with is quite interesting.

    The point... As much as we all are quite sure we are immune to it, it's extremely hard for us not to judge things relative to what we are used to.
     
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  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Coast Guardsmen are looking at not receiving a paycheck... again.

    I get that the other services are "hurting" but take a walk over to an aging Coast Guard cutter, and you'll be ashamed of the state of some ships. Yes, the Coast Guard is finally getting some new cutters, but there are a smaller number of cutters replacing a larger fleet. Only eight National Security Cutters will replace the 12 Hamilton class cutters (from the 1970s). And the Coast Guard has yet to replace the Reliance class cutters, which are from the 1960s. These Reliance class cutters have gone through TWO mid-life upgrades.
     
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  4. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Also, I thint it's extremely hard for us to tell our superiors that we can't do something or we should do less things.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Military leaders have a responsibility to communicate weaknesses to superiors. You can't add a thousand missions, cut people and expect it to run smoothly. The issues snowball as people burn out and leave.
     
  6. osdad

    osdad Member

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    A story:

    At the end of the cold war, a retired senior US nuclear scientist was visiting his Soviet counterpart. The conversation got around to funding.
    Soviet: How did you get the funds to continuously upgrade your missiles?
    US: Well, I went before Congress and told them that we are falling behind you guys and we were in danger of not having sufficient strength to deter a first strike. How did you do it?
    Soviet: Same way!
     
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  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The Navy is full of s*** with that "regional power" schtick.
     
  8. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Follow the money!
     
  9. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Did you mean to type "marginal" or "regional"?
     
  10. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    " “The Navy will tell you if we get to 260 ships, we cease to be a superpower; we become a regional power.” "
     
  11. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Can't remeber the title, something along the line of the Collapse of the Soviet Union . . . The main thesis of the book was that the root cause of the Collapse of Soviet Union was spending too much on its defense to compete against the United States. It seems like the history might repeat itself as we are competing against enemies we can't define other than we need more.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
  12. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    z
    That is generally accepted as being more lore and revisionist myth than reality. The problems of the Soviet economy were much deeper and more widespread than simple defense spending. At one point I wrote a rather long paper on the consumer-driven collapse of the Soviet economic system.
     
  13. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Your thoughts on how Soviet's centralized economic planning model couldn't support the defense spending?
     
  14. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Did you reference this book?

    http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Soviet-Crash-Gorbachevs-Desperate/dp/071562315X/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424976687&sr=1-12&keywords=judy Shelton

    The book looks old and dated and the author is associated with somewhat far-out libertarian notions, but she was spot on and well ahead of the curve. Like you, she said the Soviet Economy was so mired in off the books debt to maintain a huge defense and subsidize its cradle to grave welfare system, that it was bound to collapse. It would have happened earlier if not for the high oil prices of the later 70's and early 80's.

    I lived in Poland in 1978-79, which shared the the same economic model. Here are some prices I paid (at black market exchange rate):

    1 kilo loaf of bread=3 ct. (at the time world wheat price was $4.00/bu.=15 ct./kilo) My future wife's uncle fed store bought bread to his hogs.
    300 mile plane flight= $15 (I paid half as a student)
    1/2 liter bottle of Pilsner Urquell= 5 ct.
    Trolley ticket = 1 ct.

    I could give you examples of the prices for Soviet goods sold in Poland, but you wouldn't believe me. The USSR wasn't only subsidizing its on citizens but those of its satellites as well.
     
  15. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    That's a bit misleading, because while the Soviets' defense spending couldn't be supported by a centrally planned economy, neither could anything else. The paucity of food, consumer goods, industrial inputs, and efficient supplies of raw materials were as damning as anything.

    In the present day, the CIA has revised it figures in light of political reality and better information. Despite Reagan's massive defense spending initiatives, Soviet defense spending neither rose nor fell appreciably in response to American and NATO expenditures. While the Soviets certainly spent disproportionately on defense, they did so for the entire life of the Soviet Union, and their final undoing in terms of the defense budget was Afghanistan, not competition with the US. Even as US/Soviet relations improved markedly, the defense budget changed little. In essence, their military had become a massive form of economic stimulation. It was a huge employer of Soviet citizens and, thanks to arms sales, a beloved engine of hard currency from more economically viable states (especially in the Gulf).

    The real undoing of the Soviets wasn't as simple as "we spent so much they couldn't keep up." That's narrative Americans love because it jives with Rocky IV and apple pie and the GOP lore. The reality is more complex, but in the end they really ran out of damn near everything. Food, clothes, steel, coal. You name it, they couldn't produce it they way they needed.

    We believe we "beat" them in the same way we believe the Berlin Wall fell because Reagan made a nice speech at the Brandenburg Gate two summers prior. Myths and fables.
     
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  16. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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  17. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    Scout,

    Apparently, the thesis of each book seems to be that the Soviet economy, and those of its satellites collapsed under their own weight. As late as 1989, that was still something which I think even the CIA was under-estimating. If they weren't underestimating the fragility of that economy, then they weren't sharing the news with the public. There was some mumbling about the non-European population eventually overwhelming the Slavs, but absolutely none spoke or dreamt of the system collapsing under its own weight in such a spectacular fashion.
     
  18. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    A major factor that can't be discounted was the effect of Gorbachev. Even as early as '83 he was known to be having some very pointed conversations with Russian ambassadors about the dangers the Soviets were facing economically. He gets criticized for not reforming the system fast enough, and in many circles is partly blamed for not "saving" the USSR, but the reforms he did make and his drive to end the Cold War were crucial to the way the events played out. Quite notable was his response to the 1989 election in which Poland's Solidarity movement won 99 of 100 seats. When the communist directors called him for directions, Gorbachev's answer was "Do nothing. Accept the outcome of a free election." He didn't force Hungary's hand when they stopped guarding the border with Austria (an event which led to the fall of the Wall and the collapse of the East German regime), and he did nothing about Berlin, and he did nothing about Ceascescu's demise.

    If nothing else, his realization that the system was unsustainable and his decision to make no overt moves to stem the tide hastened the demise of the eastern bloc, and quite likely made the revolution far less bloody than it could have been.
     
  19. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    cb, thanks for an interesting discussion btw. May I ask what took you to Poland? My aunt lived in West Germany in the early 80s.
     
  20. osdad

    osdad Member

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    While the fall of the Soviet Union is interesting, my story was, of course, allegorical. The point is that lying about the enemy's strength relative to ours is what gets the money. And least we forget it was written by the Heritage Foundation - a group not known for their unbiased positions.

    And I too lived in W. Germany during the time the Wall was crumbling. I like to say that the W. German government got word that my wife was returning to the states and they were forced to open the borders to balance the loss of spending.
     
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