Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by NorwichDad, May 7, 2015.
Rather than encouraging our citizens to be part of something larger than themselves, and take some ownership in their Country, the decision makers in Washington do the opposite, lowering even further the percentage of citizens who will have a connection to the military. One of the Corps slogans used to be "no one wants to fight, but someone has to know how to do it." It is no doubt too much to hope that such leaders will ponder the real world results of such a “drawdown” as we mark the 70th anniversary of VE day. How did the interwar drawdown for the U.S. and Britain play out when 1939 rolled in?
“One who has few must prepare against the enemy; one who has many makes the enemy prepare against him.” Sun Tsu Art of War, 500 B.C.
“A truly successful army is one that, because of its strength and ability and dedication, will not be called upon to fight, for no one will dare to provoke it.” President Ronald Reagan at West Point 1981.
I understand your thinking. But the numbers must be what the country needs whether it is 1866, 1919, 1946, 1974, 1992 or 2015. The military costs a lot of money. It must be based on need.
In 1939, the relative powers of the nations states in question were quite different. We also did not have nuclear weapons or true WMDs. Even at 496K for the Army, the combined power of the US DoD along with our nuclear arsenal far outweighs our nearest "peer" competitors in terms of war-fighting capabilities and the ability to defend our borders. I'm on board with NorwichDad's thoughts on the matter. What nation would dare invade the U.S. territories and risk the brunt of our 2K or so strategic nuclear weapons?
Fully agree balancing of military readiness and needs is always required. But who determines the Country’s “needs” and ultimately the balancing? Appears to be a completely dysfunctional Washington.
My point is the reduction of the actual physical forces, the men and woman day to day in the military, has a resulting negative impact on the Country, and by extension the stability, and security of the Country. The leaders and the public mouth respect and support for “the military” but fewer and fewer are willing to actually join or make the fiscal demands needed. Last three Democratic Administrations looked to cut the military when they had the chance. We hear in the business world everyone needs to do more with less. But in the military that mentality has fatal consequences. Everyone here no doubt had family or friends (or perhaps themselves) who did at 2, 3 or even 4, tours in Iraq/Afghanastan. Because we spent first part of 2000s catching up from the 1990s force cuts. The World is a dangerous place and we are the most technologically advanced but security, in MHO, means more. Cutting the forces allows for more disconnect by the leaders and the public which in turn leads to poor foreign policy decisions because such leaders, and 98% of the public, have so little invested in our military, and by extension in the Country.
I have ranted enough and will get off the soapbox.
Any nation would risk our 2K nuclear weapons because we do not have the political will to use them.
I agree with Wilco, with little or no skin in the game the American people are much more willing to just write the check so to speak and send OUR children off to war.
Washington has always been as it is today. Ask John Adams, Lincoln, Roosevelts, Reagan. The city I mean not the general or state(JCLEPPE). It is the nature of democracy. This Democratic stagnation would be greatly missed if it was gone. The alternative is much worse. Ask the Romans, Greeks and countless others who lost it over the centuries. Fortunately it is so important to us it will survive.
Maybe, but don't make us mad. There is nothing more dangerous in this world than America when it is really angry.
Likely it or not the "dysfunctional" Washington decides on the size of our Army, not you or me. Let's say you are the decision maker for one day and you can make the decision on the size of the Army, what would it be? The real problem is not the size of the Army, rather Washington's inablity to realize the limitation of our Army. If Washington expects the Army to fight two regional wars at the same time, the smart folks will say we need XYZ many soldiers. If Washington decides it's going to 100,000 less than XYZ, they will also have accept that the Army can't fight two regional wars at the same time. All your points (which I agree) are factors that we need to consider how many soldiers we need, but there are more factors for us to consider.
Oh trust me....Washington the State is not much better when it comes to Politics.
The American people don't send us to war. The American President sends us to war.
Of course the important question is occasionally asked by critics but never actually answered in an objective sense. How big does our Army need to be? Is bigger better? Why is 570,000 the right number but 496,000 isn't?
It's intellectually bankrupt to simply impugn decision makers for shrinking the Army and the military as a whole without having some knowledge and thought about why it's happening and what it actually means.
By the by, the "last three democratic administrations" also inherited massive militaries that were no longer needed in a largely changed strategic environment. Context matters.
Scoutpilot you know full well the President does not declare war but I will take the bait: Constitution, Article 1, Section 8: The Congress shall have the Power To: Declare War; and to raise and support Armies.
My point being with fewer citizens in the military, means fewer in Congress will have direct contact with, or be related to, military members. Easier for a Politician to vote to send someone else’s relative to war (see i.e. Dick Cheney with his 7 Vietnam deferments.) Such a small percentage in service less chance their constituents back home will complain. It is the bases, and forts where our military most often interact with civilian world: yes providing jobs, but also spending time and monies in the nearby towns. Building relationships, good ones hopefully.
Additionally our voluntary military has shown itself to be a “can do” group who will take the mission and do all they can to accomplish it. That they are being given missions with less than required forces (see Iraq post-combat occupation) with inferior supplies (see Donald Rumsfield-you go to war with what you have.) That our forces may succeed does not make the Policy makers decisions correct.
I agree re-balancing and adjustments are always necessary. But it took decades to re-build after Vietnam. The “peace dividend” of the 1990s hurt our readiness at 9/11. And now another downsize with unknown consequences in the future. Obviously cannot predict and I am not a full time policy wonk but I do know enough of today’s world that I do not feel comfortable shifting our military back to a pre-WWII size. China is pushing to fill any vacuum in the Pacific Rim; our friends and allies deciding which horse to pick. Pakistan is nuclear armed with large numbers of populace supporting the Taliban, and also ISIS. Iraq the historic counterweight to Iran is no more, we may or may not end with a deal with Iran but they also fight their wars via terrorist proxies. Even Kenya long held up as a stable African country is in a state of war with terrorist attacks.
Our Policy makers seemed to have formally renounced the ability for a two war policy, and now voice a one-plus policy (which means one full war, with an interference action, perhaps in line with the Korea trip wire plan?) Former SecDef Hagel stated- that the country needed to be clear-eyed about the risks posed by lower budget levels, which would challenge the Pentagon to field a smaller yet well-trained force that could cope with any adversary, but might not be able to respond simultaneously to multiple conflicts. “We face the risk of uncertainty in a dynamic and increasingly dangerous security environment. Budget reductions inevitably reduce the military's margin of error in dealing with these risks, as other powers are continuing to modernize their weapons portfolios."
I am not shouting more defense money always, or larger forces forever. But I do not think I am being intellectually dishonest by questionning the size of the military downsizing in light of the unsettled security situation in the world.
And you know full well that we don't declare war anymore.
36,000 Americans died in Korea.
55,000 Americans died in Vietnam.
32,000 Americans were killed or wounded in Iraq.
Not a single declaration of war was made. Not one. The American President doesn't declare war. He just sends us to them. And we haven't voted a single one of them out for doing it.
So don't pretend that the American people are behind this. We are a tool of the Executive, and have been since 1945.
It took decades to rebuild after Vietnam because we took the best Army the US had ever fielded in 1964 and smashed it to bits over the better part of a decade, and ground what remained into pulp with a conscription system that ensured that worst possible outcome for a professional force. That had nothing to do with a drawdown and everything to do with a bad war and worse policies.
Our readiness on 9/11 was actually excellent. We weren't hurting for readiness. We had trained ground forces, trained aircrews, and we demonstrated that by invading two harsh and forbidding countries and defeating entrenched forces. Our forces were ready to fight and win. We were not ready to build a nation, especially led by hamfisted policymakers, and maintaining the massive Army of 1991 would not have changed that.
In reality, that's exactly what you're shouting for. Because every reason you've given will be replaced by an identical reason at every point in the future. It's the same mindset that has driven military buildup in the Western world for centuries. The world is dangerous and there are threats, so we must have more military strength! The security situation in the modern world will never be settled. It has never been settled in all of human history. And yet we hear that we can downsize just as soon as things calm down, but not until then. That is a prescription for "never."
Who we are as a force has changed, and we do more with less. If we think we need the same Army in terms of numbers that we did when we were prepared to face the Soviets on the plains of Europe, then we all should be supremely upset at our military spending, because it means that our investments in technology have bought us nothing.
Wrong, we gave our technology away. We have defeated our self!
The problem is a $20 trillion debt and not much made here(other than food and natural resources) to keep us in the game.
Well, how about other components of the National Power - DIME|: diplomatic, Information, Military, and Exonomics? We only know how to use military, when it might not be the right tool. I also think a bigger military is not the right tool to counter most threats we face now.
Contracts here! get yer contracts while there hot!
Well.....maybe no president has lost a bid for reelection due to committing the US to war since WW2. But Truman's presidency was wrecked by his decision to go to war in Korea. Approval ratings in the 25% range. He decided against running for reelection in 1952 because of it.
And LBJ would have been a shoo-in for reelection had the vote been held in 1966. But by 1968 his presidency, like give-em-hell Harry's, was destroyed by the Vietnam War.
The Iraq War was only a year old when Bush/43 won reelection in 2004, and even that was by a slim margin. Had the election been in 2006 or 2008, he would have lost decisively.
The ballot box reaction of the voters towards unpopular wars are well on the minds of those running for the highest office in the land.
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