In an article in the Council of Foreign Relation’s (CFR) bi-monthly publication, Foreign Affairs, Andrew Krepinevich, Jr. reveals the CFR’s plans for the future shape of the US military (first link). It is well worth reading. It makes some insightful and astute observations, but it also, in my opinion, contains some very glaring errors. One of those errors has been made evident in the current Russian-NATO confrontation which is building in the Ukrainian crisis, which occurred after this article as written.
The article notes, quite accurately, that the spending of the US Defense Department must be reduced as the nation simply lacks the money to sustain its current rate of spending. Besides its regular large annual spending levels, the USA spent an additional $1.3 trillion on the Afghan and Iraqi wars. The article states flatly that “serious belt-tightening is coming.” This should be the case for all government agencies, not just the Defense Department.
One obvious dynamic that will have to occur is that European NATO nations are going to have to spend the money necessary for their own defense interests and not look so much to the US for their defense. This is an urgent problem as the “current militaries and defense industries [of the European NATO nations] are faint shadows of their former selves.” The Russian military aggressiveness in the Ukrainian crisis has served clear notice to the NATO nations that Russia is again a European military power to be reckoned with and that it is folly to think the Russian bear is not capable of sending its military forces into NATO European nations if they allow themselves to become weak and ripe targets. The massing of Russian tanks and armored forces on the Ukrainian-Russian border reminds NATO nations that maintaining and building tanks and armored divisions are a necessary part of the NATO defense strategy. Indeed, the Ukrainian situation makes it clear how foolish are the plans by the Obama administration to deactivate the A-10 tank-killers form the USA’s inventory of warplanes given that the A-10s are the best tank-killers ever built. If they are deactivated, Russian, North Korean, Chinese and Iranian defense planners can be more aggressive about the war plans they are making for the future.
The article also notes that the weakening of the US military may turn the Persian Gulf into a “no go” zone for the US Navy and that this will obviously erode the confidence of US allies in the region. Saudi Arabia will be especially endangered by such a development, hastening the need for the Saudis to make new allies among such nations as India, Japan and Israel. The article also states flatly: “Iran appears intent on acquiring nuclear weapons.” This counters the assertions of the Obama administration on this subject and indicates the CFR does not see eye-to-eye with the Obama administration on Iranian intentions. It also comments on the need to protect a “vast undersea economic infrastructure” and “undersea capital assets” which are becoming increasingly important.
It accurately observes that because the US must cut its defense spending, US military objectives must be more limited as well. The USA will no longer be able to fight two major wars at one time. Indeed, I think it is doubtful that the US could even fight one major war if Obama succeeds in disarming the USA to the extent that its army is smaller than at any time prior to World War II. The article downgrades the necessity of maintaining large numbers of tanks, but that assertion has been undermined by the Russian military aggressiveness in the Ukraine. If Russia unleashed its tank formations massed at the Ukrainian border and supported them with warplanes simultaneous to an offensive of armored units invading NATO nations from Belarus and a strategic and tactical firing of cruise missiles at all major NATO military targets in Europe from the Russian enclave in Kaliningrad, would NATO be able to stop the Russian tanks from reaching the Fulda Gap in Germany? I’m not predicting such an invasion at this time, but, based on the prophecy in Ezekiel 38-39, such an invasion is all but certain in the future at some point.
The article also accurately states the importance of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in the USA’s need to counter China, and this fit perfectly with my application of Ezekiel 38:13 to modern geopolitics (see my article, What Ezekiel 38-39 Reveals about a Future World War III and Japan’s Role in Biblical Prophecy). The CFR article calls for deeper cuts in US ground forces, a policy I oppose most strenuously. If the US continues to weaken its ground forces, the US will steadily lose both hard and soft power in world geopolitics and will increasingly invite wars where enemies know the US is too weak to meaningfully intervene. The USA cannot “talk tough”‘ in diplomacy unless it carries a “big stick” in its military power.
The article makes one huge omission in my view. In its discussion of cutting the Department of Defense budget, it fails to even mention that the US Defense Department employs far too many civilian employees and special contractors (over a million the last I checked). US defense cuts should start with cutting these categories of employees in the DoD, and the cutting of numbers of uniformed personnel should only be done as a last resort. Personally, I also think that, given the rapidly-rising costs of the F-35 warplane and its untested reliability, it makes more sense to reactivate the F-22 Raptor program and make already-proven F-22’s instead of unproven F-35s.
I’d like to point out a bizarre decision made in the Obama administration. The second link notes that the Obama administration intends to abandon many billions of dollars worth of military equipment in Afghanistan instead of bringing it home to the USA for use by US forces in the future. Amazingly, the Obama DoD intends to abandon over 800 MRAPS, the armored vehicles made specially to protect US army personnel from roadside IED explosions. At the very least, this military equipment should be brought home to the US and given to the National Guard units within the 50 states to keep in their inventories instead of abandoning it in Afghanistan, where the Taliban will likely eventually take control of it.
The foolishness of military-related decisions within the Obama administration continues to amaze me. These foolish decisions should make it evident to all American voters to never again elect someone to the presidency who knows nothing about military matters before coming to that important office.