Army soldiers training at Fort Lewis size0-army.mil-2008-10-30-1225399805

WASHINGTON: There are three things you need to know about the administration’s new budget plan and what it means for the Army. Most importantly, the fact the Army will be its smallest since before World War II is not one of them.

In the dystopian mirror universe that is Washington under sequestration, being cut by 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers is actually a win for the Army. Everyone I’ve talked to inside and outside of the Army knew the service would go below 490,000 regular active-duty troops, the previous plan. The only question was how low. Sec. Hagel’s Strategic Choices and Management Review studied a 380,000-soldier option and many sources speculated about 420,000, while Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno entrenched himself at the 450,000 line. Hagel’s plan to reduce the Army to “440,000 to 450,000″  looks pretty good for Gen. Odierno…

….but those numbers aren’t real. They won’t even be voted on in Congress this year. That’s because the Army will only get down from its wartime peak to 490,000 — again, the previously planned level — by the end of fiscal year 2015. Further reductions, to whatever level, would have to come in future budgets. And those notoriously hazy “out years” are even more unreal than usual, because Hagel’s 440,000-450,000 figure presumes that Congress will somehow toss the automatic budget cuts called sequestration, which December’s budget deal merely delayed. If sequestration’s 10-year, half-trillion cut to defense spending stays in place, Hagel acknowledged, the Army would have to come down further, to 420,000….

… and that means this war is far from over. “The cuts usually come in threes,” Maj. Gen. Bill Hix of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) said this morning. What he didn’t say out loud is that going down to 490,000 was the first slice; down to 440-450,000 is second; 420,000 or lower would be the third.

(Hagel also said he’d bring the Army National Guard down by about 20,000 soldiers — less than 40,000 the active-duty leadership had wanted but more than the 5,000 Guard leaders proposed — let alone the zero demanded by the powerful National Guard Association of the US).

Hix was speaking on a Brookings Institution panel on the tri-service concept of “strategic landpower,” a case for future relevance in which the Army has much more at stake than its partners, the enthusiastic Special Operations Command and the ambivalent Marine Corps. It’s telling that the panel’s moderator, Michael O’Hanlon, spoke almost in passing about how we need more data on the Army National Guard’s contributions relative to the active duty force’s in Afghanistan and Iraq, “not so much for the current round of cuts, but maybe for the next round, or the round thereafter if there is such a thing.” It’s telling that such a savvy scholar assumes there’ll be at least one more slice off the Army’s apple.

The next speaker was Hix’s soon-to-be boss, the infamous “warrior-scholar” H.R. McMaster, recently promoted to his third star and the no. 2 job at TRADOC, in charge of thinking about the future force. McMaster made the Army’s case in his characteristically blunt language.

“What concerns me the most is really that we’ll engage in wishful thinking that’s motivated mainly by budget constraints,” he said. “You get the army that the people are wiling to pay for in a democracy, and it’s our job to do our best with it.”

The “wishful thinking” that McMaster fears is what he calls “four fallacies” about future conflicts that promise “easy solutions”:

  • “The return of the revolution in military affairs,” a theory thought discredited in Iraq — “it’s like a vampire,” he said — with its promise that long-range sensors and precision strikes will let air and sea forces win wars cleanly and bloodlessly (for us) on their own.
  • The Zero Dark Thirty fallacy” that we can solve our problems almost bloodlessly with Special Operations raids, “something akin to a global swat team to go after enemy leaders.”
  • What might be called the Mali Fallacy (my words, not his) that we can rely on allies and local surrogates to do the fighting on the ground while the US provides advisors and high-tech support.

All three fallacies, he said, begin with a core of truth: Air Force, Navy, Special Operations, advisors, and allies are all impressive and essential capabilities, but we can’t count on them to prevail alone.

  • The fourth fallacy, by contrast, McMaster considers just plain “narcissistic.” The idea that the US can “opt out” of certain kinds of conflict — say, counterinsurgency, or ground warfare in general — without giving our adversaries credit for what they may be able to force us to do. Invading Afghanistan seemed ludicrous on September 10, 2001, after all, and inescapable on September 12th.

The problem here, of course, is that it’s awfully hard to make the case that we are likely to wage another large-scale, long-duration ground war any time soon. No one wants to do it, the Army included, but many Americans don’t even want to think about it, and many more don’t want to pay for the capabilities required to do it. And while the Army provides a wide array of capabilities for operations ranging from advising to disaster relief to missile defense, its crucial — and costly — contribution to the national defense is the sheer size and staying power it provides for major war.

“There are political reasons behind many of the fallacies that H.R. McMaster put on the table,” said Brookings scholar William Galston, a former Marine who now specializes in domestic politics. “The worst phrase in American politics right now is ‘boots on the ground.'”

The current mood reminds Galston of the years just after Vietnam, when “it took us the better part of a decade to get over the psychological and political consequences,” he said. (And at least then we had an obvious Soviet threat to justify a large land force). Whatever eternal verities military theory might hold about the decisive role of land power, he said, “realistic thinking about our defense future ought to take the sentiments of the American people into account — and if you don’t like ‘em, figure out how to challenge them and change them.”

 

CORRECTED February 27: The original version of this article identified William Galston as a “retired” Marine; in fact he served 1969-1970 and was honorably discharged, rather than serving for the 20-year minimum required for retirement benefits.

Comments

  • Don Bacon

    Hagel — “After Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations.” Maybe, maybe not.

    There will still be plenty of Army troops for fruitless invasions and occupations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Or to put it in McMasterly fashion: What concerns me the most is really that we’ll engage in wishful thinking that’s motivated mainly by Army size. What good is the world’s finest military if you don’t use it? And it never turns out well, does it. Kills and displaces a lot of people, for one thing.

    Most of the suggested Army personnel cuts are to reduce increases since
    2007 when troops were needed for the Iraq and Afghan surges, plus most
    of the suggested cuts probably won’t happen anyhow.

    Comparing Army size to that in 1940 doesn’t work either. Back then the Army included the Air Corps. Also these days a lot of old-style army jobs are contracted out.

  • MindWatcher

    The current administration is totally naïve. Their welfare mentality is destroying our military. Is the Congress going to let this guy destroy the best Army, Air Force, and Navy in the world? Stop the welfare system already stuffed with social programs as if we were a Communist country. We are the pillar of democracy in the world, not a welfare basket of social programs. CUT THE DAMN PROGRAMS!!! NOT THE MILITARY…. PATHETIC POLITICIANS…. IS THERE ANYBODY IN COGRESS WITH THE BALLS IN THE RIGHT PLACE TO PROTECT OUR MILITARY??? HEY, CAN’T HEAR YOU…..???

    • Harry Chamberlain

      The military *is* the largest welfare program the Federal Government engages in… it takes unskilled men and women, gives them meals, housing, free healthcare, and education. It incentivizes mindlessly having as many children as you can, and then pays for their healthcare, housing, food, and education as well.

      You can’t argue against government spending and argue for the largest budget section. It does not follow.

      • CPT_Dan

        Either your just a troll that spews garbage or undereducated yourself. Military members are in the 90th percentile of educated Americans. 90th percentile. Most midgrade officers have 2-4 master degrees and many pursue doctorates, all while gettin up before you and hitting the rack much later than you. Grow up, or do some thought provoking research.

        • Harry Chamberlain

          Ok, so maybe I was trolling a bit. But at least I have the balls to use my real name. Maybe we could sit and chat at the VFW about how many of these geniuses we had to pick up from the MP station at 3am.

          I didn’t quote any uncited facts or figures in my comment above. Hell, I didn’t even use the words “most” or “all” as you obviously assumed. I merely made a statement based on my firsthand observations. As for getting up before me and staying up later than me, that’s only laughable because that WAS me… I served as enlisted and officer for the better part of the last decade.

          • Tom Hanson

            Funny how you fail to point out that the people serving in the US Military provide something to the United States. They don’t just take healthcare, housing, food, and education. They earn it.

          • Harry Chamberlain

            On the personal level, sure they earn the right to it. However, the military by its nature is not a producer in the economy.

            Unless you want to make the very cynical argument that our most recent missions abroad (OIF/OEF) were quasi-imperialist efforts with the goal of reducing the cost of fossil fuel, etc, it is hard to make the argument that warfighting contributes to the GDP. Sure, it drives R&D to some extent (we have come leaps and bounds in prosthetics research in the last decade… just ask my buddies who wear them!), and sure, soldiers are wonderful consumers, but their consumption is entirely made up of government dollars (taxes and tariffs). Unlike agriculture, mining, and manufacturing, which actually add items of value to the economy, warfighters at best fall into the same category as policemen, firefighters, and health care workers… they serve the public good and help to ensure a safe and secure environment within which the producers in the economy can function.

            So maybe my use of the term “welfare” is a bit harsh (though, as Brian echoed below, there are many that I knew personally who really do use the military as a form of welfare), as I more meant to point out to the OP that the military is a net drain on the economy, and if there are going to be wise choices made with regards to federal spending, the defense budget needs to be on the chopping block along with everything else.

            The irony of the Republican/Tea Party argument currently is that they want a large standing military with low taxes and fiscal responsibility. I’m not sure where they learned math, but such a thing does not add up. It’s simple budgeting. On the federal income/expense ledger, the DoD falls on the same side of the equation as Medicare, Social Security, and the implementation of the ACA. No way around it.

          • ycplum

            The cost of the military is often referred to as an “avoidance cost” – the price you pay to avoid a more costly event. As you pointed out, police and fire department costs are also avoidment costs.
            The biggest problem I see is not the cost of the military, but rather the lack of a coherent national policy, national strategy and a military structured to support the national strategy. A big part of the last point is because of Congress and bringing in money to their districts.

            I do not see how we can constructively talk about cutting the budget till we address the first three points.
            I also forgot. A major cost is the misuse of our military. Too many Americans (to include our elected officials) believe we can simply solve complex problems by indiscriminatly bombing or throwing money at the problem.

          • Quartermaster

            DOD is a constitutional responsibility. You will find the welfare state no where in the US Constitution. Get the 98%+ that FedGov does that it has no authority for out, and you will find a completely different fiscal world will exist.

      • Bob

        Making an assumption here. They do all of that (eat, live in govt quarters, make babies, and contribute largely nothing to society) so that you don’t have to. Google Search for: Daniel Whitten, Paul Pena, or Ahmed Kousay al-Taie. Then, tell me these men were unskilled mindless baby makers.

        • Harry Chamberlain

          I appreciate the sacrifice my fellow veterans have made and continue to make, just as I did, so that we can enjoy this country and our way of life, but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire operation is paid for by taxpayers who contribute to the economy.

          My post was a direct reply to MindWatcher’s borderline anarchist rant against the Commander-in-Chief and the elected government of this nation I swore to protect. I was merely pointing out the fallacy of his logic. That you took it as some sort of troll-bait is unfortunate, and leads me to wonder if you have served alongside real soldiers, or just read about them on the internet.

          • Brian Ellis III

            I must concur with Harry. I have been a solider: enlisted, officer candidate, then officer, and have worn the uniform of this nation for just slightly over nineteen years, which equals out to half of my life. I have served with bona fide heroes and absolute shitbags. I would concur that there are those who wish to serve the country that are true patriots, buit at the same time there are those who just want to game the system. These are usually the ones who have the most trouble in their period of service, cause the most problems for the commanders, and then end up living three to four years in government housing reaping benefits while their sow-like unemployed spouses sit on the couch getting fatter and their children become uneducated hooligans because they are being given such a fine example from mom and dad. In this sense, Harry is right on the money that the armed forces are the biggest welfare state. If a soldier were threatened with losing medical and housing benefits for their families when they misbehave, instead of the 1/2 months pay from a standard article 15, they might think long and hard about breaking the rules again.

          • Alan Caldwell

            Mr. Ellis,
            That may brief well, but you intend to punish a non-Soldier civilian (read Spouse and children) for their misdeeds? How does that make someone accountable? “Sorry, PFC Jones, you were an idiot and (insert misconduct here), but your baby can die because we are suspending your TriCare and won’t pay for it in NICU.”

          • Quartermaster

            People have been kicked out of housing for misbehavior of the family.

          • Alan Caldwell

            Fun fact: Soldiers pay taxes. Because of our expeditionary nature, we get CZTE whilst deployed. But I am sure you would agree, I think I earned it sucking dirt and shit in a foreign country. Thus, allowing me to occupy said tax-free soapbox. And I am curious as to what you “think” a real Soldier is? Just because you were in the military at one point in time, never implies you were a real Soldier either.

    • StedyRuckus

      DO you have an inkling of a clue of how much money in the military budget is for defense contractors and how bloated those contracts are? You think this ended with the Pentagon Papers? You think that four star generals handing out insane contracts to defense contractors then winding up in private employement with them after their retirement is a coincidence? Eisenhower warned us of this military industrial complex and it is the biggest drain our resources. Not feeding our poor.

    • boomerhog

      BALLS IN THE RIGHT PLACE? I had to laugh, that was a good one that I’ve never heard before. (I don’t agree with you but that was funny)

  • TimW42 .

    In 1945, “everybody” thought there would be no more major, conventional wars. It’d all be “push button” they said. Atomic bombs, the Navy and the Air Force will handle everything, they said. Then came Korea.
    Those so blithely talking about cuts seem to forget that the enemy gets a vote. Pretending we can opt out of various forms of conflict isn’t just naive, it displays an ignorance bordering on outright stupidity.
    I guess reading all that history didn’t really “take” with some of our senior political (and military) leaders. I cannot believe I am seeing such idiocy, after all the lessons of history we have had to learn and pay for in blood, gold and tears.
    Our children will be fully justified in damning us.

    • TBAquinas

      In 1980 everyone thought that war with the Soviet Union was inevitable and so both sides engaged in amilitary buildup that eventually bankrupt the Soviets. If we destroy the country though bloated spending against an enemy that does not yet exist without thinking the problem through then we still lose. China does not need to invade us, they will own our government if we keep borrowing and spending beyond our means.

    • John Bibb

      ***
      HI TW42–The old theory was that the Army would only be used for Air Force airbase security / guard duty protecting the nuke bomber fleets. Didn’t work out that way!
      ***
      Not a bad theory. I like the old Royal Canadian Mountie rule, “Never send a man–where you can send a bullet!” Up to and including nukes if absolutely necessary. Never fight the enemy on their strengths–stand off and high tech ‘em to death instead.
      ***
      Rocketman
      ***

    • James Hedman

      You are the one who should be damned. We have no business in fighting land wars in mainland Asia. We lose every time. It’s a simple matter of population size and logistics.

  • UH34D

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms in not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

    Dwight Eisenhower, speech famously known as The Cross of Iron speech.

    I’ll stick with Ike’s assessment/philosophy. We wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in had we heeded his admonitions presented in the speech and his warnings pertaining to the military-industrial complex in Ike’s farewell speech to America.

    In the future, we may again require a large and vast military. We may even get our noses bloodied until we can ramp up a war effort. In such an event, we will do as we did in WW 2, meet the challenge, but meet it nationally and with the support of the vast majority of Americans. Since WW 2, all of our military efforts have been piecemeal, the product of the concept of limited war…there should be no such concept. If it’s war, then the entire Nation sacrifices and it’s a mobilization effort predicated upon victory. We’ve made committing our troops to wars far too easy and the consequences/results have been dire for our Nation. No nation can sustain itself being on a constant war footing and that’s what some people want to maintain, doing so will bankrupt our Nation.

    • StedyRuckus

      Wish I could give this a million likes. So so true.

      • UH34D

        Thank you……….

    • Quartermaster

      MacArthur said it well when he said, “In war there is no substitute for victory.” You’d better be ready when war comes.

      • UH34D

        Ready for what? Do you truly believe Russia or China would initiate an absurd war of mutual annihilation? Other than those two nations, who else do we have to worry about? What, Iran? North Korea? And what does it mean to be ‘ready’ for war? You can never be ‘ready’ for war. The Russians tried it and look what happened to them?

        • Quartermaster

          The Soviets were planning to invade the west and Hitler’s Barbarossa short stopped that, keeping Stalin from going to the channel. Stalin was ready for war, but not the war that Hitler brought him.

          It has long been recognized as fact that if you would have peace, prepare for war. I’ll leave it to you to decide what that should mean. Given your post I’m not sure that you understand the wisdom of that statement.

          • M&S

            Hitler wanted to set up a barter/command economy by which trade in kind for resources (Germany lacks all but 4 of the top 26 necessary items for an industrial power) could replace the constant demands placed upon his nations gold reserves as a function of both creating an economic miracal and standing up the German Armed Forces so that the French and British could not come back in and rape her coal and industrial areas as they did during the occupations after WWI. Getting the two principle banks of Germany to cut loans against each other, essentially created the exact same overeasing as has ruined our Dollar, less than 10 years after Stresseman rebuilt the new Reichsmark out of the Locarno arrangement (which made Germany the China of 1930s Europe: a slave industrial state…).
            The Western Powers wanted Hitler’s efforts to create a new society based on productive equity to fail because they liked their class systems and using the German people as wage slaves for the absolute minimum of compensation.
            When Hitler needed new tax base to underwrite his socioeconomic plans he got it, the old fashioned way.
            And a world war to go with.
            He tried to back away from this. Going so far as to offer to liberate Poland, sans the ethnic German Danzig corridor and was refused.
            He overran France and Norway and offered peace again if Britain would agree to a Pan-European armistice in place.
            And was once more refused.
            Churchill, a drunken buffoon, penniless and on the verge of bankruptcy until ‘men from The City’ propped him up as their windbag was the root cause of this as the basis of WWII, a conflict which destroyed The British Empire.
            The backstory is important because, throughout all of this, Stalin sat back, rubbed his hands and said: “/When/ they have weakened themselves from all this insane socio economic leveraging between The Bankers and the Socialists, -then- we will go in and mop up the mess, picking off the survivors.”
            Stalin was told, by spies both in Japan and Switzerland, the exact date of Case Barbarossa’s beginning. And did nothing to reconfigure his far-forward force dispostions into a defense in depth with good logistical backing and adjacency to roads as freedom to maneuver.
            Nor did he advance forward any mythical offensive of his own by such actions as bringing the Far Eastern TVD forces Westwards after having already whooped the Japanese.
            Without those two preconditions, Hitler’s invasion cannot be seen as anything but an offensive action to sieze Lebensraum, exactly as he had stated it in Mein Kampf.
            I have no problem with this.
            War is about the amalgamation of resources, from one society to another, as a morality of the useful. That the victor may be made stronger. We did the same and worse to the Native Americans (60-100 million and 10,000 tribes when the Spanish first came, yet 300 years later, only 20 million and 1,000 tribes remained…).
            The world would have been a better place if we had vied with the Germans for first place in science, engineering, art and philosophy rather than with the Communists for forty years of attempted proof that we were the better hand-out Socialists.
            But.
            I do not attempt to make out Hitler’s actions to secure himself the equivalent of our American West as being less than what they were: a land grab, looking for Caucasus oil and Ukraine wheat from what he perceived as a weaker population.
            The latter is where Hitler made his mistake. Because there were in fact, not 100 million but closer to 200 million Soviets of all stripes and though he beat /the Russians/ after the Pinsk Marshes campaign, he never took into account exactly what it means to fight an enemy capable of a absorbing 12:1 and 15:1 losses. And still keep coming.
            If there was any deceit in what began that war, it was in the Soviet Propaganda which the Germans used to make their total threatfor estimate.
            When the enemy just didn’t stop coming, Himmler commissioned his own SS study group and they went back to Tsarist era literature to determine what was really happening.
            In this, what people really need to _believe_ as much as know is that, whoever The Real Enemy is, (it being entirely too convenient that 8-20 million Ukrainians were starved and the remnants sent East in a response to a false flag insurgency during the 1920s, just in time to deprive Hitler of a working militia army while providing a skilled labor base to man Chelyabinsk among others), they will ENGINEER war to force confrontation.
            If we allow ourselves to be committed to overreactions from minor offenses.
            One of the easiest ways to instill a quiet heart and a steady mind as a constant will is to make the instant military option unaffordable, based on deployment options, status of forces agreements and general Base In requirements for a force which isn’t light enough to fight a fast war and isn’t big enough to fight a heavy maneuver one.
            In this, Hitler’s struggle in the East may also teach us something: For what was fought there was not blitzkrieg. It was not a terrainscape as theater condition amenable to short war doctrine but was a slugging match between armored behemoths in full MFE glory and savagery as devastation.
            It took Russian until just before the millennium (I want to say 1991) to recover her population from that action to pre-1939 levels. And such is why the Russians lost the Cold War, more than anything related to economic conditions or spending.
            They simply didn’t have the numbers to sustain a larger economic commitment.

          • Quartermaster

            I’ll agree Churchill was a buffoon. He also destroyed the British Empire. Most of the rest does not fit the facts as I understand them or as they came out after the fall of the Soviet Union.

          • UH34D

            Maybe we should define war? I consider WW 2 to be the last war America has fought with the intention of winning, since then we’ve made a mockery of the concept of war and victory. It we have decided to ‘not’ win wars, then why the need for a massive military? Or maybe you think and believe we’ve prevailed since Korea?

            We have at our disposal enough energy to destroy the Earth a few time over…isn’t that enough power? The simple fact is; the US could NEVER meet China or Russia man for man in a shooting war and it wouldn’t take long for the decision to be made to utilize tactical nuclear weapons to even the odds. Once that decision is made, I think we all know where it would lead us? And let’s be rational about a situation that could develop. Say, North Korea decides to move against South Korea with China’s backing…what then? We certainly don’t have enough in South Korea to stop a massive onslaught. We don’t have enough in the Pacific we could move fast enough to blunt such an attack. It wouldn’t be a scenario equivalent to the Korean War. And Russia, where would they make a move? What, on western Europe? We know that’s not going to happen, nothing to be gained by doing so.

            We have isolated outposts throughout the globe, all incapable of stopping a massive attack by either Russia or China, so where does that leave us? Even if we maintained say 2-3 million men/women under combat arms (I’m talking grunts here) by the time we could react to anything on the ground it would be all over. The only real deterrent we have is the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and the enemy would know that and that’s what keeps certain countries in check so, a large standing US military is of little value.

            Regarding Stalin and his plans to attack western Europe for whatever reason, please direct me toward something that would verify such a claim? Operation Barbarossa didn’t upset any plans that I know of for Russia to invade wesern Europe? Stalin was certainly ramping up the defense of Russia prior to the invasion by Hitler which arrived a little earlier than Stalin expected, but the plans were purely defensive in nature. Granted, Hitler gave Stalin a pretext to roll over parts of Europe, but that was after the fact. Stalins main concern once they defeated Germany was to make sure there was a large enough buffer zone between far western European nations and Russia proper.

            By the way, historically, preparing for war gets you just that…war. Despite the isolationist attitude most Americans had about say NAZI Germany, few American wanted war even after Hitler had moved on Europe. People like FDR knew war was coming and we had time to prepare, but it was the American people who prevented such preparations from being completed in a timely manner. With today’s technology, we would know well in advance what other nations may be doing to prepare for an offensive war…and I don’t mean the fake stuff like Iraq. It would be a matter of our elected and appointed officials being honest for a change with Americans when it comes to war and being prepared for one if it truly became necessary. As things now stand though, who woulld believe any of them?

          • Quartermaster

            I seriously doubt we have any need to worry about Russia. China we can take care of if the Political leadership acts intelligently. A big assumption, I realize, but there it is.

            Yeah, we could nuke the Chinks back into the stone age. I have no desire to start flinging nukes around however. And we would have to utterly willing to do so if we took your path.

            Preparing for war does not get you war. Your statement is one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever seen. OTOH, having a strong military and leaving people to believe you won’t do anything is a good way to get a war. Weakness, OTOH, is also provocative. At one time no one messed with Americans because if you did it earned you a seriously punitive expedition and you could on meeting your maker soon thereafter.

            Look around and see what happens to Americans in foreign countries now. It’s instructive.

          • UH34D

            You’re apparently not much of a history scholar. Why do you think and believe the vast majority of our Founders were repelled by the thought of a large, standing military? It’s not so ‘dumb’ when you look at it from Their perspective and Their knowledge of history. Militarism nearly always leads to problems internally and externally for a nation. By not having a large, standing military doesn’t mean a nation is weak, especially if a nation has a robust and thriving socio-economic system. And right now, we’ve sacrificed that robust and thriving socio-economic system to carry the cost load of an overbloated, absurdly expensive and unecessary military-industrial complex…EXACTLY what Eisenhower warned us about!

            And the nukes, big difference between tactical and mega-ton air burst detonations. And really, hasn’t that been the excuse to construct the myriad number of nuclear devices we have…as a deterrent? If they’re not, then we’ve wasted trillions of dollars since WW 2 on their development.

            And Americans in foreign countries…there’s many, many of them where we shouldn’t have a presence. But for a lot of those nations, we’re there, but for reasons other than our safety.

            And please, enlighten me, enlighten us all when ‘no one messed with Americans’ since our Founding? Again, short on American history knowledge it appears.

          • Quartermaster

            I seem to know more about history than you.

            I am aware of why the founder feared a large standing Army. Problem with that is we are getting it like it or not, and quietly at that. We call them Police these days, but make no mistake, many places they might as well be military. Not to mention, they also tend to be unaccountable as their colleagues in misbehavior, judges and prosecutors, let them with at most a slap on the wrist no matter how heinous the crime.

            I see no evidence of militarism among the population, with the exception of large parts of our police forces. People who have served tend to be the least militaristic.
            You obviously are utterly ignorant about nuclear policy. Politically there is no difference between any sort of nuke other than the yield. Any use would have resulted in escalation to the big ones.

            As for “And please, enlighten me, enlighten us all when ‘no one messed with Americans’ since our Founding? Again, short on American history knowledge it appears.” you seem to be living in a cave. You need to get out more and study real history. You’ll have to do it on your own because those publik skool teachers have little better than lies to tell you.
            If you sincerely think we can reduce down to a complete militia Army and survive as a country you are kidding yourself. The world does not work as you wish it to and we have interests we must defend, as well as citizenry that must be protected.
            Frankly, your posts are mostly the ravings of an uninformed individual. There are a few points you raise that are worth pursuing, but even most of those will reach a dead end, if you even try to follow them to their logical conclusion.
            Fare well.

          • UH34D

            You know, I really tried to be nice after your first negative comment about me a few posts back. It’s obvious though, verbal retribution is the only thing you’re good at, facts, you haven’t any. The bottom line is, if we left the decisions up to people such as yourself, America would have been destroyed long ago. Your posts do clearly indicate you have no concept of even the simplest concepts of economics. It was people such as yourself Eisenhower was addressing in the two speeches of his I mentioned in my first post. Apparently you don’t get it and will never get it because your ideology trumps any semblance of a rational thought process. Think I’ll remain loyal to Ike’s socio-political philosophy based upon his bio compared to yours. I’ll hope and continue to work toward Ike’s vision of America becoming a reality.

          • Quartermaster

            You don’t know enough about me to make any such judgment. OTOH, don’t let me stop you since you can obviously read both my mind and the content of my heart. The first sentence of my second paragraph still stands.

            I know what Eisenhower said, and it does not apply to me. Or to others like me.

          • James Hedman

            “Say, North Korea decides to move against South Korea with China’s backing…what then?”

            The North Koreans currently have about 1 million men under arms and supposedly a “reserve” force of 9 million out of a total population of 25 million. I seriously doubt that the supposed reserve force is in any way effective or even well-nourished.

            The South Koreans have a standing army of 700,000 with a reserve of 3.5 million out of a population of 50 million and you can bet that that reserve is well fed and gainfully employed churning out Kia Souls and Samsung flatscreen TVs.

            It isn’t 1950 anymore. North Korea is a paper tiger that is walking on thin ice with their aggressive actions of sinking subs and lobbing missiles about. If the unstable clique running things in Pyongyang attempt to cross the DMZ they are going to get their asses handed to them.

          • James Hedman

            The Wehrmacht would have stopped the Russkies before they reached the channel without having to execute the ill-fated Operation Barbarossa.

          • Quartermaster

            I’m willing to grant the possibility, but I have serious doubts of that.

          • James Hedman

            With slave conscripts, no Sturmoviks, no T-34s, no massive American materiel support, and especially with no patriotic fervor about defending Mother Russia the Ivans wouldn’t have got past the first MG-34 machine gun nest or 3.7cm anti-tank emplacement they encountered in Poland.

  • J. C. Smith

    As I read this article (and the excellent comments preceding mine), I am reminded of Trotsky’s famous line: “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you!”

    Hagel says we won’t need to fight a major war, but did he run that past the Chinese, North Koreans, Russians and remnants of AQ for their buy in? Or is is his plan to keep shipping Dennis Rodman around to guarantee peace?

  • NavySubNuke

    The biggest reason to cut the army and marines is that it is the easiest and cheapest to reconstitute quickly. Building ships and airplanes takes years. This is about hedging for the future – much like we did during the Eisenhower administration.
    Note: I also have a fundamental disagreement with that notion that we needed to put ground troops in after helping the Northern Alliance take out the Taliban. We choose to move in and help rebuild following both there and in Iraq but we didn’t actually have to do that. Libya is a good example of just bombing the snot out of them and then letting the locals pick up the pieces. It is admittedly tougher on the locals but that is more their problem then ours.

    • bigred8690

      Hi Subnuke, you make an excellent point about the reconstitutability of ground forces. Navies take decades to build up and then can be destroyed in an afternoon (China, are you listening?). You also make an excellent point about the supposed inevitability of a massive ground intervention in Afghan–these are political decisions that revolve ultimately around a certain philosophy of foreign relations that is not shared by our allies. The idea that we have to do what others should do for themselves (Vietnam for example) belies the reality that we should really be training and lifting up allies to field more professional armed forces, as we did successfully in El Salvador and Colombia.

      • James Hedman

        Much to my surprise, the ARVNs held out for two more years after we bugged out, including defeating a couple of NVA armor columns. They probably would have lasted longer or even prevailed if we hadn’t cut off war materiel and funding.

    • ycplum

      What you said is correct on paper, but realistically, reconstitution also includes expertise and that takes a lot longer than putting people in uniform. Of course, the beancounters only look at spreadsheets.
      And we can not count on every future conflict being like the Afghan Civil War (or Libya). That had some unique situationsthat are not likely to bet repeated soon.
      I also disagree about moving in and rebuilding. The primary goal was to create a situation where the terrorists can not find footing in a country. The best way is to have a stable government that squeezes out these terrorist groups. Our mistake was to think beating the terrorist or removing an unfriendly regime was the end of it.
      I like to think of terrorism like a weed. If the lawn is not properly maintained (or get massively chewed up, which is probably more analogous with Afghan and Iraq), weeds quickly establishes themselves. If you have a health established lawn, weeds find it harder to establish. You only need to do a bit of spot treatment one in a while.
      In many ways, it is the nation building that is both harder and more critical.

      • Quartermaster

        People don’t realize the loss of life that WW2 cost while we were spooling up to fight. The Army had been cut past the bone and the quality of the senior NCOs was a abysmal in 1940. Much of the knowledge had to be recalled by bringing in retreads from WW1, and then learn the lessons that combat had to teach in using newer technology. A solid standing Army develops that stuff and maintains the institutional knowledge that can allow a force to spool up quickly, but you had better have a solid standing force that can buy the time you need to do it.

        The problem we are facing is the pace of decision in modern war. Technology is a force multiplier, but it also increases the tempo of war. It is very likely that when we go to war again, unprepared as we are traditionally, the first battle will be the last battle, and you had better not lose.

        However, it is very likely that we will lose and such a loss will reverberate in ways we see only in nightmares.

        • ycplum

          WW II was a bit different. We were in an isolationist mode. Our military was purely defensive in that we had sufficient military resources to prevent an invasion of the US (and maybe stage a few banana republic punative interventions). After WW II, we went back to a semi-isolationist mode. It wasn’t till the Korean War that we realized that left to itself, the world can create a situation that threatens the US. After that, the US took an active role (to varying degrees) in stamping out potential flare ups before they become a forest fire. Sadly, we occasionaly throw fuel instead of water on these flare ups.

          • Quartermaster

            FDR’s attitude towards defense was the same as Zer0’s is now. He wanted what was coming into go to buying as many votes as he could buy, and not into the military. MacArthur saw what was coming in Europe and fought FDR in an attempt to keep military strength up and modernize. We paid a very heavy price in treasure and lives for that sort sighted outlook. IN the next one, we are likely to pay more than lives and treasure and find ourselves crushed besides.

            I agree with your last sentence. Both Dubya and Zer0 have done exactly that.

          • ycplum

            FDR? Are you sure about that? First off, the US was still in the Depression so money was understandably tight. FDR saw war coming, but he simply could not get public support for the looming war (US was still in isolationist mode) and definately no support for military spending form Congress. FDR pulled a bunch of fancy maneuvers to help Great Britain as best he could. He was also quietly gearing up for war, minus the spending – again because of Congress.

          • Quartermaster

            As a matter of fact, I am sure about that. That’s exactly where the money went that he took away from the Military. By 1939 he had wedged himself into such a crack that he wasn’t going to get out of it short of a war and he was looking for a way to get us in. That’s why the Reuben James and a couple other Destroyers were sunk before we got into the war formally. He was trying to provoke Germany.

          • ycplum

            There is a lot of controversy with your statement. I don’t have anything to add beyond what has already been hashed and rehashed. While I do believe he felt the need of a war (just not as fast as he thought), I don’t think he wanted a war for financial reasons. I don’t think the concept of awar to boost an economy had much traction till after WW II.

          • Quartermaster

            His reasons were his own. Wilson wanted us in WW1 and all the while he was campaigning on the slogan “He kept us out of war” he was moving behind the scenes to get us in.
            A friend who was a Reagan appointee said “It would seem that a President can’t be called great unless he kills at least 100,000 men in war.” May not be true, but given those historian regard as great, that seems to be a consistent thing.

          • ycplum

            A president has to accomplish a lot or perserver under extremely trying times for the country. Unfortunately, war is about as trying as you can get. Not saying it is right or wrong, just that it is that way.
            Personally, I think Polk was a great president. While a war was involved, he was more moderate (aka less greedy) than many in Congress. he also settled a border dispute with Great Britain. He is one of teh few presidents that kept all of his campaign promises. Whether you agree with them or not is another matter. Look him up.

          • James Hedman

            Polk was a war-mogering imperialist who did lasting damage to the Republic.

          • ycplum

            From modern day standards, yes. But, he would have been considered a moderate for his times. Manifest Destiny was a commonly held belief in the US. There was also a perception (how real, I don’t know) that the British want all (or atleast most) of the west coast of America. From a purely machievellian perspective, he finessed the West Coast away from the British by settling a border dispute to remove a justification for war. He then offered to buy the sparsely populated California/New Mexico terrirtories, and failing that (partially because the Mexican gov’t was a chaotic mess), tried to forment rebellion (a la Texas).

            It may not be “right” from modern day perspectives, but it was not out of line in the context of at time, even from an international perspective.
            As for lasting damage, how so?

          • James Hedman

            I disagree. It was not “right” by the lights of many Americans at the time either. Read Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. U.S. Grant considered it a primary cause of our own Civil War.

            The whole concept of “Manifest Destiny” was dreamed up by the Democratic Party who as an excuse to seize new lands for slavery. The Whigs vigorously opposed both that concept and the war.

            It’s not even clear that we actually won it even today today. Every poor Indian and mestizo from here to the Guatemalan border considers it their God given right to cross into the United States. The result has nearly bankrupted California.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hispanic_population_in_the_United_States_and_the_former_Mexican-American_border.png

          • ycplum

            If you look, I most of the objections were along partisan lines. However, once the war started (and the victories rolled in), there was tremendous popular support (which I don’t consider “right”, but that is reality).
            As for who “won”, the US reaped a dramatic amount of economic benefits from the Mexican concessions to include a trememndous amount of silver and gold and later farming and Pacifc trade.

          • James Hedman

            FDR was a warmonger who provoked the Japs into attacking us with severe economic sanctions that were tantamount to acts of war.

            The Brits started WWII by declaring war on Germany over the Germans attempts to settle the issue of the Danzig Corridor and East Prussia with the fascist colonels running Poland and who had benefited territorially by the Munich Accords. The English and French were also to blame for the punitive peace measures and war guilt they forced on Germany at Versailles.

            The United States was not “isolationist” but instead is still a peace loving country whose citizenry by and large hates foreign interventions and has only been drawn into them by the liars in Washington DC led by Polk, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Johnson, and the Bushes. We haven’t fought a just war since 1812 and the older i get the more doubts I have about that and the American Revolution itself.

  • Ironman17

    “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” – George Washington

    • Don Bacon

      “To be prepared for war and then fight one based on lies is destructive to world peace.” – Martha Washington

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    I wonder what size of a Home Army does it take to control things in one’s own country? With budget cuts coming and Greed still spiraling out of control in the end I can only see the Elite protected by the Army and the rest of American’s fighting for little chunks of bread in the streets. And this is going to be World Wide, the Dollar or notes of value from other currencies has won. Why? Because those with have forgot those without in the end will fight to survive.

  • malikknows

    Galston a retired Marine? No mention of any service at all in his bio, never mind 20 years it would take to be “retired.” Mr. Freedberg needs to tells where he got that one. His bio makes clear he has specialized in domestic politics his entire career.

    • malikknows

      Oops, just saw this on Wikipedia: Galston was in the United States Marine Corps, serving as a sergeant. Correct title should be former Marine, not retired Marine. One suggests honorable service, the other a deeper commitment and perhaps more knowledge.

      • http://defense.aol.com/ Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

        Thanks, quite correct. I heard (or thought I heard) “retired” but I’ve confirmed with Brookings that he served 1969-1970 and was honorably discharged, so I’ve corrected the story accordingly. My thanks to alert readers!

      • James Hedman

        When I was in The Corps there were plenty of lazy no good lifers. Don’t assume 20 years in confers any special respect.

  • John Bibb

    ***
    I think that the cuts to Army personnel will guarantee a return to the 1960 era DRAFT to get sufficient temporary help if / when the U.S.A. has to fight another ground war. Three months of Basic Training–and into the combat meat grinder. OJT will result in more getting killed.
    ***
    Getting rid of the already paid for and in service A-10 ground attack aircraft seems like a bad idea also. The Close Air Support mission will have to be done by far more expensive and more ground fire vulnerable planes like the F-16, F/A-18, F-22, and F-35. If the Air Force deigns to risk their pilots and aircraft in the CAS role doing “dustoff” work for the grunts. The F-4 didn’t work out too well doing CAS in Vietnam–the decades old Sandy prop job was far simpler, and required far less support and runway infrastructure. And could stay on station for a longer time.

    ***

    Rocketman
    ***

    • madskills

      I really think it’s time to get realistic. No major country in this world want a war, they have it too good. They are also just money pits. And if Russia, China get into it with us, someone is going to use a nuke. So do we need 5,000 tanks, 1,200 f-35s, 11 aircraft carriers, 800,000 troops to fight Venezuela, North Korea or Iran. Doubt it.
      And Rocketman agree about the Vietnam experience. I still see that f-4 coming in at about 125 miles an hour to drop a 500 lb bomb and then Naplam. A couple of .50 cals at the right spot would have taken it down. We could write a book on this.

      • John Bibb

        ***
        HI MS–I was a draftee engineer at White Sands Missile Range (1964–1966) and stayed on as a contractor engineer for 41 more years before retiring. During the early SAM-D (Patriot prototype R&D system) we had 2 large aircraft raids on our radar site most days. Just after dawn, and again in late afternoon.
        ***
        The F-4’s in the mixed package were visible to the naked eye about 10 KM out due to the smoky engines–even in a head on aspect. Some runs were at about 50 Meters altitude. I always left my simulator shelter after they were closer than minimum range and watched them fly over. At the slower speeds the F-4 engines made strange popping sounds–like they were having pre flameout trouble, and the planes didn’t seem very stable either. I could look up, see the pilots smiling and waving, and could read the lettering on the underside of the wings. “Ground Point”, etc.
        ***
        If one of them flamed out–I needed to know which way to run–STAT! Decades later–when ANG F-16’s did similar smaller package runs–they seemed far more stable, and were far harder to see coming in. Even with binoculars, and knowing from the radar screen where they were, and how high they were.
        ***
        I did see the A-10 fly over when it was a new aircraft. Slow, deadly, and extremely stable. We also had the “pleasure” of having a F-111 Swing Wing “fighter”–really a ground attack nuke delivery plane–make 2 Mach 1.5? low level runs on us. The sonic boom was tremendous! Our instrumentation van rocked to one side, the water bottle fell out of the cooler, and the work bench drawers flew open and dumped out our meters and tools as it rocked back!
        ***
        Rocketman
        ***

        • madskills

          Sounds about right… I was with the 11th Cav in Vietnam and we had lots of helicopters for close air support. I can’t see a f-4 flying at 150 mph at 150 feet giving close air support. I never did see it.

          • John Bibb

            ***
            HI MS–Thank you for your service. In a thankless war that LBJ never intended to win.
            ***
            Rocketman
            ***

          • madskills

            john,
            It’s okay, love this country… Made me grow up… And nice to know I gave that service…
            Dean

          • James Hedman

            Same here. What saved our bacon CAS-wise in I Corps were A1 Skyraiders, A4 Skyhawks (dive bombing!), and C-47s firing Vulcan cannons out the side hatch.

      • James Hedman

        The F-4 sucked at CAS. The A-4 didn’t. Those things could still dive bomb with good accuracy.

    • StedyRuckus

      Bringing back the draft is the best way to ensure the asshats at the top of the government command don’t send us to war merely to protect American corporate interests. When the draft is in effect, then you better believe that you think long and hard about which wars you are going to ask your citizens to fight.

      • John Bibb

        ***
        HI SR–I think it was what our Founding Fathers intended also. They were very afraid of a standing army. It makes it a lot harder to do a military coup of a country when half of the troops are draftees! They don’t have any military careers to worry about.
        ***
        They are also more likely to do a little “field expedient” removal of bad commanders who tend to get them killed unnecessarily! Grenade fragging incidents are pretty fatal.
        ***
        Rocketman
        ***

        • madskills

          We had a major get quished between two acavs. They were being forced to wash them.

          • John Bibb

            ***
            HI MS–My avatar is me in the white shirt doing final pre firing checks and arming a Basic Hawk Missile on an R&D tracked vehicle launcher / power system for a hot firing 5 decades ago. Tracked vehicles are truly dangerous! I wasn’t just the engineer–I was also the assistant mechanic and an alternate driver. The only hazard the system didn’t have was a nuke! All other bases were covered.
            ***
            Rocketman
            ***

        • Alan Caldwell

          How can you bring something “back” that already exists? The draft was merely renamed, although the verbage in the program has not. The Military Selective Service Act, as renamed and amended by Pub.L. 92–129, 85 Stat. 348, enacted September 28, 1971, is still written with the term Draft. It does exist. Doesn’t mean bloated politically oriented command and staff elements should stay, nor the fleet of non-hackers currently in billets riding ’til retirement should stay either.

          • John Bibb

            ***
            HI AC–Of course the SS law is still on the books! However, it’s been over 4 decades since it’s been used. When I was a university student EVERY YEAR I got a preemptive draft notice. And had to get my transcript and prove to the little old grey haired lady that I really was still in school and carrying a full credit load. I think she was over 70 years old, and had probably sent off men to WW1!
            ***
            When the Cuban Missile Crisis hit I could feel my draft card glowing red hot in my wallet. Ten of us senior EE students were studying for a bad exam when the news came on TV. Some wanted to just stop studying and head for the beer hall since we wouldn’t be in school much longer. Cooler heads prevailed and we kept studying!
            ***
            I entered the Army a year or so later–3 months after graduation. The draft was a certainty then. It’s just a distant memory now for those who never served. Today–I doubt there is the political will to actually draft someone.
            ***
            I think that the SS laws should be rewritten to draft women also. Many served during our wars as nurses, ferry aircraft pilots, etc. There are still lots more support jobs than actual combat jobs in the Army. And if “equal” opportunity is the modern woman’s dream–they should also get the honor to join us guys defending our Country as draftees. Many brave women are serving voluntarily now, and some are among our wounded Vets.
            ***
            John Bibb
            ***

          • Alan Caldwell

            Not to be petty, but we activated the Selective Service System in both Desert Storm and the onset of OIF/OEF. It was not used to draft large numbers of Soldiers and none brought in were MFE branches (combat arms). The IRR was most often used. We maintain a large ARNG and USAR force in the “theory” that we won’t use Selective Service.

          • John Bibb

            ***
            HI AC–people with certain specialties may be critical. I have 2 doc sons–in a crisis they could be called to serve.
            ***
            A few weeks prior to Jimmy Carter’s epic fail Desert 1 Tehran Embassy hostage rescue effort one of our civilian field engineers disappeared from work. Nobody knew where he went! A month later he reappeared at work. And told us that he had been called as a pathfinder to guide the rescue troops through the Iranian countryside and streets to the hostage site!
            ***
            He had lived in Iran for a number of years and worked as a field engineer there. And spoke Farsi also. He was asked to serve, and did so. Although he never got farther than the crash site. The Haboob sand storm ended the mission first.
            ***
            Rocketman
            ***

          • Larry A. Altersitz

            I firmly believe there’s at least one lawyer in every state/territory who’s got the name/birthday of a female matched up with any draft number who will DEMAND women get drafted under the equal protection clause.

          • John Bibb

            ***
            HI LAA–In Israel it’s universal military service for almost all young people–regardless of sex. Only those with severe physical defects or religious objections escape serving. Although I think some of those yutes of “Palestinian” background may not be eligible.
            ***
            Rocketman
            ***

          • Larry A. Altersitz

            Israeli Arabs and Christians are not drafted; however, they can volunteer and the number of volunteers has been slowly rising. The Haredi or ultra-orthodox are excused, but there’s a rising sentiment among the non-religious population for them to be drafted.

      • ycplum

        I disagree with a draft. While there is merit to a draft from a political point of view, our military is highly dependent on teamwork and being forced to work with people who do not want to be there and/or dregs of society hurts the military. Grant, not everyone is a “loser/slacker”, but you only need one or two in a unit to endanger the unit.
        I also do not believe a draft will make politicians that hesitant to go to war. They stirred up the country pretty good and most of the country supported the invasion of Iraq.

        • StedyRuckus

          “They stirred up the country pretty good and most of the country supported the invasion of Iraq” – Thats the point – if there was a draft, they’d have to work a lot harder to stir up public support of the war. Should they stir up public approval of the war, then 1) You actually get a lot of volunteers 2) Draftees are cooperative

          When you have a draft, you have much higher rate of citizen engagement, which is a crucial aspect of a republic and our first check against tyranny. There is a reason why the Constitution does not call for or provide for a full time standing army.

          • ycplum

            I understand the theory. I just don’t believe it will be as effective as many believe. We have a very “intellectually lazy” society. Too many want to be told what is right or wrong, rather than checking it out themselves, even in the age of Google and Wiki.

          • StedyRuckus

            To your point – isn’t being the Army all about being told what to do?

            But trust me – if you have politicians beating the war drums and talking up the necessity of force, you will have a lot of Americans paying very close attention as the lives of our sons are asked for.

          • ycplum

            I believe Americans will be more “concerned”, but I am not sure they will take a closer look at issues leading to war. The intellectual laziness allowed the American People to buy into the lies of the Bush-Cheney administration. That part can happen again even with a draft.

            Being in the Army means completing the mission. The US military (in general) encourages a degree of initiative taking that most militaries do not allow. One of the reasons is the degree of education, responsibility and sense of duty of the individual soldiers. An element of an order is the “Commanders Intent”. This element is not found in the orders of other militaries.

            General Patton said, “If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.”

            Greatest Tank Battles: The Battle of 73 Eastings. A captured Iraqi general in an M2 Bradley being transported saw a picture of Rommel taped up inside. He asked asked why they had a picture of one of their enemies hanging up. A PRIVATE told the Iraqi General(paraphrased), “If you read any of his books you probably wouldn’t be our prisoner.”
            My battalion commander once told a story of the need for someone to be in charge at all times. He said one of his prodest moments was during a training exercise when all that was left of a squad was two privates. One E-1 private turned to the other E-1 private and asked hime when he joined the Army. He then said, “I joined [at an earlier date]. I am in charge so follow me MF.” They then leaped up to carry on the emission.
            This isn’t something to sneeze at. I fully believe that any US military NCO could do well as a 2nd Lt in pretty much any non-Western military.

    • boomerhog

      I am all for bringing back the DRAFT, no deferrments. With everyone’s skin in the game (big wig’s sons and precious little girls) we would never have a 13 year armed conflict ever again. Nobody would stand for it if they had skin in the game. (oh, me? I had draft number 90..I was a boomer in the airforce after that and did my “combat support” time on an asian vacation in 1973… so I have a little bit of experience)

      • James Hedman

        Smoking Thai stick while on duty can hardly be counted as military “experience.”

  • StedyRuckus

    How about re-investing in our Intelligence communities? People talk about how on Sept. 10, 2001 war in Afghanistan seemed crazy. How about the fact the we funded the mujahdeen against the Soviets in the 1980’s. Bob Baer has maintained that withdrawing our support the minute the Soviets left allowed the Taliban to take power, and that we should have stayed the course and provided those basic humane services that allows organizations like Hamas and Taliban to be in power – running water, electricity, medical care.

    • ycplum

      What you are describing is not “Intelligence”, but rather “Nation Building” – two entirely different animals. We suck in Nation Building. The last real success we had with regard to nation building was the Marshall Plan. Historically, we have had a division of labor bewteen the US and the UN. the US went in and kickedbut, then the UN came in and did teh nation building. We would always comment about th epathetic job they were doing, but we did not exactly shine in Somolia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

      • StedyRuckus

        Maybe a little bit of nation building – but once the Soviets withdrew, we did as well – and we had ZERO intelligence about what the hell was going on over there.

        • ycplum

          With respect to Afghanistan, we never considered that the Islamists would use it as a training area to export terrorism. Global terrorism was a fairly new concept at the time. Other than a training grounds for terrorist, Afghanistan has no real significance to the US.

          • StedyRuckus

            I agree that the idea of global Islamist terrorism wasn;t known then. But we just saw Iran’s revolution take place, and though we were fighting to curb communist expansion, we also knew damn well that we shouldn’t allow a radical Islamic government to take hold. When the Soviets withdrew, they did so partly based on the assumption that we wouldn’t let such a government take place.

          • ycplum

            There were a lot of Islamic countries around. There are plenty of Islamist governments that are actually friendly to the US, mainly because they do not try to export their government system. We felt that the Afghanistan (as a country) did not have the resources to do much beyond their border (and tere wereno sensitive US interests along their border anyway) regardlessof what type of government they became. A terrorist organization is different than a country because they have no “people” to protect.

    • PJM

      If you go back 30-40 years the world was quite different. We supported the mujahedeen because they were fighting the former Soviet Union. We also supported Iraq because they were fighting Iran. Before the Shah was ousted we supported Iran. Our alliances change over time as they should based on the circumstances.

      • James Hedman

        What business of ours was it to support the mujaedeen in the middle of nowhere in the first place? The Cold war was at least as the fault of ours as it was the Russkies. We should have stayed out of involvement in the “graveyard of empires.”

        As for Iran. Our difficulties with them stem from righteous blowback of the CIA amd MI-6 overthrowing the democratically elected Mosaddegh.

        We have to stop messing in the affairs of foreign lands where we have no business being. Unjustly intervening in WWI resulted in creating Hitler as an overreaction to the wrongs of Versailles.

        Interfering in Iran got us the hostage crisis and an Islamic government. Everything we touch turns to shit. When will we learn that defeating the Axis gave us no wisdom and no right to global hegemony. Further defeats and misery await us as we continue on our mad course of action.

  • Diables Bleu

    Just FYI – His name is MG H.R. McMaster – no “s” at the end

    • http://defense.aol.com/ Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

      Whoops, a typo. Thanks for the catch.

  • PJM

    HR McMaster is one of the greatest warriors in the history of warfare. I would suggest that every American, including me, step outside their cozy home on a cloudless night, look up in the sky, and count our lucky stars that H is on our side protecting our way of life.

    • James Hedman

      Yeah, right up there with Themistocles, Epaminondas, Alexander, Hannibal, Marius, Julius Caesar, Charles Martel, William the Conqueror, Henry the Fifth, Cortez, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Nelson, Wellington, Washington, Forrest, Sherman, Pershing, Yamamoto, Nimitz, von Manstein, Rommel, Patton, Zhukov et al.

      Get a grip man. McMaster is a good soldier and cogent critic but he never successfully commanded a vast army or navy in a major history changing war.