The defense we need

I’m a little late on this, I had computer trouble. However, a paper of “record” hit me where I live. It seems that the New York Times rang in the new year with some defense advice for our new president. Now keep in mind none of their editors, reporters or “fact checkers” have ever served a day the U.S. Armed forces. Their “experts” are taking for the money that the NYT pays them. So given their excellent pedigree here is what the gray lady had to say to our new president:

Cancel the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer. This is a stealthy blue water combat ship designed to fight the kind of midocean battles no other nation is preparing to wage. The Navy can rely on the existing DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyer, a powerful, well-armed ship that incorporates the advanced Aegis combat system for tracking and destroying multiple air, ship and submarine targets. The Navy has sharply cut back the number of Zumwalts on order from 32 to two.

Cutting the last two could save more than $3 billion a year that should be used to buy more of the littoral combat ships that are really needed. Those ships can move quickly in shallow offshore waters and provide helicopter and other close-in support for far more likely ground combat operations.

Halt production of the Virginia class sub. Ten of these unneeded attack submarines — modeled on the cold-war-era Seawolf, whose mission was to counter Soviet attack and nuclear launch submarines — have already been built. The program is little more than a public works project to keep the Newport News, Va., and Groton, Conn., naval shipyards in business.

The Navy can extend the operating lives of the existing fleet of Los Angeles class fast-attack nuclear submarines, which can capably perform all needed post-cold-war missions — from launching cruise missiles to countering China’s expanding but technologically inferior submarine fleet. Net savings: $2.5 billion.

Pull the plug on the Marine Corps’s V-22 Osprey. After 25 years of trying, this futuristic and unnecessary vertical takeoff and landing aircraft has yet to prove reliable or safe. The 80 already built are more than enough. Instead of adding 400 more, the Marine Corps should buy more of the proven H-92 and CH-53 helicopters. Net savings: $2 billion to 2.5 billion.

Halt premature deployment of missile defense. The Pentagon wants to spend roughly $9 billion on ballistic missile defense next year. That includes money to deploy additional interceptors in Alaska and build new installations in central Europe. After spending some $150 billion over the past 25 years, the Pentagon has yet to come up with a national missile defense system reliable enough to provide real security. The existing technology can be easily fooled by launching cheap metal decoys along with an incoming warhead.

The Weekly Standard’s Stuart Koehl hits back with a few points :

Overall, then, the Times editorial is an exercise in strategic fatuousness, full of errors of fact and of reasoning. It is, really, nothing more than the same sort of appeal we saw throughout the 1980s and 90s–that we cannot afford an effective defense, therefore we must design a defense that we can afford, effective or not. How much we can afford depends entirely on where your priorities lie. If you believe that the principal role of government is the defense of our country, then the current spending level of 4 percent stands as the barely acceptable minimum; if you believe that the main purpose of government is providing everyone with free health care, free college education, a lavish retirement and excursions into environmental extremism, well, 4 percent is more than we can afford. The Times has made its choice, but we don’t have to follow.

Viewed from a rational, strategic perspective, our defense R&D and procurement priorities must focus on the Navy and the Air Force, while the Army must accept the idea that its future lies not in “big wars” involving tanks and tracks, but smaller operations such as counter-insurgencies, stabilization and reconstruction, and even the dreaded humanitarian assistance. The challenge for the Army is maintaining its hedge capabilities in conventional high intensity combat at the same time, because the Army has never really been very good at doing these two things concurrently–it either shifts from one extreme to the other, as we saw before, during and after the Vietnam war. Perhaps a new generation of leadership will be able to break this cycle. But we won’t get there if President Obama takes the advice of the armchair strategists at the Gray Lady.

Commentary Magazine’sGordon G. Chang has this to add.

The premise is that the United States is not going to be fighting major conflicts in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, that’s an assumption we should not make. After all, history teaches us to be wary: both World War II and Korea started for us with surprise attacks.

The Times also assumes that no big power is going to take us on. Is that so? China, with a rapidly modernizing military, wants Taiwan and islands belonging to others in its surrounding seas. Moreover, it is configuring its military to fight us. Moreover, a desperate North Korea continues to covet South Korea. And is it really inconceivable that an aggressive Russia will try to grab more neighboring land?

What i would like to hit upon is the Time’s naive stance on missile defense.
“After spending some $150 billion over the past 25 years, the Pentagon has yet to come up with a national missile defense system reliable enough to provide real security. The existing technology can be easily fooled by launching cheap metal decoys along with an incoming warhead.”

Let’s see:

BTW: “cheap metal decoys” used to work for AIRCRAFT. missiles in space have to use more expensive measures. The missiles we as air defenders intercept are deadly, but do not have these decoys installed. So much for media experts.

But I’m just an active duty solder who uses these systems. I’m not a journalist. And people wonder why the New York Times is losing money. History has shown that wars cost money, good gear costs money. When you short change the military, you lose wars and needlessly lose lives.

h/t: CDR Salamander


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