One Plus: Rethinking the Two Ocean war
There were a flurry of articles recently about military cutbacks in this age of austerity. Which is coming to all whether we wish in to one side or another. These articles rode under the names "End of the two ocean war" or the "Pacific Shift" A Two-Ocean Navy No More? | The Diplomat. The Two Ocean war has historical resonance from World War Two. It was the title of Samuel E. Morrison's one volume history of the war in the Pacific. Morrison, I recall, (I read that book many years ago) took pains to point out that war was fought under the constraint of the Pacific theater being subordinate to the European theater in term of men and material. Of course the Navy established a tempo in the Pacific theater which in practice forced a more even-handed approach, this carried over into peace time as quasi doctrine and has been so ever since.
Now structure and planning must align with ways and means. The restructure is a pivoting from Europe, and the Middle East of recent strife, to the Pacific and twenty first century conflicts. Implicitly we must believe that most of those former conflicts are over or at least strategically stabilized. I wonder whether all that unincorporated gap
Pentagon's New Map stuff, the idea that the greatest threats to US security come from those parts of the world least integrated most exploited into world order. Does that still fly or is that so last week? It seems that primary focus is shifting from the unorganized to the organized. Chaos will as it emerges will do so from the most brittle US navy won't take its eye off the ball in Mideast as it boosts presence in Asia - The Washington Post:.
The secretary of Defense has given mixed signals about downsizing the Navy from 12 to 11 carriers. In practice this means eventually building one less Gerald Ford Class carrier (and attendant cruisers destroyers submarines etc that make up a carrier group) as Nimitz carriers come out of service over the next generation. Aircraft Carriers possibly have been obsolete for 20 years now against modern cruise missiles. Masked by the fact that we have been focused on opponents without first rank airpower,or targeting capability. With mach 7 cruise missiles in the possession of potential adversaries this is changing.
Still the Navy is a relative winner in the budget wars and are expected to maintain 1.5 over 12 month carrier density in Arabian sea Mitt and Newt Play Admiral, Get Lost at Sea Danger Room Wired.com.URL. I think back to when I was in; the Navy has roughly eleven carriers it will be one down from that for a year or so when the USS Enterprise decommissions. This is divided by three readiness conditions (call them turnaround, workups, deployed) against three to four deployed positions: Atlantic/Mediterranean, Western Pacific, Indian Ocean/North Arabian sea/Persian Gulf. An ongoing exercise in finesse and perfect maintainence Setting the record straight on the Navy's needs - The Washington Post.
The Army faces cuts as deep as eight brigades (2,000-4,000 each ) The new brigade is the armies current basic unit of independent maneuver, with both military and material support administratively contained. Battalions make up a brigade, brigades (2-4) make up a division formerly a primarily structural unit. The army may scaling back as much 80 thousand troops and the Marine corps in similar percentage. Part of the logic here is that we have come toward the end of the Middle East insurgency ground wars. Scaling back is in keeping with not falling into the last war syndrome. Iraq and Afghanistan were low intensity conflict, requiring large numbers of light mobile combat troops, endless patrolling (and patrol vehicles), IEDs the primary threat. There was a priority on military foreign-civilian interface, and attendant area study skills.
One of the things the Navy may have to give up is funding for the full planned purchase of the Littoral Combat Ships. A project that seemed snake bit from the start. These are broad ocean area patrol ships intended as replacement for the Oliver Hazard Perry frigates. They are innovative on several fronts notably all aluminum hulls, and near stealth radar signatures, pushing the manufacturing envelope. They are intended as a multitasking (marine, special ops projection anti-mine etc) ship, perhaps over-influenced by Sea Fighter experimental vessel. The working of bureaucracy and doctrine saddled the ships with requirement that they be survivable in combat with a modern first rate military. This was not their mission though, which was to enable the Navy to simply be in more places at once, operating counter-piracy, tactical sea lane clearance, and anti-proliferation surveillance. To more places then the Navy could be with the billion dollar plus apiece Arleigh Burke's which have assumed cruiser size and responsibilities. Another unavoidable condition placed upon such vessels is that they ought to be able to transit to their point of operation from a US port and keep station handily once they get there. Such sea-keeping requirements keep them above corvette size and cost. If the navy doesn't maintain a class of vessels like this; though, they abandon a mission no one else is taking up.
The trouble over the Littoral Combat ships is just one sign of the Navy's inability to adequately conceptualize the next generation of combat vessels. There has been some thing indistinct about the Zumwalt (DDX) ships; stealth, drones, cannon v. railgun, missiles and missile bay arrangements, Achieving all this against a price-point a shipyard could meet and would have congress reaching into the public wallet to fund. The Navy has drawn it, but not drawn it all together.
One danger of making the USA's one clear and overwhelming advantage over other nations be our military is that it makes all the world's problems look like nails.
War is not a clean application of technology to sort and fix abstract problems. It is destruction and death, a descent into madness and barbarism by those who pursue it. It is not, not remotely an application of rationality. Those who design to use it instrumentally as a thing of efficacy without consequence have already given up on permanent solutions. The best military is the best one least used. It should be axiomatic that a militaries top goal should be the chimerical blend of competence and abeyance. Once in play it becomes a mere commodity.
At the same time as this general downsizing airpower is going through radical changes which are being masked as essentially technological changes. Mostly this involves drones which range from simple surveillance platforms little different from what anyone can buy to vehicles that can out-perform the manned reconnaissance platforms of the cold war. Beyond the surveillance drones are the Kill drones Lurking sleepless predators of the conflict lands. And in the wings beyond them, autonomous kill drones. The problems here and there are many are the sheer number of agencies operating these drones. The people operating them - rather the disassociated work culture of the corps operating them. Again with so many different parts of the US government operating drones the problem of establishing any kind of consistent operating policy becomes problematic. There are myriad un-addressed issues associated with the gradual militarization of foreign (formerly diplomatic) policy and associated policing actions these form like a dark presaging cloud in the background. What is obscured in all this, is the change in what we accept as morally defensible to maintain our sense of security Waging War in Secret vs. American Democracy - Conor Friedersdorf - Politics - The Atlantic.
On a simply technical note the military has boxed themselves in with the F-22 and F-35 4th generation fighters. An ambitious effort to seal US air dominance through the next generation is in danger of wrecking on the shoals of uncontrolled procurement. A plane with more known characteristics might have benefited from a test-as-you-build process, but not one pegged to the future at so many points. The F-35 will fly eventually, of course, but at three times the price, and opportunity cost on other fronts.
In setting forth the concept of the "One Plus" war it cis noted we were recent and are fighting elective regional small wars. Together they over-equaled the "plus" component. It is questionable whether a full move by North Korea against Seoul, China against Taiwan, or by whatever chance an armed gambit to re-integrate Tbilisi to the
Soviet Russia could have been forestalled in the last decade. The One Plus concept is an attempt to ground capability against facile utility. The first Gulf war was a cold war dividend, and may have over-set expectations. My memory of this was that a significant drawdown of troop strength in Europe was swung through Kuwait into Iraq inside the process of being permanently being repositioned state-side. This maneuver was what allowed the concentration of 500 thousand plus troops in a regional war on the other side of the globe. Gulf war ii the anti-terror wars, the wars in Afghanistan Iraq, and Afghanistan again, have been a ten year grinder. They demonstrate that even anti-insurgency wars cannot be fought without strong public commitment. The public stake must be clear and direct. Iraq was fought to mixed and hidden purpose. Such wars will always be a stretch. Having a standing force in combat a whole hemisphere away used up significant portion logistical capability and elasticity of the military. It was costly in men and money for marginal gains in democracy. The current downsizing of the Army is an implicit statement that we will not follow that path blithely again. We will rely on Special Force operations to combat extra state militancy Has Obama taken Bush's 'preemption' strategy to another level? - The Washington Post.
Maybe it is time for the United States to refocus its capabilities on existential wars, Potential wars in which our existence as a republic comes into question. These would include responses to direct attacks on the US, US citizens, or our critical allies, response to impeding free trade. This would be globalized world trade, and also trade in energy such as oil through the Persian Gulf. Critically what and who we would protect would be no secret, and our capability to do so open. Our way of life as a free and democratic people we would protect also. Not; however, simply to live in the manner to which we have become accustomed, a certain standard of living: a level of riches and health, a right to waste, that we might feel tempted to lever out of the rest of the world by military might. We ought set aside any inclination to use war to assert our notion of American exceptionalism understood as a natural right of dominance. Grounded on a passing unipolar moment recalling a cultural and financial centering of the world, that is ever in terraplane orbit.
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