QuickPost on QDR
The Pentagon’s guide to military spending for the next four years will disappoint anyone who believes the U.S. military must adapt to a world where threats come from insurgents and terrorists rather than nation-states.
The Navy still gets to build seven DD(X) destroyers, at $2.5 billion apiece, even though the war on terror is not fought on the high seas. The Army keeps its Future Combat System, a $145 billion network of unproven technologies largely irrelevant to defeating insurgents.
Worse, the review recommends building 183 of the Air Force’s F-22A fighters at $165 million each. Designed to counter Soviet fighters in the 1980s, the F-22A is virtually useless in a world where countries prefer surface-to-air missiles over expensive air forces of their own. Moreover, the United States already has a large arsenal of F-15 and F-16 fighters and is building more than 2,000 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
The QDR does nothing to shift funding to the services most relevant to today’s threats.
In a $440 billion budget (excluding war costs), the Army gets about 25 percent, the Air Force 33 percent, and the Navy and Marines another 33 percent. The rest goes to departmentwide operations.
If the QDR took its own analysis of threats seriously, it would reduce the Navy and Air Force’s budgets to fund the Army and Marines. Ground forces fight insurgencies and stabilize broken states like Bosnia and Haiti. If the United States ever occupied Iran, North Korea or Pakistan, these would be the forces needed to keep order.
The QDR does bless the Army’s decision to increase the number of its combat brigades from 33 to 42, but this is sleight of hand. The new brigades take soldiers from the old ones, meaning the same forces are simply spread into more units. The QDR preserves a military built to fight China or Russia, not the wars we are fighting.
While saying nothing groundbreakingly new, it succintly sums up what’s wrong with the QDR (Quadrennial Defense Review). Read it all here.
Note: Apologies for the light posting…we’ll resume back to normal soon!
Update 01: Max Boot Joins the QDR Bashing
In today’s Christian Science Monitor, Max Boot throws in his two-cents regarding the QDR: “Needed: more troops, not high-tech gadgets“. Excerpt below:
What gives? Why is the Pentagon still throwing money into high-tech gadgets of dubious utility while ignoring the glaring imperative for more boots on the ground? Part of the answer may be politics: Big-ticket weapons have more champions on Capitol Hill than do ordinary grunts. But there also appears to be a large element of strategic miscalculation here.
For all the QDR’s genuflections toward irregular warfare, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld still seems to think that Iraq and Afghanistan are the exceptions, not the norm – that in the future we won’t need so many ground troops. The US has already paid a high price for the misguided decisions not to send enough troops to secure Iraq or to capture Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora. Now, it appears, we are fated to make the same mistake on future battlefields, simply because we won’t have enough troops available.