Why Do We Have The Most Powerful Military In The World? (No, seriously. Why?) (pt 2)

Let’s see. Where was I? Oh yah:

BITCH! BITCH! BITCH! Got any solutions or do you just like to gripe a lot?

(Glad I pretended you asked!)

The premise of these posts is military bloat and why it doesn’t make sense. But, we do need a military, no matter what some of my peace-loving friends may think. We just don’t need such a huge one.

We’ve got admirals and generals who’ve spent their whole life careers studying wars and stratagems. If we could actually get by with less, they’re smart enough to know it!

Admirals and generals always want more personnel (and equipment) it’s part of their job description. And yes, our admirals and generals are intelligent! (Ass kissing isn’t the only prerequisite for all those stars.) But, let me posit this:

In WWII there was an officer for every 10 enlisted person in the military. Now we have 1 for 5.1. The Marines are 1 for 9, but they’re the exception.

In WWII the Army had 14 generals for each active division. Now they have 30. The Navy had 1 admiral for every 130 ships. Now, it’s 1 for every 2.2 ships!

If we cut down the military, we don’t need a lot more generals and admirals then we don’t need right now.

Do you really think they are going to cut their own livelihood. Or worse, be demoted back downstairs? (Not in any reality that I’m aware of.)

Plus, there’s too many excess generals and admirals for them to all be hired as lobbyists. (Well, maybe not. But, is that a good idea? That’s one of the reasons our expenditures are so high in the first place.)

Let’s get back to defending America as opposed to defending American business or defending pet dictators or defending some screwed up political mind-set! (neo-cons anyone?)

Let’s start with a basic concept: Quality over quantity. (aka A lean, mean, ball-crushing machine!)

In this scenario, there are five main (but fully integrated) components:

1) Ground-Based Operations;

2) Sub-Sea Operations;

3) Air Control;

4) Special Forces;

5) Coastal Operations.

The last two of these actually need to be expanded from their present numbers and I’ll get to those in a few paragraphs.

1) Ground-Based Operations

To my warped way of thinking, the Marines are a great model for Ground-Based Operations. The major problem is that they are a bit too tied to the navy, which is semi-obsolete.

What about the Army, fella? They’ve always been the “Big Dog” of the armed forces. And, what the hell do you mean, the Navy is semi-obsolete?

Army first.

It’s scenario time once again boys and girls:

You stumble into a bar fully and equally populated with Marines and Army personnel. As a result of excessive interfacing with Mr. Daniels, Br. Beam, Old Grand Dad and a Wild Turkey or two, a brawl breaks out between the services. Do you really have any doubts as to who’s going to “win” the fight? I mean, seriously?

I’ve been through army basic training and I’ve seen what the marines go through in basic. Ours was a two month vacation in comparison. If we are going to cut down the size of our standing military, we need better, tougher military personnel to start with. And to me, that means Marines. Or at least Marine types.

As to the exact numbers needed for Ground-Based Operations, I’ll leave that to much more knowledgable individuals. (But not the generals, they always want more, never less.)

However, it seems to me that if integrated, with upgraded training (physical & mental) and equipped with those fun, state-of-the-art toys that we all love, we could shed a large portion of our 751,095 (give or take) active and 648,616 (give or take again) reserve personnel and not sacrifice strength. Plus, there are other advantages to be discussed a bit later in the post.

Of course, that means that we’ll come up short when it comes to “peace-keeping”. But, we’ve been coming up short in that department anyway. We’ll just have to restructure so that it’s much more efficient (and maybe even work).

And, what’s with the 243,172 civilians the Army Needs??? The Marines don’t need ’em. They do their own damned k.p.!

Now Navy.

2) Sub-Sea Operations

Remember the “Too Damned Dangerous” section way back in pt 1? Well, this may come a shock to some, but the scenario works out the same on water as it does on land.Of course, the ships are spread out a bit more since it takes more space to maneuver, so you just use bigger bombs or more smaller ones. MIRVs (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles) are great for that sort of thing.

Surface fleets in the day of almost universal short-ranged missile availability and atomic proliferation have been promoted to potential floating coffins.

They’re still useful (for a while) in smaller conflicts, but if we had to face someone like China or Russia, everybody’s surface fleet would be pretty much gone within 24 – 36 hours (if that long). So why do we keep “sinking” billions into them???

It’s time to “sink the fleet”!

By that I mean expand underwater capabilities and phase out the floaters.

There is still (and always will be) a need for sea power. But, better stealthy sea power than exposed sea power.

Almost everything we can do above the waves, we can do under the waves, except for launching manned war planes. And manned war planes are another dying breed. More on that in a few paragraphs.

Btw, while I’m talking about carrier-based planes, the U.S.’s in-service carriers comprise half of the world’s total number including in-service, in-reserve, those under construction and those being rebuilt.

Ours are Super Carriers, each one of them about two to nine times the size of any other nation’s carriers.

And, before I forget, we have three more Super Carriers on the way at $9,000,000,000 each (not counting $5,000,000,000 R&D): The USS Gerald R. Ford (2015); the USS John F. Kennedy (2018) (Shouldn’t they be naming a PT boat after him instead?); and the unnamed CVN-80 (2021). Plus seven more planed for construction later. (Sinful waste of taxes and people, if you ask me.)

So, even with a beefed up sub-sruface presence, the elimination of a large percentage of the surface fleet and the support personnel needed, would drastically cut the Navy budget. (Not to mention a hell of a lot of excess admirals.)

3) Air Control

Live pilots vs pilotless drones. I’ve heard the arguments back and forth over the years, and over the years, live pilots have been steadily losing ground (or air, if you will) as drones get smarter and more versatile. Drones are far more maneuverable (machines handle g forces much better than humans) and artificial intelligence (AI) is getting better and better. Plus, without a human to accommodate, they are less complicated, smaller and less expensive to build.

For instance, the F-22 Raptors (below) cost about $354,900,000 per.

For that same $354,900,000 you get 11 state-of-the-art MQ-9 Reapers ($30,300,000 each) and get $21,600,000 back in change.Oh, and drones are safer and more comfortable for the pilot. Remember, he’s safely in some air-conditioned room many, many miles away, playing a video game. (And, did I mention there’s a lot less bailout involved as well.)

There is still a need for some piloted planes, but in a very short time span, the only reason to have them will be human ego. The rare exception to this might be piloted helicopters in non-battle (i.e. rescue) situations, but even these will eventually be outmoded.

In summation (of this part): Upgrading our air power (going drone) will produce savings in men, material and MONEY!

I personally think we won’t save as much as we will with Ground-Based Operations. You still need support for all those drones and support for the supporters. (But hey, a billion bucks here, a billion bucks there and pretty soon it adds up.)

Ok, now that we’ve gotten the “cuts” out-of-the-way, let’s talk about some “adds”.

4) Special Forces

Military special ops programs (Army Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Silent Warriors & Air Force Special Operations Command (around since ’83 and still no nickname)) are part of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOC). (The military loves its initialisms!)

Its mission is to provide fully capable Special Operations Forces to defend the United States and its interests, and plan and synchronize operations against terrorist networks(i.e. unconventional warfare and counter terrorism). Currently (they tell us) there are about 58,000 on active duty.

Yes, special ops have had their fails! (Just ask Jimmy Carter about Operation Eagle Claw.) But, they’ve also had their wins (Some you may know about, some you may never.) and as I’ve noted before in this posts, some of the wins have been spectacular! (Osama and the Taliban were impressed!)

Speaking of Operation Eagle Claw, (aka “The Disaster in the Desert” or “Who knew sand storms and helicopter engines don’t mix?”) it did do some good. It was the impetus for the formation of USSOC.

After the investigation concluded that the unworkable (and not very coordinated) command and control structures of the various military branches was a major cause of the screw-up, they brought them under a unified command. (Which, in my not so humble opinion, they should do with the entire military.) I’ll cover that in another post on another day. This post’s long enough.

Ok, before you get bored to sleep, that’s enough history! You all get the point that our special ops forces are coordinated. (And, that’s a good thing.)

A good portion of the conflicts we find ourselves in for the past few years have been primarily gorilla wars (i.e. Viet Nam, “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (recently changed to “Operation New Dawn”) (Ya gotta love those military code names.) Afghanistan and some others we don’t like to talk about.)

As I’ve already implied, the best guerrilla (unconventional warfare) fighters we have are “Special Ops”. Also, as previously noted, one of their primary missions is counter terrorism and they are reputed to be among the best in the world. (Mossad may be better, or that may be just a case of better p.r..)

Based on the fact that their primary missions are the current future of war, this is an area that needs to be beefed up rather than cut. (“Quality over quantity”, “lean, mean, ball-crushing machine” and all that.)

Hold on there, you anti-American commie-Nazi-hippy! Our Special Ops are the best because they only take the best. If we expand, we’ll have to lower the standards.

That statement presupposes that all the “best” join the military in the first place. Having been in the military, I can tell you that is definitely not the case.

What needs to be done, is make special ops appealing to the “best”. Bring in Republican “spin-doctors”, they’ve been convincing large swaths of Americans to vote against their own best interests for decades. (But, whatever you do, keep the Army sloganeers way the hell away.)

As usual, I don’t want to play the exact numbers game, but it seems to me that with the right bait, you could double the size and not sacrifice standards at all. This would give us a much expanded capability as well as reduce the need for a far greater number of “not-the-best” troops.

5) Coastal Operations.

Back in “2)“, when I was kicking the Navy in the nuts, I made a case for dumping the surface fleet. That case does not hold for coastal defense. The primary reason for the exception is that Coast Guard boats don’t bunch up.

The Coast Guard has 11 missions:

  1. Coastal security;
  2. Drug interdiction;
  3. Aiding navigation:
  4. Search & rescue;
  5. Marine safety;
  6. Living marine resources;
  7. Defense (of course);
  8. Migrant interdiction;
  9. Marine environmental protection;
  10. Ice operations;
  11. Law enforcement.

I don’t know about you, but after reviewing their missions, I can’t find one reason to cut their size down. In fact, I can see about 11 reasons why it should be beefed up.

Plus, we can save some bucks if the Navy transfers some of their ships to the CG. (Although, I really don’t think the CG would have a lot of use for Super Carriers.)

That’s all fine in theory, but it’s “pie-in-the-sky”! Ain’t never gonna happen! Way too many vested interests!

Trying to change the status quo is never easy and quite often risky. Remember Billy Mitchell! (If you don’t, it might be a good idea to brush up a little more on American military history. You never know when it’ll come in handy.)

Having said that, Americans always eventually adapt to changing situations. Usually kicking, clawing and screaming, (I’d i.e. teabaggers, but that’s just too damned easy.) but adapting nevertheless.

And, (for all you sports fans out there) you don’t take that first step, you don’t win that marathon.

Just for kicks, as one of those first steps, it might be a good idea to set up a commission to take a look at possibilities.

Oh goodie! Another commission! Just what we need. That ought to solve the situation real fast. NOT!

Hold on. As with all my “screwy ideas”, this one isn’t exactly mainstream.

First of all, the commission would consist of widely acknowledged military experts in fields ranging from special ops to naval to transport. HOWEVER there are some conditions:

  1. Two thirds of the commission has to be civilian. (You don’t put the inmates in charge of the asylum.)
  2. None of the civilians may be current politicians. (Keeps out most of the political posturing.)
  3. None of the civilians may be lobbyists or have any financial connections with the industrial side of the Military-Industrial Complex. (Helps alleviate conflict of interest problems.)
  4. The commission reports to the President. However, the commission answers to nobody, including the President. (It has to be totally independent.)
  5. After the commission reports to the President, he/she alone decides whether to accept or reject it in its entirety. (Congress can’t come within 50 miles of this. This is just too damned important to let politicians fuck it up.)

I know that all of these stipulations are going to narrow the pool, but we’re a big country. We’ll have enough qualified experts.

As to #5: Yes, presidents are politicians, (duh) but they are in charge of the military.

Accept the report, or reject it – either one will take a great deal of guts (which, unfortunately, have been kind of lacking lately). But, if it enters the body of congress, it’ll be like filet mignon going in and shit coming out.

OK, big dreamer. I got the stopper: What are we going to do with say a million laid off military personnel? There ain’t enough jobs for civilians, let alone ex-military. Countries have fallen in situations like that.

Well, if we are not spending all those billions of dollars every year on enriching the Military-Industrial Complex, we could spend the majority of the savings on infrastructure. That would create a hell of a lot of jobs, which in turn, would have a vast ripple effect in the creation of even more jobs in support. All this, while having the added advantage of safer roads, bridges and dams; better equipped and staffed schools; and better police and safety training and equipment.

A portion of it, of course, would be earmarked for retraining. (Not too much call for cannon cockers in civilian life.) As a model, think “GI Bill” and what it did for WWII vets, (as well as the nation as a whole) especially education-wise.

The rest of the extra money would go a long way towards getting our country’s financial affairs back in order.

Damn big spending liberal! Why not give back the money as lower taxes?

Always a possibility of course. And, after we get things to where they should be, it’s probably the thing to do. But that’s then! This is now! Besides, the truth of the matter is, considering what we expect government to do for us, the taxes we pay are totally in line. Plus, if you’re rich, you already have the lowest tax rates in history for your income bracket.

Alright, marathon readers. That about wraps it up. Thanks for hanging in there.

However, before I go – Are there any unthought of holes in my grandiose theory?

I’m sure that there are. And, that they will be rapidly pointed out to me. As I have repeatedly said, I’m not an expert. However, I strongly contend, and events seem to bare me out, that this is the direction we need to go before it’s too late.

Grouchy

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