A Strategic Hole – A Strategic Farce
The Public Intelligence Blog (Phi Beta Iota) has carried a number of recent articles all of which had the common theme that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is wasting billions of dollars and can easily sustain major cuts in the DOD budget without threatening U.S. National Security. A sub theme of this series has been that DOD’s waste is caused by a deadly combination of corruption, incompetence, and ignorance. I would add a fourth culprit to this trio, the lack of a coherent National Security Strategy.
I would argue that DOD major cuts in its budget should be informed by a national security strategy that realistically assesses who or what DOD needs to defend against. Unfortunately as Pierre M. Sprey noted not too long go on this Blog, the U.S. does not have such a strategy. Currently the DOD and especially the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), in lieu of thinking about the sort of defense the U.S. really needs, continue to try and build a defense that can defend against everything with the result that it defends against nothing and is enormously expensive to build and maintain.
The JCS structure, if it were functional, would be the obvious choice to formulate a rational defense strategy that would then guide them on the type of force structures to build and how to equip it. Sadly the JCS is completely dysfunctional and is driven by the parochial interests of the military services that collectively can only scramble each year to see which service gets the largest share of congressional defense appropriations. Simultaneously, lacking an overall strategy, each individual service is attempting the impossible task of being prepared to provide military action for any contingency, however unlikely, that might arise. As a result the U.S. Military has sacrificed actual readiness in favor of a dubious ability to respond to any contingency.
Essentially, the individual services are working blind trying to buy small quantities of ever more expensive weapons and equipment to have on hand just in case the contingency for which they were designed arises. Thus the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) was just forced to cancel an out of control program to design and build a new amphibious landing craft although the USMC has not had a real amphibious landing since the Korean War (1950-1953). The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has purchased over 200 F-22 Supersonic fighters to assure air control against what turned out to be a non-existent Soviet (now Russian) fighter. And as it turns out because of design flaws the F-22 is not really a safe aircraft (even though the USAF claims that it is now ok to fly).
Because there is no overall strategy, neither the JCS nor the DOD Civilian Bureaucracy really knows how to deal with threatened substantial cuts in the DOD budget. Indeed the only way to achieve savings so far that has been advanced by these lost souls has been to cut retirement benefits and reduce the cost of living benefits of the enlisted men and women who serve in the armed forces. This is criminal and in any case will achieve only minimal cost reduction. Surely the U.S. can do better than this.