Lightly armed guerrilla/insurgent/terrorist forces are once again holding off the high-tech, heavily armed forces of the United States.
The West needs more than a ‘White Knight' if it wants to succeed
Phi Beta Iota: Senator Sam Nunn nailed it in the 1990's:
I am constantly being asked for a bottom-line defense number. I don’t know of any logical way to arrive at such a figure without analyzing the threat; without determining what changes in our strategy should be made in light of the changes in the threat; and then determining what force structure and weapons programs we need to carry out this revised strategy.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) today is the most dishonest, most expensive, and most ineffective of all of the Cabinet Departments. The primary reason for its failure is a lack of intelligence with integrity across the Planning Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System (PPBES). Waste as been documented from 45% in weapons acquisition to 75% in Afghanistan. Realistically DoD is easily 50% waste, but worse that than, as Patrick Cochburn and Chuck Spinney among others have documented for so long, it is 100% ineffective. The ineffectivneess of DoD is not its fault alone. The White House (choosing to fight the wrong wars in the wrong way) and Congress (choosing to fund the wrong force structure for the wrong reasons) are a huge part of the context within which DoD fails. This need not be so.
The President has asked DoD for a 30% cut in its budget. This is not only reasonable, it is essential. The Secretary of Defense has resigned, unable to meet the President's needs, and demonstrably unable to manage the DoD services and the undersecretaries, all of them out of control and lacking in any sort of holistic integral strategy for reconstituting a modern integrated defense capability suitable for protecting the USA from all external threats, or serving as a hub for mounting whole of government, multinational operations that are legitimate and decisive.
If one single point of failure within DoD were to be identified, that point would have a name: Mike Vickers. The Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, with the hearty approval of the Director of National Intelligence, has chosen to substitute money for strategy, technology for thinking, and fraud for integrity. DoD lacks intelligence relevant to force structure planning, and it lacks integrity across the board because there is no intelligence in what we choose to buy, build, and operate.
In our collective view, DoD needs to close down all overseas bases, terminate all technical programs including the F-22 and F-35 and oversize naval vessels that are not survivable in the 21st Century, and focus instead on an air-mobile Army, a long-haul Air Force, and a 450 ship Navy that can put an integrated (air-ground-sea) platoon of Marines anywhere in 24 hours, a company in 48, and a battalion in 72. In the C4ISR arena, DoD is long overdue for a complete restructuring, returning to the wisdom of the 1990's when it was pointed out that only an open source approach to C4ISR would be affordable, interoperable, and scalable.