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Fully Half of the Right Answer–Bi-Partisan and Serious,
Interesting side notes include 1) the early discovery in US-Russian military discussions that technology interoperability and future collaboration required the surmounting of many obstacles associated with decades of isolated (and often secret) development; 2) the absence of intelligence from the entire book-by this account, US defense leaders spend virtually all of their time in direct operational discussions with their most important counterparts, and there is very little day to day attention to strategic analysis, estimative intelligence, or coordination with diplomatic, economic, and law enforcement counterparts at home; 3) the difficulty of finding a carrier to send to Taiwan at a time when we had 12 carriers-only four appear to have been “real” for defense purposes; and 4) the notable absence of Australia from the discussion of security in Asia.
The concept of Preventive Defense is holistic (requiring the simultaneous uses of other aspects of national power including diplomacy and economic assistance) but places the Department of Defense in a central role as the provider of realigned resources, military-to-military contacts, and logistics support to actual implementation. Unfortunately the concept of Preventive Defense has been narrowly focused (its greatest success has been the dismantling of former Soviet nuclear weapons in the Commonwealth of Independent States), and neither the joint staff nor the services are willing to give up funds for weapons and manpower in order to make a strategy of Preventive Defense possible.
This resistance bodes ill for the other half of the 21st Century security challenge, what the author’s call the “C List”-the Rwandas, Somalias, Haitis and Indonesias. They themselves are unwilling to acknowledge C List threats as being vital to U.S. security in the long-term (as AIDS is now recognized). I would, however, agree with them on one important point: the current budget for defense should be repurposed toward readiness, preparing for the future, and their concept of preventive defense, and it should not be frittered away on “C List” contingencies-new funds must be found to create and sustain America’s Preventive Diplomacy and its Operations Other Than War (OOTW) capabilities. It will fall to someone else to integrate their concept of Preventive Defense with the emerging concepts of Preventive Diplomacy, International Tribunals, and a 21st Century Marshall Plan for the festering zones of conflict in Africa, Arabia, Asia, and the Americas–zone where ethnic fault lines, criminal gangs, border disputes, and shortages of water, food, energy, and medicine all come together to create a breeding ground for modern plagues that will surely come across our water’s edge in the future. On balance, through, this book makes the top grade for serious bi-partisan dialogue, and they deserve a lot of credit for defining solutions for the first half of our security challenges in the 21st Century.
Brilliant on Numbers, Need Same Focus on WHAT We Buy,
Where the book does not go, and a companion book by the same authors would be of great value, is into the detail of
WHAT force structure.
They accept, for example, the Navy’s 304-ship Navy that keeps adding gigantic carriers and does nothing for littoral warfare or putting Marines within 24 hours of any country instead of 6 days.
Similarly, they accept Air Force emphasis on fewer and fewer bigger and more sophisticated platforms of dubious utility in a 21st Century environment that requires long loiter, ranges of several hundred nautical miles without refueling, full lift in hot humid weather, and survivability in the face of electromagnetic weapons in the hands of thugs.
This book demonstrates a clear mastery of defense economics, and it is an important contribution to the bottom line: our national defense is desperately underfunded, and this must be in the “top three” issues facing the 43rd President and the 107th Congress.
What we buy, and why, has not yet been answered to my satisfaction.
Outstanding Structured Education for Adult (Policy) Readers,
Expensive, Ineffective, Unrealistic, But Interesting,