View Full Version : Small Wars and 2013 DoD Budget

01-29-2012, 04:23 PM
When reading other threads and blog postings on this site, it appears that most everyone has concluded that the arc of instability, period of persistent conflict, coming anarchy (whichever reference you prefer), etc. will make small wars more likely in the future. In fact, DoD's Strategic Guidance includes amongst the primary missions of the military - counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism, presence ops in support of stability, stability operations, and humanitarian assistance & disaster relief. How do strategic bombers, increased missile platforms (subs and DDGs), UASs, nuclear weapons, and aircraft carriers address those missions and persistent conflict/threats? Have we concluded that airpower solves all problems, and that the Rumsfeld OEF Plan was genius? Based on the announced budget focus, will we have a force equipped and trained for small wars, or are we assuming that our nation will not get involved in those or that it will be the domain of SOF?

01-29-2012, 05:15 PM
There may or may not be more "small wars" in the future. But as a matter of politics it doesn't seem likely to me that policymakers will willingly engage in them anymore, except in the most limited fashion which will probably be special operations and air power.

Additionally, small wars may be more likely, but that doesn't necessary mean the DoD should dramatically change course toward fighting small wars. Small wars are are not likely to be existential conflicts for the US - therefore it makes sense (to me at least) to keep the military focused on potential existential conflicts. It's also important to point out that the US has significant military alliances where it is expected to come to the aide of those allies should they be attacked. A force structure optimized for small wars won't, for instance, be up to the tasks of defending the Korean Peninsula, countering a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, or preventing the Iranians from closing the strait of Hormuz. As long as those interests and alliances remain, the US will require power projection capabilities such as bombers, subs, DDG's, nukes, carriers etc.

Of course, we are putting the cart before the horse. What is the US strategy? How relevant are those alliances today? We need a sense of where we're going if we hope to determine what we'll need when we get there. Right now I don't think the US really has a strategy beyond trying to maintain the status quo.

Bill Moore
01-29-2012, 05:27 PM
I didn't interpret the strategic planning guidance the same you did apparently. It clearly stated we must be able to respond to a wide range of security challenges, and the one range we have neglected since 2005 is our ability to conduct high intensity combat operations. It wasn't that long ago that our high end combat capabilities (air, sea and ground based weapons) defeated Saddam's and the Taliban's conventional capabilities in short order with minimal U.S. losses. Try to imagine what would have happened if we didn't that have that capability.

The unconventional conflict that followed was another issue, which is in my opinion identified severe training shortfalls more than anything else. We don't need human terrain teams, EBO, huge staffs, or in most cases a large number of combat troops to wage these conflicts, but rather a well trained force led by professional leaders and staffs who develop realistic strategies, instead of unrealistic policies based on idealistic objectives that were not going to be achievable regardless of how much we invested (as we demonstrated).

The new planning guidance may have its flaws, but it correctly points out that the role of the military is to defend our national interests, not to engage in massive social engineering efforts that drains our economic might. We will continue (as we did long before 9/11) to stay engaged in irregular conflicts at various levels, normally by assisting the host nations, but also through select operations such as the air support provided to the Libyan's or the recent raid in Somalia. It is the level needed to achieve our objectives and a level we can sustain.

Ken White
01-29-2012, 08:40 PM
Small Wars will certainly exist as will insurgencies and thus counterinsurgencies and the US may be well advised to engage in some FID efforts -- that does NOT mean the US has to engage in Small Wars; all those in which we have since WW II become involved have been wars of choice; dumb choices IMO. We can be smarter and we should concentrate on being able to cope with existential warfare -- something which almost no Small Wars happen to be...