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Thread: Is the U.S. Military Affordable

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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Default Is the U.S. Military Affordable

    With the current economic situation in the U.S. as well as the rest of the word - the United States at some point is going to have to make cuts and the U.S. military will be subject to cuts. I am a proponent of a strong active and reserve military, but we are in a bit if a pickle with our national debt. Obviously cuts are not realistic until we are able to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq. I do propose that we only cut defense about across the board - there are many domestic programs in the U.S. that could either get the axe or cut significantly.

    The question becomes, how big of a military do we need? What are our national security priorities?

    Some argue that the united States spends more on defense then China, Russia and NATO combined, but I find the argument illogical. The U.S. should spend on national defense based on our priorities and not what other countries spend. What is logical are the threats posed by others. I for one would not go to war with China over Taiwan and I believe the South Koreans are more then capable of defending themselves against the North Koreans (the use of nuclear weapons by North Korea could change my position).

    Do we need 10 active duty divisions, six independant brigadres and dozens of CS and CSS brigades? Do we need three active Marine Corps divisions (this is a hrad one to bring up since I am a former Marine)? Do we need 11 aircraft carriers and the large number of amphibious ships which are basically small carriers? Do we need so many fighter and attack aircraft in the USAF active duty inventory?

    I have read much on this subject, but I am curious what others think.

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    This could be a very long post. I dont' have the time for it right now, but here's the very short version.

    Yes, we are going to have a very hard time affording our military in the future.

    Proposoals:

    1) Reintigrate AF into Army
    2) Keep Army big and Marine Corp small
    3) Put lots of research into making carbon fiber cheaper to make and build with

    I'll get back to this later or tomorrow, but for now these should make some interesting discussion points.

    Adam L

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    Proposoals:

    1) Reintigrate AF into Army
    2) Keep Army big and Marine Corp small
    3) Put lots of research into making carbon fiber cheaper to make and build with
    With the aim of being deliberately provocative, but from an entirely objective view point...

    1.) Move all aircraft to the Air Force. Air Power is about the military application of anything that flies, manned or un-manned.
    2.) US Armed forces are expeditionary. Reduce the size the of Army and increase the Marine Corps!

    ....I don't know how big the US Armed Forces should be because it is near impossible to understand US Foreign Policy.
    The debate about the size of the Armed Forces in the UK has an almost child like nature because no one wants to ask the exam question.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    I tend to pontificate that we should recapitalize with an eye towards long term costs.

    As it stands, things tend to get bloated during procurement. If that process could be better controlled, we might be able to procure equipment that costs less, and costs less to run.

    For instance, the cost to maintain an aircraft escalates as that plane nears end of life. Replacing it with a new plane that uses a smaller crew, a smaller support crew, less fuel and fewer parts might save enough money to make up the difference.

    Would a new engine for the Abrams make it more reliable while simultaneously reducing the need for fuelers and tankers?

    Similarly, do we need to duplicate capabilities? Does Excalibur provide anything that GMLRS can't do for less?

    At the same time, we could look at what we need and why. Do we need a division, a brigade and a regiment on jump status? Do we need all 11 CVNs?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    I tend to pontificate that we should recapitalize with an eye towards long term costs.
    Eminently sensible, but the problem is that the defence industry (US and UK) is under pinned by what can be be described as "voodoo economics."

    The UK MOD has fallen over itself with a concept of "through life costing" which is predicated on the art of telling the future, with absolute certainty, to a certain point and then guessing at it afterwards.

    If you want to see the same in the US, look at F-35. What some clowns are trying to do is take what they know in 2010, and extrapolate that to what the aircraft will have cost in 2035. Could we have done that in 1910 for 1935?
    Could the projections made for the F-15C in 1980, adequately predicted costs and capabilities for 2010 - when it is still the majority of the front line fighter fleet?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    1.) Move all aircraft to the Air Force. Air Power is about the military application of anything that flies, manned or un-manned.
    No. No. No. Go ahead and give the AF all the air supperiority aircraft and all the strategic bombers but do not give them anymore control over ground attack aircraft or UAVs than they already have. No good can come from that.
    “Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    No. No. No. Go ahead and give the AF all the air supperiority aircraft and all the strategic bombers but do not give them anymore control over ground attack aircraft or UAVs than they already have. No good can come from that.
    OK, but what's a "strategic bomber?"
    Do the Air Force still operate the transport aircraft?

    If you're arguing for the status-quo, then OK, but I was seeking not to default to the "Air Force is too stupid to operate aircraft for the Army."
    If that is the case, it has to be explained, as the reason you're not doing it.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    OK, but what's a "strategic bomber?"
    Do the Air Force still operate the transport aircraft?
    I was simply refering to anything that is not a ground attack aircraft.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    If you're arguing for the status-quo, then OK, but I was seeking not to default to the "Air Force is too stupid to operate aircraft for the Army."
    If that is the case, it has to be explained, as the reason you're not doing it.
    Too stupid? Not at all, but they do tend to have different priorities. What is important to the Army is not necessarily important to the AF and vice versa. We are culturally very different organizations with different mindsets. I honestly believe that parochialism has more to do with the air force desire to control all air assets, than does any overriding belief that they can do a better job. The AF would rather spend money on the next generation of air superiority fighter than a new ground attack aircraft. The Army makes up for that with attack helicopters but if we send "everything that flies" over to the AF then you create additional levels of coordination and command to further complicate any operations requiring air support, which these days means pretty much any operation since, at the very least you would have to coordinate for MEDEVAC support if nothing else. The bottom line is that at a time when we are creating (recreating) combined arms formations that have all support, or at least most of it, organic to the unit, it doesn't make much sense to take all of the air assets away and give them to another service.
    “Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    On another note, I have often wondered if it might not make sense to create a logistics service branch. None of the services like to spend money on transport or other logistics requirements and things get left out. Perhaps a service branch that was only logistics could mitigate that.
    “Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    On another note, I have often wondered if it might not make sense to create a logistics service branch. None of the services like to spend money on transport or other logistics requirements and things get left out. Perhaps a service branch that was only logistics could mitigate that.
    Germany did something like this (albeit not exactly the same).
    It could make sense to make the army independent of USAF air-lift (which competes with fighters for funds) and of Navy sea-lift (which competes with fancy combat ships, carriers and fighters for funds).
    You could also add the intelligence aircraft (RC-135? E-8) that support more than one service.
    I proposed something like this for Europe, on a similar model as the "Luxembourg-registered" NATO AWACS.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    The bottom line is that at a time when we are creating (recreating) combined arms formations that have all support, or at least most of it, organic to the unit, it doesn't make much sense to take all of the air assets away and give them to another service.
    ....and I agree, but the reasons for that have to be made explicit.

    The reason the Air Force cannot do the mission is because the Air Force has failed in its responsibility to properly employ "air power".
    In Israel, the Air Force operates everything that flies, including the UAVs. No one blinks. For example, the Air Force see casualty evacuation as an extremely important role. It saves lives. They see close air support the same way. To quote: "Why would you choose to fail your nation's Army?"
    Why does the USMC have an Air Wing? It could be said because, the US Navy failed in it's responsibility to provide cover to the Marines.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    I honestly believe that parochialism has more to do with the air force desire to control all air assets, than does any overriding belief that they can do a better job.
    That seems to be a common perception. There's another common perception that the desire by some to make the Air Force subordinate to the Army is driven by parochial considerations as well.

    I was simply refering to anything that is not a ground attack aircraft.
    Ok, so the Air Force will only have some recon and transport aircraft? With the exception of the B-2, the Air Force doesn't have dedicated "strategic bombers" anymore and hasn't for almost two decades. Who provided CAS during the opening stages of OEF? It wasn't the A-10 or any of the fighters. The point being is that such distinctions no longer exist in reality. The Air Force gave up on "strategic bombing" long ago and only maintains a minimal capability in that area.

    1) Reintigrate AF into Army
    2) Keep Army big and Marine Corp small
    Not sure how combining the AF and Army will save money. If it does save money, why not combine the Army and the USMC or combine all the services?

    One suggestion I've mentioned before, especially since we all work closely together now, is to better integrate our personnel systems. Why can't we have a common form and evaluation system for all the services for example?

    The bottom line is that at a time when we are creating (recreating) combined arms formations that have all support, or at least most of it, organic to the unit, it doesn't make much sense to take all of the air assets away and give them to another service.
    Except that we don't fight as distinct services anymore. As designed, the services provide capabilities for the combatant commanders. For example, I currently work with armed Predators and Reapers and our aircraft are under that tactical control of whatever unit we are supporting (Marines, Army, UK Sof, whatever). We go where they want us to go. We look at what they want us to look at. We shoot at what they want us to shoot at. Manned aircraft operate similarly. Your organic Army units will have (and do have) UAV's, but there are limits to what you can make "organic" and there are tradeoffs as well since there aren't enough assets to go around.

    On the subject of the original post, I think things will definitely have to change. I think there will be cuts all around. A lot depends on when/if we change our foreign policy, which WILF correctly notes often isn't coherent. If we want to keep intervening in third-world sh*t-holes and doing COIN/stabilization ops around the world for another decade or two, then we will need a bigger Army. If we don't and if we reduce our alliance commitments overseas, then we can move most of the Army and Air Force to the reserve. This nation has always needed a significant Navy and I think that will continue regardless, but probably with a much different fleet of ships. The USMC? Who knows.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Ok, so the Air Force will only have some recon and transport aircraft? With the exception of the B-2, the Air Force doesn't have dedicated "strategic bombers" anymore and hasn't for almost two decades. Who provided CAS during the opening stages of OEF? It wasn't the A-10 or any of the fighters. The point being is that such distinctions no longer exist in reality. The Air Force gave up on "strategic bombing" long ago and only maintains a minimal capability in that area.
    That isn't what I said. I was responding to Wilf's suggestion that everything that flies be transfered to the AF. That would include, presumably, all the attack helicopters that the Army now has. Don't focus on the strategic bombing part of the comment I was simply saying that the AF should keep all of the missions that it does now but that it should not be the sole or even primary provider of ground attack capability, ie Army aviation should not be transfered to the AF.
    “Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    I would not combine the branches of the U.S. military - we don't need group think.

    Placing a certains number of A-10 squadrons under U.S. Army command seems reasonable.

    The USAF would be our primary transport, space, bomber and fighter service.

    The USMC would downsize (this hurts!) to three active MEBs which are organized more like 3 Commando Brigade and the quality training of those U.S. Marines would be more like the Royal Marines. The 4th MEB would the reserve brigade (rein) with three infantry regiments instead of one in the active brigades. The USMC would get rid of its tanks and attach Army armor if needed. I have not decided if the USMC should retain its air assets. If it does then a MAG per active MEB is reasonable. With USMC helos aging, assigning an Army CAB with UH60, CH47, AH64 aircraft to the MAG (under USMC command) might be the way to go.

    I have a lot of ideas and will get to the other services later.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gute View Post
    Placing a certains number of A-10 squadrons under U.S. Army command seems reasonable.
    That's purely an operational decision. Who's budget do they come out of and who buys the replacement? Army or Air Force?

    The USMC would downsize (this hurts!) to three active MEBs which are organized more like 3 Commando Brigade and the quality training of those U.S. Marines would be more like the Royal Marines.
    So a barely viable light infantry brigade, which is under constant threat of being cut and only survives because it's on the Navy's budget?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    That isn't what I said. I was responding to Wilf's suggestion that everything that flies be transfered to the AF. That would include, presumably, all the attack helicopters that the Army now has. Don't focus on the strategic bombing part of the comment I was simply saying that the AF should keep all of the missions that it does now but that it should not be the sole or even primary provider of ground attack capability, ie Army aviation should not be transfered to the AF.
    Ah, I see what you're saying now. I wouldn't advocate that either.

    Placing a certains number of A-10 squadrons under U.S. Army command seems reasonable.
    What do you mean by "under U.S. Army command?"
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    That's purely an operational decision. Who's budget do they come out of and who buys the replacement? Army or Air Force?


    So a barely viable light infantry brigade, which is under constant threat of being cut and only survives because it's on the Navy's budget?
    How does 3 Commando survive?

    Three regiments, not one.

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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Ah, I see what you're saying now. I wouldn't advocate that either.



    What do you mean by "under U.S. Army command?"
    Squadron assigned to Army CAB which answers to division commander, etc.

    Budget paid by the U.S. tax payer - USAF/USA can figure that out. Trust me a know it can be a cluster - I work for the G.

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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gute View Post
    How does 3 Commando survive?

    Three regiments, not one.
    Three brigades not one. My apology.

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    It appears the issues are largely the way in which budgets are divided and controlled versus the actual command and control of the assets.

    Our Navy SeaSprites are Navy ‘owned’ (?) and flown by Navy pilots, yet run and serviced by RNZAF. So there are air force crews on the frigates. Given the fact that we only have 5 or 6 of them, that seems to make sense and it seems to work.

    The Dutch Apaches are an air force asset yet they are assigned (C&C) to 11 Airlanding Brigade (if they are still called that). I don’t know how well that is working.

    I have often wondered about the sensibility of giving ‘fixed’ budgets to individual services as opposed to controlling the overall budged at the top. It always reminds me of how for instance councils use up their budgets (like roadworks) by the end of taxyear to make sure they get the same next year. Doesn’t come across as very efficient to me.
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