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Thread: Debating defense priorities and expenditures

  1. #21
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We can disagree, not a problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Galrahn View Post
    ...only I will suggest that I don't think you know what you think you know about naval programs...
    Great minds apparently run in the same channel, that was exactly what I thought about your knowledge of them. I'd never heard anyone suggest that monster of a DDX as a littoral operator (as opposed to dominator). I'd also note I do not profess to be a naval gazer. All I know about the programs are things I read open source and a few things passed on by friends and acquaintances and they are not of great interest to me as my limited naval knowledge from growing up around the Navy (and even a Bubble Head for a Father in Law for many years) has been blunted by over 60 years of running around with folks in green. .

    You might also check around on the prognosis for many more LCS' -- or a cheaper, lower tech or at least less gold plated replacement. I didn't grab that thought out of the air.
    and I think your view of what the littoral is matches very well with the folks in the Navy who have unsuccessfully developed a littoral strategy for the post cold war US Navy.
    Geography and water depth are geography and water depth; one can only do so much given the constraints. I don't think there has been or is a 'littoral strategy.' Nor should there be -- which littoral will you design it for? There are a number, all different -- one strategy cannot encompass all nor will one strategy fit all littorals (nor will one ship type fit 'em all...). Seems to me, admittedly lolling about on the periphery and paying only casual attention, that rather there has been a reluctant and grudging acknowledgment that some operations in littorals may not be avoided now matter how much the Navy would prefer to avoid them...
    But I disagree that long term strategies are beyond us. I don't believe the absence of a long term strategy is proof they aren't possible nor that they would be ineffective if implemented. Implementation is difficult, but not impossible.
    In order; may not be beyond but we have not managed it in my lifetime and I'm close to 80 (nor, as I read our history, have we ever had one...); they are possible (just very highly improbable in my view); I think the relative 'effectiveness' would depend on what the strategy envisioned but I also am firmly convinced that the geopolitical and domestic political milieus would cause a need for constant change and revision -- that could be more detrimental than not having such a strategy at all.
    I note Russia, India, and China all have long term strategies and I see no evidence it is beyond any of those countries, and I would note that India is a democracy and even more of a political mess when it comes to policy than the US.
    Yes, all purport to do so and Indian democracy is chaotic. China may have one that is effective; the other two, not so much...

    Do recall that our problem is not a political mess (which we are) nearly so much as the design intent of a governmental system specifically to preclude too much coherence and singular direction. It is admittedly inefficient but I wouldn't want to change it.
    Our national inabilities are rooted in our indecision, not our incapacity.
    Well, yes. That's the gist of the problem. That's essentially what I said -- just about the time someone gets decisive, the great unwashed go to the polls and vote -- and things get changed. New people, new ideas (well, not so much...). In 2012, who knows what will happen.

    So we can agreeably disagree. Time will tell who was / is correct.

  2. #22
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Default Although I think I understand where your coming from

    Quote Originally Posted by Galrahn View Post
    Ken,

    I think you are wrong on so many parts of that post it would take us enormously off coarse on this discussion to go through it, only I will suggest that I don't think you know what you think you know about naval programs, and I think your view of what the littoral is matches very well with the folks in the Navy who have unsuccessfully developed a littoral strategy for the post cold war US Navy.

    On the quoted section above, I think that is an interesting view. I think Bush had some policies that the Obama administration is rejecting, interventionism and unilateralism among the most influential policies that will impact defense strategy.

    But I disagree that long term strategies are beyond us. I don't believe the absence of a long term strategy is proof they aren't possible nor that they would be ineffective if implemented. Implementation is difficult, but not impossible.

    I note Russia, India, and China all have long term strategies and I see no evidence it is beyond any of those countries, and I would note that India is a democracy and even more of a political mess when it comes to policy than the US. Our national inabilities are rooted in our indecision, not our incapacity.
    Note also the real difference in the aforementioned nations perceptual ties in relation to doing what their populous calls for vs sticking to something regardless what the popular sentiment is.

    Although I too agree that we should be able to come up with at least some degree of consistency in our overall approach to international actors it is probably as important to make sure the US population never gets the perception that what they think about a given action is less important than the action itself.

    It's a tough balance and as the last administration unfortunately suffered from just a sampling of how perception can kill ones ability to act even if appropriately given the circumstances without suffering devastating results in elections.

    If for no other reason than that I would say Ken's correct in saying policy is probably as good as we're gonna get



    PS : What he said
    Last edited by Ron Humphrey; 03-23-2009 at 02:47 AM. Reason: add
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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  3. #23
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galrahn View Post
    and I think your view of what the littoral is matches very well with the folks in the Navy who have unsuccessfully developed a littoral strategy for the post cold war US Navy.
    I think Ken's view is that of the US Navy, and it is their definition that is the relevant one. The "Littoral" is physical, not conceptual. It's the "conceptual" framework which is most probably doomed to be "not useful." Extending the debate into a "human terrain," may well be a choice that extends you no benefit whatsoever.
    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.
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  4. #24
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default All well and good, but...

    There are a few questions that have to be resolved or we're simply going to flail about, making decisions on the basis of force of personality and political maneuvering. Which, incidentally, is what we pretty much did (on both sides of the aisle) after the USSR imploded. After all, that was the "end of war" and the dawn of a "new world order" that made "warfare obsolete." Right?

    1. What kind of international situations are we likely to face/do owe want to plan for in the next 20 to 30 years? Will another genocide (ala Rwanda) occurs? Will country C decide it can do a better job managing the resources of country R? Will a natural disaster occur (ala the tsunami in the Indian Ocean)?
    2. And what will we do about them? If another genocide occurs will we intervene? Do we help defend country R? Do we want to have a naval task group in the area to quickly render assistance? Even more important, will we have a national consensus on the answers, or will we see one party, for example, commit to intervention and four years later the other party swears it won't?
    3. Is the US Army serious about the new FM 3-0? Does it really want a force capable of successfully executing all those missions across the complete spectrum of conflict?
    4. After we answer those questions, the next set revolves around how we plan to execute the various mission profiles. i.e. What is our doctrine? How quickly do we respond, with how many troops? What will be the operational goals in the mission? Will the strategy be Populace or Threat Centric? What will the small unit tactics look like?
    5. What capabilities do we need in order for the troops to successfully execute the strategy? What kind of logistic footprint will we need to support? What threats will they face? What weapons will be appropriate?


    I don't care if its called "strategy" or "policy," but these questions must be answered if we are going to make intelligent, rational decisions about our needs for manpower, training and equipment. And I'm not referring to discussions inside the Pentagon. Those take place in response to Congress and POTUS saying "here's what you get." I'm referring to the public discussion that needs to take place about what role we, as a nation, plan to play in the world at large.

    Until we have that discussion, and answer the questions above, our entire defense structure, military, civil service and contractors, is going to be the random result political gamesmanship.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  5. #25
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    Until we have that discussion, and answer the questions above, our entire defense structure, military, civil service and contractors, is going to be the random result political gamesmanship.
    I submit that your excellent and well informed questions may be irrelevant.

    a.) You can't tell the future.
    b.) The biggest constraint on the US Army is the mind set of it's senior officers, whom history has not been kind to, and with some good evidence.
    c.) It's not about what your forces should look like. It's about what they can do for the money and the manpower.

    It like house keeping. No one works out what they need. You work with what you can afford. Military capability generally informs policy. Very rarely does policy inform capability.

    That's this Hedgehogs view!
    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

  6. #26
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post A couple of thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    There are a few questions that have to be resolved or we're simply going to flail about, making decisions on the basis of force of personality and political maneuvering. Which, incidentally, is what we pretty much did (on both sides of the aisle) after the USSR imploded. After all, that was the "end of war" and the dawn of a "new world order" that made "warfare obsolete." Right?



    1. What kind of international situations are we likely to face/do owe want to plan for in the next 20 to 30 years? Will another genocide (ala Rwanda) occurs? Will country C decide it can do a better job managing the resources of country R? Will a natural disaster occur (ala the tsunami in the Indian Ocean)?.
    1. Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
      a.) You can't tell the future.


      Are you sure about that. I mean I get that there are no guarantees in life, but
      (AND THATS A BIIIG BUT) What do you think the chances actually are that there won't be yet another leader or army that chooses to "do what they need" for the good of their people and in the process a whole lot of people end up dead?

      Or the likelihood that Natures not going to throw curveballs that have to be dealt with.(Not necessarily by us).

      Just saying theres probably a big difference in "predicting" the future and choosing not to see the past. Some things in life are guaranteed it's the where, when, how, and who's that can't be foreseen.



      Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    2. And what will we do about them? If another genocide occurs will we intervene? Do we help defend country R? Do we want to have a naval task group in the area to quickly render assistance? Even more important, will we have a national consensus on the answers, or will we see one party, for example, commit to intervention and four years later the other party swears it won't?.
    Coulda sworn these have always been important questions and in some ways had led to some of the force structures we have now.
    as to the second part everything you guys have been pointing out over the last few years kinda made me think we don't have much say in that. It's the big P

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
  7. Is the US Army serious about the new FM 3-0? Does it really want a force capable of successfully executing all those missions across the complete spectrum of conflict?.

Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
c.) It's not about what your forces should look like. It's about what they can do for the money and the manpower.
Both points seem to point towards the catch 22 in all of this
Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
b.) The biggest constraint on the US Army is the mind set of it's senior officers, whom history has not been kind to, and with some good evidence.?.
Isn't much of that "mindset" a result of trying to figure out how to do what you have to with what you have(without rocking the political boat)?. Survival instinct and all that.




Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
  • After we answer those questions, the next set revolves around how we plan to execute the various mission profiles. i.e. What is our doctrine? How quickly do we respond, with how many troops? What will be the operational goals in the mission? Will the strategy be Populace or Threat Centric? What will the small unit tactics look like?.

  • Isn't that the one area where we already have the metrics needed to at least get in the door on preparations? (Law Enforcement, Detention, Social Services, etc)


    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
  • What capabilities do we need in order for the troops to successfully execute the strategy? What kind of logistic footprint will we need to support? What threats will they face? What weapons will be appropriate?.
  • Good question but how do you get the answer before your actually there.
    Would knowing what you don't need be a start?


    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    I don't care if its called "strategy" or "policy," but these questions must be answered if we are going to make intelligent, rational decisions about our needs for manpower, training and equipment. And I'm not referring to discussions inside the Pentagon. Those take place in response to Congress and POTUS saying "here's what you get." I'm referring to the public discussion that needs to take place about what role we, as a nation, plan to play in the world at large.

    Until we have that discussion, and answer the questions above, our entire defense structure, military, civil service and contractors, is going to be the random result political gamesmanship.
    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I submit that your excellent and well informed questions may be irrelevant.

    It like house keeping. No one works out what they need. You work with what you can afford. Military capability generally informs policy. Very rarely does policy inform capability.

    That's this Hedgehogs view!
    While I agree with both your points does that absolve us of the requirements to -
    - make do with what we have
    -fight for what we need, when we need it.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  • #27
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    While I agree with both your points does that absolve us of the requirements to -
    - make do with what we have
    -fight for what we need, when we need it.
    I don't think there is any absolution! It depends on whether you believe that there is a requirement to be able to be better with what you have and for that to point to what you need, before you need 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

  • #28
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    There are a few questions that have to be resolved or we're simply going to flail about, making decisions on the basis of force of personality and political maneuvering. Which, incidentally, is what we pretty much did (on both sides of the aisle) after the USSR imploded
    and it's also what we did after the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam and, as you point out, pretty much since 1989. Note that the Spanish American War is not on the list. That's because the Army screwed up so bad in that one that it got reinvented after the war. The Navy, OTOH, did real well and improved upon its successes.

    The Army also screwed up badly in Korea but it was an unsatisfactory tie on a political basis so the public screaming was muted. However, the Army did try to reinvent itself and really did fairly well -- but then we went to Viet Nam, forgot all we had learned over the previous six years and fouled up big time pretty much because the pre war 'planning' (there really wasn't any. Sound familiar?) had been based on the wrong assumptions (thus my caution on that topic below...). Unfortunately, the reinvention post Viet Nam got bogged down in domestic politics and thus was skewed and poorly executed...

    As you also point out, said domestic politics are still an effector. Always have been and likely always will be as long as we're around -- until a major trauma (we have not had one of those as a Nation since 1865) forces us to reinvent the government milieu to one extent or another.
    [*]And what will we do about them? If another genocide occurs will we intervene? Do we help defend country R? Do we want to have a naval task group in the area to quickly render assistance? Even more important, will we have a national consensus on the answers, or will we see one party, for example, commit to intervention and four years later the other party swears it won't?
    No one knows what we will do and the US political system does not lend itself to forcing a predictable answer.I'd also submit that the fact that no one knows what we will do is not a bad thing.
    [*]Is the US Army serious about the new FM 3-0? Does it really want a force capable of successfully executing all those missions across the complete spectrum of conflict?
    It better be serious. Consider how much different the last seven years might have ben had the Army been a full spectrum force. It is not that hard to do -- we've done it before but then, as we're prone to do, ignored all our careful planning and expensive training and did something else based primarily on domestic politics -- make no mistake, Viet Nam was more about domestic politics than anything else. So, to a far lesser extent, was Iraq.
    [*]After we answer those questions, the next set revolves around how we plan to execute the various mission profiles. i.e. What is our doctrine? How quickly do we respond, with how many troops? What will be the operational goals in the mission? Will the strategy be Populace or Threat Centric? What will the small unit tactics look like?
    You can ask for that much detail but I suggest that's an invitation to problems. Organizations, like people can get tunnel vision and target fixation. I believe those are valid questions and answers (plural) should be sought but I further believe that settling on one or two answers per question is unnecessarily limiting. Viet Nam as one example and Iraq as another resulted from such fixations -- note that one was initiated by someone from each political party.

    Consider also Bosnia/ Kosovo on the one hand and Darfur / Tomahawks to Afghanistan and Sudan on the other. All were short term, little warning events and arguably improper actions were taken in all four cases essentially for domestic political reasons. They are also noteworthy from the standpoint that the first two were probably overkill and the second two were inadequately responded to or poorly done -- all due to domestic political concerns.

    I can answer one of those questions, though -- small unit tactics will look just like they have for the last three hundred years unless someone invents a better weapon than the firearm.
    I don't care if its called "strategy" or "policy," but these questions must be answered if we are going to make intelligent, rational decisions about our needs for manpower, training and equipment. And I'm not referring to discussions inside the Pentagon. Those take place in response to Congress and POTUS saying "here's what you get." I'm referring to the public discussion that needs to take place about what role we, as a nation, plan to play in the world at large.

    Until we have that discussion, and answer the questions above, our entire defense structure, military, civil service and contractors, is going to be the random result political gamesmanship.
    I do not think you, we -- the nation -- can answer those questions sensibly. Nor do I think that most in this nation are willing to get involved in such a discussion -- until such time as they see an impact on themselves. Political, geostrategic and military junkies will debate those things for weeks if you let them (to little real effect) but the public at large isn't interested -- nor really, are most in Congress. Too many of them will get interested only when it effects their reelection prospects or the nation is in deep trouble -- not minor as the last 20 years or today but deep as in we have not been since 1943...

    Long way of saying I really do agree but history leads me to doubt it will happen and I believe that's probably okay. Not great; not even good -- but okay...

  • #29
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    As Ken pointed out, the flailing about is a staple of the history of America. I submit it also a staple of any government for the reason that Wilf pointed out--the future tends not to live up to our predictions.

    Asking the questions will at least make it seem like we are engaging in purposeful behavior before the fact. Answers to those questions, however, will still be derived from political gamesmanship.

    The process does have some cathartic value though. When the future does what it has done in the past--not turn out as anticipated when anticipated (this last is to Ron's point below), the inevitable witch hunt will ensue. Pundits will be able to hold up whoever gave the "wrong" answers as scapegoats, which (given the retributionist mindsets that cause folks to want to lock up others and throw away the key after they commit crimes) will make all feel better that something has been done to "fix" the problem.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
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  • #30
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A viewpoint from across the Atlantic

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    (taken from) I'm referring to the public discussion that needs to take place about what role we, as a nation, plan to play in the world at large.....Until we have that discussion, and answer the questions above, our entire defense structure, military, civil service and contractors, is going to be the random result political gamesmanship.
    I am not sure how much public discussion there has really been on the US or UK's national role; discussions within the 'Beltway' or Westminster are not a public discussion and rarely has the UK parliament debated national role. the last two I can recall were the second Gulf War and the Falklands; IMHO rather late for discussion of 'role'.

    Politicians and others make assessments of how much the public will tolerate. In the Cold War our (UK) national role appeared to be set in concrete, until economic factors intervened and the UK concentrated on Europe.

    I would suggest in the UK and Western Europe the commitments made to Afghanistan recognise the lack of public support, so are subject to limits of varying strengths.

    Clearly the UK has left behind a focus on Europe for having an expeditionary role; not just in Iraq (due to end in July), Afghanistan and smaller, discreet presences in places like Kenya, Oman and West Africa. "Punching above our weight" crops up regularly in Westminster-Whitehall explanations.

    No-one could have predicted the UK would have 8k troops in Afghanistan in 2009, six years after arriving; nor that Pakistan has become our No.1 foreign policy focus - the UK did after all leave South Asia in 1947.

    A different viewpoint from my armchair.

    davidbfpo

  • #31
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    David, your views to me as a fellow across the Pond are "right on" and lack of support inside the UK, which population is growing full of expatriate Muslims from your former colonies, the Raj era and since to and through 1947, daily increases as a percentage of your Brithish population, which of course politically has become very unhelpful to NATO and US goals and purproses.

    It matters not that President Obama vs. President Bush is leading our parade, it matters that somehow soonest finds a way to restore civil law and order is achieved without creating a Sharia State of Pakistan, which only builds from ex-Pakistan dictator General/President Huk's circa 1973 having amended the Paksitan Constitution to upgrade and implement Sharia Law as part of their national governance plan, legally!

    Now that the Paksitan Supreme Court mess is on the way to being settled, that same Court can help the Pakistan Parliament undo and re-change the Pakistani Constitution...that document and it's wording and language is key to our NATO plans and actions and must not be overlooked any longer.

    George Singleton
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 03-27-2009 at 03:29 PM.

  • #32
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    Default What kind of military strategy should a broke government pursue?

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    I don't care if its called "strategy" or "policy," but these questions must be answered if we are going to make intelligent, rational decisions about our needs for manpower, training and equipment. And I'm not referring to discussions inside the Pentagon. Those take place in response to Congress and POTUS saying "here's what you get." I'm referring to the public discussion that needs to take place about what role we, as a nation, plan to play in the world at large.

    Until we have that discussion, and answer the questions above, our entire defense structure, military, civil service and contractors, is going to be the random result political gamesmanship.
    This discussion won't take place, for the reasons others in the thread have given, but also I think because the public discussion - such as actually happen in the US - is going to dedicated to more pressing matters very soon now, like "how do we cope with the collapse of the economy?" Our strategy discussion can probably be held off until we know what drastically reduced economic circumstances will have to try to maintain some military capability under.
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

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