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America’s Military: The Tactical Evolutionary Lag and the Price Being Paid for It

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“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies,
in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower – “The Chance for Peace,” Apr. 16, 1953

Throughout the history of military conflict, there is a definitive lag in the evolution of strategy and tactics that corresponds directly to weapon design, as well as the perceived enemy of the future and the political/military leadership whose responsibility it is to enact said change. When this basic premise is ignored and the lag occurs on the battlefield, it costs thousands of lives and the loss of incalculable supplies. When it is ignored on the home front, it can bankrupt a nation.

Take for example the shift from Napoleonic tactics, which truly didn’t occur until the end of World War I. The reasonable conclusion for any student of warfare should have been obvious after the bloody massacres involved with easily movable artillery, improved communications, and rifled repeating fire weaponry during the American Civil War. Yet we find the same basic Napoleonic tactics play out in the muddy trenches of France, costing the lives of thousands because of an inability to recognize the evolution of technology versus tactics and strategy .

My point? Why are we still funding a massive military-industrial complex long after the strategic enemies of the cold war no longer exist? Have not the essential threats to the defense and liberty of the United States changed? Are we still concerned about massive land battles involving multiple divisions of tanks or great infantry conflicts with each side marshaling its forces for wave after wave of assaults?

Defense Secretary Robert Gates readily acknowledges in The New York Times the reality for our military to shift, “As the prospects for another head-on clash of large mechanized land armies seem less likely, the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations.”  Twelve days earlier, Secretary Gates testified before Congress that without a whopping 670.8 billion dollar budget a “crisis” within our military is sure to follow. It is this bipolar attitude towards the business of war in our country that is causing the modern lag in the evolution of our military needs.

I realize that there are some fundamental changes that need to occur in our country, that will guarantee positive growth and have nothing to do with the military or its budget.  Little or no production capabilities go hand-in-hand with rampant unemployment. Add an undereducated population with an insatiable need for consumption, and an aging infrastructure which is crumbling around us on a daily basis; all are terrible civil issues which must be addressed before any real growth in America can truly be recognized.  This does not however, take anything away from my belief that tremendous growth can be achieved if our politicians could break this vicious cycle of propping up a bloated, outdated model of what the military wants to be and convert it into what the military needs to be.

In this age of terrorism and electronic warfare, the need to continue support for a large military is strangling the life out of our country economically and putting us at a disadvantage militarily. These are not conflicts that can be defeated with a sprawling military body.  These are shadow wars fought in darkened streets and crowded train stations; conflicts of intelligence and special operations that require the delicate hand of a surgeon, not the brute force of a hundred thousand boots on the ground.

It is time for our government to see the realities of what war as a business has done to our country and right the wrong before its too late.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower – Military-Industrial Complex speech, 1961


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About C. David Apgar

  • Glenn Contrarian


    I’m retired Navy, and I’ve often said that as much as I love my Navy – and it is my Navy! – we need to decommission our hideously-expensive carrier fleet which is the single biggest-ticket item in the military.

    But it’s politically impossible – the conservatives and the military-industrial complex would just about revolt over it, and my fellow liberals don’t have the guts to make it happen.

  • Clavos

    Always the conservatives…talk about Johnny-One-Note…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Always complains about me complaining about conservatives in the POLITICS section of BC…

    …but did he contribute anything to refute what I said? No, and I’m fairly sure that’s because he knows that what I said is quite true.

    P.S. Clav – if you want to see articles and comments where I don’t complain about conservatives, check out articles I’ve written OUTSIDE of the Politics section. Just a thought….

  • Clavos

    But it’s politically impossible – the conservatives and the military-industrial complex would just about revolt over it, and my fellow liberals don’t have the guts to make it happen.

    There’s no need to refute that, it’s only unsubstantiated personal opinion.

    if you want to see articles and comments where I don’t complain about conservatives, check out articles I’ve written OUTSIDE of the Politics section…

    I have Glenn. And I’ve noticed that in a fair portion of them, too, you never pass up an opportunity to bash those who disagree with your politics.

  • I don’t know why you bother, Clavos, it’s like talking to a wall, and to say that is not to fault Glenn for his good intentions. It’s just that aside from his racial re-awakening, no original thought had crossed his mind ever since.

  • To start thank you all for reading my article!
    This is part of what is causing the evolutionary lag I wrote about in this article. The obsession in this country with two party politics is killing all of us economically, intellectually, and militarily. This is not a conservative or liberal issue, not a republican or democrat issue, this is an American issue. We all need to leave the stale two party rederick behind and find a new way of fixing an old problem.
    Before some mistakes what I am saying…I belong to no parties, I am not a tea bagger nor a libertarian, I am an American and a patriot. I vote on the issues regardless of who’s banner is flying behind the person. I believe in our country wholeheartedly and just realize that there comes a time when change is more important that the status quo.
    Thank you.

  • Yeah, that “stale two party rederick” has outlived its usefulness, alright.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    You’re getting very good at shooting the messenger, rather than paying any real attention to the message other than pooh-poohing it away.

    Roger –

    Go ahead and say what you will as you join Clavos in shooting the messenger. I once held your opinion in high regard…but not so much anymore since your conduct towards me in the past six months has been more like the insecure kid in a schoolyard who joins the local bully in tearing down the other kid who’s not so cool. I’ve got a lot more respect for those who insist on remaining who and what they are, whose conduct towards others does not change. Like Clavos, for one.

    And for both of you –

    The fact that a person has a message and sticks to that message does not mean that message is wrong. But of course that doesn’t keep either of you from shooting the messenger.

  • Clavos

    The fact that a person has a message and sticks to that message does not mean that message is wrong.

    I know; it’s why I stick to mine.

  • Clavos

    And speaking of shooting the messenger, isn’t that what you’ve just done?


  • Glenn, I just don’t like your message. Or have you considered perhaps that the messenger leaves a lot to be desired and in the process, distorts the message.

    I don’t hold any animosity toward you as a person. I only respond to the content.

  • Actually, it’s a lie. I still intend to shake you out of your boots.

  • Clavos

    LOL, Roger…

  • I’m still subscribing, Clav, to the old-fashioned concept that all communications are personal, even among pixels. Once I give up on that idea, you will be within you rights to call me Mr. Kurtz.

  • Clavos

    May that day never come…

  • Boeke

    Good article, Apgar. I share your concerns that our old-fashioned military establishment is both a threat to our economy and an ineffective protection force. Both are threats to our National Security

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I don’t hold any animosity toward you as a person. I only respond to the content.

    Perhaps not animosity, but certainly disdain and perhaps even contempt. So…no. Once respect is lost, it’s very hard to regain.

  • Tom de lounge

    It is politically impossible – the conservatives and the military-industrial revolt that nearly ended, and my fellow liberals do not have the courage to make that happen.

  • David,

    I share your concerns and I think you have made important points. But I urge you to try, instead of looking at these things as the problems, looking at them as the symptoms of the problems. Why, for example, do you think we have a consumption obsessed society or a military industrial complex that is receiving so much money?

    It seems to me the problems you discuss are not self-existent and cannot be changed in and of themselves. Their causes must be addressed and changed.

  • @17

    I hear you, Glenn, no doubt got carried away. But as you can see from subsequent comments, persons are more important to me than their ideas, right or wrong. I still subscribe to that premise and promise to do better.

  • Cindy,

    Thank you so much for reading my article!
    I think I know exactly where you are going on this and I agree the big “C” word, capitalism are the source of many issues in our society. However it is also an integral part of the make up of our society and we need to learn how to regulate said system correctly.
    America is never going to shift away from what made it great in the first place. Which, in my opinion, is that a man or woman can do anything through the sweat of their own brow and the wealth incurred from it. My father is a vietnam vet with an 8th grade education, a retired steelworker, and has managed to make a very comfortable life for himself because he understood the system and what it took to make it work. It can happen for anyone, if they are willing to put the work into it.
    If I am wrong in my assumption of what you meant, I apologize.
    You have a great day!


  • cindy


    Setting aside the issue of whether or not we live in a meritocracy aided by capitalism, I would like try to make my point a smidgeon clearer.

    Let’s take this point: you say that our society is focused on
    consumerism. I am suggesting that there is a reason for that. The reason doesn’t go anything like, “they don’t make people like they used to”. Let me try again; it isn’t that people have just decided to become obsessed with consumption because of some personal flaw. The system of capitalism creates this effect.

    They say children are not learning. I say they are learning exactly what ‘we’ are teaching them. When you look at a children’s
    television station closely, what do you see there? How about advertising aimed at teens?

    Do you realize that capitalists have spent millions upon millions of dollars determining how best to manipulate children to make them believe they need things? Do you also realize that how they most often do this is to link products with personal identity and that they prey on children’s needs for social acceptance, such that it becomes imperative for children to look a certain way and own certain things to feel okay?

    Do you think the child, with his budding social self entering the scene with all his questions and needs is any match for a concerted effort backed by millions of dollars of research to manipulate him?

  • cindy

    I should have said, C. instead of David.

  • Cindy,

    To start thank you for noticing that I sign things with my first initial. I am not a big fan of my first name but David is definitely my father’s name.

    I do realize and appreciate the validity of your examples, but my article is not an attack on capitalism nor a defense of it.

    I defer to the great Ferris Bueller to explain my feelings on this particular debate:

    “Isms”, in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an “ism”. He should believe in himself. John Lennon said it on his first solo album. “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.”

    Again thank you for reading, and have a great evening,

    C. David Apgar