“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.