Posts Tagged ‘Pentagon Budget’

The lasting military legacy of the Trump era

December 7, 2020

President Trump lasting military legacy, according to  Michael T. Klare, is not how Trump waged or failed to wage the global war on terror.

It is something far different—the conversion of the U.S. military from a global counterterror force into one designed to fight an all-out, cataclysmic, potentially nuclear war with China and/or Russia.

In the Cold War years, Western strategists generally imagined a contest of brute strength in which our tanks and artillery would battle theirs along hundreds of miles of front lines until one side or the other was thoroughly depleted and had no choice but to sue for peace (or ignite a global nuclear catastrophe).

Today’s strategists, however, imagine far more multidimensional (or “multi-domain”) warfare extending to the air and well into rear areas, as well as into space and cyberspace.  In such an environment, they’ve come to believe that the victor will have to act swiftly, delivering paralyzing blows to what they call the enemy’s C3I capabilities (critical command, control, communications, and intelligence) in a matter of days, or even hours.

Only then would powerful armored units be able to strike deep into enemy territory and, in true Patton fashion, ensure a Russian defeat.  The U.S. military has labeled such a strategy “all-domain warfare” and assumes that the U.S. will indeed dominate space, cyberspace, airspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum.

In a future confrontation with Russian forces in Europe, as the doctrine lays it out, U.S. air power would seek control of the airspace above the battlefield, while using guided missiles to knock out Russian radar systems, missile batteries, and their C3I facilities.  The Army would conduct similar strikes using a new generation of long-range artillery systems and ballistic missiles.

Only when Russia’s defensive capabilities were thoroughly degraded would that Army follow up with a ground assault, Patton-style.

Russia is a nuclear power on a par with the United States, and China also has nuclear weapons.  So the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called for development of a new generation of unclear weapons, including battlefield weapons.

 It called for the introduction of two new types of nuclear munitions: a “low-yield” warhead (meaning it could, say, pulverize Lower Manhattan without destroying all of New York City) for a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile and a new nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile.

President Trump scrapped the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which limited short-range nuclear missiles in Europe.  He has refused to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires Feb. 5, 2021—just two weeks after Joe Biden’s inauguration.

At best, this commits the United States to an expensive new arms race at a time when government on all levels is short of money to maintain basic infrastructure and provide for basic needs.  At worst, it threatens a nuclear war that would destroy industrial civilization and a large fraction of the human race.

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Blood and treasure: Links & comments 9/10/14

September 10, 2014

Getting into is easier than getting out of.

Tonight President Obama will outline his policy for dealing with the so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL), the murderous jihadists who have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

There are many questions to answer.

Is ISIS is the USA’s top enemy, does that change U.S. policy toward the governments of Syria and Iraq?

Can the U.S. intervene once again in the Middle East without positioning ISIS as the defender of Arab and Muslim freedom from foreign invaders?

Can the United States wage war by means of special operations teams, flying killer robots and arms aid to selected foreign proxies?

I can’t see any good answers to any of these questions, and I doubt if the President can, either.

Pentagon Can’t Pay For Itself Amid Budget Woes, Increased World Conflicts by Paul D. Shinkman for U.S. News and World Report.  (via Rochester Business Journal)

The USA spends a greater part of its national income, by far, than any other country on our military.  Yet a Washington think tank called the Center for Strategic and Budget Analysis says that the Department of Defense cannot carry out all its missions, including protecting Ukraine, fighting the Islamic State and counterbalancing China, within its existing budget.  Either the budget must grow or the missions must shrink.

Murky Special Ops Have Become Corporate Bonanza, Says Report by Ryan Gallagher for The Intercept.

The U.S. Special Operations Command has spent billions of dollars on contractors to support killer drones, surveillance technology and psychological warfare.   The more the U.S. government outsources war-making, the more vested interests there will be in waging war.

U.S. treads on Islamic State minefield by Ehsan Ahrari for Asia Times.

Why Does the U.S. Support Saudi Arabia, Sponsor of Islamic Terrorism? on Washington’s Blog.

Obama strategy to beat Islamic State likely to draw U.S. into years of conflict by Hannah Allam and Jonathan S. Landay for McClatchy newspapers.

Defeating the Islamic State Is Going to be Kind of a Pain by Ryan Faith of Vice News.

To repeat: Getting into is easier than getting out of.

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President Obama and the Pentagon budget

January 15, 2013
Military-spending-sequester

Double click to enlarge.

Give President Obama credit where credit is due.  He is making a good-faith effort to reduce the federal budget deficit, including reducing the Pentagon budget.  Ross Douthat wrote a good article in Sunday’s New York Times about Obama’s goals.

As both his critics and admirers argue, the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense last week tells us something important about Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy.  But so does the man who was nominated alongside Hagel, to far less controversy and attention: John Brennan, now head of the White House’s counterterrorism efforts, and soon to be the director of the C.I.A.

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat

Both men were intimately involved in foreign policy debates during George W. Bush’s administration, but had very different public profiles.  As a C.I.A. official, Brennan publicly defended some of Bush’s most controversial counterterrorism policies, including the “rendition” of terror suspects for interrogation in foreign countries.  As a senator, Hagel was one of the few prominent Republicans to (eventually) turn against the war in Iraq.  Now it’s fitting that Obama has nominated them together, because his foreign policy has basically synthesized their respective Bush-era perspectives.

Like the once-hawkish Hagel, Obama has largely rejected Bush’s strategic vision of America as the agent of a sweeping transformation of the Middle East, and retreated from the military commitments that this revolutionary vision required.  And with this retreat has come a willingness to make substantial cuts in the Pentagon’s budget — cuts that Hagel will be expected to oversee.

But the Brennan nomination crystallizes the ways in which Obama has also cemented and expanded the Bush approach to counterterrorism.  Yes, waterboarding is no longer with us, but in its place we have a far-flung drone campaign — overseen and defended by Brennan — that deals death, even to American citizens, on the say-so of the president and a secret administration “nominations” process. … …

To the extent that it’s possible to define an “Obama Doctrine,” then, it’s basically the Hagel-Brennan two-step.  Fewer boots on the ground, but lots of drones in the air. Assassination, yes; nation-building, no.  An imperial presidency with a less-imperial global footprint.

via The Obama Synthesis.

I’d like to add that military spending should be sufficient to allow the armed forces to carry out their mission.  The requirement is necessarily going to be much more if the mission is to dominate the globe as the world’s only military superpower than if it is to defend the homeland from attack and protect American citizens.

What is President Obama’s concept of the military’s mission?  As near as I can tell, he wants to wind down the war in Afghanistan as he did the one in Iraq, and he does not intend to invade any new countries, but he retains the option of using covert action and flying killer drones to attack America’s enemies, real and perceived.  I’d guess that this is what the American public would want him to do.

I am reminded of the Eisenhower administration, which reduced Pentagon spending, ended the Korean War and refrained from intervening in Vietnam, but used the CIA to overthrow the governments of Iran and Guatemala and threatened America’s Communist adversaries with “massive retaliation” with nuclear weapons, as a cost-saving alternative to use of ground troops.

President Eisenhower in the end met with Nikita Khrushchev, and all the Presidents after him also held summit meetings until Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev ended the Cold War.  I wish, but do not expect, that President Obama would do the same with the rulers of Iran.  He would need much greater moral courage than President Eisenhower did, because he would not be able to count on the bipartisan support that Eisenhower received.

I expect President Obama will continue to wage economic warfare, covert warfare and cyber warfare against Iran, while refraining from invading with troops or bombing from the air.

Click on The Obama Synthesis for Ross Douthat’s full article.

Click on What Chuck Hagel needs to know for analysis by Brad Plumer in the Washington Post, and the source of the chart.

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