“Repair and Rebuild” makes all of the usual mistakes while adding some new ones. Like virtually all proposals for defense spending the document argues for the re-building of the old force with improved versions of existing equipment as the primary answer to the nation’s military needs. As a result, a national security strategy that explicitly identifies the United States vital national interests with supporting political-military goals is absent from the document. U.S. economic prosperity is once again divorced from national security. As in the past, “Repair and Rebuild” treats irregular opponents in ungoverned spaces, as well as, the military
modernization and transformation of potential nation-states as part of a global threat package that must be addressed by U.S. Military power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year after year. Naturally, there is no mention of the utter failure of this approach since 2001.
In sum, this document is not the expression of “Republican” Thinking. It’s a document created and produced in the depths of the Washington Swamp; another unfocused acquisition program that will be popular in the defense industrial sector and welcome on the Hill where the members’ appetite for self-enrichment from unfocused defense spending and ambiguous military commitments is insatiable. The open-ended character of the military commitments the document advocates is what the 32 Four Stars on active duty cherish. Here are three quick points that effectively summarize the content of the document:
1. The recommendations treat the current commitment of U.S. forces around the world in remote locations like Niger as a permanent condition for U.S. National Security. In other words, repeat the failures of the last 16 years in perpetuity. (The author quotes GEN (ret) Mattis saying, “Irregular methods—terrorism, insurgency, unrestricted warfare, guerrilla war, or coercion by narco-criminals—are increasing… This is our most likely opponent in the future.”) As seen in Niger, this is music to the ears of the SOF/Light Infantry community that is on autopilot in its quest for action in remote places of marginal to no strategic importance to the American People.
2. The recommendations treat the WW II/Cold War/Industrial Age Forces as unchanging answers to contemporary and future threats. The author insists on the “Procurement of additional Paladin upgrades and JLTVs should be pursued, as well as an across-the-board expansion and acceleration of Army rotary-wing purchases and upgrades”). This recommendation is made at a point in time when rotary wing aviation is clearly on the path to extinction and a wide range of new stand-off attack systems (Loitering Munitions, Rocket Artillery, Unmanned Strike) are rapidly supplanting investments in tube artillery. A billion dollars for trucks (JLTVs) designed to carry light infantry is reminiscent of making the horse cavalry in 1936 relevant for war in 1941;
3. In another section the author argues that the Army must “build slack into its force structure to support the massive requirements of a potential campaign on the Korean peninsula.” Assuming (as the author does) “NO CHANGE” in warfare since 1953, regaining the strength to refight the Korean Conflict on industrial age terms would entail and expansion of the US Army’s Active Force to sustain at least 200,000 soldiers in combat on the Korean Peninsula or adding almost 600,000 soldiers to the Active Army. Fortunately, warfare has changed. Modern technology makes a difference, but unless we organize to exploit new technology differently, we confront bankruptcy in peacetime and certain defeat in future war.
4. The recommendations treat the selective infusion of new technologies into old structures as the solution to future warfighting requirements. The author says, “The Navy must hone the carrier air wing of the future for use in high-end conflict, capable of conducting the full range of missions in contested environments.” Given the proliferation of new technologies, this is mission impossible. Even the Navy’s Admirals will admit privately that the commitment of large carriers is increasingly limited to permissive environments. Why not halt investment in more carriers and demand experimentation with new designs that may have some chance of survival in a future major war?
However, the author offers the reader what she considers good news: “Of the $9.5 trillion in new debt the Congressional Budget Office expects the United States to accrue by 2027, additional defense spending outlined in Repair and Rebuild would represent only 6 percent of that increase.” Given many decades of experience in Washington, DC, I leave it to readers to determine whether this “good news” is reality based.
RECOMMENDATION” READ if you must, then, DESPAIR and THROW AWAY this publication.