America’s Defense Meltdown
This announcement was cross-posted from the Defense and the National Interest website (DNI).
Sometime within the next few weeks, the Center for Defense Information will publish a major anthology by the A-List of the shadow defense establishment. This is a unique volume by a collection of authors that have never collaborated to this degree before and, it is safe to predict, will never again. They include:
- Chet Richards (Colonel, USAF, retired), author of several books including (most recently) If We Can Keep It, Editor of DNI.
- Tom Christie, close colleague of John Boyd’s, co-author of the energy maneuverability papers, and my boss at the TACAIR shop in PA&E.
- Bob Dilger, guru of the A-10’s gun, the GAU-8, and who showed how competition could reduce the cost of munitions by 90% while improving quality; long-time advocate for close air support.
- Bruce Gudmundsson, retired Marine and author of seven books, including the classic Stormtroop Tactics(available from the DNI book store).
- Bill Lind, who needs no introduction to DNI’s readers.
- Doug Macgregor, hero of 73 Easting, author of Breaking the Phalanx and Transformation Under Fire.
- John Sayen, also retired Marine, author, and one of the best military analysts writing today (he and Doug Macgregor co-reviewed my chapter).
- Pierre Sprey, another of Boyd’s closest colleagues, driving force behind the A-10 and a major influence on the F-16. Now runs Mapleshade Studios in Maryland.
- Jim Stevenson, long-time author, publisher, and defense analyst; wrote the classic study of defense program mismanagement on the A-12.
- Don Vandergriff, another author who needs no introduction; probably the leading expert on instituting leadership programs for 4GW (see an archive of his work here).
- GI Wilson, another colleague of Boyd’s, member of the team that put together FMFM-1, and co-author of the paper that coined the term “fourth generation warfare.”
- Winslow Wheeler, who also edited the volume, long-time congressional staffer, and author of another classic, The Wastrels of Defense.
Here, attached (PDF), is the Table of Contents, Preface, and Executive Summary. Donald Vandergriff has posted the Executive Summary at his website. More information is coming soon on how to obtain the complete volume when it’s published.
Opening of the Preface
The vast majority, perhaps even all, of Congress, the general officer corps of the armed forces, top management of American defense manufacturers, prominent members of Washington’s think-tank community and nationally recognized “defense journalists” will hate this book. They will likely also urge that it be ignored by both parties in Congress and especially by the new president and his incoming national security team.
It is not just that following the recommendations of this book will mean the cancellation of numerous failing, unaffordable and ineffective defense programs, as well as the jobs, and more importantly careers, those programs enable. The acceptance of data and analysis presented in this book, and the conclusions and recommendations that flow from them, would require the elite of Washington’s national security community to acknowledge the many flaws in their analysis of weapons, Pentagon management and leadership of the nation in a tumultuous world. In too many cases, it would also require those elites to admit their own role in the virtual meltdown of America’s defenses.
The mere notion of a “meltdown” within the U.S. military may seem ridiculous to many. America’s armed forces are surely the best in the world, perhaps even in history. Democrats and Republicans, liberals, moderates and conservatives in Washington all agree on at least that. On what basis does a bunch of lesser known, if not obscure, analysts make such a preposterous assertion? Our equipment is the most sophisticated and effective in the world. We easily whipped one of the largest armies in the Middle East, not once but twice, and we have now clearly mastered a once difficult and ugly situation in Iraq. Success in Afghanistan will not be far away, once we devote the proper resources there. Those who take comfort in the last three sentences are the people who need to read and consider the contents of this book the most. Reflect on the following:
America’s defense budget is now larger in inflation adjusted dollars than at any point since the end of World War II, and yet our Army has fewer combat brigades than at any point in that period, our Navy has fewer combat ships and the Air Force has fewer combat aircraft. Our major equipment inventories for these major forces are older on average than at any point since 1946; in some cases they are at all-time historical highs in average age. …
If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below. You may find answers to your questions in these.
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For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
- about Military, political, and strategic theory
- about The Essential 4GW reading list: Donald Vandergriff
- a review of If We Can Keep It by Chet Richards.
Posts on the FM site about Grand Strategy and National Security:
Does America need a grand strategy? If so, what should it be? Answers to these questions illuminate many of the questions hotly debated about foreign policy and national security.
- The Myth of Grand Strategy , 31 January 2006
- America’s Most Dangerous Enemy , 1 March 2006
- The Fate of Israel , 28 July 2006
- Why We Lose at 4GW , 4 January 2007
- America takes another step towards the “Long War” , 24 July 2007
- One step beyond Lind: What is America’s geopolitical strategy? , 28 October 2007
- ABCDs for today: About Blitzkrieg, COIN, and Diplomacy , 21 February 2008
- One telling similarity between the the Wehrmacht and the US Military , 10 March 2008
- America needs a Foreign Legion , 18 April 2008
- Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW , original September 2005; revised 30 May 2008
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part I , 19 March 2007; revised 7 June 2008
- How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part II , 14 June 2008
- America’s grand strategy: lessons from our past , 30 June 2008 – chapter 1 in a series of notes
- President Grant warns us about the dangers of national hubris , 1 July 2008 – chapter 2
- America’s grand strategy, now in shambles , 2 July 2008 — chapter 3
- America’s grand strategy, insanity at work , 7 July 2008 — chapter 4
- Justifying the use of force, a key to success in 4GW , 8 July 2008 – chapter 5
- A lesson in war-mongering: “Maritime Strategy in an Age of Blood and Belief” , 8 July 2008 — chapter 6
- Geopolitical analysis need not be war-mongering , 9 July 2008 — chapter 7
- The world seen through the lens of 4GW (this gives a clearer picture) , (10 July 2008 — chapter 8
- Thoughts on fixing America’s national security apparatus , 11 August 2008
- No coins, no COIN, 6 October 2008