Summary: We must restructure America’s grand strategy for many reasons. Most notably, to achieve an effective defense and balance the Federal budget. Here we discuss the two steps necessary to make this happen, starting with important new articles by Douglas Macgregor.
Doug Macgregor (Colonel, US Army, retired) has an important two part article at the Foreign Policy website, one well-worth reading:
- “Lean Mean Fighting Machine“
- “A Radical Plan for Cutting the Defense Budget and Reconfiguring the Military“
As we grapple with our unsustainable fiscal deficit, re-imagining our defense posture become imperative. Otherwise we’ll make cuts based on political factors, cuts based on minimizing the effect the defense contractors and careers of the senior admirals and generals. Who are enemies? What’s needed to defend against them?
Another, more detailed proposal is A Swift, Elusive Sword by Chet Richards (Colonel, USAF, retired):
This study of national security and military strategy suggests that ancient strategic wisdom may help solve the dilemma confronting the U.S. military: spending on defense exceeds that of any combination of potential adversaries, but the services still face cancellation of weapon systems and lack of funds for training, spares, and care and feeding of the troops. Richards suggests U.S. military leaders can break out of the “dollars equals defense” mindset, and create more effective forces.
Unfortunately imagining an effective solution is usually the easy part of America’s current problems. Can we implement any solution? The history of the 21st century so far suggests that we’re missing the link between idea and realization. The missing link is in our minds.
The problem is political, breaking the powerful economic forces that benefit from the roughly one trillion dollars per year we spend on defense and intelligence. They will fight any real attempts at reform. Insider attempting to change the system put their career at risk. As Mr. Aesop explains.
At a grocer’s shop there were a mice everywhere. People didn’t want to come to his shop anymore. So the grocer got a cat. She chased the mice and ate some each day. The mice lived in fear and hunger.
The mice held a meeting to discuss what to do. Many ideas were proposed, but none that would work. Then a young mouse suggested that someone tie a bell on the cat’s collar when she was asleep. The bell would ring and warn them of the cat’s approach.
Everybody applauded this fine idea. In the silence that followed, the oldest cat spoke. “Who will bell the cat?”
All the mice looked at each other. And the meeting was over.
It’s Liebig’s law of the minimum. Life — the process of growth and change — is limited by what is necessary and most scarce. Ideas how we can reform DOD — good, insightful ideas — are plentiful. Ideas how to make reform happen are scarce.
Let’s end this on a positive note. What’s the center of gravity to the military-industrial-complex? That is, what “provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act.” It’s our — the American people’s — desire for imperial grandeur and safety through war. Only when that changes will reform become possible.
For more information
Other posts about the work of Douglas Macgregor
- Colonel Macgregor sums up the state of the Iraq War, 2 July 2008
- Important reading for every American who wishes to understand our foreign wars, 7 April 2009
- Powerful and insightful new articles by Macgregor, 10 October 2009
- Macgregor sketches out the global geopolitical picture for us, 18 May 2010 — Includes links to many of his articles.