See stories about our obsolete military. Send money, stat!

Summary: The Department of Defense (DoD) needs an ever-increasing flow of money to support it and its family of contractors. This means using propaganda to feed our fears. They are very good at it, as these new stories show. Now, on to the new Cold War!

Military spending

Experts: The U.S. Military Is an ‘Antiques Roadshow’

By David Axe in The National Interest, 29 July 2019.
Axe is a military correspondent, graphic novelist, and filmmaker. Now Defense Editor at TNE.

“The U.S. military possesses way too much old, heavy weaponry that would be next to useless in a war with Russia or China, according to two experts at influential Washington, D.C. think tanks.”

Axe is (slightly) re-writing and juicing up propaganda from a bigger publication. Feel the money flow from the defense military contractors through think tanks to Congress and back to the contractors – multiplied along the way like the loaves and fishes.

Antiques Road Show: The Real State of the U.S. Military

By Thomas G. Mahnsken and Roger Zahheim in The Atlantic, 27 July 2019.
Mahnsken is CEO of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Zahheim is director of the Ronald Reagan Institute.

“The wars of the future may depend not so much on the kinds of things you can put on parade, but on new technologies that reimagine warfare.”

This is terrifying. They think we are gullible, and they might be right. These articles are daft in several ways. First, the age of our military equipment does not matter. What matters is its capabilities vs. those of other nations. Nobody has a combination of quality and quantity to equal America’s power on the land and sea and in the air (even more so combined with our allies). We have inadequate power to invade the other superpowers (even with our allies). But that would take insane levels of spending, and build such a miliary machine would provoke the mother of all arms races.

Second, the US military has a long history of threat inflation. Are we like Charlie Brown, always falling for Lucy’s ploy with the football?

The “bomber gap” – Americans were terrified about the vast numbers of Soviet M-4 (aka Bison) bombers, capable of attacking the US with atomic weapons. We built 2,000+ B-47s and almost 750 B-52s to match that vast enemy fleet of Soviet aircraft. But there was no such fleet. Anyway, the Bison could not reach the US. Most we used as tankers or for reconnaissance. Mission successful: DoD got the money!

The “missile gap” – Americans were terrified about the vast numbers of Soviet ICBM’s pointed at America. NIE 11-5-58 (September 1958) said that the USSR had “the technical and industrial capability … to have an operational capability with 100 ICBMs” in 1960 and 500 ICBMs “some time in 1961, or at the latest in 1962.” By September 1961, the CORONA satellites had found 25-50 ICBMs. Mission successful: DoD got the money! We had 800 Minuteman I ICBM’s by June 1965.

My personal favorite – Reading the 1 December 1958 issue of Aviation Week, we learned that the “Soviets Flight Testing Nuclear Bomber.” On Aviation Week, 19 January 1959, we learned that “the Russians were from three to five years ahead of the US in the field of atomic aircraft engines and that they would move even further ahead unless the US pressed forward with its own program.” This helped breath life into the Convair NB-36H, showing that an airplane could carry around a nuclear reactor. JFK realized that this was insane, and canceled the program in 1961.

The Soviet supersonic vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the Yakovlev Yak-141, terrified Americans as the Soviet Union was dying. But glutted with the Reagan defense splurge, DoD never exploited its potential. Just as well, since it never went into production.

Since DoD burns money, the threat inflation never ends. There were more examples until the neocons’ screams grew so loud that in 1976 President Ford approved the “Team B” project to evaluate Soviet military power. In 1976, this team of neocons forecast resurgent Soviet power. Most of these weapons were never built; the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Mission successful. DoD spending increased and many of the Team B members went on to big roles in the Reagan and Bush administrations.

For more about this see …

A reminder from the past

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about starting the Cold War. Truman did so in his famous speech on 12 March 1947. From Put yourself in Marshall’s place by James Warburg (he helped develop the US WWII propaganda programs).

The real obsolete military

Our military is as good or better than anybody else’s. But its methods are obsolete. As posts here and elsewhere have shown, they remain mired in WWI military theory (second generation warfare), and 1950s corporate personnel policies, and dysfunctional procurement methods. But there are no profits in reforming those systems. For more about this, see A path to desperately needed reform of the US military.

We have not won a war since WWII (although we have won battles). Wouldn’t it be great to win a war, occasionally?

“{DoD is} ready for wars past and future, but not present. The current military, an advanced version of the WWII force, is ready should the Imperial Japanese Navy return. It also has phenomenally advanced weaponry in the pipeline to take on a space-age enemy, perhaps from Mars, should one appear. It is only the present for which the US is not prepared.”

— Fred Reed, A True Son of Tzu.

FM’s career counseling for aspiring geopolitical experts

If Fabius Maximus were alive today, he would provide good career advice. Advocate war. Always. Everywhere. Any war is a good war, no matter how preposterous its justification.  Here we have a great example: “Why the U.S. Should Send Troops (and Spooks) to the Congo“, David Axe, writing at The Danger Room (gotta love that title) of Wired magazine on 20 September 2010. That’s the same Axe warning now about our antique weapons.

Axe barely bothered to state reasons, any more than Pavlov gave reasons to the dogs after ringing the bell. Perhaps Axe assumes that the American public has become so well-trained that little more than a dog whistle suffices, leading us to war. Injustice! Minerals! Easy victory! Ding – ding – ding!

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about FEAR, those about fighting propaganda, and these about lies by our leaders…

  1. Why we believe lies: A picture of America, showing a path to political reform.
  2. Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations.
  3. Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda.
  4. Amnesia and anger: one is the problem, the other the cure.
  5. Government officials’ lies erode the Republic’s foundation. Do we care?
  6. Important advice: Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America. About “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.

Essential books about our military machine

Augustine’s Laws by Norman Augustine (1982). He was CEO of Lockheed Martin and Undersecreary of the Army.

The Pentagon Labyrinth – Ten essays by ten experts to help you understand our military.

Augustine's Laws
Available at Amazon.
The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It
Available at Amazon.


9 thoughts on “See stories about our obsolete military. Send money, stat!”

  1. I’m sick of it as you are. What a scam.

    Saw most headlines days before on Drudge and PJM. NOKO, Iran, Russia, China they scream! It’s sad across the board. Bleating Generals.

    Boyd is spinning. So is Hackworth.

    1. Longtrail,

      “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”
      — Calvera, bandit leader in the movie The Magnificent Seven (1960)

      For men, being sheep is a choice. It is always about choice. Let’s either change or accept our fate – and don’t whine about it.

  2. It sure is a lot weapons and coin, keeping up with the Joneses military style.

    I mean, how many times can we get away with total annihilation? The stupidity of man.

      1. Larry,

        How many WMD would it take ourselves and Russia to do each other in? I don’t know the numbers but if it was 100 each, who needs 1000?

        The things that could be done at summit meetings with a stroke of a pen.

    1. Sven,

      This is a severe problem: the US military appears to have lost much of its ability to produce new weapons systems. The Army’s Future Combat System, the USMC’s amphibious tank, the USAF’s F-35, the Navy’s Zumwalt destroyer – the Army can’t even make good boots (soldiers buy them at camping goods stores).

      As I said in the post, the military doesn’t need new superweapons. It needs reform of its basic processes.

  3. So if US military equipment, vehicles, and bases are all obsolete, and if they are all more of a liability than an asset against future technological threats that would shut them down before they even activate and deploy, then that means the US should retire, dismantle, disband, close down, sell, and scrap all those antiquated rust buckets taking up resources and good will all over world, and then after that the US will save a lot of money by having a much leaner and more efficient armed force.
    That’s what Mr Axe is going for, right?

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