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Department of Defense’s death spiral




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November 14, 2013 | 1,972 views | 10 comments

By Dr. Earl Tilford

Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the United States was too strong. -- Ronald Reagan

The American armed forces are in a death spiral. The potential danger far exceeds the health insurance debacle occurring in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Defense is as susceptible to the effects of onerous, ideologically driven policies as the economy and the health system. The implications of the DoD’s death spiral are possibly even more devastating.

President Obama’s administration seems to be at war with its military leadership. In the past five years, Obama has sacked more senior officers than all other presidents combined. It wasn’t until the last 60 years that the United States was considered a top military power. Today, the American military is on the verge of becoming weaker than it was in 1939 when Hitler started his European rampage and Japan pushed its aggression into Asia.

The U.S. military’s descent into second-rate status already surpasses the “hollow force” of President Jimmy Carter’s era. After eight years of military cuts overseen by President Clinton, whose concept of defense had more to do with lawyers and juries than military strength, President George W. Bush found himself in the unfortunate position of having to respond to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. The initially superb response was then driven into a fantasyland of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Oct. 2001, had the U.S. kept to the original plan, American forces would have left Afghanistan before the end of the year with al Qaeda crushed and Osama bin Laden captured or killed. One problem was not clearly identifying the enemy as al Qaeda and the nations or groups that supported them. Another problem was not deploying enough force to find, fix, and annihilate al Qaeda. As is well known, the “War on Terror” devolved into a long struggle during which the terrorists morphed into a worldwide network posing a global threat to American interests. Over time, the will of the American public weakened validating Gen. George C. Marshall’s contention that, “A democracy cannot fight a Seven Years War.”

The lack of a clearly defined strategic objective resulted in the move into Iraq. After a quick march to Baghdad the war could have ended with “mission accomplished” and a U.S. exit. Instead, the decision was made to remake Afghanistan and Iraq into bourgeois democracies; these were doomed objectives, given that neither society possessed a viable middle class, history of democratic politics, or a mindset inclined to accept fundamental human freedom and liberty. Forgetting that Afghanistan had long ago earned the reputation of being “the place where empires go to die,” the U.S. found itself in two wars simultaneously, fighting enemies adept at asymmetric strategies and who were determined to destroy infidel invaders.

While American commanders eventually concocted fairly effective operational strategies in Afghanistan and Iraq, in neither case did U.S. forces benefit from clear strategic goals or useful operational milestones. Salient lessons from Vietnam were forgotten: A strategy focused on “not losing,” rather than pursuing victory, results in defeat and small tactical victories cannot overcome a weak strategy. Meanwhile, a legion of lawyers, backed by policy wonks, looked over our commanders’ shoulders as they tried to figure out ways to defeat a tough collection of international enemies from the mountains of Afghanistan to the streets of Benghazi. Moreover, because President Barack Obama has been unwilling to make the critical financial investment needed to keep the U.S. a top military power, the American defense establishment entered its current death spiral.

The Army is smaller than it was in 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea. The Navy has half the combat vessels it had 15 years ago. American combat aircraft--Air Force and Navy--are rusting on the runways. The American nuclear arsenal, last updated in the early 1990s, ages while Russia modernizes its arsenal and China expands its global reach. Combat tested junior and mid-level officers and non-commissioned officers, vital to the future leadership of our armed forces, are opting for more promising careers elsewhere. Senior officers courageous enough to resist the inanity of politically correct polices are retiring--if they haven’t been forced out already.

The military weakness admired by the extreme left invites aggression from terrorists and possible hegemons in Teheran, Beijing, and Moscow. The potential costs of weakness are far greater than the expense of being strong.

Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he is writing a history of the University of Alabama in the 1960s. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism. © 2013 by The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The views & opinions
expressed herein may, but do not necessarily, reflect the views of Grove City College.
 
« Previous Blog Entry (November 13, 2013)
 


Your Opinions and Comments

 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
November 18, 2013 4:09pm
 
 
New Guy.....If you are talking about the doctor's article about JFK changing military tactics, what parts do you consider to be in left field ?
 
 
Ex-Tiger  
CA  
November 18, 2013 3:45pm
 
 
New Guy,

Which article are you referring to?
 
 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
November 18, 2013 3:44pm
 
 
The US Military is the most powerful military and the
most feared adversary on this globe. Of course the
lobbyists of the military-industrial complex will
continue their ... Read More Read More
 
 
New Guy  
Wilson County  
November 18, 2013 3:01pm
 
 
Ex-Tiger: Read Dr. Tilford's Kennedy's article. He is on left base with that one too.
 
 
Ex-Tiger  
CA  
November 18, 2013 10:07am
 
 
I don't believe Dr. Tilford has gathered or better yet has access to all the facts. While I am not an Obama supporter I will say that military cut backs began way before ... Read More Read More
 
 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
November 18, 2013 8:48am
 
 
For those who advocate unlimited spending by our
military-industrial complex, I suggest that you read
a soldier and a president thoughts expressed by
Dwight D. Eisenhower ... Read More Read More
 
 
PRAIRIE GROUCH  
GRAND PRAIRIE TX  
November 18, 2013 8:05am
 
 
The use of troop numbers is often misleading when considering military strength. . The tremendous increase in firepower should also be a factor. I think that ... Read More Read More
 
 
Ms. S. V.  
Floresville  
November 17, 2013 12:25pm
 
 
LIKE, Richard Martinez!
 
 
Richard Martinez  
Floresville, TX  
November 17, 2013 10:46am
 
 
Support our troops, or feel free to stand in front of them if you feel you can do a better job.
 
 
Warren Domke  
Pleasanton, TX  
November 15, 2013 7:16pm
 
 
An excellent commentary that should concern every American who cares about this country. The size of our military establishment is one cause for concern, but we should also ... Read More Read More
 

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