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Our shrinking and overworked military can barely pass inspection

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The U.S. military is not equipped for the threats it will face. Dakota L. Wood writes:

The sustained counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism, security/stability, and train/advise/assist missions of the past 17 years haven’t required U.S. forces to deal with an enemy that possesses combat aircraft, a navy of any sort, armored formations, missiles, or even multiple launch rocket artillery. In short, we’re out of practice.

Russia and China have these capabilities in large numbers. Worse, they’re rapidly improving them each year, augmenting them with unmanned systems, cyber warfare tools, space-based systems, robust conventional missile systems and, let’s not forget, deep inventories of nuclear weapons.

The Army is just now getting a handle on what it will take for its operational units to gain competency in major land operations. It has invested heavily in realistic training for its heavy brigades at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, Calif. That’s good, obviously, but the learning curve has been steep, and they are only now discovering just how far they need to go to regain the big-battle competence of the Army they used to have.

The Marine Corps is wrestling with the implications of a naval campaign against a major competitor like China. Initial insights indicate that its portfolio of ground equipment and weapons, and supporting vessels operated by the Navy, may have to substantially change to be relevant in highly contested waters.

The Air Force is challenged by too few planes and a large deficit in pilots. During the Cold War, pilots would typically need 200 or more training flight hours to be considered competent for the rigors of air battle against their Soviet counterparts. Today, the average fighter pilot gets less than 140 hours per year. F-35A pilots are averaging roughly 75 hours a year.

The Navy has plans to grow its fleet from 285 ships to 355. But it takes time to build ships, even after you get the necessary funding, so we shouldn’t expect this needed fleet to be reached until the year 2050. By comparison, China is on track to achieve a fleet of 350 ships by 2020. With no reduction in the demand for U.S. navy ships in key seas stretching from the Sea of Japan to the North Atlantic, the Navy is hard pressed to catch up on years of deferred maintenance, which limits its ability to improve ship availability for the training it needs to prepare for “great power competition” and to slow the aging of the vessels its does have in the fleet.

[Dakota L. Wood, “Our Shrinking and Overworked Military Can Barely Pass Inspection“ Chicago Tribune, October 4]

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Trump has increased the Pentagon budget by BILLIONS.
    We’re now spending about TWO BILLION DOLLARS A DAY.
    (most of it borrowed)
    How can this scenario be true? Because we buy grounded
    F-35s? Drones? 16+ years in Afghanistan?

  2. A time tested reality is: a people who will not defend their land against invaders do deserve to hold it.
    We are weak as a people. We should not expect a professional army (which is what we have) to fight for that which each of us do not hold dear.
    My point is, as history reveals, our priorities as a society are wrong. We are the richest nation, we think our wealth is in itself protection, it i snot. Others are hungry for what we have, it is only when each man woman and child in a society is willing to fight to the death to keep what they have (on an individual level) that a nation is safe.

  3. The military has become very PC on a wide variety of issues. Increasingly it has more a civil service job mentality rather than a fighting mentality. Although there are many dedicated individuals in the military, it is increasingly being undermined to the point that if there were an all out war we would not last long against a determined enemy.
    Hopefully no determined enemy will appear- but don’t count on it.