How to Defend America in the 21st Century, Part 1

Dr. Earl Tilford,

In 1914, on the eve of the Great War, the Duke of Cambridge wrote, “There is a time for all things. There is even a time for change; and that is when it can no longer be avoided.”

Speaking of change, the current debt crisis could force drastic cuts in the Department of Defense budget, perhaps as high as 50 percent.

In the immediate post-Cold War era, DoD futurists envisioned a 25-year period of “strategic pause” before the nation faced a “major peer competitor” sometime between 2015 and 2020. In the 1990s, major candidates for peer-competitor status included China and a resurgent Russia. India and a nuclear-armed Iran were cast as lesser threats. In those heady days, terrorism was seen as a tactic and more the purview of law enforcement. The major emphasis was on being prepared for big wars against peer competitors—wars no world power can afford to lose. Preparing for those wars also satisfied each service’s need to perpetuate itself in familiar ways wrapped around developing and acquiring high-tech weapon systems. Programs like “The Army After Next,” “From the Sea,” and “Air Force Next” addressed future strategic paradigms focused on parochial core strengths.

To be sure, there were cuts in defense spending during the 1990s. The size of the American military shrank. The Air Force, alone among the services, reorganized its force structure from one based on strategic deterrence to power projection. Cuts were “salami slices” that, for the most part, reduced but did not reform outmoded force structures.

And then, September 11, 2001 changed everything. In the immediate aftermath, the Bush administration made a major mistake by declaring a “War on Terror” rather than specifying the enemy as Al Qaeda, associated groups, and nations that support them. With a generic “terror” as the enemy, the war easily morphed from one into two wars, with Operation Iraqi Freedom launched in March 2003. Ten years later, the fighting in Iraq continues, and what was originally a campaign to root out and destroy al Qaeda in Afghanistan has become an endless struggle against the Taliban. This war has exhausted the American military, contributed to our national economic nightmare, and derailed critical thinking about the future.

This exhausted force is also outmoded. Cutting such a force by a quarter, much less half, would invite aggression by nations like Iran and North Korea. Keeping the current force at the status quo would be expensive and also leave the nation vulnerable to current threats and unable to cope with a rapidly growing Chinese threat.

The U.S. military needs massive restructuring. Its current structure originated with the reforms instituted in 1903 after the Spanish-American War. A major overhaul on the eve of World War II made it possible to fight the Axis powers. The National Security Act of 1947 institutionalized the Industrial Age force extant today. Now, the armed forces of the United States would be hard-pressed to counter a North Korean invasion of South Korea without using nuclear weapons.

In fact, war on the Korean peninsula is one of our immediate threats. Iran, soon to be a nuclear-armed state, is bent on establishing hegemony in the world’s energy epicenter. Despite a predictably forthcoming declaration of “victory” in the ill-conceived War on Terror, al Qaeda and associated groups will continue to attack U.S. interests abroad while putting the nation on the defensive at home.

An anti-American alliance between Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, and possibly Cuba is not beyond the realm of possibility. If Mexico continues to descend into anarchy, that alliance could extend to our immediate and un-defended southern border; imagine the cost of trying to….

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  1. SEAN MURRY says:

    That SOB has weaken this country by his cuts to the defense dept.

  2. America needs to totally rethink it's strategic military needs & responsibilities. We really need to go back to basics, stop defending others for free & stop being the world's policeman with troops & bases in over 100 nations around the world. We need to do what the military was meant to do: DEFEND THE USA, period. If political & military events overseas do not directly threaten us, we should mind our own business. The biggest threat against us today is not a military threat, it is an economic & financial threat. We need to rethink all spending priorities. We need to return to a small, limited, Constitutional federal government as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. They also warned us to stay away from unnecessary & unwise "foreign entanglements".

    How many troops, planes & ships & nuclear bombs/missiles do we really need to defend our borders? Do we really enhance our homeland security by having our forces spread out in over 100 nations around the world? I severely doubt it!

    • Betsy K. Larsen says:

      NO we do not need military forces in 100 countries over the globe. What we NEED is our troops here to DEFEND AND PROTECT AMERICA ON HER OWN BORDERS! And, we NEED to rid ourselves of the baggage of so many overpaid, and overly self important BOOBS in the now not so “white” house. Our “white house” has been blackened by these self important idiots who posture and pretend to care about us, when all they do care about is themselves and their salaries and PERKS after sending our country into a crisis that we may never recover from! Look at them when they are on tv, they look like little banty hens, and roosters who think they are all that, plus a bag of chips! When in reality, they each drop their pants and sit on the toilet the same as we do, and their crap smells like anyone elses! Actually, they all stink themselves, their pride and arrogance is a stink that is now covering the whole country! I’d rather sit in an outdoor toilet than to be in the same room as a one of them! Despicable, utterly despicable, the entire lot, from repukes on to the dimwitted who kiss the ass of the most smelly One of all, this freak of nature who promised “hope and change”! HopeLESSNESS and the only CHANGE is one that none of us can afford! Be careful of what you wish for was never in the simple minds that fell into the trap that this sneaky peice of garbage from who knows where!!!! Fools. The outright stupidity of the Americans who bought into this HALF AND HALF POS from hell itself is the most amazing of all! “he said change”! Yep, he sure did, you brain damaged idiots who didn’t think past the tip of your stupid noses, now look at the damage you have each done to our country! I am disgusted with Americans, who only wanted to prove how UNracist they are………….hey, did any of you WHITE idiots ever enter a BLACK CHURCH? no, you didn’t, for underneath that so rightous nonracist face of yours, you are STILL THE BIGGEST RACISTS IN THE COUNTRY!!!!!!!!!! I am less so, for I will admit to a streak of racisim, we all have it, no matter if we are black or white, it is part of the human condition. You HIRE A PERSON BASED ON THEIR EXPERIENCE, NOT THEIR COLOR! He had NONE! NO EXPERIENCE IN A DAMN THING!!!!! Yet you dimwitted idiots put him in the worst positon possible, he was doomed to fail! Shame on you all, for if you had had any consideration for him at all, you’d never have done such a dasterdly thing to him, nor YOUR COUNTRY!!!!!!!! You are RACISTS IN REVERSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • ANTICRIME says:

      The reason we have so many military bases, worldwide, is simply due to the POWER OF THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX that makes its fortune by selling its products to the U.S. Government! ~ IF we had TRUE PATRIOTS in Congress instead of a majority of gold-diggers, then we would not be in our present situation! ~ A country's population does NOT create WARS with other nation's populations….but Governments do! ~ WAR = MONEY for the arms dealers, and common sense dictates that there are "kickbacks" to those that have the ability to CREATE WARS! ~ To those treasonous traitors, human life means nothing….with the exception of their own!

      • Yep… ever since President Eisenhower we have been warned about the threat of the military-industrial complex in the USA.

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