Weekly Standard Rediscovers Leviathan and SysAdmin

Very cool, and very hopeful:

The Weekly Standard
The answer is the two-force solution. End the procurement holiday. Give the Air Force the Raptors that they need and the Navy their 330 fighting ships. Let the Navy and Air Force rediscover their Cold War roots as the powerful strategic aegis against the Russian Bear and Chinese Dragon, while the Army and Marines fight the skirmishes across the globe. Winning a war is only half of the Armed Forces’ mission, the other half is preventing one.

Of course, two forces (one COIN and one “Shock and Awe”) is an old idea. Still, very good that even traditional supporters of Cold War sized force are realizing that you can’t fight COIN as a “lesser included” of traditional war.

8 thoughts on “Weekly Standard Rediscovers Leviathan and SysAdmin”

  1. That’s the antithesis of strategy. The Weekly Standard can’t choose priorities and can’t decide where to allocate limited resources, so it decides to not make any choices at all and buy everything. Policy-makers don’t have that luxury.

  2. After losing two wars, now the Weekly Standard wants us to lose our military because it can’t decide on what is most important and what must be put on the backburner or de-emphasized…. Wonderful. Never mind that people with common sense and actual experience like SECDEF Gates and the JCS Admiral Mullen have pointed out this is impossible… its all possible in theorist world….

    That you would believe such bunk is disturbing. Its “not cool”, its hokey nonsense by people who lack a fundamental connection to reality in almost all their writing.

  3. Eddie & Adrian,

    Thank you for the comments.

    The “antithesis of strategy” where “all is possible in theorist world” is pretending that policy choices are not severely constrained. The “irony triangle” Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex [1] is not going to go away. We’ve seen what happens to politicians who put it on the backburner or deemphasize it [2,3]. McCain, like Eisenhower, has the political bravery to go up against it. But MILC survived Eisenhower, and it will survive McCain.

    What we can do, however, is to give the MILC has many attributes of a Military-Industrial-Sysadmin-Complex [4] as possible. Extendeding the Iraq and Afghan Wars is clearly part of this, as it generates recognition of the need for a MISC capacity. A “Lenninist” strategy [5] might work to qualitatively alter the MILC. Bull-headed attacks will fail.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/01/06/mothers-milc-and-the-department-of-the-miscellaneous.html
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/03/07/pelsoi-john-mccain-above-corruption.html
    [3] http://hiddenunities.wordpress.com/2008/03/08/mccain-versus-boeing-and-the-lazy-ignorant-americans/
    [4] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/07/05/the-importance-of-5gw.html
    [5] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/06/10/1983-adoption-of-revolutionaryinsurgent-tactics-by-american-right-in-social-security-debate.html

  4. Also problematic is the perception that our defense spending is higher than it’s ever been. I say perception, because to argue that we’re breaking the bank on defense isn’t exactly accurate. As Goldfarb and I have pointed out ad naseum, we’re only pumping some 3.5% of the GDP into defense. That’s fractional compared to past wars, including the Cold War…

    The Army and Marines are neck-deep in combat, but they’ve had to posture themselves against the type of war that they spent decades training to fight.

    While I agree with the idea of bifurcating our security apparatus, this guy seems to be playing fast and loose with the facts. I wonder if that 3.5% includes what we spend on Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just the standard defense budget (I bet it doesn’t). Also, the Army and Marines have been posturing themselves to fight Russians and Chinese, not insurgents. This transformation is still ongoing.

    The long and short is that right now, we are overextended, both militarily and financially. Saying that we aren’t only gives the Leviathan portion of the military more of a reason to demand big ticket items. Pay for the wars we’re fighting now and use diplomacy to make sure no new near-peers arrive. The F-22 will come, but that doesn’t mean the Air Force should get its way.

  5. First of all, I don’t think we we should ever lower are capability to fight the big conventional-near peer-strategic war in order to build up a sysadmin force. If we need to free up more money to build a sysadmin force, then raise taxes. But we should in no way, let anything get in the way of the big ticket platforms that ensure global dominance.

    Like the article points out, defense spending is 3.6% of GDP. If America is to remain the global hegemon, than we should raise that to at least 5%. There were times during the cold war where it was 10%!!! Those were the good old days.

    Besides new aircraft, ships, and ground fighting systems-like FCS-there are 3 key areas we need to address.

    The first is space based programs, and I’m not talking about missile defense (Although I’m not against that if its possible). We need the capability to defend our satellites while being able to destroy other peoples satellites.

    Second, we need robots. Unmanned areal types and ground robots that can clear buildings and recon. Eventually we’ll have medevac robots that that you program a location in, it comes to the location of the injured soldier, and drives him/her back to safety. There’s much more I can say but you get the picture.

    Third, we need troops. And in some ways, this may be the hardest of the three to succeed in. We need numbers but we CAN NOT lower the standards anymore! If anything, we need to raise the standards. If we have to pay soldiers more to join then lets do it. We also need educated soldiers who speak languages and are technically proficient. This making gang members in soldiers crap is a disgrace and cause have repercussions later.

    In conclusion, my point is we can have a sysadmin force IF it doesn’t hurt our ability to defeat the major powers. We need to raise defense spending to at least 6%. I would feel even more comfortable if it was at 8%. If we need to raise taxes then by all means, raise taxes. You can start with the most wealthy of Americans. If the people of my socio-economic class can fight the wars then the wealthy can pay for them. We need to develop space based systems and robotics. We need more soldiers but must not lower standards.

  6. Seerov,

    First of all, I don’t think we we should ever lower are capability to fight the big conventional-near peer-strategic war in order to build up a sysadmin force. If we need to free up more money to build a sysadmin force, then raise taxes. But we should in no way, let anything get in the way of the big ticket platforms that ensure global dominance.

    Clearly we need a structure that deters against aggression by Great Powers. Economic interconnectivity, combined with nuclear weapons, go a deal of the way here. Encouraging Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam to possess independent nuclear deterrents would more plausibly guard against Chinese aggression than our threat to risk 10k-20k naval deaths to sink the PLA navy. Especially as the People’s Republic already has four nuclear armed neighbors (North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, India), we can encircle Beijing effectively and inexpensively.

    Third, we need troops. And in some ways, this may be the hardest of the three to succeed in. We need numbers but we CAN NOT lower the standards anymore! If anything, we need to raise the standards. If we have to pay soldiers more to join then lets do it. We also need educated soldiers who speak languages and are technically proficient. This making gang members in soldiers crap is a disgrace and cause have repercussions later.

    This is important. America’s a tech-rich society and will naturally increase space and robotic dominance. We suffer from a “cost disease of the service sector,” however, and the number of warm bodies we can afford to lose will continue to decline.

    This is why we need less developed imperial powers to run Africa for us. Once, this job was taken by the British and the French [1]. Encouraging the Indians and Chinese to paint Africa their colors is our next best alternative.

    Stephen Pampinella,

    The long and short is that right now, we are overextended, both militarily and financially. Saying that we aren’t only gives the Leviathan portion of the military more of a reason to demand big ticket items.

    The Military-Industrial-Leviathan-Complex survives for generations because of its iron triangle of contractors, bureaucrats, and congressmen. Rational justification doesn’t matter for much.

    The pain of Iraq and Afghanistan forces the transformation of the Army and the Marines, and does so the longer the wars last. As long as they don’t blow up, we need similar actions to keep going.

    [1] http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/afri1914.htm

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