"The problem is all these vehicles are effective in a land-based operation, but would probably sit out or serve to support others only during conflict in the Western Pacific." -
There’s an AEI report circulating today about problems with US defense budget. A few thoughts:
1. Like the quote above highlights, our military strangely enough adapted procurement to *the wars we were actually fighting* as opposed to the cross-pacific superpower competition AEI wants us to gear up for.
2. I agree in full that defense acquisition has serious problems, but the Army buying land vehicles isn’t one of them. That’s where the army fights and what they do.
3. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning in a piece on spending that there were two unfunded wars, one of questionable strategic utility and one wholly of choice, that attained the budget and directed it away from next generation platforms.
4. Insurgency is not peer-competitor war. Insurgency is not peer-competitor war. Insurgency is not peer competitor war. The requirements are different, application of force is different, and the kind of tools developed & weapons built are not wholly transferable.
5. Being AEI, the report weirdly skips in blame from the 1990s to post-2008. Whatever truth is there, that’s highly suspect.
6. Maybe if the F-22 had been delivered at close to original estimated cost, or if the F-35 wasn’t a spiraling debt crisis on wobbly wings, the US could afford a full fleet. Cost overruns and an endless spigot of research & development fighters for next gen craft mean the US is getting fewer planes with the same money.
7. There is no world in which the US is able to field an airforce comparable in size to China off the cost of the West Pacific/East Asia. Supply lines alone hinder it, but it’s an expensive goal of marginal utility.
Drone War Isn't -
” To imbue a weapons system with the political properties of the policy employing it is fallacious, and to assume its mere presence institutes new political realities relies on a denial of facts and context. This remains the case with drones. The character of wars waged with drones is different – the warfare is different – but the nature of these wars do not change, and very often this argument obscures the wider military operations occurring. “
“The all-volunteer force has fought two brutal wars for over a decade while a (guilty or thankful) American population has stood by with very little involvement. There have been no war bonds, no victory gardens, no bandage wrapping drives, no air raid drills—nothing to make them feel a part of the conflict other than the human interest stories about killed and wounded veterans and the once-nightly footage of shattered HMMWVs and burning convoys. This has created an inequality in experience and sacrifice that the public has generally attempted to repay through extreme deference and ever-multiplying shows of thankfulness, the likes of which have never been seen in American society. Part of this is as a corrective to the disgraceful treatment of our Vietnam veterans, to be sure, but it has consequences nonetheless. In the face of such an inequality of experience and service and in such a deferential environment, public criticism of the military is all too easily dismissed as unpatriotic. Not only is this foil used to deflect criticism, but its threat deters many from bringing up much needed commentary and dissent. Likewise, unquestioning support of the military plays no small factor in making any discussion of rationalizing military budgets and targeting wasteful military spending difficult, if not impossible.”
How to Disassemble an Atomic Program: reliable incentives & payment. -
“What keeps a potential proliferator (henceforth state B) from taking the concessions offered by the other state (henceforth A) and then turning around and developing nuclear weapons anyway? Well, according to the formal model that William analyzes, it’s the promise of receiving a better outcome in every period coupled with the desire to avoid the costs of actually building the weapons. Yes, B expects to be compensated each and every period in this model, but each and every time B chooses not to go nuclear, that compensates A.”
Selected Wisdom on threat labelling -
” For those that continue to charge there is an al Qaeda and it continues to get stronger by the day, I ask but one question: “Under what conditions would you declare al Qaeda defeated?” If you can’t describe those conditions when al Qaeda is defeated, then why should we listen to your analysis that al Qaeda is stronger?”
The officials said the idea of establishing a buffer zone between Syria and Jordan — which would be enforced by Jordanian forces on the Syrian side of the border and supported politically and perhaps logistically by the United States — had been discussed. But at this point the buffer is only a contingency. —
A buffer on the Jordan/Syria border, you say? Well, that’s weird, it’s almost as though that is one of two Assad government strongholds. And, oh, what’s this?
The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees
(Source: The New York Times)
Joshua Foust on drones in FATA -
” Furthermore, the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP), a Pakistan-based research group, consistently finds in its surveys within the FATA that the most pressing security fear among residents is bomb blasts by terror groups, followed closely by the Pakistani military. When asked open-ended questions about their greatest fears, very few ever mention drones.
That’s not to say people love drones. Many constituencies in the rest of the country are strongly opposed to the drone campaign. But both terror groups and the Pakistani military kill far more innocent civilians and leave far more physical devastation in their wake — what is the “least bad” course for policymakers?”
J.M. Berger on the complexity and interconnection in IR. -
“On the other hand, there’s a rapidly growing need for someone to articulate the overarching principles that guide national policies — both domestic and foreign — so that we are not (justly) accused of continually applying double and triple standards that inequitably allow some people to do some things while preventing other people from doing the same things based on calculations that are murky at best (issues involving foreign aid, harboring terrorists, nuclear weapons and suppression of dissent are among the exemplars of these problems).
And all of this must be managed in a world where, increasingly, single individuals with unexceptional minds and minimal resources can have a global impact, for good but far more easily for ill”
Nils Gilman responds to Jay Ulfelder about Democracy as social technology. -
” It might be true that the benefits to collective problem solving that democracy offers is what works best in a smokestack economy, but that in a few decades, when computing power can directly “read” minds (obviously I’m speaking both speculatively and metaphorically) it will be possible to aggregate preferences without the mediating step of the ballot. Post-democratic political legitimacy will be secured more by performance than by process.”
In which Selected Wisdom points to a new study with implications for CVE