In keeping with my emphasis on looking for a Democratic security policy, I found (on Blue Force) that the Center for American Progress has released a proposed Democratic Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) (note – pdf).
It’s interesting; the core is really three points:
First, rescaling the Administration’s ‘1-4-2-1′ policy (1 x defend the United States; 4 x deter aggression in 4 regional centers; 2 x regional combat operations; 1 x decisively win one of those two) into a ‘1-1-2-3′ policy, which they define as “a military that gives first priority to protecting the homeland, can fight and win one major regional conflict, can engage in
two simultaneous substantial peacekeeping and stabilization missions and can deter conflicts in three regions.”
Second, aggressively limiting the U.S. Nuclear arsenal. I don’t know nearly enough about the current U.S. nuclear status or policy (yet) to opine.
Finally, aggressively planning to use the military for domestic security – both pro-actively and in response to possible terrorist actions.
I’ll suggest that the key is “The Pentagon must reintroduce elements of a “threat-based” model that guided its thinking in the immediate post-Cold War period.” Basically, this reads as though the goal is to throttle back the Defense budget and re-enjoy the “peace dividend.”
I hope that’s not what they’re really suggesting…
I do – firmly – agree that we need to think hard about the kind of military we are going to have four years from now.
And I agree with them (CAP) that we need to look hard at Cold-War type programs. They list:
* F/A-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet, which is an unnecessary and costly
supplement to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
* SSN-774 Virginia class submarine, which offers few technological
advantages yet substantially higher costs in comparison with existing
* DD(X) Destroyer, which suffers from innumerable technological
difficulties and ballooning costs without offering any true advantage
over the Littoral Combat Ship.
* V-22 Osprey, which has caused numerous training deaths and
excessive cost overruns and which suffers from unresolved
development issues while offering only marginal advantages over
* C-130J transport aircraft, which provides no additional capabilities over
existing transport aircraft and suffers from severe technological flaws.
* Offensive space-based weapons, which can be easily disrupted, are of
no use in low-tech asymmetric conflict, and are far more expensive than
existing technologies while offering few additional strike capabilities.
* Further deployment of the National Missile Defense System, which
offers unproven technology at exceptionally high costs to defend against
a highly unlikely nuclear missile strike against the United States.
I’m not entirely sure about offensive space-based weapons – it depends a bit on how they are defined. I definitely agree that a National Missile Defense System should not be deployed – until it’s passed a lot more tests. I fully support continued research, and eventual deployment of a demonstrably effective system.
The reality is that what we will need in the future decade looks a lot more like Kagan’s ‘Imperial Grunts’ and the civil affairs folks we have in Iraq than the massive, technologically cutting-edge systems we deployed against the industrial and technoical might of the Soviets.
Kagan describes it:
An approach that informally combines humanitarianism with intelligence gathering in order to achieve low-cost partial victories is what imperialism in the early twenty-first century demands.
The Basilan operation was a case of American troops’ applying lessons and techniques learned from their experience of occupation in the Philippines a hundred years before. Although the invasion and conquest of the Philippine Islands from 1898 to 1913 became infamous to posterity for its human-rights violations, those violations were but one aspect of a larger military situation that featured individual garrison commanders pacifying remote rural areas with civil-affairs projects that separated the local population from the insurgents. It is that second legacy of which the U.S. military rightly remains proud, and from which it draws lessons in this new imperial age of small wars.
The most crucial tactical lesson of the Philippines war is that the smaller the unit, and the farther forward it is deployed among the indigenous population, the more it can accomplish. This is a lesson that turns imperial overstretch on its head. Though one big deployment like that in Iraq can overstretch our military, deployments in many dozens of countries involving relatively small numbers of highly trained people will not.
But the Basilan intervention is more pertinent as a model for future operations elsewhere than for what it finally achieved. For example, if the United States and Pakistan are ever to pacify the radicalized tribal agencies of the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands, it will have to be through a variation on how Special Forces operated in Basilan; direct action alone will not be enough.
The readers of this site may not support the exact plans proposed by CAP; they propose a military repurposed to defend and clean up afterwards when the defense breaks down.
But neither can we afford a military unable to project the kind of force and nonlethal presence required to win the kinds of wars we are likely to face in the next decade, ragerdless of the neat systems and contracts that it may own. The CAP proposal is a step toward a national dialog defining that kind of military; we ought to extend that discussion here and try to come to a conclusion of our own.