Skip to comments.Fresh Troops -- or Fresh Thinking?[Patrick J. Buchanan]
Posted on 03/05/2007 7:09:48 PM PST by FLOutdoorsman
Six years after Donald Rumsfeld agreed to a second tour of duty as secretary of defense, to rebuild the military, Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker told Congress his Army "will break" if not relieved of the present burdens. Colin Powell says the Army is "almost broken." This week, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there is a significant risk that the United States today may be unable to respond quickly and fully to another crisis should it arise.
Howls erupted across the spectrum for more billions for more men for the Army and Marine Corps. What these revelations ought to trigger, however, are hard questions of our leaders and fresh thinking among our elites about the limits of American power and the extent of American commitments.
For, by any measure, Iraq and Afghanistan are not major wars. The United States had twice as many troops in Korea, resisting a million-man Chinese Army, and took 10 times the casualties we have taken in Iran and Afghanistan, and America was not overstretched.
We put three times as many troops in Vietnam, fought longer and took nearly 20 times the casualties we have taken in these two insurgencies, while maintaining 300,000 troops in Europe and 40,000 in Korea. Yet, though we are spending today as much on defense as the next 10 nations combined, the U.S. Army is "about broken."
In a National Review essay, "The Crying Need for a Bigger U.S. Military," ex-Sen. James Talent details what happened to the armed forces that were Ronald Reagan's great legacy to the nation.
"The active-duty Army was cut from 18 divisions during Desert Storm to 10 by 1994 -- its size today. The Navy, which counted 569 ships in the late 1980s, struggles today to sustain a fleet of only 276. And the number of tactical air wings in the Air Force was reduced from 37 at the time of Desert Storm to 20 by the mid-1990s."
Inheriting Reagan's estate, Bill Clinton sold off much of it for the big party of the 1990s. But bemoaning what Clinton did yesterday does not address today's crisis.
What Desert Storm and the Iraq war should teach us is a simple lesson: The U.S. Army and Marines are capable of winning a small war in weeks against a middle-sized power. They are not large enough to wage a long war against a middle-sized power on the Asian continent. While they can defeat an enemy army and seize a capital, they cannot rebuild a nation. Nor are the marginal increases in the U.S. Army now being proposed going to create such a capacity.
Gen. Eric Shinseki said that to defeat and occupy Iraq would have required two to three times the force we sent in. Yet even that would not have prevented or defeated the insurgency we face.
Most Americans realize that our mistake was not just in how the occupation was botched by Paul Bremer -- failure to stop the looting, disbanding the Iraqi Army. The blunder was in attacking a nation that did not attack or threaten us, or any U.S. ally.
Before Congress decides on the enhanced size and new weaponry of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, we need a bottom-up review of U.S. commitments and to begin shedding them rather than adding to them, as we have done, willy-nilly, since the end of the Cold War.
Why, for example, when Congress is demanding that Iraqis take responsibility for defending their own democracy, are we not also demanding that South Korea take responsibility for defending its own democracy? Cannot the South, with twice the North's population and an economy 40 times as large, defend it self?
And as we are not going to fight yet another land war in Asia, why not move all our forces offshore, as Gen. MacArthur urged in 1951?
And as Europe is richer and more populous than we, why not shift responsibility for Europe's defense to the Europeans, and bring the U.S. troops home? This is what Eisenhower urged Kennedy to do -- in 1960.
In the War Party, many wish to confront Russia and extend NATO to Ukraine and Georgia. Are Americans really going to fight Russia in the Black Sea over the Crimea, or to prevent secession of Abkhazia or South Ossetia from Georgia? What concern is that of ours?
Americans welcomed as a godsend the liberation of Eastern Europe. Yet, no president -- not Truman, Ike, JFK, LBJ, Reagan -- ever broke relations with Moscow when Soviets blockaded Berlin, effected the 1948 coup in Prague, crushed the Hungarian Revolution, built the Berlin Wall, snuffed out the Prague Spring or crushed Solidarity.
Now, we are willing to go to war with a Russia with thousands of atomic weapons -- over Estonia. Have we lost our minds?
Before we decide how many ships, planes, guns or troops we need, let us first decide what is so vital to us that we are willing to continue having the planes come in to Dover, and the ambulances rolling in from Andrews to Walter Reed, to defend it.
And there are not many things that can justify that.
Though I usually disagree with Buchanan, I don't so much in this case. I think he's right: We do need to increase the size of our standing army, and not rely so heavily on reservists.
We must draft women to be fair. We can not proceed with discrimination as usual against men who have to serve. 18 year old girls must begin to register with Selective Service. No glass ceilings here. Mommy can hug her daughter good bye just like her son. Register girls now!!
S**** you Buchanan
It's the new F word!
I did not read his column as recommending a shift from reserves to active, but decreasing the missions of the US military as a whole. Sounds good, but we must decide if we are going to be a force for democracy in the world or should cower under our beds every time some two-bit tin-horn dictator tells us to go away.
"Now, we are willing to go to war with a Russia with thousands of atomic weapons -- over Estonia. Have we lost our minds?"'
To answer your question Pat: No.
But you clearly have lost yours. Do you recall any of the cold war? We constantly risked war with the Soviets who indeed had thousands of atomic weapons.
There are several salient points in this essay which raises hopes of some coherent conclusion. But alas, there is nothing here.
What is his point? Should we increase the military or should we stand down so the Russians can have their way?
I wonder if he isn't getting some Arab money, like Jimmah Cartah.
Citizen soldiers are vital to keeping the military connected to the rest of the population. Reserves should not be done away with, nor should they become little more than weekend warriors getting paid to play army man.
Besides a handful of social issues, there isn't much difference between the paleocons and the Dems these days. Both despise capitalism and free trade, both distrust the notion that American military power can be used for good, and both see the world as reducible to cultures instead of ideas.
How nice of All-American Pat to get out from behind the wheel of his Mercedea-Benz and take valuable time from managing his overseas investments so that he can regale us with more of his armchair warrior military genius.
His position is that of a nationalist, bring troops home from other engagements and keep them honed to protect the country when attacked.
By removing troops from the Korean peninsula, Germany, the Balkans, etc, we can more effectively use troops to protect our borders, etc. He is really against being 'forward deployed' like we are now throughout the middle east, and other regions.
The Reservists have a place in the military, and I think it is starting to be more efficiently managed, then it was a few short years ago.
Much of what Pat says is defeatist, but, I would agree we need a larger military to deal with all threats foreign and domestic.
Also, he does point out how much we endured before, while fighting in Vietnam and we were not 'at the breaking point'.
Pat is a strange duck, but he is not a wimp.
I think the essence of his thinking can be summarized in this point of the essay:
"What concern is that of ours?"
That is in a nutshell Pat's thinking about foreign affairs. In a post 911 world, this stubborn question of paleocons has been reduced to a hollow shell. It plainly makes no sense and only willful ignorance can prevent a flood of answers from filling the void supposed by this question.
Rome at its height of power only had 35 Legions (about 350 000 men) to defend the entire empire. Like the US it was a strain on her manpower especially when other civilized nations to her eastern edge (Persia, Parthia, Sassanids, etc) started wars. Rome learned to defend her interests by proxy and local auxillary troops (Romans living in area and local natives) and the Legion was brought in as a coup de grace or as a last resort. Given the political division within this nation, a negative MSM, and a large anti war in our elites (celebs, college professors and etc), it is near impossible to fight a long and drawn out war with our troops. I think we need to look at the Afghan model (Northern Alliance troops, backed by US airpower, SOF/CIA teams) and the recent Somalia war (Ethiopia backed by US airpower, intel and SOF/CIA teams) as our new way of confronting our enemies without evoking the ire of the political opposition in this nation who in the end with the MSM will undermind the war even if we are winning the insurgency. NOTE - no one cried foul when the Ethiopian troops allowed the Somalian warlord troops shoot the jihadist prisoners when the towns were retakened. I guarantee those who supported the jihadist rule were rooted out and shot when the warlord troops retook the towns lost.
Yeah, I know he was in Vietnam.
You are correct, we have no Scipio Africanus or Marius today. The MSM simply will not allow it.
I agree with you.
What is so strange to my mind is that the Islamic radicalism we face is probably more opposed to our own worldview than any of the enemies pat is familiar with.
It is impossible for him and too many other paleo cons to rally to this present threat.
Yeah because nation building 3rd world pits is a sure fire success. (sarcasm off) Please. Pat's right on this issue. Unless Islamo terrorists are involved, its not our damn problem.
Not nation building third world pits is a sure fire success (sarcasm off).
I think my joke is funnier.
Your caveat pretty much gives it away-- unless islamo terrorists are involved.
Where would those folks be exactly? Are they neatly contained in a sovereign state that we can conquer or isolate?
The old school is over. We are at war with a radical ideology prepared to hide out beyond whatever lines of peace we draw. The oceans will not protect us. Trade barriers will not insulate us. We must embark fully upon the war of ideas.
These enemy offer death as a text. Its pretty compelling. We must meet them everywhere they rise up.
Pat's view is no longer helpful and that is about as nice as it can be put. Other less nice things can certainly be fairly said of his view.
Pat and I still agree about abortion.
Not going to happen for three reasons.
Those three will do more to destroy our military than the Soviets ever dreamed.
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