Skip to comments.Compared to U.S. military, game over for other nations
Posted on 04/27/2003 9:26:53 AM PDT by miltonim
Compared to U.S. military, game over for other nations
Stealth drones, GPS-guided smart munitions that hit precisely where aimed; anti-tank bombs that guide themselves; space-relayed data links that allow individual squad leaders to know exactly where U.S. and opposition forces are during battle.
The U.S. military rolled out all this advanced technology, and more, in its lightning conquest of Iraq. No other military Analysisis even close to the United States'. The U.S. military is now the strongest the world has ever known, both in absolute terms and relative to other nations; stronger than the Wehrmacht in 1940, stronger than the legions at the height of Roman power. For years to come, no other nation is likely even to try to rival American might.
The global arms race is over, with the United States the undisputed heavyweight champion. Other nations are not even trying to match the U.S., because they are so far behind they have no chance of catching up. The great-powers arms race, in progress for centuries, has ended with the rest of the world conceding triumph to the United States.
Now only a nuclear state, like, perhaps, North Korea, has any military leverage against the winner, so, paradoxically, the runaway U.S. victory in the conventional arms race might inspire a new round of proliferation of atomic weapons.
With no hope of matching the U.S. plane for plane, more countries may seek atomic weapons to gain deterrence. North Korea might have been moved last week to declare that it has an atomic bomb by the knowledge that it has no hope of resisting U.S. conventional power.
If it becomes generally believed that possession of even a few nuclear munitions is enough to render North Korea immune from U.S. military force, other nations Iran is an obvious next candidate may place renewed emphasis on building them.
The extent of U.S. military superiority has become almost impossible to overstate.
The United States sent five of its nine supercarrier battle groups to the region for the Iraq assault. A 10th Nimitz-class supercarrier is under construction. No other nation possesses even one supercarrier, let alone nine battle groups ringed by cruisers and guarded by nuclear submarines.
Russia has one modern aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, but it has about half the tonnage of a U.S. supercarrier and has such a poor record that it rarely leaves port. The former Soviet navy did preliminary work on a supercarrier, but abandoned the project in 1992. Britain and France have a few small aircraft carriers. China decided against building one last year.
Any attempt to build a fleet that threatens the Pentagon's would be pointless, after all, because if another nation fielded a threatening vessel, U.S. attack submarines would simply sink it in the first five minutes of any conflict. (The new Seawolf-class nuclear-powered submarine is essentially the futuristic supersub of "The Hunt for Red October" made real.)
Knowing this, all other nations have conceded the seas to the United States, a reason that U.S. forces can sail anywhere without interference. The naval arms race a principal aspect of great-power politics for centuries is over.
U.S. air power is undisputed as well, with more advanced fighters and bombers than those of all other nations combined. The United States possesses two stealth aircraft (the B-2 bomber and the F-117 fighter) with two more (the F-22 and F-35 fighters) developed and awaiting production funds. No other nation even has a stealth aircraft on the drawing board. A few nations have small numbers of heavy bombers; the U.S. has entire wings of heavy bombers.
No other nation maintains an aerial tanker fleet similar to that of the United States; owing to tankers, U.S. bombers can operate anywhere in the world. No other nation has anything like the U.S. AWACS plane, which provides exceptionally detailed radar images of the sky above battles, or the newer JSTARS plane, which provides exceptionally detailed radar images of the ground.
No other nation has air-to-air missiles or air-to-ground smart munitions of the accuracy, or numbers, of the United States. This month, for example, in the second attempt to kill Saddam Hussein, just 12 minutes passed between when a B-1 received the target coordinates and when the bomber released four smart bombs aimed to land just 50 feet and a few seconds apart. All four hit where they were supposed to.
U.S. aerial might is so great that adversaries don't even try to fly. Serbia kept its planes on the ground during the Kosovo conflict of 1999; in recent fighting in Iraq, not a single Iraqi fighter rose to oppose U.S. aircraft.
The governments of the world now know that if they try to launch a fighter against U.S. air power, their planes will be blown to smithereens before they finish retracting their landing gear. The aerial arms race, a central facet of the last 50 years, is over.
The U.S. lead in ground forces is not uncontested China has a large standing army but is large enough that the ground arms race might end, too.
The United States now possesses about 9,000 M1 Abrams tanks, by far the world's strongest armored force. The Abrams cannon and fire-control system is so extraordinarily accurate that in combat gunners rarely require more than one shot to destroy an enemy tank.
No other nation is currently building or planning a comparable tank force. Other governments know this would be pointless, since even if they had advanced tanks, the United States would destroy them from the air.
The U.S. lead in electronics also is huge. Much of the "designating" of targets in the recent Iraq assault was done by advanced electronics on drones like the Global Hawk, which flies at 60,000 feet, far beyond the range of antiaircraft weapons. So sophisticated are the sensors and data links that make Global Hawk work that it might take a decade for another nation to field a similar drone and by then, the United States is likely to have leapfrogged ahead to something better.
The United States is working on unmanned, remote-piloted drone fighter planes that will be both relatively low-cost and extremely hard to shoot down, and small drone attack helicopters that will precede troops into battle. No other nation is even close to the electronics and data-management technology of these prospective weapons. The Pentagon will have a monopoly on advanced combat drones for years.
An electronics arms race may continue in some fashion because electronics are cheaper than ships or planes. But the United States holds such an imposing lead that it is unlikely to be lapped for a long time.
The United States holds an overwhelming lead in military use of space. Not only does the Pentagon command more and better reconnaissance satellites than all the rest of the world combined, American forces have begun using space-relayed data in a significant way.
Space "assets" will eventually be understood to have been critical to the lightning conquest of Iraq, and the American lead in this will only grow, since the Air Force now has the second-largest space budget in the world, after NASA's.
This huge military lead is partly because of money. Last year U.S. military spending exceeded that of all other NATO states, Russia, China, Japan, Iraq and North Korea combined, according to the Center for Defense Information, a nonpartisan research group that studies global security. This is another area where all other nations must concede to the United States, for no other government can afford to try to catch up.
The runaway advantage has been called by some excessive, yet it yields a positive benefit. Annual global military spending, stated in current dollars, peaked in 1985, at $1.3 trillion, and has been declining since, to $840 billion in 2002. That's a drop of almost half a trillion dollars in the amount the world spent each year on arms. Other nations accept that the arms race is over.
The U.S. military reinforces its pre-eminence by going into combat. Rightly or wrongly, the United States fights often; each fight becomes a learning opportunity for troops and a test of technology. No other military currently has the real-world experience of the United States.
There also is the high quality in education and motivation of its personnel. This lead has grown as the United States has integrated women into most combat roles, doubling the talent base on which recruiters can draw.
The American edge does not render its forces invincible: The expensive Apache attack helicopter, for example, fared poorly against routine small-arms fire in Iraq.
More important, overwhelming power hardly ensures that the United States will get its way in world affairs. Force is just one aspect of international relations, while experience has shown that military power can solve only military problems, not political ones.
North Korea now stares into the barrel of the strongest military ever assembled, and yet may be able to defy the United States, owing to nuclear deterrence. As the global arms race ends with the United States so far ahead no other nation even tries to be America's rival, the result may be a world in which America has historically unparalleled power, but often cannot use it.
Yeah, the Ameican Revolution was only a military conflict. Sure. When all else fails, war is the final political solution.
Obviously, military power is not the answer to everything, but the author sees the power principally in a negative light.
Although I'm a Zoomie, this amount appears greatly inflated. I'll let the ground pounders come up with a more realistic number.
Small light nucs trump all
--Karl von Clausewitz, On War (1833)
Nope. Nuclear weapons will then be delivered by stealth. Two examples:
(a) Delivered to seaports via submarine.
(2) Designed to be assembled from components that can be either smuggled across a border in a backpack, or hidden in shipping containers with electronic or machine parts. (The nuclear core would be backpacked in, or else slipped ashore by special forces from a sub -- the most likely scenario.)
Yes, we need SDI. But each strategy produces a counter-strategy, and I suspect the future will involve "componentized" nukes that can be assembled by specialists infiltrated into a country. Put the sucker in some suburban basement in a major metro and you are ready to go.
Then the issue will be suitcase nukes and the like. Once the 'missile' threat is stopped does not spell the end of nuclear threat.
And the Soviet Union fell shortly after the Soviet military discovered they would be annihillated in any conflict with the US. Coincidence?
It's apparently not off by much. GlobalSecurity.org says 8,800 M1's and M1A1's were produced. Take out the ones sold to Egypt, the Saudis, etc., add in the M1A2's, and 9,000 is a good approximation.
Not in the least. The Soviet Marshall who supported Gorbachev, Akhramatov, I believe his name was, stated that the day he was converted to the cause of reform was the day the Israelis destroyed the much touted integrated air defense system they had build for Syria in the Bekaa Valley losing only one plane.
That air defense system was built as well as the Soviets could build it. I'll bet it was every bit as good as the one around Moscow. It was destroyed because Israeli decoy drones simulating a massive air strike tricked the Russian radars into switching from passive to active to target them. Then the real Israeli massive air strike simply targetted the active Russian SAM radars and destroyed the sites. That persuaded the Soviets that their smokestack heavy industry military could not compete in the new age of digital technology. The "quantity has a quality all its own" doctrine just would not work anymore.
1. The U.S was allowed to build its forces close to Iraq unharrassed.
2. The U.S. carrier fleet was not attacked.
3. The U.S. GPS satellite system was not compromised.
4. The U.S. shipping lines were not attacked.
5. The U.S. manufacturing capability was not attacked.
Any military power that would consider future engagements with the U.S. must be looking at these right now.
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