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The US Military Today Chet Richards Boyd 2008 November 7, 2008 Prince Edward Island.

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Presentation on theme: "The US Military Today Chet Richards Boyd 2008 November 7, 2008 Prince Edward Island."— Presentation transcript:

1 The US Military Today Chet Richards Boyd 2008 November 7, 2008 Prince Edward Island

2 A few problems The length of the conflict in Iraq now exceeds our participation in WW II The length of the conflict in Afghanistan now exceeds all nations participation in WW II. The likely outcome of Iraq will be a Shiite Islamic theocracy allied with Iran The likely outcome of Afghanistan will be restoration of Taliban rule … or worse Our total bill for these conflicts will be between 3 and 5 trillion dollars

3 It wasnt for lack of resources DoD Total Obligational Authority* *Includes plus-ups to the base budget but does not include supplementals for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sources: , National Defense Budget Estimates for FY2008 (The Greenbook), pp ; , W. Wheeler, Understand, Then Contain Americas Out-of-Control Defense Budget, in Americas Defense Meltdown, pp Cold War Average

4 Or because we faced some credible threat W. Wheeler, Understand, Then Contain Americas Out-of-Control Defense Budget, in Americas Defense Meltdown, p. 223, citing IISS US figure includes plus-ups. US DoD Spending Compared to Possible Opponents

5 States & non-states wage war GW Precursor activities – going back to Alexander & Sun Tzu (and before) Peace of Westphalia State-vs-state only legal form of war 2 GW Nonstate armed groups: partisans, insurgents, anarchists, criminal organizations, etc. Nuclear Weapons Proliferate Fall of USSR 1 GW state vs. state The generations of war model Ideological purpose New commo & transport networks 4 GW

6 The Utility of Military Force Conventional weapons and forces –Approx. 20 division equivalents, 3200 tactical fighter/attack aircraft, 200 ships Nuclear warfare –14 Ballistic missile submarines, 120 bombers, 10,000 warheads Counterinsurgency Intelligence Privatization

7 Conventional warfare Not between nuclear-armed powers –No major wars between Israel and Arab states after 1973, India & Pakistan after 1971, or USSR & USA or China & USA, etc. –Does not rule out occasional sparring Non-nuclear states are either –US allies, or –Extremely weak Conclusion: Conventional forces are expensive and largely useless

8 Nuclear warfare World is awash in nuclear weapons and material* –Russia: 15,000; US: 10,000; France: 348; Britain 200; China 200; Israel: ; Pakistan: 60; India: 40-50; N. Korea: 5-12 Major nuclear inventories can obviously be downsized But NOT eliminated –Would make large-scale conventional war possible again, even inevitable *Source: Bruce G. Blair, Primed and Ready, The Defense Monitor, Center or Defense Information, May/June 2007.

9 Counterinsurgency Governments can often defeat insurgencies in their midst by: –Better governance, or –Eliminating troublesome minorities, or –Some combination of both Outside powers, however, have rarely defeated insurgencies on foreign soil –And attempts to do so often compromise the legitimacy of the local government in the eyes of its own people Sources include: Gompert, D. C. (2007). Heads we win: the cognitive side of counterinsurgency (COIN); RAND counterinsurgency paper No. 1. Santa Monica, CA: The Rand Corporation. Van Creveld, M. (2007). The changing face of war. New York: Ballentine. Sullivan, P. L. (2007). War aims and war outcomes: Why powerful states lose limited wars. Journal of Conflict Resolution 51(3):

10 Intelligence Most military problems since end of WW II can be tagged as intelligence failures –Misunderstood who we were fighting and what they were fighting for Obvious solution is better intelligence, but –Extremely difficult to do –Doesnt justify large budgets –Runs into problem of telling truth to power –Seen by military as a supporting element for operations, whereas at the national level, the converse should be true.

11 For example There were larger problems with contract linguists than poor management and expense … Several Iraqi translators turned out to be part of the insurgency; these translators supplied information about operations of our soldiers to insurgents. (127) An Iraqi citizen who told the police about a house suspected of holding hostages might well discover he was talking to a confederate of the kidnappers. (173) Steven K. OHern, The Intelligence Wars, Lessons from Baghdad. (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2008)

12 Privatization Our (largely) public system isnt working. –$700+ BN/yr = rest of world, combined –7 years in Afghanistan, nearly 6 in Iraq –More of same will only produce more of same, but at higher cost. Our opponents are already privatized. –non-state –cellular, networked, distributed, global –low cost of entry (and exit) Rate of evolutionary change is a function of the amount of variation present in the population (Fishers Law).

13 Why privatize? Bankrupt companies can go out of business. Markets unleash competition. –variety, rapidity, initiative, creativity Privatization has a long military history. –privateers & mercenaries –British East India Company ( ) –PMCs today Nothing less will force the amount of change that we need. As Van Creveld suggests, its going to happen anyway. Robert Clive, early proponent of privatization

14 Whats going to happen to armies? Distinctions between war and crime will break down (204) as will the difference between armed forces and civilians (194) Battles will be replaced by skirmishes, bombings and massacres Intermingling with enemy forces, mixing with the civilian population, and extreme dispersion have become the norm (208) The problem of subversion is likely to be serious (211) Much of the task of defending society against nontrinitarian warfare/4GW will fall to private security companies, with a corresponding decrease in the utility, size, and technological complexity (cost) of military forces Armies will shrink in size and wither away, to be replaced by police- like security forces on the one hand and armed gangs on the other (not that the difference is always clear, even today) (225) Van Creveld, Transformation of War

15 Whats going to happen to armies? Distinctions between war and crime will break down (204) as will the difference between armed forces and civilians (194) Battles will be replaced by skirmishes, bombings and massacres Intermingling with enemy forces, mixing with the civilian population, and extreme dispersion have become the norm (208) The problem of subversion is likely to be serious (211) Much of the task of defending society against nontrinitarian warfare/4GW will fall to private security companies, with a corresponding decrease in the utility, size, and technological complexity (cost) of military forces Armies will shrink in size and wither away, to be replaced by police- like security forces on the one hand and armed gangs on the other (not that the difference is always clear, even today) (225) Van Creveld, Transformation of War

16 Whats going to happen to armies? Distinctions between war and crime will break down (204) as will the difference between armed forces and civilians (194) Battles will be replaced by skirmishes, bombings and massacres Intermingling with enemy forces, mixing with the civilian population, and extreme dispersion have become the norm (208) The problem of subversion is likely to be serious (211) Much of the task of defending society against non-trinitarian warfare/4GW will fall to private security companies, with a corresponding decrease in the utility, size, and technological complexity (cost) of military forces Armies will shrink in size and wither away, to be replaced by police- like security forces on the one hand and armed gangs on the other (not that the difference is always clear, even today) (225) Van Creveld, Transformation of War

17 Sign-off sermonette It is far from clear whether good intentions plus stupidity or evil intentions plus intelligence have wrought more harm in the world. Dörner, The Logic of Failure, 8 A great nation is like a great man: When he makes a mistake, he realizes it. Having realized it, he admits it. Having admitted it, he corrects it … He thinks of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts. Tao Te Ching (Mitchell trans., 61)

18 Questions? Comments? Accolades?

19 T


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