Bush Administration Builds
Overly Expensive Weapon Systems While Disarming US Military of Key Capabilities
by David T. Pyne, Esq., Columnist and Legal Analyst
December 6, 2002
The Bush administration came into office with grandiose plans. During his 2000 presidential campaign, then President announced his intention to "skip a generation of technology", cut non-transformational weapons systems and focus on developing more advanced weaponry for faster fielding. While that proposal represented a serious overreach (because it would force the US military to make due with aging weaponry for a prolonged period of time), it was not without merit. Now the Bush Department of Defense has swung back in the opposite direction, approving non-transformational, low-capability systems and programs like the U.S. Army's Stryker armored car Interim Force.
The Stryker brigades are a throwback to World War II vintage armored cars, discarded as militarily ineffective by the U.S. Army nearly six decades ago. For a time, it had appeared that the Department of Defense was considering a prudent plan to cut the number of wheeled Stryker brigades by 50%. However, concerted action by the Army leadership appears to have torpedoed the reductions. So far, the Army has borne the brunt of weapons cutbacks and cancellations. Nevertheless, in this case the proposed cutbacks were well advised.
In a major triumph for the other three military services, the Department of Defense has reportedly decided to retain the overly expensive, accident-plagued V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor program, the expensive, redundant F-22 fighter (the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is more than sufficient to counter any potential threats in the foreseeable future), and the $10 billion CVN(X) aircraft carrier, built at a time of unprecedented U.S. naval superiority.
Even after announcing his plan to reduce the B-1 bomber fleet by one third and cut scores of B-52 bombers, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is reportedly interested in building more unnecessary B-2 bombers at a cost of at least $750 million per plane. The only programs that the Department of Defense has cancelled are the Army's Crusader self-propelled artillery system and the critically important Navy Area Wide missile defense system, the latter despite the fact that it had met or exceeded all of its key performance parameters. In a much more prudent action, Rumsfeld ordered the DD-21 destroyer redesigned into what has come to be known as the DD(X) program to provide it with a greater focus on sea-based missile defense.
While the Department of Defense surges forward with these expensive and in many cases non-transformational, weapons systems, the Bush administration is proceeding with plans to dismantle three fourths of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent, ordered under the Treaty of Moscow. It is also preparing to build a limited missile defense system which it admits would be incapable of repelling, let alone deterring, a nuclear missile attack from the Russia Federation. Nor would it be aimed at safeguarding the United States from a nuclear missile attack by Communist China.
On the conventional side, the administration is planning to dismantle all of the Army's heavy brigades and is planning to retire its entire tank force and tracked vehicles over the next two decades. Rumsfeld will again entertain proposals to reduce the Army force structure from ten to as few as six divisions in FY04. His chief advisor on military restructuring, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Steven Cambone, is reportedly the driving force behind his plan to slash the Army's force structure. The elimination of the Army's heavy brigades, tanks and tracked vehicles is being done in furtherance of a plan authored by the Clinton administration euphemistically referred to today as "Army Transformation." This plan, once fully implemented, would put at serious risk the ability of the U.S. military to fight and win major wars.
Both Rumsfeld and Cambone apparently believe that the Army is largely unnecessary in modern warfare and that wars can be won with air and missile power alone with the assistance of small-scale Special Forces. They believe they can fight the last war in Iraq using the Afghan model, despite the fact that the Iraqi army is more than nine times larger than the Taleban army, with eleven times as many tanks.
This belief defies military precedent, which proves that wars against major landpower enemies cannot be won without large-scale ground forces. To date, no major war has ever been won with airpower alone. The war most frequently cited by the airpower-centric crowd is the NATO intervention in Kosovo. But after-action reports proved that nearly three months of an Air Force bombing campaign did little militarily significant damage. Ultimately, the war ended only when Yugoslavia agreed to a Russia-mediated compromise - an agreement which NATO has since routinely flouted.
The Bush administration's priorities for transforming the military are seriously misguided. Disarming the U.S. of the nuclear and conventional weapons systems essential to both deter major wars and win them while cutting force structure and building cost-ineffective and often redundant weapons systems is the wrong course of action.
The Center for the National Security Interest urges the administration to abandon its plans to disarm the country of its strategic nuclear deterrent which has served to keep the nuclear peace for nearly six decades. In addition, the administration should stop reducing conventional forces, particularly its war-winning tank fleet and its proven arsenal of tracked vehicles. It should also immediately halt its planned cutbacks of proven weapons systems like the B-1 and B-52 bombers.
Furthermore, the administration should immediately cancel the CVN(X) program, the V-22 Osprey and the F-22 Raptor to free up money for a more robust national missile defense system, one capable of countering nuclear missile attack from any country or combination of countries. Money saved from these cancelled programs should also be used to expedite the development and deployment of a tracked variant of the Army's Future Combat System a decade or more from now. ***
© 2002 Center for the National Security Interest
David T. Pyne, Esq. is a national security expert who serves as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, a pro-defense, national security think-tank based in Arlington, VA. He has served as a Country Program Director in the Department of Defense responsible for the countries of the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Latin America and has traveled as a member of Department of Defense-led delegations to Canada, South Africa, Israel, Brazil and Argentina. Mr. Pyne is a licensed attorney and former Army Reserve Officer. He holds an MA in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. Mr. Pyne also serves as Executive Vice President of the Virginia Republican Assembly. Mr. Pyne was recently interviewed on Howard Phillips' Conservative Roundtable TV program. Mr. Pyne serves as a columnist for American-Partisan.com , OpinioNet.net and America's Voices. He is also a regular contributor for Patriotist.com. In addition, his articles have appeared on Etherzone.com, Sierratimes.com, OriginalDissent.com and AmericanReformation.org where he serves as a national security policy analyst. He has been cited in the New American Magazine and was recently interviewed on Howard Phillips' Conservative Roundtable TV program.
COPYRIGHT © 2002 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN. All writers retain rights to their work.