The Coming National Defense Crack-Up

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National defense has yet to become a major campaign issue in 2012 despite the fact that the next president will face a perfect storm of scandal, budgetary crisis and strategic dilemmas that America has not seen in military affairs since the end of the Vietnam War. Despite a major speech on defense issues given at the Citadel in 2011, Governor Romney’s strengths as a candidate are not associated with national security, while President Obama’s staff prefer to emphasize to the administration’s many successes in counterterrorism operations instead of the accumulation of serious issues faced by the Department of Defense, the armed services and America’s returning veterans.

This lack of debate is problematic because the next president will require a mandate for his solutions to the Pentagon’s laundry list of problems if they are to have a hope of passing the Congress in tight budgetary times. Some of the national defense problems are structural while others constitute a legacy of ten years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and in remote lawless regions, but the political capital needed to fix them will be substantial:

Whomever is sworn into office as President of the United States in January of 2013 will face tough decisions about our military, our veterans and our national security of a magnitude  that have only been surpassed by President Truman in the demobilization after WWII and equaled by President Ford after the debacle of Vietnam and the transition from the draft to a professional, all-volunteer (AVF) military in the 1970′s.  Such a situation requires a national debate in the frankest of terms by both candidates who must level with voters about what choices we face as a country and where they intend to lead us.

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  1. alan fink no connection here to mis-managemnt of the Federal budget and the economy!!!! nope. not a chance.
  2. bobgourley Thanks for the important context. These factors should help fuel coming discussions. But I also saw a hint of the solution in your title and the graphic you provided along with your post. Is the solution to this mess a split of DoD into its parts? Do we return our organization to pre-WWII days? Like form the bulk of our forces around a Department of the Army and a Department of the Navy? Maybe we have to go backwards a bit in order to go forward.
  3. Faith Eischen Maybe we would have the ability to better afford the implications of the war in Afghanistan if we had not invaded Iraq on pre-emptive notions. Iraq was a total failure and cost us millions while Afghanistan is a 'just war' but is reaching insurmountable costs
  4. Mark Sanfranski Hi Faith Occupying Iraq was extremely expensive. Making Afghanistan expensive was also policy choice ( or rather a series of choices) when we decided to create a strategy that hinged on building a national army and police to replace ISAF troops and a centralized provincial administrative structure. Afghanistan does not have sufficient GDP to afford either and while there is a history of a national army under Zahir Shah and Daoud, establishing an intrusive Kabul apparatus to meddle in rural village affairs is what provoked the original Islamist rebellion against the Communist Khalqi government in late 1978- early 1979. Largely the skim of our own expenditures has funded the Taliban we are fighting against, along with drugs and ISI aid.
4 comments
alan fink
alan fink

no connection here to mis-managemnt of the Federal budget and the economy!!!! nope. not a chance.

bobgourley
bobgourley

Thanks for the important context. These factors should help fuel coming discussions. But I also saw a hint of the solution in your title and the graphic you provided along with your post. Is the solution to this mess a split of DoD into its parts? Do we return our organization to pre-WWII days? Like form the bulk of our forces around a Department of the Army and a Department of the Navy? Maybe we have to go backwards a bit in order to go forward.

Faith Eischen
Faith Eischen

Maybe we would have the ability to better afford the implications of the war in Afghanistan if we had not invaded Iraq on pre-emptive notions. Iraq was a total failure and cost us millions while Afghanistan is a 'just war' but is reaching insurmountable costs

Mark Sanfranski
Mark Sanfranski

Hi Faith

Occupying Iraq was extremely expensive.

Making Afghanistan expensive was also policy choice ( or rather a series of choices) when we decided to create a strategy that hinged on building a national army and police to replace ISAF troops and a centralized provincial administrative structure. Afghanistan does not have sufficient GDP to afford either and while there is a history of a national army under Zahir Shah and Daoud, establishing an intrusive Kabul apparatus to meddle in rural village affairs is what provoked the original Islamist rebellion against the Communist Khalqi government in late 1978- early 1979. Largely the skim of our own expenditures has funded the Taliban we are fighting against, along with drugs and ISI aid.