The Pentagon announced yesterday that it would shrink the U.S. Army to pre-WWII levels. It’s about time.
They say that generals always fight the last war. The Pentagon has rendered that an understatement. They’ve been refighting WWII for almost 70 years, accomplishing very little in the process. Of all its military adventures, the Korean War, which remains a stalemate after six decades, is the best it has to show for trillions in debt and tens of thousands of lives.
That the Korean War was a success is a matter of opinion. Rather than containing Pyongyang, there is a good argument to be made that the U.S. presence on North Korea’s border is what has kept that nation’s communist government in power. It would seem no coincidence that the only other truly communist regime is Cuba’s, against whom the U.S. has taken a similar stance.
Even giving the Pentagon Korea, it must be measured against the unmitigated disasters in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A decade hence, the latter two will be viewed in much the way Vietnam was by the 1980’s.
It isn’t that the U.S. military has failed to execute. On the contrary, they’ve executed conventional warfare admirably. It’s just that conventional warfare is obsolete. It has been for a very long time.
With over 1.4 million men and women in uniform, the American military is built to fight a first world power in a conventional war where two armies honorably bomb, strafe and otherwise reek destruction on one another. When one side gains the advantage, its ground troops surge forward, breaking the enemy’s line. In the end, the victor marches into the capital and the enemy surrenders. A peace treaty follows.
We saw this fairy tale play out in 2003 Iraq. Then, the war started.
There isn’t going to be a war between First World powers that ends anything like that. Neither Moscow nor Washington is going to let a triumphant general ride into town with thousands of troops before resorting to nuclear weapons – which means there isn’t going to be a war between first world powers, at least while a shred of sanity remains.
We certainly don’t have to worry about war with China. They’d never lend us the money.
That means there is little use for most of America’s conventional army or navy. How long would surface ships last against 21st century missile technology? Do the math.