Monday, February 13, 2006

# Posted 10:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

QDR stands for "Quadrennial Defense Review", a congressionally-mandated strategy statement that the Pentagon must produce every four years. Two grad students at MIT have some harsh words for the QDR that just debuted.
(3) opinions -- Add your opinion

They make a good point about misallocation of resources, but I think they overstate it a bit.

Even if state-to-state warfare is a less immediate threat, it is still by far the most expensive one to prepare for, requiring maintenance of a larger, heavier military.

Further, such a state-to state threat, while currently distant, can crop up fairly quickly. As we learned in previous wars, better to maintain capabilities in peace-time then start from scratch after the shooting starts.
I hate to condescend--honest--but this sure does look like it was done by a couple of kids.

The F22, for example, is designed to make sure we DON'T have to worry about air-to-air combat. The F35 is not particularly stealthy and is designed to operate in an environment cleaned of enemy aircraft by the F22. In addition, the SAM threat is useless against the F22 so mentioning SAMS is meaningless.

The destroyers are, equally, designed to insure our forces, including those traveling by sea, are not threatened by other naval forces. They provide gunfire support for troops ashore and can protect transport ships from submarines, aircraft and surface ships.

In addition, the kids presume that state-to-state combat is so unlikely we need not prepare for it, forgetting, if they ever knew, that state-to-state takes the longest to prepare for if you're behind the curve, and presupposes the biggest losses while you're trying to get your stuff together.

China has a record of aggression, talks aggressively, and is building force-projection capabilities.

The kids say, implicitly, that the Chinese would never mess with us, so we don't need the stuff that would keep the Chinese from messing with us.

I highly recommend "War: Ends and Means" by Seabury and Codevilla. They have these two youngsters named in the preface.

The F16 and F15 are good aircraft, but they are aging and other nations, such as Russia, are keeping up the R&D. In addition, by improving powerplants and avionics, and using current air-to-air weapons, even older aircraft can be a threat. See Brazil for the catalogue.

It doesn't take much conventional combat power to really screw up somebody who doesn't have it. And not having it suggests to somebody who does or can get it that there may be an opportunity.

Say we send a team to be dropped by a C17. Ancient MIGS come up from some co-opted country to shoot them down, while our F15s and F16s are duking it out with the SAMS. Better to have some F22s to either keep the co-opted country neutral, or wipe out the enemy aircraft before they know we're about.

Prior to, and in some cases following, the Gulf War, there was a lamentable sub-genre of writing called the military techno-thriller. Most of the weapons systems--described in loving detail--had more character than the supposed characters. They all had one thing in common. In order to start the fighting, the author had to go logically from where we were then to a world--or perhaps a region--of combat. And they did. It was almost scary. Some of the scenarios were uncomfortably realistic.

The problem is, as Tom Clancy said, that wars do not, in the real world, start by logical processes. Try, he challenged, putting the causes of WW I into a novel. You'd be laughed out of the library.

The kind of thinking the Kids have committed presumes the world will go as they presume. I presume, and the QDR presumes, that we don't have a clue and we could get hammered pretty badly by some illogical, seemingly counterproductive tactic. See the use of airliners as missiles, for example.

What worked in the Cold War, when our enemies were officially in denial of the prospect of an afterlife, might want to be revisited.
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