06 January 2012


The headline on Drudge Reports said it all: “Drones Not Marines.” The report that the President has decided that the best thing for the Country in a dangerous world is to downsize our armed forces, adopt a strategy of using technology rather than preparedness, and readying ourselves to a “one-war “ structure raises images of the United States between 1920 and 1940. Any serious student of history ought be downright frightened by that image.

In the policy announced on Thursday, the current two-war strategy would be abandoned. Since at least the Korean War, the United States has sought to maintain a force that can fight and win two major wars at once. The Obama plan would change that to an ability to fight and win one war and, hopefully, still deter a second aggressor.

After our successful participation in WWI (which ended a bloody stalemate), the isolationists pulled us back to within our borders and unilaterally disarmed. Refusing to acknowledge that we were now a world power, they cut the Army and Navy, refused to participate in the League of Nations, and thought nice thoughts about the rest of the world. Britain and France followed suit, while ravaging Germany for reparations and setting the stage for Hitler to lead a new Germany to strength and internal horror.

Now the President assumes that there will be no more “real” wars, so we don’t need some dirty-faced Marine to win the day. We can be a world power using a few drones flown from the safety of Missouri to do the job. Mark my words, soon, the drones will be flown by contractors who have made donations to the party coffers and whose employees are all dues-paying members of SEIU.

In the period between the World Wars, we relied on two large oceans and our Navy to keep the world at bay. Roosevelt sent the Pacific Fleet forward to Hawaii to send a signal to Japan that we would not brook further aggression towards China and the far East.

In 1940, Roosevelt sent the Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, to let the Japanese see them 2500 miles closer to Tokyo and thus be deterred. Admiral James O. Robinson, Commander in Chief, US Fleet at the time of the deployment of the Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, wanted to keep the fleet in San Diego or at Lahaina Roads. Political pressure brought to bear on Washington by businesses in Honolulu forced the fleet to stay in Pearl Harbor so that large liberty parties could enjoy the pleasures of that city. Robinson was fired by FDR, the fleet stayed at Pearl, and we know how that worked out.

The military leadership in China, Iran, and Korea must be delighted to hear that. If China can sucker Korea or Iran into starting one war, the force the President proposes will not deter China!

Secretary Panetta down-played the differences, asserting that we can ignore the large conflicts of the past and focus, instead, on the conflicts the United States the Administration thinks are likely to occur in the 21st century.

As one who has been to Corregidor and seen the massive fixed gun positions placed to stop an enemy fleet from sailing into Manila Bay, as Dewey had in 1898, I agree that a policy of preparing to fight the last war is subject to valid criticism. As one who has personally seen the massive tidal range at Inchon, Korea, where the First Marine Division turned the tide of the Korean War in its amphibious landing in September 1950, I know that being prepared to continue to do things that worked in the past is also necessary. In 1949, Louis Johnson, President Truman’s Secretary of Defense, argued that the Marine Corps and amphibious warfare were obsolete when a single Air Force bomber could end a war with one A-bomb. A year later, he had to eat those words.

Secretary Panetta said, "Make no mistake - we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time." Nice words, but the plan says just the opposite. The President plans to cut ground forces,that is, the dog-face with a machine-gun, the Leatherneck with his rifle, the people who actually fight and win wars, by 10 to 15 %, i.e., by 75,000 to 110,000 people. The policy assumes that from here on out, troop- and time-intensive operations are unlikely to occur. Thus, the force no longer needs to be sized, supplied or trained for large-scale, long-term missions.

Rather, the Administration assumes, cyberwarfare and unmanned drones, the single Air Force bomber of today, will win the day. And the Democrats thought SDI was crazy?

At least the President recognizes that countering attempts by China and Iran to block U.S. power projection capabilities in areas like the South China Sea and the Strait of Hormuz must still be part of our national strategy. How he will do that with drones is a mystery. It sounds more Rooseveltian to me.

So we will not actually be in the Straits of Hormuz or the South China Sea; we’ll be watching from afar via drones. But surely, the Chinese or the Iranians will get the idea, right?

Fortunately, the hollow, toothless force that we had available in 1940 was able to hold on, by the skin of its teeth, in a large two-front war until we could mobilize a 12 million man Army three years later (today, that would equal a 36 million man force). We will run out of drones and the few carriers we still have long before China runs out of its multi-million man army. Having a force with no teeth didn’t work in 1941 and will be similarly unsuccessful in the future The world and technology of the 21st Century simply will not give us that time, so we either have an adequate force ready to go or we lose.

I pray that the President and his advisors are right about this risky tack they are taking. I believe they are not and that bodes ill for the United States.

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