U.S. Army Fears Major War Likely Within Five Years -- But Lacks The Money To Prepare
[size=inherit] CONTRIBUTOR[size=inherit][size=0.75em][/color]I write about national security, especially its business dimensions.
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[/font][/size][size=inherit]Nothing focuses the mind like fear. What’s focusing the minds of U.S. Army leaders right now is the fear that they will be in a major war within five years. They know they’ll be fighting terrorists and insurgents for the foreseeable future, but what really preoccupies them is the likely return of large-scale conventional conflict — maybe with Russia in Eastern Europe, or Iran in the Middle East, or North Korea in Northeast Asia. Maybe in all three places.[/size][size=inherit]Senior Army officials are circumspect about discussing the danger in open forums — they don’t want to advertise U.S. vulnerabilities — but it seems clear that the Obama administration’s “pivot to the Pacific” announced in 2012 has created a geopolitical vacuum stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Persian Gulf that Russia and Iran are trying to fill. Meanwhile, the unpredictable government of North Korea continues its bellicose behavior toward the South, which the U.S. is pledged to defend.[/size][size=inherit]There isn’t much appetite for new wars in [/color]Washington
, but U.S. leaders would have little choice if these countries sought to impose their will by force in neighboring nations. Whether aggression took the form of subversion or outright invasion, the U.S. would have to respond, because success for the attackers would drastically alter the global landscape to America’s detriment. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what it would mean if Russian forces were back in the heart of Europe, or Iran controlled most Middle East oil, or North Korea overran the South.[/size][size=inherit][/size]The Army’s Stryker armored troop carrier built by General Dynamics has performed well against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in a fight with Russian forces it would require a more powerful gun and better underside protection in the form of a double-V shaped hull to dissipate blast energy. (Retrieved from Wikipedia)[size=inherit]
What worries Army planners is that their service isn’t adequately prepared for any of these scenarios — much less a situation in which more than one unfolded simultaneously. Not only have U.S. ground forces been drawn down in Europe and Asia as Washington sought to rely more on air power and sea power for regional security, but investment in new technology for land combat is at a low ebb. The Army’s entire budget for developing and producing new equipment, from tanks to missiles to helicopters to howitzers, amounts to barely two days of federal spending annually.The level of spending is almost unbelievably low. The Army spends less on procuring wheeled and tracked vehicles in a year than [/color]General Motors [/size]GM -0.91%[/size]
[/size][size=inherit] generates in sales each week. Its $3.6 billion budget request for helicopter procurement, about eight hours worth of federal spending at current rates, is focused mainly on upgrading Reagan-era rotorcraft because it can’t afford to buy new ones. Its ammunition budget ($1.5 billion) isn’t much more than what Americans spend on fireworks each year (around $1 billion).[/font][/font][/size][/font]