Thursday, April 16, 2009
A Calm Voice in the Midst of Frenzy
Thomas Barnett has boldly penned an article appearing in this months issue of Esquire that looks at the Inside the War Against Robert Gates which has resonated in cross postings and links around the web.
When Bob Gates took over as Secretary of Defense at the end of 2006, he stated unequivocally that one of his primary goals would be to improve America's ability to perform in post-war environments — to better fight an insurgency, really. Cognizant that our military might in conventional, big-war capabilities was driving all of our real-time opponents toward pronouncedly asymmetrical, small-wars strategies, Gates decided to end — finally, stemming from the days well before Donald Rumsfeld — the Defense Department's institutional bias against preparing for such "low-intensity" scenarios. Low intensity, he understands, has become the all-too-intense norm of modern warfare.
The subheadings draw attention the the best analysis yet of Gates vision with these tidbits of insight from Barnett to whet your appetite to read more.
Bludgeoning the Budget with a Google Search
America hasn't fought a war against another great power since 1945, coincidentally the year we obtained and first used nuclear weapons. Since then, no two great powers armed with nukes have ever gone to war — one of the longest droughts since nation-states were invented. Since the Cold War, meanwhile, our global-security environment has witnessed a serious ratcheting-up of transnational terrorism, failed states, internal strife, and all the accompanying interventions by outside great powers and international organizations.
Frankly, given the profound financial interdependence among the world's great powers today, the prospects for great-power war — conventional or otherwise — are arguably dimmer than they've ever been in modern history. Layer on additional environmental interdependencies generated by climate change, and the case against America being drawn into great-power war over the next fifty years seems all the stronger.
Accepting the Realities of Terrorism (Pirates Included)
At the end of the day, then, our government needs to ask itself if the new defense budget moves America closer to or further away from the world as we find it evolving. As somebody who's argued for many years about "downshifting" the Pentagon's strategic perspective — and resources — from large conflicts to small ("system administration," as I like to call it), Gates turns out to be the seminal figure I hoped he would become. Assuming his continued success, he arguably goes down as President Obama's most influential first-term cabinet pick.
After reading this piece it is know wonder that bloggers from diverse POV's have linked this article. Just a few of those who have linked. H/T to Tom's blog.
Joining in with a naval centric view of Gates goals is this from Galrahn of Information Dissemination.
Unless there was any question where this is heading, I think it has become pretty clear what the Secretary of Defense thinks.
"As we saw last week, you don't necessarily need a billion-dollar ship to chase down a bunch of teenage pirates," Gates said.Although he has praised the precision training of Navy SEAL snipers who killed three pirate hostage-takers Sunday, the secretary was referring to the imbalance of massive U.S. warships and dazzling weaponry corralling the pirates' tiny lifeboat. The Somali pirates were armed with automatic weapons and pistols and holding an American cargo ship captain for ransom.
Galrahn's final paragraph brings to mind our experiences in the last year of the War in the Pacific when thousands of kamikaze pilots swarmed over Americans ships. Our only defense then besides hundreds of aircraft was putting a gun on every inch of every vessel and blasting the sky with millions of rounds of ammo.
Hopefully Gates starts asking tough questions about asymmetrical threats. If you think Somali piracy is challenging, break out Google Earth and take a closer look at Iran. There are over 1500 armed small vessels in Iran, and they are much better armed than Somali pirates. A lot of countries have similar capabilities, and after seeing the worlds major naval powers get flanked all over the Indian Ocean, it would appear these small vessels are a more effective capability at sea than the US Navy allowed for during those streetfighter debates at the turn of 21st century.
Finally echoing Galrahn is this post by eagle1 at United States Naval Institute Blog with this post. Department of Cheaper Pirate Fighting