Another troubling thought comes from a long conversation I had with a serving RAF officer yesterday who affirmed what I had heard so many times before, on the structure and equipment of the armed forces. I got from him what I have heard so often elsewhere, that the Services cannot afford to focus on the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as that would leave them unprepared to fight future wars. The effort in our current theatres must, therefore, be tempered by the need to maintain balanced forces, capable of dealing with future (unknown) commitments.
I have likened this to a military planning committee deciding in 1943 to withhold forces from the invasion of Normandy and the defeat of Hitler for fear of being unprepared to fight a war in the 1950s.
The point that emerges here is that the military – no less than the nation in general (each for their own different reasons) – is not committed to the current wars. As we listened to the RAF commentator coo and gasp at the performance of the Eurofighter, delivering a torrent of propaganda in favour of the new “toy” as it went though its paces (admittedly impressive), one’s impression was somewhat reinforced that fighting wars in distant fields were regarded as an irrelevance at best, a distraction from the real business of constructing that mythical beast, the “balanced force”.
Frankly, if neither the military nor the population – to say nothing of the media and the political establishment – are committed to winning our current wars then (no matter how vital it is that we do win them) we have no business sending our troops there, some of them to die and many more to suffer horrific injuries. We might just as well bring them home to play with their “balanced” force and forget all about the untidiness and inconveniences of real fighting.
Significant amounts of money are going towards high tech weapons like the F-22 which is practically useless in the two wars that are currently being fought. In fact, it is hard to think of an opponent where the US would need the F-22.
China comes to mind of course, but could there really be a serious war between the US and China that did not go nuclear? In that case, the F-22 would be rather irrelevant wouldn’t it?
As the Chieftain of Seir argued in this essay, the focus on what worked well for US in the past is setting US up for military defeat.