One symbolic skeet shoot is a success.
Since 2005 we here have together been talking at great length about the inevitable procurement scissors crisis. So it begins. And as we’ve been talking for some time, this is only the cusp. The
milporn national security bloggers (including the usual rah rahs like Arianna), etc. are reveling in their new playground of defense planning, budgets, defense-Statist-industrial planning and — GASP — congressional complicity.
Feh. People should have seen Ted Kennedy holding press conferences denouncing the MX missile in 1981-82, declaring Reagan was trying to start a nuclear war. And then later that same day in SASC closed sessions fight like hell for full MX funding because of some Route 128 industrial interests were involved with designing the MIRV buses (we think it was the buses). There’s your effing “Lion of Senate” for you. People malign John Tower alot, but when the Long Island contingent kept pushing for more A-10s back then than even Caspar Weinberger wanted (this was Cap the Shovel, not Cap the Knife from Nixon days), it was John Tower who in his felicitous phraseology ‘would put on his golf shoes and kick their ass until they gave in or stopped breathing.’ (Note: these are real events and personages, look them up in Wikipedia. They do predate Friendster, though).
So this F-22 thing? It’s actually very much ado about so little. Forget the wonks reveling in asymmetrical responses, platforms versus sensors, intelligent swarms, etc. That, too, is bullshit.
Here’s the only thing that matters: the United States is a bankrupt imperial power. That’s it folks. We’re printing money we don’t have and have no prospects of ever earning or paying back. The entire Reagan-era platform generation would have needed replacement by today in any event. Even with usual MTBF (mean time between failure). That exponentially went out the window with the life cycles being churned up in combat. Desert effing combat to boot. We can’t afford to replace it. And service life extension plans (SLEP) while sometimes useful (consider the B-52) for the most part it is contractor talk for a less obvious annuity.
The one good thing we have going for us is it is easier (but only sometimes cheaper) to swap out and upgrade the electronic packages. Nonetheless, the platforms themselves have a finite lifespan. And we’ve got a whole bunch reaching the end. We can’t afford to replace the units 1-for-1, and the whole technology as force multiplier for fewer platforms cant has so many conceptual flaws that we have all discussed here before.
One of our favorite non-viable white elephants (out of legions) is in another service, the Army’s Future Combat System. All very HALO (the game). Unaffordable regardless. As a potentially amusing anecdote, we were at a by invitation only, off the record discussion with senior defense and DS&T types (technical) gathering early in the Warlord’s tenure. We didn’t belong there to be honest. Focus on decorum, bureaucratic feudal status and reverence for hierarchy. We are manifestly *not* that. And can fake it but only so long. Alot of technology issues covered that day from pico to global network/CONUS reach back level matters.
So the day goes along ok. Then a rep from Microsoft gets up. They invited MSFT to discuss their technology capabilities regarding a solution to help with distributed, networked, swarming ground forces. With linked, loitering real time over the horizon fire capabilities and agile logistics, etc. And so this MSFT guy drones on with a dreadful PowerPoint. What did Redmond think was the war winner? Why selling more Windows XP deployed across all networks. Heads are nodding. Notes being scribbled. The Stiftung thought we burned many a bridge that day literally exclaiming WTF? Probably the tape transcripts may have captured a muttered a ‘You have got to be fucking kidding me’, into a microphone too. Yes, we did raise the “L” word (Linux). We didn’t care at that point if we pissed the grandees off. These were some of the ‘best’ scientific defense minds in the nation according to their c.v.s and we witnessed them taking notes on MSFT stupidity all unfolding like a bad YouTube video. (All turned out OK as the Stiftung was invited back for another meeting to our surprise. We declined).
Although give the Army credit – they at least later ran away from Redmond. Still, just savor that potential multi-billion dollar XP war winner. All shadows and dust even with Linux. < /rant mode off>
America under Obama still pretends to be a global superpower and master of its own fate. We continue to write diplomatic cheques we can’t afford today, let after procurement collapse dictates a scale back in the not-too-distant future. Think we are being shrill? Witness Biden in Kiev saying he supports Ukraine in NATO. Where has the strategic debate about this really taken place. Especially after September 2008. Pretend economic collapse is not happening like Geithner and Summer lie to us every day. Is the United States really going to go to war over Kharkov? Able to go to war for Kharkov? Even Jay Leno on his smug ‘Jay Walking’ schtick wouldn’t know where Kharkov is. That is a more feckless guarantee than the British guarantee to Poland. And if Manstein couldn’t hold Kharkov, what makes any American think they ever could?
The Poles and Georgians, however, have got to be loving this. Scheunemann is probably faxing another invoice.
Obama for all his ‘new look’ (read new speeches) foreign policy is continuing so much of the Warlord’s ‘fundamental’ assumptions of American capabilities we are astounded. We as a Nation have a brief window in time and history to leverage the still lingering global memory and partial acceptance of the U.S. as a super power. In this short window, our diplomacy now should be focused on a ‘soft landing’ creating an international order conducive as possible to American values when the major actors in an anarchical system will not only be non-Western, but non-democratic. The F-22 a mosquito swat. Senior American ‘planners’ [cough] don’t get it. The U.S. as viable global hegemon — those days are like the 8 track tape.
History will damn this generation for many reasons. The most perceptive prospective judgment we believe will be never has history seen a ‘great power’ so ignorant of how it ever became a great power: economic and financial viability. And been so ignorant about tending to both. Yet then also determined to ignore the inescapable linkage between that viability and *sustainable* foreign and defense polices/force structures. It’s the frickin’ historical trifecta of stupid.
We can only imagine what catastrophic situation that looms. History’s remorseless truisms will slam down on American pretension no matter what memes we offer in defense. The headless chickens will run around on cable and blogs. We quote (out of context) the best movie review we read about the dreadful (we refused to go) Transformers calamity: “Weep for America.”