[FoRK] Reducing defense spending

mdw at martinwills.com mdw at martinwills.com
Fri Jun 25 07:09:22 PDT 2010

> Re reducing defense, as James pointed out, a lot of the spending is
> related to active headcount.  Another massive chunk goes to
> maintaining logistics in large deployments. Eliminate active
> groundwars and you win on both fronts. Big.
> Re weapons systems, we have two concerns: strategic and tactical.
> We've got the first covered pretty well. Doesn't require terabucks to
> maintain that.  And if everybody gets all hand-wringy about using
> nukes (despite the long term advantages of, for example, irradiating
> the Afghan / Pakistani border highlands*) --- there are options. Rods-
> from-God wouldn't cost that much to put into production, and are
> significantly less "objectionable."
> Tactical is the problem.  Warfighters, to use the de jeur term, are
> expensive.  Technology provides an out.  Fast, quiet, cheap, smart,
> disposable, and massively parallel is the model of the day.  Drones of
> all shapes and sizes are all of those things.  Enormous per-fighter
> force multiplication and projection.
> And then there is the Aussie working on his own that has demonstrated
> that we can build cruise missiles from off-the-shelf parts for
> kilobucks a pop.
> Distance kills are cheap and have a deterrent quality even tactically,
> if we have the will to use the tools.  There's becoming increasingly
> little need for any manned aircraft, and the foot soldier isn't far
> behind on the obsolescence curve. (Spec. ops and support in/
> exfiltration infrastructure exempted..)
> The warfighters we need are video game nerds sitting in comfy air-
> conditioned command pods on ships offshore, directing semi-autonomous
> mixed swarms of killbots, backed by deep IT and "combat programmers."
> The heart of tomorrow's battlespace looks more like a network ops
> center or trading floor than a desert tent city.
> More like that.
> That plus a willingness to use strategic weapons judiciously if
> necessary would reduce the costs of any unavoidable wars by many
> orders of magnitude while improving outcomes and deterrents.
> No more BS engaging guerilla wars h2h or cave2cave on the enemy's
> terms, which invariably neutralizes any advantage we might think we
> have.
> No land wars in Asia.  Or elsewhere.
> Also, spending on RT sigint gives dispropotionate advantage.  And
> we've seemingly lost all competency in humint and tradecraft, need
> that back.
> Also worth mentioning: a little diplomacy with real carrot-stick goes
> a long way.  The neocons don't believe in the carrot.  The
> progressives don't believe in the stick.  You've got to have both, and
> a willingness to use them.
> Getting over hegemonic fantasies would help a lot, too.  But we resist
> that even domestically.  A sea change in attitude about that pays
> dividends both domestically and world-wide.  More Rasputin, less Caesar.
> The JSF is a perfect example of what NOT to do on the new weapons.  An
> egg-laying milk pig. Today's best technology for fighting yesterday's
> wars.
> jb
> * at the risk of giving away the secret:  play some Risk. Afghanistan
> is a choke point in that game.  Control passage through there and the
> game is half won. ;-). IRL, cut off that passage and Afghanistan cools
> down quickly.  Pakistan is harder and more of a diplomacy and intel
> problem.  There you probably need the biggest stick and all the
> carrots you've got.  Whacking the western highlands but good would
> probably inspire a reevaluation, though.
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  You obviously have never had any military training.  Aircraft can not
hold territory, bodies in the wadies do.  Tanks do not hold territory. 
Bodies do.  Artillery does not hold territory. Bodies do.  Until there
is a body holding onto a piece of ground, it isn't worth having or
fighting over.


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