For those that didn’t know Jon Huntsman is a Republican candidate for president. Why he is running on the Republican ticket instead of the Democrat ticket is beyond me, but a recent column he wrote for CNN once again has me wanting to scream at the top of my lungs about learning the lessons of history. In this column he lays out his national security strategy as it relates to our military composition and abilities. It is a lot of same talk we have heard from the past which always led to us being caught off guard whenever the next conflict emerged and threatened this country. In reading the column you can see the influence being ambassador to China under Obama has had on him.
We are a Pacific nation living in a Pacific Century, and our vital interests in that region cannot be compromised.
Sound familar? Wasn’t it just a few days ago that Obama declared Hawaii as a part of Asia?
He starts with a false premise.
In recognition of the growing asymmetrical threats we face and the evolving requirements of counterterrorism, we need a different set of capabilities. The world may have seen its last heavy armor battle between two nation-states. The relative importance of counterterrorism, intelligence, training and equipping foreign security forces, and special forces operations will continue to grow.
The world has not seen its last heavy armor battle, at least not from where I sit. As long as Israel remains the only truly democratic state in a region ruled by Islamic dictators, in spite of what the Arab Spring may bring the attitudes towards Israel will not change. If he truly believes that Asia is the next central theater that needs attention how can he overlook the Korean peninsula?
It is wishful thinking that wars can be fought and won without the soldier on the ground. Imposing a no fly zone over Iraq actually resulted in two conflicts being waged, the second which may not have been necessary if the public outcry over the first one had not been so intense. In the Gulf War we fail victim to our own success.
If we simultaneously transform our capabilities and posture while enhancing our Guard and Reserve, our active duty army could be reduced to around 450,000 troops, from the approximately 565,000 we now have.
Fatal flaw number 2. You can not mobilize Reserve and National Guard forces in a timely enough manner to respond to a crisis. Active duty forces train all the time, they are full time warriors. This is not meant to demean the reserve and National Guard forces but even they will admit that it takes a period of training to bring them up to speed prior to deploying. When I was a member of the active duty Army I was often assigned to units which comprised what was known as a Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). We could be anywhere in the world with our equipment within 96 hours. Once on the ground those advance forces have the minimum resources necessary to perform their mission. The lengthy delays while waiting for follow on forces would have dire consequences. Ask any member of the 82nd Airborne that was deployed in the early days of the Gulf War in ’90 – 91 how they felt being in the desert with no heavy armor or artillery while just across the border sat Saddam’s forces. That conflict would have turned out far different if Iraq had decided to push their advantage. Our total troop strength during the Desert Storm offensive was approximately 545,000 for that engagement. Mr Huntsman would take our total strength below that level.
For a quick history lesson of what could happen review the lesson of Task Force Smith in the opening days of the Korean Conflict.
Mr Huntsman goes on to argue for increased emphasis on cyberwarfare, unmanned aerial assets and changes to the seaborne assets. I argue that those should be additional assets and not replace anything we currently have.
He is making the same argument that has haunted countries and the military since time began. He is fighting the current war with no eye on the future and no lessons learned from the past. He is someone who ascribes to the theory of ‘painless’ warfare. I dare anybody reading this to cite me one example of a war, conflict, regional dispute, or any other fancy term you have for armed conflict that was not won by the man on the ground. All conflicts are settled by boots on the ground, occupying the enemies ground. Look no further then Libya. That wasn’t settled, and I am not saying it is yet, but a victor wasn’t declared until the rebels occupied key geographic areas, with an assist from the air campaign, but the air war was not going to decide a thing.
The closet you can come to saying a conflict was won without boots on the ground physically in the enemies territory might be the Cold War and the downfall of the Soviet Union, but even that was backed up by a show of force and of course the eventual collapse came about simply as the result of the communist system itself, which for the life I can not understand why Europe and now the United States want to embrace in some form of Socialism. Different name, same result.
So Mr Huntsman, all of you Paulians, and any others who think we would be better off if our military would simply go away or be placed into a little box and brought out when the barbarians are at the gate, please just enjoy the freedoms and liberties that you claim to be the righteous defenders of, that have been guaranteed to you by the existence of our military. I don’t know what it will take to convince people that being a member of the military is a profession and not something that can be simply be turned on and off like a light switch. The skills necessary to improve your chances of surviving on the battlefield come with training and experience. Nothing can guarantee your survival, hell we lose people everyday in training accidents. Finding out you don’t have the personnel or equipment necessary to fight a war is not the same as discovering that the spare tire in your car is also flat when you have a need to change a tire. There is no roadside assistance to call.
Final thought. Nature abhors a vacuum and somebody has to be number 1. If you do not want the United States to occupy that spot please tell me who you want to be the dominant power militarily? China? Russia? Somalia maybe? Pick one because if it isn’t America somebody will step up and assume the role and I just want to know who you are comfortable living with as the military leader of the world.