Apples and camels

Ludwig von Gress

I did not watch the last Romney / Obama debate and got the Obama’s silly national defense quip only second hand. Republican challenger Mitt Romney said that the Navy has fewer ships than it did in 1917 and Obama replied, “We also have fewer horses and bayonets. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines”. Applause by the feeble minded.

Comparing apples and pears is a usual trick of the forward people. Communist rulers in Eastern Europe were often comparing the number of electric washing machines under the old capitalist regimes pre-1938 with that in 1978. (Not in USSR though; the benighted population wouldn’t know what they are talking about.)

Obama was either showing his abysmal ignorance of military matters or hiding his intention to emasculate America by saying that a half the ball is as good as two, relying, as always, on ignorance of his supporters. He was comparing apples with camels and his audacity stunned even the knowledgeable people. Is the Commander-in-Chief really so stupid? Mark Steyn sprung quickly to the defence of bayonets – Cold steel. I endorse it.

Nobody knows what the next big war is going to be like, but it would be unlikely like the computer war games where Obama seemingly gathered his strategic vision. It ought to be remembered that the technologically superior, disciplined and well trained Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe did not prevail on the Eastern Front against the almost illiterate, badly trained and badly led people having far less advanced weapons.

The technology freaks, who by now may or may not have taken over Pentagon, think the next war will be like a some computer game, where our ‘good’ robots will fight, only the enemy will die and if we still mess it up, we press the reset button. Even I can predict it will not be so. The American superior military technology has been used so far only against technologically inferior enemies, who given a bit of time, may learn to overcome the technology gap. Cheap IEDs seems to be killing more people than the expensive drones. The war in Afghanistan is not something the generals could be proud of, though at this early stage it is not easy to apportion the blame. The buck stops at the White House, but Obama is unable or unwilling to learn a lesson therefrom.

A serious small war could be a problem for US and two or more small wars would be a disaster. On a positive side, given the impending collapse of China, a nuclear war cannot be ruled out and there America would probably achieve a pyrrhic victory. An independent observer on Mars would count the dead and give USA a passing grade.

I wanted to write something specific about US Navy, but Harold Hutchison already has done it so much better:

 Obama’s unready Navy

Barack Obama has never understood why we must maintain a strong Navy or why the decline in the number of ships is such a big deal. He cited the advanced technology of our equipment in his condescending and arrogant quip after Romney raised the issue. Obama’s sneering response — “We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines” — completely missed the point.

In citing high technology, Obama gave us a display of brazen hypocrisy at its finest. On his watch, the Department of Defense has been cutting procurement programs such as the F-22 and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. In both cases, our military personnel must now make do with aging alternatives (the F-15C and AAV-7 family of vehicles). The F-15 entered service in 1976, the AAV-7 in 1972. By the 2016 election, both of these systems will be 40 years old, and expected to still be in service for as much as a decade. So much for relying on new technology — Obama has halted production of the high-tech replacements.

The Obama administration’s neglect of the Navy can be typified by the early retirement of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and its plans to decommission other naval assets. In August of this year, I outlined on NRO why the Enterprise should remain in service, but the Big E is only the most prominent asset slated for premature retirement. The administration also plans to decommission and scrap six Ticonderoga-class cruisers, although the vessels have as many as 15 years of service life left (even without further overhauls). Maintaining freedom of the seas requires hulls in the water — and the Navy hasn’t even started building the replacements for these cruisers. At present, all we have is a design study called CGX, which may or may not enter production.

This is one area where Obama is particularly culpable: His administration, in an effort to cut costs, proposed the retirement of the USS Enterprise (which his allies in Congress passed in 2009) and the six cruisers. Numerous crises are heating up around the world, as recent events show, but there is no indication that Obama has reconsidered these retirement plans. Certainly, it would not be hard to halt the retirements, and extenuating circumstances clearly warrant a supplemental appropriations bill. None of our carriers or submarines — no matter how high-tech they are — are capable of covering the Persian Gulf and South China Sea at the same time, or the Mediterranean Sea and the Korean peninsula simultaneously.

Obama and his allies in Congress talk about cutting the defense budget in order to spur “nation-building at home.” Accordingly, they have accelerated the decline, begun in 1991, of the U.S. Navy’s ship totals. What they fail to mention is the fact that China’s defense budget has at least quadrupled since 2000. China is becoming more aggressive around the Senkaku Islands and the South China Sea, in disputes with American allies such as Japan and the Philippines, and it has just commissioned its first aircraft carrier. The Chinese build-up, including new planes, stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s negligence in failing to keep the Navy properly maintained.

As the Chinese buy new ships, planes, and armored vehicles, the United States under Obama seems content to stand still. At the very least, the nation should have a quantitative edge in the latest weapons. To that end, the administration should halt the retirement of equipment (including planes and ships) and also build new equipment. If he does not follow this path, Obama will have made America’s task in a potential war with China more difficult.

In World War II, when the United States built a navy second to none, our military had a running start with the Naval Expansion Act of 1938 and the Two-Ocean Navy Act of July 1940 — bills passed long before the attack on Pearl Harbor. But even with that running start, most of those ships did not arrive on the front lines until mid-1943 or later, and many sailors and Marines paid the price in blood for America’s failure to prepare. Who will pay the price today, in the event of military conflict?

New naval construction and the overhauling of older assets also have an important side benefit: new jobs. Spending dollars this way is not the “weaponized Keynesianism” that critics decry. It’s simply a prudent investment — certainly more prudent than the taxpayer dollars lavished on Solyndra, A123, and other green-energy “investments.”

Ultimately, the neglect of the United States Navy has been a multi-decade scandal. Romney is to be commended for proposing to rectify this disgraceful situation, although the 313-ship force level is still only a little more than half the total of the 600-ship Navy that was able to send six carriers to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. In this case, Romney’s proposed build-up is a “starter home” for rebuilding the Navy — but much more will need to be done. [Whole article on National Review Online]

Here in Australia Labor government reduced our defence to such an extent, that RAN has to rely on the Armada Española fleet tanker SPS Cantabria for high-seas refuelling. A cynic could be excused for believing that Obama and Gillard work together towards dismantling the West’s ability to defend itself.

About Ludwig von Gress

Born in communist Europe, interested in defence matters on a macro scale, with a cavalry “devil may care spirit” from his grandfather and cautious effectiveness of asymmetric warfare approach from his guerilla father. He sometimes despairs that he may be the only one taking the defence of Australia seriously.
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7 Responses to Apples and camels

  1. Taurus says:

    The problems are all over the Western Front : Australian Army chief David Morrison will sound the alarm today on Defence budget cuts, saying he wants to ensure troops are not sent to war poorly equipped because of “misconceived strategy or economic stringency”.

    In an extraordinary public intervention by a senior serving Australian Defence Force officer, Lieutenant General Morrison warns that further cuts could pose a real risk to the effectiveness of the armed forces and a repeat of “mistakes” made after the Vietnam War.

    ”We are approaching a point where doing more with less risks becoming a cavalier disregard for the ability of forces to survive against credible peer competition,” General Morrison will tell Canberra University’s National Security Institute…

    “The current straitened fiscal climate poses a very real risk to the army’s approved plan for development out to 2030,” he will say.

  2. Goldschmidt says:

    Astonishing lies from that fellow. If America buys him again, God help us.

  3. Pluggie says:

    Obama is a dangerous cuss.

  4. Michelle says:

    Is there any Western government which is not secretly disarming while talking about super expensive toys in the never-never?

  5. Carping says:

    Disaster is looming, my Aussie friends. Start learning the Chinese language, like your schoolmarm said. Kow-towing you mastered already.

  6. atlantic hugo says:

    Obama lies, media lie… and why not? It works.

  7. Hower says:

    And the Appeaser-in-chief has four more years to destroy America.

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