Tina K. Russell

May 18, 2008

The Splurge is Working

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 8:36 pm

Gates Says New Arms Must Play Role Now – New York Times

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned the military and its contractors on Tuesday that expensive new conventional weapons must prove their value to current conflicts, marked by insurgency and terrorism, if they are to be included in further Pentagon budgets.

Those comments are certain to alarm advocates of the newest generations of high-tech and high-cost weapons programs, in particular the Future Combat Systems program and the F-22, the Air Force’s advanced warplane. Both have come under scrutiny of Pentagon budget officers questioning whether either will be required for missions similar to the current operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Future Combat Systems, an Army initiative entailing a vast combat-gear overhaul whose total cost could exceed $200 billion, “must continue to demonstrate its value for the types of irregular challenges we will face,” as well as for the full-blown land warfare for which it was designed, Mr. Gates said.

About freaking time. I’ve been really sick of us spending bajillions of dollars to get the most advanced warplanes and destroyers to fight imaginary Soviet squadrons. We’ve had the firepower advantage for a long time, and we’re still losing. A smart war policy stops blowing the taxpayer money on high-tech toys.

…Okay, I should be clear that I’m not dismissing military technology projects in general as “high-tech toys.” I’m talking about advanced warplanes being developed to fight people who use shoulder-mounted grenades. We develop weapons of war as though we were still in an arms race with the Soviet Union, when the people we’re fighting today are using improvised weapons in an assymetrical fight. The kind of tech that seems to be helping in Iraq is the kind of tech that allows troops to communicate and coordinate effectively, given the many hats an Army captain must wear, of commander, confidant, spokesman, diplomat, and all-around crisis manager, in order to hold and secure an area. We have a technology advantage, but the enemy has found ways to leverage our brute force against us. When our resources are stretched to the limit, and political will at home to continue this fight is fading fast, we need to work hard to make every last dollar count. That means not sending the fanciest new bombers into a fight for the ideological soul of the Arab world.

Oh, yes, I’m a pacifist, I don’t like war. But, anyone can appreciate a well-fought war from afar. I’ll be facing its very real consequences soon enough.

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