Jeff Edwards has an opinion piece up on Military.com about criticism of the military. He points out (very rightly) that the military is always portrayed as having had the wrong stuff in the past, having the wrong stuff now, and wanting the wrong stuff for the future. It has the wrong weapons, the wrong tactics, and the wrong mind-set.
In fact, except for winning all the time, it can’t really do much of anything right.
When the Army is small, it’s TOO small. Then we start to hear phrases like ‘over-extended’ or ‘spread too thin,’ and the integrity of our national defense is called into question. When the Army is large, it’s TOO large, and it’s an unnecessary drain on our economy. Terms like ‘dead weight,’ and ‘dead wood’ get thrown around.
I know what you’re thinking. We could build a medium-sized Army, and everyone would be happy. Think again. A medium-sized Army is too small to deal with large scale conflicts, and too large to keep military spending properly muzzled. The naysayers will attack any middle of the road solution anyway, on the grounds that it lacks a coherent strategy. So small is wrong, large is wrong, and medium-sized is also wrong.
No branch of the military is exempt. When the Navy builds aircraft carriers, we are told that we really need small, fast multipurpose ships. When the Navy builds small, fast multi-mission ships (aka the Arleigh Burke class), we’re told that blue water ships are poorly suited for littoral combat, and we really need brown water combat ships. The Navy’s answer, the Littoral Combat Ship, isn’t even off the drawing boards yet, and the critics are already calling it pork barrel politics and questioning the need for such technology. Now I’ve gone nose-to-nose with hostiles in the littoral waters of the Persian Gulf, and I can’t recall that pork or politics ever entered into the conversation. In fact, I’d have to say that the people trying to kill me and my shipmates were positively disinterested in the internal wranglings of our military procurement process.
As I’ve said many times before, the biggest problem with media coverage of the military is the fact that they don’t understand the military, military strategy and tactics, or military history. This, of course, is a gross generalization of journalists, but I read their work and I know that I know more about the military than 99% of them. And I don’t know jack.
So how can they be counted on to cover military stories and issues capably? Well, they can’t. Fortunately for them, most of the public also doesn’t really understand the military, military strategy and tactics, or military history, so they generally don’t get found out.
And, for what it’s worth, I think the US Army is too small.