One of the highlights of last night’s presidential debate was Obama, who can’t pronounce corpsman, smugly insulting Romney about what the military uses and doesn’t use. The highlight of the highlight, was of course, horses and bayonets.
We don’t use horses, either, according to Obama.
This is where Obama’s stupid really meshes with other types of stupid. The saying is that you always fight the last war. For those unfamiliar with the saying, what it shows is that your military acquires experience based on one war, and then tries to reapply it. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. Civil War and Napoleonic tactics weren’t up to the task of The Great War, WWI tactics and strategies and tools weren’t up to use in WWII, WWII tactics had to change for Korea, Korean ideas didn’t work in Vietnam, Vietnam didn’t work in Gulf War I, Gulf War I didn’t work in Afghanistan, Afghanistan didn’t work the same in Iraq, and Iraq’s successes don’t translate back to Afghanistan so well. Generals had years to train on what they just fought, though, with up-and-coming officers and NCOs who set the culture of the military being those who fought the last war, so they apply that expertise and often forget the past.
Obama’s spiel about aircraft carriers was not only insulting to Romney, but it ignores that there are ways to make carriers go away. A couple ASBMs and suddenly the carrier is a white elephant. And with Obama’s pledge to slow development of future weapons systems and missile defense, we know we won’t have a defense against ASBMs. The technology he wants to rely on he also wants to keep undeveloped. You can’t have it both ways, Mr. President. And you certainly can’t lecture us on technology you’re halting as the solution. A large navy is very important to power projection. Numbers of ships are important.
This dovetails into the recent news story about Congress putting money away for tanks the military says it doesn’t need.
Congress doesn’t want to kill any jobs in their districts and argue that tank production is “necessary to protect the industrial base.”
Not so necessary on the battlefield though, since the last real tank battle occurred in the First Gulf War. Since then tanks have largely been used for anti-personnel purposes, or for making new doors in structures to aid the movement of ground troops. Nevertheless, the U.S. hasn’t halted production since before World War II.
Congressmen not wanting to kill jobs and “protecting the industrial base” is stimulus and earmark pork nonsense. They’re speaking Keynesian gibberish and want to keep govt. money flowing into their districts and that’s the best they can come up with. Maintaining tooling and factories for production certainly isn’t a bad idea, but that has to be balanced with what the country should and should not be spending.
On the other hand, the argument that “the last real tank battle was 20 years ago” is precisely the “last war” mentality. The “last war” is now Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly, smart men with no wisdom declare we will never again need tanks because we didn’t need them this week. There’s some semi-famous quote saying how military men are like children and how they’ll drop blankets when it’s warm and rain gear when the sky is clear because they can’t think for tommorow; and there are plenty of proverbs about prudent men vs foolish men. Exactly opposite the article, we should be keeping up tank production and refurbishment exactly because they’re valuable military tools. That they provide jobs in some congressman’s district is entirely irrelevant to the inherent military usefulness of a tank.
While it doesn’t float and is ultimately crewed by DATs, it’s a very useful tool.
Obama’s ignorance of the military isn’t just that we still use horses and bayonets, it’s that he doesn’t understand why we use them, nor does he understand that technology (that he’s trying to stop, no less) is not magic.
Update: HotAir has an excellent piece on how horses, bayonets, and most importantly ships still matter. Ships are power projection, and that piece goes into much greater detail. It’s worth the read.