Op-Ed: We’ve Been Fighting The Last War
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For a long time, frankly since the horrible events of 9/11, the United States military has been fighting the last war, a low-intensity conflict targeted toward terror elements in the Middle East. The Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ISIS are examples. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates even gave the military leadership grief for not focusing their efforts on this threat, the military brass preferring to maintain a ‘conventional’ capability in the face of the terrorist agenda.
Now that preference of the brass seems to be bearing itself out as prescient. America is facing rising threats across the globe. The next fight it seems will not be on horseback in the Iraqi desert or in the hills of northern Syria. The next conflict could be conventional and intercontinental, involving planes, ships, tanks, and cruise missiles. It could happen in Europe, the Korean Peninsula, or the South China Sea.
The tendency to train and equip to fight the conflict you are most familiar with, or the most recent war, is well documented throughout military history. The most well known being the French Maginot Line in Europe. The French didn’t anticipate German Blitzkrieg or mobile warfare and built a huge, fortified trench along the border with Germany. The Panzer divisions went around it in a period of days.
Today, China is building a blue water navy. They are building aircraft carriers that eventually will rival American carrier battle groups. They are building man-made islands in the South China Sea which will make it harder for America to support Taiwan in a conflict or our allies in the Pacific.
North Korea has a million men across the demilitarized zone and is led by a madman who is developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Russia is threatening its Baltic neighbors, former Soviet territory, as well as the rest of the Eastern European countries of former Iron Curtain fame. Russia has started the only hot, shooting war in Europe since the end of World War II in East Ukraine. Russia has joined Syria and Iran to form an axis in the Middle East which threatens Israel and other American allies in the region.
All of this is happening as America shrinks its armed forces to the lowest level since the last world war. Our navy is not big enough to carry out its commitments globally. Our Air Force doesn’t have enough next generation aircraft to successfully prosecute a global war. Our bombers are scheduled to fly until they are ninety years of age. This is ridiculous. America used to train and equip to fight two wars around the globe at once. Now we can’t prosecute one.
Our enemies and adversaries know this. This is why there is so much armed instability in the world currently. America has left a power vacuum. If the country looks to protect its interests in the 21st century, the United States will have to rearm. If not, America will continue to decline in power and influence around the world.
L. Todd Wood, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, flew special operations helicopters supporting SEAL Team 6, Delta Force and others. After leaving the military, he pursued his other passion, finance, spending 18 years on Wall Street trading emerging market debt, and later, writing. The first of his many thrillers is “Currency.” Todd is a contributor to The Washington Times, Fox Business, Moscow Times, the New York Post, the National Review, Zero Hedge and others, and he is a foreign correspondent for Newsmax TV. For more information about L. Todd Wood, visit LToddWood.com.