One thing I’ve noticed after working in the policy trenches for 31 years is few things move in a straight line for long. Whether it is political polls, economic developments or social trends, our big, unruly nation seems to change awfully quickly.
Here is another pattern I have noticed: The old cliché about generals fighting the last war is…true. When we finally got pushed out of Vietnam in 1975, one of the absolute truisms of the military world was we would never get trapped in another land war in Asia. Well, in 35 years we have fought 3 more land wars in Asia, and we are still fighting two of them.
I also remember the 1990s, when war was all about air power and speed and mobility, while heavy armor and tanks and holding hostile territory were all dinosaurs from the distant past. America had won the first Iraq war, the Bosnia war, and the Serbian war largely through air power, and the Air Force would reign supreme.
Well guess what the American people have spent billions of dollars on this decade? Tanks and other armored vehicles, including thousands of uparmored Humvees. And guess where the United States Air Force is? Politically decapitated with its airpower modernization program in shreds. No new air superiority fighters, no new bombers, no new tankers, and no new strategic airlifters.
So when our current defense secretary says he believes the future of warfare is in irregular warfare fighting insurgencies like we are now, and by implication the Navy and Air Force are not that important, you can put me down as skeptical. That straight line may once again take a big bend.
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