IN YOUR RECENT ARTICLE IN WAR ON THE ROCKS, YOU IMPLIED THAT THE U. S. MILITARY MIGHT NOT BE READY FOR A FALKLANDS-TYPE SCENARIO. WOULD YOU ELABORATE ON THAT?
Yes. Thanks for the question. We should remain very proud of what our military has tried to achieve over the past dozen years. They have worked hard under incredibly stressful situations, endured heavy losses, and withstood considerable disruption to their families. We should remain confident that the U. S. military is the best around. That said, new strategy focusing more on expeditionary warfare presents challenges different from those recent experiences. By its nature, expeditionary warfare requires forces to deploy rapidly and confront situations in austere environments. That is the Falklands War scenario, a fight concentrated on distant islands, surrounded by rough oceans, with no infrastructure. Comparable scenarios need not involve islands but still require forces to take everything with them and then to keep stuff working. Our military used to practice this. They have not done so to any significant degree recently though. I have great confidence that our Marines can execute a variety of expeditionary missions under austere conditions. That is their mission. I trust they are ready. But our Army is far less prepared to do so. And the Falklands War reveals repercussions when readiness differs and units must operate jointly in such environments. Our military has operated from support bases in the Middle East for many years now as it executed operations, similar to how we once operated from firebases in Vietnam. We have become reliant on prepositioned equipment. A generation of logisticians has grown up operating only from fixed ports, roads and runways. Units have relied heavily on contractors to maintain equipment. Today, military units are not trained to be as self-sustaining as they once were. Less time is spent training men and women to maintain their own equipment. They rely on others. This has been going on for years now. Many leaders are focused on this today. They see the challenge ahead. Fixing it will take some time. Readiness and capabilities always must align with a nation’s military strategy. From what I can see, our military has a good ways to go to be ready for new strategy. Trained, ready and agile militaries can overcome many shortcomings and surprises. It is exponentially more difficult to do so, however, when operating over vast distances and at the end of a long logistics tether.