“The status quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.” – At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declared in June that he was «shocked» upon his return to the Pentagon by the poor state of the US military’s readiness for combat. It was widely believed that the statement was just another attempt to convince lawmakers that the military needed more money. Perhaps, it was one of the reasons, but a series of accidents followed to confirm the fact that «something is wrong in the state of Denmark». These are not the best days for the US military beset by problems. Some experts believe the United States is facing erosion of its military might.
Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin has been relieved of his duty as the commander of the US 7th Fleet, following an incident on August 21 in which the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship east of the Malacca Strait. It was the fourth time a US warship has been involved in an accident in Asian waters in 2017. US Pacific Command chief Harry Harris said it wouldn’t have an averse effect on operations. It’s hard to believe it after a spate of accidents this year.
President Trump has pledged to boost the fleet from 272 to 350 ships. A 30-year shipbuilding plan in force now would bring the number up to 308 ships. Getting to 350 would entail a great hike of expenditure taking into account maintenance, staffing, weapons acquisition and long-term costs. The president also wants to increase the active-duty Army by 60,000 soldiers and the Marines by 20,000 service members. Increasing numbers of personnel and weapon systems is a good thing but professionalism also matters. What’s the use of building more hulls and then have the number of combat ready warships reduced as a result of accidents?
Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and senior fellow and director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security, believes that the accidents point to two major shortfalls: leadership and training.
. . .
The operations in Iraq and Afghanistan show the Army can advance and seize territory but it cannot effectively control it. There have been no short victorious wars this century the US military could be proud of. The United States spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined. Defense spending accounts for almost 16 percent of all federal spending and roughly half of discretionary spending. But in many instances the United States has lost or is losing its competitive edge. With much smaller budget, other nations, such as Russia, get much more bang for their buck. . .