Politicians again fail to learn from history

It seems our political leaders intend to reduce the size of the US Army to below its strength in 1940.

Let me say that again.

Our political leaders intend to reduce the size of the US Army to below its strength in 1940.

Have they forgotten history altogether?

Examine any nation you please.  Study the size and ability of its armed forces.  Observe what happened to that nation when it allowed its armed forces to decay in terms of either strength (numbers) or capability (efficiency, quality of armament, tactics, etc.).

History warns us grimly that whenever a nation failed to prepare for war, it didn’t enjoy peace for very long.

What makes our politicians think this time will be any different?

I confidently predict that if this misguided reduction in strength goes ahead, within a decade from its taking effect we’ll wish we had back the forces we cut – and more.  History’s entirely on my side in making that prediction.  I have no objection to cutting away deadwood, and reorienting our forces to make them ‘smarter’, better equipped and trained to face contemporary challenges, and the like;  but to reduce them to so low a level is to cripple them before a major conflict even starts.  It’s not like the old days when the draft could provide semi-trained warm bodies within a matter of a few months.  In today’s high-technology world, it takes a couple of years to train a soldier to the point where he’s basically proficient with all the equipment he’s expected to take into a fight.  We won’t have time for that when the proverbial brown substance hits the rotary air impeller.

There may be one silver lining in the cloud, however, if our politicians are sensible enough to grasp it (although that’s debatable).  I note the Air Force plans to mothball its A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack squadrons.  The US Marine Corps can’t afford the F-35B strike fighter it so desperately wants, no matter how much it may protest that it needs it.  On the other hand, the A-10 would fit right in with the Marines’ self-imposed priority to have their own organic air support arm.  Why not scrap the F-35B and transfer all the (newly upgraded) A-10’s to the Marine Corps?  It’d save tens of billions of dollars in procurement costs, and operational costs of the A-10’s would be a tiny fraction of the stealth F-35’s.  I’d say that’d be a win for everybody except Lockheed Martin (which deserves the loss, quite frankly, after screwing up the F-35 project so badly).



  1. We will have a lot of well trained ex-military or let's call them domestic patriots? This is a good thing when such a tyrannical government is in place.

  2. Unfortunately our politicians aren't smart enough to cut deadwood. They always cut fighting forces in favor of useless staff command run by people who are the most like them, not real soldiers. Transferring fighters from one branch to another won't happen either because too many generals egos would be bruised.

  3. Sure, we can cut our forces to the bone, and beyond. Do you think China will be doing so?

    Good idea on the A-10's – they probably should have been army/marine aircraft all along, given their mission and capabilities – but because it's sensible and logical, it'll probably never happen.

  4. Do we really have to prepare for war- in Afghanistan? No, we need to be able to defend ourselves, not fiddle around with Ukraine or the Middle East. I believe Costa Rica doesn't have much in the way of a military- of course, they haven't been going around the world killing all sorts of people's relatives. The thing is, it is doable, if you are actually willing to be peaceable.

    But you don't have to worry about it. These politicians like meddling, so they are going to keep the tools to meddle with around. Either the Pentagon feels the improvements in technology more than makes up for the reductions, or this is part one a a little play designed to get more funding.

    If the second amendment were a requirement, and we had no standing army, do you really think we'd have much of a problem? The Swiss have done relatively well for themselves too, and I bet their way would be cheaper than what we are doing now.

  5. I like the A-10 idea.
    Politicians DO learn from history – they just keep learning the wrong thing, like the boy who cried wolf learning you should not tell the same lie repeatedly instead of not lying at all.

  6. I like the A-10 idea. the only way it will come about though is if some congress critter agrees.

    It is to sensible for the government to do on its own.

    No, the one told us he intended to change America and this is just part of his promise, which for a politician, he has kept.

    I still won't vote for him even though he has done what he said he would.

  7. The idea that the army will decrease in size to lower than pre-WWII levels isn't entirely accurate. It's akin to saying the level of horses and bayonets is being reduced to pre-WWII levels. It's not an equivalent comparison. Pre-WWII there was no separate Air Force, the branch was included in the Army numbers. The US military (the figures in the recent articles only refer to the Army) as a whole will still be much larger than pre-WWII levels, and reflect the shift in public opinion away from long-term ground wars. If we aren't going to have any troops on the ground (as any politician advocating military intervention lately always says), then why do we need so many troops to put on the ground? We only need a sufficient amount to protect the ground we already have.

    More details are here:

  8. The F-35B is to replace the Harrier, the jet that lands vertically. If USMC gets A-10s instead, how in heck do they land on small or large aircraft carriers? Or take off? The A-10 can only fly from long land-based runways, which are seldom issued to Marines.

    Bart Noir

  9. @Bart Noir: Consider how many ship-based Harriers are currently in use – not many at all. Every time they've been needed (both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, etc.) they've been based ashore. Admittedly, the ability to stage them ashore via carriers and/or amphibs is useful, but it's not absolutely essential. The Harriers in any event can't do the heavy lifting that full-blown strike aircraft can manage.

    I suspect a couple of Marine A-10 wings, flying in to improvised land bases in the beachhead as they did during World War II, might be very effective indeed.

  10. "Observe what happened to that nation when it allowed its armed forces to decay"

    From their perspective that's a feature, not a bug.

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