Many are the critics who accuse our military establishment of being sadly out of date. They charge that the Department of Defense is still geared to fight a traditional war against a de jure nation state with its compact political and industrial centers, complete with armies and navies engaged in set-piece battles.
The critics point out that such a strategy is as archaic as it is useless when confronting a guerrilla insurgency or when waging a war on terror. What the Pentagon has to do, they say, is lose all its expensive hi-tech hardware and concentrate its resources on labor intensive counterinsurgency operations.
These critics have a firm grasp on a half-truth. Yes, the face of warfare has indeed changed, but it is not the change the critics envision. Traditional warfare’s sole objective was once victory; now it is continuation. War is no longer an extension of policy, it is a revenue stream, and the longer it can be perpetuated, the more revenue will stream into our corporate coffers.
What we are seeing now is the birth of a new strategy known, unofficially, as the strategy of eternal continuance. This strategy is composed of the following components:
· An all-volunteer army
· A well behaved press corps that raises its hand and asks permission to speak
· Shiploads of useless, hi-tech military hardware
· A complete absence of either mission or purpose
· The employment of obsolete and outdated tactics
We are seeing this new strategy in use on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border (now known Afpak, a neat exercise in linguistic reductionism that makes the whole affair sound smaller than it really is.)
The overriding goal of the CIA’s covert war is to “decapitate” al Qaeda’s leadership by using Predator and Reaper drones to drop Hellfire missiles on them. As one critic points out:
What is hard for Washington to grasp is this: “decapitation”…is not a particularly effective strategy with a decentralized guerrilla or terror organization.
Of course it isn’t, and it was never intended to be. This brings us back to war as a revenue stream. Every Hellfire missile we drop on a gaggle of civilians costs taxpayers $70,000, and that money goes into the pocket of the defense contractor that has to replace the missile that was fired simply to require its replacement.
Couple that with the fact that the MQ-1 Predator Drone is a military beach bunny that can only go out when weather conditions are perfect. The Predator is so hi-tech it can’t function in bad weather, which is why they keep crashing at an additional cost to the taxpayer of $4.5 million each. To date, 12% of the Predator fleet has been lost.
Can’t you just hear that stream gurgling away?
Yes, George, what critics brand as military ineptitude is really military genius, and we can all sleep soundly knowing that even as our economy crashes, our defense industry will continue to thrive.