Just released by Greenwood Press is a new book, "Military Reform: A Reference Handbook," co-authored by Winslow T. Wheeler, director of CDI's Straus Military Reform Project, and Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information.
Together, Wheeler and Korb have over 65 years of experience in Congress, the Pentagon and the private sector. If anyone has seen the flaws in America's national security apparatus - up close and personal - it is these two. Some will think, even assert, that America's armed forces are the best in the world, even in history. This is empty political rhetoric of the most specious and foolish kind. We present excerpts from the book below for those entertaining such delusions, as well as a link to the publisher and information about purchasing.
To explain to those who believe there is nothing particularly significant that needs fundamental reform in the U.S. Armed Forces, we present the following excerpts from the preface of Wheeler and Korb's book, "Military Reform: A Reference Handbook":
America whipped Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when he was pushed out of Kuwait and again in 2003 when President Bush invaded Iraq and deposed the Iraqi dictator. Members of Congress in the House Armed Services Committee have called America's armed forces the best in the world; some even say the best in history.
What is there to reform? If it's not broken, don't fix it, as the saying goes.
Inspected a little more closely, the facts tell a very different story. America did quickly beat Iraq's armed forces in 1991 and in the early phases of the 2003 invasion, but those victories were both incomplete and against forces best characterized as grossly incompetent-the "most incompetent in the world" according to one authoritative source.
Even those seemingly easy victories revealed serious, fundamental, pervasive problems to those with the expertise to see them. One retired Army colonel, a decorated veteran of Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Persian Gulf War observed, "In war, military strategy is supposed to reduce the probability of armed conflict, to persuade those who might fight not to fight, and when necessary, to win at the least cost in lives and treasure in the shortest possible time. In Iraq, America's top generals achieved the opposite outcome." As we shall see later in this publication, the victories against Iraq showed American armed forces making serious errors that truncated the first victory in 1991 and made the second campaign in 2003 a necessity. In 2003, the Army's most senior commanders again made fundamental tactical, operational, and strategic errors and in one situation virtually panicked even when faced with an enemy that was virtually immobilized by its own incompetence.
American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and women are rightly honored by the American public for their courage in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the quality at the combat unit level cannot compensate for inadequate senior leadership at the higher levels. At the civilian end of things, in the Pentagon that is supposed to arm and train and otherwise support the military services, the situation is, if anything, worse. By objective measures that we will discuss later, the Pentagon is very probably the worst managed major agency of the U.S. federal government.
To demonstrate, the Department of Defense (DoD) has been shrinking our armed forces, while making their equipment-on average-older and doing so at increasing cost-and doing so for decades. Today, the U.S. defense budget is higher, in real terms, than at any time since the end of World War II, and we have fewer ground combat divisions, tactical and strategic air wings, and naval combatants than at any time since 1946. While some believe this force shrinkage is compensated by the extraordinarily high quality of modern American equipment, others ask why America lost to such crudely equipped forces as the Viet Cong and the underequipped North Vietnamese in the Indochina War and appears to be repeating the experience in Iraq and Afghanistan thirty years later.
As for a symmetrical conventional opponent, such as China (for those who perceive there a military threat that must be thwarted), modern "high tech" American equipment may turn out to be something less than its extraordinarily high cost would seem to imply. For example, in 2006, two aviation experts with decades of practical experience, one of them an internationally recognized combat aviation designer, assessed the Air Force's much vaunted F-22 fighter and deemed it a "war loser, not a war winner.
The full preface of the book explains further, providing a summary outline of the book and the constructive recommendations of the authors.
To read the entire preface of "Military Reform: A Reference Handbook," click here.
To access the publisher's page on "Military Reform: A Reference Handbook," click here.
Find "Military Reform: A Reference Handbook" at Amazon.com
If an individual is interested in writing a review of this book, please contact Winslow Wheeler at email@example.com.