In the comment section to the previous post Sven from Defence & Freedom makes some good points. He notes that, while in overall power projection the US armed forces may be unmatchable that the force structure itself (and many of the elements therein) have some issues. Among those he includes:
- infantry strength
- partially obsolete field artillery (L/39 field howitzers and SPGs with low RoF)
- few high-end fighters
- USN using plenty quite obsolete munition concepts
- questionable anti-tank defences (overreliance on Javelin)
- inability of services to design and introduce all-new combat aircraft, battlefield helicopter, armoured combat vehicle or even only all-new assault rifle since the mid-1980's (F-22 being the little-produced exception and F-18E/F if you consider it as all-new)
- lack of truly silent submarines (SSI instead of SSNs)
- poor mine countermeasures at sea
- naval AEW&C is painfully slow and hardly survivable
- sluggishness and incredible hunger for supplies of the U.S.Army
- lots of support aircraft (Boeing 707/ XX-135 series) are about to fall apart due to old age
Some of these I would consider more problematic than others. Infantry end strength, for example. The US hasn't had anything like sufficient infantry strength to fight an extended conventional war for decades now. That, however, doesn't suggest to me that the US needs more infantry maneuver units. It suggests to me that the US Army has neither the plans nor the intentions to fight an extended conventional infantry war. The problem I see with that is that the only real need for mass infantry would be in 1) a major land war with a peer foe. That would be the major powers, Russia, or China, and the probability of someone panicking and going nuclear makes such plans effectively suicide, or 2) a LIC/rebellion-suppression-type action. If we haven't learned from Iraq/A-stan that those are a mug's game for Great Powers, well...
Or take the low-rate-of-fire legacy FA systems like the M109 Paladin series (which is what I'm assuming Sven refers to as the "L/39"; the 155mm L/39 calibre system mounted on the M109 and its variants). Again, while I'm sure that the FA would have loved to field the Crusader system I'm not sure that rate-of-fire is a serious issue. Even when I was in the FA branch a decade ago the US was moving away from high-volume fires outside of the MLRS batteries to lower round-count FFEs based on first-round FFE. The need for putting a shit-ton of rounds downrange was already on the way out, and that was the LAST generation of fire direction software.
Infantry antitank weapons? Again; a peer conflict would be no more thinkable than it would have been in 1985, and everyone else's AFVs are a generation behind. Frankly, our ATGMs have sucked since we lugged around the M47 Dragon back in the 1980's. Total effect on US ground operations? Zero.
But...after that Sven gets to what I would consider real problems.
But not real problems that are the result of some sort of deliberate neglect of the US armed forces as opposed to the ridiculously awful procurement process. In other words it's not some sort of "the (Blank Administration) has gutted our military" problem. It's something that observers have noted since the Fifties that has gotten exponentially worse, and largely due to the Congressional need to get a piece of the action and defense contractors' needs to ensure unkillable programs. It is, as Sven points out in his comment, largely not an issue of pure budget SIZE but, rather, the increasing lack of the political process to make critical decisions about budget priorities.
Here's my question: can these problems be fixed, in the current political and geopolitical climate?
If so, what should happen? When you look at Sven's list, do you see anything that should be an immediate priority? What? And what should we do to go about solving the problem?
Or do you think that this is something that is just beyond effective solution at this point?