Military Readiness: The Erosion of Military Capabilities
The American Military is in Crisis. This fact will not be explained you in the mainstream media, at least not in the stark terms that many military officials have been using since 1992. Official policy for the US Today is to have a military that can fight wars on two fronts. The world is becoming more dangerous and the need to fight on two different continents at the same time is becoming a very real possibility. Yet the US military today cannot raise the same military forces today to fight a one front war on the scale of Desert Storm. Military leaders are bemoaning a lack of recruits and lack of spare parts and low morale. Training requirements are being waved and "fudged" because of a lack of equipment and spare parts. Accidents from routine training are way up (especially in the Navy). All this has occurred with the military (personnel units and equipment) being significantly reduced in size since the Gulf War and by almost half since the Cold War. The shape the military is taking is less alarming to some think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution, which believes that the current state of military disrepair is not as alarming as many who serve in the military seen to believe (and have testified). Yet others feel that the perception of the lack of support for military readiness by the Administration, and the increased operational tempo that the military has seen over the past 7 ½ years has actually taken its toll on many military members and their families. Many fine officers and enlisted personnel are leaving in the service in droves and are not being replaced with top quality recruits. These problems are complicated by a lack of a clear purpose of what cause the military member is fighting for and may be called upon to give his or her life for. Is he really fighting for his country? Is he fighting for a nebulous concept of Global Security? Is he fighting for, as President George Bush said, a 'New World Order'? Indeed the continuous security lapses in America's National Security apparatus from the theft of our nuclear secrets by China to the recent theft of classified computers from the State Department and our leaders taking illegal campaign contributions from the very foreign governments that have benefited from these lapses in security are very troubling for the military member who is sworn to give his or her life for the nations security. In short, the US Military is to a large degree having a crisis of confidence in its leadership.
In fact, a study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, shows that this lack of confidence in military leaders is pervasive and very troubling. Indeed only 35% of women respondents believed that when military leaders said something, they could have confidence that what they were being told was true. One researcher (a woman) sees the nature of the current trends in putting women into combat situations and allowing homosexuals to serve in the military as being a real detriment to military morale. The unwillingness of senior officials in the administration to entertain the idea that these trends are dangerous to morale only magnifies the problem. The Clinton Administration only promotes those who will support these policies, not for the sake of military readiness, but for the sake of political expediency. This is tragic, and again has added to the mistrust the military member has with its senior leadership. Yet , military members are still, by and large, proud to serve the nation.
The Study showed these Warning Signs:
Distrust of high-ranking officers:
Leadership satisfaction trending down
Ambivalence about peacekeeping missions
Recruit quality falling
Diminishing quality of life
No confidence in women in combat
Trust on some level must exist for a military force to remain cohesive. It is not enough to throw money at the military and hope the problems will solve themselves. Senior leaders must live by the same code of conduct that junior members are expected to live by. Watching a sitting president abuse his office by having illicit sex with an employee, lie to 260 million Americans and perjure himself in a court of law, does not sit well with a military member , who is expected to obey the laws not engage in improper relationships and testify honestly in court proceedings. The fact that this is happening when the Administration is going to great lengths to see that women are not exploited in the military work place and went to great lengths to root out the senior naval high command after the tailhook scandal shows a glaring double standard. This hypocritical behavior is seen correctly for what it is by the military member.
These trends have affected operational readiness. One recent Navy Exercise in the Negev Desert in Israel showed how poorly trained and prepared our Navy pilots were. In the exercise, 200 US pilots were shot down while only 20 Israeli pilots were. This type of performance only shows the need to re-look at many of our practices and determine if some changes in military polices are needed to increase morale, and military effectiveness. This will not happen in the current administration and the pandering going on in the present Presidential election does not bode well for any measurable increase in military efficiency, whoever is elected. Most of our political leaders are attempting to turn the military in to a great social experiment on a captive group of people, rather than making a cohesive, powerful, agile and yes, deadly military force. And weather the American people want to accept the reality or not, the US will go to war again one day. It's military will face off against a regional power and lives will be lost. We were fortunate during Desert Storm that American casualties were minimal, but remember, the US Military that won that war no longer exists. Even if we decided today we wanted to build a force of that caliber again, it would take 10 years to do so, and hundreds of billions of dollars. This is something that must be considered carefully as it is easy to make the military into a sweet, touchy-feely politically correct institution. Simply remove officers who oppose detrimental policies from active service or prevent them from being promoted to any influential post, force your policies on the military without consideration for the effect it has on readiness and military capabilities. Doing this is not too difficult, the hard part comes when the cost of rebuilding must be paid. Hopefully, before our forces are bloodied in battle.
The Recent problems with the anthrax vaccine is a good example of using the military as a testing ground for medical experimentation. Reports of medical reactions to the vaccine are myriad and troubling. Many members have refused to take the vaccine, including many pilots. In fact over 1000 military members are facing court martial, rather than be a guinea pig in Uncle Sam's laboratory . This cannot be encouraging to an intelligent person who may be considering entering military service. This sad chapter, coupled with the pentagons initial lies revolving around the Gulf War Illness alerts higher quality recruits (those capable of thinking rationally), to the dangers of serving in an institution that flatly refuses to look out for its own. Until the leadership that implements and formulates these polices are removed from office, the troubling trends in the military will continue, no matter how much money Congress throws at it.
CSIS - A Press Release on Military Morale and Culture
Congress' Military Review Panel - News Briefs
Military Corruption and Erosion - A Conservative and hard hitting series of articles over the past few months by various authors.
Dave Hackworths Site - Conservative and Timely
Is Readiness Overrated? - A Paper by the Cato Institute
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments - A Good News/Bad News Paper on Readiness in the Military