Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Than a Submarine (Boat) Slip

When sorely in need of reliable information we must often make do with what little is available. As a voter, I find the following insight from today's The Washington Times very interesting, if tentative. The whole article is worth reading.

Former Air Force chief of staff Gen. Merrill McPeak endorsed George W. Bush and served as co-chairman of Oregon Veterans for Bush[1] during the presidential election of 2000. Like so many disenfranchised, former Bush supporters, the General now supports Barack Obama.

Members of Washington's military and defense establishment are expressing trepidation about Sen. Barack Obama, as the Illinois senator comes closer to winning the Democratic presidential nomination and leads in national polls to become commander in chief.

As a co-chair on Barack Obama's presidential campaign, the General agrees that the rookie senator from Illinois believes in a strong military, and with it, a larger Army and Marine Corps. [my emphasis]

Any military person who concludes he's a left-wing, hair-on-fire, Kumbaya child of the '60s has sadly misunderestimated him, to use George Bush's term, said retired Gen. Merrill McPeak.

So what will this tell us about the Navy's future? Will the Navy finally be subordinated to the USMC? Not likely, but its budget might reflect a totally new emphasis on generals and fewer admirals regardless of who is elected in November.

Apparently some admirals had sensed the coming sentiment (congressional committes) with the decline in combatant vessels. The Air Force and Navy will still be needed for their deterrent components and technical expertises in arcane arenas like DARPA.

Even the Naval Academy might just become the military's new JAG school. Worse, depending upon who is actually elected, greater numbers of soldiers and Marines could translate into more humanitarian missions like Somalia (Mogadishu, 1993), and embassy duty like Beirut (barracks bombing, 1983), or not.

Naturally, even if a former Air Force general knew details of a candidate's plans to reduce the Navy (frees up lots of revenue for other programs in oil costs alone), he might not be too alarmed.

What of the vaunted USAF Academy? Well, with fewer manned aircraft in the cards, it might well present a rich target for alternative use. How about making it the HQ for global disaster response?

The boat slip? What does this portend for SSNs? The cheapest vessels for use in the littorals are not SSNs. Have you considered nuclear powered icebreakers? (Neither did I).

Nuclear powered icebreakers present inobvious deterrent and stealth value in the arid Middle East. Besides emotionally disturbed terrorists, who would want to take credit for blowing up one of those rugged, civilian, dirty bombs? Absurd? Let's see how the next Commander in Chief , or administration, at least, really thinks.



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