DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
July 4, 1995

WANTED: FRESH PENTAGON THINKING

America needs two balanced armies: one ready to fight the least probably high-tech war, the other to fight the most probable low-tech war.

Unfortunately, the Pentagon continues to prepare only for the wars they've been conditioned to fight, rather than for the conflicts they will have to fight. Today, most of our defense eggs are in the high-tech basket because blinkered Pentagon brass and corrupt Washington lawmakers continue to buy weapons that will be as ineffective in future warfare as an arrow against a missile.

This shortsightedness leaves us without the right weapons for possible 21st century high-tech conflicts, and unready for the 1990s' low-tech fights such as Somalia, terrorist attacks like Oklahoma City and LA-style riots, all of which represent the New World Disorder.

Pork is the driving reason we won't be ready for future conflicts. Desert Storm-type weapons bring in megabucks: the pork keeps the defense welfare workers happy and American defense contractors high-fiving. Another major reason is the senior Pentagon mind-set refuses to accept that an ongoing technological revolution is making Desert Storm warfare and its gear as obsolete as the horse cavalry charge.

For example, the Pentagon is building or proposing to build three Nimitz-class carriers, three Seawolf submarines, a fleet of F-22 fighter aircraft and a Jurassic Park full of more Cold War military dinosaurs. War platforms of the past are being replaced with more of the same.

Almost 6,000 years of recorded history of war cries out that, with rare exceptions, generals and admirals prepare for the next war with basically more of the same stuff they used in the last. Too conservative to take giant leaps, they have followed a rigid path from the rock to the cannon ball to the nuclear tipped missile, even though the past also teaches that the nation with the right stuff wins the war.

Our infantry and special forces -- the main players in the most probable low-tech fights -- are still armed with basically the same gear their fathers had in Vietnam, and their transportation, communications and human intelligence capability is torn, if not broken.

The Pentagon's failure to have two equally capable forces is flat nuts, like a farmer who feeds only one of two horses, both of which he needs to till his land. When it's time to plow, one is fit, but the other can't stand up. In the military, when a force is not ready, it's not a field that goes unplowed, but warriors who die and missions that end up like Mogadishu in 1993, where our Rangers bled because they had the wrong supporting machines and bad intelligence.

We must have a low-tech capability for the Haitis and Rwandas, and a 21st century punch for the high-tech battles that could come along if a rogue state is dumb enough to tangle with us. And there are rogues a plenty out there, toting heavy grudges: Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea's current management would like nothing better than to see America burn. Also, today's friend may become tomorrow's enemy. China was our ally in 1948, Iran in 1977, and both were fighting us within two years.

We must stop buying obsolete platforms and develop the next generation of "hyper-advance" hardware -- which can only be described as Star Wars-exotic -- that's already on the drawing board. With this gear, there would be no military force on earth that could out-vaporize the U.S. in the high-tech arena.

If we didn't buy one single carrier, submarine, fighter aircraft or missile system -- with the exception of the urgently needed Theatre Air Defense anti-missile system -- and only updated current models for the next ten years, our forces would remain superior to any army in the world.

A revolution in warfare and weapons technology has occurred, but sadly, a long overdue revolution in military thinking has not. Will our military leaders get the message and organize two forces capable of fighting high and low-tech warfare? Or will they continue to act like many 1940s horse cavalry leaders who chose to give up the ghost rather than their outmoded charging mounts, snapping guidons and past glories, and were crushed by modern tanks supported by fighter aircraft?