Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The State of the Union's Security

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld seeks to "transform" America's defense structure while he still has the watch. He'll have a heck of a time transforming it into anything more effective than what it transformed itself into after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Here's where we more or less stand today.

With no other major maritime force to contend with in the post-Soviet era, the Navy and Marines staked out a domain in the littoral seas, from which they can project air and ground power ashore. The Air Force, having wasted its combat capital on a tiny fleet of costly but relatively worthless F-22 fighters and B-2 bombers, is now relegated to hauling the Army to wherever it needs to go to do whatever it needs to do when it gets there. The poor Army is so confused it doesn't know which way to point its gun barrel. Plans to transform it have changed faster than the reasons we invaded Iraq. The senior service's top brass was so intransigent to the "shove from above" to remake the Army into a hybrid of the Marine Corps and the Navy SEALs that Secretary Rumsfeld had to reach into the retired ranks to find a chief of staff who would play ball. Long time Rumsfeld crony Peter J. Shoomaker is a Special Forces legend, which makes him the perfect guy to figure out what the Army should do with its armor, artillery, and infantry.

In all, today's military is a complete cluster bomb. We have a navy that's a coast guard with an army and an air force, an air force that's an airline, and an army that's a snake eater with an identity crisis on his hands.

As to our new and improved intelligence structure, well, the definitive comment on that subject regarding internal fallacies has already been made. But in fairness, our "intelligence" is a whipping boy or a golden boy, depending on what we need it to be today. It's "faulty" when things go wrong, but it's "darn good" enough when we need a reason to do something we couldn't otherwise justify.

Our Department of Homeland Security is the most farcical thing this country has seen since The Marx Brothers, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, our most sophisticated domestic law enforcement agency, can't figure out how to work with computers.

We have a commander in chief who became a fighter pilot to avoid becoming a soldier. We have a vice president who dodged becoming a soldier by spending a dog's life in college. We have a Secretary of Defense who was once a naval officer and who now wants to act like an army general. Our new intelligence chief is a career diplomat and our new head of Homeland Security is a former federal appellate judge. And these are the people asking us to spend more money to "transform" national defense.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather sink my security dollars into a bunker in my back yard. Do you think they'd give me a tax credit for that?

JLH

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