While the U.S. military is ready for another Iraq War or Syria-like intervention, it is unprepared to fight a war against bigger challengers such as China or Russia, national security experts told House lawmakers last week.
The Pentagon needs to shift its focus away from the smaller regional conflicts it has specialized in to fight terrorism, the experts said, and refocus itself, and U.S. allies, on these potential future wars with larger adversaries.
“We do need to rebalance our forces, but it’s not actually [a shift] from terrorism to great-power conflict. It’s really this middle kind of space, this expeditionary warfare that the military has been focused on. It hasn’t really been terrorism, it’s been basically re-fighting the Iraq war,” said Paul Scharre, director of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security, during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the future of U.S. warfare.
“So if we need to go overseas and fight a smaller, middle power, where we can have ready access to a nearby land base, or we can bring our aircraft carriers up close, we are well-positioned to do that,” Scharre added. “If we had to fight from a distance, where we don’t have [land] access against a great power, we don’t have the ability to do that.”
Scharre and other voices from the national security community expressed concern that the U.S. has fallen behind Russia and China in key forward-looking areas of military preparedness.
“The U.S. has fallen behind Russia in investments in long-range precision strike, integrated air defenses, and electronic warfare,” said Scharre.
When the chairman of the committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, asked the other two speakers testifying if they agreed with Scharre’s assessment that the U.S. wasn’t prepared to face its biggest threats, both agreed.
“We have honed our war-fighting enterprise around fighting smaller, regional contingencies,” said Jim Thomas, principal and co-founder of the Telemus Group, a defense forecasting and analytical consulting firm. “Our expeditionary warfare approach is tailor-made for going up against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, but it would require a tremendous amount of adaptation to face Russia or China.” READ MORE...
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