The U.S. military needs to invest in troops, not technology

Scott Turner/US Army

New U.S. Soldiers take the oath of enlistment during the opening ceremonies at the U.S. Army All American Bowl in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 7, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • New #defense budget eliminates 125,000 soldiers on the premise that future wars will require new technology

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  • Technology development can be accelerated in wartime—the development of capable military leaders cannot @criticalthreats

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  • There is no way to accelerate the fielding of good military leaders @criticalthreats

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President Obama's new defense strategy champions the same arguments military downsizers have invoked since 1991: The United States must invest in technology and disinvest in active-duty military personnel. The plan unveiled Thursday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is based on two such tenets: It must "protect key investments in the technologically advanced capabilities most needed for the future . . . [and] no longer size active forces to conduct large and protracted stability operations while retaining the expertise of a decade of war." The budget thus eliminates 125,000 soldiers and Marines on the premise that future wars will require new weapons systems but not large numbers of troops. Should America need more troops, this thinking holds, it will be easy enough to find them. Technology takes longer to develop and field.

These well-worn syllogisms are the reverse of reality. Technology development can be accelerated in wartime. The development of capable military leaders cannot.

Please read the full text at the Critical Threats Project.

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Frederick W.
Kagan

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