This is just a quick observation about the trends in combat capability of the U.S. versus the rest of the world. We’ve repeatedly alluded to the fact that the rest of the world seems to be engaged in an armored combat arms race. Hardly a week goes by without reading about some country developing a new, heavy tank or infantry fighting vehicle. China, Russia, and others are bulking up for high end combat. What is the U.S. doing?
Breaking Defense website (1) reports that, according to Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, the Army’s planned acquisitions over the next few years include four new combat vehicles: a parachute-droppable light truck for Airborne soldiers, a scout car, a light tank, and a new infantry fighting vehicle.
Notice anything interesting about the acquisitions compared to, say, Russia’s new heavy tank and fighting vehicle family? That’s right, everything we’re buying is geared at the low end of combat operations. In fact, they’re barely low end – they’re almost peacetime, patrol, crisis management type operations and vehicles.
Hey, isn’t this a navy website? Why are we talking about the Army?
Well, this news bit illustrates that the entire military is headed down a lighter, lower end force path and the Navy is certainly doing its part to move in that direction. While the rest of the world is buying “frigates” that encompass cruiser or destroyer-like capabilities, we’re buying LCSs that barely qualify as corvettes. China is churning out new and impressive surface combatants at an amazing rate while we’re continuing to recycle the Burke design and shoehorn in capabilities that it is not optimized to handle.
The Navy really needs to start thinking about a high end surface combatant that has heavy hitting power, an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, very long range supersonic cruise missiles, combat MCM capability, a seriously capable air superiority fighter for the Pacific (China) theatre, etc. You all know the list as well as I do since we’ve discussed it repeatedly.
We must look at the combat capability trends by other countries and ask ourselves how we’ll fare against them when the inevitable combat occurs. This is a short and simple post but it is necessary that we constantly remind ourselves about what our enemies are doing and what we’re doing.