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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bayonets and Horses, redux

Yesterday I excerpted an older article by JE Dyer on how important the US Navy is to national security and pax Americana as a response to President Obama's sarcastic comment to Mitt Romney during the last debate.

 Now, she wrote her own direct response. Read the whole thing, but here are parts:
What is it we are trying to do with these naval forces? Mitt Romney’s approach is to assume that we intend to exercise control of our ocean bastions – the Atlantic and Pacific – and effectively resume our position as the primary naval influence on the world’s strategic chokepoints: the approaches to Central America; the maritime space of Northwestern Europe; the Mediterranean; the chokepoint-belt from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Hormuz; and the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea. Being well briefed, Romney no doubt has in mind as well the increasingly maritime confrontation space of the Arctic, where Russia and Canada are competing, but the US – with our own Arctic claims – has in recent years been passive.

Romney thus sees the Navy as a core element of our enduring strategic posture. For national defense and for the protection of trade, the United States has from the beginning sought to operate in freedom on the seas, and, where necessary, to exercise control of them. We are a maritime nation, with extremely long, shipping-friendly coastlines in the temperate zone and an unprecedented control of the world’s most traveled oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific.

We have also chosen, since our irruption on the world geopolitical stage a century or so ago, to project power abroad as much as possible through expeditionary operations and offshore influence. Indeed, seeking the most effective balance between stand-off approaches, temporary incursions, and boots-on-the-ground combat and occupation has been a perennial tension in our national politics and our concepts of war throughout the life of our Republic. We have always naturally favored offshore influence and quick-resolution campaigns, from which we can extricate ourselves just as quickly.

The character of these preferences and military problems has changed with the passage of time – but in comparison to the United States in 1916, they are all bigger today, as well as faster-moving and more likely to be our problem than, say, Great Britain’s.

...If you want to control the seas, you still need surface combatants. And since the seas are the pathway to most of what we do outside our borders, there is no such situation as one in which we will only need to do what aircraft carriers do, or only what submarines do, or only what minesweepers or oilers or merchant ships do. If we do not control the seas, we do not control our security conditions or our strategic options.

...In the end, the difference between Romney’s approach and Obama’s isn’t a difference between buying a 328-ship force and having no Navy at all. It never is; the difference is always between one policy and another. Obama’s policy is to cut defense spending, even when that leads to the decommissioning of some of our best ships. Yet in 2010, the Navy could only fulfill 53% of the requirements for presence and missions levied by the combatant commanders (e.g., CENTCOM, PACOM). Cutting this Navy will reduce further its ability to fill warfighter requirements.

Given the constraints of Obama’s budgetary priorities, DOD envisions eventually sustaining a Navy whose size averages 298 ships through 2042. Romney has articulated a national-security policy that emphasizes building faster and having a larger Navy, one that can better meet the requirements of US policy and the combatant commanders for naval power. Obama has used sophomoric sarcasm to imply that Romney’s approach is ignorant and outdated. That pretty much sums up the choice the voters have between them.
When reading things like this analysis, you realize that most so-called "experts" that we see in the media have no clue of what they are talking about.

Maybe there are good arguments against Dyer's position, but all we have heard so far is dismissive, not substantive.