Incapable of defending itself or American troops on the ground
America’s military is being redefined but not by changes in strategy or evolutions of the threats we face. The redefinition is the unplanned result of budgetary constraints and bad choices of weapon systems we spend hundreds of billions of dollars to buy.
The two effects of this redefinition combine to make their sum greater than their parts. First, there are missions our forces are in the process of abandoning because their shrinking size doesn’t allow performance of them. Second, the ability to perform essential missions is being dangerously abandoned in the design of the most expensive weapons we are buying.
For example, the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (the LCS, known in defense circles as the “little crappy ship”) is supposed to operate in shallow coastal waters. But as the Defense Department’s Office of Operational Test and Evaluation said, it’s so lightly armed and armored it won’t survive in combat. Nevertheless, the little crappy ship is still being bought at a cost of about $475 million each.
The worst example is the F-35 joint strike fighter. Purchases of the F-35 fighter aircraft, the most expensive weapon system the Pentagon has ever bought, are being accelerated. It will cost more than $400 billion to buy about 2,500 of them and another $1 trillion to own and operate for the 50 years of their projected life. For that entire time, absorbing a huge chunk of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps budgets, the F-35 will be the fighter that ate the defense budget.