It recently was mentioned that United States ground forces will be the smallest since the end of World War II. Four hundred twenty thousand. Strange. At a time when the U.S. is confronted with hostile forces and hostility in many places, ground troops may not be sufficient in the event of a major conflict. Some experts say two conflicts in different places definitely will create a situation the U.S. cannot handle.
How did all this come about?
The U.S. is a war weary nation. Seventeen years of fighting somewhere. Often more than one place. Troops are tired. The American people sick of war. Sequestration cutting heavily and disproportionately into the military budget.
ISIS is with us everywhere. Americans have to be vigilant militarily and personally. ISIS is not the major concern, however. The concern is with Russia and China. Who is not war weary. While the U.S. has been fighting here and there for 17 years, Russia and China have not.
There are trouble spots in the world today. Hot spots. Tinderboxes. A spark which can ignite world conflict. Even a World War III.
The four sensitive areas are the South and East China Seas, the Ukraine, the Middle East, and the Arctic.
China has decided to flex its muscle. Primarily, in the last five years.
China is making claim to significant portions of the South and East China Seas. Areas that historically and by treaty have generally belonged to Japan.
China is building islands where no land previously existed in these areas. Similar to erecting an oil rig in ocean waters. However, a bit larger. Airfields are being constructed on these manmade islands. China wants the capacity to project its power beyond the borders of its homeland.
There are a series of islands in the South and East China Seas. China now claims title. Japan says no, they are ours by treaty and historically. China ignores Japan’s claims. The situation is becoming heated. The islands are valuable because of the gas and oil reserves in their off shore waters.
By several treaties, the U.S. is duty bound to defend Japan in case of conflict with another nation. Would the U.S. meet its obligation? Many think not. If the U.S. did, a confrontation would be triggered between world powers.
Russia is in the China game. Russia and China have become bedfellows the past several years. While the U.S. and other nations have been sanctioning Russia heavily, Russia and China have become closer. They have entered into agreements regarding oil, gas and railroads spreading across two continents.
If the U.S. were at war with China, the U.S. could be at war with Russia also.
Until five years ago, China’s navy was insignificant. In the past five years, it has grown monumentally. China’s navy today may very well be more sophisticated than that of the U.S.
Today, China has 300 surface ships. Constructing more rapidly. The ships have high speed anti-ship cruise missiles. An expanding armada of guided missile warships, submarines and vessels. They are building carriers at a faster rate than the U.S.
China is building new naval vessels at the rate of 60 a year. The U.S. nowhere near that number. U.S. naval strength is numbered at 430 ships. Older and behind the times. Nowhere as up to date as China’s. The 430 number includes reserve vessels. Those not in use, sitting somewhere for the day they may be needed again. China’s 300 are active, not on a reserve list.
Some experts believe that the new missiles would be hard for the U.S. to guard against. The U.S. has yet to come up with a plan to answer China’s new found naval strength.
There is another reason why the U.S. has fallen behind China in addition to the reasons set forth earlier. U.S. intelligence. It appears to be the type of intelligence that got Bush 2 into Iraq.
It is said the U.S. does not understand. Perhaps so. Fifteen years of intelligence continues to suggest China’s military is merely for defensive purposes and focused mainly on the conflict with Taiwan. U.S. intelligence apparently never saw China’s new navy coming. China’s naval development in the last five years and the sophistication of its equipment.
China appears to be building its naval forces for eventual global power projection. Only the U.S. has been able to do it thus far. If China continues as it has the past five years, it will have to be feared.
Let’s look at Russia for a moment.
Russia is the thorn in the Ukraine and the Middle East. Russia generally takes a position in opposition to that of the U.S. and supports anyone whose interests are opposed to that of the U.S.
Russia is a half million military personnel behind the U.S. That is counting active military. If active military, reserve military and paramilitary are combined, Russia is 700,000 persons ahead of the U.S.
The Russian navy is no competition for the U.S. Its big ships are aged. Russia cannot afford to replace them. The Russian fleet has been described as a geriatric maritime giant. Old and unreliable.
Whereas the U.S. spends $600 billion a year on its military, Russia only $60 billion.
Russia does not seem to worry about the numbers or overall condition of its forces. Not if it can depend on China.
In July, Russia did come out with a new vessel. One that exceeds anything the U.S. has. A ship designed to conduct electronic warfare.
Russia recently spread its wings into Arctic waters. This past July, Putin announced Russia was claiming over a half million square miles of the Arctic Sea. Arctic waters have acquired a value of their own. Global warming has a part in it.
The Arctic Sea contains untapped gas and oil reserves. Also important, new shipping lanes are opening as Arctic ice melts.
Readiness is involved. Russia has 40 icebreakers operating in the Arctic Sea. The U.S. only 2.
The solution to the U.S. problems as described must start with Congress allocating more monies to the military budget. If conflict comes. it will be on our shores this time. An expanded 9/11. It will not be as with Pearl Harbor where the U.S. was able to convert its peacetime plants to the production of war equipment.
Another concern is the type of military. The U.S. has a volunteer military. It has worked well. However in any major conflict, more military personnel will be required. It will not come in the numbers needed voluntarily. The U.S. should start thinking draft again. Everyone for two years out of high school. Unpopular. However better than living under Russian and/or Chinese domination.
The U.S. must not be caught with its pants down. Too many lives, too much of everything at stake.