How it must have pained Marine Corps General John Paxton to tell Congress that his service might not be prepared for war. Last week, the Assistant Commandant, who has racked up 42 of honorable military service, candidly admitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. Marine Corps isn’t what it used to be. “I worry about the capability and the capacity to win in a major fight somewhere else right now,” said the general. He fretted over inadequate training and equipment particularly in the fields of communications, intelligence, and aviation.
Cynics might see Paxton’s testimony as a plea for more money, a quantity that isn’t usually forthcoming when no obvious shortcomings can be identified. Yet this rebuttal strikes me as an out-of-hand dismissal of Paxton’s concerns. It would also be uncharacteristic of the Marines, undoubtedly the proudest of the services, to denigrate themselves if it weren’t true. When a senior Marine officer describes the Corps as borderline dysfunctional, I believe him.
Nor is the Marine Corps alone in its negative self-assessment. Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley told Congress that his branch is prepared to do battle with ISIS — and no other potential adversary. TheU.S. would probably lose a war with China, according to General Milley. Or with Russia, North Korea, or Iran. According to an Associated Press article: “Mark Milley says years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, constrained budgets and troop cuts have had a cumulative effect on the service.” Essentially, our military is capable of defeating the guys Obama described as the JV team but not a conventional force of any heft. Pathetic.
How’s the Air Force faring? If recent trends are any indicator, it may soon be incapable of fulfilling itsraison d’être — air superiority. It’s been a very long time since America has gone to war without first asserting absolute dominion over the sky. Air superiority will probably be more difficult to establish in coming years as other nations, particularly China and Russia, fortify their air defenses with new technologies while we continue to fly 1970’s-era F-15s and F-16s as our primary fighters.
Air Force General Frank Gorenc, who commands NATO Allied Air Command, U.S. Air Forces Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa, is not confident that U.S. forces will be able to achieve and maintain air superiority in future conflicts. “The advantage that we had from the air, I can honestly say, is shrinking…. This is not just a Pacific problem. It’s as significant in Europe as it is anywhere else on the planet…. I don’t think it’s controversial to say [Russia has] closed the gap in capability.”
I don’t believe that any of these generals — Paxton, Milley, or Gorenc — takes pride in admitting this sorry state of affairs because it is essentially an admission of failure. Duty nonetheless dictates that they tell it like it is. They’re playing with the hand they were dealt and I doubt anyone else could do it better.
It doesn’t help that their commander-in-chief pretends not to hear what they’re saying. Just two months ago, President Obama delivered a State of the Union address in which he pooh-poohed the very idea that our armed forces are languishing in disrepair. Said Obama:
I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. [Emphasis added]
What a dolt. Surely he can’t believe that our military’s combat effectiveness can be measured in dollars spent? The measure of any endeavor is always results. His argument reminds me that, once upon a time, Obama was just a left-wing community activist. He still sounds like one…