NEWS AND ANALYSIS:
A new study by the Rand Corp. is warning that U.S. military forces are poorly structured to meet the threats posed by China, Russia and other states, as well as the continuing war against Islamic terrorism.
The study, “U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World,” presents the stark conclusion that the American military needs to reform its structure and war fighting plans to better deal with military challenges.
“Put more starkly, assessments in this report will show that U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight, despite the United States outspending China on military forces by a ratio of 2.7 to 1 and Russia by 6 to 1,” the report said. “The nation needs to do better than this.”
U.S. forces currently are larger than needed to fight a single major war and have failed to keep pace with military advances by major powers, while “poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia, and insufficiently trained and ready to get the most operational utility from many of its active component units,” the report added.
The conclusions were echoed somewhat by Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a speech last month.
The chairman warned that American military advantages over China and Russia are eroding and said more investments are needed.
The United States, today, still has the conventional advantage over states like China and Russia. “I also will tell you that in the last 10 or 15 years, that competitive advantage has eroded, and it’s no longer as decisive as it was some years ago,” he noted.
The Rand study recommended that instead of readying military forces to fight two regional wars in overlapping time frames, the military needs to shift the focus toward battling the five main adversaries today: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and Islamic terrorist groups.
The scenarios call for a new force structure prepared to wage one major war against Russia or China; or forces ready to wage one major war and a regional conflict against North Korea or Iran. The third option is a force structure for two major wars, a buildup that requires larger numbers of combat brigades, fighter squadrons and warships.
Cost estimates for the three scenarios were gauged to be $538 billion annually for one major war force, $610 billion for the major war plus regional conflict force, and $628 billion for the two major war fighting force.
The report states that the current approach to force planning and resource allocation by the Pentagon has “placed too little emphasis on modernizing the capabilities, posture, and operating concepts of U.S. forces for power projection.”
“The result — a force that is insufficiently robust to face the challenges posed by the most-capable adversaries — poses growing risks to the viability of the United States’ most-important security relationships.”
Military reforms are needed to counter the growing power of America’s adversaries.
For example, to deal with China, the military needs to speed up development of faster, longer range air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, more stocks of regional based cruise missiles; more electronic warfare gear, more stealth drones and satellites hardened from attacks along with space weapons such as missiles and jammers.
Many of those same weapons are needed to defeat Russia in a conflict as well as deploying three heavy combat brigades in the Baltic States and one in Poland.
For North Korea, U.S. forces need improved intelligence to track nuclear arms and delivery systems, development of boost-phase missile defenses, and improved long-range missile defenses to protect the U.S. homeland from attack.
To counter Iran, the report recommends improved mine countermeasures deployed in the region and greater close-in defenses for warships.
The Islamic terror threat requires U.S. military forces to improve its intelligence and analysis, purchase advanced vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, acquiring light reconnaissance and attack aircraft and deploying swarms of autonomous drones
Navy tweaks Army on leftist cadet
The annual football rivalry between Army and Navy this year featured cheering Navy midshipmen roasting West Point over a leftist cadet who created a stir two months ago by posting a photograph of himself with “Communism will win” written in his cap.
During the football game in Philadelphia on Saturday, the midshipmen unfurled a large banner that read: “Not Communist” in front of their stadium section. Another sign in the Navy section read “Communism Won’t Win.”
In the battle of cheers during the game, Army cadet chants were met by screams from Navy midshipmen of “Communists!” toward their military school counterparts.
The Army Times reported that the cadet, now 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone, graduated from West Point in 2016 and is now with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
Lt. Rapone’s tweeted photos included the message in the cap along with another photo showing him wearing a Che Guevara tee shirt underneath his uniform.
West Point issued a statement after the controversy surfaced on social media saying “Second Lieutenant Rapone’s actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.”
Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Tonya Stokes said: “The 10th Mountain Division not only supports free speech, it trains every day to ensure our nation has the ability to protect it at all cost. That being said, when our soldiers are in uniform, politics must be set aside. Our uniform represents every corner of our nation and it cannot be used to promote any single ideology.”
Army won the game, 14-13.
Cubans in Venezuela
The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies have been closely watching Cuba’s covert operations in Venezuela to bolster the leftist regime of President Nicolas Maduro.
“In Venezuela, Cuban officials likely influence government decisions,” a U.S. intelligence official told Inside the Ring. “They are probably present in all five military services, the two principle intelligence services and the Interior Ministry.”
A second intelligence official put it more bluntly: “Cuban intelligence services are running Venezuela.”
This official said the Cubans are likely facilitating drug trafficking from the region into the United States and there are increasing concerns that the Cubans in Venezuela will use their control over key security agencies to provide Venezuelan passports to Islamic terrorists.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, has been outspoken in highlighting Cuban involvement in Venezuela. He has called officials running the Maduro government “puppets of Cuba” and says the Venezuelan government has been completely infiltrated by agents from Havana.
Mr. Rubio has also said Cubans are involved in widespread political repression in Venezuela.
The Cubans include both intelligence and military personnel and the motivation for the Cubans has been the oil supplied by Venezuela to Cuba. Cuban advisers to the military have helped shift the focus of the Venezuelan armed forces from a U.S.-oriented army to a Cuban communist style military.
Cuban security and intelligence personnel also are active in providing personal security for Mr. Maduro.
Retired Venezuelan Maj. Gen. Antonio Rivero told a Capitol Hill meeting last month that nearly 93,000 Cubans are operating in Venezuela and hold key positions throughout the government.
“By the year 2010, there was a permanent presence of approximately 92,700 Cubans in all areas and sectors of the government,” Gen. Rivero said. The Cubans are working in the intelligence and security agencies, according to the retired general.
“Of the 92,700 Cubans, there is estimated that 3,000 of them are specialists in intelligence covering all areas — being able to get into computers, to monitor and follow not only Cubans but Venezuelans in Venezuela,” Gen. Rivero said.
Cubans also have infiltrated Venezuelan military intelligence, he added.
• Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter at @BillGertz.