WASHINGTON — America’s military superiority has “eroded to a dangerous degree,” leaving the U.S. in a “crisis of national security,” especially if faced with more than one conflict at once, a new congressionally-mandated report concluded.“The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict,” reads the report, issued Wednesday by the National Defense Strategy Commission. “It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia. The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.
Truth is, there is no "crisis of national security" in the US--nobody is intent on attacking the US or cut vital for the US Shipping Lanes Of Communications (SLOC), other than some terrorists, but FBI can handle that; US Navy, despite all of its very real problems, is still a very potent navy, especially its submarine component, to do the job of keeping SLOCs open. Neither Russia nor China are intent to interdict these SLOCs unless the United States decides to start a war on them, then, of course, if the US, say, tries to attack Russia, things change. Other than that--there is no crisis. Russia can obliterate the US today, she could do it yesterday, and she will be able to do it tomorrow, the same goes the other way--this is MAD, folks. But Russia explicitly doesn't want to attack the US. So, what's the fuss is all about?
The fuss is about this (from the article):
But the authors worry that the department, as it is structured both strategically and financially right now, would not be able to successfully manage two conflicts at once – or be guaranteed victory in even one, should it come down to a fight with Russia or China.
Talk about folie de grandeur of unimaginable scale (see Report). One may ask the question on how those people in National Defense Strategy Commission really envision, say war against Russia alone. It is really a fascinating, for all the wrong reasons, scenario since, I am sure, these guys (such as former CNO Admiral Gary Roughead among other 11 members of this Commission) try to play this scenario strictly in conventional framework, because otherwise the United States as a state will cease to exist.
I was thinking about this, not to mention getting tired of reading all kinds of alarmist, justified and not, as in this case, "reports" and here is my simple take.
1. United States never fought against first-rate, well-trained, equipped and determined adversary which can match US capabilities across the whole spectrum of modern warfare. US fought in Vietnam where it lost to determined but largely peasant force with only some very few capabilities of a first world army, it fought in Korea where it ended with bloody stalemate and, of course, US had its turkey shoot against grossly incompetent Saddam's Army. US armed forces never fought in their modern history against the adversary capable to strike (conventionally) to the strategic depth. That means under no conditions were US troops, their rear services, bases, strategic command and control assets, ammunition stocks etc. subjected to a serious (and sustained) fire impact since one day Pearl Harbor affair. Of course, we do not even talk about US proper.
2. United States doesn't have effective battle field air defense capable to prevent such a (stand-off) impact--no US AD complex is capable to reliably intercept most Russia's stand-off weapons thus exposing every single US combat asset on the theater of operations.
3. A painful issue of US air assets--good luck dealing with the best air-defense in the world. A single regiment of S-300 PMU2 in Syria shut down Israeli Air Force (equipped with much vaunted F-35) operations over coastal Syria.
4. Ground forces? Another wowser since nobody knows how US ground forces will fare against steady and fast attrition of its assets against arguably best anti-armor and area-impact weapons in the world. US simply has no historic experience with that under the conditions of very limited resources and manufacturing base being destroyed (conventionally) domestically.
So, how this Commission envisions such a war is a really funny question. They do state, however:
We recommend that DOD more clearly answer the question of how it intends to accomplish a core theme of the NDS—defeating major power rivals in competition and war. Without a credible approach to winning a war against China or Russia, DOD’s efforts will befor naught
Apart from fluffy (and expected) pseudo-military BS, I have question to this Commission--do they have any idea how it will feel, if they imagine a set-piece (totally unrealistic scenario) battle at Russia's borders in purely conventional way, to lose, say, 150,000 KIAs alone just within one-two months of "fighting"? You say impossible? I would say I am being way too cautious. After all, this is US Army Colonel speaking in 2012 BEFORE certain events unfolded:
In 110 days of fighting the German army in France during 1918, the U.S. Army Expeditionary Force sustained 318,000 casualties, including 110,000 killed in action. That’s the kind of lethality waiting for U.S. forces in a future war with real armies, air forces, air defenses and naval power. Ignoring this reality is the road to future defeats and American decline. It’s time to look beyond the stirring images of infantrymen storming machine-gun nests created by Hollywood and to see war for what it is and will be in the future: the ruthless extermination of the enemy with accurate, devastating firepower from the sea, from the air, from space and from mobile, armored firepower on land.
This should be emblazoned on every wall of any US military-related "think-tank" or "commission" because reality will be even grimmer once one understands that in order for US (NATO) to fight Russia they will need to come into Russia's backyard (Russia is not going to occupy or attack anyone unless attacked first) and people way more capable strategically and tactically than those in Pentagon tried it, not for once, and ended losing not only wars but their armies and states. US military "thinkers" evidently have no grasp of what even conventional war with Russia may bring to the American side--the scale of attrition which will make Vietnam an easy stroll in the park in comparison, albeit Americans who fought there were tough soldiers and good leaders on tactical level. This is not the case today. But General Van Riper's lessons still must be studied to avoid a catastrophe which expects any adversary deciding to fight Russia in her vicinity.
But what is this "crisis" really about? It is actually about not willing to face reality and fight a real war (it is scary and is pregnant with major political consequences), as opposed to comfortable rolling over grossly inferior adversaries. It is about constantly diminishing military capability margin, which was grossly inflated to start with in the wake of the Soviet collapse, and which now is getting to be more proportional to the Empire which is being "cut to size" by geopolitical, economic, military, technological and human reality. So, no--United States is not capable to fight either Russia or China separately, let alone those two simultaneously--this delusional idea was born out of ignorance, hubris and, frankly, lack of knowledge of the real warfare with capable adversaries. Projecting (lack of) "lessons" from Iraq or Afghanistan occupations and (not)fighting there in what is a medium to low intensity conventional (COIN) conflicts onto modern 21st century warfare against nuclear superpowers--it is either, indeed, folie de grandeur or a sign of a mental disorder among those who have to face reality of American very real economic and, with it, military decline. United States either learns to live within its by far not limitless means and accepts the new geopolitical reality, thus preserving own status as one of the few true global superpowers, or it will destroy itself completely trying to retain which it thinks, wrongly, a providence-bestowed crown of hegemon. I feel it is time to address some issues of possible casualties in a conventional conflict. I will do it later.