Wolf and I had a conversation after yesterday's roundtable with Lieutenant General Stephen Speakes. The roundtable and its concepts are discussed in the post below.
One thing that we noticed was that LTG Speakes pointed out that, during the 1990s, investment in developing combat systems was minimal. The result was that the expertise in engineering, computer technology, and other spheres was simply not there when we went back for it. FCS has had to invest enough to allow the industry to restart itself -- far more expensive than maintaining an existing capacity.
The result was what Rumsfeld called "going to war with the Army you have," an army that -- you may remember -- at one point had to urge soldiers to buy their own kit, including body armor, to make up its shortfalls.
A certain candidate favosr eliminating, slowing or cutting back all current investments in future capacity. Some things he opposes outright -- for example, missile defense and space control (oddly, his chief military advisor, Gen. McPeak, was a strong supporter of space control -- is Obama actually listening to his chief advisor?). Other things he just want to delay or pare back, including the FCS. The result would be not just a weakening of America's actual defense in the moment, but a weakening of her capacity to strengthen herself at need. The failure to invest has two costs: not only do you have worn out equipment, but you don't have the experts on hand to help build better things to face current challenges.
Wolf remarked that this was very much like the Army he'd known in the Carter years, 1977-9. We'd like to ask veterans of that era to write in with their stories, the best of which we will publish here. What was it like to belong to such an Army, or Navy, or Marine Corps or Air Force?
Submissions may be sent to me or to Wolf.