U.S. Forces Not Ready for Future War

May 15, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The changes that have redefined the U.S. military over the past decade of war may have left it ill-equipped to fight whatever type of war it faces next, suggests a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), the inaugural Harold Brown Chair in defense policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the audience at Joint Warfighting 2012 that a strategic outlook must be applied to the force if it is to be able to withstand budget cuts and deal with new types of conflict. He described the U.S. military, which has evolved to address operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as an occupation force. "We are equipped as an occupation force and we are trained as an occupation force. It is very heavy; too heavy to move by air. Is that what we want to be when we grow up?" he offered. The force needs to be recapitalized, and the military must decide whether to continue on the current path or recapitalize it to suit future requirements. He noted that the upcoming F-35 strike aircraft is not ready to deal with a cyber attack. The general related that systems used to have a switch to turn off all electronic emissions; now platforms need a switch to turn off all apertures, which are vulnerable to cyber attack. He added that he sees a nexus coming between cyber and electronic warfare. Gen. Cartwright did urge greater use of unmanned craft for more improved platform performance. Noting that most platforms today are limited by their onboard human element, he pointed out that unmanned systems are limited only by computational power. "Do you want a smaller force with weapons systems that only have room for marginal improvement?" he asked.

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