Sequestration & Strategic Parity

The irresponsible Congressional ‘impasse’ known as sequestration will hurt American strategic parity throughout every war theatre around the globe.  Our enemies in Teheran, Beijing, Islamabad, Damascus and Moscow are watching this assisted suicide with grave consequences in domains we traditionally demonstrated hegemony.

The 2013 budget does not support next generation technologies that would give American war planners the needed superiority required in the Pacific.  Sequestration has also hit experimental prototypes along with live-fire testing that demonstrates risk design and developmental potential.  In total, budget year 2012 has cut 8% from research and development.  This spells near defeat for our culture of strategic depth in the Pacific region, an area the United States Navy and Air Force have dominated since 1947.         My fear is that we have cut investment in high reward technological domains that can have market and theatre altering potential.

For readers that are not up-to-date with Pentagon war planning options, budget 2013 will drastically cut our reach and strategic parity in downsizing directed energy weaponry, nanotechnological applications, solid-state and fiber lasers, biotechnologies, hypersonic missiles, carrier-launched unmanned drones outfitted for ground attack and hosts of other applications that provide our forces with greater reach and depth in geography traditionally hostile to manpower.  It is significant that American war planners continue research so as to maintain parity with other national agendas that simulate analogous weaponry.

Currently, American dominance is being threatened by China.  Beijing continues to heavily invest in precision-guided weaponry and asymmetrical means to counter traditional U.S. war fighting platforms and competitive advantages.  To keep up with Chinese advances, war planners at Pentagon have created concepts that mimic parity with Sinic gains:  the Air-Sea Battle and Joint Operations Access Concept.

Both concepts are not war plans, but a means for the US Air Force and Navy to command joint operations to parry Chinese advantage from its proliferation of precision guided munitions and anti-access, along with area denial technologies that the Chinese have fielded since 2000.  Joint Operations Access Concept is similar with varying platforms.

Both conceptual advances reveal that the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) still continues apace throughout the Pentagon; for both concepts remain hollow absent a commanding core political strategy.

The RMA continues to command serious resources throughout the bureaucracy that underwrites both Defense and Pentagon, nevertheless sequestration provides a needed pause from which to provide the required strategic political context if these technologies are to gain American advantage.  A good place for Congressional leaders to begin as they access the impact of budget cuts throughout the military is the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel report from 2010.  Perhaps Congress could establish an independent strategic review panel that would provide planning guidance every four years.  This would allow budget cuts to be reviewed in an appropriate context outside of sequestration.  I would also recommend both the 2013 National Defense Authorization act along with an unclassified risk assessment model for Congress annually.

Congress itself has advanced a view advising a need to understand both qualitative and quantitative risk assessment as they create a yearly budget.  The above noted requirements would help Congressional leaders understand foreign commitments in light of possible sequestration.  This process would also create a needed pedagogical insight into how Pentagon and Defense war planners understand American priorities.

Currently, the Unites States military continues to meet unexpected foreign threat challenges from regions that are unsuitable to long term military planning.  Achieving insight into immediate future commitments along the Pacific rim should give pause to Congressional members who erroneously believe that current force posture is sufficient.  The changing threat environment and shifting risk calculations along multiple asymmetrical and symmetric theatres requires a budget that acknowledges the price required for successful parity.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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