By William S. Lind
Retired Air Force Colonel Chet Richards has published another short, good book: If We Can Keep It: A National Security Manifesto for the Next Administration. The “it” in question is a republic, which we are unlikely to keep since republics require a virtuous citizenry. But suggesting a rational, prudent defense policy for the next administration is sufficiently quixotic we might as well also pretend the republic can endure.
Richards’ first major point is that most of our armed forces are “legacy forces,” white elephants designed for fighting the Red Army in Europe or the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific. They have little utility in a world where nuclear weapons prevent wars among major powers, wars with minor powers can be won easily and usually aren’t worth fighting, and legacy forces generally lose against Fourth Generation opponents. Although they are largely useless, these legacy forces eat up most of the defense budget. Richards would disband them, save the Marine Corps, some useful tac air (i.e., A-10s) and some sealift, and give the money back to the taxpayer.
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