Saturday, June 7, 2008

A National Defense Primer

There is always some damn fool who thinks that using force and violence is going to get something out of it. And there are just enough examples where it does, although the outcomes of the use of force usually have only marginal relation to the original causes. And this paper isn’t going to agonize on that issue but focus on the fundamentals of what is needed for the defense of the USA.

The factors used in military planning are covered in the acronym METT-TC: Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops available, Time, and Civil considerations.

The Mission of an American national defense is rooted in the oath taken by the military and all public officials, and that is to defend the Constitution and all lawful orders. The Constitution is a rule book which means that the first principle in defense planning is to follow the rules and to ensure that the rules are protected.

It is an old adage that a standing military force is a standing threat to civil authority, regardless of the merits of that civil authority. The Founders divided the responsibility and authority for the military between the President who acts as Commander and the Congress who have the authority to determine what kind of military the President gets to command. It is also divided between State and Federal.

The Second Amendment establishes the “well regulated militia” of the states as the default military establishment. Article I, Section 10(3) restricts the states from having a standing (full time) military force of ships of war in time of peace. The Congress has the specified authority to determine the “regulations” known today as doctrine or discipline of the militia and all other military forces in Article I, Section 8, clauses (11-16) as well as the authority to raise and equip all military forces. The State militias have the right to appoint their own officers in clause (16).

The President is Commander in Chief of state militias when actually under Federal Control and of all other Federal Forces.

One cannot separate; try as they may, diplomacy from kinetic (military force) and in that regard the Founders gave the President original jurisdiction over treaty making and relations with foreign nations. But the Congress in Article I, Section 8, (3) to regulate commerce with foreign nations. That divides the use of national power between the President and Congress to the effect that the Congress can’t conduct wars, but determines the economic aspects of foreign relations over which is the breeding ground of national objective.

The Congress regulates the purse strings of Federal power and retains the right to declare war. These powers are vastly over rated as a means of controlling the military as the President’s authority over foreign affairs and military forces allow considerable latitude for the President to get into mischief.

A more effective tool is found in Article II, Section 2 (1) which requires the Senate to approve by advice and consent the officers appointed by the President. All commissioned officers cannot pin on their new rank until the Senate says so. The Goldwater-Nichols Act that is responsible for the current success in joint service operations, versus some really big screw ups of the past, by stating that no candidate for flag rank (Generals and Admirals) will be considered for approval without joint service.

Forces Available

In addition to the default force of State Militias, the Congress has created the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force. Most, but not all state militias are paid by the Federal government but the states may raise additional force or use state forces for state missions using state funds. Each of the services has a ReServe establishment which for the Air Force and Army there are two “components” of which one is Federal and the other is state. There is an Air National Guard, and an Army National Guard as well as an Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard ReServe commissioned and paid for by the Federal Government.

The US Army and Navy were miniscule in the Nineteenth Century and the state militias were funded by state or private funds. Until after the Civil War, the Congress would issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal to private ship owners to wage war on the enemies of the nation. If used today, one could envision Blackwater with a blue water fleet.

Guard and ReServe forces today are heavily staffed with veterans of active service and whose civilian experience offer a richer mix of talents that the force made up of solely full time military. It is not uncommon for Guard and ReServe forces to outperform their full time counter parts. Once upon a time, Guard and ReServe Forces trained one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, but now make up half the forces in combat in the War on Terror with many a ReServist re-serving more than twice.

Attempts to combine Federal and State Forces in times other than war hang up on the Constitutional provisions of Article I, Section 8(16) giving the states the right to select their own officers and of the Second Amendment that guarantees the states to have their own Army and Air Force plus what other police forces needed.

The Founders were very keen on dividing the control of military force based on their experiences going back to the Magna Charta, and the recent unpleasantness in the English Civil Wars. As such there is no “Royal” Army, but the British Army which is the descendant of the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell. The Founders were leery of letting the President appoint officers whom the Founders reserved to the Senate through advice and consent.

The Founders concern over dividing the control of military and political power goes back to the Roman Republic in which the command of each legion was divided between two Tribunes who alternated each day and by the division of executive power between two Consuls. Sparta had two kings.

The division of military from political power is at the root of a great deal of mischief. The feudal system was based on a fusion of both. During the English Revolution, various members of Parliament also commanded troops in the field. This cluttered both military and political considerations so that the Parliament, at Cromwell’s insistence, required all its members to give up one or the other, except for Oliver Cromwell who made himself military dictator of the English Republic. Members of Congress may not also be serving officers on active duty due to the Founders concern over the likelyhood of another “Rump Parliament”.

In determining how big a military we need, both full and part time, the model of WW 2 shows one end of a spectrum, the Big War which mobilized ten percent of the total population in uniform and another forty percent in defense industries. We had a population of 120 million with twelve million in uniform. We had one hundred combat divisions and 102 aircraft carriers. Today that would be thirty million in uniform.

Full time military establishments have a preference for short wars which all too often devolve into Big Wars or worse, Long Ones. Both Long and Big Wars require a flexible structure to develop the needed forces, equipment, and methodology to meet with a dynamically and unpredictably changing battlefield.

Due to our physical isolation from hostile neighbors has allowed us the luxury to buy time to raise the ten percent and in WW 2 it took three years to get to the ten percent figure starting in the summer of 1940. One year of that was still in peacetime.

In order to reach the ten percent figure, I suggest that one percent of the population be able to be deployed in stages in under six months. That does not mean that all or even a major portion of the force be full time active duty.

In the absence of a clear and present danger to the Continental USA, the forces needed to adequately defend the continent may be done by Guard and ReServe Forces. In that the economic interests of the US are dependant on trade by sea, there is the requirement for a naval blue water force with a capability to operate in green water and in selected limited shore operations which is the traditional role for the US Navy and the USMC.

It is the existence of those clear and present dangers that dictates the creation and maintenance of full time (standing) forces. Further, those forces which may threaten the Continent from afar need to be placed afar also. The Roman Republic took a dive when the Rubicon was crossed.

Terrain Considerations:

I divide the Continental US into six regions for the purposes of terrain analysis: The Old Union, the Confederacy, the Mississippi River, the Great Plans, the Mountains, and the West Coast with the Union and the West Coast being the most important. The geographic center of gravity is around St Louis which may be considered the Stalingrad of CONUS with the Boston-DC megaplex being the Leningrad/Moscow complex.

The physical control of the US is viable so long as either the Union or the West Coast is retained with two of the other parts are contiguous.

The approaches to the Continental US (CONUS) from Asia must control first Japan, Eastern Siberia, Alaska, and the Alaskan archipelago and which then is in a position to seize California but little else beyond the formidable barriers of the mountains. Approaches from Europe likewise have to secure Iceland, Greenland, and Northeast Canada before reaching a vulnerable New England.

The fastest avenue of approach is from Canada down the Great Plains, but getting to Canada is a bitch. Likewise an invasion route from Mexico has the desert to contend with, and from the Gulf has a bunch of islands to contend with.

In all cases, a very strong naval capability is critical for an assault on CONUS. Right now that seems remote, but in the period between the Fall of France and the Invasion of the Soviet Union, the prospect of a united German, French, Italian and a part of the Royal Navy was a real possibility and a concern to FDR. Even the isolationists deemed it prudent to be prepared for war and the movement was called “Preparedness”. Ninety percent of the US population was opposed to war as late as September, 1941.

The Preparedness movement started with a huge armaments buildup and mobilization of the National Guard, and a peacetime draft in September 1940. The mobilized force was kept on active duty in September 1941 by a margin of one vote in the Senate.

The formidable terrain obstacles between here and out there plus the ability of the US to raise a thirty million person military force will force a potential enemy to take time to build humungous land, sea and air forces and to deploy them in position to assault the US is enough to give us the time to raise and train that force. The time to go from one to ten percent available for combat is dependant upon a trained cadre of mid level officers, noncoms, and technicians in place to provide the backbone and nervous structure of a mobilized force.

Additionally, the clear and present needs for standing forces starts with the needs of securing out lines of sea communication, and with a focus on those areas which constrain or define sea commerce. As such there is a short list of places in place to causes mischief to water born travel: The Cape of Good Hope, The English Channel and the Straits of Magellan, Hormuz, Malacca, and the Skagerrak, the Horn of Africa, the Panama and Suez Canals, and the exits from the Sea of Japan, Caribbean, and Okhotsk seas. Control of the major rivers of the world include the Rhine, Danube, Amazon, Mississippi-Ohio, Niger, Nile, Euphrates, and Ganges which control by brown water small boat forces and by control of land features that control river traffic.

Our focus is on the locations of markets and resources that affect our economy that are sensitive to denial by hostile forces. It is the analysis of these locations, likely enemy forces and access thereto that should be the focus for planning for projectable forces be they full or part time, and should be contingency based.

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