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Far be it from me to question the expertise of the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, especially since he was originally a Bush appointee.
But if I could have five minutes of Secretary Gates’ time, I’d love to ask him ONE question.
“Sir, in this age of terrorism and asymmetrical, unconventional warfare….are you 100% sure that the era of conventional warfare is completely over with? That is, are you positive that there will never be another major, direct war against an industrialized foreign government?”
I’m going to answer my own question: NO! The era of conventional warfare is not over, not by a long shot. It’s great to be throwing resources into the fight against al-Queda, but remember that there is such a thing as “state-sponsored terrorism.”
That means a war against uniformed soldiers representing a recognized foreign government, if we really want to “git r done.” Furthermore there are at least two major communist states remaining (some would say five or six) that would very much like to do harm to the United States and other NATO powers. The Cold War isn’t over, it just has moved to a new phase.
China has been trying for years to put together an anti-American alliance consisting of itself, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and anyone else it can recruit, along with any Islamic states it can recruit such as Iran. Even if a major world war never breaks out, there’s still every possibility of a smaller conflict confined to the Korean Peninsula, Iranian airspace, or the Strait of Taiwan.
I shouldn’t need to spell out to the SecDef that air superiority would be absolutely essential in any such conflict.
I remember reading some comments a few days ago regarding the dust-up of Obama and Gates at odds with some retired general over the F22 Raptor issue. The poster said, “Does anyone remember WWII? The Germans had better tanks than we did, but we still won the tank battles because we had more of them.”
I about threw my soda can at my monitor. Tank warfare 60 years ago, and aerial combat today couldn’t possibly have less in common. For one thing, the fighters we have today would be able to knock down anything Russia or China is flying, at a six-to-one ratio or better.
Why? Because of advanced avionics which enable our fighters to engage the enemy at a much greater range than theirs can. Ours can shoot theirs out of the sky long before theirs are within firing range. That has absolutely nothing to do with the differences in firepower or armor thickness or whatever when you’re talking about a Panzer vs a Sherman.
And note that it’s the case RIGHT NOW. It won’t stay that way if we don’t have enough F22’s to compete with any fifth-generation fighters that are deployed by potential enemies like China (or worse, sold to nearer-term enemies like Iran.)
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