Indispensable Armed Forces

By Kroesen, Frederick J. | Army, November 2008 | Go to article overview

Indispensable Armed Forces


Kroesen, Frederick J., Army


References to our national defense during the presidential election campaign have been limited to the question of which candidate is a better fit for the role of Commander in Chief. There has been, to my knowledge, no expression of an appraisal of the con- dition of our armed forces, of an ap- preciation of our future needs or of a program to meet them. There has been no discussion of worldwide threats, of revisions of our national strategy or of guidance for the Quadrennial Defense Review due in 2009.

An appraisal of the worldwide threats to our national interests is the prime requirement for determining the role of our armed forces. A superficial, unclassified and probably contentious survey can begin at our southern border, where drug smuggling, illegal immigration and other lawless activities have recently been exacerbated by incursions of Mexican army forces.

Also close to home are terrorist threats to our air and seaports, the potential for missiles launched from freighters at sea against inland targets and the potential for creating an electromagnetic pulse, which would reduce or destroy our electrical and electronic systems over wide areas of the country.

Beyond our borders, our international commitments present a whole series of special requirements. With no attempt to prioritize, there are first our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They will not end in November and will be a continuing drain on resources for some time to come.

Next is our NATO responsibility. Expansion of NATO to 26 countries, with potential additions still being discussed, expands our commitment to the agreement that an "attack against one is an attack against all." The expansion of the "protected" area also expands the range of our military response requirements and our realization that terror attacks are threats to NATO as well as to us.

Our commitment to Israel's right to exist has always had military connotations. Except for one instance of our commitment of Patriot batteries, we have met this requirement logistically and with intelligence means, but the increasing sophistication of the Arab forces in the region bodes a difference in the future.

North Korea, despite purported diplomatic progress in resolving our issues and disagreements, remains a threat to reopen its unfinished war with the South. …

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