by DAVID AXE
It took the firings of two top officials, the truncation or termination of several major acquisitions programs and a heated, months-long political battle, but in the past year or so, U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has successfully reformed the once-hidebound U.S. Air Force. The “new” U.S. Air Force better balances the needs of today’s small, dirty wars against the potential for future, large-scale warfare against another powerful country.
Eight years of low-intensity warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and other distant battlefields has prompted uneven changes across the U.S. military services. The Army and Marines, with the biggest investment in today’s conflicts and by far the most fatalities, have been quickest to adjust their force structures, weapons plans and training. Gates’ concerted effort finally shoved the Air Force in the same general direction. Only the U.S. Navy lags behind. Today, the Navy is the military branch that has adapted the least to current wars. And it’s unclear whether that adaptation will ever happen.
For the Army, Marines and Air Force, recent changes have been about balance. The emergence of so-called “hybrid war,” which combines insurgent tactics with high technology, as seen in Israeli operations in Lebanon and Gaza, has underscored the wisdom of that balance. In the U.S. military, only the Navy is truly out of balance.
(Photo: David Axe)
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