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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Thanks to Norm for the link to this piece about Tom Barnett, author of the Pentagon's New Map, a book that sounds like a necessary addition to my reading list. (btw, here's an article by Barnett in which he outlines the basic points of his book.) The point that Norm highlights is this:
They had come to hear a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and former teacher of Marxist studies argue that the American military should be split in two. The first, dubbed "Leviathan", would fight. The second, the "System Administrators", would rebuild failed states to pre-empt crises and so help secure America.
Now, this idea of splitting the army in two, one for fighting, one for nation building has some logic to it. Needless to say, uniform isn't happy about it. While at the German army presentation last week, one idea about this issue I heard was the proposal was a massive increase in the military police. I think that's certainly an idea worth pursuing in more detail. It would have the advantage that it would not start messing around with the army's general fighting ethos, and the functions needed from military policemen are largely the same that are required from peacekeepers. Anyways, I'll give this some more thought some day.

Max Hastings meanwhile continues his argumentabout the abysmal defence budgeting in this country. He's right about cutting down the size of the RAF, but his argument about the Royal Navy is a bit vague and possible mistaken. The main issue revolves around the two new carriers being planned. The problem that I see is that the MoD is trying to build up two complete carrier battle groups, which means additionally to the two carriers, a number of support and protection vessels. On the face of it this sounds sensible doesn't it? Not necessarily. We ought to ask ourselves what is likely and what is less likely. Britain fighting a high-intensity war on our own is less likely than Britain fighting a low-intensity intervention on her own. Therefore we should ask, what the more likely scenario requires in terms of equipment. For an intervention in a ramshackle or collapsed state we need those aircraft carriers. We should therefore move resources from the construction of less urgently needed frigates and destroyers to the construction of the aircraft carriers. Ah yes, and some of those resources into getting workable aircraft for them too.


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