Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Horses, Bayonets, and Ships

Just a quick note, which you may or may not have already figured out regarding President Obama's rude and condescending remarks regarding the size of our Navy.

First of all, we probably have just as many, if not more, bayonets than we did back in the "we used to have horses and bayonets" time.  Every infantryman, Marine Corps or Army, carries a bayonet.  They are just as useful as they used to be, if not more.  Modern bayonets double as utility knives and wire cutters as well as the traditional fighting knife.  I have some antique bayonets in my collection that are completely useless for anything other than affixing to the end of a rifle because of their design.  And although we do have fewer of them, we still use horses, and not just for show. Ask the troops that rode horses into the mountains of Afghanistan over the past few years.

Second, was Obama really as ignorant as he sounded on military matters or did his "zinger" just come out wrong?  The impression I got was that "we didn't need more ships" because we had "aircraft carriers that planes land on" and "ships that go underwater".  Force projection strategy aside, does Obama even realize that aircraft carriers and submarines are actually ships?

Finally, from an actual effective defense standpoint, if we have fewer ships how do we defend out interests?  Our interests, as an isolated, ocean-bound nation, require that we keep the sea lanes open for trade and that we be able to project our power somewhere if threatened or attacked.  How do we get that power to the sea lanes and to foreign shores if necessary?  One way is airplanes but you have to have a forward base to land them on and it takes a lot of airplanes to move large quantities of troops and equipment.  Another way is Obama's aircraft carriers, but each aircraft carrier requires a battle fleet to operate effectively.  You have to have other ships for defense (aircraft carriers are quite vulnerable to attack), supply, and refueling (for the planes and other ships).  Aircraft carriers can not subsist in a vacuum.

You could argue that the President does not believe in the projection of American power, that we don't need to guarantee the sea lanes or have the ability to fight wars overseas.  That is an arguable point, but that's not what he argued.  Instead he said we had aircraft carriers and submarines to meet our needs.  Both designed for the projection of power.

Obama was wrong both in his analysis of the situation and in his manner of delivery.  His rude and condescending remarks demonstrate that he doesn't have much of a grasp of military strategy, and that he doesn't have enough respect for the American people to make a cogent argument in favor of his viewpoint (or that he doesn't think his actual views, whatever they may be, will win him the votes of the American people).  I've got news for the President.  Being rude to the average American will not win you votes either, especially when you are making a point that the average teenager knows is wrong.

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