- The United States has an aging fleet of fighter jets (except the stealth F-22) that could soon be overtaken by Russian, Chinese and French warplanes.
- General Welsh seemingly confirms Russian and Chinese innovations are based on stolen United States technology.
- Budget cuts have cut more than planes; mentioned is the decrease in the size of the Air Force since the beginning of the first Gulf War.
- The Air Force is losing more drone pilots than it can train.
I don’t doubt that budget cuts have impacted the United States ability to fight our enemy. But where does the money need to be spent in order to strengthen our military’s capabilities?
Perhaps the second main point concerning the theft of innovative technologies by foreign countries is the most important to invest in to protect. Protecting our country’s technologies from theft is essential to maintaining a competitive advantage. Our country is unique in that it provides economic freedoms that facilitate technological innovations demonstrated by many influential technology companies started within the United States (e.g., Microsoft, General Electric, and more). Allowing our enemies to steal our technological innovations wastes the research and development money spent, negating its potential benefits. Even worse, the money is negatively invested if our country fails to develop new weapon systems, including planes, exploiting advantages obtained, while our enemies succeed.
I read a good book about 12 years ago called Skunk Works that told many stories about Lockheed Martin’s historic yet extraordinary and innovative aerospace development projects leading to achievements such as the U-2 spy plane and F-117A stealth fighter. The book describes the importance of innovation in providing our military a competitive advantage. Such technologies cannot be under appreciated. According to Jennifer Griffin’s report, our enemies don’t.
I don’t know the reasons why there is a significant turnover in pilots flying unmanned drones. There might be a need for greater pay or other benefits to increase retention. But, increasing budgets to increase the size of the force might not be necessary. Is there a need for a larger force? I’m not so sure.
Couldn’t technological innovations, if properly protected and developed, lead to a more potent military force without the need for as many personnel? And even if an increase in military personnel is needed, do they need to be hired government soldiers? Why not privatize a larger portion of our military service? Are traditional soldiers needed to carry out the growing military specialties? Can drone pilots be hired contractors or government employees rather than soldiers? Don’t we just need more specialists, like cyber security experts?
A good example of the decreased need for traditional soldiers and changing nature of warfare is exemplified by the Stuxnet virus.
My understanding is the Air Force is seeking a leaner more mobile force that could rapidly respond to multiple regional conflicts. This seems appropriate considering how quickly conflicts arise. Technology allows our force to be projected throughout the world more swiftly than before. Likewise, our enemies have similar opportunities to attack our country and its interests.
I’m not convinced we need to increase our budget hiring more military personnel increasing the size of our force. I’m further convinced we need to spend more money protecting technologies from theft. We then need to implement secure technologies to fight a non-traditional warfare that doesn’t necessarily include traditional soldiers.
Let’s get more drone pilots and cyber warfare experts. Let’s modernize our stealth capabilities. Let us not be fooled into accepting the traditional idea that increasing the number of soldiers’ ranks as the most important way to strengthen our military’s capabilities.
Jennifer Griffin’s story was brief. I’m sure more information has been reported potentially supporting or countering my analysis.