The U.S. might lose a war with major rivals. According to numerous strategic wargames testing the U.S. ability to defeat China or Russia in direct conflict, the U.S. has a serious problem.
“In our games, when we fight Russia and China, blue gets its ass handed to it,” David Ochmanek, an analyst for RAND, said as part of a March 7, 2019 discussion on a “A New American Way of War” at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC.
The National Interest reports that U.S. forces rely too much on large bases and warships that are vulnerable to attack by long-range missiles. “Things that rely on sophisticated base infrastructure like runways and fuel tanks are going to have a hard time,” Ochmanek said. “Things that sail on the surface of the sea are going to have a hard time.”
What is the solution?
According to Ochmanek, to start with, missiles. Lots and lots of missiles. “The U.S. and its allies notoriously keep underestimating how many smart weapons they’ll need for a shooting war, then start to run out against enemies as weak as the Serbs or Libyans. Against a Russia or China, which can match not only our technology but our mass, you run out of munitions fast.”
Breaking News explains:
Specifically, you want lots of long-range offensive missiles. Ochmanek mentioned Army artillery brigades, which use MLRS missile launchers, and the Air Force’s JAGM-ER smart bomb, while Work touted the Navy’s LRASM ship-killer.
You also want lots of defensive missiles to shoot down the enemy‘s offensive missiles, aircraft, and drones. One short-term fix there is the Army’s new Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense batteries, Stinger missiles mounted on eight-by-eight Stryker armored vehicles. In the longer term, lasers, railguns and high-powered microwaves could shoot down incoming missiles much less expensively.
What would be the cost of all these additional missiles, and other needed tech, to defeat China and Russia? It would cost $24 billion a year for five years to fix the worst problems and transform the U.S. military into the high-tech force needed, says Ochmanek. That is 3.3% of the 2020 U.S. defense budget.
Re-allocating those resources in the $750 billion defense budget now should become a Pentagon and administration priority – if we want to guarantee victory in five years. To defeat China and Russia, the U.S. needs lots more missiles.