Department Of Defense’s Death Spiral

By Dr. Earl Tilford

“Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the United States was too strong.” –Ronald Reagan

The Center For Vision & Values
The Center For Vision & Values

Grove City, PA –-( The American armed forces are in a death spiral.

The potential danger far exceeds the health insurance debacle occurring in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Defense is as susceptible to the effects of onerous, ideologically driven policies as the economy and the health system. The implications of the DoD’s death spiral are possibly even more devastating.

President Obama’s administration seems to be at war with its military leadership. In the past five years, Obama has sacked more senior officers than all other presidents combined. It wasn’t until the last 60 years that the United States was considered a top military power. Today, the American military is on the verge of becoming weaker than it was in 1939 when Hitler started his European rampage and Japan pushed its aggression into Asia.

The U.S. military’s descent into second-rate status already surpasses the “hollow force” of President Jimmy Carter’s era. After eight years of military cuts overseen by President Clinton, whose concept of defense had more to do with lawyers and juries than military strength, President George W. Bush found himself in the unfortunate position of having to respond to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. The initially superb response was then driven into a fantasyland of nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rusty Tanks
Department Of Defense’s Death Spiral: Soviet tanks rust away, is this the future?

In Oct. 2001, had the U.S. kept to the original plan, American forces would have left Afghanistan before the end of the year with al Qaeda crushed and Osama bin Laden captured or killed. One problem was not clearly identifying the enemy as al Qaeda and the nations or groups that supported them. Another problem was not deploying enough force to find, fix, and annihilate al Qaeda. As is well known, the “War on Terror” devolved into a long struggle during which the terrorists morphed into a worldwide network posing a global threat to American interests. Over time, the will of the American public weakened validating Gen. George C. Marshall’s contention that, “A democracy cannot fight a Seven Years War.”

The lack of a clearly defined strategic objective resulted in the move into Iraq. After a quick march to Baghdad the war could have ended with “mission accomplished” and a U.S. exit. Instead, the decision was made to remake Afghanistan and Iraq into bourgeois democracies; these were doomed objectives, given that neither society possessed a viable middle class, history of democratic politics, or a mindset inclined to accept fundamental human freedom and liberty. Forgetting that Afghanistan had long ago earned the reputation of being “the place where empires go to die,” the U.S. found itself in two wars simultaneously, fighting enemies adept at asymmetric strategies and who were determined to destroy infidel invaders.

While American commanders eventually concocted fairly effective operational strategies in Afghanistan and Iraq, in neither case did U.S. forces benefit from clear strategic goals or useful operational milestones. Salient lessons from Vietnam were forgotten: A strategy focused on “not losing,” rather than pursuing victory, results in defeat and small tactical victories cannot overcome a weak strategy. Meanwhile, a legion of lawyers, backed by policy wonks, looked over our commanders’ shoulders as they tried to figure out ways to defeat a tough collection of international enemies from the mountains of Afghanistan to the streets of Benghazi.

Moreover, because President Barack Obama has been unwilling to make the critical financial investment needed to keep the U.S. a top military power, the American defense establishment entered its current death spiral.

The Army is smaller than it was in 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea. The Navy has half the combat vessels it had 15 years ago. American combat aircraft —Air Force and Navy— are rusting on the runways. The American nuclear arsenal, last updated in the early 1990s, ages while Russia modernizes its arsenal and China expands its global reach. Combat tested junior and mid-level officers and non-commissioned officers, vital to the future leadership of our armed forces, are opting for more promising careers elsewhere. Senior officers courageous enough to resist the inanity of politically correct polices are retiring—if they haven’t been forced out already.

The military weakness admired by the extreme left invites aggression from terrorists and possible hegemons in Teheran, Beijing, and Moscow. The potential costs of weakness are far greater than the expense of being strong.

— Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he is writing a history of the University of Alabama in the 1960s. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.

© 2013 by The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The views & opinions expressed herein may, but do not necessarily, reflect the views of Grove City College.

  • 13 thoughts on “Department Of Defense’s Death Spiral

    1. I have said this so many times that I feel as if I am wasting my time, but can not help but put my two cents into the pot. We went into Korea to stabilize a country invaded by another, since we believed that aggression would cause other countries to fall to communist governments and people would not live a free and happy life. When China entered the Police Action, we fought them until we backed them up to the Yalu River, whereby Gen. McArthur wanted to go into China and whoop their butts, which we could have done. The powers to be in Washington, DC then took control of the action and hobbled the American soldiers, Marines, Navy and Air Force along with the Coast Guard, to the point where all we could do was hold what we had when the conflict started. Since then we have not fought a war to win it, but only to try and stabilize the nations we are giving aid to. We will never win a war fighting on the enemies terms, but, instead we should fight the same type of tactic the enemy is using, the same way we fought in World War II, and that is bombing the hell out of the towns where the monsters are hiding and since they are killing our civilians, women and children, then why can we not be justified in going after the perps wherever they hide.

    2. The real enemy of the U.S. is the nation of israel. Its the dual citizenship holders that surround and bribe the policy makers. Its the unrestrained access they have to taxes generated by the people. Ask yourself why are we on the verge of a war with Iran and Syria? Why are we supporting the same terrorists we are still fighting elsewhere? What possible way did we benefit from Iraq Libya or Afghanistan? Think about the 5 dancing israelis caught filming the collapse of the towers to document it. There is a reason that we are in this situation and its a planned course. Who pushed the alternative lifestyle soldiers? Who has been pushing the open boarders and the gun control issue. Come on people wake up and see who the real enemies behind the curtain.

    3. How many Americans even know of the two million people deported from eastern Poland, the Baltic States, and Romania in 1939 and 1940 to die in the Gulag, the seven million Soviet citizens killed in the camps during World War II, the million POWs (including Finns and Poles) killed by the Soviets during World War II, or the million members of minority nationalities, such as the Volga Germans or Crimean Tatars, who perished in the Gulag during the war, not to mention the five to six million who died there following World War II, including those repatriated (sometimes with British and American help) from territory that had been occupied by the Nazis? How many Americans realize that Mao-Tse Tung—who came to power only because Stalin survived World War II—was the greatest tyrant in history, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese?

    4. This nation is loaded with a private militia. The problem is that when that SHTF situation happens, communication will be the first thing to go. China will shoot down all satellites, and use EMP to knock out the rest of technology. Getting a nationwide militia together to fight back will be difficult. You also have to give thought to Obummer getting through full gun confiscation. That would change everything, even for the idiot liberals that made it possible.

    5. I agree with “One problem was not clearly identifying the enemy” – but the enemy was not and is not just al Qaeda. The enemy is the ideology of Islam. Islamic theology simply incites countless devout followers to commit violence in the name of Islam.

      We have allowed political correctness to stop any real discussion about core Islamic theology. We are afraid to admit that 20% (and growing via the sword) of the world’s population is caught up in a quasi-religious totalitarian killing cult. The non-Muslim world either finds a way to force Islamic reformation or the situation will only get worse. Just wait until the mullahs get a nuke.

      Read my theory “Islam is Fear” at:

    6. Thank goodness there’s at least one post that’s not fueled by jingo testosterone — thanks, Gregory.

      America’s best hope is a force made up of armed civilians. Even without an army getting regular paychecks, you can have an army field-ready quick as a wink if your people are already the well-regulated militia that is the core of the 2nd amendment.

      Each year 14 million hunters armed with militarily useful rifles and dressed in camo go into the field. 14 million. Ya think we could find a quarter million among them that could be called into service, those that aren’t in reserve?

    7. “Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily lives, and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom” – John F. Kennedy

      Pull your heads out of your asses, turn off Honey Boo Boo or the Jock-Strap games, then join and/or the because our nation and it’s PEOPLE, (NOT IT’S “INTERESTS”), at this very moment needs YOUR full attention, backbone and integrity.

      The only way THAT is going to happen is YOU getting onboard with the rest of us and stand-by to do your part in defending the Constitution of the United States and the man or woman standing at your shoulders as we face the coming hell!

    8. The Rules Of Engagement should be: Kill the enemy. Kick ass, take names, come home! Trying to micro manage a war from the District of Corruption has been proven not to work!

    9. Obama will probably be out of office when it happens but we will pay a very high price for this self inflicted mortal wound. I just hope when the American people then ask why, they know who to blame it on.

    10. Obama is well on the way to ruining the U.S.A. And millions of votes were counted in his favor in 2012. The sooner he is impeached, the better it will be for this nation. To have an open enemy as our commander-in-chief is a sure way to lose.

    11. This is EXACTLY what Obama wants. He HATES America. Obama wants America WEAK, DYSFUNCTIONAL and IMPOVERISHED under a DICKtator. Having perverts or “gays”OPENLY serving in the military disrupts cohesion and is turning our military into a FREAK show. Many straight people will LEAVE because it is REPULSIVE to be around emotionally ill people that are NOT functional. Do you really believe that perverts will properly defend U.S.? Of course not!

    12. Very distressing to say the least, especially when you have an administration that has been KNOWN to send our weapons and money to known terrorist organizations. Not to mention having Russian and Chinese troops supposedly doing military training, with boots on the ground here on our own soil- giving our nation’s worst enemies a military advantage over us. If this doesn’t call for impeachment and trials for treason, nothing does!

    Comments are closed.