Ash Carter on 21st century warfare

Via Richard Fernandez, Real Clear Defense reports on Ash Carter’s budget- and policy-setting agenda for the coming post-Obama years. It is an agenda that continues to downplay the necessity of large scale combat operations (“boots on the ground”) in favor of cutting edge technology and surveillance. More evidence, then, for the theory that Gays and Women In Combat Units is a sleight-of-hand maneuver.

For a two-term president issuing his last federal budget that was dismissed before it even hit the Hill, the defense budget rollout has received unusually heavy coverage. This is driven mostly by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s unveiling of the “Third Offset” strategy and its official launch and inclusion in the 2017 request. Put simply, the new strategy is an attempt to offset shrinking U.S. military force structure and declining technological superiority in an era of great power competition—a challenge that military leaders have not grappled with in at least a generation.

The third offset investments fall into six targeted areas: anti-access and area-denial, guided munitions, undersea warfare, cyber and electronic warfare, human-machine teaming, and wargaming and development of new operating concepts. Much of it is weighted toward the Air Force and Navy.

The Army and the Marines will continue to train the grunts, but this latest defense budget seems to continue the trend toward putting fewer grunts in combat.

Then there’s this, from Ash Carter himself, admitting that an increased surveillance budget is very much on the agenda.

Now, at any time, if deterrence fails, then we’ll have a force that is big enough that would defeat or deny an adversary in one region in a very large multi-phased joint campaign, and have the capability to simultaneously deny an opportunistic aggressor in a second theater from reaching their objectives or imposing extreme costs on them at the same time.

Now, we concluded that we were pretty good in our force structure in that regard, with one key exception, and that turned out to be intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. For all of those of you in this business, you know you can never have enough. It’s a constant guess. And no matter where you end up, you always need more. So we’re probably going to be — you’ll see on Monday that we’ll probably be adding more in that regard.

And later from the same speech, more on the high-tech, low-grunt ethos of future warfare:

We [need to] make significant investments in our nuclear enterprise; new space capabilities; advanced sensors, communications and munitions for power projection in contested environments; missile defense; and cyber capabilities. We are also investing in promising new technologies, including unmanned undersea vehicles; advanced sea mines; high-speed strike weapons; advanced aeronautics; from new engines to new, different types of prototypes; electromagnetic rail guns; and high-energy lasers.

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