The Pentagon could learn from Agincourt

During the Battle of Agincourt,  the “humble and effective English longbow made short work of the expensive and vulnerable French cavalry”. Is America at risk of suffering the same sort of military humiliation?

Christian Brose, the former staff director of the Senate armed services committee, believes so. The traditional model of US power – based on large, expensive and heavily manned systems – has, he says, become a dangerous anachronism. It no longer makes military or economic sense to invest in $13bn aircraft carriers and $89m fighter jets when the US is fighting technologically primitive enemies in the Middle East, and when its “relatively small number of ultra-sophisticated platforms are increasingly vulnerable to detection and destruction” by rivals such as China and Russia. The US should instead create many more, cheaper military platforms, “and – within ethical limits – enhance their autonomy”. That would put fewer soldiers in harm’s way and reduce the risk from swarm attacks. But alas, this change is unlikely to happen any time soon: the “military-industrial-congressional complex” will resist any disruption to its business model. “In the meantime, the risk of being on the losing side of our own Agincourt” grows greater by the day.   (Bret Stephens, New York Times, The Week 4 May 2019).

There is nothing moderate (or Epicurean) about the money and resources thrown at the American military.  They get everything they want, crowding out the needs of all sorts of other aspects of American life.  Under Trump the money devoted to military effort rises by the day.  And yet we cannot win a war, Afghanistan being the prime, and most scandalous example.  Meanwhile the deficit careers upwards as if there could be no possible economic consequences.  All hail Mr. Christian Brose for pointing out what should be obvious, but which , I am sure, is an unwelcome point of view to the score of special interests wanting an ever more bloated and clumsy military.

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