Monday, April 08, 2019

A Quarter Century Waiting for the Salamander Strategic Reset

Now and then I go on a twitter thread that I feel I need to bring over here.

I know not everyone on the Front Porch are on twitter, and I value your opinion more than most. As such. I feel that I should do what I can to keep you up to speed on where I stand on important issues. Hopefully, that will help you understand why I post what I do here.

The below will not be news to long-term readers, but we have plenty of new ones - so I guess it is time.

Well, at the end of last week, David Larter posted something that prompted me to remind everyone of what has been my foundational stand on what our national strategy SHOULD be, but isn't.

We continue to read confusion, frustration, and general discontent with "strategy" attempts coming out of DC. If you look at it from a distance, it really makes sense that none of it makes sense or fits.

Part of this is institutional inertia, the other part is simple pocketbook issues. At lot of “that town” owes their paychecks, sponsorship, underwriting, ego, PhD, and designated parking spaces to maintaining the American quasi-empire.

I guess this is another opportunity to bring up the 25-yr old “Salamander Strategic Reset” pondered out by LT Salamander a couple of years after the end of the Cold War and slightly revised through the years.

1. First, know the challenge: The Soviet Union was a rather unique global challenge that lasted decades and as such warped our perception of ourselves. The Soviet Union died by its own hand, and still high off the false mirage of the DESERT STORM easy victory that immediately preceded it, we became infatuated with our sudden dominance astride the world - “peace dividend” or not.

Through the 90's GBR, CAN, BEL, FRA, NLD and other armies decamped from Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union, but we did not. Why? We became addicted to being what we are not designed to be; a quasi-empire.

2. Know yourself: we are by design a mercantile republic, not an empire, yet to keep the Soviets at bay for over four decades, we adopted the mantle of one. It is not a natural state. We are blessed with good neighbors, two oceans, and for the moment the best global economy. Our responsibility to the world is an example of solid economics and good government - not enforcer of order.

3. Know the state of man: there will always be tyrants. To live under tyranny is the basic state of man. A higher state of man with liberty and free discourse must be desired and fought for by the people it will impact - it cannot be imposed by an external power and then left to the imposed to implement in the long term. It will be seen as foreign to the people it is being imposed on, and the people will become an antibody to it. A nation will bleed itself white of blood, treasure, and legitimacy wandering the planet looking for monsters to slay. There will always be monsters. If you set on that quest, it will never end.

4. Bring them home: We should not be garrisoning the world as we approach the 3rd decade of the 21st Century. Our allies are strong and well populated enough to be their own 1st line of defense and we do not need to be on their ramparts so that they can work on other projects. We should have no maneuver forces based on the land of our allies. Zero. We should not have any of our naval forces based in the ports of foreign nations on a permanent basis. With our allies, can we have combined training, HQ and logistics bases? Absolutely. Should we on a regular basis have large scale exercises where we surge forces from the USA and back? Absolutely. That is our natural state.

5. Play to our comparative advantage: Again, we have friendly land borders and two large oceans. We are a maritime and aerospace power, not a land empire. We are blessed with resources, talent, stable government and rule of law unprecedented in the history of mankind. That is what we are undermining by trying for force the unnatural fit of empire. The secondary effects here and globally are clear for all to see if they wish to.

6. Land reserve: we have no standing need for large standing ground forces. None. Outside short notice aggressive war on our part, there is no reason we need the active duty ground forces we have. Our design and national character has the answer for us; the vast majority of our ground force capability in peace should be in a robust and diverse National Guard system. We can activate and bring up to full readiness as needed. As doing so would be a significant disruption to economies and families throughout every community in the USA, it will stand as a check on those who have a desire to try out their dreams of global empire. The nation will have to be behind it, not a klatch of think-tanks, politicians, media types, militarists, or excitable residents of Blobistan. Well equipped, distributed, and fully part of every part of the USA. Let the vast majority of our Army (and mobilization enablers in USAF/USN) be of and from the citizenry.

7. An expeditionary mindset: We should have a reasonable active army and USMC, but they should be expeditionary by design and scalable w/integrated reserve and National Guard components that will flesh them out. There are a variety of ways to design this active force, but it will only be a much smaller % of today's. Active component+reserves+National Guard units - actual numbers may be more. We will need more logistics, air and sea, in reserve/National Guard status - and that should be just fine.

So, that is the Executive Summary. You really want to “break the wheel” of strategic stumbling, drift and inertial? This is a way to do it.

You will make lots of enemies doing it - but in your heart you know it is the right thing to do.

I offer this final point: wonder why our efforts to find/write/create a strategy that people understand simply has not worked the last decade+? I’ll tell you why, because they really do not fit with our natural character or the global reality.

Return from empire. It will be OK.

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