Beware the False Economies of Smart Strategies

Beware the False Economies of Smart Strategies

Posted on January 30th, 2012 in Blog, News, Services, Top Picks

The basic tenets of the 16-page DoD overview released last week (available here) appear relatively sound on the surface.  The devil is in both the details and in the actually doing, not the saying – but a focus on Asia and the Middle East is reasonable, and hopefully the concepts of rapid forward-deployable ‘lily-pads’ will work better than shock and awe.

 

Still, DoD leaders must remain mindful of the false economies associated with the planned cuts to the budget.  It is easy to reduce troops and scale back weapons, but there is also an inevitable degradation of scale and speed of response – trade-offs that the military can make but only if political leaders accept the consequence of reduced response, be it in time or total number of interventions.

 

This conflict here lies at the heart of the modern American military and the dichotomy of its roles: a need to both be big enough to win big wars and also agile enough to rapidly intervene in small scale skirmished on a moment’s notice.  The problem with efficiency is that while it reduces day to day costs it also reduces the amount of spare capacity which can be used in a crisis, the amount held in abeyance that represents the ability to flex and adjust because you have more than enough to carry out any assigned task.  There is a tipping point after which capacity constraints become destructive to operational readiness, but precisely where the tipping point lies is not entirely clear —  and depends in large part upon the size and scope of the required surge response.  So while the new strategy looks good on paper, political and military leaders alike would do well to remember the old dictum that no plan – and no cost-cutting efficiency strategy – ever survives first contact with the enemy.