Friday, November 16, 2012

More about how to cut the military

I've already talked about how the US has a ridiculous number of aircraft carriers.  But I found out I was wrong.  I underestimated the issue.

The US doesn't have 11 air craft carriers, it has 11 super carriers.   These are the huge, double runway things seen in movies and TV.  Other countries mostly have small single run way carriers (except for China, Russia and France - their single carriers are double runways, but are still smaller than the US.)  As for Italy and Spain the only other country that have more than one air craft carrier, they both have one small one and one TINY one.   (Source)

But the navy isn't just about aircraft carriers.  The next big, expensive ship are Submarines.  Non-nuclear submarines are basically worthless.  They can't stay down very long, travel very slowly and can rather easily be identified when they surface.  Which is why the US doesn't own any military non-nuclear subs.  All of the US military submarines are nuclear powered.

There are three main types of nuclear powered submarines:
  1. Attack submarines - designed to kill ships
  2. Nuclear bunkers - designed to hold missiles in a hidden, moving location
  3. "Information/rescue" ships - designed to get up close and spy, do research or retrieve people.

The US owns about 74 nuclear powered submarines, of these 54 are declared to be attack nuclear powered submarines.  We don't talk about the other 20.   Russia owns 45 submarines, 40 of which are attack, England owns 13, 8 of which are attack, France and China both own 10 each and each has six attack submarines.  (Source - yes, I had to look up Russia's flag - in my head it was still the old USSR flag)

It's hard to talk about the Bunker and Spy subs, because we don't know how many of each each country has.  But we can talk about the attack submarines.  Right now, the US has eight more attack submarines (54) than Russia (40) and China combined (6).  Not to mention the fact that we can depend on England, if not France to help us out if we go to war with both China AND Russia?   How about cutting down the attack submarines from 54 down to 49?  We give up 10% of our attack submarines, keeping the bunkers and the spy ships, and still have more than Russia and China combined, without depending on our allies.

Lets look a the air force next.   No other country has reliable, tested stealth aircraft.  Everyone else has tried to build them but not tested them in a war.    We currently have 3 different stealth aircraft being designed/built.  No other country has more than one design and only: Russia, India, China, South Korea, and Japan have even bothered to try. (Source)  They are the F-35 Joint strike, the F-22 Raptor fighter and the B-2 Spirit bomber.  Aircraft are already incredibly expensive, stealth ones doubly so.
But that's OK, we've already moved on to drones.  Of which once again, we have far more battle testing than they have (although recently Israel shot down an unarmed drone.)

Our drone programs are still relatively small.  For example, as per Wikipedia, the Reaper (one of the biggest and deadliest drones we use), costs less than $40 million and we ordered less than 60 of them.  Compare that with the B-2 , which costs over 1,000 times that much - and we ordered 21 of them.

I like drones.  They are cheap - both in dollars and in lives.  They can be launched from our yet to be launched new 'rail gun' Ford class aircraft carriers (coming 2015).  But most importantly, they work well against terrorists.  We can have them out spying where we don't dare send people.    I don't see a need to cut drones.  I do see a need to replace B-2 bombers with drones.

Which do you think is more cost effective?  Sending one B-2 Bomber to take out a radar site, letting our fighters fly in behind them.  Or sending 500 Reapers to destroy the radar site.   Say we lose 100 of the reapers each time. 

I see no problem in reducing our navy and air force expenditures by 10%.  The army is more problematic, but it is not impossible.  A general 10% reduction in the US military looks more and more possible.  We simply don't need to have that large a military because we are facing small insurgents, not Russia and/or China.   Drones do more than replace one grunt, they replace a highly trained, flying, hidden person.

We could take 1/10 of that 10% budget reduction and spend it on foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence.  We need to fight the next war - terrorism, rather than the old cold war.  Save the rest to cut down the deficit.

We spend about $900 billion a year on the military.  10% of that is $90 billion.   The sequester that everyone is talking about?  It saves 100 billion.  We only need another 10 billion to trade for it.   Raise taxes by 5 billion on the wealthy and cut 5 billion from welfare and we can cancel the sequestration.

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