Max Boot in the LA Times seems to agree with POGO advisory board member Lawrence Korb, et al (pdf), that "United States weapons systems are not tailored to existing and projected threats." If the US was serious about fighting a "Long War" against terrorism, it would try to build the best force to fight it, rather than just capitulating to the interests of large defense contractors. The Pentagon and Congress continue to fund Cold War weapons that aren't the best ones suited for current and probable future threats.
It was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself that said, "Any changes will most likely be opposed by special interests wedded to their systems, but nonetheless, we must continue to shift resources so we will be more adept at meeting today's challenges." Too bad he signed off on the latest Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) (pdf).
Here's a large chunk of Boot's op-ed:
Unfortunately, whatever the rhetoric of the QDR, too much of the $439-billion 2007 defense budget is still devoted to conventional weapons platforms left over from the Cold War.
For example, the Pentagon is continuing to fund three ruinously expensive short-range fighters — the F/A-22 Raptor, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — even though we already have total dominance in the air. The entire budget for language and cultural training — $181 million — comes to less than the cost of one F-35.
Also being funded is the Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, with the QDR calling for an eventual increase in its procurement from one sub a year to two. These $2.4-billion subs are now being sold as great tools for gathering intelligence, firing Tomahawk missiles and inserting Special Forces units into enemy waters, but they were designed to fight Soviet subs and surface ships, and that's still what they're best suited for.
Even more ill-suited for irregular warfare are two other ships whose development will eat up untold billions: the CVN-21 and the DD(X), a next-generation aircraft carrier and destroyer, respectively.
Attack submarines, aircraft carriers and fighter aircraft may be glamorous, but they are almost entirely useless for the challenges the United States faces today in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. There, the fighting is being done by Army and Marine infantrymen — and there are not nearly enough of them.