Monday, December 5, 2011
A Strategy For The 21st Century Part 1: Europe
1. We are for all intents and purposes defending NATO instead of NATO members defending themselves. As of 2011 there are roughly 54,000 U.S. soldiers in Germany, 9,000 in the U.K., and a further 9,000 in Italy. In last year's SDSR the U.K. canceled the Nimrod MRA4, personnel numbers in the Air Force, Navy and Army were reduced by a combined total of 17,000 troops. The number of Challenger 2 tanks was cut by 40%, the number of AS-90 self-propelled artillery was cut by 35%, and list goes on. The same thing that is taking place in Britain is also taking place in Germany, with the Germans cutting their military drastically from it's Cold War strength of 360,000 to just 76,000 men. Why? Because the U.S. has become the sugar-daddy in terms of defense for NATO members, and this is putting strain on the U.S. military and the defense budget as the troops and equipment based in Europe are needed elsewhere, and we cannot afford to defend Europe any longer.
2. The USSR is gone, and the Russian Federation is not much of a conventional threat. Since the collapse of the USSR, the Russian military has been in decline, and has lost most of conventional military power. For example, the Russian Navy has 61 submarines of all types (cruise missile, ballistic missile, attack, diesel-electric, and rescue) as of 2011, down from a high of 373 submarines of all types in 1985. The Russian Army has a strength of 321,000 men, this is down from a strength of 1,995,000 men in 1985. The Russian Air Force is down to 769 fighters from 1620 fighters in 1985. However, Russia is still a nuclear threat, as Russia's nuclear forces are for the most part still intact, with at least one new missile in development, and the fact that with the decline of Russia's conventional forces they forced to rely heavily on their nuclear deterrent.
However, there are some bases in Europe that are actually needed for our (the U.S.'s) national security. Namely, RAF Lakenheath, RAF Fylingdales, Naval Station Rota, and Lajes Field. RAF Fylingdales because it is the base of one of two early warning radars meant to detect Russian or Chinese ballistic missiles launches. RAF Lakenheath because it is the base of the 48th Fighter Wing, and it would be good to maintain a small force in Europe for any unforeseen events. Naval Station Rota because it is located strategically at the mouth of the Mediterranean, and also will provide a base for operating against the Russians who have become more active in the Med'. Lajes Field because it provides a landing strip for transports heading east, and would provide a rest stop for transports in the event of another Operation Nickel Grass. Also, as Air Force units based in Germany and throughout Europe are being withdrawn, the 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall, and the 52nd Fighter Wing from Spangdahlem Air Base, would be moved to RAF Lakenheath.
If the the U.S. can get itself out of Europe there would no savings for a few years as the bases are shut down and the troops brought home, but over the long term you are looking at savings in the billions of dollars a year. These saving could be used in other areas of Defense or in paying off the debt, and pulling out of Europe will force NATO members to actually defend themselves.