Science may have given us smart bombs, but the only truly "smart" weapon that can go into a village, talk to its leaders, convince them to support the military's efforts in their region is the U.S. Soldier. Drone strikes may give us standoff capability, but they're probably creating more terrorists than they are killing. This has been argued consistently by the CIA/DNI and CJCS for quite some time now. It has a role, but any time you pull a trigger, you generally create more problems than you solve. You don't get that experience and leadership capability shining a seat at the Pentagon. You get it out in the field. If you cut ground troops, you stand a good chance of drastically reducing that skill and understanding at the highest echelons because of the pyramid effect of the military structures and promotion systems. This is why every 4-star general had to start at the bottom and work his/her way up. You can't hire a military CEO off the street, just as we learned in every major american war since the Revolution. The military profession takes a lifetime of study and application to master, even more true in today's complex world and military. If you want amateurs doing your fighting, don't be surprised when you lose or end up going 13 rounds instead of 1.
Oldcrank... I can't disagree with much of your analysis of our fiscal situation or the threat posed by a porous border to determined infiltrators who seek to attack us at home. Your comment however on sustaining our forces to deter agression does not take into account that you cannot simply create our military capacity overnight. It takes decades to create a professional military capable of defending our home shores against ANY threat. Just to command a non-flag ranked ship or command a combat infantry brigade takes matriculating leaders with 20-25 years of experience in doing just that kind of job, albeit at lower levels. History is rife with examples of "superpowers" who allowed their militaries to be gutted, and then paid a tremendous price in blood and treasure when they were called upon to fight, but yet had no capable leaders with experience to do so. Did you know that the Regular Army at the start of the Civil War (and for the duration, most were volunteer militias) was only 30,000 soldiers?, and maxxed out at 2.1 million. At the start of WWI, it was 98,000 which would later expand to 4,000,000 in uniform, of which half went overseas to fight. When Germany invaded Poland, we ranked 17th the in the world with 190,000, with 14,000 active duty officers, NONE of which had commanded a division prior to WWII (look at the hit list of fired division commanders in 1941-1944--it is astonishing the sheer ineptitude at this level). By 1944 we had 8.3 million in uniform, a 44-fold increase. 360,000 Union dead in the civil war. 126,000 dead in WWI. 416,000 killed in WWII. The whole point of a trained and ready military is that it is capable of rapidly achieving overwhelming force and decisive victory. The quick defeat of the Taliban and the run up to Baghdad are prime examples. What we didn't retain from Vietnam is how to fight a counter-insurgency, but after 10 years of experience, we are actually pretty good at it. Watch: the next draw down will gut our trained and capable leaders, and we will have to learn these lessons all over again, at great cost in blood and treasure. I for one think a few extra flights of UH-60's over my house at night are worth it.
You don't have to dig too far back to find incidents of intolerance at the Air Force academy. In 2010, for example: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,584886…
Students placed a large wooden cross on a circle that had recently been dedicated for the earth-centric faiths at the Academy. Now, I don't think that the official policy of the USAFA is to promote this type of behavior, but it certainly is interesting that this type of activity seems to be a recurring theme at the "Premier Military Academy" (which for the record, is USMA West Point, check the rankings.... not the football rankings, the Academic ones....). Which begs the question, "Why are so many in-your-face evangelical christians concentrating at the Air Force Academy?"
"Second half of that sentence is crap; no one could invade us in the conventional military sense; no nation has the capability to mount an invasion." And do you know why no one has the capability to mount an invasion? It's not for lack of naval or air force capacity (Russia, emerging China, etc) but rather a shortage of naval and air forces that can match ours. If it weren't for the deterrence created by having a strong military, anyone in a rowboat could invade our shores. We wouldn't even be able to repel the Haitian refugees without a Navy and Coast Guard. If you took the time to actually read our National Defense Strategy, you would understand this. This is why 9/11 was an "asymetrical" attack, which uses niche abilities to exploit weaknesses in our defense strategy. Trans-national terrorists don't have navies and air forces, but you can bet your last dollar that if they DID have it, they would use them. As it stands now, it would take them about 20 years of uninterrupted work to come up with one unless they managed to engineer the control of a nation with a military or industrial capacity to create or expand one (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or Taliban insurgents taking over Pakistan, or the whack jobs in Iran). There are four elements to national power: Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic. At the end of the day, the one that gives strength to the other three is Military. You can throw billions of aid at "friendly" regimes (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc), you can pressure rogue states for 50+ years with sanctions (North Korea) and you can twist arms at the debate table (NATO), but unless you can back up your threats with force, the rest is meaningless. And THAT is why a strong military is a necessary evil that must be carefully employed as the "last straw" that it should be. But if NIMBY shuts down all of the military's ability to train, the military becomes a paper tiger and we get our asses handed to us when we ACTUALLY need to use it. But hey, scale everything back.... eliminate the military. It's ok. The world is a wonderful, friendly, rosy place where everyone loves us and would NEVER dream of taking away our resources, our ability to trade with other nations, or the very lifeblood of our economy.
All those opposed to the expansion of training at Pinion Canyon should look at how the Fort Hood training area limited use agreement easement zones around the extensive Fort Hood training area have worked successfully. And the area around Fort Hood is much more densely populated than around Pinion Canyon (desolate, anyone??) Not to mention that the training area at Fort Hood has been leased to the Army for decades (at a considerable profit to the local ranching families) and they all have sweetheart deals that allow free-range grazing of their herds and significant compensation for the loss of livestock caused by (rare) accidents with training. Besides, Pinion Canyon is so seldom used its almost a ghost town. Call opposition what it is: We support the troops, but not in our back yard.
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