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The Operational Impact of America’s Greatest Strategic Failure

In our forthcoming book, Embracing Communist China: America’s Greatest Strategic Failure, we make the case that the United States has made two fundamental and interrelated strategic mistakes. The first is the failure to comprehend the threat from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The second, and pertinent to this article, is the failure of the U.S. government to balance against this threat and to have prepared the defenses required to deter or, in the worst case, defeat the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

This past week, additional evidence supporting this later point was revealed in a report by the Navy Timesentitled “Supplier bottlenecks threaten US Navy effort to grow arms stockpiles”. The article describes how the U.S. Department of Defense, specifically the U.S. Navy, allowed itself to be put into the position of being unable to deter or defeat a PRC invasion of Taiwan or any other major military operation in the Western Pacific, all because of its willful blindness to perceive the true, hard-power threat built by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the past 30 years.

The Navy Times article outlines how this failure to understand the threat from the PLA impacted the most basic function and purpose of having a military—having enough ammunition to destroy the enemy. Specifically, in this case, a navy that was powerful enough to fight and win a war at sea. Shockingly, the article reports, “the Navy stopped building torpedoes after the Cold War. Service officials, facing tighter post-war budgets, decided they had sufficient inventory for a fleet without a real threat. Missile programs continued as the Navy upgraded to newer and more capable systems over time, but missile procurement plans often faced outsized cuts during tight budget years, including in the mid-2010s. Later in the decade, however, when the Defense Department recognized China as a top adversary that would drive the armed services’ planning and spending, the Navy restarted torpedo production.” Recognizing the magnitude of this revelation, the U.S. Department of Defense had become so conditioned by the fall of the Soviet Union and the so-called “end of history” that they could not even contemplate the PRC being a threat.


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