The Army's biggest brains assembled Friday in Chantilly, Va., to sketch out geopolitical/economic/environmental scenarios for the next 20 years. It was not pretty.
If a future of mega-urban war wasn’t bleak enough, panelists also predicted that the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would actually lead to an increase in terrorism. “Terrorists and militants engaged with forces in Afghanistan may turn to attacks on U.S. and European soil,” a PowerPoint slide warned. When Danger Room asked them to back up that point — since it implies the wars are failures — Patrick Taitano of the Army’s Materiel Command said he was merely predicting “increased operational planning to conduct attacks.” Feel safer?
Increased terrorism isn’t the only land-based threat America has to fear. A “North Korea implosion” will force the Army to “plan for forcible entry (amphibious, airborne, etc.).” Similar state collapses in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia might compel similar invasions. So might the resurgence of old rivals, like the “drawing together of Germany and Russia because of natural gas,” said the Rand Corporation’s Brian Nichiporuk, “a realignment there, possibly pulling Germany away from NATO.” (Asked by Danger Room about such a profound historical reversal, Nichiporuk quickly backpedaled, “I’m not saying conclusively that Germany and Russia will form an alliance.”)
In case the pattern of such a dangerous world escaped any of the dozens of officers in attendance, a PowerPoint slide left no doubt: The “full capabilities spectrum will still be necessary for the United States Military.”
In other words, a naked grab for budgetary relevance in an age of austerity. My piece describes the "cosmic unfairness" of an Army emerging from ten years of grueling combat only to face questions about its continued relevance. No one should diminish how embittering an experience that is.
But one can only imagine what it must be like for a Navy or Air Force officer to listen to these paranoid fantasies of the future, when the plausible missions for the U.S. military involve the great blue Pacific. And the secretary of the Army says he'll resist any attempts to deviate from the math-not-strategy budgetary agreement that the services share budgetary pain equally.