Donald Trump is not my president. No, that’s not some deluded statement of disapproval at how the election turned out – it’s just that I’m British and don’t have a president. I’m agnostic about President Trump, and in any case, it’s none of my business who the USA elects, just like it was none of Barack Obama’s business how my country voted in last year’s Brexit referendum. However, I’m happy to publicly approve of one thing Trump’s done so far, which is increase military spending.
I’ll qualify that by adding that I don’t think the US military is underfunded. It isn’t. The USA spends more on its armed forces than the next four or five countries combined. The Pentagon has a ton of money. But right now, a little more won’t hurt.
The problem with the things the Pentagon has been spending money on for a few years is that while they’re not the wrong things exactly, a lot of them aren’t the right things, either. For example, a huge amount of cash has gone on MRAPs and other specialist equipment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That money had to be spent because the equipment was needed. But, right now, the biggest priority for many in the military is deterring any Russian moves into former Soviet possessions in Eastern Europe. And, as impressive as an MRAP is, on a high-intensity battlefield, it has the life expectancy of a mayfly. It’s huge, has a towering profile and its armor is heavily optimized to resisting IED attacks and RPG-7s. If the enemy have T-72B3 and BMP-3, an MRAP is a sitting duck.
Meanwhile, the US Army’s main battle tank is pushing 40 years old. The Abrams has been constantly upgraded and is still a highly effective system, but nobody’s going to call it a state of the art design. The planned upgrade to M1A3 standard is urgently needed, because while US tanks still have a technological edge over their Russian counterparts it’s nowhere near as wide as it was in the early 1980s – and when the T-14 Armata starts appearing in Russian armored units the balance will swing the other way.
As for the M2 Bradley, a replacement is long overdue. The Bradley is a big vehicle with a price tag to match, but delivers a disappointingly small amount of capability. It can’t carry a full infantry squad, and while it has a fearsome armament, there have always been questions about its protection against anything larger than a heavy machine gun.
Lastly, there’s the M109. This is currently going through yet another major upgrade to bring it to M109A7 standard, amounting to a near-total rebuild. The chassis gets Bradley mechanicals and running gear, and the turret itself is radically upgraded. It’s an old vehicle, though, dating back to the early 60s, and most of its major non-US users replaced it long ago. Compared to a PzH2000 or AS90, it has limitations.
So, all three of the US Army’s major ground combat systems are aging, and every replacement program so far has fizzled out for lack of funds or direction. If Trump is serious about keeping the USA out of police actions as much as possible, this could be a great opportunity to reinvest in the Army’s core manoeuvre formations.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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