Friday, December 01, 2006

War? What war?

I was listening to a radio interview today with a retired Marine, Col. Thomas X. Hammes, a noted authority on modern warfare. He's on a promotion tour for his new book, "The Sling and the Stone", a treatise on the (poor) U.S. response to modern guerrilla warfare.

The interview was interesting enough; but what struck me was a point he made at the outset. He said that the "Pentagon had never gone to war" in Iraq. When asked what that meant, he used the example of the Future Tactical Truck.

The FTT is intended, in part, to be a replacement for the Hummer, which has proven poorly suited for counterinsurgency operations. It's underarmored, underpowered and ill-equipped, and a disproportionate share of U.S. casualties are incurred by troops using them.

Faced with these harsh realities, the Pentagon is moving to have the replacement ready by.... 2012.

As Hammes notes, that's a peacetime development cycle. In a time when people are fighting and dying daily in underarmored Hummers, it's a pace so leisurely it verges on criminal. If the same course had been followed in World War II, we would have fought the entire war with 37mm antitank guns and Grant light tanks. And lost.

Yet another sign, IMO, of how Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, three years in, never has taken the war in Iraq seriously.

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