Don’t Overlook Basics Like Air Dominance

The senior foreign policy advisor to the Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Thursday that an Obama Administration would seek to balance the need to expand the size of US ground forces with needed investment in technology to preserve missions like air dominance. Speaking to defense reporters in Washington, D.C., Richard Danzig, who served as Navy Secretary from November 1998 to January 2001, said Obama had early on supported the expansion of the Army by 65,000 troops and the Marine Corps by 27,000, but wants to ensure that other priorities are not overlooked. “I think the temptation is to invest in the issue du jour or the cause du jour and to overlook a lot of basics,” Danzig explained. The tendency now, in the context of Iraq, is to say that the obvious need is for more counterinsurgency capability and more boots on the ground, he said. But, he continued, behind the grind of counterinsurgency combat is US dominance of the air and the sea. “That’s kind of assumed,” Danzig said. “But if we don’t invest in it, we’re not going to have it.” (Read “Fighting for Air Dominance“) He said new technologies represent “extraordinary capabilities,” particularly robotics and unmanned aerial vehicles. “We need to invest in that,” Danzig said. Referencing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s drive to transform the military—with the focus on creating smaller, but better networked forces in the belief that better information can trump mass in conflict—Danzig said it was important not to “overinvest” in one dimension. “I think one of [Rumsfeld’s] problems is that he overinvested in a theory, and I just don’t think we can afford to do that with our military,” Danzig said. “We learned that in the context of Iraq.”