Wokeness is corrupting all segments of American society but is particularly pernicious in the military culture of top-down management and the implementation of the policy by enlisted men and women. Writes Damsana Ranadhiran
While US President Joe Biden is spending billions of dollars in Ukraine and much larger amount towards numerous ventures invented by him, American military is gradually turning into ‘Paper Tiger’ due to lack of required funding.
Merriam-Webster defines “Paper Tiger” as “one that is outwardly powerful or dangerous but inwardly weak or ineffectual”. The terminology “Paper Tiger” was used by Chinese leader Mao Zedong in describing American imperialism as all paper and not able to withstand wind and rain. Osama Bin Laden, the kingpin of Al Qaeda, used “Paper Tiger” to describe American soldiers. In 2006, then-Senator Joe Biden used the term to describe North Korea.
Is the US military a “Paper Tiger?” The term was widely quoted during the Vietnam War when the US military never lost a battle but lost the war. South Vietnam was lost to totalitarian communism as Afghanistan was lost to another totalitarian government, the Islamist Taliban, for much the same reasons — corruption of the ruling class and lack of will to fight by the people.
The US military has a 200,000 personnel presence in 170 countries worldwide, ranging from a single Marine protecting a diplomatic outpost to over 39,000 in Japan.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered a worldwide US military stand-down to address “extremism” in the ranks. He was responsible for the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.
Wokeness is corrupting all segments of American society but is particularly pernicious in the military culture of top-down management and the implementation of the policy by enlisted men and women.
The military was the first American societal segment to be desegregated, and the only colors that mattered were red, white, and blue. Now tribal headgear is allowed, skin color is a major factor in promotions, and politically correct thought is demanded.
Die or Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (the Woke use the DEI acronym) permeate wokeness. Instead of judging a person by his/her character and performance, they are judged by their skin color, gender, and whether they meet the quota. What happened to Martin Luther King’s “content of character” speech? Now the US military is failing to meet recruitment and retention quotas. Who wants to join an organization that insults you if you are white, forces you to be injected with vaccines, suffer long deployments away from family, and be on a losing team? There are other negatives:
Afghanistan? Iraq? Navy ships running aground? Aircraft carriers being waddling ducks for enemy missiles? The Air Force having only a tiny fraction of its aircraft being mission capable? The Army reducing fitness standards? Instead of instilling a sense of unity and pride in being American, the woke culture promotes racial divide and shame in American history.
One should not be surprised therefore, that US military recruiting and retention rates have fallen dramatically and are well below military needs to safeguard America.
The Heritage Foundation, a premier think tank headquartered in Washington, DC, issued an “Executive Summary of the 2023 Index of US Military Strength”. It rated the US military as “weak” and not able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital interests. The analysis concluded:
- The Army is “Marginal” and is aging faster than it is modernizing. It remains “weak” in capacity, with only 62 percent of the force it should have.
The Navy is “Weak” with a need for a 400-ship manned fleet when it only has 298 ships. By 2037 the ship count will be 280. Current and forecasted funding will not change this decline.
The Air Force is “Very Weak,” with very low cockpit time for pilot training and aging of the aircraft fleet. It is at 86 percent capacity, short 650 pilots, and the average age of fighter aircraft is 32 years.
The Marine Corps is rated “Strong”.
The Space Force is “weak”. The counterforce space systems are inadequate to win a conflict in space.
The Nuclear Capabilities are “strong” but trending toward “weak”.
While American policymakers and military strategists consider China as “greatest existential threat”, the he head of the US Strategic Command, Admiral Charles Richard, recently alerted the world that “the ship is slowly sinking” when it comes to deterrence against China. At the current pace of buildup, China will soon overtake America’s nuclear forces. Over 300 new missile silos are being constructed in China, and Beijing is also building the fractional orbital bombardment system weapon, which would provide for a nuclear first-strike capability.
The US Air Force is old. The average age of the entire fleet is 30 years old. Eight fleets average over 50 years, with the B-52 Stratofortress bomber fleet averaging 60 years. It was introduced into service in 1954 as one leg of the nuclear triad; the other two legs are nuclear missiles in submarines and in land-based silos. The B-52 platform has been continually upgraded with electronics and radar systems, and a multi-billion-dollar engine upgrade is in progress. This will extend the B-52’s shelf life until the 2050s, or 100 years of service.
The US Navy fleet is also aging, with the Navy extending ship shelf life to build up fleet count. Then there is the issue of fleet count versus surviving a Chinese missile attack. Since the UK — Argentine Falkland War in 1982 up to the present-day Russia — Ukraine War, missiles have demonstrated the ability to sink surface ships at a relatively low cost and a high degree of success. What is more important than fleet count is the survivability count. Submarines are the most survivable. Aircraft carriers are waddling ducks to Chinese anti-ship missiles.
The US submarine fleet of 50 attack subs and 18 ballistic launching subs is survivable. However, it is all nuclear and thus very costly, with the newest attack subs costing approximately US$6 billion each. The newest diesel-electric submarines cost one-tenth the cost of a nuclear sub, with almost the same stealth capabilities. China’s submarine total of 76 is expected to surpass the US by 2030. Other naval issues are a lack of shipyard and repair facilities, thus the inability to increase ship production.
The US Army is shrinking and has major recruiting/retention problems. Woke leadership, Wuhan virus mandates, and extended deployments are all affecting Army readiness. Military ammunition stockpiles are being rapidly depleted in supplying Ukraine with arms, but the US does not have the industrial capacity to quickly re-stock. Also, certain raw materials used by the military are sourced from China and Russia.
The Space Force faces China’s space weapons that can” blind and deafen” American satellites in space. China has invested heavily in space weapons and has demonstrated the ability to destroy US space systems.
The very existence of the United States is at stake. China has embarked on the greatest military buildup in history. It now challenges the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Space Force in lethality and numbers. The current alliance between China and Russia further adds to the China’s military capabilities of defeating the US forces.
The US spends approximately 3 percent of its GDP on the military. This represents 20 percent of the budget, while social services spending represents over 50 percent. Interest costs on the US$31 trillion in debt are skyrocketing and will account for over 10 percent of the budget by 2030.
The latest defense budget increase of 5 percent has been consumed by the 8 percent inflation rate. In other words, United States’ military budget’s buying power has shrunk.
In President Ronald Reagan’s time, the military budget represented 5 percent of the GDP. NATO countries spend less than 2 percent. The military is aging, and its equipment is failing. The United States and its allies need to increase military spending. What good is social spending if the country cannot defend itself?
White the US Army, Navy and Air Force are gradually losing strength, President Joe Biden is continuing madness in spending billions of dollars in Ukraine war. He is also showing signs of beginning two more war fronts from the US – one in Ukraine and the other in Taiwan. Meaning, America has to face two of world’s most powerful military – China and Russia, where unfortunate fact is – American forces will face another humiliating defeat as it had in Vietnam.
Damsana Ranadhiran is a security analyst and retired intelligence officer.