In a refreshing but somewhat rambling presentation, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, USMC General Cartwright, suggests diverting money from high-tech military procurement programs to give our troops the proper combat equipment to fight the “low-end wars” that we are in for the “next five to ten years.” In an article published in the Army Times, staff editor John Bennett writes that General Cartwright said that “there is nothing out there that tells us we won’t be wrapped up in these conflicts for as far as the eye can see.” His remarks were at a sponsored forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Echoing a message that seems to be coming from many quarters both inside and outside the Capital beltway, General Cartwright argue that the US military will be “persistently” wrapped up low-level regional conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq “in different places and at different levels” for the foreseeable future. Citing Secretary Gates, General Cartwright stated that if the DoD “continues pursuing expensive weapons packed with countless advanced subsystems, it will be able to afford only a handful of each platform.” Furthermore, he argued that the current economic environment placed a serious constraint on military spending.
Calling for a greater “partnership” with our allies, General Cartwright suggested that the men and women in the field will play a far greater role in these conflicts. “The question is, how many bomber squadrons do we need versus how many troops expert at stability operations,” said Cartwright. “We need quantity more than quality.” If this is, in fact, the new military doctrine of engagement then it seems reasonable to expect that greater attention will be focused on make sure the grunt on the ground has the best equipment possible. Certainly, this is long overdue given the attention now focused on the poor quality of our body armor and more recently, the failings of the M-4 rifle.