This morning in the Virginian-Pilot the headline on the top of the right column read “President: Bigger threats than Taliban“. It sat in the back of my mind, stirring around for a while, then slapped me to get my attention.
What is the primary purpose of the United States Department of Defense?
It is to protect the United States and its people.
Before the Second World War, the United States was more or less isolationist. World War I and the concurrent Spanish Influenza had taken a significant toll, followed by the Great Depression. We no longer wanted to be involved in Europe’s problems. We had the pleasure of being isolationist because we felt isolated by an ocean to the east and an ocean to the west. After the First World War, we were digging our way out of the Depression and just wanted to be left alone.
December 7, 1941 changed that. By 1945, we had become a world superpower and ignoring international conflicts was no longer an option.
We haven’t been involved in a declared war since, although our “police actions”, “peacekeeping operations”, etc. have resulted in our military fighting and dying in such places as Korea, Vietnam, Belarus, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan (among others).
The US Military has spent 20 years in Southwest Asia fighting a counterinsurgency war–this after spending much of the 1960s and 1970s fighting a similar war in Southeast Asia.
Future wars will be totally different from what we have experienced or expect. Whether the next war takes place next year or in the next century, it will be unlike anything we’ve imagined.
In the future, soldiers primary specialty may be dealing with cyber attacks to protect our electric grid or water supply rather than being a rifleman. Given the cyberattacks we’ve already encountered, it’s likely. When Jesus said that the meek shall inherit the earth, maybe He was hinting that it will be the geeks who save it.
As sad as I am about the outcome in Afghanistan, the Afghans are not our first priority. Our first priority is to defend our homeland and our people. We need our troops to be trained, equipped, and positioned to do so.