The Human Element

Ralph Peters has some harsh words for Donald Rumsfeld:

Rumsfeld was sensible to cut the Army’s obese Crusader artillery system, but, beyond that, he appears to have a personal grudge against the Army. After snoring away a decade, the Army has gotten solidly onto the reform path, equipping itself with deployable, practical and relatively cheap combat vehicles. But Rumsfeld’s whiz kids keep trying to find ways to cut troops to buy toys, and to marginalize ground forces.

Let’s hope we have the soldiers and Marines we need when the strategic bills come due. We face decades of violent conflicts spawned by hatred, belief and jealousy. And these fundamental human problems still require human solutions. When today’s technologies are obsolete, the old-fashioned soldier will remain essential.

Rumsfeld likes to strut upon the stage, projecting courage in his disputes with the generals and admirals. But guts aren’t required. The law gives him the power to bully military officers. If he’s a real man, he’ll take on Lockheed Martin.

If true, Peters’ concerns are pretty damning — I just don’t know enough Army people to come down on either side.

One of the lessons we learned on 9/11 is that the Mark I Eyeball is still the best intelligence-gathering technology — billion dollar satillites just don’t compare. It’s equally true that the most dangerous weapon on the battlefield is a man with a radio. (Or these days, a GPS-designator equipped radio.)

If Rummy is trying to buy our way out of relying on the human element in combat, then we’re in for some nasty surprises.