Conservatives and patriots understandably have great affinity for the United States military. It has historically won great victories that have both advanced liberty abroad and protected it at home. For close to 80 years, it has been beyond question the most advanced and powerful fighting force on planet Earth. Relative to its potential adversaries, the American armed forces of the past few decades could arguably be the most powerful military that has ever existed in any country at any time in world history.
Most conservatives also instinctively, and understandably, see the military as a reservoir of traditional and conservative values. Sometimes, when conservatives darkly contemplate the possibility that left-wing extremists may try to overthrow the rights of Americans, they console themselves with the thought that the invincible U.S. military will be on “our side.”
It is increasingly obvious that these thoughts are mistaken.
First, it’s clear that thanks to political purges and the persistent progressive colonization of all American institutions, the military is no longer a “conservative” institution in any meaningful sense. Revolver wrote extensively on that shift just days ago. But there is a more basic shortcoming in play: America’s armed forces are in steep decline. It may still be the world’s strongest military, but its advantage is shrinking every day.
This is not a comprehensive assessment of a hypothetical war with China, or any other country. Rather, it’s just a collection of red flags and warning signs that all is not well with the military of the world’s waning superpower.
Soldiers are getting fat.
A viral image briefly made the rounds after the National Guard was deployed to guard the Capitol. More than any thousand-word essay could, the photo illustrates the worrisome preparedness of some of America’s armed forces:
Not very intimidating! How much would you trust this woman to capture a defended position in urban warfare?
The woman above at least has the defense of being in the National Guard. But even America’s active-duty servicemen are getting chunky. Between 2001 and 2016, the military’s overweight percentage quintupled:
Today’s military is fatter than ever.
For the first time in years, the Pentagon has disclosed data indicating the number of troops its deems overweight, raising big questions about the health, fitness and readiness of today’s force.
About 7.8 percent of the military — roughly one in every 13 troops — is clinically overweight, defined by a body mass-index greater than 25. This rate has crept upward since 2001, when it was just 1.6 percent, or one in 60, according to Defense Department data obtained by Military Times. And it’s highest among women, blacks, Hispanics and older service members.
Diversity is truly our greatest strength…
More than 17% of military personnel were considered obese across DOD, up from less than 16% four years earlier, said the report, published in the August edition of the military’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report.
For the Navy, the rate was 22%, compared to 8.3% of Marines. The Army’s rate matched the overall average and the Air Force was slightly higher at about 18%. … The findings follow earlier studies that have found dramatic increases in obesity among the services since 2001.
Having an army of fat soldiers is a gigantic red flag. It’s a sign of a military that has grown soft, that is slacking on keeping its members at the peak of mental and physical readiness to protect the country. If the military is letting its physical expectations for soldiers slide, what other less visible things is it letting go to seed?
Women in combat roles
The Obama administration removed the ban on women in combat roles in 2013, and for the past seven years, the U.S. armed forces have been gradually incorporating them into more and more important roles. The first women graduated from Army Ranger school in 2015. In 2016, women became eligible for the special forces, and 2020 saw the first woman Green Beret.
Are there women capable of being effective combat soldiers? Are some women more fit for combat than some men? Sure. But every clear-thinking person knows the truth as well: Mass incorporation of women into the military is bad for morale and bad for unit effectiveness, and inevitably leads to the lowering of standards. A 2015 Marine Corps study was clear in its findings:
The Marines created a battalion of 100 female and 300 male volunteers. During the past year, they trained in North Carolina and California, taking part in realistic combat exercises.
All-male squads, the study found, performed better than mixed gender units across the board. The males were more accurate hitting targets, faster at climbing over obstacles, better at avoiding injuries. [NPR]
The findings were clear. But in a recurring theme for the modern United States military, leaders have ignored reality in favor of politically-motivated fantasies. This politically-motivated behavior has been clear from the beginning of the women-in-combat project. Reporting by People magazine (of all places) described the travesty of letting women graduate Ranger School in 2015:
Way back in January, long before the first women attended the Army’s elite Ranger School – one of the most grueling military courses in the world – officials at the highest levels of the Army had already decided failure was not an option, sources tell PEOPLE.
“A woman will graduate Ranger School,” a general told shocked subordinates this year while preparing for the first females to attend a “gender integrated assessment” of the grueling combat leadership course starting April 20, sources tell PEOPLE. “At least one will get through.”
That directive set the tone for what was to follow, sources say.
“It had a ripple effect” at Fort Benning, where Ranger School is based, says a source with knowledge of events at the sprawling Georgia Army post. “Even though this was supposed to be just an assessment, everyone knew. The results were planned in advance.”
Multiple sources told PEOPLE:
• Women were first sent to a special two-week training in January to get them ready for the school, which didn’t start until April 20. Once there they were allowed to repeat the program until they passed – while men were held to a strict pass/fail standard.
• Afterward they spent months in a special platoon at Fort Benning getting, among other things, nutritional counseling and full-time training with a Ranger.
• While in the special platoon they were taken out to the land navigation course – a very tough part of the course that is timed – on a regular basis. The men had to see it for the first time when they went to the school.
• Once in the school they were allowed to repeat key parts – like patrols – while special consideration was not given to the men.
• A two-star general made personal appearances to cheer them along during one of the most challenging parts of the school, multiple sources tell PEOPLE. [People]
Militaries cannot operate on fantasy. They must be driven purely by ruthless considerations of effectiveness, because the battles they fight are literally life and death. Yet now, the U.S. military is debasing its standards to please feminists and other progressives. This can only cause long-term damage to military effectiveness.
In November 2017, a very peculiar event took place in the U.S. military:
An active-duty service member underwent gender transition surgery Tuesday in the first such procedure approved under a waiver allowing the Pentagon to pay for the operation.
The patient is an infantry soldier who identifies as a woman, according to a source close to the service member. She got her Combat Infantry Badge in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2003, the source said.
Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, head of the Defense Health Agency, which provides medical care to active-duty personnel, approved the waiver request for the surgery Monday, according to a Defense Department document. [NBC News]
Think about the basic insanity of this scene. The United States military paid for male soldier to have his testicles removed to indulge his delusion that he actually a woman, and so his body must be cosmetically altered to resemble one. The U.S. military paid tens of thousands of dollars to make a male less able to do the basic physical work of being a soldier. Without testicles, and with a heavy helping of female hormones, the soldier in question will be less strong, less agile, less able to function as a warrior.
Even ignoring the ridiculous decision to fund sex change surgery and long-term hormone treatments, by indulging this unnamed soldier, the military is acquiring a person who is overwhelmingly likely to have other mental health issues like depression and suicidal ideation.
No bigotry against the transgendered is needed see the absurdity here. The military disqualifies otherwise healthy people from service just for having one kidney. The notion that the military should spend millions of dollars to enable this, rather than politely discharging any soldiers who come out as transgender, is indicative of a deeply disturbed mentality within the service. There is no reason for the military to spends tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to allow deliberately emasculated individuals with sky-high rates of mental illness to play at being soldiers. No reason, that is, except for the dictates of modern progressivism. Does anyone for one moment believe that China is blowing millions of dollars to ensure its soldiers can take hormones to affirm their gender identity?
President Trump wisely reimposed the military’s old ban on service by transgender soldiers. But less than one week into his presidency, Joe Biden reversed the ban:
Our Armed Forces are at their best when they represent the talents of our entire population, regardless of gender identity. I fully support @POTUS's direction today that all transgender individuals who wish to serve and can meet the appropriate standards shall be able to do so. pic.twitter.com/3oBNgsOjGl
— Lloyd Austin (@SecDef) January 25, 2021
America’s military has become that much more of a farce.
The Army plans to promote based on diversity, not ability
Like every other institution in America, the military has been assailed for not genuflecting enough toward modern woke ideology, and like every other institution it has surrendered practically without a fight.
In July 2020, after the death of George Floyd, the DoD Board on Diversity and Inclusion (aren’t you glad that exists?) began compiling a report on how to improve diversity in the armed forces. When the board delivered its report in December, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller immediately accepted all its recommendations. Some of those recommendations were silly but relatively harmless, like including more racial minorities on recruiting materials. But other recommendations will dramatically inhibit military effectiveness in the long run.
Right now, the military is planning to eliminate all aptitude tests that inhibit diversity; in other words, it is eliminating all aptitude tests that racial groups perform differently on. This is a delusional errand, because different groups do not perform equally on valid, predictive aptitude tests. The makers of the SAT, GMAT, LSAT, and GRE tests, among others, have spent millions of dollars removing every trace of deliberate bias, yet they continue to show substantial performance gaps between groups. Why those gaps exist can be debated, and there are likely many causes, but the military’s solution is to simply pretend they don’t exist. If the military wants an aptitude test that shows no gaps between groups, what it will get is an aptitude test that virtually everyone passes, or one with little to no predictive power.
There are other disastrous policies that will be implemented thanks to the diversity board’s report. For instance:
Recommendation 5: Evaluate Demographic Trends in Performance Evaluations.
• To retain minorities beyond initial commitment and into leadership ranks, all Servicemembers must have, and perceive, opportunity for advancement based on skill and capability. By March 31, 2022, the USD(P&R) will issue a policy to monitor and evaluate the Military Departments’ aggregated demographic trends and other contextual data in the performance evaluations that inform career development processes. [DoD]
In other words, military officers have been ordered to hit diversity quotas, or they will have their own careers torpedoed. This is a suicidal command. Military promotions must be made based on one criterion and one criterion alone: Military effectiveness. If that creates racial or gender inequality, then so be it. If one wants other groups to be promoted at higher rates, then interventions must be made earlier, to make those groups more deserving of promotion. But rather than undertake that difficult work, the Defense Department has magically declared all people equal, and ordered its officers to promote accordingly. In a military, this kind of magical thinking will mean the promotion of less competent people. Morale will decline, as officers will see that politics rather than skill dictates promotions, while the enlisted will realize their commanders are not necessarily the most qualified men for the job. A military with lower morale and less competent leadership is begging to be defeated in a real war.
The United States continues to rely on absolutely ancient weapons platforms
In the years leading up to World War 1, the British Army was gripped by the so-called “cavalry controversy.” Reformers wanted to modernize the country’s cavalry units to abandon the lance and saber and instead fight exclusively with modern firearms. The reformers lost, and the lance was pointless maintained as an official arm of the British Army all the way up into the Great War.
America could be headed for the same blunder.
When the A-10 Thunderbolt was introduced as part of the Air Force’s arsenal, Star Wars was the number one movie in America. Forty-three years later, the Air Force desperately wants to retire it, but it is kept alive not due to necessity, but due to politics.
The service sought to retire 44 A-10 “Warthogs,” or three squadrons worth, of the service’s total fleet of 281 ground attack aircraft as part of its fiscal year 2021 budget request.
But unfortunately for the service, Congress has stipulated in this year’s 2021 National Defense Authorization Act — which is currently headed to President Donald Trump’s desk — that no defense funds can be used to divest or retire any A-10s in the fleet.
The legislation “prohibits the divestment of aircraft until the minima are reached to ensure that [the] Air Force can meet [National Defense Strategy] and combatant command requirements,” according to the Senate version of the NDAA. [Task and Purpose]
Why is Congress so obsessive about keeping alive a plane that the military doesn’t want? Seven years ago, the plane was saved by Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, whose husband flew the plane in Iraq. Twice-defeated Senate appointee Martha McSally also flew the plane, and played a key role in saving it this time around. Like the cavalry lance a century ago, the A-10 is alive in large part because powerful people have nostalgia for it. Of course, the fact Boeing will collect a billion dollars supplying replacement wings for it doesn’t hurt either.
The A-10 is far from alone, though. The B-52 bomber is so named because it first flew in 1952. It’s still in service right now, and the Pentagon expects to keep it until at least the mid-30s, which means delays will keep it around even longer.
The past decades have seen enormous advances in just about every technological realm related to warfare: Computing, artificial intelligence, digital communications, materials science, aeronautics, and more. But the vast U.S. military continues to rely on aging technology for a huge array of roles. Sometimes, that is inevitable; the military can’t afford to replace literally everything in its arsenal every ten years. But when old weapons are being kept for reasons of nostalgia or inefficient R&D, that is an entirely different matter.
America’s big-picture technological advantage is vanishing
The offshoring of America’s industrial base is finally paying a grim dividend, as America’s technological dominance is eroding as well. In the past, it was simply a given that the U.S. would have by far the best military technology in any given area. But that becomes less true every day. China’s government has invested tremendously in being the world’s top player in artificial intelligence, and it is already at near parity with the United States. In the extremely hot military field of hypersonics, America is “playing catch-up” after letting Russia and China take the lead on research and development. China is also believed to have an advantage over the U.S. in quantum computing.
China’s drive to close the gap with America has enjoyed a huge boost from America’s hopeless naivete about the danger of Chinese nationals working in sensitive U.S. industries. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese students and researchers have flooded into America’s universities, many of which conduct work on technologies relevant to defense. The Chinese have gleefully used the access their nationals get to commit enormous amounts of espionage. After five Chinese researchers were arrested for not disclosing links with the Chinese military, another thousand visiting researchers left the country before they too could be swept up. Almost beyond doubt, many were spies.
America’s big advantage in military spending is illusory
One of the main reasons the U.S. military is assumed to be completely dominant globally is simply the sheer size of the U.S. defense budget — about $730 billion last year, greater than the estimated spending of the next nine countries combined.
That’s a lot of money. But the advantage it creates is smaller than believed.
Nobody in the West actually knows how much China spends on its military. But the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, estimates that China’s defense spending has grown from from barely $50 billion to more than $260 billion. That’s still barely 1/3 of what the U.S. spends. But for starters, China is a lower-income country, which means it can pay far less in personnel costs for the massive military it fields.
Not only that, but China isn’t fighting any foreign wars right now, while even in 2020 the U.S. flushed about $70 billion away on operations in Afghanistan and other countries.
Remove spending on foreign wars and adjust for purchasing power parity, and according to SIPRI’s data, China has already nearly caught up with U.S. military expenditures.
From there, one can find even more reasons to worry. Since China’s military spending has ramped up so recently, it is buying more brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment instead of consistently maintaining and updating old weapons. And as mentioned earlier, it’s certainly spending far less on nonsensical diversity initiatives and transgender surgeries for mentally troubled soldiers.
Enormous firepower masks strategic vacuity
America possesses a huge number of technically advanced armaments. In a straight firefight it has been absolutely unstoppable against any foe it has faced in the past fifty years. But wars are not merely about weapons. They are about strategy and long-term planning. And when it comes to actually winning wars, there is reason for grave concern that senior military leadership has become a bureaucracy, barely able to think in truth strategic terms.
This has been made disturbingly clear by the war in Afghanistan, especially from internal documents released in 2019 by The Washington Post. America has had troops in Afghanistan for nearly twenty years, yet in that unfathomable length of time the military has typically had no actual plan for winning the war at all:
By March 2007, the number of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan had climbed to 50,000. Despite the increase, McNeill said nobody in charge was able to articulate a clear mission and strategy.
“I tried to get someone to define for me what winning meant, even before I went over, and nobody could. Nobody would give me a good definition of what it meant,” he told government interviewers. “Some people were thinking in terms of Jeffersonian democracy, but that’s just not going to happen in Afghanistan.”
“There was no NATO campaign plan — a lot of verbiage and talk, but no plan,” McNeill added. “So for better or for worse, a lot of what we did, we did with some forethought, but most of it was reacting to conditions on the ground. . . . We were opportunists.” [Washington Post]
In the absence of a serious strategy, Afghanistan became something worse than a normal war. It became a bureaucratic process to blow through defense appropriations, while occasionally soldiers were blown up by IEDs:
— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) December 9, 2019
Ambassador Douglas Lute says we spent $1 million per soldier to get them Burger King and bottled water. They couldn't even spend the money fast enough during the Petraeus surge. Every soldier who served in Afghanistan could be a multimillionaire for the cost of this war. 10/n pic.twitter.com/kXEmgHKVSN
— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) December 9, 2019
Events like this are worse than losing. They are signs of a military that barely even cares about winning. And if U.S. military leaders can’t be counted on to develop sound strategies for a small war in Afghanistan, why should anybody believe they will have better ones should a large war break out, with real danger to America if it loses?
America’s adversaries have the technology to render its greatest weapons obsolete.
The most formidable weapons in the American arsenal are its fleet of 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. They are each a thousand feet long, displace 100,000 tons, and carry 90 aircraft apiece. The most recently commissioned, the Gerald Ford, cost $13 billion to build. No other country has more than two carriers, and none have even one as large as America’s. These ships are what make American military power truly global in scope. In theory, they enable America to fight a war anywhere on Earth. China and Russia cannot hope to match them.
But they may be able to kill them. Less than six months, China made a demonstration of its DF-21D missile, which China describes as the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile. It has a range of about a thousand miles. In 2009, the U.S. Naval Institute warned that there is “no defense” against a ballistic missile accurate enough to hit a ship at sea. Eleven years later, that could still be the case. In 2019, a U.S. naval commander pointed out the root issue: It is much easier to make better ship-killing missiles than it is to make the the countermeasures to stop them:
Over the past decade, the lethality of foreign anti-ship missiles has improved at a rate greatly exceeding that of defensive missile development. The prime driver is a technological development cost gap: It is far cheaper to develop missiles to hit relatively slow-moving ships than to intercept other missiles moving at supersonic speeds. As a result, near-peer nations are fielding antiship missiles that possess greater range, speed, lethality, and, most important, numbers than U.S. Navy defensive missiles. [U.S. Naval Institute]
Along with China’s ballistic missiles, there is also steadily increasing research into hypersonic missiles — low-flying missiles moving at ultra-fast speeds which could potentially render traditional air defenses obsolete. Once developed, these missiles may not just let China and Russia enjoy security from U.S. naval forces. Even secondary powers like Iran and North Korea are developing these weapons. Such weapons could even end up in the hands of secondary powers like Iran, making elective wars like the one America fought in Iraq potentially far more costly.
The sudden proliferation of carrier-killing weapons around the world would undermine the bedrock of American naval supremacy, rendering our pricey $150 billion fleet far weaker.
The service academies are being debased in the name of diversity and football success
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs are charged with a crucial task: Train the future leaders of America’s armed forces. Naturally, they are supposed to only admit the finest applicants, who are then submitted to a rigorous curriculum with high standards.
Well, that was the idea. Now, the service academies have other priorities, like winning football games.
In 2017, former West Point instructor Robert Heffington published an open letter detailing what he had seen at the school:
Every fall, the Superintendent addresses the staff and faculty and lies. He repeatedly states that “We are going to have winning sports teams without compromising our standards,” and everyone in Robinson Auditorium knows he is lying because we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board. I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks. It is disheartening when the institution’s most senior leader openly lies to his own faculty — and they all know it. The cadet honor code has become a laughingstock. Cadets know they will not be separated for violating it, and thus they do so on a daily basis. Moreover, since they refuse to enforce standards on each other and police their own ranks, cadets will rarely find a cadet at an honor hearing despite overwhelming evidence that a violation has occurred.[Medium]
The rot has only gotten worse since Heffington’s letter. Last fall, West Point suffered its largest cheating scandal since the 1970s. Dozens of students were caught cheating on a calculus exam, in flagrant violation of the school’s honor code. In the past, violations of the honor code meant expulsion from the school, and those accused of violating it were prohibited from representing the school publicly. But as USA Today recently revealed, that standard was tossed after this latest scandal, and the unspoken reason was to protect the school’s football team:
In all, 55 of the 73 cadets accused of cheating on a calculus final exam in May are athletes, including 17 who remain on the football team, according to figures released to USA TODAY by West Point.
A few have played in football games this season after having been accused of cheating. Some of those players could dress and play in the Liberty Bowl on Thursday, according to Army Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, a West Point spokesman.
They’re allowed to play because West Point’s superintendent in October suspended a policy that limited or prevented cadets found in violation of the academy’s honor code from representing the academy in public, including athletes at sports events. [USA Today]
Like so many other parts of American life, that policy was gutted in the service of the cult of diversity. In a memo obtained by USA Today, West Point superintendent Lt. Gen. Daryll Williams eliminated the rule because it “has resulted in an inequitable application of consequences and developmental opportunities for select groups of cadets.” In other words, America’s military academy, which is supposed to be training troops for the life-and-death mission of protecting America in wars, has given in to the same absurd ideas that govern cities like St. Paul, Minnesota. Minority students, many of whom are only at the school thanks to affirmative action and athletic recruiting, are violating the honor code more often. Instead of trying to bring those students up to par, administrators have decided that the honor code is racist and needs to go.
But hey, the Black Knights went 9-3 this year. That’s cool, at least.