Sizing and Shaping the military

A must read for soft and hard power advocates (as well as Smart Power advocates for that matter) at the Los Angeles Times this week: Warriors at the Limit. All week Phil Carter and Austin Bay debate sizing and shaping the force and its use.

Today's question: Does the United States need a bigger military?

In this corner, Phil Carter:

The answer to whether America needs a bigger military necessarily depends on the answer to another question: what kind of foreign policy do we want?...

America can no longer afford to run its steak-and-lobster national security strategy on a McDonalds budget, as it has done by pursuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as many smaller deployments to places like Djibouti and the Philippines, with the anemic active-duty force we have today. America needs both a larger active-duty military for its current wars, and a larger reserve force capable of providing depth for these wars and the next....

I think we need to enlarge the base strength of the military, and to make conventional units more capable of "full spectrum" operations, from humanitarian relief to counterinsurgency to major combat operations. We should prioritize people over hardware in the Pentagon budget, recognizing that the human element of warfare matters more now than ever.

And in this corner, Austin Bay:

I agree with your deeper purpose, which is to place the issue of the size of the military within the appropriate context. The military is only one of several "policy tools" and a truly useful discussion of the size of the military will consider its relationship with and synergy (or lack of synergy) with those other elements of power.

I agree with your deeper purpose, which is to place the issue of the size of the military within the appropriate context. The military is only one of several "policy tools" and a truly useful discussion of the size of the military will consider its relationship with and synergy (or lack of synergy) with those other elements of power...

What's the correct size of the larger military we both believe we need? Until we get an expeditionary State Department and Department of Agriculture we will continue to give the military development missions...

"Later in the week, they'll debate the state of the armed forces today, mass conscription, the surge, and the leaner/meaner model of warfare."