Armor: February 21, 2000

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The U.S. army expects to spend $70 billion over the next fourteen years to convert to a fast moving (tactically and strategically) force. This is in response to the end of the Cold War, the disappearance of the Soviet army poised to invade Western Europe and the emergence of peacekeeping as a major endeavor for U.S. troops. This is also the second time in the last fifty years that the army has been declared, well, irrelevant. In the 1950s, it was thought that nuclear weapons had made armies obsolete. The only role left for the U.S. army, it was thought, was as a civil defense force, to keep order after the nukes fell on America. That changed by the early 1960s, when everyone came to their senses and realized that a nuclear war would have no winners. If the Soviets wanted to have a go at Western Europe they would use mechanized armies, and they were building up those forces in Eastern Europe during the 1960s. So the U.S. army did the same. Then came Vietnam, seen as a major distraction from the true mission; getting ready for the big tank battle in Central Europe. That battle never occurred, although the U.S. troops trained for that sort of thing got a chance to kick Iraqi butt in 1991, just to show that all those hundreds of billions spent on tanks and accessories was not entirely wasted. But here we go again, and you have to ask the question; is the U.S. army really ill prepared for the world as it is?

 


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