Stepen D. Biddle Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Military Victory in the Information Age: Conversation with Stephen D. Biddle, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; January 27, 2006, by Harry Kreisler

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Military Spending

This argument (and you make a compelling case) is very relevant in the battle over the budget with regard to Pentagon spending, because if you are correct, it suggests different ways to spend the bulk of the Pentagon budget. On the other hand, if the people on the side of the "revolution of military affairs" are right, you get a very different conclusion about how to spend the money. Talk a little about that.

That's very important. Good force employment -- the training, the skill, the judgment required in order to do all the complicated tactics that the modern system involves -- is very expensive. People are very expensive. Manpower in the U.S. military costs a lot. Hardware, on the other hand, is cheap. It's easier in a lot of ways to buy big-ticket weapon items than to recruit, house, provide medical, and retirement, and pay, and training dollars for a lot of people. So, there's a tremendous temptation, if you think that technology is the heart of success in modern warfare and you feel you need to get ahead of other states in the race to get the critical new technology, to look around and say, "Who's going to be the bill payer? Where am I going to find the money to buy these new weapon technologies? And gosh, training and recruiting and maintaining all those people is hugely expensive. Let's cut out that stuff."

So, there's a permanent temptation to take the money needed to provide sound force employment and spend it instead on accelerated modernization that comes in part from our cultural predilection to value technology, and in part from the relative expense of buying new weapons and maintaining people. If I'm right, and strong force employment is absolutely a sine qua non for military success, that's a very dangerous temptation.

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