Alliances Mean Victory

Alliances Mean Victory

Isolationism is not a strategy; it is its abdication.

It may be said that the war against Hitler was won on the Eastern Front. It was the Red Army that broke the back of the Wehrmacht. Crucial to the Soviet Union’s victory was America’s Lend-Lease Act of 1941, which was originally titled An Act to Promote The Defense for the United States.

The passage of the Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1936, and 1937 suppressed American defense production and aid to the free countries of Europe. The more permissive Neutrality Act of 1939, which permitted arms sales to the United Kingdom and France, set the stage for the provision of American destroyers to the Royal Navy in exchange for land rights in islands and areas of the British Empire where air and naval bases could be built. 

Approximately 15 percent, in monetary value, of the American wartime budget went to Lend-Lease, whose primary beneficiaries were the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, France, and China. Lend-Lease was a chief factor in winning the war in Europe expeditiously. Without Germany’s massive losses on the Eastern Front, made possible by America’s transfer of trucks, aircraft, and tanks to the USSR, our combat losses in conquering “Fortress Europe” would have been horrific. 

Without our alliance with the USSR, the conquest of Nazi Germany might have been impossible unless the United States resorted to the use of the atomic bomb in Europe. However, it cannot be taken as a given that America would have obtained the bomb before Germany. Our winning the atomic race was, in part, made possible by the United Kingdom’s and Canada’s support. In addition to the Einstein letter of 1939, the Tizard Mission of 1940 set the stage for the Manhattan Project.

Sir Henry Tizard led the British Technical and Scientific Mission, which shared critical technological secrets with Washington in September 1940. Technical innovation from the United Kingdom supported the construction of nuclear weapons, the jet engine, the proximity fuse, and the cavity magnetron, which enabled the building of new radar systems. 

The merit of alliances derives from the benefits they convey to our country. The Tizard mission is a testament to why alliances are necessary for America’s defense. Had this mission and other allied agreements never occurred, it may be conjectured that hundreds of thousands more Americans would have died in World War II. 

Today, an analog to the pivotal Tizard mission exists between the United States, NATO, and Ukraine. It is impossible to overstate the value yielded to America’s armed forces and the Department of Defense’s future procurement strategies from the battlefield information and insight provided by Ukrainian forces. In particular, this includes data on the employment and destruction of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) or drones on land and at sea.

Our Department of Defense’s procurement process has been marked by the cancellation of new weapons on the cusp of production or new systems produced in inadequate numbers that make maintainability extraordinarily difficult. Since the beginning of this century, this has resulted in deadweight losses that exceed $53 billion

In the last two decades, many important programs, such as the F-22 fighter, were terminated after inefficient buys. The Zumwalt class of stealth destroyers was to have been a thirty-two-ship program. This was reduced to the procurement of only three vessels, requiring the development costs of $9.6 billion to be spread over just three ships. 

New forms of management and decentralization are needed, as are the creation of nimble defense companies. These changes, however, rest on one commodity of estimable value in warfighting: battlespace information. This is what Ukraine is supplying to the United States and NATO. The value of this information—concerning what works and what does not—far outstrips the monetary cost America has borne in aiding Ukraine.

The vast proportion of American aid for Ukraine is spent in our country. Not only is the percentage of American military spending dedicated to aiding Ukraine far less than that provided by America through Lend-Lease, but also almost all of this money is spent either to purchase new, American-made military equipment for Ukraine or to replenish our own stocks that are drawn down to provide required but outdated articles to the battlefront.

Across our nation, Americans are employed producing the weapons and articles that serve to arm Ukraine or reequip our military forces as older equipment is sent to Europe. Without question, there can be no higher use for this materiel, for if our armed forces retained it, a great proportion of these goods would be scrapped soon or mothballed—often in a state of continuous erosion. 

For example, the vaunted MGM-140 ATACMS is scheduled to be replaced in America’s arsenal by the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) to meet our Army’s Long-Range Precision Fires requirement. The longer-range PrSM missile was first delivered to our forces last year. The provision of ATACMS to Ukraine costs the United States very little, though it has enormously degraded Moscow’s future combat potential.

The war in Ukraine has shown the world that weapons built in Russia are second-rate. France recently passed Russia as the world’s second-largest arms exporter. India and China are reassessing additional arms purchases from Russia based on the failures of Russian weapons in the field. This will deny Moscow foreign exchange and geostrategic influence by limiting its employment of new weapon contracts to create diplomatic and military redoubts in foreign nations.

Unlike Russia, the People’s Republic of China represents a multidimensional threat encompassing all aspects of power. Hard power is the use of coercion and force to attain policy goals. Soft power is the result of attraction and co-option to attain objectives supportive of interests. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, American soft power seemed destined to remain dominant; this is now in doubt due to the failures of the Biden administration.

Retention of America’s supremacy in the creation and application of soft power is fundamental. Hard power alone, given the world’s interdependence, is insufficient to channel future events to govern outcomes. Such influence may only be retained if a floor of allied containment of Russia and China is realized. This containment must be demonstrated first in Ukraine since Russia increasingly functions as Beijing’s advance guard, as does Iran.

China, for its part, covets Russia’s resources and views its neighbor as a vassal state whose only future lies as part of a pan-Eurasian entity dominated by Beijing. Though China has equipped itself with Russian weapons for many years, China and Russia do not yet constitute an alliance with shared hegemonic goals. However, both nations have articulated a pathway toward this end. 

The formation of a fully realized Chinese-Russian military bloc in this decade would constitute a grave threat to the safety and security of the United States and our allies. China’s wealth, population, and vision, if coupled with Russia’s mineral and energy resources, plants, intelligence assets, and knowledge, could form a geopolitical colossus. The formation of this union must not transpire, for it could presage a regional or, in time, a global unit of coercion. 

Beijing’s incendiary ambitions must be restrained from using overt force of arms against Taiwan or nations aligned with America. Such a failure of deterrence could escalate into war with the United States. Our answer must begin with Ukraine’s victory over Russia. Only this will give Beijing pause.

As the war in Ukraine proves, our military must possess new and improved capabilities. Groundbreaking technology has determinative military value when deployed. Real, not theoretical, weapons are essential to victory in battle. Substituting paper projects for existing weapons also increases the military-industrial complex’s unaccountability. A new foundation for defense procurement is necessary. 

Reforming Procurement

The development of war-winning weapons must rest in the services, not the swollen Pentagon bureaucracy centered within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The war in Ukraine has made clear our deficits in production abilities for munitions and other defense articles. We must rebuild America’s defense industrial base to yield important surge capacities in the production of ammunition, combat drones, missiles, and other weaponry.

Processes to accomplish this are already in place. However, they are hampered by bureaucratic infighting, which must be eliminated. Security must truly be mutual if lasting deterrence is to be attained. To this end, Congress must revise America’s foreign military sales (FMS) and technology transfer practices. 

To improve collaboration with allies and friends, such as Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, the United States should first determine which systems can be refreshed, transferred, and used by recipient nations. Second, it should determine which groups of weapons may be elevated in their readiness and maintained within our stockpiles and reserve yards as a surge capacity to aid nations that face the threat of war. Prepackaged, crisis-ready sets should be prepared for the specific needs of allied and friendly countries.

Early intelligence concerning rising tensions or malevolent ambitions is essential. If deterrence is to be achieved, prompt action to initiate arms transfers must be taken upon the arrival of actionable intelligence. Prepackaged equipment must augment the recipient country’s potential to conduct rapid, combined-arms warfare and be properly positioned before the advent of hostilities.