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Final Debate Thoughts: Horses and Bayonets

[ 50 ] October 23, 2012 |

Some thoughts over at the Diplomat on the debate, and on what a Romney administration Navy might look like:

However, the Romney campaign has given little indication as to how it will pay for these increases.  Unless it can reallocate funding from the other services, an increase in the size of the Navy will require a larger defense budget.  The Romney campaign has committed to this, but increasing the budget puts Romney’s other fiscal goals in jeopardy.  Indeed, Lehman’s account of Romney naval policy is notable for its failure to make any choices; new frigate, more submarines, more carrier air groups, LCS, and so forth.  Responding to Cavas’ “Is there any program right now that you would cut?,” Lehman said “I wouldn’t single out any program at this time. I think there’ll be a hard look at all the programs. But that’s not something the campaign is undertaking at this point, and won’t until after the election.”

One more point; Romney walked into the “horses and bayonets” point as if he and his campaign hadn’t been telegraphing the punch for several months. It’s hard to understand how he and his campaign didn’t appreciate that Obama would be able to come up with some kind of response; I suspect that they’re still living in a universe where any suggestion of defense cuts is essentially political poison. There’s no reason whatsoever to think that’s the case right now.

Comments (50)

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  1. Jason Sigger says:

    And if Romney had half a clue about the military, he would have come back with “Mr. President, the Army and Marine Corps actually have more bayonets today than they did in 1917.” But that’s beside the point, he has not got a decent plan for maintaining adequate defense capabilities under the current budget crisis despite having the former GWB administration’s defense officials working for him.

    And as David Axe notes in the Danger Room, Lehman has some fiscal conflicts of interest in his desire to increase naval spending. Just not a bright bunch of people.

    • Aaron says:

      Coming back by saying “We actually do have more bayonets now” would not have actually been a comeback. “They actually did shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic – look up the details on my website!” He would have simply drawn attention to the joke, and how unprepared he was to defend his talking point.

      • rea says:

        And of course, the bayonet was developed to keep the cavalry away while the infantry reloaded their muskets. We don’t use them that way any more.

        • Anonymous says:

          We don’t really use them at all. It’s a waste of money and training time.

          • Malaclypse says:

            Seriously. If a unit runs out of ordinance, the right response is “we surrender,” not “break out the bayonets.”

          • DocAmazing says:

            Not according to a Marine I know. They train with the expectation that one’s rifle might malfunction or run out of ammo at any time, and they want a Plan B. Additionally, bayonets have been used for crowd control for a long time; a quick prod is superior to a shot in the back for getting people moving.

            • Halloween Jack says:

              Quick responses: 1) well, that’s the Marines, never shy to make a point of being different just to be different; 2) there are of course many more effective options for crowd control than an improvised spear; and 3) the president’s point, of course, being that warfare has changed immensely. (The bayonet has as well, going from a long spike with a triangular cross-section (to keep the wound from closing) to a slightly-modified, longer version of the Ka-Bar knife.)

    • tom says:

      Romney does not have a coherent plan BECAUSE he has the GWB administration advisors

      • tsam says:

        Lol@silly Libz! Cut taxes, put wars on credit cards and hand out no-bid contracts to companies your Vice President totally doesn’t work for anymore, then leave and blame everything on the democrat (who serendipitously happens to be a black dude) that gets hired to clean up the mess IS A PLAN.

    • cpinva says:

      and he would still be wrong.

      “And if Romney had half a clue about the military, he would have come back with “Mr. President, the Army and Marine Corps actually have more bayonets today than they did in 1917.”

      the US army mobilized over 4.3 million men during wwI. add in another 100,000 or so marines, and our wwI land forces dwarf the present day’s numbers, by a factor of 4. that there’s a lot of bayonets. my grandfather had one of them.

      bear in mind, the 1917 army/marine corps was a war time, draft generated force. the same holds true for wwII.

  2. mark f says:

    Another related thing that sounded weird to me was Romney’s contention that sequestration would reduce the size of the current fleet. How does that work? Are there ships that will be retired because (a) the cuts wouldn’t allow their staffing and operation, or (b) were pre-scheduled to be replaced and the cuts won’t allow the second part? Or are we just going to blow a couple up?

  3. I suspect that they’re still living in a universe where any suggestion of defense cuts is essentially political poison. There’s no reason whatsoever to think that’s the case right now.

    A wise politician once said “Don’t get high on your own supply.”

  4. Murc says:

    I suspect that they’re still living in a universe where any suggestion of defense cuts is essentially political poison.

    Even if this were true, his line was still idiotic, because you don’t need to be in favor of defense cuts in order to punch back against it.

    Even a die-hard hawk, if he has his head screwed on right and actually cares about effective military force, can shoot back with “Are you fucking nuts? Of course we have fewer ships than before WWI! These days we have aircraft carriers and Arleigh-Burke class destroyers and FRIGATES that, were they transported back in time, could destroy a WWI era navy by themselves. Most other countries don’t even have ONE supercarrier, we have EIGHT. I want us to keep building these awesome ships rather than build hulls for the sake of building hulls.”

    Someone who thinks Obama is a commie symp who is deliberately undermining the effectiveness of the US armed forces for his Commie-Muslim masters in Beijing and Tehran can make that point without any cognitive dissonance at ALL.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Every other country doesn’t have supercarriers (other countries use smaller carriers that carry fewer planes, and use “ski-jumps” or VTOL for lift-off instead of launching them with catapults, which reduces the capabilities of the planes). And don’t we have eleven, not eight?

      • cpinva says:

        yes.

        And don’t we have eleven, not eight?

        the navy currently has 11 carrier groups.

      • Murc says:

        Every other country doesn’t have supercarriers

        Hence my hypothetical person saying most other countries don’t even have one supercarrier.

        I freely admit the error on how many we have, tho.

      • ajay says:

        Every other country doesn’t have supercarriers (other countries use smaller carriers that carry fewer planes, and use “ski-jumps” or VTOL for lift-off instead of launching them with catapults, which reduces the capabilities of the planes).

        The Charles de Gaulle is nuclear powered, has cats and traps, and launches conventional aircraft without a ski jump.

  5. Njorl says:

    Who cares about the number of ships. I just heard we’re going to have laser cannons on ships in about two years. Next comes raising the Yamato and putting it into space.

  6. tsam says:

    The very idea of comparing the military of 100 years ago to today’s forces is, on its face a total farce and an unlawful torture of logic. The world is nothing like what it was before nuclear weapons were even a viable concept, before the Soviet Bloc, before WWII, before the Truman Doctrine, before the existence of Isreal. This list could go on long enough to fill a history book. Maybe Romney should try reading one.

  7. Alan Tomlinson says:

    John Lehman, one of Romney’s military advisers, was the SECNAV who pushed the 600 ship navy in the Reagan administration. Romney is, of course, still a tool; but he’s a tool being fed garbage by an ideological asshole.

    Cheers,

    Alan Tomlinson

  8. actor212 says:

    Romney walked into the “horses and bayonets” point as if he and his campaign hadn’t been telegraphing the punch for several months. It’s hard to understand how he and his campaign didn’t appreciate that Obama would be able to come up with some kind of response

    Christ, they floated similar trial balloons for about a week now. Heck, I’ve seen variants on that theme on LGM in the naval threads.

    • Warren Terra says:

      The line was a staple of the Primary debates; the only telegraphing (“trial balloon”) of the last week or so was that the Romney campaign indicated it was one of the few arguments Romney hadn’t abandoned since the night before the first debate.

  9. Marek says:

    You know, horses are expensive. The Boston Police Department recently got rid of their stables. Choices must be made!

  10. Paul says:

    You know the really sad thing is that Team Romney was problem not all that wrong in guessing the vast majority of Americans have no ideal how Second (at best) and Third Rate (in reality because of the ragtag nature of most ships and two Ocean issues)the US navy was at the time.

    I like the Bayonet and Horse jab, but I think Obama could have worked in say the comparison CV deck acres of the US vs the world to really make clear the current scale of USN dominance (even dropping out the UK and NATO and Japan makes the gulf even more profound), or ICMB or cruise missile capacity on SSN/SSGN/SSBN types. But of again would require debates to actually have real points and expect people to actually digest facts.

    • Pseudonym says:

      According to Wikipedia, the countries that have aircraft carriers in service are the US (11), Spain (2), Italy (2), UK, France, Russia, China, Brazil, India, and Thailand. The first five are part of NATO of course, totalling 17 carriers. Spain, Italy, and the UK all have ski-jump type aircraft carriers that can only launch STOVL aircraft like the Harrier and eventually the F-35B. France’s Charles de Gaulle is a CATOBAR carrier that can launch Super Étendards, Rafale M’s, and E-2C’s. Good thing they’re an ally, despite all that Freedom Fries nonsense.

      Russia has a ski-jump carrier as well, and China purchased a similar carrier from Ukraine; they support Su-33 fixed-wing aircraft, but China has yet to demonstrate any aircraft capability. India owns the Viraat, ex-HMS Hermes, a ski-jump carrier supporting Sea Harriers. Brazil owns the São Paulo, ex-Foch, which supports CATOBAR operations with aircraft like the A-4 Skyhawk. Thailand owns the Principe de Asturias-class HTMS Chakri Naruebet but appears not to even support STOVL aircraft, only helicopters.

      In terms of supercarriers, that leaves the US with an 11-0 advantage. In terms of carriers overall, it looks like the US and its allies have 17 carriers of various types, while any realistic alliance of opponents would probably have at most two comparatively tiny carriers.

      • Paul says:

        Actually the US dominance is even greater since you forgot to count all the small carriers the USN has for the Marines (Tarawa, Wasp class 10 total.) The first two of the America class are effectively CVLs and armed to the teeth as well compared to a lot of the small CVs of most other countries. Even the later America class ships with more traditional wells for amphibious activity will have better air capacity than the Tarawa class.

        One of the Tarawa class is still ‘in reserve’ so theoretically if the Wasps stay in service, the last two Tarawa class are held in reserve, and all the Americas are built – I am pretty sure the USN would still have the largest CV fleet even without all the big boys. Of course assuming the F35B pans out as sold.

  11. Uncle Kvetch says:

    The Romney campaign has committed to this, but increasing the budget puts Romney’s other fiscal goals in jeopardy.

    I’m not sure how to read this — are you honestly suggesting that those “fiscal goals” are anything other than a sop to the Very Serious Villagers and the Tea Party?

    The deficit ceases to matter during Republican presidential terms. Period.

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