Pivot Toward ‘China Rising’? US Military and Place in the World

Written by Jerry Curry on May 19, 2013

MH910216378As Chinese influence rises in the international corridors of power some would have the United States surrender its current world leadership role in Europe and pivot towards Asia. This is a repeat of the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time when the US was believed to be in serious decline, Japan appeared to be transcendent, and many believed it would rise to preeminence in the world’s economic corridor of power.

Those of us who refused to surrender to the idea of the US losing its position of dominance in the world were laughed out of conferences. Now China is rising and supposedly is going to squeeze the US out of its place at the head of the international table.

In support of this eventuality, the Army is being redesigned to be small, nimble and capable of carrying out diverse missions. Supposedly, forces armed with heavy armored vehicles like tanks are no longer that necessary nor desirable as sequestration and other peacetime budget cutting mechanisms force the Army to drastically shrink in size and to live within its budget.

This is lunacy. For the US, the size, equipping and quality of its Army should never be determined by budget availability. Its size and equipping can only be determined by its worldwide strategic requirements and missions. Our military forces can’t be trained and sized by academic and military philosophers or philosophy.

We should not pivot towards Asia just because the phrase has a nice ring to it and it seems like a clever thing to do. If the US military pivots westward, it should be because that is where national defense policy and military events demand that we be. Right now our pivot must be toward countering the inroads made by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Middle East, specifically in countries like Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Israel will be asking for help to fight a ground war on its borders, not an insurgency in Gaza.

Some think that while the numbers, types, and complexity of Army missions worldwide increase, the size of the Army can decrease. True, smaller more flexible, more lethal units prepared to conduct a mixed range of operations from old fashioned tank battles, to cyberdefense, to meeting special operations requirements, to training and advising allied military forces, to conducting humanitarian relief missions, to winning the hearts and minds of enemy peoples are desirable. But an unbreakable rule is that as the number and scope of Army mission’s increases, the size of the Army needed to successfully carry out these missions must increase accordingly. Successful wars can’t be fought on the cheap.

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General Jerry Ralph Curry (D.Min.) is a decorated combat veteran, Army Aviator, Paratrooper and Ranger. He enlisted in the Army as a Private and retired a Major General. For nearly forty years he and his wife Charlene have served this country both in the military and while he was a Presidential political appointee.