Covid 19 and National Defense
By Sterling Price
The recent outbreak of the Covid-19 strain of the coronavirus has brought to the fore a number of serious issues facing the United States, and has reminded us of the importance and effectiveness of certain policies that already exist. This outbreak has wrought damage on national economies, brought movement of people to a standstill and, worst of all, has claimed the lives of numerous innocent lives Therefore, conditions being as they are, it has become necessary that we as a country should reassess how we protect ourselves against adversities of various kinds. How will the America of the future be defended, and how will the rest of the world respond?
The United States has, in many regards, already won significant advantages that set it apart from the rest of the international community. We benefit from an existing economic infrastructure, ready to be put to a higher purpose of combating the coronavirus. The manufacturing sector can quickly tool up to produce for the needs of the nation, particularly the Department of Defense and various first responder agencies that will have need of a regular supply of new equipment. Our soft industry, such as the tech industry, is as capable as any other around the world. It can deliver necessary advances in the management and efficient distribution of accurate and relevant medical information to wherever it is needed. Many of the needs in these areas are already being met by domestic suppliers, and this will increasingly be the trend in the DoD.
Furthermore, to the point of meeting national security needs, comprehensive reevaluations of the needs of the national defense will be necessary for the entirety of the DoD, and should also be conducted individually within each branch of the US armed forces. In the future, it may even be necessary for the State Department and Justice Department to conduct similar reevaluations. The goal of these reevaluations will be to reassign funding and resources from less than effective or acceptable points of investment into areas in which greater and more tangible returns can be had, returns that will benefit the overall mission of national defense. The retirement of outdated and obsolete ships, and ineffective new equipment on the part of the US Navy will downsize the fleet into a significantly more manageable and effective fighting force by diverting funding into the proper care and upkeep of those ships and other assets which will remain. The redirecting of funding into current production designs that still have an abundance of potential for future development will streamline the needs of the Air Force and allow it to maximize its capabilities, rather than squandering assets on unrealistic projects with no hope for long term success. The Army, coming to a crossroad in time, needs to consider what it feels to be the most pressing threats facing the United States and how it would respond to such threats (as opposed to having a vague mission objective that makes the Army a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’). Further empowerment and investment in the Coast Guard and National Guard should be considered in management of natural disasters or other crisis. Above all other contenders, one should look to the Marine Corps as a model for future innovation in the military. The Marine Corps is in the beginning stages of a Corps-wide philosophical transformation that will completely overhaul its expectations for future needs. There will be cuts in some areas, and there will be expansion in other areas. With the reassessment complete, a clear mission objective has been identified, goals have been set to achieve that objective, and the process is underway to redesign the entire structure of the Corps to meet the needs of that mission. It is downsizing and becoming more flexible to more rapidly respond to where it is most needed.
You may be asking yourself “okay, but how does this affect me”? The answer is that the armed forces of this nation can prepare themselves to more effectively respond, not just to the deserts of the Middle East, or the islands of the south Pacific, or wherever else overseas you might imagine them going, but also to New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago, or Dallas, or Miami or wherever in the United States they may be needed to provide relief and to defend. Efforts at achieving this aim have brought our armed forces forward into the modern day, but to be content with one’s performance is to be complacent. We can and must look for ways to improve in every capacity. When the lives of American citizens are at stake, we must leave no stone unturned. The covid-19 outbreak is a true test for our military, of this there is no doubt. That is why it is so important that our military be thoroughly equipped with the most useful equipment that can be manufactured and distributed quickly. Depending on the worsening conditions of this outbreak, our military may need to increasingly play a more active and visible role in crisis management in the streets of downtown and suburban America. Support, on the part of the civilian population, is critical to the success of our military. This is not a crisis for some, but of all. Performing one’s civil duty in putting an end to this outbreak will ensure the future success of the community, and of the nation as a whole.