Yes, But It’s Not Enough

Leon Panetta and Mike Gallagher are on the right track in sounding the alarm regarding our nation’s lagging behind our enemies in military strength and in the pace of scientific and weapon technology development.

They closed their op-ed, though, with this:

To prevent cold-war competition from devolving into a hot war, it’s time to innovate as if the free world depended on it. The path forward must be paved with investments in technology and undergirded by infrastructure built for innovative national-security research and education.

Innovate, certainly. Develop an infrastructure conducive to producing the scientists, engineers, and other researchers necessary for innovation, absolutely. That’s not enough, though. Panetta and Gallagher also emphasized that we are unlikely to adopt industrial policy or match our enemies in sheer production volume.

That’s the Critical Item remaining leg of our rebuilding: we have to produce the things we innovate, and we have to produce them in sufficient numbers that they can overcome the numerical superiority of our enemies’ production. That requires rebuilding the manufacturing facilities and building new such facilities that are necessary for us to produce our innovations. We can no longer expect our automobile manufacturers simply to adjust their assembly lines to produce tanks instead of trucks—both of those today are too complex and too different from each other.

The war(s) we fight against Russia and the People’s Republic of China will be fought with the men and equipment in being and on scene. The pace and weapons effectiveness of modern war will not allow much at all in the way of American reinforcements from overseas, and it will not allow any—zero—combat loss replenishments from our factories, whether extant or starting to be built when the first enemy bullet is fired at us.

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