Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Enemies Within

China's rulers seem very aware of the traditional Chinese problem of a corrupt military:

The Chinese military's official newspaper warned on Sunday that a corrupt army would not win wars, three days after the government announced a former senior officer would be prosecuted for graft.

Serving and retired Chinese military officers as well as state media have questioned whether China's armed forces are too corrupt to fight and win a war.

When they're right, they're right.

Of course, we have a different enemy within that could hamper our military in a war:

China is experiencing the problem of having a sizable military with lots of new and shiny equipment that may not be able to fight effectively against anything but a clearly inferior enemy.

While we don't have the problem with corruption that China has in their military, I do worry that a zero-tolerance environment that punishes mistakes by ending careers will cripple our military leadership by making our Army (and other services) so cautious about avoiding mistakes that we will be unable to readily defeat anything but a clearly inferior enemy. So troop readiness is only one aspect of making sure our Army is ready to fight.

I wrote about a small example of this zero-defects mentality.

In that incident, a military reader saw an earlier post about and embarrassing link on an Army site and made relevant superiors aware of the mistake. But instead of correcting the problem those superiors made things worse by making sure it wasn't possible to have the discretion to repeat that problem. Now I rarely read that site, Stand-To!

So while we can take some comfort that China's military isn't as good as it looks, let's not get smug and complacent by thinking we are immune to problems that could have similar results.