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If there’s one thing the Osama bin Laden raid proved, it’s that the man hadn’t been in Afghanistan for years.Meanwhile, what was in Afghanistan were tons of U.S. troops and equipment, which take an incredible amount of money and effort to maintain — while guzzling fuel that cost approximately $400 per gallon to deliver.
Couple the costs, both human and monetary, with the Pakistan supply line headaches, the multitude of bad Afghanistan report cards, and the success of targeted drone missions, and the future military becomes undeniable — smaller, leaner, and meaner.
The Marine Corps will certainly follow suit with troop reductions, not to mention that antiquated systems, such as the M1 Abrams tank, have come under fire.
Meanwhile, drone strikes and the the pace of drone development are on the up and up. The Navy is constructing a “mothership” for “commando” raids, and the headlines indicate a great success in this dual-pronged approach.
While there may be some collateral damage, both to innocent life and American prestige, the methods have proven wildly efficient (as well as incredibly intimidating).
This is not an argument for dismantling the conventional force. Certainly the newer, slimmer face of the American armed forces will involve the continued use of Marines and soldiers and traditional jets and ships — just a whole lot fewer of them.
Just enough expenditure will remain to address America’s global necessity for conventional forces, but this necessity wanes with every successful strike and raid.
Granted, the SEALs who killed bin Laden launched from a base in Afghanistan, just like other raids and strikes have conventional roots.
In the end though, the military’s motion is in the direction of targeted strikes and raids on personnel and material, rather than on holding large swaths of ground and spending expensive decades building nations.