Marine General: U.S. ‘Not Organized’ to Win Future Conflict with Great Powers
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The commandant of a school in the National Defense University said the United States is falling behind its competitors in organizing its industrial base and society for future conflict.
“If you acknowledge that we are, in fact, in a great power competition, our competitors are well-organized, and we are not,” Marine Maj. Gen. John M. Jansen, commandant of the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at National Defense University, said July 17 to an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association.
“An it’s worse than that,” Jansen said. “Our competitors are not just well organized, they’ve taken the best of us and they’ve harnessed it.”
Talking about China in particular, he said “they’ve taken the best of capitalism and they’ve harnessed it in making it work for them, while still maintaining an authoritarian and, some may say, ever more ruthless society.”
Jansen said the United States, a “beacon of laissez-faire capitalism,” “is not doing so good. It goes beyond BCA [Budget Control Act of 2011] and continuing resolutions. It’s really much worse than that. Some of it just comes down to the way we are talking to each other to be able to work through problems. It’s all about us together in a team organizing us.
“We really have lost the framework about what the most valuable nexus between industry and American commerce and a contribution to the common defense,” he said.
Jansen said the current national security strategy document, which declares the reality of a great-power competition, is very helpful in its clarity and recommendations for action. The strategy also is helpful in its differentiation between the defense industrial base and the national security innovation base.
“Everything that we all have to do as Americans is keep very clear in our minds is what we’re balancing in every decision we make is prosperity and security,” he said, pointing out that in some enterprises, such as nuclear weapon security, must be controlled very tightly.
Jansen said the nation must make the defense industrial base very viable by monetizing the gap areas; secure the innovation base, which has more and more diffused to the private sector; and figure out how to scale mobilization if deterrence fails.
He pointed out that the great U.S. victory in World War II, which still looms large in U.S. thinking, is now a strategic weakness “because of how we all view it.”
He noted that even with all of the aggressions of Germany, the Soviet Union and Japan between 1936 and 1940, the United States was not ready to enter the war, and that it took the evacuation of Dunkirk, with the prospect of Britain standing alone, to get the United States to spur the industrial base into building up U.S. military capabilities.
“We need to decide this as a nation: Are we going to organize or are we not? Our most senior leaders have to make that decision. … Are we going to figure out what it takes to compete? … What we’re doing right now is incoherent,” he said.
Concerned that the United States is not prepared for a large regional or global conflict, Jansen said “we will not have the time between 1936 and 1941 for the next go-around. … We’re not going to have time to sort it out, wait, watch things, decide when we’re going to get in.”