On the radio a while back I heard Newt Gingrich speaking. He was going on about how America must have the most powerful military in the world, how we must be strong enough that those who hate us and want to kill us must be deterred, simply from the size of our armed forces.

The first thing that came to my mind was ““We are at war with Eastasia. We have always been at war with Eastasia.”

Here’s the rub though, we ALREADY have a powerful armed forces. Our military has 1.5 million active members and nearly that many reservists. That gives us the second largest active force after China. Even with the upcoming cuts, we’ll still maintain that position, and I have serious doubts that we could ever field more troops than China (which has nearly a million more active troops than we have). We have 800,000 active reserve, about the same amount in the Guard units. We’re number 2 in that regard as well… China…has 20,000,000. We will NEVER top that. But even so, we have the most advanced, military in the world

Our Navy has ELEVEN Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups, that’s 9 more than the next closest navy. The Navy also operates a total of 423 ships and submarines CURRENTLY commissioned, 23 under construction and 27 in the planning stages. 14 of those vessels are the Ohio Class Ballistic Missile Submarine, and 4 of those are the Ohio Class Guided Missile Submarine, which can deploy 154 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles each. The Navy also has over 3700 aircraft in service.

Our Air Force has over 5500 aircraft in service, and 450 ICBM’s.

We are the largest (Air Force) and second largest (Navy) air force in the world with China & Russia right behind. BUT, our primary aircraft are 4th & 5th generation whereas Russia & China’s main aircraft are 2nd and 3rd generation aircraft.

The U.S. military has over 5000 nuclear warheads in service, total.

Even after any cuts due to the deals made these past few years, the U.S. Army will still be #1 in terms of training and capability, but of course will still be #2 in terms of size.  The US Air Force is bar none, the best air force on the planet, and has been since its inceptions. The US Navy is larger in tonnage than the next THIRTEEN Navies combined!

So, Newt, I don’t think the problem lies in having a strong military. The PROBLEM lies in having leadership that is willing to use it effectively. Effectively being the key. Johnson was more than willing to use it…half-heartedly. Look where that got us.

G.H.W. Bush proved that he was unwilling to do that when he stopped the assault on Baghdad, one of the most outrageously successful military operations in the history of this nation, when we were within sight of the city. Clinton proved that he was unwilling to do that when he refused to unleash U.S. forces in Somalia. Dubya proved that he was incapable of using our military effectively by unnecessarily splitting our forces between a legitimate war in Afghanistan and a war which proved merely to be a front for his own incompetence in Iraq pursuing the mythical “weapons of mass destruction”. Eleven years later and we’re just not getting out of those quagmires.

President Obama has at least proven that he knows how to deploy Special Ops to achieve objectives, both the killing of Osama bin Laden and the rescue of hostages from pirates in Somalia were very successful operations.

Fortunately, in spite of all the stresses related to Iran and North Korea, we have not had to test his ability as commander in chief in a general war situation. I sincerely hope we don’t have to. But if we do, I hope that he proves to be a competent commander in chief. It would be a nice change of pace.

But remember, war is a failure of diplomacy. It is a failure of reason over dogma. If we go to war, quite simply, we have failed. It is only in successfully avoiding war that we succeed. Because war can ALWAYS be avoided with right action at the right time. Every single time.