The Deterrent Factor

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made irregular warfare his budget centerpiece, however, as retired Gen. Richard Hawley pointed out during a Senate hearing last week (see above), “We also need to maintain our deterrent posture to make sure that somebody doesn’t take advantage of our preoccupation with that [IW] fight.” Barry Watts, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, at the same hearing recalled the 2004 Cope India matchup in which Indian Air Force pilots flying older, but modified Russian fighters bested USAF F-15s, surprising USAF and DOD officials. He said, “I don’t think we’re building [the F-22] to deal with non-existent air forces in Afghanistan. … I think we’re looking further downstream, into the future, at emerging threats.” Hawley agreed, saying, “That’s where the F-22 comes into play. … We are a global power. … That means we have global vulnerabilities. And these investments in systems like the F-22, in my view, are investments in deterrents, just like we invested in our nuclear capabilities … that successfully deterred adversaries from ever attacking us with nuclear weapons.” Having only 187 Raptors, said Hawley, represents a “high risk.” He declared, “It would be prudent to continue production and give ourselves the option to make that decision” to end production at 187 aircraft only after making “threat-based analysis” in support of the just-commenced Quadrennial Defense Review.”