Thursday, September 14, 2006

The asymmetry of warfare

Early in the Afghan War, President Bush made a comment about not wanting to fire a $50 million missile to blow up some camel in the desert. Five years later, America's reliance on high-tech weaponry is costing them big time.

Billmon reports that American forces in Iraq are spending almost $3.5 billion a year to lose ground in the fight against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). With $1.4 billion in R&D per year, the army now manages to disarm almost fifty percent of the IEDs before they explode.

But IEDs are dirt cheap, and are getting more common and harder to find, despite the ever increasing sophistication and cost of the high-tech devices for finding, jamming and defusing them. The increase in numbers of IEDs far outstrips the increased success in disarming them, and so the army is falling further behind:

It isn't just the monetary cost that hurts America, but also the opportunity cost. Every dollar spent on electronic gadgets to detect a bomb, is a dollar less to spend on intelligence, bribery or rewards for informants, to find the bad guys before they plant the bomb in the first place. But this is so very typical of the bull-in-a-china-shop approach of the Americans, blundering about, causing more harm than good, trying ineffectively to fix the problem that they could have prevented in the first place.

The sad thing is we'll all suffer for it. Just as the old Soviet Union created today's terrorists by invading Afghanistan (and Carter and Reagan trained them), so America is creating tomorrow's terrorists in Iraq.

Thanks George.

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