Could we end up in a conflict with North Korea? Certainly. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but a peaceful resolution looks further out of reach every day. What interests me, however, is the extent that our current Military condition mirrors the first Korean War. (Technically it’s still ongoing, but humor me.)
The first Korean War struck in the early 1950s, just a few years after WWII. You’d think after our massive military buildup, that we’d be prepared. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case in 1950. After WWII, Truman organized a Military draw-down, which was implemented by Louis A. Johnson. Recall that Obama did something quite similar after Iraq. (A decent thesis on this can be found here.)
This led to American troops being terribly under equipped at the start of the Korean war. And this is no exaggeration. Truman couldn’t even order a naval blockade, due to the lack of available warships. Sound familiar? We’d face similar issues if a fight broke out today. (It should be said, that Trump has a goal of growing the Navy to 355 ships.)
Take for instance, our heavy offshore attack capability (Naval Surface Fire Support). In theory, the Zumwalt class is designed for this. But in reality, there are only three Zumwalts, a far cry from the thirty-two originally ordered. This leaves us with a nothing but two mothballed Iowa classes. Personally, I don’t fancy the thought of entering into a war with a nearly one-hundred year old battleships. Sure, if I had to choose a ship to die on, I’d chose the Missouri over any other. But I’d rather not die.
In 1950, we actually did pull Armor out of museums. I doubt if we learned our lesson from the last war with North Korea. Just like then, our Military equipment is sprawled out all over the globe.
We also need to learn a second lesson about infantry and numbers. Just as in 1950, NATO is significantly outnumbered by the combined forces of China, North Korea, and the Soviet Union. Superior technology will only take you so far, enlistment numbers matter. And does anybody really want to see a repeat of the last Korean War? Does anyone even know how many times Seoul changed hands?
Unfortunately, the stage looks almost the same as it did in 1950. Only this time, everyone gets nukes.