Here's a thought experiment: would America build the U.S. Navy currently plying the seven seas if it were starting from scratch? Color me skeptical. If not, what kind of navy would it build, and how can we approximate that ideal in light of budgetary constraints, a slew of legacy platforms that can't simply be scrapped and replaced, and an organizational culture and history that frown on revolutionary change?
For the idea behind this exercise, a tip of the hat goes to Shawn Brimley and Paul Scharre of the Center for a New American Security or CNAS, who ran an item over at Foreign Policy last May wondering how the United States would reboot the armed forces as a whole. Brimley and Scharre dangle their query out there with a few remarks about organizational wiring diagrams and personnel policy. They hint at answers without quite giving them. They want to start a rumble within officialdom. In a novus ordo seclorum, would we create, say, a separate U.S. Air Force, or institute recruitment and retention policies reminiscent of conscription? Such matters are worth pondering.