The Late, Great Arsenal of Democracy

One of the most important legacies of World War II was knowledge of how to mobilize the nation to win wars. The United States became the arsenal of democracy, with industry, labor, capital, and government working together to manufacture the ships, airplanes, tanks, munitions, and supplies to equip not only American forces but those of our allies. Fifty years later, that legacy is in danger of being squandered. The U.S. government today has neither a program nor even the intention of planning to mobilize the nation in case of a lengthy or large military contingency. To be sure, current national security strategy calls for armed forces capable of waging and winning two simultaneous regional conflicts, but two yawning gaps separate strategy from reality. The first, as experts have attested, is that the existing force structure is too small for strategy. The second, also attested to by experts, is that the defense budget is too small even to support properly the existing structure.

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