Drawing on recent experience with botched missions and broken-down hardware, James Fallows (National Defense, p. 473) has...

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DEFENSE OR DELUSION?

Drawing on recent experience with botched missions and broken-down hardware, James Fallows (National Defense, p. 473) has recently put the case for a technologically scaled-down, conventionally bolstered military built around a revived and revised draft. Aimed at the same general audience, Etzold's call for a technologically scaled-down, conventionally bolstered military built around a better trained professional force is short on anything new--but a lot longer on rhetoric. Etzold, who teaches strategy at the Naval War College, makes a few arguments that seem to cross paths: he is against a lot of the big-buck defense programs (like the M I tank and the MX), and thinks the Navy can build its own Tridents cheaper than civilian contractors; but he insists that we have to spend ""larger portions of war costs in advance,"" and therefore is not asking us to spend less, just better. That means more money for professionals, along with entrusting weapons-development more to professionals, too. Also: Etzold is aware of the historic tension between democracies and professional soldiers, since democracies need peace and soldiers need war; but he is content to conclude that today ""this nation needs the citizen soldiers more than ever."" What makes this necessary, aside from the skill to man new weapons, is the growing might of the Soviet Union. Etzold opposes the arms race in big weapons systems--he feels the Soviets can outdo us--in favor of the ability to ""project"" US power into trouble spots, something of a throwback in strategic thinking. A less sensitive treatment than Fallows' altogether--but apt to be influential within the military on a propaganda-morale level.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 1981

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981