We have built our military around small numbers of large, expensive, exquisite, heavily manned, and hard-to-replace platforms

Saturday, March 5th, 2022

Kill Chain by Christian BroseThe kill chain is a process that occurs on the battlefield or wherever militaries compete, Christian Brose explains:

It involves three steps:

The first is gaining understanding about what is happening.

The second is making a decision about what to do.

And the third is taking action that creates an effect to achieve an objective.

When members of the US military complete that process of understanding, deciding, and acting, they refer to it as “closing the kill chain.”

And when they thwart the ability of a rival military to do so itself, they call that “breaking the kill chain.”

The United States spends close to three-quarters of one trillion dollars on national defense each year, he notes:

That is more than the next eight countries spend put together. That money buys a lot of military capability — fighter jets, submarines, aircraft carriers, battle tanks, attack helicopters, nuclear weapons, and hundreds of thousands of incredibly well-armed people.


The problem is not that America is spending too little on defense. The problem is that America is playing a losing game. Over many decades we have built our military around small numbers of large, expensive, exquisite, heavily manned, and hard-to-replace platforms that struggle to close the kill chain as one battle network.


China, meanwhile, has built large numbers of multi-million-dollar weapons to find and attack America’s small numbers of exponentially more expensive military platforms.


  1. Ivan says:

    The military industrial complex is a powerful lobby inside the US government. Just one part of the ruling shadow government that runs things.

  2. Jim says:

    With “smart” weapons, which is to say, weapons that can navigate themselves to their targets, positively identify same, and along the way make complex real-time decisions to minimize the effectiveness of countermeasures, the logic of conflict reduces substantially to resemble quote-unquote cyber-warfare: as easy and cheap to attack big, stable targets as they are expensive and difficult to defend.

    Some have speculated that after observing Russia’s quick and effective reconquista of the Ukraine, the communist government of China will likewise seize the historical moment to swallow up the island holdout of their birth enemy, the republican government of China, but the communist government of China is run by wise, savvy, and cunning men who understand that that most magisterial of forces, Time, is on their side, and that they need merely wait.

  3. Bile Jones says:

    I think one of the the lessons of Putin’s little escapade is that in the first 24 hours Ukraine had lost pretty much all their military command and control centers, Air Force, and air force bases. Without a Russian boot on the ground. All the expensive high-tech shit, just gone.

    I’m sure all the usual patsies lining up to buy American materiel will have noticed too.

  4. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Jim: “the communist government of China is run by wise, savvy, and cunning men who understand that that most magisterial of forces, Time, is on their side, and that they need merely wait.”

    Indeed! It is likely that those cunning men are also giving Time a helping hand. Consider what we know about Chinese infiltration of the US political-bureaucratic-academic-media complex, aided by the power of the Chinese purse. Presumably, an even stronger version is being implemented in Taiwan.

    The likely impact of the Ukrainian situation on Taiwan is that the politicians there will see that the West is a very weak reed to lean on. That will change their calculus about accepting the Communist Party pay-offs and voluntarily rejoining the mainland.

    The West is screwed, unless we re-shore a whole bunch of industries, including high-end computer chip manufacturing where Taiwan has a near-monopoly. But that would increase our carbon footprint, so our politicians won’t do it. Don’t want to make Greta mad!

  5. Sam J. says:

    “Don’t want to make Greta mad!”

    No, no, we don’t want that!


    A bit off-topic, but I ran across this quote that I had never heard before. It’s good.

    “It is not enough to tell only the truth, but it is convenient to show the cause of the falsehood.” — Aristoteles 384 B.C.

  6. Altitude Zero says:

    I have no idea if our front-line weapons are as good as we think that they are, but even if they are, I cannot see that the United States has the ability to turn out these high-tech weapons as part of an attritionary struggle – and most wars have at lest some attritionary component. We like to remember our victory in the pacific as a triumph of technology over a less sophisticated foe, and in its latter stages, it was. But the US actually turned the corner long before those superior weapons were available, by using our ability to replace what we had lost at a faster rate than the Japanese. For example, the US actually lost about as many ships and aircraft in the fighting around Guadalcanal as did the Japanese, maybe slightly more – but the US had the ability to rapidly replace their losses, and Japan did not. Courage, industrial capacity, and judicious use of decoded Japanese messages turned the tide of war, not superior technology. Could we repeat this performance? I rather doubt it…

  7. VXXC says:

    The most glaring deficiencies in our military in terms of equipment are lack of counter drone, lack of minesweepers, the degradation of our air defense capabilities but above all the lack of emphasis on maintenance and funding maintenance as opposed to procurement of new and exciting items.

    As far as Mr. Brose’s critique of small numbers of exquisite weapon systems… I’m not sure what he means by small numbers – compared to who?

    As far as China flooding the skies with missiles and cheaper fighters…this argument has been around forever and it’s usually the better system [more expensive] that wins. I could refer to the Torpedo Boat that was since the 19th century to make the Capitol Ships obsolete [fail] but perhaps we could compare the case of many numbers of mounted spearmen and mounted archers vs small numbers of infantry with repeating rifles…

    The truth is the better weapons in the right hands nearly always win. Actually if your weapons are even a bit ahead you’ll win despite nearly any level of incompetence as you see troops just don’t like to die. The one glaring exception is the Franco Prussian War…the needle gun wasn’t as good as the better French Rifles in terms of range, the French had the mitrailleuse but used it as artillery instead of infantry support [the effect was Prussian Artillery vs the mitrailleuse uh fail]. The French also had in some numbers a better rifle with more range in the Chassepot. However they were out mobilized, out-Generaled and outfought in tactics.

    Most of the time the side with the better toys and more of them wins. It takes a lot of incompetence to blow that lead.

    As you will likely soon see for yourselves Troops just don’t like to die, especially the experienced troops.

    Our equipment and industry remain superior to China, China can’t get that J20 jet engine built – it seems whenever they get a team together it dissolves as the members go to make more money. Post Communist countries make soulless, selfish capitalists to an extent even we can’t – yet – comprehend.

    In any case this is all very nice, but the truth is that in the end it’s nuclear weapons that mean sovereignty, and nuclear weapons once again loom in the background on both sides now that we’re done trying to make savages into liberal democrats.

    And to answer the last question ‘could we repeat this performance?’ NO.

    Because we’re not going to die in any appreciable numbers for this government, dearie. DOD’s ‘no’ on January 6th should have made that clear.

    Yes we, and again…no.

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