Really? Being unprepared for war really didn’t help Belgium or the Netherlands or Luxemburg or France or Poland or Britain or The United States. It certainly didn’t help Russia, which lost about 15 percent of their population on the Eastern Front. Nearly everyone in Western Europe was overrun in a matter of weeks once the German war machine was moving. If it wasn’t for the enormous amount of supplies that we were supplying Britain with, they would have lost too, leaving all of Europe for the taking.
As for the Pacific, it’s hard to believe just how unprepared we were or how that could be construed as a good thing for us. It allowed Japan to kill thousands of people, destroy nearly 200 aircraft, and sink several of our ships, since not only were we not prepared militarily, we weren’t even paying attention. Our planes were packed close together and we may as well have painted a red target on them saying “Hit Here”.
It would have been even worse if they had destroyed our oil supply on that island. Had they done so, it would have prohibited any big operations for at least a year, maybe more, before we could rebuild it.
During the Philippine invasion, we didn’t have enough soldiers, and the soldiers we did have were fighting with old equipment. Not only was it old, it was poorly maintained, meaning that a lot of our artillery simply didn’t work because it had rusted. In addition, we had little ammunition for the equipment that did work.
If we were in a different position, say a country with similar capabilities to Japan, we would likely have been knocked out of the war. As things stood, we were several times stronger than Japan, meaning that we had a margin for error. This time around is a different story.
You say we’ve always won a war when we’re unprepared. Well, that’s because we have a couple of big advantages that allowed us to survive.
First of all, look the size of the country. We’re the size of China and compare that to the size of Japan; their entire country is smaller than California. So is Germany, for that matter.
Secondly, we have two big oceans protecting us. That means that it’s very difficult to cause any significant harm to our production capabilities, or at least it was in the Second World War, not to mention that our economy was far bigger than Japan and Germany combined. We’re still better off with it, but it doesn’t provide us with the kind of protection that we had 70 years ago.
During our Civil War, neither side in the conflict was prepared for the large-scale war. The Confederates lost because they were outnumbered over 3-to-1 by the Union.As for our war of Independence, that was where the massive distance came into our favor. It took Britain months to send reinforcements to the continent and by the time they arrived, the strategic situation had changed. In spite of that, though, we would have lost if Britain was determined to keep us whatever the cost. They decided keeping us in their empire was more trouble than it was worth and figured that if we wanted to be independent so badly, fine.
I’ve been researching anti-ship missiles, reading arguments on both sides about the effectiveness of them, the various scenarios, and talked a member of the military that I know personally.
I don’t see aircraft carriers becoming useless in warfare anytime soon. The vulnerabilities that you described can apply to any naval vessel.
However, what I will say is that they are more vulnerable than they were a decade ago, particularly with this new anti-ship missile that I’ve been reading about.
The real danger isn’t that one missile can destroy a carrier because as I previously stated, a ship that size isn’t easy to outright destroy unless you hit it in the right spot. The vulnerability is that defenses can be overwhelmed. Passive and active countermeasures can give us a strong defense, but if the Chinese launch hundreds or thousands of ballistic missiles, and they likely would, it would be enough for some to get through. One won’t be enough, but if you manage to hit a carrier with 5 or 6 of these things, particularly in a vulnerable area, you can cause some serious damage.
I’ll use Midway as an example. The one carrier we did lose had already suffered serious damage and was hastily repaired in preparation. Even so, it took several hits to damage it enough to where it couldn’t be repaired. As for the Japanese carriers, we hit them right when they were reloading their planes, acting almost like a powder keg. If China hits one of our carriers under those circumstances, they’ll probably sink it.
Another point I would add is that you don’t necessarily have to sink a carrier; all that’s necessary is to cripple it enough to where it’ll be out of action for a while, so I don’t agree with either of your points.
During the Second World War, we lost about 2.5% of the soldiers that we enlisted. I would expect the number to be higher this time around, somewhere on the order of 10-15%. We're not going to have the margin of error that we did the last time around. China can match our production, match our capabilities, and have a population over 4 times as large as us. If we let our guard down, we're going to pay for it.