Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

At Last, Truth in Advertising from the Army?


The Army has made it official. What those who work in Washington have long known — that the Pentagon is about money, not war — is now Army policy. According to the March 10 draft of the Army Campaign Plan, “The Army’s center of gravity is the resource process.”

Yep, it sure is, as the cost of the Future Contract System readily attests. Still, the Army deserves some sort of award for its truth in advertising. How about a medal showing a hand with a West Point ring on it reaching for someone else’s wallet?

Of course, money has always been important in war. For centuries, a king who wanted to go to war had first to trot down to his Schatzkammer and see how many thaler he had piled up. If the cupboard was bare, he wasn’t going anywhere.

But saying, as the U.S. Army has, that its center of gravity is the resource process is going a great deal further. Clausewitz defines a center of gravity as “the hub of all power and movement, on which all depends.” If that were true of money, then the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would not be happening. The U.S. Army’s resources, not to mention those of the rest of the Defense Department, are so vastly greater than those of our Fourth Generation opponents that they would not be able to stand against us for an hour.

The Military Reform Movement of the 1970s and 80s put it differently. It said that for winning in war, people are most important, ideas come second and hardware is only third. How does the Army affect its people, ideas and hardware by making resources its center of gravity? In each case, negatively.

Within the officer corps, the focus on acquiring and justifying resources corrupts, not in the sense of people taking money under the table but in the more profound sense of corruption of institutional purpose. Officers whose focus and expertise is combat are shunted aside while those who are most adept at the resources game are promoted. Worse, a swarm of vultures is drawn by the resources, in the form of a secondary army of contractors. Because their goal is not truth but the next contract, intellectual corruption is added to corruption of purpose. At its higher levels, the whole system becomes Soviet, Gosplan in or out of uniform. The outside world, the battlefield, is an irrelevant and unwelcome distraction.

Ideas are similarly corrupted. In general, poverty begets ideas, while an excess of resources brings intellectual laziness. The illusion that the organization can simply buy its way out of problems spreads. The ideas that are valued are those that justify still more resources, while ideas that promise battlefield results with small resources are dismissed or seen as threats. Again, the FCS is a wonderful example. From a military standpoint it is a joke, a semi-portable Maginot Line doomed to collapse of its own complexity. But in terms of justifying resources, it is a tremendous success because for the first time the Army has a program that costs even more than Navy or Air Force programs.

That leads to hardware, where complexity becomes the rule because simplicity does not cost enough. The more complex a system, the less it is able to deal with threats not envisioned by its designers. Thus we see what Iraq has illustrated time and again, expensive, complex systems nullified by imaginative, simple countermeasures based on people and ideas. Worse, because hardware best justifies more resources, hardware becomes the Army’s top priority with both people and ideas left far behind. In the end, the Army loses to opponents who have kept their priorities straight.

The Army should not be blamed for coming out of the closet and stating up front that resources are its center of gravity. The scandal is that for all the American armed services, the resource process is the center of gravity and has been for a long time (the most recent to make it so was the Marine Corps, in the mid-1990s). To return to Clausewitz’s definition, one might say that when a military defines resources as its center of gravity, it creates a hub of all weakness and stasis, on which all fatally depends.



WILLIAM S. LIND, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future