Skip to main content

Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

Share
Commentary

Tomahawks on trucks most important military evolution in decades

Share

Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

Share

In July, the U.S. Marine Corps activated its first-ever Tomahawk cruise missile battery. While Tomahawks are primarily used by the Navy, this land-based configuration, launched from 4×4 trucks, offers several advantages over its ship-based counterparts. These advantages include striking moving targets at a range of 1,000 miles and higher effectiveness at a lower cost.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan breaks down the significance of the land-based Tomahawk, explaining why it represents the most important military evolution he has witnessed in the U.S. military over the past four decades.

Excerpted from Peter’s Aug. 28 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Suppose we were taking bets on what’s going to do in China. We’d probably hear about the usual suspects: Advanced stages of demographic collapse, failing economic models, or being the country most dependent on open sea lanes and international markets.

All of those are top contenders, but let me throw in a wild card – a bunch of marines in trucks – with four Tomahawks strapped to each truck. I agree if that sounds like a random G.I. Joe creation to you. But this is a relatively new capability for the US, so let me explain how we got here.

Back in the day, the Soviets and the US signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. This kept both sides from developing weapon systems like the one above. If it wasn’t obvious, the Russians have backed away from said treaty.

The lesson here is that if you want to get out of a treaty with the US, that’s fine; just remember that the Americans will also be ditching those restrictions…and the US military has more money, better tech, and will get there faster than you.

And if I was a gambling man, well…

Hey everybody, Peter Zion here coming to you from Colorado. And today we’re gonna talk about another way that China might die. And some other things. Now, for those of you who are familiar with my position on China, no surprise, demographics are in advanced stages of collapse. We’re looking at the final decade of any economic model that humans have ever invented, being able to work in a system where they’re simply running out of people. That’s before you consider that China is the country most dependent upon the US Navy to keep the sea lanes open. And it’s completely dependent on imported raw materials from a world away, and markets for their products that are also a world away. So there’s nothing about the system is stable. But I’m talking about a much sharper, shorter end. I have never been shy about my respect for the US Navy and its ability to shut down and destroy the Chinese system in a very short period of time measured in days to weeks, simply because the Chinese don’t have reach or range. There are other countries that fall into that general category. A Japan has a Bluewater fleet with more range than China, allowing the Japanese to shut down the Chinese system with gotten anywhere close to them. India sits astride all of the trade lanes between Europe and Asia and the Persian Gulf and Asia so they can easily shut off the energy connection. And with the new security deal between the Americans, the Brits and the Australians, the Australians now have mid range cruise missiles air launched, that can shut down the Strait of Malacca, so the Australians can do it too. But things have changed now to that even a small group of Marines out of the United States can do it. Now. The brains are some terrifying, folks, you definitely don’t want them to be on the other side. But one of the things I love about them is because they don’t have their own independent research budget to develop ships or tanks or planes or whatever that they tend to use hand me down from the other services. And then they innovate and do a little bit of a redesign and repurposing and find fundamentally new ways to use the technology. And basically, what seems to have happened in Washington is some high up in the military said, you know, we’ve seen what the Marines can do with a rifle or a tanker ship. Let’s see what they can do with a Tomahawk missile. Now, a Tomahawk missile is a typically sea launched cruise missile, either from a surface ship or from a submarine that has a range of about 1000 miles. As GPS guided with 1000 pound conventional bomb, they made their first big splashy debut in the wars in Iraq. And the early part of No, not the early part of it, but in the 1990s. Sorry, last decade there and have proven to be a reliable tool ever since because, you know, you put them on a ship, ship goes wherever it wants to. And then it has 1000 mile range. And then it hits within a couple of meters of what it’s aiming at. You know, it’s just phenomenal accuracy. Well, the Marines have figured out how to put it on a truck. And the first battery, it’s a truck that carries for these things, was commissioned just in the last week. And it typically is followed by a quad of additional trucks that have for each. So basically, batteries have 420 missiles total per unit. So now, all the Marines have to do is get dropped off somewhere with summer roads, and they’ve got 20 bucks, they can use to attack whatever they want, anywhere, on sea, on land, whatever. It is, arguably the single most important military L of evolution that I have seen in the US military in the last 40 years. I mean, super tankers are cool, don’t get me wrong. The new F 35 is an impressive piece of hardware. But allowing a few dozen dudes to have five trucks and shut down an international waterway or hit hardened facilities hundreds of miles away. That is a fundamentally new piece of versatility in the American military arsenal. And it is of course, like everyone in the Marines will tell you whenever we come up with a good idea, the army steals it and produces it at scale. And the Army has already started doing that. So we’re going to take one of the more longer reach weapon systems that the Americans have and basically apply it in mass across the services. Now, if you’re looking for someone to blame for this, blame the Russians. The United States has specifically refrained from doing this because of something called the intermediate missile Forces Treaty, which was signed with the Soviets back in the 80s. And it basically said that the United States and the Russians would refrain from developing land based intermediate range missiles as part of confidence building but over the last 15 years, the Russian is a bit by bit backed away from that treaty before basically abrogating devel together a few years ago, and that freed the United States to follow in their footsteps. Here’s a thing though, when this first one down, everyone was talking about the weakness of the United States that we had specifically hobbled ourselves in a specific technology, which was true. The Russians research budget is less than 1%, the size of the US, and the Russians going into this didn’t have a very good intermediate missile technology force in the first place. And as we’ve seen in the Ukraine war, it’s not performing to snuff. The Chinese, of course, were not bound by this treaty. And so they were researching a lot of things, things in this area. But now here we are less than five years later. And the United States is in the process of mass expanding a well known, well functioning, very high performing weapons system in mass across the Marines first, and then the army. This isn’t a contest, folks. And we’ve already demonstrated that we can produce these things at scale. And now we’re deploying them at scale, too. So I guess the lesson here is if you want to get out of a restriction that the Americans have put you into via treaty, just keep in mind that the Americans will also be removing those restrictions from themselves. They have a larger military, they’ve got more money, they’ve got more technology, and ultimately, they can research and implement solutions faster than anyone else. And so we have all right, that’s it. Take care.

More from Peter Zeihan

Latest Commentary

We know it is important to hear from a diverse range of observers on the complex topics we face and believe our commentary partners will help you reach your own conclusions.

The commentaries published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.


Latest Opinions

In addition to the facts, we believe it’s vital to hear perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. We hope these different voices will help you reach your own conclusions.

The opinions published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.

Weekly Voices

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Tuesday

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Wednesday

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Thursday

Left Opinion Right Opinion

Friday

Left Opinion Right Opinion