Fallows reveals that, in 2011, he served on a small bipartisan task force, led by Gary Hart, charged with recommending Pentagon reforms to President Obama—but the resulting report, from the fall of 2011, has gone unaddressed and unheeded. Fallows writes: "Barack Obama, busy on other fronts, had no time for this. The rest of us should make time, if we hope to choose our wars more wisely, and win them."
Gun Trouble: A soldier is told that his rifle is his ticket home. But from the flawed Vietnam-era M16 to today's little-changed M4, faulty rifles have been responsible for a staggering number of unnecessary American combat deaths. Retired Major General Robert H. Scales remembers the deaths of men he commanded when their rifles jammed in South Vietnam, and asks why the richest country in the world is still denying its soldiers the safest and most efficient firearms.
High Airfare: A comparison of the acquisition and operation costs of fighter, bomber, and multipurpose planes shows just how much an "upgrade" sets us back. The $19 million A-10 "Warthog" is being phased out by the military in favor of the controversy plagued F-35, which costs five times as much per plane and three times as much per flight hour.
How I Learned to Love the Draft: As the U.S. gears up for what will likely be a prolonged fight against ISIS, the Cold War veteran Joseph Epstein draws on his own experiences as a conscript to make the case for a reinstatement of the modern draft, which he argues will foster a more conscious electorate and elected body of leaders, and create a more even national social fabric.
Features & Editor's Note:
Editor's Note: "Executive Dysfunction": "It's happened by this point in every modern two-term presidency: If we weren't sick of the guy to start with, we certainly are now." James Bennet, editor in chief and co-president of The Atlantic, argues that Obama has done nothing to build confidence in government, and that his lack of interest in doing so has been "baffling."
"5,200 Days in Space": For the past 5,200 days, high above the earth, 216 astronauts from the U.S. and Russia have manned 82,000 orbits on the International Space Station, at a cost of $8 million a day. But 40 percent of its research capacity is unused. Charles Fishman examines daily life aboard the oft-forgotten football-field-sized facility, and how the experience of the ISS (and the lack of direction from Washington) reveals just how much we don't know about the future of space travel.
"Is the Most Powerful Conservative in America Losing His Edge?": Erick Erickson has built a career on stoking populist rage. A driving force behind the Tea Party, he has guided policy in Washington and campaigns around the country with his harsh words. But he was once a beacon of bipartisanship in local politics, and may now be growing more reflective and empathetic on issues like immigration, Ebola, and race. Staff writer Molly Ball visited Erickson to learn what the man at the nexus of the conservative movement thinks about the future of his party.