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Entries in US Military (150)

11:55AM

"Disruptive Technology and Reforming the Pentagon Establishment (5 part series)

Series at Small Wars Journal on military innovation by Thaddeus Jankowski, long-time reader, source and colleague.

From the start:

Introduction

In 2006-2007 I was one of the first few officers within U.S. Central Command to initiate the comprehensive Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program as we know it today—for all the Services. MRAPs rapidly became the largest land acquisition program in DoD history, comparing favorably in the history of American warfare to toolsets such as Higgins boats, F16s/F18s, A10s and LAVs in terms of breadth of use and overall importance.  Since thousands are alive today because of innovations like this, a few perspectives from an actual innovator of this and other technologies may help the Pentagon better understand technology in wartime.  On the battlefield, military officers have embraced change, rapid maneuver and chaos; now we must learn to extend these time-based theories to the support establishment.

My experience initiating MRAPs, along with many other important new devices of counter insurgency warfare, suggests that little has changed since Col. Burton wrote the words above.  From 2006 to 2010, I systematically and repeatedly advocated for something that was common in civilian businesses but lacking in the Department of Defense: application of maneuver warfare principles to the support establishment. We needed a disciplined, transparent, rapid technology initiation process. 

The opening piece is a great one. The other four articles in the series are coming out one per week over the next four weeks.  All will be worth reading.

1:06PM

Time's Battleland: CHINA | The Perfectly Ironic Chinese Foreign Direct Investment

Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal story of how Chinese state bank (China Development Bank) is pumping $1.7 billion into two long-stalled redevelopment projects in the San Francisco Bay area – namely, Hunter’s Point (a Navy base until 1974) and Treasure Island (same until 1996) — is worth noting.

Read the entire post at Time's Battleland blog.


11:42AM

Time's Battleland: (CYBER) Cyber Warfare Treaty: DOA, Thanks to President and Pentagon

Misha Glenny making a smart case in the New York Times for a cyber arms control treaty, but it won’t happen.

Why?

For the same reason why the U.S. has refused – for many years now – to engage other great powers on a treaty banning space weaponry: our Pentagon wants to dominate that imagine conflict space like any other. This fantasy lives on despite the great private-sector forays into space transport and travel.

Read the entire post at Time's Battleland blog.

10:40AM

Time's Battleland: NATIONAL SECURITY - What the Wisconsin Recall Says About the Future of the U.S. Military

Governor Scott Walker survives his nasty recall vote earlier this month, a dynamic triggered by his brutal reshaping of Wisconsin’s public sector unions.  Pundits are interpreting all this in terms of November and what it means for President Obama’s chances in that crucial swing state, but I see a bellwether for the future of U.S. national security.

Read the entire post at Time's Battleland blog.

11:20AM

Time's Battleland: CYBER U.S. Admits to Waging War Against Iran

Check out this New York Times story about President Obama speeding up waves of cyber attacks against Iran.  I personally have no problem with this, and prefer it to Israel’s imagined missile strikes.

But just remember this when next you hear about other countries’ “unprecedented offensive cyber attacks against the U.S.”

Read the entire post at Time's Battleland blog.


11:34AM

Time's Battleland: MILITARY SPENDING On Cyber Warfare, the American Public Is Constantly Being Played by the Pentagon

From a Washington Post piece describing “Plan X,” the Pentagon’s new push to develop cutting-edge offensive cyber weapons:

It makes sense “to take this on right now,” said Richard M. George, a former National Security Agency cyberdefense official. “Other countries are preparing for a cyberwar. If we’re not pushing the envelope in cyber, somebody else will.”

Read the entire post at Time's Battleland blog.

1:13PM

Time's Battleland: SYRIA Obama Cleverly Leading from Behind — Again

The quiet coalition has come together to reverse the decline of the opposition rebel forces in Syria, according to this nice front-pager in Wednesday’s Washington Post.  Much like in the case of Libya, the Obama Administration is hanging back and letting the local “market” determine his military response.  He simply refuses to take the strategic lead, which is frustrating to many and yet decidedly clever on his part.

To me, this is the Obama Doctrine: respond to local demand for U.S. crisis-response services rather than — in typical American fashion — pushing our way to the front of the line, bossing everyone, and then finding ourselves alone on the postwar backside.

 Read the entire post at Time's Battleland blog.

10:42AM

Time's Battleland: PIRACY How America Settles Down Somalia (And, By Extension the Piracy Problem)

Nice Washington Post story about how the U.S. is training Ugandan soldiers (along with some from Burundi, Sierra Leone and Djibouti) in Uganda on how to do battle with Islamic extremists in Somalia – namely the al-Shabaab group affiliated with Al-Qaida. 

Read the entire post at Time's Battleland blog.

10:44AM

West's conundrum on Syria

WSJ story: "Syria attacks seen as sign of extremists' rise."

Reason why, in a column a bit back, I argued for quasi intervention (imagining something in air control along Turkish border + arms support to rebels) is that, the longer this goes on, the more it becomes next natural cause celebre for AQ and associated.

So conunudrum is usual one: people say, don't get involved because we encourage terrorism/are forced to ally with terrorists.  Problem is, best way to ensure their growth is to sit back and let civil strife unfold over longer haul now made possible by our inaction.

We also buy lots of stiff-arming diplomatically from great powers generally because we don't resolve this.  If we went harder and faster, we'd still get stiff-armed, but speeding the killing also speeds the great-power dynamics past this dispute.

We all know we'll be in semi-aggressive stance on Syria so long as Assad remains, so why not get it over with? Why not speed the kiliing?

My preference is always the "damned if you do" variant.

No question about the "right side of history" here.

11:12AM

So why the strategic mistrust?

WSJ story and chart about how "Chinese applicants flood U.S. graduate schools."

 Of interest in the analysis:

The rate of growth in China is due in part to a concerted effort by some U.S. schools to attract Chinese studens.  The thinking, say school administrators, is that international student who stay in academia will connect U.S. schools with new research partners, while those entering the corporate world may become clients of business schools' executive education programs.

Would that the Pentagon was this strategic in its thinking.

No, I'm not just talking about Chinese officers in our professional military educational institutions.  I'm talking about purposefully seeking to raise future partners instead of indulging in this feel-good strategic "pivot" that is already being handled by arms exports to China's neighbors.

Amidst all that, we should be extending a hand - not a missile shield.

9:39AM

WPR's The New Rules: Obama's Missile Defense Fantasy a Pentagon Dream Come True 

Given this administration’s resurging plans for regional missile defense schemes in both Europe and Asia, President Barack Obama’s recent open-mike admission to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he will have more freedom in his national security decision-making once he wins re-election is not a comforting thought. For a guy who promises “a world without nuclear weapons,” Obama seems awfully intent on incentivizing both Russia and China to field some more.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.

8:50AM

WPR's The New Rules: In Tough Times, America's 'Dirty Harry' Streak Re-Emerges 

President Barack Obama has presented himself as the ender of wars. Moreover, where the preceding administration went heavy with its military power, the Obama administration goes laparoscopically light. And as if to culminate a quarter-century trend of U.S. military interventions that have all somehow devolved into manhunts of some sort, America now simply skips the intervention and gets straight to hunting down and killing bad guys. We stand our ground, as it were, on a global scale. Give us the wrong gesture, look, attitude or perceived intention, and wham! One of ours might kill one of yours -- in a heartbeat. You just never know.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.

12:35PM

WPR's The New Rules: U.S. Needs Chinese Partners in Asian Century 

While America has begun an economic recovery of uncertain strength and staying power, we Americans nonetheless face a far longer-term and more substantial national rebuilding project. This daunting task has placed us in a contemplative space, in which we nervously toggle between bouts of renewed self-confidence and crippling self-doubt. But the same thread runs through both cycles of this national bipolar disorder: the assumption that we must bear this burden alone.

Read the entire column at World Poliics Review.

12:20PM

Wikistrat post @ CNN-GPS: Ten Roads to Israel-Iran War

Editor’s Note: The following piece, exclusive to GPS, comes from Wikistrat, the world's first massively multiplayer online consultancy.  It leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a crowd-sourcing methodology to provide unique insights.

Either Israel and the United States are engaged in a brilliant psychological operations campaign against Iran or the two long-time allies really are talking past each other on the subject of Tehran’s reach for a nuclear bomb. Either way, all this Bibi Netanyahu said, Leon Panetta said chatter is producing some truly jangled nerves over in Iran on the subject of Israel’s allegedly imminent attack on that country’s nuclear program facilities.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps publicly implying that his nation can’t wait on Iranian events for as long as the Obama administration – with its looming embargo of Iranian oil sales to the West – would like. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta keeps tripping over his own tongue, saying one day that America is doing its best to keep Israel’s attack jets grounded and the next offhandedly remarking to reporters that Tel Aviv is inevitably going to pull that trigger sometime this spring.

Again, as psyop campaigns go, this is brilliant, because it not only keeps the Iranians nervous and guessing, it forces them out into the diplomatic open with all manner of implausible counter-threats that reveal their increasing desperation.

Stipulating all this brinkmanship - coordinated or not - this week’s Wikistrat crowd-sourced analysis exercise involves imagining the range of possible pathways to an Israel-Iran war.  We don’t offer odds here. We just try to cover a wide array of possible vectors toward the trigger-pulling point.

Read the entire post at CNN's GPS blog.

11:29AM

Follow-on comment to my WPR piece on war with Iran

 
 

 

Per Maduka's comment that he was shocked to see this analysis from me (presumably he knows something of my years [roughly 8] of writing to different effect on this subject), I penned the following comment that I felt was important enough of a statement to post in full:

I was somewhat shocked to write the piece myself, but I found myself talking to people on the phone regarding this and I kept coming back to this sense of determinism, when all the dynamics are considered.

In the end, I do think the logic is very compelling for Israel - given the Arab Spring. Then we turn next to Obama, and given his drone use and desire to appear strong (hell, after all these years, let's just say the guy is strong on defense and leave it at that). Then we turn to the Pentagon, and I see a group of AirSea Battle Concept advocates who would love to test it out on Iran (limited scope) and, by doing so, signal VERY STRONGLY to China.

What I don't spot on any of these lines is a countervailing pressure of great strength.

Don't be confused, and I think I made this point decidedly in the piece (and you need to read it all to know this, so if all you scan is the opening . . . then please beg off further comment): this will be an air/SOF-only strike/war. This will be a "reducing" war, or what the Israelies call "mowing the grass." There is little sense of getting the job done with one effort.  

All you can hold out hope for is triggering the conditions for regime change (least likely from below; much more likely as result of regime infighting).  But that's at best a nice-to-get. You don't do it for that, even as I argue in the piece that you might as well - given the larger logic - target to encourage that (why not if you've making the effort already?).

And I think that's the macro lesson the US seems to be learning from the "war on terror," and it's making us more like Israel over time: we simply mow the grass now, and eschew the follow-on work.

11:27AM

WPR's The New Rules: Slouching Toward Great-Power War

Arguably the greatest strategic gift offered by America to the world over the past several decades has been our consistent willingness to maintain a high and hugely expensive entry barrier to the “market” that is great-power war: first by deterring outright war with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and then by maintaining a lopsided and unipolar military superiority in the post-Cold War period. However, a case can be made that in recent years, the greatest threat to this enduring component of global stability arises from within the United States itself -- namely, a national security establishment intent on pressing the boundaries of this heretofore rather sacrosanct responsibility.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.

10:53AM

Wikistrat post @ CNN/GPS: 10 strategic issues with Obama's East Asia "pivot"

 

Editor’s Note: The following piece, exclusive to GPS, comes from Wikistrat, the world's first massively multiplayer online consultancy.  It leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a crowd-sourcing methodology to provide unique insights.

The Obama Administration recently released a military strategic guidance document, which calls for a strategic “pivot” from the Middle East to East Asia. This bold move replaces President George W. Bush’s “long war” against violent Islamic extremism with a new, ongoing effort to shape China’s military rise.

What are the strategic, military trade-offs of this historic shift? Wikistrat, the world’s first massively multiplayer online consultancy, recently tapped its global network of several hundred analysts to ponder this question. This online network offers a uniquely powerful and unprecedented strategic consulting service: the Internet's only central intelligence exchange for strategic analysis and forecasting, delivered - for the first time - in a real-time, interactive platform. Exclusive to GPS, here are Wikistrat’s top ten strategic, military issues to bear in mind as this “pivot” unfolds:

Read the entire post at CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS site.

12:01AM

Time's Battleland: The Perfect Headline on the Silent Sino-American Limited Liability Partnership

Iranian ships on exercise in Gulf

Comes from Bloomberg:

China Gets Cheaper Iran Oil as U.S. Picks Up Tab for Hormuz Straits Patrols

Brilliant huh?

Read the entire post at Time's Battleland.

12:01AM

Appearance on "The Alyona Show" regarding Obama's strategic "pivot" to Asia

Driven by my WPR column.  Did it Tuesday night.

Worrisome to me in the new house: the upload speed on my cable connection was problematic here, as you'll see in the resulting video via Skype.

I would greatly welcome any ideas on how to improve.

Talking to my AV guy, he said make sure everybody in the house (2 other laptops and 2 desktops) were off the web.  That I didn't do.  He said also to shut down everything on my MacBook Pro, go wired to the modem and turn off my wifi.

Speed testing the wifi just now, I'm 24 mps down and 4 up, so there shouldn't have been a problem. But honestly, there could have been 30 web windows open among the 4 other machines, and I didn't exactly clean up my laptop prior.

NEXT TIME: I'll go wired in the living room that doubles as my video production center and I'll have a Wikistrat pattern behind me and I'll be lit from both sides (with screen forming third point). I'll also take all the steps Greg, my AV guy, outlined.

But again, any other ideas welcomed.

 

10:45AM

Sounds like China moving on DPRK diplomatic front

 Reuters reporting on Yahoo News, with my HT to World Politics Review's media roundup email.

To me, this is a very good sign:

North Korea has held secret talks with Japan in what is believed to be their first contact since the death of long-time leader Kim Jong-il, Japanese media said, as Pyongyang's closest allyChina and South Korea vowed to work closely on denuclearizing the North.

Amid a series of diplomatic contacts over North Korea in China, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing to discuss ways to preserve stability on the peninsula as the unpredictable North undergoes a delicate transition of power.

Hiroshi Nakai, a former Japanese state minister in charge of the abduction issue, met the North's delegation on Monday for talks on the abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s, Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted sources as saying.

The two sides are also believed to have discussed terms for restarting intergovernmental negotiations, the Mainichi Daily News reported.

Nakai's office confirmed his trip to China. A government official declined to comment on the trip.

Two logical explanations:

 

  1. China didn't want to push anything until Kim Jong Il passed; and
  2. Beijing now wants to capture successor Kim Jong Eun on the diplomatic front before any internal purging process pushes Pyongyang toward displays of aggression toward the West.

 

How does Beijing do this?  It makes a big show of supporting KJE to put him in a good place, and says these efforts are part and parcel of achieving the same internationally.

If this is not China as a "responsible stakeholder," then I don't know what is.

So, again, a very good sign.

Would be nice if Obama Administration made it own overtures amidst this diplomatic flurry. Could prove decisive and keep us suitably in the mix.  Alas, I think the White House is already too invested in its "strategic pivot" to contain Chinese power in East Asia, which, to me, is a perfect 20th century answer to a 21st century phenomenon.

But I can always hope for common sense to re-emerge post-election . . ..