Showing posts with label Military Matters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Military Matters. Show all posts

17 February 2019

Poland’s Short-Sighted Military Dependence on the United States


It’s time to get real. The United States is not pulling any of its troops out of foreign entanglements in Afghanistan or Syria so that it can put them in a big, fat “Fort Trump” in eastern Poland.

At the very least, when President Donald Trump tweeted it’s time to bring “our boys” home, the lightbulb should have gone on in Warsaw. America is disengaging from overseas commitments and focusing on growing rivalry with China. The U.S. army doesn’t have a spare combat brigade, let alone an armored division, to tie down in Central Europe waiting for the Russians to come.

For a Polish government to bet the store on securing a permanent U.S. army base to guard against Russian aggression is bound to lead to disappointment. All the more so if the quest is coupled with confrontation with the European Union over the rule of law; souring relations with the main Western European powers, Germany and France; a weakening of its armed forces and security services through repeated purges; and memory politics that upsets neighbors and allies.

16 February 2019

The Army is testing net grenades to stop drones

By: Kelsey D. Atherton

A grenade is not the best way to stop a drone, but a grenade launcher might be. This week, the Army was granted a patent for a net-carrying grenade-sized weapon, designed to work in a standard 40mm launcher, that can ensnare a drone. Formally a “scalable effects net warhead,” the net grenade could finally provide a countermeasure to cheap drones that’s almost as inexpensive as the drones themselves.

Ensnaring a robot in a net is perhaps the opposite of lethality, but here that’s a selling point — stopping the drone means immediately disabling it and possibly doing a forensic investigation on the drone’s innards afterwards. Bullets can stop drones, but it’s a hard task even at sport shooting competitions and in a real-life application bullets still have to fall somewhere, risking injury to friendly forces and bystanders. Anti-air missiles like the Patriot can also intercept drones, but drones can be as cheap as a few hundred dollars and missiles like the Patriot can cost a few million dollars. Both more-kinetic options can ruin the drone’s circuitry, obliterating any useful clues as to who may have launched the drone.

15 February 2019

The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights.

By Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen

I lost my home in 2009 when a major operation by the Pakistan military forced us to leave our village in South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Around 37 million Pashtuns live in this region that includes the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas — which have now been merged with the province — and parts of southwestern Baluchistan province. Our impoverished region has been desolated by the long war on terrorism.

When I was in high school, we moved to Dera Ismail Khan, a city around 100 miles away. Ours was yet another family among six million people who have been displaced from the region since Pakistan joined the war on terror in 2001. Tens of thousands of Pashtuns have been killed in terror attacks and military operations since.

America's National Defense Strategy and the Paradox of Technology

by Chad C. Serena and Colin P. Clarke

The current national defense strategy emphasizes the role technology will likely play in the United States' ability to compete effectively in future conflicts, especially those against near-peer and peer adversaries. Developing more defensible and robust equipment, information networks and cyber capabilities will likely be critical to most, if not all, future warfighting tasks. This could include using artificial intelligence for target acquisition or network defense and attack, robots and autonomous vehicles for logistics missions, or constellations of satellites for positioning and navigation. A strategy emphasizing these capabilities not only makes sense but is requisite if the United States is to maintain its military prominence. However, if it is devoid of compensatory improvements in the training of basic and time-tested nontechnical or analog skills and tasks, such a strategy could worsen the U.S. military's overreliance on technology.

Why the new Air Force’s cyber and information strategy is a return to the past

By: Jason Healey  

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein with Vice President Mike Pence have overseen a plan to reorient the service's cyber and intelligence program. But some argue it is just a return to the past. 

As a fifth domain, so much of cyberspace can only be understood indirectly or as analogous to things we’re more familiar with. As technological innovation increases, what seems “normal” from one perspective can turn out to be a grave mistake from a different perspective

For the military, trying to determine how to come to terms with cyber and information has been a continuous challenge, as noted by the recent change in the U.S. Air Force cyber missions.

The U.S. Army's New Up-Gunned Stryker Armored Vehicles Have Been Hacked


It’s been more than a year since the first up-gunned Stryker Dragoonarmored vehicles arrived in Europe, giving elements of the U.S. Army’s forward-deployed 2nd Cavalry Regiment a much-needed boost in firepower against potential threats. Since then, unfortunately, unspecified “adversaries” – a term the U.S. military has used in the past to describe the Russians, but that could also mean surrogate opponents during an exercise – have also been able to disrupt certain systems on the vehicles with a cyber attack on at least one occasion.

The Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Test and Evaluation, or DOT&E, revealed the existence of the Stryker Dragoon’s cyber vulnerabilities in its most recent annual report on the status of the vehicle’s ongoing development during the 2018 Fiscal Year. The initial batch of these vehicles, also known as the XM1296 or the Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon (ICV-D), touched down in Germany in December 2017. The Army had begun developing the new variant, which features a new turret with a 30mm automatic cannon, directly in response to a request from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in 2015.

How a Forever War Ends


Trump might well wrap up the war in Afghanistan, but only by giving up on America’s original goals.

President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address that “great nations do not fight endless wars.” It was a clear signal that his administration has scaled back its objectives for Afghanistan and is headed for the exit. The only question now is whether the Taliban and their Pakistani sponsors will settle for a partial victory by participating in an Afghan government they do not wholly control, or whether they will bide their time until the occupation ends, then turn on those Afghans who have been fighting alongside U.S. forces and triumphantly return to power, governing as they did before the war.

The smart money is on the latter.

Trump is not the first American president to try to bring a “forever war” to an end. President Barack Obama promised to end the war in Iraq, and he did. But America’s adversaries there took the opportunity to reconstitute a threat significant enough that Obama had to reengage.

13 February 2019

India's Big Naval Nightmare: Aircraft Carriers as Floating Paper Tigers?

by Robert Beckhusen

Under the circumstances, India’s investment in carriers makes more sense symbolically, and primarily as a way of keeping shipyards busy and shipyard workers employed.

The Indian Navy has put out a proposal for its third aircraft carrier, tentatively titled the Vishal due to enter service in the latter 2020s. The 65,000-ton Vishal will be significantly larger than India’s sole current carrier, the Vikramaditya known formerly as the ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, and the incoming second one, the domestically-built Vikrantwhich is expected to enter service later in 2018.

(This first appeared in last January.)

Gwadar: Trade Hub Or Military Asset? – Analysis

By Amit Bhandari and Aashna Agarwal*

China plans to spend more than $1 billion to turn the port in Gwadar on Pakistan’s western edge into a hub of its proposed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). But the investment appears economically unviable – and that raises the possibility its real purpose could be to advance China’s military interests.

Pakistan says the port will provide maritime connectivity to western China, to landlocked Afghanistan and other central Asian republics. Gwadar will provide alternative shipping routes for the Chinese. Pakistan also touts Gwadar as a way to allow Chinese trade with West Asia to bypass the Malacca straits chokepoint.

These arguments are debatable for several reasons.

Military Technology: The Realities of Imitation

By Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli

According to a growing consensus, globalization and advances in communication are promoting the diffusion of defense-industrial capabilities, thus eroding the established position of Western countries. However, Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli contend that the empirical evidence suggests that even with newly available opportunities, including cyber espionage, the most advanced weapon systems remain very difficult to copy and replicate.

Over the past 20 years, several observers, policy-makers, and scholars have warned of an impending transformation in world politics driven by globalization and the information and communication technologies (ICT) revolution. As a result of this transformation, it is alleged, countries lagging behind in military technology will be able to close the gap in military technology that separates them from the most advanced countries much more easily and quickly than they could in the past.

12 February 2019

The Pocket-Sized Black Hornet Drone Is About To Change Army Operations Forever

by Joseph Trevithick

After more than four years of experimentation and evaluation, the U.S. Army is beginning to send out FLIR Systems’ tiny Black Hornet nano drones to operational units, which will fundamentally change how the service conducts itself on the battlefield. The miniature unmanned helicopter will give the elements as small as infantry squads a significant boost in situational awareness and allow them to scout ahead without having to automatically put soldiers at risk.

On Jan. 9, 2019, the Army revealed that the Soldier Sensors and Lasers (SSL) division of Rock Island Arsenal’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC) had delivered the first 60 complete Black Hornet systems to unspecified units. Then, on Jan. 24, 2019, FLIR Systems announced it had received a contract worth up to $39.6 million to deliver thousands more of the drones to the service, along with associated equipment, in the coming years.

How Did We Really Lose the Vietnam War?

Stephen B. Young

The substance of this comment is taken from a draft manuscript written with Ellsworth Bunker, former American Ambassador in Saigon, 1967 – 1973.

In his State of the Union Address, President Trump sought to legitimate his negotiations with the Taliban over the future of Afghanistan with the argument that the Taliban were happy to negotiate with him. Of course, they are happy to do so. Through negotiations they will finally be in a position to take over Afghanistan - just as the North Vietnamese finally won the Vietnam War thanks to their private negotiations with Henry Kissinger – when there were no South Vietnamese present to prevent him from selling them out.

North Vietnamese Army Colonel Bui Tin, whom I befriended in the 1990s after he went into exile in Paris, told me that the Communist Party Politburo was very happy to negotiate with Kissinger alone without any Vietnamese nationalists next to him at the table.

Open Source Backgrounder: Djibouti, Foreign Military Bases on the Horn of Africa - Who is There? What are They Up To?

De Faakto Intelligence Research Observatory

Background & Analysis

Djibouti is a small dusty coastal nation on the Horn of Africa that has the distinction of being located at the southern entrance of the Red Sea on route to the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden. Djibouti is a mandatory passage way for important maritime trade routes; making it strategic terra firma, sought after by the most powerful militaries in the world. Djibouti is ideal for navel security operations, anti-piracy patrols, counter terror drone strikes, air force operations, counter terror special operations, intelligence-surveillance, peacekeeping & humanitarian aid. (Politico, 2018) With bases in Djibouti nations can protect commerce and trade, guard maritime oil shipping routes and facilitate extraction missions for expatriates working abroad. Djibouti is close to hotbeds of turmoil in Africa. Countries like Somalia, and Yemen in the Middle East, necessitate the need for proximal military bases. (BBC, 2018) Furthermore, Djibouti presents a battle space, suitable for proxy war, far from opposing homelands should a conflict occur between nations garrisoned there. (Politico, 2018) The central government of Djibouti leases prime military property to the United States, China, France, Italy and Japan and will soon host Saudi Arabia and is considering India. (Reuters, 2016) In return for leased military bases the barren nation with few natural resources, receives cash, business opportunities and infrastructure. (Politico, 2018)

Army R&D Chief: ‘I Don’t Think We Went Far Enough’ – But Futures Command Can


Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins

UPDATED with Army Secretary comment & lead lab list WASHINGTON: For a man in the middle of an institutional earthquake, Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins is pretty serene.

Other Army officers and civil servants are unsettled by the Army’s largest reorganization in 45 years: One, Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, has said only half in jest that the break-up of long-established commands made him “feel like the child of divorced parents.” But from Wins’ perspective, when the organization he’s led for 31 months changed its name, its mission, and the four-star headquarters it works for, it finally found the answer to a question it – and the entire Army – have been struggling with for at least 16 years.

Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley

What was, until last week, the Research, Development, & Engineering Command (RDECOM) “was formed right after 9/11,” Wins recalled. The goal back then, he said, was to unite “seven disparate [and] very independent” Army research centers to urgently deliver new technology to troops facing new dangers in Afghanistan. But, Wins told me and a fellow reporter this afternoon, “as we formed the organization way back, I don’t think we went far enough [towards] unity of command.”

11 February 2019

The Key to Post-World War II US Strategic Thinking About Japan

By Robert Farley

How did the United States go about planning for Phase IV of the Pacific War?

Of course, Phase IV of U.S. World War II planning never existed, at least by that term. However, after the invasion of Iraq the term became short-hand for post-war reconstruction, or for failure to plan for post-war reconstruction. In contrast to the situation with Iraq, U.S. analysts began planning for the reconstruction and reintegration of Japan from even before the war began. As detailed by Dayna Barnes in Architects of Occupation (reviewed here by a group of scholars), the planning process included the State Department, the military, and the 1940s version of the think tank community. Although fraught with tension and difficulty, the process managed to restore Japan’s place in the international community while also largely demilitarizing its society.

DoD officials: Irregular warfare will no longer suffer a ‘boom-bust’ cycle in eras of great power competition

By: Kyle Rempfer

Retaining the U.S. military’s hard-fought knowledge of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism was a priority for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who helped design a new national defense strategy in 2018 that prioritizes countering peer-level adversaries like China and Russia.

“Sec. Mattis specifically wanted to end this boom-bust cycle in IW [irregular warfare] that we’ve all experienced,” Owen West, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said at a defense industry symposium Tuesday.

The boom-bust cycle refers to the U.S. military’s preference for fighting traditional, high-end forces, rather than insurgents, according to Andrew Knaggs, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism.

“This default setting has left the DoD unprepared for irregular conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq,” Knaggs said. “We have often been slow to recognize the irregular character of these conflicts and have forced conventional approaches as the first response."

10 February 2019

The Pentagon’s First AI Strategy Will Focus on Near-Term Operations — and Safety


The document is intended to make commander think through the implications of their new artificial-intelligence tools.

The Defense Department will unveil a new artificial intelligence strategy perhaps as early as this week, senior defense officials told Defense One. The strategy — its first ever — will emphasize the creation and tailoring of tools for specific commands and service branches, allowing them to move into AI operations sooner rather than later.

“DOD has spent the past 50 years treating AI as a [science and technology] concern. This strategy reflects an additional imperative, which is to translate the technology into decisions and impact in operations,” said one official with direct knowledge of the strategy.

Much like the new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the future of military AI will take its cue from Project Maven, which applied artificial intelligence to sorting through intelligence footage. One official described Maven as “a pathfinder” but cautioned, “the strategy is much broader than one project.”

7 February 2019

THAAD and the Dawn of the Missile Defense Age

Missile defense has become an increasingly important focus of security policy around the world. On the Korean Peninsula, North Korea's provocative missile tests have led Seoul to move toward deploying U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile batteries, despite opposition from China. Proponents argue that THAAD deployment in South Korea is necessary to meet the evolving challenges posed by the North’s arsenal of short- and medium-range missiles. U.S. forces in South Korea face limits with Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) batteries, which only target missiles during their final descent and lack THAAD’s ability to intercept missiles at a higher altitude. Critics, on the other hand, argue that the benefits of THAAD are limited and that it would be unable to fend off a massive attack from the North. 

6 February 2019

Venezuela, A “Black Swan” Hot Spot

A superpower whipped … 10 percent of the police force of a Third World nation. You are supposed to be able to do that. It was done well, and I credit those who did it. But it is important that we draw the right lessons from it.

—Anonymous U.S. Marine commenting on Operation Just Cause

A black swan is a metaphor for a theory that aims to describe unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively have played disproportionately larger roles than regular occurrences.1 Recently, I was tasked with reviewing worldwide flash points with potential implications for the United States. During that review, and much to my surprise, a country that kept appearing as a potential outlier (i.e., a black swan) on the list was Venezuela. Although the prospects for a potential U.S. intervention were universally considered low, it was clear from a review of the available information that any intervention (large or small) could easily have broad implications from a regional or hemispheric standpoint.

Military trends and predictions: 2020

Doug Livermore

Military trends in the near future

Doug Livermore is an Army National Guard Special Forces Soldier, Contracted Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and National Capital Region Ambassador for the Green Beret Foundation. 

Increased focus on great power competition 

The most prominent shift in US defence strategies in the last two decades is captured within the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). The 2018 NDS directs a shift away from the counterterrorism focus of the “Global War on Terror” and back toward “great power competition”. Specifically, the new strategy focuses on China, Russia, and to a lesser extent, Iran and North Korea.

"The strategies of our adversaries will focus on methodologies and technologies with which most Americans are not closely familiar"