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

23 July 2018

A New Military Strategy for Japan

By Eric Heginbotham and Richard Samuels

Japan confronts an increasingly difficult security environment. Despite the current media attention on North Korea, a very real but largely one-dimensional nuclear threat, Japanese strategists are concerned primarily with the broader and more multidimensional challenge posed by the rise of China and its territorial ambitions in the East China Sea. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been more forward-looking regarding security affairs than his predecessors. He has moved to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities, reorganize its security policymaking institutions, and increase its military budget after a long period of decline, while loosening some restrictions on its military forces and enhancing Japan’s intelligence capacity. These measures, however, can only marginally slow a shifting balance of power. A rethink of military strategy, one that looks to buttress deterrence even in the absence of military dominance, is urgently required. 

22 July 2018

When Drones Attack: The Threat Remains Limited

By Scott Stewart

Commercial drones have become widely available, not only to hobbyists but also to those with more nefarious purposes.  To date, attacks by non-state actors using drones have involved dropping military ordnance from commercial models. The difficulty of obtaining military ordnance or fabricating improvised drone munitions will serve as a limiting factor for such attacks.  A drone attack in the West by a terrorist is likely to cause more panic than outright damage. A series of recent events has me again thinking about the security threats posed by unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly referred to as drones.

The Big Picture

21 July 2018

The Roots of Modern Military Education

By Lorenzo Ruiz

In September 1870, at the Battle of Sedan, the Prussian Army, led by General Helmuth von Moltke, decisively defeated the French Army of Napoleon III after an incredible feat of mobilization, deployment, and battlefield maneuver. With their army destroyed, the French struggled through a nine-month insurgency, eventually succumbing to the Prussians. The Treaty of Frankfurt ended the Franco-Prussian War, recognized the unification of German states into an empire, and saw Prussia proclaimed the dominant land power in Europe. Their success was largely a result of their institutionalization of three army educational reforms during the 1800s: tiered education, broad curriculum, and historical study. These reforms provided Prussian leadership the tools they needed for success on the battlefield and remain essential components of today’s military education systems.


Every year, Global Firepower releases its list of the most powerful military forces in the world. America predictably tops the list again in 2018, and the rest of the top five is unchanged from last year. But things get more interesting further down the list. Both North and South Korea have moved several places up the list since last year, likely to do with recent military escalations in the region. It remains to be seen if the diplomatic moves towards denuclearization will affect their ranking in next year’s list. Another big mover on the list is Iran. The nation has hit the news in recent months, with the military advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying he is prepared for war with the U.S. and Israel. Iran’s new ranking higher up the list indicates he's been putting his money where his mouth is.

This new counter-drone weapon can take down advanced drone communicators with less power, weight

By: Todd South 

This new counter-drone weapon can take down advanced drone communicators with less power, weight Current counter drone tools often use large scale blasts of power to take out the radio comms between the drone and the pilot. Current counter-drone tools often use large-scale blasts of power to take out the radio comms between the drone and the pilot. That requires a lot of battery and can jam or disrupt friendly frequencies. The Drone Killer, made by IXI Technology and displayed at this year’s Warrior East Expo by ADS, Inc., hits both of those gaps and more. John Lopardo, adjunct director with IXI, explained that the shoulder-fired weapon weighs only 7 pounds, battery included, and has a range of 500 meters. “It’s our line-of-sight solution,” Lopardo said.

3 thoughts on hypersonic weapons from the Pentagon’s technology chief

By: Aaron Mehta  

WASHINGTON — If military terms can be described as clothing, then hypersonic weapons are the couture, stylish, must-talk-about item of the summer. The technology behind them. The theory around them. The questions of what competitors are saying and doing with them. Nearly every discussion about future capabilities for America’s defense includes an early mention of hypersonics. The point man for developing that capability is Michael Griffin, a former NASA administrator who is now the first-ever undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. So when he sat down with reporters July 12 to discuss a range of issues, it wasn’t a surprise hypersonic weaponry came up. “My view is that this is not an advantage that we can concede to people who wish to be our adversaries,” he said bluntly when asked about the systems. “And there is no reason why we should.”

20 July 2018

Why an unmanned fighter fleet isn’t yet viable, in the words of Britain’s Air Force chief

By: Andrew Chuter  

LONDON ― Step back two years to the start of the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow, when few people in Europe were talking about a new manned fighter. But today it seems to be a topic on everyone’s mind. The reason, according to the head of Britain’s Royal Air Force, is that the technology required to operate an unmanned fighter fleet has not yet advanced sufficiently to make that happen. “If you trace this back to 2010, if not before, people were saying we have built the last generation of manned combat aircraft. That view was based on how people saw technology development at that stage. But time has moved on and people have realized that it isn’t easy in the combat air part of it,” according to Air Chief Marshal Stephen Hillier.

Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to take over Afghan war

Erik Prince, the founder of the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater, is making a new pitch for his proposal to turn U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan over to mercenaries. Price promoted the plan in a YouTube video released Tuesday that coincided with the recent NATO summit in Belgium. “The Pentagon does what it does and wanted to keep doing the same thing it has done for the last 17 years,” Prince said in the video. He said CIA officers and 6,000 mercenaries should take charge in the conflict. Prince also said that President Trump has “stayed the course” in Afghanistan so far and that continuing a conventional war in the region is “reckless and it’s irresponsible.” Prince’s comments come as he faces scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

18 July 2018

Deterrence and its discontents

By Ulrich Kühn

What might Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, have found, had he lived long enough to study the 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review and its drafters? Anxiety about failure and death, fear of impotence, and an obsession with deterrence that obscures the ultimate question: “What is it that the United States wants in this world?” In this essay, the author uses psychoanalytic metaphors to explain why the United States does not currently have a long-term strategy for dealing with its most fundamental foreign policy challenges – and why it needs one, particularly as regards the global nuclear dilemma.

Why a space-based missile interceptor system is not viable

By Thomas G. Roberts

The United States has plans to develop two new missile defense programs in the space domain: a space-based sensor architecture and a space-based missile intercept layer. Both proposed systems rely on a network of satellites in low Earth orbit to offer full or partial coverage of the Earth’s surface, precisely tracking a missile during its flight in one case, or shooting it down entirely in the other. A space-based sensor system could expand current capabilities for monitoring missile launches and warrants further study. The deployment of a space-based missile intercept layer, however, would require launching hundreds or thousands of weapons into space – an expensive, inefficient, and provocative idea. The technical discussion surrounding space-based interceptors should be decoupled from that of space-based sensors – a much more plausible proposal. Despite decades of support from influential policymakers, the resources required to deploy space-based interceptors would be better spent on other layers of US missile defense.

Limitations on ballistic missile defense—past and possibly future

By George Lewis, Frank von Hippel

The ABM Treaty is unlikely to be revived any time soon. But it is possible that restraints on US deployment of ballistic missile defenses could make them seem less threatening to the effectiveness of Russia’s and China’s nuclear deterrents and set the stage for discussions about ways to preserve and even advance nuclear arms control. The proposed restraints are on systems designed to intercept warheads outside the atmosphere. Such systems are of little value in any case because they can be easily deceived by decoys and other countermeasures.

Limitations on ballistic missile defense—Past and possibly future

George Lewis, Frank von Hippel

The ABM Treaty is unlikely to be revived any time soon. But it is possible that restraints on US deployment of ballistic missile defenses could make them seem less threatening to the effectiveness of Russia’s and China’s nuclear deterrents and set the stage for discussions about ways to preserve and even advance nuclear arms control. The proposed restraints are on systems designed to intercept warheads outside the atmosphere. Such systems are of little value in any case because they can be easily deceived by decoys and other countermeasures. 

Introduction: The great missile defense dilemma

 By John Mecklin

Driven by varying (mis)perceptions of the motives and technological capabilities of their adversaries, major nuclear powers are pursuing their own versions of missile defenses – and a great variety of ways to defeat them through maneuverable missiles, decoys, and other missile defense penetration aids. In this issue, we look at this expensive and ineffective – yet potentially destabilizing – international pursuit of missile defense with the help of an extraordinary lineup of the world’s top missile defense experts: 

17 July 2018

Details on an Air Force drone? $200 on the dark web

By: Justin Lynch 

The goods included sensitive U.S. Air Force documents of an unmanned aerial vehicle, tank platoon tactics and manuals to defeat roadside bombs. These are among the delicate American military details that have been put up for sale on the dark web, according to a research firm. For the Department of Defense, the report lays raises questions about basic cyber-hygiene in the U.S. military apparatus as the material came from hacks through known vulnerabilities. Recorded Future, a private research firm based in Massachusetts, said in a July 11 report that it found the swath of documents while monitoring criminal activities on the dark web. In a speech this morning, the top information officer at the Department of Defense, Dana Deasy, said that good digital security can minimize security risk. “Countless cyber-incident reports show that the overwhelming majority of cyber incidents are preventable with basic cyber hygiene and data safeguards,” he said.

Army to unveil details about new Futures Command in biggest reorganization in 45 years

By Dan Lamothe

The U.S. Army will unveil details about its largest reorganization in 45 years Friday, senior service officials said, as they create a new organization in an attempt to adapt more quickly to technology and address expensive failures in weapons acquisitions. Army Futures Command is being established in part to address concerns about the more than $32 billion the Army has spent since 1995 on programs that it canceled early with little to nothing to show for them. The new power center will be on par with other influential Army organizations, such as Training and Doctrine Command and Forces Command, and commanded by a four-star general. The move marks the largest reorganization at Army headquarters since 1973, when the Army sought to reorient itself after the Vietnam War and created both Training and Doctrine Command and Forces Command. Their commanders have often gone on to hold even more powerful jobs, including chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and chief of staff of the Army.

The Long Awaited A-10 vs. F-35 Flyoff Is Off to a Sketchy Start

By Kyle Mizokami

The U.S. Air Force’s eagerly anticipated flyoff between the A-10 Warthog and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has begun. The eagerly awaited competition, which pits the two planes against one another to determine which is the better close air support platform, began last week and wraps up tomorrow, July 12th. Critics charge that the Air Force is not only hiding the exercises from the public but is also heavily skewing the testing to ensure that the new F-35 is presented in the best possible light.

William Lind looks at our fake military in action

Larry Kummer

The mice of the Washington foreign policy establishment are trying to nibble around the edges of President Trump’s successful summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. One of their squeaks is that the President gave up too much when he ordered the suspension of major U.S.-South Korean military exercises. The June 16 New York Times reported that: “’You could probably cancel a single major exercise, like this one (Ulchi Freedom Guardian, planned for August) without doing major damage to the alliance and its readiness,’ said Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center.

A Captain describes the mess of our military & how to fix it

Larry Kummer

The military readiness crisis has become a focal point of current policy debates. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in 2017 stated “it took us years to get into this situation. It will require years of stable budgets and increased funding to get out of it.”The Republican Congress obliged and convened in April 2018 to lay the groundwork for the FY19 defense budget. All policy proposals rhyme with more: more troops, more weapons, more ships, and more planes.

Comparing Russia’s Military Modernization by Region-Balanced Efforts Across All Fronts

By: Nicholas J. Myers

Despite the relatively slow pace of Russian military modernization (see EDM, November 8, 2016), the country’s Ministry of Defense announced in May that more than 50 percent of the equipment in service with the Armed Forces will be “modern” by the end of 2018 (, May 24). Last January, the Chairman of the United States’ Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, cited these more routine changes as the key risk to European security (, January 15). Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, conversely, claimed recently that the actual destabilizing factors in European security have been the military buildups by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Baltic region (Izvestia, June 20) and in the “southwest strategic direction” or Black Sea region (RIA Novosti, June 20). Furthermore, Shoigu labeled Central Asia the main source of potential threat to Russia’s security at a meeting of the collegium of the Ministry of Defense, in Sochi (RIA Novosti, May 25), implying that military modernization efforts would be concentrated in the Central Military District (RIA Novosti, May 25).

The View From Olympus 3: Some 4GW Resources

For those wishing to learn more about the intellectual framework I call the Four Generations of Modern War, some useful resources are available. The first is “the canon,” a series of seven books which, if read in the given order, will take the reader from the First Generation into the Fourth (my colleague Major Greg Thiele, USMC, has an article on the canon in the June 2013 Marine Corps Gazette). The books are: 1) The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the Militaerische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801-1805 by Charles E. White, (Praeger, Westpower, CT, 1989) Scharnhorst was the key figure in the Prussian military reform movement that rebuilt the Prussian Army after the disastrous defeat of 1806. Without Scharnhorst’s reforms, the German Army would probably not have been able to develop Third Generation war in World War I, more than 100 years later. This is a history not only of adaptation and innovation in the First Generation, but of the importance of ideas in war as well. When I taught a course on the canon for Marine captains at Quantico, one of them said to me, “This book explains why we are reading all the other books.”