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

18 November 2018

U.S. Military Advantage Has Eroded, Study Says


Paul Sonne and Shane Harris

WASHINGTON – The United States has lost its military edge to a dangerous degree and could potentially lose a war against China or Russia, according to a report released Wednesday by a bipartisan commission that Congress created to evaluate the Trump administration’s defense strategy.

The National Defense Strategy Commission, comprised of former top Republican and Democratic officials selected by Congress, evaluated the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which ordered a vast reshaping of the U.S. military to compete with Beijing and Moscow in an era of renewed great-power competition.

While endorsing the strategy’s aims, the commission warned that Washington isn’t moving fast enough or investing sufficiently to put the vision into practice, risking a further erosion of American military dominance that could become a national security emergency.

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Seeking New Technology/Techniques To Protect Future U.S. Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) From Foreign Surveillance/Trusted Insiders — But, Is A Whole New Approach To How We Protect Our Most Precious Secrets…….Needed?


FedScoop posted a November 6, 2018 article to their website, by Carten Cordell, with the title above. He notes that “due to increasing eavesdropping and [sophisticated] surveillance [techniques] tactics from foreign adversaries, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is reaching out to industry for new solutions to safeguard the [U.S.] Government’s [most] sensitive meeting sites.”

IARPA issued a Request For Information (RFI), “seeking innovative methods for securing Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs), from a variety of [foreign] spying operations.” As an Intelligence Community veteran/33 year career, I can assure you that SCIFs’ are the most protected and secure facilities in the national security orbit; and, it is where most of our most sensitive/critical secrets are stored/held. IARPA officials are calling for information on how to prevent surveillance attacks utilizing radio frequency, optical, magnetic, or acoustic transmissions from intercepting communications within SCIFs,” Mr. Cordell reported.

Military Sway At Pentagon Undermines Tenet of Civilian Control, Study Finds

By Michael R. Gordon and Gordon Lubold

The military staff at the Pentagon is dominating deliberations over strategy and the deployment of forces to such an extent that it is undermining the principle of civilian control of the armed forces, according to a congressionally mandated study by former high-ranking national-security officials.

“There is an imbalance in civil-military relations on critical issues of strategy development and implementation,” states the study, which is being issued Wednesday. “Civilian voices appear relatively muted on issues at the center of U.S. defense and national security policy.” 

The study was prepared by a bipartisan commission established by Congress in 2017 to assess the Pentagon’s defense strategy, which casts China and Russia as the principal threats to U.S. security.

17 November 2018

The U.S. Army Is Trying to Develop New Land Mines — Ones That Don’t Harm Civilians

By John Ismay

In the early 1990s, the end of the Cold War gave rise to a global movement to rid former war zones of land mines, which were littered across at least 68 countries. President Bill Clinton became the first world leader to call for their elimination on a global scale, but when it came time to formally ban them, the United States refused. Instead, over two decades, the United States invested $2.9 billion in demining projects and the destruction of other conventional weapons around the world. It has also destroyed millions of its own antipersonnel land mines, a weapon deemed particularly dangerous to civilians because it is buried underground and detonates when stepped on.

While much of the world has moved away from the use of land mines of all kinds, the United States Army is now developing a new line of them to replace its suite of antivehicle land mines from the 1980s. According to Audra Calloway, a spokeswoman at Picatinny Arsenal, which has long supervised weapons development for the service, these munitions are meant to replace the service’s current inventory, which were manufactured 30 years ago. The Army’s end goal is to create a munition that can be detonated remotely by a soldier — a design feature that in theory could reduce the risks that land mines pose to civilians. It could also keep the United States aligned with — but still not signatory to — an international treaty signed by more than 160 countries that bans the use of antipersonnel mines, but does not prohibit mines designed to destroy vehicles like tanks and armored personnel carriers. Since 2016, the Army has spent $106 million on this initiative, called the Gator Landmine Replacement Program, yet it is still in its early stages. Here’s what we know so far.
What is the Gator Landmine Replacement Program?

Here’s why the Army needs resilient communications

By: Mark Pomerleau  

So-called near peer adversaries have demonstrated sophisticated electronic warfare and signal jamming capabilities from Europe to the Middle East to the Pacific. This is worrisome to U.S. military leaders as future communications equipment could be susceptible to jamming and in turn, could prevent allies and friendly forces from communicating on the battlefield.

Army leaders say future radios need to be more resilient and flexible in the face of advanced jamming capabilities.

As the Army looks to modernize its tactical network and associated communications gear, one command recently created a contested environment for the service to these systems.

16 November 2018

The U.S. Is Again at Risk of Abandoning the Lessons of Counterinsurgency

Steven Metz 

After 9/11, the United States was thrown into a type of conflict that the U.S. military, intelligence community and Department of State all did not expect: large-scale counterinsurgency. The United States, particularly the military, had always been reluctant to take this on. Counterinsurgency is a politically and psychologically complex struggle that doesn’t play to America’s strength: morally unambiguous warfare where victory comes from creating the biggest and most powerful military, then winning battles until the enemy is crushed. Counterinsurgency often takes place in cultures and locations—remote villages, dense city streets—that Americans have a difficult time understanding.

WHY THE MILITARY MUST LEARN TO LOVE SILICON VALLEY

BY LARA SELIGMAN

People who form their ideas about the U.S. military based on Hollywood movies might get the impression that cutting-edge technology is standard in the fighting forces. In fact, the opposite is true. At nuclear sites around the country, technicians still use floppy disks. Only this summer is the U.S. Navy expected to upgrade from Windows XP, an operating system long since scrubbed from home computers. The new F-35 stealth fighter jet, touted as the most sophisticated in the world, was first conceived of in the 1990s.

So when the Defense Department announced last year that it wanted to partner with Silicon Valley to build a massive cloud storage unit where it could securely warehouse and categorize the secret data it collects from intelligence agencies and the military, some experts scoffed. Companies such as Amazon and Google are defined by an ethos of agility and innovation. The Pentagon, by contrast, is known to be clunky and risk averse. Just getting a contract through the department’s famously byzantine procurement process would require a kind of bureaucratic wrangling that a Jeff Bezos or a Tim Cook would find abhorrent.

Tenets of a Regional Defense Strategy

by Jonathan W. Greenert

Of the security concerns in the Indo-Pacific, the challenges are particularly acute in five current hotspots: the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, the India-Pakistan border, and the Taiwan Strait. As the U.S. refines campaign plans in accordance with the National Security Strategy and the classified National Defense Strategy, it is essential that commanders and planners understand the diverse impact of the influence associated with the key players. This diversity is rooted in different levels of national power, approaches to strategic culture, and understandings of national security strategies.

IMPLICATIONS

The diversity among the key regional players requires a careful reckoning of each player’s formation of national power, as well as the likelihood and means of using that national power.

15 November 2018

World War I Is More Than Trenches in France

by James Holmes

Today—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—marks the centennial of the armistice concluding the First World War. Your humble correspondent traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, last week to offer remarks as part of “1918: Crucible of Conflict,” the centennial symposium at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. After two days of listening to learned commentators hold forth about sundry dimensions of the war, the armistice, and the interregnum between the world wars, it’s clear the Great War still casts a long cultural shadow.

Bottom line: history matters. A partial or garbled understanding of history means any guidance we distill from it is partial or garbled as well.

The Next Great War

by Graham Allison

On Sunday, the world will pause to remember the 100th anniversary of the final day of a war so devastating that it required historians to devise an entirely new classification for it: “world war.” On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns of World War I fell silent — and nearly 20 million people lay dead.

Could such a conflict happen today? After more than seven decades without a shooting war between great powers, many Americans find the thought of the United States and a major adversary like China killing millions of one another’s citizens virtually inconceivable.

But when we say something is “inconceivable,” we should remember this: the realm of what is possible is not bound by what our limited minds can conceive. In 1918, in a scene described in Barbara Tuchman’s gem, The Guns of August, then German chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg famously responded to a colleague who demanded to know how the war could have happened: “Ah, if only we knew.”

14 November 2018

The US Military Just Publicly Dumped Russian Government Malware Online


Usually it’s the Russians that dump its enemies’ files. This week, US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), a part of the military tasked with hacking and cybersecurity focused missions, started publicly releasing unclassified samples of adversaries’ malware it has discovered. CYBERCOM says the move is to improve information sharing among the cybersecurity community, but in some ways it could be seen as a signal to those who hack US systems: we may release your tools to the wider world.

“This is intended to be an enduring and ongoing information sharing effort, and it is not focused on any particular adversary,” Joseph R. Holstead, acting director of public affairs at CYBERCOM told Motherboard in an email.

On Friday, CYBERCOM uploaded multiple files to VirusTotal, a Google-owned search engine and repository for malware. Once uploaded, VirusTotal users can download the malware, see which anti-virus or cybersecurity products likely detect it, and see links to other pieces of malicious code.

Military Review : The professional journal of the US Army

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While Africa may not be the first region that people think about when it comes to the modern security environment that emphasizes near-peer competition and the challenges, complexity, and potential for crises, they do exist more there than in any other region of the world. While some of the challenges in Africa also exist elsewhere, the scale to which the crises may spread is greater in this region due to various characteristics of that expansive, underdeveloped, and often misunderstood continent. The key to overcoming these challenges is an emphasis on strengthening partnerships with our long-standing allies and with our developing partners. The aim should be to turn our partners of today into our allies of tomorrow. To understand how the Army can better prepare for conflict in this region, we must first gain an understanding of the challenges in the region.

Convenient Demonologies: Stopping Migrant Caravans – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

President Donald J. Trump has been engaged with berating human caravans, a spectacle that might have been odd in another era. At first instance, it all seems fundamentally anachronistic, a sort of history in reverse. It was, after all, the caravan packed with invasive pioneers that gave the United States its distinct frontier identity, moving with relentless, exterminating purpose in ultimately closing it.

On October 19, some 7,000 Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras and Guatemala, made an attempt to cross the bridge between Guatemala and Mexico. “Una necesidad nos obliga,” came the justification of a 20-year old man to the Washington Post. The ultimate destination for most: the United States.

Today’s Armies Are Still Fighting World War I

James Stavridis

A hundred years ago today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the First World War in Europe ended. It had cost tens of millions of lives, utterly destroyed the existing political order, and paved the way for the rise of fascism and a repeat performance of global conflict in the form of World War II. 

Barbara Tuchman, in her peerless book on the outbreak of the war, "The Guns of August," said, “Nothing so comforts the military mind as the maxim of a great but dead general.” In the end, those long-dead generals passed along not only a few comforting maxims, but also a new way of war. Over the course of four years, warfare fundamentally shifted -- the echoes of that conflict continue to resonate for today’s warriors.

What changed following the "Great War?” How do the lessons of that conflict continue to influence the way today's armies fight?

13 November 2018

How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war

By Pankaj Mishra

‘Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war.

Faced with manpower shortages, British imperialists had recruited up to 1.4 million Indian soldiers. France enlisted nearly 500,000 troops from its colonies in Africa and Indochina. Nearly 400,000 African Americans were also inducted into US forces. The first world war’s truly unknown soldiers are these non-white combatants.

How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war – podcast

Chronicles of the Meme War

P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking

The word surreal appears so many times in LikeWarthat I lost count, but each time its use was appropriate; indeed, it would have been relevant myriad other times. How not? The book’s subject is social media, and how those media have been transformed into vehicles manipulated by loathsome villains to brainwash the unsuspecting and wreak chaos, hatred, and even violence. (Social media are sometimes used for decent ventures by decent people). LikeWar is scrupulously researched, deftly written—surprising in a dual-authorship book—and well worth reading. Its depiction of a world being driven crazy, or worse, by a unique new communications instrument constitutes a ghastly dystopian vision.

Despite the word weaponization in LikeWar’s subtitle, P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking spend little time on specific military uses of the internet.1 But social media campaigns that augment military operations have their place in the book, as do the extraordinary range of activities initiated to undermine democracies, strengthen dictatorships, demonize numerous ethnic minorities, and pamper Taylor Swift’s fans (the book has its lighter moments). The latter notwithstanding, the sheer nihilistic rage detailed in LikeWar sometimes has a numbing effect. But the authors aren’t exploiting the “cruel surreal spectacle[s]” that they examine, to borrow their own description of the online extravaganza that accompanied the Islamic State’s 2014 war in Iraq. They’re on the side of the angels; they want the internet cleaned up.

12 November 2018

Is the U.S. military ready for the threats it faces? Experts discuss

Adam Twardowski

The United States vastly outspends its rivals and allies on defense, but today experts debate whether that spending has delivered a military ready to confront the threats and challenges that the nation faces. On November 2, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings hosted an event to discuss the state of U.S. military readiness. Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon moderated a panel of experts, which included members of two branches of the military and two former civilian defense leaders.

Amid reports of aviation crashes, the periodic use of retired weapons, and worrying statistics about the availability of vessels in critical regions—and with defense spending recently increased to $716 billion—they discussed how the military is seeking to improve its readiness shortfalls while simultaneously investing in modern weapons and platforms.

THE VIEW FROM THE PENTAGON

Army to Launch Large-Scale "Major Warfare" TableTop Wargames

by Warrior Maven

Massive armored vehicle force-on-force mechanized warfare, air-ground attack and long-range weapons are all soon to be elements of combat vignettes taken up in major Army wargames, senior officials said.

“We are going to be doing table top wargames to see what kinds of things we will need in our platforms to counter threats,” Maj. Gen. Cummings, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Warrior in an interview.

Wargames, according to senior Army officials who take part in them, pit friendly “blue” teams against “red” teams acting like major adversaries. The exercise can involve maps, intelligence data, terrain and geographic factors as well as specifics regarding whatever populations or countries are involved. They are often literally on a table top with nearby computers, simulations and methods of data analysis, or in some cases they can be as large as moving structures on the floor of a gymnasium.

The Sins of Celibacy

Alexander Stille

On August 25 Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published an eleven-page letter in which he accused Pope Francis of ignoring and covering up evidence of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and called for his resignation. It was a declaration of civil war by the church’s conservative wing. Viganò is a former apostolic nuncio to the US, a prominent member of the Roman Curia—the central governing body of the Holy See—and one of the most skilled practitioners of brass-knuckle Vatican power politics. He was the central figure in the 2012 scandal that involved documents leaked by Pope Benedict XVI’s personal butler, including letters Viganò wrote about corruption in Vatican finances, and that contributed to Benedict’s startling decision to abdicate the following year. Angry at not having been made a cardinal and alarmed by Francis’s supposedly liberal tendencies, Viganò seems determined to take out the pope.

AIR AND MISSILE DEFENSE AT A CROSSROADS: New Concepts and Technologies to Defend America’s Overseas Bases


Mark Gunzinger and Carl Rehberg address how DoD could take advantage of mature technologies to develop higher capacity and more cost-effective air and missile defenses for its overseas bases. It assesses the potential for a layered, distributed defense that integrates multiple new non-kinetic and kinetic systems to defeat salvo attacks.

Download full “AIR AND MISSILE DEFENSE AT A CROSSROADS: New Concepts and Technologies to Defend America’s Overseas Bases” report.