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

29 March 2020

Marines to reduce force by 12,000, decrease artillery units and get rid of tanks in 10 years


WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps has decided it must eliminate its tank battalions and reduce its infantry and artillery units in 10 years as it converts its force to one more aligned with taking on potential adversaries such as China, the service announced Monday.

Gen. David Berger, the Marine commandant, said in October that the Marine Corps is “not optimized for great competition. It is not optimized to support a naval campaign.” The reality of the world has forced them to “throw out old assumptions and start fresh,” he said at the time.

Since summer, the Marine Corps has undergone a review of its personnel, units, and equipment to determine what type of forces the service will need to fight future battles.

The Pentagon's 2018 National Defense Strategy puts China and Russia as the major world powers that the United States must be prepared to challenge as America’s military advantages decline. The economic policies of China and its militarization of the South China Sea and Russia’s efforts to undermine NATO and its nuclear arsenal are major concerns for the U.S. military, according to the National Defense Strategy.

27 March 2020


Financial investment giant Morgan Stanley sees U.S. GDP plunging by 30 percent in the second quarter (April-June) of 2020, according to Bloomberg News. Druing the Great Depression, which lasted 49 months, U.S. GDP was -12 percent. If Morgan Stanley is right; and, there is unfortunately, little reason to doubt their forecast, we are about to experience something that has never happened in the history of the United States. No one remotely suspects we’ll be in for a 49-month depression. And once we get past the virus in about 10-12 weeks, the fiscal stimulus will provide a tailwind to economic growth. And, although I hear all the pundits saying that things will never be the same and we’ll work from home more and conduct less business travel — hopefully, people will see it as their patriotic duty to travel and support local businesses. In the meantime, there has already been financial carnage, as many 401k plans for retirement have seen 40 percent drops or worse. Everyone talks about investing for the long term; but, the baby boomer generation doesn’t have that kind of time as they are alreay well into their 60s. Many, will not be able to recover, and bankrupticies are certain to surge. As Thomas Paine wrote during the darkets time of the Revolutionary War: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

I also fear the anxiety, depression and stress that will build over the coming days and weeks until we have safe passage beyond this insidious disease. We must help and reach out to others — even if we have to do it remotely or from Skype. We have to grab on to the positive; and, find meaning in helping others cope and navigate through this most trying time. When the U.S. came out of the Great Depression — America ended up birthing the Greatest Generation, excising the world of the scourge of Nazism and liberating Europe and to an extent — Asia. Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote that “Sooner or later, we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.” We need to find self-woth and meaning in helping others. But, buckle up. No one promised you a ‘rose garden.’ RCP,

26 March 2020

Clausewitzian Deep Tracks: "Guide to Tactics, or the Theory of the Combat"

By Olivia Garard

On War is not the only text Carl von Clausewitz wrote. An undercited and underread text is “Guide to Tactics, Or the Theory of the Combat.”[1] In English, it is found only in the Colonel John James Graham translation. Although it is located in the appendix of both the Hinterlassene Werke and Graham’s On War, its literal literary isolation hints at why it has been underexplored.[2] It has never been published in English as a standalone text.[3] It is mentioned in very few articles and books, and then only in passing. Hew Strachan’s Clausewitz’s On War: A Biography contends it was likely written between 1808 and 1812 while Clausewitz was working for Gerhard von Scharnhorst.[4] Paul Schuurman presents the only substantive engagement, which is limited to observations that “Guide to Tactics, Or the Theory of the Combat” contains Clausewitz’s thoughts on adversarial interaction, relationships between wholes and parts, and derives from the nature of military forces.[5] In Penser la guerre, Raymond Aron abstains from engaging with the text. He notes that at an epistemological and conceptual level “Guide to Tactics, Or the Theory of the Combat” is methodologically consistent with On War.[6] Beyond these references, it seems the greater community is unaware the work exists. This article seeks to change that.

“Guide to Tactics, Or the Theory of the Combat” is a better introduction to Clausewitz than On War. Of course, military professionals must understand that policy circumscribes the possibilities of military action, just as military means serve as an instrumental extension of politics. On War establishes the framework that fits the military into the larger geopolitical picture. It also defines war as “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.”[7] Such an understanding of Clausewitz will not change the day-to-day operational or bureaucratic realities of the profession, however, insights from “Guide to Tactics, Or the Theory of the Combat” might. The text is pragmatic and relevant, even as, or especially because, it remains theoretical.

“Guide to Tactics, Or the Theory of the Combat” is a better introduction to Clausewitz than On War.

25 March 2020

Pentagon declares defense contractors ‘critical infrastructure,’ must continue work

By: Aaron Mehta  

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department has declared that defense contractors are “critical infrastructure” to national security, a designation that comes with an expectation to maintain a consistent, normal work schedule amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

In a Friday memo to industry, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord made it clear that she wants defense companies to continue to deliver their products and services to the Pentagon on time.

“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as designated by the Department of Homeland Security, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule,” Lord wrote. “We need your support and dedication in these trying times to ensure the security of this Nation. I understand that this national emergency presents a challenge and we are dedicated to working closely with you to ensure the safety of the workforce and accomplishments of the national security mission.”

Lord also spelled out large swaths of the industrial base for which this order applies, including the aerospace sector; mechanical and software engineers; manufacturing/production workers; IT support; security staff; security personnel; intelligence support; aircraft and weapon systems mechanics and maintainers; suppliers of medical suppliers and pharmaceuticals; and critical transportation.

24 March 2020

SOCOM Has Solved the Military’s 'Tower of Babel' Problem

By Dan Gouré

According to the Bible, all humanity once spoke the same language. But when the people sought to build a tower that would reach to the Heavens, God responded by causing them to suddenly speak different languages so they could not communicate and work together to complete the Tower of Babel. The word derived from this story, babble, means a confusion of sounds. Over the decades, the U.S. military has created a “Tower of Babel” problem in the form of incompatible communications devices, waveforms, data protocols and encryption schemes. In an era when military forces must be integrated to allow information in all forms to pass rapidly between systems, platforms and devices, the inability to communicate could result in lives lost and defeats suffered. Fortunately, a solution has been developed and is in widespread use with U.S. Special Operations Command.

Over the decades, the U.S. military has acquired a bewildering array of communications networks, systems and message/data formats. Not only did each of the Services pursue communications in their own ways and acquire their own capabilities, but often different branches and even programs within the individual Services did the same. As a result, different parts of the U.S. military often have a difficult, even impossible time communicating with one another. Adding to the problem, defense agencies and the intelligence community have their own ways of communicating information that make it difficult for them to pass vital information to warfighters.


Franklin Annis 

The US Army has had a historic problem in adapting the use of self-development. The concept is misunderstood, our definitions change frequently and often conflict, the graphic display of our leader development model is unclear, we lack practical guidance on how it could be executed, we confuse it with institutional learning, we lack supporting materials, and our leaders often lack the experience to mentor soldiers how to self-develop. The Army still struggles with a nineteenth-century, Industrial Age mindset that hampered the full integration of the education theory advancement in the twentieth century and threatens our ability to optimize for a twenty-first century battlefield. We continue to view soldiers as “cogs” in a machine who simply need to be stamped out through a refined list of education and training requirements. However, we must trust our soldiers to take an active role in guiding their own development. The Army must value non-assessable learning experiences or we run the risk of obstructing development. Without nurturing the trust required to support self-development, it is unlikely that we will foster the trust needed to utilize mission command.

While the Army has struggled to produce a consistent definition of self-development, the best and shortest definition I have run across defines it as “choos[ing] learning over nonlearning activities.” Special emphasis here should be on the word “choosing.” Self-development is driven internally, by intrinsic motivation. Individuals engage in self-development out of curiosity, interest, autonomy, and love of learning. While self-development is likely to lead to increased job performance and other rewards, these extrinsic motivations are not the primary driver.

Institutional Learning / Self-Development Divide

23 March 2020

Use of Military Forces in the COVID-19 Emergency

As the effects of COVID-19 are increasingly felt around the United States, many officials and commentators have asked what role the U.S. military might play as part of the response. Several state governors have already called up elements of the National Guard as part of their emergency measures. This analysis addresses the distinctive roles of U.S. federal military forces and state National Guard units, the ways U.S. forces could be most helpful, the limitations on military forces, and the potential cost of employing the military to help fight the coronavirus.

Q1: Can U.S. military forces be used for domestic emergencies?

A1: Yes, U.S. military forces can be used for domestic emergencies and have seen such usage throughout U.S. history. For example, military units fought forest fires in the Western United States when local and forest service capabilities were inadequate. Troops have provided disaster relief, including after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Troops have deployed for many years to the Southwest border. Though that mission has become controversial, the president’s authorities to use troops for this purpose has been upheld in the courts.

22 March 2020

‘We Want to Be the Last Resort,’ Says Defense Secretary


Pentagon’s Esper says the U.S. military is ready to help fight the coronavirus, but may not be the best — or fastest — solution.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that calling in the U.S. military may not be the best, or fastest, way to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but the Pentagon will tap into its reserve stockpiles to help.  

The Defense Department will immediately release 1 million N95 respirator masks to the Department of Health & Human Services, or HHS, and may eventually provide eventually up to 5 million, Esper said at the Pentagon on Tuesday. The department is also ready to provide some 2,000 room ventilators and is considering activating National Guard and Reserve units to help with the nationwide response.

Exactly what those units would be called to do, however, remains unclear. The secretary urged state and local officials to seek their own solutions first.

“In some ways, we want to be the last resort,” Esper said.

The defense secretary addressed a number of concerns and ideas on how to deploy military personnel and resources, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s repeated public requests for the Army Corps of Engineers to help enlarge his state’s hospital capacity to handle an expected surge of COVID-19 patients.

21 March 2020

Use of Military Forces in the COVID-19 Emergency

As the effects of COVID-19 are increasingly felt around the United States, many officials and commentators have asked what role the U.S. military might play as part of the response. Several state governors have already called up elements of the National Guard as part of their emergency measures. This analysis addresses the distinctive roles of U.S. federal military forces and state National Guard units, the ways U.S. forces could be most helpful, the limitations on military forces, and the potential cost of employing the military to help fight the coronavirus.

Q1: Can U.S. military forces be used for domestic emergencies?

A1: Yes, U.S. military forces can be used for domestic emergencies and have seen such usage throughout U.S. history. For example, military units fought forest fires in the Western United States when local and forest service capabilities were inadequate. Troops have provided disaster relief, including after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Troops have deployed for many years to the Southwest border. Though that mission has become controversial, the president’s authorities to use troops for this purpose has been upheld in the courts.

During a Pandemic, the U.S. Military Can’t Just Retreat Into Bunkers

by David Axe
Source Link

Could one of the U.S. Defense Department’s many underground complexes work as a secure headquarters from which to direct military operations during a pandemic?

Probably not, according to new reporting from Sean Naylor of Yahoo! News.

In 2006, during a global outbreak of the H5N1 “bird flu” virus, the Pentagon conducted an exercise testing its ability to command forces from Raven Rock, a bunker complex in Pennsylvania.

The Defense Department built Raven Rock during the early 1950s as one of several possible alternate command centers during a nuclear war. “Over the years, these facilities have been incorporated into the Pentagon’s plans for how to respond to other threats,” Naylor explained.

Demystifying the American Military

By Ricardo A. Herrera
Source Link

Paula G. Thornhill has written an easily accessible work explaining the origins and evolution of the United States’ armed forces under the Constitution. She aims to make American military institutions more understandable to readers by discussing their foundations, evolving missions and organizations, how they have functioned in war and peace, and the tradition of civilian control. Thornhill argues that understanding the American military is a central element in understanding the country and its people, an interesting and even useful inversion of the contention that a country’s military institutions reflect their parent society. Thornhill has set herself an ambitious task to accomplish in 245 pages, and has succeeded admirably, albeit with a few asides.

According to Thornhill, the armed forces are a mystery for most Americans. This is likely more a constant in American history than a peculiarity of the present. Indeed, most Americans have historically been divorced from and ignorant of their armed forces. Thus, American military institutions have always been something of a mystery, and have served as a blank slate for Americans to project their military aspirations, fantasies, and fears. For much of the country’s history since 1789, waging war has been the province of a small regular force operating on continental or imperial frontiers or overseas. Considered against the broad sweep of American military history, large-scale wars have been the exceptions to this rule, aberrations in the larger, longer course of the past. Indeed, most American wars have been low-end combat operations against irregular forces. Consequently, when the United States has waged large-scale conflicts, the sheer number of civilians and militiamen under arms has swamped the small number of regulars and overwhelmed the peacetime, regular culture, as historian Marcus Cunliffe pointed out in Soldiers and Civilians: The Martial Spirit in America, 1775-1865, in 1968. But those wars, while large, were also short, and they faded into memory and the imagined and remembered past of veterans, their families, and their communities.[1]

The remaking of war; Part 1: Risk of 19th Century international politics being pursued using 21st Century military means looms large

Abhijnan Rej 

Editor's note: This is the first part of a series on the evolution of war and warfare across decades. Over the course of these articles, the relationship between technology, politics and war will be put under the magnifying glass.

The United States went to war against Iraq in 1991 prepared for the worst. Fearful of massive American casualties in the face of Saddam Hussein's battle-hardened and numerically impressive army, the Pentagon ordered around 16,000 body bags. But the Iraqi army proved to be hapless in front of a barrage of American precision-strike missiles, stealth bombers, sensors and especially battle units networked through a constellation of satellites.

For one Pentagon defence-policy wonk this experience proved a hunch he had mulling with a small group of colleagues since the late 1980s, that a revolution in warfare aided by new technologies working in tandem was on its way. As Saddam's forces crumbled, Andrew Marshall, long-time head of Pentagon’s internal think-tank, was validated.

The Yoda — as Marshall was affectionately called by his followers, after the sage-like Star Wars character — was not the only one to notice how different the Gulf War was from previous military engagements the world over. Two years later, in 1993, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army changed its strategy for the third time in its history, gearing up to wars that would be fought over a limited geography using high technology. But the source of Marshall and his acolytes' theory was a Soviet school of thinking since the 1970s that posits that new weapons-technologies configured in novel ways stood to alter the character of war permanently.

Revolutions in Military Affairs: Blending man and machine

20 March 2020

Junior Officers’ Role in an Apolitical Military

By Lieutenant Steven Salva, U.S. Navy

Why does the public have more confidence in the military than banks, religious organizations, and the government?1 A contributing factor is certainly the military’s obligation to remain apolitical. In a time of bitter political divisiveness, Americans do not feel they have to contradict their political views, no matter what they are, in supporting the military. All military members are required to uphold this confidence, but junior officers play an especially instrumental role in maintaining this public support.

Plenty has been written about how active-duty and retired admirals and generals should conduct themselves in the political realm, including Vice Admiral Doug Crowder’s October 2019 Proceedings article, “Generals and Admirals, Stay Out of Presidential Politics.” Crowder’s title summarizes the crux of many of these articles—the importance of senior military leaders staying out of politics. But less has been written about the role of junior officers. This is understandable, as flag and general officers are closer to the apex of civil-military relations and interact with elected officials far more frequently. However, while less influential, junior officers must still be aware of the important role they play in leading their subordinates, influencing their military and civilian seniors, and interacting with foreign peers.

18 March 2020

‘No Timeout’ In Future Wars: Army Gen. Murray EXCLUSIVE


CAPITOL HILL: “If you’re talking about future ground combat, you’re not talking tens of thousands of sensors,” Gen. John “Mike” Murray told me here. “We’ve got that many in Afghanistan, right now. You’re talking hundreds of thousands if not millions of sensors.”

How do you make sense of all that data for human soldiers and commanders?

“That’s why machine learning, artificial intelligence – especially broader artificial intelligence — is so critical,” the chief of Army Futures Command replied.

We are not the only country developing military AI, of course. What if an enemy takes the human out of the loop, letting their algorithms decide whom to kill so they can kill us faster than we can react?

“Do I think it’s insurmountable? No,” he said. “Because I think our ethics and our concern for the value of human life are actually a strength, and not a weakness.”

17 March 2020

Army Offers to Repay Soldiers’ College Loans if They Go Infantry

By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army is offering to pay off student loans of up to $65,000 or to give $15,000 bonuses to recruits willing to sign up for the infantry.

The Army has been offering increased financial incentives to attract recruits to take on one of its most physically challenging jobs since it missed its recruiting goal in fiscal 2018 by 6,500 soldiers.

"There's a very unique bond between infantry soldiers not found in any other [career] in the Army," Staff. Sgt. Leonard Markley, a recruiter in Toledo, Ohio, whose primary career field is infantry, said in a recent service news release. "It's us against the world, and we as infantrymen all know about the hardships that come with this [career]: walking countless miles, sleep deprivation and rationed meals.

"Even when I see another infantryman walking by, I have respect for him and have his back, because we are brothers through all our hardships," he added.

15 March 2020

Automating Army Convoys

by Shawn McKay

How mature is autonomous vehicle (AV) technology for Army convoy operations?

What are the potential risks of deploying AV technology in the Army over the next five years?

What effects will automated convoys have on Army force structure, operation planning, and execution?

This report examines how the U.S. Army can move ahead with the development and integration of automated driving technology for its convoy operations in the near future. Robotic ground vehicles are quickly maturing in the commercial sphere and could potentially save lives and increase efficiency if utilized in Army convoys. However, it may be many years until fully unmanned convoy vehicles are able to operate in rough terrain or manage adversarial attacks. In response, the authors of this report examine different employment concepts of automated trucks in Army convoys that appear viable in the next one to five years and would still reduce soldier casualties. The authors investigate technical and tactical benefits and risks of these concepts. A bridging option, the minimally manned employment concept, leading to the eventual use of a mix of manned and unmanned trucks in a convoy, is developed in this report to address the current technical and tactical risks of concepts requiring use of unmanned, automated trucks in Army convoys.

Hypersonic Combo: How the Army and Air Force Are Teaming up to Build New Hypersonic Weapons

by Kris Osborn

(Washington, D.C.) They can take out targets faster than enemies can respond by destroying a wide range of air, sea, land and space targets. Traveling at five-times the speed of sound, they are nearly impossible to defend against and place fighter jets, ships, ground vehicles, satellites and ground assets at tremendous risk of nearly instant destruction -- they are hypersonic weapons.

Naturally, the risks and advantages of these weapons, many of which are basically here, are inspiring the military services to massively fast-track hypersonics development. For instance, the Army Research Laboratory and Air Force Research Laboratory are now working closely together to develop hypersonics and, among other things, engineer on a new-generation of hypersonic weapons designed to come after the currently emerging arsenal. This would expand hypersonic mission options in new directions and introduce new air vehicle configurations.

This Army-Air Force collaborative effort includes a wide range of probing scientific research efforts, weapons prototyping, exploration of new materials, experimentation and the pursuit of innovative manufacturing strategies such as “additive manufacturing” or 3D printing. The Army Research Laboratory is, for instance, experimenting with existing materials as well as new combinations of metals and other substances.

14 March 2020

New Army Cannon Doubles Range; Ramjet Ammo May Be Next


WASHINGTON: The latest version of the 57-year-old M109 armored howitzer just threw two different types of shell 65 kilometers downrange, just over 40 miles, in a test today at Yuma Proving Ground. That’s more than twice the range of the current model, even using rocket-boosted ammunition.

And the Army’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program is already working on further upgrades, including shells with built-in ramjets for yet greater range.

Then-Col. John Rafferty teaches field artillery operations in Tajikistan.

“The platform that was showcased today, we’re already on contract with BAE for that,” with 18 howitzers – a full battalion – entering service in 2023, Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, modernization director for Long-Range Precision Fires, told reporters this afternoon. “The Increment 2 version will be separate contract.”

The Army will hold an industry day for companies interested in Increment 2 “probably in the next three to four months, once we get the acquisition strategy approved,” Rafferty continued.

All-Domain Ops Require Rethinking Combatant Commands


This article is part of a series of in-depth stories and interviews with senior defense officials about the future of the new American way of war embodied in a concept known as All-Domain Operations. It’s a vision of a computer-coordinated fight across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, with forces from satellites to foot soldiers to submarines sharing battle data at machine-to-machine speed. We hope this series will help educate Capitol Hill, the public, our allies, and much of the US military itself on an idea that’s increasingly important but is still poorly understood. Why do so many of the Pentagon’s most senior leaders care so much about this? Read on — The Editor.

WASHINGTON: The current combatant command structure governing US military operations will probably have to change for the global, all-domain conflicts of the future, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein says.

The current architecture is divided between ‘geographic’ commands — such as European Command — lead warfighting campaigns — which are supported by ‘functional’ commands — such as Transportation Command. But that division of labor may not be able to cope with the enormous distances and mixed warfare the US is likely to face. Also, given the realities of how Russia and China are using tools such as information and cyber warfare, the geographic theater commanders will also need to rethink how they work together.

“This is foundational to who we are,” Goldfein stressed in an exclusive interview with me Feb. 27 during the annual Air Force Association (AFA) winter meeting in Orlando.

13 March 2020

Could Armed Drone Swarms Really Wipe out All Submarines?

by Sebastien Roblin

Key point: Drones offer a lot of interesting possibilities for how warfare might change. However, they aren't yet able to displace traditional systems.

After a post-Cold War hiatus, navies across the planet are pursuing new anti-submarine capabilities as a submarine arms race accelerates in the Pacific Ocean. Developing technologies like quantum magnetometers and satellite-based optical sensors are leading to forecasts that submarines may be on the verge of losing their stealthy edge by the mid-twenty-first century.

But swarms of cheap drones both above and below the water (unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs) may pose the biggest and most proximate threat to submarines.

This first appeared earlier in 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest.