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

22 July 2019

Limited Wars Are Forever Wars

BY EOIN HIGGINS 

On Sunday, June 23, CBS Face the Nation reporter Margaret Brennan asked Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders what he thought of President Donald Trump’s last-minute reversal of an order to bomb Iran. Brennan pointed out that the action would have been a “limited strike.” In his reply, Sanders sarcastically mocked the concept, saying that any limited strike would, of course, be “an act of warfare.” Sanders also denounced the president for issuing the order in the first place.

The next day, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, one of Sanders’s rivals for the 2020 nomination, proposed a tax on nonmilitary families to fund future U.S. wars while drawing down the current American conflagrations. According to O’Rourke, the tax was meant, in part, to end “forever wars.”

19 July 2019

New Army cyber gear for drones and teams test, protect units in another domain

By: Todd South

Spc. Ashley Lethrud-Adams, left, Pfc. Kleeman Avery and Sgt. Alexander Lecea, cyberspace operations specialists with the Expeditionary Cyber Support Detachment, 782nd Military Intelligence Battalion (Cyber), provide support to a training rotation for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at the National Training Center in January. (Army)

A prototype device used recently at the Army’s premiere combat training center has soldiers using precision cyber techniques to target small drones that might have been missed with other equipment and methods.

Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division used the cyber precision drone detection system during a January rotation at the National Training Center.

The equipment allowed soldiers to get alerts of drone presence and ways to target it that helped protect the brigade, according to an Army release.

The Battle for the Past Whoever defines the past controls the present and future.

By George Friedman

We all live in the past. We were born in a certain place and time, to a certain family that believed certain things and shared those things with others in the community. Even when we reject our past, we cannot reject the joys and traumas that shaped us, nor the failures, successes, embarrassments and enemies that we and our families faced. The one thing that cannot be forgotten is our memory of the past, our victories, defeats, heroism and cowardice. We can try to imagine that we were something other than what we were, and that the terrible moment when our true nature was revealed to the world didn’t happen. But it is an illusion. Our memories are always there and always delighting or haunting us.

Just as people try to shape memories of the past, so too do religions and nations. As Christianity spread through Europe, it sought not only to defeat paganism but to wipe Europe’s memory of it. Christianity was, after all, also a political movement, governed as it was by Pope Boniface’s doctrine of two swords – one religious and one political. Paganism was an alternative to religion, but it, too, was a political movement that threatened to arise. The Church sought to obliterate the memory of paganism by appropriating and Christianizing some and crushing the rest. The goals were to save the heathens from the lies they were taught and to break the source of the pagan world’s power: the memory of who its followers were. It was, as with all victories, imperfect. The memory of paganism still haunts Europe, and sometimes it bursts forth, as it did with Hitler.

Taiwan’s Status is a Geopolitical Absurdity

CHRIS HORTON

TAIPEI—After nine years of construction, more than 400 American diplomats and staff have moved into new offices here, a $250 million compound built into a lush hill with security provided by marines. Employees will offer American citizens in Taiwan consular services and help Taiwanese obtain visas to visit the United States, just as they would anywhere else in the world.

Yet this is not an embassy, or a consulate—at least officially. Instead it is the American Institute in Taiwan, a name that suggests a research center rather than a diplomatic mission, the result of a geopolitical compromise that, while far from the biggest of Taiwan’s problems, illustrates the ludicrous situation the island finds itself in. It is not recognized as a country by its most important ally, the U.S.; it faces an existential threat from territory it claims as its own, China; and its sovereign status is being gradually erased by companies seeking to preserve access to the Chinese market. As tensions worsen between Washington and Beijing—and with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen due to visitthe U.S. this week—understanding Taiwan’s bizarre situation becomes ever more important.

Military Discipline in the Social Media Age: How the New Top Marine Plans to Lea

By Gina Harkins

The Marine Corps' new commandant is not one to micromanage -- but he expects his leaders to be squared away and put their Marines on the right path when they're misbehaving.

Gen. David Berger is not the first commandant who might encounter discipline problems in the ranks. But he's one of just a few who have led the Marine Corps in the age of social media, where some Marines have made career-ending decisions.

That has included racist photos, a video showing Marines defiling enemy remains, posts that degraded women and negative comments about the commander in chief.

"What's interesting to me, is over the last couple of years, ungoverned -- it's not structured, it's more like it grew up on its own -- is this self-policing on social media," Berger, who became the commandant on Thursday, told Military.com in an exclusive interview this week. "... That's pretty fascinating to me."

18 July 2019

America’s Indefensible Defense Budget

Jessica T. Mathews

A parable, to begin: in 2016, the 136 military bands maintained by the Department of Defense, employing more than 6,500 full-time professional musicians at an annual cost of about $500 million, caught the attention of budget-cutters worried about surging federal deficits. Immediately memos flew and lobbyists descended. The Government Accountability Office, laying the groundwork for another study or three, opined, “The military services have not developed objectives and measures to assess how their bands are addressing the bands’ missions, such as inspiring patriotism.” Supporters of the 369th Infantry Regiment band noted that it had introduced jazz to Europe during World War I. How could such a history be left behind? A blues band connected effectively with Russian soldiers in Bosnia in 1996, another proponent argued, proving that bands are, “if anything, an incredibly cost-effective supplement” to the Pentagon’s then $4.5 billion public affairs budget.

NOTHING IS FOREVER: WHEN THE US MILITARY EVENTUALLY LEAVES THE MIDDLE EAST, IT’S GOING TO NEED A PLAN

Mike Sweeney

Fifty-one years ago, British Foreign Secretary George Brown informed his American counterpart that the United Kingdom was leaving the Persian Gulf in the next few years, expediting an existing withdrawal plan. Britain was decamping because it had to: it no longer could afford the costs of its imperial commitments throughout Asia.

The United States today is different from 1960s Great Britain in two important ways. On the one hand, it has not (yet)overextended itself to the point where it is forced into an ignominious retreat from the Middle East stage. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t have a coherent plan for how to address the future of its regional posture before such overreach becomes fact—or in the event internal conditions in the Middle East render US presence untenable.

The latter prospect warrants more discussion than it has received. In the immediate wake of the 2011 Arab Spring, there was concern over the internal stability of the states America relies on to host its forces in the Middle East. In particular, there were palpable fears about Bahrain, the tiny island emirate that hosts the US Fifth Fleet, but which also is home to a tenuous balance between a Sunni monarchy and a majority Shiite population. As the regional situation slowly stabilized—sadly with little real positive change for the people of the Middle East—the American perspective returned to one of complacency.

16 July 2019

How to Nudge the Army Onto a Different Course

By Joe Byerly and Casey Dean

For many young leaders, the Army can be a frustrating experience. They see areas that can be improved upon but quickly become frustrated with conservative leadership, bloated bureaucracies and navigating a system that can favor time in service and rank over good ideas.

In 1970, economist Albert O. Hirschman published a treatise titled, “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.” While the essay falls within the area of economics, it offers some food for thought to leaders serving in the Army today. Hirschman compares two competing paths that members of an organization can take when the organization isn’t performing to a preferred standard.

The first is a passive route, with people showing their displeasure by exiting the organization, hoping their exit will send the message that there is a problem and someone else needs to fix it. We’ve seen several “innovators” take this path and write op-eds from the outside. However, in many cases, they are yelling into the wind because they are no longer part of the organization and lack the buy-in maintained by those who are still in.

15 July 2019

Military Spy Satellite Targeting Iran Crashes To Earth After Catastrophic Failure

Zak Doffman

A military spy satellite has come crashing down to earth after the failure of its launch rocket, sending the expensive payload into the Atlantic. The UAE-owned Falcon Eye 1 was intended for dual-use, meaning both military and civilian reconnaissance applications. And on the military side, one of the objectives of a UAE satellite—given the current situation in the region—would have been monitoring Iran.

Tensions in the Middle East remain high, between the U.S. and regional allies on one side, and Iran on the other. The UAE is seen by Teheran as part of that enemy axis led by the U.S. and set against Iranian interests. One of the core military objectives of the two Falcon Eye satellites—of which this was the first— is to monitor UAE's borders—especially its long maritime shoreline. And when it comes to the integrity of that maritime border, given those ongoing tensions, that means monitoring the activities of Iran in the Persian Gulf.

14 July 2019

Opinion | We need not whine about India’s small defence budget

Harsh V. Pant

The Narendra Modi government’s first budget of the second term has generated predictable reactions, but one of the most predictable ones pertains to its treatment of the defence sector. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated ₹4.31 trillion for military spending (including military pensions of₹1.12 trillion), keeping it unchanged from the 1 February interim budget. Compared to around 17% in 2014-15, this year’s defence budget will comprise 15.5% of government expenditure and only 2.04% of gross domestic product (GDP), as compared to 2.28% of GDP in 2014-15. What was significant was the decision of the finance minister to exempt the import of defence equipment from basic customs duty in light of the nation’s defence modernization requirements.

Given the above numbers, as was expected, there has been criticism of the government for failing to adequately provide for the needs of the armed forces. India’s challenging security environment means Indian armed forces need to upgrade themselves rapidly and prepare for modern-day threats. But successive Indian governments have now been signalling that resources for defence will be at a premium. India’s other socio-economic needs will be prioritized and Indian armed forces will have to become smarter in how they manage their dwindling resources. It is one of the main reasons why every year there is an expectation that capital allocation would see a significant hike, only to face disappointment.

13 July 2019

Unpacking OPEC+’s Renewed Mission in Five Graphics


Last week, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries-plus (OPEC+) extended its Declaration of Cooperation for nine months until the end of the first quarter of 2020. In doing so, the organization agreed to maintain production cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day, reiterated its goal to reduce inventories to a more reasonable level, and expressed its desire to improve the rate of conformance of individual OPEC+ countries. The charter of cooperation between OPEC and Non-OPEC countries was also formalized and sighted as evidence of the group’s longer-term commitment to monitor and manage markets to ensure balance. Here follows a brief takeaway on the technical issues to emerge from these decisions and discussions.
Creating a New Metric

Probably the most technically consequential announcement made at the OPEC meeting was Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih’s reference to a new metric and target for assessing the balance of the market. Moving to ditch the bloated five-year rolling average, the aim now will be to draw oil inventories into the 2010-2014 range. Al-Falih noted that stocks are currently 240 million barrels above the 2010-2014 average, which implies that the group is once again utilizing commercial oil inventory data of countries from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Taiwan’s Status is a Geopolitical Absurdity

CHRIS HORTON

TAIPEI—After nine years of construction, more than 400 American diplomats and staff have moved into new offices here, a $250 million compound built into a lush hill with security provided by marines. Employees will offer American citizens in Taiwan consular services and help Taiwanese obtain visas to visit the United States, just as they would anywhere else in the world.

Yet this is not an embassy, or a consulate—at least officially. Instead it is the American Institute in Taiwan, a name that suggests a research center rather than a diplomatic mission, the result of a geopolitical compromise that, while far from the biggest of Taiwan’s problems, illustrates the ludicrous situation the island finds itself in. It is not recognized as a country by its most important ally, the U.S.; it faces an existential threat from territory it claims as its own, China; and its sovereign status is being gradually erased by companies seeking to preserve access to the Chinese market. As tensions worsen between Washington and Beijing—and with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen due to visitthe U.S. this week—understanding Taiwan’s bizarre situation becomes ever more important.

12 July 2019

Quantifying Lethality on the Back of a Napkin

By Edward H. Carpenter & Jessica M. Libertini

Lethality is one of the latest buzzwords to gain traction in the Department of Defense. It was quietly inserted into the department’s 2018 mission statement, and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis touted lethality as his number one line of effort while launching a Task Force focused on increasing it. But exactly what is lethality?

The textbook definition, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is:

Lethality, noun. The capacity to cause death or serious harm or damage. Example, 'the increasing lethality of modern weapons.'

Lethality is a subject of interest in various fields. Medical researchers, for example, use the term when evaluating how well an antiviral reduces the lethality of an infection, or when evaluating the outcomes of various suicide attempts; law enforcement personnel use it to express the deadliness of different types of criminal assaults. The common thread in all these definitions is, of course, the death of a person.

America's Best STEM-Educated CEOs? They're The Military's Four Star Officers

Michael T. Nietzel 

In an age where technology, scientific discoveries and data play increasingly essential roles in economic growth, national security and general well-being, advanced education in Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) fields has become a highly desirable asset for America’s leaders.

Among leading chief executives, the senior commanders of the U. S. military stand heads and shoulders above their CEO peers when it comes to STEM education. Compared to governors, big-city mayors, university presidents, major philanthropic foundation heads, press titans and the CEOs of the nation’s biggest companies, it’s the highest ranking officers in the military–the four-star officers–who possess the strongest STEM backgrounds.

Currently, the U.S. military has 42 four-star officers, which includes 31 generals (fourteen in the Air Force, twelve in the Army, and five in the Marines), and 11 admirals (eight in the Navy, two in the Coast Guard and one in the Public Health Service). Here's a quick summary of their education credentials.

Undergraduate education of active four-star officers

Navy Arms Destroyers With New High-Powered Laser - Changes War Tactics

By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

(Washington, D.C.) If swarms of enemy small attack boats armed with guns and explosives approached a Navy ship, alongside missile-armed drones and helicopters closing into strike range, ship commanders would instantly begin weighing defensive options - to include interceptor missiles, electronic warfare, deck-mounted guns or area weapons such as Close-in-Weapons System.

Now, attacks such as these will also be countered with laser weapons being added to the equation, bringing new dimensions to maritime warfare on the open sea.

Navy developers tell Warrior development of HELIOS is happening on an accelerated timeline.

"HELIOS is a Maritime Accelerated Acquisition effort that is currently in its development phase. HELIOS has successfully completed its preliminary design review and is proceeding toward its critical design review," Anna Taylor, Naval Sea Systems Command, told Warrior in a written statement.

MORAN’S DEFENSTRATION: A SCATHING CRITIQUE ON NAVY, & SENIOR CIVILIAN PENTAGON LEADERSHIP – OR, THE LACK THEREOF


Back in May, in a rare set up for a smooth transition in an administration characterized by “acting” officials, gapped billets, backlogged confirmations, and general staffing disarray, Admiral Moran was confirmed by the Senate to be the next CNO once Admiral Richardson’s term ended.

And then last night, news broke that he is resigning after 38-years of service.

That is the “what” but not the “so what.” Here’s the “so what.”

What happened has laid bare a deep, structural rot in our Navy that I am not sure … no, I am sure … cannot and will not be fixed with the present civilian leadership we have. As a matter of fact, they are encouraging the rot they were – as part of the present administration’s charter – sent to repair.

Let’s dive in and review the wave tops. I’ve gone through a few drafts over the last 12-hrs after some raging over on twitter, but have waited for more information to come out this AM. The core issues remain the same, so let’s run with them.

On the Correct Use of Terms

By: Anne-Marie Brady

Introduction

In 2017 a Chinese company, CEFC China Energy, made international headlines when Patrick Ho Chi-ping, the General Secretary of its non-profit wing China Energy Fund Committee, was arrested in the United States on charges of bribing officials at the United Nations, in Chad, and in Uganda (Hong Kong Free Press, November 21, 2017). CEFC China Energy is nominally a private company, albeit one with close government connections (Fortune, September 28. 2016). It epitomizes the close party-state-military-market nexus of the political system in China, wherein corporate interests serve the political agenda of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). CEFC China Energy has been involved in energy investments with the military’s “princeling” elite, and its affiliate China Energy Fund Committee is a pro-CCP think tank with ties to retired military intelligence officers (South Sea Conversations, January 17, 2017).

CEFC China Energy and its subsidiary appear to have used investments and other economic inducements to buy local influence over policies in a number of states (Sinopsis, June 26, 2018). In the Czech Republic, CEFC chairman Ye Jianming was even installed as a “special adviser” to the Czech president (Sinopsis, February 8, 2018). Not long after Patrick Ho’s downfall, Ye Jianming was detained for questioning in China (SCMP, March 1, 2018). All CEFC’s assets have now been transferred to the state-owned CITIC group, underlining the company’s close connections to the CCP government (Global Voices, March 15).

Military Review


o Reinvigorating the Army’s Approach to Command and Control: Leading by Mission Command (Part II)

o Risky Business: Commercial Support for Large-Scale Ground Combat Operations

o Putting the Fight Back in the Staff

o Multi-Domain Information Operations and the Brigade Combat Team: Lessons from Cyber Blitz 2018

o Return of Ground-Based Electronic Warfare Platforms and Force Structure

o Of Strong Men and Straw Men: Appraising Post-Coup Political Developments

o The Cost of Tolerating Toxic Behaviors in the Department of Defense Workplace

8 July 2019

MILITARY SATELLITES ARE STILL WORRYINGLY VULNERABLE TO CYBERATTACK


A new report says hackers could wreak havoc by interfering with space-based communications and navigation services that NATO armies rely on.

The threats: The study, published by the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, says that military satellites face the threat of hackers using malicious code to jam battlefield communications or disrupt automated missile-defense systems. Attackers can also create fake GPS signals from satellites. Known as “spoofing,” this could be used to surreptitiously redirect everything from planes to ships and ground forces.

Security researchers have already highlighted the vulnerabilities associated with communications satellites. Hacking satellites could be a far more effective way of compromising an enemy than simply blowing them up.

Satellite dependency: During the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, just over two thirds of US munitions were guided via “space-based means” says the report—up from just a tenth during the first Gulf War in 1990-’91. This “critical dependency on space” makes cyber vulnerabilities all the more concerning.

6 July 2019

From Camel Herder to Dictator

BY ALEX DE WAAL 

Khartoum’s long-standing strategy of fighting Sudan’s civil wars by empowering tribal militias—such as the infamous Darfurian janjaweed—has finally come back to bite it in the form of Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, known as Hemeti.

Hemeti is the commander of the country’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the deputy chairman of the Transitional Military Council, which has ruled Sudan since the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir in April. A poorly educated militiaman from a remote village—he and most of the commanders and fighters who surround him are Darfurian Arabs who first saw combat serving in the janjaweed—Hemeti has none of the normal credentials for a national leader. But he is the most powerful man in Sudan today, even more than Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the general who actually leads the council.