Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Obama's Syria Blink

How did we find ourselves where we are in Syria with the Russians back, the Iranians stronger, and the Turks playing Ottoman?

In a wide ranging interview with the short-lived former SECDEF Chuck Hagel at DefenseNews, he outlines a moment in time that simply has not been explored enough by the press - any of the press.

So much of the problems we have in the Middle East and North Africa can be traced right back to the simply wrong world view held by President Obama.

The cuddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during his apology tour. The bash-and-shrug in Libya. The premature withdrawal from Iraq. Pretty much everything with Iran. Do I need to go on?

I'll let this pull quote speak for itself.


Was it a mistake not to go into Syria with force and respond to the use of chemical weapons? 
Well, we were ready to do it, as you know. It was a decision made by the National Security Council, a unanimous decision. I strongly favored it. At the last minute the president decided not to do it. I think it was a mistake, I’ve said that. We wouldn’t have had to kill volumes and volumes of people — there was a way to do some things to Assad’s government. And that was the intent. That was the strategy. So it is what it is. Would that event have changed the course of things in Syria? I don’t know.

But also I would say [that] at the time, the Russians were not there. I think it sent a very clear message to the Russians, very clear. When the Russians saw [us not attacking Assad], that action, that was clear to them that we were not going to be players in Syria and we were not going to be involved. And what they did is they took a little naval base, which was nothing, in Latakia province, and used that to build up a huge air asset campaign, troops on the ground, intelligence, navy. And now they’ve got a significant set of sophisticated assets in Syria and now really hold the cards in Syria.

Monday, February 19, 2018

See WESTPAC from the Chinese Shore

In an article about great power conflict from an exceptional Special Report from The Economist, The Future of War, there is a superb challenges we face vs. China in that theater.

First there is optimism;
Jonathan Eyal of RUSI, a defence think-tank, (says) demographic factors and changing social attitudes in China suggest that there would be little popular appetite for conflict with America, despite the sometimes nationalistic posturing of state media. Like other developed countries, the country has very low birth rates, fast-decreasing levels of violence and large middle classes who define success by tapping the latest smartphone or putting down a deposit on a new car. In a culture of coddling children prompted by the one-child policy, Chinese parents would probably be extremely reluctant to send their precious “snowflakes” off to war.
It outlines well what we have described here over the years as the Most Likely COA for the Chinese - and the most smart; the Chinese Porcupine. 
The risk that the West will run into a major conflict with China is lower than with Russia, but it is not negligible and may be growing. China resents the American naval presence in the western Pacific, and particularly the “freedom of navigation” operations that the US Seventh Fleet conducts in the South China Sea to demonstrate that America will not accept any Chinese claims or actions in the region that threaten its core national interests or those of its allies.

For its part, China is planning to develop its A2/AD capabilities, especially long-range anti-ship missiles and a powerful navy equipped with state-of-the-art surface vessels and a large submarine force. The idea is first to push the US Navy beyond the “first island chain” and ultimately make it too dangerous for it to operate within the “second island chain” (see map). Neither move is imminent, but China has already made a lot of progress. If there were a new crisis over Taiwan, America would no longer send an aircraft-carrier battle group through the Taiwan Strait to show its resolve, as it did in 1996.

How such tensions will play out depends partly on America’s allies. If Japan’s recently re-elected prime minister, Shinzo Abe, succeeds in his ambition to change the country’s pacifist constitution, the Japanese navy is likely to increase its capabilities and more explicitly train to fight alongside its American counterpart. At the same time other, weaker allies such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia may conclude that bowing to Chinese military and economic power is a safer bet than hoping for a declining America to fight their corner.

The greatest danger lies in miscalculation through a failure to understand an adversary’s intentions, leading to an unplanned escalation that runs out of control. Competition in the “grey zone” between peace and war requires constant calibration that could all too easily be lost in the heat of the moment.
It is this that we need to be preparing for with our friends around China's maritime borders. WESTPAC is their "Gulf of Mexico" and VACAPES, and we should keep that in mind as we travel in those areas. The Chinese are bold, and we are looking weak, that is also something to remember given the Chinese culture of how the weak should be treated by the strong.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fullbore Friday

Sometimes you have to bring up a ship that did just solid, warship duty. For example, I give you the USS MANCHESTER (CL-83).

That is all for FbF today - but I leave you with something to ponder.

As we discuss what is or is not littoral warfare - check out
this picture. All the stealth in the world won't help you here --- and a lack of damage control will kill Sailors wholesale. That is why the selling of LCS is almost a crime.

First posted JAN2010

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Don't let, "That's a Ford for 'ya" - become a snarky catch-phrase

Are you up to speed on the latest issues with the USS FORD (CVN 78) and EMALS?

I've got the goods for 'ya over at USNIBlog.

Come visit and give it a read.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What the Pros Study

Come on people ... I know you love you some logistics!

Don't run away ... David Beaumont has a very good and readable post up titled, HOPING AND PLANNING FOR THE BEST: UNDERSTANDING WAR WITHOUT LOGISTICS, that is well worth your time as he kicks off a full year of logistics.

No, seriously ... it is what he does.

Of note;
Security is being recast as international logistics systems and supply chains contribute to the reshaping of the global order, and strategic policy intertwines itself with economics and industrial power to create objectives for the military forces protecting national interests (it has, of course, been ever thus). The growing logistics needs of combat forces creates pressures at a time where ‘small wars’ are being fought on a shoestring budget, where the increasing outsourcing of military activities binds operational success with the fortunes of commercial opportunity, and the growing complexity and diversity of supply creates troubling issues for military security.
There is little discussion – nearly a complete absence – of how logistics shaped the Western counter-insurgency operations which followed. With forces ‘hoping for the best, and planning for the best’, small logistics footprints and inadequate strategic consideration severely curtained British Army operations in Basra in the early years of its deployment in Iraq. The need to secure supply-routes and distribution tasks restricted the frequency of combat patrols, and entrenched forces into ‘forward operating bases’ thus reducing the tactical mobility of the force. Similar experiences in Helmand, Afghanistan, were encountered. More and more significant resources had to be directed to logistics missions, drawing upon helicopters to overcome lacking equipment and the state of lowering materiel readiness as the supply chain failed to keep up.
Keep an eye on him for logistics with an Aussie accent. Hopefully, with very little slang.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Those are not simple sand bars China is building

If you haven't checked with the latest imagery of what China is building in the South China Sea, then you've missed a sea change.

What was at one time little more than sandbars with a shack and a spotty pier, are now a series of scaled down Diego Garcias.

Via the UK Daily Mail;
The dramatic military build-up is shown in pictures taken from a height of 1,500m (4,920 feet) in the last six months of 2017, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

One of the fortresses is situated on Panganiban, a reef which a United Nations-backed court has previously ruled belongs to the Philippines, it is reported.

On the three largest reefs, Kagitingan, Panganiban and Zamora, runways appeared to be ready to receive military aircraft.

As an old TLAM guy, I fully recognize a nice target set when I see one - but there is a lot more to coercive power in peace than what might happen in full war;
China had in December defended its construction on disputed islands as 'normal' after a US think tank released new satellite images showing the deployment of radar and other equipment.

The military expansion also ties into a broader Chinese initiative, called One Belt One Road.

The vast infrastructure project, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is set to build a 'new Silk Road' of ports, railways and roads to expand trade across an arc of countries through Asia, Africa and Europe.

Hat tip BB.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A long, irregular, and forever war; a discussion with Dan Green - on Midrats

As we enter our 17th of ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the global struggle against terrorism, why is this war taking so long? Where are we making progress, where are we stalled, and where are we falling back?

There are no easy answers to these questions, if there were they wouldn’t need to be asked.

We will discuss these and related issues for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern with author Dr. Daniel R. Green, a Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy focusing on counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, and stability operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

He is a reserve officer with the U.S. Navy with multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, along with holding several senior advisory positions dealing with the Middle East, Central Asia, and NATO/Europe in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the State Department.

Dr. Green recently completed his third book, In the Warlords' Shadow: Special Operations Forces, the Afghans, and their Fight with the Taliban that we will use as a stepping off point for our conversation.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.