Archive for February, 2010

RAAUZYUW RUEWMCS0000 0352024-UUUU–RUCRNAD

ZNR UUUUU

R 012124Z MAR 10

FM CJCS WASHINGTON DC//J1//

TO JCS//COCOM

INFO SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//

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UNCLAS//N01500//

CJCSMSG 043/10

MSGID/GENADMIN/CJCS/WASHINGTON DC/J1/MAR//

SUBJ/REPEAL OF DADT AMPLIFYING INSTRUCTIONS AND TRANSITION TO GAYS SERVING OPENLY IN ARMED FORCES

REF/A/MSGID: DOC/MCM/2008//
REF/B/MSGID: DOC/KGJ BBL/1AUG1611//

REF/A/IS THE MANUAL FOR COURTS MARTIAL 2008

REF/B/IS THE KING JAMES BIBLE

RMKS/1.AS WE TRANSITION TO AN ARMED FORCES CULTURE WHERE GAY MEN AND WOMEN SERVE OPENLY, CERTAIN MODIFICATIONS TO EXISTING GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS, POLICY, AND SERVICE ELIGIBILITY WILL BE REQUIRED. THIS MESSAGE OUTLINES THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF THE ALTERATIONS NECESSARY TO ENSURE GAY SERVICE MEMBERS ARE ABLE TO SERVE OPENLY.

2. THE NEWLY-ESTABLISHED DEFENSE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON GAYS IN THE SERVICE (DACOGITS) CHAIRED BY HON. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA) HAS MADE THE FOLLOWING RECOMMENDATIONS THAT WILL BE IMPLEMENTED IMMEDIATELY:

A. REF/A/WILL BE MODIFIED AS FOLLOWS: ARTICLE 125 (SODOMY) WILL BE DELETED. NO REPLACEMENT FOR ARTICLE 125 (SODOMY) HAS BEEN AUTHORIZED.

B. REGARDING REF/B/, FOR ALL KING JAMES BIBLES ALLOWED ON MILITARY INSTALLATIONS, THE FOLLOWING EDITS ARE REQUIRED:

LEVIDICUS 18:22 WILL BE CHANGED FROM “THOU SHALT NOT LIE WITH MANKIND, AS WITH WOMANKIND: IT IS ABOMINATION.” TO “THOU ART PERMITTED TO LIE WITH MANKIND, AS WITH WOMANKIND: IT IS NOW IN KEEPING WITH DOD POLICY”

LEDIVICUS 20:13 “IF A MAN LIES WITH A MAN AS ONE LIES WITH A WOMAN, BOTH OF THEM HAVE DONE WHAT IS DETESTABLE. THEY MUST BE PUT TO DEATH; THEIR BLOOD WILL BE ON THEIR OWN HEADS” WILL BE DELETED.

DEUTERONOMY 23:17 “THERE SHALL BE NO WHORE OF THE DAUGHTERS OF ISRAEL, NOR A SODOMITE OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL” WILL HAVE THE WORD “SODOMITE” REPLACED WITH “INTOLERANT PERSON”.

3. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY BELIEF IN CERTAIN PORTIONS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED COMPATIBLE WITH THE VALUES OF MILITARY SERVICE. DESPITE THE FIFTEEN CENTURIES OF RELIGIOUS TRADITION, SUCH VIEWS ARE NO LONGER IN KEEPING WITH THE MISSION OF OUR ARMED FORCES, THAT OF A VEHICLE FOR SOCIAL EXPERIMENTATION. MILITARY PERSONNEL OF ALL RANKS WHO PERSIST ON ADHERING TO THESE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS WILL BE COUNSELED BY COMMANDERS AS TO THE APPROPRIATENESS OF THEIR VIEWS. INDIVIDUALS REFUSING TO EMBRACE OFFICIAL DOD BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP WILL BE PROCESSED FOR SEPARATION.

4. WITHIN SIXTY DAYS OF THE DATE OF THIS MESSAGE, DOD SCHOOLS WILL INTEGRATE INTO THE CURRICULUM OF THE APPROPRIATE GRADES THE FOLLOWING CURRICULUM:

A. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (GRADES K-4): “MY TWO MOMMIES”, AND “DADDY HAS A BOYFRIEND”.

B. MIDDLE SCHOOL (GRADES 5-8): “STARTING A GAY/STRAIGHT ALLIANCE IN YOUR SCHOOL”

C. HIGH SCHOOL (GRADES 9-12): VIEWING AND DISCUSSION OF “BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN”

5. ACTIVE DUTY PARENTS OF CHILDREN IN DOD SCHOOLS WHO OBJECT TO THE ABOVE LISTED CURRICULUM OR ATTEMPT TO INSTILL THEIR PERSONAL VALUES IN THEIR CHILDREN ATTENDING DOD SCHOOLS IN PLACE OF THE AUTHORIZED GAY-FRIENDLY/GAY ADVOCACY DOD CURRICULUM WILL BE COUNSELED BY THEIR COMMANDERS AS APPROPRIATE. IF SUCH CONDUCT PERSISTS, THE SERVICE MEMBER WILL BE PROCESSED FOR SEPARATION.

6. MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE REMINDED THAT EXPRESSION OF PERSONAL OPINIONS WHILE IN UNIFORM VIOLATE STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND ARE PUNISHABLE UNDER THE UCMJ. FAILURE TO AGREE WITH MY VIEWS ON THIS SUBJECT WILL BE CONSIDERED AN INTEGRITY VIOLATION AND SUBJECT TO ADMINISTRATIVE OR DISCIPLINARY ACTION.

7. THIS MESSAGE IS APPLICABLE TO THE RESERVE COMPONENT.

8. RELEASED BY ADM MIKE MULLEN, CJCS./

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It is highly unlikely that Admiral Mullen or anyone else will release a message of the character above. Which is too bad. Because they should. Many of the objections to repeal of DADT have been airily dismissed as the rantings of intolerant and hateful bigots. Read the comments in this venue and elsewhere. To many, dissenting opinion, for ANY reason, is strictly verboten. Quite ironic, as those who may hold those dissenting opinions/objections are are accused of being the intolerant ones. Now, Admiral Mullen has jumped in and told us that unless we all agree with repeal of DADT, we have integrity issues.

Those who hold religious or moral objections to homosexuality because of their faith are being swept aside and their views marginalized. Worse, such is being done (again) with taxpayers’ dollars. Those who hold that system of faith and values are having their own government undermine that system. No longer is it proper to believe that a category of behaviors does not equate to race or gender.

Read the rest of this entry »



Dr. Thomas Hone pulled double duty at USNI AFCEA West 2010 as both a panelist and one of the authors at Wednesday’s book signing. Dr. Hone co-authored along with his son Trent of Battle Line: The United States Navy 1919-1939.

Thomas Hone and Trent Hone describe how a Navy desperately short of funds and men nevertheless pioneered carrier aviation, shipboard electronics, code-breaking, and (with the Marines) amphibious warfare-elements that made America’s later victory in the Pacific possible.



One of my favorite events at USNI conferences are the book signings. I had the opportunity to interview several Naval Institute Press authors this year at USNI AFCEA West 2010. Here’s my interview with Kit Lavell, author of Flying Black Ponies: The Navy’s Close Air Support Squadron in Vietnam. Talk about history with a purpose as lessons learned from the Navy’s close air support in Vietnam has saved many lives in Iraq today.




Posted by Jim Dolbow in Books, History, Navy | 5 Comments

The last day at West 2010 is exactly what I expected it to be – unpredictable. I admit to missing the breakfast speech, as I was on the flood looking at the booths and doing the rounds. A lot of smaller companies and the information technology space was well represented. There is a lot of creativity in the technologies being showcased, but I think leading up to East 2010 later this year it might be useful to review several of the technologies that the Navy expressly called for during the last three days.

The morning panel with Bob Work, VADM Dorsett, Mr. Lou Von Thaer of General Dynamics, and Tom Hone was a lot better than I expected. Dick Diamond did a really good job, I thought, setting up the panel and moderating. The issue of affordability in defense is enormous, but it was articulated well by the panel.

Bob Work began by discussing the focus on fleet design, which he believes should be self-deployable ships with small logistics tails, ships with flexible payloads, ships that can participate within a battle network, ships that take advantage of open architecture, and he strongly believes in unmanned systems. His goal is to have a force that maximizes flexibility. When looking at industry the Navy will focus on acquisition excellent – performance – in delivering capabilities. He also went on to say the challenge and goal is to balance operations, maintenance, and training. He made clear that the Navy will take care of its people first, and preserving the all volunteer force is a top priority.

VADM Dorsett was much better on the panel today than he was during the lunch speech on Wednesday. He describes the network challenge of the Navy as unsolved, with a lot of work ahead. He described the tension in balancing network sensors and relevant information – something the Navy must due because it lacks bandwidth for everything. He discussed the emphasis on total ownership costs for technology on platforms, and said the Navy must invest in training the information space if they are to get it right. At the end he told the industry audience there must be a realistic assessment of technology capabilities up front, which came off to me as chastisement of industry for the Navy’s own less than optimal decision making in the past. That stuff cuts both ways, but the VADM was not wrong to say it.

Mr. Vom Thaer was outstanding. Better than anyone else I have heard in a long time, he outlined specifics how open architecture will save money. He called for open business models for the Navy, common data models, a focus on infrastructure, and discussed the challenge of open architecture by noting there will be extra costs up front with long term savings above and beyond early investments. He is exactly right, and there are dozens of places this can be sighted within defense to have been proven accurate, beginning with technology surrounding the Virginia class submarine.

Mr. Hone played devils advocate, and gave several examples how the pressure to “not tell the truth” still existed in the defense industry for programs. He got a bit philosophical when noting that software has not become industrialized yet, and by that he meant software does not write software. Basically he is discussing the relative immaturity of technology today, which is very true, but self-aware software does not exist so his comment amounts to a “this is what the future might look like” comment.

I caught Bob Work again right before he had to catch his plane, and he noted that VADM Dorsett is the guy who gets to figure out all the big network challenges to make the Navy work. That is good news for ADM Roughead, but bad news for VADM Dorsett – and by that I mean ADM Roughead no longer has the hardest job in the Navy – VADM Dorsett does.

The lunch speaker was ADM Roughead. His speech was really good and answered questions as talking points. After two years of not being able to really open up and talk about the Navy because of so many things were pending in Congress or the QDR, ADM Roughead looked different to me. All of a sudden he is CNO and can talk about decisions made, rather than decisions not made. The difference was noticeable.

He said “I’m pleased where we are in shipbuilding.” Anyone who has followed the DDG-1000 and LCS programs since he took over can understand why, as there is so much more certainty today than at any time over the last 2 years he has been CNO. He discussed information dominance, and the fusion of information, intelligence, and operations. He discussed unmanned systems and then highlighted underwater unmanned systems – calling on the industry audience to solve the power problem for UUVs.

He discussed leveraging the new with the old before moving on to Cyber. I’ll let the news stories cover the developments there…

ADM Roughead wasn’t as good with Q&A in speech, but some of the questions were also very difficult and he may not have been prepared to answer them. For example, one question asked about China and Google and where the Navy fits in cyber protection. The admiral did not answer the question, and may not be ready to. It is a tough question and after Vice Chief Cartwright on Tuesday I would have gone all over the map except to the point too. Basically the Navy is not ready to discuss what cyber will look like from the Navy and what they bring to a national cyber defense system yet, but one would imagine N2/N6 and 10th Fleet is working on that.

One thing ADM Roughead did say that i thought was really good was he described how sailors have been using networks for years, and that this was not new. He said the Navy will build upon that history as they move towards cyberspace. When dealing with an emerging challenge, drawing upon history early in the development of solutions is a great way to frame the discussion. I thought the way he made that point was really good.

The West 2010 was really good on a lot of levels. I’ve been to several naval conferences and I have never seen the Navy so pointed about what technology challenges they want/need industry to solve in public. AFCEA and the US Naval Institute really did an amazing job getting so many important people in the discussion at the microphone, and I thought it produced a lot of intellectual capital that provided useful information to those within the larger naval business.

I leave San Diego with a rather large lingering thought…

ADM Stavridis began the conference discussing the need for information filters to turn data into relevant information to the warfighter. VADM Dorsett discussed every platform as a sensor. Bob Work painted a mosaic of a navy networked battle force that operates globally. The Navy is going to collect a tremendous amount of data globally, ship it back to many locations including several critical warfighting data centers back in CONUS, process and filter that data, and turn it into relevant information for the warfighter operating globally. When one considers the amount of data transfer and the scope of the network, obviously one can spot the complexity but I do believe that this global network can be developed and deployed effectively.

But how survivable will it be in war? Is the network going to work when the tensions and stresses to the network by both us and our adversaries are applied in wartime – which is the precise time the process must work at its most efficient in order for all the risks to translate into benefits.Because our tools are not as mature as we think they may be, I do wonder if this advanced technology driven philosophy of information enabled warfare – or ‘ForceNET on steroids’ if you prefer – has reached a point of diminishing returns until we reach a higher level of maturity in network and software technologies.



Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized | No Comments

We are about one-third of the way through Iran’s annual “Ten Days of Dawn” observation which celebrates the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran and the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The occasion serves as a platform for Iran to boast about progress under the Islamic Republic and demonstrate military, scientific and technical prowess. This, despite the West’s attempts to limit technology transfer in key areas, such as missile technology.

Day 3 of the celebration is set-aside as “Space Day” and yesterday, Iran’s President Ahmedenejad had three items of note/accomplishment to announce that:

  • Iran had launched a payload of animal specimens (a mouse, turtles and worms) into space and recovered them on a new research rocket named Kavoshgar-3 (Explorer-3);
  • Three new satellites were unveiled: the Tolou (Sunrise), the Mesbah 2 (Lantern 2), and the Navid (Promising Sign) and
  • A new space launch vehicle, Simorgh-3, which will serve as the launch vehicle for those satellites.

Kavoshgar-3 ("Explorer-3")

Simorgh

Simorgh SLV

Of these announcements, the last is the most interesting and perhaps, troubling. With the ability to loft 220 lbs into a 310 mile earth orbit (if it indeed works), that would move Iran into a new capability category with a nascent ICBM. The implications for the US and allies would be the impact on the European PAA and near term planning for the global BMDS, all of which (along with the BMDR) were predicated on a slower timeline for Iran to develop an ICBM capability, 2015 or ‘mid-decade.’ Tied with Iran’s continued intransigence on the nuclear front (aided and abetted by China’s continued refusal to support a sanctions regime) this is one announcement that has little upside to it. Russia, at least, is coming into alignment with the US:

“Mutual understanding between Russia and its international partners on additional sanctions has clearly improved,” Kosachyov said in an interview with state broadcaster Rossiya 24 today. “The situation is beginning to alarm us increasingly.”

A successful launch will likely bring pressure to bear on the US to step up the rate of deployment and development of both the sea- and land-based elements of the European PAA, leveraging increased deployment time on units that are already HDLD in nature and turning up the burner on the SM-3 Blk IIa program. It may also cause a reassessment of the plans for the ground-based BMD system to see if it still serves as a hedge in its current configuration as per the BMDR.

The continued advancement of Iran’s missile programs stands in defiance of the MTCR, a voluntary consortium of 39 countries regarding the export controls on technologies central to missile development. Of course, neither China nor North Korea are members and they are among the worst of the serial proliferators, North Korea especially so in the case of cooperative ventures with Iran. Also neither China, North Korea or Iran are parties to the follow-on regime, the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. The enablement of this unholy alliance of proliferators brings us to the Simorgh. Below are two images, one of the boost stage of the Safir-2, which placed a small satellite into earth orbit last year. The second image is what is presumed to be the business end of the Simorgh’s first stage — a cluster of four liquid-propelled rockets.

Safir 1st stage (Feb 2009)

Simorgh booster engines (Feb 2010)

Again, clearly it seems the Iran’s indigenous program is well underway in spite of these regimes.

The leading question then becomes, given the historical record of cooperative effort between North Korea and Iran, how related is/will be the Simorgh to the TD-2:

TD-2 Safir comparison (2009)
TD-2 Safir Comparison (2009)

. . . and that, as the saying goes, is the $64,000 question.

Crossposted at steeljawscribe.com



Day 2 at USNI/AFCEA West 2010 turned out to be a very interesting day with lots of little nuggets of useful information thrown in. The morning breakfast discussion was a coffee table discussion with Bryan McGrath of Delex Systems, Inc (and Information Dissemination) and Bob Work, Undersecretary of the Navy. I didn’t know what to expect, and it turned out to be a great start to the day. The topic was “What Kind of Navy Does American Need?” hosted by David Hartman of Good Morning America fame.

Bryan discussed the need to develop systems that enabled the ships to perform sea control better, and highlighted that when he was CO of a Burke destroyer, he didn’t have the capability to sink another ship. He raised this point in the context of the growth of regional naval powers globally as a reminder, if a ship is to regionally distributed with credible combat power – we need to give our ships the combat power necessary to actually threaten a warship of another Navy. Bryan also made the point that while there should be no intent in fighting a war against China – China is an excellent example of a nation to size force structure measurements against as they are clearly moving towards a fleet that will eventually be numerically larger than the US Navy given current economic trends. I am not sure if I agree with that point, but it is something to consider.

Bob Work gave his “boxes” presentation, and this was the first time I had heard him deliver it in an open forum. I have previously discussed the “Boxes” fleet model he sees the Navy moving towards here. Bob is one of the most articulate and interesting naval enthusiast in the United States, indeed he might legitimately be the most effective public ambassador of naval power in the US today, and is in my opinion the best American naval strategist in the 21st century. With that said, “Boxes” doesn’t resonate and doesn’t sell. It is an interesting construct for shaping the discussion, but while still in the midst of so much uncertainty regarding modularization the skepticism of the crowd could be felt lingering in the room. How “boxes” is explained in large public settings needs some tweaking if the intent is to excite people about the Navy. The Navy’s “Boxes” fleet will be self-deployable and build on open architecture and will execute the role of power projection to assure allies and deter would be aggressors. Hopefully the breakfast will get up on YouTube, because I think many would find it interesting.

The first panel on Wednesday was “Pirates: How Do We Defeat Them?” The panel was moderated by Dr. Virginia Lunsford who was very good as a devil’s advocate. I’ve previously read her work, in particular her world class piracy article in the December 2008 edition of Proceedings, and you could tell she wanted to engage and give more to the topic than her role as moderator appeared to allow. The panel also included Col David Coffman of 13 MEU, retired RADM Terence McKnight, and Captain Chuck Wolf. As soon as I realized I had spoken to Col David Coffman before, I knew this was going to be a lot of fun. Turns out, it really was.

Col Coffman comes from the school of blunt honesty, and out of the gate gave the crowd some red meat with first paragraph direct answer to the panel question saying…

“KILL THE PIRATES.”

It was noteworthy about half the crowd began clapping and cheering, and the double take Dr. Lunsford gave the Col added to the effect. It was a clear ploy though, the Col appeared to me to use the red meat to get the crowds attention so he could articulate the range of capabilities on both sides of the spectrum the MEU brings to the fight. He touted the ARG solution but noted there was “no appetite at the policy level for kinetic solutions in Washington.” He then highlighted several problems including the division of organizational labor regarding Somalia. While CENTCOM has operational control over ships off Somalia, Somalia falls under AFRICOM, and the challenges in coordinating activities at sea onto land – at any level for anything – are enormous. I was left with the impression the division of labor was a problem of rigid control, which prevents any warfighter at sea from adapting quickly to situations.

RADM McKnight was excellent, and made two very key points. First, he noted that there was an international coalition of 24 ships out there with the stated purpose of dealing with the pirate issue, but there were only 4 or so ships that actually chased pirates. The other 20 have a purely defensive and deterrent role, with no active engagement role. That means that the coalition can legitimately be said to be about 1/6 as capable as touted. I think this is the real story of the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of international cooperation that nobody wants to have a meaningful discussion about in public. McKnights second point was a story he told about going to CENTCOM and being given congratulations for his success in Task Force 151. When he asked “what success” the answer was along the lines of success being defined as cooperation and partnership with so many countries. I’ve made this point before, cooperation would be the end game for TF151 dealing with Somali pirates – not actually fighting pirates. People may not like it, but that was the obvious objective going in even before TF151 was stood up.

The third person on the panel was Captain Chuck Wolf, Naval Special Warfare Group 4. He basically said “Navy SEALS are proven to work” as an option dealing with the problem, but like Col Hoffman, noted that special forces bring a wide range of capabilities in dealing with pirates. He also pressed home the point there is no appetite at the policy level in dealing with the problem. He discussed several technologies that private shipping companies can use to protect themselves, but had no concrete answer on how to address the piracy problem until the political policy changes.

Piracy is on a growth curve that is still small enough to be ignored. A few things the panel said bothered me. First, Captain Wolf appears to believe the regional partnerships stopped piracy in Southeast Asia when it was very active up until 2005 in the Straits of Malacca. Apparently the Navy has distributed talking points that are absolutely absent any factual analysis and officers who haven’t looked into it are holding a self-licking ice cream cone. Look at the curve for piracy in the Strait of Malacca and you can only come to one conclusion – the Tsunami wiped out piracy there. Mother Earth has done more to curb piracy in the 21st century than any Navy in the world, and that is a basic fact that no one ever mentions. Why are there slow periods of no piracy off Somalia every year? Because of the weather, not because of any naval presence which has proven to be completely ineffective.

McKnight put the bulk of the reason for piracy off Somalia on the fishing problems in that region. The simplification of causes of piracy irritated me a bit, because a panel provides an opportunity for a well experienced RADM to really address the issues in detail. A missed opportunity I thought.

The lunch speech was given by VADM Jack Dorsett, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance N2/N6. I think he summed up the problem really well not by the details of what he said, rather by what he said. I think this analogy applies:

VADM Dorsett gave a speech that included thousands and thousands of words, and if there was relevant information within the thousands of thousands of words I completely missed it – and mind you I like to tell people I am in the “information business” as it is what my company does. He is clearly an Intel background guy, because I got a very excitable speech that basically told me there are going to be a large number of classified roadmaps in achieving information dominance. I think the analogy contained within VADM Dorsett’s speech pretty much sums up the issue: The Navy has massive amounts of information, but communicating it effectively and filtering it effectively is a serious challenge – and Dorsett’s speech which did not communicate or filter the challenge effectively is representative of the challenge. Harsh criticism? Maybe, but I asked many many people what they thought afterward, and everyone thought VADM Dorsett is an excitable personality when speaking, but nobody was excited in response when they learned nothing as a result.

The final panel of the day was Global Maritime Domain Awareness: Can it be Achieved? The panel included Mr. F.R. “Joe” Call, CMRD Mark Hammond, RAN, Mr. Christopher Miller, and Captain Bruce Stubbs (ret), DoD Executive Agent for MDA. The panel can be described as informative to the challenges, but if maritime domain awareness is moving, the pace is very slow. Bruce Stubbs was excellent in addressing questions and challenges although he was unable to give many definitive answers. I would not want his job. Chris Miller summed up the problem. MDA is not a technology problem, it is a policies and procedures problem and until we get passed that phase, MDA on a global scale is not going to happen. I also liked Mr. Call’s definition of “effective MDA” as being relative – enough to execute the mission.

Thursday will include CNO Roughead and a panel on Affordability with both Bob Work and VADM Dorsett. At previous AFCEA/USNI conferences I have attended, the last day has always exceeded expectations and been the one not to miss. Given the recent budget release and QDR release, hopefully ADM Roughead comes out firing for the Navy. He has had to hold back for 2 years for 2 very different reasons. I have had the impression for several months that the whole fleet is poised to follow his lead if he chooses to make a forceful stand out front. We shall see.



Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

From USNI West 2010:

QDR cover

“…instabilities and threats to key US allies or trading partners, and the specter of international terrorism have combined to force a redressing of our National Military Strategy.”

…”Another element of instability in the world environment has been the emergence of terrorism as a means of achieving political ends… Whether seeking political anarchy, a homeland to call his own, or the overthrow of a hated regime, the international terrorist has exhibited a devotion to his cause even unto death that respects neither social mores nor rules of law… The… unpredictability of this threat makes it perhaps the most difficult and frustrating of all to counter and negate.”

The above statements might easily have been taken from the recently released 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). They do not come from the 2010 QDR, however. They come instead from the 1986 USNI publication The Maritime Strategy. The first statement was authored by then-CNO Admiral James Watkins, and the second by Marine Commandant P. X. Kelley. They are illustrative of the utility of looking at the path already traveled as well as that which still lies ahead. The lessons learned in the journey thus far often pay great dividends in the journey yet to come. The above assertions about the conditions in which US forces operate are as germane today as when they were written a quarter century ago.

The release of the Quadrennial Defense Review on Monday has generated plenty of debate based largely on initial impressions. Contained in its one hundred-plus pages is a great deal of information that discusses current defense posture, current threats, and current fights. (I have read through the QDR once and selected portions a second time. So my familiarity with the QDR falls somewhere between the Gettysburg Address and the 1,000-page Health Care Reform Bill.)

Having said that, I find the document to be adequate in some areas, providing some interesting portent as to what the vision for parts of US National Security Strategy will likely be. However, I am struck not just by the fact that the QDR does not look forward twenty years, as is the generally accepted understanding of the document’s purpose, but how disconnected the assertions of the QDR seem to be from our past National Experience.

The 2010 QDR gives only cursory mention as to why the US maintains relationships with its key allies, and even less about why they came about. The listing of US vital interests across specific regions of the globe includes many, many references to “stability”, yet there is little by way of defining what those interests are for which stability is vital. Are they strategic? Military? Economic? Or do we simply identify war prevention as a pursuit of an altruistic national goal?

Tenets of likely National Military Strategy (the NMS, with its guiding National Security Strategy, is as yet unpublished), contained under the heading of “Defense Strategy”, appear in the body of the document but are matched with no particular vision or guidance as to how those tenets will be accomplished, other than “initiatives” defined in the most general of terms. Of those initiatives, many represent significant and possibly unreachable challenges in an era of shrinking defense budgets.

References to a naval presence and power projection seem to ignore the historical lessons that possessing such capabilities require the necessary ships, manpower, equipment, and training inherent in maintaining those capabilities. Yet, our navy and amphibious capabilities continue to wither, a situation incompatible with QDR guidance.

Assumptions made in the QDR, such as “Many of our authorities and structures assume a neat divide between defense, diplomacy, and development that simply does not exist” would come as a bit of a surprise to someone who spent time in foreign or military service throughout the 1950s and 60s. Such a demonstrated short-term memory at the national level leads to a lack of perspective and context in which to frame present and future challenges and opportunities. The ability to point to a tradition of inter-agency cooperation provides a far more effective template for how such must be done than the simple assertion that it needs doing.

The assertion that the world is somehow more complex than ever points to a lack of understanding of the events of the last century, many of which continue to shape our 21st Century world. I doubt very much that the world of 2010 is any more complex an environment than the world of 1913 was, or 1938 or 1949. Or 2001. US foreign and military policy was made and executed during those times, however imperfectly, despite the complex and unknown before the respective leaders.

I agree with the commentary here and elsewhere that the 2010 QDR generates far more questions than it answers. Reading through the document, I admit I am not surprised. The ability to provide an organization with meaningful vision for the future is inextricably intertwined with the requirement to examine and absorb the lessons from that organization’s history. The 2010 QDR has precious little of either. What we have in the 2010 QDR is a document that cannot be used as a foundation for developing a future vision, because there is little concrete enough to provide any underlying assumptions upon which to begin.

Much of what I find in the 2010 QDR is somewhat less than insightful and certainly non-specific. What I have heard called “blinding flashes of obvious”. Not that the QDR is a platform for intense detail or greatly in-depth discussion. However, this document is generic enough that it provides DoD with a slate that is next to blank.

Too often at all levels of policy making and execution, from warfighting doctrine to weapons and warship design and development, any attempt to provide historical context or revisit known axioms that do not lend themselves to “transformation” is dismissed brusquely as “old think”. Possibly a reflection of what CDR Bryan McGrath so eloquently described as “uniqueness bias”, a belief that the current circumstances and situation are like none other yet experienced, with no lessons of previous efforts of much value or credence.

Perhaps it is a symptom of the age we live in, where nothing is so tantalizing as that which is “revolutionary”, “ground-breaking”, or “transformational”. Yet, in believing so, we fail to heed the wise warning of a distant past. The voice of the Roman philosopher Cicero echoes in our ears from across the ages when he cautions us that,

“A culture that knows not its past is doomed to forever reside in that most illusory of tenses, the Present, as if a small child lost, who knows not from whence he came, nor whither he goes.”

The QDR may could have been authored by that lost child. Let’s hope he finds himself soon.



This morning’s panel, “What can be done about North Korea?” contained much of the familiar definitions and explanations of the North Korea problem, and many of the well-worn regrets of North Korean intransigence. The list of North Korean transgressions include the continuation of its nuclear program, its clear intent to solidify its status as a nuclear state, weapons trafficking by North Korea to terror organizations in the Middle East and the threat that the Kim Jong-Il regime represents to the region.

Discussion about what can be done with North Korea centered around the familiar cycle of incentive and sanctions, offers of economic and humanitarian aid, continuation of the Six-Party Talks, enforcement of UNSC Resolutions (1718 and 1874, respectively), and the desire to partner with China to resolve the problems presented by a rogue North Korean regime. While thoughtfully expressed, the majority of the panel discussion was not new.

What was new, at least to the ears of the panel attendees, was the perspective of Dr. Katy Oh, a long-time policy advisor on the North Korea problem. Dr. Oh’s assertions were refreshing to hear and drove to the heart of the failure of US policy toward North Korea over the last fifteen years and three administrations.

Dr. Oh laid out some unpopular but largely inescapable conclusions regarding the North Korean regime. North Korea will never give up its nuclear capability. It will use that capability to execute what is described as “coercive diplomacy” against its neighbors (Japan and South Korea) in the region. The “change in behavior” sought by US policy toward North Korea is highly unlikely given the nature of an insular and repressive dictatorship. The Six-Party Talks have little real value, and are being incorporated into the North Korean paradigm of “negotiate, prevaricate, escalate, then re-negotiate”.

China’s role and motivations towards North Korea, she believes, are misunderstood by the United States. A territorial hegemon who recognizes the United States as an economic rival and potential military adversary, China does not align her long term interests in the region with the United States, even if she has some common goals (nuclear disarmament) regarding North Korea. China is looking to reduce or replace US influence in the region, and is willing to use North Korea, within limits, as a foil to US interests and those of her allies. China remains, to a certain extent, North Korea’s benefactor and protector, especially when doing so frustrates US plans for regional influence.

Also, the pervasive belief that North Korea is susceptible to internal collapse does not reflect the reality of the skill and determination of the regime to survive. Kim Jong Il’s North Korea, says Dr. Oh, will not easily go away.

The approach offered by Dr. Oh to break the impasse regarding North Korea was a novel and interesting one. Rather than more high-level government-to-government effort that has limited chance of success, her assertion is that the effort needs to be a direct reaching out to the people of North Korea. She has written extensively about the state of “the forgotten people” of that grim land. Dr. Oh has noted the subtle but definite introduction of information technologies that have the potential to bring to the isolated and suppressed people of North Korea the ideas and information that drives the societal change that topples oppressive regimes.

Dr. Oh calls this outcome “constructive destruction”. She points out that US options regarding North Korea are very limited, and thus far North Korea’s strategy for survival has been far more effective than the last decade and a half of US policy to disarm the North. Now, however, she sees the opportunity for exploiting the “double life” led by a small but significant number of North Korean citizens who are “socialist by day, and capitalist by night” as they begin to comprehend the advantages of the officially demonized South Korean and American (and ironically, Chinese) free-market economies.

Dr. Oh’s proposition of direct engagement of the North Korean people does indeed have precedent. Our efforts at the height of the Cold War, with Radio Free Europe, to directly engage the Eastern European peoples subjugated by the Soviet yoke, yielded results that manifested themselves as soon as the prospect of freedom from Communist dictatorship became a realistic possibility. Similar effects may be possible behind one of the last vestiges of the Iron Curtain, on the peninsula of Korea.

Dr. Oh’s ideas are worth a serious look. Current policy, and that of the past administrations, has been nearly entirely ineffective and are likely to remain so. North Korea is a dangerous enemy, a regional threat, and potentially a global one (with proliferation of fissile materials). The government will not yield. But the people, when they are exposed to life outside the borders of their depressed and repressive country, may force their hand.



MidratsRemember, we have a special Midrats today at 2000 EST/1700 PST. Different day and different time – but you’re sharp cookies, you can figure it out.

We will be coming to you live from the USNI & AFCEA sponsored 2010 West Conference & Exposition in San Diego.

Join Galrahn, EagleOne and me as we review the highlights of the conference so far, and discuss our topic – the Navy Media Ecosystem; from blogs to the traditional media, how we discuss our Navy.

Special guests will be William M. Miller, III – Publisher at the United States Naval Institute, and Philip Ewing from Navy Times.

We will be taking callers the entire hour, so don’t be shy – give us a call at (347) 308-8397.

Join us!



In addition to the Quadrennial Defense Review, the DoD has also recently released the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, and is working on the Nuclear Posture Review and Space Posture Review. With the Nuclear Posture Review and Space Posture Review not released yet (due March 1, 2010 I believe), the point was raised today that perhaps in 2014 all of these various reports should be consolidated into the QDR. I think that recommendation is worth considering, because we already have a QDR without a new National Security Strategy or National Defense Strategy from the new administration, and the QDR is supposed to be driven by “the most recent” NSS and NDS. It isn’t the first time things have been done out of order.

At West 2010 General Cartwright discussed some of the debate taking place in the nuclear posture review, and specifically discussed the development of a construct replacement for Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). He noted that nuclear weapons still have a place in the 21st century, but they must be safe, world class, reliable, and secure. More importantly though, he discussed how the QDR and NPR seeks to be more realistic and addresses the requirement to deter more likely adversaries who may want to use nuclear weapons. He flat out said MAD will not work in the 21st century because the tenants of MAD that drove policy between the US and Soviet Union do not apply to non-state actors who seek these weapons. While addressing the need to reach out and find, secure, and protect nuclear materials and weapons throughout the world under various constructs, he also sees the need for a robust global detection system. He also asserted that Ballistic Missile Defense is a deterrent of the future, and is a piece of the construct to replace MAD under development.

But then he outlined Ballistic Missile Defense as a deterrent. See if you spot what raises my level of unease.

  • distributed, networked BMD
  • builds deterrent strategy under a sum greater than the parts model
  • shares awareness
  • defuse before going kinetic
  • burden sharing – common systems globally interconnected
  • sensor network is global

Ballistic Missile Defense is already enormously complicated, and now we appear to be looking at a globally, interconnected international model as the holy grail of BMD. Sorry, I don’t buy it. I like the idea that it is possible that friends and allies can cooperate, but what I heard sounded a lot like reliance on global partners for BMD. This is a bad starting point in my opinion. BMD as a capability already involves rapid reaction to one of the fastest moving weapon systems in the world, and the requirements for effective BMD are not trivial. I highly question what it does to our deterrence when pieces of our defense are in other places. This was one of my biggest problems with the Bush administrations approach to BMD and one of the reasons why I thought the Obama administration was right to move to a sea based deterrent system.

When a capability requires perfect integration and rapid reaction, one might question how much complexity is added and assurance is subtracted when integrating critical systems of a BMD architecture on foreign soil. I’m all for partnership buy-in, that is a good thing, but should a ballistic missile defense system be reliant on systems we do not have ownership of? Any ballistic missile defense system that approaches international cooperation as anything other than redundancy to the US BMD system is severely flawed in my opinion. The risk to reward ratio is too great, in my opinion, to rely on systems that we do not have ownership of when the stakes are on par with Mutually Assured Destruction.

Nothing is decided yet, but I admit I saw the global approach to network integration as something less good than the way General Cartwright described. Partnership adds redundancy to BMD, which is fantastic and should be sought where possible, but it does not substitute – ever – when the stakes are nuclear deterrence.

On the topic of nuclear deterrence, Ronald O’Rourke discussed buying the SSBN(X) in the context of in and out of the Navy budget. He raised a great point. If the Navy has to buy the SSBN(X) “out of hide” which Ron means from the SCN budget, the fleet is going to shrink in a hurry. He made several points worth consideration.

The 5 year plan in the FY 2011 budget calls for about 50 ships, and about half those ships are LCS and JHSVs. It is starting to look less likely we will build 55 LCS, but more likely we will build more JHSVs than previously planned. Building these ships will only take place over a period less than a decade, and these two ships represent almost all of the relatively inexpensive ships the Navy plans to build. In other words the Navy plans on building 10 ships a year in the near term, but what kind of ships will the Navy be building once they build 30 LCS and 25 JHSVs? At that point we will be back to building exclusively large surface combatants, and at the same time, the Navy may be eating the SSBN(X) from SCN.

If we transition towards just a 250 ship Navy, how much confidence does the rest of the world place on our security commitments? Are we sure those who are hosting critical BMD radar sights are going to stand by us if the Navy shrinks to 250, or 200, or even 180? These are serious issues, and I strongly believe the only way the nation addresses this issue is by keeping the fleet large enough (numerically credible at 280+) and approaching international BMD as an approach for building resiliency and redundancy to BMD, not as an operational model.

Don’t be fooled by the 10 ship average of the 5 year plan, because once LCS and JHSV aren’t there, the number of ships that will be purchased annually will drop. If the fleet shrinks below 280, the message that the US sends globally will undermine our national strategic priorities for partnership. Unlike land forces, naval power brings assurance to allies without requiring borrowed soil. With BMD now moving to sea, with the SSBN(X) program beginning in FY11, and applying the naval forces role of assuring partners and allies to this situation suggests we need to get serious about what our fleet is going to look like in the future. That answer directly influences any constructs that may or may not replace Mutually Assured Destruction – and to treat the fleet size as something other than a strategic communication to partners and allies when integrating with those same partner and allies on BMD is very questionable.

If you have a QDR in one hand, a Nuclear Posture Review in the other, and a Ballistic Missile Defense Review in your third hand… perhaps these things are more integrated. I just hope the DoD hasn’t created three separate reports that fail to recognize how closely they are by intersecting as a strategic deterrence. Time will tell.



Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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