Archive for January, 2012

“…now it is time to think!”

This statement, alternately attributed to Winston Churchill and Ernest Rutherford, was the baseline theme of all of yesterday’s speaking and panel sessions here at USNI/AFCEA West 2012.

But is it a fair statement? And is it accurate?

The implication of that statement is that senior military and civilian officials in the Defense Department have been accustomed to throwing money at problems rather than thinking through a solution. And this questionable practice is the reason for “bloated” Defense budgets in the post-9/11 world.

I disagree. While undoubtedly there are inefficiencies in Defense spending, and more can be purchased for the dollars spent, I simply don’t buy into the notion that the statement implies.

Much is made of the “doubling” of the Defense budget between 2000 and 2011, but little is said of the effects of the “Peace Dividend” and the acquisition “holiday” of the 1990s. In yesterday’s shipbuilding panel, of which more will be written soon, Mr. Mike Petters from Huntington Ingalls Industries (the shipbuilder formerly known as Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock, among other names) gave us some interesting insights as to the effects such uneven procurement and “holidays” have on building ships. The cost to the manufacturer of sitting idle, and of sudden restart at a surge level, is considerable. Elsewhere, in the Navy-Marine Corps Team panel, there was also significant discussion of the very real problems experienced by prime and sub-contractors when production drops below minimums for business solvency, or unpredictable dry spells and cancellations occur.

The costs of fighting two wars that represent a level of commitment of a single Major Regional Conflict (MRC) in 1990s parlance undoubtedly drove up Defense budgets, with personnel increases for the Army and the Marine Corps, operating costs, ammunition and fuel, aircraft and ground equipment maintenance and repair, and rapid acquisitions of vital equipment like MRAP vehicles as the dollar drivers. Many of those rapid acquisitions centered on burgeoning technology and unanticipated requirements, and anticipated requirements that had not been met (up-armored M1114 HMMWVs) in anywhere near sufficient numbers over the previous decade.

However, I cannot agree that the services, especially the notoriously tight-fisted Marine Corps, suddenly spent the last decade as profligate spenders without rhyme or reason, as if they had their parents’ credit card on a college weekend. If they did, then such did not occur at the tactical level.

Today, with US military involvement with Iraq at an end, and Afghanistan employing a small fraction of the US Military (90,000 of 1.44 million, just 6.2% of personnel), the “pivot” of the focus of our military to the Pacific region and the execution of the Cooperative Strategy requires meaningful commitment of adequate resources to counter the capabilities of a fast-rising near-peer in China.

While comments from each of the speakers and most panel members were couched in terms of required and critical capabilities, there was acknowledgement of the budget axe that will be the final arbiter of which capabilities we can afford, and which we cannot. Where and when that axe falls will determine this nation’s ability to execute its National Military Strategy, and by extension, its National Security Strategy.

Doing “more with less”, another phrase often heard yesterday, is a hackneyed and trite bit of platitude that is a signal that what we truly have is not a capabilities-based Defense budget, but budget-constrained Defense capabilities. You do not do more with less, you do less with less. That, whether it is a popular sentiment or not, is an inviolate fact of life. To the vast preponderance of the men and women of the US Military, who have always done as much as possible with what was given them through two protracted wars, the idea that thinking only takes place when all the money has been spent is an affront to them and is dismissive of their courage and commitment.

If I don’t hear Churchill’s words applied to our Military ever again, it will be too soon. If there is a ringing of truth in them, it should be in the ears of those who wear stars and wide gold stripes. The rest of us have been thinking all along.



The morning panel discussion at USNI West 2012 was entitled “The Navy-Marine Corps Team: Hang Together or Hang Separately?”

Excellently moderated by Frank Hoffman, the panel members were:

VADM Gerald Beaman, Commander, Third Fleet

VADM John Blake, DCNO, Integration, Capabilities, and Resources (N8)

BGen Dan O’ Donohue, Capabilities Development Directorate, HQMC

MajGen Melvin Spiese, Deputy CG, I MEF

Panelists were unanimous in their comments as to the new appreciation of the truly integrated nature of the Navy-Marine Corps team, and the necessity of that close and long-standing relationship as US focus “pivots” toward the Western Pacific. The unique combined capabilities of the Navy-Marine Corps team to project power globally and to gain entry, as Admiral Vern Clark once stated, “without a permission slip”, was acknowledged to be as important in the coming decade as it has ever been in our nation’s history.

As such, the integration of Navy-Marine Corps fixed-wing air, the maintenance and enhancement of amphibious assault capability, and the return of the Marine Corps to its nautical roots after two protracted land campaigns, all were indicators of the new-found sense of teamwork between the services. Several panel members commented pointedly on just how closely the guidance of CNO Admiral Greenert and Marine Commandant General Amos align. This is not coincidental, as in the coming budget challenges the Department of the Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, needs the capabilities of each of the respective services to execute the Maritime Strategy in the growing A2AD environment. Joint Operational Access must indeed be accomplished jointly, with each service enhancing and complementing the capabilities and mission sets of the other.

This represents a much more harmonious situation than the somewhat discordant voices (behind the scenes, at least) which were heard in the last several years. That is good news. Because the assertion of how much each service needs the other to operate in the vast expanse of the ocean to our west is difficult to overstate.

There was much discussion regarding the F-35B, which General Spiese termed the most important program in the Marine Corps. He stated that its capabilities to operate off big-deck amphibs and high sortie generation rate are keys to USMC warfighting doctrine. With a current and near-future paucity of sustainable Naval surface fire support, General Spiese’s assertion is spot-on.

A question to the panel from your humble author regarded identified capabilities gaps, lack of viable NSFS, and mine warfare, specifically counter-mine capabilities. As the Amphibious Operations Area expands exponentially, a necessary result of fielding of longer-range systems of delivery (MV-22, a future ACV), those two tasks in particular have been flagged as being an even greater gap than exists with current systems and methods. (Simply, the farther from shore the amphibs launch the landing force, and the farther inland the Ospreys can execute vertical envelopment, then the larger the mine-clearing task and the more expansive the target list. This is true even if the landing area is lightly defended.)

The answers were instructive, as Admiral Beaman asserted that prioritization of systems in the current budget environment might mean modification of requirements. Moderator Frank Hoffman identified the need for a low-cost and high-volume FS system to fill the gap until newer systems are fielded (rail gun, possibly) and existing systems improved. (An ability to UNREP VLS, perhaps?)

BGen O’Donohue talked in positive terms about the mine-clearing module of the LCS, and it is clear there is a tremendous amount riding on the success of that system. Admiral Blake explained that the migration is taking place from current methods of mine clearance where the sailor is in the mine field to methods where the sailor is not, and the clearance is performed remotely.

The panel espoused the distinct and realistic view that the current proliferation of A2AD systems make for a very challenging operating environment, and the emergence of a near-peer potential adversary in China raises the ante for getting it right with our Naval forces. But at least those challenges will be met together by the Navy-Marine Corps team.



Robbie Harris and Lieutenant Robert McFall penned a very interesting article in Proceedings this month. The Transformation (Again!) of the Surface Navy is timely and on point, and just as Robbie predicted the Tomahawk would change surface warfare in his 1985 Proceedings article “Is that All There Is?”, Robbie has a new prediction for Surface Warfare in this latest article.

With the new technologies coming online in the near future, such surface assets will continue to be in high demand. Unmanned aerial vehicles already are starting to fly from destroyers. Advanced radars and multi-mission towed arrays are making the surface combatants more capable than ever, but it is the railgun that holds the potential completely to revolutionize the surface fleet. This new weapon will put a piece of lead on target more than 200 miles away. The velocity of the round coming off the ship could top Mach 7. According to retired Rear Admiral Nevin Carr, former Chief of Naval Research, the railgun will be ready to put aboard ships in the next five years. This gun will take the same footprint of the current Mk 45 but since no powder is required for the railgun, the number of rounds that can fit in the magazine is almost tripled. This gun will easily replace the aging Harpoon missile for surface threats, and it will give the Marines on land the surface-fire support they so desperately need.

I know very little beyond the basics of railgun technology, but when Robbie Harris writes something like that about any piece of technology, I feel like I need to do some homework.

The article authors highlight the flexibility of surface forces and hints towards “something else” for the surface force that will sustain the vital role of surface forces in the future. I would argue that “something else” is already here, evident in plain sight, often taken for granted, and for the record – absolutely represents the inherent flexibility of the surface force. It is also slowly eroding just as the Navy needs it most.

Aircraft carriers and submarines are amazing instruments of war, but only the surface combatant force possess the flexibility and capability to forward national interests in all four of the critical 21st century domains: sea power, space power, cyber power, and soft power – and do so both in war and peace. As naval aviation and submarine forces in the Navy evolve towards an unmanned warfighting regime, the surface force still possess an inherent, distributable capability in peacetime operations that can act as a strategic asset in crisis – a vital role as old as naval power itself.

That strategic power manifests itself as manpower.

As the Marine Corps becomes smaller, and build larger ships (meaning fewer total ships capable of being deployed concurrently), it will fall upon the surface sailors to pick up the slack in several critical roles as part of 21st century seapower. These roles will be particularly evident in HA/DR scenarios, but littorals and coastal governance are vital interests to many of our partners, and the US Navy has a role in forwarding global security in cooperation with our partners. While it is absolutely critical to the financial future of the US Navy that ships are designed to operate with smaller manpower requirements, it is just as important that surface forces retain through design excess capacity to support and sustain the maximum number of human beings on a surface combatant of the future as possible. Minimally crewed combatants cannot give up security forces that number a dozen or two dozen sailors during future operations, but in the 21st century the rules of war will likely demand tasking of sailors to other assignments as part of the business of naval warfare – unless someone actually believes sinking 300,000 tons of enemy oil off an ally coast is going to be an acceptable course of action. Not likely.

If I was advising Congress, I would point out that the United States would get considerably more strategic milage by passing a law that forced all new surface combatants to be designed to support the personnel and equipment requirements of a Marine Rifle Platoon than it would forcing the Navy to design surface combatants with nuclear power. No, not the vehicles, the Marines can deliver that heavy equipment for their platoon with another ship – I’m speaking specifically about the manpower and personal equipment with enough supply for a few weeks – and yes this includes any future surface vessel over 3000 tons (including any future LCS Block).

Why? Because in the emerging modular age of surface fleet constitution Navy uniform and civilian leaders discussed at Surface Navy Association, under the single Marine Rifle Platoon requirement, surface combatants would then be organically designed to support the human elements that – instead of a Marine Rifle Platoon – might instead be SOF, Force Recon, Coast Guard elements, civilian specialists, or any number of other maritime professional specialists like CIVMAR.

The authors are absolutely right, there is genuine power in the flexibility of the 21st century surface force of the US Navy, but with the Navy downsizing the capacity to field quality human talent on surface combatants, some of that flexibility is being lost. In 21st century warfare, it is hard to imagine too many naval war scenarios that are absent nuclear weapons where additional human capcity wouldn’t be a necessary requirement at sea during military operations, and the requirements for personnel capacity during peacetime are evident all the time in 5th fleet anti-piracy operations, among many other duties globally.

The US Navy can certainly bomb or torpedo the 300,000 ton oil tanker off the ally coast, but it is my hope the US Navy studies carefully the distinctions frequently discussed in the context of “flexibility” with a 21st century surface combatant vs their modern aircraft/submarine alternatives in future naval war operations. If the Navy really believes they may one day fight a war against China, please tell me our first option for choking logistics to China isn’t sinking supertankers off Vietnam or Indonesia with submarines.

The US can field all kinds of technology without manpower to achieve strategic victory in a violent war, but only human beings are capable of executing the actions necessary to achieve strategic victory in any violent peace governed by modern rules of engagement. In the Navy it is the surface force that historically represents the US faces forward deployed and distributed to overseas places. While the Navy is very wise to build future warships with the smallest practical manpower requirements for operating a warship, the Navy would be equally wise to recognize the surface combatant as the vessel by which professional manpower should be always ready to deploy from. If the Navy takes the capacity to support lots of people on surface combatants away, it is the definition of removing the flexibility that the Navy will absolutely need in a surface combatant force fighting 21st century wars under increasingly restrictive rules of engagement.

The complex nature of 21st century naval warfare begins with the human migration to the sea happening today globally. The oceans are a populated place, and as such is becoming geography with a human terrain that must be accounted for during naval operations. Submarines and aircraft possess no capacity for human engagement at sea, only the surface force has that. If 21st century naval warfare is still a human endeavor, the vital role for surface warfare isn’t going away anytime soon, because surface warfare is the Navy’s primary human interaction capability on the global seas.



This week in San Diego, USNI/AFCEA West 2012 will be examining the issues and challenges associated with a US Military that has reached a “crossroads”.

As has happened so many times in the last century, the signposts to that crossroads are fiscal and not operational. Even with the drawdown in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan employing just a small fraction (about 90,000) of the 1.44 million US servicemen and women, the driving forces for the coming cuts are budget shortfalls, and spiraling national debt.

Panel sessions include discussion of the future of the Navy-Marine Corps Team (which doubtless will encompass amphibious capabilities), information and INFOSEC requirements for Naval forces, the balance between the warfighting head and the logistics tail, and the looming question of our new Pacific orientation, China.

Speakers include former CJCS Admiral Mullen, Navy Undersecretary (and former Marine Artilleryman) Robert Work, David Hartman, and Medal of Honor Winner SFC Leroy Petry, USA.

As usual, USNI will have a reinforced fire team of bloggers to tell you about it. The unit symbol is below. We will begin in a wedge formation for all around security and flexibility, and then we will do whatever SWMBO tells us to.

If you are going to ask tough questions, and give tough answers, San Diego in January is a pretty good place to do it. The forecast in Vermont is for snow.



Episode 107 Air-Sea Battle Budgets the PACOM Shuffle 01/22 by Midrats | Blog Talk Radio 5pm Eastern U.S.:

Most agree that our nation’s national security focus needs to shift its weight towards the swath across the Western Pacific through the Strait of Malacca to the Northern Arabian Gulf.


We have started the same path in response to national budget and debt problems that started a decade ago in Europe; and the defense budget here as there will take the first hit.
Are we starting in the right direction – or are we in danger of inserting in to the equation a fundamental error?
Our guest for the entire hour will be returning guest and panel member, Bryan McGrath.
Bryan is the Founding Director of Delex Consulting, Studies and Analysis specializing in Defense and National Security issues, including strategy and strategic planning, executive communications, and strategic communications.
You can also find him online at Conservative Wahoo and Information Dissemination.
A retired Naval Officer, Bryan spent 21 years on active duty including a tour in command of USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), with his final duties ashore included serving as Team Lead and Primary Author of the U.S. Navy’s 2007 Maritime Strategy; A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.



The Telegraph’s Jonathan Sibun reports that a new company has been formed to provide security escort vessels protecting commercial clients from acts of piracy off the Horn of Africa. British entrepreneur Anthony Sharp has assembled a team of ex-Royal Marines to provide security and a leadership team that includes General Francis Richard Dannatt , former Chief of the General Staff and a former defense advisor to David Cameron. An animated video shows Typhon’s assets or intended assets – motherships, helicopters, and small boats.

Sharp’s told the Telegraph that “The Typhon force will be the first of its kind for probably 200 years and will protect private shipowners’ assets at sea.” The statement is incorrect since several other companies have either attempted to provide this type of private security or have actually conducted operations. The former company Blackwater offered a decades-old NOAA ship, the M/V McArthur, RHIBs and an embarked helicopter with the intent to protect ships from pirates. But the ship arrived in the Red Sea without clients; absent business, the ship left the region and the industry. Since then several companies have either claimed to have vessels or intended to procure them for the purpose of maritime security specifically in the Gulf of Aden. Others, like Protection Vessels International (PVI) have operated several security vessels.

According to the Telegraph article, Sharp “hopes to have 10 vessels on the water within 24 months.” This is an ambitious number particularly since other companies have made similar unfulfilled projections, such as one U.S.-based company which initially claimed it had fourteen vessels. It isn’t clear if the current level of piracy will support additional vessels. To date, no commercial ship with an embarked private security detachment has been taken by Somali pirates. The threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden may have already peaked. According to the International Maritime Bureau’s just-released 2011 piracy report, annual actual and attempted piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden were as follows: 2007 – 13; 2008 – 92; 2009 – 117; 2010 – 53; and 2011 – 37. This downward trend can be attributed to the increased use of private embarked armed security (as well as private armed escort vessels), improved Best Management Practices by the shipping industry, and the creation of Combined Task Force 151 as well as other international maritime operations in the region.

While piracy attacks in the heavily-trafficked Gulf of Aden have decreased, incidents have increased elsewhere in the Indian Ocean. If Typhon and other firms are interested in filling that maritime security gap, they will have to identify larger ships that have the range and speed or improve their logistics that can support clients in a broader region.

LCDR Claude Berube, USNR, is the co-editor of Maritime Private Security: Market Reponses to Piracy, Terrorism, and Waterborne Security Risks of the 21st Century (Routledge, 2012). The views expressed are his own and not those of the U.S. Naval Academy or U.S. Navy.



17th

Servant Leader.

January 2012

By

How does a leader best organize people to achieve a common goal?

What is it he or she possesses – certain intelligence, behavior, vision, values, power, or charisma – that inspires progress in fellow men? What is it in a force of personality that creates a solution? We know we can’t go at it alone – how do we succeed, together?

Is leadership innate? Can it be taught? Better yet, can it be learned? What leadership style works best? In which profession? And in which situation?

Do those that follow you appreciate consistency or appreciate your ability to adapt your leadership style to the situation?

Does it all depend?

I’m confused.

No matter the type of leader you are now, or your answers to the above, a nod must be given to the immutable law of learning…that is to say, it never stops. A leader never stops learning. This much I know.

My first rule of leadership was simple: never say ‘never’, never say ‘always.’

Or, better put by Everett Dirksen: “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.”

We had something we use to say in my last platoon that went beyond being flexible. We asked ourselves three questions from time to time and when we could and as often as we remembered – three simple questions meant to inspire us to live each day to our maximum potential and to remind ourselves we were leaders of men in austere conditions: Did I get stronger? Did I get smarter? Did I help someone?

Recently I realized I have not been asking myself those questions often enough and so I started on the second question – did I get smarter? – specifically as it relates to leadership.

I spent the weekend pouring over old notes from Annapolis, from lectures of the likes of Captain Bob Schoultz and others of his pedigree, and next thinking of scenarios from deployments or stories told by other mentors, teachers, fellow Marines and friends that I’ve known in my life. It was a brief exercise in an attempt to, well, get smarter.[1]

While rummaging through an old box of notes and papers and books I found a fascinating article from two professors at the University of Nebraska, John Barbuto and Daniel Wheeler. Their essay was entitled: “Becoming a Servant Leader: Do you Have What it Takes?”

The essay began with a series of questions that aimed to determine if you were a servant leader or not and went on to explain the composition of a such a leader…

-Calling. Do you believe that you are willing to sacrifice self-interest for the good of the group?

-Listening. Do you believe that you want to hear their ideas and will value them?

-Empathy. Do you believe that you will understand what is happening in their lives and how it affects them?

-Healing. Do people come to you when the chips are down or when something traumatic has happened in their lives?

-Awareness. Do others believe you have a strong awareness for what is going on?

-Persuasion. Do others follow your requests because they want to or because they believe they “have to?”

-Conceptualization. Do others communicate their ideas and vision for the organization when you are around?

-Foresight. Do others have confidence in your ability to anticipate the future and its consequences?

-Stewardship. Do others believe you are preparing the organization to make a positive difference in the world?

-Growth. Do people believe that you are committed to helping them develop and grow?

-Building community. Do people feel a strong sense of community in the organization you lead?

The ethics behind the ‘servant leader’ appeals to me. So much so that on the corner of the white board in my office I’ve written Dr. Albert Pierce’s points for “moral leadership” which are based on the leadership example of Admiral Stockdale. 1.) Set noble goals. 2.) Take active steps to pursue them. 3.) Pay a price yourself. 4.) Ask or order others to a pay a price as well.

I was taught that at Annapolis. They still teach that. It’s taught because it matters a great deal. More than anything else, I think.

Yes. This was the sort of leader I want to emulate. But can I? Am I capable of such a thing? I’m not sure. And I ended the weekend with the same two questions that I started with: Can I finish this move in two days? Perhaps. What is the best way to lead? I’m not sure. Not sure at all. But then again, as it goes with leadership, so it goes with life itself, if you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.

 

—————————


[1] To be fair, I actually spent most of the weekend moving apartments, but, whatever.



This week at the Navy Surface Association National Conference, the Honorable Bob Work gave one of his rare public presentations on the state of the Navy. These speeches of his, which usually come at the beginning of the year prior to the budget year debates, offer naval observers insights into the strategic direction of the Navy. At a forum like the SNA conference, the message can be counted upon to be tailored to the surface warfare community audience, but his speech did deliver as expected insights into the way the current civilian leadership in the Navy sees the future of surface warfare.

The Surface Navy Association has made available video from his presentation at this link, and I would encourage those who were unable to attend to check out the videos made available. The SNA video from the event is very well produced and includes the slides that the Undersecretary used during his presentation. Rather than focus on any specific comments made by Bob Work, what struck me after watching the video wasn’t so much the specifics of what was said, but the theme behind what is being nodded to, but unsaid publicly.

As the image above suggests, the surface warfare community is in the process of an evolutionary leap forward in the guided missile era, and that evolution forward is poised to take place at the expense of other elements of naval power that are no longer competitive in the delivery of guided missiles in a time of fiscal austerity. Over the past several decades, warfighting capabilities from surface combatants have continued to evolve with longer ranges, precision guidance, and have leveraged flexible delivery mechanisms like VLS to expand the number of payload options for theater commanders. The Tomahawk cruise missile may be seen in some circles as the million dollar guided bomb, but every single F/A-18 Super Hornet would need to deliver at least 50, and very likely many, many more guided bombs to a target over the service life of the aircraft in order to be fiscally competitive as a strike solution.

With over 500 Super Hornets built as of April of 2011, even at an estimated $50 million a piece – Super Hornets would need to have dropped well over 25,000 bombs to date to be financially competitive as a strike platform with the nations million dollar naval cruise missile. Considering the US Navy hasn’t even purchased that many bombs since building the first F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Tomahawk is winning going away in the debate that compares bang for buck.

The DDG-51 for the surface community and the SSGNs/SSNs for the submarine communities represent dynamic platforms prepared for the emerging ‘systems and payloads’ focus emerging in modern naval warfare and the US Navy today. These surface and subsurface combatant platforms have placed both communities in the right place at the right time when – during fiscal austerity for defense – the focus is shifting away from ultra modern platform designs and is focusing more towards the evolution of systems and payloads delivered from platforms.

At the same time however, the naval aviation community is struggling – if not outright drowning – from the costs to field their latest system (the F-35C) for the big deck aircraft carrier. I thought it was interesting how Bob Work described the big deck aircraft carrier as the extra large, flexible platform in his SNA presentation; which as a theory is an accurate description of the CVN in my opinion. However, the practical advantage of being a very large, flexible platform can be lost when the systems delivered by the platform become too unaffordable for capability delivered, and to some degree the flexibility of the platform is completely useless when that flexibility itself is not utilized to field affordable alternatives to systems that under-perform relative to their costs.

The Joint Strike Fighter program does not represent an affordable “system” under a flexible payload model for fleet constitution as described by Bob Work at SNA, because at best – the “system” will only deliver very marginal improvements in parameters like range and stealth over existing system alternatives for what is likely more than double the costs of the existing system alternatives. While it is a very compelling argument for Bob Work to suggest that platforms like big deck aircraft carriers have value in their flexibility, the flexibility argument becomes mute when the option to use the platforms flexibility for a better value investment is not exercised.

If the US Navy desires a fleet constitution in the 21st century that relies on flexible platforms, then it is the development of systems that will decide how effective that fleet will be. When one considers how the Navy has run into serious problems with virtually all major “systems” in the various communities lately, from new SEAL Delivery vehicles to the F-35C to unmanned mine hunting capabilities – the biggest challenge facing the US Navy in 2012 would not appear to be one of ships or even ship designs, rather the ability of the Navy to manage acquisition programs for the “systems” intend to be the primary capabilities of tomorrows fleet.

In two weeks, Bob Work and several other US Navy civilian and uniformed leaders will be attending USNI West in San Diego. It will be interesting to see what Bob has to say at that conference, because I suspect it will not be the same speech – as he historically has not given the same speech more than once at these type of events.



Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Russia’s decision to send its one aircraft carrier and four other warships to Syria doesn’t help anyone. While the Russian warships in Tartus, Syria, the only Russian base outside the former Soviet States, unequivocally demonstrates Russia’s support for the government, Russia flexing its muscles demonstrates its weakness. The Economist reckons that the U.S. Sixth Fleet alone has more firepower than Russia’s Navy.

It’s a lose-lose situation for the Russians. A poorly organized group of rebels are not going to be intimidated by the mere presence of some Russian ships. I doubt the Russian Navy would fire on the Syrian protesters, given that they recently failed to intervene when Cyprus blocked weapons and ammunition from entering Syria. If the rebels succeed in overthrowing Bashar Assad’s government, Russia would lose its southernmost naval base.

But the Russians won’t win even if Assad maintains control. By supporting the ruthless dictator, Russia further alienates itself from the new governments in the Middle East as well as Lebanon, Turkey, and Israel. The U.S. should capitalize on this opportunity.



Posted by jjames in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Join us Sunday at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) to discuss the military budget as planning of the great diversion of money from the Department of Defense begins at Episode 106 Tough Choices Hard Budgets 01/15 . Or, as the Salamander put it

Many are sobering up to the fact that the military is about to face a budget challenge not seen in a generation. Especially those who have seen this movie before, a number know that this one has the potential to be the most challenging seen in over half a century.

For the full hour, our guest will be Col. Robert Killebrew, USA (Ret.)., using his article in the DEC Armed Forces Journal, Cutbacks and Crisis, as a starting point.

In addition to being a contributing editor at AFJ, mong the many other things he has done since retirement he writes and consults on national defense issues as a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Prior to his retirement from active duty he served for thirty years in a variety of Special Forces, infantry and staff duties. His assignments ranged included duty in Vietnam with MACVSOG, the Vietnamese Airborne Division, command in mechanized, air assault and airborne units, and staff positions in the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, as director of plans, XVIII Airborne Corps, special assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army, command of a deployed joint task force and as an instructor in strategy and policy at the Army War College.
If you want to be ahead of the game in the growing budget battles, make sure and tune in this Sunday at 5pm EST or get the archive.



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