Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

This photo sort of looks like a ship, right? It is, but then again it’s also something else.

UMM QASR, Iraq (March 22, 2012) P-309 was the ninth patrol boat delivered to the Iraqi Navy under FMS program. (U.S. Navy photo) UMM QASR, Iraq (March 22, 2012) P-309 was the ninth patrol boat delivered to the Iraqi Navy under FMS program. (U.S. Navy photo)

This is not just a military asset; it's an economic asset and a political asset with strategic effects in each of those spheres. A military planner working on security assistance has a challenge in thinking big enough to recognize this ship and those who sail in it as more than a militarily important system.
Photo from NAVSEA PEO Ships website

For this example, the vessel–an Iraqi patrol craft made by an American company and part of a U.S. foreign military sales contract–is not just one of the assets Iraq’s military needs to protect a very crowded and consequential waterspace. It’s also a multi-decade relationship, where both countries get to know each other on an operator-to-operator level as well as on other levels. That relationship can have strategic effects as the lieutenants become admirals, and the relationship builds trust, access, and communications paths outside the formal diplomatic process and regionally as well as bilaterally.

One of the patrol spaces this ship protects drives the entire country’s economy–the oil platforms and pipeline infrastructure–and its shipping. This is recognizable to a military planner, though the economic part takes a bit of wider thinking to understand how U.S. security cooperation fits into it with training and equipment. But let’s add something important on here: U.S. policy is to support Iraq’s reintegration into the region, and it’s a top foreign policy priority for the U.S. with regard to Iraq. The military sphere tends to be a bit easier in reconnection than some other spheres; navies, since they’re mobile sovereign territory in international waters, can be the fastest of those–especially when the U.S. is acting as an honest broker. To pull off that kind of multinational reintegration is not solely a military function, but can utterly depend on the military aspect. If the U.S. really wants a whole-of-Executive-Branch (much less whole-of-government) approach to a policy problem, DoD’s mass has to be subordinated to the overall effort, even when it might not necessarily make short term military sense.

The example above isn’t perfect. Security assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan has been far from the standard situation seen by a security cooperation office, and special authorities in the law made security cooperation in these countries much different than in other countries. A more forceful example would be where the host nation is paying for every penny of the asset, since feelings about “what ‘we’ are giving ‘them'” emotionally colors the discussion, and it’s worthwhile to emphasize that foreign military sales is not necessarily coming from the U.S. taxpayer. On the other hand, the nonmilitary effects of this ship and crew, and the regional effects of what this ship does and the separate bilateral relationships that navy has with regional navies and the U.S., are pretty clear and useful to bring out the challenge of thinking about security cooperation as more than arms sales or exercises.

Many folks seem to miss the nonmilitary and regional effects of the military-to-military relationship built out of security cooperation, or even that the process is heavily structured in U.S. law. This post about security cooperation misses important considerations about what security cooperation is and what it’s supposed to do (this one by the same author is better, though of different focus). A comment of mine on that War On the Rocks post identifies structural problems in the argument, and there are other opportunities for quibbling, but that post proves that it’s worthwhile to outline some basics of SC with a view towards those regional and extramilitary effects.

Security cooperation (SC) is not very familiar to most operators in the Department of Defense. SC’s a difficult skill set. SC can pay off not only as a force multiplier, but also to provide diplomatic effects which can be game-changing. DoD personnel may only experience SC once, as an exercise or engagement event, or by doing a tour that includes a collateral duty associated with foreign military sales (FMS). More experience is in the foreign area officer (FAO) commmunity, whose officers can wind up doing SC from several angles over multiple tours, but there aren’t many FAOs around. Because the skills needed are relatively obscure inside DoD, understanding of what SC is becomes fragmentary and often misses the point. American SC can suffer from that bad understanding. (The way U.S. government agencies in the Executive Branch staff and train for SC missions doesn’t help the problem, either.)

DoD isn’t the agency where SC initially gets defined—because SC is not solely a DoD mission; it’s a State mission for which Defense is the executive agent.

Let’s define some terms here. SC includes

  • security assistance (SA), which itself includes
    • foreign military sales (FMS) weapons sales,
    • International Military Education and Training (IMET),
    • a multi-page list of other programs that somehow fit or get shoehorned into the process, and
  • security cooperation (Sc), a confusingly named subset of the bigger SC which mainly deals with exercise events with host nation or meetings between military personnel.

The first one, SA, is covered under federal law. (Note: IANAL and doing this off the top of my head.) U.S. Code Title 22 is the main law that covers diplomatic and consular functions and is for the Department of State what Title 10 is for DoD. The second part of security cooperation, the non-FMS part also called security cooperation, has rules under Title 22 but is more under a section of Title 10. That part of title 10 used is different from what you might expect, and it’s administered by personnel working under a different rule set than those under the full operational command of a COCOM. DoD personnel in country doing SC serve under the direction and supervision of the Chief of the United States Diplomatic Mission to that country (usually the U.S. ambassador to that country). Security cooperation, including security assistance, is a diplomatic function, under the Ambassador’s control in country. FMS cases and IMET and exercises have significant State Department approval and coordination–and additional coordination and approval by other agencies, and in some cases White House/Congressional approval–even though DoD has the mass and the executive agent role. The effect can sometimes be that the poor bureaucrat in the other agency is either like Horatius at the bridge or Niedermeyer in the riot, trying to get the massive influx of DoD people to go a different direction. It also can become counterintuitive, since American businesses might be fighting for the contract, or if one player–even a host nation–decides it’s worth lobbying for their interests more effectively to Congress than another player.

Note here that the Security Assistance Management Manual, the reference used in the War On The Rocks post, isn’t the controlling document. The law both trumps one agency’s manual and also highlights the diplomatic and interagency nature of SC. It also implies that the SC function is something we do as an ongoing and sustaining function of a country team, rather than something switched on once a COCOM has commenced large scale operations.

Since SC is a diplomatic function, one has to consider SC less like a military operation and more like a diplomatic operation. Results will be diffuse. They will have “one step forward two steps back” aspects. Results will be hard to measure in many respects. The effort will be like a coalition effort, with occasionally immense frustration on the ground and in the staff paying off strategically, but in different spheres than expected, or with effects long after the staffer is gone. For a planner looking for consistent positive results with a focused engineering-style goal oriented mindset this is anathema. A DoD planner or operator wants to get from point A to point B in a direct and uncluttered manner. Diplomacy, especially the work performed by Department of State colleagues on the country team on ground in country, is more chaotic and messy. If done right, SC advances the national interest of the United States; builds networks, access and relationships beneficial to the U.S.; eases stresses among and between partners; provides a common operating framework in the field; and provides a useful diplomatic tool as part of an embassy country team.

(Oh, by the way: There’s no Title 10 “command” in security cooperation organizations. There is no sheriff’s badge, no salad fork, no “forces”, even though the responsibility can weigh heavily, and DoD personnel could be in remote and dangerous locations. You’re a part of the embassy country team. There’s not even an organic Article 15 or medal-awarding authority, unless you’re a general for whom a COCOM has specifically delegated it in writing.)

For representatives of either agency to best advance U.S. national interest in the long term, both Defense and State have to be able to restrain some of their agency-level cultural impulses to achieve SC most effectively. Training, both in State’s A100 class for their newly commissioned officers, and at the Defense Institute for Security Assistance Management or similar venues for DoD personnel interacting with a country team, helps introduce the cultural difference to each agency. Other agencies with a hand in SC, such as the Departments of Commerce or Treasury, have a much smaller presence and make do with corporate knowledge and help from the larger groups interacting around them. (Homeland Security mainly interacts through Coast Guard personnel, who are more acquainted with DoD’s foibles and when in theater interact often with country teams with and outside the security cooperation office in the embassy.) Some aspects can cause real friction without planners realizing its source, such as when a J5 officer assumes there’s a J5 in State, or that a Post’s plan is written with the same process as DoD’s, or that the plan is followed as closely as a DoD plan would be. On the ground, people on the country team have to make it work through force of effort and personality.

The benefits of SC have national influence, not just military, from public affairs/public diplomacy to changing policies in a country. SC also has a regional influence: in the ability to use the U.S. effort as a go-between between two partners unhappy with each other, in the ability to build regional ties with the U.S. invited to play, and in the ability to influence regional decisions based on a calculation from a nation that has to deal with what the U.S. has done in the neighborhood. It could well be that host nation has no culture of maintenance and the equipment they paid for is failing. It could be that the country’s using the military to dispense largesse domestically, and the U.S. interest in improving capacity isn’t perfectly aligned with that national desire. It could be that there’s a Red Queen effect, where the security cooperation guys are running as hard as they can to stay in place capacity-wise. It could also be that those frustrating efforts pay off in unusual ways. The military planner will do well to reach out to those other American agencies, to actually listen and adjust planning based on that reaching out, to see the role of SC as more than military capacity building, and to plan for a long and difficult but rewarding SC effort.



Please join CDR Salamander and me on Sunday 8 Dec 13 at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) for Midrats Episode 205: A 21st Century Navy With John C. Harvey, Jr, ADM USN (Ret)

In less than a month we will be firmly in the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st Century. What path were we put on at the start 21st Century that got us here? How do we evaluate the right decisions, the neutral decisions, and the less than optimal calls of the last decade and a half? What lessons can we take away now in order to make decisions to best position the Navy on the approaches to 2030?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday to discuss this an much more will be Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr, USN (Ret).

Almost a year since he joined the retired ranks, when in uniform Admiral Harvey was one of the of the more engaged, visible, and accessible Flag Officers of his generation – and in retirement he continues to be an influential voice.

Admiral Harvey was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a 1973 graduate of the U S Naval Academy.

In his thirty-nine year Navy career, he specialized in naval nuclear propulsion, surface ship and carrier strike-group operations and Navy-wide manpower management/personnel policy development.

He commanded the USS DAVID R RAY (DD 971), the USS CAPE ST GEORGE (CG 71), the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Strike Group/CCDG-8 and also served as the Navy’s 54th Chief of Naval Personnel and as the Director, Navy Staff.

Prior to his retirement from the Navy in November, 2012, Admiral Harvey served as Commander, US Fleet Forces Command. He now makes his home in Vienna, Virginia where he resides with his wife, Mary Ellen.

Join us live or, if you can’t make it live, pick up the show later by clicking here.



Please join us on 17 Nov 13 at 5pm (1700) Eastern U.S. for our Episode 202: “Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton”:

Are there lessons one can learn from the most exceptional edges of the military experience that can be useful to the civilian world?

Was there something from the experience of American prisoners of war imprisoned at the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War that had to do with their success in their subsequent careers?

Our guests to discuss for the full hour will be Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland, authors of Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton: Six Characteristics of High-Performance Teams.

You might find the review of their book by one of the former POWs, CAPT Dick Stratton, relevant:

It is almost as if the authors were there beside Jim Stockdale while he was in the Maison Centrale (Hanoi Hilton).

Join us live or pick the show up later by clicking here.



Please join us at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) on Sunday 22 Sep 13 for Midrats Episode 194: “DD214, Unpacked Boxes and the road ahead”:

When a few years turns in to many. When all of a sudden you seem to be the oldest guy in the room. When you have but days of memories of your kids and in the blink of an eye they are a year older – eventually everyone on active duty reaches the point where it is time to pack the sea bag one more time and put it in the attic.


It is time to retire or leave active duty. Better or worse – it is time to go.

What are the paths someone follows to reach that point? What decisions and inputs lead to that point where you say, “It’s someone else’s turn.”

What are the important things you learn in the process of leaving going out that you wish you knew earlier? What are the myths about transitioning to the civilian world – and what are the no-kidding hard truths?

How do you interact differently with the civilian world? What must someone leave behind, and what are those things that if you want them or not, they will always be with you?

To discuss this and more on the subject of “what’s next” when you leave active duty will be out panel with returning guest Commander James H. Ware, USN (Ret.)., and former active duty Sergeant Marcus Penn, USMC.

Join us at 5pm on Sunday 22 Sep 13 or pick the show up later by clicking here.



Join us at 5pm Eastern on Sunday 8 Sep 13 for Midrats Episode 192: “No, I Won’t Shut-up and Cover”:

Is there such a thing as Military Intellectual Entrepreneurialism?

Large, sated, and complacent organization do not have a good track record of survival. Organizations of any size that nurture the mentality of small, hungry, and driven by creative destruction and friction based on competing ideas – that is the path to success. Always has been, always will be.

How do we get that attitude to permeate the military? How do we harness the power of an entrepreneurial mindset to build a better national security and defense structure?

As we just start to enter another period of resource limitation in the face of an ever changing international security landscape – do we take advantage of the need for change, or do we buckle under our own moss-covered and hide-bound habits?

To discuss this concept for the full hour, as well as the upcoming Defense Entrepreneurs Forum 12-14 OCT will be our panel:

- LT Ben Kohlmann, USN – Founder of Disruptive Thinkers, F/A-18 pilot and member of the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell, Co-Founder Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

- Capt Anthony Hatala, USMC – AV-8B Harrier Pilot, C-130 Harvest HAWK Operator, Founder Military Traveler, Co-Founder Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

- MAJ Nathan Finney, USA – Armor Officer, US Army Harvard Strategy Fellow, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for Strategy Development

- Capt Jeff Gilmore, USAF – C-17 Pilot, AMC eFlight Bag Program, co-founder MilitaryLounge

Join us live at 5pm Eastern U.S. or listen later by clicking here.



Considering the current fiscal climate and pressure to reduce defense spending, policy makers and military leaders are looking for innovative ways to reduce operating costs. The Pentagon is not alone in this endeavor and the entire federal government is undergoing similar belt-tightening efforts.

One approach directed by the President’s Office of Management and Budget in its Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Guidance is the increased use of evidence based decision making as a way to reduce costs and improve program effectiveness. This aligns well to the old management axiom “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” and should be applied to the ongoing effort to Reduce Administrative Distractions.

When one compares defense acquisitions to product development in the private sector, the amount of oversight and administration in defense programs are significant factors in the cost-per-unit disparity. Every private American automobile, aircraft and ship manufacturer would certainly be bankrupt if they had to contend with the excessive oversight each defense program must endure.

Read the rest of this entry »



Join us this Sunday, 21 July at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) for Midrats Episode 185: Getting “Next” Right with John Nagl:

So, which is it? Do we forget our history and are therefore doomed to repeat it, or are we always preparing to fight the next war?

As we finish up the final chapter of our participation in Afghanistan after well over a decade, and reflect on the changes in the arch of the Muslim world from the Atlas mountains to Mindanao – what do we need, intellectually, to retain for what is coming “next?”

With one eye on historical patterns and another on developing economic, demographic, and political trends – what do we need to do to man, train, and equip the armed forces to be best positioned to address what we think we will face, but flexible enough to meet what we don’t know?

Our guest for the full hour will be John Nagl, Lt Col USA (Ret.), PhD, presently the Minerva Research Professor at the US Naval Academy, previously the President of CNAS.

Dr. Nagl was a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy Class of 1988 who served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for 20 years. His last military assignment was as commander of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor. He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nagl taught national security studies at West Point and Georgetown University and served as a Military Assistant to two Deputy Secretaries of Defense.

He earned his Master of the Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. His writings have also been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Join us live on the 21st or, if you can’t make it, pick the show up later by clicking here.



bowl-of-white-riceMid-week brings up a few issues that we should be watching as the budget battles and the new SECDEF’s restructuring starts to shape facts on the ground.

First off the bat is the best news of the week from SECDEF Hagel. Some may say it is pocket change, but it really isn’t. More than anything else, this sets the tone and has out front who should already be there. Good start and hopefully generates some desired 2nd-order effects. Via Craig Whitlock at WaPo;

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that he has ordered a 20 percent cut in the number of top brass and senior civilians at the Pentagon by 2019, the latest attempt to shrink the military bureaucracy after years of heady growth.

Hagel’s directive could force the Pentagon and military command staffs to shed an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. That’s a tiny percentage of the Defense Department’s 2.1 million active-duty troops and civilian employees, but analysts said it would be a symbolically important trimming of the upper branches of the bureaucracy, which has proved to be resistant to past pruning attempts.

Exactly. We went through PTS and ERB while the senior levels floated at anchor. If done in conjunction with Staff restructuring, significant efficiencies on the admin side of the house at least will be in order.

Late Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little estimated that Hagel’s order would result in total savings that “could be in the range” of $1.5 billion to $2 billion over five years. In a statement, he said that the number of job cuts was yet to be determined and that they wouldn’t begin until 2015.

In 2010, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ordered a three-year freeze on staffing in his office, the Joint Staff and the military combatant commands. But a recent analysis by Defense News, a trade publication, found that the size of those staffs nevertheless has grown by about 15 percent.

You can buy a lot of training for $2.1 billion in 5 years. We’ll take it.

That is the official side – and when you start taking away people’s parking spaces and personal staff – that will create a bit of friction down at the Potomac Flotilla tactical level.

On the unofficial side, the real fireworks will take place when, and I believe it will, as the concept raised by Zachary Keck at TheDiplomat continues to set its roots;

… the different services within the armed forces have long been treated with near perfect equality.

That’s at least one implication of the Golden Ratio principle of defense budgeting, whereby the three different services—the Army, Navy (including Marines), and Air Force—receive a constant and nearly equal share of the defense budget. As Travis Sharp, one of the most outspoken critics of the Golden Ratio, explains: “Since fiscal year 1948, the Army, Navy, and Air Force have on average received 28 percent, 31 percent, and 33 percent, respectively, of DOD’s annual budget. Hot war, cold war, or no war – the allotment of the services’ budgets has remained relatively constant over time.”

However, with the post-9/11 wars winding down, a potential future peer competitor emerging, and austerity taking hold, the U.S. no longer needs nor can it afford to continue obliging the military equality of the Golden Ratio.

For one thing, the shift to the Indo-Pacific, as well as the declining utility of large ground forces, eliminates the strategic rationale of holding the three armed services in equal esteem, at least when it comes to the allocation of resources.

Now THAT is something that will keep a lot of people busy for the rest of the decade.



Jim WiseThe U.S. Naval Institute and the military history and literary world lost a great man in July, Captain Jim Wise. He was 82.

After graduating from Northwestern University, he became a naval aviator in 1953 and served as an intelligence officer, going on to command various naval intelligence units until he retired in 1975. He later held several senior executive posts in private-sector companies. Following that, he began to dabble in writing.

Jim was working on Stars in Blue, a book he was writing about celebrities in the U.S. Navy with Annie Rehill, when the phone rang at home one day. His wife answered, and the caller said he was Paul Newman. “Oh, sure it is,” she said, and handed the phone to Jim. Turns out it was, indeed, the multi-Oscar winner, a Navy veteran who called to tell Jim he found a photo of himself on the deck of a ship he served in.

Read the rest of this entry »



Posted by admin in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags:

Welcome to America’s Syria Policy, the China round. Having made the public announcement of support to the rebels, only two feasible policy options remain for the United States; these examples arise from two moments in history, existing together on a razor’s edge of success in a smorgasbord of disaster. We either take a page from the Kuomintang-Maoist balance during the invasion by Imperial Japan or from the footnotes of America’s opening of China in the 1970′s.

Beyond the Syrian Sub-Plot

To much of the leadership of the Maoists (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT), both members of the Second “United Front”, the invasion by Japan was merely a precarious backdrop to the continued struggle for the face of China’s independent future. In the words of their leadership:

The photographer cropped out the knives behind their backs.

“70 percent self-expansion, 20 percent temporization and 10 percent fighting the Japanese.”

-Mao Zedong

“The Japanese are a disease of the skin, the communists are a disease of the heart.”
-Chiang Kai Shek

Even while the battle with Japan raged, Chiang-Kai Shek and Mao’s soldiers exchanged fire behind the lines of control. The conflict was partially a vessel by which the KMT and CCP collected foreign aid and built local influence/human resources for the final battle between the United Front’s membership. The limits of treachery within the Chinese alliance were often what each party felt able to get away with. China’s fate, not the rejection of an interloper, was the main prize.

The Syrian civil war has become such a major sub-plot; the two major parties, the Assad regime and the rebellion, are dominated by equally bad options: an extremist authoritarian backed by Hezbollah and Iran, and extremist Islamists backed by Al-Qaeda. Syria is beyond her “Libya Moment” when moderates and technocrats were still strong enough to out-influence extremist elements in stand-up combat with the regime. Like the KMT or CCP, the United States must now concentrate on the survival of what little faction of sanity exists within the war, as opposed to the war itself.

Read the rest of this entry »



« Older Entries Newer Entries »
2014 Information Domination Essay Contest