Archive for the 'National Security' Tag

“Political Season,” like “Hurricane Season,” is upon us and it is a good time to look at some of the ramifications of the votes to come, which is exactly what we are doing this Sunday, June 3 at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) with Midrats Episode 126: National Security in the 2012 Election 06/03 on Blog Talk Radio:

Five months and a bit to the November 2012 election.

The war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is adrift – but the underlying cause of both remains. OBL is dead yet the drone wars expand.

Our traditional European allies have never been weaker in living memory. The old order in the Arab world is changing, and the western Pacific grows in focus.

A military worn out by a decade of war is also looking at decreasing resources in a sluggish economy.

Where do we prioritize? What is the best mix of strategy and programs to best prepare our military for the challenges of this century?

Which issues related to national defense will make it in to the 2012 contest? How do President Obama and Governor Romney differ in their views, plans, and priorities for our nation’s military?

Our returning guest for the full hour will be Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Mackenzie Eaglen has worked on defense issues in the U.S. Congress, both House and Senate, and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff. She specializes in defense strategy, budget, military readiness and the defense industrial base. In 2010, Ms. Eaglen served as a staff member of the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission established to assess the Pentagon’s major defense strategy. A prolific writer on defense related issues, she has also testified before Congress.

Join us live by clicking here or later by downloading the show from here or from the iTunes page.



As NASA satellites placed to monitor changes in the environment go dark, they are not being replaced, leaving a gap in our ability to assess changes to the world around us. This, in turn, according to a recent paper from the Center for a New American Security, creates a hole in our ability to plan national security. You can find a link to the paper here.

On Episode 85 Missing the largest picture 08/21 by Midrats | Blog Talk Radio 5 pm Eastern U.S., we are going to discuss this topic with one of the authors of the paper, Will Rogers.

Or, as CDR Salamander puts it:

Military professionals understand the intelligence requirements of the Tactical, Operational, and Strategic Level.

Each level of command has their own set of reconnaissance and surveillance requirements. In the truest sense – data needs to flow up and down in order to ensure that the National Command Authority has the best information available when forming policy.

They also understand that on top of them all is the Political Level. The Political can be national, alliance, or international. Is there an even more critical level that should inform the Political and effect its direction and guidance?

What about Earth monitoring – the Environmental Level?

The history of the Earth is a constant story of changing climates from temperature, sea levels, deserts and rain. These changes drive migration and wars. Are we monitoring this to the level we should?

To discuss for the full hour will be Research Associate and Joseph S. Nye Jr. Internship Coordinator at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), co-author of the policy brief, Blinded: The Decline of U.S. Earth Monitoring Capabilities and Its Consequences for National Security; Will Rogers.

Rogers’s research focus spans unconventional security challenges, and he has authored or co-authored a range of publications on energy, climate change, environmental cooperation in Asia, and cybersecurity. He is a co-editor of and contributor to the Natural Security Blog.

Here’s a link to the show: Episode 85

Can’t make the show? Download it later from the link above or from iTunes.



Energy independence and energy security are not just buzzwords. From the car you drive to the food you eat and the heat that makes winters livable and power that makes summers productive to our urban culture; energy and power are what makes our civilization possible.

If you don’t have secure energy, you do not have a secure nation. The areas of the world that have the greatest energy supplies are neither stable or natural friends of our Western Democracy. That is a problem, and explains why most of our wars have been fought where they have been.

Is new technology helping to change the national security equation?

To discuss for the full hour will be Amy Myers Jaffe, the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies, director of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute, author, and associate director of the Rice Energy Program at Rice University.

Ms. Jaffe is one of the authors of the paper, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, “SHALE GAS AND U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY” linked to in this earlier post Shale Gas and U.S. National Security and has studied this area extensively.

Please join us for what should be an interesting conversation. Sunday, 5pm Eastern or, if you can’t make it, the show will be available for download from BlogTalkRadio or iTunes. You can join us live by clicking here



A paper, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, “SHALE GAS AND U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY”:

The Baker Institute study “Shale Gas and U.S. National Security,” sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, investigates the role that U.S. shale gas will play in global energy markets as global primary energy use shifts increasingly to natural gas. Specifically, the study concludes that shale gas will diminish the petro-power of major natural gas producers in the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela, and it will be a major factor limiting global dependence on natural gas supplies from the same unstable regions that are currently uncertain sources of the global supply of oil. In addition, the timely development of U.S. shale gas resources will limit the need for the United States to import liquefied natural gas for at least two decades, thereby reducing negative energy-related stress on the U.S. trade deficit and economy.

You can read the source document by downloading it from here.

Here’s an interesting section that points out how global energy markets work:

Not only is shale gas important for U.S. national security, it’s providing a benefit to Europe and Asia.

Damn right it will “have significant geopolitical ramifications.”

And we have a lot of it, as set out here:

The U.S. Has Abundant Shale Gas Resources

Of the natural gas consumed in the United States in 2009, 87% was produced domestically; thus, the supply of natural gas is not as dependent on foreign producers as is the supply of crude oil, and the delivery system is less subject to interruption. The availability of large quantities of shale gas will further allow the United States to consume a predominantly domestic supply of gas.

According to the EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011, the United States possesses 2,552 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of potential natural gas resources. Natural gas from shale resources, considered uneconomical just a few years ago, accounts for 827 Tcf of this resource estimate, more than double the estimate published last year.

Enough for 110 Years of Use

At the 2009 rate of U.S. consumption (about 22.8 Tcf per year), 2,552 Tcf of natural gas is enough to supply approximately 110 years of use. Shale gas resource and production estimates increased significantly between the 2010 and 2011 Outlook reports and are likely to increase further in the future.

U.S. Energy Information Agency ;study, “Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays”:

Although the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) and energy projections began representing shale gas resource development and production in the mid-1990s, only in the past 5 years has shale gas been recognized as a “game changer” for the U.S. natural gas market. The proliferation of activity into new shale plays has increased dry shale gas production in the United States from 1.0 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 4.8 trillion cubic feet, or 23 percent of total U.S. dry natural gas production, in 2010. Wet shale gas reserves increased to about 60.64 trillion cubic feet by year-end 2009, when they comprised about 21 percent of overall U.S. natural gas reserves, now at the highest level since 1971. Oil production from shale plays, notably the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana, has also grown rapidly in recent years.

You can thank the engineers who developed the technology and techniques to make this possible.



The Center for Naval Analyses built their new report, “The Navy at a Tipping Point: maritime Dominance at Stake?” on a comforting trellis of assumptions:

“First, there will be a continued demand for a safe and secure global maritime environment. Advantages to having an open world economy and trade for all major powers are growing…Increasingly, nations are trying to formulate a set of maritime rules to support local/regional development and maritime policing of illicit activities.”

How nice! This vanilla-flavored assumption is positive, doesn’t challenge status quo, and, in addition, makes excellent consultancy fodder for high-paying corporate audiences.

But is this assumption valid? A recent bulletin from Inside the Pentagon (subscription, sorry) suggests otherwise:

“U.S. and Chinese officials agreed last December to hold the next plenary meeting under the 1998 bilateral Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) in March or April of this year. But China subsequently suspended a range of military-to-military activities to protest the Pentagon’s planned arms sales to Taiwan. And now PACOM is confirming the safety talks are a casualty of that row.”

Oops. Other countries (particularly Asian navies that seem to have a higher tolerance for settling maritime disputes via intimidation and, often, gunfire) may not fully subscribe to the U.S. vision of maritime safety.

Here’s CNA’s second set of assumptions:

“Second, no other country (or combination of countries) will create the forces required for a navy with global influence…[other] navies can also conduct short-term surges for uses of force against low end threats or act as supporters to USN-led naval operations; however persistent out-of-area operations (even by a low number of assets) would quickly deplete their resources and political support at home.”

New navies, when well used, pay enormous domestic political dividends. Remember the Maine? Or the year-long voyage of the Great White Fleet? What about Imperial Germany’s use of their growing fleet to build/bolster a colonial empire? Wasn’t Germany’s acquisition of Tsingatao (done after the murder of German Catholic priests) rather…popular?

So..with history in mind, how might China (given its self-acknowledged internal domestic weaknesses) use their fleet? To forge a better sense of national unity, maybe?

Which brings us to CNA’s third assumption-set:

“…China is behaving exactly as every growing nation has behaved since the dawn of the Maritime Age in the 1400s…”

Hey, they got one right (two out of three ain’t bad)…but, hey…Didn’t those new navies ultimately make the seas less safe? Did they not lead to increased conflict at sea? To wider naval conflict?

Seems that the CNA researchers don’t think so.

To be blunt: Other nations may share U.S. appreciation for a “safe and secure global maritime environment.” The problem is that other nations may define “safe and secure” somewhat differently than America does.

U.S. defense thinkers must stop assuming the rest of the world shares our world view. You heard it here first…America’s habit of mirror-imaging (a symptom of having a rather poor grasp of history) is a well-known point of exploitation.

Read more at NEXTNAVY.COM. Subscribe here.



March 2011. The still of the pre-dawn darkness is only slightly disturbed by the passage of a container ship. Like the many thousands of others like her plying the ocean’s ways, this one’s cargo is neatly stacked on the deck — ISO shipping containers in a multitude of colors and shippers markings. As the fog bank thickens, a radar scope is closely scrutinized on the bridge. Out here, off the shipping lanes no other merchant traffic is expected and, it would appear, neither were there any signs of fishing craft or more troubling, naval or coast guard ships. Earlier in the night a code had been passed via an internet podcast and confirmed via a secure webpage. Soon, very soon, part of the ship’s cargo would complete the long journey begun in Sverdlovsk.

Up forward, locks are removed on two of the containers and a pair of shadowy figures enter each container. A series of muffled noises from the interior of the boxes is rapidly followed by their tops falling to one side and a brace of four tubes quickly rise to the vertical. A minute or two passes and the quiet is shattered by a series of explosions. From each tube a long, slender figure emerges atop a cloud of gases. Bright flames suddenly appear and the forms race off to the far horizon, away from the sun, still hours away from rising.

NAVSTA Norfolk has been home to US naval aviation ever since Eugene Ely first flew his fragile, kite-like aircraft off a makeshift platform mounted on the anchored USS Birmingham. From her roadsted, flattops of the Essex, Midway, Forrestal, Enterprise and now the Nimitz class sortied to distant spots on the globe to carry out the missions assigned — presence, deterrence, and when necessary, the fury unleashed from their decks and the holds of their escorts reinforced the determination of a free people to remain free.

On this early morning, Pier 12 is brightly lit in floodlights as the two Nimitz-class carriers, USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 72) complete preparations for an emergency sortie on the tide. Both had pulled into Norfolk one day prior with their full airwing complement on board to take on one final round of provisions and the remainder of their embarked airwing personnel and equipment. Tensions have dramatically risen in the Gulf over the past few weeks following Iran’s declaration of nuclear capability. There had been no detonation, and some were saying it was just a boast – that the Iranians were still years away from really having the capability for even a couple of weapons. Still, Israel had attempted a long-range strike only to recall it when the US threatened to expose the mission. A show of force was in order and to reinforce the two carrier presence in the Gulf (Eisenhower and Washington were already there) the Vinson was being turned back from a Hong Kong port visit and TR with Truman would join her outside the Straits of Hormuz.

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In Asia, America has gotta move away from a long-standing habit of engaging in simple, bilateral force measurements. Asia is a multi-polar place, and America’s penchant for strategic over-simplification is going to land the U.S. into serious trouble.

Put bluntly, U.S. Navy-folk need to remember there are a few other countries over on the other side of the Pacific. Some of them are rather formidable. And the U.S. is neglecting them.

So…Let’s take a moment to compare some naval forces in the Pacific Basin. Using the official DOD Annual Report to Congress on the Military Power of the PRC 2005 and 2009, it looks like China’s Navy is growing. But…when China’s rate of growth is compared with other neighbors, that burst of growth over the past five years looks a lot less daunting.

China: Diesel Attack Subs: (2005 vs. 2009): 51 vs. 54 (+3)
USA: Diesel Attack Subs: (2005 vs. 2009): 0 vs. 0 (+0)

Note: Japan commissioned 4 Oyashio-class, 2 Soryu-class SSKs; South Korea commissioned 3 Type 214s from 2005-2010.

China: Nuclear Subs (SSN only, 2005 vs. 2009): 6 vs. 6 (+0)
USA: Nuclear Subs (SSN/SSGN only 2005 vs. 2009): 58 vs. 56/57 (-2/-1)

China: Destroyers (2005 vs. 2009): 21 vs. 27 (+7)
USA: Destroyers (2005 vs. 2009/10): 46 vs. 54/57 (+8/+11)

Note: Japan brought into service 2 Atago-class destroyers, 2 Takanami-class destroyers, and a Hyuga-class “carrier” destroyer; Taiwan put 4 ex-Kidd-class vessels into service; South Korea put 4 KDX-2-class destroyers into service over the past 5 years.

China: Frigates (2005 vs. 2009): 43 vs. 48 (+5)
USA: Frigates (2005 vs. 2009/10): 30 vs. 30/31 (+0/+1)

Note: Regional Frigate-building programs are proceeding apace.

China: Coastal Missile ships: (2005 vs. 2009): 51 vs 70+ (+19 at least)
USA: Nada. Zip.

Interesting. China’s small missile ships are allowing China’s larger vessels to engage in “blue water” activities, so, while these vessels expand China’s “reach”, a dependence on small ships may prove a vulnerability. The region needs to know more about the small ship programs hosted by Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. What, by way of smaller vessels, can these navies offer? How good are the region’s Air Forces in hunting and destroying smaller craft?

In short, does China’s love of small craft contribute to regional stability or not?

Look. China’s Navy is still awfully small. And with China not exactly on friendly terms with it’s neighbors (who, on the part of Japan and South Korea, are building some very modern navies), the PLA(N) has a lot to do to secure China’s maritime borders. It is a little bit of a stretch to think all this new floating hardware is aimed exclusively at the U.S.A.

NEXTNAVY.COM



Dig down in the comments on another post and you’ll find some strong arguments being made for drastic cuts in the Navy and other services to help improve America’s balance sheet for the long haul. Clearly, restoring the health of the economy is a national security issue, but reports on the economy are vulnerable to hyperbole and predictions on how long the current downturn will last vary.

While the economy is in fact weak, in an environment where bad economic news makes good headlines, sells newspaper and drives traffic to media outlets, and economic issues and proposed remedies are highly politicized, it is challenging to objectively weigh economic issues against other national security issues. Unemployment is rising, several major industries are in genuine crisis and consumer confidence is low, but many of the key metrics grabbing headlines have been worse in the post-Depression period, yet did not require massive government intervention or austerity measures to correct. The less politicized economists seem to be predicting the recession will last another 12-18 months, with a few predicting as long as 24-36 months.

We also appear to be seeing a rebalancing in security challenges. The war in Iraq is drawing down, and while resources must be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, it’s not unreasonable to believe America’s commitments to “boots on the ground” in far away lands will decrease on the order of 30 to 50 thousand troops over the next two years. Meanwhile, maritime challenges are on the upswing and global maritime presence and engagement is becoming a more pressing requirement to maintain the free flow of trade and regional stability.

So, given the situation America faces at home and abroad, three questions come to mind:

  1. Are the current economic problems significant enough to make the economy America’s #1 security problem and warrant substantial reductions in defense spending?
  2. Does the current plan to build the end strength of the Army and Marine Corps need to be reconsidered?
  3. Should defense dollars be reallocated among the services to give higher priority to resurgent naval threats and maritime security initiatives?

What say you?

[Update1] Looks like somebody at CBO may already be saying “yes” to question #2:

The Congressional Budget Office prepared some budget alternatives for Congress to deal with defense budget shortfalls.

The alternative budget…proposes increasing enrollment fees and copayments for military retirees using the defense health care system and a reduction in Army and Marine Corps personnel.



New Presidential Arctic Region Policy

Cross Posted from iCommandant

Admiral Allen surveys the summer ice

Observing the summer ice floes from HEALY, Aug 2008.

On January 9, 2009, the President signed the Nation’s new Arctic Region Policy, National Security Presidential Directive 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25. This document, which replaces the Arctic section of PDD-26, establishes comprehensive national policies that recognize the changing environmental, economic, and geo-political conditions in the Arctic and re-affirms the United States’ broad and fundamental interests in the region. The Directive takes into account altered national policies on national defense and homeland security, the effects of global climate change and increased human activity in the region, as well as a growing awareness that the Arctic is both fragile and rich in natural resources.

NSPD 66/HSPD 25 specifically establishes that it is the policy of the U.S. to:

– Meet national security and homeland security needs relevant to the Arctic region
– Protect the Arctic environment and conserve its biological resources
– Ensure that natural resource management and economic development in the region are environmentally sustainable
– Strengthen institutions for cooperation among the eight Arctic nations
– Involve the Arctic?s indigenous communities in decisions that affect them
– Enhance scientific monitoring and research into local, regional, and global environment issues.

Secretary Chertoff met with local leaders in Barrow Alaska while visiting the Arctic Region, August 2008

The development of these policies was a collaborative effort involving myriad stakeholders and, in many ways, marks the first step in the United States taking an active role in the region. Much work remains to be done and we look forward to working closely with our partners at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, the Arctic nations, appropriate international forums, and the private sector to develop the requirements, action plans, and best mix of resources needed to implement these policies. The following highlights just a few of the specific Coast Guard implications in the new policy. These are by no means all inclusive. As you read these understand that we can accomplish nothing on our own. Every aspect of this directive overlaps the responsibilities and interest of several parties and agencies. Continued collaboration, cooperation and communication will be the keys to success. Also, as we have been, we will Involve the Arctic’s indigenous communities in decisions that affect them.

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National and Homeland Security Interests

The Arctic region is primarily a maritime domain and the Coast Guard will continue to apply the following policies and authorities, including law enforcement:

– Freedom of Navigation
– U.S. Policy on Protecting the Ocean and the Environment
Maritime Security Policy
National Strategy for Maritime Security

The U.S. will exercise sovereignty within our maritime boundaries and over the continental shelf while preserving Freedom of the Seas. Implementation of this policy requires the development of greater capabilities and capacity to operate in the region to protect our borders, increase Arctic domain awareness and project our presence in the region. This will require close cooperation with our partners the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.

International Governance

The Coast Guard’s main role in this capacity is to represent the U.S. in the International Maritime Organization and other appropriate forums to develop international agreements to ensure effective governance mechanisms, including Arctic-specific regulations to ensure safe, secure, environmentally friendly maritime activities. These efforts will be closely coordinated with the Department of Transportation and Department of State and will also serve to advance multi-national cooperation in the region. We will look at how to expand our highly effective partnerships established through the North Pacific and North Atlantic Coast Guard Forums to meet the objectives of this directive.

Continental Shelf and Boundary Issues / Promoting International Scientific Cooperation

USCGC Healy

USCGC Healy

The Coast Guard will continue to support the necessary research efforts by the National Science Foundation and others through the use of Coast Guard resources for scientific support to establish the outer limit of the continental shelf to the fullest extent permitted under international law.

Maritime Transportation in the Artic region

U.S. priorities for maritime transportation in the Arctic are to facilitate safe, secure and reliable navigation; protect maritime commerce; protect the environment.

This requires the Coast Guard to work with its interagency partners, the Arctic nations, and regulatory

USCGC SPAR operating off the North Slope

USCGC SPAR operating off the North Slope

 bodies to establish infrastructure to support shipping activity; search and rescue response; aids to navigation; vessel traffic management; iceberg warnings and sea ice information; shipping standards; and protection of the marine environment.

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources

The Coast Guard will work collaboratively to develop environmental response strategies, plans and capabilities working with the Departments of Energy and the Interior. We will also enforce any international or domestic fisheries laws developed for this unique region in coordination with NOAA and NMFS from the Department of Commerce.
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I commend all of the participants who helped to develop this comprehensive Arctic Region Policy over the last two years. For the men and women of the Coast Guard, and the partners we work next to every day, this is just the beginning of the work to be done to ensure that we expand our superior mission execution to the increasingly significant Arctic region, consistent with the President’s intent.



The 1947 National Security Act was notable for the sweeping changes it put into effect post WWII. In creating the Department of Defense, splitting out the USAF as a separate service, establishing the National Security Council and the CIA, it put into place the necessary organizations, agencies and services to conduct a prolonged campaign against the Soviet Union. With the end of the Cold War there has been no shortage of individuals and organizations calling for an overhaul of the Act usually coming in the wake of a catastrophic or signatory event (Desert One, 9/11, etc.). And on the cusp of a new administration with a changed international landscape with a host of security challenges overseas and at home, comes another push, albeit one that is a bit different in constitution and charter.

Language in the 2008 defense authorization required a study of the national security interagency system by an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization. That study is complete and has been forwarded by the Project on National Security Reform (www.pnsr.org) earlier this month to the Bush Administration, and, we presume, to the Obama transition committee. The full 800+ pg report may be downloaded here or a shorter, 33pg executive summary here.

(more below the fold)

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