Archive for the 'NATO' Tag

seacontrolemblemProfessor Anthony Clark Arend joins us to discuss International law. We discuss some basic definitions, and their influence on international actors, using the lens of Crimea and the Chinese ADIZ. I also learn later that my mic input has been the crummy laptop mic all month, explaining all my audio quality frustrations. Remember, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher Stream Radio. Leave a comment and five stars!

DOWNLOAD: Sea Control 27- International Law, China, and Crimea



seacontrolemblemSea Control discusses the Crimean Crisis, with three CIMSEC writers: Dave Blair, Viribus Unitis, and Robert Rasmussen. We discuss Russia’s aims and tactics, the Maidan movement, Ukrainian governance and passive resistance, and what this crisis means for Russia and the EU/NATO.

DOWNLOAD: Sea Control 25 – Crimean Crisis

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Today’s extended episode is a chat on future threat projection with Dennis Smith of the Project on International Peace and Security from William and Mary, Chris Peterson of the Fletcher School’s Neptune Group, and Alexander Clarke of the Phoenix Think Tank. We talk about the next 5-10 years in maritime security, concentrating on global human security, china, and the economy. Please enjoy Sea Control 21- Threat Projection (download).

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While I certainly sympathize with the thrust of John Kuehn’s title in his energetic article about the situation in Afghanistan, I’d like to offer a somewhat different perspective from my position as the Supreme Allied Commander for all NATO operations, including the 140,000, 50-nation coalition in Afghanistan.

First, I want to agree with John’s laudatory comments about our NATO / ISAF Commander in Afghanistan, my Naval Academy classmate and close friend General John Allen; as well as the commander of NATO’s Training Mission – Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Dan Bolger. Both are doing superb work in truly demanding assignments.

In terms of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, while there are some similarities, the differences are far greater, and far more encouraging than the situation back in 1989.

In comparison to the Soviet Union, the ISAF coalition has devoted great resources to human capital and infrastructure development, and we have devoted significantly greater troop numbers for kinetic operations; and we already are well underway with a responsible and managed turnover of security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces. Most importantly, the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan after the majority of ISAF forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014 is real and tangible: detailed planning is in progress now in NATO.

Read the rest of this entry »



If you dig around a bit, you can find more and more about the Tactical Lessons Identified (learned is a totally different concept) from the Libyan operations. Like all real world operations, when looked at with a clear eye you can learn what theories were good in practice, what old lessons you needed to remember, and who was being too optimistic or too academic when it came to the realities of combat.

Robbin Laird has a great article out based in a large part on his interviews with the French military. What is so interesting is to hear from other nations what we are used to hearing from our own – expeditionary and littoral combat. This is good and healthy for all – and exceptionally valuable to the military professional who is willing to listen.

Make sure and read it all – but here are the things that stuck with me the most;

A main point underscored by the French military was the impact of the political process on military planning. The French President clearly saw the need for the operation and had worked closely with the British Prime Minister to put in place a political process which would facilitate a Libyan support operation for the rebels. But until NATO received the UN Mandate was obtained, no military action could be authorized. This meant that there was little or no planning for military operations with the result that, in the words of one French military officer, “we were forced to craft operations on the fly with little or no pre-planning or pre-coordination. We did some on our own but until the authorization for action was in place, we could not mobilize assets.”

That is why it is so critical that you have a Commander identified early in a process with a Staff in place. Many an Operational Planner has received the, “We are not supposed to do any planning for this. So, I want the core planning team to just … what shall we call it … talk about this. Don’t plan … just, ahem, talk. Have the Chair see to me in four hours about your, ahem, discussions …. ” speech with a nod-nod-wink-wink from the N/J/CJ-5.

There is no reason to go without a plan on the shelf … unless … you don’t have one. If you don’t have one in work – then someone needs to have a serious talk with their planning staff. Even with a pick-up team – you should already have a plan in work once a crisis rears its head. Sounds like they had something to work with – but given the sloppy start to the Libyan operations; no shock we had to improv a bit at the start.

…. and now – one of my favorite topics, NSFS.

An aspect of the operation of the helos off of the Mistral is noteworthy as well. The frigate with which it was deployed used its guns to support the helo deployment. The guns provided fire suppression to enhance the security of the insertion of the helos off of the Mistral.

The ship’s C2 is first rate and was part of the link to the air fleet for receiving and processing information to shape an intelligence picture in support of strike operations. This demonstrated that integrating maritime with land-based air can provide a powerful littoral operations capability, one which may prove very relevant to the United States as it rethinks the relationship between the USAF and the USN-USMC team in shaping 21st century operations.

Hasn’t this been true since, well, we had aircraft flying early last century? The critical importance and flexibility of the naval gun known for centuries? Modern combat from The Falklands, to the Haiphong gunline, to Five Inch Friday, to Libya reminds us – have your gun ready. None of this is new or shocking – but the fact we have to relearn fundamentals is a reminder how much we need to focus on them – “we” of course being the USA and its allies.

For the veterans of the Balkan operations in the ’90s to AFG the last decade – some habits never go away.

First, rules of engagement were being proposed by the partners of France in NATO that were “ridiculous,” to quote one French officer. “We received from NATO sources the directive that there were to be NO civilian casualties from our air strikes. My view was, why not just not do airstrikes. We pushed back and insisted on something sane: ‘No excessive civilian casualties from NATO air strikes.’”

Here is one final thing that I think we need to ponder on in depth; UAV/S. Too many people are enamored by the PPT and the promise. Not content with having an improved tool – they want to think they have a new tool that can do it all. It is hard even in peace for them to accept the very real bandwidth, loss rates, and other issues – what is harder to explain to the UAV/S true believers are the tactical limitations.

FROM UCAV-N to BAMS – the transformationalists really think that the F-35 will be the last manned fighter. Kind of the same mentality that I read in a book after the Falkland Island War about the Harrier stating that it was likely that the Harrier will ever see combat again. Silly, but there it was. The Future does not like to be taunted. She is touchy like that.

In that light – everyone needs to keep this reality check in mind. In this case, our French friends are exactly right.

the notion that unmanned systems are going to replace the pilot is ludicrous in a dynamic targeting situation. If we are reluctant to give a guy with SA in the pilot’s seat authority, why are we going to give some guy in Nevada or Paris looking through a soda straw the authority to do dynamic targeting.”

Verily.



From the beginning of the Libyan conflict, American involvement was always stressed as being there because of the “unique capabilities” that we had which our NATO allies did not. Most of us understood the electronic surveillance and given the land-based nature of the air campaign – the tanker requirements – but there was much more.

John Barry over at The Daily Beast has a summary of that is worth a ponder;

The Libya campaign was a unique international effort: 15 European nations working with the U.S. and three Arab nations. The air offensive was launched from 29 airbases in six European countries. But only six European nations joined with the U.S. and Canada to fly strikes against Gaddafi’s forces.

According to two senior NATO officials, one American and the other European, these were the critical U.S. contributions during the six-month military campaign:

• An international naval force gathered off Libya. To lower the U.S. profile, the administration elected not to send a supercarrier. Even so, the dozen U.S. warships on station were the biggest contingent in this armada. …
• U.S. tanker aircraft refueled European aircraft on the great majority of missions against Gaddafi’s forces. The Europeans have tanker aircraft, but not enough to support a 24/7 air offensive averaging, by NATO count, around 100 missions a day, some 50 of them strike sorties. The U.S. flew 30 of the 40 tankers….
• When the Europeans ran low on precision-attack munitions, the U.S. quietly resupplied them. (That explains why European air forces flying F-16s—those of Norway, Denmark, Belgium—carried out a disproportionate share of the strikes in the early phase of the campaign. The U.S. had stocks of the munitions to resupply them. When Britain and France, which fly European-built strike aircraft, also ran short, they couldn’t use U.S.-made bombs until they had made hurried modifications to their aircraft.)
• To target Gaddafi’s military, NATO largely relied on U.S. JSTARS surveillance aircraft, …
• U.S. Air Force targeting specialists were in NATO’s Naples operational headquarters throughout the campaign. …
• U.S. AWACS aircraft, high over the Mediterranean, handled much of the battle-management task, acting as air-traffic controllers on most of the strike missions. Again, the Europeans have AWACS, but not enough crews to handle an all-hours campaign lasting months.
• Eavesdropping by U.S. intelligence—some by aircraft, some by a listening post quietly established just outside Libya—gave NATO unparalleled knowledge of what Gaddafi’s military planned.
• All this was crucial in supporting the European effort. But U.S. involvement went way beyond that. In all, the U.S. had flown by late August more than 5,300 missions, by Pentagon count. More than 1,200 of these were strike sorties against Libyan targets.

He has plenty of other things to chew on … and this that I had not heard before.

• When a desperate Gaddafi began to launch Scud missiles into towns held by the opposition, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer offshore negated his offensive by shooting down the Scuds.

News to me. A quick google search gets nada but this,

The missile, designed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, has a range in excess of 200 miles — though it is not clear where it landed, the paper reported. It was detected by a U.S. Aegis destroyer off the coast of the war-torn country.

I would think that if a USN DDG/CG took out a Scud or 4 we would hear about that – but based on the PAO performance this summer from the Gulf of Sidra to the Horn of Africa – I wouldn’t be shocked if we hadn’t heard anything. Media gets a lot wrong – so perhaps not a single VLS door opened. Maybe they just saw and reported – maybe “something else” took care of the problem – c’est une mystère.

Detected? Sure – but intercepted? If so, the Aegis mafia is getting slow in its old age….

Well – silly me, I have been reading too much US press and mostly the Daily Mail and Telegraph from the UK. I should have read these two items from The Guardian (!) of all places.

At least four of the rockets have been intercepted seconds before they were due to impact on the city, reportedly hit by missiles fired by a US navy cruiser operating in the Gulf of Sirte.

The missiles’ failure to reach their target appears to be because of the US navy, with reports that a cruiser operating in the Mediterranean has been using Aegis missiles to intercept the Scuds each time.

So far the US navy has hit four out of four, …

Those two articles came out on the 24th and 25th of this month. With all this bad and conflicting reporting out there – I am sure that the Navy/DOD is trying to do something to tell the actual story. So, let’s go over to DVIDS and see what we can find.

You know, at heart I am an optimist.

Hmmmm, what is at DVIDS … all Irene almost all the time. Let’s do a Libya search. Page one is all talking-briefing, talking-briefing (if I were a reporter on a deadline, am I going to sit through all those PPT briefings? No.) … and then on page two – we have some Navy news. First entry from the 30th titled, I kid you not, “Navy continues operations over Libya.” Hey, it’s a picture of a CG … and the caption is …

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill is seen underway in the Arabian Gulf.

Fail. Does anyone study geography anymore?

OK, simply a mistake on the editor’s part. No one is perfect. I will try not to go all Salamander on them. That was, after all, only picture 1 of 2. Let’s look at the second pic; hey – it is a EA-6B! And the caption is …

An EA-6B Prowler assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 134 banks over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as it enters the landing pattern. The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Fail. Now this is just getting insulting.

Keep trying. Page 3 is more briefings and PPT … bla, bla, bla. On page 4, wait! What do we have! Pictures titled, “Navy and Marine Corps aircraft strike Libya ” Now we’re cooking with gas. There is a picture of a helo aircrewman doing his nation’s bidding and the caption is

Airman Travis Fletcher, aviation boatswain’s mate (fuels), fuels an aircraft tow tractor on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III. (Photo by: Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Pittman)

There are so many layers of fail here – let me just focus on what is in our face. Since when are aviation boatswain’s mate wearing flight suits and flight helmets? I don’t see a fuel line … that is a funny looking tractor … Hmmm. Download the high-res and zoom in …

Fail. That Shipmate is an aircrewman from HSC-22 (I can see the warfare pin but not his name; and if you look at the expression on the other Sailor’s face on the other side of the helo through the window, that is about what my expression is right now), and it looks like he is trying to secure something or closing the door of his helo. HSC – does not strike anything ashore. I quit – three strikes and you are out. CHINFO call your office.

As the Navy taught me though – even you you decide to withdraw, execute a fighting withdraw. So, I clicked the Libya tag to see what was there. Hey, great stuff about the USS SCRANTON (SSN-756) coming home – but that is about it.

Go to navy.mil and there is plenty of fun stuff about Irene, “green” energy, a pic and story with the CNO in his favorite role, and an ecosystem of NWU being approved under rules best understood by a Ottoman bureaucrat. That’s about it.

Go to the Navy’s facebook page and …. nothing after five pages of updates.

So, somewhere our Navy did something that our Sailors should be proud of – so – BZ, even if you only watched the Scuds go up and then down. We know you did more and want your story told – but something tells me that even the simple UNCLAS stuff someone wrote is dying in some control freak’s inbox, being watered down to nothing so when it is released the story will be over – so you’ll have to wait until no one will notice. That has to be it – otherwise what is the reason that our Navy is not telling the story of its Sailors efforts in the Med, HOA, and the Arabian Sea – or for that matter even making a basic check to make sure that the captions match the pictures that match the theater of operations?

This is simply one thing; disrespect. An open disrespect for our deployed Sailors by supporting commands, staff lines, PAOs, and the shore establishment.

Our deployed Sailors deserve better, their families deserve better – and the taxpayer deserves to know what their tax dollars and money borrowed from their children and grandchildren is being used for. Additionally, we cannot complain that the “Navy story” isn’t understood when we don’t even make an effort to tell it ourselves.

Enough of that; back to the topic at hand – as an interesting side-note; this is about what we suspected all along.

To lower the U.S. profile, the administration elected not to send a supercarrier.

Yep. Once you have a USA CVN – you suck all the O2 out of the room. If we had gone with Plan Salamander back in March and put 2-4 off the coast … yea … no chance for a low profile job then. Then again, it would have ended sooner but it wouldn’t have allowed the Europeans to smoke check their abilities either. In that light – good job if that was the goal.

As a matter of fact – that is the best part of the operation, intentional or not. Europe’s residual ability to conduct military operations even in their back yard in on display as impotent without the USA. That is not a good thing for them or the USA – but at least now there are fewer and fewer people who can effectively deny that fact. Once we reach that point, then we can have adult conversations with our allies.

In any event – will someone who was actually there find someway to get the story out?


BT

UPDATE: USNIBlog gets results! DoD finally provides the answer today – with a push from our friend Phil Ewing. Major national/international papers publish something …. silence. USNIBlog puts out a question – Phil picks it up – and BEHOLD; DoD spokesman Col. Dave Lapan, USMC speaks.

Nice work all.

Now, CHINFO …..



23rd

Will R2P become NMP

August 2011

By

At this moment of flux, it is really pointless to try to make anything about the tactical level in Libya. The Battle of Tripoli will work itself out, as will the conflict over time. We can pick it apart then in reasoned hindsight. There are other things a few levels out at the POL/MIL level that are a lot clearer and worth discussing. The Top-4 that come to mind:

1. R2P theory vs. facts: Something that came out at the beginning; “Responsibility to Protect” known by the shorter, R2P. The concept has been embraced by decision makers such as US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. A form of “Humanitarian Imperialism” – it is something that over the last few months we have heard less of. The reasons are clear; Libya still isn’t worth the bones of a Pomeranian Grenadier, and both sides are responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of civilians. So much was heard early that we were there to “protect civilians,” but time has shown that some civilians are more important than others. There is no appetite anywhere for Western boots on the ground to execute “R2P” in Libya’s cities. As long as African migrants are kept in Africa and the oil flows – NATO will be more than willing to move from R2P to NMP – Not My Problem. Few really believed that was the reason for intervention anyway – at least the serious.

2. Gendarmerie Military: Our NATO allies simply cannot execute significant kinetic operations without American assistance from a material perspective. When sustainable logistics and baseline C4ISR are defined as “unique capabilities” – then the facts of NATO non-USA military capacity should be very clear. Beyond the short-tour mentality of many – in the expected budgetary challenges as the Western welfare state collapses in front of our eyes, their capabilities will only diminish more with time.

3. Got Carrier? As was covered well in last month’s Proceedings by Dr. Norman Friedman, the essential effectiveness and efficiency of the CV/S/N once again has been proven. Land based air has its place – but any distance makes the ability to provide persistent effects from the air over the battlespace prohibitively expensive compared to a carrier off shore. We’ll talk about that more this Sunday on Midrats with Dr. Friedman, tune in.

4. Semper Realpolitic: Along the Mediterranean coastline, there are two Muslim nation that have been run by autocratic families for decades. Over those decades, these nations supported terrorists soaked with the blood of thousands, including Americans. Within the last decade – motivated after the US-led invasion of Iraq – one of those nations decided to get rid of its entire inventory and development programs of weapons of mass destruction. It decided to help with migration problems, and generally tried to move from menace to moderate.

The other took the a different path. It fed and actively supported foreign fighters in to Iraq, directly responsible for the death and maiming of thousands of American men and women. It expanded its WMD programs including an aggressive nuclear weapons programs.

In 2011, they both experienced popular uprisings and killed their own citizens while trying to put down these uprisings. One of these nations though was not a highway for African migrants and it did not have oil. One nation was attacked, the other not. Lesson to despots everywhere: trying to work with the West and playing nice will do you no good if you have oil or have a migrant highway through your land. It is better to be closed, brutal, and contemptible of the West regardless of what you have. Just look at the West’s actions towards Libya vs. Syria – and the lesson is clear.

Whatever happens in Libya will happen. No one outside a few fringe-types will light a candle for the Gadaffi family of thugs. They have been a blight on the planet for decades. What happens next will be up to the Libyan people. We should all wish them luck and hope that something positive can come out of this. From the West’s end, we should call the dethroning of Gadaffi “victory” and leave it at that. Everyone should support that effort. Victor Davis Hanson said it well,

… the only thing worse than a unwise war is losing an unwise war …

We are not there yet – but let us hope soon that we can drift away to let the Libyan people sort it out. Less Powell Doctrine; more George Pollock.



As days wandered in to weeks, then months, and now quarters – two recent events have given notice that NATO has a very short window to finish what it started in Libya.

As with most conflicts – and especially this one – the reason for engaging in conflict can change as the facts change. The reality is that this conflict was never clearly defined from the get-go. As a result, everyone should be patient as decisive points, goals, objectives, end states fade in and out, appear/disappear, and change with the tides.

Once the decision is made to commit your nation and its allies to war – all that is important is victory. There is no substitute for victory, as anything but victory brings the dangerous attractiveness of weakness, and undesired second and third-order effects that must be avoided.

As this conflict is presently structured today – with non-USA aircraft doing much of the kinetic action – the next 90-days will hopefully be enough for USA to thoroughly consider, under the planning assumption that Gaddafi is not killed, COA-1 (Re-Americanize) and COA-2 (Fade). By the end of SEP, we will reach a decision point.

Why will we reach a decision point?

The first to channel the Elector of Bavaria at Blenheim was Norway;

Norway will scale down its fighter jet contribution in Libya from six to four planes and withdraw completely from the NATO-led operation by Aug. 1, the government said Friday.

Defense Minister Grete Faremo said she expects understanding from NATO allies because Norway has a small air force and cannot “maintain a large fighter jet contribution during a long time.”

Once that momentum starts – others will follow. Two things will drive this; materiel & will.

There are navies that are designed to fight wars, to fight in short bits and/or as part of coalitions, and there are those that are designed to show the flag. The French do not have an issue of national will in this conflict. No, even though their navy is on the strong side of the middle type of navy, they do have a problem – matériel.

… France (is) indicating it will need in the autumn to withdraw the Libyan mission’s only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, on virtually continuous operations since last year — with no replacement in the offing.

“The elephant in the room is the imminent departure of the French carrier, given it has been flying 30-40 percent of all NATO strike sorties,” said Tim Ripley, of Jane’s Defense Weekly.

“It’s a looming problem, so sustaining this operation, particularly if it’s going to grind past September or October, is going to be a problem.”

In the absence of other allies coming forward with strike aircraft that could be flown from land bases — which would necessitate a fleet of refueling tankers only the United States could provide…

We’ve reviewed the European CV/CVN challenge before and the inefficiency of land-based air for this operation – the problem is clear. Given President Obama’s statements of late – one should not expect a USN CVN to take its place. Truth in this business can change, and in spite of the President’s position and that of some in Congress today – we need to keep the option open to, as we have had to do in Afghanistan, re-Americanize the Libyan operation. A CVN or two can fix this very fast if the President wants it to.

So, we find ourselves here hoping for a hope that Gadaffi’s luck will run out. No one ever let me put “Luck” in my OPLANs … but perhaps things have changed.

This fall, if the Congress and/or the President won’t allow USA to do more of the kinetics to replace retreating and worn out Europeans as per COA-1, – then COA-2 it will be. COA-2 will lead to nothing but ugly – but we knew this going in. If things didn’t end quickly, the Europeans would get weak in the knees. More and more understood this as the weeks turned in to months. Almost everyone by now must see it. Baring just plain dumb luck or sudden resolve by Europe – COA-2 leads to defeat. Defeat is not an option.

If Gadaffi lives to see the weather turn cooler and NATO continues to limp and stumble as weak horses do, then we should execute COA-1. Support the President and Congress to end this, and end it right. Finish what we started (yes, we – without the USA, Europe could not and would not have started this). Finish it and then hand post-conflict over to the Europeans – all of it as this is in their interest, not ours. They wanted this done – give it to them and then pivot.

When will we know we reach that decision point, and what do we do after that?

Britain’s top naval officer, Adm. Mark Stanhope, warned Monday that his nation — its military hobbled by severe budget cuts and the continuing cost of the Afghan war — would face hard decisions if the Libya mission is not resolved by September.

“If we do it longer than six months, we will have to reprioritize forces,” he said, indicating the current commitments cannot be maintained indefinitely.

Britain’s chief of defense staff, Gen. David Richards, insisted Tuesday that Britain can continue operations in Libya as long as it needs to. But another senior NATO official echoed Stanhope’s comments, saying that if the alliance’s intervention in Libya continues, the issue of resources will become “critical.”

Gen. Stephane Abrial, the senior NATO commander, told reporters at a NATO conference in Serbia that “at this stage, the forces engaged do have the means necessary to conduct the operation.”

But he noted that “if the operation were to last long, of course, the resource issue will become critical.”

“If additional resources are needed, this, of course, will need a political decision,” he said.

That political decision will be in Washington, DC. The worlds largest debtor nation will have all the empty pockets looking at her – and then we should take a deep breath, borrow the money from the Chinese, finish it, and then walk away.

What will follow? Odds are – not Jeffersonian Democracy or even Kemalism. No, review the foreign fighter figures from Iraq. Odds are we won’t like it – but we fathered it and will have to accept it for what it is.

Given all the above, there are many things to learn. Lets talk about what I mean about pivot.

For even the most die-hard Atlanticist, some things are becoming unavoidably clear. George Will sums it up.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. military spending has more than doubled, but that of NATO’s 27 other members has declined 15 percent. U.S. military spending is three times larger than the combined spending of those other members. Hence Gates warned that “there will be dwindling appetite and patience in” America for expending “increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.” Already, U.S. officers in Afghanistan sometimes refer to the NATO command there — officially, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) — as “I Saw Americans Fighting.”

After a recent NATO attack on a tented encampment where Gaddafi has met foreign leaders, the New York Times reported: “The desert strike appeared to show the alliance’s readiness to kill Col. Gaddafi. A NATO statement described the target as a ‘command and control facility.’ But apart from small groups of soldiers lurking under trees nearby with pickups carrying mounted machine guns, reporters taken to the scene saw nothing to suggest that the camp was a conventional military target.”

In March, Obama said that U.S. intervention would be confined to implementing a no-fly zone: “Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” By May, Obama’s Bushian mission was to make Libyans “finally free of 40 years of tyranny.” After more than 10,000 sorties, now including those by attack helicopters, NATO’s increasingly desperate strategy boils down to: Kill Gaddafi.

Then what? More incompetent improvisation, for many more months.

Disgust with this debacle has been darkly described as a recrudescence of “isolationism,” as though people opposing this absurdly disproportionate and patently illegal war are akin to those who, after 1938, opposed resisting Germany and Japan. Such slovenly thinking is a byproduct of shabby behavior.

I think in time, more and more Americans will join supporting Plan Salamander for Europe. I learned it from Eisenhower. Soak it in – and get ready to pivot.

“Because we had had our troops there, the Europeans had not done their share,” President Eisenhower said. “They won’t make the sacrifices to provide the soldiers for their own defense.”

As if on cue;

Iveta Radicova, Slovakia’s prime minister, says bluntly that defence is “not a priority”. She wants to improve her country’s competitiveness and reduce unemployment.

The results? Behold Libya. Behold the caveat laden forces of ISAF and the piracy forces of the Horn of Africa. Do all but two or three in NATO lack the key to anything – will?

SECDEF’s speech in Oslo linked to above needs to be listened to more and more. Then we need to execute some tough love for Europe. Enough Americans have died for Europe – enough American treasure spent to subsidize their sloth. Friends always lean in to protect friends from outside threats – but they cannot protect their friends when their friends won’t even make the effort to defend themselves – or for that matter have no inclination to.

This is not isolationism as some think. No, this is a mature strategic concept for the 21st Century. The Cold War and the Soviet Union are far behind us. Sailors joining the Navy today and the MIDN who will show up at Annapolis this fall were almost all born after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. As decades of inertia rattle to a halt, let us shake hands with our friends and go home. They are strong enough to stand on their own feet if they want to. If they don’t want to, then let history take its course. If they see a threat and make an effort to defend themselves – then we should train and equip our armed forces to be able to help. USA based with global reach – but only for those who will first help themselves.

We need to pivot from the past in Europe. You can’t force someone to take their own defense seriously – but you can create the conditions for them to reassess their sloth. I think it is time.



Shortly after Secretary of Defense Gates vented some frustration with NATO and some of its members, we will be diving into the NATO world when on Midrats (BlogTalkRadio) on Sunday, June 12, at 5pm we present Episode 75 “From NATO and Russia with questions”:

At a time when already small NATO defense budgets shrink while it is actively engaged in two combat operations decades after the Soviet treat faded into history – what is NATO and where does it stand? Is NATO “transforming” – and if so in to what?

From the ashes of the former Soviet Union – Russia and its near abroad are starting to re-establish their identity – what are the implications?

Join “CDR Salamander” and me with our guest for the full hour, CAPT Thomas Fedyszyn, (Ph.D.), USN (Ret.) – Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and Chair of the Europe-Russia Studies Group.

It may get lively.

Join us here or download the show later from BlogTalkRadio or iTunes.



What ‘cha say I step a little out ahead of the President’s speech on Libya tonight? Why not?

Speaking a little over a week ago, President Obama repeated what we have heard over and over concerning the high level of American involvement in the Libyan campaign,

“We will provide the unique capabilities that we can bring to bear to stop the violence against civilians, including enabling our European allies and Arab partners to effectively enforce a no-fly zone,”

What are those “unique capabilities?” Most have focused on the tactical aspects, there is much more than that. Of course, no one has the satellite access, TLAM inventory, Heavy Bombers, or Tanker, or Heavy EW/ES like we do. That is part of our “unique capabilities” – but not the long-pole.

Why are USA capabilities “unique?” That answer is the simple: Western Europe has but a shadow of the military capability it once had. The long slide started with the Suez Crisis, and has culminated with the last gasps of the Western Welfare State’s economic foundations that today have drained defense budgets to absurd levels as a percentage of GDP – our traditional European allies simply cannot initiate and sustain intense expeditionary combat operations without us. Put peace keepers in small, steamy, quasi-failed former colonies in Africa? Sure. Sustained Joint-Combined combat operations without the USA – notsomuch.

Libya isn’t even a large country – though geographically large, its population of 6,419,925 is concentrated along the coastal road. In contrast, the European Union – which BTW has its own military structures – has a population of 501,259,800. Yes, Libya has 1.2% of the population of the European Union – yet the defense of European access to oil and secure maritime borders is being led by a North American (Canadian), and being fought air-to-ground mostly by other North Americans (USA). Yes, the EU is not NATO and NATO is not the EU – but as we know whose interests are primary of concern here; this works for me.

Let’s make it even more lopsided. Libya has a GDP of $62.36 billion. The EU has a combined GDP of $15.95 trillion. Let me adjust that for you; $15,950 billion. Yes, Libya has ~.4% of the EU’s GDP … yet the EU needs North American leaders, military forces, and borrowed money to defend its interests.

Ponder that a bit – I’ll come back to it.

Military power isn’t the most important “unique capability” of our nation. No, the most important are leadership and will. No other nation has the institutional ability to plan, organize, or lead a large scale Combined-Joint operation. That is the military side; the political side is that our allies are used to having our leadership and our top-cover when it comes to major military operations. Not only do we have the ability to bring the most to the fight, but regardless what political party is in power, we usually have the political ability to absorb the inevitable complaints, second guessing, gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes by the usual suspects that comes with military operations in the post-Vietnam era. Parliamentary systems such as those of our allies are not as sturdy as our system. These nations also have generations of leaders whose first instinct when it comes to major military actions is to look to Washington. Habits are what they are. They have become dependent – and for a variety of reasons we are happy with that.

I would like to lay down another marker before the President’s speech. As we discussed on Midrats yesterday with U.S. Naval War College Professor of Strategy, Thomas G. Mahnken, Ph.D., the Europeans have some realpolitik reasons for this conflict. The Libyan conflict is not about peace and democracy – though they make good talking points. If they were a concern, NATO jets would be flying over as many nations as their tankers could take them. No, this is about something much simpler. This is about the free flow of oil to Europe at market prices and trying to keep a lid on illegal immigration from Africa.

The fact that NATO is taking this mission is interesting as well. NATO has transformed – perhaps in ways not fully understood by many. In Libya, NATO is not defending the alliance from outside aggression as it was charted to do. It is not helping another alliance nation to prosecute those who attacked it, like ISAF is in AFG. No, NATO has signed up for something very different. Without any of its member nations being threatened, NATO is executing offensive operations beyond its borders supporting one side against another in a civil war. Quite the transformation.

As usual with NATO operations – this would not be possible without American forces and American money. Is it in the American interest?

From Sunday;

MR. GREGORY: Secretary Gates, is Libya in our vital interest as a country?

SEC. GATES: No. I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of the region which is a vital interest for the United States.

If anyone read or listened to SECDEF Gates earlier this month, this should not be a surprise. Hopefully tonight, the President will clarify this to the American people.

Even our Canadian friends are trying to figure out their nation’s reasons.

Why is Canada at war in Libya? You won’t get the answer from our elected leaders. They’re too busy fighting an election to explain it to us. You can’t count on the opposition parties to raise awkward questions, either. They have better things to do at a crucial time like this. Besides, it’s just a little war. It will be over soon, unless it isn’t. If all goes well, perhaps Canadians won’t notice that our political class has committed us to an open-ended military action in North Africa without a clue about what the mission is, who’s in charge, or how deep the quagmire might get.

The short answer is that Canada is in Libya because our allies are. But, ideologically, this is very much a made-in-Canada war – rooted in a doctrine that has been tirelessly promoted by foreign policy liberals such as Lloyd Axworthy and Bob Rae, and vigorously endorsed by some of Barack Obama’s closest advisers, especially Samantha Power at the National Security Council.

This doctrine is known as the “responsibility to protect” (R2P for short) and was endorsed by the United Nations in 2005. It mandates that the “international community” is morally obliged to defend people who are in danger of massive human-rights violations. It’s rooted in Western guilt over the failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda. R2P is the moral underpinning of the war in Libya, and it’s the reason why people such as Paul Martin, Roméo Dallaire, Mr. Rae and Mr. Axworthy have been so amazingly eager for us to rush into battle.

So have Ms. Power and her sister warriors Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, and Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN. Together, these three convinced Mr. Obama of the urgent moral case for war in Libya. Ms. Power is the author of the enormously influential book A Problem from Hell, about Washington’s failure to prevent genocide in the 20th century. Her counterpart in France is the glamorous philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who flew to Benghazi, met the rebels, and persuaded French President Nicolas Sarkozy (who badly needs a boost in the polls) to back them.

R2P – another acronym that helps people avoid defining words, Is it what Mickey Kaus in The Daily Caller calls, “humanitarian imperialism.” Where do you stop? As we are in IRQ, AFG, and now Libya while our military budget starts to shrink and the Western sovereign debt crisis expands; I don’t know about you, but my war-card is about full.

With all the above swirling about as we wait for the President to speak on the subject – as I often try to do when things in the world get fuzzy – I go to the writings of great men. In this case, the Father of our Country; President George Washington.

On a regular basis, people need to read his farewell address in full – but this extended quote is worth pondering in some depth. The points he raise are as relevant today as they were then, perhaps more so.

The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

What habits have we and the Europeans picked up since WWII and the Cold War? Do they apply in the second decade of the 2st Century? Is it in the American interest to have our children borrow money from the Chinese so we can send our armies though the earth searching for dragons to slay, to do the fighting for others who will not do it for themselves?

Hopefully, President Obama will help us all understand this a little better tonight.

As a side-note; if I can I’m going to liveblog the President’s Libya speech tonight at my homeblog so if you are so inclined; join me.



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