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17 May 2016

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mbrenner

Two brief points;

1. This type of self-serving scaremongering is exactly what our leaders - political as well as military - have been doing in the GWOT which should be viewed as an 'industry' more than a strategy. There are always those who will exploit it; their model is David Petraeus

2. For 7+ years, there has been no direction, much less coordination, of national security policies (including budgets)from the Oval Office. Obama instinctively bends the knee before the brass just as he does before the CIA/NSA. The meddling in minutiae by his mindless White House staff is of trivial consequence compared to this abdication of Constitutional duty

bth

Like most things there are kernels of truth.

That there are budget war? Army hyping Russia, Navy hyping some sand mounds in the South China Sea, the Air Force telling up the F35 most expensive program on earth will replace everything including ground attack aircraft like the A10?

And then there are the Russian in the Ukraine elements. One group who will no doubt bombard this thread with posts Wed morning after punching their time clock will swear the Russians aren't anywhere to be seen (just ignore the lying eyes of the open source content) which says otherwise. Is it so hard to fathom that truth is more nuanced with regard to Russia?

Most of McMasters' quotes are taken out of context and exaggerated. He is no idiot. The Army is way down in size given the foreign policy commitments and its congress that is actually trying to keep the headcount up. The Russian UAV plus artillery and EW combination has proven highly effective in Ukraine and Syria. To say that the US air force will cover US ground troops or our allies belies what is actually happening in Syria around Russian air defenses and in a more contorted definition of allies over the Ukraine. State on state drone, EW and cyber warfare we better be taking seriously.

It should probably be more importantly noted that Congress isn't funding the overseas contingent reserve for a full year! It is going to force the next president into a budget supplemental or face a crisis next April. This is far more important than McMaster's commentary.

William R. Cumming

In 1957 Henry Kissinger wrote a piece entitle FOREIGN POLICY AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS in which he noted, "As the power of modern weapons grows, the threat of all-out war loses its credibility and therefore its political effectiveness . . . The American people must be made aware that with the end of our atomic monopoly all-out war has ceased to be an instrument of policy, except as a last resort, and that for most of the issues
likely to be in dispute our only choice is between a strategy of limited war or inaction."

Disclosure I am not a Kissinger fan [unlike HRC] and believe his discourse here too simplistic. But wondering if large scale conventional war at least somewhat remote?

President Obama has committed the U.S. to a One trillion dollar upgrade of the nuclear Triad over the next decade. We continue to worry about air superiority.

Andrew F. Krepineevich, "Calvary to Computer: The Pattern of Military Revolutions," NATIONAL INTEREST 37 [1994]: p.30, offers a popular definition of a military revolution: "What is a Military Revolution? It is what occurs when the application of new technologies into a significant number of military systems combines with innovative operational concepts and organizational adaptions in a way that fundamentally alters the character and conduct of conflict. It does so by producing a dramatic increase-often an order of magnitude or greater-in the combat potential and military effectiveness of armed forces."

Computers and drones and cell phnones?

Can the military leadership do deep thinking and provide leadership?

turcopolier

bth

It has long been the case that major threats were hyped to Congress to support high force levels and big budgets to run them. The armed forces long ago became self licking ice cream cones. pl

annamaria

"He is no idiot." Could McMaster acknowledge this? - http://thesaker.is/takfiri-terrorists-us-plot-against-resistance-nasrallah/
"...the truth being told about the mercenary terrorists created by the US against Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Iran – on behalf of Israel... This attack is now admitted in the words of US figures such as Hillary Clinton and Gen. Wesley Clarke."

Larry Kart

"...self-licking ice cream cones." If you came up with that phrase yourself, you are a genius.

kooshy

Sorry if OT

To me, it looks like that KSA to boost her own legitimacy, sees itself not only the custodian of the two holly shrines, but ultimately the custodian of all Arabs, and ultimately the custodian of all muslims. She postures and acts like a mini US, with her own foreign policy posture toward other Arabs and muslims. Like how US sees herself as the custodian of western democracy, the gate keeper of the holly shrine of UN, and for that matter the legitimizer of democracy for the whole solar system, based on her own interpolation of democratic values, yes IMO, KSA also sees herself in this same position for the rest of Arabs.
In fact many in US believe this institutionalized, forward foreign policy posture, legitimizes the US as the only custodian of democracy in the world. IMO, for US elite class, this is the thinking that gives them the right to R2P, the right to attacking who ever, and whenever, they want and wish, which international laws and treaties to uphold, or not, and the exceptionalism that now is cultured within them. Like US, KSA see herself with a substantial financial power based on a single commodity, like the US , KSA has a very well equipped military, but very little propose to fight and no will to die for their elite’ hubristic craze. Nevertheless, no matter how many lives are lost, what the cost is, and how many on going wars they are in, both, constantly threaten others with use of force, for what end? No one knows. Here is an example.

Saudis threaten military force in Syria if talks fail
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/05/17/466131/saudi-syria-assad-force-issg

turcopolier

Larry Kart

If only... A basilisk lent me that. pl

Henshaw

+1. Made my day.

VietnamVet

WB,

Hydrogen bombs have made war between militaries possessing them impossible except as an extinction event. Man being man, instead is playing a game of chicken to see how much power and wealth one man can gather onto himself without blowing the world up. Since the western populace has opted out of being cannon fodder; the war fighting has been left to volunteers, mercenaries and religious fanatics. Without armies strong enough to secure their borders, the religious fanatics fueled by drone bombing and oil money are spreading through the world and are the real threat; not, Russia, France, China, Great Britain or India. Instead of chaos, influence and money must be used to assure sovereign states have secure borders with healthy purposeful populations and that Israel, Pakistan and North Korea do not go off their reservations.

YT

Col. sir,

Please send my regards to said basilisk.

I recall that the last we heard 'bout him, he underwent surgery for cardiac arrest.

LondonBob

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/17/britain-has-become-semi-pacifist-under-cameron-says-retired-gene/

Right on cue. Hard to know where to start with this article, I just hope he is promoting his book. That us 'Little Englanders' who wish for us to live, in Lord Salisbury's words, in splendid isolation are actually now able to get our voices heard is positive thing.

LondonBob

The neocon talking heads promoted by the media can keep on pushing the Russian aggression meme however opinion polls, votes (Dutch vote on EU Association agreement with the Ukraine, Austrian Presidential election, the success of Sanders and Trump) etc. show that the people aren't buying it. It would be odd that this wouldn't be reflected in the comment threads online.

Imagine

NATO too IMHO. "SLICC's": urf urf urf. That's Jonathan Swift level description.

Chris Chuba

Here is a strong proponent of the F-35 ...
https://news.vice.com/article/what-is-the-pentagons-multi-billion-f-35-jet-actually-supposed-to-do-1
https://news.vice.com/article/what-does-the-f-35-mean

It slices, it dices, the pilot can see through the airplane, target missiles previously targeted by other F-35's, replace AWAC's, ... However, this is what caught my eye from part 1, "the F-22, should be able to beat the pants off an F-35. The F-35 is a multi-purpose plane. The F-22 is a specialist in air-to-air combat, and is going to win, because that's what it's made for."

So there will definitely be a time where the Russian Sukhoi PAK FA will be superior to the F-35 as a fighter. I suppose that the planners were thinking that our force of 189 F-22's would fill in until they figured this out. I suspect that this would be true for the Chinese knock off as well but the Russians are more likely to export a few of theirs. So far, I have only heard about the Russians partnering with India so they seem less promiscuous about exporting their stealth than we are.

jonst

WRC wrote: "But wondering if large scale conventional war at least somewhat remote". Tell me the location of the possible crisis and we might have a clearer answer to your question....Syria? Libya? South China Sea? One answer. OTOH....Ukrainian-Russian border? Baltic nations? Turkish Russian confrontation? Georgia geo-political area? China Korean border....I'll give you a different answer. History is full of people and nation 'stumblin in' to all kinds of surprises. When you are close to their respective borders, that is.

bth

Off topic. I am reading "A History - ISIS" by Fawaz A. Gerges, 2016, Princeton University Press. A very well researched book fresh off the press. Well worth the read.

Vic

Spot on.

Remember the "legs" of national strategy (DIME)? The root cause of our military problem (not enough of it) is a crappy economy. Until the economy turns around the Army (and other services) will continue to decline in size strength and capabilities.

I think the government took "risk" and cut back on military funding over the past decade to try to allow the economy to grow. It also cut back on military missions and commitments (we are going to do less with less). This has not worked. Things seem to be getting worse. The economy has not bounced back as it previously would have. Hopefully, this is not a self reinforcing feed back loop.

Arguing over defense budgets, equipment procurement, end strengths is like arguing over how many angels fit on a pin head. The money is just not there to do much of anything for the military. The critical debate is how to fix the economy (which drives the size and equipment of the military).

Vic

ex-PFC Chuck

I don't know who originated it, but the term has been around a while. I first ran across it in the last decade when I saw it used by one of the people of the military reform movement that coalesced around the late USAF Col. John Boyd in the late 1970s. Might have been Chuck Spinney, but I don't recall for sure.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_C._Spinney

ex-PFC Chuck

Perhaps I’m reading too much in to your first two sentences, but if you’re suggesting that there is virtually no chance that we will stumble into a nuclear exchange with Russia and/or China I beg to differ. They may not be great, but the chances are by no means vanishingly small. Those of us who were more or less sentient beings in the fall of 1962 remember how tense those days in October were but several facts and incidents have emerged from deep classification since that suggest we weren’t nearly fearful enough.
In the early 1990s a seminar was held in Moscow attended by many of the key players in the crisis from both the USA and the USSR. According to an appendix in one of Robert McNamara’s books the US team was operating under the assumption that none of the nuclear-tipped missiles was in position and ready to fire. IIRC (I don’t have the book at hand so I can’t now verify it) that was true of the IRBMs but there were about fifteen missiles that were ready to fire that had a range of about 100 miles. That would have been more than enough to reduce much of the US fleet converging on the island to glowing scrap metal. If President Kennedy had not resisted the immense pressure he was under to attack and the USSR replied with a counter attack on the fleet the US would have almost certainly launched the ICBMs and the B-52s, and the last half century would have been very different.
There have also been reports of two incidents, one on each side, in which we have to thank two firm, cool-headed junior officers avoided starting nuclear war because of the stupidity and misunderstanding of others. You can read the details of these at the links below. The US incident has not been officially confirmed and has been denied by some. One other person who was at the scene the account in an Asian news publication although he (presumably it was a guy) refused to be identified. However considering the candor with which the US military informs the public of its screw-ups, I find the airman’s story compelling.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/27/vasili-arkhipov-stopped-nuclear-war

http://thebulletin.org/okinawa-missiles-october8826


thepanzer

Lets say the Russians do have a more significant presence in Ukraine.

So what?

It's their backyard, which they have longstanding national and ethnic ties to.

We have zero, exactly zero, national or historic ties to Ukraine and our involvement in the region has no potential upside other than making various R2P and neocon apparatchiks feel fulfilled. The potential downsides to these boneheaded adventures is massive.

Our current policy seems to be "poke the bear until it's angry, then shoot the bear because it's angry." Maybe not the best idea with a nuclear armed nation that excels at rocketry...

thepanzer

In good news though, the F-35 should excel at static displays, stadium flyovers, and airshows.

Jack

All

As would be expected the neocons are hitching their wagons to the Borg Queen. She is the only certainty to continue our interventionist foreign policy and bigger budgets for the national security surveillance state.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/are-neocons-getting-ready-to-ally-with-hillary-clinton.html?referer=https://t.co/paxZxbPTZV">https://t.co/paxZxbPTZV">http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/are-neocons-getting-ready-to-ally-with-hillary-clinton.html?referer=https://t.co/paxZxbPTZV

fasteddiez

Oh no, not "secure their borders again." The Gods of war, having increasingly too much on their plate, are in need a sub contracted deity to relieve the pressure of this indispensable task. May the God of personnel management lend a hand in this mission.

VietnamVet

Yes, possession of nuclear weapons in of themselves pose risks, as do nuclear power plants. Especially, as time passes, generations forget lessons of the past, empires crumble and money isn’t spent on training and upkeep. But, Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) kept the first Cold War cold. What is frightening about Hillary Clinton and her fellow neo-cons is their purposeful ratcheting up of super power tensions and their blind support of Israel while the real problems of the spreading chaos, unsecure borders, inadequate jobs and religious fanaticism are ignored.

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