Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Civil War In The Middle East

For Iran, Syria is the key, the central theatre of a Shiite-Sunni war for regional hegemony. Iran (which is non-Arab) leads the Shiite side, attended by its Arab auxiliaries — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shiite militias in Iraq and the highly penetrated government of Iraq, and Assad’s Alawite regime. (Alawites being a non-Sunni sect, often associated with Shiism.)

Taken together, they comprise a vast arc — the Shiite Crescent — stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. If consolidated, it gives the Persians a Mediterranean reach they have not had in 2,300 years.

This alliance operates under the patronage and protection of Russia, which supplies the Iranian-allied side with cash, weapons and, since 2015, air cover from its new bases in Syria.

Arrayed on the other side of the great mohammedist civil war are the Sunnis, moderate and Western-allied, led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan — with their Great Power patron, the United States, now (post-Obama) back in action.

At stake is consolidation of the Shiite Crescent. It’s already underway. As the Islamic State is driven out of Mosul, Iranian-controlled militias are taking over crucial roads and other strategic assets in western Iraq. Next target: eastern Syria (Raqqa and environs).

Imagine the scenario: a unified Syria under Assad, the ever more pliant client of Iran and Russia; Hezbollah, tip of the Iranian spear, dominant in Lebanon; Iran, the regional arbiter; and Russia, with its Syrian bases, the outside hegemon.

Our preferred outcome is radically different: a loosely federated Syria, partitioned and cantonized, in which Assad might be left in charge of an Alawite rump.

The Iranian-Russian strategy is a nightmare for the entire Sunni Middle East. And for us too. The Pentagon seems bent on preventing it. Hence the Tomahawk attack for crossing the chemical red line. Hence the recent fighter-bomber shoot-down.

A reasonable U.S. strategy, given the alternatives. But not without risk. Which is why we need a national debate before we commit too deeply

Monday, June 26, 2017

MiG 35

The MiG-35, designed to replace MiG-29s rounding out their fourth decade in service, will be featured at the MAKS international airshow near Moscow in July as engineers finalize testing on the aircraft

The MiG-35 has been in development for well over a decade, with the first reported demonstration flight at the Aero India Air Show in Bangalore in 2007

Some 5th generation technologies include stealth capabilities, extreme maneuverability, and increased power: 12 percent more than previous models1

Unlike many advanced fighters, the MiG-35 will also be extremely rugged, designed to withstand heavy anti-aircraft fire and operate in austere conditions

It’s rumored MiG is working on a fifth-generation light fighter. Sukhoi, Russia’s manufacturer of heavy fighter jets, has been working on its own fifth-gen offering, PAK FA, since before 2010, with the introduction of the aircraft reportedly slated for 2019. But if the rumors are true, the future project would be a first for MiG.





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Barbarossa!

"The entire World will hold it's breath!"

Unternehmen Barbarossa's 76th Anniversary.

Just after 0300 hours local time this very day in 1941 - a 3 mile wide strip of territory stretching the length of eastern Europe from Baltic Sea to the Carpathian Mountains erupted in a torrent of fire and flying steel as Luftwaffe aircraft, Werhmacht artillerie und panzers blasted across the Soviet frontier. In the violence of her initial collision, the immensity and feriocity of her subsequent development, and her prolifigacy of destruction of human life and resources - Operation Barbarossa - the Deutschland - Russian conflict - transcended anything ever before - or since - in the human experience.

Flush with fast, relatively easy victories over Western Europa - NSDAP time Deutschland flung three ginourmous Armee Gruppen at Russia in a crazy scheme to knock out the Collectivist armies forcing Mockba to accept an uneven uneasy piece and destroy bolshvikism forever.

The 1st 6 months saw amazing feats of Teutonic arms, vast panzer pincers, desperate pockets of Soviets fought to annihilation or capture (often the same thing) and by Pearl Harbor Day the naughty Wehrmacht was fighting in Moscow's suburbs.

The Moscow Battle - Operation Typhoon was the literally chilling climax of Barbarossa's blitzkrieg portion. Ferocious defense of the the capitol city by freshly released Siberian Reserves (Russia learned Nippon wouldn't be attacking their far east anytime soon) ended any hap hap happy tho'ts of a 'lightning campaign' in Russia.

Operation Barbarossa ground on for three and a half years more the site of some of the largest battles, deadliest atrocities, highest casualties, and most horrific conditions for Soviets and Germans alike - massively complex military ops like Stalingrad, Zitadelle and Bagration - until 3rd Reich died in an orgy of blood and flame and shaped the modern world and lingers with us still: NATO, Russia's near paranoia with her Near Abroad and fear of an awakened, reunified, riled up Germany.

Pic - "Verlonne Siege"

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Proxy Wars!

Since January...

U.S. military has struck the Syrian regime or its allies at least five times, in most cases to protect U.S.-backed rebels and their American advisers. Even if the Pentagon may not want to directly engage Syrian forces or their Russian and Iranian-backed allies, there’s a danger of accidental escalation, especially as various forces continue to converge on eastern and southern Syria to reclaim strategic territory from ISIS. Russia, for its part, angrily condemned the U.S. action and threatened on Monday to treat all coalition planes in Syria as potential targets.

But the dangers are perhaps particularly acute when it comes to Iran, which made dramatic battlefield moves of its own on Sunday, when it launched several missiles from inside Iran against ISIS targets in eastern Syria. Officially, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the volley of missiles fired at Deir Ezzor province was a response to a pair of attacks by ISIS in Tehran on June 7, which killed 18 people and wounded dozens; the attacks marked the first time that ISIS had struck inside Iran. But the Iranian regime had several less-dramatic means to exact revenge against ISIS targets in Syria—after all, there’s no shortage of Iranian allies operating in the war-ravaged country.

Instead, Iran’s fiery act of vengeance seemed to be a message aimed at both the 45th administration and Saudi Arabia. (The six ballistic missiles used by Tehran against ISIS, with a range of 700 kilometers, could reach major Saudi cities.) The kingdom has become emboldened regionally and escalated its anti-Iran rhetoric thanks, in part, to 45’s message of seemingly unconditional support.

Nowhere is Iran projecting its regional power more extensively than Syria. Since the war started, Tehran has sent billions of dollars in aid and thousands of troops and Shiite volunteers to support Assad’s men. Over the past two years, Russia and Iran, along with Hezbollah and several Iraqi Shiite militias, helped Assad consolidate control and regain territory he lost to Syrian rebels and foreign jihadists. In December, with intensive Russian airstrikes and Iranian ground support, Assad’s forces recaptured the rebel-held sections of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. It was Assad’s biggest victory since the war began.

What worries us: that with these gains, Iran and its allies will carve out a “Shiite crescent” extending from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, and into Lebanon, where Hezbollah is the most powerful political and military force. Such a prospect looms large not only for the 45th administration, but also its allies in the Arab world, especially the Saudis.

While the Pentagon is eager to portray its latest actions as a defensive measure, Assad’s regime and its Iranian allies view it as an aggression, noting that Washington shot down a Syrian jet in Syrian airspace. And by flexing their military reach in Syria with Sunday’s missile launch, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and other regime hardliners risk inflaming more tension with the Trump administration—tension that could boil over in the coming war for dominance of southern Syria. One danger, among many, is that Assad and Tehran, which both have a history of testing their adversaries’ boundaries, could overreach and provoke a confrontation that spirals out of control.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tough To Bear

It's been a tough few days for the Army and Navy. The losses are more than we can bear.

Take a moment and breathe a prayer of thanks and well wishes for Americans - volunteers all - serving on the periphery of danger

Friday, June 16, 2017

6 Key Questions

The U.S. is at war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere with ISIS, al Qaeda, and other Salafi-Jihadi groups.  Our strategy in that war, particularly in Syria, is incoherent and internally contradictory, however.  We must also demand answers to six key questions about how America can secure its people and interests against the large and growing threats from the Middle East.

How will we defeat ISIS?

The U.S. military has been briefing steady progress in the war against ISIS.  It highlights ground retaken by Iraqi forces in Mosul and by Kurds in Syria.  It suggests that ISIS will basically collapse once it has lost Mosul and Raqqa, in Syria.  Assessments by the Institute for the Study of War contradict that view. ISIS still controls Deir ez-Zour, a sizable city southeast of Raqqa, to which it has already relocated leadership and resources.  Our Kurdish partners cannot drive that far south through Arab lands.  Our reliance on Kurds and refusal to fight the regime of Bashar al Assad have severely hindered the formation of an indigenous Arab force against ISIS in Syria, moreover.  How does the U.S. imagine that success against Raqqa will lead to clearing the rest of the Euphrates River Valley?  And even if the U.S. finds partners to retake the cities, ISIS is already reverting back to the insurgent-terrorist mode it used before it had seized them.  What is the plan to continue the pressure on ISIS to stop it from continuing in this mode while preparing its next comeback?

How will we defeat al Qaeda? 

The U.S. has focused on ISIS in Syria, taking little action against the large and powerful forces closely associated with al Qaeda.  The Syrian al Qaeda affiliate has rebranded itself, but remains part of al Qaeda and pursues the same goals of establishing a global Caliphate.  It and its partners control Idlib Province in northwestern Syria and are strong elsewhere in central and southern Syria.  The U.S. military keeps saying that it will deal with al Qaeda after it has defeated ISIS.  What is the plan for doing that?  How do operations against ISIS support or hinder that plan?

How will we ensure that we won’t have to fight son of ISIS or son of al Qaeda?

Both ISIS and al Qaeda gained ground in Syria in response to the brutality of Bashar al Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies.  The sectarian policies of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki created the Sunni Arab protest movement in that country that opened the door to the ISIS invasion in 2014.  Military success against these groups will not resolve the underlying political grievances that created support for them in the first place.  Yet the U.S. has not done remotely enough to address this problem in either Syria or Iraq.  The failure to form a sizable local Sunni Arab force in Syria suggests that the Sunni Arabs do not believe that their grievances will be redressed.  What is the U.S. doing to press Assad and the Iraqi government to resolve the political crises that allowed ISIS and al Qaeda to arise?

How will we contain Iran? 

The Trump administration makes much of its plans to contain and pressure Iran.  Yet Iran is militarily stronger than it has ever been.  Tens of thousands of Iranian proxy forces, led by elements of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Qods Force, are the army keeping Assad in power and alive.  The removal of these forces without any replacements would open the door to al Qaeda and ISIS expansion.  The U.S. thus relies on the unprecedented forward deployment of Iranian military power to pursue its anti-ISIS campaign.  How can America depend on an Iranian-controlled army in Syria while containing Iranian military power in the region?

How will we come to terms with Turkey? 

Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a troublesome ally.  Erdogan supports Islamist groups in Syria closely associated with al Qaeda.  He fears Kurdish efforts to form an autonomous region in Syria and to create a larger Kurdistan that would reach into Turkey’s Kurdish population.  He sees American support to Kurds fighting ISIS in Syria as U.S. backing for Kurdish terrorism in Turkey.  Yet Turkey is still a NATO ally.  It is also an essential player in any settlement in Syria.  Unequivocal and unrestricted American support for Kurds in Syria is driving the U.S. steadily toward conflict with Turkey—we’ve already had to deploy U.S. forces to stop the Turks from attacking our Kurdish allies twice.  How can the U.S. reconcile our dependence on Kurdish forces with the need to get Erdogan to work with us, stop backing Islamist groups, and accept a stable outcome in Syria?

How will we reduce Russian influence?  

Russia has established a massive airbase in Syria, giving it a major military position on the Mediterranean for the first time in decades.  Vladimir Putin has used that base to constrain American actions in Syria, to threaten Turkey, and as a hub for further expansion in the Mediterranean.  The hue-and-cry about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and the Russian threat to America has oddly ignored these developments.  How can the U.S. make the strong stand against Russia that many on both sides of the aisle now demand while tolerating this unprecedented expansion of Russian military power?  How can the U.S. hope to pressure Assad to stop his efforts to oppress Syria’s Sunni majority while Russia provides him an air force to do just that?

The administration, Congress, and their critics on all sides must answer these questions if we are to arrive at any strategy in the Middle East that has a chance of securing our people and interests.  We must stop focusing on our own internal dramas so much that we ignore the increasingly dangerous world around us.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Army Day

"This We'll Defend!"


Happy happy BDay (#242 in fact!) to Great Satan's all weather original voltiguerres - the Army!
Two hundred 42 years ago, our nation's leaders established the Continental Army, beginning a rich heritage of successfully defending this great country and her citizens. Today, we celebrate the continued strength, professionalism and bravery of our ready and resilient Soldiers in the all-volunteer force. Our Soldiers remain Army Strong with a lifelong commitment to our core values and beliefs.
Following more than 15 years of war, the Army remains committed to the readiness, training and advancement of the Total Army through the Army initiatives: Ready and Resilient, The Army Profession and Soldier for Life. This 238th birthday commemorates America's Army - Soldiers, families and civilians - who are achieving a level of excellence that is truly Army Strong. We also celebrate our local communities for their steadfast support of our Soldiers and families. We are "America's Army: Service to the Nation, Strength for the Future."
"...We are “America’s Army: The Strength of the Nation."


Pic "The American Army - Killing Our Enemies On Xmas Day Since 1776"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Military Omnipresence

Today, in the face of other nations’ advances and area-denial strategies, the U.S. Department of Defense is looking for the next set of technological breakthroughs that will allow the military to engage “at the time and place of our choosing.”

When the Royal Navy’s new steam-powered ships emerged victorious from the First Opium War in 1842, one British newspaper could barely contain itself: “Steam, even now, almost realizes the idea of military omnipotence and military omnipresence; it is everywhere, and there is no withstanding it.”

One hundred years later, Wernher von Braun, a German engineer who’d been secretly whisked away to the United States, suggested a different approach: an armed space station into low earth orbit. As he put it, “Our space station could be utilized as a very effective bomb carrier, and the nation who owns such a bomb-dropping space station…will have military omnipresence.”

Yet unlike steam engines or space stations, the technologies and supporting architectures that can actually establish omnipresence today are possible.

The strategy to regain our fighting edge has been called the Third Offset. But whether given this or some other name, one of its primary shortfalls is that it lacks a unifying concept. Many believe the present approach is really just a set of technology investments and is too focused on futurist technologies. And some scholars have argued that it seems to have “no clear purpose or urgency.”

Military, or operational, omnipresence is the answer to this dilemma.

Operational omnipresence is exactly what it sounds like: perpetual, networked presence that enables operations and awareness anywhere in the world. It consists of three primary interconnected components: physical assets, virtual capabilities, and information. It’s the culmination of where you are, where you can be quickly, and awareness of what is occurring everywhere else. In other words, operational omnipresence is superlative forward presence — a U.S. military preoccupation since at least World War II — accomplished by a variety of interacting means.

Execution of this concept is exceptionally difficult, but that’s how competitive advantages are realized.  

Making operational omnipresence a reality requires surmounting the tyrannies of time, distance, and information—the significant difficulties associated with operating across great distances and needing to be quick and sure-footed in doing so.

It can do so via its three essential components of presence: physical, virtual, and perceived.

Physical presence is the strategic positioning of military forces around the world such that they are always in relative proximity to contingencies. In addition to deploying ships and planes abroad, the U.S. military maintains more than 150,000 service members on 800 bases in 70 countries. This is the most expansive military footprint of any nation, and accounts for more than 95 percent of the world’s foreign bases. Further, the current presidential administration has articulated its goal to increase physical presence in a recent executive order. When coupled with unmanned and autonomous vehicles and aircraft, physical presence is remains a U.S. strength.

But there will be gaps, and virtual presence can help fill them. Previous conceptions of virtual presence have defined it as being physically nearby or having a passive presence via technology. But today, virtual presence exists where force can be applied quickly from a distance — within hours or even nanoseconds — and includes cyber, electronic, and space-borne warfare.

Whether moving at the speed of light from thousands of miles away to strike in cyberspace, reassuring allies and partner nations through the sharing of digital capabilities, or causing adversarial nations to adjust their decision calculus as these two things come fully online, virtual presence can be a true form of forward presence.

Perceived presence rounds out the operational omnipresence concept. Perceived presence is the use of technology to collect information and monitor events occurring in places in which physical and virtual presence aren’t possible. Though it doesn’t permit the application of force, the perception of being watched influences behavior — an insight that goes back to the concept of the panopticon introduced by 17th-century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

Today, cyber- and satellite-enabled surveillance, coupled with traditional forms of intelligence gathering and the ubiquity of the press and personal devices, means that a global electronic version of the panopticon is possible. The strategic use of acquired information could be employed to influence the decisions of competitor nations. What was thought to be in secrecy is now under a spotlight. From that point forward, this nation would assume it is being watched.

This, too, is a form of presence, and the essence of perceived presence.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Discombobulated Deutschland

After World War Two, there was much debate about whether Germany should have any armed forces. An end had to be made, it was argued, to a cycle which began with Prussian militarism and ended in Nazi war crimes.

While communist-ruled East Germany did create a People's Army following German military traditions, in democratic West Germany - occupied by Britain, France and the US - a very different armed services emerged.

The Bundeswehr, born in the mid 1950s, was a deliberately modest force, meant only to defend West German territory, not fight abroad. Its recruits were taught to think of themselves as "citizens in uniform".

Chancellor Merkel told Germans in May that "we must fight for our future ourselves as Europeans".

Yet Germany and Her Chancellor face a fundamental problem. Most Germans are very reluctant to go down this road.

They regard their own army with suspicion - an attitude reinforced by a recent scandal involving the Bundeswehr. Foreign deployments are tightly restricted by German law and parliament.

Above all, attitudes are shaped by the shadow of history.

So successful have outsiders been in demilitarising Germany - so sensitive are Germans about their warlike past - that today's greatest European power is likely to remain a battlefield weakling.

Germany currently spends only around 1.2% of GDP on defence. 

Germany will resist 45's calls for huge extra spending, but underfunding has been at times highly embarrassing, such as the revelation that during a Nato exercise in 2014 Bundeswehr tank commanders covered up their lack of machine guns by using broomsticks painted black.
So how far will Berlin go?

Werner Kraetschell, who knows Angela Merkel and her thinking well, says she wants a "strong German army able to take international responsibility". But her difficulty is that "the German people are against the army".

Perhaps the Germans will continue a unique historical experiment, trying to become a growing international power without significant military effort.

For the past still weighs heavily. Whatever happens, there'll be no brash marching into action abroad. Instead, Germany's military will tiptoe warily into a highly uncertain future.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

6 Days Of War

"I'd love to. Turn. You. On"


Way back in the last millennium, the Summer of Love's soundtrack by those naughty Beatles wiped clean and drew again the face of popular music. Often hailed at times as  "a decisive moment in the history of Western civilization."  

It wasn't the only one that year!

Perhaps the best source from all sides on 6 Day War is penned by the "Most Dangerous Cat in DC" - Little Satan's American former ambassador - the super brainiac (he's kinda hot too) Dr Michael Oren

Mid May 1967 - Pyramidland's General Nasser initiated a state of war with neighboring Little Satan by kicking out UN's Sinai contingent and announcing a blockade of the straights of Tiran - the gate to the Aqaba Gulf.  UN's Sec Gen U Thant (not to be confused with certain lingerie) failed to defuse the hot hot hotness of the sitch and
Pyramidland's Badgers, MiG 17's and 21's were taking a well earned break from xforming hapless Yemenis into living shrieking blisters courtesy of WMD and being redeployed to airfields in range of Little Satan's population centers

The Most Dangerous Cat in DC reissues choice cuts and why cause the 1967 jank is 44 years too little and too late:


"...Jets and tanks launched a surprise attack against Egypt, destroying 204 of its planes in the first half-hour. By the end of the first morning of fighting, the Israeli Air Force had destroyed 286 of Egypt's 420 combat aircraft, 13 air bases, and 23 radar stations and anti-aircraft sites. It was the most successful single operation in aerial military history.

"...As feared, other Arab forces attacked. Enemy planes struck Israeli cities along the narrow waist, including Hadera, Netanya, Kfar Saba, and the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv; and thousands of artillery shells fired from the West Bank pummeled greater Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem. Ground forces, meanwhile, moved to encircle Jerusalem as they did in 1948.


"...In six days, Little Satan repelled these incursions and established secure boundaries. She drove the Egyptians from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, and the Syrians, who had also opened fire, from the Golan Heights. Most significantly, Little Satan replaced the indefensible armistice lines by reuniting J'lem and capturing the West Bank from Jordan. 

And:


"...44 years after Arab forces sought to exploit the vulnerable armistice lines, it remains clear that Little Satan cannot return to those lines. And 44 years after the United Nations, through Resolution 242, indicated that Little Satan would not have to forfeit all of the captured territories and must achieve "secure and recognized boundaries," the unsecure and unrecognized armistice lines must not be revived. Little Satan''s insistence on defensible borders is a prerequisite for peace and a safeguard against a return to the Arab illusions and Little Satan's fears of June 1967.

Pic - "And though the news was rather sad, I just had to laugh"

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

D- Day


Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

32 - June 6, 1944

Monday, June 5, 2017

Midway

"The most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare."

They were elite predators. Deadliest of the age. Four of them with their attendantry vessels, screening, scouting and securing SWO boy protection. A six month run of raising pure heck from Infamy Day

Nipponesed as "Red Castle," "The Province," two sisters "Blue Green Dragon" and "Flying Dragon"their complement of aircraft and air crew were like the most expert naval aviators in world history. And they had the battlefield bona fides to back it up.


After doing Pearl -

"...Japan was on a roll. The Philippines had fallen, including the final outposts of Bataan and Corregidor. The Japanese had swept down through the Malay Peninsula from French Indochina, and on 15 February, the supposedly "impregnable fortress" of Singapore had fallen--to numerically inferior Japanese forces. The Dutch East Indies had been captured. Japanese forces were advancing into Burma and might proceed to India.

"...Even Australia appeared to be threatened. American naval forces, significantly weakened by the attack at Pearl Harbor, appeared vastly inferior to the armada that Japan was gathering to advance eastward in the Pacific toward Midway--and then possibly to the Hawaiian Islands or even the West Coast. Additional Japanese victories would have made it politically impossible for Roosevelt to continue to pursue the Grand Strategy of Europe-first.

When Doolittle Raiders launched a magical 30 seconds panty raid on the Imperial Capitol from USS Hornet, Nippon was determined to destroy what remained of Great Satan's grievously injured naval forces.

Fixing up the final hook up to finish up creating the Far East Greater Co - Prosperity Sphere, Midway was the bait. Plotting to draw out Great Satan's last two carriers (actually three - Yorktown was an unpleasant surprise as Japan intell'd she was blown out of the water just days before at Coral Sea) Enterprise and Hornet and annihilate them - forcing 32 to sue for peace and abandon PACRIM.


Instead, Imperial Navy rec'v'd the nasty surprise as Admirals Fletcher and Spruance bush wacked Nippon.

The Death Ride of Torpedo Eight was horrific in a uncoordinated attack that was supposed to be coordinated - those low and slow American torpedo planes ceased to exist as IJN's Combat Air Patrol destroyed them all. Wave hopping after the frantic, desperate aircrews - Japanese fighters leisurely killed them all except for a few miraculous shot down survivors.

Fashionably late - Dive Bombing Eight - appeared way up in the sky - way too far and too late for the bloodthirsty Zeroes to intercept or interdict. Torpedo 8's heroic sacrifice was not in vain.


Diving headlong from as high as 20,000 feet, Dauntless dive bombers attacked INS The Province (Kaga) first. Her death was incredible - four bombs hit her flight deck crammed plumb full of gassed up aircraft fully crunk with bombs and torpedoes. Payback is sweet.

"...Kaga stopped dead in the water and began exploding. In eight minutes (a divine ref to Torpedo and Bombing Eight*) 800 hundred of her crew were vaporized.


At the same incredible instant Red Castle (Akagi) - flagship of Fleet Admiral Nagumo himself took multiple direct hits and literally xformed in a dead floating inferno.

Minutes later Blue Green Dragon (Sōryū) suffered the same instant death as her plane loaded hanger decks began reduxing the first hits - exploding in tandem and killing over 700 crewmen as fires flamed up and out of control.


Flying Dragon (Hiryū) exacted revenge of sorts - damaging Yorktown so bad in a counter strike the grand Old Lady was scuttled the next day. It did Flying Dragon no avail - Great Satan hunted her down without mercy and killed her.

The tide of war not so much tilted against Nippon - it somersaulted against her as America took the initiative and never. Let. Go.

Imperial Japan never recovered, her bloody dying death orgy doom was only a matter of time.

Midway was the place and today is the time that Great Satan's conception as l'nation indispensable' - uniquely powerful - the only one of her kind - took place.

Pic -"All these torpedo planes can't be coming from one American Carrier!"   

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The End Of Syria

al Suriya Kubra!

Six years into the Syrian war, the survival of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is ensured — but it has become something of a facade and lacks a strategy for reuniting the country. The sometimes sharply differing interests of Russia and Iran from above, and the local concerns of a myriad array of pro-regime irregular militias from below, are the decisive factors — not the decisions of the country’s nominal rulers. This impacts the calculus of the “regime” side in the war, in determining its strategy in the conflict.

Just take a look at how the war has developed since late last year, when things seemed to be going well for the regime. The rebellion had been driven out of its last fingerholds in eastern Aleppo city, seemingly paving the way for the eventual defeat of the insurgency. But five months later, while the general direction of the war has been against the rebels, they appear still far from collapse. Idlib province, areas of Latakia, Hama, northern Aleppo, and large swaths of the south remain in rebel hands.

The rebels in the south received a boost this week when a coalition airstrike targeted forces loyal to Assad that were advancing on a base used by U.S. and British Special Forces. If the United States and its partners are willing to use force to defend allied groups in the area, it is hard to envision how the regime can hope to reestablish its rule there.

Further east, the war against the Islamic State is being prosecuted by a powerful U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led force called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This force will shortly embark on the conquest of Raqqa, the last remaining city in Syria fully controlled by the retreating Islamic State.

In other words, the rumors of the death of the rebellion have been greatly overstated. And some of its component parts apparently possess considerable vigor and strength.

Does the Assad regime have a strategy for the reunification of the country, or has Syria’s fragmentation now become an unavoidable reality?

Syria, after all, is today divided into no less than seven enclaves: the territory controlled by the regime, three separate areas of rebel control, two Kurdish cantons, and the Islamic State area.

What is the government’s strategy to reverse this fragmentation?

 “We have absolute faith that this is a temporary situation. The major reason for this faith is that the Syrian people start to understand the conspiracy against them.”

In other words, there is no strategy at all, but the kind of conspiracy theories that no self-respecting Baathist should be without. In fact, no evidence exists of any overarching plan to divide Syria — nor do any of the major forces in the country support its breakup. Syria’s de facto division is a result of the inability of any force to prevail over all the others, not of design.

That is, Syria will be divided between the regime enclave in the west, the Sunni Arab rebels in the northwest and southwest, a Turkish-ensured rebel enclave in the north, an SDF-controlled region in the northeast, and some arrangement involving both the SDF and Western-backed Arab rebels in the east.

As this process plays out, the Russians will continue to do as they wish by day and night in Damascus, the gap between regime rhetoric and reality will remain as gaping as ever, the rebels and the Kurds will continue to march in tune with their own patrons’ wishes. Meanwhile, the stark fact will continue to remain unsaid: namely, that the state known as Syria has effectively ceased to exist.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

PLA Reforms?

Shi Lang!

People’s Liberation Army has not officially released a new generation of operational regulations (作战条令)—which are believed to be roughly equivalent to doctrine—since its fourth generation of them in 1999. The protracted process for their revision has apparently become a “bottleneck” for the PLA’s advances in joint operations and training.

Evidently, its attempts to update these doctrinal documents in response to new strategic challenges have lagged behind its intended progression towards jointness, while failing to keep pace with changes in the form of warfare.

Since the early 2000s, the PLA has been engaged in an extensive process of revision of its fourth-generation operational regulations. Although the actual contents of the PLA’s operational regulations have never been released, an understanding of the underlying process and those involved is nonetheless informative. The Academy of Military Science Operational Theories and Regulations Research Department has traditionally played a leading role in this process.

The apparent centrality of the Operational Theories and Regulations Research Department to the formulation of the PLA’s doctrine renders the writings of its leadership and researchers of particular importance to those seeking to understand the evolution of the PLA’s doctrinal approach to warfare. For instance, its series of lectures (教程) released in 2012—including “Lectures on the Science of Joint Campaigns” and “Lectures on Joint Campaign Command” may be closely linked to the revision of the operational regulations themselves.

Although the PLA’s operational regulations may remain opaque, a new “revolution in doctrinal affairs” appears to have been gradually occurring, as the PLA prepares to confront the challenges of future warfare. The apparent lengthiness of the revision process—and unexpected, unprecedented delay in the issuance of fifth-generation operational regulations—could indicate substantive impediments to progress that are only just starting to be overcome, under the leadership of Xi Jinping. Within the foreseeable future, the new generation of operational regulations will likely include revised campaign guidelines for each of PLA’s services—the Army, Navy, Air Force and Rocket Force—as well as the new Strategic Support Force, along with force-wide guidelines for joint operations and joint operations command. To date, the PLA seemingly does not have official campaign guidelines that address operations in the space and cyber domains.

Potentially, this fifth generation will establish the PLA’s first operational regulations for space and cyber operations, which are considered critical strategic frontiers for the PLA that are integral to joint operations. Indeed, Maj. Gen. An Weiping deputy chief of staff of the Northern Theater Command, recently called for the introduction of “military cyberspace operations regulations and statutes.” The contents of this fifth generation of operational regulations, while not publically released, will presumably take into account recent changes to the PLA’s military strategic guidelines, reflecting its evolving missions and advancing capabilities. Looking forward, their release could be officially announced as a critical component of the PLA’s new stage of “below the neck”  reforms, which seek to enact deeper changes than the initial “above the neck”  stage of high-level, organizational changes.

Frigate Review

A planned $143 million review of the Navy’s future frigate design was prompted by a changing threat environment that will require the ship to complete more missions, top service officials told Congress this week.

The review was included as part of 45’s fiscal 2018 budget request, released Tuesday.
The money, budget documents say, will allow the Navy to “reassess the capabilities required to ensure the multi-mission frigate paces future threats.” Priorities, according to the request, include maximizing lethality and survivability, particularly in the areas of surface warfare, air warfare through local area defense, and anti-submarine warfare.

The future frigate is set to be based on the controversial littoral combat ship, a platform that saw major cost overruns in its early years and still faces harsh criticism from oversight authorities on survivability and ability to execute its major mission sets.

In April, the Government Accountability Office released a report recommending that Congress delay what had been a planned frigate block buy in 2018 to pursue more information on the ship’s cost and capabilities. In a 2016 report, the GAO noted that the lethality and survivability of the LCS was still unproven, raising questions about investing more in the same design for the frigate.

Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley told a panel of the Senate Appropriations Committee in a Wednesday hearing that the service now plans to contract for the frigate in 2020, saying the revision of the initial 2014 plan reflects a changing world.

“Since that time, the security environment, the budget environment, and the industrial base have changed,” he said. “We are refining our requirements to the frigate to increase multi-mission capability and, in view of the additional year required to get to a 2020 contract, we will continue to procure LCSs to maintain the industrial base.”

Funding for just one LCS was included in this year’s budget request, but Navy officials said Wednesday that the workload would be enough for the shipyards when coupled with last year’s three-LCS buy. Currently, two variants of the LCS are made by competing companies: Lockheed Martin/Marinette Marine, and Austal USA.

Stackley said the Navy wants to make sure the LCS and frigate program remain “heel to toe” so that the industrial base will remain financially healthy and able to build the ships.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson called the pace of change in global threats “exponential,” saying the current threat environment will inform the way the Navy rewrites its requirements for the frigate. Tighter budgets, too, mean the service will have to ensure it is getting the best value for its money, he added.

“The way we operate is changing. The way the U.S. Navy operates in terms of networking … this frigate into the larger fleet, executing distributed maritime operations — that has changed as well,” Richardson said. “And so the combination of those three things really necessitated that we go back to the drawing board and make sure we haven’t missed an opportunity to put to sea a ship that will address today’s threats and be modernizing into the future.”

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day


Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

I was thinking this morning that across the country, children and their parents will be going to the town parade, and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember.

Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid and passionate lives. … All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins.

And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong. 

If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. 

40 at Arlington

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Vengence Baby, Vengence

Sometimes cats that usually worry about the wrong thing get stuff absolutely correct...

Let me share with you some deeply flawed words from the editorial board of the New York Times

"Meanwhile, as hard as it is amid the shock and the mourning, it is important to recognize this attack for what it is: an attempt to shake Britain — and, by extension, the rest of Europe and the West — to its core, and to provoke a thirst for vengeance and a desire for absolute safety so intense, it will sweep away the most cherished democratic values and the inclusiveness of diverse societies"

  To the contrary, Britain should seek vengeance. And if terrorists want to provoke a climactic confrontation in the Middle East, then the West should give them the battle they crave.

Why? Because they’ll lose. Because they’ll be slaughtered. Because they’ll be exposed as the violent hucksters they are.

Underpinning the Times’s sentiment is the persistent, misguided belief that what we face isn’t a true war but rather a particularly challenging law-enforcement operation, in which armies stay largely sidelined, the cops do their work, and societies cope with terrorism in much the same way that they cope with other forms of criminal violence.

For those who subscribe to this view, the fundamental response to terror — in addition to mourning the dead and expressing love and support for their families — is to find precisely the people responsible and punish them precisely with the penalties prescribed by law. If we achieve less, then police have failed. If our response sweeps beyond those responsible for the bad act, then we have committed our own injustices and thus perpetuated the cycle of hate and violence.

In war, the goal is different. In war, the goal is to meet an attack with an overwhelming response — to find and punish those responsible for discrete acts, kill their allies, and annihilate their military organization. This martial act of vengeance and wrath — yes, vengeance — should be carried out in accordance with the laws of war, but the laws of war are no impediment to decisive military force.

Vengeance by itself is not wrong.

The manner of the vengeance and its object defines its morality and effectiveness. History is littered with examples of vengeance-motivated atrocities, but it is also full of cases where vengeance (or the threat of vengeance) motivated entire societies to defeat mortal threats and deter even worse calamities. Terrorists count on Western restraint.

The call for unconditional surrender in World War II was a departure from the norm in great-power conflicts, but it led to the ultimate defeat of Nazism and Japanese militarism, rather than to mere setbacks that would have allowed the Nazis and the Japanese to refit, re-arm, and try again. In multiple points throughout the Cold War, the threat of overwhelming retaliation kept conflicts limited, kept weapons of mass destruction off the field of battle, and helped the world avoid another catastrophic global conflict.

By contrast, terrorists count on Western restraint. They often presume that we’ll be unwilling to do what it truly takes to destroy their safe havens or that we’ll grow weary of conflict and ultimately acquiesce to their demands. And all too many voices in the West are eager to oblige. When law enforcement isn’t enough to prevent attacks, and when carefully limited military strikes prove ineffective, they argue that we should look to address the “legitimate grievances” that are said to ultimately drive jihadist motivations.

That is when terrorists win. There exists already a model for successful vengeance. Osama bin Laden wasn’t prepared for massive American retaliation after 9/11. He didn’t expect to lose his safe havens and the vast bulk of his fighters. He thought America would respond as it had before, with ineffective cruise-missile volleys or perhaps even the same timidity that followed the Battle of Mogadishu. In fact, he said as much, speaking of American weakness to Western reporters.

OBL was wrong: He met American strength, al-Qaeda was left in ruins, and the threat of terror eased for a time. In fact, there’s a consistent pattern to terrorist violence. When they obtain and maintain safe havens, jihadists are able to plan, train, inspire, and strike. When they are driven from their strongholds — pounded from the air and the ground — they lose much of their effectiveness and their appeal. Take your boot off their neck, and they rise again.

So, Great Britain, ignore the New York Times. Give in to your “thirst for vengeance.”

In a manner that is consistent with the laws of war and the great tradition of British arms, make an example of ISIS. Destroy terrorist safe havens with prompt, decisive force, pursue terrorists wherever they flee, and send a clear message.

Terrorists have sown the wind. They will reap the whirlwind.

Avenge your fallen.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MEDO

Think of it like a pan Arab NATO with the nom d'guerre like Middle East Defense Organization

The deal still needs more work, so the announcement would be a framework, not a treaty set for signing. But the plan, as reported by numerous outlets, would begin to bring the Middle East’s Sunni Arab nations into a collective defence alliance that would not include the U.S. directly, but would be favoured and supported by it. Indeed, some reports have noted that Israel (despite not being recognized by some nations as likely to join the alliance) will be a quiet partner, sharing intelligence with its neighbours over matters of mutual concern.

And those matters are serious. A strong Sunni Arab alliance — supported by the U.S. and Israel — would be a stabilizing force in a region in chaos. Committed Arab partners coupled with American military technology and Israeli intelligence would be a nightmare scenario for the Islamic State (among others), and could serve as an effective bulwark against the next terrorist organization to rise.

Iran is a threat to the West, Israel and many Arab states, and would also be partially countered by a properly-equipped military alliance. An American-backed Arab alliance might also thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions in the Middle East, without directly incurring much risk.

An Arab military alliance would be a stabilizing force in a region in chaos. It would also be the Islamic State’s worst nightmare, to say nothing of Russia and Iran. 
The idea is not without drawbacks. Even though Israel is reportedly set to play a supporting role, it will remember well that Arab nations — when allied — have a history of invading it. They will likely welcome the alliance in the short term while remaining carefully watchful in the long. The Arab states have also traditionally not played together particularly well, and many of them are facing serious internal economic and social issues that would not be addressed by an arms buildup and new treaty. Iran and Russia would, of course, seek to undermine the new alliance precisely because it would oppose their ambitions. And given the turmoil in the U.S., allies would have cause to question its commitment.

And, of course, there is this awkward fact: many of the Arab states remain countries with which we would, in a perfect world, prefer not to do business. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has an abysmal human rights record that hardly needs recapping here. American backing of these states further implicates the U.S. (and its Western allies generally, including Canada) in the misdeeds of these regimes.

But the West must be realistic and not let perfection be the enemy of the good. NATO has been a force for unity and stability in Europe for generations. The Arab world would certainly benefit from an alliance built on that model. It would reduce dependence on U.S. security guarantees, help contain Iran, and deny those seeking to exploit weakness and division easy opportunities for growth. An Arab NATO would be a difficult project to bring about, but it’s worth trying. We sincerely wish the president — or any future successor — well in seeking its earliest implementation

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chechnya

After the Soviet implosion in 1991, Chechnya, then part of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, declared its independence from Russia and split from what would become Ingushetia.

Russia launched the First Chechen War in 1994, lasting until 1996, in an effort to regain sovereignty over the area. But it was not until the Second Chechen War, which began in 1999 and lasted for the better part of the 2000s, that the Kremlin retook control. It was then that Moscow gained the loyalty of Akhmad Kadyrov, the former mufti of the short-lived independent Chechnya. He became president of the Russian-controlled Chechen Republic in 2003.

Yet Russia is in a state of decline. One of the immediate implications of this trend is a diminished ability by the Kremlin to manage its territories and influence countries in its periphery. Chechnya, which is already a major challenge for the Russians, is the most significant area poised to descend into chaos. From the capital of Grozny, Kadyrov’s clan has been the tool through which Russia has held Chechnya – and the broader North Caucasus – together. This region is highly susceptible to jihadists, who would be the first to try to take advantage of any opening in the system.

 As Russia’s ability to help manage the area wanes, jihadist forces and other rivals of Kadyrov will try to exploit it. Just as the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s could no longer project power into its peripheral regions, leading to the secession of its republics in the Baltics, Caucasus and Central Asia, a weakened Russia will not be able to keep its grip on Chechnya and the wider North Caucasus.

Left to its own devices, Chechnya is bound to devolve into factional warfare. And this is where jihadists, with their propensity to rally people around religion, are likely to benefit the most.

Monday, May 22, 2017

45's Afghan Surge

Once More Unto the Breach 

As 45 continues to weigh his options on how to proceed with America’s longest war in Afghanistan, there has been no shortage of arguments regarding U.S. involvement.  Some are calling Afghanistan a lost cause, while others are suggesting that a secure Afghanistan is vital to the security of this region in South Asia

Access to a classified Intelligence Community document found that the U.S. military would need to deploy fifty thousand additional troops to shore up the Ghani government. Coming on the heels of an announcement last week where 45's internal strategy reassessment group found that between three to five thousand additional troops are necessary to break Afghanistan’s with the Taliban.

Given 45's campaign rhetoric about the military “winning,” how he defines victory in Afghanistan is of vital importance.

Writing for RealClearDefense, Jeff Goodson, a retired Foreign Service Officer with experience in Afghanistan, contends, “there is no “win” or “lose” in Afghanistan.” However, Goodson offers: “The long-running objective of ensuring that Afghanistan never again serves as a sanctuary for international terrorism serves American interests as much today as it did fifteen years ago.”

Goodson does not see that goal as one that can be relinquished to a timeline because “Afghanistan is far too important to U.S. national security for us to either walk away or let this theatre of the global jihad spin out of control from simple neglect.”

In contrast, Philip Carter, Center for New American Security, took to Slate Magazine to proffer President Trump’s “Forever War.” Carter takes a historical view of the war, reflecting on the height of the troop surge in the country and concluding: “If the U.S. could not succeed at counterinsurgency in Afghanistan with more than 100,000 troops, it is unlikely the U.S. can succeed with 12,000 troops.”

In the end, all seem to agree that a comprehensive long-term strategy is required to solve the historic perplexity that is Afghanistan.

Except Afghanistan is not going to get much better unless certain elements in Pakistan are deterred




Thursday, May 18, 2017

NoKo No Win Scenarios

While we hate the status quo on the Korean Peninsula, there are far worse outcomes!

Suppose, for example, that China did begin to apply major pressure to what is often called the Hermit Kingdom. Beijing could cut by 25 percent all North Korean oil exports to get the North Koreans to abandon or at least negotiate over their nuclear and missile programs. North Korea might be able to survive the reduction for a time, but not forever.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may eventually grow desperate as gas shortages begin to pop up all over the country, threatening the stability of his regime. Kim then decides that he must show he is still in control, and that his military might has not been affected. So he decides to not only test another nuclear weapon, the sixth such test of his atomic resolve, but at the same time he test-launches his very first inter-continental ballistic missile into the skies above the mid-Pacific Ocean.

Kim chooses to be a little daring -- he selects a flight path that would see the missile crash 250 miles north of Hawaii into the ocean. But American missile defenses in Alaska are ready, easily shooting the missile out of the sky. How then might Kim respond?

Here is another scenario in which China does its best to “solve” the Korea crisis, only to see it backfire. Beijing decides to not only cut back fuel exports by 25 percent, but also slow food exports to Pyongyang for two weeks in what would amount to a temporary 20 percent slashing of North Korea’s food supply.

Already short on food -- 40 percent of North Korea’s population is undernourished and depends on food rations -- chaos breaks out in six different major cities, with more than 400 people killed in food riots. In an army base near the Chinese border, a group of 700 rioting North Koreans storm the food pantries, killing 60 soldiers in the process and taking some of their weapons. Choppy cell phone video leaks out of the North, with the rioters screaming, “we won’t starve anymore,” a reference to mass famine in the 1990s that claimed the lives of possibly 2.5 million North Koreans.

From here, things get worse. Kim sends in his army to put down the riots. They are ordered to use all means necessary, including VX gas, to end the chaos. But Kim’s generals are nervous to give the deployment orders -- seeing an opportunity to end this regime once and for all and attempt market-style reforms like their allies in Beijing.

Instead, in the middle of the night, hours before troops are to leave their barracks and attack the rioters, Kim’s top generals attempt a coup. They send 200 special operations soldiers into a bunker Kim is staying in for protection against America if it were to attack. The mission, at least it appears at the time, is a success, with reports that Kim Jong Un is dead.

However, Kim outsmarted his generals, and through electronic bugs and intercepts he knew they were coming -- they kill a decoy instead. Kim, now safe in a remote location, appears on state TV and names the so-called traitors and orders them executed. But the military is evenly split between those who are loyal to Kim, and those who are loyal to the mutinous generals.

A civil war seems imminent, with both sides armed with weapons of mass destruction that could see the death of millions and drag in not only South Korea, but also China, the United States, and potentially Japan.

Now, a little disclaimer: The above scenarios are from academics and retired military officials in China over the years. And while they may seem too far-fetched, they only scratch the surface of what could happen if the North Korean regime were accidently pushed over the abyss.

It doesn’t take a Tom Clancy novel to understand why many past U.S. administrations have not poked Kim too hard: North Korea might just be the ultimate Pandora’s box. Open the lid too far, and you just never know what will come out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Genius For War?

Modern wars are won by grinding, not by genius.

Strategic depth and resolve is always more important than any commander. We saw such depth and resilience in Tsarist Russia in 1812, in France and Britain in the First World War, in the Soviet Union and the United States during the Second World War, but not in Carthage or overstretched Nazi Germany or overreaching Imperial Japan.

The ability to absorb initial defeats and fight on surpassed any decision made or battle fought by Hannibal or Scipio, Lee or Grant, Manstein or Montgomery. Yes, even Napoleon was elevated as the model of battle genius by Clausewitz and in military theory ever since, despite his losing by attrition in Spain, and in the calamity of the Grand Armée’s 1812 campaign in Russia. Waterloo was not the moment of his decisive defeat, which came a year earlier. It was his anticlimax.

Losers of most major wars in modern history lost because they overestimated operational dexterity and failed to overcome the enemy’s strategic depth and capacity for endurance. Winners absorbed defeat after defeat yet kept fighting, overcoming initial surprise, terrible setbacks, and the dash and daring of command “genius.” Celebration of genius generals encourages the delusion that modern wars will be short and won quickly, when they are most often long wars of attrition. Most people believe attrition is immoral. Yet it’s how most major wars are won, aggressors defeated, the world remade time and again.

We might better accept attrition at the start, explain that to those we send to fight, and only choose to fight the wars worth that awful price. Instead, we grow restless with attrition and complain that it’s tragic and wasteful, even though it was how the Union Army defeated slavery in America, and Allied and Soviet armies defeated Nazism.

With humility and full moral awareness of its terrible costs, if we decide that a war is worth fighting, we should praise attrition more and battle less. There is as much room for courage and character in a war of attrition as in a battle. There was character aplenty and courage on all sides at Verdun and Iwo Jima, in the Hürtgen Forest, in Korea. Character counts in combat. Sacrifice by soldiers at Shiloh or the Marne or Kharkov or Juno Beach or the Ia Drang or Korengal Valley were not mean, small, or morally useless acts.

Victory or defeat by attrition, by high explosive and machine gun over time, does not annihilate all moral and human meaning. Aeon counter – do not remove


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Coming Third War With Hiz'B'Allah

It has been more than a decade since the last open confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel; yet in the last few months, there has been a lot of chatter among Hezbollah and Israel observers over the rising tensions between the two adversaries.

The drums of war have been beating even more loudly in the media.

The cost of the 2006 war was severe enough for both sides that they both seem to be making every possible effort to avoid another war: Israel stopped bombing Hezbollah's locations inside Lebanon, while the latter stopped kidnapping Israeli soldiers or launching rockets into northern Israel. However, both parties know that peace in the Middle East is fragile and fleeting. Preparations for a new round of war — now dubbed the Third Lebanon War — have only increased. Both sides appear to be using every opportunity to display not just the military buildup for the upcoming war, but also expose the weaknesses of the other in the event of a war.


On April 20, Hezbollah arranged a tour for journalists to south Lebanon to expose the recent Israeli fortification activities south of the Blue Line. As Israeli military bulldozers busily cut at the landscape across the electrical fence, Hezbollah members pointed to the infrastructure — newly carved military roads, concrete walls, cement blocks and high-tech monitoring radars — all placed along the border in the last year.


These defensive fortifications are the most recent measures taken by Israel in anticipation of the looming confrontation with Hezbollah. Previous measures included, for instance, merging all Israeli army commando units into a single commando brigade, completing the multi-layered air defense, and conducting various war games and drills specifically designed to mimic a war with Hezbollah.


Israel is almost certain Hezbollah has advanced mobile air defense systems. This means the Israeli air force might not be able to fly over Lebanon as freely as it did in the past. Furthermore, airborne operations using helicopters, which the Israel Defense Forces depends heavily on, might be too risky in the presence of such advanced air defense systems.


Hezbollah, for its part, has been busy preparing for war as well. Today, it is considered by many in Israel to be the strongest nonstate actor in the region, and it has analyzed the lessons of the 2006 war to prepare for the next one. Rockets and missiles proved to be effective enough in 2006 for Hezbollah to continue increasing their quantity, while also upgrading the quality of its arsenal.


Yet the most important development in Hezbollah's military capability is the unprecedented opportunity that came with its participation in the Syrian war. It now has the ability to train thousands of its fighters, who are rubbing shoulders with Syrian, Iranian and Russian elite special forces, while also developing its telecommunications, logistics, and command and control capabilities to handle a situation where hundreds of its fighters can fight nonstop for weeks and months in a vast, hostile environment. This is a huge leap from 2006, when Hezbollah only deployed independent small fire teams and squads in defensive fortified positions, in a friendly environment, while awaiting the advance of Israeli infantry and armor units.


Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's threat in 2011 to invade northern Israel is no longer so far-fetched, neither are his threats to hit the nuclear facility in Dimona. Israel takes these threats very seriously, hence the fortification works along the Blue Line. Hezbollah's plan is simple and bold: Saturate Israel's multi-layered air defense with hundreds of rockets and missiles while its fighters go on the offensive across the Blue Line — and perhaps even the Golan Heights.


According to sources familiar with Hezbollah, "A wider front will force Israel to spread out thinner, so now having the front expanded from Naqoura on the sea all the way to the end of the Golan Heights will prove to be more difficult for Israel in the event of a war."


Amidst the war cries, both sides have made it clear they are not interested in embarking on another war. Hezbollah is indeed busy in Syria and has little interest in fighting on multiple fronts. Furthermore, the domestic atmosphere in Lebanon is not that of 2006. There are now around 2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon for Israel to consider, as well as a Hezbollah-hostile section of society that would not be as welcoming as they were in 2006 to internally displaced people fleeing airstrikes. In addition, the Syrian-Lebanese border will not be open to those escaping the attacks, essentially turning Lebanon into an open-air prison.


It is also worth noting that with all of Hezbollah's upward trajectory in the region (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen), today's region is incredibly hostile toward it. Thus, the last thing Hezbollah and its backer, Iran, would want is to create a situation where even on its home territory it is on the defensive and dealing with a hostile population — while also fending off attacks from one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in the world.


Nor is Israel prepared to fight a war in which it cannot guarantee a total achievement of its goals.

While it does have the capability of causing severe damage to Lebanon, it still cannot guarantee neutralizing Hezbollah. Israel also knows Hezbollah's missiles have the potential to cause serious damage to both Israeli infrastructure and the security of its population. Furthermore, if the Golan front is indeed activated, it will be a battlefield with a lot of unknown and unpredictable variables. These variables include the role and position of the differing opposition groups, as well as whether both Hezbollah's allies and Israel's allies would be dragged into the confrontation, moving the war from what Israel would prefer — contained, surgical, quick — to an open-ended, messy and complex conflict.


As one Hezbollah fighter told Al-Monitor, "While Israel may have the key to open the door for a war, it does not have the ability to close that door again when it chooses, and therefore won’t take the risk."


While this could encourage some analysts to rule out the possibility of a confrontation, one needs to remember that what happens between Hezbollah and Israel is motivated, to a great extent, by what happens in the region — namely the wider confrontation between US allies and Iran.


Hezbollah is certainly wary of the new US administration, with sources close to the organization pointing to the fact that the previous administration under Barack Obama was not interested in entertaining a new Hezbollah-Israel war, whereas the Donald Trump administration has proven so far to be an unknown variable.


"Before 45, there was no indication of a war [between Israel and Hezbollah] in the future," said one official close to the party. "But now with 45, no one has a clue about his foreign policy. What we have seen so far, his priorities seem to be North Korea, the Islamic State and Iran."


Is it likely the administration would entertain a confrontation with Iran via a Hezbollah-Israel war? It is so far unclear, but the fluidity of the battlefield and the players in Syria mean such a confrontation would prove to be incredibly risky, with the likelihood of eventually dragging the United States further into an already messy arena.


As one source put it, "If there is going to be a war between Hezbollah and Israel in Syria, it would be an expansive confrontation with many unknown variables."