Author Topic: Military Science, Military Issues, and the Nature of War  (Read 323057 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Gallagher : OTOH
« Reply #801 on: December 02, 2019, 10:22:15 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Military Science, Military Issues, and the Nature of War
« Reply #802 on: December 07, 2019, 09:26:36 AM »
Sources not cited, but a reputable poster on another forum full of military, retired military, and LEOs:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gallagher is only a free man because the Navy fucked up his prosecution. Murder charges aside, he is a shit bird of a senior NCO. He was rifling through care packages and stealing shit from his SEALs and is not well liked or respected on the Teams. He was placed in pre trial confinement for threatening to kill the sailors who turned him in and their families, stalked dudes that had moved on to other commands and tried to derail their careers, among other things. To be fair, he is a SEAL, so it's not like dumb shit isn't the norm for them, but he certainly showed he was head and shoulders above the normal shenanigans of his people.

Clint Lorrance deserved every day of his prison sentence. He ordered his men to kill three unarmed dudes on a motorcycle that displayed zero hostile intent. His own men testified against him at his court martial. He was a substandard officer looking to be a war hero. After his men killed those two Afghani's he tried to get his radio operator to call in a troops in contact report stating that they took fire from a nearby village to justify killing those dudes. Before that he was threatening villagers, telling them he was going to have the ANA kill their families and ordered his DMR to shoot at farmers in the fields to "scare" them. That dude was out of control and had no business running a rifle platoon. When your NCO's testify against you, that's a pretty damning fact. War is a fucked up thing. Everyday you are forced to make judgments that have lasting effects on you, the people you are responsible for and the noncombatants in your area of operations. I know, I did it more times that I can count.
There are decisions I made in microseconds that still haunt me a decade plus later. Some of those decisions I still can't decide if I was right or wrong. I do know that I never regretted not having to kill someone that didn't need killing. I never ordered my people to do something that I thought they would have trouble living with. When those situations arose, I did that hard things that needed done, so some teenager didn't end up eating a gun years later.

He knew what he was getting into as a combat arms officer. If he couldn't play by the rules of armed conflict, then he should have never put the fucking uniform on. Were they Taliban or Anti Coalition Militia ? Maybe, hell maybe even probably. However, the rules of engagement exist for a reason. War is simply the continuation of politics by other means. When you are fighting a counter insurgency, indiscriminate killing does nothing to further your cause and plays right into the propaganda put out by the other side. We turned plenty of neutral people into bad guys because we can't to this day, understand that. If Lt Lorrance couldn't live with that, he should have stayed at home. But he didn't, and fucked up. Then he doubled down on his fuckup and tried to rope his men into backing his play and lying to cover it up. He can go fuck himself.





Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: Military Science, Military Issues, and the Nature of War
« Reply #809 on: February 11, 2020, 06:40:59 AM »
NASA's experimental X-59 supersonic jet could be built by the end of 2020
The team behind the plane is confident that the craft will be ultrafast and ultraquiet.
https://www.space.com/nasa-x-59-supersonic-plane-cleared-for-assembly.html

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Military Science, Military Issues, and the Nature of War
« Reply #810 on: February 11, 2020, 12:17:23 PM »
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/historic-stars-and-stripes-newspaper-in-the-crosshairs-as-pentagon-aims-to-end-funding

A friend of serious military background comments:


"This is a good move.  Stars and Stripes decided a long time ago that trending left was the right move.  It was never clear how that was a service to the troops.  Kill the subsidy now."

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Trump's budget
« Reply #811 on: February 11, 2020, 12:30:15 PM »
second post

 defense budget. The Pentagon released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 on Monday. Budgets are policy in Washington, and especially given how long it takes for new arms systems to be developed and procured, the Pentagon’s annual wish list can tell us quite a bit about what it thinks will and won’t be important several years down the line. The main takeaway: The Pentagon wants a leaner, more sophisticated fighting force. The $705 billion proposal includes cuts to the Navy’s and the Army’s overall budgets, Marine Corps personnel and shipbuilding. The Army's trusty A-10 Warthog, the Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Virginia-class submarines, an Air Force hypersonic weapons program, and several other programs are all on the chopping block. But research and development spending would generally increase (though civilian R&D spending would drop), as would outlays for modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, and the new Space Force would get $15 billion. One of the most interesting and important fights is over the future of the U.S. Navy. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is calling for a 355-ship fleet by 2030, but the 2021 budget cuts funding for shipbuilding to $16.4 billion to cover eight new vessels in 2021, down from $22 billion last year for 12 new ships. This reflects an ongoing debate over the future value of surface fleets, particularly manned ships, in an era when the range and sophistication of precision-guided anti-ship missiles are progressing by leaps and bounds.

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George Friedman: New US strategy and tech
« Reply #817 on: February 18, 2020, 01:39:20 PM »


February 18, 2020   View On Website
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    New US Strategy and Technology
By: George Friedman

The world is facing a fundamental strategic and technical shift in both the geopolitics of war and its dynamic. The shift is being driven by the United States’ decision to change its global strategic posture and the maturation of new classes of weaponry that change how wars will be fought.

U.S. Posture

The U.S. has publicly announced a change in American strategy consisting of two parts. The first is abandoning the focus on jihadists that began with al-Qaida’s attack on the U.S. in 2001. The second is reshaping and redefining forces to confront China and Russia. For a while, it had been assumed that there would no longer be peer-to-peer conflicts but rather extended combat against light infantry and covert forces such as was taking place in Afghanistan. After every international confrontation, including the Cold War, the absence of immediate peer threats leads strategists to assume that none will emerge, and that the future engagements will involve managing instability rather than defeating peers. This illusion is the reward of comfort to the victorious powers. Immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union, the belief was that the only issue facing the world was economic, and that military strategy was archaic. The events of 9/11 changed that, but the idea of national conflicts was still seen as farfetched.

The United States is now shifting its strategy to focus on peer-to-peer conflict. Peer-to-peer conflict is not about two equal powers fighting; it’s about two powers that field similar forces. So the war in Afghanistan was between a combined arms force and a totally different, light infantry force. As we saw in Vietnam, the latter can defeat a far more advanced force by understanding the political dimension more clearly than its opponent. Peer-to-peer conflict involves two forces conceiving of war in the same way. Germany invaded Poland and was by far the more powerful force, but Poland conceived of war the same way the Germans did. In this sense, they were peers.

The United States is a global power. Russia cannot wage war in the Atlantic or Pacific. China cannot project decisive power into Europe. The United States can do both. It is not nearly as geographically limited in its warfighting as the other two are. But were the United States to confront them within the areas where they can operate, the question then is the quality of forces, in terms of command and technology.

China’s national interest pivots on its ability to use sea lanes to sustain international trade. Its ability to project land power is limited by terrain; to its south are hills, jungles and the Himalayas, and to its north is Siberia. It could attack westward through Kazakhstan, but the logistical challenges are enormous and the benefits dubious. For China, then, the fundamental problem is naval, deriving from the threat that the U.S. could use its forces to blockade and cripple China.

Russia’s strategic interest rests in regaining the buffer zone from Latvia to Romania. The loss of these states in 1991 eroded the main defense line of an attack from the west. Russia’s primary goal, therefore, is to recover these buffers. Of secondary but still significant importance is holding the North Caucasus south of the Russian agricultural heartland. The threat to this region is insurgency in areas like Chechnya and Dagestan, or an American move from the South Caucasus.

Neither a U.S. naval blockade of China nor an attack on Russia proper from the west are likely scenarios. But national strategy must take into account implausible but catastrophic scenarios, because common sense can evaporate rapidly. Thus the Russians must maintain sustained pressure primarily to the west but also to the south. China must press eastward, in the South and East China seas, to demonstrate the costs a blockade would impose.

The focus for each is not necessarily action but creating the possibility of action and thereby shaping the political relationship. The danger is that the gesture will trigger what had been seen as an unreasonable response. The problem for the United States is that it cannot be sure of Russia’s or China’s reading of American intentions, and therefore, it must be prepared to counter both. War is rarely about hunger for conquest; it is about the fear of being conquered. For Russia, it is fear that the U.S. will try to achieve what Napoleon and Hitler failed to achieve, given the loss of its buffers. For China, it is a fear of strangulation by American naval forces. For the United States, it is fear that Russia will return with force to Central Europe, or that China will surge into the Western Pacific. All such fears are preposterous until they mount to such a point that doing nothing appears imprudent.

A New Class of Weapons

World War II was first waged between German armor and Soviet infantry, and then it became a war of armor against armor. In the Pacific, the decisive war was not of battleships against battleships, but of aircraft against naval vessels and, toward the end, airpower. Much of the battles on islands like Saipan and Guadalcanal were intended by both sides to secure them for air bases. The Cold War, had it turned hot, was conceived of as an upgraded World War II, of armor and air power against armor and air power.

From World War II until the end of the Cold War, peer-to-peer conflict focused on three classes of weapons: armored vehicles, aircraft carriers and manned bombers. After 1967 and the introduction of precision-guided weapons, the survivability of these weapons declined, and massive resources had to be allocated to allow them to survive. Armor had to be constantly upgraded to defeat far cheaper projectiles that were unlikely to miss. Aircraft carriers had to be surrounded by carrier battle groups consisting of anti-air cruisers, anti-submarine destroyers and attack submarines, all integrated into complex computer systems that could counter attacks by precision-guided weapons. Manned bombers flying into enemy airspace could be confronted by sophisticated surface-to-air missiles. The solution was to try to build bombers invisible to enemy radar. The cost of defending these systems that emerged in World War II surged as the cost of destroying them began to decline.

Counters to precision-guided weapons inevitably emerged, and we have reached the threshold of a new class of weapons: hypersonic missiles. These munitions, which can travel at five to 10 times the speed of sound, maneuver in flight and carry sufficient explosives, including sub munitions (smaller projectiles designed to hit multiple targets), make the survival of tanks, surface vessels and manned bombers increasingly problematic. Their speed, maneuverability and defenses against detection decrease the probability that all incoming hypersonic missiles can be destroyed, while they retain the precision of previous generations of weapons.
 
(click to enlarge)

Russia, China and the U.S. are all working on these weapons. Sometimes they exaggerate their limited capabilities; sometimes they minimize their substantial capabilities. But all have them and are developing better ones if they can. And this changes war from the way it was conceived in World War II and the Cold War. A new system of weapons is beginning to emerge.

The key to the development of hypersonics is range. The shorter their range, the closer the attacker must come. The longer the range, the more uncertainty there is over its location and the more likely it is to survive and be fired, maneuvering in excess of the ability of defending system. So in the South China Sea, it will not be carriers facing carriers. They will be neutralized by hypersonic missiles. Nor will it be armored brigades engaging. The tanks will be neutralized long before they engage. The goal will be to locate and destroy an enemy’s missiles before they are launched and before they can approach their target.

The key will be the ability to locate and track hypersonic missiles and then destroy them. The solution to this is systems in space. The Chinese will not engage the U.S. Navy with its carriers. It will try to destroy them with well camouflaged missiles from land bases. To do this, they must locate the target, which is mobile. Its own platforms being vulnerable, they will rely on space-based reconnaissance. The United States’ primary mission therefore will be to destroy Chinese satellites, find the location of Chinese launchers and launch saturated attacks on them, likely from space.

Modern war, like all war, depends on intelligence and targeting information. Precision-guided munitions move older platforms toward obsolescence, and hypersonics closes the door. The battle must be at a longer range than most missiles have now, and will be dependent on a space-based system for targeting. This means that victory in war will depend on command of space.
Note that the U.S. has now established the U.S. Space Force, which integrated the space fighting capabilities of other services into one. This represents the realization that dealing with peer powers now depends on the command of space. Therefore, the United States’ strategic turn away from jihadists toward Russia and China also constitutes a shift away from the primacy of older platforms. A new strategy and the recognition of the importance of space mean that the decisive battle will not be fought on Earth’s surface.   




Crafty_Dog

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Popular Science: China's missile expansion
« Reply #818 on: February 27, 2020, 09:59:24 AM »
China’s missile force is growing at an unprecedented rate
The nation appears to have introduced 11 new missile brigades since May 2017.

P.W. Singer and Ma Xiu
February 25, 2020
missile
Vehicles with long-range DF-26 missiles during a military parade in Beijing, China, in September 2015.Ge jinfh
China’s long-range missiles play a central role in the country’s military plans. And, in the event of armed conflict between that nation and the US, they’re the weapon the American military worries the most about.

Despite their pivotal role in Chinese war-fighting strategy, the service responsible for those missiles, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF), remains perhaps the most opaque branch of Beijing’s military. While its new fleet of expanded-range missile systems—from the DF-31 and DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to the hypersonic DF-17—have debuted in parades, there are still a number of profound changes happening in the PLARF that are relatively undisclosed.

But by tracking more subtle public announcements and news stories, it appears the number of missile brigades in the PLA has jumped from 29 to 40, an increase of more than 35 percent, in just three years.

To understand this expansion, a bit of context is necessary: The PLARF’s predecessor, the Second Artillery Force, officially formed in 1966, and by the end of the decade, it fielded roughly eight strategic missile regiments, which were later upgraded to brigades. Three more were added in the 1970s. Beginning in the late 1980s, the Second Artillery Force began fielding new short- and medium-range missile types, requiring the addition of new brigades. Four new brigades stood up between 1980 and 2001, three of which were equipped with these new missiles.

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The first decade of the 2000s saw faster growth: Eleven new units stood up between 2001 and 2010, at least eight of which were equipped with the latest missiles, including the DF-31 (the PLA’s first road-mobile ICBM), the CJ-10 (its first land-attack cruise missile), and the DF-16 SRBM, as well as the improved DF-21C. Similarly, when the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile began to come online in the late 2010s, two of the next three brigades may have been equipped with it.

China missile brigades
New brigades are usually equipped with the PLA’s most advanced missiles.BluePath Labs
Why build so quickly recently? A review of available information on Chinese news and web sources about the 11 new brigades offers some hints as to the direction and reasons behind this expansion.

Chinese missile brigades
Recent brigades by date.BluePath Labs
Of these, the 644 Brigade, established in July 2017, is perhaps the most intriguing because it offers a glimpse into the kinds of new weapons that these brigades will likely carry. This unit test-fired a new missile in April 2016, and again at some point in late 2017, prior to it officially entering service. Both the DF-41 (the newest ICBM) and the DF-17 (which carries a hypersonic glide vehicle called the DF-ZF) were tested in April 2016 and late 2017. Given this timeline, and the previous pattern of new brigades being created to accommodate new missiles, this unit is likely one of the first equipped with those two new missiles.

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Further, this unit was reported to have been given the unit title “New Generation 1st Dongfeng Brigade.” Such honorifics are occasionally conferred upon units that are the first to achieve a major milestone: The 1st Dongfeng Brigade was the first unit equipped with a Dongfeng missile, the 1st Conventional Brigade was the first equipped with a conventional missile, and the 1st Cruise Missile Brigade was the first to deploy a cruise missile. The deployment of the PLA’s first hypersonic missile would certainly qualify for such an honorific. On the other hand, the brigade’s location in Hanzhong, close to existing ICBM formations, may indicate a DF-41 or DF-31AG unit.

These units are likely important developments for the PLARF, and as such the public information on these brigades is limited, especially compared to the amount of information about American equivalents. However, we can say that the new units appear to be evenly distributed geographically, indicating that it is modernizing across the board, as opposed to a singular focus on a specific region.

China missile brigades
Location of new brigades established since 2017.BluePath Labs
Further, it appears that these brigades are continuing the trend of being equipped with the latest missile systems; there is at least one DF-26 brigade, as well as three brigades with unidentified new model missiles. Most interestingly, at least one of them appears to be equipped with a missile system that came online in the last two years, likely the DF-41, DF-17, or DF-31AG. This would indicate that the PLARF is not only growing new units rapidly but is equipping these new brigades with its most advanced weapons.

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What’s more, two of the brigades are equipped with dual-use weapons systems (DF-26, DF-21C) that have both nuclear and conventional war applications, with the others likely equipped with the DF-41, DF-31AG, and DF-17, all of which are nuclear or nuclear-capable.

This fits within what China laid out in its 2019 Defense White Paper, which noted that the strategic requirements of the PLARF include “enhancing...nuclear deterrence and counterattack [and] strengthening intermediate and long-range precision strike forces.”

The new units and the evidence on the ground tells the tale of a growing force, with growing capability well beyond what is glimpsed in parades.

Ma Xiu is an analyst with BluePath Labs, a DC-based consulting company that focuses on research, analysis, disruptive technologies, and wargaming.

P.W. Singer is Strategist at New America and author of multiple best-selling and award-winning books on national security.


Crafty_Dog

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Israel's Iran confrontation points way to future of war
« Reply #820 on: February 28, 2020, 03:15:33 PM »


Israel's Iran Confrontation Is Pointing the Way to the Future of War
by Seth Frantzman
The Hill
February 26, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60482/israel-is-pointing-the-way-to-the-future-of-war



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Wuhan Virus: How Pandemics disrupt military operations
« Reply #824 on: March 26, 2020, 09:08:04 AM »
COVID-19: How Pandemics Disrupt Military Operations
Sim Tack
Sim Tack
Global Analyst , Stratfor
9 MINS READ
Mar 25, 2020 | 10:00 GMT

Fully protected members of the Spanish Army's Nuclear Bacteriological and Chemical Regiment (RNBQ) prepare to disinfect a train station in San Sebastian to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on March 24, 2020.
Soldiers prepare to disinfect a train station in San Sebastian, Spain, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus on March 24, 2020. As of Tuesday, Spain had reported 39,673 confirmed cases of the virus.

HIGHLIGHTS
Measures to contain and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic could significantly impact global military readiness for at least the next several months.

Even though immediate disruptions to military operations will be temporary, the economic stress resulting from the pandemic could yield long-term setbacks in development programs.

The potential impact from COVID-19 provides a general template of how future pandemics could affect military capabilities and activites, albeit with different timelines and severity of impact depending on the disease.

Amid the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world are facing widespread disruptions to not only the health of their populations and economies, but their militaries. Even if the virus itself doesn't leave key personnel severely ill (or worse), quarantine measures can still severely thwart military operations. Meanwhile, military powers such as the United States may increasingly be forced to deploy additional forces to the frontlines of unfolding COVID-19 outbreaks at home. The resulting fallout could, in turn, result in setbacks in the fight against multiple non-state actors abroad, and potentially even the long-term development of military capabilities.

The Big Picture

For many states, the military serves as a critical instrument of policymaking and national security, and is thus often vital in mitigating widespread crises such as the COVID-19 outbreak. But military forces are also by no means immune to the direct health impacts or the indirect financial fallout of pandemics, which risk disrupting military operations and the development of new capabilities.

Operational Limitations

The requirement to isolate forces — and possibly even their families when living on base — to contain the virus will have the most direct impact on military readiness. This first became apparent in South Korea, when an infection was identified within a U.S. military base. Even if the disease itself does not spread too widely through a country’s military itself (and leave personnel severely ill or worse), precautionary quarantine and social distancing measures can rapidly disrupt a significant portion of military activities that normally depend on operations in larger numbers and direct interaction. The first disruptions of this kind are already notable in operational theaters such as Iraq, where the United States recently repositioned its troops into a smaller number of bases (in part to limit their exposure to COVID-19), and where Dutch and British forces also suspending training activities with local Iraqi forces for similar reasons. U.S. forces also recently limited their engagement in the long-planned Defender Europe exercise, which had been intended to be the largest simultaneous deployment of U.S. forces to Europe in over 25 years.

In addition to isolation efforts, the potential for substantial COVID-19 outbreak within military formations in the field presents complex consequences as well. Such an outbreak could incapacitate not only the ability to conduct active operations, but the ability of affected units to continue operating. It could also prompt a medical response requirement that they cannot locally meet. This is especially true for smaller and remote deployments, of which there are many still operating under the "global war on terror." With troops falling ill and others engaged in caring for them, it may become infeasible for even deployed units to guarantee their own security at a reliable degree. Although most military personnel less likely to fall severely ill due to their youth and fitness level, serious cases of COVID-19 would still be statistically expected to occur within the military, making containment efforts necessary.

Even if COVID-19 doesn't leave personnel severely ill (or worse), measures to contain and respond to the outbreak can still leave militaries less equipped to manage emerging security threats elsewhere.

For some military operations, such as those of naval forces, quarantine efforts may be easier than for others. Italy, for example, was quick to quarantine two of its naval vessels early on in the development of the COVID-19 crisis, and the U.S. Navy also recently adopted the practice of limiting port calls and leaving at least 14 days of self-quarantine between port visits. By avoiding port calls and self-quarantining at sea, the chance of external infections is radically lowered but not entirely removed, as illustrated by the recent diagnosis of three sailors on board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt after a port visit to Vietnam.

In the case of infections in the close quarters of a naval vessel, however, the disease could spread rapidly, as evidenced by the COVID-19 infections reported on cruise ships. And medical facilities onboard may not be able to sufficiently treat the number of patients requiring intensive care. This again will raise logistical challenges in the form of outside assistance or evacuations. Crews of operational vessels also can’t simply be swapped out, or would at least require thorough disinfection that may not be feasible to carry out at sea (this is particularly true for nuclear submarine fleets, which, while relatively isolated, can’t be considered entirely immune to outbreaks). Vessels affected by an outbreak would likely become operationally unavailable as a result, potentially temporarily reducing maritime capabilities in certain areas of operations.

Similar disruptions could also arise from highly specialized but limited military assets. In addition to medical units, the ranks of fighter pilots, special operations forces, specialized technical support staff and contractors will also not be invulnerable to infection or quarantine efforts. A loss in operational readiness from these units will have very direct consequences on the overall capabilities for the U.S. military and its allies, in particular, in the short term. These units are not only critical to U.S.-led counterterrorism efforts, but also in providing response capacity in various international hotspots around the world, including North Korea, Iran, Syria and regions near Russia's border.

The COVID-19 outbreak also appears to be moving across the globe in sequence, beginning first with those countries closest to China (the initial epicenter). North Korea, for example, is already starting to revive its military exercises in March, after largely being on lock-down during January and February. The United States, meanwhile, has just begun implementing widespread lockdown measures. The difference in timing and impact — with signs that China is now getting over the peak of the crisis, just as the United States is gearing up for an expected surge of COVID-19 cases — could also create temporary windows of opportunity for some countries in their own regional theaters. If military response capacity becomes severely limited, even if only in a particular theater, the calculations of policymakers on both sides will be significantly restricted by the reduction in available means or potential unintended consequences in terms of spreading infections or exposing troops.

Risks Beyond Warfighting

The potential impact from COVID-19, however, will not be limited to immediate operational deployments. In aiding states to ramp up their capacity to quickly respond to the disease's spread and the medical consequences, military formations are increasingly becoming mobilized to assist first responders and to enforce quarantine measures. Italy, Germany, and France, for example, have started to lean on military personnel to set up additional medical facilities and transport the infected, among a long list of other responsibilities. As the crisis worsens, large formations will become unavailable for the defense of the homeland or potential deployments. This may not necessarily alter the military balance between states, as it appears that the COVID-19 crisis hasn't so far spared any military power. Russia, for example, has halted its exercises in border regions as a precaution against COVID-19 exposure, despite suffering from many fewer identified cases than NATO countries.

In addition to military capacity geared toward balancing against other states, operations against insurgent groups and terrorist cells will be severely disrupted. Due to their asymmetric nature, these militant organizations will also not be facing the same kind of burden and responsibility of the state due to the pandemic. As troops are deployed in a COVID-19 response capacity, or have to cancel training exercises or operational preparations, the ability to rotate forces into the relevant theaters could temporarily grind to a halt. Even where capacity isn’t an issue, deploying forces overseas and returning others carries a great risk of spreading infections (either from their home bases to combat theaters or vice versa). The West African Ebola crisis of 2014-16 illustrated this risk, as peacekeepers became unable to rotate in and out of unaffected regions in Africa for fear of spreading the disease.

Long-Term Implications

The economic impact of the pandemic will also affect the defense industry and military budgets long after the immediate COVID-19 outbreak subsides. Particularly the military aerospace sector, which overlaps significantly with the civilian aerospace industry, could face a significant setback due to the accruing damage to the global airline industry. Other aspects of the defense industry will be affected as well, as social distancing prevents travel, collaboration and even testing of new developments. This will impose delays and cost overruns on ongoing projects. The U.S. Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System, for one, has already postponed testing from April until June due to COVID-19. Naval shipyards have also suspended work in countries such as Italy and Canada, which could delay deliveries of new naval vessels and disrupt the maintenance of existing ones for the duration of the outbreak.

The financial risk resulting from these disruptions will be further increased by the potential for economies to contract in the wake of measures to contain the outbreak, which will likely also impact defense spending in many countries. This does not mean that defense budgets will necessarily contract, though depending on the particular spending priorities of individual countries, such an outcome can not be ruled out. Constricted budgets will also lead to internal shifting of resources, and potential accelerations of plans to reduce or withdraw forces from overseas locations.

Between these long-term impacts on the development of military capabilities (such as budgetary trends or disruptions of development efforts), as well as short-term disruptions to operational theaters, pandemics such as COVID-19 carry a risk of granting a temporary free pass to the activities of non-state actors across the world, and possibly even a permanent setback in many active theaters. The essential nature of military forces in conducting foreign and domestic security policies, as well as their role in directly supporting humanitarian response efforts, make them one of the key vulnerabilities of modern states at a time of pandemics.



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D1: Three questions for the AF's new chief of staff
« Reply #834 on: July 29, 2020, 06:33:53 AM »


Three Urgent Questions for the Air Force’s New Chief of Staff
The service has too long delayed the hard choices that would prepare it to deter China.
By MARA E. KARLIN and JIM MITRE
JULY 28, 2020 01:31 PM ET
COMMENTARY
AIR FORCE
When Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown becomes the U.S. Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff later this summer, he will take charge of a force at a precarious time.

The service is grappling with its own racial prejudice, systemic discrimination, and unconscious bias; Brown, the first African American to lead a service branch, has already issued a powerful statement on racial issues. He must also navigate the Air Force through a pandemic whose infections and economic disruptions are complicating recruitment, training, acquisition, and operations. And though either of these towering challenges might consume any leader, General Brown must not squander the opportunity to make progress on the primary geopolitical problem confronting the U.S. military: China.

The Defense Department has identified geopolitical rivalry with China as its principal challenge for nearly a decade; Beijing’s military modernization and propensity for coercing regional states puts in jeopardy the Asia-Pacific balance of power. But the Department has made only slow progress toward a more modern and capable military that can meet this threat. Its strategy execution is chronically hampered by near-term events, from budget sequestration to Middle East instability to domestic policy dynamics that, for example, place military forces on the southern border; COVID-19 is just the latest crisis to draw attention and resources to today’s challenges at the expense of tomorrow’s. The problem is that China is no longer a future challenge; the future has arrived, and already come to pass even as the rivalry is set to grow more intense over the coming decades. The military, and the Air Force in particular, must change to credibly deter Chinese aggression and keep the geopolitical competition from escalating into war.

To do so most effectively, we recommend General Brown first look to the Marine Corps as a model. Those who haven’t followed the service’s transformation since General David Berger became Commandant last summer are missing a sea change in the making. Just days into the job, General Berger released new planning guidance that declared, “We cannot afford to continue to admire problems or fail to take the necessary decisive actions.” He has followed it up with implementation guidance, including details of the new force design that explicitly highlights areas of investment and divestment. And he has communicated his priorities in a masterfully strategic communications campaign — reiterating his priorities in podcasts, around Washington and in the field, and even listing them on Twitter. Simply put, General Berger has offered a justifiably stark diagnosis of the Marine Corps’ challenges and is pitching thoughtful, serious prescriptions to solve them. While his provocative ideas are sparking numerous debates about the future contours of the Marine Corps, General Berger is right to press for a sharp shift that better positions the Corps for the China challenge.

General Brown would do well to follow General Berger’s lead. The Air Force is in need of a similarly fundamental recalibration. As Chief, General Goldfein made important progress in a wide range of issues. He spearheaded development of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, an innovative approach that could alter the character of warfare by establishing interoperability between any sensor and any shooter. He prioritized readiness, which had plummeted across the force. He also pushed difficult decisions on leadership, including dramatic changes to the promotion system to make it both more transparent and more bespoke, although its ultimate impact is not yet clear. He stood up the Air Force Integrated Warfighting Capability, or AFWIC, to push the Air Force’s focus and resources in increasingly innovative and sophisticated ways that prioritize future fights—which, as the latest budget proposal shows, has made some important, albeit incomplete, improvements. He further surged AFWIC’s work by naming its deputy director as the new deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration, and requirements—and by promoting him from one to three stars within days. And perhaps above all, his extraordinary leadership in tandem with Chief Wright has reminded the force that issues of racism and inclusion are not political—they are instead critical to righting social injustices that undercut the vision we must aspire to.

But several trends that long predate the current chief have the Air Force in a dire position. Even more than its sister services, whose operations tempo in the Middle East surged in the post-9/11 wars, the Air Force’s inventory is worn by regional combat operations that began a decade earlier in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. That inventory has shrunk considerably over the ensuing decades, yet taking a page out of the Navy’s book to focus on regrowing the number of squadrons is misguided and will be similarly ineffectual. While Air Force leaders publicly praise the creation of the Space Force, they surely must also recognize that the bureaucratic and resource competition has just gotten fiercer. As Todd Harrison wrote last October, the Air Force is in a historically anomalous position with “a budget that is near an all-time high and a force structure that is near an all-time low.” Yet the service is not clearly equipped to make the necessary political arguments; at least, it has long failed to tell a compelling and realistic story about what it brings to the Joint Force. Nor has it made the hard choices to prepare itself for an inescapable characteristic of future battlefields: with challenges to air dominance growing and indeed worsening, the Air Force will only find it harder and harder to “own the air” against a sophisticated adversary and will need to increasingly accept air contestation.

Such a dire situation requires serious leadership to tackle a new set of problems that move beyond admiration and toward necessary decisive actions.

Three Key Decisions

Air Force initiatives to sustain the U.S. military advantage over China hinge on three foundational questions that remain unanswered. If General Brown resolves these, he would be well on his way to making the meaningful and lasting change the Air Force sorely needs. Coming from Pacific Air Forces, General Brown is already seized with the China challenge; the dilemma now is how to push the rest of the Air Force accordingly.

First, whether to prioritize China and Russia equally. The National Defense Strategy prioritizes China and Russia as a class above North Korea, Iran, terrorism, and other security challenges. Following the strategy, the Air Force has harvested resources from lower priorities to accelerate development of the force for great power rivals. The Air Force had to make some hard choices in doing so, such as cutting older aerial refuelers to free up resources for new ones. However, its hard choices are about to get harder. The Air Force, along with the rest of the Department, is likely to see its budget flatline or dip in the wake of the COVID-19 stimulus spending. The growing costs of personnel and operations and maintenance may crowd out funding for modernization. Having already shifted resources to face China and Russia, future tradeoffs may increasingly be between China and Russia.

If faced with this choice, the Air Force should ensure it is pacing off of the China challenge—even if that accretes risk relative to Russia. The stakes in the China competition are simply higher, given China’s greater geopolitical standing and the larger economic interests at play. The Air Force needs to recognize that Chinese and Russian contested environments vary, so how and in what ways it penetrates Chinese and Russian air defenses must as well. And making this recommendation a reality will require smarter decisions for sustainably dealing with the other threats. For example, investing in light attack aircraft for counterterrorism and stability operations in the Middle East and South Asia is long overdue. While it cannot ultimately extract itself from long-term operational requirements, the Air Force can take a smarter approach in doing so.

Second, how to posture forces to fight China within a contested environment. Any plausible war against China will confront the Air Force with China’s anti-access / area-denial capability and put in question the operational viability of its Western Pacific bases and forces. The Defense Department has publicly recognized this since 2012, when it started calling for a more operationally resilient posture in the Asia-Pacific. Despite reiterating the importance of resilience in its basing network ever since, the Air Force has not committed the funds to sufficiently do so. The Air Force’s hesitance is largely driven by the cost. Its force structure and operations were designed for efficiency, massing numerous fighters at a few main operating bases to benefit from economies of scale in maintenance and logistics. It would cost tens of billions to shift from efficiency to resilience by investing in deployable airfields, better regional infrastructure, and combat-capable fuel and logistics supplies. For years, INDOPACOM leaders and multiple chairmen of the Congressional Armed Services Committees have registered their concerns with this lack of resourcing but have been unable to redress it, although the Pacific Deterrence Initiative is a step in the right direction.

The longer the Air Force waits to invest in an operationally resilient forward posture, the more aggravated the problem becomes. This is because the service continues to orient its force structure around fighter planes, and fighter planes depend on operationally viable forward bases or extremely long and tenuous chains of aerial refueling tankers to reach their targets during conflict. There are ways for the Air Force to fight in a contested environment without heavy reliance on fighters, such as using relatively low-cost and attritable unmanned systems. Alternatively, the Air Force can plan to lean more heavily on long-range bombers and standoff missiles to strike inside Chinese air defenses. The answer is unlikely to be one option exclusively over the others but in finding the right balance among them. The Air Force should define this balance, describe the basing network it requires, and commit the resources to build it.

Third, whether to embrace the fact that the future character of warfare is uncertain. Of course it is, thanks to emerging technologies — artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced materials, hypersonic missiles — and an economically powerful rival that is at least as good as the United States at turning them into military capabilities. Yet the Air Force is of two minds on whether to accept this fact. One school of thought does so by channeling capability development through rapid prototyping, rapid fielding, and open system design. This allows the Air Force to experiment and fail fast before committing to a set of capabilities to develop, while also keeping those capabilities open for subsequent spirals in design changes and technological upgrades. Another essentially ignores this uncertainty by adhering to a singular prediction of the future, one with a clear vision of not only the capabilities the Air Force requires but in what quantity: 386 operational squadrons as the “Air Force We Need.”

Putting forth an inflexible number may help protect the Air Force’s budget; it may not. More to the point, it is analytically bunk. What might make good politics makes for bad policy. The Air Force’s analysis is at times muddled as it aims to substantiate the need for exactly 386 squadrons while also trying to explore novel concepts and capabilities to defeat China in war. In his confirmation hearing, General Brown reiterated the squadron target but started to deemphasize it, noting that “if we do not achieve 386, we may be a little bit smaller than 386, but we will be more capable.” He should continue this approach and, given the Air Force’s inability to foresee the future, completely abandon the hard target.

The time has come to make the hard decisions that will reorient the Air Force for a new era of competition with China, but so far, calls for change lack the sense of urgency that make many complex and controversial decisions feasible. Those leaders and entities inside the Air Force who want to answer these three foundational questions will need the vocal support of the new chief of staff. Absent such backing, they will fall to pressure from the Air Force’s old guard. General Brown’s mandate is a difficult one, yet he understands it better than most. If he can fulfill it, the United States may retain the upper hand over China.

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