1 March 2017

**** The View From Olympus: Maneuver Warfare and Navies

William S. Lind

The debate in this country about maneuver warfare has centered on the Army and the Marine Corps, not the Navy. (It influenced the Air Force through John Boyd and Pierre Sprey, especially in the development and procurement of the A-10; for a recent look at air power and maneuver warfare, see the K.u.K. Marine Corps Air Cooperation Field Manual, available here. That traces to the origin of the debate, in my critique of the 1976 version of the Army’s basic Field Manual, FM 100-5. The fact that, of all the U.S. armed services, it was the Marine Corps that showed most interest in the concept kept the focus on land warfare. History also played a role: maneuver warfare as we now know it was developed by and institutionalized in the Prussian/German Army between 1807 and 1945.

But it did not start there. It started in the Royal Navy in the second half of the eighteenth century. Years ago, I asked John Lehman when he thought it began, and his answer was when George Anson became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1751. Anson, who led a round-the-world raid on the Spanish in 1740-1744, taking the Manila Galleon, certainly had the characteristics maneuver warfare seeks in a leader.

Another British admiral, I think, did more than Anson to promote the outward focus maneuver warfare demands. That Admiral was the Hon. John Byng, who, on March 17, 1757, following his court martial, was shot by a firing squad on the quarterdeck of H.M.S. Monarch. Of critical importance, Byng was executed not for what he did, but what he didn’t do. The charge against him was that, in action in command of a British fleet fighting the French off the Mediterranean island of Minorca, Byng had not done his utmost. By punishing with death a sin of omission, not commission, the Royal Navy created a bias for action in its officers that, by the time of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, had largely institutionalized what we know as maneuver warfare: outward focus on decisive results rather than inward focus on rules, orders, etc.; valuing initiative over obedience; decentralizing decision-making and depending on self more than imposed discipline. As Voltaire famously wrote, “Sometimes the British shoot an admiral to encourage the others.”

**** The View From Olympus: His Majesty’s Birthday

William S. Lind

January 27 is the birthday of Germany’s last legitimate ruler and my reporting senior, Kaiser Wilhelm II. As usual, I placed a telephone call to him to offer my congratulations. I am never quite sure where I am going to find the Reisekaiser; this year I reached him at Wilhelmshafen, the main base of the High Seas Fleet.

After offering my best wishes for his birthday, I asked, “What brings you to Wilhelmshafen this time?”

“Well, I do like the town’s name,” he replied. “Now that I think of it, I should order that the main seaport in all of Germany’s colonies be named Wilhelmshafen. I’ll instruct my ambassadors to suggest to other colonial powers that they do the same. I’m sure they will be delighted at the idea.”

“No doubt,” I replied. “We in the American republic now have a president who likes to put his name on things. Do you see any other similarities between him and your Imperial self?”

“Quite a few, actually,” replied the Kaiser. “I made Germany great, and he will make America great again, so long as he follows one rule: don’t go to war.”

“But I haven’t answered your question,” His Majesty continued. “I’m here for the simultaneous commissioning of twenty ships!”

“If they are battleships and battle cruisers, I hope there are some Mackensens among them,” I ventured.

“Not a one,” the Kaiser said. “They are all transports.”

*** The View From Olympus: A Memo for President Trump

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You have requested a plan to defeat ISIS. Here is one. It begins with the highest level of war and works downward, because a higher level trumps a lower level. Too often in the past, the U.S. has ignored the higher levels, focusing simply on killing enemy fighters and taking ground. It then loses, but cannot understand why it lost. The approach recommended here does not repeat that mistake. It begins at the top, with grand strategy. 

Our grand strategy should be to create an alliance of all states against violent non-state forces. Such an alliance must begin by bringing together the three real Great Powers, Russia, China, and the United States. From that perspective, ISIS is an opportunity more than a problem. China is not likely to participate, but a campaign to destroy ISIS can draw in Russia, moving us toward our grand strategic goal. More, it must draw in Russia, as an equal, if the campaign is to succeed. As we will see below, there are areas where we need Russia to take the lead, with the U.S. in a supporting role. Thanks to your good relationship with President Putin, this should be possible. 

At the strategic level, we cannot destroy ISIS through military action alone. Military pressure alone is likely to bring the various elements within ISIS together, where our strategy should be to pull them apart. That is possible, because ISIS is an unstable and unnatural coalition between Islamists and high-level Baathists from Saddam Hussein’s government and security services. The religious crazies provide the front men and the cannon fodder, but ISIS is run by the Baath. Only the Baath can make things work; break the coalition and the Islamists become wraiths. 

*** It’s Time for Europe’s Militaries to Grow Up

By Stephen M. Walt

The transatlantic partnership between the United States and Europe has been the linchpin of U.S. grand strategy for more than half a century. It is also in deep trouble. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly suggested that NATO was obsolete, accused U.S. allies in Europe of “not paying their fair share,” and said “the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.”

Not surprisingly, his election rang alarm bells in Europe, and his erratic behavior since taking office has only intensified European concerns. How can America’s European partners be confident in their most important ally when the U.S. president lives in an alternative reality derived from Breitbart, Fox News, and whatever dark conspiracies he’s being fed by Steve Bannon? Would you trust a president who prefers to rely on shady Ukrainian politicians, convicted fraudsters, and his own personal lawyer to deal with sensitive diplomatic matters, instead of the normal channels of statecraft?

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence spent last week trying to reassure U.S. allies at the Munich Security Conference, but their efforts were only partly successful. Each made strong pro-NATO statements — and Pence even said the U.S. commitment was “unwavering” — but their message wasn’t unambiguous. In particular, Mattis warned his NATO counterparts that the United States might moderate its commitment to Europe if they didn’t ramp up their defense spending to roughly 2 percent of GDP.

** U.S. Wary of Its New Neighbor in Djibouti: A Chinese Naval Base


The United States established Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

CreditJason Straziuso/Associated Press

DJIBOUTI — The two countries keep dozens of intercontinental nuclear missiles pointed at each other’s cities. Their frigates and fighter jets occasionally face off in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

With no shared border, China and the United States mostly circle each other from afar, relying on satellites and cybersnooping to peek inside the workings of each other’s war machines.

But the two strategic rivals are about to become neighbors in this sun-scorched patch of East African desert. China is constructing its first overseas military base here — just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, one of the Pentagon’s largest and most important foreign installations.

With increasing tensions over China’s island-building efforts in the South China Sea, American strategists worry that a naval port so close to Camp Lemonnier could provide a front-row seat to the staging ground for American counterterror operations in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

“It’s like having a rival football team using an adjacent practice field,” said Gabriel Collins, an expert on the Chinese military and a founder of the analysis portal China SignPost. “They can scope out some of your plays. On the other hand, the scouting opportunity goes both ways.”

** Is Google Making Us Stupid?

By Guy Billout

"Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial “ brain. “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.” I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet. The Web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after. Even when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets’reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike footnotes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.)

For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

** Retiring NSA Deputy Director Talks About His Career

Rick Ledgett

In 1977 I was finishing my sophomore year of college, working two jobs to put myself through school, and thought, “There has to be a better way.” So I enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Signals Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Morse Intercept Operator, which didn’t tell me much but would let me earn money toward college through the GI Bill. My plan was to do my 3 years, get out, and finish college. That plan didn’t work out; I ended up staying in the Army almost eleven years and then transitioned to the National Security Agency as a civilian for 29 more, and am retiring this April after 40 years in the business. I did end up finishing my degree after hours, and went on to get a master’s degree, just not in the way I’d planned. What happened along the way was that I discovered the fulfillment that comes from serving the nation and its allies, working with some of the most amazing people on the planet, on the most challenging problems we face.

For someone like me who is motivated by understanding how things work, the signals intelligence business is fascinating. There’s the challenge of understanding the communications technology that the target (in my early days, principally the Soviet Union) uses, and how to intercept those communications. Then there’s the need to understand the internal plumbing of how the intercepted data flows through our complicated architecture, and the multiple transformations that happen along the way. After that, analysts need to figure out what the data actually means — the “so what?” of the intercept. That’s not as easy as it sounds, as the targets will work to hide their activities through cover names, and make references to shared information and experience that we don’t have. And they rarely communicate in English, which requires a very high degree of expertise in the relevant foreign languages, to include slang and argot specific to functions and sub-cultures. This one is especially important to get right — the difference between “launch at noon” and “lunch at noon” is consequential.

** The Data-Driven Transformation of Intelligence

Jason M. Brown

When “little green men” invaded Crimea in early 2014, they left a data trail that went largely unnoticed by the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). Distracted by a large Russian exercise to the west, the IC did not connect the digital dots that indicated the impending invasion. In the Information Age, the “dots” are more plentiful and glaring as everyone now leaves a data trail. Given that, how can intelligence analysts better gather, share, organize, and view data to reveal intent, more accurately predict behavior, and make better decisions with limited resources?

Intelligence is, for the most part, production focused, meaning many analysts are often forced to make quick assessments from limited text-based sources to meet deadlines. As such, they can be trapped into making predictions that put too much weight on personal experience and cognitive biases. This is a big problem considering the difficulty of forecasting the behavior of every rival the U.S. faces in the global arena or on the battlefield. The best analysis derives from the right combination of art and science. It is dangerous to favor the former at the expense of the latter, even for the most experienced and skilled analysts. 

If the U.S. government is to deal with deceptive and elusive adversaries, the IC must make data, structured in a way to tell a story, the foundation for its intelligence assessments. Data analytics are changing how we approach economics, elections, health, security, business, and our daily routines. It is time for intelligence to catch up. Analysts must pair their intuition and expertise with data science to give decision-makers the best possible intelligence. 

In turn, IC and defense leaders must accelerate this data-driven transformation of intelligence tradecraft, and demand a more structured, scientific approach to the intelligence problems we face.

** Delegating the Dirty Work to U.S. Allies Is Smart Counterterrorism

William Wechsler

ONE OF the few things that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have in common is that they reversed their long-standing approaches to counterterrorism during their very last years in office. They initially held diametrically opposed military policies, with Bush choosing invasion and occupation and Obama preferring disengagement and drone strikes. But by the end of their second terms they had both ended up in roughly the same place, with a central focus on indirect action—enabling local forces to achieve U.S. counterterrorism objectives.

Through long periods of trial and error, constrained by a common reluctance to change course, but in the end having their hands forced by growing terrorist threats and events spiraling out of control, both presidents finally came to adopt the only set of counterterrorism policies that have been shown to succeed over the long run. It is important that President Donald Trump avoid repeating this painful and time-consuming learning curve.

Doing so will require him to accept lessons from his predecessors’ experiences. President Bush’s central mistakes are relatively easy to avoid. Simply follow the advice offered repeatedly by strategists from Gen. Douglas MacArthur to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and, if at all possible, avoid having American forces fight large conventional land wars in Asia. Eventually, President Bush largely extricated the United States from his self-dug hole through the combination of shifting to counterinsurgency operations, cultivating the Sons of Iraq, building the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service and supporting the revolution in U.S. special-operations targeting led by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. But the success of “the surge” came only after the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the explosion of Salafi jihadist terrorism. It is difficult to argue that Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State would have emerged in the absence of the initial U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

From the outset of his administration, President Obama clearly learned this lesson and was appropriately wary of any policy proposal that risked starting down the proverbial “slippery slope” to a large conventional land war. Even as the frequency of drone strikes against terrorists in multiple countries greatly expanded, he consistently stressed the need to marry these discrete direct actions to wider campaigns focused on indirect action. Obama seemed to understand that while U.S. direct actions can disrupt and even degrade foreign terrorist or insurgent groups, they rarely defeat and almost never destroy them. In military terms, direct action is a necessary line of operation, but indirect action is the decisive line of operation.

Pakistan: Water Crisis And The Indus Water Treaty – Analysis

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

Map of the Indus River basin. Credit: Kmhkmh, Wikipedia Commons.

It is well known that Pakistan is one of the most “water stressed” countries of the world. Currently its per capita annual water capability is 1017 cubic metres- that is perilously close to a threshold of 1000 cubic metres. Back in 2009, it was 1500 cubic metres.

Water is one source that cannot be generated but can only be preserved. With its near total dependence on the glacial waters supplemented by not so bountiful precipitation, Pakistan faces a grim future in water management. This has been brought out by the UNDP in the Development Advocate- Pakistan of Vol. 3- December 2016. The contributors to this issue are mainly Pakistan water Management experts and not outsiders.

Why Pakhtun lands have been so volatile for two centuries

Timothy Nunan

An Afghan security officer in Jalalabad, Afghanistan | AP 

The quadrant of land bounded by Kabul, Peshawar, Quetta and Kandahar would, at first glance, seem to be an unlikely piece of real estate for international competition. The quadrilateral – populated primarily by the Pakhtuns and split between Afghanistan and Pakistan – remains marginal to the world economy and possesses insignificant energy resources. The drama over Pakhtun self-determination never captured world attention to the same degree as the self-determination of the Palestinians or the cause of Kurdish independence has. And since the end of the Cold War, prospects of Russia reaching the Indian Ocean through the Pakhtun quadrilateral seem more outlandish than they did at any other time in the last 200 years.

Yet the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands remain the theatre of international rivalries. The 1.6 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan under the United Nations mandate constitute one of the largest and longest-existing refugee populations in the world and, since 2004, American drones (some launched from within Pakistan) have killed thousands within the said quadrant of land. And if that were not enough, the official line in Kabul remains that Afghanistan has no recognised eastern border and that the Durand Line that marks the boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan is an illegitimate colonial construct. Why, a century after the end of the Great Game, does this piece of territory invite so much attention?

Two recently published books by new scholars of the region offer answers to this question. The first, Martin Bayly’s Taming the Imperial Imagination: Colonial Knowledge, International Relations, and the Anglo-Afghan Encounter, 1808–1878 seeks explanations in the 19th century British colonial history. The other, Elisabeth Leake’s The Defiant Border: The Afghan-Pakistan Borderlands in the Era of Decolonization, 1936–1965 explores how the British Empire in South Asia and the Cold War turned the territories that now comprise Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) into such hotly contested regions. The emphasis in Bayly’s account is on how colonial “knowledge” generated about the region, and the British policies implemented therein, were based on ignorance and flawed assumptions. Leake’s work, on the other hand, focuses on how regional competition and the Cold War mostly added to the woes of the region — a trend unlikely to change as China, America, Iran, Pakistan and India continue to jostle for influence across Central Asia.

Better a Stalemate Than Defeat in Afghanistan

Author: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick 

A casual observer of the war in Afghanistan can be forgiven for experiencing déjà vu while watching a U.S. military commander recommend to a new president the dispatch of thousands more troops. That is, after all, what happened in 2009, when General Stanley McChrystal warned President Barack Obama that “mission failure” was likely unless he sent reinforcements. And now it has happened again, albeit on a smaller scale, with General John W. “Mick” Nicholson Jr. warning President Donald J. Trump, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, that a “few thousand” more troops are needed simply to maintain “a stalemate.” 

Afghan security forces keep watch at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters) 

Should the Trump administration grant Nicholson’s request? To answer that question, it is important to understand how we got to this point. Obama did not ignore McChrystal’s recommendation; he tripled U.S. troop strength to a hundred thousand personnel. So why is Afghanistan once again in crisis? There are three answers to that question. 

Kabul’s Shaky Writ 

First, Afghan government corruption and dysfunction are as crippling as ever, serving as a drain on the capabilities of the country’s security forces and as a powerful recruiting tool for the Taliban. In particular, the corruption of Afghan courts gives the Taliban an opening to settle disputes in rural areas with its draconian but uncorrupt sharia courts. Symbolic of the government’s ineffectuality and disregard for the rule of law is that Afghanistan’s vice president, the notorious warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, prevented police from arresting his bodyguards after they allegedly kidnapped and assaulted one of his rivals. While President Ashraf Ghani is a well-intentioned, pro-Western reformer, as a result of a U.S.-brokered deal after the hotly contested 2014 election he must share power with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who represents a powerful northern coalition. The result is that the government is usually unable to address the nation’s many woes. 

Red Flag: ISIS Becoming More Powerful in Northwestern Afghanistan

Key Takeaway: ISIS Wilayat Khorasan may be developing a regional powerbase in northwestern Afghanistan. Former Taliban militants operating in the name of ISIS executed international aid workers and held others captive in a prison in Jowzjan Province in February 2017, a step change in ISIS’s operations in Afghanistan. ISIS may increasingly use this hub to regenerate manpower as it suffers loses elsewhere, threatening US and NATO interests in multiple regions across Afghanistan. Malign external actors like Russia and Iran could also use ISIS’s expansion in the region to validate their support of Taliban militants and undermine the U.S. and NATO.

Tripwire: The Jowzjan Provincial Governor claimed ISIS-linked militants killed six International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) workers on February 8 in Qush Tepah District. Militants are holding two more ICRC workers captive in an ISIS prison in Qush Tepah District, Jowzjan Province according to a local news source. This report comes one month after local officials and elders separately claimed that ISIS members destroyed homes in Darzab District, Jowzjan Province and forced up to 60 families to leave their homes in Sayad District, Sar-e Pul Province in December 2016. Another report emerged on February 8 that the son of the slain leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which pledged to ISIS in August 2015, is leading efforts to resettle up to 650 foreign Pakistani and Uzbek militants and their families in Jowzjan, Sar-e Pul, and Faryab Provinces. ISW is issuing a warning based on these reports that ISIS may be developing a regional power base in northwestern Afghanistan. Neither ISIS Wilayat Khorasan nor ISIS’s central media has claimed the aforementioned events.

China Reveals More Details on Its Impending Cyber Security Law

Ron Cheng , 

With the impending summer effective date of China’s Cyber Security Law (the Law), the Cyber Administration of China (the CAC) issued clarifying draft “Inspection Measures on Network Products and Services” (the Draft, available here) on February 4, 2017. We previously discussed the Law here and provide details about the Draft.

Origins and focus of the Draft

The Draft focuses on safety certification and inspections, as well as the obligations of “critical information infrastructure operators” (CIIOs) to undergo certain inspections. The Draft’s focus on security inspection began with CAC’s network security self-inspection initiative for critical information infrastructures, announced in July 2016 (official report available here). Comments on the Draft -- to the extent made public -- will help inform this important administrative process.

The Draft expands safety inspection requirements in the Law

In some respects, the Draft appears to be broader than the Law itself. While the Law requires only “network security products and services procured by critical information infrastructure operators (CIIOs)” to pass inspection, the Draft adds that “important network products and services” used by information systems that affect national security and the public interest are subject to its inspection requirements. Otherwise, the term “network products and services” are not defined in the Draft or the Law.

What the U.S. Must Do About Russia

Author: Richard N. Haass,

One can debate whether the deterioration of relations with Russia stems from a lack of Western magnanimity in the aftermath of the Cold War, including the decision to enlarge NATO up to Russia’s borders, or whether it results more from Russian political and strategic culture as well as the persona of Vladimir Putin. Either way, the results are troubling: Russian conquest of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine, a brutal Russian military intervention in Syria on behalf of an equally brutal government, and Russian interference in the 2016 American election. The question, to borrow the words of another Vladimir—Lenin—is, What is to be done? 

We know that something needs doing, as Russia remains a major power, one with a modern military, a massive nuclear arsenal, advanced cyber capabilities, and significant oil and gas reserves. It has a seat on the UN Security Council. It is potentially dangerous, as President Putin has removed the checks and balances on his power. More positively, Russia could be a limited partner in the Middle East or in the war against terrorism. 

What motivates today’s Russia is a matter of speculation, but Putin clearly seeks to avoid a revolution at home. He would like to re-establish a sphere of influence near Russia’s borders. He seeks not to make Russia great again (which would require real economic and political reform, something he fears) so much as to make it viewed as great. He wants respect for his willingness to act decisively with military force on behalf of national interests. 

Trump and the National Debt

Author: James McBride

With the U.S. national debt expanding rapidly over the past decade, the state of the federal budget has come under intense scrutiny. The annual deficit spiked following the 2008 financial crisis, and budget analysts say that without reform government spending will continue to outpace revenue.

As President Donald J. Trump prepares his administration’s first budget proposal, his ambitious plans for new spending and tax cuts have unnerved some fiscal conservatives who would like to see deficit reduction. Meanwhile, the dependence of the United States on foreign investors to finance its debt has raised renewed questions over the U.S. economy’s vulnerability to foreign governments or shifts in investor sentiment. 

What is the U.S. government’s fiscal position? 

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, both the U.S. deficit and debt spiked for several years as the federal government collected less tax revenue and increased spending to counteract the downturn.

The 2016 budget deficit was roughly $600 billion, with the federal government spending $3.9 trillion while taking in $3.3 trillion in revenue. This amounts to about 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), down from nearly 10 percent in 2009. The average over the past five decades has been 3 percent.

Publicly-held debt has nearly doubled since 2007, rising from about 40 percent to nearly 80 percent of GDP.

Russia Could Defeat the British Army 'In an Afternoon'

Michael Peck

Russia could defeat the British Army's single combat-ready division “in an afternoon,” according to a new report from the British military.

Over by Teatime,” blared the headline in the British tabloid The Sun.

Budget cuts have so depleted the army that it could be destroyed by a “competent enemy” such as Russia, according to excerpts of the report published in the British press.

That ominous conclusion comes from the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research (CHACR), a British Army think tank run by the Sandhurst military academy. The report was based on a two-day conference of active-duty and retired officers.

Down to just eighty-three thousand active-duty soldiers, from 102,000 in 2010, Britain can field just one “war-fighting” division (compared to three million men and forty-six divisions in 1945). And even deployment of that sole division isn’t guaranteed, because of shortages of transport ships, cargo aircraft and tank transporter vehicles, according to CHACR.

“The last time the UK sent a division to war was in 2003 before the invasion of Iraq but experts believe it would currently not be able to deploy much more than a brigade of between 5,000 and 10,000 troops,” notes the Sunday Times.

As the British Army shifts from small-unit counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, to potential big-unit mechanized warfare in eastern Europe, that combat-ready division is supposed to expand from thirty thousand soldiers to fifty thousand soldiers. In other words, the bulk of Britain’s active-duty soldiers will be concentrated in a single oversized division, which doesn’t leave a great deal of depth and resilience when confronting Russia’s army of 750,000 active soldiers.

Such brittleness may hamstring the British government from committing troops to operations. “The ‘prospect of losing the division in an afternoon’ will weigh heavily on the chain of command . . . as politicians appreciate the stakes involved in committing the division to battle,” the report said, according to the Times.

The War That Made America a Superpower (No, Not World War II)

Kyle Mizokami

The end of the Second World War is often considered the defining moment when the United States became a global power. In fact, it was another war forty years earlier, a war that ended with America having an empire of its own stretching thousands of miles beyond its continental borders. The Spanish-American War, which lasted five months, catapulted the United States from provincial to global power.

The Spanish-American War was a classic example of the “Thucydides Trap,” in which tensions between a declining power, Spain, and a rising power, the United States, resulted in war. By the end of the nineteenth century, Spain was clearly in decline, and Madrid’s grasp on its empire was increasingly tenuous. Cuba and the Philippines both experienced anti-Spanish revolts, and Spain’s difficulty in putting them down merely illustrated to the rest of the world how frail the empire actually was.

Meanwhile, in North America, the American doctrine of Manifest Destiny had run its course. The admission of Washington State to the Union in 1890 had consolidated America’s hold on the continent. Americans with an eye toward expanding America’s business interests and even creating an American empire couldn’t help but notice weakly held European colonial possessions in the New World and the Pacific. The march towards war in America was multifaceted: even liberal-minded Americans favored war to liberate Cuba from a brutal military occupation.

The sinking of the battleship USS Maine on February 15 was the last straw in a long and increasingly tense series of crises between Washington and Madrid. In Havana harbor at the request of the American ambassador, the Maine was reportedly struck by an underwater mine, although it seems far more likely in hindsight the sinking was the result of an accidental onboard explosion. The destruction of the ship, as well as the deaths of 266 sailors, made war inevitable even for those, like President William McKinley, who wished to avoid it.

British Banks Are Profiting From Wars Around the Globe By Laundering Money for Warlords and Corrupt Officials

Almost a year ago, the UK government convened a global summit to commit to fighting corruption. The final communiqué from the governments involved summed up their historic intentions: “We want to send a clear signal to the corrupt that they will face consequences internationally. We want to make it harder for them to travel and do business in our countries.”

The time for sending signals is over. It is time to act against the kind of corruption that enables governments and armed groups especially in east and central Africa – the deadliest interlinked zone of conflict in the world – to prosecute wars and carry out mass atrocities.

The British government’s 2015 assessment of money laundering and terror-financing risks underscores how acting against corruption can prevent conflict. “The laundering of proceeds of overseas corruption into or through the UK fuels political instability in key partner countries. The National Crime Agency judges that billions of pounds of suspected proceeds of corruption are laundered through the UK each year.”

Yet for too long the international community has failed to fully deploy the anti-money laundering measures, targeted sanctions and other tools of financial pressure at its disposal. These tools were developed to fight terrorism, nuclear proliferation and organised crime, and they have impact. We formed The Sentry, an organisation which has established a team of analysts, regional experts and financial forensic investigators who follow the money to disrupt corrupt networks responsible for genocide or other mass atrocities in Africa. They focus on gathering the evidence that can enable law enforcement and banks to act. Used in the right way, this such information can create immense leverage for peace and human rights, as well as addressing the root cause of the massive refugee flows to Europe: the violent kleptocratic regimes that deny opportunities to their young people.

Combating Terrorism Center’s Sentinel - February 2017 Issue Now Online

In an extensive interview, General John W. Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, stresses the importance of preventing the country from again becoming a platform for international terrorism, noting counterterrorism operations have almost halved the fighting strength of the Islamic State’s local affiliate. He also outlines the ongoing effort to empower Afghan efforts against the Taliban, saying: “They’re at a bit of a stalemate. The government holds about two-thirds of the population. The enemy holds a solid 8 to 10 percent. … We think [if] we get to about 80 percent or more, we start to reach a tipping point where the insurgency becomes more irrelevant.”

Our cover story by Georg Heil focuses on the deadly truck attack this past December in Berlin by Anis Amri, a Tunisian extremist suspected of links to Islamic State operatives in Libya. Investigations have made clear the danger posed by the radical network he belonged to in northwestern Germany led by an Iraqi preacher named Abu Walaa. It is believed to have recruited dozens to travel to join the Islamic State, communicated extensively with Islamic State operatives in Syria and Iraq, and encouraged attacks on German soil. Heil argues the high level of interconnectedness between these radicals in Germany and the Islamic State has potentially grave implications for European security.


John Spencer

What is Army Doctrine? It’s a simple question. But I’ve asked cadets, peers, and a few willing superiors and the range of their answers is surprisingly wide. I also hear the term “doctrine” being used in as many different ways as the “hooah,” which depending on the context, tone and inflection of voice, and recipient can mean everything from “yes,” “tough,” “let’s go,” to “I really don’t like you.” This should not be the case with doctrine and we (Army Professionals) should resolve this lack of clarity.

A quote attributed to a German officer during World War II shows the persistence of the Army’s ambivalence towards doctrine: “One of the serious problems in planning the fight against American doctrine, is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.” While the lack of studying our own doctrine is a separate topic, the quote opens the conversation to the importance of doctrine in our professional military education.

The first step in learning doctrine should be understanding what it is. To find the “official” definition of doctrine, I turned to doctrine (pun intended). Interestingly, there was an appendix titled “The Role of Doctrine” in the 2008 edition of Field Manual 3-0: Operations. The manual that replaced it includes only two paragraphs on the role of doctrine and the remainder of the material was moved to a new 64 page Doctrine Primer (ADP 1-01) that greatly expands the topic. The remainder of this article relies heavily on the short but detailed definition of the role and components of doctrine in the 2008 FM 3-0.


Lt. Gen. HR McMaster

Editor’s Note: This article, by Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster, appointed national security advisor this week, originally appeared in 2014.

Approaching the Study of War and Warfare

It is hard to improve on the approach to studying war and warfare found in historian Sir Michael Howard’s 1961 seminal essay on how military professionals should develop what Clausewitz described as their own “theory” of war. First, to study in width: to observe how warfare has developed over a long historical period. Next to study in depth: to study campaigns and explore them thoroughly, consulting original sources and applying various theories and interdisciplinary approaches. This is important, Sir Michael observed, because as the “tidy outline dissolves,” we “catch a glimpse of the confusion and horror of real experience.” And lastly to study in context. Wars and warfare must be understood in context of their social, cultural, economic, human, moral, political, and psychological dimensions because “the roots of victory and defeat often have to be sought far from the battlefield.”

To develop understanding in “width, depth, and context,” we must be active learners dedicated to self-study and self-critique. Discussion and debate with others exposes us to different perspectives and helps us consider how what we learn applies to our responsibilities. Participative intellectual activity is critical to the “Self-Development Domain” of our Army’s leader development efforts. And the self-development domain is as important as the Operational Domain (unit training and operational experience) and the Institutional Domain (official Army schools) in helping leaders prepare for the challenges of future war. This is why forums such as the WarCouncil.org are important. Discussions on this site should challenge our assumptions and refine our thinking. [Editor’s note: WarCouncil.org is the domain on which MWI articles were previously published].

We CAN Tie Army, Navy Missile Defense Networks: Navy Experts


SAN DIEGO: It’s completely possible to plug Army missile defenses into the Navy fire control network, a panel of Navy experts said Wednesday. That could make an obscure system called NIFC-CA (Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter-Air) the electronic backbone of a seamless defense against Russian, Chinese, Iranian, or North Korean airstrikes and missile salvos. NIFC-CA could potentially coordinate our own offensive strikes.

On Tuesday, the chief of US Pacific Command had told the AFCEA-USNI West 2017 conference here that he wanted the two services’ systems to interconnect. “I believe that Army missileers should incorporate their air defense systems into the Navy’s integrated fire control – counter-air, or NIFC-CA, architecture,” Adm. Harry Harris said. “I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a technical guy, so I don’t know how to make it work.”

We can make it work, the expert panel said the next day when asked about Harris’s idea. “It’s not hard,” said Anant Patel, a senior program manager in the Navy’s Program Executive Office – Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO-IEWS). “We’ve cracked the nut on how to integrate systems together, we understand what quality of service we need to engage a specific threat, so I think that’s the easy part to go work on with Army.”

Maintaining U.S. Leadership on Internet Governance

Author: Megan Stifel

After almost two decades of overseeing the internet naming and addressing system, the U.S. government transferred the responsibility to a coalition of industry, civil society, and government stakeholders in October 2016. The United States relinquished its role to demonstrate to emerging countries its commitment to significant private sector involvement in the operation of the internet. The move had overwhelming support from industry and like-minded governments, but some policymakers, including Donald J. Trump when he was running for office, saw the announcement as an ill-considered loss of direct control over the most important communications medium ever developed. Given that the transition is effectively irreversible, the United States needs to respond to new institutional and political realities and find alternative ways to maintain its influence on internet governance. The U.S. government should do this by collaborating with industry to enhance the internet’s reliability and resilience by tackling vulnerabilities that permit foreign governments to question the current governance approach. Additionally, it should expand efforts to foster and train leaders in emerging internet markets.

Catastrophic Attack and “Reasonable Probability”

Karl von Clausewitz

“The majority of people are timid by nature, and that is why they constantly exaggerate danger."

Technology creates both opportunity and risk, but it is the latter that often gets the most attention. This reflects weaknesses in the public process for analyzing risk. Research in the 1980s showed how public discourse and media misestimate and exaggerate risk. If anything, this tendency has become worse since then given the hyperactive news cycle. A more structured approach can help us more accurately evaluate the risks to public safety and national security created by new technologies.

The factors we should consider include vulnerability, attacker intent and capability, and the operational environment that shapes attacker calculation of the cost and benefits of using a new technology. The operational environment (and the limitations it imposes on potential attackers) is particularly important and helps explain why, despite more than a decade of warnings of various calamities, none have occurred. We should also look for precedents, and if there are none, ask why. This approach to risk assessment from new technology works well with cyberattacks, dirty bombs, bio-weapons or other potential threats.