Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DNI and the Conventional Wisdom Pony Show

The annual threat assessment from DIA is out. You an get it here or just read it below.

Besides the buildup in Vietnam in the '60s and the invasion of IRQ a decade ago, what major military action or attack in the last 70 years fell in line with conventional wisdom the year or two prior? 

Sure, from the edges and afterthoughts you could see that someone was thinking about it - but it was never the majority of opinion.

The Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis, Falkland Islands, the fall of the Soviet Union, etc etc ... conventional wisdom doesn't have a great track record more than a year or two out ... if then.

So, that is why I find things like UNCLAS threat assessments so interesting. Is isn't what they say the most about - though that is a useful contrary indicator - but what they dismiss, give only a passing mention to, or provide incomplete context to - that is what I find interesting.

History shows us that it is the things that don't concern you, that you put the B-team on - that is where your Strategic Surprise comes from; sometimes.

So, let's look at it from that point of view. DIA's threat assessment as a contrary indicator. What does it tell us?

First of all, what do we not need to worry about? Well, in a quick reading, it seems that a lot of space is given to China, Syria, Iraq, and Russia. Good, no need to worry about them any time soon.

Oh, AFG - touchy subject and I don't want to dwell on that rolling train wreck retreat-COA that we wargamed over cigars in Destille Garden four years ago. No - Cassandra gets bored with that. If you must though, just go to the bottom of page 4. All you need to know is there.

What do we need to look closer at because it seems to not interest DIA too much?
- Page 9: Islamic influence in Latin America.
- Page 10: Irony alert - about only thing this 17APR13 dated document that could even obliquely be used to warn about the Boston attacks.
- Page 21: "India is developing a nuclear capable 6,000km range (ICBM) that will eventually carry multiple warheads." Hmmm ... Indian MIRVs that covers all of China, almost all of Russia and can reach over to the boot of Italy and most of the Muslim world east of Benghazi. Noted.
- Very little discussion on Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa. That is a sure alert that we are missing something here.
- Near the end, there is a throw-away line about "quantum computing or electromagnetic weapons" being developed as a way to counter our strengths. Ummmmm .... yea. With the Admiral Adama disapproved LCS construct and the myopic over reliance on networks and satellites ... ummmm, yea.
- I also like the "General Article" or the policy planner's get out of jail free card; "Technological change has the potential to create surprise."

Therefor; if you take the counter-indicator approach, how should this influence planning? At first glance it is clear:
1. We need to expand HUMINT in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa and to ensure that we have the light, expeditionary, high-impact/low-overhead forces to act there if/when needed in partnership with friendly nations (USMC and SOCOM call your office).
2. Domestic sources of terrorism traced to radial Islam will grow.
3. Any threat to India from China or the Islamic world could go nuclear very quickly. Remember - India could lose the equivalent of the population of the USA and still have a population almost 3-times our size.
4. If we do not have a Fleet that can digitally quarantine itself and fight - or cannot fight offline - then you open yourself to being defeated without a shot being fired - condemned to float impotent as you are picked off defenseless at your opponent's leisure. Blinded by 21st Century technology - and sunk by mid-20th century weapons. Be robust, be multi-mission, be ready to lose that which you think is safe and still fight and win at sea.

Oh, and the next shooting war where US forces will be used? Odds are, it doesn't get more than half a page - if any mention at all - in DIA's threat assessment.

That is what I am interested in - the minority report. The report from a cell of thinkers, not processors. Where is that?


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