Monday, December 14, 2015

Burdens of Responsiblity: USA Must Walk and Chew Gum

While it is a fun distraction to see smart people talk about sexy, but ill-defined shapes just outside of a clear view in the misty future – and don’t get me wrong, I love pondering and ideating about those things as much as the next guy as they are wonderful distractions – there is a lot of very real, hard work that needs to be done now.

There are national security requirements that are here. They are not sexy. They are messy, they are hard, and they don’t make the listener breathless as a gaggle of easily distracted unattached young men waiting in line for the latest Star Wars movie.

These represent the hard work of national security. Many are trying to ignore them, but they will not leave. If ignored, they will grow in to a crisis. These are the leaking pipes and dirty air filters of the house that the owners are only thinking about replacing the driveway with pavers and putting solar panels on the roof. Those thinks are nice, but …

Step away for a moment from thinking about Syria. Divert your eyes from the Russian Navy popping off at Turkish commercial vessels.

Let’s look at our leaking pipes in a very sobering and spot on article by Sydney Freedberg, Jr., derived from a recent report from CNAS, Uncertain Ground: Emerging Challenges in Land Warfare;
You thought roadside bombs were bad? Imagine off-the-shelf mini-drones bombing US troops. Homebrewed high explosives got you down? Imagine extremists with 3D printers and a database of weapon designs. Suicide car bombs? Imagine explosive-laden cars that drive themselves. US military transmissions jamming each other by accident? Imagine guerrillas getting cheap GPS and radio jammers online. Media revealing military secrets or reporting faux pas that get the local population up in arms? Imagine that local population, enemy informants included, tweeting video of everything US forces do.

“The problem of war among the people is getting harder,” said Paul Scharre, a former Army Ranger and civil affairs officer. “It’s getting more lethal, and people are empowered by information technology: They’re able to communicate and organize for action in ways they weren’t ten years ago. All of that makes war on the ground much more challenging.”
“In many ways,” Scharre told me, “the root of intellectual stagnation here in US defense circles comes from watching too many World War II movies.” In those films, there’s a clear start to the war, clearly uniformed combatants (except for the occasional partisan), and a clear happy ending. Historically, he said, “that’s the exception rather than the rule.”
Similarly, ad hoc networks of likeminded individuals could swarm military forces, disrupting their movements via digitally-empowered ‘smart mobs’ on landing zones or roads. Unarmed mobs could incite military forces to respond, all the while filming their actions for broadcast. Militaries will be hard pressed to hide their movements in a world of radical transparency, and greater connectivity will enable enemies to rapidly organize to attack U.S. forces.”
As a result, “even in a conflict against a nation-state, enemies will still be able to employ significant lethality after the U.S. military has destroyed major military combat capabilities,” Scharre writes. “After seizing ground and destroying the enemy’s major military units, U.S. forces cannot simply [declare victory]. The unfortunate reality is that, in many conflicts, seizing ground may be the equivalent of merely grabbing hold of the hornet’s nest.”
As we have discussed before, this is something that is not just a land problem. As Israel demonstrated in Gaza, precision strike from the sea to an urban environment is a requirement for even the smallest warship - and to do that, you need to get close. You get close, the ASCM parked in the neighborhood garage becomes an issue too.

Now to the second uncomfortable truth. Neglected, yet steadily growing problem of our ignored and clogged air filters. Something that properly serviced by a little expense each year will save you a huge problem when at the worst of times, it demands immediate attention;

For you old Cold Warriors I have two words for you; Yankee Box;
China has begun patrols with nuclear missile submarines for the first time, giving Beijing a new strategic nuclear strike capability, according to the U.S. Strategic Command and Defense Intelligence Agency.

U.S. intelligence and strategic nuclear officials, however, remain uncertain whether China’s four Jin-class missile submarine patrols are being carried out with nuclear-tipped JL-2 missiles on board.
The real question, the Stratcom leader said, is: “Have they put the missile we’ve seen them test, the JL-2, in for a package that is doing strategic deterrent patrols? I have to consider them today that they are on strategic patrol,” he said, meaning the submarines were equipped with nuclear missiles.

For the U.S., that means “there’s another capability that’s out there having nuclear capability of ranges that can strike the United States of America,” the admiral said.

The patrols mark a significant turning point for the Chinese. In the past, Beijing stored all nuclear warheads separately from its missiles, in part to demonstrate what China calls its policy of “no first use” — that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict and would use them only in retaliation for hostile nuclear attacks.

Another reason warheads are kept separate is the Communist Party’s near-paranoid obsession with political control. Separating warheads from missiles allows for a greater centralized control over the nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to be 300 warheads but is likely far larger.

Chinese authorities fear giving a submarine commander control over the launch of nuclear missiles and worry that one of the military’s hawks could ignore the party’s nuclear chain of command and order a nuclear strike on his own.
Claude Berube ... call your office.

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