News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs.

1. The Retrenchment Syndrome: A Response to “Come Home, America?” by H.R. McMaster

2. The Military We Have Vs. The Military We Need

3. Spies and Commandos Warned Months Ago of Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops

4. China’s Sovereignty Obsession – Beijing’s Need to Project Strength Explains the Border Clash with India

5. China and the US on a conflict collision course

6. Defense Secretary to Give Trump Options on U.S. Presence in Germany

7. Despite COVID-19, US Can’t Afford to Cut Defense Spending

8. U.S. Options for a Consistent Response to Cyberattacks

9. US bases in Japan now vulnerable to missile attacks

10. Retired Military Endorsements Erode Public Trust in the Military

11. Five Critiques of the Trump Administration’s China Strategy

12. New Sanctions on Assad Aim to Prevent Atrocities

13. Bullied by Beijing, America’s Closest Allies Regret Saying ‘Yes’ to China

14. Who Gets a Brown Beret? Rethinking Assignments to the Security Force Assistance Brigades

15. Interservice vantage point: The stitching in our values

16. Commentary: Asking Yourself ‘The Question’ (From the “Steady State”)

 

1. The Retrenchment Syndrome: A Response to “Come Home, America?” by H.R. McMaster

Foreign Affairs · by H. R. McMaster · June 25, 2020

Retrenchment will be one of the greatest strategic mistakes we can make in the 21st Century.

 

2. The Military We Have Vs. The Military We Need

defenseone.com · by Gregory D. Foster

A strong critique of the National Defense Strategy and military planning and the military in general.  The author also implies we have an unhealthy civil military relationship.  He sums up the problem here: “At root, our problem derives from our prevailing frame of reference: Defense, narrowly conceived, dominates security, broadly conceived. Military power dominates non-military power.”  And there is more in the essay.  As the title notes in two paragraphs he describes the “heavy” military we have versus the “light” military we need.

 

3. Spies and Commandos Warned Months Ago of Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops

The New York Times · by Eric Schmitt · June 28, 2020

This is certainly troubling and disappointing if we have not done anything to counter this.  Unfortunately I fear we are going to focus on the partisan political aspect of this rather than focusing on Russian/Taliban actions.

 

4. China’s Sovereignty Obsession – Beijing’s Need to Project Strength Explains the Border Clash With India

Foreign Affairs · by M. Taylor Fravel · June 26, 2020

Are China’s recent aggressions designed to divert domestic attention from the coronavirus crisis? Or has the coronavirus made China more sensitive to sovereignty and security issues?

  

5. China and the US on a conflict collision course

asiatimes.com · by Gordon Watts · June 29, 2020

The Chinese academics blame the US.  But note China’s actions such as militarizing reefs, etc. (as described in the article).

 

6. Defense Secretary to Give Trump Options on U.S. Presence in Germany

WSJ · By Nancy A. Youssef · June 28, 2020

Sometimes I wonder why we have a National Security Strategy and a National Defense Strategy when we are considering actions that are in contravention to those strategies.

 

7. Despite COVID-19, US Can’t Afford to Cut Defense Spending

dailysignal.com · by Elise Stefanik · June 29, 2020

This is going to be a hard sell with many Americans.

 

8. U.S. Options for a Consistent Response to Cyberattacks

divergentoptions.org · by Thomas G. Pledger · June 29, 2020

The title says it all.  We need options.  We need a consistent response.  And yes foreign powers are emboldened to conduct cyberattacks. 

 

9. US bases in Japan now vulnerable to missile attacks

asiatimes.com · by Stephen Bryen · June 29, 2020

We need an integrated missile defense system with Japan and the ROK.  Missile attack may be the main method of attack in the future.  If so, we need an effective defense and counter to such attacks 

 

10. Retired Military Endorsements Erode Public Trust in the Military

The National Interest · by Thomas Burke · June 28, 2020

Civil military relations.  A strong critique with good advice in the conclusion paragraph.  We must preserve the “unshakable confidence” the public has in the military.

 

11. Five Critiques of the Trump Administration’s China Strategy

warontherocks.com · by Zack Cooper · June 29, 2020

A very interesting “paradoxical “critique” (e.e,g too confrontational and too restrained). 

Spoiler alert:

Too Confrontational for Administration Critics

Too Restrained for Communist Party Critics

Too Transactional for U.S. Allies

Too Values-Based for Trump

Too Late to Matter

  

12.  New Sanctions on Assad Aim to Prevent Atrocities

warontherocks.com · by David Adesnik · June 26, 2020

One of the best pieces of analysis and explanations of sanctions.

 

13. Bullied by Beijing, America’s Closest Allies Regret Saying ‘Yes’ to China

Foreign Policy · by Salvatore Babones · June 27, 2020

Maybe we should adopt Napoleon’s dictum: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

 

14. Who Gets a Brown Beret? Rethinking Assignments to the Security Force Assistance Brigades

mwi.usma.edu · by Jon Tishman · June 29, 2020

It will be interesting to see how the SFAB concept evolves, how long it will receive Army support and priority, and how long it will last.

 

15.  Inter-service vantage point: The stitching in our values

militarytimes.com · by Capt. Landon H.J. Ewers · June 28, 2020

An interesting discussion of military and American values.  Also interesting to see an inter-service transfer from the Army to the Air Force and now the Space Force.

 

16.  Commentary: Asking Yourself ‘The Question’

militarytimes.com · by Charles G. Ikins · June 29, 2020

Interesting.  This is the first I have heard of the “Steady State.”  It is a partisan web site. 

This is a military leadership critique based on recent events.

 

———————-

 

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” 

– Hemingway

 

“Americans fully understand the requirement of the football field or the baseball diamond. They discipline themselves and suffer by the thousands to prepare for these rigors. A coach or manager who is too permissive soon seeks a new job; his team will fail against those who are tougher and harder. Yet undoubtedly any American officer, in peacetime, who worked his men as hard, or ruled them as severely as a college football coach does, would be removed. But the shocks of the battlefield are a hundred times those of the playing field, and the outcome infinitely more important to the nation. The problem is to understand the battlefield as well as the game of football. The problem is to see not what is desirable, or nice, or politically feasible, but what is necessary.”

– T.R. Fehrenbach

 

“It’s part of a writer’s profession, as it’s part of a spy’s profession, to prey on the community to which he’s attached, to take away information – often in secret – and to translate that into intelligence for his masters, whether it’s his readership or his spy masters. And I think that both professions are perhaps rather lonely.”
– John le Carre

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