News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Duncan Moore.

1. The DOD is the largest employer on earth. Biden’s pick to lead it matters.

2. Joint Chiefs chairman says permanent basing overseas needs reconsideration

3. CJCS Milley predicts DoD budget ‘bloodletting’ to fund navy

4. Flag officer announcement: new INDOPACOM commander

5. U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress

6. Rejoining TPP

7. Compromise defense bill confronts a rising China

8. Bipartisan defense bill includes several rebukes of Trump’s record as commander in chief

9. Congress moves to block Trump’s troop cuts in Germany

10. Outgoing US intel chief warns China seeking global domination

11. Defense bill seeks to halt Afghanistan drawdown

12. The China challenge can help America avert decline

13. U.S. in talks with Huawei finance chief Meng Wanzhou about resolving criminal charges

14. COVID-19 in Asia: why this coronavirus wave is different

15. Ret. Gen McChrystal fears rise of China’s military, asks if U.S. is prepared to fight for Taiwan

16. “Faster than people appreciate”: Stanley McChrystal says U.S. running out of time vs. China

17. Assessing the impact of the information domain on the classic security dilemma from realist theory

18. Applying science and analytics to the exploitation of open source intelligence

19. U.S. spy chief: China has done human testing to make super soldiers

20. The methods and tactics of global terrorism – the International Terrorism Guide

 

1. The DOD is the largest employer on earth. Biden’s pick to lead it matters.

MSNBC · Mieke Eoyang · November 30, 2020

This is quite a description of the Department. I think we just take for granted its size, scale, and scope, but these two short paragraphs really provide some important perspective.

But in evaluating who is qualified for the job of secretary of defense, it’s important to recognize what the job is. The Department of Defense has been named the largest employer on the planet, with specialized health care and human capital needs. It runs a logistics and transportation enterprise that dwarfs any commercial shipper, commissioning and building its own ships, planes and ground vehicles.

It is also one of the largest consumers of fuel on the planet. It runs a communications infrastructure that runs from the depths of the oceans to outer space. The Department has been involved in every major national security crisis from Russian nuclear standoffs to hunting down the mastermind of 9/11 to maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula. And even trickier, the secretary of defense must navigate an increasingly partisan political environment.

 

2. Joint Chiefs chairman says permanent basing overseas needs reconsideration

Military Times · Meghann Myers · December 3, 2020

Now this could be the rationale and argument for allies to provide more resources to keep US ground forces stationed in their countries.

It also should drive acceptance of strategic flexibility (US forces can deploy out of country to other training and contingency missions).

As infantrymen know – never give up the high ground. I fear giving up our forward stationing could come back to haunt us. Maybe our allies will step up and fill the resourcing shortfalls.

 

3. CJCS Milley predicts DoD budget ‘bloodletting’ to fund navy

Breaking Defense · Paul McLeary · December 3, 2020

More on the Chairman’s comments and budget priorities.

 

4. Flag officer announcement: new INDOPACOM commander

US Department of Defense · December 3, 2020

 

5. U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress

Congressional Research Service · December 3, 2020

 

6. Rejoining TPP

CSIS · Matthew P. Goodman · December 7, 2020

I think pulling out of the TPP was one of the most significant strategic mistakes we have made. But I fear the train has already left the stations and the ship has sailed. 

 

7. Compromise defense bill confronts a rising China

Defense News · Joe Gould · December 3, 2020

The question is will POTUS veto it.

 

8. Bipartisan defense bill includes several rebukes of Trump’s record as commander in chief

Washington Post · Karoun Demirjian · December 3, 2020

And now perhaps to the CJCS as well regarding troop drawdown of permanently stationed forces in Germany and Korea.

 

9. Congress moves to block Trump’s troop cuts in Germany

Wall Street Journal · Michael R. Gordon & Lindsay Wise · December 3, 2020

A provision in the National Defense Authorization Act would defer a decision to the incoming Biden administration

 

10. Outgoing US intel chief warns China seeking global domination

VOA · Jeff Seldin · December 3, 2020

 

11. Defense bill seeks to halt Afghanistan drawdown

Hill · Rebecca Kheel · December 3, 2020

Will this and the other items in the NDAA cause POTUS to veto it?

 

12. The China challenge can help America avert decline

Foreign Affairs · Kurt M. Campbell & Rush Doshi · December 3, 2020

What role will Kurt Campbell have in the Biden Administration?

13. U.S. in talks with Huawei finance chief Meng Wanzhou about resolving criminal charges

Wall Street Journal · Jacquie McNish et al. · December 4, 2020

Very interesting timing for this. 

 

14. COVID-19 in Asia: why this coronavirus wave is different

Time · Michael Zennie · December 4, 2020

An ominous warning. This is truly a global pandemic.

 

15. Ret. Gen McChrystal fears rise of China’s military, asks if U.S. is prepared to fight for Taiwan

Newsweek · Brendan Cole · December 4, 2020

A simple graphic comparing the combat power of the PRC and Taiwan.

 

16. “Faster than people appreciate”: Stanley McChrystal says U.S. running out of time vs. China

Axios · Jonathan Swan · December 3, 2020

 

17.  Assessing the impact of the information domain on the classic security dilemma from realist theory

Divergent Options · Scott Harr · December 3, 2020

We have to learn to lead with influence. Politics is war by other means. My thoughts and questions:

“Political warfare is the logical application of Clausewitz’s doctrine in time of peace. In broadest definition, political warfare is the employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives.”  George Kennan

The two SOF Trinities:

irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, support to political warfare

influence, governance, support to indigenous forces and populations

The bottom line is:

1. Are we going to get comfortable operating in the space between peace and war that is described by hybrid, political, irregular, and unconventional warfare and is where competition and the exploitation of revolution, resistance, insurgency, terrorism, and civil war occurs?

2. Are we willing to do strategy and lead with influence in that space to achieve our policy objectives?

3. Are we willing to inform the national leadership that we have the will and capability to operate in that space between peace and war and conduct our own form of modern irregular warfare?

 

18. Applying science and analytics to the exploitation of open source intelligence

Real Clear Defense · Dan Gouré · December 4, 2020

If you are reading this post, you will know that I am a great believer in open-source information. I use some minimal techniques for gathering information (established search parameters, subscriptions, automatic news feeds, but also manual scanning of news sites and blogs).

I am sure AI and technical means can be used to great effect. However, to effectively use open source information we need to read, synthesize, and put the right information in our brain. We must also ask the right questions. We must appreciate the context and understand the problems and issues. Gathering information and developing databases are important, but information in databases that does not get to our mind for critical analysis and understanding is of little value.

As an aside, despite all the criticism of the media or “fake media,” (a term I detest and think is, frankly, BS and an excuse for not thinking critically) among the very best collectors of information are journalists.  We are always enamored with classified information and we are sometimes influenced by higher levels of classification and the belief that classified information is more valuable than open-source information. But often journalists have access to more information from diverse sources and their writings can be just as valuable, and many times, more valuable than classified information.

 

19. U.S. spy chief: China has done human testing to make super soldiers

NBC News · by Ken Dilanian · December 3, 2020

Perhaps someday our enemies will really be 10 feet tall.

 

20. The methods and tactics of global terrorism – the International Terrorism Guide

Office of the Director of National Intelligence

An interactive web site from NCTC.

 

“In effect, the human being should be considered the priority in a political war.   And conceived as the military target … the human being has his most critical point in   his mind. Once the mind has been reached, the ‘political animal’ has been defeated without   necessarily receiving bullets.”

– US Central Intelligence Agency training manual

“Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.”

– Sun Tzu

“Knowing is different from doing and therefore theory must never be used as norms for a standard, but merely as aids to judgment.”

– Carl von Clausewitz

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