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

1. Pentagon to study land mine rules that Biden promised to reverse

2.  Biden Backs Taiwan, but Some Call for a Clearer Warning to China

3. Before becoming a terrorist leader, ISIS chief was a prison informer in Iraq for U.S., records show

4.  Experts Torn on Proper Role of National Cyber Director

5. NSA About To Release Unclassified 5G Security Guidance

6. Destroyer USS John McCain Transits Taiwan Strait as Chinese Carrier Strike Group Drills Nearby

7. Service Chiefs Versus Combatant Commanders

8. Sharpening the Blunt Tool: Why Deterrence Needs an Update in the Next U.S. National Security Strategy

9. To Counter Beijing, Send In the Coast Guard

10.  The Defense Department isn’t meeting its readiness goals, report finds

11. ‘If Girl Scouts could survive, why not Marines?’ PETA to protest over ‘Cobra Gold bloodlust’

12. China’s Greenland Ambitions Run Into Local Politics, U.S. Influence

13. White House Releasing Topline Budget Numbers Friday

14. Why Is It So Tough to Withdraw from Afghanistan?

15. Imperial Policing Redux: The Folly of Staying the Course in Afghanistan

16. Robin Shepherd In The Hill Times: Follow The Fab Four Against Beijing’s Bullying

17. Taiwan vows to ‘defend itself to the very last day’ against China

18. Chinese armed attacks in West PH Sea to ‘trigger US obligations’ in defense treaty – official

19. OSS Society: General Norton Schwartz talks with World War II B-24 Liberator aviator John Billings about his new memoir, “Special Duties Pilot.”

 

1.  Pentagon to study land mine rules that Biden promised to reverse

washingtontimes.com · by Mike Glenn

I made some provocative comments in the article.

 

2. Biden Backs Taiwan, but Some Call for a Clearer Warning to China

The New York Times · by Michael Crowley · April 8, 2021

Excerpt: The debate reflects a core foreign policy challenge seizing the Biden administration as it devises its wider Asia strategy. At the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon, which is reviewing its military posture in Asia, officials are re-evaluating core tenets of American strategy for a new and more dangerous phase of competition with China.

American officials warn that China is growing more capable of invading the island democracy of nearly 24 million people, situated about 100 miles off the coast of mainland China, whose status has obsessed Beijing since Chinese nationalists retreated and formed a government there after the country’s 1949 Communist revolution.

Last month, the military commander for the Indo-Pacific region, Adm. Philip S. Davidson, described what he sees as a risk that China could try to reclaim Taiwan by force within the next six years.

The United States has long avoided saying how it would respond to such an attack. While Washington supports Taiwan with diplomatic contacts, arms sales, firm language and even occasional military maneuvers, there are no guarantees. No statement, doctrine or security agreement compels the United States to come to Taiwan’s rescue. A 1979 congressional law states only that “any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means” would be of “grave concern to the United States.”

The result is known as “strategic ambiguity,” a careful balance intended both to avoid provoking Beijing or emboldening Taiwan into a formal declaration of independence that could lead to a Chinese invasion.

 

3. Before becoming a terrorist leader, ISIS chief was a prison informer in Iraq for U.S., records show

The Washington Post · by Joby Warrick  · April 7, 2021

Should be useful for developing themes and messages for support influence operations. Seems like a lot of potential here. Kudos to West Point’s CTC for publishing the reports.

 

4. Experts Torn on Proper Role of National Cyber Director

defenseone.com · by Mariam Baksh

We have to get this right. This is a critical national security issue.

 

5.  NSA About To Release Unclassified 5G Security Guidance

breakingdefense.com · by Brad D. Williams

Conclusion: “Given the broad applications of 5G across the defense, public, and private sectors, the “stakes for securing this new technology could not be higher,” Noble said. 5G will “impact the way we defend our nation.”

 

6. Destroyer USS John McCain Transits Taiwan Strait as Chinese Carrier Strike Group Drills Nearby

news.usni.org · by Sam LaGrone · April 7, 2021

Excerpts: “The Liaoning strike group – the carrier and five escorts – had operated near Okinawa, sailing through the Miyako Strait on Saturday, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.

On Sunday, the Theodore Roosevelt strike group entered the South China Sea. On Wednesday, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and the embarked Carrier Air Wing 11 exercised with the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

 

7. Service Chiefs Versus Combatant Commanders

realcleardefense.com · by Mackenzie Eaglen

Force provider versus operational commander. It is hard for the force provider to say “no” to the operational commander conducting operations. Who is the force provider to second guess the requirements of the commander in theater?

The unspoken question is whether our combatant command structure with regional combatant commands is still the right way to organize the military to support US national security? (A heretical question I know after Goldwater-Nichols)

We have the “tyranny of distance” (deploying to Asia), the “tyranny of proximity” (the distance of Seoul from the DMZ) and now the “tyranny of the now.”

Excerpts: Lawmakers identified the core consequences of inaction on these issues: “The ‘tyranny of the now’ is wearing out man and machine at too high a rate to ensure success both now and later.” As the members detailed, years of such unmitigated force requests that lack prioritization and tradeoffs have resulted in consistently high operational tempos across the services with obvious, negative outcomes. The National Commission on Military Aviation Safety, for example, found that a “relentless” optempo is “leading to unsafe practices and (is) driving experienced aviators and maintainers out” of service. Reducing the demands on the force is one part of the fix and key to halting the current downward spiral. The next step will be for Congress to provide consistent funding to regain lost ground.

This letter has continued a conversation that will continue throughout the year as Congress drafts the defense policy bill. The Pentagon’s response to the questions should be considered mandatory reading. Depending on the answers from the Pentagon, it may just be time for Congress to legislate action to better balance the here-and-now with winning the long-term competition. A series of sprints will not be enough to prevail in this competition marathon.

 

8. Sharpening the Blunt Tool: Why Deterrence Needs an Update in the Next U.S. National Security Strategy

thestrategybridge.org · by Kyle J. Wolfley · April 8, 2021

The author references Sir Lawrence Freedman. We must never forget his wise words: “Deterrence works. Until it doesn’t.”

 

9. To Counter Beijing, Send In the Coast Guard

WSJ · by Alexander B. Gray

We have not resourced the Coast Guard for this kind of mission. The Coast Guard has long been a “do more with less” organization. What Coast Guard missions will be divested to undertake this kind of role? Is it the best use of our coast Guard?

But is this “assumption” valid? Will this achieve the “ambiguity at sea” the author recommends? Will using the Coast Guard help ease confrontations at sea? How can it both ease confrontation and support deterrence? Can’t the Chinese still read our intentions (just like we read their intentions through their use of their coast guard and militia ships and fishing vessels)? Maybe it will make us feel better using a non-gray hulled ship but will it really make a difference to the Chinese and ease confrontation?

As a quasimilitary service, its presence can help ease confrontations at sea while deterring Chinese aggression. The Coast Guard’s new Legend-class National Security Cutter is powerful enough to be the premier warship in most navies.

​I would be for trying this if we first resource the Coast Guard properly or we divest it of a significant amount of its other responsibilities.​

 

10. The Defense Department isn’t meeting its readiness goals, report finds

militarytimes.com · by Meghann Myers · April 7, 2021

The full 35 page GAO report can be downloaded here

The one page highlights of the report can be accessed here

Although there are some reports on special operations listed in the references the main report does not conduct any analysis of the readiness of special operations forces. And there is no reference to the readiness of the military to conduct irregular warfare.

What “domain” do special operations and irregular warfare fall under?

But if you do not check on it or measure it or assess it, then it must not be important. 

 

11. ‘If Girl Scouts could survive, why not Marines?’ PETA to protest over ‘Cobra Gold bloodlust’

marinecorpstimes.com · by Andrea Scott · April 7, 2021

Sigh…I guess PETA will want the Girl Scouts to replace the Marines to fight the next war. I do not know how anyone could take PETA seriously with this kind of “analysis.” I think in the upcoming exercise the PAO guidance will likely be that they will try to minimize press coverage of survival training. Drinking snake blood is of course not a significant part of the exercise but is simply part of team building and cultural exchange. The press likes to report on these events because of the sensationalism.

 

12. China’s Greenland Ambitions Run Into Local Politics, U.S. Influence

WSJ · by Stacy Meichtry and Drew Hinshaw

Rare earth metal competition.

Excerpts: China mines over 70% of the world’s rare earths and is responsible for 90% of the complex process to turn them into magnets, according to Adamas Intelligence, which provides research on minerals and metals. The mining project in Kvanefjeld, a mountainous area in Greenland known in Inuit as Kuannersuit, was expected to produce 10% of the world’s rare earths, according to Greenland Minerals, an Australia-based firm that holds the project’s exploratory license.

Shenghe, one of the world’s biggest producers of rare-earths materials, acquired a 12.5% stake in Greenland Minerals in 2016, making it the company’s largest shareholder. Since then, Shenghe’s stake has been diluted to 9%, but Greenland Minerals is relying on the Chinese firm to process any materials it extracts from Greenland, a technically challenging step that is key to the project’s viability.

The concession includes uranium deposits, which locals fear could be released into the area’s pristine natural landscape and farms. The project is also forecast to increase Greenland’s carbon-dioxide emissions by 45%.”

 

13. White House Releasing Topline Budget Numbers Friday

breakingdefense.com · by Paul McLeary

 

14. Why Is It So Tough to Withdraw from Afghanistan?

warontherocks.com · by Ryan Baker and Jonathan Schroden · April 8, 2021

Conclusion: “The U.S. military has the raw capacity to withdraw all remaining personnel from Afghanistan in just a couple of weeks. It is less clear that it can do so without abandoning a lot of expensive equipment, leaving its NATO allies to fend for themselves, pulling U.S. Transportation Command assets away from missions elsewhere in the world, and perhaps even exposing U.S. troops on the ground to significant risk by deprioritizing tactical considerations during the withdrawal. These are real costs and risks that are a large part of what makes getting out of Afghanistan on a short timeline — whether it be May 1 or a few months down the road — so hard. The “tactical reasons” Biden cited during his press conference are thus not ones of logistical capacity, strictly speaking. Rather, they are questions of how much he is willing to pay, and risk, to overcome the logistical difficulties and associated costs of a safe and orderly withdrawal. Given the president’s comments to date, it seems he prefers a timeline of several months to withdraw from Afghanistan, not several weeks.”

 

15. Imperial Policing Redux: The Folly of Staying the Course in Afghanistan

mwi.usma.edu · by Paul Poast · April 8, 2021

Conclusion: “In the end, imperial policing was a policy designed for the British to maintain empire on the cheap that proved neither cheap, nor effective, nor sustainable. History has demonstrated that empires must recognize when they are overextended if they want to retain their power and influence. Whether it takes form by conscious choice or accidental mission creep, imperial policing is neither a sound nor a credible policy for the United States to continue to emulate in Afghanistan—where efforts have likewise been expensive, ineffective, and unsustainable—if it hopes to avoid the fatal mistakes of empires past.”

 

16. Robin Shepherd In The Hill Times: Follow The Fab Four Against Beijing’s Bullying

halifaxtheforum.org · April 7, 2021

Hmmm… nice anecdote but it is much easier to stand up to injustice in the US than the PRC. But I agree with the sentiment even if the anecdote is not a perfect one:

Conclusion: And anyone who thinks that it is only politicians that have a role to play in confronting injustice should recall an episode from the American south in 1964. In that year, on their first American tour, the Beatles were booked to play the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. Shocked to discover their audience was to be divided along racial lines, they refused to perform unless the stadium was desegregated. It was a bold move. This was a critical juncture in the careers of working-class lads from Liverpool, fighting for a piece of the lucrative American music market. Despite indignant murmurings in the local press, they got their way. “I’d sooner lose our appearance money,” John Lennon said of the affair.

More than half a century later, we could do with leadership like that from our wealthy and privileged celebrities. They are not being asked to take a vow of poverty, or to stand in front of a Chinese tank. They just have to recognize their place on the scales of human justice, and act on it. If they won’t, remember that the contents of our pockets have weight, too. Our choices matter in this difficult and dangerous standoff with China. It’s time to make them count.”

 

17. Taiwan vows to ‘defend itself to the very last day’ against China

americanmilitarynews.com · by Ryan Morgan · April 7, 2021

Does this include mobilizing the population to resist?  Can Taiwan develop a concept for resistance among the population that will be an asymmetric contribution to the defense of Taiwan through unconventional deterrence?

 

18. Chinese armed attacks in West PH Sea to ‘trigger US obligations’ in defense treaty – official

cnnphilippines.com · by CNN Philippines Staff

Again, is this where miscalculation could lead to conflict?

 

19. OSS Society: General Norton Schwartz talks with World War II B-24 Liberator aviator John Billings about his new memoir, “Special Duties Pilot.”

Register here.  

 

————–

 

“Glory is now a discredited word, and it will be difficult to re-establish it. It has been spoilt by a too close association with military grandeur; it has been confused with fame and ambition. But true glory is a private and discreet virtue, and is only realized in solitariness.”

– Graham Greene (quoting Herbert Read), Ways of Escape, 1980

 

“…pessimism…can drive men on to do wonders.”

– V.S. Naipaul, A bend in the River, 1979

 

“Communism is cholera and you cannot compromise with cholera.”

– First President of South Korea, Syngman Rhee

 

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04/08/2021 News & Commentary – Korea Negative emission technologies, climate mitigation