Archive for the 'Recommended Reading' Category



Weekend Reading #2

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 1 month ago

First, let me mention that if you haven’t read First Sergeant John Bernard’s view on the circumstances surrounding his son’s death in Afghanistan, you must drop by and spend a minute with a fine man.  I have had the opportunity to discuss this and other issues with him, and while I can be pessimistic at times, it’s men like Joshua Bernard who make me have faith that all is not lost with America.  And it’s men like John Bernard who raise men like Joshua.

Take note that this issue isn’t closed for me.  The AP has made certain claims regarding what they said to Mr. Bernard and what they didn’t.  I also have some detractors who have questioned what I claimed in Publishing the Marine Photo: Remember the Words of Christ (Then again, I have had some serious, well-meaning and hard nosed questions flow in from friends as well).  I am corresponding with certain military public relations contacts to ascertain just what the formal agreements stipulated.  I will eventually publish a followup to this article that clarifies my original post (and where I possibly further hammer the AP for their decision).  Stay tuned.

Second, take a few minutes and read a letter from a narcissistic, self-important person who objected to a funeral procession for a fallen Soldier.  Then read the Sheriff’s response.  My only objection is that the procession wasn’t slower, with a horse-drawn carriage (h/t Blackfive).

Third, read the Reuters blog on the U.S. Air Force turning it’s pilots into “drone jockeys.”  I support the Air Force supporting the counterinsurgency campaigns in which we find ourselves, but this is turning a bit creepy.  This is faddish, and sooner or later we need to return to the notion of pilots flying aircraft that can perform the roles of fighter and fighter-bomber.  Conventional warfare is not gone forever, and control over the skies is necessary for both conventional war and hybrid warfare / counterinsurgency.

Fourth, roadside bombs took the lives of four U.S. troopers recently in Iraq.  The danger has not passed in Iraq, and the longer we avoid confronting Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East, the longer there will be instability.  I fully expect, however, the Obama administration to pander to the radical Mullahs.

Fifth, our friend Myra MacDonald is talking about a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan (and also here).  Myra follows Pakistan very closely and is well informed, but frankly I have grave doubts as to the intent.  I’ll believe the gestures develop into something substantive when I see it.  Even Myra waxes negative by the end of her analysis.

Sixth, if you haven’t tackled the rules of engagement articles this week, they are must-reading.

More on Marine Deaths and Rules of Engagement

Taliban Ambush in Eastern Kunar Kills Four U.S. Marines

Finally, I am spending much time training my new Doberman, the historic U.S. Marine Corps dog.

2009F 394

Internet sites say that you can’t teach this breed properly to walk on a lead (heel) before six months.  Wrong.  I have her doing it now, and she is only three months old and I have had her eleven days.  Give me six months and I will have her discussing the history of dogs in the military.

But questions remain.  Do I have incisional gastropexy done?  It isn’t cheap, and it’s also not a painless recovery for the dog.  Dobermans are a large breed, subject to this problem along with other large breeds.  I’m open to input.

Prior:

Weekend Reading #1

Weekend Reading #1

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 2 months ago

Let’s try a series called weekend reading, and this one will be #1 (in hopes that there will be more).  It’s our foray into instantly-blogging rather than trying to carefully craft single article releases for our readers.  It may succeed, or it may fail due to lack of discipline.

First off, there is a relatively new blog called The Afpak Channel with the AfPak Daily Brief.  They have a long list of notable bloggers, and were kind enough to link The Captain’s Journal.  We appreciate the link, and the AfPak Daily Brief is certainly worth checking out.

Second, Reuters is carrying a concise but well done history of the Taliban.  Sit down in a hardback chair with a cup of coffee and take this one on.

Third, The CSM has a piece taking on the issue of drones, and whether the direct targeting of Taliban and AQ leaders is legal?  The Captain’s Journal has absolutely no problem with targeting Taliban and AQ leaders, but let’s perform a thought experiment for a moment.  The whole tactic rests upon death from above targeted towards known HVTs, while those HVTs themselves aren’t holding a weapon or posing a threat.  Didn’t General Kearney want to charge a couple of Army snipers with murder a while back who did the same thing?  How about this idea.  Let’s apply the same rules of engagement to the generals and CIA chieftains making the decisions during drone strikes as we do the Soldiers and Marines in the field.  That’s fair, isn’t it?  If not, then why not?  Can you make a case that this isn’t fair?

Fourth, Richard North at Defence of the Realm is required reading every day.  His latest piece awaits the howls that are sure to come when the Brits lose their 200th soldier in Afghanistan.  Neither we nor Richard likes tracking this, and Richard doesn’t like to see British casualties.  But that’s why Richard always argues for more troops, better equipment and better strategy.  Richard is the conscience of the military bloggers / new media in the UK.  You can always turn to him for unvarnished prose.

Fifth, there is our own loyal reader Warbucks who might have to change his vacation plans to the mountains of Afghanistan based on our advice to chase the Taliban into the mountains.

Sixth, I had wondered how long it would take PETA to weigh in protesting the practice of using live pigs to train Marines on the amelioration of battle injuries (see also this).  No, advancements in technology would be be able to replace this.  No amount of technology can be used in lieu of the use of live anesthetized pigs due to the anatomical similarities.   What would PETA have us do – lose more Marines and keep the pigs alive?  Nothing these people do is serious.  They’re good for entertainment, and that’s about it.

Lastly, enjoy Dave Matthews telling us about Stella and Alligator Pie.

Concerning U.S. Defense Cuts

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 7 months ago

Following are some related but disaggregated thoughts on the upcoming U.S. Department of Defense budgetary cuts, along with some very good required reading on this subject.

Gates Readies Big Cuts in Weapons

As the Bush administration was drawing to a close, Robert M. Gates, whose two years as defense secretary had been devoted to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, felt compelled to warn his successor of a crisis closer to home.

The United States “cannot expect to eliminate national security risks through higher defense budgets, to do everything and buy everything,” Gates said. The next defense secretary, he warned, would have to eliminate some costly hardware and invest in new tools for fighting insurgents.

What Gates didn’t know was that he would be that successor.

Now, as the only Bush Cabinet member to remain under President Obama, Gates is preparing the most far-reaching changes in the Pentagon’s weapons portfolio since the end of the Cold War, according to aides.

Two defense officials who were not authorized to speak publicly said Gates will announce up to a half-dozen major weapons cancellations later this month. Candidates include a new Navy destroyer, the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet, and Army ground-combat vehicles, the offi cials said.

More cuts are planned for later this year after a review that could lead to reductions in programs such as aircraft carriers and nuclear arms, the officials said …

Gates is not the first secretary to try to change military priorities. His predecessor, Donald H. Rumsfeld, sought to retool the military but succeeded in cancelling only one major project, an Army artillery system.

Former vice president Dick Cheney’s efforts as defense chief under the first President Bush, meanwhile, are cited as a case study in the resistance of the military, defense industry, and Capitol Hill. Cheney canceled the Marine Corps’ troubled V-22 Osprey aircraft not once, but four times, only to see Congress reverse the decision.

And we’re glad that the V-22 Osprey program was completed.  It is already making an impact in the Marine Corps expeditionary concept.  The Captain’s Journal is still a supporter of Secretary Gates, but these defense cuts are both unnecessary and ill-advised (although not of Gates’ choosing in a perfect world).  Beginning in 2011, Russian armed forces will undergo a comprehensive rearmament to refurbish and replaces weapons systems.  While the U.S. is disarming, one of the only two near peers in the world is increasing and rearming its military.  No, wait.  Make that both near peer states.

Beijing Considers Upgrades to Navy

China’s top military spokesman said it is seriously considering adding a first aircraft carrier to its navy fleet, a fresh indication of the country’s growing military profile as it prepares for its first major naval deployment abroad.

At a rare news conference Tuesday, Chinese defense-ministry officials played down the importance of Beijing’s decision to send warships to the Gulf of Aden to curb piracy — China’s first such deployment in modern history — saying it doesn’t represent a shift in defense policy. The two destroyers and supply ship are to depart Friday for the Middle East.

But officials also made clear that China’s navy, which has been investing heavily in ships and aircraft, now has the capability to conduct complex operations far from its coastal waters — and that Beijing is continuing to expand its reach and capability, perhaps with a carrier.

It’s unclear what parts of an aircraft carrier China would build itself and what parts it might need to acquire from abroad. China has bought carriers before, but none ended up in the country’s fleet.

In some of the most direct public statements on current thinking behind Beijing’s naval policy, defense military spokesman Col. Huang Xueping said Tuesday that “China has vast oceans and it is the sovereign responsibility of China’s armed forces to ensure the country’s maritime security and uphold the sovereignty of its costal waters as well as its maritime rights and interests.”

At Information Dissemination, Galrahn makes a good observation on the importance of the expeditionary concept.

As we have noted many times on the blog, the amphibious ship is the hardest working type of ship in the US Navy in the 21st century. The data says all that needs to be said regarding the requirement.

They are flexible platforms that bring together a wide variety of capabilities that can effectively perform the range of mission profiles from soft power to forward afloat staging bases to even assault roles when necessary. They are the rapid responders when crisis breaks out on land, and best fit the most often called upon requirements of the US Navy when problems occur, whether it is Hezbollah/Israel or a natural disaster, the amphibious ship, not the aircraft carrier, is the type of platform sent into to help out people … The biggest problem with the sea basing concept isn’t the idea regarding how to get troops to land, but how to sustain troops from sea once we get them on land. The single largest factor that limits support is fuel.

The Captain’s Journal agrees with Galrahn and the importance of force projection – whether hard or soft power – with the Marines Expeditionary Units (including the “combined arms” concept of multiple naval vessels with various defensive and offensive capabilities.  But with us it isn’t a matter of either-or.  It’s both-and.  We need both the carrier battle groups and the MEUs.

We will learn the lesson, again, the easy way or the hard way.  But we must be prepared to fight both near peers and counterinsurgency campaigns.  As for China, when they want to expand their global influence, the first big ship they go after is the carrier.  Concerning Galrahn’s warning on the need for fuel, this highlights all the more the need for ports and air superiority for refueling tankers.  Concerning overall air superiority, if the sole focus of our national defense dollars is in counterinsurgency, littoral combat and small wars, the MEUs will be left to the slaughter once the ordnance begins raining down from the sky.

Concerning this issue of being able to fight two wars at one time, the current administration is toying with this age-old doctrine.

The protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the Obama administration to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time.

For more than six years now, the United States has in fact been fighting two wars, with more than 170,000 troops now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The military has openly acknowledged that the wars have left troops and equipment severely strained, and has said that it would be difficult to carry out any kind of significant operation elsewhere.

To some extent, fears have faded that the United States may actually have to fight, say, Russia and North Korea, or China and Iran, at the same time. But if Iraq and Afghanistan were never formidable foes in conventional terms, they have already tied up the American military for a period longer than World War II.

A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts, like the first Iraq war in 1991 or the invasions of Grenada and Panama.

In an interview with National Public Radio last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made it clear that the Pentagon was beginning to reconsider whether the old two-wars assumption “makes any sense in the 21st century” as a guide to planning, budgeting and weapons-buying.

Be careful here.  This seems like a prelude to deep cuts in the men and materiel necessary for air superiority, Naval superiority and force projection.  Wait, we’ve already discussed this above, and it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Finally, you will note that the cuts also target both nuclear refurbishment and development and the F-22 program.  The Captain’s Journal has already weighed in on these issues.

Just Build the F-22, Okay?

Sounding the Nuclear Alarm

An Aging Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

The three links above are required reading, as are the two links below (for those readers who aren’t convinced of the need to refurbish our existing nuclear weapons stockpile or continue further development).

Report of the Secretary of Defense Task Force on DoD Nuclear Weapons Management

National Security and Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century

Finally, read this:

Remember Near Peer Threats?

May 25 2008 Recommended Reading

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 4 months ago

DoD Live.

Our buddy Jack Holt with New Media Outreach with OSD at the Pentagon has begun a new blog called DoD Live.  It is professional, good to the eye, and already active.  We expect good things from it.  Congratulations Jack.  Welcome to blogging.

CTC Sentinel, May 2008, Vol. 1, Issue 6.

The CTC Sentinel, produced by the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point, has quickly become a necessary read for anyone who wants to understand combatting terrorism.

Olmert and Assad’s Peace of the Lame, Pajamas Media.

It is preposterous to assume that Olmert had enough clout and power left to broker a peace deal between Israel and Syria, or that Assad actually wants a deal.  The Captain’s Journal believes that Olmert is a short timer, and the next Israeli PM will be Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Fall of Lebanon, Barry Rubin, GLORIA Center.

“Lebanon will not disappear as a country on the map, of course–contrary to the Iranian alliance’s intentions toward Israel–but it is now going to be part of the Iranian bloc. This is not only bad for Lebanon itself but also terrifying for other Arab regimes. The Saudis deserve credit for trying to save Lebanon. But what will happen now as the balance of power shifts? They are less inclined to resist and more likely to follow the West’s course and adopt an appeasement policy.”

Pro-Syrian (Hezbollah-Friendly) General to become Lebanese President, W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

… he is a pro-Syrian commander of the Lebanese Army, and I can tell you from my personal conversation with him, he is also pro-Hezbollah, believing that Hezbollah’s Taliban-like kingdom within the sovereign state of Lebanon is acceptable because they resist foreign aggression.

The Sergeant Lost Within, New York Times

Never forget the wounded and disabled.


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