Small Wars Journal

06/16/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Wed, 06/16/2021 - 9:00am

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

1.  Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism

2.  FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism

3. Biden administration unveils new strategy to counter domestic terrorism

4. Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense on 2020 Unified Command Plan

5. FOLLOW-UP Comments Fixing Oversight of Special Operations Forces

6. How I learned to stop worrying and to love the Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Opinion

7. Biden nominates 9 to high-profile ambassador postings

8. Part 1: What the budget reveals — and leaves unclear — about the cost of JADC2

9. Part 2: Congress dealt ABMS a blow, but experts see progress

10. Part 3: Proposed modernization increases show Army sees joint operations as ‘top priority’

11. Part 4: Classified Navy JADC2 budget plan has a few spending hints

12. Biden’s Hair Should Be ‘On Fire’ Over Afghan Translators Being Left Behind, Senator Says

13. Pentagon considering permanent naval task force to counter China in the Pacific

14. Next National Defense Strategy Should Return to Two-War Force Construct

15. US military’s elite commando forces look to expand diversity

16. An alliance of democracies is essential

17. US signals flexibility and pragmatism to China

18. The real B3W-NATO agenda

19. How Biden Should Deal With Putin

20. China Repackages Its History in Support of Xi’s National Vision

21. Clausewitz and Centres of Gravity: Turning the Esoteric into Practical Outcomes

22. Developing a Combatant Command Campaign Plan: Lessons Learned at US Central Command


1. Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism

White House · June 15, 2021

Excerpt: "This is a project that should unite all Americans."

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism


2. FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism

White House · June 15, 2021

The 32 page strategy document can be downloaded here

The four pillars:





The 5th pillar should be: Do so without violating civil rights, the US Constitution, and American values.​

From the strategy: "while safeguarding bedrock American civil rights and civil liberties – values that​ ​make us who we are as a nation.​"​​


3. Biden administration unveils new strategy to counter domestic terrorism

NBC News · by Ken Dilanian · June 15, 2021


4. Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense on 2020 Unified Command Plan

White House · June 04, 2021

I missed this two weeks ago. Does this mean the Pentagon's global force posture review is complete and is it now time to update the UCP?  

I have received a number of comments to this article. They are all over the map.

First, my follow-up comment:

“Actually the more I think about this the more I think the article was a good idea. Note I said the article was a good idea. Changes to SOF will only come through Congressional action. Congress will not be at all happy with the proposal in the article as it will undo too much SOF goodness that has been developed since 1987, it will not fix the SOF issues, and will only create more. Therefore, perhaps this article will spur Congress to take another bold step forward (where are the 21st Century Nunn and Cohen?) and actually implement substantive SOF improvements beyond what they tried in Sec 922. Again, we do not need SOF as a separate service because there is a lot of goodness with the connections SOF elements have with their parent service and that was one of the smart aspects of Nunn-Cohen. But SOF needs the requisite service authorities and resources to properly manage and oversee SOF. This is what Congress must follow through with. They provided their intent with Sec 922 but only offered half measures and f steps to solve the problems. It is time for bold congressional action. Will it happen?


Comments received and observed:


Barno makes a strong argument but history tells us that his suggested arrangement will diminish SO and SOF. His example of the Navy-Marine relationship is interesting but it is very different from a potential Army-SOF relationship. History!

I also find the fixation on SOF problems curious considering the very serious issues with conventional forces and their leaders. SOF certainly does need to clean up its messes. 

We also should not lose sight of the fact that our military, under predominantly conventional leaders, has proven to be incapable of winning wars against 4th rate opponents (I am categorizing Rangers as other direct action leaders in the conventionally, attrition-minded category). This includes the article’s author.

Contrary to Mulholland’s view, a separate service with global operational responsibilities is necessary. 



Tiring. You will note it is about the domains. The DA side of SOF is indeed more closely related to the Land. Special Warfare is a Human domain martial activity. 


Well, how about them apples. 

Just maybe the discussion is getting down to the fundamentals of our strategic national security deficiency. Go under the Army’s civilian leadership (Navy -Marine) or acknowledge the emergence of a human domain and structure accordingly.

The millstone around our SOF neck is the inclusion of elite infantry into the community. We hue to our Army root out of nostalgia and romance. The Army then mandates subservience and corrupts in the process who we are and perverts in its control what we are meant to do.



You are exactly right. Placing SOF under the Army will particularly undo the SOF RD&A authority and the speed with which it is accomplished. Back to layers of slow moving oversight, unnecessary and ill informed and probably prejudiced challenges and denials. I served in USSOCOM from 1988-1994 in the early days and the ability to finally get things done for SOF by SOF which was extremely rewarding and satisfying. 

Placing SOF under the Army is a solution looking for a problem.  


I think this a half measure. The Sec Army has a great deal on his plate and limited bandwidth with staff, time and resources. SOCOM and its forces are essentially the Marine Corps of SOF. Its forces are greatly dependent upon the respective Services largesse and it has a limited seat at the table. There is also the issue of Not Invented Here in regard to an Army Sec dictating to USAF, USN and USMC forces.

I think it best to do what Congress actually intended and give the ASD SOLIC near-Secretarial authority and an expanded staff to manage. He/She can focus exclusively on SOF and insure its interests are spoken for with equality/authority at the table. Most importantly, the position would direct resources without competition eg Do we support procurement of an exclusive Army item or fund a SOF initiative? etc.


Gen Barno's suggestion reduces the bureaucratic battle to keep SOF at bay, but it does not fix the inherant problem-The Services do not want SOF to have an equal voice or authorities regarding rice bowl issues.

My experience indicates that only a forced Congressional statute will resolve the issue. The Services will hate it but, in time, it will demonstrate the value as did Nunn-Cohen, Goldwater-Nichols and MFP 11.   


the Army is barely able to direct the behavior and provide oversight of special operations forces wearing army uniforms. The idea the army secretary is going to provide oversight of units from other services is…let’s just say the idea is underdeveloped in this thin article. 

Sorta reads like Jake Blues wrote it to stop the mystery woman from killing him


I hate to be the contrarian, but what Dave Barno and Nora Bensahel are proposing would be a creative and effective solution, particularly in the short run. One could even take it a step further and consider breaking up the ASD SOLIC and putting its various directorates under other ASDs within OUSD (P). At a minimum, DoD should fund a study to determine how effective it has been in terms of providing civilian oversight throughout its own history. With a constantly revolving door of political appointees it's tough to make an argument that they can oversee their own organization, let alone a Combatant Command. I'm not convinced throwing more money at the problem will solve their problems either. Last, if one assumes a status quo budget for the foreseeable future (best case), where are these additional funds going to come from? Thoughts, ctrarguments?


I think there are several deep seated issues that mitigate against a half measure on this issue:

The Office of Sec Army is overwhelmed by just Army issues, asking them to supervise/manage SOF-especially other services will never work

The Services and the DOD bureaucracy absolutely hate the idea of SOF having a major voice at the table or authorities that detract from their own rice bowls. They will do everything in their power-civil service bureaucrats to political appointees to contain the authorities with every tool at their disposal-Recall all the Service Chiefs telling Congress post Grenada that everything was fine and only minor tweaking was necessary.

This proposal is an attempt to stall the direction of a strong ASD SO/LIC and hope the Hill buys it.

As with most reform/change within DOD, it takes legislative statutes to fix issues.


Much like Trey Goudy said that the Squad is best preserved as a means to insure a GOP majority in the future..............


What about putting them back under their respective services? Yes, there could be some standards for interoperability, but let them focus on Service missions.

We treat SOF as a strategic asset but that is only true in some very limited contexts. And it has contributed to where we are today. A lot of folks who grew up in SOF think only SOF can do certain things and restricted conventional forces as a consequence. This is particularly galling when those supposedly SOF capabilities are little more than basic combat tasks done by specialized troops. And SOF does not seize and hold terrain. At least not for very long.


11. FOLLOW-UP Comments Fixing Oversight of Special Operations Forces · by David Barno · June 15, 2021

So let’s place oversight for SOF with the service secretary facing the greatest challenge in articulating its role (and justifying its budgetary requirements) in the foreseeable future?

Seems like a high likelihood of a conflict of priorities, if not interests.


---------- Forwarded message ---------

From: David Maxwell <>

Date: Tue, Jun 15, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Subject: Fixing Oversight of Special Operations Forces


The authors have said the quiet part out loud.  There are many senior officials who likely support this and this will put us right back in 1986. The answer is not to give SOF oversight to the Army but it is to provide SOF with service authorities along with responsibilities (and the resources to execute them) as Congress intends. Rather than go back to the future and undo Nunn-Cohen of Goldwater-Nichols, SOF needs to continue to evolve to improve (to reach an enlightened state).


6. How I learned to stop worrying and to love the Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Opinion

Newsweek · by Frank Sobchak· June 11, 2021

Excerpts: “When thinking of our vital interests, the U.S. should focus on areas that matter to us strategically and the enemies that can threaten those interests. While we squandered our finances in Afghanistan, the forces of authoritarianism have been on the march. Russia and China present complicated global threats to the existing liberal order that the U.S spent decades building and maintaining. Iran, a nation that has pledged the destruction of both Israel and the United States, presents a regional threat to that order and is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power—a grave danger that could ignite an arms race and further destabilize a crucial region. Afghanistan is a costly distraction from those much bigger threats.

Even if a vestige of the terrorist threat does rise again in Afghanistan, it is unlikely to be significant enough to require another large-scale, prolonged intervention. The vast majority of the current fighters are domestic combatants engaged in the struggle for Afghanistan's future. There are some al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, but those organizations spread across the world long ago in order to survive. It would require a willful suspension of reality to pretend the senior leaders of those organizations would return to set up terrorist training camps or operate overtly in Afghanistan, as this would put them in the crosshairs of American and coalition aircraft. If anything, it is the continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan that provides fodder for recruitment of the global jihadist network. Ending our involvement in the Afghan conflict will hurt the terrorists' recruitment efforts.

As John Quincy Adams once noted, we should not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. The world is full of monsters who wish us ill. If we continuously go hunting for all of them, as we have for the last two decades, we will find ourselves financially insolvent and collectively exhausted. It is time for us to rest up and prepare, so that we will be ready when the big monsters do come for us.


7. Biden nominates 9 to high-profile ambassador postings

AP · by Aamer Madhani · June 15, 2021


8. Part 1: What the budget reveals — and leaves unclear — about the cost of JADC2 · by Nathan Strout · June 15, 2021

A four part series on JADC2 - Joint All-Domain Command and Control.


10. Part 3: Proposed modernization increases show Army sees joint operations as ‘top priority’ · by Andrew Eversden · June 15, 2021


11. Part 4: Classified Navy JADC2 budget plan has a few spending hints · by Mark Pomerleau · June 15, 2021


12. Biden’s Hair Should Be ‘On Fire’ Over Afghan Translators Being Left Behind, Senator Says · by Jacqueline Feldscher


13. Pentagon considering permanent naval task force to counter China in the Pacific


Excerpts: “It’s not yet clear whether the task force would involve only U.S. ships, or include other nations’ militaries as well, the people said.

Officials working on China policy at the Pentagon are also considering establishing a named military operation for the Pacific, which would create a formal planning process for the defense secretary and provide additional budget authority and resources for the effort, the people said.

The Pentagon has not yet briefed Capitol Hill on the plans, one of the people said.

Based on the work of Ratner’s task force, Austin issued a directive last week initiating several department-wide efforts to better address the security challenges posed by China as the United States’ “number one pacing challenge.” But officials declined to provide any details, saying that many of the initiatives are classified.


14. Next National Defense Strategy Should Return to Two-War Force Construct · by John A. Tirpak · June 15, 2021

There are only so many concepts: 2 Major Regional Contingencies and 2 lesser regional contingencies, Win-Hold-Win. We have probably seen them all since the ended of the Cold War.

The 60 page report can be downloaded here


15. US military’s elite commando forces look to expand diversity · by Lolita Baldor · June 15, 2021

Excerpts: “The effort comes as the military — and the nation — struggles with racism, extremism and hate crimes. Leaders see greater diversity as a way to combat extremism in the ranks, even as they increase other training and education programs.

Commando forces — particularly the officers — tend to be far less diverse than the military as a whole. While only a small percentage of those who try out eventually pass the grueling, years-long training for special operations, leaders hope that bringing in a wider array of recruits will lead to a more diverse force.

As of March 2021, a full 95% of all SEAL and combatant-craft crew (SWCC) officers were white and just 2% were Black, according to Naval Special Warfare statistics provided to the AP. The officers corps of Army Special Forces is 87% white, and also 2% Black.

The enlisted ranks are only slightly more diverse. About 84% of the Navy SEAL and SWCC enlisted troops are white, and 2% are Black. The greater diversity comes in the number of American Indian, Alaskan Native and those who say they are “multiple” races. The Army’s enlisted special forces are also 84% white, but the percentage of Blacks goes up to 4.

When all members of Naval Special Warfare and Army Special Operations Command are included — which would add combat support, civil affairs and psychological operations personnel — the diversity grows slightly. But it still doesn’t match the overall Army and Navy statistics. For example, 40% of the Navy’s enlisted force and 24% of it’s officers are non-white.


16. An alliance of democracies is essential · by Michael J Green

Excerpts:For years surveys have shown that thought-leaders across the Indo-Pacific greatly prefer democracy to authoritarianism. While the world’s leading democracies have rightly imposed sanctions in the cases of Xinjiang or Myanmar, the main theme of the recent Cornwall G7 Summit was about making the investments needed to demonstrate that democracy works. Thus, rather than pressuring countries to reject China’s Belt and Road projects, the United States, Australia and Japan (now joined by the other G7 countries) are offering high quality infrastructure financing alternatives.

But for that strategy to work, recipient countries will need to make borrowing decisions based on accountability, transparency and anti-corruption. A game of geopolitical influence absent efforts to strengthen democratic governance – even one backed by more lending – would end in failure as Beijing bribes its way across the region. It is only logical that the leading democracies should be coordinating strategies on this front. American and Australian taxpayers should demand no less.

Finally, solidarity among democracies matters to deterrence and regional stability. If Beijing or Moscow think that US alliances in Europe and Asia can be divided against each other, then the cost of aggression goes down. It does not require an explicit security guarantee for like-minded democracies to signal that there will be global consequences for coercion or aggression against vulnerable states even outside their own regions – the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad”, is one such example. In that regard the Cornwall G7 summit’s first ever mention of Taiwan also had real significance.


17. US signals flexibility and pragmatism to China · by MK Bhadrakumar · June 16, 2021

Huh? We were really trying to get the G7 to "slander" China?

Excerpts:Evidently, while a collective tone against China was possible at the G7, Washington failed to get the group to slander China. In sum, the final communiqué turned out to be a product dominated by the US with compromise by all.

All empirical evidence is stacked against a Western coordinated move, leave alone unified hostile action against China. The bottom line is that while European countries may have “systemic” differences with Beijing, their economic relations with China are competitive but they also have strategic needs for cooperation.

Interestingly, according to China Central Television, Blinken too acknowledged during his phone call with Yang on Friday on the eve of the Cornwall summit that the series of contacts between the US and China in the most recent weeks are beneficial to bilateral relations and the US is looking forward to increasing contact and exchanges with China at all levels.

Blinken reportedly said that the US adheres to the one-China principle and abides by the three China-US joint communiqués and hopes to maintain communication and coordination with China on major international and regional issues.

The G7 communiqué’s formulation on the Taiwan question confirms that the US wants to maintain flexibility in its handling of the China-US relationship. That is a very important indicator.


18. The real B3W-NATO agenda · by Pepe Escobar · June 16, 2021

Escobar provides quite an interpretation of B3W, the G7 and NATO summits,

Excerpts: The initial “catalytic investments” for BW3 were estimated at $100 billion. No one knows how these funds will be coming from the “development institutions.”

Seasoned Global South observers already bet they will be essentially provided by IMF/World Bank “green” loans tied to private sector investment in selected emerging markets, with an eye on profit.

The White House is adamant that “B3W will be global in scope, from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and the Indo-Pacific.” Note the blatant attempt to match Belt and Road’s reach.

All these “green” resources and new logistic chains, financed by what will be a variant of central banks showering helicopter money, would ultimately benefit G7 members – certainly not China.

And the “protector” of these new “green” geostrategic corridors will be – who else? – NATO. That’s the natural consequence of the “global reach” emphasized on the NATO 2030 agenda.


19. How Biden Should Deal With Putin

Foreign Affairs · by Michael McFaul · June 14, 2021

Conclusion:Biden is right to test whether Putin might embrace a more stable, predictable relationship with the United States. Should the Russian president opt instead to continue invading countries, mounting hacking and disinformation campaigns, and arresting innocent Russians and Americans, it will be clear that he, not Biden, is responsible for confrontation with the United States. Biden is also right to try to work with the Kremlin on a limited agenda of mutual interest, particularly on arms control. Even during tense moments of the Cold War, U.S. presidents saw the wisdom in cooperating with their Soviet counterparts to reduce the risk of nuclear war.

At the same time, the Biden administration must swiftly develop the other dimensions of its strategy for containing and deterring Putin’s belligerent behavior while also supporting democratic forces in Russia,


20. China Repackages Its History in Support of Xi’s National Vision

WSJ · by Chun Han Wong and Keith Zhai

It is easy to be reminded of George Orwell here:“Orwell believed that the status of history itself had been radically challenged by totalitarianism. In his essay Looking Back on the Spanish War, written in 1942, he recalled telling Arthur Koestler that: “History stopped in 1936.” By this he meant that the Spanish Civil War, as the first conflict of the totalitarian era, was the first time that rival propaganda machines made an accurate account of events impossible. “I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway,” he wrote. “I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written.”

Excerpts:​The history academy’s revisionism hasn’t always gone over well with the public. In December, its Weibo account drew wide criticism for an essay, since taken down, that challenged popular condemnation of Mao’s “Down to the Countryside Movement,” which forced millions of urban young people to live and work in rural villages.

The essay described the movement as “a great achievement that advanced the development of society,” according to copies that have been republished online. In that respect, it echoed official portrayals of the seven years Mr. Xi spent as a “rusticated youth” in the countryside as a transformative experience that taught him to serve the people.

Some Chinese historians say the academy is twisting history to serve politics. “They aren’t following an academic path,” said a prominent history professor in Beijing, who said he declined the academy’s invitation to collaborate on a project. “These people are doing this to suck up and win promotion.”

In April, Mr. Xi visited a memorial to a 1934 battle that took place during the “Long March,” a military retreat over thousands of miles by Communist Party troops that was later celebrated as a strategic triumph that helped Mao secure power. Mr. Xi urged his compatriots to emulate the undying faith and self-sacrifice shown by the Red Army.

When confronting challenges, domestic and foreign, in pursuit of China’s rejuvenation, he said, “We must have such conviction in our inevitable victory.”


21. Clausewitz and Centres of Gravity: Turning the Esoteric into Practical Outcomes · by Michael G Krause · June 12, 2021

An admonishment that we must read Books Six and Eight of On War to begin to think about center of gravity. 

Conclusion: “I admire and am at the same time frustrated by Clausewitz: I like the genius he applies to a most difficult topic and yet am frustrated how difficult he is to penetrate sometimes. It is not a case of sorting the wheat from the chaff – his writing is so dense that every word has to be studied and thought about. It takes hard work; whole pages swim before my eyes sometimes. His work is poetry and seductively out of reach at times. If only he had lived long enough for one more read-through and tidy-up. Damn that cholera.

While many have not gone past the First Book in On War to discuss Clausewitz’s theories on war, strategy and states, the military professional interested in his work on Centre of Gravity has to wade through to Book Six and Book Eight before the ideas are mentioned. They form, however, a central idea to understand how forces generate strength. By understanding how forces generate strength one can understand the seeds of defeat in an enemy and protect one’s own. Planning is about understanding and understanding starts with the realm of the practical and the possible. By combining theory with practical understanding and the desire for practical outcomes, Clausewitz provides a useful and timeless start point for the modern military professional. Of course, he requires interpretation and judgement in application, but he makes one think and realise how much there is always still to learn.


22. Developing a Combatant Command Campaign Plan: Lessons Learned at US Central Command · by Chad Pillai · June 16, 2021

Theory does not always equal practice.

Some excellent advice in this piece including this conclusion: “Additionally, no matter how involved you are in the project, you should never take the product you worked on personally. If you do, you will face a lot of difficulty trying to defend everything you put into the CCP. I lived by the rule of thumb that I will be satisfied with the final product as long as the key concepts or ideas remain. Finally, while developing a CCP is a complex undertaking, gaining an appreciation for how the process works beyond what is taught will help future planners better navigate managing OPTs and develop products that are both useful and executable.




"You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." 

- Maya Angelou


"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile." 

- Roger Staubach


 "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." 

- Rosa Parks

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