Small Wars Journal

06/09/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Thu, 06/10/2021 - 11:03am

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

1. U.S. Weighs Possibility of Airstrikes if Afghan Forces Face Crisis

2. Pentagon announces new classified programs to counter China

3. China Is Our No. 1 Priority. Start Acting Like It, Austin Tells Pentagon

4. Hostage advocates concerned by US military pullout from Afghanistan

5. Secretary of Defense Directive on China Task Force Recommendations

6. Pentagon has no idea how the Afghan Air Force will stay in the air

7. The Department of Defense Announces Establishment of Arctic Regional Center

8. Professional military education is getting a China-focused upgrade

9. As mystery over 'Havana Syndrome' lingers, a new concern emerges

10. Who Will Write the Next “Long Telegram?”

11. Opinion | Global health policy shouldn’t be shaped by a country that bombs hospitals

12. Over 47,000 Wild Animals Sold in Wuhan Markets Before Covid Outbreak, Study Shows

13. FDD | Help The Afghan Air Force To Blunt Taliban Attacks

14. Leaving Afghanistan

15. Attack in Afghanistan Kills 10 From Charity That Clears Land Mines

16. From Kashmir to the Land of Ice and Snow: Countering China in Antarctica through Combined Training with India

17. Competing in the Arctic through Indigenous Group Engagement and Special Reconnaissance Activities

18. A Permanent Detachment of SOF in the American High North to Answer Near-Peer Adversaries’ Modernization and Deployments

19. The Capitol Riot and the Pentagon

 

1. U.S. Weighs Possibility of Airstrikes if Afghan Forces Face Crisis

The New York Times · by Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff · June 9, 2021

Excerpts:When pressed on whether he thought the Afghan forces could hold up, General Milley was noncommittal.

“Your question: The Afghan army, do they stay together and remain a cohesive fighting force, or do they fall apart? I think there’s a range of scenarios here, a range of outcomes, a range of possibilities,” he said. “On the one hand, you get some really dramatic, bad possible outcomes. On the other hand, you get a military that stays together and a government that stays together.

“Which one of these options obtains and becomes reality at the end of the day?” he said. “We frankly don’t know yet.”

When asked at a Pentagon news conference last month if Afghan cities were in danger of being overrun by the Taliban after American forces left, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III declined to say whether the United States would provide air support, saying it was a hypothetical situation.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the top U.S. diplomat leading peace efforts with the Taliban, issued last month what seemed to be a definitive statement on the matter.

“We will do what we can during our presence until the forces are withdrawn, to help the Afghan forces, including coming to their defense when they are attacked,” he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “But once we are out of Afghanistan, direct military support of Afghan forces such as strikes in support of their forces, that’s not being contemplated at this time.”

But three other American officials said the issue had not been resolved in high-level administration meetings on Afghanistan.

 

2. Pentagon announces new classified programs to counter China

The Hill · by Ellen Mitchell · June 9, 2021

Excerpts: “This directive from the secretary is ultimately about getting the department's house in order and ensuring that the department lives up to the stated prioritization of China as the No. 1 pacing challenge,” one official said.

But it was unclear how the initiatives — the result of recommendations made by a 23-member Defense Department task force President Biden set up in February — would be different from those already in place as several of the new efforts will be classified.

The United States for the last several years has made countering China a top priority of its national security policy, and has clashed with Beijing over what Washington views as violations of international rules and norms.

 

3. China Is Our No. 1 Priority. Start Acting Like It, Austin Tells Pentagon

Defense One · by Jacqueline Feldscher 

Excerpts:In his first five months in office, Biden has generally continued Donald Trump’s China policies. Officials have laid out plans to confront China when necessary, compete where possible, and cooperate when both nations have a common interest. In April, for example, Chinese President Xi Jinping participated in Biden’s climate summit.  

Trying to convince European allies to take a harsher stance on China, including some nations who are major trade partners with Beijing, is also a top priority on Biden’s first international trip as president this week, just as it was for Trump officials. 

Austin’s new directive comes shortly after the Biden administration issued other orders focused on China outside of the Defense Department. On Wednesday, the president signed an order revoking Trump’s ban on specific Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, instead ordering the Commerce Department to more broadly investigate foreign-owned apps and the risks they could pose to Americans’ data. Last week, the president signed an order banning American investment in Chinese surveillance companies. 

 

4. Hostage advocates concerned by US military pullout from Afghanistan

militarytimes.com · by Eric Tucker · June 9, 2021

Plans to address this potential threat??? Anticipate the threat.

 

5. Secretary of Defense Directive on China Task Force Recommendations

defense.gov

Excerpt: “Members of the Task Force were detailed from across the Department of Defense, including representatives from all the Services, several Combatant Commands, the Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Intelligence Community.During its tenure, the Task Force conducted hundreds of interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of policies, analysis, and intelligence.

In April, Task Force leaders delivered their initial assessment to Secretary Austin, as well as to DoD civilian and military leadership, including at the spring Senior Leaders Conference.Having completed its work, the Task Force will now stand down. The initiatives put forth in the Secretary’s directive will be executed through -- and by -- normal Departmental structures and organizational elements, supplemented by new processes where necessary.

 

“I want to thank everyone on the Task Force for their hard work and the skill they lent to what was a sprint-like effort,” said Austin. “I especially want to note the leadership of Dr. Ely Ratner, who superbly organized and managed this body of work. Now, it is up to the Department to get to work.”

 

6. Pentagon has no idea how the Afghan Air Force will stay in the air

taskandpurpose.com · by Jeff Schogol · June 9, 2021

Excerpts: “Airpower is the one major advantage that the Afghan security forces have over the Taliban, Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank told NBC News.

“If we don’t help them maintain those aircraft, then the Afghan security forces will be deprived of that advantage, and that could have a decisive impact on the battlefield and ultimately on the state of the Afghan government,” Bowman told NBC.

Jack McCain, a former advisor to the Afghan Air Force and son of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said that the Taliban knows how important airpower is to the Afghan security forces so they assassinate Afghan pilots and try to shoot down Afghan helicopters, especially the Black Hawks provided by the U.S. government.

“The pilots I worked with are brave beyond measure,” McCain said. “We often had occasions where those pilots would remain in a landing zone, under fire, so wounded could be loaded. They are asked to fly to the toughest places in Afghanistan, on a regular basis, and do so day in and day out. I’ve never seen the like.”

 

7. The Department of Defense Announces Establishment of Arctic Regional Center

defense.gov  · June 9, 2021

What about the Functional Center for Security Studies in Irregular Warfare? The current NDAA tasked DOD to establish both an Arctic Center and an Irregular Warfare Center. The sections for the Arctic and Irregular Warfare centers from the NDAA are excerpted below.

Perhaps this is another indicator of the low priority we place on irregular warfare.  

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-116hr6395enr/html/BILLS-116hr6395enr.htm

SEC. 1089. TED STEVENS CENTER FOR ARCTIC SECURITY STUDIES.

  (a) Plan Required.--

    (1) In general.--Not later than 90 days after the date of the

  enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination

  with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional

  defense committees a plan to establish a Department of Defense

  Regional Center for Security Studies for the Arctic.

    (2) Elements.--The plan required by paragraph (1) shall include

  the following:

      (A) A description of the benefits of establishing such a

    center, including the manner in which the establishment of such

    a center would benefit United States and Department of Defense

    interests in the Arctic region.

      (B) A description of the mission and purpose of such a

    center, including--

        (i) enhancing understanding of the dynamics and

      national security implications of an emerging Arctic

      region, including increased access for transit and

      maneuverability; and

        (ii) other specific policy guidance from the Office of

      the Secretary of Defense.

      (C) An analysis of suitable reporting relationships with

    the applicable combatant commands.

      (D) An assessment of suitable locations, which shall

    include an enumeration and valuation of criteria, which may

    include--

        (i) the proximity of a location to other academic

      institutions that study security implications with respect

      to the Arctic region;

        (ii) the proximity of a location to the designated lead

      for Arctic affairs of the United States Northern Command;

      and

        (iii) the proximity of a location to a central hub of

      assigned Arctic-focused Armed Forces so as to suitably

      advance relevant professional development of skills unique

      to the Arctic region.

      (E) A description of the establishment and operational

    costs of such a center, including for--

        (i) military construction for required facilities;

        (ii) facility renovation;

        (iii) personnel costs for faculty and staff; and

        (iv) other costs the Secretary considers appropriate.

      (F) An evaluation of the existing infrastructure,

    resources, and personnel available at military installations

    and at universities and other academic institutions that could

    reduce the costs described in accordance with subparagraph (E).

      (G) An examination of partnership opportunities with United

    States allies and partners for potential collaboration and

    burden sharing.

      (H) A description of potential courses and programs that

    such a center could carry out, including--

        (i) core, specialized, and advanced courses;

        (ii) potential planning workshops;

        (iii) seminars;

        (iv) confidence-building initiatives; and

        (v) academic research.

      (I) A description of any modification to title 10, United

    States Code, necessary for the effective operation of such a

    center.

    (3) Form.--The plan required by paragraph (1) shall be

  submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.

  (b) Establishment.--

    (1) In general.--Not earlier than 30 days after the submittal

  of the plan required by subsection (a), and subject to the

  availability of appropriations, the Secretary of Defense may

  establish and administer a Department of Defense Regional Center

  for Security Studies for the Arctic, to be known as the ``Ted

  Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies'', for the purpose

  described in section 342(a) of title 10, United States Code.

    (2) Location.--Subject to a determination by the Secretary to

  establish the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies under

  this section, the Center shall be established at a location

  determined suitable pursuant to subsection (a)(2)(D).

 

SEC. 1299L. FUNCTIONAL CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES IN IRREGULAR

WARFARE.

  (a) Report Required.--

    (1) In general.--Not later than 90 days after the date of the

  enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation

  with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional

  defense committees a report that assesses the merits and

  feasibility of establishing and administering a Department of

  Defense Functional Center for Security Studies in Irregular

  Warfare.

    (2) Elements.--The report required by paragraph (1) shall

  include the following:

      (A) A description of the benefits to the United States, and

    the allies and partners of the United States, of establishing

    such a functional center, including the manner in which the

    establishment of such a functional center would enhance and

    sustain focus on, and advance knowledge and understanding of,

    matters of irregular warfare, including cybersecurity, nonstate

    actors, information operations, counterterrorism, stability

    operations, and the hybridization of such matters.

      (B) A detailed description of the mission and purpose of

    such a functional center, including applicable policy guidance

    from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

      (C) An analysis of appropriate reporting and liaison

    relationships between such a functional center and--

        (i) the geographic and functional combatant commands;

        (ii) other Department of Defense stakeholders; and

        (iii) other government and nongovernment entities and

      organizations.

      (D) An enumeration and valuation of criteria applicable to

    the determination of a suitable location for such a functional

    center.

      (E) A description of the establishment and operational

    costs of such a functional center, including for--

        (i) military construction for required facilities;

        (ii) facility renovation;

        (iii) personnel costs for faculty and staff; and

        (iv) other costs the Secretary of Defense considers

      appropriate.

      (F) An evaluation of the existing infrastructure,

    resources, and personnel available at military installations,

    existing regional centers, interagency facilities, and

    universities and other academic and research institutions that

    could reduce the costs described in subparagraph (E).

      (G) An examination of partnership opportunities with United

    States allies and partners for potential collaboration and

    burden sharing.

      (H) A description of potential courses and programs that

    such a functional center could carry out, including--

        (i) core, specialized, and advanced courses;

        (ii) planning workshops and structured after-action

      reviews or debriefs;

        (iii) seminars;

        (iv) initiatives on executive development, relationship

      building, partnership outreach, and any other matter the

      Secretary of Defense considers appropriate; and

        (v) focused academic research and studies in support of

      Department priorities.

      (I) A description of any modification to title 10, United

    States Code, or any other provision of law, necessary for the

    effective establishment and administration of such a functional

    center.

    (3) Form.--The report required by paragraph (1) shall be

  submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.

  (b) Establishment.--

    (1) In general.--Not earlier than 30 days after the submittal

  of the report required by subsection (a), and subject to the

  availability of appropriated funds, the Secretary of Defense may

  establish and administer a Department of Defense Functional Center

  for Security Studies in Irregular Warfare.

    (2) Treatment as a regional center for security studies.--A

  Department of Defense Functional Center for Security Studies in

  Irregular Warfare established under paragraph (1) shall be operated

  and administered in the same manner as the Department of Defense

  Regional Centers for Security Studies under section 342 of title

  10, United States Code, and in accordance with such regulations as

  the Secretary of Defense may prescribe.

    (3) Limitation.--No other institution or element of the

  Department may be designated as a Department of Defense functional

  center, except by an Act of Congress.

    (4) Location.--The location of a Department of Defense

  Functional Center for Security Studies in Irregular Warfare

  established under paragraph (1) shall be selected based on an

  objective, criteria-driven administrative or competitive award

  process.

 

8. Professional military education is getting a China-focused upgrade

militarytimes.com · by Meghann Myers · June 9, 2021

Focus education on how to think versus what to think.

While I was on the faculty at the National War College more than 10 years ago we have a major portion of the curriculum focused on China for the entire class. Each seminar had to conduct an assessment of the potential "Chinese futures" and the impacts of those futures and then brief back their assessments to noted China experts from outside the college. I understand this is still part of the curriculum. 

But I also worry about chasing the "shiny thing." Clearly China is important but there are many other strategic priorities as well. This excerpt shows that we need to maintain global expertise. What I hope we are doing is still maintaining a regional focus but adapting the curriculum to help regional experts in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eruope to understand how China is competing in those regions. China is just not tied to its geographic location in the INDOPACIFIC. 

Excerpt: Another would be to take a look at force posture as it pertains to China. While that country’s influence extends to Africa, South America and beyond, Pentagon leaders in recent years have stressed the need to take another look at how U.S. troops are stacked in the Indo-Pacific region.

I hope I am not misleading this excerpt:​ The days of "fixed bases in fixed places" could be coming to an end. Rather than a heavy east Asia footprints, like the current forward-deployments to South Korea and Japan, smaller rotations to countries farther south and west might be in order.

“I think that’s, one, too expensive. Two, I think that you rely, then, on all of the agreements that you have to have to do that, and time,” an Indo-Pacific Command official told reporters in September, speaking of the current force posture. “I think we have the opportunity to look across the whole South Pacific,” as a means staying close to China, “and fixed bases aren’t necessarily it.”

The official briefing Wednesday acknowledged the need for an examination, but again, offered no details.“We did take a close look at our force posture in the Indo-Pacific and have delivered recommendations in that regard,” the official said. “Again, I’m not going to get into specifics about the classified directive or the assessment, but absolutely, we took a careful look at that question as well as regional security issues in the Indo-Pacific.”

Many, but not all, of the task force’s recommendations are classified, though the official who briefed the media offered few details on the unclassified pieces.

​I think what this means is we will not be establishing fixed bases and fixed places in the South Pacific. ​But it does not necessarily mean we are giving up our fixed bases in Japan and Korea. That would be a catastrophic strategic mistake.

 

9. As mystery over 'Havana Syndrome' lingers, a new concern emerges

NBC News · by Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee · June 9, 2021

An intelligence collection technique adapted to do harm?

Excerpts: “But one leading theory is that the victims suffered the effects of intense electromagnetic energy waves from devices intended to extract information from cellphones and other personal devices, the officials said.

Though inflicting harm may not have been the original intent, U.S. officials increasingly believe that whoever may be responsible is now well aware that the devices can cause debilitating symptoms and will seek to use them to target and physically harm individuals, a weapon that is difficult to trace.

 

10. Who Will Write the Next “Long Telegram?”

19fortyfive.com · by Robert Wilkie · June 9, 2021

I think there have been some attempts. An anonymous author (probably Matt Pottinger) just wrote one on China that has been touted as a new "longer telegram." THE LONGER TELEGRAM: Toward a new American China strategy 

 

11. Opinion | Global health policy shouldn’t be shaped by a country that bombs hospitals

The Washington Post · by David Adesnik · June 9, 2021

This is the problem with international organizations. The administration must take action.

Excerpts:Along with other U.N. agencies, the WHO effectively resigned itself to such arrangements. An internal U.N. assessment concluded, “the criticism of these abuses has seemed muted, presumably in a judgment about access over advocacy.” The prospects for reform depend on the appointment of a strong regional director who has the unequivocal backing of the director general. Now, with a seat on the Executive Board, Syria can defend the status quo.

“Re-engaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards,” the White House asserted in February. The re-engagement has taken place. The commitment to accountability remains uncertain.

 

12. Over 47,000 Wild Animals Sold in Wuhan Markets Before Covid Outbreak, Study Shows

WSJ · by Jeremy Page, Drew Hinshaw and Betsy McKay

Excerpts: “Almost all animals were sold alive, caged, stacked and in poor condition,” the paper said. “Most stores offered butchering services, done on site, with considerable implications for food hygiene and animal welfare.”

Such is the extent of the findings that some scientists, including the head of a World Health Organization-led team investigating Covid-19’s origins, questioned why the data—which was gathered between May 2017 and November 2019—hadn’t been shared earlier.

Two of the authors told The Wall Street Journal they had been unable to share their findings with the WHO-led team because the paper had been undergoing peer review for several months. One said it had been rejected by several other journals, suggesting that it was seen as a “hot potato.”

The WHO-led team visited Wuhan early this year and inspected places including the Huanan food market, around which many of the earliest Covid-19 cases were found in December 2019, prompting Chinese authorities to announce that the likely source was wild meat sold there.

 

13. FDD | Help The Afghan Air Force To Blunt Taliban Attacks

fdd.org · by Bradley Bowman, Ryan Brobst, and Jared Thompson · June 9, 2021

Excerpt: “The U.S. military may be focused on withdrawing its forces safely from Afghanistan. But a failure to provide contract support after the American withdrawal could ground much of the Afghan Air Force—thus eroding or effectively eliminating Kabul’s greatest comparative military advantage over the Taliban. To secure America’s interests in the region, the United States should do everything it can to support the AAF. That may be one of the best hopes of preventing a Taliban takeover.

 

14. Leaving Afghanistan

washingtontimes.com · by Clifford D. May

 

15. Attack in Afghanistan Kills 10 From Charity That Clears Land Mines

The New York Times · by Najim Rahim and Mike Ives · June 9, 2021

Such a tragedy. Is this a sign of things to come?

 

16. From Kashmir to the Land of Ice and Snow: Countering China in Antarctica through Combined Training with India

mwi.usma.edu · by Christopher D. Booth · June 9, 2021

Conclusion: “China’s military is the pacing threat for the Pentagon. Now, the PRC seems to be pursuing a strategy to alter the Antarctic Treaty framework and establish a dominant role in Antarctica. Responsible for preparing the battlefield and conducting the most challenging missions, special operations forces units would benefit from training in the most realistic conditions alongside the hardened glacier commandos of the Indian Army. Increasing the capabilities of this key regional ally and engaging in multilateral signaling of US resolve in South Asia would be an added benefit.”

 

17. Competing in the Arctic through Indigenous Group Engagement and Special Reconnaissance Activities

mwi.usma.edu · by Kevin D. Stringer · June 8, 2021

Conclusion: Based upon its selection and missions, the US Army Special Forces are the force of choice given the harsh and austere nature of the Arctic environment. To implement this two-part approach, three organizational adjustments need to be considered. First, the Special Forces would need to geophysically specialize a certain number of detachments for true Arctic duty, not just periodic “winter warfare” or “cold weather” operations. Although contrary to the all-purpose unit preferences of US Special Operations Command, the Arctic environment and its human terrain demand formation specificity and continuity. Second, at 1st Special Forces Command and Special Forces group level, leadership must allocate a sufficient annual percentage of engagements to polar operations to ensure regular and repetitive presence. Finally, unlike in other world regions, the Special Forces must apprentice as a learning organization with allied special operations forces and indigenous Arctic partners to become a true polar force that can operate in the similar yet different ecosystems of the North American, European, and Russo-Asian Arctic. Otherwise, US Army Special Forces risk a dilettante approach to this strategic region.

 

18.  A Permanent Detachment of SOF in the American High North to Answer Near-Peer Adversaries’ Modernization and Deployments

mwi.usma.edu · by Zachary Lavengood · June 10, 2021

Conclusion: Establishing a permanent US special operations presence in the American Arctic is a critical first step in meeting near-peer adversaries on equal footing in this important region. Such a headquarters will facilitate rotational deployments of special operations forces necessary to build Arctic competency, while also developing infrastructure crucial for training and operations in the high north. The decades of experience special operations forces have gained in other global theaters is not lost when applied in the context of the high north. However, this experience must be acclimated to Arctic realities in order to achieve its goals of protecting US assets and interests in the region.

 

19.  The Capitol Riot and the Pentagon

WSJ · by The Editorial Board

Very interesting editorial from the Wall Street Journal editorial board. There is a lot to parse in this short piece. This could be useful in PME institutions to discuss military support to civil authorities and civil-military relations.

Conclusion: By rejecting the election outcome and making unconstitutional demands, Donald Trump bears moral responsibility for the disgrace of Jan. 6. Yet the wider political frenzy of 2020 seems to have cowed the Pentagon from responding effectively to violence when it occurred. Better if the brass had focused on their essential job of security, and ignored the politics and the press.

 

 

---------------

 

"One cannot make command decisions simply by assessing the tactical situation and going ahead with whatever course of action will do the most harm to the enemy with a minimum of death and damage to your own men and materiel. Modern warfare has become very complex, especially during the last century. Wars are won not by a simple series of battles won, but by a complex interrelationship among military victory, economic pressures, logistic maneuvering, access to the enemy's information, political postures - dozens, literally dozens of factors."

-Joe Haldeman

 

"Media is an assemblage of tools with which to expand an audience's conception of what "the world" is to such and extent that their own lives and capabilities seem utterly insignificant; a means of psychological warfare by which people are overloaded with information and desensitized to their own and others' suffering; the sum of all means by which human beings reduce the infinite complexity of reality to a dead-end maze of abstractions." 

- CrimethInc.

 

“In the future, we should anticipate seeing more hybrid wars where conventional warfare, irregular warfare, asymmetric warfare, and information warfare all blend together, creating a very complex and challenging situation to the combatants; therefore it will require military forces to posses hybrid capabilities, which might help deal with hybrid threats.” 

- Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono

Categories: News

Comments

John Cryer

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 1:48am

Guess I should do some more research before posting. Found this article from Stars and Stripes circa 2016. Apparently the Scout Battalions and the Airborne LRRP Detachment got GWOT’d (reorganized). 

https://www.stripes.com/in-rural-alaska-a-plan-takes-shape-to-rebuild-military-presence-1.388725

 

John Cryer

Fri, 06/11/2021 - 1:29am

RE: Articles 17 & 18 and an Arctic presence.

Anyone got an idea what happened to the Alaskan (Eskimo) Scouts that used to be part of the AK ARNG?

Think it was the 207th Infantry Group (Scout). Very similar to the Canadian Rangers. After reading the articles I get that old reinventing the wheel feeling again.