Small Wars Journal

07/05/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Mon, 07/05/2021 - 10:49am

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

1. Pentagon Seeks to Soften Blow of U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan

2. The many US blunders that contributed to looming disaster in Afghanistan

3. How the Afghanistan Withdrawal Costs the U.S. With China

4. Opinion - Why Is Biden’s Foreign Policy So… Conventional? - John Feffer

5. Facebook, Twitter, Google Threaten to Quit Hong Kong Over Proposed Data Laws

6. Biden administration still weighing CIA drone strike policy amid Afghanistan withdrawal

7.  AFSOC's Unique Array for Armed Overwatch Competition

8. Israel Takes U.S. Military Weapons And Makes Them Even Deadlier

9. Fond memories from a US military attache

10. The Chinese Communist Party is a secret society

11. Military braces for sea change on justice reform

12. China Copied and Stole Its Way to Becoming a Military Juggernaut

13. Where Is the Sage of Air Power Doctrine?

14. Radicalization Of Women A Worrying Trend – Analysis

15. Republicans have more friends across the political divide than Democrats, study finds

16. How Three Women Exposed an Army Lt. Colonel’s Crazy Secret Life


1. Pentagon Seeks to Soften Blow of U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan

The New York Times · by Eric Schmitt · July 4, 2021

Excerpts: “Finally, having General Miller stay on a few more weeks, and extending the security umbrella at least through August, is intended to offer, if nothing else, a boost for beleaguered Afghan troops. Pentagon officials said that exiting Bagram Air Base and having General Miller leave at the same time would have been a devastating blow to Afghan morale.

“A safe, orderly drawdown enables us to maintain an ongoing diplomatic presence, support the Afghan people and the government, and prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists that threatens our homeland,” Mr. Kirby said.

The White House joined in the reassurance messaging campaign on Friday — up to a point. Mr. Biden said that even though the United States still retained the ability to conduct airstrikes to protect the Afghan government, no reversal of the withdrawal was on the table.

“We have worked out an over-the-horizon capacity,” he said, talking about American warplanes and armed Reaper drones based mainly in the Persian Gulf, “but the Afghans are going to have to do it themselves with the air force they have.”

But all American combat troops and aircraft are now out of Afghanistan, officials said, so any military support to the Afghan forces will have to come from American bases eight hours away in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.

“Our leaving does not end the war. It just ends the American involvement,” said John R. Allen, a retired four-star Marine Corps general who commanded U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, and oversaw the beginning of the drawdown of allied forces there, from 150,000 troops to about 11,000, at the end of 2014. “The war will continue.”


2. The many US blunders that contributed to looming disaster in Afghanistan

CNN · by Peter Bergen

Excerpts:Could there have been another way? Perhaps. It could have been more politically and financially sustainable to "go light and go long" in Afghanistan, keeping several thousand US troops in the country focused on counterterrorism operations and supporting the Afghan military, while emphasizing the US' commitment to stay in Afghanistan long-term. That commitment would have boosted the morale of the Afghan government and military and undercut the Taliban's view that they could simply wait out the Americans -- which they have done.

Now that Biden has finally done what two previous presidents have seriously considered, the likely result is that Afghanistan will descend into an intense civil war -- and every jihadist terrorist group in the world will find a congenial home in the ensuing chaos.


3. How the Afghanistan Withdrawal Costs the U.S. With China · by Richard Fontaine and Vance Serchuk · July 4, 2021

Excerpts:Yet history suggests that hoping for the best in the greater Middle East rarely works out well for the United States. It also reveals how unrest there can upend Washington’s best-laid designs. The Bush administration entered office expecting to devote its foreign policy to—you guessed it—the rise of China, only to be derailed by the 9/11 attacks. Twelve years later, the Obama administration likewise began its second term resolved to focus on Asia, only for the emergence of the Islamic State to end those ambitions. In this respect, an effective counterterrorism strategy in places like Afghanistan is not the enemy of a strong China policy, but the precondition for it.

To avoid a repetition of this history, the Biden administration now has little choice but to scramble for military and diplomatic work-arounds as a result of its own withdrawal policy. Hanging in the balance is not just homeland security against terrorism and the fundamental human rights of millions of Afghans threatened by the Taliban, but America’s own capacity for strategic coherence.

Indeed, it’s difficult to see how Washington will be able to sustain the case that countering Huawei and the Belt and Road Initiative ought to be its foremost national-security priorities in a world where transnational jihadists are once again on the march and millions of refugees are fleeing across international borders. Even with the threat of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State seemingly at an all-time low, in public polling Americans still consistently, on a bipartisan basis, identify countering terrorism as an equal if not greater foreign-policy priority than rivalry with Beijing. If Afghanistan again falls into instability, America’s ambition for great-power competition with China may prove among its many tragic and unnecessary casualties.


4. Opinion - Why Is Biden’s Foreign Policy So… Conventional? - John Feffer  ·  by John Feffer

From a very progressive foreign policy analyst who has never seen a military budget that cannot be cut. Excerpts: “The administration’s position on military spending, however, suggests that Biden is wedded to the most conventional of thinking.

The United States is poised to end its intervention in Afghanistan and reduce its commitments in the Middle East. It is not involved in any major military conflicts. Everyone is wondering how the administration is going to pay for its ambitious infrastructure plans.

So, why has Biden asked for a larger military budget? The administration’s 2022 request for the Pentagon is $715 billion, an increase of $10 billion, plus an additional $38 billion for military-related spending at the Energy Department and other agencies.

True, the administration is hoping to boost non-military spending by a larger percentage. It is planning to remove the “overseas contingency operations” line item that funded the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But if there ever was a time to reduce U.S. military spending, it’s now. The pandemic proved the utter worthlessness of tanks and destroyers in defending the homeland from the most urgent threats. Greater cooperation with China, a renewed nuclear pact with Iran, and détente with both Cuba and North Korea would all provide powerful reasons for the United States to reduce military spending.


5.  Facebook, Twitter, Google Threaten to Quit Hong Kong Over Proposed Data Laws

WSJ · by Newley Purnell

I wonder what kind of impact this might have on intelligence operations. Surely these services provide insight for intelligence analysis.

But of course these firms are at risk due to the Chinese "laws."

Hong Kong is no longer "free."


6. Biden administration still weighing CIA drone strike policy amid Afghanistan withdrawal

CNN · by Zachary Cohen, Natasha Bertrand and Katie Bo Williams, CNN

Excerpts:What that capability would look like remains unclear. While there has been significant discussion by the administration about conducting "over the horizon" counter-terrorism missions from further away, those will not be nearly as effective as the current US strike capability and the resource commitment will be much more costly, said one of the sources familiar with the ongoing deliberations.

Targets in Afghanistan have also become more scarce, the sources said, and the resources required to maintain a presence and carry out those operations, particularly against more low-level actors, are no longer considered worth it by many in the administration.

"Every shot, against a high-value target or against some low-level operative, costs basically the same" said the source familiar with the ongoing discussions.

As the administration continues to work through several logistical challenges on that front, Kim said it would make sense, as part of those deliberations, to review the criteria for how high-value targets are determined given the US will have fewer resources at its disposal.

"When you have fewer ISR capabilities and fewer strike capabilities, it's inherently going to put strain on what they can target," he said, referring to lethal strikes carried out by both the Pentagon and CIA.

"So they would certainly want to try to narrow that to their top priorities, to make sure that it's being utilized in the most effective way."


7. AFSOC's Unique Array for Armed Overwatch Competition · by Dan Gouré

Conclusion: Evaluating these aircraft against a set of already challenging requirements will be tough enough for AFSOC. The five competitors are so different that it will likely be difficult to perform a comparative evaluation. Several will have to undergo extensive modifications to meet the minimum thresholds for the flyoff. When considerations of supportability, training, flexibility, and growth potential are included, AFSOC may find itself confronting multiple dilemmas in down selecting to one aircraft.


8. Israel Takes U.S. Military Weapons And Makes Them Even Deadlier · by Charlie Gao · July 5, 2021


9.  Fond memories from a US military attache

Bangkok Post · by Bangkok Post Public Company Limited

Pretty cool anecdote: “One of my greatest honours was in 2019 and 2020. I was honoured to be asked to teach a class to Thai Military Academy Cadets in Nakhon Nayok with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. It was such an honour that I will cherish all my life.

Princess Sirindhorn attended the class when I lectured about US strategy or doctrine and always treated me with kindness and grace. Princess Sirindhorn was graceful and had a wonderful sense of humour. She even sang me the song called The Ballad of the Green Berets.

I could not believe she knew this song and I asked her how she knew it. She said she went to the Special Forces Command in Lop Buri with her father, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, and met a team of US Special Forces there.

She told me that her mother, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother, always liked the American Green Beret songs and had memorised many of them. She played the songs so she learned them this way and never forgot them.


10. The Chinese Communist Party is a secret society · by Patrick Baert · July 4, 2021

Excerpts: “CCP meetings include a five-yearly congress, which usually ends with the near-unanimous adoption of decisions.

High-level meetings of the 200-strong Central Committee take place behind closed doors, as do those of the Political Bureau, the inner cabinet.

State television usually broadcasts an officially approved readout later.

The debates, if there are any, are not made public.

“Hiding internal tensions allows the CCP to present a steel facade to its enemies and those of China,” Cabestan explained.


11. Military braces for sea change on justice reform

The Hill · by Rebecca Kheel · July 4, 2021

The times are changing. All major crimes?

Excerpts:Biden administration officials, up to President Biden himself, have endorsed taking the decision to prosecute sexual assault and related crimes out of the chain of command.

But dozens of lawmakers, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), want to take almost all major crimes out of the chain of command, saying only changing how sex crimes are prosecuted could create a two-tiered justice system.


12.  China Copied and Stole Its Way to Becoming a Military Juggernaut · by Robert Farley · July 4, 2021


13. Where Is the Sage of Air Power Doctrine?

The National Interest · by James Holmes · July 4, 2021

Excerpts:Here’s the rub, though. Like command of the sea, command of the air may be incomplete, impermanent, or both. A defeated foe may still have options. Its air force may have been driven off yet escape destruction to fight again another day. The vanquished could rebuild. They could find allies boasting strong air forces of their own. Thus the fighter community’s work is never done. Ground-attack planes could find themselves in trouble from hostile aircraft or ground fire. At that point fighters must resume their all-important support function, succoring their vulnerable brethren and thence the army. They resume the struggle for air supremacy just as a navy’s battle fleet may find itself forced to renew the fight against a rejuvenated enemy fleet.

Close air support in embattled skies most closely resembles a close naval blockade of coasts that bristle with gun batteries and may harbor fugitive enemy ships intent on breaking the blockade or denying the triumphant fleet the harvest of victory at sea. Naval commanders wouldn’t withdraw the battle fleet from such a scene even after trouncing the enemy in action. They would instruct the fleet to remain vigilant in case cruisers and flotilla craft needed protection afresh. Similarly, air commanders ought not assume they are entitled to permanent, absolute air supremacy by virtue of a victorious air battle. Instead they should choreograph operations so fighter forces are positioned to defend aircraft performing their special work. In other words, they must manage the symbiosis among the components of the air force.

Bottom line, the elements of air forces are interdependent just as capital ships, cruisers, and flotilla craft prowling the sea are interdependent. To circle back to where we started, the U.S. Air Force should evaluate candidates for the light-attack mission as part of a larger flying force—not as aircraft that must fight or die bereft of support from fellow airmen. Surveying them in a vacuum begets an abstract, artificial, and misleading way of thinking about air power—as would be immediately apparent to aviators steeped in air-power theory.

We can—and must—do better. Will the Corbett of air power please step forward?


14. Radicalization Of Women A Worrying Trend – Analysis · by Mohamed Bin Ali and Ahmad Saiful Rijal Bin Hassan · July 2, 2021

Conclusion: “Women play a huge role in the formation and development of families and communities.

The great role that has been played by the wives of the Prophet Muhammad and the companions in supporting Islamic religious activities led to the formation of an early Islamic nation in Medina.

Due to the high regards of women in Islam and also the nature of gentleness that God has created in them, women have a huge role in bringing peace to the world and not the other way around.

The trend of women becoming radicalised in societies today is something of great concern. It should be addressed even more seriously with effective and long term strategy.

Hopefully with this awareness, we will be able to produce a generation of women who are key advocates of peace and can play an important role in the ongoing efforts against terrorism and extremism.


15. Republicans have more friends across the political divide than Democrats, study finds

The Washington Post · by Lisa Bonos · July 3, 2021

And I would argue independents have more than both! There are more independents these days and I certainly have friends from across the entire spectrum.



16. How Three Women Exposed an Army Lt. Colonel’s Crazy Secret Life

The Daily Beast · by Emily Shugerman · July 3, 2021

Sheesh. This disgrace to the US army has certainly misunderstood what it means to be a civil affairs officer. It does not allow you to have affairs with civilians.




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