What do Rugby and Combat Have in Common? Victory Through Teamwork

On a beautiful early fall evening in Annapolis Maryland, the Naval Academy Rugby Alumni Association had a dinner with the theme “with you”.

It was especially poignant because Rugby is a relatively “new” sport at Navy, only fifty years old.

Remember we are talking about the Navy/Marine Sea Service team that goes back to the founding of America’s military.

The US Navy was founded on October 13, 1775 with the motto “Non sibi sed patriae” (not self but for country). Marines began in Tun Tavern November 10, 1775 motto “Semper Fidelis” and the United States Naval Academy on October 10 1845 motto” Ex Scientia Tridens” (Through Knowledge Sea Power).

A “with you dinner” was especially powerful as the evening unfolded while world events are coming to a dangerous boil.

The day before on October 5th 2017, President Trump held a White House dinner for all U.S. Military senior officers and their significant others and the President closed the evening with a prophetic statement that this time in our nation’s history is “the calm before the storm.”

Many in the media tried to grasp exactly what is President Trump was referring to with such a statement.

If the past is prologue than just read Winston Churchill’s seminal work “The Gathering Storm” to try and understand what the Academy midshipmen present at the dinner maybe facing.

Today like the pure evil in the late 1930 of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, ISIS, and North Korea require direct action.

Both the men and woman’s Rugby teams were present.

And make no mistake — the Brigade of Midshipmen, men and woman united in purpose and mission are fully capable in personal character and professionalism to enter the fleet to defend America.

They are most certainly up to facing whatever is to come.

After all, the all the officers at the White House Dinner began their service career as Ensigns or 2nd Lieutenants.

The “With You” honoree was LTCOL Kevin Shea USMC, a 1987 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy who took his commission in the Marines.

Kevin was the Assistant Coach for the Rugby Team and played on the All Marine and combined services rugby team.

He was killed in action in Al Anbar province Iraq on his birthday Sept 14, 2004.

His daughter 2nd Lieutenant Brenna Shea USNA ’17 spoke movingly of her father and sent out a very powerful message that transcends a Rugby dinner but defines what Rugby and combat have in common to achieve victory:

“United we stand: Divided we fall.”

In today’s America that is a very important statement; especially in this time of the calm before the storm.

There were three inductees as well into the Navy Rugby Hall of Fame.

The first was Chuck French ’81; the second my Classmate Dewey Meteer’69, who could literally run sideways faster than most individuals can run forward and, thirdly, Mike Flanagan.

The Irish Rugby star Gavin Hickie who had coached at Dartmouth was also introduced as the new Director of Rugby.

What truly made the evening unique, as only Rugby players, can was the constant comments about the usually unspoken connection all Academy sports at whatever level to the teamwork necessary in the middle of a combat engagement.

It was evident through the course of the dinner that Naval Academy Rugby team mates whether Navy Air, surface and sub-service combat officers, SEALS and Marines had connections during time of intense combat Most sports team in Colleges or the Pros do not have a clue to how important teamwork is outside of their sport.

That is what makes all Service Academies and whatever sport Midshipmen and Cadets play rather unique.

The Invocation to start the dinner was profound in capturing a warrior ethic so important for a Nations Survival.

Please Bow your Heads.

Dear Lord, as we gather tonight in the shadow of Marcus Aurelius, Aristodemus, Kevin Shea, King Leonidas, Melankonos of Caria, Jeremy Graczyk, Doug Zembiec, and so many timeless warriors that have fought tooth and nail for all that is good and righteous — we thank you for all that you have allowed us to earn.

We, the knuckle-dragging trench fighters who underpin the success of the masses, who are here long before the ticker-tape parades, and well after, give you gratitude and understand that as we feast tonight should the call to arms come, we nobly and dutifully will lock arm-in-arm, guided by Saint Michael the Archangel to eliminate bad people, doing bad things. You have our word.


The obituary of Jeremy Graczyk  highlights his life and accomplishments.

Jeremy Graczyk attended college at the U.S. Naval Academy where he was co-captain of the rugby team his senior year. He was a two-time collegiate All-American whose speed and size were unmatched. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering in 1999.

After completing his academic studies, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served as a platoon commander in the infantry and led Marines during the initial invasion of Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.


Doug Zembiec USNA ’95 had come to be known as the Lion of Fallujah.

By order of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Douglas A. Zembiec Award for Outstanding Leadership in Special Operations was created on April 11, 2011 to annually “recognize the Marine officer who best exemplifies outstanding leadership as a Team Leader in the Marine Corps Special Operations Community.”



It was a dinner for the ages and is best remembered with the call to remember her father by  2nd Lieutenant Brenna Shea: “United we stand: Divided we fall.”

North Korean Crisis and the Trump-Trudeau Meeting

President Trump first met with Prime Minister Trudeau in February, 2017.   The agenda from that meeting was dominated by Canadian priorities like maintaining NAFTA, Canadian oil exports, environment, followed by afterthoughts to American priorities like border security and international security.

Next week’s summit, added as an afterthought to PM Trudeau’s Washington schedule, according to the PMO, will see US priorities in international security at the forefront, replacing trade and economics despite high profile disputes over US tariffs on Bombardier.

PM Trudeau, rather than a new face to President Trump, is now a known quantity, having been exposed to the full plethora of Canadian tactics used to manipulate the US government and get their way that included intense lobbying at all levels of the US political system, ganging up with allies, and intransience at the bargaining table on core issues.

President Trump will also be very well briefed on issues that traditionally dominated US-Canada relations like NAFTA.

Back in February, the Canadian Super Hornet procurement was a priority to fill an urgent “capability gap” that warranted demanding the Trump Administration’s cooperation for “immediate acquisition” in the post summit joint statement.

When the Bombardier ITC case was filed, Canada’s urgent need for “interim fighters” evaporated.  

Instead, the Trudeau government switched gears and made the Super Hornet acquisition conditional on Boeing dropping the ITC complaint against Bombardier. This included explicit threats made by the Prime Minister, Foreign and Defense Ministers, and Ambassador MacNaughton to cut off trade (business) with Boeing.

Canadian officials persuaded PM Theresa May lobbied President Trump and UK made similar threats against Boeing.  This was due to the peculiar nature of May’s governing coalition in which Northern Ireland is really crucial to her grasp on power.

PM Trudeau personally lobbied Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens warning him that Canada is his state’s largest trading partner and how they depend on the Hornet purchase for jobs.

This is in addition to intense lobbying of Administration officials, Congress and governors reminiscent of the Harper government’s efforts at getting Keystone XL approved.

Despite all these efforts, Boeing and the Trump Administration did not budge.

The consequence of this episode is to fully expose Canadian tactics for what it is and familiarize the Trump Administration with how to deal with them not just for Bombardier, but for NAFTA and many other bilateral issues.

If Canadian tactics failed on a modest issue like Bombardier, it is unlikely to do any better for bigger issues like international security or NAFTA.

PM Trudeau now bears the burden of having his government tightly tying Canadian national security to trade – and focused the Trump Administration on Canada’s 1% GDP defense spending despite having made pledges to improve spending to the Obama Administration during the Wales NATO summit in 2014.

President Trump will be unamused when he discover how Canada “raised” defense spending from 1 to 1.3% with accounting tricks, in the process, undermining the decade long Administration campaign to encourage allied defense spending to at least 2% GDP.

The de facto abandonment of the Super Hornet purchase willy-nilly without alternatives only add to Canada, and the Trudeau government’s credibility challenges.  

It is in this context that Canada’s top NORAD official, General Pierre St-Amand, publically announced to a House of Commons Committee hearing in September: “The extent of the US policy is not to defend Canada. [Against North Korean ICBM attacks] That’s the fact I can bring to the table.”

While this fact is widely known to reputable members of the Canadian defense community, it was met with shock, feelings of betrayal and virulent anger by Parliamentarians and the Canadian public.  

Successive Canadian governments encouraged the delusion that the U.S. is compelled under NORAD and NATO to shoot down ballistic missiles even as they sharply cut defense spending and withdrew from being a full defense partner of the U.S. since the ending of the cold war.

Before the DPRK threat materialized, Canada got away scot free with being a free rider.

Canada decided in 2005 to not join the US ballistic missile defense system. What’s more, Canada’s present threat assessment and outlook against North Korea precludes this decision from being changed.

Canadian DND regards North Korean missile attacks as a “hypothetical scenario” that do not fit with a regime “primarily motivated by… survival”, while Global Affairs saw “no direct threat to Canada”.

Stephen Fuhr, the Chair of the HoC Standing Committee on National Defense (NDDN), regarded missile defense as a low priority among many competing priorities in a defense budget of 1% GDP.

The schism between the Trump Administration and Trudeau Government on the DPRK threat cannot be more sharp or, for that matter with the Pacific allies of Canada, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

DPRK is the No. 1 foreign policy and military problem for the Trump Administration and the Pacific allies to address before 2019 when North Korean capabilities will preclude a low risk military solution.

Canada not only see no threat, but expect the US to defend Canada gratis anyways if a threat materialize.

Being a defense free rider in the absence of imminent existential threats (e.g. between 1990-2008) is one thing.

Allies cannot claim a “special relationship” with the US without spending 2% GDP on defense, and disdain like “Free riders aggravate me” comments from President Obama are forgotten quickly.

Canada, however, have gone far beyond being just a free rider with the emergence of the DPRK threat to North America.

Canada is rejecting the US view that North Korea is the No. 1 imminent existential threat to the liberal international order that must be addressed before they can reliably strike North America with thermonuclear weapons.

In parallel, Canada rejects the US view that China is the greatest security threat to the US by 2025 – exceeding the threat from Russia.  While it is Canada’s prerogative as a sovereign state to hold these views, they are fundamentally incompatible with being a close ally of the United States of America.

A crucial issue to address at this summit will be for the US to impress on Canada the severity of the present DPRK thermonuclear ICBM threat against Canada and the consequences of having no defense going forward.  

Even if the US elected to defend Canada against DPRK ICBMs for political reasons, there are not enough US capabilities in situ to do so.   It is hard to imagine POTUS choosing to defend a Canadian over an American city in the absence of iron clad alliance obligations which presently do not exist.

Restoring a consensus between Canada and the US on the DPRK issue will enable Canadian defense posture and policy changes to deal with this imminent existential threat.

With US support and cooperation Canada can affordably and quickly plug the vulnerability to DPRK ICBMs within six month.

All other issues, including NAFTA, Bombardier, and others, pale before this one.

Editor’s Note: One can contrast the Australian view with the Canadian one with regard to working with allies in the Pacific to deal with the North Korean threat.

In mid August we publish this article which highlighted the Australian perspective:

In this video, the Australian Prime Minister discusses the North Korean situation and its seriousness.

He also reaffirms the ANZAC agreement and the common US and Australian response to North Korean aggression.

Diplomacy and statecraft are clearly a key part of the refocus of public attention on the nature of the evolving threats to liberal democracies.

Australian PM on the North Korean Crisis August 11, 2017 from SldInfo.com on Vimeo.

The current leadership equation among the liberal democracies can be conceptualized as T3, M3 and A1,

The three Ts, are Trump, Trudeau and Turnbull; the three Ms are Merkel, Macron and May and the A stands for Abe.

In many ways the policies of the liberal democracies on defense and security policy are emerging from the interaction among these leaders rather than being driven by a single superpower.

But for Trudeau on the Pacific side of the equation perhaps the only support he would have would from the PRC, rather from the other two Ts or from A

Airpower IB 21: The Importance of Changing the Business Rules

With the cross learning among the combat forces as they shape more effective integrated combat forces to prevail in a contested environment, the business rules need to change to adapt platforms more rapidly to evolving combat requirements.

The force will be built around core multi-mission platforms, which are software upgradeable.

The challenge will be to ensure that those platforms are more rapidly upgraded and modernized.

The answer is large part to shape business rules that allow the combat users to work directly with the software code writers to provide for what the RAAF refers to as gaining software transient advantage.

The legacy requirements setting process in DoD needs to be replaced by a new set of business rules which allow for such cross development and modernization.

Put bluntly, DoD is not in the software age even though several of their cutting edge platforms are.

Let me be even more blunt: our own business rules guarantee that we will not take full advantage of the software upgradeable platforms we are ALREADY buying.

And to be even blunter, our own overly bureaucratic and multiple layered testing and requirements community will guarantee that we will sub optimize the performance and success of our combat force.

To take one case, the new Triton unmanned aircraft is a cutting edge capability which the US and Australia are about to deploy in the maritime domain awareness kill web mission area.

The impact of the Triton will change the approach to maritime domain awareness and strike.

As one senior Canadian ASW officer put it with regard to the coming of UAVs to the maritime strike space:

“Is the next approach to park UAVs to monitor a wide, wide area and your manned platform becomes a sonobuoy carrier where it goes and lays barriers and then it leaves? Does the manned platform become the shooter in a broad UAV enabled sensor grid?”

Put bluntly, the Triton is part of game changing technology.

It is carrying significant F-35 technologies onboard and is of course compete software upgradeable. But because of the way DoD sets and managed requirements, the dynamic adaptive capability of a flexible software system which can provide for transient software advantage will be undercut from its full performance by the antiquated requirements setting process.

This is not about technology – it is about the business rules governing the management of upgrades. It is a horse and buggy approach to managing 21st century assets.

The core issue is that as the services shift more towards core platforms which ARE software upgradeable, the challenge to upgrade becomes more significant.

With regard to a system like Triton something more flexible like the SOF acquisition approach but applied to core platforms needs to emerge.

In the Triton case, the Navy could have easily spent several years more fixing the software gripes for the platform about to be deployed. But then it would not be deployed and the user feedback, which is central to development, would not become determinate in further development.

This created a problem even in terms of how to describe the nature of the first deployment – it is not really an IOC deployment but what to call it. We could call it early operational deployment but that would send the wrong signal but really how do we best describe what we are doing and what we need to do to modernize a software upgradeable platform?

According to one source: “If you use the term early deployment it would suggest that you are cutting something short from what you originally started out to do and that is not the case.

“If you go back to the milestones set in the 2007-2008 time frame and the requirements set at the time, we are delivering virtually everything.

“We are delivering on the ESM, the EO/IR, the AIS, the basic sensor suite, the performance of the air vehicle and how we manage the data – we are meeting these baseline capabilities but not fully in how we will do as the software and its integration evolves.”

They are calling it EOC for early operational capability in spite of the problems with such a label.

“You have something that’s real, that can be operated and provides value to your customer.

“The notion of continuing to fine tune the software without operational experience makes no freaking sense.”

And where they want to go cannot be easily funded in terms of the current acquisition approach. They would like to in effect isolate the flight system from the sensor systems so that they can more easily upgrade the sensor suites with cards and chips as required.

“For me, an ability to pace the threat, you don’t need to worry about the flight side of the software so much.

“You worry about the mission side of it.

“And so, what we’ve figured out how to do is segregate the two we can have a much more rapid insertion of software on the mission systems side which is what needs to evolve with the threat.”

Another source highlighted the core business rule problem: “The challenge is that today the funding cycle needs long lead times to request a specific upgrade, and that makes no sense given the evolution of software itself.

“We don’t fund appropriate to software upgradeable aircraft.

“With today’s system I have a onesie-twosie approach. For example, I want a weather radar so I request 30 million dollars to do a weather radar. In need to provide an issue sheet four years in advance so that I can start working on getting weather radar. That clearly makes no sense if you want to keep pace with the threat with a software upgradeable program.

“You have to have the money in hand so that you can react and immediately and to go the contractor and say, here is 10 million dollars and modify the software to give me this new capability.

“Unless you have the money in hand, you will not be able to fund software upgradeability in a way that makes any sense given the evolving operational experience which is informing the upgrade effort itself.”

A presentation earlier this year by the head of Air Force Materiel Command hit this issue head on.

We have to change the way we think about requirements definition if we’re going to really adopt Agile Software Development.

“Maybe the answer isn’t this detailed requirements’ slow down.”

“By the way, once you put it in the hands of the operator maybe some of those requirements you had in the beginning, maybe they don’t make any sense anymore because the operator sees how they can actually use this and they change it.”

She went on to highlight what the Aussies are doing in Willliamtown with Wedgetail without mentioning them at all. 

“You need to put the coder and the user together…

“We have to empower at the right level, and that has to be at the level of the person that’s going to use the software, and we have to stop thinking about independent OT.”


Also in play is another business rule change – getting rid of needless competition.

Competition is certainly a good thing except when it is simply an excuse to provide the force with the kind of equipment which can allow it prevail in a contested environment.

With regard to modernization built upon software upgradeability, once the key platform is chosen and the prime has been selected, the users are now working with a core software development team throughout the life of that program.

As General Ellen Pawlikowski, Commander of Air Force Materiel Command, put it in her presentation:

“The teams are there for life.

“I don’t mean that it’s one person, but we don’t think about putting a team together to do the development and then push them out the door.

“That team stays with that system forever…

“We need to make the user the operational user and acceptance authority.

“Perhaps we need to shift to more use of time and materials contracts to support such teams.”

In the case of one core Naval program, the prime owns the software developed for and with the Navy, the prime has developed middleware and the evolution of new specific capabilities are driven by work in a lab developing apps for this combat program. And in that lab a majority of the companies present are not the prime and are populated by several types of companies, notably smaller ones.

Shifting the business rules is what is required not pining for some kind of abstract and mythical third offset.

One way to conceptualize the shift is simply to ask what business rules need to be put in place to allow this to happen?

The RAF officer in charge of the ISTAR force described this shift to strategic acquisition leadership as opposed to hierarchical assurance of slow mo software upgrades as follows:

“We have the iPhone 6 generation in the Force now, yesterday’s analogue approach to our business is no longer appropriate.

“With the aperture fully open, the individual platforms and capabilities become the apps that enable the integrated Force ‘iPhone’.

“Thinking of it in this way, will allow us to tap this new generation of warriors.”

He also seeks to build a sense of strategic purpose and community from bottom to top. 

He cited the example of when President Johnson met a janitor at the NASA space center in Houston and when asked what he was doing, the janitor replied: “I am helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”

“We are driving to a similar mindset in the ISTAR Force – everyone contributing regardless of where they work.”

He argued that this perspective was essential to mission success.

“The paradigm shift needs to be cultural and organizational if the ISTAR force with a large F to become a reality.

“We are going from a tradition where we have operated isolated force elements to one where an integrated force can deliver 24/7 support and we need to shape a Whole Force solution approach.”

Getting it right for ISTAR is critical to the success of the RAF’s contributions to operations and to the UK’s intelligence and understanding of the world.

The Air Commodore concluded:

“One cannot simply pause, and recapitalize the force in a vacuous power point exercise.

“It is about transformation ‘in contact’ and ensuring that we leverage maximum integrated capability from the new platforms coming to the RAF, while re-brigading the legacy systems as best we can and putting in place the foundations required for an adaptable, upgradeable and technology driven capital F force in the 2025 time frame and beyond.”



An Air Combat Force for Integrated Battle 21: Aiming for Domination in High Intensity Conflict

The USAF has seen more than a decade in which a primary function has been to support ground operations.

The USAF has served as Fed Ex, a flying gas station, a strike and ISR server in the sky for various types of ground operations.

The end result is that skill sets have been honed for slo mo operations in uncontested airspace.

These skill sets are not easily transferred to high tempo and high intensity conflict in contested operational space.

At the same time, technology has evolved where integrated air and maritime operations are not empowered to be able to serve a distributed C2 strike and sensor enterprise.

But again this has little in common with the training of the last decade of air power professionals.

The USAF has recognized this and their work at Nellis is clearly evolving evolving air combat power to work more effectively in the integrated battle space and to do with allies.

We have highlighted throughout various visits the key work of the USAF, the USN and USMC working through enhancing the skill sets for high tempo operations.

But what needs to happen is that this outstanding work needs to be leveraged into a broader transformation of the USAF itself.

Nothing less than a significant shift in USAF concepts of operations and resources is required to provide the nation and our allies with the kind of airpower for the Integrated Battlespace emerging in this decade of the 21st century.

We are referring to this a IB 21 and the focus of the Air Force needs not simply to aim high but to aim for domination in high intensity conflict.

This shift from slow mo support to ground wars to IB 21 is a significant strategic shift; and one not going back to the Cold War or late years of the Cold War templates and paradigms.

It is about crafting a whole new paradigm and way of operating.

In this series we are going to address some of the key elements of shaping an IB21 airpower force.

This is about equipment, investments, training, moving from stovepiped C2 and ISR systems to multi-mission, multi-domain systems, and changing the business rules whereby equipment is purchased and systems are supported.

We will focus on key elements and case studies of the transition, which is being made or needs to be made.

It is about putting in place a combat learning process whereby airpower professionals are learning to lead in shaping an integrated high tempo force, not simply serve as the combat cloud for the ground forces.

The USAF needs to significantly move beyond functioning as an airborne file server to the ground forces and focus on the PRIMACY of itscutting edge role working with the Navy, Marines and certainly the Army’s ADA force to create a dominant IB 21 force.

And it will be crafted in common with core allies, a process in which the USAF will collaborative learn if it is to become a real leader in the transition.

For some of our visits which highlight the USAF working the skill sets and training for high intensity conflict, see the following:







Rolling Back Identity Politics: The Revolt of the Middle Class

President Trump continues to fire 140 character truth-bombs on the DC swamp’s racket. The cloistered, DC political class wedges open every fissure of our culture exploiting the middle class for self-serving financial gain.

The unhappy, angry swamp, in turn, relentlessly fires back charges of racism. They try to brand President Trump and his supporters as racists when they challenge the policies of the swamp.

The American middle class is angry and not happy about DC’s financial plundering or blanket charges of racism.

800 miles from the swamp physically and 800 lightyears away culturally, Alabamans sent another clear signal to the swamp. They are tired of the swamp engineered economy that benefits DC, China, Europe, and the rest of the “global community” while it continues to impoverish states like Alabama.

Northern Virginian woman Hindu leaders supporting the America First Agenda.

Swamp denizens cannot abide a President with more commonality to Presidents Jackson and Reagan than 2016’s swamp-chosen, middle class rejected, candidates.

The swamp-media reduces each issue from healthcare, to hurricane relief, to standing and saluting our country’s flag to a race and identity politics issue. They project onto the country the goofy idea that opposing swamp-made rules makes you a deplorable racist.

When no evidence of overt racism exists, androgynous media political operatives screech from the DC bubble charges of white supremacy. They never draw attention to the black hooded anti-first amendment thugs, AKA “Antifa.” Antifa riots, attacks, and intimidates middle class citizens who peacefully assemble. President Trump called them out.

The middle class cheered, “FINALLY!”

Dedicated supporters at the American Muslims and Sikhs for Trump Rally in Annapolis MD.

Middle class opposition to the swamp is devoid of racism. They know socialized medicine means you’ll be lucky to HAVE a doctor let alone “keep your doctor.” They know their peers never received an inflation adjusted pay raise in 20 years.  They know H1b visas and low wage illegals crossing into our country crush wages and the American Dream.  The middle class knows “carbon taxes” to stop “global warming” has more to do with less take home pay than less carbon-driven “global warming.”.

President Trump’s America First Agenda is the unifier in today’s politics.

Surely, everyone wants America to be first?

President Trump offered a stark choice. We could 1) elect an outsider with no stake in the DC crony economy that prioritizes the “global community” over America, or we could 2) choose his America First deal.

President Trump’s slogan “Pittsburg not Paris” resonated. The middle class knows DC lives apart. Inside their bubble, they live divorced from the nation they purport to lead.

It’s a coin toss game, “Heads: the swamp wins, Tails: the middle class loses.”

President Trump’s political advisors successfully urged him to back the DC swamp Senator, Luther Strange in the Alabama run-off primary between him and Judge Roy Moore.  On the campaign trail, Sen. Strange failed to convince Alabamans he was America first vs. Swamp first. The swamp spent nearly $30M to protect Sen Strange. Judge Moore won with middle class Alabamans.

Believing Alabamans would cultishly follow President Trump demonstrates the poor political intelligence regarding the nature of the middle class freedom movement. President Obama created a substance free mantra, “Hope and Change” and cult-personality leadership. He leveraged both, advancing the left’s identity politics policy of racism everywhere in everything. The approach succeeded for President Obama.  He used his “pen” to Executive Order his agenda. Swamp media cheered.  Swamp Republicans meekly acquiesced. Those policies weakened the middle class here and abroad. Identity politics and cult-leadership decimated Democrats politically.

Mr. John E. Jaggers encouraging Muslim and Sikh’s for Trump to push hard for the America First Agenda.

8,000 miles away physically and 80 feet away culturally for their tolerance and love of freedom, Hindu media (News India) picked up the story of American Hindu woman training in Sterling, VA to defeat swamp candidates. The American First Agenda is spreading geographically and demographically – from deep red Alabama to deep blue Maryland – from working class voters for Trump to Muslims for Trump to Sikhs for Trump.

In Annapolis, every race and creed rallied for the America First Agenda and what it represents for America and the world.

The tolerant, united American middle class is done with race–driven identity politics.

The question is much less, if the citizens of our Republic will defeat the cloistered swamp denizens, but how many electoral defeats need to be delivered until their bubble bursts and the swamp gets drained?

The middle class offers a stark choice, will the swamp join ‘em or go down the drain?

As a famous political operative once said, “It’s the America First Agenda stupid.”

John E. Jaggers was the Maryland and Northern Virginia state director for Trump’s campaign.


The photos in the story were provided by the author.

PRC and Russian Intervention in the Korean Crisis

Recent PRC and Russian military exercises suggest both preparation for and a policy stance towards the Korean crisis.

Sino-Russian exercises this week held outside of Vladivostok and the Sea of Okhotsk included anti-submarine drills with 11 surface ships, 2 submarines, ASW aircraft and helicopters. Drills held September 5 involved a “surprise attack” with multiple missiles being shot down in Bohai Gulf.

The exercise was described as “boosting the forces expulsion mission capability”. This follows another large scale exercise in August in the same area.

Anti-submarine and anti-missile exercises by PRC and Russia are tailored to prepare for preventing a repeat of the cruise missile strike on Syria during the Trump-Xi summit with the added twist that it be launched from US submarines on either side of the Korean peninsula. It can hardly be aimed at the DPRK submarine fleet.

It is clear that PRC (and possibly Russia) intend to enforce their policy to come to the aid of DPRK “if the US attacked”.

For the PRC, this is also supported with a formal mutual defense treaty that require China to “immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal”. Although PRC’s commitment to treaty obligations, like UNCLOS, however, is open to question.

What is known and demonstrated repeatedly recently is PRC and Russia’s insistence on “peaceful settlement”, which expressly supports the continued expansion of DPRK WMD capabilities beyond the point of no return where they will be too dangerous to be stopped without all out nuclear war.

Russia and PRC’s support of DPRK’s goals is explicit in their opposition to a US led military solution.

No matter what they do at the UN to “support” the US, it is clear that neither party are neutral and both are well on the way to becoming belligerents on DPRK’s side.

PRC and Russia have extensive radar and other sensors monitoring the approaches to DPRK on either side of the peninsula on land, air and sea.  Space based surveillance assets are in turn supplemented by commercial satellite imagery that are readily available.

Formal assets are in turn, backed up by a well-organized maritime militia, spy network and open source intelligence that will give early warning of any major or irregular activities at allied airfields, military bases and ports.

These ISR networks communicating via commercial channels and will be able to work with Pyongyang in real time, including activating pre-positioned agents and forces outside of DPRK.

Thus, OPSEC is going to be a major problem for allied forces.

Early warning will facilitate the axis forces deploying and other assistance to support DPRK: making surprise difficult to achieve.

PRC have been actively preparing for preemptive S/MRBM and cruise missile strikes on US and allied bases with both conventional and almost certainly nuclear weapons.  PRC has a veto backed by military force on US action against DPRK.

The question is, will they use it when such overt moves will have major consequences?

Intervention by PRC and Russia this time, however, are tempered by two major factors.   Russia is not USSR that have limited economic ties with the west. Russia relies on western markets and additional sanctions would pinch the Putin regime further.

PRC, on the other hand, is in a bind.

As a member of the UNSC, PRC cannot undo the UN resolution 82 and 84 which remains in effect after it was passed by ROC with USSR absent. Furthermore, Russia and PRC’s recent string of votes in favor of sanctions on DPRK affirmed the past resolutions validity which PRC would violate if they entered the war with DPRK.

The deep and broad economic links of PRC to the world economy is another problem.

Formal entry into the Korean war will immediately impair these relationships, likely leading to a World War style full embargo including US and Allies locking belligerents out of the western financial system and seizure of their assets abroad.

The economic consequences will be to almost certainly plunge the PRC economy into severe recession — with its debt load exceeding 300% GDP.

Thus, in as much as PRC and Russia both used military exercises to bluff, actually crossing the line of initiating hostilities will require deliberation.  

It is potentially severely destabilizing domestically. Thus, cold war style massive intervention that include movements of troops, material, and PRC/USSR military operations similar to Korean War I, or the Vietnam war is unlikely at the first instance.

During the Korean war, support came from USSR and PRC via detectable movements of troops, equipment, and trainloads of supplies. Aircraft, experienced and highly trained pilots, and equipment that can have no other source beside USSR or PRC are traceable.

Notably, the PVA forces had excellent OPSEC and did not reveal themselves until October, 1950.   This longstanding strength of CCP should not be underestimated.

Once can expect a repeat of this scenario where substantial technical and material aid will come from PRC via difficult to trace in real time channels.

Covert, or at least, plausibly deniable intervention by PRC (whether Beijing-China or other elements) and Russia in support of DPRK is a foregone conclusion regardless of any pledges by Beijing-China to “stay neutral” if DPRK attacked US.

It is almost certain that the PRC and Russia will disguise any physical movements of material as “humanitarian” aid ostensibly to prevent DPRK refugees from flooding across the border.

The lame excuse that PRC is afraid of influxes of refugees has, to date, not been challenged by the US and allies even as PRC deployed troops on the border in anticipation of occupying DPRK to prevent a US victory.

The most probable aid will come in the form of ISR on behalf of DPRK conducted by PRC/Russian systems to aid their defenses.  This will, in turn, be supplemented by EW and interference with allied systems by means ranging from jamming to cyberwarfare against both military and civilian networks.

In other words, the US and allies should be expecting to encounter an enemy with state-of-the-art capabilities — not a poverty stricken and backward military machine.

Other aid like provision of hardened and secured facilities across the border for DPRK C2 is to be expected.   From there, could “people’s volunteers” be far behind?

The question that such intervention by axis allies of DPRK raises is central to the Anglo-European world’s relationship with the PRC and Russia:

Can we continue an economic relationship with them and turn a blind eye to great power and ideological conflict when it overflows into a proxy war against an offensive minded nuclear state?

That is the problem of the 21st century that must be resolved.

North Korean Nuclear Intentions

JCS General Joseph Dunford informed the Senate Armed Services Committee at his Sept 26, 2017 hearing that DPRK is assumed to have the capability to attack the US mainland with a nuclear armed ICBM.

While it is not yet proven or demonstrated that North Korea can do so with a thermonuclear warhead that will survive re-entry and accurately strike a target, General Dunford noted it is a matter of time.

This brings to the forefront the question of what DPRK will do with their nuclear strike capability in the future.  

Every nuclear weapons state prior to North Korea have used their WMD capability as a defensive, last resort insurance policy.

No nuclear weapon was used in anger since 1945.

US policy makers since 1994 have wishfully hoped that DPRK is an anomaly that will go away on its own. (Bracken, 2017)

But that has not happened.

Is, or will North Korea be different or will they be the first of a new breed of “Second Nuclear Age” powers?

DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Young Ho’s UN speech on Sept 23, 2017 (which few read in full), unambiguously and clearly laid out their aims and objectives.

Minister Ri said at the UN:

“Through such a prolonged and arduous struggle, now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force.”

This statement make clear that things will change when DPRK is a nuclear armed state.

They are willing, able, and intend to use it to achieve their goals.

These goals are not just geopolitical, but economic.

“The day will certainly come in near future when we settle all damages inflicted to our peaceful economic development and improvement of the people’s livelihood and all the sufferings imposed on our innocent women, children and elderly by the heinous and barbaric sanctions against our Republic.”

Minister Ri’s stated goals here are limited to damages caused by sanctions.

However, this is not narrowly defined to UN and member state (e.g. US) sanctions dating from 2006 when DPRK went nuclear.

Minister Ri elaborates by stating:

“The U.S. had put sanctions against our country from the very first day of its foundation and over the 70-year long history of the DPRK..” (p. 7)

Thus, the claim for damages dates from the first day of the founding of DPRK (September 9, 1948).

“The DPRK already organized a national damage investigation committee to make comprehensive study of total damages inflicted on our Republic by all kinds of sanctions.”

Note the reference to “all kinds of sanctions” rather than to specific sanctions (e.g.) against their missile or nuclear or WMD programs.

This is broadly defined by DPRK to include sanctions at the outbreak of the Korean war (1950) that included UN Security Council Resolution 82 that “Calls upon all Member States to… refrain from giving assistance to the North Korean authorities.”

What kind of damages?

“This committee will thoroughly investigate and compile all physical and moral damages imposed upon the DPRK by the U.S., its followers and also those countries that submitted to the U.S. coercion.”

There are two key points here: precisely how DPRK intend to “investigate and compile all physical and moral damages” and, what is the list of “all those countries that” that damages will be sought from?

DPRK have previously (2010) assessed damages the US caused since 1945 to 2005 at US$65 trillion.

This breaks down to $26 trillion for US “atrocities”, and $13.7 trillion of sanctions over 60 years, and property damage/loss of $16.7 trillion.

Moral damages is an interesting term of art.

DPRK have asserted that Japan owe damages for colonialism (1910-1945) and demanded compensation and reparations.

Moral damages could also, in the DPRK view, including any interaction that polluted the purity of the “Cleanest Race” including the practice of religion.

Claims will be made to each and every nation that participated in the Korean war against DPRK, and participants in sanctions or other perceived wrongs against DPRK since.

It is not known how DPRK will assess damages from sanctions from countries like PRC and USSR/Russia that effectively switched sides and joined sanctions.

Claims that DPRK have against just about every country in the world will likely amount to multiples of the claim against the US at $65 trillion (to 2005).

How will DPRK enforce these claims?

Minister Ri answer this question:

“When this racket of sanctions and pressure reaches a critical point, thus driving the Korean peninsula into an uncontrollable situation, investigation results of this committee will have a huge effect in holding those accountable.”

The “uncontrollable situation” in this context is likely to mean the start of hostilities that DPRK expects to end with a North Korean victory so they can dictate terms.

North Korea’s damage claims will be used to extract tribute (or compensation) from just about every country in the post Korean war world.

How might a war start once DPRK is sufficiently well armed and confident of victory?

DPRK makes clear their intent is to preemptively strike “U.S. and its vassal forces” that “show any sign of … military attack against our country.” (p.6).

What is not defined is what constitute “any sign”?

Would it be routine military maneuvers?

Increasing defensive capabilities like deploying more ballistic missile defense systems?

More sanctions?

A bit more rhetoric?

Kim Jong Un’s speech on September 22, 2017 that the US have declared war on DPRK and “will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the D.P.R.K.” in this context leaves no doubt that North Korea will use their nuclear capabilities offensively against the US.

DPRK Foreign Minister Ri’s speech publically stated in front of the UN General Assembly that North Korea intend to handsomely profit from their ability to enforce settlement of their alleged grievances against the world with thermonuclear weapons.

That much, is perfectly clear: North Korea will be the world’s first nuclear armed extortionist.

Preparing for High End Warfare: The Perspective of the USMC Commandant

The USMC is in the throes of fundamental transformation.

This is true not only of their equipment — you might not that the F-35s flying with the USAF bombers in the Korean deterrent effort are Marines — but of their training and approach.

This is animating Marine Corps training, exercises and thinking about how to shape an effective flexible intervention force.

It is less of a sledgehammer force than an insertion force which can disrupt the adversary and go for the choke points in the adversary’s ability to fight.

At the Modern Day Marine 2017 exposition at Marine Corps Base Quantico held this week, the Commandant spoke and focused on the transition.

Whereas in recent history the Navy and Marine Corps have been able to sail into theater uncontested, pull logistics ships into ports, unpack gear and organize troops before heading into battle, “I don’t’ think that’s what the future holds for us” when looking at a potential future fight with high-end adversaries, Neller told the audience.

“Our adversaries are not just going to let us go to the fight uncontested; we’re going to have to fight our way across the ocean or under the ocean or in the air,” he said.

“When Marines used to get on ship, the days of, okay I’m onboard ship, I need to know when chow is and where I’m going to take a nap – you guys are making me work way too hard for some laughs – but let’s be honest with ourselves, you got on ship and were like, okay, sailor, wake me up when we get there.

“That’s not going to be the way it’s going to be. So that’s what we’re operating on – we’re going to have to fight to get to the fight.”


In a piece by Jeff Schogol published by Marine Corps Times, the Commandant’s focus on getting the Corps ready for a “violent, violent fight” was the focus of attention.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. ­Robert Neller has repeatedly offered sobering — and at times ominous — warnings about the next war the Corps will face.

He says the next fight will be far more complex and deadly than the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan that have shaped the force and its leadership over the past 16 years.

“I don’t think the next fight is going to be a stability op/counterinsurgency: It’s going to be a violent, violent fight,” Neller said in May, while speaking at the 2017 Innovation Symposium awards ceremony.




The PRC and North Korean Relationship: In Case of War?

The latest round of sanctions against DPRK (UNSCR 2375) began as a tough measures blocking all oil and gas exports to North Korea, textile trade, worldwide ban on travel by key regime figures and organizations.

The compromise resolution is a modest reduction in oil exports from PRC to DPRK, and a ban on textiles exports. Reduction in oil exports are virtually impossible to enforce as reporting is strictly up to the exporters.

The PRC has not reported oil exports since 2014 despite the obvious fact that oil continued to flow. The textile ban appear to be a major hit until the specific exclusion “for which written contracts have been finalized prior to the adoption of this resolution”.

There is no limit on the duration, scale or scope of the contracts, provisions for automatic renew, or any UN supervised registry of such contracts a priori:  Making it nothing more than an unenforceable gesture.

In other words, the US was unable to overcome PRC and Russian veto against bona fide sanctions, let alone their willingness to enforce what is agreed to.

Meanwhile, the PRC have now communicated to the Trump Administration officially and unofficially their stance on the North Korean standoff.

PRC will stay “neutral” if DPRK attacked first, but if US attacks first and tries to overthrow DPRK’s regime, PRC will intervene on the side of DPRK.

PRC also responded strongly to the Trump Administration threat to “stopping all trade with any country doing business with Pyongyang” with the PRC Foreign Ministry labeling it “unacceptable” and “unfair”.

Targeting of PRC entities and individuals for sanctions is explicitly rejected by PRC – a remarkable bolt hole for Chinese nationals that freely operate across the border.

Tightening these measures are pending depending on what PRC and Russia do to enforce the agreed sanctions thus far.

Step-by-step, both PRC and Russia and nominal US allies probable stance when war breaks out are being revealed.

Many observers dismissed President Trump’s tweet stopping trade with China as “hyperbole”, describing it as “apocalyptic” and unlikely to be “practical”.

Taken to the logical conclusion, such action will require blocking trade not only with the PRC directly, but indirect trade with OECD countries that amount for the majority of PRC’s overseas markets. That would indeed, appear to be catastrophic.

The question is, has it ever happened before?

Very few of today’s generation recall that just prior to World War I, Germany was one of (if not the)  largest trading partner of all major economies including UK, US, France, etc. German and American steel exports had overtaken British industry whom dominated the industry in the 19th century.

Britain became a net importer dependent on German imports.   Germany had substantial overseas investments in Britain, France, and the US including many valuable patents and trademarks. The German merchant shipping fleet was second only to Britain’s.

In today’s language, the pre-first world war era was the first golden age of globalization.

When the first world war broke out, these trade, investment and people ties immediately became subject to controls.  Initially, all belligerents instituted controls on enemy owned business and property to prevent their use by enemies or otherwise not properly contributing to the war effort.   These efforts then expanded to control of enemy aliens and confiscation of their property.

Post war, the victors seized the alien assets of the losers typically as reparations. Hence, Bayer AG’s American assets was sold to Sterling Drug – an American company.

A substantially similar picture happened with World War II with German and Japanese assets abroad. On July 26, 1941, the US seized Japanese assets amounting to three quarters of its trade and nearly 90% of its oil supply as part of its embargo against Japanese occupation of French Indochina (Vietnam).   This was before hostilities were formally initiated by Japan on December 7, 1941.

The historical precedent is that being a large, important, and key trading partner is not a barrier or hindrance to economic sanctions and / or military action that cut those ties.  

The PRC cannot count on their large trade ties to insulate them from the US if that is what it takes to deal with an existential threat.

Anyone who think that investment, trade, both direct and indirect, and people to people ties with PRC cannot be severed ought to consider the precedents of World Wars I & II.

This brings us back to the PRC’s relationship with the US and allies.  The relationship between the US and PRC remains based on the three communiques:   First United States – PRC Joint Communiqué 28 February 1972; Second United States – PRC Joint Communiqué 1 January 1979; Third United States – PRC Joint Communiqué.

The first (Shanghai) communique states:

“The Chinese side stated that it firmly supports the struggles of all the oppressed people and nations for freedom and liberation and that the people of all countries have the right to choose their social systems according their own wishes and the right to safeguard the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of their own countries and oppose foreign aggression, interference, control and subversion. All foreign troops should be withdrawn to their own countries.

For Korea and Japan, it states:

“It firmly supports the eight-point program for the peaceful unification of Korea put forward by the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on April 12, 1971…..It firmly opposes the revival and outward expansion of Japanese militarism and firmly supports the Japanese people’s desire to build an independent, democratic, peaceful and neutral Japan.”

These statements, dating from 1972, illustrate how PRC have not changed their policy to be supportive of DPRK’s longstanding policy to expel the US from the Korean peninsula.   PRC also support expelling the US from Japan.  The abandonment of mutual defense pacts between the ROK and Japan with the US goes without saying.

These statements lay out the relationship between the PRC and the US and allies as a relationship of convenience.  The PRC had no intention then, and now, for their absorption into the US dominated international system.

The opening of PRC is intended to be a temporary measure to acquire as much technology, knowhow, etc. as possible so PRC can return to the table in the future stronger but with no change to the communist political system.

During the 1980s and 90s, right through Tiananmen, the west remain convinced that it was a matter of time before economic development resulted in political liberalization. This optimistic vision appeared to have worked for other East Asian economies that are authoritarian but not communist like ROK, Taiwan, etc.

Such a process, however, did not work for any major communist state.

A communist or totalitarian state is define as a regime where the communist party is institutionalized into the government constitutionally, e.g. by stipulating their “leading role” or at least “first among equals” of all political parties or organizations.

Notably, the PRC does not have an army per se. The PRC’s military is a branch of the Chinese Communist Party — a fact often overlooked by naïve observers who wishfully believe that PRC is a normal country.

Communist regimes tend to be capable of “opening” or making changes around the edges, but there is no known major communist state, once institutionalized, that have successfully self-reformed into an authoritarian regime and then proceed down the path toward democracy.

It had to be done by regime change, or revolt from within (Russia, Germany, Poland, etc.), or invasion from without.  (Kampuchea)

Why this disconnect?

The opening of trade with the PRC and the world have greatly improved the living standards of China and greatly benefitted the world. Political liberalization, however, have progressed only to the late 1990s and from then on, began to regress as the CCP began, at first in select localities, and then nationally by the 2010 onwards, to intensively apply technology to maintain and enhance CCP control over the populace.

The CCP today runs one of the most extensive surveillance and monitoring regimes in the world with the goal of perpetuating the CCP’s monopoly on power. There is no sign that any group in PRC is likely to challenge the monopoly on political power by the CCP.

Roughly, since Tiananmen, CCP’s PRC have been able to keep a few or more steps ahead of any popular unrest except for an occasional outburst in Tibet or Xinjiang or isolated protests. It is, at its core, a communist regime that do not, and cannot operate according to liberal democratic rules nor can it voluntarily give up the CCP’s monopoly on power, ever.

This speaks to the reality that the US and allies is, in the last instance, dealing with a hostile regime whose goal is fundamentally incompatible with the liberal international order. 

For anyone who has doubts, China under the CCP never settled pre-revolutionary debts — Russia did — a clear sign that they have no intention of abandoning communism and CCP’s monopoly on power.

Russia affirmatively abandoned communism and settled all pre-revolutionary debts.  Their conflict with the west is about geopolitics, but no longer ideological.

Settling of debts is fundamentally, an acknowledgement of historical property rights and an acceptance of a liberal economic order.

The PRC continues to reject this despite the consequences on its international creditworthiness and aspirations as a global currency, or storehouse of value. Communism is ideologically incompatible with institutions of private property.

PRC’s conflict, with the west, at its core, is ideological first, and great power politics second.

It is that factor that will drive PRC’s likely entry into the restart of the Korean war on the side of DPRK.  

The only question is what form it will take and when will PRC decide “enough is enough” or if a conflict triggered or resulted in regime change in the PRC.

While the immediate problem is DPRK, the outcome of the Korean conflict is much more than just about DPRK, but about whether liberal internationalism will survive, or be truncated for at least a generation.

Xi Jinping’s crocodile tears and their diplomat’s apparent sympathetic tone toward the US and feinted compliance with UN sanctions, however watered down, and the propaganda about Xi Jinping regarding Kim Jong Un with “disdain” should not fool anyone.

A look at the history of PRC policy toward the US since 1949 reveals a clear pattern of systematically expelling the US from Asia, beginning with Taiwan (campaign stalled), Korea (stalemate), Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, etc.

Arming Pakistan and North Korea with nuclear weapons is part and parcel of the same design.

The longer term picture shows that CCP is winning this campaign, and should the US be self-deterred from acting, after a victory in Korea, the logical next targets will be Okinawa, and then the rest of Japan.

US allies like Canada and Australia are next.

Michael Pillsbury saw this coming.

Will the liberal internationalist establishment see it before the CCP reveal whose side they are on in the coming Korean war?

The North Korean Threat and ‘High Intensity War”

The United States has fought relatively slow-motion wars or “slo mo,” land wars for more than a decade and a half. This does not mean American and Allied combat troops have not experienced the violence and threats commiserate with engaging against a nasty and skilled enemy.

It does mean that the tool sets and concepts of operations are very different and harken back to wars prior to this generation of warfighters.

Not since the Vietnamese War has the United States Military really had a peer-to-peer technologically adept opponent.

And during that war, the Vietnamese put U.S. pilots clearly in harm’s way by shaping their own version of multiple means of trying to destroy U.S. aircraft. From flying capable Russian fighters, the Mig-21J was actually a more advanced close in fighter then the F-4J. But perhaps the biggest deadly surprise was North Vietnam’s Air Defense Artillery capability, from the ground up. Whether facing guns or missiles, or enemy fighters for US pilots the sky over Vietnam was a very deadly place to be.

After the war in Hanoi in 1994, Ed Timperlake was able to meet some Vietnamese Army Air Defense (ADA) commanders. In 1994 the war was over so when they expressed their Air Defense pride at in defending their country, I listened intently. After all the Vietnam Air Defense mission had been the most technologically adept fighting force in that combat domain for the 20th Century. It is often said by experienced “Asia Hands,” never underestimate the Peoples Republic of China for they are very clever, but underestimate the Vietnamese at ones mortal peril for they are very smart.

With their national capital attacked from the sky, North Vietnam’s Air Force embraced the Soviet interceptor con-ops of rigid Ground Control Intercept (GCI) doctrine, until they learned from practice that the approach did not work effectively.

Soviet GCI doctrine was what could be called today in the American Military as “kill chain linear” thinking,.


At the height of the air war over Vietnam, successful Vietnam fighter pilots followed a very different approach Being very smart and combat adaptable the North Vietnamese evolved into what today would be called “Kill Webs” concept of fighting. The term wasn’t exactly in their language as “Giết Webs” but sadly for a lot of fellow American combat aviators they had success.

As one source characterized the Vietnamese approach to dealing with American airpower:

The threats had a synergistic effect. The small arms and automatic weapons fire drove the aircraft out of the low altitude arena to higher altitudes where other AAA, SAMs, and enemy fighters were more effective.

 At the same time, the heavier AAA, SAMs, and fighters drove the aircraft back down to lower altitudes where those threats were less effective but the small arms fire was murderous. But the most effective North Vietnamese air defense had always been weather.


The North Vietnamese created an integrated air defense system focusing on rapid interconnected Target Acquisition and then executed Target Engagement by empowering the kill shot being made by different “payloads” guns, exploding flack, missiles and fighters to protect their homeland. There approach was to focus on payload-utility by the kill web, rather than a hierarchical kill chain.


There were several “take-aways” from Ed Timperlake’s conversations in Hanoi 1994 when he was representing the Vietnam Children’s Fund in building the first of now fifty one schools pro bono:

  • The officers and troops manning both Air Defense Artillery Batteries and Missile launch sites were highly selected troops, especially the officers. Often both skilled and sons of North Vietnamese Military/Political leadership class.
  • The Russians (Soviet Union) did not hesitate to allow the Vietnamese access to their state-of-the art systems. PLA military equipment considered “modern” wasn’t.
  • The Russian “tattle-tale” ships present in the middle of the US 7th Fleet Yankee Station, chasing the carrier tracks for launching “Alpha Strikes” (as many aircraft heading feet wet as possible) were invaluable sources of strategic and tactical advanced warning.
  • The Vietnamese ADA commanders perfected not only radar tracking of both arty and SAM guidance but they also knew when to not put signals in space.
  • The Soviet Union Interceptor/Fighter engagement strategy, of much more rigid Ground Control Intercepts was a real weakness during the Cold War.
  • The flexibility of having an integrated ADA doctrine, both active and passive was very successful inside a total Air Defense Umbrella was effective and actually avoided fratricide.
  • They recognized U.S. Air Power was a war winning deciding factor which required them to shift from the Soviet kill chain approach to their early version of the kill web.


It was also evident from their perspective that U.S. domestic politics during the Vietnam War was the asymmetrical weakness to be exploited ultimately leading to the NVA Flag being raised over Saigon in April 1975.

It is not just about the technology; it is also about the political dynamic within which the technology is used which can shape a significant war winning strategy.

The nature of what it felt like to fly against the North Vietnamese “kill web” was captured in an interview we did with the leading USAF “Ace” of Vietnam Chuck De Bellevue.

And this sense of reality in dealing with a peer competitor needs to inform how we shape our way ahead in dealing with the challenge of peer competitors as we shift from a primary focus on the land wars.

Question: Chuck, did your raw gear and did your “tron” warfare (short for all electronic warfare capabilities) in those early days, useful both for a warning and in other ways such as disabling SA-2s and other missiles as far as a tracking solution?

Can you talk a little bit about that and what you had available in those days?

Answer: In the F-4 D model we had a 107. It provided good warning and it also saved my life a couple times.

Question: Was it visual and audio?

Answer: On the raw gear, it was yes. Audio gave me a rattlesnake in my headset.

If the missile was in the air the raw gear itself would start flashing at you.

And then we had a scope and if it was a missile in the air, you’d get a moving break in the strobe.

Question: All of this was coming into your eyes and ears. And then did you have to physically do something in a cockpit to activate any kind of countermeasures or was it just visual – calls to make turns break hard, break – how did you handle the engagement process? 

How did the airplane handle it?

How did the “trons” handle it?

Answer: We usually kept our jamming pods in standby. There were repeater pods and they would talk if they heard anything. I didn’t want anybody to know where I was. So we kept them in standby.

We had an occasion to go up to Yen Bai about 70 miles north of Hanoi. We used that as a holding point because Intel said there were no SAM sites there so you could see – on a clear day you could see the river.

One night, there was loop in the river that you could see it pretty easy. So we used to use that as our holding fix. And we loosened up the formation a little bit for me to kill ten minutes. So we loosened up the formation in this holding pattern and as soon as you rolled out going away the raw gear lit up – when I was sitting down in the cockpit doing something – probably planning on the next moves into Hanoi.

And all of a sudden I got a rattlesnake in my headset, raw gear was flashing, and instead of looking up I reached down and turned both jammers from standby to on as I’m looking up.

And had I done it the other way around looking up first I wouldn’t have been here, in between me and three, and there was just about enough room to put a missile between us.

It was an SA2; and that missile was followed by his buddy. And you know how things slow down in combat–Well, I could see their designation on the side of the missile. I couldn’t read it but I could see it.

Question: Are you saying you’re over an area that Intel said that there were no active SAMs?

Answer: Yes but they had mobile SAMs back then. They moved two mobile SAM sites in the bay area and they locked them optically and kept them close to the ground. The missile is non-guided for the first six seconds.

After that the booster falls off and then the antenna is now able to receive signals. And at that point, they fished them up into us. And at that point they were right under us too.

But the decision time was in nanoseconds.


Now with a new administration in power, it is time to really focus again on peer-to-peer high intensity warfighting and how to prevail.

With this forceful return to having to think about how to prevail in a high intensity conflict that now includes much more complex global nuclear weapons threat, there is no gentle transition from “slo mo” to high intensity threats. We need to refocus now and time is very short.

A key element of preparing for the kind of threat posed by North Korea clearly has been missile defense. But missile defense by itself is not enough – there needs to be integrated C2 for the strike and defense force to deal with a state like North Korea.

C2 integration is crucial to allow for the U.S. National Command Authority to have options across the Pacific chessboard to shape the battlespace in order to prevail in times of conflict.

And to do so, requires integration among missile defense systems to provide for integrated solutions across the battlespace.

Adversary missile strikes cut across domains from strategic and tactical “defense” in protecting infrastructure and combat platforms in a classic defense strategy to a more proactive role to enabling more effective strike capabilities by the offensive forces. The challenge in the Pacific demands more and more ADA to enable offensive strike con-ops.

Integrated C2 across the missile defense domain allows for leveraging the particular strengths of individual systems but allows the Combatant Commander to mitigate weaknesses of any particular system in shaping a battlefield wide approach.

There is the need for essentially fixed point defense for facilities, such as airfields and other fixed targets up to and including defending strategic continuity of government sites.

But there is only so much hardening and dispersal that can be accomplished, and tragically there are many soft targets, which cannot be hardened.

This is the situation on the Korean Demilitarized Military Zone (DMZ), which on the North Korean side is anything but “demilitarized.”

The issue of preemption is always on the table, but America really tries to avoid shooting first. A combat capable Air Force flying from protected air fields and Carriers can use air strikes to take out the adversary’s missile strike force, but “surprise” launch is always a factor especially if not fully mobilized and “hot pad ready.” The melding of active hardening with aviation “Hot Pad” ready aircraft as well as sea-based cruise missiles is something the American military does very well.

And U.S. Army ADA must be well positioned and ever ready. It is an insurance force that can be a real advantage in prevailing during a “high-intensity” initial engagement and in high intensity conflict the first actions can shape the outcomes.

During a visit by Robbin Laird to the Pacific in 2014, the importance of shaping integrated options and integrated C2 for the offensive-defensive enterprise was highlighted by the then PACAF Commander, “Hawk” Carlisle who later became head of the Air Combat Command and by the Commanding General of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Brig. Gen. Daniel Karbler.

The two Generals underscored that there was clear imperative to integrate air and missile defense systems throughout the Pacific to enhance combat effectiveness.

According to General Carlisle: “The PACCOM Commander has put me in charge of how we are going to do integrated air and missile defense for the Pacific theater, which represents 52% of the world’s surface. This is clearly a major challenge and is clearly both a joint and coalition operation.”

In an earlier interview, Brigadier General Daniel Karbler, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, highlighted that the task of the Army role within an integrated enterprise as follows:

The role of having active defense or an interceptor force is to buy time for [Lieutenant] General [Jan-Marc] Jouas (7th USAF Commander in the Pacific) or General [Hawk] Carlisle (the PACAF Commander) to more effectively determine how to use their airpower.  It also allows the National Command Authority to determine the most effective way ahead with an adversary willing to strike US or allied forces and territory with missiles.

General Carlisle focused on the way ahead to achieve the overall integrated air and missile defense mission designed to achieve the objectives outlined by BG Karbler.

We are pursuing an approach that combines better integration of the sensors with the shooters with command and control.  

Command and control are two words.  

The way ahead is clearly a distributed force integrated through command and control whereby one develops distributed mission tactical orders (with well understood playbooks) reflecting the commander’s directions and then to have the ability to control the assets to ensure that the sensors and shooters accomplish their mission.



The U.S. has deployed a number of key missile defense systems to enhance the capability to defend the force. This includes bringing THAAD to Guam; Pac-3 into Japan, Aegis deployed at sea theater wide. In fact, each of these systems – individually — has been highlighted by the US Department of Defense as part of the response to the North Korean threat.



As important as these individual systems are in an of themselves, there is a key need to get on with integrated missile defense which then can be combined with the PACOM Commanders strike force to ensure maximum effectiveness against a real and present danger.

The importance of integrated C2 for a missile defense capability within an overall offensive-defensive enterprise could also be a key contributor to providing tools for a more effective political response to peer competitor threats.

Clearly, crisis management will be a key part of dealing with any challenge like North Korea.

If the National Command Authority has an integrated capability deployed throughout the Pacific this provides a range of options when working with allies, rather than having to rely on systems on allied territory which may or may not be available at the optimal time during a crisis.

In slow mo acquisition thinking, we can take years to get integration done; but with the arrival of a different era, one of peer competitors, and second nuclear age powers, such dragging of feet on building out integrated software solutions to shape a reliable common defense capability is a near term priority.

And because we are talking software upgradeability, whatever the near term capability which can be deployed, it can grow over time as the integration from the ground up further develops.

The US Army has been developing an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System which clearly can provide for the foundation going forward; without such a system we are left with a Tower of Babel approach to integration which makes little sense in dealing either with the clear and present danger of North Korea or the threats from peer competitors or other Second Nuclear Age powers.

To deal with high intensity threats modernization needs to be combined with mobilization. By having several different locations of builders of missiles within the defense industrial complex geographically dispersed ensures the ability to ramp up missile production. This is a crucial part of getting ready to deal with a high tempo threat.

At the same time by working software commonality across the C2 system, the force commander can then leverage the diversity of launch systems to get a significant punch to the defensive part of the offensive defensive equation.

Cacophony in C2 systems needs to be replaced by an integrated software solution moving forward into which the different defensive launch systems can participate to give the combatant commander the kind of options he or she needs to deal with the near term or longer term threats.

The future is now; we need to move forward on integrated C2 for the defensive forces enabling the offensive-defensive enterprise.