Scottish Independence: A Blow Against Western Nuclear Deterrence?

Roughly three weeks from now, the Scottish people will decide for themselves whether they wish to end the 307 year union that has bound them to the United Kingdom.

The Union formed in large part due to economic concerns following a failed excursion in colonialism that left Edinburgh bankrupt, and economic issues similarly dominate the contemporary discussion as the small nation edges closer to referendum. Given the immediately-felt economic effects of an independent Scotland, it is understandable that Scots have delegated so much of their attention to these matters.

However, the implications of Scottish independence on security and defense is a largely overlooked facet to be considered as Scotland’s four million registered voters head to the polls this September.

In particular, Scottish independence raises particular questions regarding the United Kingdom’s Trident nuclear program, NATO, and the capability of Britain to remain the greatest ally of the United States.

According to the Scottish Nationalist Party’s (SNP) white paper on independence — a hefty tome describing the Scottish Government’s vision of an independent Scotland — the small nation would function on the international stage in a similar manner to that of nearby Scandinavian countries.

Roughly three weeks from now, the Scottish people will decide for themselves whether they wish to end the 307 year union that has bound them to the United Kingdom. The vote could have a significant even decisive impact on the UK nuclear deterrent and English defense policy.

Roughly three weeks from now, the Scottish people will decide for themselves whether they wish to end the 307 year union that has bound them to the United Kingdom. The vote could have a significant even decisive impact on the UK nuclear deterrent and English defense policy.

An important aspect of this new philosophy entails a stern policy against nuclear weapons, which Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has deemed as “an affront to basic decency” and unequivocally “inhumane.”

This, unfortunately for Westminster, poses a great challenge to the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent, as it is accompanied by the quick and indefinite removal of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Trident from the Scottish coast.

As it turns out, the core of the United Kingdom’s nuclear force is housed on Scottish shores and in Scottish bases, and the price and time it would take for relocation places a great stress on the U.K. Government.

This has led to the assumption that, should Scotland become an independent state, the United Kingdom — or rather, what remains of the United Kingdom — would be unable to maintain its nuclear arsenal, subsequently terminating it all together.

Should Westminster relinquish its cherished nuclear status, Western security would endure a peculiar strain. The United States, already skeptical of Great Britain’s capability, might opt for another partner to fill the role as “greatest ally.” Tides are already shifting in this nature, with President Obama unable to choose between Paris and London in naming Washington’s closest overseas associate and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioning U.K. military capability.

It is accordingly not out of the realm of possibility that a United Kingdom without 58 Trident II D-5 missiles might fall secondary and bring the United States and France closer militarily.

Uncertainty remains as to how much of a tangible impact this would have on greater international security. Still, the United Kingdom’s reliance on the United States for a credible nuclear deterrent suggests that, outside of geo-strategic benefits that the Scotland-based nuclear weapons provide to the Alliance, business would likely continue as usual.

However, while many have argued that a “Yes” vote in September would lead to an end of the U.K. nuclear deterrence, the United Kingdom is likely more reluctant to scrap the Trident than assumed at first glance. As stated in the Scottish white paper, the United Kingdom seeks to project global power by deploying nuclear weapons. Westminster’s current coalition government is headed by a Conservative Party that — despite rejecting the internationally inflammatory U.S.-comradery of former PM Tony Blair’s Liberal Interventionism — is keenly aware of the importance of its nuclear deterrent to both NATO and its “special relationship” with the United States, a relationship closely connected to the maintenance of the British legacy.

Cameron’s conservatives adhere to the modern-day Tory principle of “euroskepticism”, which views the European Union as potentially restrictive of UK interests and inherently brings an emphasis towards the Atlanticist commitments with Washington and NATO, and thus the nuclear deterrent.

For all the talk of a new Conservative idealism in the United Kingdom, Cameron has so far asserted himself as a bastion of the traditional realism of his conservative ancestors, and is unlikely to allow Scottish independence to end the UK nuclear deterrent. This, of course, might change with the coming elections, though a hypothetical Labour government may well maintain the importance of nuclear weapons held by predecessors Blair and Brown.

In addition, the United States is able to exert more influence on London than it would like to admit.

It is undeniably in the United States’ best interest for the United Kingdom to continue reinforcing U.S. and NATO nuclear force.

If Scottish independence becomes a fact rather than a campaign, and if Westminster is seriously mulling the abandonment of its nuclear deterrent, Washington might impose the same kind of pressure that eventually coaxed the United Kingdom into the EU.

For Scotland’s part, the nation will enter into the Alliance as a non-nuclear member if the Scottish will sways towards independence.

The geographic position of Scotland entitles it to an important role in regional security. Still, given its present existence in NATO as a nation within the United Kingdom, an independent Scotland’s admission into the Alliance would have little effect outside of a continuation of the status quo.

However, the SNP has sworn to increase the Scottish contribution to NATO air force capabilities in the event of a “Yes” vote, as well as the creation of a second naval squadron solely for NATO and other excursions in international waters.

As the Scottish Government and First Minister Alex Salmond have indicated, it is certain that when the Scottish people vote for independence this September, they are also voting for the end of the U.K.’s Trident nuclear program as it currently exists.

But that is not to say that the Trident will cease to exist in its entirety.

Rather, an independent Scotland is likely to be trailed by the Trident’s relocation and possibly re-configuration, a prospect which — though costly — is conducive to the continuation of global stability.




IDC Summit 2014: Middle Eastern Christians Shape a Response

Information War is now being engaged in by US and freedom loving people against ISIS.

We did an interview with Joseph Kassab  and he described to us that  there  are many very decent and well intentioned individuals representing religions that are paying a terrible price by the murderous intent of ISIS.

Mr. Kassab just notified us of this conference, we are bringing it to our readers attention:

And with Secretary Hagel’s warning about ISIS attacking America every US talking head on TV defending Islam as the Religion of Peace or commenting on moral parity between Hamas –Vs  Israel- should first denounce ISIS  before they start any of their talking points.

Denouncing ISIS over and over really will  begin to change the narrative for the good of our safety.

According to the description of the event by the organizers:

The primary purpose of the Summit is to bring all members of the Diaspora together in a newfound sense of unity.

Whether Orthodox or Catholic; Evangelical, Coptic or Maronite; Syriac, Lebanese, Chaldean or Assyrian – all Middle Eastern Christians will be called on to join together in solidarity.

This solidarity will strengthen advocacy efforts with policy makers and elected officials….

Thus united, Middle Eastern Christians will invite all people of good will to join the cause to defend the defenseless, to be a voice for those who are voiceless.

The survival of these historic Christian communities is not merely a moral imperative; it is in the interests of all nations and peoples of the West and the Middle East.

As noted in the May 7, 2014 “Pledge” of religious and human rights leaders, Middle Eastern Christians “have long been an integral part of the social fabric, and have contributed, alongside Muslims, to the construction of the Arab civilization.

They have had an especially formative role in promoting education, literacy, learning and health care,” which serve all people in the region.  

The Making of Haider al-Abadi: The New Prime Minister of Iraq

The appointment of Haider al-Abadi as Iraqi prime minister is the culmination of a decade long political ascent that was unheralded but nonetheless remarkable.

Driven into exile by the murder of his father and two brothers by the Baath party, Abadi spent two decades in England acquiring an advanced degree in electrical engineering and becoming a consulting engineer for building elevators.

At the same time he became an active Dawa party organizer in the expatriate Iraqi community and the protégé of Ibrahim al-Jafari, who became a Dawa leader.

At the fall of Saddam Hussein he returned to Baghdad and was rewarded for his longtime Dawa support by being appointed Minister of Communications.

The legacy of the Coalition Provisional Authority is one of epic unchecked corruption.

Haider al-Abadi was not appointed as Communications Minister because of any telecommunication expertise, but because he would be decisive in assuring Dawa control of the projected cellular phone contracts for Iraq, and more important, the control of the $3 billion to be awarded with the contracts and the significant ongoing cash flow as Iraq built out a cell phone capability.

In the middle of the Iraq telecom lawless “gold rush” was the British based Iraqi exile, the shadowy billionaire Nadmi Auchi.

NBC accurately reported Auchi’s actions in the Coalition Provisional Authority , “NBC News has learned that one man who allegedly did business with Saddam Hussein may benefit from one of the richest new reconstruction contracts.”

Abadi claimed correctly that the decision to award the contracts preceded his appointment as minister, but that was a convenience and courtesy accorded by Jafari, Auchi, and Auchi’s agents in the ministry and the Coalition Provisional Authority to becloud and introduce confusion in the award process.

Auchi had spent well over a decade buying influence in Britain across the political spectrum there and in the United States through a series of administrations, culminating with the Clinton and George W. Bush White Houses .

Auchi bragged that he had been “a visitor to two White Houses:” a combination of charitable and political donations had assured his access, particularly in the Clinton years.

In the Bush years he became the darling of the Pentagon because of his partnership with Ahmed Chalabi, the secular Shia who appeared to straddle the Iraqi political spectrum, and who had been groomed by his supporters in Washington to become the George Washington of Iraq.

By 2006, after only a year and a half in power, Jafari had created so many problems as prime minister that both the US and British governments gave up on him and sent Secretary of State Condelezza Rice and Foreign Minister Jack Straw to Baghdad to try to force him out.

Corruption had continued unabated.

While Abadi had been among Jafray’s most prominent defenders the political sands had shifted in Baghdad. He stepped aside and bided his time.

The Shia power and money train, however, had not stopped.

Nouri al-Malaki had become the new focus of Shia and Dawa power, and Abadi quickly adapted his allegiance to accommodate the new Dawa coalition and used that allegiance to rise to become Deputy Speaker of the parliament.

He became a quiet part of the Dawa machine, made accommodations with the subsets of the coalition, and made no waves.

By 2014, after eight years in power, the tides of corruption and dissention rose again to take out Maliki in his turn.

At this stage there appeared to be only two contenders to replace him:

Jafari and Chalabi, the failed candidates of yesteryear, themselves so tarnished that they dissuaded would be kingmakers from returning to them.

What was needed in a new prime minister was sufficient experience to suggest competence, sufficient Dawa credentials to assure core Shia support, and a profile low enough to limit detractors.

His corruption coefficient was sufficiently old that it was forgotten and its magnitude was lost in the shared participation in the telecom billions.

But he was a critical player in one of the biggest rip offs of the entire Iraqi reconstruction debacle, a scam that has been quietly covered up for a decade.

Haider al-Abadi thus became, in Iraqi terms, the new and honest political figure, the new face for the year 2014.

But what we have is only the old wine in a new bottle, the taste has not improved with age.

The French got it right: Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

Notes on the effort to uncover Iraq corruption by the Honorable John A. “Jack” Shaw.

In a previous Administration Jack Shaw had been an Inspector General at State, and in President George W. Bush’s Administration at DoD was dual hatted at the Pentagon: he was a Deputy Undersecretary tasked with tracking exported US technology and weaponry around the world and simultaneously made the action officer at DoD for problems in Iraq in the transportation and communications areas.

Ed Timperlake’s editorial note: Serving as the Director of Technology Assessment under DUSD Jack Shaw in ITS/OSD, and also traveling to Iraq I experienced firsthand everything Jack is reporting.

He is exactly right about both issues CPA corruption and his total exoneration. In fact I was the co-author with James Adams, founding Chair of National Security Agency’s Technology Advisory Board of the investigation reported out as “Preliminary Findings: Report to the Inspector General into Mobile Telecommunications Licenses in Iraq” May 11, 2004.

It covered the corruption on the process of licensing telecom companies throughout all of Iraq.

Unfortunately as often said the lie goes around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.

It is true Jack was asked to leave DOD because he went public on the Russian effort to ex-filtrate chemical and high explosive munitions out of Iraq just before US invasion.

For whatever reason, the Bush NSC wanted to cover this up and to not deal with it as a public issue.

Jack Shaw was proven correct on this and paid a significant price.

But for the total credibility of his article, the FBI/DOJ investigation found nothing against Shaw and was publicly reported in LAT and his Pentagon exit was a totally separate matter.

I was present and saw it all happen as he accurately reports it

In his own words:

At the same time my office had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DoD IG’s office giving me the investigatory reach and a badge to deal with these problems. With that I got another title, Director of International Armament and Technology Trade, and the authority dig into problems of Iraqi reconstruction. It was in that pursuit that I encountered Haider al-Abadi, Nadhmi Auchi, and their larcenous band.

Looking into the fixing of the Iraq Telecom contracts we discovered a central US role in the fix: It was orchestrated out of the of the Deputy Secretary’s office at DoD and run by the CIA in the person of Charles Allen, then the agency’s guru for technical assistance. Abadi was the ringmaster of the exercise, with three Brits and two Americans, in on the fix in Baghdad. When it was over, $435 million, half in Iraqi funds and half in appropriated US funds, were missing from the ministry account, in addition to the 3 billion payable in the contract, the three Brits had faded away, but the two Americans actions came in clear focus: One had had quickly gone to work for one of the winning companies, and the other, Dan Sudnick, the Director of Communications for the CPA, was fired when Bearing Point, the US auditors, found no trace of the $435 million nor any records, either paper or electronic. The fix was a brilliant ploy designed to provide “walking around money” for the principal Iraqi political groupings, and succeeded in doing that before my office at DoD surfaced the scam in late 2003. The money, however, has never been found or accounted for.

The intelligence connection and its tie to the immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense, however, created seismic tremors of nuclear level magnitude for my office at DoD. The result was that they tried to move me, then discredit me, and then fire me. To accomplish this they created a smear campaign to create the fiction that I, the whistle blower and former IG, had tried to throw a subsequent telecom contract to a friend in Iraq

An internal investigation ordered by Rumsfeld himself showed that I had pursued my authority in Iraq in an appropriate manner. A DoD press release was issued to that effect.

Rumsfeld subsequently ordered everything concerning the phony allegations to be sent to the FBI. After an FBI full field global investigation was concluded, which spent several hundred thousand dollars on three continents, they reported that I had not only done nothing criminal, I had done nothing wrong. In the PR media attacks after a series of hothouse bogus allegations reported by T Christian Miller in the LA Times the paper after FBI and DOJ finding absolutely no evidence of any personal wrong doing finally had to admit my innocence. But as a final insult they buried the story on my total exoneration.

The phony allegations were a red herring and important only in that it had the effect of diverting all the attention off Abadi, Jafari, and Auchi, allowing them to cash in their gains and move on: Jafray became prime minister, and Abadi became his principal aide, essentially his deputy, and was elected as a member of parliament from Baghdad. Auchi, as is his wont, continued to milk the business prospects in Iraq and the region for millions of dollars and continued to build up his influence and political clout in the United States. The three and a half billion dollar scam was officially swept under the rug by US authorities.

The rest of the Auchi saga continues, this time with President Obama: Auchi continues his influence peddling using the Chicago Way, as reported by Human Events.

For additional stories on Iraq and relevant policy options for the United States, see the following:

Backing the Baghdad Government: A Viable Option?

08/13/2014 – Can the Baghdad government play a serious role in reconciliation or is it simply about maintaining the power of the governing faction?.

Can the new Prime Minister do anything other than continue the legacy of the post-occupation government which has spawned ISIS in the first place?.

Iraq 2014 is Not Iraq 2003: The Allied Dimension

08/13/2014 – There is allied support for the Kurds in their struggle against ISIS.

This provides a significant opportunity for recrafting US Iraq policy, an opportunity which would be thrown away by prematurely funding and arming the Baghdad government. ..

Iraq 2014: Crafting Strategic Maneuver Space

08/12/2014 – Focusing upon what is needed to pulverize military capabilities of ISIS to move rapidly and lethally, can buy some strategic maneuver space for the US and allies to sort out what kind of aid the Kurds might really need to protect their augmented territory within a fragmenting Iraq.

Iraq 2014: Not Repeating COIN

08/10/2014 – Iraq 2014 is not Iraq 2003.

It is not about yet again trying a COIN strategy; it is about shaping one that fits the real situation.


The Osprey and the Flexibility of the ARG-MEU

Recently, a reader raised a number of questions about the approach laid out by me on Second Line of Defense.

His comments can be found here:

Let me deal with each of them as follows:

“I’m amazed at how easily you glaze over the vulnerability of the MV-22 in the insertion/extraction phase of any operations…”

These pilots may certainly disagree:

Intel planning may have been at fault-but the combat survivability of CV-22 was not:

Actual recent combat experience suggests a different answer:

“How you ignore the threat of a helicopter ambush at the LZ:

The MV-22 is not the same con-ops nor flying technology of the failed Army helo Iraq Longbow attack.

“….How you dismiss the threat of manpads/rpgs/anti-air guns etc on these types of operations…”

I have written extensively about manpad threats.

The speed and relatively agility of the Osprey provides a measure of protection which a rotorcraft clearly does not.

But being cognizant of this threat is certainly a crucial part of the ongoing evaluation of the combat situation.

“And finally you ignore the fact that these so called ECO’s are just waiting to be cut off, isolated and destroyed by an enemy with even a small bit of tactical awareness.”

No read all the links being reported at our very junior grade Infantry School after TBS simply proof of concept of distributed C&C.

It is always up to MEU Commander to appropriately size the force.

The focus is upon innovative 2014 thinking with battle tested C&C and horizontal networks.

This concept that you’re pushing is flawed, will push the Marine Corps toward an even more unbalanced position than it currently finds itself and will lead to the loss of many lives.

Unbalanced how? since I am never ever in the business of costing USMC lives I guess we should alert our CMC “Tamer” and all who have gone before to ask for a redo.

But the underlying point is rather straightforward: the Osprey enabled force gives the US options it did not have in 2003. 

This is not as the same as being the only capability which can come off of an ARG-MEU for the great strength of the ARG-MEU is its ability to be tailored to the mission.

But in this case, without the Osprey, the force can not deliver Marines over the entire Iraqi territory at reach and range and to return rapidly to the ships.

This is what is different in 2014, but it is not the only configuration which the ARG-MEU could deliver.

“I also notice that you like to raise the ability of conducting HA/DR missions? Are you kidding me! The dog and pony in the Philippines was disgraceful. We didn’t give the aid needed because the USMC was more interested in testing a concept rather than helping people. We needed bodies on the ground and heavy equipment…the stuff that arrives by amphibious ship and not by MV-22.”

C-17 in support of Operation Damayan.

C-17 in support of Operation Damayan.

Sorry not kidding I think Sniper Brown, CO of George Washington and USAF would profoundly disagree about “dog and pony’” characterization.

The MEU as initially constructed is the most powerful, well balanced, forward deployed force in the world.

That is exactly why I highlighted the 22nd MEU in print:

The 22nd MEU is a battalion sized force of Maries with indigenous air assets the MV-22s, MH-53, MH-60 and AV-8 Harrier.

The push to making the USMC MV-22 centric is madness. We’re the Marine Corps, not the seagoing 101st Airborne.

How did you get that point?

I actually visited 101st in Mosul Iraq (a great combat Division) but I must have failed along the way-so time to be blunt addressing some talking heads posturing on size of force necessary for schwacking ISIS inIraq.”

Big Army (15,000 troops) will size their force for traditional linear Hub/Spoke Base Camp and FOB con-ops-USMC ARG/MEU can go horizontal with constant insertion  and extraction.

Both have Air on station–Big Army will be predictable even with helos-Enemy can react–USMC can be unpredictable thus forcing OUR ops tempo on them and generating more “troops in the open.”

The more ISIS cannot  understand vectors of attack day night the better–then death from above.

I found it amazing that when I was in Iraq –some in Big Army actually thought it was a land locked country.

Thank you for a chance to clarify and a robust debate -S/F Ed




South Korea and the Iron Dome

Ed Timperlake has written earlier along with Richard Weitz about the importance of the Iron Dome.

In the Fall of 2012, Richard Weitz highlighted the growing importance of the Iron Dome in dealing with the threat from Hamas.

Given its high cost and relatively small area of defense, the system is most useful for populations like that in Israel, where the majority of the population is relatively concentrated in small areas.

South Korea has been in talks with Israel as well, pointing out similarities between their border situation with North Korea and Israel’s border situation with Gaza.

Due to its mobility and the concentration of high-value targets on military bases, the system could also be employed for battlefield use.

And earlier this week, Ed Timperlake underscored the battlefield performance for the defense of Israel and its relevance for other allies.

The Iron Dome is currently defending all under its protection and is proven to be very effective in stopping deadly rockets, mortar and artillery shells.

The current combat proof of concept has important consequences for many countries.

Once such a sensor/shooter system is linked to longer range Air Defense Artillery (ADA) kinetic interceptors such as the IDF Arrow 2 and 3 or if America learns how it works. the US Army can network US THAAD/Patriot batteries in our own version.

In addition to today’s lifesaving combat applications Israeli scientists and engineers can take justified pride that through their direct actions they will be responsible for mitigating threats by nasty deadly countries blustering with their rockets.

As the Iron Dome capability proliferates, the world will actually be a safer place because countries thinking of making a conventional missile attack will have a significant warfighting dilemma as the effectiveness of their weapons getting through will be in question.

North Korea especially along the DMZ, Iran against Israel and China against Japan and Taiwan come to mind as real world examples.

The world will owe Israel a debt of gratitude.

Apparently South Korea feels the same way.  We have written more generally about the offensive and defensive enterprise and South Korea is buying the F-35 as part of the evolution in their offensive and defensive capabilities.

Now they are looking carefully at the Iron Dome and its implications for the defense of South Korea.

According to a Reuters story published August 10, 2014:

South Korea is interested in buying the Israeli short-range rocket interceptor Iron Dome, its manufacturer said on Sunday.

Iron Dome, which uses guided missiles to shoot down the Katyusha-style rockets favored by Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas, has scored around a 90 percent success rate in the month-old Gaza war, Israeli officials and U.S. observers say.

Yedidia Yaari, CEO of Iron Dome’s state-owned manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., said the system’s performance had fueled foreign interest in buying it, including by South Korea, which is in an armed standoff with North Korea.

“It is very worried not only about rockets, but other things as well … You can certainly include them in the club of interested countries,” Yaari told Israel’s Army Radio, saying Rafael representatives had visited Seoul to promote Iron Dome.

2014 is NOT 2003: Fighting an Information War and Leveraging New Combat Capabilities

The Honorable Mike Wynne 21st USAF Secretary expressed what is now known as The Wynne Doctrine: “If you are in a fair fight someone failed in planning.”

Many successful battlefield commanders in history practiced the Wynne Doctrine.

In fact, General Sherman “Uncle Billy” to his soldiers like Secretary Wynne was a West Point educated military genius from the American Civil War who characterized perfectly that Centuries version of the Wynne Doctrine when he warned the South against going to war;

“You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail.”

After much effort and criticism the USMC has successfully pioneered an ingenious Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit (ARG/MEU) to engage in Iraq. History has also shown that the 20th Century American way of war is to quest for Air Dominance, with USAF, USN and USMC airpower forces on station. This has been significantly updated with the addition of the tilt-rotor enabled assault force.

In the US WWII , “Crusade in Europe,” General Patton actually got it right with US Army Air Corps anchoring his flank as he raced across Europe. He successfully advanced with an entire Army.

In the Korean War the Marines got it right with the 1st Marine Division advance to the “Frozen Chosen” Reservoir. The Marine advance went cautiously, even though the Army Commander was yelling at them to move faster, but they always secured their flanks and anchored the effort with an air field. Consequently with a significant Intelligence failure the 1st Division found themselves facing the entire PLA 9th Army,

The Marines made their famous retrograde in sub-zero conditions to the Sea: “Retreat,hell! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction.”.1st Marine Division CG, MG O.P Smith. ” The Marines relied on airpower to keep the CHICOMs from massing against their flanks.

Today in the evolving 2014 Battle of Iraq the US has a totally different innovative and unique combat capability the USMC ARG/MEU afloat, an MV-22 tilt-rotor enabled force.

The Navy/Marine team can execute The Wynne Doctrine. Day or night, from the sea to the sea the Marines can reach any part of Iraq with up to a battalion of infantry. Like Patton in WWII and Smith in Korea Air Dominance of USAF/USN/USMC on over watch, launching “death from above,” can decimate ISIS.

The MV-22 force will also limit threats from IEDs which marching infantry can face on the roads of Iraq.

Insertion of an offshore MEU to defend a village or evacuate threatened allies to safe havens is a lasting debt to those who have worked with us in trying to shape a more secure Iraq.

And this obligation becomes part of our staying power in a region, which will remain central to the U.S. even after significant removal of ground forces.  The MEU allows us to have available a combat blocking force on the ground as an enemy begins to mass and concentrate forces and have a lift as necessary to relocate them to safe havens.

The USMC with their unique hybrid air ground combat team can come and go as they need using airpower assets to engage.

There are no lingering boots staying on the ground. USMC MV-22 combat forces can flank any fixed position of ISIS or isolate one of their base camps or logistical stockpile, the Marines can take any high ground, or seize open terrain hoping to set up  “set piece” battles against ISIS.

Whatever the Marines do ISIS will either have to engage or runaway if so they will have to mass to attack and then die in large numbers.

Major Cuomo, commanding the USMC Infantry course at Quantico explained all this a few weeks ago, especially his combat guidance to his 388 Marine infantry unit in Helmand Province Afghanistan when he was a Captain. He told his command move to engage and get in a fight every day.

He described how as a USMC Company Commander he was given responsibility for 388 personnel, who were responsible for securing an initially very volatile, 25km by 15km area, in Helmand Province. After multiple clearing operations, he ultimately organized his unit into 12 operating areas, with young officers and NCOs in charge of each of the positions; for the last 3 months of the deployment, an extremely capable lance corporal was the senior Marine at one of the positions.

He clearly wanted to keep the forces cross-informed as well as to provide the kind of command guidance useful for a large dynamic combat area.  To that point, such interaction was being done largely by radio.

But the Major, then a Captain, was able to leverage a new technology to come up with a much more effective way to operate, namely to use what was called an ECO or Enhanced Company Operations package.

According to the ECO website:

Enhanced Company Operations (ECO) is a United States Marine Corps (USMC) effort to enhance the infantry company, platoon and squad’s Command and Control (C2) and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability in order to conduct various missions in disparate locations.

ECO integrates organic tactical radios, ruggedized computers, cameras and data controllers into a rapidly deployable, man packable system for use by infantry Marines. 

On relief missions Marines can establish lines of ground communication and logistics for humanitarian relief and/or evacuation. They just have to secure a road junction and then move innocents from there to a sanctuary area. Such a demonstrated 2014 capability will allow actual calibration of two critical factors, ISIS military capability along with the Iraq Army.

The good news is that if ISIS masses anywhere near USMC infantry they will be pulverized. But an important caveat, no COIN, Big Army solutions or city fights.

In 2014 the US with battle tipping mobility can kill ISIS on our terms and set the combat tempo. Local Iraq units can then pick them off, but if the Iraq Army cannot effectively engage then there should never be another argument for nation building or any type of COIN in this century.

RPAs or UAVs are also an important addition to managing the effort in the Iraq engagement, but really as a complement or supplement to a USMC insertion force.  UAVs can provide enduring ISR oversight to support the security of the USMC forces and to assist in broader identification of threats and targets to be dealt with either by ground or air combat forces.

In addition, an Information war component against ISIS is crucial as well.

Too often cyber tactical maneuvers become equated with information war; they are not. It is crucial to counter, and to shape the information terrain of a 21st century battlespace. Information war (IW) means just that present who the enemy is, what they are capable of doing and what the consequences of inaction means to all Americans.

Russia and China have clients, the US has Allies which help tremendously in both combat and IW. “Find- Fix - Finish” is usually a term used more often in the context of counterterrorism but even though ISIS is also parading conventional weapons in Iraq and declaring they are the army of a state or Caliphate, they are also vicious terrorists.

ISIS flags representing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or if one prefers ISIL, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, are beginning to be seen in Gaza, Europe, and now in front of White House. The threat is so great that the Dutch have brilliantly acted in IW to quickly outlaw the ISIS flag.

Europe, US and Israel have to be very worried about the world-wide terrorism capability of ISIS especially if they get a nuke. The world cannot let Iran develop a working nuclear bomb because even with a very low probability of ISIS getting one from Iran the horror is beyond comprehension.

Israeli actions against Hamas are part of the overall conflict. Military Israel, in addition to developing the Iron Dome ultimately for proliferation to the free world, the IDF will be also be attacking ISIL in Gaza and that is a very good thing. ISIS partnering with Hamas will change the entire narrative. This is doubly true as the US military begins to attack ISIS in Iraq.

Free democratic countries willing to fight and engage in direct combat to help stop demonstrated pure evil should be honored not condemned. Eventually in these dark days the US Presidential action against ISIS in Iraq, late as it is, along with Israel taking a stand in Gaza will be seen and applauded by future historians.

US has had a late start but it is now time to put a stop to ISIS by the President using our 2014 technology and resulting combat capabilities.

It is also way past time for US to engage in IW to help Israel by throwing a significant public “penalty flag” against condemnations of Israel with no consideration for the context, and the use of Gaza citizens by Hamas terrorists as combat fodder.


The View from the 7th USAF of Dealing with the Korean Challenge

About a year ago, Second Line of Defense spoke with Lt. General Jouas, the 7th USAF Commander, about the challenge of dealing with North Korea.

Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas is the Deputy Commander, United Nations Command Korea; Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea; Commander, Air Component Command, Republic of Korea/U.S. Combined Forces Command; and Commander, 7th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Osan Air Base, South Korea. He is also the U.S. representative to the joint committee for the Status of Forces agreement between the two countries.

In that interview, Lt. General Jouas highlighted the central role of airpower in dealing with the evolving threat from the North.

Air power, not unlike in 1950, will initially stem the flow of aggression against the ROK. Historically, the reason we were able to establish a defensive perimeter in 1950 was because air power was able to slow the advance of the North Korean Army as it moved south.

Air power is always able to attack in depth; we’re able to operate at the strategic level, the operational level, and the tactical level.  An air campaign on the Korean peninsula would follow that blueprint, establishing air superiority and creating effects across the spectrum of a joint battle space. In doing so we would provide ground and naval forces the freedom to maneuver and engage, so that we jointly defeat the adversary.

We picked up from the earlier discussion to get an update on developments.

Question: Since we last spoke, the South Koreans have decided to buy the F-35 which means that the 7th USAF will be flying with the South Korean Air Force with a core force of F-35s a decade out? How will that affect your approach as a 7th USAF commander?

Lt. General Jouas: One of the failures to understand the impact of the F-35 is the propensity to focus on its dogfighting capability or stealth. What is missed is the impact of the fused combat systems and what a fleet of interconnected F-35s will be able to do within the battlespace.

The F-35 is not simply a replacement aircraft. We are looking to fulfill one of the promises of network-centric warfare, namely flattening the chain of command and control and connecting warfighters within the battlespace.

This is not an evolution, but a whole new way for warfighting. And we will have to train to be able to take full advantage of an F-35 fleet. We are going to have to adapt our way of warfighting to the emergence of these new capabilities.

Question. Lt General (Retired) Deptula and Colonel (Retired) Rob Evans, both of whom you have worked with in the past have focused on the significant changes in C2 correlated with the coming of the F-35 fleet. From your perspective in managing one of the most crucial air components in the USAF, in a theater facing an unsteady nuclear power, how do you view this transition?

Lt. General Jouas: We’ve always talked about decentralized execution in the Air Force. This plane will play a forcing function role with regard to C2. We are going to reshape how we do centralized control and decentralized execution with the situational awareness, interconnectivity, and capabilities that this particular airplane will bring to us, and to our allies and partners.

Notably with regard to functions like electronic attack, in the past we have flown specialized assets to achieve those effects. These were mission-defined aircraft and operations. With the F-35 fleet we will have at our disposal an aircraft with both kinetic and non-kinetic options at our disposal to attack the enemy.

We are clearly just on the edge of understanding what such capabilities can deliver and over time our concepts of operations will clearly evolve.

Question: You are sitting in a theater which is characterized by what Paul Bracken has referred to as a second nuclear age power facing you directly. This is not 1954, and one cannot assume that if conflict unfolds that the “Dear Leader” will follow a ladder of escalation approach. How does this affect your thinking about and approach to the theater?

Lt. General Jouas: We have a tough problem with North Korea, obviously. You have to understand that this is a different type of adversary with capabilities that concern us, and we need the best tools possible in order to contend with it.

We should not mirror image when we consider the North Korean nuclear strategy.

North Korea has seen what happened in Libya, and with Kaddafi, and that’s reinforced their strategy.

And while this may be a North Korean problem right now, there’s a strong possibility it won’t remain so. And that creates real danger to our allies and our homeland. We have to think about a world in which we have more than one North Korea, in which those capabilities are held by other nations whose interests and strategy are very different from ours.

Question: Our allies in the Pacific are adding capabilities and working towards a more effective Pacific defense approach. How does that affect the US position in the region?

Lt. General Jouas: The upgrading of capabilities throughout the Pacific contributes to our overall coalition capabilities. The addition of airlift, aerial refueling, command and control and other combat capabilities among core partners will enhance our position and our overall capabilities, whether it is for dealing with a humanitarian or crisis situation. I welcome these improvements in the region.

Question: The South Koreans are buying the F-35. How does that affect the future position of the 7th USAF?

Lt. General Jouas: It provides a significant boost in capability. When we look at the threats posed by North Korea, a US and South Korean F-35 fleet is a crucial asymmetric advantage. The decision to buy the F-35 was certainly forward-looking because this is the airplane for the future. And not just because it’s going to be interoperable with our forces, but with those of our allies as well in enhancing the kill chain to deal with the North Korean threat.

Learning to shape coalition interoperability with the F-35 and share situational awareness across the force will be a major improvement in the period ahead.

As South Korea modernizes its air arm, the ability to defend itself and contribute to defense in the region will go up. For example, like Australia, South Korea has bought an airborne command and control platform, the E-737 Peace Eye. They now have operational experience with a flying C2 platform, and are starting to learn more and more about exploiting its capabilities. As the F-35 comes onboard, that’ll be a great marriage between that platform and the F-35.

Question: Some may still look at South Korea and its defense through the optic of 1954. But the acquisition of nuclear weapons and strike missiles has really altered the challenge faced by allied forces in preparing to execute a South Korean defense. How do you look at the change?

Lt. General Jouas: We anticipate minimal warning before the start of any conflict, and so it really is a “come as you are” theater of operations. The need for modern interconnected fifth generation aircraft that are able to rapidly respond to any crisis on the peninsula is vital to us. So whether they’re Marine assets, or Navy assets, or Air Force assets, I can assure you that as the air component commander, I’ve got them in my plan, and we will integrate and make the best use of them.

The Role of the Iron Dome: Thinking Through the Impact of Defense

The Honorable Mike Wynne 21st USAF Secretary expressed what is now known as The Wynne Doctrine—“If you are in a fair fight someone failed in planning.”

Many successful battlefield commanders in history practiced the Wynne Doctrine.

Israel certainly needs too because they can never afford to lose and knows it cold.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must be vigilant and prepared at all times. In doing so the IDF has invented and perfected one of the most powerful deterrence and warfighting capabilities on the 21st Century battlefield, their Iron Dome.

The Iron Dome is currently defending all under its protection and is proven to be very effective in stopping deadly rockets, mortar and artillery shells.

The current combat proof of concept has important consequences for many countries.

Once such a sensor/shooter system is linked to longer range Air Defense Artillery (ADA) kinetic interceptors such as the IDF Arrow 2 and 3 or if America learns how it works. the US Army can network US THAAD/Patriot batteries in our own version.

In addition to today’s lifesaving combat applications Israeli scientists and engineers can take justified pride that through their direct actions they will be responsible for mitigating threats by nasty deadly countries blustering with their rockets.

As the Iron Dome capability proliferates, the world will actually be a safer place because countries thinking of making a conventional missile attack will have a significant warfighting dilemma as the effectiveness of their weapons getting through will be in question.

North Korea especially along the DMZ, Iran against Israel and China against Japan and Taiwan come to mind as real world examples.

The world will owe Israel a debt of gratitude.

Currently in today’s combat, the Iron Dome is setting a new world standard in defending all non-combatants.

The political and information war considerations of the Iron Dome’s success is yet to be recognized and fully expressed.

The citizens of Gaza are threatened by the actions of Hamas. By using the lives of Gaza citizens as a launch point whereby Hamas fires rockets to draw IDF direct fire, part of the Israel response is to use defensive weapons to deal with the threat.

The Iron Dome is effective in saving ALL lives, not just those in Israel, and provides an opportunity for Gaza citizens to think twice about the goals and intentions of their leaders.

It will dawn on all in Gaza that Hamas is trying intentionally to get them killed.

It is past time for the innocents in Gaza to blame Hamas in public and demand they stop. It is not a war in the conventional sense regardless of the statements that Hamas will resume fighting.

What they are really saying is we know we are ineffective but we will martyr our people regardless because we are winning an information war. 

The Iron Dome is a generation and quantum leap ahead in defending against incoming rockets.

With the proven capability of the Iron Dome along with the IAF and ground troops uncovering deadly tunnels, Israel is inventing a new chapter in modern war.

In essence, the Israelis are shaping a way ahead in defensive offensive air ground warfighting capability.

But to be fully effective, the information war aspects need to be addressed as well.

De facto, Hamas by attacking Israel wishes to trigger a massive response and to see more Gaza citizens killed.

With the Iron Dome, Israel can respond effectively, lower the causalities on both sides, and deflect the Hamas goal of seeing more Gaza citizens killed as pawns in their information war.

When discussing innovative technology and warfighting one must also look at the combat rules of engagement (ROE) that stress minimization of harm to innocents.

Linking both technology and ROE is a critical component of 21st Century “Information War;” Israel is doing just that that but not getting appropriate credit.

Just like fighter pilots do not wake up calculating how many innocents can they kill, families in Gaza do not wake up to be sacrificed as information pawns in a calculated ploy by their leaders who now are intentionally trying to get them killed.

The now known success of Iron Dome makes that point.

Tragically unless something changes the piece below is a precursor to what Israel now faces, both in the US but more so in Europe, where her critics will howl for months to come

But that does not have to be the case.

It is past time that the innocent families in Gaza recognize that they are being cynically used and they will say enough and finally blame Hamas.

All who are being put in harm’s way by their leaders recognize that instead of blaming Israel should put the blame where it belongs: on Hamas as using them as pawns in a global information war.

Pundits in US and even the Israeli leadership pointing out the truth of the situation is important in Information War but a message finally coming from those in Gaza putting blame on Hamas is the most powerful voice of all.

It is not too late to find and listen to some brave souls in the Gaza “street” telling Hamas to stop launching rockets, stand down and just go away.

It is a hard issue to find anyone with the courage to speak out but honest insights from Gaza citizens, not blaming Israel, would be a powerful insight and save many lives.

Ukraine and the Evolution of 21st Century Warfare

Nuclear weapons are part of the context of 21st century warfare.  The threat of their use or the mere existence within the arsenal of a state’s capabilities affect behavior.  They are a contextual, not merely an existential weapon.

Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees broken by the Russian seizure of Ukraine is part of that context, The Second Nuclear Age needs to be placed in the context of the realities of evolving approaches to 21st century warfare.

In this piece, we will start the process by examining how the latest events in Ukraine are part of the learning curve for 21st century warfare.

War is always with us; but it mutates over time.

In an age of globalization, total war is not a strategic objective of any major global power.

Having said that, what kind of warfare do the adversaries of the United States see as sensible to roll back American power and to reshape the globe in their image?

At the end of 20th century we learned that bringing down the World Trade Center was a desirable objective seen as part of the broader picture of the Middle East regional conflict.  A similar effort was tried in France several years earlier, but was not recognized as such by analysts and policy makers.  The World Trade Center attack was simply a copy cat plan of the aborted effort to strike the Eiffel Tower.

What we have seen recently in Ukraine with the Malaysian airliner is the next strike in this decade’s reinvention of warfare.

One could interpret this as an aberration requiring legal action, but this would miss the point of how it all started – the Russian seizure of Ukraine and the triggering the potential collapse of the Kiev government.

In a globally interconnected world, moves on one regional chessboard have consequences elsewhere, difficult to see at the time, but clearly happening nonetheless. 21st century warfare is about the use of hard power to gain advantage wrapped in the candy wrap of soft power.  The best moves are those that can allow one to move ones pieces on the global chessboard without losing your pieces nor providing an excuse to your adversary to up the ante dramatically.

The isolation of world events as factually separate based on the variable of time or t is how the media and policy makers and many analysts interpret a particular event.  The reality is that an event is always contextual, and that different actors operating in an event are working to shape an outcome to their advantage, the nature of which carries with it both past and future history.

When Putin seized Ukraine it was deliberate and seen as a relatively risk free opportunity to expand his energy empire and his place in the Mediterranean and the Middle East as well.  It has been risk free from the standpoint of what the West has done in reaction, for this event has been isolated and almost forgotten prior to the jetliner being shot down over Ukraine.

The opportunity for the West to re-engage in Ukraine and to stop Russian map making in its tracks is clearly there; and not taking advantage of the crisis will have its own consequences upon key actors in the region and beyond.

It is not an in and of itself CNN moment; it is part of the texture of 21st century re-shaping of Europe and a contributor to the next chapter of writing the book on 21st century warfare.

The Attack on Ukraine as 21st Century Warfare

In a seminal piece on the Ukrainian crisis by a Latvian researcher, new ground has been laid to shape a clearer understanding of the evolving nature of 21st century military power.

Neither asymmetric nor convention, the Russians are shaping what this researcher calls a strategic communications policy to support strategic objectives and to do so with a tool set of various means, including skill useful of military power as the underwriter of the entire effort.

According to Janis Berzinš, the Russians have unleashed a new generation of warfare in Ukraine. The entire piece needs to be read carefully and its entirety, but the core analytical points about the Russian approach and the shaping a new variant of military operations for the 21st century can be seen from the excerpts taken from the piece below:

The Crimean campaign has been an impressive demonstration of strategic communication, one which shares many similarities with their intervention in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, while at the same time being essentially different, since it reflects the operational realization of the new military guidelines to be implemented by 2020.

Its success can be measured by the fact that in just three weeks, and without a shot being fired, the morale of the Ukrainian military was broken and all of their 190 bases had surrendered. Instead of relying on a mass deployment of tanks and artillery, the Crimean campaign deployed less than 10,000 assault troops – mostly naval infantry, already stationed in Crimea, backed by a few battalions of airborne troops and Spetsnaz commandos – against 16,000 Ukrainian military personnel.

In addition, the heaviest vehicle used was the wheeled BTR-80 armored personal carrier. After blocking Ukrainian troops in their bases, the Russians started the second operational phase, consisting of psychological warfare, intimidation, bribery, and internet/media propaganda to undermine resistance, thus avoiding the use of firepower.

The operation was also characterized by the great discipline of the Russian troops, the display of new personnel equipment, body armor, and light wheeled armored vehicles. The result was a clear military victory on the battlefield by the operationalization of a well-orchestrated campaign of strategic communication, using clear political, psychological, and information strategies and the fully operationalization of what Russian military thinkers call “New Generation Warfare”…..

Thus, the Russian view of modern warfare is based on the idea that the main battlespace is the mind and, as a result, new-generation wars are to be dominated by information and psychological warfare, in order to achieve superiority in troops and weapons control, morally and psychologically depressing the enemy’s armed forces personnel and civil population.

The main objective is to reduce the necessity for deploying hard military power to the minimum necessary, making the opponent’s military and civil population support the attacker to the detriment of their own government and country.

New Generation Warfare

By seizing Crimea, Russia set in motion internal pressures aided by direct support to continue map writing in Ukraine and to reduce the size of the territory under the country of the government in Kiev.  The Crimean intervention was destabilizing, and the enhanced role of Russian “separatists” aided and abetted by Moscow within the remainder of Ukraine is part of the Russian 21st century approach to warfare.

The problem is that as the Russian’s shape a new approach, others are learning as well.

With a swift destruction of a Malaysian airliner by the use of a sophisticated surface to air missiles shot from Ukrainian territory, a new instrument of terror in the hands of those who wish to use it has been clearly demonstrated. And in the world of terrorists, imitation of success is a demonstrated way forward.

Putting the entire civil aviation industry at its feet is a distinct possibility. When terrorists slammed into the World Trade Center and stuck the Pentagon, the effect on the civil aviation industry was immediate. With ground missiles in the hands of terrorists the same dynamic can easily be unleashed.

Unfortunately, this might not be a one off event, even though the specific context is clearly unique. For example, the loss of thousands of manpads from the Odyssey Dawn intervention has been a lingering threat overhanging global aviation or evident in threats directly against the state of Israel. By conducting air strikes against Libya in March 2011, the stockpiles of manpads were not destroyed. The decision to NOT put boots on the ground to secure the KNOWN Libyan manpads stockpile, but to strike without any real consideration of the OBVIOUS consequences of thousands of manpads escaping destruction or control.

One or simultaneous manpad attacks against civil airliners are possible.

Much like slamming into the World Trade Center was a new chapter in warfare, this current Ukrainian development could be as well.

The proliferation from Libya to Egypt and Lebanon has already been reported.  If a group associated with the former Libyan regime, based in Lebanon or Egypt sought to bring further focus on the crisis in Libya, attacking European airliners coming into Egypt would be plausible.

The initial reaction to such a manpad attack would clearly be to focus on the source of the attack.  Intelligence sharing would be crucial to determine who and where the source of the threat lies.  And there should be an immediate concern with copycat activities of other groups who might see an advantage from disrupting specific countries and to try to isolate them by using pressure to shut down airline based travel and commerce.

Within countries like Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and ISIS, there are distinct advantages by outsider groups to use such tactics to shape the political process. In the wake of such an attack, Europe and the United States and Asia would go back to planning underway when the Bush Administration was in power.  The need to introduce defensive measures on airliners must be debated.

The threat of manpads now seen in terms of its more sophisticated brother has become a reality chilling the global aviation industry and providing a new chapter in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis

Which terrorists – whether state-sponsored, state-supplied or even worse able to gain access to lethal weapons and training to pop a civil airliner – remains to be determined, and that is an unacceptable strategic intelligence failure.

What Can the United States Do?

Simply asking Putin to man up and take responsibility is not going to get the job done.  The United States needs to shape its own capabilities for 21st century warfare.

We could start by trying to actually engage in the information war which the Russians are conducting.  Clearly, leveraging intelligence assets and putting the story into the Western press in DETAIL is crucial to position oneself for an effective information war engagement.

This is not about feeling good; it is about defeating the Russian information war gambit, which is holding the West responsible to trying to take advantage of the crisis for political advantage.  We may feel privately that his position is less than credible; but it can be clearly believed worldwide.

But we need a hard power response to go with the diplomatic kabuki dance in which we are not engaged.  And one clearly is at hand.

We argued in our book with Richard Weitz on Pacific strategy, that U.S. military power needed to be rebuilt around a modular, scalable force that could be effectively inserted in crisis.  We also argued for the economy of force, that is one wants to design force packages appropriate the political objective.

If this was the pre-Osprey era, an insertion might be more difficult, but with the tiltrotar assault force called the USMC a force can be put in place rapidly to cordon off the area, and to be able to shape a credible global response to the disinformation campaign of Russia and its state-sponsored separatists.   Working with the Ukrainians, an air cap would be established over the area of interest, and airpower coupled with the Marines on the ground, and forces loyal to Kiev could stop Putin in his tracks.

In other words, countering Russian 21st century warfare creativity is crucial for the United States to do right now with some creativity of our own.

Again it is about using military force in ways appropriate to the political mission.

Emerging Capabilities to Reinforce the Approach

The approach described here only gets better with the coming of the F-35 to US and allied forces.  The multi-mission capabilities of the aircraft means that a small footprint can bring diversified lethality to the fight.  An F-35 squadron can carry inherent within it an electronic attack force, a missile defense tracking capability, a mapping capability for the ground forces, ISR and C2 capabilities for the deployed force and do so in a compact deployment package.

In addition, an F-35 fleet can empower Air Defense Artillery (ADA), whether Aegis afloat or Patriots and THAAD Batteries, the concept of establishing air dominance is moving in a synergistic direction.  An F-35 EW capability along with it’s AA and AG capability will introduce innovate tactics in the SEAD mission. Concurrently, the F-35 will empower U.S. and Allied ADA situational awareness.  The current engagement of the IDF employment of their Irion Dome in conjunction with aviation attacks is a demonstration of  this type of emerging partnership being forged in battle.

To get a similar capability today into the Area of Interest would require a diversified and complex aerial fleet, whose very size would create a political statement, which one might really not want to make.

With an F-35 enabled ground insertion force, a smaller force with significant lethality and flexibility could be deployed until it is no longer needed for it is about air-enabled ground forces.  A tiltrotar enabled assault force with top cover from a 360 degree operational F-35 fleet, whether USMC, USN, USAF or allied can allow for the kind of flexibility necessary for 21st century warfare and operational realities.

Lt. Col. Boniface in forecasting a “tsunami of change” to come, understood without even saying so the evolving nature of warfare, and in this case was talking about the Osprey and the coming of the F-35B:

I sort of think of it like a game of chess….. If you have ever played chess it sometimes take a while to engage your opponent. 

We now have the ability to move a knight, bishop, or rook off of this same chessboard and attack 180 degrees towards the rear of our enemy.

We can go directly after the king.

Yes, it’s not really fair, but I like that fact.

Our politicians and strategists need to understand the changing nature of warfare and how to engage our assets for strategic advantage.  Our adversaries are certainly not waiting around for Washington to get smarter.

Why Nuclear Weapons Remain Essential to American Security

There is a widely held notion that nuclear weapons are not central to American defense in the 21st century.

In my view, this is a misguided viewpoint and is built upon several assumptions which need to be carefully examined.

Assumption 1: “Nuclear weapons are a Cold War relic useless for defense purposes today.”

On the contrary, nuclear weapons are needed now more than ever.

By far the biggest, most lethal, and most pressing threats America and her allies are facing right now are the nuclear capabilities of Russia, China, and North Korea and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

No other threat comes even close to being as grave as these four.

Russia alone has 8,500 nuclear weapons and is still growing its arsenal. It can target the Continental US with over 400 ICBMs (capable of delivering over 1,600 nuclear warheads), 13 ballistic missile subs capable of delivering between 1,200 and 1,400 warheads anywhere in the world, and 251 strategic bombers (Tu-95s, Tu-160s, Tu-22Ms). Russia’s 64 Tu-95 Bear bombers alone can deliver over 700 nuclear-armed cruise missiles right to America. In addition, Russia has 20 nuclear-powered submarines carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles – also deliverable anywhere in the US.

Russia is now growing, not cutting, all of these legs of its nuclear triad (essentially, quad) – and modernizing them rapidly. Old missiles and submarines are being replaced by newer, much more accurate, survivable, and lethal ones. Old, single-warhead Topol ICBMs are being replaced with 6-warhead Yars missiles; old, 4-warhead submarine-launched missiles are being replaced with ones that can carry 10-12 warheads – the Bulava and the Liner.

Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal is even greater, consisting of several thousand warheads and a wide range of delivery systems: attack aircraft, medium bombers, short- and intermediate-range missiles (tested and deployed in violation of the INF Treaty), artillery pieces, submarines, surface ships, etc.

The Russian nuclear threat is not theoretical, it is very real.

In recent years, Russia has threatened to aim or even use nuclear weapons against the US and its allies on 15 occasions. It has repeatedly flown its nuclear-armed bombers close to, and sometimes into, US and allied airspace, and twice even into Swedish airspace (what has Sweden done to Russia?).

It has repeatedly tested, en masse and close to US airspace, its ability to launch large-scale nuclear attacks.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has threatened the US with ICBMs and to fly to Transnistria in a Tu-160 bomber if Romania denies him use of its airspace the next time he goes there.

Indeed, Russia’s military doctrine reserves to Moscow the right to use nuclear weapons, even preemptively and against states that don’t have them.

And Russia is not the only serious nuclear threat to America’s security. China is another. It has between 1,600 and 3,000 nuclear warheads (not the mere 240-250 that American arms control afficionados claim) and can deliver them to any point on the globe.

China’s ICBM and ballistic missile submarine fleets are currently much smaller than America’s, and can deliver only hundreds of warheads to the US – not thousands like Russia.

But American “arms controllers” are already working hard to solve that problem for the Chinese – by advocating deep, unilateral, unreciprocated cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent, so that it can be destroyed by both the Russians and the Chinese in a preemptive first strike, if such were to happen.

The Chinese, for their part, are constantly growing their ICBM and ballistic missile submarine force – they are now deploying the new DF-41 ICBM capable of delivering 10 warheads to the US, while growing their arsenal of DF-31 ICBMs, and building submarines capable of carrying more missiles and warheads.

China and Russia are also developing a stealthy intercontinental bomber and hypersonic missiles that could reach the US with a nuclear payload in just 30 minutes.

In East Asia, China can unleash even more nuclear-armed missiles: 1,200-1,600 short-range and over 100 medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as hundreds of nuclear-capable cruise missiles launched from ground systems and aircraft (JH-7 and H-6).

Then there is North Korea, which already has ICBMs capable of reaching the US and has miniaturized warheads to put on them, and Iran, which is rapidly developing nuclear weapons, triggers for them, an ICBM, and expanding its nuclear fuel enrichment business. Iran’s Supreme Leader has recently said his nation “needs” more centrifuges to enrich more nuclear fuel. Iran also continues to develop a neutron initiator – a trigger for nuclear weapons.

The fact is that America needs a significant, effective, modernized multi-legged nuclear deterrent now more than ever.

Assumption 2: “The US has too many nuclear weapons and can afford to cut its arsenal deeply.”

America does not have too many nuclear weapons. It barely has enough.

As stated above, Russia alone has 8,500 nuclear weapons and is still growing its arsenal. It can target the Continental US with over 400 ICBMs (capable of delivering over 1,600 nuclear warheads), 13 ballistic missile subs capable of delivering between 1,200 and 1,400 warheads anywhere in the world, and 251 strategic bombers (Tu-95s, Tu-160s, Tu-22Ms). Russia’s 64 Tu-95 Bear bombers alone can deliver over 700 nuclear-armed cruise missiles right to America. Each of Russia’s Tu-160 bombers can deliver 12 nuclear-tipped missiles to the US. Each of Russia’s 171 Tu-22M bombers can deliver 10 nuclear weapons.

In addition, Russia has 20 nuclear-powered submarines carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles – also deliverable anywhere in the US.

Russia is now growing, not cutting, all of these legs of its nuclear triad (essentially, quad) – and modernizing them rapidly. Old missiles and submarines are being replaced by newer, much more accurate, survivable, and lethal ones. Old, single-warhead Topol ICBMs are being replaced with 6-warhead Yars missiles; old, 4-warhead submarine-launched missiles are being replaced with ones that can carry 10-12 warheads – the Bulava and the Liner.

So in the future, Russia will have even more nuclear weapons deliverable to the US than it does today, by replacing single- and 4-warhead missiles with ones carrying 6, 10, and even 12 warheads. Which will require even more American nuclear weapons to survive a potential first strike and then retaliate against Russian nuclear forces.

As the US Embassy in Moscow reported earlier this year, Russia is seeking nuclear superiority over the US; it is not content with nuclear parity.

China’s nuclear arsenal is not as big as Russia, but it’s working hard to dramatically increase the number of nuclear weapons it can deliver to the US by deploying multiple-warhead DF-31 and DF-41 ICBMs, more ballistic missile submarines (Jin and Tang class) with more JL-2 missiles, and developing a stealthy, intercontinental bomber.

North Korea also has ICBMs capable of reaching parts of the US and carrying miniaturized warheads. Iran is now working to acquire such ICBMs and, according to US intelligence, could flight-test such a missile next year.

America does not have too many nuclear weapons.

And if it doesn’t effectively modernize its arsenal, it will have too few.

The nuclear threats to America – from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran – are growing, not shrinking. As they grow, so must the US nuclear arsenal be effectively modernized.

Assumption 3: “The nuclear triad is a Cold War relic; we can afford to cut it to a dyad or a monad.”

Only a nuclear triad (i.e. an arsenal based on submarines, land-based missiles, and bomber aircraft) is truly survivable; cutting it down to a dyad or, even worse, a monad (i.e. only one or two legs) would make it dramatically less survivable and thus invite a nuclear first strike.

With just a single leg or two remaining, an enemy wishing to attack the US would only have to eliminate that single leg, or those two remaining legs, to disarm the US forcibly and preemptively.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) leg of the nuclear triad – often singled out for the axe by anti-nuclear hacks – costs only $1.1 bn to maintain; the bomber leg, about $2.5 bn.

For that modest sum, America gets two very powerful nuclear triad legs: 450 ICBMs in hardened silos and a mixed fleet of penetrating and standoff intercontinental bombers. Those 450 ICBMs, due to their large number and their hardened silos, can withstand even a massed enemy ICBM attack. Destroying all of them would require an enemy to use at least 900 nuclear warheads. Currently, only Russia could do that – and that would eliminate only one of the legs of the American nuclear triad.

Scrapping the triad’s ICBM leg would save close to nothing, while depriving America of a VERY valuable and INDISPENSABLE deterrence instrument capable of taking on and surviving even massive enemy strikes.

No wise, prudent person or nation puts all his/her eggs in one basket. One must rely on many simultaneous layers of defense. Never create too few problems for your enemy because if you do, he’ll solve them easily.

Assumption 4: “America’s nuclear arsenal is too expensive to maintain and modernize.”

On the contrary, the cost of America’s nuclear deterrent is a bargain – especially considering its vital mission and comparing it to the whole of the defense budget.

According to the Stimson Center, the US nuclear deterrent costs around $32 bn per annum to maintain, and the cost of modernizing it will increase that figure only to around $38 bn per year. The military budget for FY2015 will be $570 bn (based on the president’s request and legislation passed by Congress so far). $38 bn is just 6.6% out of that budget.

This is consistent with the Air Force Strategic Command’s report that the nuclear arsenal accounts for only 6% of the military budget.

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) leg of the nuclear triad – often singled out for the axe by anti-nuclear critics – costs only $1.1 bn to maintain; the bomber leg, about $2.5 bn. For that tiny sum, America gets two very powerful nuclear triad legs: 450 ICBMs in hardened silos and a mixed fleet of penetrating and standoff intercontinental bombers.

Those 450 ICBMs, due to their large number and their hardened siloes, can withstand even a massed enemy ICBM attack. Destroying all of them would require an enemy to use at least 900 nuclear warheads. Currently, only Russia could do that – and that would eliminate only one of the legs of the American nuclear triad.

Scrapping the triad’s ICBM leg would save close to nothing, while depriving America of a VERY valuable and INDISPENSABLE deterrence instrument capable of taking on and surviving even massive enemy strikes.

By comparison, for example, the US Postal Service costs taxpayers $15 bn, and thus generates only losses to the taxpayer – to the tune of $15 bn per year – providing services the private sector could perform much cheaper and better. And unlike the Postal Service, the military provides nuclear deterrence 7/7, 365 days per year – even on Saturdays and Sundays!

Assumption 5: “If America scraps, or at least deeply cuts, its nuclear arsenal, other nations will follow suit.”

On the contrary, nobody will follow suit.

The US has already deeply cut its nuclear arsenal – by over 75% since 1991.

Yet, that hasn’t impressed anyone.

No one else has scrapped their nuclear arsenal – not Russia, not China, not India and Pakistan.

On the contrary, since the Cold War’s end in 1991, two new countries have joined the nuclear club – aforementioned Pakistan and North Korea – and more countries are racing to join it, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

All nuclear powers in the world except the US and Britain are currently modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and many – including Russia, China, India, Israel, and North Korea – are increasing their arsenals. Not to mention Iran’s development, and Saudi Arabia’s order in Pakistan, of nuclear weapons. (Saudi Arabia has also ordered DF-21 ballistic missiles in China to be able to deliver those weapons.)

There is ZERO chance that there will EVER be a world without nuclear weapons.

The need is to modernize and effective US nuclear arsenal and to shape ways to use to enhance deterrence.

Zbigniew Mazurak is a private defense analyst and the Defense Correspondent for Conservative Daily News. He has contributed over 20 articles to the American Thinker, over 190 articles to Conservative Daily News, and numerous articles to other conservative news sites, the vast majority of them dealing with America’s defense issues. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in History and is now working on his Ph.D. in the same field.