The National Interest
October 7, 2020
An Inside Look at How Israel Trains for the Next War with Its Best Units by Seth Frantzman
The National Interest
October 7, 2020
HOOVER DIGEST: peruse the entire issue on the Hoover website.
Pentagon’s new plan to fight China and Russia in the gray zone
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
Navy plans Hammerhead mines to box in Chinese, Russian subs
(Breaking Defense) The Hammerhead mine would be delivered to sites by underwater drones, and “detect, classify, and defeat” manned or unmanned submarines, the Navy says.
The Russians have spent 40 years preparing for undersea slaughter—the US Navy built a submarine to stop it
(Forbes) In mid-October 2019, the Russian navy sortied every operational attack submarine in its Northern Fleet into the cold waters of the high North Atlantic.
Marines vs. China ― the Corps just put these tactics to the test
(Marine Corps Times) The Marine Corps just wrapped a combined exercise between III Marine Expeditionary Force, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the U.S. 7th Fleet that put to the test the Corps' vision for its future fight against China.
The Chinese people want to send money somewhere Xi Jinping isn’t
Derek Scissors | AEIdeas
COVID-19 adds confusion to long-standing credibility problems in China's economic statistics.
The dangerous decline of US diplomacy
Michael Rubin | The National Interest
The dynamics of contemporary American partisanship are corrosive to diplomacy. Gone are the days of broad bipartisan foreign policy consensus and consistency.
We need to talk about nukes
Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble | "Net Assessment"
Esper’s reforms: An interim report card
(Defense One) What progress has the defense secretary made on his ambitious goals to reorient the Defense Department?
Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Secretary Esper stayed committed to his ten targeted goals—each with subtasks—under these three broad objectives to begin achieving “irreversible implementation” of the National Defense Strategy. He has made laudable progress — while leaving plenty of work for next year. – Defense One
Global Business Brief
// Marcus Weisgerber: 500-ship Navy?; Lord's reforms; Interior's drone fleet; and more..
Chinese increasing nuclear submarine shipyard capacity
(USNI News) As China pushes to become a blue-water power, nuclear-powered submarines are critically important to Beijing’s plan.
What could Turkey’s latest S-400 missile tests mean?
(Al Jazeera) Last year, Turkey bought the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defense system, in spite of fierce objections from the United States.
Grand Strategy Is Total: French Gen. André Beaufre on War in the Nuclear Age by Michael Shurkin
The Secret to the Northern Mozambique Insurgency’s Success by Emilia Columbo
Erdoğan and His Arab "Brothers"
By Burak Bekdil, October 8, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: After the infamous Mavi Marmara incident of May 2010, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then foreign policy tzar Ahmet Davutoğlu (later PM and now an Erdoğan opponent) pledged to internationally isolate Israel. This was intended to help them advance their Islamist agenda and augment an emerging unity in the umma, preferably under Turkish leadership. A decade later, pragmatic Arab states are lining up to normalize relations with Israel, leaving state actors Iran and Turkey as well as non-state actor Hamas in a punishing position of international isolation—exactly where Turkey wanted to push Israel.
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Battle Force 2045 Raises Important Questions
By Harlan Ullman, Proceedings: “This week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper outlined his plan for the future Navy called Battle Force 2045. The plan calls for a Navy and Marine Corps of about 500 or more ships based on 8-11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and their associated air wings; an increase in nuclear submarines to between 70-80; six smaller aircraft carrier/amphibious warfare ships; a total of 355 manned ships; and between 140-240 unmanned or partially manned vehicles."
The War in Nagorno-Karabakh Actually Represents an Opportunity for Washington
By Stephen Blank, RealClearDefense: "Several Democratic Senators, in the wake of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, are proposing that the U.S. impose sanctions or terminate all military assistance to Azerbaijan. Evidently, they blame Baku for the war. But while such resolutions may gratify the ubiquitous and deep-rooted moralism and desire to punish malefactors that affects the entire U.S. political class as well as interested domestic constituencies; this intemperate and misconceived move actually runs counter to U.S. interests."
The Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict Hints at the Future of War
From The Economist: “Azerbaijan’s armed forces may be busy waging war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed enclave run by Armenia. That did not stop them from setting aside scarce helicopters and tanks to star in a music video, complete with khaki-clad singers, guitarists and a drummer."
Some US-China economic and trade facts
The US remains well ahead of the People’s Republic of China across a range of important economic indicators, from domestic wealth to share of global foreign direct investment.
Little war in the Caucasus has big lessons for US and Russia
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
Turkey’s increasingly assertive foreign policy
Transforming battlefield geometry: What’s to come in Project Convergence 2021
(Defense News) The U.S. Army’s ambitious first Project Convergence, an exercise that measured the progress of the service’s modernization strategy within its future operational concept, concluded last month, but the service already has a sense of what it wants to accomplish in 2021.
3 questions with Bruce Jette, the US Army’s acquisition chief
(Defense News) The service's acquisition chief talks Project Convergence and the pursuit of new programs.
Army Modernization’s Day of Reckoning Is at Hand
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “Army modernization now faces a day of reckoning. Regardless of who wins the November election, the flow of resources which has undergirded modernization is almost certain to decline."
Beijing’s Bid for a Maritime “God View”:
Military-Civil Fusion Power Projection and Threats to Supply Chain Integrity
By Emily de La Bruyère & Nathan Picarsic, RealClearDefense: “On September 30, the White House issued its second critical mineral executive order since 2017. The Executive Order on Addressing the Threat to the Domestic Supply Chain from Reliance on Critical Minerals from Foreign Adversaries aims to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of select critical minerals, including rare earth elements – for which 80 percent of U.S. imports come from China."
Irregular Warfare With China, Russia Is Already Here
By Sean McFate, The Hill: “Last week, amid the hubbub of the presidential debate, revelations about President Trump’s taxes, the “SCOTUS War” and the COVID-plagued White House, something important happened that almost everybody missed. The Defense Department released the unclassified summary of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the 2018 National Defense Strategy."
Russia’s Armed Forces:
More Capable by Far, but for How Long?
From IISS: "After a decade of modernisation and reform, Russia’s conventional military capabilities are at their highest since the country’s armed forces were formed in 1992. Can Moscow sustain the equipment-modernisation gains made as part of the 2020 State Armament Programme?"
The Power of Broken Promises: Wilson’s Fourteen Points and U.S.-Arab Relations
By Robert E. Schrader IV, Strategy Bridge: ". . . Following centuries of Ottoman subjugation, the Arab world eagerly clung to this idea of national sovereignty."
As China pushes to become a blue-water power, nuclear-powered submarines are critically important to Beijing’s plan. Historically the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) nuclear-powered submarine fleet has been constrained by its limited construction capacity. There is only one shipyard in the country up to the task. But that yard has been undergoing a massive enlargement. And now, recent satellite imagery suggests an additional capacity expansion. – USNI News
Tate Nurkin and Evanna Hu write: The Chinese government has known and built, since the 1990s, its arsenals in indirect warfare. The only way to combat Chinese authoritarian values is to construct resiliency of norms, outcomes, and more importantly, vision of what democratic societies stand for. But the reconstruction will only work with U.S. leadership at the helm to enhance opportunities for security, freedom, and shared prosperity in a new international system. – The Hill
Tom Rogan writes: For all our flaws, the U.S. can respond to China’s aggression by offering a hand of friendship to those smaller nations it bullies. And while China might be able to bully one nation into retreat, confronted by a partnership of many nations, Xi’s ambitions can be restrained. – Washington Examiner
Mason Clark and Ezgi Yazici write: Azerbaijan therefore likely seeks to use the current conflict to deepen Turkish support outside the Minsk Group framework, introduce Azerbaijan’s capability to launch offensive operations into Armenia’s calculus in negotiations, and initiate a new diplomatic process – even if it is dominated by the Kremlin – that challenges Armenia’s control of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan likely believes Armenia will blink first in a standoff due to Azerbaijan’s stronger economy and overt Turkish military support, such as the deployment of F-16s and SNA fighters, in the absence of similar Russian support to Armenia. – Institute for the Study of War
Luke Coffey writes: Far from being just a localized conflict in a place far from Washington, DC, the fighting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian militaries and Armenian-backed militias in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region could destabilize an already fragile region even further. What happens in the South Caucasus usually does not stay in the South Caucasus. Because the region is so important for transit, trade, and energy reasons, geopolitical shocks in the South Caucasus often have second and third order effects across the broader region. – Middle East Institute
Sean McFate writes: China and Russia conquer through irregular-war strategies. That works because they disguise war as peace, until it’s too late. It’s a “boiling the frogs slowly” approach. Just ask the Crimeans or Sri Lankans. Irregular warfare manufactures the fog of war for victory, something that makes the conventional warrior’s head explode. […]Irregular warfare is the armed conflict of our lifetime, and the Pentagon’s strategy to confront it is long overdue. – The Hill
China’s aggressive tactics aim to bolster the Communist Party’s legitimacy
Dan Blumenthal and Jakob Urda | The National Interest
China has faced two disasters in 2020 — the coronavirus and historic floods — which exposed its fragilities and created internal unrest. Its response to both was the same: escalating aggression against its neighbors.
Flawed Assumptions and the Need for a
Radical Shift in the Next National Security Strategy
By Michael N. Gonzalez, Strategy Bridge: "If 2020 has taught the citizens of the United States anything, it is that the security we take for granted is not assured."
Thinking Strategically About Sino-American Crisis Management Mechanisms
by Jacob Stokes and Zack Cooper
Jude Blanchette writes: He has emphasized adhering to problem orientation, telling us to aim at the problem and proceed from it, regard the discovery of contradictions and understanding and resolving problems as the breakthrough points in our work, go to the root of Xinjiang’s social stability problems, and emphasize aligning problem-solving efforts with the actual situation by solving the problems that present themselves and focusing on solving prominent problems. These connotations of Xi Jinping’s thoughts on governing Xinjiang are very profound and provide us with important methodological guidance. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Project Convergence: An Arena of Innovative Collaboration
By Matthew Van Wagenen & Arnel P. David, RealClearDefense: “The Army is converting ideas, prototypes, and various modes of operating (i.e., new ways of fighting) into new capabilities. This is a departure from the past, where a lion share of the budget and programming narrowly focused on incremental upgrades to existing platforms, adding armor, speed, reach, and lethality at exorbitant costs, over long periods of time."
The Real F-35 Problem We Need to Solve
By Scott Cooper, Defense One: "When Pentagon strategists game out potential near-peer conflicts, they tend to plug in sortie-generation rates for the F-35 Lightning II that reflect the program’s original vision, not the far lower numbers that represent the actual state of things. But if planners intend to count on the F-35 in a battle of any but the shortest duration, the Pentagon and industry must urgently improve their ability to maintain and sustain the most technologically complex (and capable) aircraft in history."
How to Safely Trim the Defense Budget
By Elbridge Colby, Mackenzie Eaglen & Roger Zakheim, Foreign Policy: “Although preparing for the next pandemic is crucial, there is no justification for trading off security abroad for safety at home when both are necessary."
Intelligence Community Not Prepared for China Threat
By Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs: "Our nation’s intelligence agencies are not ready—not by a long shot. Absent a significant realignment in resources and organization, the United States will be ill prepared to compete with China on the global stage for decades to come."
China-India: Talk is cheap but never free
Oriana Skylar Mastro | The Interpreter
There are many reasons all parties should avoid a second Sino-Indian border war; the costs of conversation are only one of many factors that would delay conflict resolution.
The United States Has a Role to Play in the Nile by Yasir Zaidan
Net Assessment: Understanding America’s Declining Global Influence with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble
The Future of Chinese Power
By Michael Schuman The policies and practices of the country's dynasties offer insights into how modern Chinese leaders may wield their strength.
Gorbachev was right about German reunification
Elisabeth Braw | Foreign Policy
Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand nearly stopped it from happening, but 30 years on, reunification remains the world’s most successful geopolitical experiment.
The indications that Turkey activated the radars of its Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft systems in order to detect US-made Greek F-16 fighter jets on their return from the Eunomia exercise on August 27 off Cyprus apparently sounded the alarm in Washington about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reportedly prompted the visits by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Cyprus on September 12 and Greece on September 27-29. – Kathimerini
Munqith Dagher writes: What may make matters worse is the possible response of the militias and their military supporters to the American attacks, which may compel the United States to send more troops, thus creating major complications for a potential incoming Democratic White House. Consequently, the prospects for fixing the situation with America after Biden’s victory (for which the Iranians and their proxies in Iraq hope) will be very complex and difficult in practice, which heralds the prospect of a long military and political confrontation between America and Iran on Iraqi soil; Iraq will enter a long, dark tunnel. – Washington Institute
Hamdi Malik: No other Iraqi militia has gained enough credits to be given these missions. Kata’ib Hizballah is Iran’s preferred militia and it is evolving as the main force belonging to the resistance in Iraq. Unlike Lebanon or Yemen, where one major militia facilitates Iran’s expansionist policies, several smaller militias function as the Islamic Republic’s proxies in Iraq. But one militant group more than others has the potential to dominate the scene, and that is Kata’ib Hizballah. – War on the Rocks
High-End Warfare in the Indo-Pacific Theater Will Require Distributed Sensing
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “The United States’ military is evolving towards a new way of warfare designed to counter adversaries’ efforts to develop a dominant anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capability."
The National Defense Strategy’s Irregular Warfare Annex. Here’s Why It’s so Significant.
By Kevin Bilms, Modern War Institute: “Last week, the Defense Department released an unclassified summary of the Irregular Warfare (IW) Annex to the National Defense Strategy."
Towards an Epistemology of Grand Strategy:
Stereotype, Ideal Type, and the Dematerialization of the Concept
By Maurizio Recordati, Strategy Bridge: "Scholars from disparate disciplines have been agonizing over definitions of grand strategy with increasing frequency over the last decades."
How the Army Fits Into U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy
By Francis P. Sempa, The Diplomat: “The United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy includes an important role for the ground forces of the U.S. Army."
A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy
By Jeffrey Becker, Strategy Bridge: "This cultural aversion to strategic studies and thought has deep roots. While speaking to the incoming Naval War College class of 1911, war college founder Stephen B. Luce lamented how operational demands and a preoccupation with technology had drawn the U.S. Navy’s attention away from strategic education. “Very few [U.S. Navy line officers] are studying their profession—the art of war,” Luce observed."
After “the War that Never Was”—The Real Beginning
By H.E. Williams, Proceedings: “Beginning where Admiral A. James Winnefeld and Mr. Michael J. Morell’s “The War that Never Was: Part 1” finished, the following story offers what the end of the beginning could look like, considering their dire and unlikely ending."
American Sea Power at a Crossroads:
A Plan to Restore the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Advantage
By Bryan Clark, Timothy A. Walton & Seth Cropsey, Hudson Institute: "The U.S. fleet is at an important crossroads. Nearly twenty years after the drive for transformation led to costly and problematic programs such as the littoral combat ship (LCS), Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, and Zumwalt-class destroyer, the Navy is again starting work on new ships in every vessel category."
The Real F-35 Problem We Need to Solve
By Scott Cooper
Unless its logistics can be improved, the jet's contributions to a major fight will be far less than Pentagon wargamers are counting on.