US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has hinted at the possibility that the US will reduce its military presence in Africa. But that would be a mistake, argues Katherine Zimmerman in a Military Times op-ed. America’s small military footprint in Africa buys more than security from terrorism threats: It buys American influence on the fastest-growing continent. Rather than strip funding from West Africa and risk expanding the influence of US enemies, a small US military investment in Africa provides the support of allies and partners, counterterrorism cooperation, and leverage for American soft power. Finish it here.
By Thomas Spoehr, RealClearDefense: “If the Pentagon’s 2021 defense budget request were a person, a psychiatrist would label him “conflicted.” That diagnosis comes from the high number of unresolved issues bubbling just below, or in some cases, above the surface."
By Emily de La Bruyère & Nathan Picarsic, RealClearDefense: "... It is the product of a decades-long, deliberate Chinese strategy, one enshrined in dedicated national science and technology programs, in State initiatives, in comprehensive subsidy programs. Beijing’s centralized industrial planning targets critical American resources, supply chains, and infrastructures – first to ensure their dependence, next to siphon their resources and technology."
By TX Hammes, Flight Global: "Relatively inexpensive unmanned systems have advantages which may put them on the front line when the USA squares up against China in the western Pacific."
The Backward Step on Missile Defense in the FY 2020 NDAA
By Michaela Dodge, National Institute for Public Policy: "Last year, the FY 2020 NDAA made a significant change to U.S. ballistic missile defense policy, but one that has gone largely unnoticed among proponents of strong U.S. missile defense programs. The new law states that the United States will as a matter of policy “rely on nuclear deterrence to address more sophisticated and larger quantity near-peer intercontinental missile threats to the homeland of the United States,” while improving missile defenses against “rogue states.” This change, though it may appear to reflect long-standing U.S. policy, is a step backward."
By Klon Kitchen, RealClearDefense: “American military superiority is essential, but it is not inevitable. It is the result of strategic planning, deliberate investment, and an industrial base that is able to anticipate and deliver the capabilities needed to fight and win wars."
By Bradley Bowman, RealClearDefense: “A closer look at the Army’s demanding operational tempo (optempo) demonstrates why any cut would be a mistake that reduces readiness and burdens soldiers and their families."
What the Trump Defense Budget Gets Wrong About the Future of War
By James Stavridies, Time: “The massive 2021 Department of Defense budget that the White House sent to Congress clocks in at $740.5 billion, with $705.4 billion earmarked for the Pentagon – the remainder to the Department of Energy and other government agencies for national security projects. As always, the preparation of the request to Congress was a long and tortuous project, spearheaded by the Secretary of Defense and his team through an interminable series of reviews. Each of the services fought hard for its share of “topline.”"
By Harrison Morgan, Army Times: "As the 2018 National Security Strategy prioritizes its focus on preparing the nation for the Great Power Competition between the United States and its strategic competitors – namely China and Russia – the Army is transitioning from nearly two decades of counterinsurgency focus to Large-Scale Combat Operations, or LSCO."
What is an 'Expeditionary Force?' No, Really, What is It?
By Michael Gladius, Small Wars Journal: "For a Pioneer nation like America, built on exploration and a seemingly endless frontier, the romance of expeditions is part of our national psyche. The term “Expeditionary Force” sounds cool, as it evokes feelings of adventure and risk-taking in far-away places. Expeditionary forces are comprised of tough, competent men who travel light in remote areas, and rely on their wits to survive and win in unfamiliar environments. Thus, it's only natural we want to call everything our military does abroad an “Expeditionary Force.”"
By Jason Criss Howk, ClearanceJobs: "Hundreds of dedicated diplomats, intelligence and military officers from numerous nations have been helping to shepherd the Afghan and U.S. governments towards the agreements signed February 29. I have been working on it since May 2009 and wanted to explain what the US-Afghan and US-Taliban agreements mean with my context of knowing the original plan devised over a decade ago by the Afghan government."
The number of bombers are at their lowest ever, but demand for bombers increases every year, particularly in the vast and most-stressed region of the Indo-Pacific. Bombers are the preferred weapon system there because of their long range and huge payload capacity. – Defense News
The search for future budget savings to apply to shipbuilding has the Navy considering scrapping a plan to extend the life of the fleet’s oldest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the service’s top systems buyer told lawmakers Thursday. – USNI News