Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Arab Air Forces


The modern air forces built by autocratic Arab monarchies are designed primarily for self-defense, not attack. For Saudi Arabia, for example, the bogeyman is Iran. Saudi Arabia has bought scores of Eurofighter Typhoons from Britain, the front line equipment of many European powers. However, the Typhoon was designed in the 1980s for Cold War combat that envisaged Top Gun style dogfights between fighters, not close air support and ground attacks.

The Saudi Arabian Typhoons are of a later model that has been adapted to carry air-to-ground missiles for use on a battlefield, but it is not an ideal platform for that role. (After finding the limitations of Typhoons in the Libyan conflict the Europeans are only now making them more effective for precision attacks on ground forces.) The Saudi military is still essentially locked in a defensive mindset. Nonetheless it does have the region’s most sophisticated systems for managing air power, including the ability to refuel fighters in the air. They have carried out small strikes against terrorists in the Yemen, but a sustained campaign against ISIS would call for a far more public commitment and strength of will than any Saudi regime has so far exhibited.

Other Gulf powers have the same mindset. The UAE is buying the latest Predator drones, but is far from ready to use them. Tiny Qatar is shopping for 72 advanced fighters like the Typhoon but will not have an effective air force for years

Turkey is the closest of all countries to the conflict but is inhibited not by a lack of resources – it has a large force of U.S.-supplied F-16s and even an intelligence satellite – but by its tricky position in the region, with military links to NATO, Europe and the U.S., a delicate internal balance of secular and Islamic allegiances, and an evolving relationship with the Kurds after years of mutual hostility.

Jordan is in an even more delicate position, and a country that ISIS would dearly like to swallow. It also has a large force of U.S.-supplied F-16s. But Jordan’s highest priority seems to be a fear of insurgency and this year it is equipping its special forces with two highly lethal gunships, based on an Airbus supplied military airplane but armed by ATK, a U.S. supplier. Gunships are fearsome but they operate at low altitudes where they are vulnerable to the kind of shoulder-fired weaponry that ISIS most certainly has. Jordan doesn’t want to get into this air war any more than Turkey.

But if the Arab states mustered the will, they could demolish ISIS, as history has shown.

Seventy years ago, on Aug. 23 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander of the D-Day landings, went to inspect a battlefield in northern France. His forces had finally broken out of Normandy and were pursuing the remnants of a once-mighty Nazi battle group who were in full retreat.

The Germans were annihilated. They had no air cover and their exposed columns were like a fish in a barrel. The Allies had mastered a military equation that the Germans invented: the blitzkrieg, which combined air and land forces into one rapidly-moving killing machine. From that moment on it was obvious that any army without air cover would be fatally vulnerable – as long as there was air power to deal with it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dirty Wars Era

The Era of Dirty Wars?

Americans don’t always like to acknowledge it, but the U.S. has a long history of fighting so-called dirty wars.

Perhaps rather than insisting we should never get involved in these conflicts, we should learn how to do so as cleanly and efficiently as possible.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Worried About The Wrong Thing

Cheese and Rice!!

We all know them - the Unserious. Always inappropriate handwringers and worried about the wrong thing, you know?

Thankfully, no one's taking these goobs seriously.


Pic "The Army is the only service that can seize and secure large expanses of territory for extended periods of time."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mantra Not Strategy

No boots on the ground?

That kinda chiz is mantra as policy, not a strategy.

And that mantra features three key strategic audiences: domestic, international and enemy.

Domestically, the mantra appears to reflect America’s tiredness of war. This tiredness, however, could be more a reflection of not wanting to use lives and funds to no end. America generally supports wars seen as “righteous” (waged for the right reasons) and progressing in pursuit of achievable aims (waged well). The righteousness of the war in Afghanistan and against al Qaeda is not in question, but in the eyes of many Americans, the war in Iraq was. How well each of these three wars has been and is being waged, however, is a reasonable question.

Americans do not support wars whose aims are unachievable or wars that do not progress toward even reasonable aims. With respect to waging the post-9/11 wars, our performance is certainly mixed. If the U.S. could articulate a strategy that had a reasonable chance of success in ending these wars in ways that are favorable to U.S. security interests, perhaps Americans would not accept this mantra as a reflection of their will. Current polling does not make this nuanced distinction.

Internationally, the mantra sends a mixed message. On the one hand, it signals allies, friends and other partners of the need to step up their willingness to act and their security force capacity.   
On the other hand, the signal is “we’re out.” The former is a necessary message; the latter is an abrogation of leadership responsibility. Even if the latter signal is more mildly stated as “we could be in but only to a limited degree,” it is a signal of weak leadership at a time when the world needs strong leadership.

The balance is a delicate one to be sure. Great Satan cannot be the world’s policeman, nor should it be. Timid leadership, however, puts American interests at risk in a global security environment.

Global trends have been unraveling these post-World War II arrangements since at least 1989. The current international security threat posed by a non-nation-state, al Qaeda and its ilk, is a poster child for multiple aspects of this unraveling. America must be a leader in reversing this trend and helping put in place structures that make sense for the new world in which we live. Such leadership cannot be from behind, nor can it be remote.

The international community hears “no boots on the ground” as timid leadership, and our enemies hear the mantra as an opportunity to advance their agenda.

Simply put, the mantra cedes initiative to our enemies.   
Once our enemies know that Great Satan has limited its options to technical intelligence gathering, airpower, special operations forces and perhaps advisors (but only under conditions of limited risk), they can advance their political agenda by conducting their operations in ways that hide from most technical intelligence-gathering capability, limit the utility of airpower, and negate or reduce the capacities of special operations forces.

This provides our enemies with a significant operational freedom, a freedom that they have taken advantage of.
Pic - "We should not tolerate the existence of a terrorist state similar to Taleban-era Afghanistan sprawling across Iraq and Syria."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why We Fight

Forget Skippy Klondike's recent non profit jaw flapping about war fighting.


Maybe he is presumably familiar with the theory of “just war,” but there is no sign of it in his article that assumes that all wars are initiated for one ignoble motive or another. This is perhaps an indication of how far liberalism has come from the fighting faith of its greatest champions–presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

They were familiar with war and yet did not dismiss it as nothing more than a crass, self-interested undertaking. Recall Kennedy’s famous inaugural address: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Or FDR’s D-Day prayer in 1944: “Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.”

America’s brave troopers today fight for freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, all the while yearning, as FDR said, “for the end of battle” when they can return home. They are not there to seize natural resources or to pump up a president’s approval ratings–nor, for all of my differences with 44, do I believe he has ordered troops into harm’s way for such nefarious purposes. War may be a brutal, ugly business, and one that should never be undertaken lightly; but it is also the essential safeguard of peace and freedom. Presumably cats understand that, but certain failures to take note if it is nevertheless startling–and telling.

Pic - "Common Enemy"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Self Defeating

7th Century alive and well?

The jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) are not, after all, nihilists. They are a highly professional military force, more similar to an army than insurgents, and seek a well-administered Islamic state. 

So why engage in beheadings and crucifixions?

First, psychological warfare is a key part of IS’s military strategy. As Lawrence Freedman writes in his most recent book, strategy “is about getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest”. Even where outnumbered, as they were in Mosul in June, IS have used their reputation for terror to dissuade Iraqi forces from ever seeking battle. Which poorly paid soldier wishes to risk decapitation, impalement, or amputation for the sake of a distant, crumbling government?

Fear is a uniquely effective weapon.

Second, IS understands that Western governments are, to some extent, dissuaded by the prospect of a British or American soldier meeting with a similar fate. It would mean not just political ruin, but also an unimaginable propaganda boost for the jihadist cause. Two days before declaring their caliphate, IS threatened to attack the US if they were targeted militarily. Their rhetoric presently outstrips their capabilities, as former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove has argued, but the track record of massacre and torture gives these threats, to Western audiences, added menace.

Brutality is therefore also a form of deterrence.

Third, terrorism is a form of propaganda by the deed. And the more chilling the deed, the more impactful the propaganda. The graphic nature of beheading, the focus on the individual, and the act of bodily desecration involved all render this far more chilling than the explosion of a bomb, even where the latter’s death toll is greater.

There are two ways in which a strategy of brutality can backfire.

The first is that it can induce your enemies to fight even harder, because surrendering is such an awful option. IS can make its enemies flee, but it would be a foolish Iraqi unit that surrendered – and the net effect is that IS has to fight all the harder.

The second problem is that IS is in the state-building game. It is out to conquer, not merely to annihilate. But it was precisely such excessive and indiscriminate violence that proved the downfall of IS’ precursor, al-Qaeda in Iraq. Sunni groups, armed and protected by a surge of US forces, turned on the group in the so-called Awakening, expelling it from the same Sunni-majority areas in which it’s now encamped.

Although IS initially sought to restrain itself in the places it seized over the first half of this year, its record has been patchy, to put it mildly. Iraqis may be accustomed to being ruled by terror, but it doesn’t mean they like it.

Thus the modern jihadist’s dilemma: when does a strategy of calibrated terror turn into a self-defeating orgy of violence?

Pic - "Our last message is to the Americans. Soon we will be in direct confrontation and we have prepared for this day"

Monday, August 18, 2014

44's Jay Vee Team

Stupid Shiz!!

Way back in January, 44's little tete a tete with some cat at the Yankee New Yorker (a magazine - yes they do exist out side of doctors offices). Aside from actually decent and even burning rolling paper, the Iview had the snarky warky commentary from both the interviewing cat and 44 himself.

44 at his finest - the smartest-cat-in-the-room best. See, 44 ended one war (in Iraq) and was fixing to end up another (in Afghanistan). Asides alla that, OBL was as dead as Hitler and 44 LOL'd those wicked al Qaeda were all "decimated!"

The New Yorker cat pointed out that decimated al Qaeda were rebels in Suriya al Kubra and Iraq were flying the al-Qaeda flag, and bunchess in Africa were queering the mix too, 44 quickly fired back:

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a [junior varsity] team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Only now, months later, 44 addressed Great Satan just before explaining that his move to authorize air striking ISIL/ISIL/  forces in Iraq was part of a “long-term project” to contain the most dangerous al-Qaeda offshoot yet:

“Did we underestimate ISIL? I think that there is no doubt that their advance, their movement over the last several months has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates and I think the expectations of policy-makers both in and outside of Iraq.”

Cheese and Rice!!

Ever get the unsettling impression that there’s a junior varsity team in the White House?
Council n foreign Relations Kaiser wrote in Financial Timesr wrote this week in the Financial Times, 44 and his Jay Vee Team “tend to exaggerate the costs and risks of acting and discount those of inaction...” that allows threats to grow, eventually requiring a more costly response.

44 now seems desperate to avoid mission creep in Iraq. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening. “We’re not going to let them create some caliphate through Syria and Iraq,” 44 told The New York Times last week.

1,000 military cats are once again in the Land A' Twixt The 2 Rivers. After insisting there would be no combat boots on the ground, Pentagon is sweetly plotting plans for combat boots on the ground.

44 and his hand picked Don't Do Stupid Shiz Jay Vee team are learning the hard way sometimes it’s more stupid to do nothing.

Pic - "Governments are accustomed to thinking of religious militants as networks of terrorists, saboteurs, assassins and opportunists hiding among the population – quintessential non-state actors, fighting the state. These ideas are obsolete against ISIS. ISIS is no mere militia; it IS the state."