Thursday, February 1, 2018

Upcoming Event


Mission Command in the 21st Century Army
28 Feb 2018 1330-1500
Arnold Conference Room, Lewis and Clark Center,
Fort Leavenworth, KS
Also Streaming Live on Facebook,
Army Leader Exchange


Futures Seminar
U.S. Army War College
Carlisle Barracks
12 March 2018

Why the Army Isn't Prepared for the Next Great War 
January 31, 2018
After years of service inside the U.S. military’s cutthroat bureaucracy, senior officers can recite the lessons of the past, but very few can grasp their future implications.

Douglas Macgregor

Next week the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland will hold a hearing on Army modernization. Just twelve months ago, in a similar hearing, the U.S. Army was, according to its own senior leaders, in dismal shape. The question for the senators, who oversee Army readiness to deploy and fight, is whether anything has really changed since February 2017. The recent past explains why.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “You go to war with the army you have.” Like a stopped clock that’s right twice a day, Rumsfeld was correct. Wars are seldom decided in a single, dramatic battle or by the appearance of a new, alleged “leap ahead” technology. Wars are decided in the decades before they begin; through years of innovative field experimentation and rapid prototyping based on rigorous analysis and historical study.

Rumsfeld was lucky. Instead of fighting in “the Super Bowl,” the U.S. Army confronted a “pick up team” consisting of Afghan and Arab insurgents. Without armies, air forces, air defenses or modern intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, the insurgents were too weak to seriously threaten America’s Cold War legacy Army.

Joint operational maneuvers on the scale of the 1944 breakout from Normandy or offensives to penetrate sophisticated air defenses like those the Germans built—operations that cost the U.S. and British Air Forces eighteen thousand bombers—were not required. Unfortunately, military “success” against pickup teams sets up armies for failure in the Super Bowl.

In 1940, Gen. Maxime Weygand, the supreme commander of French Forces, told a room of shocked politicians and generals, “We have gone to war with a 1918 Army against a German Army of 1939. It is sheer madness.” Weygand should not have been surprised.

After World War I, senior military leaders in the French and British Armies were compelled to concentrate on low-intensity conflict: suppressing rebellions (counterinsurgency) in from Africa to Southeast Asia while the armies they commanded transformed into colonial police forces. Superior French and British military technology and organization from World War I triumphed, but experience in hard-fought campaigns against non-state insurgent enemies between 1918 and 1936 did not transfer to war with the Wehrmacht or the Imperial Japanese Army.

Just five years after World War II, American soldiers endured a similar experience. Gen. Matthew Ridgway, the eighth Army commander in Korea, concluded that the primary purpose of an army—to be ready to fight effectively at all times—was forgotten. In the aftermath of the worst war in human history, American soldiers were as unprepared for the enemies that faced them in Korea as the French and British were for the Germans in 1940.

Today there is a growing concern in the halls of Congress that the U.S. Army is on this familiar path. Members worry because the Army’s senior leaders are conditioned to low-intensity conflict while America’s potential opponents in Russia and China are preparing for the Super Bowl. America’s potential opponents are reorganizing their ground forces to exploit new technologies within the operational framework of ISR-STRIKE.

New mobile armored battlegroups designed for high-intensity conventional warfare are emerging inside the Russian and Chinese Armies that mark a dramatic departure from the structure and thinking of their Cold War predecessors. The new fighting formations integrate loitering munitions or “Kamikaze Drones” with the precision strikes of devastating rocket artillery. Both weapon systems and warfighting concepts are finding their way into many foreign armies. All of these developments must be viewed in the context of integrated air defenses; systems that seriously degrade, even, cancel out American air supremacy.

The problem is that after years of service inside the U.S. military’s cutthroat bureaucracy, senior officers can recite the lessons of the past, but very few can grasp their future implications. Even fewer are prepared to alter the status quo to secure victory in the future.

Keep in mind that in a succession of Army chiefs of staff unveiled expensive new “transformation” programs purported to modernize the World War II/Cold War Army. They were hallucinations. The goal was to preserve as much of the old institutional status quo as possible by papering over deficiencies and maintaining existing career patterns. Meanwhile, senior officers hammered bits of new technology into the old organization for combat to create the illusion of change.

In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen argued that private sector corporations must create specialized, autonomous organizations to exploit new technologies or risk squandering revolutionary capabilities inside status quo organizations. In view of the billions of dollars lost on failed Army modernization programs, Senators may want to consider establishing a special-purpose organization that is not subordinated to the Army hierarchy; a joint organization designed to field new, ground-combat formations for joint warfare.

The lessons are unmistakable: If you prepare for a sandlot pickup team and you go to the Super Bowl, you lose. And, equally important, armies cannot reform themselves.

Douglas Macgregor, is retired Army colonel, decorated combat veteran and the author of five books. His newest is, Margin of Victory, Naval Institute Press, 2016.

Image: Flickr

Saturday, January 27, 2018

GPI Held a Panel Discussion:

"New Security Concerns at the Turkey-Syria Border"

Will Washington and Ankara Agree to Resolve the New Crisis at the Turkey – Syria Border? 

America's announced and later modified plan to train and arm a Syrian border protection force composed of Syrian elements (Arabs and Kurds) has created new tensions between the U.S. and Turkey. It is clear that whatever the U.S. plans regarding the size and purpose of this mostly Syrian Kurdish force may be, a military force largely composed of the YPG is viewed by Ankara as a major security threat, since the YPG is openly affiliated with the PKK, an internationally recognized terror organization.

While Washington stated that it is aware of Turkey's strong concerns regarding the YPG and that they will be addressed to Turkey's satisfaction, Turkey is adamant in opposing what it calls a terror force to be deployed, with U.S. assistance, right across its southern border. A few days ago Ankara acted according to its stated intentions of neutralizing this threat by initiating a military attack against Kurds in North Western Syria. Will this military intervention escalate? Or will Washington and Ankara come to an understanding that will satisfy Ankara’s security concerns?  

In order to shed light on this new serious security crisis which further complicates an already fractured Middle Eastern scenario, the Global Policy Institute convened a panel of distinguished experts, Americans and Turkish, to discuss this potentially explosive matter.

The Panel included: Burak Kuntay, President of the American Studies Center at Bahcesehir University, Istanbul; Colonel Douglas Macgregor (ret), Military Analyst, and Executive VP, Burke-Macgregor Group LLC; Paolo von Schirach, President of the Global Policy Institute and Professor of International Affairs at BAU International University; Martin Sieff, Journalist, Global Affairs Fellow, Global Policy Institute and Professor, BAU International University. The Moderator was Cenk Karatas, Journalist, Global Affairs Fellow, Global Policy Institute.

The consensus among the panelists is that there is no clear, achievable U.S. strategic goal regarding Syria. The panelists also agreed that the mostly Kurdish “border force” announcement was ill-advised, since it is clear to all observers that Turkey will never accept a standing a mostly Syrian Kurdish military force, closely associated with the PKK, at its southern border. The panelists expressed the hope that President Trump may be able to de-escalate this dangerous crisis involving U.S. backed forces and Turkey, a NATO ally, through direct contacts with the Turkish Government.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


If we insist on supporting this latest attempt to build a large independent Kurdish State on the ruins of ISIS because the NEOCONS want us to do so, we risk all out war with the Turks. The Turks regard the emerging Kurdish force as an existential threat.

We would face a mobilized Turkish Nation backed by Russia and Iran.  We would no longer face weak insurgents without air forces, air defenses or armies. Moreover, the American electorate will protest such action arguing that we have no strategic interest in Syria or Iraq that would justify a commitment to war. 

Finally, we are not prepared for this development and Americans won't support it.  This may well be the proverbial straw that will break the back of America's overstretched military power. 
January 19, 2018

America Sleepwalks Towards a Clash With the Turks in Syria


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A blueprint for prosperity

By Stephen Burke and Douglas Macgregor - - Monday, January 8, 2018


When a golden spike was driven into the rails connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory on May 10, 1869, interstate railways annihilated distance in the space of one generation and transformed America into a unified nation from coast to coast. The cost for an American to travel across the continent dropped from $1,000 to $150.

President Trump is in the hunt for a new golden spike that will make American infrastructure great again. But the president wants to do more than clean up the “hardened arteries” strangling America’s interior. He wants to administer “bypass surgery.” In the global marketplace of non-stop competition, he knows he needs more than a bullet list for infrastructure development. President Obama tried a piecemeal approach and it failed. The solution is strategic vision to guide capital investment in ways that exploit American market advantage in geography, resources, and governance.

Like the Roman state that shaped and led the political and economic development of the Western world for centuries from its central position in the Mediterranean, America must capitalize on its enviable strategic position straddled by the world’s two largest oceans across which are the Europe and Asian markets. In a world where 90 percent of global exports and imports move by sea, American naval and aerospace supremacy guarantees not only American access to these domains, but access for all nations to the four global commons — the high seas, the atmosphere, Antarctica and outer space.

Beijing wants to build a continental infrastructure of roads, railways, seaports and pipelines through the string of countries along the ancient “Silk Road” route — a noble and praiseworthy endeavor. But conflict, corruption and widespread insecurity across Eurasia pose societal challenges to China’s ambitions. Nation-state interests along the routes will drive up costs.

Unlike the peoples of China, Russia, India and Europe the United States is not threatened by potentially dangerous military opponents in its hemisphere. North America’s interior is secure thanks to the dominance of one people with one language, one culture and one law — namely Americans.

These points suggest a blueprint for U.S. continental infrastructure that rivals the Eisenhower era Interstate system. The golden spike program exploits the trend toward fast and free logistics through autonomous systems, improved power storage (batteries), and “next generation” electric motors. The president can create a new golden spike driven by new technologies that will do for today’s economy what the steam engine did in its time.

This time the golden spike can take the form of a public-private partnership combining capital for innovation with customers dependent on large-scale logistics. This partnership will hasten the “repatriation” of American Manufacturing through the development of intercontinental transport via hyper-efficient sea, air and land-based conveyances that will move goods long distances for pennies per ton. Here is how it can work:

1. Connect major manufacturing hubs at home and abroad with major sea ports and air hubs using a combination of high speed rail, and hyper-efficient ships that lower the cost of travel. Translation: Link Nantes, Bordeaux and Brest with Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing and Hong Kong through New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, Savannah, Corpus Christi, New Orleans, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle;

2. Redefine “Just in Time Manufacturing.” Identify and develop critical hubs and terminals in the nation’s interior to cultivate manufacturing and restore American national economic competitive advantages over European, Chinese, Korean and Japanese competitors. The redefinition includes the impact of 3d printing: Large-scale shipments will consist of raw materials used for localized production;

3. Exploit “leap ahead” technologies to leverage autonomous systems that bypass traffic and accelerate movement through the “choke points” inside the America’s commercial circulatory system;

4. Restore America’s leadership as a merchant marine power. Building fast ships that operate under the American Flag. A fleet of fast ships on both coasts would revolutionize transportation, and in time of conflict or crisis, provide additional seaborne platforms that can forward-deploy missiles and autonomous aircraft.

5. Augment high-speed rail and maritime infrastructure by creating heavy-lift airborne freight markets. Airships bypass unneeded middlemen with the fastest and most efficient form of unmanned “port to port/door to door” commerce at a cost that is 30 percent less than traditional air freight. They are ideally suited for remote area delivery. Recent patents issued to corporations like Amazon and Walmart illustrate interest in the idea.

To secure U.S. economic power in the 21st century, Mr. Trump knows he must make our infrastructure great again. America’s rise to global power teaches that American economic prosperity is the foundation for U.S. military power. The Golden Spike Project points the way.

• Stephen Burke is chief executive officer and Douglas Macgregor is executive vice president of Burke-Macgregor Group, LLC. Robert Cantrell of Strategy Innovators, LLC, also contributed.