Monday, November 21, 2016

REVIEW OF MARGIN TO VICTORY by Col Douglas Macgregor

Published on 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Commentary: Russia Isn’t Actually That Happy About Trump’s Victory


The author implies obliquely that Washington has far more to gain from ending the unnatural and unnecessary hostility to China, an American economic partner with the potential to contribute to U.S., as well as, global economic prosperity and growth. In contrast to China, Russia is a socio-economic basket case. In economic terms, Russia is Spain with nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, in contrast to Spain, Moscow insists on strategic interests and aspirations in Europe and NE Asia vis-à-vis Japan that are consistent with what the author describes in the article below. For Moscow, these interests are, for the moment, non-negotiable.  This does not necessitate conflict with Moscow, but these interests demand that we remain strong and wait until Moscow’s attitudes change. For social, economic and demographic reasons, Moscow’s long-term strategic interests in connection with both Central Europe and Japan will eventually change.

Only in the Middle East can Washington profit from de facto cooperation with Moscow. Washington can profit from leaving the on-going regional conflict to the Russians. That’s right—America should pull its forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We should adopt Israel’s attitude, “When your enemies are killing each other, don’t interrupt.”

In the absence of the American military presence in Iraq and AFPAK, the Sunni Islamists/Jihadists will turn their attention to Russia. They will literally stream by the tens of thousands into the Caucasus and Central Asia. We know this from their public statements and from the thousands of Turkic recruits in ISIS and AQ. From a Western Perspective, this would be a very positive development. A glance at Russia’s 300 year war with the Muslim Turks in the Caucasus is informative. The good news is that the Russians have fewer restrictions when it comes to killing Muslim Turks, Tatars and Arabs than we do. In addition, Russia is allied with both India and Iran in this unending war with Sunni Islamist Turks, Tatars and Arabs. We are not, nor should we be.

However, the author fails to point out that in in Moscow and Berlin, German and Russian elites share the opinion that the disastrous 20th Century Wars between Germans and Russians were self-defeating for both sides. For all but 9 of the last 250 years, the elites in Berlin and Russia were generally aligned, not only militarily, but economically.  We must keep this point in mind as we attempt to persuade the Germans to rearm and contribute to their security, as well as, to Central-East and Northern Europe’s security. 

In the Balkans, however, Moscow is the de facto landlord. Given Muslim Turkish aspirations and behavior, we should accept this reality. After all, the Serbs, Greeks and other Orthodox Christians have already done so.

Doug Macgregor

Russia Isn’t Actually That Happy About Trump’s Victory


Ruslan Pukhov is a defense analyst and the director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a think tank based in Moscow.

MOSCOW — Donald J. Trump’s shocking triumph in the American presidential election will have some unusual foreign-policy repercussions. During the campaign, Democrats frequently tried to damage Mr. Trump’s standing by claiming that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was working for and supporting the Republican nominee. Now many may believe that America’s huge political upset could even be described as a victory for the Kremlin.

In fact, the idea peddled by American news media that Mr. Putin supports Mr. Trump is far removed from reality. Proponents of this idea have blithely ignored the assessments in mainstream Russian news media and by Russian analysts, which have never been particularly enthusiastic about Mr. Trump.

There is a lot of concern in Russia about what will happen to American foreign policy once Mr. Trump is inaugurated.

The main problem with Mr. Trump is that no one — including the president-elect himself — seems to know what he will do as president, especially in the area of foreign policy. His statements on foreign relations so far have been confusing and, at times, contradictory. His aides and advisers also appear to have a broad range of conflicting views on America’s foreign and defense policy.

What is more, Mr. Trump will have to find an accommodation with the Republican Party establishment. His administration’s foreign-policy and defense appointments may well become a bargaining chip in that difficult process. As a result, some very unexpected figures, including outspoken hawks, may be put at the helm of the State Department and the Pentagon. Mr. Trump’s own apparent preference is to focus on domestic matters, especially the economy, so he may yet delegate foreign policy and defense to the established Republican elite, which is clearly hostile to Russia.

Considering all of this, no one in the Kremlin, where people closely follow American politics and intelligence reports, would seriously consider betting on Mr. Trump.

Unlike much of the American and international news media, Russian analysts and commentators have never underestimated Mr. Trump. Even though he was sometimes compared to Vladimir Zhironovsky, a flamboyant and outspoken Russian populist, Mr. Trump was more often viewed as a strong and charismatic right-of-center leader. Some Russian commentators even reckon he may more resemble Ronald Reagan — a successful president pursuing a tough unilateral line on foreign and domestic policy.

In the longer term, however, Moscow can take comfort from some trends in American politics that have been put into stark relief throughout 2016. On foreign policy, both Mr. Trump’s campaign and Bernie Sanders’s Democratic primary bid highlighted a renewed American proclivity toward isolationism. Large segments of the American public are tired of endless military campaigns in the Middle East, and weary of the burden of America’s foreign commitments.

Even more important, it has become clear over the past two decades that globalization has not been such an unalloyed boon for the United States as some wish to portray it. In fact, it is the industrial heartland of America that has borne the brunt of the displacement caused by the breakneck globalization advocated by the Washington elite.
The key question now is whether America’s nascent isolationism will translate into policy. Even if it does, it won’t happen soon. The American political elite remains almost universally interventionist and supportive of globalization.

In the meantime, as Russia tries to figure out what to expect from the Trump presidency, it has very little reason to hope that the new president will offer any major concessions or strike any major deals with Moscow, regardless of what he said during the campaign. And Moscow has very little to offer to Washington at the moment. There are few areas for possible cooperation. Even if Mr. Trump does want to improve relations with Russia, he will find out when he moves into the Oval Office that the United States has little to gain from such an improvement.

This is why there is no reason to expect — either now, or in the foreseeable future — that America and Russia will strike some grand deal to divide the world into spheres of influence. Even more modest compromises seem unlikely. The Trump administration will have no incentive to make overtures to Moscow, such as taking a softer stance on Ukraine or easing the sanctions on Russia. Besides, for Mr. Trump any softening toward Russia would face opposition from within the Republican Party and in the American foreign policy and defense communities. The new president is unlikely to be willing to pay the steep domestic political price, especially since improving relations offers no tangible benefits to America.

The basic problems in Russian-American relations stem from Moscow’s fundamental aspiration to return to the global arena as a great power, and even to contemplate integration into the American-led, pro-Western world order only on the condition of being recognized as a great power that dominates most of its former Soviet neighbors. These Russian aspirations will remain unacceptable to any American administration for years, if not decades, to come.

There’s only one way this could change, though it is a scenario that many Americans may find uncomfortable to contemplate.

In the event of further major deterioration of America’s positions in the global arena — for example, if the United States is dragged into a confrontation with China while remaining mired in the Middle East — Russia may look like a more appealing ally, or at least a less appealing adversary. A confrontation with China, and other foreign-policy complications, might force Washington to seek a rapprochement with Russia, in the same way that rivalry with Germany had once forced the British Empire to put aside its longstanding differences with Russia and sign a pact in 1907. But for this scenario to come to pass, Moscow will have to remain firm and unyielding for as long as it takes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Information Briefing......FY 17 National Defense Authorization Bill

Information Briefing 
on the 
Reconnaissance Strike Group 
as stipulated in the 
FY 17 National Defense Authorization Bill


The Reconnaissance-Strike Group Proposal
By Douglas Macgregor, EVP, BMG LLC
Taylor Building, 2530 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA
18 November 2015

The current defense budget is the latest in a series of projected spending plans by the U.S. Army and its sister services to re-equip the Cold War Organization for Combat with new versions of equipment and weapons the force already fields. At the same time, the U.S. Army’s high-profile, multibillion-dollar acquisitions graveyard continues to grow with recently canceled programs such as the Ground Combat Vehicle, Armed Aerial Scout, and the sprawling 20 Billion Dollar Future Combat System.[1] In spite of these acquisition failures, it is “business as usual” inside the U.S. Army; an army in which the senior leadership insists the readiness of Army combat forces to deploy and fight is at historically low levels.[2] It is against this backdrop of the Army’s inability to provide ready, deployable combat power and sustainable modernization programs that the RSG proposal must be viewed.

What is the RSG? The Reconnaissance Strike Group (RSG) is a fundamental departure from “business as usual” in Army force development and acquisition. The RSG is about innovation, not invention. Instead of replacing systems inside the Army’s existing organization for combat, the RSG involves full spectrum rapid prototyping of the operational capability—organizing construct, human capital strategy and equipment—not just the technology. As a prototype formation it is designed to explore new capabilities with smaller inventories of new systems before larger, Army-wide, investments are made.

How is the RSG organized? The 5,500 man RSG is a new fighting formation with (4) Maneuver battalions, (1) Strike Battalion, (1) ISR Battalion and (1) Sustainment Battalion. The RSG is commanded by a Brigadier General with a Colonel as Chief of staff and Lieutenant Colonels in primary staff positions. The RSG’s C2 structure consolidates more combat power under fewer headquarters allowing it to respond directly to a Joint Task Force (TF).

The RSG is designed from the bottom up around Maneuver (mobile armored firepower for positional advantage), Strike (Stand-off Attack Systems), ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) and Sustainment (logistics).[3] Adding maneuver and sustainment to the ISR-strike framework that already exists in the aerospace and maritime forces is a vital step in the evolution of warfare.[4] It is the key to the integration of capabilities across Service lines in joint, integrated combat operations. As a One Star-commanded force package, the RSG complements the capabilities of the One-Star force packages that reside in the other services (Carrier Battle Group-CVBG/Air Expeditionary Force-AEF/Marine Expeditionary Brigade-MEB).

Because of the increasingly accurate delivery of munitions (including thermobaric warheads) from proliferating rocket artillery systems dense, static combat formations in land warfare are at high risk of destruction.[5] The RSG copes with this environment through the use of its organic and Joint ISR and Strike capabilities to detect, monitor, track and destroy enemies inside a 360 degree battlespace while the RSG’s dispersed; mobile maneuver elements position to wipe out the opposing force with direct fire and stand-off attack systems. In addition, the RSG’s ISR-Strike systems not only afford protection to the RSG’s maneuver elements, these systems also magnify the striking power of America’s Aerospace and Maritime Forces.

How is the RSG equipped? The RSG utilizes the best, off-the-shelf, state-of-the-art weapon systems to mitigate risk, save money and speed up delivery of new systems to Army Forces. Weapon systems are mounted on a common chassis, the German PUMA, the world’s best infantry fighting vehicle. The Puma’s 1003 horsepower engine, high power to weight ratio, modular armor plus superior suspension performance allows the mounting of larger weapon systems creating multi-weapon variants on a single Puma chassis. This represents a capability that cannot be achieved with other existing platforms. Moreover, the common chassis is not only a huge logistics force multiplier inside the RSG, the common chassis promises more combat power at lower procurement and life cycle costs.

Consequently, the RSG has significantly more firepower, mobility and protection than any existing Brigade Combat Team. The RSG can bypass or punch through all types of enemy resistance to encircle and destroy sub-national groups or nation-state forces. Most important, the RSG can take hits and keep fighting.

Summary. The RSG provides significantly more combat power per metric ton, flattens command and control (C2), and enables Army Formations to plug into Joint Commands without reliance on intervening, large, vulnerable Division/Corps HQTRS. For these reasons, the RSG should be viewed as the vanguard for future Army contributions to Joint Warfighting Operations; structured for flexible mission sets and tight integration with aerospace and maritime power.

These points notwithstanding, only the President and Congress can create the funding path for the RSG. The Army cannot be expected to reform itself. Like many corporations in a volatile, rapidly changing marketplace, the U.S. Army cannot get out of its own way.[6] One for one replacement of equipment within the same force structure is not the answer for the future. Doing so puts the nation at risk in future wars against formidable adversaries who have been studying our operations for decades.

[1] Joe Gould, “McHugh: Army Acquisitions’ Tale of Failure,” Defense News, 19 March 2015.
[2] Michelle Tan, “Army Readiness at Historically Low Levels,” Army Times, 12 March 2015, p. 1.
[3] 45% of the RSG structure is organic support. Organic support inside the BCT is 30% making it dependent on the division support command for its sustainment. 55% of the Army Division consists of support troops. RSG integrates more sustainment troops (2,426 Soldiers) than an entire Brigade Support BN (1,357 Soldiers).
[4] Lt Gen (ret) David Deptula, USAF, Statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “Revisiting the Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces,” 5 Nov, 2015, pp. 15-16.
[5] Sydney Freedberg, “Ukraine: Sneed Preview of WW III?” Breaking Defense, 13 July 2015, p. 1.
[6] Frances Hesselbein, My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way, (San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass, 2011), p. 135.

Fiscal Reality and the American Way of War

What is the strategic meaning of America’s military drawdown? In this article, Macgregor explains the rationale for a reduced footprint overseas and the resulting demand for “high lethality/low density forces” in American military power.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Margin of Victory – Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War

Col Dr Doug Macgregor

Speaking Truth to Power — Senator McCain Agrees, the Flag Officers Do Not

5 Stars

Margin of Victory is a hugely important book that should be required reading in all of the war colleges, as well as all national security programs in political science and international relations courses across the country.

In sailboat racing the race is often won or lost before the boat ever hits the water. If the hull is not perfectly formed; perfectly painted; and perfectly clean before it gears up, then the boat starts with an automatic embedded penalty factor – it goes slower. What the author has done with this book is demonstrate that wars are won or lost 10-20 years before they are fought, based on whether the nation-state devises an effective grand strategy and properly develops a balanced approach to organization, technology and human capital, with human capital being most important.

This book is an historically-based indictment of the political and economic mismanagement of national security, and it is particularly brutal on the fact that we do not have a Department of Defense with a national defense staff that is able to achieve unity of command in relation to strategy, operations, tactics, and technology – instead we have four separate services – very selfish services – who work with military-industrial-political partners to loot the public treasury to their own ends, producing a military with too many flag officers, outdated or dysfunctional equipment (the F-35 and the USS Gerald Ford come to mind, and impoverished neglected and often abused enlisted personnel and company grade officers.

Across five world-changing battles, apart from the documentation of how the battles were decided decades in advance, the author has done superb research into the minds of the commanders on both sides of each of these five battles, and their perceptions of higher, adjacent, and enemy commanders and units.

The author is compelling in showing how each of five major battles were virtually inevitable in their outcome because of positive or negative decisions made decades before by specific sets of actors in the UK (1914), Japan (1937), Germany (1944), Egypt and Israel (1973), and the US (1991.He is compelling in his criticism of the present US obsession with spending trillions on technology while neglecting human capital and persisting with dysfunctional criminally corrupt organization (my adjectives, not his). I will throw in here General Bob Scales, USA (Ret) documented observation that the infantry, 4% of the force taking 80% of the casualties, gets 1% of the Pentagon budget – a budget that consumes 60% of our FY 2015 disposable income, 16% of our total income, while we spend more than the next ten peer and non-peer competitors (from China and Russia to Iran and Turkey) and create a military that cannot win wars.

This leads to the other major strategic points in this book. First, grand strategy is about waging peace and avoiding war, but it demands a military that can move and win the first fight. Second, the occupations and military investments we have been making have domestic opportunity costs (imagine what 5 trillion would have bought if invested in free education, infrastructure, renewable energy, and community-building at home, instead of in the military-industrial complex and the destruction of other countries).

I have a number of margin notes; just a few are provided here.

+ The military cannot reform itself. Senator John McCain receives praise from the author as does his House counterpart, they know we are broken, but there are not enough people like the author (and I would add, me) who are being drawn on to create a new National Security Act that goes beyond Goldwater Nichols to break the backs of the service crime families and create a coherent whole within which the services are capabilities providers, not mandarins who will lie, cheat, and steal to their own ends. [See the Army monograph, Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession – I will say that in my own experience I have found the Navy and the Air Force to be vastly more unethical than the Army – witness the F-35 and the USS Gerald Ford.]

+ The first thing that breaks in war is communications – already broken going into war are timid unimaginative flag officers. The author emphasizes over and over again that the culture and education and initiative of the enlisted personnel and company grade officers are the root of enabling victory, on top of prior organization and prior intelligent investment in balanced technology that can be relied upon to work.

+ Air power is vastly over-rated. A 40-day air campaign in the area where the battle of 73 Easting took place killed 2 tanks at very great cost in time and munitions; in sharp contrast – and the sub-text of this entire book, a handful of US tanks killed fifteen T-72 tanks in three minutes and in the course of a few hours, a total of over 70 enemy tanks, 70 armored fighting vehicles, 44 trucks, and 32 bunkers (all of which the US Air Force failed to hit).

+ Naval power is vastly over-rated given the proliferation of access denial technologies and the incompetence of the US Navy in mine clearance. With pervasive surveillance and existing technologies, the US Navy can be sunk by mid-level opponents, not only peer challengers.

+ The Israelis and the Americans are making a huge mistake in over-investing in the Air Force and cyber-offensive capabilities, while neglecting everything else but particularly armored ground forces and human capabilities development. He does credit the Israelis with having a vastly better culture that fosters initiative across both enlisted and officer ranks.

+ We should close all our bases overseas and tear down our pre-positioned equipment stocks on land and sea, and instead focus on a very large standing Army at home that can test new organizations and technologies, scale quickly, and be delivered quickly. I have to agree, having written a grand strategy monograph for the US Army that recommended precisely the same approach.

+ Most if not all of our “lessons learned” from Afghanistan and Iraq are fraudulent. The flag officers and the senior executives in the Department of Defense do not want to admit the depth and breadth of their failure and their inability to win wars against peer competitors as well as entrenched indigenous rebels.

+ The US does not understand history, with references made to both China and Iran, each of which is actually engaged in a defensive campaign, not an offensive campaign.

+ We are not ready to assert our power in the four global commons (the high seas, the atmosphere, Antarctica, and outer space.

The author concludes with a few sensible prescriptions that must be demanded by the public and Congress, they will never be considered by the entrenched service mafias:

01 We need a grand strategy that rebalances the instruments of national power and forces unity of command within the military; it must be complemented by a national military strategy that stops all of our elective occupations and campaigns that are creating terrorists and displaced persons. [See my CounterPunch article, “The National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes”.]

02 We must reinvent our entire C4ISR constellation to protect against the collapse of our satellites while providing the protected and robust tactical and operational bandwidth that does not exist today (to which I would add, an end to our self-imposed emissions quagmire).

03 The ground force must be air-mobile as General Eric Shinseki envisioned, but it must be built around air-transportable armor surrounded by everything else in armored mobility form including artillery, engineers, infantry, and able – with a proper Air Force and Navy – to enter any target area from all sides, not simply through one obvious and easily closed down port and airfield. I totally agree with the author on the urgency of redirecting the Air Force toward proper attention to strategic lift.

04 We need a national defense staff of “purple” professionals who will not lie, cheat, and steal for their services but will instead see and nurture the whole. We need joint force commanders that own all service elements assigned to them and do not have to “negotiate” with each individual service commander when they want something specific.

There is much more in this book, the above summary notes are how I will remember this book into the future. There is no question in my own mind but that the US military is committing moral and intellectual suicide by failing to embrace the ideas of this author and others like him, we few, we happy few who really do believe that the truth at any cost wins wars and wage peace. The ultimate warrior is the one who stops wars from starting in the first place – that is not what the military-industrial complex, its bankers, and its corrupt political servants want. To his enormous credit, Senator John McCain seems to be focused on hearings and legislation that might become his greatest legacy – a functional integrated cost-effective military that is not frittered away occupying countries to steal their resources while displacing millions of refugees that inevitably migrate toward the West.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David Steele
An American Grand Strategy: Evidence-Based, Affordable, Balanced, Flexible