Monday, July 28, 2014

One retired colonel is campaigning for more cuts - and Congress is listening

Reductions in end strength have to equate to thinning the operating force, Army leadership explains. (Army)

By Michelle Tan
Staff writer

The Army insists cutting the service down to 420,000 cannot be done. That would mean 98,000 fewer soldiers than there are today, and that’s an unacceptable risk, Army officials have said, and will continue to say, so long as the threat of budget cuts remains
And while the Army is already prepared to drop down to 450,000, that additional cut of 30,000 soldiers would be a grave mistake, officials warn. It would mean a limited capability, at the same time there are new and emerging threats in Europe and the Pacific.

The Army currently meets about 93 percent of the requirements given to it by the combatant commanders, said Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek, the assistant deputy chief of staff for operations (G-3).

“We bend over backwards, and we squeeze everything we can to meet the requirements they give us,” he said. “In the future, as we get smaller, it becomes more and more difficult. We’re going to reach limits where we can’t meet a requirement based on the stress it puts on the force.”

The Army may be forced to deploy soldiers and units that are not properly trained, and it will be less able to replenish losses and casualties in a unit downrange, he said.

It also may have to mobilize large numbers of National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers — who can only be trained as quickly as the Army’s generating force can go.

Cheek makes a compelling argument for avoiding in 2016 another round of sequestration, the across-the-board budget cuts imposed by Congress that have forced the Defense Department to dial back programs and thin the ranks.

But there’s an interesting and opposing viewpoint out there. One in which cutting the Army to 420,000 would actually make the service stronger and smarter. This plan could save the nation money and — according to its proponents — course-correct a service that’s struggling to overcome its old-minded thinking and bloated bureaucracy.

Retired Col. Doug MacGregor, a decorated officer and leader during Operation Desert Storm, has pitched this idea of a smaller Army before. His unorthodox strategy — which includes dismantling the brigade combat team, for example — has long been spurned by Army brass, and he claims it even contributed to the early end of his career.

But he hasn’t stopped pushing his plans and now members of Congress are actively seeking his audience to learn details of his plan.

Today’s Army is a large force but a “much less capable force,” MacGregor told Army Times.

“I know the men at the top think they’re doing the right thing, and I believe they’re very sincere,” he said. “I just happen to think they’re dead wrong. What the United States needs now is a new force, not the old industrial age force.”

The case for 420,000


The MacGregor Transformation Model, as the retired colonel calls it, would overhaul the entire force — from its structure to the way it promotes soldiers to the way it fights.

“I see a force that needs to be reinvigorated through a fundamental reform to be ready for future wars that are going to be much, much more dangerous and challenging than what we’ve seen before,” MacGregor said. “We don’t have time to lose.”

His modeleliminates brigades and divisions and favors a force that falls in between in size. These structures, called battle groups, would each have 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers. They would be organized in four specialties: strike, maneuver, sustainment, and ISR, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

With an end strength of 420,000, the Army would have an equivalent of a 250,000-man field Army with 51 battle groups, MacGregor said.

“You put these on rotational readiness through a four-phase readiness program, and you’ll always have 40,000 to 50,000 men ready to deploy and fight at any given time,” he said.

Unlike a BCT, which is led by a colonel, the battle group would be led by a brigadier general.

With an increased need for one-stars, talented officers would move up the ranks more quickly, MacGregor said.

That’s key to MacGregor’s strategy, which would put younger officers in higher leadership positions.

“I’m trying to get talent upwards in the system faster and more effectively,” he said. “That means you have to eliminate some echelons, and one thing we can do is eliminate the colonel level of command. We have people languishing for years and years and years, and by the time they become brigadier generals, these are gray-haired old men. You don’t win wars with gray-haired old men. You win wars with young men.”

MacGregor said that “doesn’t mean everyone over 50 is useless, but right now most people conclude by the time they’re captains the probability of becoming a general officer and commanding anything is almost zero,” he said. “You want smart men and women in uniform. They’ll get the job done every time if you let them. The key is that you don’t stifle them.”

The force also would be more robust in terms of mobility, firepower and war-fighting capability, he said. How does he accomplish this? Simply put: Battle groups cut out the overhead, which means more trigger-pullers on the ground.

“I think we’re on the road to a potentially dangerous warlike environment, in which we are not fighting enemies with no armies, no air forces or missile defenses,” MacGregor said. “We’re likely to be involved in interstate conflicts where we have to contend with very real and capable enemies. Recent events in Ukraine reinforce that.”

If that were to happen, “we may end up finding out the hard way just how badly prepared and badly organized and badly equipped we are,” he said. “But the people at the top right now don’t see it that way. They’re very, very profoundly affected by what they’ve just experienced for the past 12 years. I understand that, but we can’t afford to march into the future that way.”

If MacGregor’s plan gains traction, he would not envision changing the Guard and Reserve right away.

“You’ve got to deal with the active component first,” he said. “Once you’ve adopted the new organizational structure, then you can turn to the Guard and Reserve, and, within the guidelines, they can reorganize accordingly.”

The Guard and Reserve are meant to augment and reinforce the active Army, MacGregor said.

It’ll be easier to reorganize the Guard to mirror the Army, since both components have similar formations such as brigade combat teams and division headquarters, he said.

The Reserve is a tougher case.

“We’ve treated the reservists as Christmas help,” he said. “We need to decide what we want the Reserve to do. These are issues that go beyond the organizational construct that I have advocated. They’re political, and they have to be resolved in a political forum, and we have to determine what we want from the Reserve in terms of capabilities.”

Counted among MacGregor’s fans is Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, an armor officer who is also no stranger to controversy. Last year he wrote an essay titled “Purge the generals: What it will take to fix the Army,” in which he cast a dire picture of the Army’s future at the hands of current leadership.

“Getting smaller does not have to mean we get less capable,” he said.

Davis advocates reorganizing into the battle groups envisioned by MacGregor and eliminating the division headquarters structure.

Brigade combat teams need a division headquarters above them, but combat groups, led by a one-star, do not, Davis said.

“It can operate independently, truly plug-and-play,” he said. “You can pick it up and it can immediately go into action by itself, and if you need a bunch of them, you’ll need a three-star joint task force.”

Army opposition


MacGregor said his plan has gotten no traction from the Army brass.

“Army leaders are obstinately opposed to changing anything,” he said. “The only hope for the Army is external pressure, and that has to come from a legislative body and, ultimately, the White House and the [defense secretary].”

Cheek said the Army is open to all ideas, but he defended the role of the two-star division headquarters that MacGregor would like to see disbanded.

“Everyone likes to talk about elimination of headquarters and making things more flat,” Cheek said. “We would agree, but our experience in the past 13 years has put probably more demands on our headquarters elements than even many of our troop units.”

The headquarters are needed to run day-to-day operations, support the higher echelons of command, and provide training, oversight and leader development to their subordinate units, Cheek said.

For example, Cheek cited the Army’s decision to stand up the 7th Infantry Division headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to help I Corps oversee the brigades and soldiers assigned there.

“The more levels of command you eliminate, the greater burden you put on whatever the residual [force] is,” Cheek said.

Having cohesive headquarters elements — instead of pulling individuals from across the Army to form a headquarters staff — provides leaders with better support, Cheek said.

When he deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 as the division artillery commander for the 25th Infantry Division, Cheek said he was fortunate to be in theater with his parent division.

“I benefited enormously from the leadership of my division commander, from the assistant division commanders that were there, and the guidance I got from the division on the operations that we did,” Cheek said.

In addition, if the Army dismantled its 10 division headquarters, each with about 500 soldiers, it would gain about 5,000 slots in the force structure, Cheek said.

“That’s one and a half brigade combat teams,” he said. “The math doesn’t suggest we gain greater combat power.”

Instead, the Army is looking at what the force should look like in the long term, out to 2025 and beyond, Cheek said.

“Our thinking is more toward: can we develop an Army that needs fewer soldiers but has the same lethality and capability?” he said. “We welcome ideas from people like Col. MacGregor (ret.), but we want to take a much broader view. We would have to evaluate very, very carefully if we were going to make a dramatic change. At the end of the day, the Army’s going to be responsible for the effectiveness of our soldiers when the bullets start to fly.”

The Association of the United States Army supports the service’s position, said retired Lt. Gen. Guy Swan, the association’s vice president.

“450,000 is, frankly, too low,” he said. “This is when we start getting into a discussion about whether we’re cutting into the bone of the Army.”
The Army provides more than just brigade combat teams, Swan said.

“The Army is, in our national defense, a foundational force,” he said. “The Army provides a lot of other functions for the Defense Department and the joint force above and beyond the war-fighting mission.”

One example Swan cited was Marine artillerymen training at the Army’s artillery school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The Army also provides critical enabler capabilities, including the Army Corps of Engineers, air and missile defense and training and education in its schoolhouses, Swan said.

“When the Air Force builds an Air Force base, who builds it? The Army Corps of Engineers builds it,” Swan said. “The Army delivers your mail. The Army delivers your fuel. The Army delivers your ammo. There are all these functions that are being overlooked.”

Swan, who was a West Point classmate of MacGregor, said he’s familiar with the retired colonel’s proposal.

“When Doug says we can do it at 420,000, I think he’s overlooking the myriad functions the Army does for everyone else,” Swan said. “I follow Doug, I admire his intellect very much, but he tends to focus very much on battle groups and not at all on the ‘corporate Army,’ if you will, which, I’m sure, in his view is bloated.”

'This is no way to fight'


MacGregor said he realized in 1991 that the “structure the Army uses to organize itself for war was ineffective.”

He came to this realization after serving in Operation Desert Storm, where he earned the Bronze Star with V device for his leadership during what became known as the Battle of the 73 Easting, the Army’s largest tank battle since World War II.

“I watched units organize and assemble, and I saw it took six-and-a-half divisions to bring four divisions up to full strength,” he said. “And I saw them hastily assemble the force, and I watched as we massed this enormous number of troops in Saudi Arabia.”

“I concluded this is no way to fight,” he said. “We needed cohesive formations that were effectively staffed and commanded and could act decisively.”

In 1997, MacGregor released “Breaking the Phalanx,” in which he first outlined his Transformation Model.

MacGregor said his book was well received by the troops and in Navy and Air Force circles, but it was “categorically rejected” by most of the Army’s leadership at the time.

But, now 17 years after his book, MacGregor’s idea is back and getting renewed attention.

MacGregor declined to name names, but he said he has been invited to brief his plan to lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.

“I go when I’m asked,” he said. “We have lots of uncertainty in the economy, the financial system is not sound, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but there isn’t much bright sunshine on the horizon, and everyone knows it.”

The lawmakers and staff have been receptive to his proposal, especially in light of shrinking budgets, he said.

“I think they’re finally beginning to understand that simply pouring money into defense doesn’t guarantee any capability,” he said. “The structure we have right now is going to absorb all the money you can throw into it, but it doesn’t mean it’ll get any better.”

The proposals in the MacGregor Transformation Model, though sweeping and dramatic, can be accomplished, he insists.

“We have an almost limitless quantity of extraordinarily talented and gifted young officers,” he said. “Our problem is keeping them in the Army and advancing them. They need to know if they turn in the performance, they will be rewarded. They need to be rewarded for talent, not longevity.”


Calm before the storm as Europe poised to join economic war

The author of the Daily Telegraph essay exaggerates the 'danger' for journalistic effect. As we've noted before, Russia is weak. Russia was similarly weak in the late 19th Century, but could always compensate with manpower. Today, it cannot. 

If Putin insists on fighting Ukraine the Russian populace won't unconditionally back his losses and the unavoidable decline in economic prosperity. He is not Tsar Alexander III nor are his people the economic or military slaves of Tsarist Russia. They want better lives. 

If we supply the Ukrainians and keep up the pressure on the Russian economy Putin will back off or go down for it. In his heart Putin knows it too. 

The Daily Telegraph 25 July 2014   [with my italicisation added]
Calm before the storm as Europe poised to join economic war 

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Last updated: July 25th, 2014

Russia is battening down the hatches. The central bank was forced to raise interest rates this morning to 8pc to defend the rouble and stem capital flight, $75bn so far this year and clearly picking up again.

The strange calm on the Russian markets is starting to break as investors mull the awful possibility that Europe will impose sanctions after all, shutting Russian banks out of global finance.

Yields on 10-year rouble bonds jumped to 9.15pc, the highest since the emerging market "taper tantrum" last year. The cost of insuring against a Russian default through CDS contracts surged by 17 points to 225. The MICEX index of equities fell to a three-month low.

Lars Christensen from Danske Bank said the inflexion point will come if the EU does in fact impose “Tier III” measures aimed at crippling the Russian banking system, as now seems likely. “That is when the lights will turn off for the Russian market. We will see face capital flight of a whole different nature,” he said.

This moment of reckoning is suddenly drawing closer. The EU’s 28 ambassadors met for a second day this morning to grapple with draconian proposals put forward by the European Commission.

They appear to have reached broad agreement. A cell at the Commission will draw up the legal acts over the weekend.

There will be haggling over compensation for those on the front line when the package goes to foreign ministers for final ratification early next week. The sanctions may yet unravel. But the message from diplomats this morning was that even Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Hungary seem to be acquiescing, however reluctantly.

There is no longer a rift between Britain and Germany. The two powers are working in tandem, backed by the Dutch, Swedes, Danes, Poles and Baltic states. The French are not as dovish as might have been inferred from the debacle over Mistral warships sale to Russia, seen in Paris as a painful embarrassment.

It would be foolish for anybody to assume that little will come of these sanctions. Drastic action is now more likely than not, yet if it happens the implications are explosive. We are at a dangerous juncture.

The proposed sanctions will target both the debt and equity of Russia’s major banks, effectively severing access to global capital markets. It also targets the technology for drilling in the Arctic and for opening up the Bazhenov shale basin, both needed to replace Russia’s depleting oil reserves.

Russia has a lot of gas, but gas trades at an oil-equivalent price of $60 a barrel in Europe. It is not very profitable. Analysts suspect that Gazprom’s pipeline deal with China is at or below the break-even cost of production, assuming it ever happens.

The International Energy Agency says Russia needs $750bn of fresh investment over the next 20 years just to stop oil and gas output declining. This has already become unthinkable. Who is going to wager so much money, for such questionable returns, in the face of so much political risk?

Russia’s $478bn reserves (less if you deduct swaps) are not as large as they look. The central bank burned through $200bn of reserves in six weeks after the Lehman crisis in late 2008, before abandoning FX intervention as a hopelessly misguided.

The reserves proved a Maginot Line in any case. Deployment entailed automatic monetary tightening, causing a collapse of the Russian money supply and drastic fall in GDP (from which Russia has never really recovered).

The latest central bank data shows that Russian companies, banks, and state entities owe $721bn in foreign currencies, mostly dollars. Roughly $10bn must be rolled over each month. The oil group Rosneft must repay $26bn by December next year, with peak refinancing this winter.

You might think that with so much at risk, the Kremlin would seek to cut its losses in eastern Ukraine, but that is to misunderstand the elemental nature of this battle, and all the evidence points the other way in any case.

Mr Putin’s proxy forces are continuing to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft at a rate of one or two a day in systematic effort to ground the Ukrainian air force, even since the Malaysia Airlines disaster. Some 20 aeroplanes and helicopters have been shot down.

Nor are they merely proxy forces any more. Convoys of heavy artillery, rocket launchers, and T64 tanks have been flowing to Novorossiya and the Donetsk People’s Republic across a border that has already ceased to exist.

The region is already a military department of the Russian Federation in all but name. The Cossacks and rebel militias are already integrated units of the Russian armed forces, under Russian military officers, as is all too clear from the intercepts released after the air crash.

The rebel leaders are mostly Russian citizens, either from the old KGB, the FSB, or the GRU. Alexander Borodai, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, is a political operative from Moscow.

The whole of Nato knows this movement is a Kremlin front. The White House knows this. Every European diplomat in Kiev knows this. The Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine has in a sense already occurred.

It seems highly unlikely that Mr Putin will now let Kiev crush the rebellion. The resisters are already vowing a “second Stalingrad”, a block by block defence of Donetsk.

It is equally unlikely that Mr Putin will accept a pro-Western sovereign Ukraine that has entirely slipped Russian control. If there is near consensus about anything in Russia – from top to bottom of the society – it is that the Russian people were victims of their own Versailles injustice and enforced diaspora at the end of the Cold War and are now victims of another Western plot. Whether or not you think this view of the world border has any grounding in reality – or any legitimacy given that half Europe was under Soviet occupation until 1989 – is irrelevant. This is the national view.

Ukraine is not a member of Nato. It enjoys no Article V protection (one-for-all and all-for-one). Mr Putin knows that the West will not go to war over Ukraine. It is true that Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic made such a calculation in Bosnia/Kosovo and found that he had misjudged, but Serbia is tiny and has no nuclear weapons.

The only constraint in strict military terms is how difficult Mr Putin thinks it would be to occupy further territory (perhaps the whole of the Donbass, perhaps up to the Dnieper, perhaps all the way to Moldova), and to avoid a guerrilla quagmire of his own.

There must be an extremely high risk that the Kremlin will defy Western sanctions and launch “asymmetric retaliation” on the ground, overthrowing the post-Cold War settlement altogether.

Markets seem strangely insouciant as the geopolitical order of Europe unravels before their eyes. The US launched economic warfare against Russia a week ago. Europe is just days away from following suit.

You can applaud the actions of the West, or condemn them, but you can hardly ignore them.

 In the 30 years or so that I have been writing about world affairs and the international economy, I have never seen a more dangerous confluence of circumstances, or more remarkable complacency.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Militarizing the Southern Border

July 23, 2014 - 03:47 PM
By George Jackson

Texas Governor Rick Perry says he will deploy up to 1,000 national guard troops to the border, costing the state millions. But, is it the right move?
Retired Army Col. Douglas MacGregor, executive vice president of the Burke MacGregor group, discussed that and more with Capital Insider.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

U.S. Army Times

Colonel Macgregor has made the front page of U.S. Army Times!  The "radical strategy that has Congress listening" is the Macgregor Transformation Model!

Click here to view PDF file of article

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blowback in Iraq

The Petraeus Legacy Comes Home

 By Kelley Vlahos • July 15, 2014

Colin Kahl probably didn’t realize he was playing oracle when he looked at the Sunni fighters once on the American’s payroll and how they were being left out to dry in Iraq at the end of the so-called Surge in 2008 and mused, “it doesn’t take 100,000 of these guys to revert to insurgents to cause big trouble.”

Above that August 2008 Wired story was a photograph of a Sunni “Son of Iraq” getting his retinas scanned by a U.S. soldier. Before he left his post as commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus’s troops oversaw an elaborate program of gathering biometric information including retinal scans and fingerprints from known insurgents, as well as the “Sons” or Sunni “Awakening” fighters the military were arming and paying $300 a day per month to drive al Qaeda from the Sunni cities. In fact, it was a requirement of their service.

Kahl, then an Obama campaign aide, wryly noted – as did others at the time, to be sure – that the growing databank of Sunni men provided “a useful enemies list to the Government of Iraq, if they chose to use it.” Even more pointedly, U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Velliquette called the information, “a hit list if it gets in the wrong hands.”

Well, it likely got into Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s hands, because after the U.S withdrew, he broke every promise to incorporate those unemployed, pretty much forsaken, Sunnis into his government, and not only that, individual “Sons” were soon snatched off the streets, tortured in jail, persecuted and run out of their homes. This has been well-documented.

Recent punditry has blamed these and other anti-Sunni policies for fueling the Sunni anger that has driven so many Iraqis into the service of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – and rightly so. They have blamed the Obama Administration for not riding herd on Maliki and letting things get as bad as they did. No defense there. But yet the military, specifically Petraeus, and his role in setting up not only the vulnerability and eventual disenfranchisement of some 90,000 Sunni men, empowering Maliki’s ability to persecute them, is never questioned.

That a number of these men have taken up arms, and are now likely killing alongside ISIS insurgents, is not even warranted a footnote.

Not in everyone’s mind, of course. “Absolutely accurate that Petraeus played a key role in setting the stage for this crisis. The Awakening groups, set up along strictly sectarian lines obviously, were seen as a threat by Maliki and thus targeted and disenfranchised by his regime,” said Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who spent time in Fallujah during the war and has visited since, in an email.

Like others, Jamail has documented the deplorable economic conditions, the detention and torture of Sunnis, as well as the rising protests, which began in places like Mosul and Fallujah around the Arab Spring in 2011. Maliki eventually cracked down on them with force, but they never fully dissipated, and the situation was easily exploited by ISIS radicals, who most recently ran Maliki’s government out of several key Sunni strongholds, including Mosul.

“Given the enormous amounts of U.S. cash that Petraeus used to buy off those we could not kill with airstrikes or ground attacks it’s certain that at least half of the Sunni fighters with ISIL are former Sons of Iraq,” guessed (Ret) Col. Doug Macgregor, an author and war critic, in a recent exchange.

“Certainly (their) abandonment did result in further isolation of Sunni tribes and certainly was a lead up to what is happening now,” added Donna Mulhearn, an Australian peace activist and writer who’s trekked to Iraq, including Fallujah, several times since 2003 and covered the protests last year.

But when it comes to the mainstream media – which is most influential in shaping how Americans view complicated national security stories like Iraq – Petraeus continues to be an authority, not a focus of examination. After Iraq, he left the faltering war in Afghanistan to head the CIA. He was later disgraced when the FBI discovered and exposed a romantic affair with his married biographer and once-subordinate Paula Broadwell. He resigned his post at the CIA, a tenure in which he was known for little more than escalating the drone war and transforming the spy agency into a paramilitary force.

But as soon as ISIS began taking over the same Sunni cities Petraeus once declared won through his “Sons,” news organizations rushed for his sage opinion.
Meanwhile, the war hawks, who all but canonized Petraeus during the Bush years, continue to see him as a savior whose masterwork was undone by the Democratic defeatist in the White House. “Petraeus had won the war” and Obama lost it, declared Charles Krauthammer, when ISIS began its drive through Sunni Iraq in June. “Johnny Rotten Judgment” Senator John McCain went one better, proposing back in January to send Petraeus back into Iraq. “(Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri) Al-Maliki trusts (him),” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley in January (though unlike McCain, Petraeus, to his credit, does not think bombing the country now will do any good).

Yes, the media savvy ex-general is like a bizarro Scarlet Pimpernel when it comes to the shifting sands of Iraq War history: he’s hiding in plain sight during these critical moments of national reflection: was the war worth it? Did we do enough to stabilize it before we left? How did this happen? Excellent questions for sure. To answer them there are plenty of commentaries about sectarian strife, Maliki’s part in exacerbating ethnic tensions, and the refusal of regular Sunnis to take up arms against ISIS.

But if we are going to blame Obama for supporting the authoritarian regime run amok in Baghdad, we should also point the finger at President Bush and Petraeus, who in his time all but served as a de-facto diplomatic chief in Iraq (the State Department was so very weak in that war). How much did he really do to ensure Maliki wouldn’t turn on his “Sons” when the U.S. left? Or did he merely enable what has taken place out of expedience?

Moreover, there is very little attention given to the abuse of Sunni detainees in U.S custody, the blind eye we turned to Iraq’s torture of its prisoners, and the Shiite death squads which were formed and facilitated under U.S auspices while Petraeus was running the show in the mid-2000’s. From Dexter Filkin’s otherwise gentle assessment of Petraeus for The New Yorker in 2012:

“Where did the death squads come from? Many of them were members of the Iraqi Army and the police, which had been trained largely by the Americans. And what American oversaw this training, in the crucial pre-civil-war years of 2004 and 2005? David Petraeus, as the head of Multinational Security Transition Command, during his second tour in Iraq. In that time, the Americans ran a crash program, drawing in tens of thousands of recruits—mostly young Shiites. Some American officials raised concerns, suggesting that the recruits be vetted, but they were rebuffed. On Petraeus’s watch, the Americans armed the Iraqis for civil war. Neither (Fred) Kaplan nor (Tom) Ricks (and certainly not Broadwell) explored this aspect of Petraeus’s time in Iraq; it’s the one part of Petraeus’s career that he doesn’t talk much about.

This was also well documented in a Guardian expose last year. Where did that all go? To the gloom of history? There is so much to untangle in the current crisis, and as said before, there is enough blame to go around. Petraeus was known to have managed a tight and successful public relations machinery for which his image and that of his command were priorities. It’s still working. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop trying to gum up the works. And after all, current events in Iraq may just end up doing the job for us.

“Now the truth is out,” said Macgregor, who believes the turmoil in Iraq has exposed the Surge as the “temporary illusion” it was. Sadly, he noted, “the sacrifice of more than a thousand American lives by Petraeus and his Neocon sponsors during the Surge begat a bloodier and more destructive civil war as I and others predicted.”

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer, is a longtime political reporter for, a regular contributor to, and a contributing editor at The American Conservative. She is also a Washington correspondent for Border News Network. Follow her on Twitter @KelleyBVlahos

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Army Sends Congress Long-Awaited Analysis Of Combat Vehicle Industrial Base

Posted on July 8, 2014
The Army has completed its long-awaited analysis of the combat vehicle industrial base, briefing Capitol Hill this week on an array of controversial findings that show ample opportunity exists for consolidation, according to an internal slide presentation obtained by
The analysis carried out by the firm of A.T. Kearney is sure to ruffle the feathers of prime contractors like General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems, which have attempted to outflank the study for fear its findings will be used to justify funding cuts.
The A.T. Kearney study found "significant excess in large structure machining capacity throughout the ground combat manufacturing network," along with "significant overlap of similar capabilities," according to the slides. "Machining capability within the network presents an opportunity for consolidation, depending on capacity and cost factors," the presentation notes.
The study also found that "the financial impacts to the Army as a result of any potential production breaks were overstated by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)."
GDLS and BAE have long asserted that breaks in combat vehicle production or spending would result in massive layoffs of skilled workers and high costs to train and re-certify them when the production line re-starts again. Both companies also argue that production breaks will hurt their 48-state supply base.
But A.T. Kearney "identified a smaller number of skills that are unique to the manufacture and sustainment of combat vehicles," noting "these skill sets can be managed through training within the network."
The study did find a "small number of high risk critical and fragile suppliers which can be mitigated by individual company action or limited Army intervention." Those fragile suppliers mostly provide combat vehicle transmissions and forward looking infrared (FLIR) systems.
"With the exception of FLIR, there is much less Army risk in the supply base than indicated by the primes," the slides state.
The presentation also included some key conclusions regarding the service's path forward, noting that foreign military sales and limited Army investments will be needed to sustain the industrial base.
"Foreign military sales continue to play a major role in sustaining the combat vehicle industrial base," the slides state. "Directed Army investments may be required for sustaining critical lower tier suppliers [and] sustaining critical capabilities within the prime contractors. Continuous assessments of the combined commercial and organic industrial base is essential during periods of fiscal uncertainty."
The Army's presentation points to a variety of steps the service has already taken to short up the combat vehicle industrial base such as accelerating the start date of an Abrams tank upgrade program to FY-17 from FY-19; accelerating Bradley and Paladin Integrated Management system efforts; procuring 12 additional Abrams tanks at a rate of one tank per month in "an effort to preserve Abrams tank production capability at JSMC and to preserve critical manufacturing" and engineering skills; and increasing investments for Abrams transmission and FLIR suppliers.
The study states that actions taken by the Army and BAE have essentially nullified a 2012 report the company presented asserting that shutting down and restarting the Bradley production line at its facility in York, PA, would cost $750 million. For instance, BAE has closed several facilities since 2012 and terminated employees, while the Army has accelerated its Bradley, PIM and M88 Hercules programs; made direct investments in critical suppliers; and enacted advanced procurement of key Bradley components.
"The costs associated with these actions replace or avoid many of the costs given in the BAE report," the slides state.
Instead, "it is estimated that it will cost approximately $50 million to shutdown the Bradley production line," according to the presentation.
For several years GDLS and BAE have been fighting the Army's plans to pause combat vehicle spending in favor of other priorities, while relying on foreign military sales to keep productions hot for the Abrams tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
The companies have successfully lobbied Congress to plus-up the Army's combat vehicle spending and lawmakers also plan to enlist the Government Accountability Office to "grade" A.T. Kearney's analysis, according to Hill staffers.
"The combat vehicle data collection is complete. The analysis of the current state of the network along with key elements such as critical suppliers and critical manufacturing skills is complete and reported in this presentation," the slides state. "The Army will continue to analyze the very complex combat vehicle industrial base and to work with industry to ensure that it remains capable now and in the future." -- Tony Bertuca

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle vendors and the Army are being preparing for a major acquisition milestone:

Army Releases FRP Draft RFP For JLTV; Industry One-On-Ones Scheduled

The Army this month expects to host a series of one-on-one meetings with defense industry contractors to discuss the recently released draft request for proposals for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle's full-rate production phase, according to a government notice.
Three contractors are competing in the JLTV engineering and manufacturing development phase: Oshkosh Defense, AM General and Lockheed Martin. The Army ultimately plans to buy 50,000 JLTVs at $250,000 per vehicle, while the Marine Corps will purchase 5,500.
The contractor meetings will be held July 11 at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, MI. "Joint Program Office (JPO) JLTV anticipates only answering questions or comments from the three current JLTV Engineering Manufacturing and Development (EMD) contractors related to the draft RFP," the June 25 notice states. "In order to balance the benefit of open communication with industry with the need to focus on critical issues of the RFP, judicious utilization of the question and answer process will be implemented. Questions and answers on the draft JLTV LRIP and FRP RFP shall be coordinated between the subcontractor with potential prime offerors for this procurement."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Official Ordered Out Of Bahrain After Meeting

Not happy with having screwed up most of the Middle East, the Administration wants to see our Allies burn too.  This morning Obama recognized Abbas of the Palestinian Authority for his great work ignoring the fact he has a popularity rating below Obama's and is on the 12th year of his four year presidential term,

Official Ordered Out Of Bahrain After Meeting

(NEW YORK TIMES 08 JUL 14) ... Michael R. Gordon and Kareem Fahim
WASHINGTON – Bahrain on Monday ordered the senior United States official on human rights to cut short his visit and leave the country after he met with the nation’s main Shiite opposition group.
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said that Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for human rights, had violated “conventional diplomatic norms” and had interfered in the country’s internal affairs by meeting with “one side and not others.”
The statement did not specify what meeting Mr. Malinowski had attended. But a member of al-Wefaq, the country’s largest opposition party, said he had attended a reception at its headquarters on Sunday night.
The action appeared to catch the State Department by surprise, and American officials sought on Monday to persuade Bahrain to reverse it.
Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said in a statementMonday night that the United States was “deeply concerned” by Bahrain’s decision. Ms. Psaki also complained that Bahrain had insisted that a Foreign Ministry official attend all of Mr. Malinowski’s meetings with “individuals and groups representing a broad spectrum of Bahraini society, including those held at the U.S. Embassy.”
That demand, she said, was a “violation of international diplomatic protocol.”
Bahrain has posed a vexing situation for the Obama administration, which has tried to maintain a strong alliance with the Sunni monarchy despite concerns about human rights. The Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which operates in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, is headquartered there, and Western officials have had concerns about Iranian meddling.
But the State Department’s 2013 report on human rights also cited a litany of abuses in Bahrain, including “citizens’ inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention; and lack of due process in trials of political and human rights activists, medical personnel, teachers, and students, with some trials resulting in harsh sentences.”
Bahrain’s sharp response to Mr. Malinowski’s meeting was a measure of the deep polarization in the country, which has been shaken by unrest since the 2011 uprising by a Shiite-led opposition movement demanding greater political rights from the Sunni monarchy. With negotiations over a political settlement stalled for years, street confrontations between protesters and the state security’s services have become increasingly violent.
Even so, Mr. Malinowski, who began what was supposed to be four-day trip to the country on Sunday, had told friends that he was “optimistic about the visit and the prospects for reconciliation,” one acquaintance recounted. American officials said that the Bahraini authorities had been informed of Mr. Malinowski’s schedule and that American diplomats had previously met with al-Wefaq members without incident. Ms. Psaki said on Monday that the purpose of Mr. Malinowski’s visit had been to strengthen ties with King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa and support “reform and reconciliation efforts at an important time.”
Hadi Hasan al-Mosawi, a member of al-Wefaq, said he was shocked by the government’s announcement on Monday. The reception Mr. Malinowski attended on Sunday was a weekly social event that al-Wefaq holds during the holy month of Ramadan.
Mr. Malinowski arrived with several others, and stayed for at least a half-hour, speaking for a time with Sheikh Ali Salman, the group’s general secretary.
“This was not a closed meeting,” Mr. Mosawi said.
Mr. Mosawi said there were no great expectations from Mr. Malinowski’s trip, which appeared intended, at best, to restart serious dialogue between the government and the opposition.
“With this unfortunate event, I fear things are ruined,” he said.
Mr. Malinowski was briefly detained in Bahrain in 2012 and pepper-sprayed by the police when he observed a protest there as the director of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch, an episode he recounted in an article in Foreign In an appearance that year before a congressional human rights commission, Mr. Malinowski warned that Bahrain risked upheaval if it resisted demands for reform.
Michael R. Gordon reported from Washington, and Kareem Fahim from Cairo. David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting.