Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Trump’s Vision & NATO’s Future: Streamline The Alliance For Modern War

It would be wrong for Europeans to conclude that President Trump wants to withdraw all US forces from Europe. The President simply wants the US military to be NATO’s security guarantor of last resort, not NATO’s "first responder."

on July 18, 2018 at 1:30 PM

US Army M1 Abrams tanks train in Bulgaria

President Trump’s harsh words for Germany set the tone for a tense NATO summit — but America’s allies now know they have no right to assume the US will keep cutting fat checks to cover the cost of Europe’s defense. However, it would be wrong for Europeans to conclude that President Trump wants to withdraw all US forces from Europe. The President simply wants the US military to be NATO’s security guarantor of last resort, not NATO’s “first responder.”

One reason is the character of the Russian threat. Instead of the massed motor rifle regiments of the Cold War, we’re now seeing disinformation and infiltration by Russian Special Operations Forces (little green men) on the pretext of aiding disaffected Russian minorities in countries like Estonia, Latvia, or Moldava. When Moscow thinks the time is ripe, it sends in the second wave: a rapid intervention by Russia’s standing, professional forces — primarily mobile armored formations ranging in size from 3,000-8,000 soldiers, tightly integrated with precision rocket artillery, surface-to-surface missile groups, and aerospace power. All of these forces are designed to operate under the cover of Western Russia’s formidable integrated air defenses (IADS) to keep NATO airpower at bay.

SOURCE: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (

NATO’s preferred response is simultaneously too fragile and too sluggish. The first responders would be a spearhead of light forces, followed by a large U.S. military presence planted in Cold War-style garrisons, and ultimately the mobilization of European reserves. But Russian forces would not only rapidly crush the light infantry spearhead and achieve their strategic objectives long before the first European reservist shows up to fight: The Russians would also destroy US forces in their garrisons with precision strikes.

SOURCE: NATO data (2017)

Extended nuclear deterrence is an even less appealing solution. Tossing nuclear pebbles at an opponent that will likely respond with nuclear boulders makes no sense. If it did, Great Britain and France would have committed their nuclear forces to NATO’s defense, but they have declined to do so. Unless Moscow takes the unlikely step of opening an offensive against Eastern Europe with nuclear strikes, any future Russian intervention must be defeated with conventional weapons, not intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS) from the United States.

A second reason is not as widely understood: World War II and its sequel, the Cold War, are behind us, not in front of us. The age of mass mobilization-based armies has given way to limited, high-intensity conventional warfare — an era of integrated, “all arms-all effects” warfighting.

This new brand of “come- as-you-are” warfare requires highly trained professionals ready to fight effectively when the hostilities begin. The unified application of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, the whole range of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, widely dispersed joint strike systems, and mobile, armored maneuver forces across service lines cannot be executed on the fly. To effect change in the way Europeans and Americans think about defense, the President must issue new marching orders to the Department of Defense:

  1. Turn US bases in Europe into austere Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) designed to receive deploying forces and then project them into training exercises or combat. Stop the expensive practice of building elaborate facilities for military communities in foreign countries, complete with family housing, schools, and grocery stores, that create jobs for foreign nationals, but do nothing for the U.S. economy.
  2. Establish permanent bases in the United States from which future forces will deploy and where service members’ families can live. End accompanied tours overseas except for the few specialists needed to sustain forces deploying through the FOBs.
  3. Build regionally focused, lean Joint Force Command (JFC) organizations to replace today’s overly large single-service headquarters. These bloated relics of World War II and the Cold War are too slow to deploy and they obstruct the rapid decision-making required in future warfare. Flatten command with the JFCs and exercise them regularly on short notice.
  4. Build self-contained Army formations of 5,000-6,000 soldiers for rapid deployment under joint command. Disband the large 15,000-18,000-man divisions. Extract billions in savings by shedding equipment and organizations that are no longer needed.
  5. Invest in new airlift and sea-lift to meet demands that commercial transport cannot. Invest in transportation support systems to off-load military cargo in unimproved locations.
NATO needs these reforms and European military leaders know it. But though these measures would save billions of dollars and dramatically improve the US armed forces’ readiness to fight, America’s senior military leaders will resist them. This, however, is a problem for President Trump, not NATO.

Gen. Curtis LeMay

History provides a model for how to fix this. When General Curtis LeMay took over Strategic Air Command, he discovered that SAC lacked the right operational focus and military capability; there were no detailed war plans, only broad directives. LeMay concluded there were not enough leaders with the elasticity of mind to meet the Cold War’s new demands for fast-paced exercises and deployments. LeMay found the ‘right people,’ he appointed them to command and staff positions, and SAC became the model of warfighting readiness. LeMay’s approach may be helpful to the President as he moves the Department of Defense and NATO in a new strategic direction.

Colonel (ret.) Douglas Macgregor, US Army, served as the Director of the Joint Operations Center during the Kosovo Air Campaign in 1999. He is a decorated combat veteran, a PhD, and the author of five books. His latest is Margin of Victory, (Naval Institute Press, 2016).

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Army Modernization Needs Experimental Force 
June 20, 2018

The Army says it's learned its lessons from more than two decades of failed acquisition. Its Big Six will work. The service will build the weapons it needs to overmatch the Russians and Chinese and it will do it at reasonable speed and cost. Doug Macgregor, a retired Army colonel famous for his penetrating analyses and critiques of the Army he loves, isn't buying it. Why? Read On, dear reader! The Editor. 

 Combined operations during exercise Operation Pacific Reach in South Korea
The Army says it’s learned its lessons from more than two decades of failed acquisition. Its Big Six will work. The service will build the weapons it needs to overmatch the Russians and Chinese and it will do it at reasonable speed and cost. Doug Macgregor, a retired Army colonel famous for his penetrating analyses and critiques of the Army he loves, isn’t buying it. Why? Read On, dear reader! The Editor.
The Senate Armed Services Committee recognized that the Army was falling behind in key warfighting capabilities in 2015. Thanks to the leadership of Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mack Thornberry, with their colleagues in both houses, the Army stopped shrinking and was provided with bipartisan support to modernize the ground maneuver force.
Today, the Congress and the nation expect action, not a five-year, multi-billion dollar Army effort to better define the problem, as the service currently plans. Asking industry to provide solutions without an initial Joint Operational Concept, a viable warfighting doctrine, and a new force design based on rigorous field experimentation that informs technical requirements is worse than foolhardy; it’s irresponsible and wasteful. John Jumper, former Air Force Chief of Staff,described the problem in November 2002 when he said, “We never do the CONOPS, which tells how we are going to integrate up, down and sideways, before we start talking about programs…” 
Soldiers already know what is required: integrate new but mature technologies inside new maneuver formations at progressively lower levels within a Joint command and control structure, one that combines and assimilates powerful capabilities across service lines quickly and effectively. 
To make the leap into this future now, not in a decade, the Army needs shock therapy, not a Big Six, as it calls the key areas of interest that promise marginal optimization of outmoded legacy means, methods, and systems. Shock therapy would mean:
1. A coherent, compelling and understandable vision to match the goals in the NDS. The NDS demands an operationally decisive ground maneuver force for Joint Warfighting. How will the Army build and field this force?

2. A 21st Century Ground Maneuver Force in close cooperation with aerospace and maritime power. There is not enough money in the U.S. Treasury to afford the Army’s parochial single-service programs that promise no change and will likely result in some duplication of effort. Air Force and Navy officers must help build the 21st Century Army. FCS and the current Army Modernization Plan ignore this.

3. The fighting power of an Army lies in its organization for combat. The U.S. Army is more than a collection of equipment and soldiers. Increasing the numbers of soldiers on active duty only make sense if the increases are tied to new formations inside a new Joint force design with far greater lethality and survivability than the current Army ground force with its roots in WW 2 and the Cold War.

4. Rigorous, honest and unconstrained experimentation in the field with real soldiers, new equipment and weapon systems. An experimental force was absent from FCS and it is absent from the Army’s Modernization Plan.

5. An Experimental Force and place it, along with enabling capabilities, under a Combatant Commander who is beyond the parochial and deleterious influence of the Army’s branches. Cultivate a totally new, forward-looking cadre of operators, thinkers and planners. Direct the Experimental Force to conduct full spectrum rapid prototyping; testing and evaluating the best available technology inside a new organizational construct with a new human capital strategy—not just the technology. 

The challenge to Army Modernization is no longer constrained budgets; it is investing to maximize the potential of the Army’s human capital in combination with new technologies; to capitalize on commonsense recommendations from soldiers in the field, as well as, from engineers. As always, leadership is essential. 
The Army’s senior civilian and military leadership must provide what’s missing: an understandable and compelling vision for the future Army and a plan to resist the forces of romanticism in military affairs that defy reason. Describe the threats we face in vivid terms: One precision strike from five BM-30 Smerch (multiple rocket launchers) can devastate an area the size of New York City’s Central Park (843 acres or 3.2 square miles) with the impact of a 1 Kiloton nuclear explosion in a few minutes. Clearly, this environment is not the place for nostalgia.
Building a future ground maneuver force also means explaining what attributes and capabilities Army forces require to defeat the threat. Self-organizing and self-contained fighting formations with thinking leaders capable of rapid decision-making when faced with mountains of data are essential. An abundance of headquarters is not the answer. 
Finally, the Army’s senior leaders must drive toward realistic, attainable objectives that produce tangible concrete outcomes on a relevant timeline
Douglas Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, is a decorated combat veteran, a PhD, and the author of five books. His most recent is: Margin of Victory, (Naval Institute Press, 2016).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Doug Macgregor on SoundCloud Radio

Action Radio with Greg Penglis. One of my most incredible talks ever. Except for that one spot where I wasn't sure he had finished his point. But what we have here is an extremely knowledgeable, experienced, analytical, candid, and direct military and foreign policy analyst with the ability to put them both together. We started with North Korea and the President, and related it to a ton of other issues. We covered the Gulf Wars, whether we need foreign military bases, or aircraft carriers, was Iraq worth it and why are we still in Afghanistan? We covered nation building and the globalist war class that wants to keep the military doing something, anything, to not waste the resource. Why is the military a social experiment? Is Trump being served by his generals? We covered how all the Obama holdovers and swamp rats are always holding back the President, rather than serving him. Why South Korea and Japan can take care of their own security and we don't have to be there. We covered history back to WWII and how that relates today. We took on tough questions like are our soldiers really fighting for freedom, and our freedom, all over the world, even though that's what we keep telling them, and us? I don't think so. I think it's a distraction from the real mission. And this is an area filled with veterans. There is so much more, just sit back and listen. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

The National Guard deployment to the border is a sham

The author is correct. The Regular Army secured America’s border with Mexico from 1846 to 1948. It’s time for the President to commit America’s professional soldiers to the border again. Thanks to years of experience with border security missions in Germany, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Regular Army has the expertise and the technology to do the job. 

Doug Macgregor

June 15, 2018

The National Guard deployment to the border is a sham

By Ed Straker

Remember when President Trump's supporters were outraged when Trump signed a budget that prevented him from building a border wall?  Trump was so stung by the criticism that he decided to show he was tough on border security by sending the National Guard to the border.  The only problem is, restrictions on the Guard have made their participation almost useless.
A month after President Trump called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the national Border Patrol union called the deployment "a colossal waste of resources."
"We have seen no benefit," said Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents 15,000 agents, the National Border Patrol Council.
More from Politico:
Back in April, Trump hailed the deployment as a "big step," claiming, "We really haven't done that before, or certainly not very much before."
But that isn't accurate, either: Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama sent the guard to the border under similar circumstances; Bush in far larger numbers than Trump – some 6,000 compared with up to 4,000 now, and Obama to the tune of 1,200.
A few National Guard helicopters and crew have also been enlisted to join the Border Patrol fleet for aerial surveillance, but more troops are clearing vegetation, serving as office clerks and making basic repairs to Border Patrol facilities.
They're as far away from the border as possible.  In reality, the hundreds of troops deployed in southern Arizona are keeping up the rear, so to speak; in one assignment, soldiers are actually feeding and shoveling out manure from the stalls of the Border Patrol's horses.
Shoveling manure is symbolic of the nature of this assignment.  It was announced to give President Trump cover while he signed that terrible budget which tied his hands on border security.  I suspect that the specific limitations on the Guard are probably not President Trump's doing; rather, they probably fall under the responsibility of either his secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen "Lady DACA" Nielsen or his secretary of defense, James Mattis, who loved the Iran deal and hated waterboarding Islamic terrorists.
President Trump has done some good things to try to secure the border – namely, prosecuting illegals and tightening up asylum rules.  But this border deployment is a sham, and the way it has been executed is a total disgrace.
Ed Straker is the senior writer at

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Multi-Domain Battle Space Scenario

TRADOC obviously lifted a lot of material from my 2003 book, Transformation under Fire. It’s similar to what previous Chiefs of Staff did with my book Breaking the Phalanx: Lift the language, create the appearance, but substantively it’s another Potemkin Village. The critical ISR, STRIKE, MANEUVER, SUSTAINMENT functionality that is essential to Joint integrative operations is missing.

However, the Army dramatically overstates the impact and capability of cyber and SOF,  treats the enemy as static and unthinking, assumes that IADS can be easily defeated with just artillery and seemingly ignores the requirement for armed reconnaissance. The notion that air assault infantry can maneuver in this battlespace presumes the absence of widespread tactical air defense systems. Although the Army acknowledges ASM the Army later ignores it when the marines show up. The Marines are even lighter and less survivable than the current Army. The CONOPS assumes mobility and the Army’s ability to stand toe to toe in a fight. I don’t see how this is possible with the current Army Force structure. Logistics including the short-legged armored force with its red hot tank engines detectable from LEO satellites is not addressed. 

Features of the 2003 book were borrowed, but without the Joint Force Commands that must exist to integrate capabilities across service lines and without the battlegroups organized around ISR, STRIKE, MANEUVER and SUSTAINMENT that contain enough mobility, firepower, protection, striking power and logistics to be operationally independent in a dispersed battle space.  Thus, MDB falls short in both conceptual depth and execution. 

Doug Macgregor

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Boston Dynamics scary robot videos: Are they for real?

"This is the proverbial tip of the alleged 'AI' iceberg. It should sober up the DOD audience! "
Doug Macgregor

Jun 6, 2018

BOSTON – If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video of a Boston Dynamics robot, you probably remember it. But you may not know what the videos leave out.

Millions of people have watched the humanoid Atlas jogging through a field, or the intimidating, 6.5-foot-tall Handle zip back and forth swiftly (and ominously) on wheeled legs. Then there’s the dog-like SpotMini dexterously opening a door — a machine so unsettling it inspired a nightmarish episode of the TV show “Black Mirror” last year.

All of these robots are real, but the videos can sometimes be misleading. Interviews with several former employees — and public comments by Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert — help illustrate what’s really going on.


Probably. But what you don’t see are their many failed attempts.

“The videos are an accurate representation of the best trials of the robots,” said one former Boston Dynamics employee, who asked not to be named out of concern over endangering career prospects in the small and tight-knit U.S. robotics community.

What doesn’t make the cut in those YouTube clips, he added, are the many “blooper reels” shared internally. Spoiler alert: Walking robots fall down a lot.


Rarely. The videos typically don’t show a nearby human test engineer with special remote control systems that guide the robots through their activities. On-stage demos, however, give the game away.

But the human assist is no longer always necessary. In May, the secretive firm posted its first video of the SpotMini robot autonomously navigating a predetermined route through an office. The robot had already built a map of the route during manual testing using cameras mounted on its front, back and sides.


Only if you want them to be, Raibert told a gathering of engineers at the Boston Robotics conference in May.

“Even though there’s a lot of blog headlines that say the robots are scary, if you look at our YouTube videos you see a lot of people like them,” Raibert said. “That makes me wonder, are people really afraid? Or is it afraid like in a horror movie when you’re afraid on purpose?”


Yes. The firm’s first commercial robot, the SpotMini, is all electric. It can run for 90 minutes at a time.

But the battery is “so easy to remove” that the robot could recharge itself, Raibert said. He said engineers are also testing a maneuver where another robot can help recharge its robotic companion.


The YouTube videos started off by accident when a non-employee posted a video of the company’s BigDog pack mule robot about a decade ago, according to former employees who worked there at the time.

It got so much attention that the firm started its own YouTube channel, which now has 32 videos — one with nearly 30 million views.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Why Are We Buying The Army’s Big Six? What Will They Do?

June 4, 2018
By Douglas Macgregor

The last time the US Army tried to modernize it spent $20 billion buying the Future Combat System, which was cancelled as it foundered. Is the Army repeating the same mistakes with its Big Six? 

 Army slide showing elements of canceled Future Combat System

 Rep. Mick Mulvaney held a 2011 meeting in his office to discuss defense spending after learning that the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) modernization program had cost American taxpayers more than $20 billion and produced nothing for the Army. The irate freshman lawmaker (now head of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget) asked, “What came out at the hearings?”
Rep. Mulvaney received his answer: There were no hearings. The money was spent and, most important, the money went where it was supposed to go: to defense industries in states and districts across the country where jobs tied to the FCS program were funded. In gratitude for the redistribution of cash to grateful shareholders, re-election campaign contributions poured in. Meanwhile, James Terry, the one-star in charge of FCS until Defense Secretary Bob Gates cancelled the failed program, was rewarded for the $20 billion failure with a second star and command of the 10th Mountain Division. (He was replaced by a certain Mark Milley, now Army Chief of Staff.) Eventually, Terry was promoted to three stars and given command of a corps — so much for accountability.
The money is flowing again. This time, the money is flowing to an Army Futures Command headed by a Four Star general with eight general officer-led cross-functional teams pursuing the service’s Big Six modernization priorities; priorities tied largely to identified gaps or capability shortfalls inside the old Cold War Army. None of these priorities represent breakthrough concepts or capabilities. On the contrary, they are modest upgrades, if that.
Confused? Well, it may help to think of the modernization command in a sports context:
“The Japanese Army and the U.S. Army agreed to a rowing competition on the Potomac River. Both teams practiced long and hard. On the big day, the Japanese won decisively. An Army General Officer Steering Committee (GOSC) was convened to investigate and recommend appropriate action.
The GOSC discovered that the Japanese Army had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the U.S. Army team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing. In response, the GOSC recommended a modified team: 1 Three Star to command the boat, 3 Two Stars to assist the Three Star, and 1 Colonel to act as coach. The GOSC told the Army Chief of Staff that these changes would ensure that the 1 soldier rowing the boat would row much harder in the future.
The next year, the Japanese Army Team won the race again by an even greater margin. Humiliated, the Chief of Staff insisted that the boat be commanded by a Four Star General assisted by 3 Three Star Generals, and a Two Star Coach along with a new, more physically fit Soldier to row. To cap it off, the Army Chief of Staff changed the name of the Army Rowing Team to the “Army Rowing Center of Excellence,” and posted new ‘requirements’ for paddles, boats and other equipment, as well as lavish awards for new prototype boats for delivery in five to 10 years. Officers from the Air Force, Navy and Marines were naturally excluded from participation in the new center.”
Notwithstanding the chronic problem of unneeded general officer overhead, the whole thing has been tried before—and it failed. Today’s Big Six approach is too close for comfort to the French idea between 1919 and 1939: top-down strategic planning by Four Star generals to prevent that anything new from disrupting the Army’s institutional and structural status quo.
Everyone in an Army uniform knows that the heavy general officer presence inside the modernization command will constrain open debate, cut off critical thinking, and — most troubling — obstruct honest experimentation. Army Futures Command’s true purpose is “to hang on to the old business model;” to incorporate “new technologies” inside the existing Army framework of doctrine, tactics and organization.
What’s missing is something Andrew Grove called strategic action. Strategic action occurs in the present, not in the distant future. It seeks a clearly articulated result, but recognizes that the path to results is marked by a series of incremental changes and adjustments that spring from honest experimentation.
The key questions for Congress, President Trump, and his new Secretary of the Army are: What should the desired result look like? And what kind of strategic action is required now—not in the distant future—to achieve it?
The Germans answered these questions with conceptual analysis and field experimentation between 1927 and 1935 with a small group of talented majors and lieutenant colonels insulated from the larger German Army. All were General Staff officers with experience on the World War I battlefield, as well as at the highest command levels. The strategic action to construct the new force design culminated in 1935 with the shift of resources away from the old Infantry-Artillery Army into new formations containing new platforms, weapons, and communication systems, which became known generically by the term blitzkrieg.
When the answer went public in 1940, it was an operationally decisive force of no more than 125,000 troops organized into new, mobile armored formations of all arms tightly integrated with air power. It crushed the French and drove the British from the European Continent in less than six weeks.
FCS consumed more than $20 billion because two Army Chiefs of Staff and their generals were too heavily invested in the old force to admit failure and change course. The strategic mistake set back Army force modernization and joint warfighting for at least 20 years.
Before more money is squandered on the newest version of the Army Rowing Team, the Army’s senior leaders should be compelled to explain what an operationally decisive ground force in 21 Century Joint Warfighting looks like. If they cannot, they must stop funding programs with no chance to increase military lethality today, tomorrow, and certainly not in the future!
Douglas Macgregor, a retired Army colonel and member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors,, is a decorated combat veteran, a PhD, and the author of five books. His most recent is: Margin of Victory, (Naval Institute Press, 2016).


Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Kuhner Report

Col. Macgregor calls for John Bolton to be fired 


Col. Macgregor calls for President Trump to fire Bolton for messing up the summit with North Korea.



Saturday, May 5, 2018

Trump Turns Tragedy into Triumph in Korea 
May 4, 2018
Trump must act to curb Washington should appetite for involvement everywhere—regardless of its connection to U.S. security—and focus American military power with greater precision. 

Douglas Macgregor 

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media as he heads to the Marine One helicopter as he departs the White House to visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, U.S. December 21, 2017. 
REUTERS/Jim Bourg​
In any conflict, political, military or economic, the greatest challenge of presidential leadership is to recognize when the moment has arrived to force a decision. Knowing when to act is a matter of instinctive intelligence. Yet, for instinct to be meaningful, it must also be buttressed by an unshakeable will.
In his handling of the Korean crisis, President Trump has given a brilliant demonstration of these attributes. Premature euphoria is hazardous, but the conflict on the Korean Peninsula is likely to end; not with a bang, but a whimper.
America’s mission on the Korean Peninsula, and, indeed, in Northeast Asia is fulfilled. After World War II and the Korean conflict, American military power provided the shield behind which the Korean and Japanese peoples prospered. The shield worked.
The Republic of Korea’s (ROK) economy is larger than Russia’s and forty times the size of North Korea’s economy. Japan, the world’s third largest economy, created its own version of the industrial revolution by cultivating Japan’s competitive edge in business more effectively than any other modern nation-state. China has also evolved.
China continues to perfect its anti-access/area denial strategy, but China clearly does not present the military threat to the United States that the Soviet Union posed during the Cold War. In fact, China’s leaders are far more concerned with maintaining internal stability and control of 1.2 billion people than with launching wars to enact Chinese military dominion in Asia or anywhere else. China leverages its economic strength to pressure its neighbors on matters that it cares about in the seas that surround it, but China prefers to resolve its differences with Vietnam, the Philippines, the ROK​ and Japan through nonmilitary means.
In Washington—where no grand strategy exists beyond the unstated belief system known as liberal military hegemony—none of this is welcome news. In 2011 James Clapper insisted that China was the top strategic military threat to the United States. Seven years later and the military threat from China is still a foundational pillar in the Trump administration’s new national military strategy.
Still​,​ the weight of evidence confirms that President Trump’s initial impressions from his March 2017 meeting with President Xi were accurate: Beijing and Washington have more reason to cooperate than fight. Now, President Trump must act to curb Washington’s appetite for involvement everywhere—regardless of its connection to U.S. security or prosperity​—and focus American military power with greater precision.
First, it’s time to allow powerful allies in key regions to take the lead where U.S. and allied interests overlap. In Asia, Washington should view Tokyo, not itself, as the natural counterweight to Chinese influence. The combination of Japanese economic strength, regional diplomacy (particularly in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific),​ and formidable naval power means that Tokyo can take the lead in ensuring freedom of navigation in the waters that surround China.
U.S. aerospace and naval forces can reinforce Japan as needed without raising fears in Beijing (or anywhere else in Asia) of an American attempt to alter the regional geopolitical status quo through intervention on the ground. In other words, the United States can withdraw its Army ground forces from the Korean Peninsula and the Marines from Okinawa; actions that will be warmly supported by the Japanese and Korean populations.
Second, Washington has pressing security concerns in the Western Hemisphere, Eastern Europe,​and the Near East. Washington pays too little attention to threats from criminality, corruption,​ and terrorism emanating from Central America and the Caribbean Basin. In Eastern Europe, Moscow’s unrelenting war on Ukraine creates a permanent catalyst for conflict with Moscow’s Western neighbors. In the Near East, Iran’s reaction to an American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is unknown, but the potential for a military confrontation should not be excluded. Turkey, an ally on paper, has been drifting away from the United States and NATO for decades. It no longer has many geopolitical, security,​ or economic interests in common with the United States.
Third, U.S. Army ground forces must be reoriented to high-end conventional warfare, but this reorientation cannot be executed in isolation from the Air Force and the Navy. Survival in a battlespace dominated by precision-strike weapons with weapons-of-mass-destruction effects demand a fundamental shift in Army thinking and modernization away from ground-holding, light infantry-centric tactics to a force-oriented strategy within a joint, integrated maneuver framework. Upgraded versions of the Cold War army are not the answer.
With fewer than 475,000 Soldiers on active duty, today’s smaller Army cannot field modern warfighting forces and still maintain large light infantry forces for counter-terrorism. The latter are missions that should be assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps and Special Operations Command that together number 250,000 Marines, Soldiers, Sailors​ and Airmen.
Imposing change on the four-star generals who made their careers through twenty-five years of counterinsurgency and nation-building will not be easy. The chiefs of service continue to set the requirements for multi-billion dollar programs, not the Office of Secretary of Defense, which rarely challenges Service budgets or priorities.
Yet,​ President Trump’s stature as commander-in-chief has never been greater. He can make these changes, extract large savings for reinvestment in America,​and stabilize our relations with Asia on terms that favor prosperity and peace.
Col. (ret) Douglas Macgregor, U.S. Army is a decorated combat veteran, a PhD and the author of five books. His latest is, Margin of Victory (Naval Institute Press).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Could the MV-22B be the Marines' Secret Weapon?

“…given the fast pace of Marine Corps and Navy amphibious operations strategy evolution, armed Ospreys could support amphibious assaults by transporting Marines to combat across wider swaths of combat areas.” In view of the advances in air defense technology, reliance on supporting fire from a rotor-driven platform to support amphibious assault, (itself a questionable concept in the age of PGMS), consigns the 180,000 man Marine Corps to use in exclusively “permissive” environments. In other words, against any capable opponent possessing modern air defense weapons, the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft is doomed. The bottom line: If the American taxpayer wants to maintain a light-infantry-centric Marine Corps with little to no survivability or utility in a confrontation with a modern, nation-state opponent, then, the 475,000 man U.S. Army must be configured, organized and equipped primarily for warfare in non-permissive or contested environments. The implications for the equally anachronistic airborne and airmobile forces in the Regular Army should be obvious. They cannot fight and survive in contested environments. Thus, they must be re-purposed leaving low intensity conflict missions to the “permissive environment only” Marine Corps. Failure to take this action ignores the essential point of the new National Defense Strategy: to develop and maintain ground maneuver forces capable of joint operations in high intensity conventional conflict.

Cheers, Doug 
April 25, 2018

Could This Be the Marines’ Secret Weapon?

Kris Osborn

 All weapons under consideration have already been fired in combat by some type of aircraft, however additional testing and assessment of the weapons and their supporting systems are necessary to take the integration to the next step.

The Marine Corps is now arming its Osprey tiltrotor aircraft with a range of weapons to enable its assault support and escort missions in increasingly high-threat combat environments.

Rockets, guns and missiles are among the weapons now under consideration, as the Corps examines requirements for an “all-quadrant” weapons application versus other possible configurations such as purely "forward firing" weapons.

“The current requirement is for an allquadrant weapons system. We are re-examining that requirement—we may find that initially, forward firing weapons could bridge the escort gap until we get a new rotary wing or tiltotor attack platform, with comparable range and speed to the Osprey,” Capt. Sarah Burns, Marine Corps Aviation, told Warrior Maven in a statement

Some weapons, possibly including Hydra 2.75inch folding fin laser guided rockets or .50-cal and 7.62mm guns, have been fired as a proof of concept, Burns said.

“Further testing would have to be done to ensure we could properly integrate them,” she added.

All weapons under consideration have already been fired in combat by some type of aircraft, however additional testing and assessment of the weapons and their supporting systems are necessary to take the integration to the next step.

“We want to arm the MV-22B because there is a gap in escort capability. With the right weapons and associated systems, armed MV-22Bs will be able to escort other Ospreys performing the traditional personnel transport role,” Burns added.

The Hydra 2.75inch rockets, called the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), have been fired in combat on a range of Army and Marine Corps helicopters; they offer an alternative to a larger Hellfire missiles when smaller, fast-moving targets need to be attacked with less potential damage to a surrounding area.

Over the years, the weapon has been fired from AH-64 Apaches, Navy Fire Scout Drones, Marine Corps UH-1Ys, A-10s, MH-60s Navy helicopters and Air Force F-16s, among others.

Bell-Boeing designed a special pylon on the side of the aircraft to ensure common weapons carriage. The Corps is now considering questions such as the needed stand-off distance and level of lethality.

Adding weapons to the Osprey would naturally allow the aircraft to better defend itself should it come under attack from small arms fire, missiles or surface rockets while conducting transport missions; in addition, precision fire will enable the Osprey to support amphibious operations with suppressive or offensive fire as Marines approach enemy territory.

Furthermore, weapons will better facilitate an Osprey-centric tactic known as "Mounted Vertical Maneuver" wherein the tiltrotor uses its airplane speeds and helicopter hover and maneuver technology to transport weapons such as mobile mortars and light vehicles, supplies and Marines behind enemy lines for a range of combat missions -- to include surprise attacks.

Also, while arming the Osprey is primarily oriented toward supporting escort and maneuver operations, there are without question a few combat engagements the aircraft could easily find itself in while conducting these missions.

For example, an armed Osprey would be better positioned to prevent or stop swarming small boat attack wherein enemy surface vessels attacked the aircraft. An Osprey with weapons could also thwart enemy ground attacks from RPGs, MANPADS or small arms fire.

Finally, given the fast pace of Marine Corps and Navy amphibious operations strategy evolution, armed Ospreys could support amphibious assaults by transporting Marines to combat across wider swaths of combat areas.

This article by Kris Osborn originally appeared on Warrior Maven.