Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Only Way Donald Trump can Truly Put America First

If the last two decades have taught the American people anything, conflict anywhere in the world is by no means a threat to peace everywhere. We must reorder our priorities if America’s national interests are going to be advanced.
by Douglas Macgregor
Intentionally or not, President Donald Trump filled many of his top national security and foreign-policy positions with Neo-Wilsonian, Bush-Obama era Liberal Interventionists; an action that became a source of endless frustration for the president. On issues ranging from preventing transgender people from serving in the armed forces to disengaging U.S. forces from Afghanistan and Syria, Trump’s own national-security team has actively obstructed the president’s defense- and foreign-policy agenda.
President Trump always wanted to disengage U.S. forces from overseas commitments that in his view had no direct relation to American national security. Trump also rejected the alleged permanence of the postwar liberal order; an order that was dissolving when Clinton was in office. Instead, Trump sought to enhance American influence with economic strength by focusing on trade, job creation; enforcing the rule of law, immigration and border security.
On the economic front, President Trump broke through the opposition, reinvigorated America’s stagnant economy and began changing the Cold War trade arrangements that favored foreign competitors and harmed American workers and businesses for decades. In Northeast Asia, he has defused the Korean Conflict and at this point it appears that the Korean Peninsula will no longer figure prominently in the U.S. national military strategy.
However, President Trump’s attempt to secure American borders, especially America’s southern border has met with failure. The failure is tragic because violence inside Mexico has reached horrific dimensions.
The rule of law has collapsed. Mexicans of all ages are being killed so frequently that the number of homicides in 2018 will likely exceed last year’s total of 29,168. According to Mexican authorities, drug-trafficking gangs pay around 1.27 billion pesos (some $100 million) a month in bribes to municipal police officers nationwide.
To this depressing picture must be added the growing connections between Mexican drug cartels like Los Zetas and Islamist terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda making Mexico’s use of the United States as a relief valve for its poor and discontented masses extremely dangerous.
Criminal elements in Mexico are equipped with the latest surveillance and communications technology. They can easily maneuver to locations along the border where the U.S. police presence is minimal or non-existent. Adding more police to the thousands already on the border won’t help. Worst of all, in any future war the metastasizing nexus of criminality and terrorism south of the Rio Grande will create a second front for U.S. forces.
Given the sophisticated threat, the only way to effectively secure America’s border with Mexico is to commit the regular army to patrol and defend all but the legal crossing points with a mix of air and ground forces, at least until an effective barrier system is in place. In addition, Washington and Mexico City should consider combined military action inside Mexico against transnational criminal organizations for the benefit of both nations.
So why have neither the Secretary of Defense nor the Joint Chiefs urged such action? One reason may be the American military’s oppressive atmosphere of political correctness; a climate in which strategic discourse is constrained by fear of being called a bigot or racist for suggesting action to secure America’s borders.
There are other reasons. Defending America’s borders, a mission the regular Army performed for over one hundred years between 1846 and 1948, isn’t likely to justify more manpower or force structure. As a result, the border mission does not appeal to serving officers the way it appealed to Patton, Eisenhower, Truscott, Harmon and practically every Army general officer who fought in World War II.
Clinging to the Cold War past is far more attractive. In fact, active and retired Army four-star generals have registered their indignation at the president’s actions to alter the U.S. military’s overseas presence, an expensive legacy of the Cold War security system.
Gen. Robert Abrams, the Army four-star nominated to be the next U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) commander, recently criticized President Trump’s decision to suspend joint military exercises between the United States and the Republic of Korea. He has argued that President Trump’s decision is undermining combat readiness by creating an ostensibly unwanted atmosphere of détente. In 2017, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey went even further by insisting that President Trump was a “serious threat to U.S. national security.”
Coming from the leader of the failed war on drugs McCaffrey’s statement is rich, but his comments and those of Abrams speak volumes. Thinking and behavior of this kind is harmful because it skews the way senior officers in the armed forces think about warfare. In the international system war is always possible, but managing the risk of war involves much more than reacting to events with escalating threats.
For instance, sailing a large surface fleet into the South China Sea with the goal of “warning China” is hardly good risk management. It’s particularly ill-advised in an area where the Navy’s warships are vulnerable to a broad range of Chinese surface-to-surface missiles, loitering munitions, and submarine-launched weapons linked to an array of space and terrestrial-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
Accidents happen. An unwanted incident that results in American losses in the South China Sea would signal weakness, not strength, which is the true purpose of naval power. Sooner or later, U.S. naval losses in the South China Sea would invite military aggression against the United States in other regions. Put more bluntly, dragging the United States into a war with China involving territorial disputes on behalf of the Philippines, Communist Vietnam, or Taiwan is stupid.
Why is the Department of Defense on this path? Part of the reason is because the thirty-eight four-star generals on active duty in the armed forces tend to view contemporary conflict through the wrong lens, the distorting lens of World War II and the Cold War. After all, nuclear weapons may have eliminated total war, but war below the nuclear threshold persists.
Armed conflict for regional power and influence are inevitable in many parts of the world, not just in the South China Sea. Such conflicts inevitably overlap with the competition for energy, water, food, and mineral resources. But these conflicts do not necessarily demand American participation.
If the last twenty-seven years have taught the American people anything, conflict anywhere in the world is by no means a threat to peace everywhere, least of all to the United States. Peace is divisible; conflicts regardless of their causes are overwhelmingly local or regional, not global in significance. This is why it so important for American political and military leaders to first, formulate strategic aims that truly justify military action, before American blood and treasure are put at risk.
These points explain why the military inertia in strategic thinking that tries to intimidate China on China’s doorstep is worse than foolish. It’s downright dangerous when senior military leaders erroneously conclude that U.S. military control of the South China Sea, roughly eight thousand miles from U.S. shores, is a vital strategic interest of the United States, but securing America’s southern border is not.
The good news is the president can fix this problem because it’s a cultural and intellectual problem—not a fiscal one. Fixing it means reaching down and appointing new senior civilian and military leaders to the Defense Department who are not hostage to the policies of the past.
Retired Col. Douglas Macgregor, U.S. Army, is a decorated combat veteran, a has a doctorate and he is the author of five books. His latest, Margin of Victory, is available from Naval Institute Press.
Image: Reuters

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Trump has to clean the Department of Defense and his staff

September 25, 2018
Michal Krupa

Trump needs to purge and remove senior commanders from the Department of Defense, and most key figures from his personnel responsible for national security. If he did, he could replace them with people who are really loyal and support the strategic agenda of President Trump, expounded during the presidency campaign - underlines with the portal, Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel in the United States army, military planner, author and deputy head of the company consulting company Burke-Macgregor, LLC.

Michał Krupa (

During the meeting in the White House, Polish President Andrzej Duda suggested that the United States should consider establishing a permanent base in Poland, which he called "Fort Trump". President Trump even pointed out that the Polish side would be willing to pay billions of dollars to achieve this goal. Many Poles are very critical of such an idea. Last year, General Sławomir Wojciechowski called the idea of creating permanent American bases in Poland "nonsense". He pointed out that it is not in the interest of Poland and the West to escalate tension with Russia. As a former military commander, how do you perceive the concept of an enlarged and permanent US presence in Eastern Europe?

Douglas Macgregor:

The problem with imitating what has been done in Germany during the Cold War is that the way the war was conducted has fundamentally changed. Large garrisons full of US troops will be attacked by precisely guided ground-to-surface missiles in the first minutes of the Russian attack. Personally, I think that all current and future bases in Europe should be transformed into advanced operational bases. They would be manned by a small number of American soldiers and airmen, and American forces routinely should routinely use them for the rapid deployment of forces as part of the exercise. My recommendation on this matter is included on .

Michał Krupa ( 

Did the sentence of Senator Richard Lugar, who claimed that after the end of the Cold War of NATO, should either "go beyond its borders or withdraw from business" is a sufficient justification for the Alliance's continued existence? It seems that the Alliance is really looking for a new mission for itself.

Douglas Macgregor:

No. When the interests justifying the existence of an alliance change or cease to exist, then the alliance is falling apart. I referred to this problem in my latest book , Margin of Victory . The problem with NATO is that not everyone shares the views of the American and Polish views on the Russian threat to Central and Eastern Europe. For example, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece see Russia as a potential ally in a potential future war with Islamist Turkey, which remains a NATO member. Italy, Spain, Portugal and France focus on their interests in North Africa and not in Central and Eastern Europe. The British armed forces are too small to make anything significant. Norway and Denmark are concentrated in a comprehensive manner in the North Sea and in the area between Greenland, Iceland and the United Kingdom. Thus, a new security system must be created that will take into account the security interests of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic, and will replace NATO. The independence of Ukraine is a permanent strategic goal for these countries, as well as for the United States. Washington can support this more promising strategy, but the president must take the initiative. Washington is suffering from bureaucratic sclerosis and is sticking to the Cold War past.

Michał Krupa ( 

In a recent lecture you mentioned that the United States was able to win World War II with fewer four-star generals and more soldiers, while today the armed forces have fewer soldiers and more four-star generals. Do you think that this is the result of a more interventionist foreign policy, or rather a highly careerist and bureaucratic culture prevailing in the Pentagon?

Douglas Macgregor:

You are right. US armed forces are at the end of a long period of bureaucratic expansion, caused by conflicts with weak opponents in marginal areas, without strategic importance for Americans, which also resulted in unreasonably high spending on the old structure from World War II. Worse, the unspecified and endless nature of military operations destroyed responsibility in the ranks of senior officers. This period is just about to end. However, the huge expansion of the administration, which has progressed during the Cold War and in the last 27 years, remains a ballast. Reducing the number of four-star generals and admirals (currently 38) is key to restoring professionalism and unity of command / unity of effort. A more reasonable number would be at most 10 or 12, assuming we would also reduce the number of regional combat commands. It should be remembered that in 1943, when we had 8.2 million people in the army and in the military corps, we had only four four-star generals: Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Arnold.

Michał Krupa ( 

Is the current US national security strategy right to label China and Russia as "competitors"?

Douglas Macgregor:

Yes. It's best to use the term competitor because conflict is never inevitable. As President Trump argues, there are common areas to be explored and, if possible, used for cooperation. Our strategic interest is to prevent the emergence of an alliance that could potentially dominate the Eurasian area.

Michał Krupa (

We see that some in Trump's administration are pushing for a more hostile attitude towards Iran. Is this approach in the interest of the United States?

Douglas Macgregor:

The idea of provoking a war with Iran is stupid and unnecessary. Iran is not a serious threat to the United States, and because of the nature of society and culture, Iran has the potential to become a strategic partner. A more serious potential enemy in the Middle East is Islamist Turkey. The Sunni Turks have a long history of conflict with the West and a strong war tradition, unlike in Iran.

Michał Krupa (

Many US authors and commentators say US policy in Syria is a direct result of the great influence of Israeli and Saudi lobbyists in Washington. Do you agree with this statement? Is this the right assessment?

Douglas Macgregor:

Yes. There is enormous pressure on Washington by both states to make their enemies also enemies of America. This is not a new problem. Great Britain managed to make enemies of America from Germany and Austria in 1917. The Americans later regretted this and removed Woodrow Wilson and Democrats from power after the First World War. Fortunately, so far, President Trump rightly resisted the pressure to start a conflict with Iran on behalf of the two countries.

Michał Krupa ( 

How do you assess President Trump's foreign policy after almost two years of office and in the light of a recent article in the New York Times by an official who claims to be part of a Trump administration group that undermines the president's agenda, for example in striving for detente with Russia? Can we expect dramatic changes in politics and / or staff after the supplementary elections in November?

Douglas Macgregor:

Most of all, we can expect changes. Of course, for the change to take place, President Trump has to purge and remove senior commanders from the Department of Defense and most key figures from his personnel responsible for national security. If he did, he could replace them with people who are truly loyal and support the strategic agenda of President Trump during the presidency campaign. This is the only way to regain control over your agenda and to effectively rule.

Thank you for the conversation.

Interviewed by Michał Krupa (

Translated from:

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mr. President, Leave Syria
September 24, 2018

No one knows precisely what happened inside the White House that resulted in President Trump’s sudden about-face on Syria. One day he was planning to extricate American ground troops from Syria; then he wasn't. Regardless, whoever is urging the president to leave a small contingent of 2,000 lightly armed soldiers and Marines in a remote corner of Syria is doing the president and the nation a grave disservice.  


No one knows precisely what happened inside the White House that resulted in President Trump’s sudden about-face on Syria. One day he was planning to extricate American ground troops from Syria; then he wasn’t. Regardless, whoever is urging the president to leave a small contingent of 2,000 lightly armed soldiers and Marines in a remote corner of Syria is doing the president and the nation a grave disservice.

President Ronald Reagan committed 2,400 Marines to Beirut, Lebanon as part of an international peacekeeping mission on the advice of his Secretary of State George Schultz. Then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger opposed the mission as open-ended and with no reasonable chance of success, but Reagan followed Schultz’s recommendation.

As Weinberger warned, the small U.S. military presence had no strategic impact on the escalating violence in Beirut. The Marines operated under ludicrous rules of engagement that prohibited them from firing their weapons unless they were taken under direct fire and, even then, only with a weapon similar to the one used against them. In short order, the escalating violence confined the lightly equipped Marine infantrymen to their compound.

At 6:20 a.m. on October 23, 1983 the mission changed. A suicide bomber drove a truck into the Marine compound and detonated a bomb producing a blast equal to 12,000 pounds of dynamite. The blast destroyed the building and killed 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers.

Weinberger was furious and frustrated. When Reagan called him to the White House, Weinberger summed up the position of the Marines to the president in very succinct terms: “They’re in a position of extraordinary danger. They have no mission. They have no capability of carrying out a mission, and they’re terribly vulnerable.”

According to Weinberger, President Reagan said, “Yes, Cap. You were right. I was wrong. Now, we’ve got to get our men out of there.” Despite the usual push back with bluster and bravado—“Americans don’t cut and run,” and “Marines never quit”—from the usual suspects inside the Beltway who’ve never pulled a trigger in battle in their lives, Reagan withdrew the Marines.

As the White House wrestles with the Washington Swamp — a growing group of interventionists inside and outside of the White House—President Trump should consider adopting one of two courses of action in Syria. 

1.    Transform the weak U.S. military presence in Syria into a more capable and survivable force of at least 5,000 U.S. troops including tanks, tracked armored fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery and air defense forces.

2.    Withdraw the force of 2,000-plus light troops currently on the ground in Syria.

Keep in mind, that option one is — at best — a stop-gap measure to protect American lives and nothing more. Short of a massive American military intervention on the scale of Desert Storm, Washington’s actions will make no impact on Syria. Nothing Washington does in Syria will change the reality that Israel is involved in a permanent state-of-undeclared-war with Iran, Iran’s proxies and, increasingly, Islamist Turkey. Moscow comprehends this reality and has acknowledged Israel’s National Security Interests. As a result, Moscow has both warned off Iran and stood aside while Israel has launched more than 200 strikes against Iranian targets in Syria over the last 18 months.

Moscow’s readiness to act decisively against Islamists of all strikes is a good thing, but given Turkey’s defection to the anti-Western/anti-Israeli camp, there will always be a stray Sunni Islamist element present in the region to justify prolonging American military engagement. But staying in the region to chase the residue of ISIS and al Qaeda is pointless. Turkey and the regional Arab states will allow the few surviving Islamist fighters to escape and disperse rather than let them be destroyed.

President Trump should follow his gut instinct and disengage American forces from Syria. President Putin promised to end the Syrian Civil War with the “total annihilation of terrorists in Syria.” President Trump should let him keep his promise.

As President Reagan discovered the hard way in 1983, open-ended peacekeeping or peace enforcement missions are halfway houses that appeal to dithering politicians, but such policies do not ignite passion or commitment among Americans. American voters dislike imprecise and indefinite policies that put American lives at risk casually. According to the latest polls, 62 percent of Americans oppose military intervention in Syria.

After 1991, Washington was stupid and embraced the Neocons’ unipolar moment. As President Trump routinely reminds his supporters, the outcome was a series of strategic disasters for the American people. If the president’s four star generals have not figured it out, at least the American people have concluded that using American military power to breathe new life into the comatose body of the perpetually failed states that litter the Eastern hemisphere is a huge waste of time.

Option two is the right course of action. It’s the option President Trump’s base voted for in 2016.

Extricating American soldiers and Marines from volatile quagmires like Syria (and Afghanistan) will only intensify the president’s popular appeal in the midterms when his base must mobilize and vote to support for the America First agenda in Congress.

Doug Macgregor, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors  is a decorated combat veteran, PhD and the author of five books. His latest is Margin of Victory from Naval Institute Press, 2016.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

"President Trump's New Pax Americana" - Col. Douglas Macgregor Speaks at RPI Media & War Conference

Do we have any reason at all to hope for a less militaristic foreign policy under President Trump? Col. Macgregor has seen war up close and he's had enough of the US empire. In his Media & War speech he offers a way out of the neocon militarism that dominates Washington.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Could the Army Lose a War to Russia or China?

A great power war would not be easy for Washington to wage. Here is why. 
The new Russian battalions “are characterized as highly integrated, extremely powerful, and exceptionally mobile,” the authors explained, noting they were composed of “of a tank company, three mechanized infantry companies, an anti-tank company, two to three batteries of artillery (self-propelled guns and multiple launch rocket), and two air defense batteries.” Chinese ground forces, likewise, have reformed their formations and upgraded their warfighting doctrine.
On February 7, Vice Chief of Staff for the Army Gen. Daniel Allyn stated that only three of fifty-eight combat brigades in the U.S. Army were sufficiently trained for wartime deployment, blaming the condition on sequestration. It is not the lack of money, however, that is behind the army’s inability to maintain ready forces. Rather, it is the obsolete force structure the army has maintained since World War II. Fortunately, modern thinking and a new organization for the army could reverse this trend—without requiring an increase in the budget.
(This first appeared last year.)
Just four years earlier, then Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno claimed that the United States only had two trained army brigades, also blaming the lack of readiness on sequestration. The army is by no means under a cash crunch with an annual budget of $148 billion.
It is more, by itself, than the entire defense budgets for Russia, Germany and Japan combined. Sequestration is not what is making the U.S. Army inadequately ready. It is how the money is spent and the way the service is organized that makes the difference. Russia and China have both recognized the changing nature of war and have abandoned the formations born during World War II. Their armies have materially improved as a result.
Beginning in 2010, Russia’s ground forces began eliminating the division structure it had used since the battle of Stalingrad in favor of smaller, more lethal combined arms formations. An analysis of Russia’s reformation in the U.S. Army’s Infantry magazine last year warned that “in Eastern Europe, Russia has been employing an emergent version of hybrid warfare that is highly integrated, synchronized, and devastatingly effective.”
The new Russian battalions “are characterized as highly integrated, extremely powerful, and exceptionally mobile,” the authors explained, noting they were composed of “of a tank company, three mechanized infantry companies, an anti-tank company, two to three batteries of artillery (self-propelled guns and multiple launch rocket), and two air defense batteries.” Chinese ground forces, likewise, have reformed their formations and upgraded their warfighting doctrine.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ground forces began reorganizing their main fighting formations more than a decade ago to take advantage of advances in the technology of war. They moved away from masses of infantry troops to armored, mobile all-arms formations. Like the Russians, they are mostly eliminating the division structure in preference for smaller, more lethal and survivable brigade combat groups. The Department of Defense (DoD) soberly recognizes these trends and their potential implications.
Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. ground forces still retained a robust conventional training focus and had a clear ground advantage over Russia and China. In the years since, however, a reorientation on becoming masters of counterinsurgency tactics has resulted in a significant deterioration in conventional fighting skills. More importantly, the United States lost a decade when it could have modernized, reorganized, and improved the army. The advantage America once had over Russia and China has been eroded. If changes are not made, the U.S. Army could soon fall behind them. Fortunately, there is help on the horizon.
In 2015, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) established The National Commission on the Future of the Army and charged them by 2016 to make an assessment of the size and force structure of the future army. One of its key recommendations was that “Congress should require the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff to oversee the modeling of alternative Army design and operational concepts—including the Reconnaissance Strike Group (RSG).” The RSG is an element of a larger army-wide transformation model designed by retired U.S. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor.
The RSG is a six-thousand-person all-arms, all-effects battle group that is “designed to lead change by exploiting new, but proven technologies in a joint, integrated operational context,” according to Macgregor’s online briefing. The Senate Armed Services Committee adopted the recommendation of the Army Commission and the 2017 NDAA ordered the creation of an RSG Office to model and assess the effectiveness of the new construct.
The RSG is organized within a comprehensive operational construct that synthesizes maneuver, strike, ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) and sustainment capabilities. Unlike current army formations, the RSG is a self-contained organization that is an all-arms, mobile armored combat formation commanded by a one-star general that has substantial striking power and greater survivability than current force units.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The National Interest Panel 8/28/2018

The Center for the National Interest presents today's second North Korean panel.

Monday, August 27, 2018

PANEL: Center for the National Interest

2:45pm – 4:15pm Panel #4 (On the record and will be streamed on The National Interest’s Facebook Page) – What Is the End Game?

No matter what happens in the short-to-medium term on the Korean Peninsula, it seems North Korea will be a shared threat as well as an opportunity for the U.S.-ROK Alliance. What are the chances of North Korea truly giving up all of its nuclear weapons? If not, can the Trump Administration live with—while containing and deterring—a nuclear DPRK? Is there a possibility that the maximum pressure campaign, if increased, could lead to the destabilizing of North Korea? Is unification possible at some point in the future?

Moderator: Harry J. Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies, Center for the National Interest and Executive Editor, The National Interest.

Panelist: Col. Doug MacGregor (USA, Ret.), Author of Margin of Victory.

Panelist: Joe Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Group.

Panelist: Dr. Sue Mi Terry, Senior Fellow and Korea Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

We hope that you can join us for this timely discussion on this important national security issue.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Vocal Point – Jerry Newcombe

Posted by Jerry Newcombe on Aug - 20 - 2018

“A nation without border is no nation at all,” says Col. Douglas Macgregor. Dr. Macgregor has written the book, Margin of Victory: 5 Battles That Changed the Face of Modern War. David Gray of Virginia Military Institute notes, “The over-arching themes of Margin of Victory stress military preparedness and adaptability to the changing character of major wars.” A graduate of West Point, Col. Macgregor has spent several years in the military, including on the borders of some nations. He believes that we must secure our nation’s borders for the safety of the nation. Dr. Douglas Macgregor, a frequent guest on various broadcasts, joins Jerry Newcombe to discuss our borders on Vocal Point.

Link to audio interview:

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Pakistan Will Add 60,000 Troops to Patrol Afghan Border

By Faseeh Mangi

August 8, 2018, 7:04 AM EDT
Updated on August 9, 2018, 12:30 AM EDT

  •     Military has fenced about 13 percent of the disputed border
  •     U.S. has accused Pakistan of allowing safe haven for militants
Pakistan will add as many as 60,000 troops to boost its patrols along its disputed border with Afghanistan in an effort to curb the flow of insurgents passing between the two nations, according to military officials familiar with the matter. Forty percent of the troops have already been recruited in the exercise, which is expected to take two years, the officials said, asking not to be identified so they could discuss sensitive troop movements. About 13 percent of a fence planned along the 1,456 mile-long disputed border has also been completed, they said. The armed force’s media department didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The move will consolidate Pakistan’s border operations, which have been beefed-up in recent years after widespread insecurity wracked the country following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Domestic terror-related violence is now at its lowest in more than a decade. The army, which has 661,000 regular and paramilitary troops, have previously been more focused on the country’s eastern border with arch-rival neighbor India, with which it’s fought three wars against since British India’s partition in 1947. The two continue to contest the disputed region of Kashmir.

Pakistan has come under increasing pressure to act against the Afghan Taliban and the affiliated Haqqani network since President Donald Trump accused Islamabad of allowing them safe haven. In January, Trump suspended military aid to the nuclear-armed nation and accused Pakistan of giving “lies and deceit” in return for years of U.S. funding.

“I don’t think this will satisfy the U.S.,” said Rashid Ahmed Khan, the head of international relations at University of Central Punjab in Lahore. “It’s one of the most porous borders in the world -- if one side continues to oppose it, then this can’t be that effective,” he said, referring to Afghan objections.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have denounced the other for harboring insurgents, prompting relations to drastically sour in the past year. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said Pakistan is waging an “undeclared war of aggression” against his nation and has threatened armed confrontation over the fence construction across the disputed Durand Line, which divided the largely ethnic Pashtun communities in the region during British colonial rule.

Pakistani officials have said the fence across the mountainous border is needed to stop the flow of militants crossing into both countries. Islamabad has often blamed Afghan nationals and refugees for bombings and attacks in Pakistan. More than 2 million refugees live in Pakistan and the government has said those camps are breeding grounds for insurgency.

The border is porous and has 235 crossing points, some frequently used by militants and drug traffickers, of which 18 can be accessed by vehicles, according to a report by the Afghanistan Analysts Network research group in October.

Lawless Border

“It may not stop every terrorist, but it will deter them,” said Ikram Sehgal, a former military officer and chairman of Pathfinder Group, Pakistan’s largest private security company. “If you are serious about no encroachment, this is necessary.”

However, the AAN report said the Taliban can move with ease between the two countries in the often lawless border lands and are usually waved through by Pakistan security forces. Pakistan’s military has long denied supporting militant groups.

After winning last month’s national election, incoming Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to work for peace in Afghanistan and told Ghani in a call after his victory that he would visit Kabul at an unspecified time.

“If there is peace in Afghanistan, there will be peace in Pakistan,” said Khan in a televised victory speech from Islamabad last month.

Military Policy

However, there are questions as to how much influence he will have over foreign policy, which has long been the domain of the military. Pakistan’s generals are accused of supporting the Afghan Taliban to counter its fears of Indian encirclement and influence in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s forces have directly ruled the nation for almost half of its 71-year history and has defined the nation’s role in world affairs for decades. It continues to assert its authority on the civilian government and the run-up to the election this year was tarred by widespread allegations of military manipulation.

Analysts also see Khan as a pliant prime minister who won’t challenge the army’s hold over foreign and national security policies. Both Khan and the army have denied the allegations.

(Updates with analyst comment in fith paragraph.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sky News Australia: U.S. Working REGIONAL POWERS = Peace

Colonel Macgregor reveals that the REGIONAL POWERS in the Far and Middle East can work-out security problems with American help better than U.S. troops occupying their lands.

Friday, August 3, 2018

OPINION: Reduce the unneeded 4-star overhead

Special to Stars and Stripes
Published: July 31, 2018

It’s official. The White House approved the appointment of a new four-star general to lead Army Futures Command. This act raises the total number of four-star generals and admirals on active duty in the U.S. military to 35** — an all-time high for an active-duty force of just more than a million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

It was not always so. There was a time when fewer four-stars meant more fighting power.

From March 1942 to April 1945 when Gen. George C. Marshall was responsible for 8.3 million soldiers and airmen serving in nine theaters of war, Marshall managed to do his job with the assistance of only three other four-star generals: Douglas MacArthur, Henry “Hap” Arnold and Dwight Eisenhower. Some readers may wonder how 8.2 million soldiers and airmen could fight and win the largest and most destructive war in human history under the command and control of only four four-star generals.

One reason was Marshall’s grasp of Winston Churchill’s maxim that, “Failure in war is most often the absence of one directing mind and commanding will.” Marshall knew from experience with failed attempts to reform the U.S. Army during the interwar period that more four-stars promised exhausting debates about desperately needed changes in the Army’s organization; the implementation of new warfighting methods and reductions in the Army’s command echelons. For anything to change and change quickly, Marshall had to take control.

When Marshall received the executive order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in February 1942 authorizing him to reorganize the War Department, Marshall acted swiftly to make the Army staff in the Pentagon more manageable and responsive. Marshall said the staff of 700 officers had become “a huge, bureaucratic, red tape-ridden, operating agency. It slowed down everything.” Marshall removed 600 officers, reducing the staff to 122.

During the war, Marshall demanded selfless service from his generals and penalized those who put their personal ambitions ahead of the nation’s needs. When World War II ended, Marshall promoted younger men and retired older men despite their wartime service and experience.

Marshall always spoke frankly to Roosevelt, who usually deferred to Marshall’s judgment on military matters. Though they did occasionally disagree, very few people knew it.

Things have changed. Since 2001, a host of four-stars supported by enormous staffs of officers and contractors have set the strategic agendas for three presidential administrations. In the end, all of the “celebrity” four-stars in Iraq and Afghanistan argued for the same solution: billions of dollars and more troops. They received both and failed to deliver any strategic benefit to the American people.

The Defense Department needs a new business model. If famed management consultant Peter Drucker were here to counsel the president, he would say, “Too many four-stars means too many meetings, too many competing agendas and too little accountability for a force with too few soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that can actually fight.” It’s time for President Donald Trump to consider his options, because he really has only three courses of action:

1) Do nothing. Like Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, let the 35 four-stars and the service bureaucracies set the strategic agenda.

2) Convene a commission of the usual “inside the Beltway” suspects — Beltway consultants, Ivy League academics, retired four-stars, ex-senators and former service secretaries — to study the problem and submit a lengthy report in two years.

3) Select a new secretary of defense; a strong, decisive leader, a leader who (like Marshall) will compel unity of effort by reducing the unneeded four-star overhead; a secretary without personal attachment to the services who understands that American forces organized for the past will be defeated in the future.

To be fair, Marshall had some advantages over today’s four-stars. Marshall never pretended to be a “warrior-scholar.” Marshall did not contend with an industry of pseudo experts and pundits from Washington think tanks, eager to write articles for publication on his behalf. His greatest advantage may well have been his ignorance of the science of PowerPoint briefings.

Today, there is no one like Marshall in the senior ranks. As a result, the sooner Trump heeds the advice of Drucker and changes the four-star business model with a new secretary of defense, the sooner he — not the 35 four-stars — will set the strategic agenda.

Douglas Macgregor is a retired U.S. Army colonel, a combat veteran, and the author of five books, including “Margin of Victory.”

**The number of four Stars on active duty is 38

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Are We Being Pushed Into War With Iran

Douglas Macgregor on Tucker Carlson Tonight 7/24/18 Breaking For News

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