Thursday, December 12, 2013

The U.S. and foreign affairs

December 11, 2013 - 02:20 PM
By George Jackson
Macgregor interview December 10, 2013

Macgregor interview December 10, 2013
A new Pew Research Center study reveals a majority of Americans think their nation is less powerful than it was a decade ago. Even more think the U.S. should stay out of foreign affairs.

Col. Douglas Macgregor, executive vice president of the Burke-Macgregor Group, discussed that and other top defense issues with Capital Insider.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New US Strategy Carries Heavy Expectations

Douglas Macgregor responds:
See the areas marked in yellow.  This document will not address strategy.  Like its predecessors since 1991, it will contain lots of soothing platitudes and push ideological agendas as a sop to domestic constituencies, campaign contributors and the defense industries. Our Cold War alliance structures economically benefit our so-called allies around the world thanks to unfavorable trade agreements, but they don’t benefit us.  Dependencies and protectorates that finance Islamism and terrorism are not allies.  Islamist terrorism is a homeland security issue bound up with border security and immigration.  Disputes between China and its neighbors, especially, Japan, over rock piles in the North or South China Seas are not matters for resolution through aggressive U.S. military intervention.

This document promises to be an expensive tribute to the past and our delusions of grandeur, not a fresh perspective designed to reinvigorate American economic strength, to restore the high-tech manufacturing base, to expand development of our agricultural and energy sectors and realistically cope with the United States’ fiscally constrained future. 

New US Strategy Carries Heavy Expectations
Defense News
December 9, 2013

New US Strategy Carries Heavy Expectations


WASHINGTON — The new national security strategy document that the White House plans to release in 2014 is shaping up to be key to laying out the administration’s thinking on everything from diplomatic engagement to counterterrorism to training and advising allies, a host of national security experts say.

But how it should do that is a matter of debate.

The broad outline of what the document will contain has been expressed in speeches by President Barack Obama and administration officials over the past several years: a push for nuclear disarmament, a rebalance of diplomatic and military attention to the Asia-Pacific region, helping build economic stability in emerging regions, and a continuing focus on the global counterterrorism mission.

The administration’s first national security strategy was released in 2010, a little over a year after Obama entered the White House and as the US was still engaged in Iraq, preparing to surge more troops into Afghanistan, and still firmly in the grips of a crippling global economic crisis. Four years on, with the economy stronger, Osama bin laden dead, as much as $1 trillion in government spending to be slashed over the next decade, and American troops out of Iraq and heading for the exits in Afghanistan, the landscape has changed.

Most notably, there has been a shift from the Defense Department to the State Department taking the lead as the face of American foreign policy, with the jet set diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry dominating the headlines as he brokers deals with Syria, Iran and Libya, while preparing to set his sights on the Israel-Palestine peace process.

As for specific recommendations for how the administration can use the document to help shape the way it uses both diplomatic and military power until the end of Obama’s presidency in 2016, Rachel Kleinfeld, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Truman Foundation, said the strategy must address the Arab Spring and subsequent political changes in the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Arab revolutions show an urgent need to weigh more heavily in our security calculus the risk factors that could create a sudden state collapse in allies and strategic states,” Kleinfeld said. “That means greater weight to acute corruption and population unrest in our security strategy — and developing the tools to help allies alter gradually rather than fail catastrophically.”

What’s more, with the Afghanistan war winding down and al-Qaida more globally dispersed than when the wars began, the US needs “a new strategy to fight terrorism,” Kleinfeld said.

The issue here is the contentious debate over the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which many on Capitol Hill want rewritten to clip some of the broad powers that it has granted the White House to use the military.

“This document will have to catch up to the shift from stability operations to a more limited train, advise and assist mission, and hopefully fill in the blanks on what the civilian agencies provide in that realm,” said Kathleen Hicks, who served as principal deputy defense undersecretary for policy from 2012 to 2013, and is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

When it comes to the global counterterrorism mission, “I don’t think we really have a strategy right now for that,” Hicks added. “At the tactical and operational levels, there’s a lot of good work going on, but I don’t think we’ve articulated the problem at a strategic level. This is an opportunity for that.”

One former government official said the AUMF will have to be addressed in the document, predicting that “I would expect to see a legal framework that’s very much tied to al-Qaeda and what this means in terms of how the US conducts itself going forward.”

Related to the AUMF issue are the lingering questions over the targeted killing program the Obama administration has employed, largely by using armed drones.

Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official now with the Center for American Progress, expects the strategy will include “something about the use of drones and covert action.” Korb also said he thinks the strategy will stress that “diplomatic solutions should always be our first option.”

Diplomacy also plays a major role in writing such a sweeping, high-profile document. Aides and senior officials spend months changing words and entire sections, worried a friend or potential foe will react poorly.

“The strategy can’t send a signal to the Middle East that we don’t care anymore, or make China think we’re going to go to war with them,” Korb said.

Speaking to the Asia Society in March, Obama’s then-National Security Adviser Tom Donilon outlined a vision for the administration’s regional policy that will likely be reflected in the upcoming strategy document.

The United States is focused on “strengthening alliances; deepening partnerships with emerging powers; building a stable, productive and constructive relationship with China; empowering regional institutions; and helping to build a regional economic architecture that can sustain shared prosperity.”

Some Obama critics have low expectations however.

“This president’s strategy has been retreat. Iraq: Retreat. Afghanistan: Retreat. Total disengagement from the world,” said Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. “Some signal of a more robust American profile on the global stage would be a good thing.

“There is not one part of this administration’s foreign policy that I want to see this strategy codify,” Pletka said. “Whether it’s remotecontrol assassinations or cozying up to terrorists.”

Asked which terrorists she thinks Obama has embraced, Pletka pointed to Iran, saying the recent deal it struck with the UN Security Council should have included text that dubbed Tehran “a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Kleinfeld hit a similar — but less extreme tone — saying the strategy needs to reassure frustrated allies and make the case for and against isolationism to a war-weary American populace.

While the document will likely spend less time on economic issues than its 2010 predecessor did, the $500 billion in total sequestration cuts looming will have to play a role.

The United States will have to adjust its military ambitions to reflect the cuts the Pentagon will have to make, said Frank Hoffman, a former Pentagon official and now senior research fellow at the National Defense University.

“It’s going to be very hard for the administration — in a public document — to calibrate our interests and our appetites in such a way that’s its clear to everybody what we believe our most core and vital interests are,” he said.

There is little doubt that the American military will remain the most powerful military force in the world, he said. “You’re coming from a position of very dominant overmatch. Now it’s retaining overmatch and focusing on the things that are really important to you, and that’s what the [Asia-Pacific] rebalance is all about, maintaining overmatch.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

Iran's nuclear deal

 November 27, 2013 - 04:14 PM
 By George Jackson

Depending on who you ask, the deal with Iran is either an historic agreement or an historic mistake. The temporary pact puts a stop to the country's uranium enrichment, but many experts say that it's not enough.
Col. Douglas Macgregor (ret.) discussed that and other topics on Capital Insider.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

MTM Banner

Upcoming AFA Mitchell Institute Forum: The Department of Defense in an Era of Constrained Budgets: Smaller and Less Capable is Not the Only Option 

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Mitchell Institute will discuss a concept known as the Macgregor Transformation Model--an approach that promises a reduction in the overall size of the Department of Defense; a substantial reduction in operating costs; and an increase in combat capability. 

WHO: Retired Navy Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, retired Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula, and retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor. 

WHAT: Discussion of operational innovation in a constrained budget environment.  

WHY: As sequestration erodes military readiness, eliminates weapon systems, and reduces personnel, the Services need to consider organizational change.  Preserving the status quo with fewer assets will result in significantly reduced combat capability - a risky proposition given the burgeoning array of challenges America faces around the globe. Our panel will discuss an alternate path forward through the lens of the Macgregor Transformation Model (MTM) - an approach that allows for a reduction in the overall size of the Department of Defense; affords a substantial reduction in operating costs; and yields an increase in combat capability.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.  

WHERE: Capitol Hill Club      300 First St SE      Washington, D.C. 20003  
All Mitchell Hours are free to the public.

To register for this event, please go to For additional information, contact Doug Birkey at or 703-247-5804.  

ABOUT THE MITCHELL INSTITUTE FOR AIRPOWER STUDIES: The Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies is an independent, non-profit research, studies, and analysis organization founded by the Air Force Association. It takes its name from America’s most famous and arguably greatest airman, Brig. Gen. William Mitchell. The Institute seeks to carry on, in the modern day, General Mitchell’s tireless and dedicated effort to expand airpower thinking and increase public awareness of the need for this unique military instrument. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Special Conference 19 November 2013

The Macgregor Transformation Model (MTM) is growing in support on Capital Hill as well as the top ranks of our military as a way to construct a better U.S. military force despite the necessary cuts to balance America's federal budget. MTM is a way forward through the defense down-cycle so excellence is improved on regardless of whether budgets are up or down--creating efficiencies by smart reorganization and force structure can be design not cost-driven.

Learn more about MTM by attending a special conference at the Capital Hill Club, on 19 November, from 0800 to 0900!

Print Press and TV/internet Journalists are Welcome!

For more details email us:

NSA Snooping

October 31, 2013 - 07:20 PM

By George Jackson 

Macgregor interview October 29, 2013

The White House has been in hot water over more leaked NSA reports indicating the U.S. spied on foreign allies. A Wall Street Journal report says President Obama didn't know about the size and scope of the surveillance programs.

Col. Douglas Macgregor (U.S. Army, ret.), executive vice president of the Burke-Macgregor Group, discussed that and other topics with Capital Insider.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Upcoming Events -- November 12, 2013

Upcoming Events

EPS Bernard L. Schwartz Symposium:
Jobs, Investment, and Rebuilding America: Economic and National Security Issues

November 12, 2013
Hyatt Regency Washington on Captiol Hill
While Congress fiddles, America burns. Jobs remain scarce, foreclosures rampant, mortgages under water, pensions fragile, wages too low. Our infrastructure remains in decay. And we are still not meeting the economic or national security challenges that we have inherited from a decade of frustrating global failures. On Tuesday, November 12, Economists for Peace and Security will present a symposium on these issues – and why they should trump today's disastrous preoccupations with budget balance, spending cuts, sequestration and the debt ceiling.

The symposium’s keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Jason Furman, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers. There will be three panels, with participation from many of America's most distinguished policy economists, journalists, and security specialists.

Please join us for this important symposium. To register for this free event, email
Schedule of Events:
8:30am Registration & Breakfast

9:00am Welcoming Remarks
  • James K. Galbraith, Economists for Peace and Security

9:15 – 10:05 Session One - A Jobs-Investment-Security Agenda
Chair: Michael Lind
  • Allen Sinai,  Economic Performance in Perspective
  • Michael Tomasky, the State of the Middle Class Now
  • Sherle Schwenninger,  Jobs and Investment
  • Ron Unz, Raising the Minimum Wage
Comments by Greg Ip (invited)
10:05 – 10:45 Keynote:
  • Jason Furman, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers

10:45 – 11:35 Session Two - US Security Policy After Syria
Chair:  Richard Kaufman
  • Heather Hurlburt, The Implications of the Syrian Bargain
  • Winslow Wheeler,  An Unaffordable Defense Budget
  • Peter Galbraith, Lessons for Future Diplomacy
  • Carl Conetta,  US Grand Strategy Now
  • Colonel Douglas MacGregor,  The Uses of the Military in the World Now

11:35 – 12:25 Session Three:  The Economic and Financial Risks and Dangers 
Chair: Richard Parker
  • Stan Collender,  The Budget and Spending Cuts
  • Bill Black, Out-of-Control Banks and Non-Regulation
  • Bruce Bartlett, Tax Reform
  • Josh Bivens,  Wages and Incomes  (invited)
  • Yanis Varoufakis,  Europe
Comments by David Leonhardt (invited)

12:25 – 12:30
Closing Comments:  James Galbraith
This event is free, please register in advance.
To register for this event email

Monday, September 16, 2013



By DOUGLAS MACGREGOR SPECIAL TO THE U-T 12:01 a.m. Sept. 15, 2013
President Barack Obama’s plea to bomb Syria fell on deaf ears. In 1975, it was “No more Vietnams.” Today, it’s “No more Iraqs.”
The American public attitude is reinforced by the absence of an existential military threat to the United States and the demand for jobs and economic growth instead of military spending. Moreover, for the first time in decades, the public pressure on American political and military leaders to formulate strategic aims worth fighting and dying for before American blood and treasure are sacrificed is enormous and growing.
Regrettably, the growing demand for a new and less belligerent foreign policy has not been matched by coherent strategic guidance from the president and the secretary of defense to the military. As a result, the U.S. armed forces are adrift, floating on a sea of strategic uncertainty.
In the absence of a viable national military strategy and vision from above, the service chiefs are left to figure things out on their own. Most of the time, they are focused on retaining dwindling World War II/Cold War “capabilities” — Marine amphibious forces, Army airborne forces, and increasingly vulnerable surface combatants like the littoral combat ship along with dubious forward presence missions that change nothing of importance ashore.
Cultivating long-term, integrative warfighting structures with vital capabilities the nation will need for the future, let alone the human capital to support them, is a very distant fourth or fifth in priority.
Sadly, Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense, has failed to provide the leadership the armed forces need to ensure Americans master the future, not relive the past. Instead, Hagel has been cast by the four-stars in the Pentagon in the role of the man on the register at the end of the checkout line in the supermarket; he takes 5 percent off whatever comes down the conveyor belt.
Savvy investors hedge their positions against unpredictable market movement, but there is no evidence to date that Hagel is searching for a range of possible hedges to mitigate the obvious decline in American economic and military power. Making the individual services smaller isn’t change. It’s disastrous, but nobody inside the Washington, D.C., beltway including Hagel seems capable of making the hard choices when the pain occurs on their watch.
Hagel, of course, is not unique. Washington’s top executives (military, government or civilian) reach the top because they were repeatedly chosen by others who put loyalty to the system and conformity to the status quo above competence, imagination and creativity.
The National Defense Panel exemplifies the problem. They, too, are a group of “safe hands,” people chosen for their readiness to preserve, not to change the status quo.
So the defense mess is not entirely Hagel’s fault. Inside a society where Americans are brainwashed into believing that everyone, everywhere is the same, that in Stanley Kubrick’s words from “Full Metal Jacket,” “Inside every Vietnamese is an American waiting to get out,” facts seldom matter. Perhaps, this is why the American public only recently turned against the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, constraining Washington’s self-absorbed interventionists — Obama, McCain, Graham, Kerry and a host of others — from dragging us into Syria
With the exception of those Americans whose jobs inside the defense industry are at stake, very few politicians of either party are interested in what kinds of military forces emerge from the defense cuts or who mans the forces American taxes support. And why should they care?
Demi Moore has conclusively proven that women can do everything men can do, and gender is, in Marxist terms, simply an “artificial construct.” Drones obviate the need for the lethality that springs from disciplined, physically and psychologically hardened men inside highly trained combat units that kill effectively. For the moment, Hollywood has won the argument and anyone who dares to disagree on the basis of documented combat experience is dismissed out of hand as a misogynous dinosaur. Emotion trumps reason at every turn.
Tragically, the only antidote to Washington’s shameless self-interest, self-deluding behavior and unbridled emotion is future war against a capable enemy with the ability to destroy us, something we have not seen since Korea in 1953, a war Americans in or out of uniform did not want or expect to fight. Whether we survive it is an open question. Until then, in Saul Bellow’s words, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Douglas Macgregor is a decorated combat veteran, Ph.D., author and executive vice president of Burke-Macgregor Group in Reston, Va.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The US military is preparing for the wrong future

When it comes to military reform, China appears to be doing it a lot better than the United States

US army 1LT Matthew Hernandez looks down the Korengal Valley from a mountaintop outpost 24 October 2008 in the Kunar Province of eastern Afghanistan. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

In the years after World War I, British military strategist Captain B H Liddell Hart advocated a new fighting concept that solved the problem of the static, set-piece nature of that conflict that resulted in the pointlessly slaughter of millions. He advocated for a force of coordinated armored, infantry, and air power fighting in mobile formations, operating under the "indirect method".

Unfortunately, key leaders in London and Paris rejected his theories because they had "won" the Great War and didn't feel the need to change. Less than two decades later, a combined British and French field army would be swept off the continent and into the English Channel in a lightning war by a German army that had listened to and incorporated some of Captain Liddell Hart's key concepts. Unless significant changes are made, the modern-day US army could be half-way to suffering a similar fate.

In an article published today by the Armed Forces Journal in Washington DC, I argue that the US army's generals, as a group, have lost the ability to effectively function at the high level required of those upon whom we place the responsibility for safeguarding our nation. Titled "Purge the Generals: What it will take to fix the army", the article details how our senior military leaders have amassed an unprecedented record of failure in major organizational, acquisition and strategic efforts over the past 20 years. 

The worst part is that senior leaders are likely to repeat the mistakes of the past by readying the US army for the wrong future; one in which the US could suffer an otherwise avoidable military defeat.

The global strategic situation has undergone considerable change in the past five years. Beginning in late 2007, the US economy suffered its most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression; recovery has been slow in coming and tepid since its arrival. With the conclusion of the eight year war in Iraq and the sun setting on the 12 year bleed in Afghanistan, the US is being forced to reduce both domestic and defense budgets. Whether anyone wants to scale back the armed forces or not, reductions are coming. The question, then, is how those cuts are to be made.

According to the 8 July edition of the Army Times, senior leaders have announced they will reduce the US army from the current level of approximately 535,000 down to 490,000. The unequivocal result: a smaller and less capable army. Many military leaders warn that these cuts will have a hollowing effect "putting our national security at risk", (pdf) as General Odierno told a Congressional panel in February 2013, and imply there are no other alternatives.

That is not correct. 

In 1997, then-lieutenant colonel Douglas A Macgregor published Breaking the Phalanx: a New Design for Landpower in the 21st Century describing a military transformation that would result in a smaller, less expensive force which would produce greater combat capability than the larger formations it would replace. Unfortunately, US officials rejected those new ideas, opting instead for incremental changes, which left the field army little changed from the version that won Desert Storm in 1991. One nation, however, did not reject Macgregor's ideas.

In 1999 two colonels from the Chinese people's liberation army (PLA) published a strategic analysis called Unrestricted Warfare. In this essay, they discussed the changing military environment and ways China could modernize its force for future war. Regarding force design and operating methods, they wrote: "In his book, 'Break the [Phalanx] (sic),' [Macgregor] advocated simultaneously abandoning the systems of divisions and brigades and replacing them with … battle groups of about 5,000 men each… [The book recommends the adoption of] building-block methods according to wartime needs and put into practice mission-style group organization." 

These views apparently heavily influenced PLA modernization theories, as one year later Breaking the Phalanx was translated into Chinese. A decade after that, the US army's Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) reported the PLA had incorporated many of Macgregor's concepts. In the SSI's 2011 study Chinese Lessons from Other People's Wars (pdf), the author noted 

The PLA entered the 21st century in the midst of a transformation from essentially an infantry based force into one designed around combined arms mech­anized operations. A decade into the new century, the PLA is redesigning its forces into battle groups, using modular force structures and logistics to sup­port operations in high altitude and complex terrains, conduct out of area operations, and develop the core for its vision of a hardened and network-centric army.

Macgregor has recently updated his concept to account for the past decade of US war experience. Whereas current army plans call for reducing the force to 490,000, the Macgregor Transformation Model (MTM) can produce an army with as few as 420,000 troops that actually has greater combat power than the force of 535,000 had before the reduction, but cost more than $10bn a year less. The MTM would also produce a more strategically responsive army, and perhaps most importantly, could be sustained at this high level of performance even in the era of constrained budgets. The US military leaders continue to reject MTM, while the Chinese have embraced it and are years into the transformation.

Before the United States shares a fate with 1940 Great Britain and falls victim to an ignored reformer's ideas, we must reorganize the US army into a stronger force while there is yet time. Logic affirms the reasonableness of such action. Budgets demand it.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the US Army.