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jerryking : u.s._military   26

Trump, Niger and Connecting the Dots
OCT. 31, 2017 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

It is easy to ignore the recent story of four U.S. servicemen killed in Niger, the giant state in central Africa, because the place is so remote and the circumstances still so murky. That would be a mistake. Niger highlights a much larger problem — just how foolish, how flat-out dumb President Trump is behaving.

Trump is a person who doesn’t connect dots — even when they’re big, fat polka dots that are hard to miss. ..... To understand why groups affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda are popping up in that region of central Africa, you have to connect a lot of dots, and recognize the linkages between a number of different problems....As defense systems expert Lin Wells once put it: To ameliorate problems in places like Niger, you must never think in the box. You must never think out of the box. “You must always think without a box.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linton_Wells_II]

Why? Because what is destabilizing all of these countries in the Sahel region of Africa and spawning terrorist groups is a cocktail of climate change, desertification — as the Sahara steadily creeps south — population explosions and misgovernance.....Desertification is the trigger, and climate change and population explosions are the amplifiers. The result is a widening collapse of small-scale farming, the foundation of societies all over Africa. And that collapse is leading to a rising tide of “economic migrants, interethnic conflicts and extremism,”......Trump’s response to this reality? It’s to focus solely on using the U.S. military to kill terrorists in Africa while offering a budget that eliminates U.S. support for global contraception programs; appointing climate-change deniers to all key environmental posts; pushing coal over clean energy; and curbing U.S. government climate research.

In short, he’s sending soldiers to fight a problem that is clearly being exacerbated by climate and population trends, while eliminating all our tools to mitigate these trends.
That’s just stupid, reckless and irresponsible — and it evinces no ability to connect the dots or think without a box......Nothing Trump ever says has a second paragraph. His whole shtick is just a first paragraph: Build a wall, tear up the Iran deal, tear up TPP, defeat ISIS, send troops to Niger and Afghanistan to kill terrorists, kill climate policy, kill family planning, cut taxes, raise military spending. Every box just marks an applause line he needed somewhere to get elected. Nothing connects — and we will pay for that.
Donald_Trump  Niger  ISIS  climate_change  Tom_Friedman  Africa  connecting_the_dots  the_Sahara  terrorism  the_Sahel  misgovernance  desertification  sub-Saharan_Africa  weak_states  failed_states  farming  population_growth  U.S._military  mismanagement  destabilization 
november 2017 by jerryking
What Comes After Acheson’s Creation? - WSJ
By PEGGY NOONAN
Feb. 9, 2017

The U.S. military needs to know what the U.S. government seeks from it. The White House need to communicate an overarching plan because if there’s no higher plan they, in turn, can’t make plans to meet the plan.....like tornado victims, those interested in foreign policy have been [shellshocked]—staring in shock at the wreckage of the post-War II international system.

But something has to be rebuilt. Everyone now has to be an architect, or a cement-pourer, or a master craftsman carpenter.

It’s been instructive the past week to reread a small classic of statecraft, “Present at the Creation” by Dean Acheson, published in 1969. As undersecretary and then secretary of state he was involved in the creation of the postwar order.

What is inspiring about Acheson’s first-rate second-rateness is that he’s like a lot of those we have developing foreign policy right now.

Acheson, though he did not present it this way, provides useful lessons for future diplomats in future crises.

• Everyone’s in the dark looking for the switch.
• Don’t mess things up at the beginning.
• Be able to see your work soberly. Keep notes so history will know what happened.
• Cheer up. Good things can come of bad times, great things from fiercely imperfect individuals.
• Even though you’ll wind up disappointed. All diplomats in the end feel frustrated over missed opportunities and achievements that slipped away. “Alas, that is life. We cannot live our dreams.”

Still to be answered: What is America’s strategy now—our overarching vision, our big theme and intent? What are the priorities? How, now, to navigate the world?

That soldier needs an answer to his question: What do you need from us? What’s the plan?
questions  U.S.foreign_policy  post-WWII  diplomacy  Dean_Acheson  Marshall_Plan  Peggy_Noonan  priorities  change  statecraft  books  Cold_War  international_system  rebuilding  dislocations  The_Establishment  crisis  crisis_management  Communicating_&_Connecting  grand_strategy  statesmen  imperfections  U.S._military  note_taking  missed_opportunities 
february 2017 by jerryking
Militant Threats Test Pentagon’s Role in Africa
February 11, 2013 |NYTimes.com | By ERIC SCHMITT

Created five years ago to focus on training the armed forces of dozens of African nations and strengthening social, political and economic programs, the Pentagon’s Africa Command now finds itself on a more urgent mission: confronting a new generation of Islamist militants who are testing the United States’ resolve to fight terrorism without being drawn into a major conflict....challenges include countering Al Qaeda’s fighters in Mali, Islamic extremists in Libya, drug traffickers in West Africa and armed rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo....With the war in Afghanistan winding down, senior Pentagon officials are scrambling to address the growing threat in North and West Africa by repositioning spy satellites and shifting surveillance aircraft from other theaters, all at a time when shrinking military budgets are forcing the Obama administration to make difficult choices on where to accept more risk.
Africa  Pentagon  Africom  U.S._military  threats  challenges  security_&_intelligence  soft_power  Niger 
february 2013 by jerryking
Military Takes Apps to War - WSJ.com
September 4, 2012, | WSJ | By SPENCER E. ANTE

Military Takes Apps to War
Soldiers Use Mobile Devices for Mapping, Networking, Virtual Lineups
mobile_phones  mobile_applications  U.S._military  Spencer_Ante 
september 2012 by jerryking
Above and Beyond - WSJ.com
February 25, 2003 | WSJ | By DOROTHY RABINOWITZ
Somalia  inspiration  heroes  U.S._military 
september 2012 by jerryking
New Model Army - WSJ.com
February 3, 2004 | WSJ |By DONALD H. RUMSFELD.

Our troops have performed magnificently -- despite the significant increase in operational tempo of the global war on terror, which has increased the demand on the force.

Managing that demand is one of the Department of Defense's top priorities. Doing so means being clear about the problem, and fashioning the most appropriate solutions. Much of the current increase in demand on the force is most likely a temporary spike caused by the deployment of nearly 115,000 troops to Iraq. We do not expect to have 115,000 troops permanently deployed in any one campaign....That should tell us something. It tells us that the real problem is not necessarily the size of our active and reserve military components, per se, but rather how forces have been managed, and the mix of capabilities at our disposal....Army Chief of Staff Gen. Pete Schoomaker compares the problem to a barrel of rainwater on which the spigot is placed too high up. The result: when you turn it on, it only draws water off the top, while the water at the bottom is not accessible or used. Our real problem is that the way our total force is presently managed, we have to use many of the same people over and over again. In Gen. Schoomaker's analogy, the answer is not a bigger barrel of more than the current 2.6 million men and women available, but to move the spigot down, so more of the potentially available troops are accessible, usable, and available to defend our nation.
Donald_Rumsfeld  U.S._military  operational_tempo  managing_demand  modularity  U.S._Army  tempo  Pentagon  SecDef 
may 2012 by jerryking
The Sunshine Warrior - NYTimes.com
By BILL KELLER September 22, 2002

His inclination to act derives, too, from his analytical style, a residue, perhaps, of the mathematician he started out to be. In almost any discussion, he tends to be the one focusing on the most often overlooked variable in decision making, the cost of not acting. ....the tensions between State and Defense are rooted in starkly different views of how America should deal with the world. The State Department tends to see the world as a set of problems to be handled, using the tools of professional diplomacy and striving for international consensus. This Defense Department tends to define leadership as more (in the Pentagon's favorite buzzword of the moment) ''forward leaning,'' including a willingness to act unilaterally if need be and to employ muscle. Rumsfeld and Cheney, who have been friends since the Nixon administration, are visceral advocates of this more assertive view, but Wolfowitz is its theorist -- its Kissinger, as one admirer put it. ...Dennis Ross went to work for Wolfowitz shortly after writing a paper trashing the work of Team B. ''What I always found in him that separated him from everybody else on that side of the political spectrum is not that he didn't have predispositions, but that he was much more open, much more intellectually open, to different kinds of interpretations,'' Ross says....''In the end, it has to come down to a careful weighing of things we can't know with precision, the costs of action versus the costs of inaction, the costs of action now versus the costs of action later.''
U.S._military  leadership  leadership_development  U.S._Army  military_academies  red_teams  Dennis_Ross  Paul_Wolfowitz  cost_of_inaction  Pentagon  U.S._State_Department  diplomacy  consensus  interpretation 
may 2012 by jerryking
Nancy Folbre: Saluting Teamwork - NYTimes.com
February 6, 2012, 6:00 am
Saluting Teamwork
By NANCY FOLBRE
U.S._military  teams 
february 2012 by jerryking
Changed by Iraq, Military Asks What Will Stick - WSJ.com
DECEMBER 31, 2011 | WSJ | By JULIAN E. BARNES.

Ten years ago, the U.S. military was firmly under the control of the generals. It was steeply hierarchical, slow to evolve and squarely focused on "big wars" between armies of opposing nations.

A decade of painstaking, often painful lessons resulted in a military that is in many way fleeter and more adaptable. It is also flatter: The generals are still in charge, but Iraq and Afghanistan showed that independent thinking by low-level captains and lieutenants is also critical to success. .......But the two wars have also helped push the military strategy from a playbook of offense and defense, to one that includes a third class of operations—strategies that include so-called counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, aimed at maintaining stability for populations in often-hostile zones and turning potential enemies into allies........some officers to fear some of the counterinsurgency skills honed in Iraq will be lost—including running detainee operations, conducting interrogations and collecting intelligence with aerial drones, areas of high expertise that support efforts to cripple insurgent networks and head off spectacular attacks.

Others worry that the skills learned through hard years of fighting—how to react quickly to ambushes and spot IEDs before they explode—will fade. The military remade its training centers to teach such skills, but instilling the knowledge into the next generation of soldiers will require retaining senior non-commissioned officers who spent the most time hunting insurgents in Iraq.
lessons_learned  U.S._military  Iraq  Afghanistan  counterterrorism  counterinsurgency  playbooks 
january 2012 by jerryking
U.S. to Build Up Military in Australia - WSJ.com
NOVEMBER 10, 2011 |WSJ | By LAURA MECKLER
U.S. to Build Up Military in Australia
Move Aimed at Countering China in Asia,Clarifying Free Access to South China Sea
maritime  U.S._military  China_rising  Australia  Asia_Pacific  PACOM 
november 2011 by jerryking
Understanding China Through the Ancient Game of Wei Qi, or Go - WSJ.com
JUNE 11, 2011 WSJ By KEITH JOHNSON What Kind of Game Is
China Playing? Forget chess. To understand geopolitics in Taiwan or the
Indian Ocean, U.S. strategists are learning from Go.

The object of Go is to place stones on the open board, balancing the need to expand with the need to build protected clusters.

Go features multiple battles over a wide front, rather than a single decisive encounter. It emphasizes long-term planning over quick tactical advantage, and games can take hours. In Chinese, its name, wei qi (roughly pronounced "way-chee"), means the "encirclement game."
China  strategy  games  Go  chess  geopolitics  U.S._military  leadership_development  USAF  multiple_targets 
june 2011 by jerryking
The Gates Farewell Warning
MAY 28, 2011 |- WSJ.com |..As Reagan knew, America's global
power begins at home, with a strong economy able to generate wealth. The
push for defense cuts reflects the reality of a weak recovery and a
national debt that has doubled in the last two years. But the Obama
Administration made a conscious decision to squeeze defense while
pouring money on everything else.
***"More perhaps than any other Secretary of Defense, I have been a
strong advocate of soft power—of the critical importance of diplomacy
and development as fundamental components of our foreign policy and
national security," Mr. Gates said at Notre Dame. "But make no mistake,
the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators and
terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size,
strength and global reach of the United States military."
Robert_Gates  speeches  Pentagon  soft_power  debt  editorials  rogue_actors  U.S._military  hard_power  SecDef 
may 2011 by jerryking
U.S. Africa Command Seen Taking Key Role
March 22, 2011 | TheLedger.com | ERIC SCHMITT.

When the United States Africa Command was created four years ago, it was the military’s first “smart power” command. It has no assigned troops and no headquarters in Africa itself, and one of its two top deputies is
a seasoned American diplomat.

Indeed, the command, known as Africom, is intended largely to train and
assist the armed forces of 53 African nations and to work with the State
Department and other American agencies to strengthen social, political
and economic programs in the region, including improving H.I.V.
awareness in African militaries and removing land mines.

Now the young, untested command and its new boss, Gen. Carter F. Ham,
find themselves at their headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, setting
aside public diplomacy talks and other civilian-military duties to lead
the initial phase of a complex, multinational shooting war with Libya.
Africa  Libya  conflicts  Africom  U.S._military  soft_power 
march 2011 by jerryking
Op-Ed Contributor - Lose a General, Win a War - NYTimes.com
June 23, 2010 | New York Times | By THOMAS E. RICKS. FOR
most of the U.S.'s history, the armed services have had a strong and
worthy tradition of firing generals who get out of line....If President
Obama is to be faulted, it is for leaving that group in position after
it became apparent last fall that the men could not work well together.

No policy can be successful if those sent to put it in place undermine
one another with snide comments to reporters and leaked memorandums like
the cable disparaging Mr. Karzai written by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry
last year. For this reason, the president should finish cleaning house
and fire Ambassador Eikenberry and the special envoy, Richard Holbrooke.
Obama  Stanley_McChrystal  U.S._military  U.S._Navy  WWII  leadership  firings  U.S._Army  civilian-military_relations  generalship  warfare  war 
june 2010 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - Leading With Two Minds - NYTimes.com
May 6, 2010 | New York Times | By DAVID BROOKS. Five years
ago, the United States Army was one sort of organization, with a certain
mentality. Today, it is a different organization, with a different
mentality. It has been transformed in the virtual flash of an eye, and
the story of that transformation is fascinating for anybody interested
in the flow of ideas.

The process was led by these dual-consciousness people — those who could
be practitioners one month and then academic observers of themselves
the next.

It’s a wonder that more institutions aren’t set up to encourage this
sort of alternating life. Business schools do it, but most institutions
are hindered by guild customs, by tenure rules and by the tyranny of
people who can only think in one way.
David_Brooks  U.S._military  organizational_change  institutional_change  dual-consciousness  institutions  critical_thinking  strategic_thinking  U.S._Army  introspection  self-analysis  self-awareness  transformational  mindsets  idea_flows 
may 2010 by jerryking
How America's Top Military Officer Uses Business to Boost National Security
May 1, 2010 | Fast Company | Jeff Chu. "He wanted to know what
kind of environment can be created in which business can thrive and
what role govts. have to play," "What is it that makes businesses
successful?" What does this have to do with his job or the military's?
"Our financial health is directly related to our national security,"
"The biggest driver globally is the economy ... I need to understand the
global trends that work those engines. Where are these guys putting
their $? If they're betting on certain outcomes -- good or bad -- why?"
Mullen's principles on the use of US military force: don't go it alone;
don't be overweight in foreign policy; closer coordination between
military and civilian agencies. "If his advice were only how to fight
hi-tech wars, and if his solution were just to apply more force, he
would be less relevant," Brent Scowcroft, "He recognizes that the new
face of war is a very complex...part combat, part nation building, and
part hearts and minds."
leadership  U.S._military  JCS  Michael_Mullen  nation_building  ethnography  geopolitics  21st._century  indispensable  storytelling  messaging  generalship  security_&_intelligence  Brent_Scowcroft  strategic_thinking  questions  war  warfare  complexity  curiosity  APNSA 
april 2010 by jerryking
Fear of China - WSJ.com
APRIL 21, 2006 | Wall Street Journal | by ROBERT D. KAPLAN.
"Given the stakes involved in the competition between the U.S. and China
in the new century, the only way that the business community's optimism
can be sustained is if the U.S. military thinks and plans in terms of
worst-case scenarios." "Motives -- especially in a dynamic and volatile
society such as China's -- can easily change over time, and are
dependent upon unforeseen domestic and foreign crises. Thus, when it
comes to countries that are not allies, the job of a military is to
think in terms of capabilities; not motives."... While American and
European elites think purely in terms of globalization, Chinese leaders
think also in terms of 19th-century grand strategy. "relationships are
more important than hardware." "Thinking pessimistically about China
should never be a self-fulfilling prophecy,"
Robert_Kaplan  China  ambitions  scenario-planning  worst-case  U.S._military  motivations  capabilities  strategic_thinking  PACOM  grand_strategy  thinking_tragically 
march 2010 by jerryking

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