Monday, 20 September 2021
Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.

     |      View our Twitter page at     |     
US defence policy

By Nick Paterson

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are not the latest or greatest scientific development to explode onto the technological battlefield in modern times.  On the contrary, UAVs have been around for some 50 years and flew missions during both the Korean and the Vietnam Wars.  They have also routinely been used to provide electronic intelligence, communications intelligence, and bomb damage assessment: cheaper and safer than manned aircraft.

Read more...  

By Baker Spring

The Obama Administration released its overdue Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) on April 6, 2010. [1] The review establishes five specific objectives for the future nuclear force of the United States. Missing from these five objectives is what should be the most important objective of all: defending the U.S. and its allies against strategic attack. Accordingly, Congress, the American people, and America's allies need to ask the Obama Administration a simple and straightforward question: Why won't you defend us?

Read more...  

By David Hayes, Chairman of the Export Group for Aerospace and Defence (EGAD)

The history of US export control reform has been a long and, for the most part, unproductive one. There is, unfortunately, little to support any optimism that the current attempts, of which I am by the way an advocate, will result in the revolution which they seek to bring about. In fact, anything beyond a little evolution may be too much to expect.

That the current Administration has the will to make the changes is not in doubt; perhaps even a greater will than previous efforts, e.g. National Security Presidential Directive 19. The difficulty lies in the probable actions of both Congress and the Senate; particularly at a time when both chambers are as polarised as is currently the case after the healthcare reform legislation and with the 2010 midterm elections looming. Accusations of "Weak on national security" will be bandied about, both by opportunists and those with genuinely held concerns that any changes will be detrimental to US national security. My own view is that failure to make the changes will be of greater detriment but I am not an American.

Read more...  

By Rep Ike Skelton, Chairman of the US House of Repreentatives Armes Services Committee

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 required the Secretary of Defense to perform a review of our nuclear posture, in coordination with the Departments of State and Energy.

The Administration's Nuclear Posture Review seeks to establish a bipartisan approach to nuclear policy, and, in my view, properly balances the role of our nuclear deterrent forces with the goals of preventing nuclear terrorism and weapons proliferation.

Read more...  

By Guy Birks

The dissolution of the bipolar bloc system that broadly defined and framed the purpose of modern armed forces in the West has been supplanted by a more integrated and interdependent international environment. The purpose of modern armed forces has consequently been altered and adjusted to fit the changing nature of international relations. The principle of sovereignty has shifted from a position of inviolability to one where the international community can become involved in the internal affairs of a state and a region if it is deemed that a state poses a threat to international stability. Intervention in Somalia, Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan are examples of the proactive, expeditionary defence against instability. The direct defence of the homeland as a strategic premise and priority for Britain and the United States has been replaced by a concern to defend against instability through expeditionary intervention. The focus of defence now resolves around the shift from a conventional all-embrasive threat towards the expeditionary defence against unconventional threats from failing or failed states.   However, the examples of India and China - key geostrategic states with prominent armed forces Ė indicate that defending against instability frequently involves activities which protect and defend the homeland and its immediate locale.

Read more...  

Sr. Colonel Yao Yunzhu, People's Liberation Army of China

M y topic is about China's perspective on deterrence, but before I deal with the topic, I must point out that for a long time in the Cold War, China strongly opposed the concept of nuclear deterrence, which, as so frequently used by the US government, had carried with it such derogatory connotations as "nuclear blackmail," "nuclear coercion," "nuclear containment," and "nuclear threat." And China, as the country most frequently threatened by nuclear attack, was understandably reluctant to use such a term. Not until the late 1980s or early 1990s, when China's drive toward defence modernization inspired academic debate, did deterrence gain acceptance as a key concept in strategic studies and lose its pejorative sense. However, even though the term remained taboo for some time, the logic of deterrence has always played a major role in Chinese nuclear thinking. To facilitate understanding, I explain China's nuclear policy, making use of US deterrence terminology, and compare China's deterrence thinking with that of the United States.

Read more...  

By George Friedman

The United States announced Sept. 17 that it would abandon a plan for placing ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Instead of the planned system, which was intended to defend primarily against a potential crude intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat from Iran against the United States, the administration chose a restructured system that will begin by providing some protection to Europe using U.S. Navy ships based on either the North or Mediterranean seas. The Obama administration has argued that this system will be online sooner than the previously planned system and that follow-on systems will protect the United States. It was also revealed that the latest National Intelligence Estimate finds that Iran is further away from having a true intercontinental missile capability than previously thought, meaning protecting Europe is a more pressing concern than protecting the United States.

Read more...  

by Brad Glosserman

The United States has scaled back plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. While that decision reflects a new assessment of the Iranian threat to Europe, most attention is being paid to its impact on relations with Russia. But the decision has equally important implications for Asia. It underscores two critical facts: first, the notion of discrete "theaters" is a fiction; second, the U.S. has to closely engage its Asian allies as it develops its strategic doctrine.

Read more...  

by Nile Gardiner, Ph.D. and Sally McNamara

Reports in the Polish media strongly suggest that the Obama Administration is about to abandon its plans for "third site" missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Abandoning the third site would represent a huge turnaround in American strategic thinking on a global missile defense system and a massive betrayal of two key U.S. allies in Eastern and Central Europe. Such a move would also significantly weaken America's ability to combat the growing threat posed by Iran's ballistic missile program and would hand a major propaganda victory to Moscow.

Read more...  

by Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D.

I've been asked to start off the discussion by commenting on what kinds of current and future threats our nation faces and to discuss how our understanding of them can best inform your task of transforming the United States Army. There are many things the Army will need to do to:

Read more...  

by Baker Spring

The Obama Administration's fiscal year 2010 proposal for missile defense scales back the number of ground-based midcourse defense (GMD) interceptors to be fielded in Alaska and California from the planned 44 to 30. The President's proposal also puts the program for fielding an additional 10 such interceptors in Poland on hold. Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Robert Gates still believes that the 2010 proposal still leaves America's ability to defend against a long-range missile threat from a rogue country "in a pretty good place."

Read more...  

Text of memo from Col. Timothy R. Reese, Chief, Baghdad Operations Command Advisory Team, MND-B, Baghdad, Iraq, published in New York Times 31st July 2009

It's Time for the US to Declare Victory and Go Home

As the old saying goes, "guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose. Today the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are good enough to keep the Government of Iraq (GOI) from being overthrown by the actions of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the Baathists, and the Shia violent extremists that might have toppled it a year or two ago. Iraq may well collapse into chaos

Read more...  

by Sally McNamara

On his first presidential visit to Moscow this week, Barack Obama continued to cast doubt on U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Since taking office, President Obama has conditioned his support for the "third site" deployment of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic on a number of factors--its workability, its cost-effectiveness, and the provability of an Iranian nuclear threat. On a visit to Prague in April, President Obama gave a keynote speech focusing on total nuclear disarmament whereby missile defenses would be completely unnecessary.

Read more...  

by Mackenzie Eaglen

In today's rapidly evolving threat environment, America's ability to secure its vital national security interests will continue to rely upon a superior military. This includes the U.S. Air Force's ability to sustain a world-class fighter fleet--in both quality and quantity--characterized by unrivaled firepower and unmatched global mobility. The Air Force has served as a joint enabler in current operations and provided the underpinning of American national defense since the end of World War II. In addition to delivering immense payloads, the United States Air Force is the fastest transporter and facilitator of military power in the world. In addition to its ability to move military hardware and people around the globe and secure access to space and cyberspace, the Air Force maintains a unique capacity for joint warfighting.

Read more...  

by Mackenzie Eaglen

As Congress begins consideration of the second emergency supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan--a bill that provides funding for the last six months of fiscal year (FY) 2009--Members must scrutinize the request to ensure all of the military's needs are met.

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that Representative John Murtha (D-PA) is considering providing an additional $10 billion to the $75.5 billion portion of the request specifically for the military. A back-of-the-envelope calculation and some common sense indicate that $10 billion will be the minimum additional amount needed above the President's request to meet current military requirements. Congress should support an emergency supplemental request that adds significantly more funding, specifically for military procurement.

Reduced War Funding Request, yet Missions Are Increasing

Before Congress can accurately consider the pending second 2009 supplemental, it should review previous supplementals. According to the Congressional Research Service, "while Congress provided $188 billion for war costs in FY 2008--$17 billion more than the prior year--this total was $14 billion less than the Administration's initial request, including both reductions in DoD's investment accounts and substitutions of almost $6 billion in non-war funding."[1] During the two years that covered the "surge" of forces into and out of Iraq, Congress provided $171 billion in 2007 and $188 billion in 2008. By comparison, this year--a year when the U.S. is also sending additional forces into combat, only this time to Afghanistan--President Obama is proposing a total of $141 billion (which includes the enacted supplemental for the first half of the year submitted by President Bush).

President Obama's proposal constitutes a reduction in supplemental spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan of about $44 billion from FY 2008. Granted, some of the supplemental funding for personnel was moved to the base defense budget where it belongs, thereby reducing the need for at least $10 billion in the war funding bill in 2009. Yet this reduced supplemental request is supposed to fund a military that is now being asked to do even more: The bill must cover all ongoing operations, a significant 21,000-troop increase in Afghanistan, and the beginning of a troop drawdown in Iraq.

Congress must realize that any potential savings from the reduction of operations in Iraq will not be realized within the next year and most likely not the year after either. If U.S. military force levels are reduced in Iraq, the cost of redeploying combat forces will likely be significantly more expensive than maintaining current force levels. According to scenarios run by the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of reducing the number of forces deployed in and around Iraq by 50,000 over one year and then continuing declining until all troops are withdrawn within two years would require an additional $166 billion over a nine-year period.[2]

In addition, force levels are currently scheduled to grow in Afghanistan even before any troops are scheduled to return from Iraq--also increasing war-related costs for the rest of 2009 and undoubtedly 2010. Finally, Congress must be reminded that during numerous budget hearings, members of the Joint Chiefs have repeatedly testified that the services--particularly the U.S. Army--will continue to need billions of dollars for at least three years after Iraq operations wind down in order to repair and replace equipment damaged during combat operations.

All Indicators Show the Current Supplemental Request Is Too Small

These mission changes, combined with force increases in Afghanistan, confront Congress with the question of whether the current supplemental request for the military provided by the White House is sufficient. An analysis by James McAleese of McAleese & Associates, P.C., indicates that the White House proposal included major funding reductions in the pending supplemental request that target both Army tracked combat vehicles and communications along with Navy and Air Force aircraft procurement before arriving on the Hill. The premature contraction of funds in the supplemental spending bill for procurement has already hurt the Army, particularly in regard to programs for wheeled and tracked vehicles like the Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker.

The analysis continues by noting that President Obama is attempting to save money through the warfighting supplemental by only extending funds for operations and maintenance on a flat-line basis while cutting procurement to below 2007 levels needed to match the pace of operations. Reports indicate that the White House has reduced the military's procurement request for the 2009 supplemental by a startling $27 billion. Given the procurement cuts being proposed by Secretary Gates in the forthcoming core Pentagon budget request for fiscal year 2010, the procurement cuts in the supplemental request are even more disturbing. A clear pattern may be emerging where President Obama embarks on a procurement holiday similar to that of the 1990s.

Congress Must Stop the Ambush on the Military's Procurement Accounts

The military's procurement account funds equipment and weapons systems. This critical pot of money buys new trucks, tanks, helicopters, drones, fighter jets, cargo and transport aircraft, and ships. It also helps reset the equipment that has been heavily used at wartime rates or damaged from military operations. Resetting Army and Marine Corps equipment and vehicles is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

Therefore, Congress must draw a stark line in the sand and oppose the White House's proposed procurement cuts in the pending warfighting supplemental request. Congress should support early efforts by Chairman Murtha to add an additional $10 billion--at least--in procurement funds to the emergency supplemental spending bill. Providing a penny less than the full funding needed to protect America's armed forces would be unfathomable and unconscionable. The Joint Chiefs of Staff must not be muzzled in providing their open and honest assessment of current military needs and what may be lacking in the White House request. Congress must first ask the military directly what it needs to stay protected and prevail in combat. Then, Congress must provide the appropriate additional funding--quickly.

Mackenzie M. Eaglen is Senior Policy Analyst for National Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

Copyright 2009 The Heritage Foundation. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.


by Mackenzie Eaglen

A widespread assumption is taking root: President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2010 defense budget request is an increase from President Bush's 2009 defense budget. This assumption raises the question: Is the defense budget really growing? The answer: maybe. Indeed, it is difficult to simply answer yes or no because, until the President's detailed budget request reaches Capitol Hill, Congress has to compare apples and oranges.

Read more...  

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been carefully watching the fallout from the Obama administration's decision to release four classified memos from former President George W. Bush's administration that authorized "enhanced interrogation techniques." In a visit to CIA headquarters last week, President Barack Obama promised not to prosecute agency personnel who carried out such interrogations, since they were following lawful orders. Critics of the techniques, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have called for the formation of a "truth commission" to investigate the matter, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to launch a criminal inquiry into the matter.

Read more...  

by Baker Spring

In an April 5 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama reiterated his campaign commitment to "seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." Unfortunately, he also made two completely incompatible pronouncements regarding the future of the U.S. nuclear force.

First, President Obama stated, "As long as these [nuclear] weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and guarantee that defense to our allies--including the Czech Republic."

Read more...  

The proposed Department of Defense budget authority for fiscal year (FY) 2010 is $534 billion--$686 billion after factoring in the costs for redeploying units from Iraq and increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. Further, the budget blueprint drastically reduces defense spending to just 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019, far below the current spending levels of approximately 4 percent.

What is essentially a flat budget topline for the military in 2010, however, is really a declining defense budget: The costs of doing everything in the military--from paying people to buying new equipment--greatly outpaces inflation every year.

Read more...  

By Scott Stewart

When we discuss threats along the U.S./Mexico border with sources and customers, or when we write an analysis on topics such as violence and improvised explosive devices along the border, a certain topic inevitably pops up: Hezbollah.

We frequently hear concerns from U.S. and Mexican government sources about the Iranian and Hezbollah network in Latin America. They fear that Iran would use Hezbollah to strike targets in the Western Hemisphere and even inside the United States if the United States or Israel were to conduct a military strike against Tehranís nuclear program. Such concerns are expressed not only by our sources and are relayed not only to us. Nearly every time tensions increase between the United States and Iran, the media report that the Hezbollah threat to the United States is growing. Iran also has a vested interest in playing up the danger posed by Hezbollah and its other militant proxies as it tries to dissuade the United States and Israel from attacking its nuclear facilities.

Read more...  

Latest from the Ministry of Defence

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Defence Viewpoints website. However, if you would like to, you can modify your browser so that it notifies you when cookies are sent to it or you can refuse cookies altogether. You can also delete cookies that have already been set. You may wish to visit which contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of desktop browsers. Please note that you will lose some features and functionality on this website if you choose to disable cookies. For example, you may not be able to link into our Twitter feed, which gives up to the minute perspectives on defence and security matters.