MORNING RECON: Why Trump’s Words Matter; The Perils of “Buy American" for the U.S. Military; Killer B-52 Upgrades; Decoding the F-15 Retirement

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4/20/2017
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Morning Recon

Good Thursday morning and welcome to MORNING RECON.  On this day in 1861, Colonel Robert E. Lee resigns from the United States army two days after he was offered command of the Union army and three days after his native state, Virginia, seceded from the Union. Lee opposed secession, but he was a loyal son of Virginia. His official resignation was only one sentence, but he wrote a longer explanation to his friend and mentor, General Winfield Scott, later that day.

RealClearDefense Exclusives:

Morning Mission Brief Podcast
Decoding the F-15 Retirement Proposal
Aviation Week & Space Technology

Today’s Top Stories

NATIONAL Why Trump’s Words Matter
From A. Trevor Thrall and Erik Goepner, RealClearDefense: “Words matter. We need them to communicate meaning, and so others will understand the basis for our thoughts and actions. And when it comes to war, words can kill; presidents do not have the luxury of imprecision, carelessness, or dishonesty. In a military context, words must be precise, and their meaning understood. In the aftermath of the Syrian strike and the first combat use of the “Mother of All Bombs," the President spoke in ways that should concern Americans." 

Trump and National Security Critics Need to Reconcile
From Joseph Bosco, RealClearDefense: “President Trump has done something his critics said he would never do.  He has changed his mind on some major issues—and admitted that he did so. In the most explicit example of a policy turnaround, the president said he no longer considers NATO “obsolete."  However, he did stick to his argument that several member nations are not paying their fair share for the common European/Atlantic defense." 

Trump’s Got a Mega-Bomb Designed to Hit North Korea
From David Axe, The Daily Beast: “The American plan involves long-range, radar-evading stealth bombers hauling gigantic, earth-penetrating bombs. The scheme began in the mid-1990s, as President Bill Clinton and hawkish Republican lawmakers sparred over a nascent nuclear pact with the reclusive North Korean regime."

Pence: The United States Is Not Seeking Negotiations With North Korea
From Josh Rogin, The Washington Post: “When Vice President Pence spoke at the Korean demilitarized zone on Monday, he said that the United States sought to solve the North Korean crisis “through peaceable means and negotiations," after increasing pressure on the Pyongyang regime. But in an interview with me on Wednesday afternoon, he adopted a harder line: The Trump administration, he said, demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs without any promise of direct negotiations with the United States."

Senators Moran and McCain: A Great Day for Veterans and Veterans Choice
From Sen. Jerry Moran & Sen. John McCain, FOX News: “In our hyper-partisan political environment, there’s not much that Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill agree on. But when it comes to our veterans, all Americans believe that our nation’s heroes deserve the best possible health care when they separate from duty." Top Republican Presses Trump to Submit War Authorization
From Elliot Smilowitz, The Hill: “A top House Republican is urging President Trump to submit to Congress a new use-of-force resolution governing the country’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)." The F-35A is in England. What’s next?
From Valerie Insinna, Defense News: “The deployment comes at a delicate time for the U.S.-Russian relationship, which was rocked by the U.S. military’s recent Tomahawk strike on Syria that was prompted by a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians. As a result, the Air Force has walked a thin line on messaging, with statements noting that although it was partially bankrolled by the European Reassurance Initiative funds meant to boost NATO capability against a resurgent Russia, the deployment was long-planned and should not be understood as a response to heightened tensions in the region."

Army, Industry See Bright Future For Robotic Vehicles
From Jon Harper, National Defense Magazine: “The Army expects robotics and autonomy to be important components of its ground combat vehicle fleet in the coming decades. Members of industry are pushing ahead in this field as the service maps out its future."

The Air Force’s Killer B-52 Upgrades
From Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior: “The Air Force is surging forward with a massive, fleet-wide modernization overhaul of the battle-tested, Vietnam-era B-52 bomber, an iconic airborne workhorse for the U.S. military dating back to the 1960s.."

Navy’s Forward Maintainers Keeping the LCS on Mission
From Dzirhan Mahadzir, USNI News: “The U.S Navy’s Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific/Task Force 73 has reorganized the process for dealing with maintenance incidents for Littoral Combat Ships deployed to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, reducing turn-around time for such incidents from 15 days to four days, Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson told USNI News."

The Perils of “Buy American" for the U.S. Military
From Colin Clark, Breaking Defense: “America cannot apply Buy America provisions on a widescale basis and buy the best weapons, no matter how much President Trump and his team may feel otherwise. It’s a simple as that."

The U.S. Army’s Bottom-Up Intelligence Review
From Jen Judson, Defense News: “The chief of the U.S. Army’s intelligence branch said it is deep in the midst of a “bottom-up review" of its force to determine what is needed at every echelon and across all of the combatant commands."

INTERNATIONAL U.S., MIDDLE EAST: U.S., Egypt and Jordan Tripatriate Alliance?
From Khalid Hassan, Al-Monitor: “"There is a major American effort to take advantage of the central roles of Egypt and Jordan in the region and rely on them to achieve stability and security in the Middle East in light of the growing Iranian threat and Tehran’s growing influence," Hassan said. “Anyone can see that Trump is working to limit Iranian influence by every possible means."

COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS

War Books Profile: Col. Jim Greer, U.S. Army (Ret) 
From Jim Greer, Modern War Institute: “Col. Boyd’s A Discourse on Winning and Losing shaped me in so many ways. I was lucky in that I heard Col. Boyd present his famous Patterns of Conflict pitch. His work is much more than the OODA Loop for which he is known; it is a systemic approach to understanding and engaging in combat and military operations in order to accomplish the ends of strategy." ​

At a Pacific Crossroads:
U.S. Must Prepare for Present, Future Threats in Dynamic Region

From Robert B. Brown, AUSA: “A robust alliance network and series of security partnerships have been the cornerstone of stability and prosperity in the Indo-Asian-Pacific region since the conclusion of World War II. However, since that time, many key economic and security issues have changed in this theater. This has created a new dynamic that must be addressed by those wishing to maintain the international order that has provided so much to the region. Indeed, we are at a crossroads with institutional and operational challenges facing the Army as well as the joint force, together with our multinational allies and partners." ​

U.S. Strategy for al Qaeda and ISIS: It’s Groundhog Day
From James Dubik, Strategy Bridge: “The current situation in Syria reminds us again that we are failing in our post-9/11 wars. We have accomplished neither the strategic objectives set forth by the Bush administration nor those of the Obama administration. Both administrations have had notable successes and achieved periodic tactical and operational progress, but neither created sustained strategic success." ​

Underwater Unmanned Vehicles: A New Frontier for Cybersecurity
From Sally Daultrey, OpsLens: “The DoD budget for underwater drones in FY2017 is at least $360m. As Jacquelyn Schneider observes, nation states must now navigate a course toward improved capability while minimizing vulnerability, becoming ‘digitally-enabled’ (as in Japan and South Korea) rather than digitally-dependent. A new US roadmap is due any day now. Underwater, as on land, digital is here to stay and with legislation on commercial accountability in cyberspace likely in 2017, ‘digitally-enabled’ may soon need to include digitally-accountable." 

Russia: A Land Power Hungry for the Sea
From Tom Fedyszyn, War on the Rocks: “Trying to understand the military behavior of nations has been a hobby of Western academics, beginning with the great geopoliticians of former centuries, such as Nicholas Spykman, Sir Halford Mackinder, and Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan. Simply, the argument is that geography demanded that insular and coastal nations such as England, Japan, and the Netherlands develop strong navies to support their national economic and political interests. Conversely, Germany, the Turkish Republic, and the Roman Empire were required to use their formidable land armies to defend and expand their territories. Russia stands out as a one-off. Situated squarely on the borders of Eastern Europe and central Asia, she endured numerous land assaults, and, accordingly built large defensive and offensive land armies. However, in fits and starts, she has also assembled naval forces equal to or greater than most of her presumptive adversaries. Why does Russia, a traditional land power, engage in such counterintuitive and unique behavior? Do recent international events shed light on Russia’s future naval activities?"

Camouflaged Aggression: A Strategic Shift in Russia’s Cyber Activity
From Sarah Geary, The Cipher Brief: “Russian cyber operations are widely discussed and reported on today. Conversations frequently range from how the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the utilization of Russian social media trolls for political influence. Often missing from the conversation, however, is how these operations fit into the overall context of Russian intelligence cyber operations, including the methods deployed and tactics used." 

What Would the Second Korean War Look Like?
From Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat: “What would a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula look like? To many, this question might trigger a severe case of apocalyptic anxiety, where, on the one hand, we assume that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is willing to embrace Götterdämmerung-like catastrophic violence to defend its Stalinist regime, whereas, on the other hand, we seem to be incapable of genuinely fathoming the carnage any military conflict between Seoul and Pyongyang would cause." 

China’s Embattled Military Modernization
From Stratfor: “China’s sweeping military reforms are proceeding apace. In a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday with the country’s top military leadership, President Xi Jinping announced the start of the next phase in the effort to thoroughly modernize the Chinese military. The program, launched in late 2015, aims to enable China to wage modern warfare by updating the military’s structure, its command and control, and, in particular, its service branches’ ability to conduct joint operations. Xi’s latest announcement highlights his administration’s progress with the plan, expected to be in place by 2020. Nevertheless, it will be a hard-fought campaign for Beijing." 

The End of Turkey’s Democratic Experiment
From Clifford D. May, The Washington Times: “More than a quarter-century ago, when he was Istanbul’s young mayor, Mr. Erdogan quipped that democracy was “like a streetcar. When you reach your destination you get off." 

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