MORNING RECON: U.S. Needs Jordan; Death by Indecision; Crisis in the Air; “Era of Strategic Patience Is Over"; Iran’s Stealth Fighter; Stryker’s Laser

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4/17/2017
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Morning Recon

Good Monday morning and welcome to MORNING RECON.  On this day in 1961, the Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA financed and trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure. Fidel Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in Cuba with a revolution in January 1959. Castro’s attacks on U.S. companies and interests in Cuba, his inflammatory anti-American rhetoric, and Cuba’s movement toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union led U.S. officials to conclude that the Cuban leader was a threat to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere.

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Today’s Top Stories

NATIONAL Trump’s Promise to Veterans
From Rebecca Burgess, Wall Street Journal: “Donald Trump pitched himself as a friend to the American military, and to veterans in particular. His campaign pledged to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs “by firing the corrupt and incompetent VA executives who let our veterans down." Since taking office, however, President Trump hasn’t defined what, if anything, his administration will do to make good on that promise." An Afghanistan Strategy for Trump
From Ronald Neumann, David Petraeus, & Earl Anthony Wayne, The National Interest: “President Trump is dispatching National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster to Afghanistan as part of a U.S. strategy in that key country. Afghanistan is America’s longest-standing commitment in the post-9/11 struggle against terrorism and remains a frontline state in that effort. In February, the commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan testified that some twenty terrorist groups are operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the “highest concentration" in the world."

Mike Pence: “Era of Strategic Patience Is Over"
From Ken Thomas, AP: “Viewing his adversaries in the distance, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, “the era of strategic patience is over."" McCain: North Korea Is First “Real Test" of Trump’s Presidency
From Kailani Koenig, NBC News: “Amid rising tensions with North Korea and new evidence of a failed missile test, Sen. John McCain said Sunday that “this could be the first test, real test, of the Trump presidency." McCain, R-Arizona, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, added that China will be “key" in how the world addresses the situation."

The Military’s Continuing Resolution Fears
From Mark Cancian, Breaking Defense: “Failure to add money to fiscal 2017 would imperil the whole concept of a defense buildup. The CR, or the budget deal level, extended into the future, won’t even sustain the Obama force levels. It certainly won’t sustain the higher force levels in the 2017 NDAA. The far higher force structure levels that a Trump administration has talked about (350 Navy ships, an Army of perhaps 500,000 active-duty soldiers, additional aircraft for the Air Force, additional end strength for the Marines) would be an hallucination. So there’s a lot at stake. But everyone―Congress, DoD and the White House―needs to focus on the real problem — the money — and not be distracted by fears of the mechanism." Tomahawk Missile’s Future in Doubt
From Vivienne Machi, National Defense Magazine: “"I think we have to decide what’s next after Tomahawk," said Air Force Gen. Paul Selva at an Air Force Association breakfast in Arlington, Virginia. “My gut tells me, as I look at the requirements a decade or more out, that a subsonic, non-stealthy, low-maneuvering, unitary warhead may not be the answer."" Navy Advances MQ-25 Stingray Development
From Richard R. Burgess, Seapower Magazine: “In a series of contract awards, Naval Air System Command awarded to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems additional amounts of $24.8 million, $19.1 million, $18.9 million and $18.7 million, respectively, “to conduct additional risk reduction activities in support of the MQ-25 Unmanned Carrier Aviation Air System, including refinement of concepts and development of trade space for requirements generation in advance of the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the program," according to the April 13 contract announcements."

Marines Want New Combat Boots
From Shawn Snow, Marine Corps Times: “It’s part of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller’s push to give Marines more choices when it comes to boots and footwear — and to ­potentially certify a host of new manufacturers to sell Marine-approved boots in the exchanges."

U.S. Army Stryker’s Mobile High-Energy Laser
From Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior: “No bullets were fired, and no sounds were made as the experimental laser, called Mobile High-Energy Laser (MEHEL), destroyed drone targets during recent testing. Silent defense and attack provide a substantial tactical advantage as it can afford Stryker vehicles the opportunity to conduct combat missions without giving away their position. “

Critical Tests for V-280 Valor
From Yasmin Tadjdeh, National Defense Magazine: “With 95 percent of Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor aircraft built, the company is preparing for critical tests this summer and fall, said a company executive April 10."

SOCOM at 30
From Howard Altman, Tampa Bay Times: “Created by Congress in the wake of Operation Eagle Claw, the disastrous attempt to rescue American hostages from Iran in 1980, SOCOM opened its doors at MacDill on April 16, 1987. It was an attempt to coordinate the work of military services that all did things differently."

INTERNATIONAL U.S., AFGHANISTAN: Afghans React to MOAB Strike
From Ahmad Sultan, Reuters: “Some residents in areas of Achin recently liberated from Islamic State occupation welcomed Thursday’s strike, which hit headlines around the world and has been widely interpreted as a deliberate show of strength by U.S. President Donald Trump." U.S., NORTH KOREA: North Korean Crisis Averted
From Jim Michaels, USA Today: “A failed test of a medium-range ballistic missile that blew up almost immediately Sunday did not provoke a U.S. military response. Even so, North Korea has made progress with its nuclear weapons and missile programs and is led by an unpredictable dictator, Kim Jong Un, who views America’s new president as a threat. That won’t change anytime soon."

U.S., SOUTH KOREA: U.S., South Korea Commence Joint Air Force Exercise
From Yonhap: “Around 1,000 U.S. airmen and fighter jets have teamed up with South Korea’s Air Force in a joint combat training to ensure their readiness against North Korea’s provocations, the Pacific Command (PACOM) announced Monday."

U.S., CHINA, RUSSIA: China, Russia Send Ships After U.S. Aircraft Carrier
From Ahmad Sultan, Reuters: “China and Russia have dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is heading toward waters near the Korean Peninsula, multiple sources of the Japanese government revealed to The Yomiuri Shimbun.."

IRAN: Iran’s Homemade F-313 “Qaher" Stealth Fighter
From David Cenciotti, The Aviationist: “Footage and photographs showing a new prototype (marked “08″) of the famous Qaher F-313 stealth fighter jet have just emerged as Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani participated Saturday in an exhibition displaying the achievements of the Defense Ministry Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan gained during the past two years."

COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS
 
U.S. Must Cooperate With Jordan to Combat Terrorism
From John Bednarek & Kenneth Glueck, RealClearDefense: “The headlines confirm Iraq and Syria remain the current center of gravity in the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against ISIS. Yet, even as the group’s core territory constricts, the coalition still will need to neutralize ISIS combatants wherever they are and halt the spread of their dangerous ideology. American officials designing this larger campaign are looking to Jordan as a key contributor. It is a steadfast and strategically important ally, fully committed to this fight despite the increasing pressure it faces. King Abdullah’s visit to Washington last week was a good start, but more must be done to strengthen cooperation with a critical partner in the joint effort against ISIS."   
 
The U.S. in Syria: Death by Indecision
From Schuyler Moore, RealClearDefense: “It is ironic that the motivation of indecision that desire to keep options open is ultimately what forces the authors of indecision into a corner. The U.S. is currently mired in a state of indecision that has been the status quo for a decade and a half, and it loses another degree of maneuverability with every day it remains in that state. The recent airstrikes in Syria have given the illusion that the administration is changing course and taking a definitive stance, but in reality, the strikes mean nothing if they are not part of a longer term strategy. Long-term indecision punctuated by moments of decisive action is still indecision." 
 
RIP Turkey, 1921 – 2017
From Steven A. Cook, Foreign Policy: “On Jan. 20, 1921, the Turkish Grand National Assembly passed the Teşkilât-ı Esasîye Kanunu, or the Law on Fundamental Organization. It would be almost three years until Mustafa Kemal — known more commonly as Ataturk, or “Father Turk" — proclaimed the Republic of Turkey, but the legislation was a critical marker of the new order taking shape in Anatolia." 
 
Now Hear this… Are There Just a Few Good Men?
From Kyleanne Hunter, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings: “On 4 March 2017, it was revealed that a secret Facebook group, “Marines United," had shared thousands of photos of female service members and veterans. This revelation rocked the social media world, and the op-eds quickly followed. Noticeably, the op-eds disparaging the event and calling on a strong response from Marine Corps leadership were from the usual cast of characters."
 
How to Take Over Syria, Roman Edition
From Kevin Kallmes, Notes On Liberty: “While Trump’s decision to bomb a Syrian airfield in response to use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government got the lion’s share of the press attention about American involvement in Syria (probably because of the contrast with Obama’s preference for diplomacy despite his “red line" threat), the more important strategic operations have not been discussed as fully. Building upon the successful establishment of two airfields last year, the US has expanded or established bases at crucial locations and begun to attack key targets in the northern part of Syria that show an excellent understanding of the topography and logistics of the region. These developments may be the linchpin in choking off traffic and crippling supply and movement of ISIL, and should contribute to the long-term goal of securing Hasakah and Raqqah provinces. What is interesting in all of this, perhaps due to the historical expertise of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, is that this logistical focus mimics the attack routes that were vital to invasions of the area from Alexander the Great down to Julian the Apostate." 

Can You Ask a Spy Not to Spy?
From Elaine Shannon, The Cipher Brief: “Zero-day vulnerabilities — security flaws in commercial software or hardware for which developers haven’t devised a patch — have existed since the dawn of the Digital Age, but today, former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden said at a meeting of cyber security experts convened by The Cipher Brief, they’re easily discoverable and used by both nation-state actors and malicious hackers." 

Russia Is Watching Us. Good!
From Matthew Costlow, Washington Examiner: “You may not know it from reading the news, but in specific cases the United States can actually benefit by exploiting Russia’s habit of snooping." 

There’s a Crisis in the Air
From Jed Babbin, The Washington Times: “Air power — the ability to clear the skies of enemy aircraft and destroy the enemy’s ground forces — has been a critical element of warfare for nearly a century. Offensively and defensively, air power is the sine qua non of military action." 

Air Power: A Global History
From Brian C. Darling, Strategy Bridge: “The pace of Air Power is rapid, yet comfortable even for a reader unfamiliar with air power doctrine. In just over a century, the aircraft has evolved from the single-pilot invention of the Wright brothers to a symbol of national power and lethality. The platform has evolved and expanded to include various armaments and weapons. These weapons possess not only the capability of engaging personnel and equipment on the ground, but add an extra dimension to the battlefield, as an aircraft can engage another aircraft or a craft at sea—or, in the age of atomic weaponry, decimate an entire population." 

Russian Operations in Ukraine
From MWI Staff, Modern War Institute: “What is Russia really up to in Ukraine? That was the question addressed during a recent event at West Point by Dr. Phillip Karber, president of the Potomac Foundation. Dr. Karber spoke to cadets and faculty about current Russian operations, the Kremlin’s ultimate objectives, and the implications for the United States of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. His observations are based on twenty-five trips to the region, including 177 days spent with Ukrainian forces on the front lines." 

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