Women at War

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It is beyond argument that American woman are increasingly important to our military services and are increasingly finding themselves in combat roles. And in our recent and current conflicts that are becoming combat casualties – either dead or wounded, often grievously. But why does American literature ignore women in combat roles? Consider this from Cara Hoffman’s insightful article:

Women have served in the American military in some capacity for 400 years. They’ve deployed alongside men as soldiers in three wars, and since the 1990s, a significant number of them are training, fighting and returning from combat.

But stories about female veterans are nearly absent from our culture. It’s not that their stories are poorly told. It’s that their stories are simply not told in our literature, film and popular culture.

I can’t help but think women soldiers would be afforded the respect they deserve if their experiences were reflected in literature, film and art, if people could see their struggles, their resilience, their grief represented.

Female veterans’ stories clearly have the power to change and enrich our understanding of war. But their unsung epics might also have the power to change our culture, our art, our nation and our lives.

Read more here

Stalled Engines

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In the previous blog post on Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds we looked at the four possible future models of the world out to 2030 – the alternative worlds portion of the study. As the title of the National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) capstone publication suggests, this look at possible alternative worlds is the essence of the study. The NIC’s companion report to Global Trends 2030, entitled Le Menu, provides the Cliff’s Notes description of this first alternative world; Stalled Engines:

“The United States and Europe are no longer capable or interested in sustained global leadership. Corruption, social unrest, a weak financial system, and chronically poor infrastructures slow growth rates in the developing world. The global governance system is unable to cope with a widespread pandemic: rich countries wall themselves off from many poor countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. By disrupting international travel and trade, the severe pandemic helps to stall out, but does not kill globalization.”

Stalled Engines is the most plausible worst-case scenario presented in the GT2030 study and, in a sentence, is one in which “all boats sink.” However, this all-too-brief description doesn’t tell us enough about the details of this alternative worlds scenario, and we need to peel the onion a bit more to understand its potential implications more fully.

Read more here

Mideast Churn

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When Dick Couch and I were offered the opportunity to “re-boot” the Tom Clancy Op-Center series we wanted to pick the spot where we knew there would be churn when the book was published – and for some time afterwards. The Middle East was our consensus choice. As we put it in Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

The Muslim East and the Christian West have been at war for over a millennium. They are at war today, and that is not likely to change in the near future. As Samuel Huffington would put it, the cultures will continue to clash. In the past, the war has been invasive, as during the time of the Crusades. The Muslims have also been the invaders as the Moors moved north and west into Europe. Regional empires rose and fell through the Middle Ages, and while the Renaissance brought some improvements into the Western world, plagues and corrupt monarchies did more to the detriment of both East and West than they were able to do to each other.

In time, as a century of war engulfed Europe and as those same nations embarked on aggressive colonialism, the East-West struggle was pushed into the background. But it was not extinguished. The rise of nationalism and weapons technology in the nineteenth century gave rise to the modern-day great powers in the West. Yet the East seemed locked in antiquity and internal struggle. The twentieth century and the thirst for oil were to change all that.

The seeds of modern East-West conflict were sown in the nations created by the West as Western nations took it on themselves to draw national boundaries in the Middle East after the First World War. After the Second World War, Pan-Arab nationalism, the establishment of the state of Israel, the Suez crisis, the Lebanese civil war, and the Iranian revolution all kept tensions high between East and West. Then came 9/11. While it was still a Muslim-Christian, East-West issue, the primacy of oil and oil reserves remained a catalyst that never let tensions get too far below the surface.

The events of September 11, 2001, and the invasions that were to follow, redefined and codified this long-running conflict. It was now a global fight, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Yemen to North Africa and into Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and beyond. It was global, nasty, and ongoing. Nine-eleven was pivotal and defining. For the first time in a long time, the East struck at the West, and it was a telling blow.

Surveys taken just after 9/11 showed that some 15 percent of the world’s over 1.5 billion Muslims supported the attack. It was about time we struck back against those arrogant infidels, they said. A significant percentage felt no sympathy for the Americans killed in the attack. Nearly all applauded the daring and audacity of the attackers. And many Arab youth wanted to be like those who had so boldly struck at the West.

But as the world’s foremost authority on the region, Bernard Lewis, put it, the outcome of the struggle in the Middle East is still far from clear. For this reason, we chose the Greater Levant as the epicenter of our story of Op-Center’s reemergence.

As we suggest – this churn will last a long time. And these maps help tell the story:

See these maps here

Power Failure

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First it was the Europeans who sought an escape from the tragic realities of power that had bloodied their 20th century. At the end of the Cold War, they began to disarm themselves in the hopeful belief that arms and traditional measures of power no longer mattered. A new international system of laws and institutions would replace the old system of power; the world would model itself on the European Union—and if not, the U.S. would still be there to provide security the old-fashioned way.

But now, in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the U.S. that seems to be yearning for an escape from the burdens of power and a reprieve from the tragic realities of human existence.

Until recent events at least, a majority of Americans (and of the American political and intellectual classes) seem to have come close to concluding not only that war is horrible but also that it is ineffective in our modern, globalized world. “There is an evolving international order with new global norms making war and conquest increasingly rare,” wrote Fareed Zakaria of CNN, borrowing from Steven Pinker of Harvard, practically on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Islamic State’s march across Syria and Iraq. Best-selling histories of World War I teach that nations don’t willingly go to war but only “sleepwalk” into them due to tragic miscalculations or downright silliness.

Read more here

The Missile Defense Vision

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When President Ronald Reagan asked, in his now-famous speech; “What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, but instead that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?” it caused a sea change in the entire concept of U.S. national BMD. That single statement still provides the organizing impulse for the United States’ ballistic missile defense efforts.

When the U.S. Navy commissioned USS Ticonderoga (CG 47) in 1983, it was, to many, merely the first ship of a new class of warships, one among many in a U.S. Navy that numbered well over 500 ships. Then a tiny fraction of an almost 600-ship Navy, Aegis cruisers and destroyers have now become the Navy’s primary surface combatants. And, importantly, Aegis has enabled the nation and the Navy to take a significant step in accomplishing President Reagan’s vision three decades ago.

Read more here on the Defense Media Network website:

http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/u-s-navy-missile-defense-the-vision-realized/

What Does the Future Hold?

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What does the future hold? We all want to know.

We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures. But the future is not set in stone, it is malleable, the result of an interplay among megatrends, game-changers and, above all, human agency. In their hard-hitting report, Global Trends 2030, The National Intelligence Council encourage decision makers – whether in government or outside – to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding.

In a sentence, there is no more comprehensive analysis of future trends available anywhere, at any price. It’s not an overstatement to say this 160-page document represents the definitive look at the future

Read more here on the Defense Media Network website:

http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/global-trends-2030what-does-the-future-hold/

Terrorism on the March

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Many think terrorism is on the run. It is not. The number of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups and fighters are growing, not shrinking. U.S. disengagement—or even risking the return of terrorists to the field by freeing them from detention—is not the answer to the threat they pose. Instead, U.S. strategy should be revamped, prioritizing American interests and developing a more effective, light-footprint campaign.

According to new data in a RAND report, from 2010 to 2013 the number of jihadist groups world-wide has grown by 58%, to 49 from 31; the number of jihadist fighters has doubled to a high estimate of 100,000; and the number of attacks by al Qaeda affiliates has increased to roughly 1,000 from 392. The most significant terrorism threat to the United States comes from groups operating in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Moner Mohammad Abusalha, an American who was a member of the al Qaeda affiliate organization al-Nusra, blew himself up in Syria on March 29.

Read More Here…

AirSea Battle

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The United States Defense Strategic Guidance notes: “This country is at a strategic turning point after a decade of war and, therefore, we are shaping a Joint Force for the future that will be smaller and leaner, but will be agile, flexible, ready, and technologically advanced. It will have cutting-edge capabilities, exploiting our technological, joint, and networked advantage.”

The AirSea Battle Concept undergirds how the United States will fight and win in the face of a substantial anti-access/area-denial threat. The Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) describes in broad terms the vision for how joint forces will operate in response to emerging anti-access and area-denial security challenges. Due to three major trends – the growth of anti-access and area-denial capabilities around the globe, the changing U.S. overseas defense posture, and the emergence of space and cyberspace as contested domains – future enemies, both states and non-states, see the adoption of anti-access/ area-denial strategies against the United States as a favorable course of action for them.

Read more about AirSea Battle and where it plays in our national security on the Defense Media Website here

The Tipping Point

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Ballistic missiles armed with WMD threaten America today…and the U.S. Navy is at the tipping point of leading the nation’s defense against this threat.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States provided a dramatic warning that even the “world’s hegemon,” as America was called by some, was not invulnerable to threats against the homeland. As Americans, their elected officials, and the intelligence and military communities evaluated 21st century threats, the assessment was clear. Absent terrorists operating on American soil, the one existential threat to the nation was the rapidly growing number of states and other actors who already possessed – or were developing – chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and who also possessed, or were developing, ballistic missiles to carry these weapons great distances. In the decade-plus since those 9/11 attacks, rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea have, in fact, developed and in some cases launched ballistic missiles, often designed to intimidate their neighbors.

For the nation, the military, and especially for the Navy, the need to develop robust defenses against this threat was as clear as it was compelling. Under the overarching stewardship of the United States Missile Defense Agency (and its predecessor agencies) this new emphasis accelerated ballistic missile defense development. Like the German buzz-bombs and Japanese Kamikaze attacks during World War II, Americans were reminded once again of the potential of missile attack from the air, both to forward-deployed forces as well as the homeland.

Read more here on the Defense Media Network website

The World in 2030?

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Who could have predicted the invasions going on today – Russia invading Crimea and Ukraine, Israel invading Gaza? Who could have predicted a Malaysian airliner would be shot down over Ukraine. These events – and many more like them – tell us that our confortable views of what tomorrow will be like are fraught with peril.

We would be vastly more able to anticipate futures that are presently opaque to us by anticipating Alterative Worlds. The Global Trends 2030 report builds on the precedent set by earlier editions of Global Trends in identifying four possible future models of the world out to 2030 – but takes this alternative world futures analysis to a new level. It presents these models with a caveat, by noting that “none of these alternative worlds are inevitable and in reality, the future will probably consist of elements from all the scenarios.”

Based upon what we know about the megatrends and the possible interactions between the megatrends and the game-changers, GT2030 has delineated four archetypal futures. The four posited “worlds” that could present themselves as we move toward 2030 are:

  • Stalled Engines
  • Fusion
  • Gini Out of the Bottle
  • Non-State World

Read more about these potential Alternative Worlds on the Defense Media Network website.