This is James Kitfield’s first piece for Breaking Defense since his departure from his award-winning tenure at National Journal. As one of the best defense reporters around, Kitfield’s specialty has always been spotting the big strategic trend first and writing clearly, simply and persuasively about it. Following is a classic example of his work, which… Keep reading →
Islamists are regrouping in Mali, but France wants to draw its forces down to 1,000 troops, so who will fill the gap? The UN, which already has 5,500 soldiers on the ground? A fragile truce holds in the Central Africa Republic, where more than one million people have been displaced by gruesome fighting between Muslims… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Two years ago, the Obama administration announced its “Pacific Pivot” (hastily renamed a “rebalance”), but crises keep yanking US attention back from a rising China to the unstable cradle of civilization (as we predicted at the time): Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil traffic, Syria disintegrated into an increasingly sectarian… Keep reading →
AUSA: The word “cyber” is everywhere these days. It’s an all-purpose adjective slapped onto any concept to attract money and make it sound sexier, from cyberwar to cyberschoolbus to, well, cybersex. (We are not making that last term a link). Cyber and SOF – the Special Operations Forces – are the only parts of the… Keep reading →
Life or death in wartime is horrifically random, subject to “fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,” but sometimes that randomness generates not tragedy, but miracles. Such is the story of Army Sergeant Roger Daniels. On a patrol in Afghanistan last August, Daniels, then just 21 years old, took a bullet to the head and survived… Keep reading →
Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. (1 Samuel 18:7) The web is abuzz over Dillard Johnson, a retired Army sergeant first class whose newly released memoir, Carnivore, claims he killed 2,746 enemy combatants in Iraq with everything from a .25 mm chain gun to a sniper rifle to a hunting knife.… Keep reading →
Way back in World War II, when my father was in the Army, everybody knew somebody in the military. More than half of eligible males were in uniform. During the Vietnam War, despite the exemptions to the draft, more than three million young men served in Southeast Asia. Today, however, after eleven years of war and with the end only sort of in sight, less than one percent of Americans are in the service, largely because we keep sending the same men and women back “over there” again and again and again. Our veterans have gotten very, very good at what they do, but they and their hard-stressed families are increasingly separated from mainstream America. So how do we bridge the gap?
One man, Paul Gleason, has an answer: one handwritten letter at a time. The retired history teacher, not a veteran himself, started writing soldiers in 1965 when one of his students joined the Army and has kept at it ever since: more than 10,000 letters over almost 50 years. Some go to friends he’s made — though sometimes never met — and corresponds with weekly. Since his retirement, he’s camped out at a side table in a local Burger King and cranked out about three letters a day, totaling about 15 handwritten pages. He’s currently corresponding with 10 people, from a young Marine to the widow of a decorated Green Beret who fought in Vietnam. (Click here to watch an NBC video interview with Gleasonand his young Marine Corps pen pal; click here to read a Springfield State Journal-Register profile with more details). Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: On the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, one of the Army’s leading thinkers warned Washington not to learn the wrong lessons.
WASHINGTON: As the government hurtles towards the latest fiscal cliff, March 1st, the Marine Corps‘ deputy commandant for resources outlined a host of painful potential consequences, from reduced rifle training to cancelled deployments to grounded fighter squadrons. Lt. Gen. John Wissler appealed to Congress for so-called reprogramming authority that would at least let the Marines move around the money they do have to mitigate the worst effects.
[Click here to read about the readiness problems for the Army, Air Force, and Navy]
“Our money’s just in the wrong places in some instances,” Wissler told reporters after his speech this morning to the Navy League. But they can’t move it without explicit permission from Congress, he explained: “What we would need is to move things between appropriations, and they would need to help us there.” Keep reading →
This September, the controversial Osprey will reach the five-year mark in its operational deployment history. In September 2007, the Osprey was deployed for the first time to Iraq. The plane has not only done well, but in five short years has demonstrated its capability to have not only a significant impact on combat but to reshape thinking about concepts of operations.
In this piece, I would like to reflect back on these five years, not just to grasp lessons learned, but glimmers of where the plane, and the Navy-Marine Corps team might be able to move into the future. The story of the evolution of the con-ops surrounding the plane provides a solid foundation for innovation and transformation of concepts of operations, if boldness overcomes timidity. Keep reading →