WASHINGTON: The much-debated “pivot to Asia” works even in the face of sequestration and is reassuring our Pacific allies that we will stand behind them, the Navy’s most senior officer said on his return from the region. “Our budget situation is tough, [but] it’s not going to stop the rebalance,” pledged Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief… Keep reading →
[Corrected description of Navy test sequence] Unmanned aircraft are relatively easy to fly. Landing one without crashing is hard. Getting one to take off from the narrow, pitching deck of an aircraft carrier is harder still. Landing on a carrier? That’s hard enough to give human pilots nervous breakdowns. Soon, it will be the final… Keep reading →
It’s hard enough for a human pilot to take off from the cramped and pitching deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier. Today, for the first time in history, a Remotely Piloted Aircraft did it. You can bet that military leaders in Beijing and Tehran sat up and took note as the batwinged X-47B drone… Keep reading →
By Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake The Chinese, who have been shoving their neighbors around with considerable panache over the last year, upped the ante yesterday with a claim in the official People’s Daily — not yet disavowed by the government — that the PRC may have a claim to Okinawa and others of the… Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus talked up the controversial Littoral Combat Ship days before departing for Asia to visit the first LCS, USS Freedom, which recently arrived in Singapore (sporting a sniffy camo paint job). Freedom has been bedeviled by cost overruns, delays, and manufacturing defects, with a new problem, seawater contamination in lubricant fluid, arising on its trans-Pacific trip. But the bigger picture Mabus said, is how this new class of small and nimble ship will cooperate with foreign partners to keep the peace in the volatile South China Sea and the strategic Strait of Malacca.
“Freedom is the first of its class, and it was built as an experimental ship, and every first of the class has some issues,” Mabus said of the seawater contamination, speaking to reporters after a Friday speech on energy security hosted by the Truman National Security Project. “One of the reasons we sent Freedom forward on deployment was to see what those issues were.” Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace just released what a spokesman calls the “the first and only unclassified strategic net assessment of the future security dynamic between China, Japan, and the United States-including relative military capabilities and domestic and external variables.”
For those who don’t wallow deeply in the Pentagon’s unique world, a net assessment is a pretty rare bird. A net assessment is not based on a war game or derived from operations research. It includes those elements and more. One expert described it this way: “Scenarios, war games, trend analysis, and considered judgment are the methods most widely used in net assessment studies and analyses.” Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: What homemade roadside bombs could do to Army and Marine ground vehicles was the ugly surprise of the last decade. What sophisticated long-range missiles could do to Navy aircraft carriers could be the ugly surprise of the next. “I think it would almost follow like the night to the day,” Rep. Randy Forbes told me in a recent interview. “The last decade… we asked a disproportionate sacrifice from the Army and Marine Corps,” he went on. “The next decade’s going to be the decade of seapower and projection forces, [and] some of those ugly surprises we see bits and pieces of already.”
As chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, Forbes wants to refocus fellow legislators, the Pentagon, and, for that matter, the media from a narrow debate over the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to a wider look at all the capabilities that a carrier can support. That includes not just traditional manned fighters like the F-35, but also unmanned drones like the X-47B and the future UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System), electronic warfare aircraft like the EA-18G Growler, and even cyber attacks. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Even the grim, dark and powerful Soviet Union came to share fairly detailed information about the size and potency of its military to ensure nobody made a wrong step by over- or underestimating its military prowess. The current rising power, China, so far, has largely refused to share much information about either how its forces are organized or what weapons it fields.
So when official Chinese media were joined by Western media in reporting that the Peoples Liberation Army had issued a White Paper, “Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces,” offering greater transparency, I checked with a range of experts on the PLA to see if that was, in fact, the case.“There is really nothing that stands out as a remarkably new emphasis or form of ‘transparency.’ The identification of all PLA Army units as mobile forces with their military region affiliation is a better explanation of order of battle,” said Larry Wortzel, one of Washington’s most respected China military analysts and also a member of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in an email.
For contrast, here’s what the Peoples Liberation Daily says about the White Paper:
“…China’s military is transforming from ‘responding to questions’ to ‘explaining proactively’, which shows the country is more transparent and willing to take on responsibilities. The national defense white paper shows Chinese army’s transparency and openness. Along with the accelerating pace of going out, Chinese army has taken the initiative to show its image to the world. It is obvious to see the country’s sincerity and hard working in military transparent.”
OK. And Dean Cheng, China analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation (where Wortzel used to work), offered the Chinese a tiny nod.
“To give the Chinese credit, I don’t think we’ve ever had a nice, neat summary by them of which units (or at least their designations) are in the Nanjing or Lanzhou Military Region. It’s a (baby) step towards transparency. It’s also at an extremely meta-level: armies, fleets,” Cheng says in his email.
But the real problem both the Chinese and Western countries face is that, as the Chinese paper said: “Western countries have suspected Chinese army for a long time, guessing whether Chinese army is defensive or offensive.”
The Chinese says simply that this latest paper, “has answered the suspicion directly. ‘China will never seek hegemony or behave in a hegemonic manner, nor will it engage in military expansion,’ the white paper says.”
As is clear from Wortzel and Cheng’s observations, that may not entirely be the case.
Cheng also detailed how this paper differs from earlier Chinese offerings:
- “Space and cyber are only mentioned twice (as far as I can tell), both in passing. However, some mention of informationization (which is broader than cyber). Information dominance (specifically mentioned) would include counter-space and cyber activities.
- “Military support to national development is now listed AFTER protecting territorial sovereignty. This is a shift from the previous order when discussing ‘new historic missions” of the PLA.
- “Heavy emphasis (or at least prominent reference) to maritime security, including securing SLOCs (Sea Lines of Communication), defense of territorial waters, etc.”
“‘Some countries are strengthening their Asia-Pacific military alliances, expanding military presence in the region, and frequently making the situation there tenser,’ the 40-page report on the ‘Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces’ said, without naming any particular state,” the People’s Liberation Daily says. Keep reading →
I had the privilege to study and work with Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski as a student and for my first research job. With Brzezinski, one is always pushed towards the “Zbig” picture.
It was no different when I recently visited Brzezinski in his office and we settled down to discuss the current Korean crisis and the way ahead to deal with the crisis. One concern which I have had in watching both the discussions about and the policy reactions to the crisis is the implicit assumption that what is occurring now is simply a replay of what has happened earlier. Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: There’s a new chairman in town on the HASC’s powerful tactical air and land forces subcommittee, the sometimes fiery Michael Turner of Ohio, and he’s got his sights set on right on the Army and the Defense Department’s industrial base practices.
Turner, best known as a vigorous advocate for missile defense and his attention to detail on national systems governed by the strategic forces subcommittee he ran until this last election, made clear to reporters this afternoon that he’s closely watching the Army’s oft-botched acquisition efforts — especially the controversial Ground Combat Vehicle. Keep reading →