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WASHINGTON: Transformation is back! Sort of.

The pursuit of transformation, affiliated with the concept known as a Revolution in Military Affairs, became associated with the failed tenure of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and was publicly dropped as a central organizing concept of the military for that reason. Keep reading →

ARMY AND NAVY CLUB, WASHINGTON: “The biggest concern of my great Afghan security force partners is abandonment,” said Maj. Gen. James Huggins. “We have invested a great deal [in Afghanistan] for a long time,” he said, “[but] the Afghans have done it three times longer than us.”

Speaking at an event this morning organized by the Institute for the Study of War (click here for video), Huggins recalled a conversation over chai with a veteran of the 1980s war against the Soviets, now a local governor. “Do you know why the Taliban come into power?” the old warrior asked him. “Because you left us too quickly after the Soviets withdrew.” Keep reading →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

The U.S. defense industry, being reshaped by declining post-war budgets, globalization, and the increased pace of technological change, must work with the Pentagon and take proactive steps to maintain our historic preeminence on the battlefield. Our industry does not easily embrace change. In fact, history demonstrates that shifts in the defense industry have largely been… Keep reading →

Just before the New Year, the U.S. Air Force finally selected a new Light Air Support plane for ground attack in counterinsurgency, picking the Brazilian Super Tucano over the American AT-6– whose manufacturer, Wichita, Kan.-based Hawker Beechcraft, is filing suit over the decision [update: leading the Air Force to issue a stop-work order on the 4th]. But just as important as what the Pentagon is buying is how many and for whom: just 20 aircraft, with an option for another 15, which will go not to equip regular U.S. Air Force units but to train the embryonic air force of Afghanistan. Keep reading →

Sometimes — not very often, to be sure — someone in government feels so strongly that things are headed in the wrong direction that they feel compelled to break ranks and tell the American people. We have such a case here. Our author, who agreed to be identified only as ‘Anonymous in Government’, knows a great deal about the subject being addressed and harbors such a strong view that the senior Pentagon leadership is heading in the wrong direction that he contacted us in hopes of sharing his — or her — analysis. Given his — or her — knowledge and position, we are making our forum available

-The Editor

On June 8th, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn delivered a keynote address, “The Future of War,” to the CSIS Global Security Forum. Coming amidst increasing calls to rein in government spending across the board, the speech should have been an opportunity to identify what capabilities and programs would be protected during a defense drawdown. Instead, Lynn portrayed a future necessitating an American military ready for any and all adversaries. Any statement as to which missions, capabilities, or programs the department would forgo was conspicuously absent. Keep reading →

The Pentagon brass, civilian suits, contractors, and lobbyists are jockeying for position in the fight for the status quo in anticipation of Mr. Panetta’s arrival in the Office of Secretary of Defense. Yet, senior leaders do so at their own peril. This is not Leon Panetta’s first Washington rodeo. He has seen this Potomac movie before; national security camouflaged as political patronage and money shoveling.

The truth is America’s investment in defense must be aligned with strategic reality, not short-term political wants, wishes, and desires. The nation’s vital interests are only secured against enemies, actual, potential or presumed when the nation’s scientific-industrial base is productive, kept in bounds, and society is prosperous. While there are always threats to U.S. national security there are no existential military threats; though it’s easier than many Americans think to manufacture one. Enemy armed forces are not assembling on America’s strategic periphery poised to drive a dagger into our allies or American’s heartland. Like most things in life, this condition is not permanent, but Americans cannot justify defense spending at current levels. Keep reading →