The U.S. and its allies must immediately engage at the strategic, diplomatic and tactical military levels in Syria and Iraq. The focus for that action should be uncomplicated; defeat ISIL while supporting the Kurds in reshaping our position in Iraq; put the Iran nuclear agreement in the rear view mirror. There is a clear and present danger of miscalculation,… Keep reading →
The commander of US Special Operations Command, Adm. William McRaven, will deliver the keynote speech this morning at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict conference. One of the most respected analysts of special forces, Linda Robinson of the RAND Corp., wants to send a message to the admiral’s bosses and to Congress: special operations… Keep reading →
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 →
WASHINGTON: Friday’s Navy SEAL raid aimed at capturing the Somali terrorist known as Ikrimah is a glimpse at the future of American warfare, one where a small US combat presence is boosted by widescale support to local forces who bear the brunt of the fighting. The raid itself came like a blitzkrieg from the blue… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: French forces have made great strides driving al-Qaeda-linked insurgents out of Mali’s major cities, said the Pentagon’s top counterterrorism official, Michael Sheehan. But any long-term solution requires local forces in the lead — not Westerners. And those recent successes in Yemen and Somalia provide a model for Mali — and for Afghanistan after 2014.
Sheehan, the assistant Secretary of Defense for special perations and low-intensity conflict (ASD SOLIC) spoke to scholars, industry officials, and military officers from two dozen countries this afternoon at the National Defense Industrial Association‘s annual SOLIC conference. Across the Maghreb and down to Nigeria, “an inverted L,” he said, “that area in North Africa is becoming awash with different al-Qaeda groups and affiliates.” Keep reading →
Call it Somalia on steroids. Call it Syria next week. Either way it’s a scenario the US military needs to prepare for: an intervention into a failing state where rival factions have looted a sophisticated arsenal, from tanks to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to weapons of mass destruction.
There’s no political will in Washington to intervene (directly) in the Syrian conflict as it now stands. The military cost of breaking down Syria’s defenses outweighs the political benefit of stopping the killings. But if the Assad regime imploded — and it’s under greater pressure ever day — that equation would change: The Syrian defenses would become less coordinated and formidable, though still dangerous, while the pressure on the US to act, if only to secure the regime’s chemical weapons, would rise sharply. Keep reading →