Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

Pentagon Rethinking Strategy, Planning, Budgeting and Weapons-Buying

March 14, 2009

The protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the Obama administration to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time.

By Thom Shanker
New York Times
For more than six years now, the United States has in fact been fighting two wars, with more than 170,000 troops now deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The military has openly acknowledged that the wars have left troops and equipment severely strained, and has said that it would be difficult to carry out any kind of significant operation elsewhere.

To some extent, fears have faded that the United States may actually have to fight, say, Russia and North Korea, or China and Iran, at the same time. But if Iraq and Afghanistan were never formidable foes in conventional terms, they have already tied up the American military for a period longer than World War II.

A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts, like the first Iraq war in 1991 or the invasions of Grenada and Panama.

In an interview with National Public Radio last week, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made it clear that the Pentagon was beginning to reconsider whether the old two-wars assumption “makes any sense in the 21st century” as a guide to planning, budgeting and weapons-buying.

The discussion is being prompted by a top-to-bottom strategy review that the Pentagon conducts every four years, as required by Congress and officially called the Quadrennial Defense Review. One question on the table for Pentagon planners is whether there is a way to reshape the armed forces to provide for more flexibility in tackling a wide range of conflicts.

Among other questions are the extent to which planning for conflicts should focus primarily on counterinsurgency wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what focus remains on well-equipped conventional adversaries like China and Iran, with which Navy vessels have clashed at sea.

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Israel’s air force scored with intel, drone support; ‘Hamas is not Hizubllah’

January 10, 2009

The Center for Strategic and International Studies said the Israeli air force combined manned and unmanned aircraft to target and strike Hamas operatives and facilities throughout the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Washington-based center, said to be close to members of the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama, said the air force has eroded much of the Hamas command….

From World Tribune

Smoke trails of Israeli air force jets are seen above the southern ... 
Smoke trails of Israeli air force jets are seen above the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon January 3, 2009.REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL)

The report, authored by former Defense Department official Anthony Cordesman, said Israeli air strikes have eroded Hamas’s military command. Cordesman cited such air force targets as Hamas weapons tunnels, shelters and other facilities.

“The IAF may not be able to find and hit every target, and some tunnels and sheltered areas, but Hamas has clearly lost some key leaders and is losing most of its key facilities and much of its equipment,” the report said. “It may be able to fire limited numbers of rockets indefinitely into the future, but it will lose a significant amount of its weapons, as well as its training facilities and communications facilities.”

Cordesman said Hamas has failed to reach the military capabilities of the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah. The report said Hamas does not have the training, experience or the equipment of the Lebanese-based militia.

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Guam Expands as U.S. Military Base in Asia

January 4, 2009

Sprawling toward the horizon in every direction, Andersen Air Force Base is surprisingly quiet, leaving the impression of a big, empty parking lot.

For now, anyway.

By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer

In this July 20, 2008 file photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, ... 
In this July 20, 2008 file photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, F-22 Raptors join 16 F-15E Strike Eagles on the flight line of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Over the next six years, nearly 25,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers, family members and civilian Defense Department employees are to descend on the tiny Pacific island of Guam, transforming the sleepy tropical outpost into a hub of America’s military in the Pacific. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Airman 1st Class Courtney Witt, FILE)

Over the next six years, nearly 25,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers, family members and civilian Defense Department employees are to descend on the tiny Pacific island of Guam, transforming the sleepy tropical outpost into a hub of America’s military in the Pacific.

But the metamorphosis seems as fragile as it is ambitious.

Guam’s transformation will cost at least $15 billion — with Japan footing more than $6 billion of the bill — and put some of the U.S. military‘s highest-profile assets within the fences of a vastly improved network of bases.

The newcomers will find an island already peppered with strip malls, fast-food franchises and high-rise hotels serving Japanese tourists who want a closer-to-home version of Hawaii. The plans for the base are fueling a fresh construction and real estate boom which Guam hopes will accelerate its prosperity.

But Guam is smaller than some Hawaiian islands, with a population of just 155,000, and many of its officials are worried that the military influx could leave the island’s infrastructure — water, highways, and seaport — overwhelmed and underfunded.

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Saturday Night in Gaza: Israel Unleashes Artillery, Warns Gazans to Flee, Ground Assault Ready

January 3, 2009

More signs of an impending ground assault from Israel against Hamas in Gaza this Saturday night in the Middle East.

For the first time, Israeli artillery unleashed a barrage on targets within Gaza, after a week-long air assault subsided.

Israel Launched Ground Offensive
Into Gaza; Saturday Night Jan 3-4

Leaflets, phone messages and other media were used to warn Gazans to leave or risk personal danger.

The leaflets were signed by the commander of the Israeli military and were dropped over northern Gaza on Saturday morning, warning residents to “leave the area immediately” to ensure their safety.

But Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai played down speculation the artillery fire and leaflets promised a ground offensive.

“I don’t think this is the next stage. This is part of a military campaign being waged and now artillery cannons have joined in,” he told Israel Radio.

Fox News reporters said they had seen tanks reporitioning and moving closer to Gaza.

Troops and tanks looked poised to attack following the week-long air assault, according to several observers.

An Israeli soldier walks in front of tanks and armored vehicles ... 
An Israeli soldier walks in front of tanks and armored vehicles in a staging area near Israel’s border with Gaza, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. Israel demanded international monitors as a key term of any future truce with Gaza Strip militants, as its warplanes bombed the parliament building in Gaza City on Thursday and its ships attacked coastline positions of the territory’s Islamic Hamas rulers.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

From Reuters:

Jerusalem Post:


Israel bombs Hamas sites, split on ground invasion

January 3, 2009

Israeli warplanes and gunboats blasted more than two dozen Hamas targets Saturday, including weapons storage facilities, training centers and leaders’ homes as Israel’s offensive against Gaza’s Islamic militant rulers entered a second week.

There were tentative signs that the current phase of fighting may be nearing an end. Most of the airstrikes targeted empty buildings and abandoned sites, suggesting Israel may be running out of targets.

Israeli defense officials said some 10,000 troops, including tank, artillery and special operations units, were massed on the Gaza border and prepared to invade. They said top commanders are split over whether to send in ground forces, in part because such an operation could lead to heavy casualties but also because they believe Hamas already has been dealt a heavy blow. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were classified discussions.


At the same time, international cease-fire efforts were also gaining momentum. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is visiting the region next week to try to end the violence, and President George W. Bush and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon both spoke in favor of an internationally monitored truce.

But Hamas, in its first reaction to the proposal on Saturday, reacted coolly to the idea of international monitors.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 in response to intensifying rocket fire by Hamas militants in Gaza. The operation has killed more than 430 Palestinians, including….

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In Gaza, Israel Works To Create Perceptions on the Ground

January 3, 2009

One of the courses taught to future IDF battalion commanders at the Staff and Command College in Glilot is on the way modern warfare is conducted.

By Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post

The emphasis, these lieutenant colonels are told, is not about which side conquers more territory or loses more fighters – as was the case in conventional battles, such as the 1967 Six Day War – but rather on perception. In other words, the victor is the side that is perceived to have won.

To demonstrate this idea, one of the instructors at the school decided several years ago to show his students the 2002 Hollywood movie, We Were Soldiers, which tells the story of US Lt.-Col. Hal Moore – played by Mel Gibson – who led a battalion of American soldiers in the Battle of la Drang during the Vietnam War.

Moore leads his 400 soldiers into the “Valley of Death” against an entire division of 4,000 Vietnamese soldiers and, at the last second – after hundreds of bodies have piled up on both sides of the valley, with Moore ready to surrender – the Vietnamese commander decides to withdraw first, fearing that the US army is stronger than it really is.

While the Battle of la Drang took place in 1965, officers at the IDF’s Kirya Military Headquarters were discussing it this week in reference to Operation Cast Lead, the current battle against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The common denominator between the two, the officers explained, is that neither was or is about conquering territory, and each was and is about changing the enemy’s perception.

Ultimately, this is what Operation Cast Lead is all about. As a result, the IDF gave it a relatively modest goal – improving the security situation in the South – and not the more grandiose objective of toppling or destroying Hamas. For this reason, the IDF decided on a “shock and awe” policy for the operation.

 Israel Proving in Gaza It Can’t Handle Iran

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Israel Proving in Gaza It Can’t Handle Iran

January 3, 2009

Israel can’t handle Iran.  That’s the lesson being learned by Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

“The IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled. Cast lead, heavy as it may be, is still easier to digest than enriched uranium. ”

That’s the view from Amir Oren of Haaretz.

The looming question after a week of Israel’s pounding of Hamas in the Gaza is: How is Israel prepared politically, militarily and internationally to deal with a nuclear Iran, or to short circuit Iran’s efforts to become a nuclear power?

Politically, Israel doesn’t seem to have a united enough leadership to carry out a larger military operation than the comparitively basic effort of Gaza.  The Olmert, Barak, Livni team has struggled to stay on the same page this last week and ultimately had to sequester itself from news coverage that exposed the disagreements.

Militarily, the Israel Air Force has shown us what it already proved against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Air Forces can pound the hell out of buildings and people can be killed but without “boots on the ground,” enemies stay lurking in the ruins.

Yaakov Katz writes in today’s Jerusalem Post, “As early as Monday, senior Military Intelligence officials, tasked with providing targets for the Air Force, were saying behind closed doors that the ‘air operation had exhausted itself,’ and that it was time for the next stage.”

The army of Israel has been held back, for any number of reasons.  But this itself begs countless questions.  Is the fear of Israeli Army casualties too great?  Will the Army lose men to hostage situations and only make the matter worse?  Is the army being saved for another day?

Internationally, it is not at all certain that Israel’s last week has gained it any new strength or friends.  George Bush will be gone in a few weeks and then the entire diplomatic situation can change.  And among regional neighbors, Israel’s move on Hamas has opened wounds in Egypt and elsewhere.

In the media, Israel seems to be losing as the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens.

If Israel cannot resolve the Gaza situation to achieve its aims soon, confidence that it can ever counter Iran will disappear.

As actor Jack Nicholson played the role of  hot-headed Col. Nathan R. Jessep in the film, “A Few Good Men,” he said the line, “You can’t handle the truth.”

For Israel, the Gaza situation may leave lasting truths that have to be faced. 

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel,Virginia


From Yaakov Katz:
In Gaza, Israel Works To Create Perceptions on the Ground

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Pakistan: Turning Military Away From Taliban, Afghanistan and Toward India?

December 26, 2008

Amid tensions with India, Pakistan restricted leave for soldiers, put its air force on alert and moved troops away from the western region where the U.S. has pressed it to combat the Taliban….


By Richard Oppel, Jr.
The New York Times

 Pakistan is moving some troops away from its western border with Afghanistan, where the United States has pressed it to combat Taliban militants, and stopping many soldiers from going on leave amid rising tensions with India, senior Pakistani officials said Friday.

A senior military official said in an interview that the decision to sharply restrict leave for soldiers was taken “in view of the prevailing environment,” namely the deteriorating relations with India since the Mumbai terrorist attacks last month. He added that the Pakistani air force was “vigilant” and “alert” for the same reason. A second Pakistani security official would not say where the forces were being sent, but confirmed the troop movements and the restrictions on leave, saying “there’s an obvious reason for that.”

The redeployment came as Indian authorities warned their citizens not to travel to Pakistan given the heightened tensions between the two nations, news agencies reported, particularly since Indian citizens had been arrested there in connection with a bombing in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

The senior military official said that the Pakistani troops were being drawn from northwestern Pakistan, where the military is fighting Taliban militants on several fronts. He said that “essential troops in limited numbers are being pulled out of areas where no operations are being conducted,” or where winter weather had already limited their ability to maneuver.

Pakistan moves troops toward Indian border

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India To Pakistan: “Military Option Still On The Table”

December 20, 2008

India on Saturday sent a warning to Pakistan that it should not presume the likelihood of military retaliation was fading with time.

Pakistani paramilitary troops undertake a search operation in ...

“If a country cannot keep the assurances that it has given, then it obliges us to consider the entire range of options that exist to protect our interests and our people from this menace (of terrorism),” said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a clear reference to Pakistan’s promise to ensure there would be no terrorist attacks against India from its soil.

Hindustan Times

The minister’s statement, read out by Sikkim University Vice-Chancellor Mahendra Lama at the inauguration of a conference in Gangtok, seems to be part of an overall drive by New Delhi to infuse credibility to India’s warnings to Pakistan after the Mumbai attack.

Mukherjee’s statement says, “The recent attacks in Mumbai only reflect the extent to which terrorists have spread their network. The repeated appeals that we have made to our neighbours, over the years, to ensure that they do not provide any support to terrorist activities and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, has been ignored, despite assurances given by them.”

Without mentioning Pakistan or its military’s Inter-Services Intelligence directly, the minister added that Mumbai was “the latest instance of how subregionalism, regionalism and multilateralism are directly threatened by non-state actors with the aid of para-state apparatus.”

India’s recent decision to deploy additional MiG fighters around the capital and establish no-fly zones around nuclear reactor sites is being seen by some as a silent warning to Pakistan.

File photo shows Indian fighter jets taking part in a mock exercise ... 
Indian fighter jets taking part in a mock exercise at the Indian Air Force Station in Gwalior. Pakistan accused India’s air force of violating its airspace, drawing a swift denial from New Delhi.(AFP/File/Manan Vatsyayana)

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Washington the steps taken so far by Islamabad post-Mumbai were “not nearly enough” and advised Pakistan to keep working to “really deal” with terrorism to help ease the present crisis. The message to the Pakistani government, she said, had to be “you need to deal with the terrorist problem. And it’s not enough to say these are non-state actors. If they’re operating from Pakistani territory, then they have to be dealt with.”

However, Richard Barrett, coordinator of the United Nations Security Council’s al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Committee, expressed satisfaction with the cooperation he was receiving from Islamabad in implementing UN sanctions against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

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China Conducts Massive Anti-Piracy Drill; May Send Ships Near Somalia

December 14, 2008

Thousands of Chinse military personnel have been participating in a “massive” People’s Liberation Army (Navy) and Air Force anti-pracy training exercise in the South China Sea.

China has been widely criticized for not contributing any military forces to anti-pirate patrols in the vicinity of the Gulf of Aden where Somali and Yemeni pirates are taking ships hostage and ransoming them back to owners for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

China worries about interruptions of its economically vital shipping.  World-wide, the piracy has caused insurance prices to soar for the shipping companies — costs passed on to consumers on a global scale.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union(EU), India,  Russia  and others have ships engaged in anti-piracy missions in and around the Gulf of Aden.

See a video from Reuters on China’s anti-piracy training:

Anti-Piracy: Where’s China’s Navy?

Indian Navy Captures 23 Somali, Yemeni Pirates


China: Debate Rages On Somali Anti-Piracy Mission

By Zhang Haizhou
China Daily

Chinese military strategists and international relations experts are debating whether China should dispatch its navy to the troubled waters off Somalia.

The debate was first kicked off by Major-General Jin Yinan of the National Defense University, when he told a radio station last week that “nobody should be shocked” if the Chinese government one day decides to send navy ships to deal with the pirates.

The general’s views came after two Chinese ships – a fishing vessel and a Hong Kong-flag ship with 25 crew aboard – were seized by Somali pirates in mid Nov.

Jin gave no sign that such a naval mission was under immediate consideration, but he said China’s growing influence has made it likely that the government might use its forces in security operations far from home.
“I believe the Chinese navy should send naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to carry out anti-piracy duties,” he said. “If one day, the Chinese navy sends ships to deal with pirates, nobody should be shocked.”

“With China being a major world economy, it’s very difficult to say that security problems across the world have nothing to do with us,” Jin said.

Type 052B Guangzhou in Leningrad.jpg
China has many capable warships that could contribute to the anti-piracy mission of the international community.  Above: a Guangzhou class destroyer.

While the military strategist is urging an active deployment, other scholars think the government should be cautious before a decision is made.

The Chinese military vessels should go there “only within the UN framework,” said Pang Zhongying, a professor of international relations with Renmin University of China.

Since July, the UN has adopted three resolutions urging the international community to respond to the piracy problem off Somalia; the EU started an anti-piracy mission earlier this week in response to the UN resolution.

“Non-intervention is the principle of China’s foreign policy, which has not changed,” Pang said. However, China is trying to “play a more constructive and responsible role in international conflicts and other crises,” he said.

“China is now trying to balance its old principle and the new reality,” he added.

China has never dispatched any troops for combat missions overseas. The Chinese army personnel joining UN peacekeeping missions are engineering and medical staff, or police, apart from peacekeepers.

“Non-intervention is in the process of slow change,” Pang said, adding China is trying to cooperate with international organizations such as the UN and the African Union (AU) in solving regional and international conflicts, Pang said.

Pang added that he also had some concerns over the Chinese navy’s capability.

“I don’t think the Chinese navy has the capacity to counter unconventional threats far in the ocean,” he said, adding supplying and refueling in the Indian Ocean are key challenges.

However, some military strategists do not agree.

Professor Li Jie, a navy researcher, said the Chinese navy has proved that it is capable of such missions.

In 2002, two Chinese vessels spent four months on a global tour, the country’s first.

“Also, the UN resolutions mean that such deployment is legitimate,” Li said, noting that rampant piracy is a problem not only for other countries, but also for China.

“I think we should go there,” he added, acknowledging that command and communication will be challenges for such multi-national missions.

“But the mission can also be good training for the Chinese navy,” he said.

However, Professor Jin Canrong of Renmin University told China Daily: “I think we should not dispatch navy ships there unless we have to do so.”

Sending naval vessels to the waters off Somalia may raise some concerns and provide ammunition to “China threat” demagogues, he said.

Instead, joining a prospective UN peacekeeping force is a better choice.


From Forbes:

The U.S.-led Combined Task Force 150 has been patrolling the waters in question since 2002 and has expanded its mission beyond counterterrorism and counter-proliferation to combating piracy.

CTF 150 constitutes mainly the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group and, on a rotating basis, several ships from other, primarily European, countries. To protect its own shipping, Malaysia–as well as Russia and India–has sent military vessels to the region. NATO and the European Union, too, are seized of the problem and are deploying four ships to loiter in the Somalis’ area of operation next month.

Political will among major and regional powers, then, does not appear to be the issue. Rather, the real bugbears have been a lack of central coordination–in particular as to adherence to international law, optimal deployment of resources and rules of engagement.

In June, the United Nations passed a resolution making it an international duty of member states to fight piracy and allowing them to pursue Somali pirates into Somalia’s territorial waters–in effect denying the pirates legal maritime sanctuary. That theoretically solves the international law problem. But, with nations like India and Malaysia responding only episodically to emerging threats, sustaining a maritime presence large enough to deter or respond to an appreciable number of pirate attacks remains difficult. And even if all of the affected nations committed to standing patrols, their oversight of various sectors of the pirates’ operational space would have to be determined by a central command to maximize geographical coverage.

Differing national rules of engagement would have to be better harmonized and perhaps rethought. For example, a U.S. crew can act preemptively only once it determines pirates are “in the act” of piracy, yet they must back off once hostages have been taken for fear of imperiling them. It might therefore make sense to establish procedures whereby an American ship making initial contact with a pirate vessel can delegate interdiction responsibility to a vessel with more liberal engagement policies–say, a French one–or indeed to consider liberalizing rules of engagement.

Whatever the particular solutions to these essentially operational quandaries, the first step is diplomatic. The U.S., by default, has assumed primary responsibility for policing the waters off Somalia and its vicinity. Now it should call on all governments and private concerns with interests in the safety and security of those waters to meet and determine precisely how to achieve them.

Jonathan Stevenson is a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College.Read it all: