Archive for the ‘Mullen’ 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
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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.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/washi
ngton/15military.html?_r=1&hp

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Emerging Obama Doctrine

March 11, 2009

As President Obama carves out his own foreign policy, there are signs that his use of military force overseas will be tempered by his views on the limits of American power.

Mr. Obama is leaning toward a pragmatic approach that limits military deployment of the kind used by former President Bush in the “war on terror,” while remaining open to humanitarian aid and security training, especially in places such as Darfur. This approach departs from Mr. Bush but also synthesizes policy elements from Bush’s later years.

By Gordon Lubold
Christian Science Monitor

“It is a very balanced, pragmatic understanding that America’s interests and her ideals don’t always coincide and so you have to make some trade-offs,” says John Nagl, a former Army officer who now heads the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington.

To a degree, Bush had come round to something resembling that position during his second term, as his administration began to recalibrate US goals amid the realities of two wars.

Obama’s top-to-bottom review of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for instance, is expected to yield a downscaled agenda there. And while Obama has established an end date for US combat troops in Iraq – something Bush did not do – he’ll keep those forces there longer than he had initially wanted because of recommendations of the Pentagon, and despite the misgivings in his own party.

Obama has also broken from the previous administration by reaching out diplomatically to countries such as Iran and Syria, which have had fraught relations with the Bush White House.

An Obama doctrine?

In a speech announcing his drawdown plan for Iraq earlier this month, the president painted some broad brush strokes of an “Obama Doctrine” concerning use of force overseas.

The US must not rely on the military alone to achieve its foreign policy ends, he said. And if the US does need to take military action, it must do so only after seeking bipartisan support and after working closely with “friends and allies,” he added.

“We have learned that America must go to war with clearly defined goals,” he told the crowd of marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“We have learned that we must always weigh the costs of action, and communicate those costs candidly to the American people.”

“Policymakers and military leaders have learned a great deal about the employment of American power, and the costs and risks of doing so and I think that is reflected in the president’s remarks,” says Nathan Freier, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another think tank in Washington.

Moreover, in reaching out to Iran and Syria – two countries the Bush administration would not talk to – Obama is not necessarily looking to impose American ideals of democracy and freedom.

“There is business we have to do with those states to keep America safe and so to a certain extent, we hold our nose, we try to nudge them forward on issues of human rights and democracy promotion, but we understand we’re not always going to win that fight and there are other issues on the table,” says Mr. Nagl.

Similarly, despite an escalation of troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested that the US will scale back on their goals there, from achieving a full-fledged stable democracy to achieving a semblance of security.

Read the rest:
http://features.csmonitor.com/politics
/2009/03/10/the-emerging-obama-doctrine/

Top U.S. Military Leader Offers Help to Mexico; Briefs Obama

March 7, 2009

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the United States could help with equipment and intelligence techniques after returning from a six-day trip to Latin America punctuated by news of beheadings and intimidation by Mexican drug cartels.

Mexico could borrow from U.S. tactics in the fight against terrorism as it battles a crisis of drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, the top U.S. military officer said Friday.

Returning from a six-day trip to Latin America punctuated by news of beheadings and intimidation by Mexican drug cartels, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the United States could help with equipment and intelligence techniques.

Adm. Mike Mullen would not be specific about what kind of intelligence or surveillance help the United States might offer, but said he saw ways to employ experience the United States has gained in the ongoing hunt for extremists and terrorists.

He would not say whether there may already be U.S. drones flying over bloodstained cities such as Ciudad Juarez, where 17 bodies came into the morgue on one day recently, including the city police force’s second-in-command and three other officers.

“Obviously it affects us because of the relationship between the two countries,” Mullen said during a telephone news conference as he flew to Washington following meetings in Mexico, his last stop.

Mullen referred to the spike in violence as a crisis, and said it occupied much of his discussions with Mexican military leaders.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-related violence this year. In 2008, the toll doubled from the previous year to 6,290. Both the U.S. and Canada have warned that murders related to drug activity in certain parts of Mexico, particularly along the border with the U.S., raised the level of risk in visiting the country.

There are signs the violent competition among Mexican drug and smuggling cartels is spilling across the border, as cities in Arizona report increases in such crimes as home invasions. More than 700 people were arrested as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating inside the United States, the Justice Department said last month.

Last weekend, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he also saw opportunities for the U.S. military to help with military training, resources and intelligence.

“I think we are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past. Some of the old biases against cooperation with our — between our militaries and so on, I think, are being set aside,” Gates said in an interview that aired last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“It clearly is a serious problem,” he said.

Related:
http://eideard.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/o
bama-mullen-discuss-mexicos-drug-wars/

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By ANNE GEARAN, AP Military Writer

President Barack Obama was briefed Saturday by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen about the drug wars in Mexico and wanted to know how the United States can help.

“Clearly one of the things the president was interested in was the U.S military capability that may or may not apply to our cooperation with the Mexicans,” said a U.S. military official who requested anonymity because the discussions were private. “He was very interested in what kind of military capabilities may be applied.”

Mullen briefed Obama Saturday morning about discussions with Mexican military leaders about the drug wars there.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009030
8/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_mexico_9

Related:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/america
s/03/07/mexico.headless.bodies/index.html

http://mexicoinstitute.wordpress.com/200
9/03/03/factbox-ciudad-juarez-mexicos-m
ost-violent-city/

Trust is the coin of the realm

February 14, 2009

Thomas F. Madden’s book “Empires of Trust” begins with the story of Rome’s conquest of Locri, a small Italian city-state.

A Roman lieutenant named Pleminius maintained order there in a heavy-handed manner, sacking and looting religious shrines and enslaving the Locrians. When Locrian ambassadors later assembled in the Roman Senate chamber, it was not, as many senators expected, to beg for forgiveness and charity but to lodge a complaint.

Pleminius, they charged, was a tyrant. “There is nothing human except his face and appearance,” cried one. “There is no trace of the Roman except in his clothing and speech.”

By Mike Mullen
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Washington Post
Sunday, February 15, 2009; Page B07

Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top ... 
Top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen in New York. Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said on Tuesday more American troops were needed in Afghanistan as soon as possible to hold territory where insurgents have been routed.(AFP/File/Jason Kempin)

Though they had rebelled against Rome — siding with archenemy Hannibal — the Locrians expected better. “They trusted the Romans to act responsibly,” writes Madden, “and even when that trust was violated, they trusted the Romans to make it right.”

Such was the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built. Such were the responsibilities of leadership.

We are not Romans, of course. Our brigade combat teams are not the legions of old. Madden makes that clear. But we in the U.S. military are likewise held to a high standard. Like the early Romans, we are expected to do the right thing, and when we don’t, to make it right again.

We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm — that building it takes time, losing it takes mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective.

That’s why images of prisoner maltreatment at Abu Ghraib still serve as recruiting tools for al-Qaeda. And it’s why each civilian casualty for which we are even remotely responsible sets back our efforts to gain the confidence of the Afghan people months, if not years.

It doesn’t matter how hard we try to avoid hurting the innocent, and we do try very hard. It doesn’t matter how proportional the force we deploy, how precisely we strike. It doesn’t even matter if the enemy hides behind civilians. What matters are the death and destruction that result and the expectation that we could have avoided it. In the end, all that matters is that, despite our best efforts, sometimes we take the very lives we are trying to protect.

You cannot defeat an insurgency this way.

We can send more troops. We can kill or capture all the Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders we can find — and we should. We can clear out havens and shut down the narcotics trade. But until we prove capable, with the help of our allies and Afghan partners, of safeguarding the population, we will never know a peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan.

Lose the people’s trust, and we lose the war. The strategy reviews for Afghanistan recognize this and seek military, economic, political, diplomatic and informational approaches to regaining that trust. We know that the people are the real long-term hope for success. No single solution or preventative measure will suffice in protecting them.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-d
yn/content/article/2009/02/13/AR2
009021302580.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Mullen: Cash crunch threatens US security, Defense Spending

February 2, 2009

The nation’s top military officer says the global financial crisis is threatening U.S. security options abroad.

Navy Admiral Mike Mullen told reservists Monday that the financial meltdown will force a delicate balance between national security and federal budget cuts. Mullen is chairman of the Pentagon‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Pentagon will soon send Congress a new budget request, and top officials are signaling that it will reflect belt-tightening because of the poor economy.

The money crunch comes amid what Mullen described as sweeping political changes in Iraq and Pakistan. Stabilizing both nations is crucial to the U.S war on terror.

Related:
Obama Orders U.S. Defense Cut 10%

Biggest Beneficiary of U.S. Economic Stimulus?

China Starts to Set Limits On Its Biggest Borrower: Barack Obama and The U.S.

U.S. to Fund Afghan Militias, Applying Iraq Tactic

December 23, 2008

The Afghan government will formally start a U.S.-funded effort to recruit armed local militias in the battle against the Taliban in remote parts of the country, exporting the tactic to Afghanistan from Iraq.

The first militias will be established in Wardak Province, in eastern Afghanistan, in coming weeks, officials said. If the effort in Wardak is successful, U.S. commanders hope to create similar forces in other parts of Afghanistan in early 2009.

The militia push is part of a growing American effort to bypass the struggling Afghan central government and funnel resources to Afghan villages and provinces. Senior American officials have stepped up their criticism of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in recent weeks, making clear that they believe his government needs to do more to fight corruption and deliver basic services.

By YOCHI J. DREAZEN
The Wall Street Journal

In Iraq, the U.S. decision to recruit tens of thousands of Sunni Arab fighters, including many former insurgents, is widely credited with improving the country’s security situation.

“Afghanistan historically has been known as a country where local communities took care of themselves,” U.S. Ambassador William Wood said in an interview in Kabul. “The way to counter the Taliban today is to make the communities themselves stronger, so they can protect their villages, their fields, their towns and their valleys.”
During a weekend visit, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. focus on establishing a strong central government in Afghanistan may have been “overstated.” He said the U.S. would now focus more on “enabling the communities, the tribes and their leaders.”

“How strong the central government will be in the future, I think, is yet to be determined,” he told reporters.

The militia push is controversial. Karzai vetoed an earlier American proposal to create local forces…

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122999116140428437.html

India terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the new Al Qaeda?

December 21, 2008

U. S. intelligence was caught off-guard by Lashkar-e-Taiba‘s “highly sophisticated” Mumbai terror strikes last month, which top spies now consider the debut of a new “brand name” to rival Al Qaeda.

The Islamist group was formed with Pakistani government help decades ago, but U.S. officials admit underestimating Lashkar’s shift from waging a minor conflict in the Kashmir region to threatening Westerners and Jews.

By James Gordon Meek
New York Daily News
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“There is real concern over the fact LeT has raised its profile,” a U.S. counterterror official told the Daily News. “A lot of people are watching closely now to see if they’re plotting new attacks.”

The group is as mainstream in Pakistan as its ally Hamas is in the Palestinian territories.

Before the mayhem that began Nov. 26, no Lashkar camps in Pakistan’s tribal areas had been targeted during an intense CIA offensive in the fall, a senior intelligence official confirmed.

The agency has used unmanned drones to fire missiles at Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives directing the insurgency in Afghanistan. Lashkar cross-trains with the two terror groups.

But U.S. counterterror efforts are now getting beefed up, sources said.

“Assume that the intelligence community has new targets it previously hoped would be only distractions, of which LeT is one,” a third U.S. official told The News.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Lashkar – which once focused on the India-Pakistan fight over Kashmir – hit a “new threshold” of terror by killing Americans, Brits and Jews.

Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm., ... 
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, seen, during a press conference at a
U.S base in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008.
(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

“They specifically targeted a Jewish center that was off the main drag,” Mullen recently told reporters. “It raises this outfit to a much higher level than where it was before.”

Brooklyn Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, were slain there, leaving their baby, Moshe, an orphan.

Many also were surprised by what one internal U.S. government document called “hit and run” tactics that killed scores of Indians and six Americans.

Mullen said the 10 thugs “in a highly sophisticated manner [held] at bay an entire city.”

They had been trained by military pros in small arms and close combat for a year near Kashmir – though evidence isn’t a slam dunk that Pakistani spies aided them, sources said. The killers used satellite GPS units and phones and Google Earth to plan and execute the attacks.

Ex-CIA analyst Michael Scheuer declared it “a superb operation.”

Americans and Jews now face greater danger from Lashkar overseas, officials said.

“There are a lot of tourists in South Asia, and there’s really not a lot we can do,” Scheuer said.

“The question,” said another intelligence official, “is whether Mumbai is a ‘one-off’ or if such operations could be sustained.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2008/12/21/2008-12-21_india_terror_group_lashkaretaiba_the_new.html

Joint Chiefs Chairman: Adapting to a New Boss

December 15, 2008

As President-elect Barack Obama convened the first meeting of his national security advisers on Monday, there was just one person at the table that the new president did not choose to have there: Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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Admiral Mullen, who was selected by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for a two-year term, has been on the job for a year. Come January, he will face perhaps the biggest challenge of his career — pivoting from one commander-in-chief to another, in the middle of two wars. Friends describe him as an even-tempered, intellectually curious and politically astute presence who sees the world beyond the immediate battles of the Pentagon and White House — all skills they say will serve him well in the new administration.

“He’s not a jumper or a screamer, he looks at things to make them better for the long term,” said Adm. Dennis C. Blair, a retired Pacific Fleet commander who is expected to be named by Mr. Obama as director of national intelligence. “He’s an incredible networker, too.”

By Elisabeth Mumiller    
The New York Times

Above: Admiral Mike Mullen.  Photo: Adem Altan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the last year, Admiral Mullen has sought advice from the retired generals who revolted against former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, reached out to the former Army chief who was vilified for saying more troops were needed in Iraq and invited to dinner prominent Democrats like Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s choice for White House counsel. His efforts may have been an attempt to soothe the military after the cataclysmic Mr. Rumsfeld, or an anticipation of a change of administration — or both.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/us/
politics/16mullen.html?_r=1&hp

U.S. military considers options to deal with Somali pirates

December 14, 2008

— The Pentagon is looking at options, but there are no plans for U.S. forces to go ashore in pursuit of pirates in Somalia, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday.
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Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently asked the military to look at “what options and alternatives are available from a purely military perspective” to deal with piracy off the coast of Somalia, Capt. John Kirby told CNN.

Pentagon officials are shying away from a direct endorsement of a proposal the United States is circulating at the U.N. Security Council that calls for countries to “take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace,” to counter piracy.

A French frigate, center, escorts ships off the coast of Djibouti to protect them from piracy last month.

Above: A French frigate, center, escorts ships off the coast of Djibouti to protect them from piracy last month.

However, Kirby said the Pentagon is not doing any planning to launch attacks against pirates on land or in the air.

“We are not looking at how to implement the resolution,” Kirby said.

The developments come after Somali pirates released a Greek chemical tanker they have held since October, a piracy monitor said Saturday.

“The MV Action was released by pirates,” said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Seafarers Assistance Program in Mombasa, Kenya. “She is currently limping to safe waters, [and] it is feared that three crew members lost their lives under questionable circumstances.”

Circumstances of the release were not immediately known.

CNN

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/12/
13/usmilitary.piracy/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Mumbai Terror Survivor Bought Cheap and Promised Pay “Dead or Alive” By Pakistan Handlers

December 3, 2008

The only gunman captured during the terror attack on Mumbai says he was promised that his impoverished family would get $1,250 if he died fighting for militant Islam, security officials said Wednesday.

The captive, 21-year-old Ajmal Amir Kasab, is from Faridkot village in the Punjab region of Pakistan, according to the two Indian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss details gleaned during a week of interrogation.

By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM, Associated Press Writer

FILE  INDIA OUT. CREDIT MANDATORY  ...

Kasab was arrested hours after the three-day rampage began the night of Nov. 26. Photographs of the young man walking calmly through Mumbai‘s main train station — assault rifle in hand — have made him a symbol of the attacks that killed 171 people, including 26 foreigners.

India has blamed the banned Pakistan-based extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the carnage. But in an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, expressed skepticism that the man in custody is a Pakistani citizen.

According to the Indian security officials, Kasab was a day laborer, like one of his brothers, before joining Lashkar. He recounted being told that if he was “shaheed” — or “martyred” — his family would receive 100,000 Pakistani rupees, or about $1,250, they said.

Kasab said that he and the nine gunmen killed during the attack were hand-picked for the Mumbai rampage after intensive Lashkar training, the officials said.

Related:
What We Know About Mumbai Terrorists: Mad Dogs Off The Leash

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081203/ap_on_re_as
/as_india_shooting_gunman

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A former Defense Department official said Wednesday that American intelligence agencies had determined that former officers from Pakistan’s Army and its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped train the Mumbai attackers.

From The New York Times
By ERIC SCHMITT and SOMINI SENGUPTA

But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that no specific links had been uncovered yet between the terrorists and the Pakistani government.

His disclosure came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held meetings with Indian leaders in New Delhi and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with their Pakistani counterparts in Islamabad, in a two-pronged effort to pressure Pakistan to cooperate fully in the effort to track down those responsible for the bloody attacks in Mumbai last week.

Also on Wednesday, a “fully functional” bomb was found and defused at a major Mumbai train station that had reopened days earlier, the Mumbai authorities announced. The discovery raised terrifying questions about why the authorities had failed to find it all this time.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people marched through Mumbai, both mourning the at least 173 dead and protesting the failures of Indian politicians and security services to protect citizens.

Ms. Rice strove to balance demands on both countries. She said that Pakistan had a “special responsibility” to cooperate with India and help prevent attacks in the future, here and elsewhere. At the same time, she warned India against hasty reaction that would yield what she called “unintended consequences.”

“The response of the Pakistani government should be one of cooperation and of action,” she said at an evening news conference in New Delhi with her Indian counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee. “Any response needs to be judged by its effectiveness in prevention and also by not creating other unintended consequences or difficulties.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/world/asia/04india.html?_r=1&hp

This image taken from NDTV shows a man wearing a T-shirt with ... 
This image taken from NDTV shows a man wearing a T-shirt with a “Versace” logo carrying an automatic weapon as he enters a train station in Mumbai, late November 26. The man, Ajmal Amir Kamal, 21, is being interrogated in a safe house in Mumbai, reports said.(AFP/NDTV/File)