What you can’t see can kill you. This has always been true in warfare, from infections to IEDs, but the problem has become particularly pressing with the modern era’s space, missile, and high-altitude threats. Fresh thinking is needed; the past will not be a useful guide for what’s ahead. Around the time GPS-guided Americans crossed the berm into Iraq in 2003, Barry Posen called attention to what he called the “foundation” of American military strength: “command of the commons.” Posen defined this as the “areas that belong to no one state and that provide access to much of the...Read More
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In the twentieth century, nuclear deterrence was generally a closed bipolar system. The two superpowers squared off in something resembling parity, most smaller nuclear powers aligned with one side or the other, and those few outlier states who charted a more independent nuclear policy were generally less concerned with great power politics and more concerned with regional power or survival. The balance of terror was frightening, but it also proved stable. Fast-forward to the twenty-first century and we find the prospect of smaller nuclear states, like North Korea, willing to engage in threats and brinksmanship with superpowers. There is...Read More
It was the day after Suzy died. Congressman Ike Skelton’s dearly loved soulmate was gone, and Ike’s call to me that night was heart-rending. Our annual House Armed Services Committee battlefield staff ride was the next day so I assumed Ike was calling to cancel. After offering my condolences, I suggested that we might put off the event until the next year. Ike said no. We’d meet as usual in front of the Russell Building at 8 AM sharp. Then off to Antietam. At the time I wondered why. Suzy died in the summer of 2005, a time when...Read More
“Be strong enough to know when you are weak,” Gen. Douglas MacArthur once advised. But what matters more is to know how and where you’re vulnerable. During the Cold War, the director of the US Office of Net Assessment, Andrew Marshall, found America had a “distinct and meaningful advantage” in that the “bulk of the Soviet forces were composed of conscripts” who were “poorly trained and lacking technical know-how.” Marshall’s insight was to use the Soviet soldiers’ relative deprivation against them. In a military based on a thoroughly mechanized, road-mobile doctrine, the fact that the average Soviet recruit didn’t...Read More
Maintaining a Deep Bench: Why Armored BCT Rotations in Europe and Korea are Best for America’s Global Security Requirements
How do we meet regional security requirements, maintain the flexibility to respond to crises, and operate within very real constraints? That’s the question planners need to answer with respect to US armored brigade combat teams (ABCTs), and the debate now revolves around the relative merits of two models: rotational versus permanently stationed armored brigade combat teams in Korea and Europe. John R. Deni, a U.S. Army War College professor, argues in a forthcoming report for the Atlantic Council that forward-stationing an armored brigade combat team in Europe and another in Korea would cost less and provide more capability than...Read More
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