Un-forgetting Afghanistan

MAJ Steve Ferenzi argues it is time to evaluate the post-9/11 Afghan state-building experiment and determine how best to influence its future trajectory in order to secure US national interests and achieve some measure of regional stability.

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On Seapower and Landpower

By Captain Adam Link, USMC

Late last year the question was put forth: what does seapower contribute to landpower[1]? Now it seems an appropriate time for a response given the recent New York Times Op-Ed by Gregg Easterbrook[2] attempting to explain why and how the U.S. Navy is “big enough.” Others[3] have addressed some of Mr. Easterbrook’s arguments more directly, but I’d like to address the bigger picture of what the U.S. Navy contributes to our ability to conduct operations ashore and why we do need a “bigger Navy,” just not maybe in the way we traditionally think.

Seapower may not always be able to “win” a war, but it can certainly lose one[4] and will contribute significantly to victory. Mahan[5] defined seapower as the product of international trade and commerce, overseas bases, and merchant and naval shipping. Mahan focuses much of his effort towards the “blue-water” Navy, while Julian Corbett[6], in contrast, focuses more intently on the connection between sea and landpower, and the limitations therein. However, both of these strategists are complementary to the aim of explaining the importance of seapower to landpower, and how a “larger Navy” is useful in that regard.

In many ways, the U.S. Navy since World War 2 has become more focused on the “war fighting” functions of a navy, rather than the broader purpose to which a navy can contribute to the strategic objectives of the state. While laudable, the U.S Navy has more to contribute to the projection and protection of American interests abroad than just our ability to launch planes, land Marines, or send in the SEALs. Mahan’s definition of seapower is illustrative of this point. As already stated, Mahan viewed seapower at the intersection of trade and commerce, overseas bases, and merchant and naval shipping. If we are considering how seapower contributes to landpower it is necessary to engage with all of these component parts in turn.

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The GoPro Soldier: Coming Soon to a War Near You

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

If a soldier gets hit in a war and no one is around to film it, does it really matter?

Following two highly publicized police encounters – one in Ferguson, Missouri and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City – the New York Times carried a story that raised the issue of police body cameras.  Technologically (and economically), it is now feasible for the average “beat” cop to wear a camera integrated into body armor and clothing while on duty. President Obama has pledged to “request $75 million in federal funds to distribute 50,000 body cameras to police departments nationwide.”

To quickly run the math:

$75 million/50,000 body cameras = $1,500 each

Now let’s look to what it costs to outfit an American military soldier.  According to a 2007 estimate, it was roughly $17,500 to outfit a US soldier (*worth noting that at the time it cost the Chinese People’s Liberation Army roughly $1,500!).  By now, it is reasonable to extrapolate that US figure to $20,000.  If my raw math is accurate, and this is in fact the actual ratio, then body cameras would represent an additional expenditure on the order of a 7-8% which is roughly the equivalent cost of a latte flavor shot at Starbucks.  But do we want this “flavor shot?” Should we want body cameras?

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