MORNING RECON: Ground War in Syria; The 7 Most Mighty World Powers of All-Time; Al Qaeda Deputy Killed In Drone Strike; Complex Adaptive Operations

2/28/2017 Visit RealClearDefense ( today for more defense new and insight. ** Morning Recon ———————————————————— Good Thursday morning and welcome to MORNING RECON. On this day in 1893, was the launching of USS Indiana (BB-1), first true battleship in U.S. Navy. USS Indiana (Battleship No. 1) was authorized in 1890 and commissioned five years later, she was a small battleship, though with heavy armor and ordnance. RealClearDefense Exclusives: * Ground War in Syria Would Be a Huge Mistake ( Bonnie Kristian Morning Mission Brief Podcast The Trump Administrations Defense Spending Boost ( NPR’s All Things Considered with Mara Liasson Today’s Top Stories NATIONAL Trump and the “Arc of Instability" ( From Harlan Ullman & Arnaud deBorchgrave, UPI: “Even with President Donald J. Trump asserting that his White House is “running like a fine-tuned machine," the rest of the world is not. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis sees it, an “arc of instability" runs from the Western Mediterranean to the Eastern Bay of Bengal. Not a scintilla of evidence suggests that any resolution of the conflicts and civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen is within light years of occurring. Europe is still grappling with the wave of refugees and immigrants. And Ukraine remains a battleground in its eastern provinces.” In Defense Budget, Trump Declares War on Diplomacy ( From Paul D. Shinkman, U.S. News & World Report: “If enacted, the defense budget increase would be funded by targeting programs that currently cost the U.S. roughly $50 billion, including relevant initiatives within the State Department as well as the entirety of the budget for USAID, the government agency that dispenses humanitarian assistance. Officials did not specify programs or agencies, but Trump and other Republicans have suggested that dismantling institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency could also be possible. Spreading cuts across other institutions like the EPA, NASA or the Department of Transportation would likely cripple those smaller budgets.” Trump’s Defense Budget Won’t Yield a Serious Military Buildup ( From Mackenzie Eaglen, The National Interest: “President Trump’s budget team said Monday that he will seek to increase the defense budget by $54 billion next fiscal year in 2018. This sounds like a lot, but it will not be sufficient to undertake any kind of military buildup. This is more like digging out.” Trump’s NSC: A Bureaucratic Balancing Act ( From Will Edwards, The Cipher Brief: “The appointment of Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor was not the Trump Administration’s first shake-up on the National Security Council, and it is unlikely to be the last. The Trump Administration’s decision to upend the NSC’s organization is an effort to correct what many believed had become a bloated bureaucratic structure that could not attain its key goals.” Air Force Bids Farewell to the MQ-1 Predator ( From Ashley Bunch, Air Force Times: “"We need to get transitioned this year, as part of that, we are going to stop flying the MQ-1 completely by July 1, 2017. We will gradually stand up our number of combat lines on the MQ-9, so by the end of the year we are only an MQ-9 squadron," said Air Force Lt. Col. James, the commander of the 20 th Attack Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.” How to Dismantle America’s First Nuke Carrier USS Enterprise ( From Courtney Mabeus, Virginian Pilot: “The Navy says it needs more information before it can decide how to dispose of the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.” BRAC Finds Some Stable Ground in 2017 ( From Scott Maucione, Federal News Radio: “After 12 years and numerous requests from the Defense Department since the last round of military base closures, 2017 may finally offer a peek of sunlight for another base realignment and closure cycle.” Avalon 2017: F-35 Transforming Marine Corps’ Aviation ( From Gareth Jennings, IHS Jane’s 360: “Speaking at the Avalon Airshow on the outskirts of Melbourne, the deputy commandant of USMC aviation, Lieutenant General Jon ‘Dog’ Davis, said that combat exercises that have involved the F-35B have shown the fifth-generation platform to be superior in just about every facet of capability when compared with older types still being fielded.” Counterterrorism Chief: Expect Terrorist Drone Swarms “Soon" ( From Patrick Tucker, Defense One: ““It is conceivable that some day soon we will see someone’s otherwise capable military security force penetrated, defeated or even overrun by such technologies,” Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said at the recent Special Operations Forces / Low Intensity Conflict summit.” INTERNATIONAL U.S., CHINA: China Hopes U.S. Defense Spending Benefits Global Stability ( From Reuters: “China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it hoped U.S. defense spending would be beneficial to maintaining global peace and stability, after the White House proposed a 10 percent increase in military spending.” SYRIA: Al Qaeda Deputy Killed In Apparent Drone Strike ( From Stratfor: “The suspected deputy of al Qaeda was killed Feb. 26 in Idlib province, northern Syria, in what was likely a U.S. drone strike, according to social media reports. Abu Khayr al-Masri, was involved in a number of terrorist attacks over the years, including the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. ” COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS Ground War in Syria Would Be a Huge Mistake ( From Bonnie Kristian, RealClearDefense: “As his spitballing press conference reminded us ad nauseam, President Trump is not ready to let the bygones of the election be bygones—and where U.S. policy toward Syria is concerned, that might not be such a bad thing. Perhaps the president’s most cogent attack on Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state during their race was his critique of her signature military intervention in Libya. “Look at what she did in Libya with [late leader Moammar] Gadhafi,” he argued during the second presidential debate. “Gadhafi is out. It’s a mess. And, by the way, ISIS has a good chunk of their oil. I am sure you probably have heard that. It was a disaster.”” Tiptoeing Around the Nine-Dash Line ( From Amelia Long and Peter Chalk, The Strategist (ASPI): “Southeast Asia finds itself at the heart of the US–China rivalry, which has placed greater strategic weight and heightened attendant stresses on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ASEAN member states now face a dilemma over collective action that challenges not only perceptions of ASEAN’s efficacy but also Southeast Asia’s overall security. How those states and other interested actors—including the People’s Republic of China, the US, Australia and Japan—choose to act will shape the region for decades to come.” Yes, It’s Time to Increase Defense Spending ( From David French, National Review: “Given our current battlefield supremacy, most voters don’t really understand how old most of our weapons are. Key systems date back to the Cold Wars. Fathers and even grandfathers of current pilots have flown fighters and bombers still in front-line service.” Marine Corps Aviation: The 75 Percent Solution ( From James Hasik, Atlantic Council: “About 75 percent of the fighter and attack aircraft in the US Marine Corps—AV-8B Harriers, F-18A+/B/C Hornets, and EA-6B Prowlers—are out of service. The Marines are loving their F-35Bs so far, but the Lightning IIs are very expensive aircraft, particular when thrown against enemies who lack air forces—or even high-altitude air defense. As quotidian bomb trucks, they have far greater range than Hornets and Harriers, but that approach will put Marine Corps Aviation back into the same cycle of destruction it has experienced over the past 15 years. So what now? The alternative is to move towards a mix of attack aircraft tailored for two classes of enemy, in wars small and large. In the short term, that means buying fixed-wing gunships. In the mid-term, it means buying tilt-rotor gunships, including drones. Both aircraft types are better suited for the small wars in which the Marine Corps has been engaged for most of the post-Cold War era. For now, that might seem to destroy Marine Aviation, but to save it in the long term for the big wars.” U.S. Should Test Russia on Islamic State ( From Andrew Parasiliti, Al-Monitor: “US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Feb. 16 that while the US is “not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level” with Russia, “our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground or a way forward.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meeting on the same day with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, added that “the United States will consider working with Russia where we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people.”" Complex Adaptive Operations on the Battlefield of the Future ( From Aaron Bazin, Modern War Institute: “Although the military must continually operate in a confusing and dynamic context, it tends to organize units in a rigid hierarchical structure where strict orders are given and followed. Discipline, unity of command, and an industrial organizational structure all have their advantages. However, they have disadvantages as well, as mechanical systems are easier to predict and less resilient to change. These facts raise an important question: If we accept that armed conflict is a complex adaptive system, then how could the US military possibly take advantage of this by adopting a complex adaptive approach to operations?” Blitzkrieg Redux: The Coming Warbot Revolution ( From Brian M. Michelson, Strategy Bridge: “In May 1940, the Allied and German Armies squared off in what was expected to be an extended campaign for the conquest of France. Six weeks later, the victorious German Army marched down the Champs-Elysees in Paris. How was it that the Germans, with fewer tanks, fewer trucks, fewer troops, less artillery and access to roughly equivalent technologies, managed to accomplish such a remarkable feat? While leadership, luck, and a host of other factors were at play, the decisive factor was the remarkable way in which a few German inter-war military thinkers envisioned and developed a new way of warfare, known to the Allies as the blitzkrieg. German doctrine successfully integrated current technologies in aircraft, radios, and tanks into a coherent and integrated way of fighting and then applied it to great effect. The result was amplified because the Germans fought an enemy that in many cases failed to account for the possibilities enabled by the new combination of these technologies.” The Politics of Historicide ( From Richard N. Haass, The Strategist (ASPI): “In a world of disarray, the Middle East stands apart. The post-World War I order is unravelling in much of the region. The people of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya have paid an enormous price. But it is not just the present and future of the region that has been affected. An additional casualty of today’s violence is the past." The 7 Most Mighty World Powers of All-Time ( From James Jay Carafano, The National Interest: “I focused on the top competitors of their time: the powers most successful in mastering the world system of their age. That limits the list to those that competed on the world stage. It rules out some great regional powers—like the Egyptians, the Song Dynasty, Mayans, Incas and the Iroquois nation—that never really pressed their power beyond their own neighborhood." SEND RCD YOUR INPUT: Please send your tips, suggestions and feedback to ( and follow us on Twitter @RCDefense ( . If you are receiving Morning Recon for the first time and would like to subscribe, sign up here ( . View this email in your browser. ( | Not a subscriber? Sign up here. ( ============================================================ Copyright © 2017 RealClearHoldings, All rights reserved. You are receiving this email becuase you opted in at our website. 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