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WAR 09-21-2019-to-09-27-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
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  1. #1
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    3 09-21-2019-to-09-27-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****

    (385) 08-31-2019-to-09-06-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

    (386) 09-07-2019-to-09-13-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
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    (387) 09-14-2019-to-09-20-2019___****THE****WINDS****of****WAR****
    http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showt...*of****WAR****

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    https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/116771...-retake-island

    Philippine military’s joint forces train to retake island

    By: Frances G. Mangosing, Joanna Rose Aglibot - @inquirerdotnet
    Inquirer Luzon, INQUIRER.net / 04:19 PM September 21, 2019

    MANILA, Philippines — Combined forces from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Saturday practiced retaking a remote island captured by an enemy, featuring the Philippine Marine Corps’ newly-acquired amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs).

    The AFP purchased 8 AAVs from South Korean defense manufacturer Hanwha Techwin for P2.42 billion.

    “It is an honor for us that we pioneer the new AAVs of the armed forces,” said Navy 1st Lt. Marever Evans Taghap, commanding officer of the 76th Marine Company. He served as commanding officer of the AAV fleet.

    Tanghap said the AAVs can be deployed for combat and for rescue operations. “Considering that the country is frequented by storms, the AAV plays a big role in disaster retrieval operations,” she said.

    The activity was originally scheduled on Thursday (Sept. 19) at the Naval Education and Training Center in the Zambales town of San Antonio, but it was moved on Saturday because of bad weather.

    The drills, a part of the main events under the ongoing AFP Joint Exercise (AJEX DAGIT-PA), used a portion of Subic Bay, Zambales, part of a former US naval base facing the West Philippine Sea.

    The four AAVs were launched from the Philippine Navy’s BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) to carry out the the ship-to-shore operations.

    The Philippine Air Force used its S-76A rotary-wing aircraft to conduct casualty evacuation from shore to ship.

    But for Lt. Col. Henry Espinosa, commander of Amphibious Landing Force, Saturday’s joint drills were historic because it is the first time that the Philippine Marines used its own AAVs for ship-to-shore exercises without the United States.

    “Matagal na naming ginagawa ito with our counterparts with US Marine Corps. But what is significant, historical and unique kasi ginamit natin yung sarili nating AAVs. For the longest time, nagko-conduct kami ng ganitong exercise bilateral with the US Marine Corps. Right now, we are doing it on our own unilaterally,” he told reporters.

    The Philippine Marine Corps has a total of eight new AAVs from Hanwha Defense, formerly known as Hanwha Techwin. Four of these have yet to be commissioned next week.

    The joint exercises kicked off on Sept. 16 and will run until Sept. 27. It is conducted across different areas in Luzon — Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Palawan.

    The activities seek to enhance joint operations among the AFP’s ground, air and naval assets for maritime security, military operations in urban terrain and amphibious operations. /jpv

  2. #2
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    https://www.stripes.com/news/us-tank...yment-1.600424

    US tanks and troops headed to Lithuania for lengthy deployment



    By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 25, 2019

    STUTTGART, Germany — More than 500 U.S. soldiers and dozens of tanks and heavy fighting vehicles will deploy to Lithuania in the coming days on an extended mission to bulk up NATO’s eastern flank, the Baltic country’s military said Wednesday.

    The troops are being dispatched as part of U.S. Army Europe’s Atlantic Resolve campaign, which involves rotating hundreds of troops to locations up and down eastern Europe in an effort to deter Russian aggression in the region.

    The looming arrival of U.S. forces was welcomed by Lithuanian officials, who have lobbied for more frequent and longer American troop rotations since Atlantic Resolve began in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

    “We have sought a larger, long-term U.S. military involvement in Lithuania and the region consistently and patiently,” Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said in a statement. “Therefore the deployment of the U.S. Army battalion for a longer period of time is good and awaited news and a result of our efforts and investment.”

    The U.S. military is “a vital factor of deterrence” in the Baltic region, Karoblis said.

    Unlike past deployments of Army battalions to Lithuania, the current mission is for a long-term deployment rather than an international exercise, the Lithuanian defense ministry said. The unit — the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Hood, Texas — is expected to be in the country through spring 2020, it said.

    The unit is part of a broader brigade rotation into Europe involving the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which deploys in October, U.S. Army Europe said.

    The 9th Cavalry will bring with it 30 Abrams tanks, 25 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 70 wheeled vehicles, the defense ministry said. They will be based out of a training area in Pabrade, a small town near the country’s border with Belarus.

    Lithuania will provide lodging and logistical support during the deployment, the ministry said.

    For the U.S.-led NATO alliance, the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been an area of focus during the past couple of years. All three have multinational alliance battlegroups, which were deployed on a year-round basis in 2017 to deter Russian aggression.

    A U.S. battlegroup is also positioned in northern Poland, near the Russian military hub Kaliningrad, which is wedged between Poland and Lithuania. NATO forces in the area are focused on defending the Suwalki Gap, a vulnerable, 45-mile-wide corridor regarded as a likely battle zone in the event of a conflict with Russia.

    vandiver.john@stripes.com
    Twitter: @john_vandiver

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    https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-t...ms-11569403806

    China Taps Its Private Sector to Boost Its Military, Raising Alarms
    Western firms risk unwittingly helping China’s defense buildup, report says
    By Kate O’Keeffe in Washington and

    Biography
    @Kate_OKeeffe
    kathryn.okeeffe@wsj.com

    Jeremy Page in Beijing
    Updated Sept. 25, 2019 7:36 am ET

    Beijing is increasingly tapping private Chinese firms to acquire foreign technology for its military, according to officials and a new report, in a strategy that is prompting calls by leaders in Washington to retool U.S. national security policy.

    (Rest is behind pay wall...HC)

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    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...uclear-weapons

    U.S. To Spend Hundreds Of Millions To Replace A $5 Part In Revamped Nuclear Weapons

    Issues with the commercial capacitors, meant to help save money, have now caused more than a year of new delays for both of these programs.

    By Joseph Trevithick
    September 26, 2019

    The War Zone

    Concerns about the reliability of commercial-off-the-shelf capacitors, each of which cost just $5, the Department of Energy had been planning to use in two future nuclear warhead designs will delay both programs by at least a year and a half and could result in up to a whopping $850 million in additional costs. The W88 ALT 370 warheads for the U.S. Navy's Trident D5 submarine-launch ballistics missiles and the U.S. Air Force B61-12 nuclear gravity bombs, the latter of which are already set to be worth literally twice their weight in gold each, are seeing impacts from the decision to switch to a more robust piece of circuitry.

    Charles Verdon, the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), informed members of Congress of the issue during a hearing on Sept. 25, 2019. NNSA oversees the development, construction, and dismantlement of U.S. nuclear weapons. The W88 ALT 370 is an upgrade for existing W88 warheads that reportedly consists of improved arming, fuzing, and firing components. The B61-12 is a modernized variant of the B61 family of nuclear gravity bombs that leverages warheads from older B61-4 bombs and various components from those weapons, as well as from B61-3s, -7s, and -10s. It also adds a precision guidance tail kit. The B61-12s, which you can read about in much more detail in this past War Zone feature, will replace these older B61s, and potentially other nuclear bombs.

    Pentagon's New Nuclear Strategy Is Unsustainable And A Handout To Defense IndustryBy Tyler Rogoway Posted in The War Zone
    B-2 Flies First 'End-To-End' Tests With New Nuclear Bomb Amid Growing Cost ConcernsBy Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone
    Get To Know America's Long Serving B61 Family Of Nuclear BombsBy Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone
    U.S. Ballistic Missile Sub Fired An Impressive Four Trident II Missiles In Just Three DaysBy Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone
    The Time When A Burning B-52 Nearly Caused A Nuclear Catastrophe "Worse than Chernobyl"By Joseph Trevithick Posted in The War Zone

    The W88 ALT 370 and B61-12 designs both used the same commercial capacitors in an effort to help control costs. Verdon insisted to legislators that there was no indication that these components would fail under normal circumstances.

    "Early tests on the capacitors now in question and subsequent tests including component, major assembly, and full-up integrated system flight tests demonstrated that these components meet requirement today," Verdon told lawmakers. "Industry best practices were used to stress the components beyond their design planned usage as a way to establish confidence that they will continue to work over the necessary lifetime of the warhead. During stress testing, a few of these commercially available capacitors did not meet the reliability requirements."

    This, in turn, shook NNSA's confidence that all of the capacitors would be able to work reliably across the expected life cycles of the W88 ALT 370s and B61-12s. These weapons are expected to remain in the active stockpile for at least between 20 and 30 years after they enter service. The U.S. Air Force had hoped to receive its first examples of the B61-12 next year. It's unclear when the Navy might have originally expected to start getting the W88 ALT 370s, but NNSA had planned to finish construction of the first of these upgraded warheads by the end of this year.

    NNSA is now replacing the $5 capacitors with new, more robust ones that cost around $75 each. Verdon said that this could add between $120 and $150 million to the total cost of the W88 ALT 370 program and between $600 and $700 million to the B61-12 effort. He warned that the combined costs could potentially rise to more than a billion, depending on how the process goes. Each of these programs is now facing its own schedule delay of between 18 and 20 months, as a result.

    The W88 ALT 370 program's total estimated cost is already around $2.7 billion. The total price tag for the B61-12 bombs is around $8.25 billion, with another $1.1 billion for the new precision guidance tail kits.

    “What we didn’t recognize, and one of the lessons we’ve learned, is the variability [in quality control] that can exist even within a given vendor just between different lots," Verdon explained. "If you buy components and get different lots, there can be variability in how they are produced."

    NNSA is now separately reviewing its procedures for acquiring and inspecting commercial-of-the-shelf components and is in discussions with vendors about ways to obtain more consistent quality in parts destined for nuclear weapons. "We’re going to look at it on a part-by-part basis. For those parts vendors that will have a hard time [meeting the requirements], we would look to bring those back in house," he added, referring to the more costly option of the U.S. government re-taking responsibility for custom building certain components.

    Verdon also told legislators that NNSA had been able to leverage its experiences with the W88 ALT 370 and B61-12 programs to produce "design simplifications" on the future W80-4 and W87-1 warheads. The W80-4 is a life-extension upgrade for existing W80s found in the Air Force's AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCM) and it will also be used in the service's future air-launched Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) cruise missiles. The W87-1 is a similar effort for W87 warheads, which are presently found on some Air Force LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and are set to go atop the future Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) ICBMs. NNSA hopes this will lead to new cost savings that will help offset the issues with the W88 ALT 370s and B61-12s.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to nuclear weapons, any cost savings have to be balanced against the absolute need for the best possible safety and surety features. With America's nuclear enterprise, this is called the concept of "Always/Never," which refers to the desire for nuclear weapons to always function when you want them to and never when you don't.

    Design flaws with multiple nuclear weapon configurations meant a number of already harrowing accidents during the Cold War could have been particularly catastrophic. One of these incidents, a 1980 fire in the engine of a B-52 loaded with nuclear weapons sitting on alert at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, was one turn of the wind away from becoming "worse than Chernobyl," according to Dr. Roger Batzel, then-director of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, or LLNL. You can read more about this particular accident in this recent War Zone feature.

    For the time being, the capacitor issue has not had any larger impacts on the futures of W88 ALT 370 or B61-12 programs. However, “there are vitally important programs for America, but there are no sacred cows, so we need to make sure 18-month, two year delays, cost overruns can be better understood so they can be avoided in the future," Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat from Tennessee and Chair of the House Armed Forces Committee's Strategic Forces Subcommittee, warned during the hearing.

    Congress is already engaged in an intense debate about modernizing America's nuclear arsenal, broadly, which is expected to cost a whopping $1.5 trillion over the next three decades. As such, it is very possible that we will see additional changes to the character of both the W88 ALT 370 and B61-12 programs now that their schedules for both have grown by more than a year.

    Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com

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    https://www.defensenews.com/global/m...-drone-swarms/

    Are air defense systems ready to confront drone swarms?

    By: Seth J. Frantzman
    12:51 PM

    JERUSALEM — The attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities on Sept. 14 served as a reality check for countries struggling to define the level of the threat posed by drone swarms and low-altitude cruise missiles.

    Now, in a region where that threat is particularly acute, countries are left to reexamine existing air defense technology.

    According to the Saudi Defense Ministry, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles were fired at the kingdom in the early hours the day in mid-September.

    The drones struck Abqaiq, a facility that the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank had warned the month before was a potential critical infrastructure target. Several cruise missiles fell short and did not hit the facility. Four cruise missiles struck Khurais. Saudi and U.S. official blame on Iran, but the government there denies involvement.

    What is clear is the failure of existing air defense systems to stop the attack.

    The Abqaiq facility’s air defenses reportedly included the American-made Patriot system, Oerlikon GDF 35mm cannons equipped with the Skyguard radar and a version of France’s Crotale called Shahine. Satellite images posted by Michael Duitsman, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, shows the setup: Impeded by radar ranges and the facility itself, as well as the speed and angle of the drones and missiles, Saudi air defense apparently did not engage the drones.

    New thread: Why did Abqaiq's air defenses fail?

    First, updated maps of the air defense sites at Abqaiq. First one is April 2019 (the date of the image), the second is how forces were deployed as of this week.

    This thread will by much more analysis, much less satellite imagery. pic.twitter.com/l3OxQivAZm— Michael Duitsman (@DuitsyWasHere) September 19, 2019

    “If U.S.-supplied air defenses were not oriented to defend against an attack from Iran, that’s incomprehensible. If they were, but they were not engaged, that’s incompetent. If they simply weren’t up to the task of preventing such precision attacks, that’s concerning,” said Daniel Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. “And it would seem to validate Israeli concerns that even effective air and missile defense systems, as Israel has, could be overwhelmed by a sufficient quantity of precision-guidance missiles.”

    There is a debate about the level of this threat. Brig. Gen. Pini Yungman, a former air defense commander with the Israeli Air Force and current head of Rafael’s air defense systems division, contrasts the drone swarm with a cruise missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers and equipped with a large warhead. “Drones, even drone swarms, are not a strategic threat, even if you take dozens to attack. They carry a very low weight of bomb or ammunition,” Yungman said.

    Uzi Rubin, former director of the state-run Israel Missile Defense Organization, doesn’t think what happened in Saudi Arabia could happen in Israel. “We have a smaller area, and that has an advantage in many respects because it is an advantage in controlling our airspace.”

    He said the primary challenge in stopping an attack like that in Saudi Arabia is not the ability to shoot down the threats, but rather to detect the low-flying threats. “When it comes to missiles, missile defense sensors will aim above the horizon because the missile is above it and you don’t want clutter. So when it comes to guarding, the issue is things that can sneak in near the ground,” he explained.

    The key, then, is to close the gap that potentially exists near the ground.

    “It’s not too difficult to close the gap; the Saudis can do it with local defenses,” he asserted. But he acknowledged that the larger the land area, the more difficult it can be to maintain control.

    Rubin said shooting down drone swarms can be accomplished with anti-aircraft guns, noting that Iraq downed several Tomahawk cruise missiles in 1991 after discovering their flight path.

    “You don’t need anything fancy,” he said — the Russian SA-22 or Pantsir system, with 30mm cannons, missiles and infrared direction finders would do.

    “I think once the surprise of the [Sept. 14] attack wears off, then one should sit back and see it is not a very devastating attack.” Like Yungman, he said a long-range precision missile aimed at a strategic facility like a nuclear reactor in a European country would be a more serious threat.

    However, Thomas Karako, a senior fellow at the CSIS think tank, told Defense News that the attack suggests a dramatic escalation. “More broadly speaking, it is what I’ve been talking about: The specter of complex, integrated air and missile attack is not theoretical — it has arrived.”

    He argues that the Abqaiq attack draws a “bright red line under the problem set” and that “we need a mix of active and passive measures, kinetic and non-kinetic to counter.”

    “It’s not a technological problem, it’s an engineering problem,” he said. “You need to look beyond the horizon and look in every direction.” That would include 360 coverage by radar and elevated sensors.

    Israel, the test bed

    Yungman considers the Middle East, particularly Israel, to be a proving ground. Since the 1940s, a number of different weapons systems, many made in Western countries or the Soviet Union, were used in regional combat.

    “In this region, the asymmetric threat became bigger. So in the north there are almost 200,000 short-range rockets and missiles and accurate missiles as a threat" from Hezbollah, he said. "And in Syria we can see accurate, maneuvering ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. So air defense and air missile defense became, from the asymmetric aspect, bigger and bigger, and the air defense system became an issue we need to invest in and develop as fast as we can."

    With the support of the United States, Israel built and tested the Arrow system in the 1990s, becoming one layer of the country’s multilayered system that eventually included Arrow-2, Iron Dome and David’s Sling.



    Short of using preemptive airstrikes against drone manufacturers and launch teams, Israel is upgrading its air defense on a “daily basis,” Yungman noted.

    “The main threat is not face-to-face [combat] threats — it is rockets, drones, cruise missiles, maneuvering [theater ballistic missiles] and [short-range ballistic missiles] with big and small warheads. When we are talking about thousands or tens of thousands or more, it is very complicated, but it can be defeated,” he said.

    One way to confront drone swarms involves soft-kill measures. Because drones are operated by GPS and radio control, jamming or taking control of the drone is one route.

    But Rubin said what stands out about the Abqaiq incident is that the homing by the drones appeared to be optical, not GPS-guided.

    Also noteworthy, evidence indicates that some of the UAVs weren’t carrying warheads, as they didn’t all explode.

    Alternatively, a hard-kill approach might involve using a 5- to 10-kilowatt laser. Lasers can destroy drones up to 2.5 kilometers away, according to Yungman.

    The U.S. has looked at lasers for its Stryker armored vehicles, and Germany, Russia and Turkey are among the nation-states developing the technology. Israel’s Rafael has been working on laser interceptors for years, including the Drone Dome laser-based intercept system.

    “I can say that from 2 kilometers I could hit a drone the size of a penny,” Yungman claimed.



    Another option could be drone-on-drone combat, though that capability is still under development.

    While systems like the Iron Dome are combat-proven, questions remain about their ability to confront a drone swarm.

    In theory, when using radar and electro-optics, an air defense system should be able to cover the bands necessary to track the drones using several systems and 360-degree phased-array coverage.

    “In our research and technology we have the radar and electro-optical and jamming, GPS-denying [capabilities],” Yungman said. “And we have the ability to kill it.”

    Rubin described the attack on Saudi Arabia as a kind of “Pearl Harbor,” and it reminded him to an Aug. 17 attack on the Shaybah oil field in Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels involving 10 drones.

    “The surprise was not in the attack, but the audacity,” Rubin recalled, adding that a precision attack by drones doesn’t make the aircraft less vulnerable to air defense systems.

    The Stunner interceptor missile of David’s Sling, for instance, has the capability to intercept drones, missiles and other ordnance, including low-flying cruise missiles. But for that to work, there can’t be a gap in the radar coverage, Rubin noted.

    Certainly, the recent attack in Saudi Arabia will impact industry and spur development from the key players in this area of defense, according to Karako of CSIS.

    “I think you’ll see global demand signal for a variety of means to counter these threats,” he said. “It will spark a lot of solutions.”


    Top Headlines
    200 air and missile defense soldiers set to deploy to Saudi Arabia
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    Facing Iran, Saudi Arabia still owes US $181 million for Yemen refueling

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    https://www.aaj.tv/english/latest/se...rorist-ambush/

    Seven troops killed in Mali ‘terrorist’ ambush

    Web Desk | September 26, 2019

    BAMAKO: Seven troops were killed on Thursday in an ambush by suspected militants in Mali’s violence-torn central region, the armed forces said.

    A unit escorting a convoy of trucks laden with fertiliser struck a mine on a highway between Douentza and Sevare before being attacked by gunfire, it said.

    “Seven (armed forces) members were killed,” it said, adding that “terrorists” — a term typically denoting militants — were responsible.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    Northern Mali fell into the hands of militants in 2012 before the militants were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

    But much of the region remains chronically unstable and militants-led violence has spread to the centre of the country, often sparking bloodshed between ethnic groups.

    In addition to its own armed forces, the fragile country hosts France’s mission in the Sahel, UN peacekeeping troops as well as contingents from a five-nation anti-militants group.

    Neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger have also been infiltrated by insurgents, at the cost of hundreds of lives.—AFP

    ----

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    https://thedefensepost.com/2019/09/2...acks-bam-soum/

    Nine reported killed in weekend attacks in northern Burkina Faso

    Staff Writer Staff Writer September 23, 2019
    4 minutes read

    Nine people were killed in two attacks in northern Burkina Faso over the weekend, officials said on Monday.

    “Six people were killed by armed men overnight Saturday at Pissélé, near Bourzanga,” a security official said.

    Bourzanga in Bam Province in Centre-Nord Region is around 50 km (30 miles) south of Djibo in Soum, the northern province in the Sahel Region that is hotspot for jihadist attacks.

    Earlier reports said four people were killed, while Infowakat reported three people were killed by men armed with assault rifles and traveling in pairs on motorbikes, placing Pissélé around 8 km from Bouzanga.

    A local administrative official said three people “were shot dead in the village of Bool-Kiiba,” and their bodies were found after the assailants left.

    Others were unaccounted for, the official said, adding that the attackers also looted possessions, including motorbikes.

    A security official confirmed that an attack on Bool-Kiiba had taken place but was unable to give a toll.

    Infowakat reported that a man in his sixties was abducted and shot dead in Pétégoli in Soum Province, around 14 km west of Baraboulé and around 2 km from the border with Mali.

    In a separate development, locals told AFP on Friday that a bridge had been blown up at Boukouma, around 85 km east of Djibo, on the road linking the Sahel region towns of Arbinda and Dori.

    The destruction of bridges is a common tactic, isolating military positions and impeding security forces patrols, logistics and reinforcement.

    Last week, France’s defense ministry said that forces deployed to the France-led Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism mission in the Sahel had earlier participated in an operation to reinforce a camp in Djibo alongside the Burkinabe armed forces at the request of the Burkina Faso government.

    It said that a detachment was flown in on two British CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters on September 13. The detachment “consolidated” the camp’s passive defense infrastructure and conducted a joint patrol before leaving on September 16.
    Five soldiers killed in Boucle du Mouhoun region

    Security sources told AFP on Friday that at least five soldiers were killed in an ambush in further west, near the border with Mali.

    “A military patrol was attacked last night [Thursday, September 19] in an ambush by armed individuals near Toeni,” a security source said.

    One other soldier was injured.

    The army fired back and sent out a patrol to track down the attackers, another source said.

    Infowakat reported the same toll but said seven soldiers were missing.

    Toeni is a town and departement in Sourou province in the Boucle du Mouhoun region of Burkina Faso. It borders the restive Mopti region of Mali.
    Upsurge in attacks in Burkina Faso

    One of the poorest countries in the world, former French colony Burkina Faso lies in the heart of the sprawling, impoverished Sahel, on the southern rim of the Sahara desert.

    The country has been battling an escalating wave of attacks over the last three years, beginning in the North Region near the border with Mali. Attacks have spread to the East Region, near the border with Togo, Benin and Niger, and to a lesser extent, the west of the country.

    Earlier this month, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that nearly 289,000 people who have been displaced Burkina Faso were living in shelters, more than three times the 82,000 who were recorded as displaced in January.

    Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that violence had hit 125 health centres in August, shutting down 60 with the remainder only partially functioning. “500,000 people have been deprived of health care since January due to jihadist violence.” the ICRC said.

    The ICRC is also concerned about malnutrition and famine, with 1.2 million people facing food insecurity.

    Most attacks are attributed to the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but also to Ansar ul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to Islamic State-affiliated groups.

    Since May, Islamic State has attributed insurgent activities in the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area to its West Africa Province affiliate, rather than to what was previously known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. In a June 15 ISIS propaganda video, ISWAP militants purportedly in Burkina Faso were shown reaffirming their pledge of allegiance to ISIS.

    Last week, Islamic State claimed fighters from its West Africa Province affiliate carried out an August attack in Koutougou in northern Burkina Faso that killed 24 soldiers, the country’s worst-ever insurgent attack.
    Multinational efforts to fight Sahel insurgency

    Burkina Faso is part of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the long-planned 4,500-strong joint counter-terrorism coalition that also includes troops from Chad, Mali, Niger and Mauritania.

    France spearheaded the G5 Sahel initiative, but it has been undermined by lack of training, poor equipment and a shortage of funds. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has long-called for regular U.N. funding for the G5 Sahel Joint Force, but the U.S. has pushed back against direct funding, preferring instead bilateral funding for individual states.

    In a September 5 statement, JNIM reinforced its opposition to former colonial power France, warning G5 Sahel governments that attacks against their forces would continue while they support the France-led Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism force.

    The 4,500-strong Barkhane force has mandate for counter-terrorism operations across the Sahel and includes personnel from Estonia and helicopters from the United Kingdom. Denmark plans send two helicopters and up to 70 troops to support the force.

    Barkhane focuses activity in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and troops work alongside international operations, including MINUSMA, the U.N. stabilization mission in Mali.

    Last week, the new Commander of U.S. Africa Command General Stephen Townsend made his first trip as commander to the Sahel, visiting Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

    On September 14, ECOWAS leaders at an Extraordinary Summit on Counter-Terrorism decided to mobilize “up to a billion dollars for the fight against terrorism,” Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said.

    The money, paid into a common fund from 2020 to 2024, will help reinforce the military operations of the nations involved, and those of the joint military operations in the region. Full details of the plan will be presented to the next ECOWAS summit in December.

  7. #7
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    US military again strikes Islamic State in Libya

    By Bill Roggio | September 25th, 2019 | admin@longwarjournal.org | @billroggio

    The US military launched its second airstrike against the Islamic state near the town of Murzuq in the past week. Eleven Islamic State fighters were reportedly killed in yesterday’s operation.

    “This airstrike was conducted to eliminate ISIS [Islamic State] terrorists and deny them the ability to conduct attacks on the Libyan people,” Major General William Gayler, the director of operations for US Africa Command was quoted in AFRICOM’s press release.

    AFRICOM disclosed few details about the strike. The approximate location, the date, and the number of fighters was reported, as well as the fact that AFRICOM did not believe civilians were killed.

    Like the previous strike in Murzuq, which took place on Sept. 19 and killed eight fighters, it is likely that yesterday’s operation targeted a fixed location, such as a training camp, a military encampment, a logistics or communications node, a meeting site, or perhaps a convoy of fighters. Airstrikes that target vehicles as they are moving usually result in far fewer casualties. No senior Islamic State leaders or operatives have been reported killed in either the Sept. 19 or Sept. 24 attacks.

    The two attacks against the Islamic State in Murzuq came after a more than year-long hiatus of strikes against the group. The relatively large number of Islamic State fighters killed in the two airstrikes seems to indicate that the terror organization is regrouping in the area.

    Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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    Afghan officials identify AQIS members killed in controversial Musa Qala raid

    By Thomas Joscelyn | September 24, 2019 | tjoscelyn@gmail.com | @thomasjoscelyn

    Afghan officials have publicly identified several of the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) members who were killed during an operation in Helmand province earlier this week. The raid quickly proved to be controversy, as some reports indicate that dozens of civilians perished during the clash in Musa Qala, a known Taliban stronghold.

    According to a Twitter account associated with the National Directorate of Security (NDS), “Afghan Special Forces 6 Al-Qaeda terrorists embedded within a Taliban unit in their hideout in Musa Qala, Helmand.” The AQIS jihadists were known locally as “fedayee” and “came from Waziristan, Chaman, and Peshawar.”

    The NDS further identified the deceased AQIS “key leaders and operatives” as: Raihan, who served as an “AQIS courier to AQ leader,” Ayman al-Zawahiri; Faizani, an “explosives expert & AQIS head in Helmand”; Madani, an “AQIS deputy in Helmand”; Quraishi, who was “Faizani’s assistant”; and two others known as Sahil and Keramat.

    Afghanistan’s National Security Council (NSC), which reports to President Ghani, reported yesterday that the “joint operation” was intended to eliminate “a high-profile Al-Qaeda group embedded with Taliban leaders in a compound in Musa Qala.”

    The Afghan NSC identified the main target as Asim Umar, the first leader of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), as he was thought to be “in the compound and a target of the operation.” The NSC didn’t say that Umar was killed, but did claim that his “courier,” now identified as “Raihan,” was killed. Six Pakistani women, including Umar’s wife, were also among those taken into custody.

    If those details check out, and Asim Umar’s courier and wife were at the Musa Qala location, then there were good reasons to suspect that AQIS’s first emir may also be present.

    The NDS account says 17 “Taliban members were also killed,” including “Taliban leaders from various districts who had congregated in the compound.” One of them is identified as “Haji Mahmood,” a “Taliban military commander for Nawzad” District in Helmand.

    In addition to arrest “14 terrorists,” many of whom are reportedly “Pakistani citizens” the Afghans say they also seized: 25 night vision goggles, “homemade explosives, a suicide vest, hand grenades, a motorcycle rigged with explosives, [a] huge amount of ammunition and foreign currency in cash.”

    The NDS-affiliated account posted photos of the seized weaponry, explosives and cash, as well as pictures of some of the jihadists killed. Most of these images can be seen below.

    American and Afghan officials have said that they are investigating reports of civilian casualties. Various press reports have indicated that as many as dozens of people, including women and children, were killed. The Taliban has publicized pictures of some of the deceased. And one image, heavily promoted in the Taliban’s messaging, shows a young boy with a blood-spattered face.

    Afghan government photos from the raid in Musa Qala, Helmand:

    Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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    Taliban’s prime objectives: US withdrawal, ‘establishment of an Islamic government’

    By Bill Roggio | September 24, 2019 | admin@longwarjournal.org | @billroggio

    The Taliban reiterated that its prime objectives in negotiations with the US is to get Coalition forces to withdrawal from Afghanistan and the “establishment of an Islamic government,” a thinly veiled reference to the return of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

    The Taliban also said that it was “religiously” obligated to continue fighting until the US leaves the country.

    The message is nothing new. The Taliban has repeatedly stated that it has a religious obligation to wage jihad to expel foreign forces, and has said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is the only true representative of the Afghan people.

    The Taliban made the most recent claims in a short statement, titled Occupation and Ceasefire!!, published on its official website, Voice of Jihad, on Sept. 21.

    In the statement, the Taliban argued that the US canceled negotiations to withdraw because the US would not agree to the ceasefire. The Taliban said that a ceasefire “will only prolong and strengthen the occupation,” and that it will continue to fight until the US agrees to leave.

    “Unless the occupation ceased, the war will not see an end,” it reads. “We are religiously and inherently obligated to continue our Jihad until the complete expulsion of invaders.”

    The Taliban then reiterated it has two “clear-cut objectives:” 1) forcing the US to withdraw, and 2) the establishment of an “Islamic government.”

    “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has repeatedly made it absolutely clear that the aim of this Jihad is the end of occupation and establishment of an Islamic government,” it concluded. “Our national and religious obligation shall continue unabated until we attain these clear-cut objectives, Allah willing.”

    This is entirely consistent with the Taliban messaging for nearly two decades. Additionally, the Taliban’s actions during two rounds of negotiations with the US. In both sets of negotiations, the Taliban insisted that the US and its NATO allies must withdraw their troops from Afghanistan before the Taliban would even consider granting any concessions such as a ceasefire, negotiations with the Afghan government, and renouncing al Qaeda.

    Even if the Taliban agreed to such terms, it is highly unlikely that it would adhere to such an agreement. Al Qaeda and the Taliban remain stalwart allies, and the two continue to maintain both a tactical and strategic relationship to this day. The Taliban views the Afghan government as an “un-Islamic” “stooge” and “puppet” of the West, and has publicly stated it would never share power with the “Kabul administration.”

    “The Islamic Emirate has not readily embraced this death and destruction for the sake of some silly ministerial posts or a share of the power,” the Taliban said in an official statement released on Voice of Jihad in 2016.

    Over the years, the Taliban has used the terms “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the name of its brutal regime from 1996 to 2001, and “Islamic government” interchangeably. In the same 2016 statement, the Taliban said that it “will strive to build our beloved nation on the basis of Islamic law.” In the next statement, it described “the Emirate” as “the true representative of our people.”

    Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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    https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/ar...re-afghanistan

    The Forgotten War? US 2020 Debates Largely Ignore Afghanistan

    by Adam Wilson | Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:34am | 2 comments

    Introduction/US Interest

    Recent headlines and 2020 debate questions regarding US Foreign Policy largely focus on emerging threats to US National Security such as election interference and regional influence competitions amongst peer competitors such as China and Russia. All of which deserve the utmost attention of US policy makers and implementing agencies. However, there has been a noticeable avoidance or absence of debate centering on America’s longest entrenched conflict Afghanistan amongst democratic presidential candidates. Trump has commented recently that he will do just about anything to complete an entire troop withdrawal from the country by November, even if that means closing the embassy in Kabul. This recent public rhetoric should influence the democratic presidential candidates to come up with their own Afghan policies during future debates. So what should the plan regarding US Foreign Policy in Afghanistan consist of?

    The US interest in Afghanistan according to the US State Department includes combating terrorism, stabilizing the region, and keeping our commitment to improve the lives of the Afghan people (State). The US sees Afghanistan as the fulcrum between South Asia and the Middle East and is the geostrategic battle ground between Shia and Shite Islamist movements. Currently, armed forces operating in Afghanistan include: the Taliban, The Haqqani Network, Islamic State in Afghanistan (IS-K), Iranian backed insurgents and US coalition forces. The concern is that Afghanistan, if left alone, could disintegrate into catastrophic power struggles like what’s happening in Yemen and Syria.

    Background

    Since 2001, the Afghan Government has received $29 billion in civilian assistance and even more in bilateral counterterrorism and national defense security assistance (State). The US State Department coordinates the bilateral incentive programs and the Self Reliance Mutual Accountability Framework, otherwise known as SMAF, to help build the civilian institutions which helps guide economic growth and trust in government. The latter follows the traditional US Foreign Policy responsibility structure. However, under George W. Bush’s administration the military developed the Commander’s Emergency Response Program which prioritizes the planning and implementation of humanitarian assistance (Adams, 54).

    The overlap of various initiatives like SMAF and CERP have implications in terms of inefficiencies of financial costs and the natural division of labor of our US Foreign Policy apparatus. In addition to the US unilateral programs, Afghanistan has seen large international contingents focused on nation building. One of the most prominent international security efforts was the creation of the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.

    Despite the assistance from the US and a coalition of over 100 countries, the government of Afghanistan has struggled to show the capacity or competency to position itself as a sustainable and viable option for the future. “Nation building” on this type of scale is not something that US Foreign Policy has ever undertaken. Afghanistan is a large, deeply divided society in which most of the country lives in rural remote hamlets. Authors Gordon Adams and Shoon Murray explain in their book The Militarization of US Foreign Policy, Mission Creep that the US cannot realistically tackle all that is needed to build Afghanistan. This has led to the phenomenon in which whoever has the funds will carry out the initiatives. The overwhelming size and financial assets granted to the Department of Defense (DOD) means that DOD has become the principal contractor in Afghanistan.

    US policymakers also saw added value in the Department of Defense because of the security problems related to terror and counterinsurgency actors within the borders of Afghanistan. The DOD “mission creep” was centered on the notion that without stabilizing the security situation the civil-government institutions would not be able to develop.

    Current Situation

    The Taliban has been successful in exploiting the difficulties of nation building efforts by wearing down the Afghan government financially and resisting its security forces. The Taliban’s unrelenting pressure on government institutions have also caused a distrust by the Afghan public in their government. The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2014. There have been large scale attacks in Ghazni in which the Taliban have overrun military outposts and were able to decimate Afghan commando units. In addition to poor troop performance, there is rampant corruption among the Afghan security forces specifically in the officer class (Azami, BBC).

    There remains concern over recent developments between factions of the Taliban and Russian backed arms deals. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s long-time backwater connections with the Taliban have deteriorated both Afghan and US relations with Pakistan. Even the anti-Shiite Sunnie fundamentalist Iranian militias have been linked to both Taliban and Haqqani Network forces. Confusingly, Iran has also signed a bilateral agreement to build a new port with the Afghani government but is concerned over the Islamic State Khorasan group which has carried out attacks in Iran (Stratfor). The multilateral aspect in Afghanistan is not new but further complicates US Foreign Policy strategy in the country as the Taliban has become entrenched with deep pocketed regional hegemons.

    There has been progress in developing talks between US officials and Senior Taliban leaders. The Taliban agreed to a cease-fire during Eid this past year and has also sent delegates to Russia to discuss their current issues with the Afghan Government (Lyall). Peace talks between US and Taliban officials who are based in Doha are currently in progress. The Trump Administration has stated that their policy for the foreseeable future will be to maintain a strong military capacity in Afghanistan until the Taliban negotiate in good faith.

    DOD or DOS

    The difficult questions regarding the US strategy of countering the Taliban insurgency include: analyzing why the country is prone to destabilizing insurgency movements and knowing which US Foreign Policy agency can combat both the short and long term reasons for the insurgency. The role of the State Department and its expertise in governance, economic development (USAID) and political engagement are crucial in destroying insurgency movements. The Taliban, Haqqani Network and now IS-K all rely on citizenry discontent with feelings of limited economic and civic opportunities. All three groups use opioid drug trade to fund their resistance activities and to support their members. The groups use the Afghan government shortfalls and the US occupation to recruit desperate individuals to a life that promises them meaning and a livable wage.

    The Department of Defense is best utilized in its capacity to provide security training and assistance. DOD has an important role in Afghanistan as long as there is combat zones in which to operate within. The nature of the military fits this role and is quite effective when given the freedom to rid a geographic area of armed and dangerous groups (Adams, 115). However, the civilian assistance agencies should be given the tools and a reasonable timeline to build governance once a city, province or region has been relieved of the Taliban forces. Ultimately, collaboration between civil and military programs would best accomplish the US goal of building a reliable long term allied government in Afghanistan.

    According to Victoria Holt of the Stimson Center, Afghanistan’s rural areas have not seen the resources necessary for proper nation building. Many of the international efforts and successes, especially in regard to security, have been in Afghanistan’s largest eight urban areas. The Department of State view these successes in a different time frame than the Department of Defense. The re-emergence of Taliban over the last year in Afghanistan is viewed with a more critical lens to DOD officials because they operate under clear task based missions evaluated with generally shorter timeframes.

    Recommendation

    The US must increase political pressure on Pakistan to further increase its counterterror initiatives while coordinating strategic counterterror and border security. The US military will bridge the current gap between the two neighboring military forces by providing additional training and special assistance to Pakistan during the campaign. This will be implemented and operated until the Taliban has been reduced to their 2014 levels.

    Secondly, the US military will continue to provide operational support in attacking illicit drug supply lines that provide vital revenues to the Taliban. US ground forces will also continue to assist in training Afghan forces in defense security who have shown some progress in regards to protecting civilians in urban population centers.

    Lastly, multilateralism is a key component to stabilizing Afghanistan and limiting the Taliban’s influence. The Department of State and subsidiaries, such as USAID, should lead the political and policy coordination amongst regional members. The US must encourage regional actors which include Pakistan, UAE, Qatar, India and Iran to support peace talks. The US Department of State can not accomplish its nation building efforts in Afghanistan without behavior improvement from regional actors. This process would start with an improvement in US-Pakistani relations which have been tense in recent years. The US Department of State must also engage with Russia to stop its arms sales to various actors if those weapons are being sold or filtered to the Taliban. A partnership with Russia is unlikely but could serve to be useful in the fight against the Islamic State forces currently waiting to fill the void of the Taliban, should they be distinguished.

    Conclusion

    Strategically there is no clear plan between various US Foreign Policy agencies regarding who is best suited to bring peace to Afghanistan. The current structure has been ineffective in both providing security and in allowing assistance to flourish without being corrupted. DOD and DOS are inevitably intertwined but have different strengths and weaknesses. It has become clear that the Taliban have no plans to leave or quit and will exploit fractures in US and Afghan coordination efforts. The alternative to increased US cooperation or what is now decades of uncertain path dependence decision making is to pull out of the conflict all together. This would certainly leave a power vacuum in which could result in the return of international terror organizations such as Al-Qaeda or ISIS.

    The 2020 presidential candidates Afghan policy stance will surely be focused on short term political gains over the long-term prosperity of Afghanistan. Ultimately, Afghanistan has run its course politically and many would argue there exists no US policy that can “win” in Afghanistan and “win” politically at home in the US. The question each candidate should be asked next is what does your withdrawal look like?

    Categories: Afghanistan - irregular warfare

    About the Author(s)
    Adam Wilson

    Adam Wilson holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, concentrating on US Foreign Policy and International Security. His specific interests in the field lie in counterterrorism, insurgency, international relations and U.S defense policy.

  9. #9
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    Pancho Villa and Bin Laden

    Robert Alan Murphy


    While keeping a cautious eye on British and French losses at the battles of Verdun and the Somme, America’s Army deployed deep into Mexico in pursuit of the Mexican presidential contender / bandit Pancho Villa. President Woodrow Wilson had issue Brigadier General John Pershing clear orders to capture Villa and bring him to justice for his cross border raid on Columbus, New Mexico. After a yearlong, unsuccessful pursuit, and at risk of real war with Mexico, America withdrew and reoriented itself to fight the Kaiser’s army in Europe.

    In 2019, with America keeping a cautious eye on Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea, American troops are pursuing jihadists in Afghanistan, Syria, North Africa, and Yemen, to name a few. Unlike its predecessors, and despite tremendous technological advances, America’s contemporary military is less capable of reorienting itself to meet emerging threats than it was a century ago. Unlike Wilson’s clear mandate and endstate, American forces fighting the war on jihadists are entangled in a variety of political and ephemeral social reform efforts loosely associated with more pragmatic objectives to deny terrorist safe havens.

    Principally in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Military is beset by the challenge of building a competent government, national security force, and re-engineering fundamental elements of Afghan and Iraqi society. It is tasked with introducing and implementing the kind of enlightened liberalism western societies take pride in and that eastern societies despise. In Syria, it is enmeshed with Kurdish aspirations for sovereignty and at odds with the national interests of its NATO ally Turkey. The US Army, for example, has ransacked the equipment, leadership and personnel of several of its combat brigades to create security force assistance brigades in an effort to make them more adept at developing governmental competency and training indigenous forces. It would be no small feat to redeploy them, return them to combat competency and deploy them into a conventional war. In sum, America cannot just march back over the US border and orient itself on a new war. But it could if it tried.

    If American policymakers were to simplify the objectives of its military adventures it would not only limit the costs in blood in treasure, it would render the military more able and ready to address the existential threats to American national security, relieve the American people’s exhaustion with persistent war, and improve the prospects for decisive victory in theaters where it has proven so elusive. When the CENTCOM commander, a steely eyed American warrior, tells the world that He's redefined victory as sustaining the status quo, you know the policy is wrong.

    America needs to reconsider and adapt the principals of the punitive expedition. America’s sincere reason for overthrowing the Taliban in 2001 was for retribution for the September 11 attacks, attended by the additional benefit of denying safe haven to the real perpetrators of the attack. There is nothing wrong with that. Its later, ill-conceived campaigns in Iraq and Libya were also punitive in intent, but in each case, political leaders embarked the US on futile efforts to brand those campaigns as something else. As a result, America has embarked on nation and society building efforts that have imposed tremendous costs on America’s military and the society it serves.

    While Wilson’s singular objective was not achieved, and Villa himself was never brought to justice, his Division Del Norte was defeated and dispersed across Mexico and Villa was never able to repeat his attacks on American soil. America also decisively demonstrated its dominance over North America, and its military learned lessons about itself that would prove valuable when it found itself arrayed against the German Imperial Army.

    Most importantly, America was able to disengage when it needed to and rapidly redeploy its forces. Pershing returned to the United States, cobbled together another expeditionary force, deployed it to France and started to fight eight months after leaving Mexico. This in the age of telegraph, carrier pigeon, and horseback. America in the age of internet, wireless networks and jet propulsion would be hard pressed to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, organize itself and have its troops fight in a global, multi-domain fight within that same time frame.

    Policymakers must disencumber America’s military from the morass of two decades of nation building and social engineering. Like Wilson did with Villa, contemporary policymakers must accept that perfect completion of its overabundant objectives is the enemy of good enough, that it is wiser to abandon the impractical in order to address the essential. Afghanistan’s government and security forces are as good as America can get them. The Kurds will fight with Turkey, Iraq and Iran for sovereignty whether America intervenes or not. The Saudis, like the Afghans, are as good as American arms and training can make them, and must tackle the Houthi rebels and Iranians in their own fashion, and with their leadership. America must be free to prepare itself for the threats it has identified in its own National Defense Strategy.

    American troops have indeed learned a great deal and refined warfighting tactics and technology in the best laboratory available, but they are doing so at enormous cost to the nation. While the fiscal costs to the United States are astronomical and unsustainable, the most onerous cost is to American society. After two decades of persistent war, marked by only a handful of strategic successes, America is spent. The American public sympathizes with its military, but has lost any expectation of victory, and in most cases it is apathetic towards what its troops are doing overseas. It has lost its will for further martial exploits, and barring another catastrophe like the attacks on 9-11, will not be recruited in numbers large enough to fill the kind of military a global war requires.

    The US Army’s struggle with recruiting to meet its current manpower demands indicates that recruiting volunteers for an even larger wartime military will be insufficient. Congress has ceded its authority to declare war so often, for so long, that it no longer attempts to have the kind of debate essential to a prudent declaration of war. It certainly has proven itself amenable to and tolerant of 19 years of military testimony that America must endeavor to persevere in conflicts that appear to have no end and an insatiable appetite for American lives and tax dollars.

    The Punitive Expedition of 1916 is a historic example by which America should evaluate its war on jihadists. American policy makers must set the conditions whereby America’s military can abruptly withdraw from its current engagements, redeploy, stand up another force and deploy and fight anywhere in the world within ten months.

    Categories: irregular warfare - small wars

    Robert Alan Murphy
    Robert "Alan" Murphy is a retired US Army Infantry Officer and career strategist. He has led infantry troops in combat and developed strategy at echelons from Army Division to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
    Thoughts are things. Thus I'm careful of the thoughts I think, & the company I keep.

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