Archive for the ‘force levels’ Category

Fallon didn’t get it — Emboldened Iran

March 19, 2008

By Max Boot
The Los Angeles Times
March 12, 2008

To see why Tuesday’s “retirement” of Navy Adm. William “Fox” Fallon as head of U.S. Central Command is good news, all you have to do is look at the Esquire profile that brought about his downfall.

Its author, Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former professor at the Naval War College, presents a fawning portrait of the admiral — a service he previously performed for Donald Rumsfeld. But evidence of Fallon’s supposed “strategic brilliance” is notably lacking. For example, Barnett notes Fallon’s attempt to banish the phrase “the Long War” (created by his predecessor) because it “signaled a long haul that Fallon simply finds unacceptable,” without offering any hint of how Fallon intends to defeat our enemies overnight. The ideas Fallon proposes — “He wants troop levels in Iraq down now, and he wants the Afghan National Army running the show throughout most of Afghanistan by the end of this year” — would most likely result in security setbacks that would lengthen, not shorten, the struggle.

The picture that emerges of the admiral — “The Man Between War and Peace,” as the overwrought headline has it — is not as flattering as intended. “He’s standing up to the commander in chief, whom he thinks is contemplating a strategically unsound war [with Iran],” Barnett writes. And:”While Admiral Fallon’s boss, President George W. Bush, regularly trash-talks his way to World War III … it’s left to Fallon — and apparently Fallon alone — to argue that, as he told Al Jazeera last fall: ‘This constant drumbeat of conflict … is not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions.’ ”

What Fallon (and Barnett) don’t seem to understand is that Fallon’s very public assurances that America has no plans to use force against Iran embolden the mullahs to continue developing nuclear weapons and supporting terrorist groups that are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is highly improbable that, as the profile implies, the president had any secret plans to bomb Iran that Fallon put a stop to. But there is no doubt that the president wants to maintain pressure on Iran, and that’s what Fallon has been undermining.

By irresponsibly taking the option of force off the table, Fallon makes it more likely, not less, that there will ultimately be an armed confrontation with Iran.

Barnett writes further: “Smart guy that he is, Robert Gates, the incoming secretary of Defense, finagled Fallon out of Pacific Command, where he’d been radically making peace with the Chinese, so that he could, among other things, provide a check on the eager-to-please General David Petraeus in Iraq.”

It’s doubtful that this was why Bush and Gates appointed Fallon. Why would they want to “check” the general charged with winning the Iraq war? But it’s telling that Barnett would write this; it may be a reflection of Fallon’s own thinking. Even if he wasn’t appointed for this reason, Fallon has certainly seen his job as being to “check” Petraeus. The problem is that Fallon is a newcomer to the Middle East and Iraq, while Petraeus has served there for years and is the architect of a strategy that has rescued the United States from the brink of defeat.

This is not, however, a strategy that Fallon favored. Not only was Fallon “quietly opposed to a long-term surge in Iraq,” as Barnett notes, but he doesn’t seem to have changed his mind in the past year. He has tried to undermine the surge by pushing for faster troop drawdowns than Petraeus thought prudent. (“He wants troop levels in Iraq down now.”) The president wisely deferred to the man on the spot — Petraeus — thus no doubt leaving Fallon simmering with the sort of anger that came through all too clearly in Esquire.

Like a lot of smart guys (or, at any rate, guys who think they’re smart), Fallon seems to have outsmarted himself. He thinks the war in Iraq is a distraction from formulating “a comprehensive strategy for the Middle East,” according to the profile. The reality is that the only strategy worth a dinar is to win the war in Iraq. If we fail there, all other objectives in the region will be much harder to attain; if we succeed, they will be much easier.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-boot12mar12,0,5337128.story

Defense Trade Currents

March 16, 2008

By William Hawkins
The Washington Times
March 16, 2008

The legacy of the draconian cuts in military force levels and procurement during the 1990s continues to cast a pall over U.S. national security planning. That American soldiers and Marines have been overstretched by repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan is well-known, and steps are being taken to expand their strength.
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It is not just the combat forces, however, but the defense industry upon which they depend for arms and equipment, that also needs to be reconstituted.
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The “procurement holiday” of the Clinton administration cost the defense industrial base a million jobs. The Pentagon promoted a consolidation of firms and elimination of “excess” capacity. This reform was supposed to improve efficiency but it also reduced domestic competition. Now, to stimulate competition, or even just access sufficient capacity, foreign firms are invited to supply U.S. forces with hardware.
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The most recent example is the awarding of a $35 billion U.S. Air Force contract for 179 new KC-45A aerial refueling tankers based on the Airbus A330 airliner built by European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS). Boeing has built every previous USAF tanker and has won contracts for its KC-767 tankers from Japan and Italy. But it lost the military competition at home to the foreign firm that is also its main global rival in the commercial airliner sector.
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The USAF contract comes at a critical time for EADS. Its A380 “superjumbo” airline project is well behind schedule, and there have been problems in the Airbus A350 midsized airliner project (crucial to its future battles with Boeing), and in its A400M military airlifter.
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EADS is Europe’s largest defense contractor yet is much smaller than Boeing because Europe went on an even deeper disarmament slide after the Cold War and has done little to reverse course.
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The once-mighty NATO armies deployed to stop a Soviet blitzkrieg across Germany have melted away to where they can hardly maintain a few brigades in Afghanistan to fight lightly armed insurgents. European firms are desperate for American taxpayers to bail them out with military contracts. .
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The question is: Can the United States depend on a steady supply of production, including decades of space parts and upgrades, from foreign industries in decline — and where military investment and research are funded at only a fraction of what America devotes to defense?

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https://johnibii.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Bush won’t commit to troops reduction

January 12, 2008
By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent  

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – President Bush said Saturday that he has made no decision on bringing more U.S. troops home from Iraq, and if his top commander does not want to go beyond the reduction of forces that’s already planned, “that’s fine with me.”

Meanwhile, that commander, Gen. David Petraeus, said attacks in Iraq linked to Iranian explosive devices have sharply increased. While the overall flow of weaponry from Iran appears to be down, he said violence caused by “explosively formed projectiles” tied to Tehran are up by a factor of two or three in recent days.

“Frankly, we are trying to determine why that might be,” Petraeus told reporters.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080112/ap_on_re_mi_ea/bush_mideast;_
ylt=AnmKOycuXxQ5PObXwFDUBf2s0NUE

President George W. Bush speaks to U.S. soldiers based at Camp ...
President George W. Bush speaks to U.S. soldiers based at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait January 12, 2008. Bush held talks with the top U.S. officials in Iraq on Saturday at the base in Kuwait, during a Gulf tour he hopes will aid the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and contain Iran.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque