03/26/2021 News & Commentary
News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Riley Murray. 1. Top general: Afghan forces need US troops to fight Taliban
2. FDD | Iran must come clean on its nuclear deception 3. United States Seizes Websites Used by Foreign Terrorist Organization 4. Opinion | Biden faces the world’s most dangerous problems in North Korea and Taiwan
5. US Army, Marines, Special Forces Eye Israeli ‘Hero’ Attack Drones 6. Officials Describe Special Operations Forces (SASC hearing 25 March 2021) 7. Why there will be no ‘Asian NATO’
8. SOCOM Shifting To Great Power Competition Strategy, But Needs More ISR Capabilities, Commander Says 9. How the Defense Department Can Move from Abstraction to Action on Climate Change 10. It’s National Medal of Honor Day and Alwyn Cashe still doesn’t have his
11. Rep. Andy Kim On State Department Racism: ‘My Own Government Questioned My Loyalty’ 12. Why Is U.S.
National Security Run by a Bunch of Benchwarmers? 13. House lawmakers voice concern over how to address extremism in the military without clear data 14. Biden rallies old alliances behind new mission: Challenging China
15. Lawmakers Investigate State Department Over £1 Billion Ransom Payment to Iran 16. How an Alleged Russian Spy Ring Used Cold War Tactics 17. U.S. military launched over 2 dozen cyber operations before 2020 election
18. Special Operations team in Pacific will confront Chinese information campaigns 19. Is China About to Deploy Private Military Companies in Central Asia? 1. Top general: Afghan forces need US troops to fight Taliban
The Hill . by Rebecca Kheel . March 25, 2021 Excerpt:
Pressed by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on whether he has presented the Biden administration with options to continue addressing counterterrorism threats in the region if U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Clarke demurred. “There’s been no decision made for Afghanistan, so I think it would be a hypothetical to know what we’re going to do at this time,” Clarke said. “But we will always provide options for the Department of Defense.” 2. FDD | Iran must come clean on its nuclear deception
fdd.org . by Richard Goldberg . March 25, 2021 Excerpts:
Preventing undeclared nuclear activities is a fundamental nonproliferation principle that is supported by Republicans and Democrats. If the Biden administration returns to the JCPOA without resolving the problem of Iran’s undeclared activities, it would send a dangerous message and green light Tehran to advance a clandestine nuclear weapons program. North Korea will be taking notes given its own unresolved nuclear activities, and countries eying expanded nuclear programs, like Saudi Arabia, may learn the same lesson.
A nuclear arms race in the Middle East could follow. President Biden should deliver a clear message: There will be no sanctions relief for Iran without a full accounting. There should be no going back to a nuclear deal based on nuclear deception.
To delude himself otherwise, Biden would repeat the mistakes of the past and slowly unravel the NPT framework, leading to a more dangerous world with more countries with nuclear weapons. 3. United States Seizes Websites Used by Foreign Terrorist Organization justice.gov .
March 25, 2021 4. Opinion | Biden faces the world’s most dangerous problems in North Korea and Taiwan The Washington Post – by David Ignatius – March 25, 2021
Excerpt: Since Anchorage, Chinese think tanks have been using a phrase that means “hit, hit, talk, talk” to describe what’s ahead with the United States, according to one top sinologist. The “hit, hit” part of that formula carries significant risks — especially if China continues to believe that a weakened America isn’t ready to fight back. 5. US Army, Marines, Special Forces Eye Israeli ‘Hero’ Attack Drones
breakingdefense.com . by Arie Egozi 6. Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing – USSOCOM CDR
defense.gov . by David Vergun When the transcript is publicly available I will forward that. The most important point made in this hearing came from General Clarke: And then the last thing I’d — I would hit in this area is the specific authority for our forces conduct unconventional warfare in this space.
While I can take specific points in a closed session, that authority that allows us to work with — with partner forces to increase both the resistance and resilience, working in the information space is absolutely critical. But here are a few of the key excerpts from the hearing (implies a resistance operating concept for Taiwan). HAWLEY: Good.
Well I look forward to working with — with you on that. General Clarke, let me come to you. The Baltic nations have spent some years honing their ability to conduct irregular warfare in the event that Moscow attempts to — to seize a Baltic territory, so it won’t be able to hold it.
It’s become a key part of their deterrence strategy, as you know, in the Baltic region. I’m — what I’m wondering — why I’m asking about this is do you wonder, do you — do you think that the Baltic model could be applied in Taiwan? In other woods — words, would helping Taiwan improve its irregular warfare capabilities help it deter potential Chinese aggression?
CLARKE: Senator, bottom line, yes. We have worked closely with the Baltics. I have met with every Baltic SOC (ph) commander personally, and we have been engaged in the Baltics for a long time.
But we also — and I can talk more specifically in closed hearing, we remain close with capabilities for Taiwan. HAWLEY: Do you think that it would be helpful to us, and should we be prioritizing helping Taiwan develop its irregular warfare capabilities? CLARKE: Yes, Senator, I do think we should help them.
Key point here. According to the ASD SO/LIC he will continue to directly report to the SECDEF for civilian oversight and administrative control (ADCON) of SOF but the SECDEF is relooking iof the ASD SO/LIC should report to USD(P) on policy issues. Mr. Maier, again what’s the status today at the Department’s assets to empower ASD SOLIC and what additional resources or authorities do you believe we need from the Congress?
MAIER: Thank you, Chairman. So the current status is one that is SOLIC as a standalone organization both its policy components and its service secretary like our 922 component outside of OSD (ph) policy. Secretary Austin and Deputy Secretary Hicks are relooking that to see that continues to make sense.
I think one of the potential options is to determine a way to better integrate the policy components that were removed from SOLIC towards the end of the last administration back more integrated into policy but under no circumstances am I aware of any COAs that are being discussed that would remove the Service Secretary-like responsibility from remaining a principal staff assisting and a direct report up to the Secretary of Defense so I think your legislation has been very clear in that point. As to progress to date, we continue to make progress I think on building the capability, in many cases in the form of expertise and people on the components in that administrative chain of command so the SSO or Secretary for Special Operations that was explicitly directed in the ’21 NDAA is something we build to about 40 people at this point, and it includes a cross-section of expert from the budgeting world, the legislative world, the acquisitions world, really the — if you will the nascent or core group of people that will perform that Service Secretary-like function. But we are not at the point Chairman, of irreversible momentum at this point and we’re not on the point of having something that is probably sufficient to do the roles that have been described in the — in multiple NDAAs at this point.
Last thing I will say is, I do think the relationship with Special Operations Command is very strong. One of the things that General Clarke and I benefited from of having worked together on multiple occasions in the past, and I think that leadership connection helps to insure our staffs are proceeding in that direction of collaboration, partnership, and civilian-military relationships. General Clarke has somewhat different views on 922. – ASD SO/LIC as an advocate for SOF – he seems to minimize the civilian oversight role
TUBERVILLE: Thank you. General Clarke, Section 922 of the 2017 N.A. — NDAA, which was signed into law by President Obama, made clear that the administrative chain of command for the Special Operations community runs from the president, to the secretary of defense, to ASDSOLIC, and then to you, the SOCOM commander. Prior to conducting congressional engagements, do you obtain approval from ASDSOLIC?
CLARKE: Mr. Secretary (sic), we work very closely with ASDSOLIC for — to — in the administrative chain of command for oversight, particularly for our budget and our acquisition. Mr.
Maier and his predecessors provide that oversight. But it’s also clear that my chain of command — and Secretary Austin made this very clearly to me — that my chain of command as a combatant commander runs to the secretary of defense, to the president. TUBERVILLE: Yeah, thank you.
And that’s kind of my next question. Do you — do you support the implementation of the law, and specific — specifically, ASDSOLIC’s absolute control over administrative matters such as legislative engagements, budgetary resource decisions, acquisitions, public affairs, personnel, legal accountability and other related authorities held by the traditional military service? CLARKE: Senator, what — what I believe is a key role for ASDSOLIC is actually to be an advocate for SOCOM, you know, within the department.
And so when decisions are made about services and service budgets and service, you know, personnel decisions, having ASDSOLIC in the room to be able to be that advocate for us to me is the most important aspect that ASDSOLIC can do for SOCOM. You know, that goes back to the old adage: If you’re not — if you’re not — if you’re not at the table, you become the lunch. And having ASDSOLIC in — in and at that table, which — which has occurred, has been very helpful.
TUBERVILLE: Thank you. Mr. Maier, as I noted a moment ago, the law mandates that the administrative chain of command for SOCOM passes from the president, secretary of defense, ASDSOLIC, SOCOM commander.
In the light of the clear chain of command, have you met with the secretary on administrative matters related to SOCOM? MAIER: Senator, yes, I have, and I participate in the secretary’s regular service secretary meetings. I also participate, or my staff participate in the series of governance meetings that the deputy secretary runs in order to do just as — was already said by General Clarke, to both advocate, but for the administrative chain of command.
We are responsible for both setting direction and ensuring execution and implementation consistent with the law. TUBERVILLE: How often do you all meet, do you think? CLARKE: The service secretaries meet at least twice a month.
Obviously new administration, so different series of meetings. But every day, sir, there’s meetings that I’m representing (inaudible) in that service secretary-like hat with the secretary, deputy secretary or their direct reports. Excellent to see General Clarke discuss conventional warfare here:
BLACKBURN: Thank you — thank you, Mr. Chairman. And General Clarke, thank you for the time and the conversation yesterday.
We talked about 40 percent of SOCOM’s forces are aligned to support the great power competition fight. That is a big increase. So for the record today, I’d like for you to talk about the resourcing standpoint — what do you need from this committee in terms of authority, advocacy, what do you need to engage in near peer competition from Beijing, and then let’s talk a little bit about the posture that SOCOM has to counter these nefarious activities from the CCP, and where you are positioned there.
I think you can really do more with a lower dollar amount than the regular force. So love to just get your comments for the record. CLARKE: Senator, thank you.
You know, as pointed out, with about two percent of the Department of Defense budget, I think we are a very good return on our investment, with about three percent of the force. And the continued resourcing, specifically, you know, for SOCOM, so that we can modernize in the — in this area, where — where we can, you know, provide unique capabilities for our forces is critical. We have to balance both operations, readiness and modernization.
The — and — the — the continued support of this committee remains critical. As we look at — you — you specifically asked about our employment and our capacity at 40 percent. That is exactly right.
We — we have in fact adjusted our forces to a sustainable presence against, you know, the persistent terrorist threats while at the same time rebalancing those forces across the globe. As some of our near — you know, some of our competitors are now global threats and not necessarily specific to Europe — Europe or INDOPACOM. And so we continue to look where our forces are located across the globe so they can — so they can counter, you know, those specific threats.
And then the last thing I’d — I would hit in this area is the specific authority for our forces conduct unconventional warfare in this space. While I can take specific points in a closed session, that authority that allows us to work with — with partner forces to increase both the resistance and resilience, working in the information space is absolutely critical. 7. Why there will be no ‘Asian NATO’
asiatimes.com . by Ken Moak . March 26, 2021 We tried NEATO, SEATO, CENTO. The conditions, cultures, politics, are very different in Asia than in Europe. We need a Quad and more importantly a Quad plu. But it cannot be an Asian NATO.
And one of the major differences is that the Quad focus should be based on diplomatic, informational. and economic instruments as the main focus (and perhaps the economic instrument as the priority) that rests on a foundation of security cooperation but without an “alliance structure” and certainly without a combined military command structure. 8. SOCOM Shifting To Great Power Competition Strategy, But Needs More ISR Capabilities, Commander Says news.usni.org . by John Grady .
March 25, 2021 Great Power Competition in the space between peace and war (gray zone):
- Competition equals Political Warfare
- Most likely
- State on state warfare less likely
- Most dangerous
- We must be able to operate in the modern era of the Gray Zone and Political Warfare – Irregular Warfare
- But we must also support major theater state on state war –
- not either/or but both/and
America may not be interested in irregular, unconventional, and political warfare but IW/UW/PW are being practiced around the world by those who are interested in them With no apologies to Trotsky
9. How the Defense Department Can Move from Abstraction to Action on Climate Change warontherocks.com . by Samuel Brannen – Sarah Ladislaw – Lachlan Carey. March 26, 2021
Excerpts: While it may seem hard to believe now, in time climate change may be the most formidable and unpredictable adversary the Department of Defense has ever faced. U.S. adversaries typically have motivations that can be scrutinized and resource limitations that can be exploited.
Their actions can be deterred. Runaway climate change would be merciless. The planet has no regard for borders or conventions or theaters of war.
The changing climate will affect every aspect of life on Earth, and by extension, every facet of America’s strategic operating environment. In some instances, it will amplify existing security risks, while in others it will force the national security apparatus to consider new risks entirely. It will drain resources from military readiness and modernization within Defense Department budgets and as tradeoffs are made to fund other federal priorities in response to climate change.
Protecting the nation’s interests means proactively building a long-term climate action strategy with other branches of government, segments of society, and global partners — a theme ably picked up on by the newly released Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. It means more than hardening assets and bolstering resilience but building strategies to prevail in this new and uncertain future. Like many other entities in both the public and private sectors, the Department of Defense has been thinking about climate change as one item in a long list of global challenges, but not as the dominant global trend that will frame all other issues.
The Biden administration’s early charge to make climate change a central priority gives the Department of Defense an opportunity to better understand a future that will create compounding stresses and challenges affecting its future as much if not more than a rising China. 10. It’s National Medal of Honor Day and Alwyn Cashe still doesn’t have his taskandpurpose.com . by Haley Britzky .
March 25, 2021 What are we waiting for? We need to get this done and properly honor this American hero. 11. Rep.
Andy Kim On State Department Racism: ‘My Own Government Questioned My Loyalty’ NPR . by Ari Shapiro . March 25, 2021
Hmmm… While this may be the Congressman’s experience, we have Ambassador Sung Kim as the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Pacific, former Special Envoy for north Korea and US Ambassador to South Korea. We have Dr. Jung Pak as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Pacific. I know many Korean-American Americans working on Korean (and other) national security issues at State, Defense, and other government agencies. I do not want to minimize the issue at all. I know it exists and I have heard this. I have also known many Americans who did not have a desire to work on issues of the country of their heritage and would rather not be compartmented into working such issues.
12. Why Is U.S. National Security Run by a Bunch of Benchwarmers? Foreign Policy . by Robbie Gramer, Jack Detsch .
March 25, 2021 Benchwarmers? I would not use that to describe the professionals I know who continue to serve in our government. That said, yes we need to get all these positions filled. I just don’t think we need to insult all the professionals to make the point. But it makes for a great clickbait title.
13. House lawmakers voice concern over how to address extremism in the military without clear data Stars and Stripes We do need to know the extent of the problem in order to solve it.
14. Biden rallies old alliances behind new mission: Challenging China Axios . by Dave Lawler Our alliances are a critical source of power and influence.
15. Lawmakers Investigate State Department Over £1 Billion Ransom Payment to Iran freebeacon.com . by Adam Kredo . March 25, 2021
Uh Oh. I had not seen any reporting on this. 16. How an Alleged Russian Spy Ring Used Cold War Tactics https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-an-alleged-russianspyring-used-cold-war-tactics-11616701381?mod=flipboard – by Georgi Kantchev
How an Alleged Russian Spy Ring Used Cold War Tactics Prosecutors say group in Bulgaria was tasked to gather classified information on NATO military alliance, CIA 17. U.S. military launched over 2 dozen cyber operations before 2020 election
March 25, 2021 Excellent development. I was not aware of this.
The Joint Task Force Indo-Pacific team will be focused on information and influence operations in the Pacific theater, a part of the world receiving much the military’s attention because of China’s growing capabilities. The team is poised to work with like-minded partners in the region, Gen. Richard Clarke, commander of Special Operations Command, said before the Armed Services Committee. “We actually are able to tamp down some of the disinformation that they [China] continuously sow,” he said of the task force’s efforts.
19. Is China About to Deploy Private Military Companies in Central Asia? jamestown.org . by Paul Goble . March 25, 2021
Interesting question and development.
“The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the moden commander…”
– T.E. Lawrence, The Evolution of a Revolt, 1920
“If one wishes to influence American foreign policy, the time to do so is in the formative period, and the level is the middle level of bureaucracy – that of the assistant secretary and his immediate advisers. That is the highest level in which people can still think. Above that, the day to day operation of the machine absorbs most of the energy, and the decisions that are made depend very much on internal pressures of the bureaucracy.”
– Henry Kissinger, Bureaucracy and Policy Making (1968)
“War in the age of technological integration and globalization has eliminated the right of weapons to label war and, with regard to the new starting point, has realigned the relationship of weapons to war, while the appearance of weapons of new concepts, and particularly new concepts of weapons, has gradually blurred the face of war. Does a single “hacker” attack count as a hostile act or not?
Can using financial instruments to destroy a country’s economy be seen as a battle? . . .Obviously, proceeding with the traditional definition of war in mind, there is no longer any way to answer the above questions.
When we suddenly realize that all these non-war actions may be the new factors constituting future warfare, we have to come up with a new name for this new form of war: Warfare which transcends all boundaries and limits, in short: unrestricted warfare.”
– Unrestricted Warfare, Beijing, 1999