Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Secretary of Defense Hagel was shown the door today in one of those classic Washington scenes that reminds one of a Soviet show trial. We are led to believe that Mr. Hagel initiated this process himself, and that is entirely possible, given the recent revelations from former Defense Secretaries Panetta and Gates about the degree to which the White House staff's micromanagement and meddling had become intolerable. Presumably, Mr. Hagel encountered similar conditions, as the message mismatch between what came out of the White House and what came out of the Pentagon was hard to ignore.
And so, the President will now look for a new Secretary of Defense, and it is likely that one of the conditions of hiring will be that this person will have to go the distance. Second terms are famous for the degree to which senior people seek employment elsewhere, tired from the grueling jobs they held and aware of the half-life of their value on the open market. Several names dominated the news this morning when the job opening was announced, but the two most often named were Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and former Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) Michele Flournoy. In Senator Reed's case, I simply could not see why he would take the job. He is likely to be returned to office every six years until he decides not to (a good thing, as he is a superb Senator), and leaving that job now to spend two years across the testifying table from John McCain is probably not high on his bucket list. His staff put the kibosh on this fairly quickly, so it looks like he is out. As for Flournoy, I imagine her chances of taking the job are only a tiny bit higher, as she knows first hand the degree to which the White House staff dominated policy-making. Additionally, Secretary Flournoy is a close confidant of Hillary Clinton, and is certain to be on the short list for this position (and others) in two years if Mrs. Clinton is elected.
Some have suggested Information Dissemination favorite (and a favorite of mine) DepSecDef Bob Work for the job, and I think he has a good chance for a couple of reasons. The first is that he is ultra-competent. Maybe one of the most competent men I have ever been around. But more importantly--and this is not an insult, just reality--he is relatively unknown and he has no independent power base. A White House that seems intent on protecting its prerogatives and minimizing static from across the Potomac might see Work as their kind of guy. They would underestimate him at their own risk.
But, I have a feeling Bob won't get the nod. The White House will cast about a bit looking for someone with some profile, but not too much profile, and a resume of government service in their background, likely on the Hill. This person will be a team player, and will understand the rules under which they are appointed. My dark horse prediction: Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.
Posted by The Conservative Wahoo at 9:07 PM
Posted by The Conservative Wahoo at 5:31 PM
--Update 11/24/14 9:17PM--
I highly recommend Robert Haddick's serendipitous article at the National Interest from earlier today on this very topic. I think he and I broadly agree on the importance of constabulary forces and the potential uses of state-sponsored fishing fleets. He makes several additional suggestions regarding maritime information-sharing and surveillance cooperation amongst America's East Asian allies and partners. I believe his most important idea is for these countries and the U.S. to begin developing mechanisms that could support cooperative management of crises.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Last weekend, the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, in conjunction with the Army War College, conducted a negotiation simulation on crisis resolution in the South China Sea. The simulation began shortly after an incident between Chinese and Filipino ships resulted in the deaths of five Indians and 95 Filipinos.
The South China Sea simulation is the third simulation developed by the Army War College. The first two, on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and the Cyprus conflict, have become regular features at foreign policy schools around the country. The AWC regularly conducts these exercises in collaboration with several different schools across the country, as well as with students at the AWC.
Posted by Robert Farley at 7:40 AM
Carriers in the 2020s and BeyondIt is clear that while the large-deck carrier rightly no longer serves as the fleet’s single concentration of conventional striking power, its air wing can still provide power projection and sea denial capabilities of great value—most notably in the event of a protracted major maritime campaign. Moreover, it remains the only battleforce platform that will be capable of hosting the AEW, aerial refueling, and outer screening layer aircraft necessary for sustaining localized sea control throughout opposed maritime operations. When supported by Joint combined arms suppression and rollback of adversary surveillance/reconnaissance capabilities, carriers can exercise these capabilities at a tolerable level of risk from a contested zone’s outer reaches.
All this hinges on the future carrier air wing possessing the requisite capabilities. It is unclear, for example, what aircraft and weapons combinations will be best suited for restoring if not extending the battleforce’s outer screening layer’s range as potential adversaries’ maritime strike aircraft capabilities continually improve. Nor is it clear what aircraft are best suited for resuming the carrier-organic aerial refueling and wide-area anti-submarine roles.[i] Most significantly, it is unclear what balances between stealth (including its electronic warfare support), range, and payload will be sufficiently affordable to expand the space in which carriers can perform power projection tasks at an acceptable risk when needed.
Unmanned systems offer some solution options for each of these categories, with possible concomitant efficiencies in training and other manpower-related expenses. It may nevertheless take the better part of two decades, if not longer, to develop and gain testing-based confidence that autonomous unmanned systems can reliably execute high-end combat tasks in intensely-contested cyber-electromagnetic warfare environments. The nearer-term solution may very well be to develop semi-autonomous unmanned aerial systems that can coordinate their actions with or be commanded by humans via line-of-sight, low probability of intercept communications pathways—which in turn validates the continued relevancy of manned naval tactical aircraft.[ii]
Regardless, a compelling case can be made that the large-deck aircraft carrier will necessarily remain critical to the future Joint force’s ability to wage major maritime campaigns. The carrier’s ability to fulfill the likely doctrinal roles I have outlined in this week's posts will correspondingly depend on resolution of the above questions concerning the future air wing.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Carriers and Power Projection
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Posted by The Conservative Wahoo at 7:53 AM
Battleforce-Organic AEW: Keystone of Sea ControlAs important as carrier-based fighters will probably be to future U.S. Navy battleforce operations, the most indispensible air wing element will likely be battleforce-organic AEW aircraft. Since all radars are range-limited by the Earth’s curvature, an attacker can approach from beneath a warship’s effective radar coverage or can fire weapons from beyond it. This obviously minimizes the warship’s raid warning time and defensive interception opportunities. Aircraft and sea-skimming anti-ship missiles’ centimeter-band Radar Cross Section (RCS) reductions also can reduce shipboard radars’ threat detection ranges. Additionally, an adversary can exploit the defender’s shipboard radar emissions to cue its anti-ship attacks.
As perfected by the Cold War-era U.S. Navy, the use of a highly sensitive Ultra High Frequency AEW radar at high altitude addresses the above defensive problems in two ways. First, it enables long range, wide-area air and surface surveillance that exploits attackers’ less-reducible decimeter-band RCSs. Second, it supports a dispersed surface force’s prolonged use of highly-restrictive Radiofrequency (RF) Emission Control (EMCON) for concealment.
Battleforce-organic AEW has additional advantages. It maximizes the endurance of maritime surveillance patrols in remote areas. It allows for rapid-reaction maritime surveillance patrol sorties upon intelligence warning. Perhaps most importantly, it enables maritime surveillance coverage when enemy fires are suppressing friendly airbases ashore.
Battleforce-organic AEW’s historical role cueing friendly forces’ anti-air and anti-surface warfare actions remains central to sustaining naval operations within a hotly contested maritime area. Furthermore, as the core sensor within the emerging U.S. Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) capability, battleforce-organic AEW will enable Aegis surface combatants to engage low-RCS air threats flying well outside shipboard radar coverage.[i] The use of battleforce-organic AEW in this way supports operations on interior lines of networking, which if implemented smartly can make an opponent's efforts to intercept or exploit NIFC-CA extremely difficult.
A battleforce-organic AEW radar’s weight, power, and aperture-size requirements combined with the AEW mission’s endurance requirements create a need for a relatively large aircraft, which in turn requires a large-deck carrier. The main alternative to this, AEW radars on rotary-wing aircraft, simply cannot provide the on-station endurance, combat radius, radar height-of-eye, or radar gain necessary to detect (and guide engagements against) inbound threats long before the latter can confidently target the supported battleforce ships.
Carrier-based AEW aircraft are also extremely useful in performing battleforce-level Command, Control, and Communications (C3) roles. During the late Cold War, for example, the U.S. Navy came to appreciate how its E-2 Hawkeye AEW aircraft could support battleforce commanders’ tactical control over widely-dispersed subordinate units. This proved especially important when force-level countersurveillance and countertargeting efforts demanded that the battleforce's warships maintain protracted RF EMCON. This support could be indirect, as the E-2 was able to serve as a relay for difficult-to-intercept line-of-sight communications pathways.[ii] It could also be direct, with the battleforce commander delegating the E-2 crew the authority to tactically control battleforce units in accordance with his pre-disseminated intentions messages and command by negation doctrine. E-2 crews even routinely assumed their home carriers’ air traffic management and landing control duties while the latter maintained long-duration RF EMCON.[iii] All these C3 roles supported (and can still support) a battleforce's operations on interior lines of networking.