Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Vimy Paper 2012: The Strategic Outlook for Canada

Paul Chapin and George Petrolekas. CDA Institute, February 2012.

Regaining Our Balance: the Pentagon’s New Military Strategy Takes a Small Step

Christopher Preble and Charles Knight. Huffington Post, 20 January 2012.


Balance depends on what you are standing on. With respect to our physical security, the United States is blessed with continental peace and a dearth of powerful enemies. Our military is the best-trained, best-led, and best-equipped in the world. It is our unstable finances and our sluggish economy that make us vulnerable to stumbling.

Unfortunately, the new strategy does not fully appreciate our strengths, nor does it fully address our weaknesses. In the end, it does not achieve Eisenhower’s vaunted balance.


Pentagon Resource Wars: Why They Can’t Be Avoided

Nathaniel H. Sledge Jr. National Defense, 20 January 2012.


When crises fade and wars end, the services, ever focused on the resource war, fight to ensure the inevitable budget reductions are minimized to preserve readiness and modernization accounts, or whatever is the highest priority at the time. The drums of outrage and indignation beat loudly as each service warns of catastrophe if their budgets are reduced too much or at all. The services eventually shed people, infrastructure, systems, and capabilities they do not deem critical to their futures. What is left is, to a large extent, what is already in their plans, and what is in their plans is whatever is critical to their identities and helps them win the resource war.

Sequester Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be, 18 January 2012.


Part of the “Doomsday Mechanism” hysteria spread by Defense Secretary Panetta and his comrade in the budget wars, Cong. Buck McKeon, has been the automaticity of the across-the-boards cuts that sequester would impose on the defense budget next January–in the likely event that the lame duck Congress and its successor next year will both be as dysfunctional as the can of red and blue worms we have now. (The other part of the hysteria is the “horror” of returning to 2007 levels of base budget defense spending.)

It seems that the president has existing statutory authority to modify the sequester mechanism–but not the amount of cuts required.

Key Risks in the New Defense Guidance: What Kind of War and Where?

Nathan Freier. Center for Strategic and International Studies, 17 January 2012.


Like any change in strategy, however, the new approach has risk embedded in it. One of the more prominent risks involves the wholly predictable and complete triumph of classical realism in DoD’s future outlook. It appears that high-tech war between states is back in vogue as the single most important core planning scenario; this at a time when war within important states may be increasingly likely and, depending on location, equally impactful. How defense leaders account for and manage this risk will determine whether or not the guidance survives first contact with global uncertainty.

No Need for All These Nukes

Philip Taubman. New York Times, 08 January 2012.


If the president pushes back against the defenders of the old order at the Pentagon and other redoubts of the nuclear priesthood, he can preserve American security while making the United States a more credible leader on one of today’s most critical issues — containing the spread of nuclear weapons. Like a chain smoker asking others to give up cigarettes, the United States, with its bloated arsenal, sounds hypocritical when it puts pressure on other nations to cut weapons and stop producing bomb-grade highly enriched uranium…


Defense Strategy Review Page Nuclear Debate

Obama Makes Arms Sales A Key Tool Of U.S. Foreign Policy

Loren Thompson. Forbes, 2 January 2012.


In a striking departure from the ideological preferences of the post-Vietnam Democratic Party, President Barack Obama has made overseas arms sales a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. The President and his advisors apparently have decided that well-armed allies are the next best thing to U.S. “boots on the ground” when it comes to advancing America’s global security interests.

Is Leon Panetta the Right Man to be Secretary of Defense?

Winslow Wheeler. TIME Battleland, 13 December, 2011.


Without the inclusion of war spending, the DOD base budget under the “Doomsday Mechanism” is no longer at or near its post-World War II high, but it is also not near any of the historic lows. In fact, it is roughly $38 billion above annual spending during the Cold War…