A New Challenge for Our Military: Honest Introspection

David Rothkopf. Foreign Policy, 19 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/GSUypF

Excerpt:

Certainly there has been national debate about whether we should have been involved in those wars, one that has belatedly delivered the message to our political leadership that it is time to bring our troops home. But about one crucial array of issues concerning our involvement we have been stunningly silent: the competence of our military leaders, the effectiveness of the strategies they have employed, and the very structure and character of our military itself.

U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran

Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker. New York Times, 19 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/GJt7O3

Excerpt:

A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.

US withdrawal from Afghanistan: the plan for 2012, 2013, and 2014

C.J. Radin. The Long War Journal, 18 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/GJ8zo8

Excerpt:

In June 2011, President Obama announced that the US would begin withdrawing military forces from Afghanistan and transferring responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The US goal is to be substantially out of Afghanistan by 2014, with ANSF responsible for the entire country.

The plan for 2013 is currently being developed. The final version will be presented for approval at the NATO summit in Chicago in May. While still incomplete, portions of the plan have been disclosed or can be deduced. According to The Guardian, Obama described the next phase of the transition as follows: “This includes shifting to a support role next year, in 2013, in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014. We’re going to complete this mission, and we’re going to do it responsibly.”

The most significant element of the plan is that US and ISAF forces will stop conducting combat operations in late 2013. The ANSF will then be responsible for executing all combat operations in Afghanistan.

The Military Imbalance: How The U.S. Outspends The World

Winslow Wheeler. AOL Defense, 16 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/AxrAFS

from the International Institute of Strategic Studies

Excerpt:

The US defense budget is not just dominant; it is operating at a level completely independent of the perceived threat…America’s defense budget strategists declare it will be “doomsday” if we size to anything less than five times China and Russia combined.

The FY13 [Naval ship] Inactivation Schedule

Information Dissemination, 15 March 2012. The projected FY13 ship inactivation schedule for inactivating U.S. Naval vessels. http://defensealt.org/GKezMl

How to Pay for Wars

Benjamin H. Friedman and Charles Knight. The National Interest, 6 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/y7oMHq

Excerpt:

A war tax or an effective cap on war spending can serve as a disincentive to reckless war making.

We Can Live with a Nuclear Iran

Paul Pillar. Washington Monthly, March/April 2012.
http://defensealt.org/GJ3P5j

Excerpt:

Fears of a bomb in Tehran’s hands are overhyped, and a war to prevent it would be a disaster.

The Obama Doctrine: How the President’s Drone War is Backfiring

David Rohde. Foreign Policy, March/April 2012.
http://defensealt.org/GWFKHn

Excerpt:

Obama has embraced the CIA, expanded its powers, and approved more targeted killings than any modern president. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has carried out at least 239 covert drone strikes, more than five times the 44 approved under George W. Bush. And after promising to make counterterrorism operations more transparent and rein in executive power, Obama has arguably done the opposite, maintaining secrecy and expanding presidential authority.

To a far greater extent than the Bush White House, Obama and his top aides relied on the CIA for its analysis of Pakistan, according to current and former senior administration officials. As a result, preserving the agency’s ability to carry out counterterrorism, or “CT,” operations in Pakistan became of paramount importance.

“The most important thing when it came to Pakistan was to be able to carry out drone strikes and nothing else,” said a former official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The so-called strategic focus of the bilateral relationship was there solely to serve the CT approach.”

Additional Source:
New America Foundation: Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012, Updated 13 March 2012. http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones