The National Interest online seeks to provide a space for vigorous debate and exchange not only among Americans but between U.S. and overseas interlocutors. This is the new home for informed analysis and frank but reasoned exchanges on foreign policy and international affairs.
27 мая, 15:21

The One Big Reason Russia Might Lose a War Against America

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Robert Beckhusen Security, And Putin can thank Syria for this.  An air campaign requires a sprawling, complicated supply chain. Fire enough missiles and drop enough bombs, which require a heavy investment in materials and chemicals, and there will come a point when the logistics trail starts to strain. Nearly 20 months into Russia’s intervention in Syria’s civil war, the strain is starting to show. Russia has heavily relied on airpower to support Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad. At times, the Russian air force has dropped bombs at a faster pace than the United States in Syria, benefiting from significantly shorter flight times, and being hampered by the need to rely on a greater number of unguided bombs. The results include the deaths of more than 9,000 people including 4,000 civilians from the start of the campaign through September 2016, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group. Every bomb contains chemicals, and every rocket requires a propellant to send it from a plane or helicopter’s pylon or pod to the ground. The strikes have “bled our arsenals, according to some estimates, nearly 40 percent,” the influential Russian defense newspaper Military-Industrial Courier noted in a recent report about the Russian military’s chemical shortage. “And there is no way to quickly replenish them.” The good news for Russia is that there are enough high-explosive compounds and rocket propellants to keep the Kremlin’s aircraft in the war for years to come, if necessary. The bad news for Russia is that the declining stockpiles will reduce its ability to engage in a large-scale, major conflict—which to be fair, is unlikely. Russia does not lack raw materials, in many cases, but the post-Soviet decline in industry has affected production in terms of quantity and quality. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, research institutes and production plants went bankrupt. They lost valuable workers and technical documents. Machinery turned into scrap metal. The Bijskij chemical plant, one of the Soviet Union’s most important ballistic powder and composite solid propellant plants, went under. Read full article

27 мая, 14:58

This Is Why the World Should Fear India's Nuclear Weapons

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Kyle Mizokami Security, It’s not huge, but it’s getting more capable. India, the world’s most populous democracy, occupies a unique strategic position flanked by powerful adversaries. As a result, its 1.3 billion people are guarded by an arsenal of approximately one hundred nuclear weapons deployed on land, at sea and in the air. Despite its status as a Cold War holdout, the country was forced to develop its own nuclear weapons. India’s nuclear program dates back to 1948, just one year after independence. The Nehru government looked to nuclear power as an inexpensive energy source for the young country. An Indian Atomic Energy Commission was created that year to oversee the country’s nuclear efforts. Due to a lack of uranium on Indian territory, the country naturally gravitated towards using plutonium instead. India’s first nuclear reactor, Apsara, was built with help from the United Kingdom and went critical in August 1956. New Delhi originally considered building nuclear devices, not as weapons, but as what were then called “peaceful nuclear explosives” capable of building harbors, excavating for natural gas, and other large construction and mining projects. While functionally identical to nuclear weapons, the plan demonstrated that India was not yet convinced it needed an actual nuclear deterrent—yet. As a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, India was a bystander to the feverish pace of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union. The 1962 war with China, however, changed that. The limited attack on Indian territory could have been much worse had the two countries engaged in all-out war, particularly if Pakistan and China had paired up together. Furthermore although China was not yet a nuclear power, its nuclear status was considered an inevitability and a nuclear Beijing could blackmail India into territorial concessions—at the risk of atomic annihilation. New Delhi’s nuclear race was on. Read full article

27 мая, 14:57

America's Missile Defenses Against North Korea Have a Big Problem (They Only Work Half the Time)

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Sebastien Roblin Security, Americas What could go wrong—besides millions of dead Americans? The conventional wisdom used to be that once an intercontinental ballistic missile shoots off from its silo into the exosphere, the best you could do was brace yourself for a mushroom cloud. There was simply no defense that could conceivably shoot one down. However, the United States today possesses a potential ace in its hand to defeat such an attack—or, more precisely, thirty-six aces. Were North Korea to fling a ballistic missile across the Pacific Ocean aimed at the continental United States, then the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptors would attempt to knock them out of the sky. The GMD system’s ability to potentially destroy an ICBM is exceptionally rare. But Washington shouldn’t grow overconfident about its ballistic-missile shield: it is only designed to protect against very limited-scale attacks. Furthermore, the interceptors so far have, when tested, only hit their targets about half the time. Back in the 1980s, Reagan envisioned developing a comprehensive missile shield that would protect America from attack. However, the “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative ran into the problem that it was expensive to improve a defensive system, and relatively cheap to improve ICBMs with decoys and multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles to overwhelm the defenses. By the 1990s, a less ambitious idea known as Global Protection Against Limited Strikes had emerged. The Pentagon recognized it could not develop a defensive system that could handle the massive numbers of nuclear missiles in the Russian and Chinese arsenals. The new idea was to develop a much more limited defense in the event that the so-called rogue nations of the day—Iran, Iraq and North Korea—threatened the United States with a small number of domestically produced ballistic missiles. This developed into the prototype National Missile Defense system. In 2001, the George W. Bush administration committed itself fully to the thinking behind NMD, announcing the United States’ withdrawal from the 1979 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty—which had limited the deployment missile defense for the fear they would lead to an ever-escalating arms race—and created a new Ballistic Missile Defense Agency. NMD was renamed to its current GMD acronym, and rushed into production at the expense of the usual testing and procurement process. Read full article

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27 мая, 14:55

China's Military Is Becoming More Powerful by the Day (But Suffers from One Big Problem)

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Elsa Kania Security, Although the PLA’s operational regulations may remain opaque, a new “revolution in doctrinal affairs” appears to have been gradually occurring. The People’s Liberation Army has not officially released a new generation of operational regulations (作战条令)—which are believed to be roughly equivalent to doctrine—since its fourth generation of them in 1999. The protracted process for their revision has apparently become a “bottleneck” for the PLA’s advances in joint operations and training. Evidently, its attempts to update these doctrinal documents in response to new strategic challenges have lagged behind its intended progression towards jointness, while failing to keep pace with changes in the form of warfare. There may be several factors that have delayed the revision process, including interservice rivalry or bureaucratic and cultural impediments to change. These dynamics have plagued attempts to advance PLA reforms in the past, yet the historic reform agenda that is ongoing has sought to overcome such obstacles. At this point, the fifth-generation operational regulations do appear to be forthcoming within the foreseeable future, given multiple indications of extensive, ongoing revision and evaluation. However, the timing remains uncertain. Since operational regulations are considering integral in guiding the PLA’s approach to training and actual combat activities, the completion of the revision and full release of this fifth generation could indicate the PLA has overcome prior challenges to achieve substantive doctrinal progress that could enable future advances, including perhaps in space and cyber warfare. Read full article

27 мая, 14:54

The Fatal Flaw in America's Nuclear Triad That Needs to Be Fixed Now

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Will Wiley Security, The nuclear communications systems’ functions are vital to ensure the United States maintains its capacity for deterrence. As the Pentagon begins the 2017 Nuclear Posture Review a great deal of focus will be placed on how to modernize each leg of the nuclear triad, which on all fronts is aging and must be replaced. Each country that has nuclear weapons in its arsenal has started a nuclear weapons program or modernized their programs and delivery systems with the exception of the United States. The United States is a part of an international community with a dependency on these weapons that is not going away. Therefore, the nation must maintain a safe and reliable nuclear triad to deter against the only existential threat to the nation. The portion of the nuclear triad many forget when discussing nuclear triad modernization is the nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) systems. These systems are the “glue” that ties the triad together. They allow the U.S. president to communicate with his senior advisors, monitor potential attacks on the nation and—if necessary—order the release of a nuclear weapon. The NC3 system is essential in ensuring nuclear weapons can be safely and reliably released when ordered, regardless of the nature of the crisis or the damage incurred by the nuclear forces. The majority of the nation’s NC3 systems are maintained and operated by the Air Force. It is made up of a collection of systems and platforms to achieve its goal of allowing for senior-level decision on nuclear-weapons employment. The systems link the fixed National Military Command Center located in the Pentagon and the fixed Global Operation Center at Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska with the mobile command centers located on an airborne E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) or an airborne Boeing E-6B Mercury “Take Charge and Move Out” Air Command Post. These facilities and aircraft also allow senior leaders to monitor world events and act upon them outside of a nuclear crisis. Read full article

27 мая, 05:47

U.S. Air Force: We Need 165 New B-21 Stealth Bombers

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Dave Majumdar Security, But will it happen?  The United States Air Force will need more than the 100 Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider long-range stealth bombers that it is currently planning to buy. One hundred aircraft is the floor for the service’s requirements to meet its worldwide responsibilities. That is a departure from previous years when the Air Force would only say that it needed between 80 and 100 B-21s to meet its requirements. “It’s not just a hundred to go do missions,” Lt. Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., military deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, told the House Armed Services Committee on May 25. “It’s at least a hundred to do all the training, to do the depot maintenance.” Indeed, as numerous outside studies have shown, the Air Force likely needs significantly more B-21s than the 100 aircraft the service currently considers as a floor. One study showed that the service might need as many as 258 B-21 bombers in the nightmare scenario of a war with the Russian Federation. “Those numbers aren’t incorrect,” Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, told the Congress. “We do agree that probably 165 bombers is what we need to have.” While the United States Air Force agrees that it will need roughly 165 B-21 bombers—or possibly even more—the service does not want to get ahead of the Pentagon’s ongoing National Military Strategy review. “We don’t want to get in front of that,” Harris said. “Our approach to it is—it’s an early decision—we know we’re going to need at least 100, we’ll possibly need more than that,” Harris said. “But as was brought up earlier, these aren’t inexpensive weapons systems across this entire effort. We don’t want to throw down a number that may change in several months.” Thus, for right now, the service plans to spend $55 billion to buy 100 B-21 bombers—or roughly $550 million per aircraft. But that requirement will be revised upwards once the Pentagon completes its strategic review. However, the Air Force is not yet ready to commit to a revised number just yet. Read full article

27 мая, 05:39

How Argentina Tried to Build a Nazi Jet Fighter

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Michael Peck Security, Americas Hitler’s dream to Peron’s reality?  After World War II, Argentina gained a reputation for taking in characters with checkered pasts. Not only was it a haven for Nazis fleeing justice, but it turns out that Argentina turned to Reich scientists and French traitors to build a jet fighter in the 1940s based on a design originally intended for Hitler’s Luftwaffe. The story begins in the last days of the Third Reich in 1945, when from the sinking Nazi ship of state emerged a stream of German war criminals and European collaborators fleeing a deserved prison cell or a hangman’s noose. Abetted by Argentine President Juan Peron’s fascist regime, as well as the Vatican, many made their way to South America—where governments offered sanctuary and protection. One of those nations was Argentina. A French aircraft designer, Emile Dewoitine, sought refuge there. His creation, the D.520 fighter, was the best French fighter confronting the Luftwaffe during the Battle of France. But after France’s surrender, Dewoitine collaborated with the Nazis to build trainer aircraft for use by the Luftwaffe. Charged by the postwar French government with treason, Dewoitine fled to Spain and then to Argentina. There, he worked with Argentine engineers to develop the I.Ae. 27 Pulqui I, the first jet aircraft designed and built in Latin America. With swept-back wings, a single Rolls Royce jet engine and tricycle landing gear, the Pulqui I looked as modern as anything produced in Soviet or American workshops at the time. But with a top speed of only 447 miles per hour—about the same as a P-51 Mustang—and terrible flying qualities, the Argentines only built one prototype. Another member of Argentina’s Club Nazi was a German aircraft designer by the name of Tank. Kurt Tank was actually one of the Third Reich’s best aircraft designers, who was responsible for the late-war Ta. 152, a high-altitude variant of the Focke-Wulf 190. Had his design been produced earlier, it could have wrested control of the skies from American Mustang and Thunderbolt fighters. Read full article

27 мая, 05:37

Russia is Bringing Back Its World War II 'Shock Armies'

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Michael Peck Security, Moscow is merely using the glories and heroism of the Red Army of the Great Patriotic War to motivate its soldiers of today. During World War II, one of the weapons that the Soviet Union employed to destroy Nazi Germany was the “Shock Army.” These were reinforced army-sized formations used to tear holes in the German lines for Soviet tanks to exploit. Now Russia plans to bring back Shock units. Yet lest anyone fear this is a prelude to a Russian blitz of Ukraine or the Baltic states, the title “Shock” will be an honorific reward for units that perform particularly well. “78 units, subunits and formations are currently being considered for the ‘shock unit’ title,” Lieutenant-General Ivan Buvaltsev, head of the Russian military's Main Administration of Combat Training of the Russian Armed Forces, wrote in a May 11 article in the Russian military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda. Buvaltsev also said “the title may be given to forces including motorized rifle troops, tank units, marines, airborne, air assault and other units and subunits.” “This use of ‘shock’ is apparently designed to recognize subunits, units, and formations that demonstrate a higher degree of training and performance,” David Glantz, a retired U.S. Army colonel and expert on the Russian military, told the National Interest. “The emphasis here is on improving force readiness.” Glantz, perhaps the foremost Western historian of the Soviet military in World War II, explained that the Shock Army concept predates World War II. “Actually, the term ‘shock army’ dates back to the early 1930s, when, according to Field Regulations, these were highly trained and reinforced armies designated to spearhead offensive operations. The task assigned to these armies was to create tactical penetrations through which mobile forces (initially cavalry, but later mechanized corps) were to conduct exploitation into the operational depths.” Read full article

27 мая, 05:31

Trump's Budget Grasps What Congress Doesn't: America's Global Leadership Doesn't Come Free

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Brett D. Schaefer Security, Americas Congress should use Trump's budget to reform the State Department and foreign-assistance programs. President Donald Trump released his detailed budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 this week. As expected, it includes significant cuts to the International Affairs Budget that funds the State Department, foreign assistance and international organizations such as the United Nations. Reactions have been predictably dire. While budget reductions of this size will inevitably cause disruption, the reception has been overwrought. This is the first step in budget negotiations, so it’s far too early for alarm. Congress will have its say. But it would be wise to seize this opportunity to implement long-overdue reforms to modernize the State Department and foreign-assistance programs and confront looming budgetary constraints that threaten future funding for defense, diplomacy and foreign aid. So what, exactly, does President Trump’s budget propose on international affairs? Overall, according to the FY 2018 Congressional Budget Justification (CBJ) for the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, the International Affairs Budget would be cut by $18.9 billion to a FY 2018 total of $40.1 billion. This is a cut of 32 percent versus the FY 2017 estimate. This sounds like a big cut, and it is. But it should be put in perspective. The foreign-assistance budget nearly tripled under the George W. Bush administration, from $9.1 billion in 1999 to $26 billion in 2008, and the State Department budget more than doubled. These budgets swelled further under the Obama administration. Trump’s budget proposes is, in dollar terms, roughly a return to FY 2008 levels—i.e., to reverse the dramatic increases adopted under the Obama administration. Specifically: • In FY 2008, the overall International Affairs Budget was $40.9 billion, including emergency supplemental funding for the global war on terror. President Trump’s budget request allocates $40.1 billion to this purpose. Read full article

27 мая, 05:30

If Europe Really Worried About Russia, It Would Get Serious About Defense Spending

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Doug Bandow Security, Europe Ignore what they say. Look at what they do. NATO leaders got acquainted with President Donald Trump this week. One can only imagine what they thought of the Donald. Their main objective was to reinforce the efforts of his aides to turn him into a traditional American cheerleader for European dependence. For those seeking to revive an alliance created almost seventy years ago, in a vastly different time, Russia has resumed its role as the “necessary” enemy. The organization faded in relevance—indeed, lost its raison d’être—but recently reasserted its role as Europe’s guardian. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said the United States was returning troops to the continent as part of the “transition from assurance to deterrence.” Their “mission is to deter Russia,” he added. Since Russia’s occupation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine there has been much fevered rhetoric about the Russian Threat. A Hitleresque Vladimir Putin was prepared to occupy the rest of Ukraine, swallow the three Baltic States, and sweep into Poland. Some analysts posited threats against Finland and the Nordic nations. Shrill demands arose for allied—and especially American—deployments along NATO’s border with Russia, as well as expanded alliance membership. Yet the Europeans don’t fear a Russian variant of Blitzkrieg. Ignore what they say. Look at what they do. Moscow occupied Crimea in March 2014. That same year NATO Europe reduced its real collective military spending by one percent. In 2015 the same countries increased real outlays by just .5 percent. Last year the hike, heralded as a grand turnaround and harbinger of future increases, was an anemic 3.8 percent. Last year NATO Europe devoted 1.47 percent of GDP to the military, up slightly from 1.44 percent in 2015. Before then the level had been falling steadily, from 1.69 percent in 2009. Only Estonia, Great Britain, Greece and Poland joined the United States above the NATO standard of two percent of GDP going to the military. Greece did so primarily in response to the perceived threat from fellow alliance member Turkey. Poland made it for the first time, and only through a bit of statistical legerdemain. Britain also tortured a few statistics to get over the two percent line. Estonia alone hit the mark while focused on Russia. Read full article

27 мая, 05:27

We Now Have Clear Proof Why the F-22 Raptor Would Dominate over Russia (or Anyone)

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Dave Majumdar Security, And why cancelling the F-22’s production run after only 187 production aircraft were built will continue to haunt the Air Force well into the future. The United States Air Force’s fleet of stealthy Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fifth-generation air superiority fighters is proving to be invaluable over the skies of Iraq and Syria. While the powerful twin-engine stealth fighter does not have to worry about dealing with an ISIS air force, the aircraft does offer the USAF the ability to operate inside potentially dangerous areas protected by advanced Russian-built air defenses such the S-300V4 and S-400. “I'm flying that over here, and I got a little bit of experience,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told reporters at the Pentagon on May 24. “I've been able to leverage—and, quite frankly, I've been very fortunate to have it over here, because it's given me a capability that's been incredibly important to my ability to get back into the airspace, particularly in Syria, as we've needed to gain a better understanding of what the Syrian and Russian IADS [integrated air defense systems] were doing.” One example Harrigian cites was in the aftermath of the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile strikes against the Syrian regime on April 6 earlier this year where the Raptor was the only American aircraft flying over that war-torn nation. “Perfect example is, after the TLAM strikes, we had to work our way back into the airspace,” Harrigian said. “I used the F-22 to help take the initial steps to get me in a position that would allow other assets then to come into the airspace.” During those initial missions after the Navy’s strike, the Air Force used the Raptors to secure the airspace, but Harrigian points out that the jet also carries 250-lbs Small Diameter Bombs that can be used to strike surface targets. “While I was doing that, the airplane was flying in a defensive counter-air role,” Harrigian said. “But simultaneously, given that the airplane can carry Small Diameter Bombs, using the partnered force we had on the ground, I could fly defensive counter-air while simultaneously providing the capability to support our partners on the ground.” Read full article

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27 мая, 05:26

These Are the Worst Military Leaders of the Civil War

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Warfare History Network History, During the American Civil War, hundreds of officers were appointed to become generals. Not all were cut for command. Worst Confederate Generals Confederate Maj. Gen. Gideon Pillow. After gaining ground trying to cut an escape path for the Confederates during the February 1862 siege of Fort Donelson by Union forces led Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Pillow pulled the troops back to the fort to resupply them. As a result, he relinquished ground paid for with his soldiers’ blood. Fearful of capture, he turned over command to Brig. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner and fled the fort on the night of February 16 in a boat that carried him across the Cumberland River to safety. For his cowardly performance, Pillow was severely reprimanded. Nevertheless, he commanded a brigade in Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s Division at Stone’s River, where once again he demonstrated his incompetence and cowardice. Confederate Lt. Gen. Theophilus Holmes. Confederate General Robert E. Lee transferred several generals, one of whom was Holmes, out of the Army of Northern Virginia following the Seven Days Battles. Holmes had a talent for sitting on the sidelines and finding excuses not to attack, as he did at Malvern Hill. In his next post in the Trans-Mississippi Department, he failed to protect the Mississippi River outposts and refused to reinforce Vicksburg. Confederate Maj. Gen. George Pickett. As the war wound down, so did Pickett’s performance. At Five Forks he was at a shad bake with cavalry officers two miles from his post when the Federals attacked. By the time he returned, it was too late to reverse the Federal gains. Lee publicly scolded him for his negligent performance. Read full article