Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel moved Wednesday to eliminate several high-level Pentagon positions, consolidate offices and change the responsibilities of a number of organizations within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as part of a pledge to reduce the Pentagon’s headquarters headcount by 20 percent….
Under the restructuring, the DoD CIO would take over DCMO’s current responsibilities for overseeing the development of business IT systems.
"I will work with Congress to make this change because it will strengthen DoD’s ability to address growing IT and cyber challenges," Hagel said. "The undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics will continue to be responsible for acquisition of IT systems."
But DCMO also would take on greater heft. The plan merges the Defense Civil Liberties and Privacy office with the assistant to the secretary of Defense for intelligence oversight. That combined organization would be placed under the DCMO. So would the quasi-independent office of DoD’s director for administration and management (DA&M), which handles administration and security of the Pentagon itself, numerous other facilities in the D.C. region and many other administrative issues for the department writ-large.
Hagel said the changes finally would make the DCMO the true focal point for management issues in the Defense Department….
Hagel also directed a significant realignment of the office of the undersecretary of Defense for policy. For example, the jobs of the deputy undersecretary for plans and forces and chief of staff to the undersecretary will disappear.
"The plan also eliminates four deputy assistant secretary of Defense positions and their corresponding support structures through a consolidation and realignment of the policy staff overall structure," Hagel said.
The restructuring of DoD’s policy shop mostly moves responsibilities to lower- level assistant secretaries of Defense. But the policy undersecretary will also take in the Office of Net Assessment, an internal DoD think tank that had previously worked directly for the Defense secretary. The decision comes as good news to ONA backers who had feared that the office would be eliminated entirely.
“ 'The American national security apparatus is very large and unfathomably complex,' was all that Uncle Meng would say. 'It has many departments and subunits that, one supposes, would not survive a top-to-bottom overhaul. This feeds on itself as individual actors, despairing of ever being able to make sense of it all, create their own ad hoc bits that become institutionalized as money flows toward them. Those who are good at playing the political game are drawn inward toward Washington. Those that are not end up sitting in hotel lobbies in places like Manila, waiting for people like you.' ”
Reamde, Neal Stephenson (p. 652 of the Morrow trade paperback)
The rollout of the Northrop B-2 bomber on November 22, 1988, was a big deal. Fourteen years after the word “stealth” first crept into print, nobody had seen what a stealth aircraft looked like, without having signed a scary non-disclosure agreement — with the exception of a single horrible-quality photo of the F-117 that had been released two weeks earlier, and a single (even uglier) artist’s concept of the B-2 itself. The list of rules for media attending the rollout was long and restrictive but most of us were glad to attend.
Aviation Week’s West Coast technical editor, Mike Dornheim — at the time, my frequent and annoyingly well-connected competitor — was not impressed by all the restrictions. The media at Palmdale would see the aircraft from only one angle and would be confined to the bleachers. Details of the exhaust system and the exact plan view of the aircraft would be concealed. On the day, the security perimeter around Air Vehicle 1 would be patrolled by lean, mean-looking guard dogs.
But the security was tight in only two dimensions. Mike’s recreations were motorcycling and flying small airplanes, and it was through the second of these that he realized that nobody had thought to close the airspace over Palmdale.
So it came to pass that the rest of us were gathered at Palmdale in a holding area, before being led to the rollout site, and I recall someone asking “Where’s Dornheim?” The answer would have been plain to anyone who looked upwards during the ceremony to spot a Cessna 172 orbiting in lazy circles, with Mike in the left seat and photographer Bill Hartenstein acting as Reconnaissance Systems Operator on the right.
[Aviation Week is in nostalgia mode and I love it. A .pdf of the B-2 rollout article is linked for download.]
Russia is making new nuclear delivery systems a national priority, with a new ballistic-missile submarine class and missile in production; continued deliveries of a modern, road-mobile ICBM; and reports of a new silo-based heavyweight weapon.
The nation is arming its bomber fleet with a new cruise missile and plans a new bomber (as does the U.S.), while tactical nuclear weapons are still considered an option for major combined-arms theater-scale wars.
Western experts across the hawk-to-dove spectrum tend to agree that Russia’s motivation is a perception of conventional-force weakness relative to the U.S., NATO and China, which in turn stems from the Russian economy’s inability to support rapid modernization of air, land and naval forces. However, some go further than this and argue that the Russian emphasis on nuclear weapons is destabilizing and could lead to the breaking of some nuclear weapon treaties.
The largest Russian program is the modernization of its strategic missile forces. President Vladimir Putin pledged in 2012 that those forces would receive more than 400 new missiles within 10 years, a complete overhaul of the arsenal.
About 50 years ago, Aviation Week’s editor, Bob Hotz, set up a meeting with senior U.S. Air Force leaders. He told them that the magazine had a pretty good idea of what Lockheed’s Skunk Works in Burbank had been up to in the preceding couple of years — based on pilot eye-witness reports and other sources — and while he had no intention of risking national security, neither was he going to be scooped by his competitors. That story is here, as well as in Central Intelligence Agency documents.
No damage was done to security. The Soviet Union already knew about the project, as MiG-25 designer Rostislav Belyakov stated quite firmly in his history of the bureau’s designs. The notion that the Russians had continued building the Foxbat to defend against the B-70 Valkyrie, long after it had been relegated to experimental status, is CIA CYA.
The USAF, in any event, did not think that the aircraft could be kept secret once it was in service. The much less obtrusive U-2 had been rumbled within weeks of its first overseas deployment. The result was a coordinated disclosure in February 1964, in which the Pentagon issued a deliberately misleading announcement that obscured the new aircraft’s mission, misstated its designation, identified its secondary customer as the primary one, contained one factual error that had to be rectified by dispatching two secret aircraft hurriedly to Edwards AFB, and was accompanied by two side-view-only photos that had the world’s aviation press scrabbling to guess at the plan-view, mostly with a remarkable lack of success. (That was great fun for an eight-year-old, in love with aviation.)
In a detailed report in the Nov. 4 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Senior Editor Guy Norris lifts the wraps on the SR-72’s cutting-edge design, including a propulsion breakthrough that would allow the aircraft to fly twice as fast as the Blackbird — six times the speed of sound — but still take off from and land on a runway like a conventional aircraft. Lockheed Martin and partner Aerojet-Rocketdyne have been working in secret for seven years on the concept, which centers on integrating an off-the-shelf turbine with a scramjet to power the aircraft from standstill to Mach 6.
[It crashed Aviation Week’s servers]
The Pentagon has begun a burst of spending in Africa, expanding its main base on the continent and investing in air facilities, flight services, telecommunications and electrical upgrades as the U.S. military deepens its involvement in a region with a rising threat of Islamist terrorism.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures, detailed in unclassified federal documents, demonstrate Africa’s increasing importance to U.S. military and counterterrorism operations as the war in Iraq has ended and American troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
By far the most significant expansion is occurring at Camp Lemonnier in the deeply impoverished nation of Djibouti, a sleepy backwater on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, just north of Somalia. The sprawling base, built out of a onetime outpost of the French Foreign Legion, has been the Pentagon’s primary facility in Africa for a decade.
Defense officials last month awarded $200 million in contracts to revamp the base’s power plants and build a multistory operations center, aircraft hangar, living quarters, gym and other facilities on a sun-scorched 20-acre site next to the tiny country’s only international airport (with which it shares a runway).
The projects are part of $1.2 billion in planned improvements over the next 25 years that will accelerate Camp Lemonnier’s transformation from a makeshift installation where a few hundred Marines once slept in tents into an enduring 600-acre base that now houses about 4,000 U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors.
National surveys find that Pakistanis are overwhelmingly opposed to CIA drone strikes against suspected militants in the tribal badlands close to the Afghan border. The strikes are seen by many as an abuse of sovereignty, a symbol of American arrogance and the cause of civilian deaths. So when Sofia Khan, a school administrator from Islamabad, travelled with hundreds of anti-drone campaigners to a ramshackle town bordering the restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) last October she was stunned by what some tribesmen there had to say.
One man from South Waziristan heatedly told her that he and his family approved of the remote-controlled aircraft and wanted more of them patrolling the skies above his home. Access to the tribal regions is very difficult for foreign journalists; but several specialists and researchers on the region, who did not want to be identified, say there is at least a sizeable minority in FATA who share that view.
Surveys are also notoriously difficult to carry out in FATA. A 2009 poll in three of the tribal agencies found 52% of respondents believed drone strikes were accurate and 60% said they weakened militant groups. Other surveys have found much lower percentages in favour. But interviews by The Economist with twenty residents of the tribal areas confirmed that many see individual drone strikes as preferable to the artillery barrages of the Pakistani military. They also insisted that the drones do not kill many civilians—a view starkly at odds with mainstream Pakistani opinion. “No one dares tell the real picture,” says an elder from North Waziristan. “Drone attacks are killing the militants who are killing innocent people.”
In World War II the Army was tasked with a Herculean job: calculate the trajectories of ballistic missiles—the arcs that artillery shells take from the time they leave cannon muzzles to the time they reach their target—by hand. These differential calculus equations (a PDF of those calculations can be seen here) were used to target the weapons, and as the firepower increased in the field, so did the demand for the ballistics firing tables. The problem was that each equation took 30 hours to complete, and the Army needed thousands of them.
So they started recruiting every mathematician they could find. They placed ads in newspapers, first in Philadelphia, then in New York City, then far out west in places like Missouri, seeking women “computers” who could hand-compute the equations using mechanical desktop calculators. They would need to relocate to the University of Pennsylvania.
“If they could calculate a differential calculus equation, they were hired,” Kleiman says. Male mathematicians were already working on other projects, so the Army specifically recruited women, even hiring ones who hadn’t graduated college yet. “Like everything else during early WWII, where they needed lots of people, like in factories and farms, they hired women,” she says. At the height of the program, the Army employed more than 100 women calculators. One of the last women to join the team was a farm girl named Jean Jennings.
But the calculations weren’t coming out fast enough, so the Army funded an experimental project to automate the trajectory calculations. Engineers John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly began designing the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, or ENIAC as it was called.
“Few in the Army thought the highly-experimental ENIAC would work, but the need was great and it was a time to experiment,” Kleiman says. That experimenting paid off: The 80-foot long, 8-foot tall, black metal behemoth, which contained hundreds of wires, 18,000 vacuum tubes, 40 8-foot cables, and 3000 switches, would become the first all-electric computer.
Making it Work
When the ENIAC was nearing completion in the spring of 1945, the Army randomly selected five women computers out of the 100 or so workers (later adding a sixth woman to the team) and tasked them with programming the thing. “The engineers handed the women the logistical diagrams of ENIAC’s 40 panels and and the women learned from there,” Kleiman says. “They had no programming languages or compilers. Their job was to program ENIAC to perform the firing table equations they knew so well.”
The six women—Francis “Betty” Snyder Holberton, Betty “Jean” Jennings Bartik, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum, and Frances Bilas Spence—had no precedent and only schematics to work with.
“There was no language, no operating system, no anything,” Kleiman says. “The women had to figure out what the computer was, how to interface with it, and then break down a complicated mathematical problem into very small steps that the ENIAC could then perform.” They physically hand-wired the machine, an arduous task using switches, cables, and digit trays to route data and program pulses.
“The ENIAC was a son of a bitch to program,” Jean Jennings has said.
The ballistic calculations went from taking 30 hours to complete by hand to taking mere seconds to complete on the ENIAC.
On February 14, 1946, six months after the end of the war, the Army revealed their amazing feat of engineering in a public relations extravaganza. (The ENIAC was not completed in time to use during World War II.) ENIAC was front-page news across the country, a milestone in modern computing, with praise going to the military, the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and Eckert and Mauchly, the hardware engineers. The programmers, all women, were not introduced at the event. And even though some of them appeared in photographs at the time, everyone assumed they were just models.
After the war, the government ran a campaign asking women to leave their jobs at the factories and the farms so returning soldiers could have their old jobs back. Most women did, leaving careers in the 1940s and 1950s and staying at home. But no returning soldier knew how to program the ENIAC.
“We were like fighter pilots,” programmer Kathleen McNulty has said. “You couldn’t just take any ordinary pilot and stick him into a fighter [jet] and say, ‘Go to it now, man.’ That was not the way it was going to be.”
“The Army didn’t want to let this group of women go,” Kleiman says. “All of these women had gone to college at a time when most men in this country didn’t even go to college. So the Army strongly encouraged them to stay, and for the most part, they did, becoming the first professional programmers, the first teachers of modern programming, and the inventors of tools that paved the way for modern software.”
Costly U.S. military occupations that go poorly can have the unintended side effect of bolstering the al Qaeda threat. That is a lesson of the Iraq war. But we are learning that noninterventions (Syria) and hyper-light-footprint interventions (Libya) can also bolster al Qaeda. And while it is too soon for a final judgment, since all are still works in progress (or perhaps dysfunctions in regress), it may be that on the narrow question of which approach sets back al Qaeda the most, the correct answer would surprise critics of the American military: Al Qaeda may well have been hurt far more by what the United States did in Iraq than by what the United States has not done in Syria, or barely done in Libya….
Which brings us to the examples of Syria and Libya. The situations there are very bleak. U.S. officials now believe Syria has become the global focal point for the war on terror. Would-be terrorists are flocking to Syria as they once flocked to Iraq, and they are finding safe havens for what I call the “weaponization of resentment” — turning individuals with an ideology of political grievance into militant terrorists. Syria now looks to be facing the same worst-case scenario we faced in Iraq: devolution into distinct enclaves, some of which will be controlled by the most radical elements of the al Qaeda network. We will never know for certain whether another policy would have avoided this — perhaps more muscular support for moderate rebels earlier, as several of Barack Obama’s advisors wanted but the president vetoed. But we do know that this is the fruit of the policy choices we and others have taken.
In Libya, the United States tried something in between the inaction of Syria and the costly occupation of Iraq. There, too, the results look bleak. Ever since the terrorist attack against America’s Benghazi compound last year, it has been obvious that the security situation in Libya has deteriorated sharply from the early promising signs of late fall of 2011….
We learned in Iraq that intervention can lead to occupation and many unintended consequences that cost far more than what proponents of the policy expected. But we also learned that seeing that policy through to a successful conclusion may achieve markedly better outcomes vis-à-vis the terrorist network than are otherwise available after the proverbial Rubicon has been crossed.
We are learning in Syria and Libya that policies of nonintervention (refusing to cross the Rubicon) and halfhearted intervention (leading from behind) seem cheaper in the short run but may prove to be quite costly in the long run. Indeed, in the worst case, al Qaeda could regain in Syria and Libya what it lost in Iraq.
When a country is threatened by an insurgency, what efforts give its government the best chance of prevailing? Contemporary discourse on this subject is voluminous and often contentious. Advice for the counterinsurgent is often based on little more than common sense, a general understanding of history, or a handful of detailed examples, instead of a solid, systematically collected body of historical evidence. A 2010 RAND study challenged this trend with rigorous analyses of all 30 insurgencies that started and ended between 1978 and 2008. This update to that original study expanded the data set, adding 41 new cases and comparing all 71 insurgencies begun and completed worldwide since World War II….
To Defeat Insurgencies
- Focus first on overmatching the insurgents, defeating their conventional military aspirations, and forcing them to fight as guerrillas.
- Identify insurgents’ sources of tangible support and seek to reduce them.
- Recognize that essential tangible support might flow from the population or an external source, such as another country, a diaspora, or a nonstate actor.
- Be prepared to engage in good counterinsurgency (COIN) practices for six or more years after achieving the upper hand in a conflict.
- Avoid the “iron fist” path to COIN. Effective COIN forces historically balance kinetic action and action to reduce insurgents’ motives for supporting or continuing an insurgency.
- Plan and pursue multiple mutually supporting lines of operation.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency intercepted two separate medium-range ballistic missile targets simulating a small raid attack on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean during the first-ever operational test of this capability Sept. 10.
The trial was previously planned as part of the ongoing campaign to demonstrate U.S. layered missile defenses… During the trial, Flight Test Operational-01, the targets were intercepted by the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system and the Aegis equipped destroyer USS Decatur with an SM-3 Block IA missile.
A forward-based AN/TPY-2 radar and overhead assets — likely the Defense Support Program and Space-Based Infrared System satellites — detected the threats and passed track data onto the command-and-control system.
[A wide-ranging essay on how drones intersect with technology, combat, intelligence, the laws of war, and more.]
How should we feel about drones? Like any wartime innovation, going back to the slingshot, drones can be used badly or well. They are remarkable tools, an exceedingly clever combination of existing technologies that has vastly improved our ability to observe and to fight. They represent how America has responded to the challenge of organized, high-level, stateless terrorism—not timidly, as bin Laden famously predicted, but with courage, tenacity, and ruthless ingenuity. Improving technologies are making drones capable not just of broader and more persistent surveillance, but of greater strike precision. Mary Ellen O’Connell says, half jokingly, that there is a “sunset” on her objection to them, because drones may eventually offer more options. She said she can imagine one capable of delivering a warning—“Come out with your hands up!”—and then landing to make an arrest using handcuffs.
Then there are the supposedly high rates of suicide, post-traumatic stress and sexual aggression, all of which tempt one to regard the military itself as a dehumanizing institution in need of therapeutic intervention.
Soldiers, in this view, are no longer seen as models of self-control, courage and patriotism. Instead they are victims and should be treated as patients. Yet the links between combat, the military and mental health are more complex than the war-as-disease construct allows.
Begin with suicides by servicemen and women, which have increased in recent years—but by dozens of deaths, not in the epidemic fashion that news coverage sometimes seems to suggest. That said, the 349 military suicides in 2012 did exceed the 295 deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The question is: why?
A major study published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that factors such as substance abuse, depression, financial and relationship problems accounted for the rise in soldier suicides—in other words, the same factors that influence civilians to take their own lives. “The findings from this study,” the authors concluded, “are not consistent with the assumption that specific deployment-related characteristics, such as length of deployment, number of deployments, or combat experiences, are directly associated with increased suicide risk.”
Nor does the rate of military suicides differ significantly from suicides in the general population….
Combat stress is a complex phenomenon. But research has confirmed what military commanders have long known: It is possible to identify those who are most prone to stress problems, and that has more to do with nonmilitary issues—again, substance abuse, money and family problems are the culprits—than with the experience of combat or deployment to a war zone.
Compared with other countries, the United States diagnoses PTSD cases at improbably high rates….
[T]he numbers bandied about to show an epidemic of sexual violence in the U.S. military are questionable. In May, Capt. Lindsay Rodman, a judge advocate stationed at U.S. Marine Headquarters in Arlington, Va., reported on this page, for example, that the number of military sexual assaults frequently cited in Congress and elsewhere are based on a badly distorted interpretation of a Defense Department survey. In recent months the American public has often heard that 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted last year. But that statistic comes from an unscientific poll and refers to “unwanted sexual contact,” including touching the buttocks or even attempted touching.
Moreover, as Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, wrote recently in the Weekly Standard, “there is no evidence that the military has a higher rate of sexual assault than, say, colleges and universities. Indeed, what paltry evidence there is suggests the opposite.”
… [W]ar demands unflinching discipline, courage and loyalty in the presence of our deepest animal passions, and in that sense it is anything but dehumanizing. By regarding soldiers, sometimes condescendingly, as victims and patients, we are in danger of foisting our own, very civilian and very modern, therapeutic pathologies on people who don’t need them and whose ability to do their jobs—that is, keep us safe—is likely to be diminished.