Small Wars Journal

LANDPOWER: Senior Leadership – Learning and Application

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 2:31am

LANDPOWER: Senior Leadership – Learning and Application

Setting a New Course For Senior Leaders by Alan Bourque

A revised U.S. Army War College leadership development program for brigadier generals attempts to improve communication skills as well as expand understanding of the Army’s role in the bigger national security picture. The pilot program, conducted March 2–28, had just seven officers in the class—three colonels and four brigadier generals—a size aimed at providing an intimate educational environment. In this case, the selected leaders were young general officers or soon-to-be general officers with potential to serve in critical strategic assignments at the national level.

Global Leadership — Learning From History by John F. Troxell

We are in the season of discontent concerning the position of the United States in the world. Fortunately, this season of discontent corresponds with a season of momentous commemorations that offer valuable lessons that could help us get back on track toward demonstrating global leadership and responsibility: World War I, the Bretton Woods conference, and the Tiananmen Square crisis.

U.S. Must Rethink Unsustainable Counterterrorism Strategy by Steven Metz

While the world's attention this week was focused on Gaza and Ukraine, security remained precarious in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq and Afghanistan remain stark reminders that America's counterterrorism strategy, developed by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks and largely adopted by the Obama administration, is increasingly ineffective and unsustainable.

What NATO Needs to Do in the Wake of the Ukraine Crisis by John Deni

In just under two months, NATO heads of state will gather in Wales for their next summit meeting, which comes at a critical time for European security given Russia’s annexation of Crimea. NATO should seek 4 broad objectives:

  • First, the alliance should announce its intent to permanently station troops in the East, most likely in Poland.
  • Second, NATO should ditch its two-percent defense spending goal.
  • Third, the alliance ought to move Allied Command Transformation (ACT) from Norfolk, Va., to Europe.
  • Finally, NATO should either disband the NATO Response Force (NRF) or give U.S. Gen. Phil Breedlove, the alliance’s top military commander, greater peacetime operational control and authority over its use.

Revival of Political Islam in the Aftermath of Arab Uprisings: Implications for the Region and Beyond by Dr. Mohammed El-Katiri

Regime change during the Arab Spring allowed Islamist political forces that had long been marginalized to achieve political influence in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. The author cautions against an overly simplistic assessment of this rise in the influence and power of political Islam. He shows that the political crises besetting each of these Islamist governments are not necessarily of their own making, but instead are determined by objective circumstances.

We hope you will enjoy these insightful and thoughtful works and we always look forward to your feedback through comments to this blog, Landpower, or to me.



Madhu (not verified)

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 12:41pm

A bunch of random articles of no importance:…

<blockquote>That was it: My first, last, and only meeting with the sort of person who spends his days dressing celebrities. By the time it took place, it was already clear that my husband would not, in fact, be his party's candidate for the presidency of Poland. (He's called Radoslaw Sikorski, he's still the Polish foreign minister, and he conceded on Saturday.) This meant that I would not, in fact, be the candidate for the first lady of Poland. Which was just as well, really: I didn't like the pink jacket the stylist picked out for me, and I never wore it.</blockquote>

And, from June 9:

<blockquote>Ukrainian border guards stand grim-faced and nervous at the remote Marynivka checkpoint on the frontier with Russia, fearing an attack by pro-Moscow separatists at any time.

Last week they fought off an assault by up to 150 rebels seeking control over supply routes from Russia to bring in arms and other war materials, forcing them to abandon two armored personnel carriers strafed with machine gun fire.

A weary border guard, wearing a camouflage T-shirt and a cap with a Ukrainian national emblem, said he feared the worst if the authorities in Kiev did not send help.

"They told us to expect reinforcements. We're hoping for them soon," said the guard, who gave his name as Vadim. "They (the separatist rebels) drove around us in circles shooting for about four or five hours."</blockquote>…

Good thing the West is bombing civilian areas in the East.

Yeah, I just don't get it, I don't get the "offensive against terrorists." Something is fishy, eh?

It's interesting, American reporting started to change a bit after that, a real shift, a dumb beat of one-sided articles. Every day, a different one on Yahoo from the same perspective, and then the terrible tragedy of the airliner, and then the drumbeat toward sanctions which the Obama administration had been pursuing for some time because he needs a foreign policy win and it polls well.

Tsk, Tsk, DC, you are not supposed to propagandize domestically....leak, leak, leak...Yes. Amusement is the only sane response.

It's quite extraordinary. Even someone on WoTR was mentioning it--a non-American--that there was a curious omission of many important facts in many Western articles and on certain military oriented blogs. In a way, it's good. It's good for outsiders to see the hold the Borg has on its policy class and what we Americans have to deal with.

And punch above your weight! LOL.

Madhu (not verified)

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 1:47pm

My thanks for these articles is sincere. It just occurred to me that I am so sarcastic around here that some may have thought I was doing the same thing in this comments section. No, I think these articles are interesting and disagreement is good.

If Ukraine is a crisis of sovereignty, then how did the conversation switch to Putin-as-devil? Taking land is the worst of it, arms from outside the second worst of it, but early on, did our advice help or hurt the Ukrainians in asserting their sovereignty and creating a healthy state?

In the Council, a commenter from Estonia I believe, said something along the lines of, "we told them to control the borders and grab Russian passports."

Ukrainian border patrol asked for help early on. Did they get it? The oligarchs that are in control raided the state and isn't that partly why the border control doesn't have the resources it needs? How did this issue of border control--and including ethnic Russians into the larger state order--become all about the US/NATO/EU and its battles with Russia?

I worry about the Ukrainians--look what internationalizing the issue did to the Kashmiris. Just because outsiders want to help, doesn't mean that their help will actually work.

And how much of the NATO stuff is various constituencies using the crisis to get particular things, increasing budgets, directing the course of the EU. Some Eastern European nations are going to get big subsidies. What does this do to sovereignty and the ability to resist outside interference?

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 1:31pm

In reply to by Madhu (not verified)

The Carter Doctrine you hear a lot about but the "Thatcher doctrine" and the Mid East less so. The desire to retain the US as its muscle (various factions within NATO and Europe) rarely gets as much play. Americans can be naive about the desire for power that animates almost everything in our and others national security complex.

I found this old newspaper article interesting too:

<blockquote>At the heart of the decision to exchange letters, administration officials said, is a desire to convince Russia that NATO views it as a superpower and wants to establish a special dialogue with it on security issues.

As part of the closely coordinated exchange of letters, Mr. Yeltsin is expected to outline his non-hostile view of what Russia's relationship should be with NATO.

The letters, which administration officials said would be exchanged over the next 10 days, will be intended to address worrisome perceptions among Russians that NATO is hiding information as it moves to expand and that NATO's 16 nations see Russia as a country little more powerful than Poland or Ukraine.

Although the content of the letters is being fleshed out, administration officials said that this new NATO dialogue with Russia would be an important new feature of post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe.</blockquote>…

Anyway, the point of this is that the Clintons didn't know what they were doing and were flying by the seat of their pants. This is the common post Cold War theme to American foreign policy and military thought, IMO. It's all flying by the seat of the pants with certain emotional and unhealthy attachments such as Cold War nostalgia and an overly romanticized view of American exceptionalism. Exceptionalism doesn't need to prove itself. It just is.

Given Hillary Clinton's fascination with military power and its uses, well, you poor things. Be ready for anything, I'd say.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:36pm

European defense for the average American citizen is like the Hotel California. You can check in, but you can never leave.

(I understand many Europeans feel the same way. What can I say? It's an elite project so the everyday in many places have valid complaints).

From 1990. Crisis Prompts Query Over NATO's Basic Role:

<blockquote>This has reinforced concerns about the organization's fundamental role now that the Communist threat from the East has all but evaporated.

The enemy now is more likely to be farther afield, or, in NATO jargon, "out of area." How should the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, constructed to contain Communist expansion, react to new worldwide threats to its members' security?

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, always one of the most hawkish alliance leaders, pinpointed the potential problem three months ago, long before Iraqi President Saddam Hussein overran Kuwait and threatened major oil supplies from the Middle East.

She told NATO foreign ministers at a June meeting in the Scottish golfing center of Turnberry: "There is no guarantee that threats to our security will stop at some imaginary line across the mid-Atlantic. It is not long since some of us had to go to the Arabian Gulf to keep oil supplies flowing" during the Iran-Iraq war.

"We shall become very heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil once again in the next century. With the spread of sophisticated weapons and military technology to areas like the Middle East, potential threats to NATO territory may originate more from outside Europe.

"Against that background, it would be only prudent for NATO countries to retain a capacity to carry out multiple roles with more flexible and versatile forces."</blockquote>…

I retain the Gen X-er fascination with Margaret Thatcher, although it all looks different from a distance, doesn't it? NATO proved a bit unwieldy within the Afghanistan context. The paying for insurgency and counterinsurgency at the same time was especially brilliant. I reckon partial or sectoral Russian sanctions--given globalization--will follow the same pattern.

Landpower does an excellent job and is quite informative. Thank you for the articles.


Tue, 07/29/2014 - 9:59am

In reply to by Morgan

Hi Morgan,

Thanks for your comments. You raise a valid concern. I think there are two ways of handling the potential challenge of political control. The first would be, as you suggested, to manage the employment of such a unit on an ad hoc basis, with all the risks that entails. Managing the challenge of ensuring all relevant capitals are on board with unit employment would be difficult but not impossible. The second would be for the countries in question to provide greater operational command authority to the relevant commanders/headquarters, something I argued for in the piece with regard to the NRF. In any case, NATO has a model for this in the form of the old Allied Command Europe Mobile Force - Land (AMF[L]). In sum, although nothing in an alliance of 28 sovereign nations is every 'easy', what I recommend is do-able.

John R. Deni, PhD
Research Professor of National Security Studies
Strategic Studies Institute
47 Ashburn Drive
Carlisle Barracks, PA 17013

Regarding the article by Dr. John Deni & his first point about stationing a multi-national brigade (led by a US BCT HQ): good idea. But how would such an organization mitigate the national caveats that would likely dictate unit employment which have governed & restricted unit actions in Afghanistan? If the US BDE HQ tell its "subordinate" German armor BN to go to location X but Berlin says German units are not authorized in location X, what would we (The West/ the US/ NATO) do?

Given the drawdown from Afghanistan and the drawdown of the US military, creating such multi-national units seems to make sense. As a way of pooling resources & demonstrating collective resolve, I think there might be a lot of value in fielding a "Pacific BDE" made up of US, Canadian, and Australian battalions and an "Atlantic BDE" made up of US, UK, & Dutch battalions (and this Atlantic BDE could be the NATO force advocated by Dr Deni). But only by aligning "national caveats" will such a unit be able to function as an effective & seamless organization....but I think that will be quite difficult to do.