Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday reading

$500-million program to train anti-Islamic State fighters appears stalled

Navy SEALs see no barrier to women in combat ranks

I would call your attention to this web site regarding no exceptions.


Elaine Donnelly, who runs the Center for Military Readiness, says she doubts that standards will be maintained because of political pressure.
"The presumption that tough standards in SEAL or Delta Force training would remain the same is in conflict with the administration's stated paramount goal of 'gender diversity metrics,' meaning quotas," Mrs. Donnelly said.
She painted this scenario: "A few women might be accepted at minimum performance levels, displacing higher-scoring men. Then, to achieve higher numbers, officials would question, modify or incrementally drop physically demanding training elements while coping with new personal relationship complications in conditions of high stress and forced intimacy. The result would be less preparation and higher risks of injury, death or failure in sea/land special forces combat operations, with no trade-off benefits in terms of mission success."
Mrs. Donnelly said she was "astonished" when a senior SOCOM officer appeared in the Pentagon briefing room and said, "We're looking for smart, qualified operators. You know, there's just — there's a new dynamic. I mean, the days of 'Rambo' are over."
"This was an affront to the professionalism of Special Operations Forces everywhere," she said. "And policies affecting our most elite fighting forces should not be based on the fictional images, whether it's Sylvester Stallone as Rambo or Demi Moore as G.I. Jane."
I too am astonished that anyone from USSOCOM would seem to imply that SOF was about ever having Rambos in its ranks (but I am sure he or she was just trying to make a point regarding this issue and the need for brains and brawn and did not really mean to imply that previously SOF was just a bunch of Rambos).  But the women and organizations at the web site above state they do not want any different standard than their male counterparts.  Will Ms. Donnelly's scenario play out?  I do not know.  But perhaps by calling attention to the possibility it can be prevented (though I worry that sometimes there is no protection from "political correctness").  She may be helping the cause more than achieving her desired end state which is to not have women serving in combat arms jobs.

Bin Laden killer says females should be allowed if they meet same standards as men

China’s Secret Plan to Supplant the United States

A new book claims to shed light on a strategy that would make China the sole superpower by 2049.

If the strength of Pillsbury’s book is in the clarity of his argument and the fresh insights he provides, the weakness rests in the book’s lack of nuance. For example, although he acknowledges that there are moderates within China who do not subscribe to this marathon strategy, their perspectives and how much weight they have in the decision-making process are not explored. By the end of the book, I had the feeling that the author could only see the U.S-China relationship through this dark prism that he had constructed. In a few cases, he also overplays his hand. In discussing the environment, for example, he talks about China’s export of pollution, claiming that China will condemn the world to “smell, taste, and choke,” on Chinese success (186). Implicit in this is a failure to acknowledge that the people who suffer most from this pollution are the Chinese themselves. I don’t really believe that China’s pollution problem is a deliberate or malign effort to make the world suffer.

CIA Official Refused Role in Powell’s Iraq Speech, Morell Writes
May 3, 2015 11:25 PM EDT

Seems like Michael Morell's book is going to have a lot of substance in it.


05.04.155:26 AM ET

Syria’s Rebels on Winning Streak—In Alliance With Al Qaeda


The rebels’ firm belief is that by switching the axis of the northern theater away from Aleppo they have managed to transform the war. If they can notch up more gains with few casualties, the new Islamist alliance appears likely to remain and not go the way of previous alliances that fell apart in a matter of weeks amid rebel infighting. “I think it will last,” says Mohammed, a rebel commander who once worked at the center of a rebel alliance in Aleppo. “I have not seen this level of coordination and trust before.”
While U.S. officials seem ready to dismiss this as another false dawn, one former American ambassador isn’t so skeptical. “Despite constant Western media assessments that Assad’s situation is secure, the reality is that the Syrian war is one of attrition,” according to a paper by former U.S. Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. “And minority regimes usually do not fare well in prolonged wars of attrition.”

U.S.-Japan: A Pacific Alliance Transformed
The new defense guidelines have the potential to mark a new era in the U.S-Japan alliance.


These changes represent an effort by the alliance to be more responsive and flexible to the full scope of challenges the allies face in the region and around the world. Their revisions demonstrate their desire to be security providers, albeit in different capacities. Toward this end, Washington and Tokyo have expanded the geographical scope and spectrum of potential situations to which the alliance will respond. While Japan still is not a “normal country” that can fight alongside American troops in combat, it is voluntarily taking on larger security roles alongside its American ally. This is part of the Abe administration’s pursuit of making “proactive contributions to peace,” which involves more active security contributions to the region, either independently or together with partners. This is welcome news for the U.S. and its “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific, which emphasizes greater attention to the region, increased cooperation with allies, and an encouragement for allies to take on a greater role in regional security.

How well the allies perform depends on how they execute over the coming months. If successful, Washington and Tokyo will look back at the years 1997-2015 as an interstice between an alliance with a narrow bilateral focus on Japan’s defense and limited functions to one that has a global focus on broader security concerns with broader functions. In other words, a truly transformed U.S.-Japan alliance.


May 4, 2015 · in 


So while the makeup of the agent is important, what it is doing and what it is interacting with matters too. And while AI itself poses unique and enormously complex problems, in principle, an agent approach to framing this issue is actually not that much different from Cold War debates over whether or not decentralizing conventional and nuclear military units was worth the risk of accidental war if they provided guarantees of survivability. A recentDefenseOne article pondered in a similar vein whether AI agents, empowered to do human bidding, would lead to an accidental “flash war” if left unimpeded.
So what agency are you willing to give to a software program that may, in the course of executing your will, end up (perhaps for reasons completely external to the program) doing something other than what you want it to? Experts in AI and robotics have dramatically differing opinions. But the inconsistent and contradictory “anarchy” of AI methods cannot determine the answer alone. Nor will vague-sounded musings about “autonomy” save us. If we really want to regulate the killer robots, we have to ask ourselves a similar set of questions as the ones we ponder before we send a group of autonomous, alternatively scared and pumped 18 and 19-year-olds into killing fields with M4 rifles. Can we trust our agents to do the job at an acceptable (military and ethical) cost? All other questions, however interesting, are secondary.


These issues may seem like semantics, but details matter. If we are to respond to the Kremlin’s subversion — and RT is a tool of subversion both in the United States and elsewhere — then we must understand the tactics, the issues, and U.S. policy options. The people of the United States and U.S. companies can demand reciprocity in market access, and highlight Kremlin hypocrisy as the Russians falsely pontificate about this freedom or that. But the U.S. government cannot do much more than demand openness because shutting down RT undermines our high ground of promoting the freedom of speech, not to mention that such a move isn’t — and should not be — legal in America. In the end, it is the responsibility of the private media to seek the truth, debunk the lies, hold the Kremlin accountable for statements and actions, and, equally important, hold all media accountable. There are bigger media ethics stories than the Brian Williams scandal, and this is one of them.



By contrast, the policy relevance of International Relations rests on shakier foundations. There’s sometimes bemusement among military officers about the relevance of academic work in IR – what is a policymaker supposed to do with the arcane, jargon heavy writing of contemporary theorists? Behavioural economics demonstrates convincingly that the academy can meaningfully inform policy, armed with less jargon and more empirical support. And with that in mind, perhaps it’s time for some of this psychology to make its way into strategic studies.
In fact, it’s already here, and has been since Clausewitz, who understood well that strategy was a thoroughly psychological affair, and contributed some enduring ideas about how that would play out, despite the inevitable limitations he faced given the immature nature of psychology at the time. Behavioural strategic studies has moved on since then. As a minority pursuit in the IR departments of the day, it lived on as political psychology, spawning influential ideas about the importance of Groupthink in producing suboptimal decision-making, or about the propensity of policymakers to think analogically.

CYBERCOM To Outsource $475 Million of Work To Stand Up Command

By Aliya Sternstein
May 3, 2015

This is what most expected would happen all along.

N. Korea's ceremonial leader to visit Moscow for war event

2015/05/04 09:45

CNN meets 2 prisoners who North Korea says are South Korean spies
By Tim Schwarz, Will Ripley and Jethro Mullen, CNN
Updated 8:44 PM ET, Sun May 3, 2015

This is the answer to Will Ripley's previous piece asking why they were invited back to north Korea.  It is so that north Korea can exploit CNN to tell this story.  This appears to be part of a concerted effort by the Kim Family Regime to counter the international condemnation for its human rights atrocities.  It is an example of the old adage - "deny everything and make counteraccusations."  I hope CNN understands how it is being used by the regime.

The two South Korean men both said they are being kept in a place that isn't a prison but that belongs to the agency that is investigating them. They said they were being treated well.
They said that they hadn't been tried yet but that they would accept any punishment the North Korean government decided.
The men complained the South Korean government was disowning them.

Choe occasionally became emotional during the interview, especially when talking about his family. He said he has a wife and daughter in China and another daughter in South Korea.
He said he apologizes to his family for getting into trouble.
Kim said he had no family. But he warned other South Koreans not to do as he had done. He also talked about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in glowing terms.

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