Let’s get one thing straight: Accidents are not war crimes. Unintentional or collateral damage does not constitute a war crime, even when there are noncombatant deaths. The advent of precision weapons has fostered an unrealistic expectation regarding the applications of military force, which is substantially at odds with the reality of combat. Read More
Airpower advocates exited the Gulf War trumpeting an unambiguous victory for airpower—and they were right. The air campaign against Iraq was well planned, brilliantly tailored to the adversary, and superbly executed. But it was also a clear example where the enemy was outclassed from the very beginning. Coalition forces were allowed an unfettered buildup, and had clear advantages in numbers, training, equipment and a doctrine designed to defeat massed Soviet and Soviet-client forces under adverse conditions. They faced a surrounded enemy who allowed the Coalition force to seize the initiative (despite ample warning) and keep it throughout the conflict. The Iraqi military at the time was postured to lose, and lose big. Read More
In 1954, U.S. Representative W. Sterling Cole, chairman of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee, announced what had been suspected: that the U.S. Air Force could deliver an H-bomb anywhere in the world. Hardly a revelation, this boast since has been echoed for more than half a century. Indeed, Air Force talking points regularly repeat a version of this theme: We can hold any target at risk anywhere in the world in any time, any place. This idea is deeply embedded in the Air Force’s transformation efforts, as an aspirational statement became a “requirement” and thereby a justification for airpower capabilities. “Any target, any time, any place” is a centerpiece of service dogma, offered in place of coherent airpower strategy. Unfortunately, that means very little for the nation’s air, space and cyber power entrusted to the Air Force. A capability is not a strategy, and can’t be substituted for one. It’s strategy that matters. Read More
China’s creation of military-relevant facilities on its newly-created islands in the South China Sea is a cause for concern for countries in Southeast Asia, and several of its investments in the Indian Ocean are raising more questions over the possibility of China’s first dedicated naval support facility overseas. Read More
China’s evolving submarine force is a topic worthy of sober examination and debate. However, for the discussion to be useful in informing both national policy-makers and citizenry alike, the content must be based on accurate data and sound analysis. Unfortunately, both are often found wanting when it comes to English-language reporting on the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Read More
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed major changes in Japan’s defense policy, with strong implications for the United States and U.S. armed forces in the Pacific. The changes, designed to shift Japan away from an isolated, pacifistic defense posture to a more dynamic one based on bilateral and even multilateral relationships, are controversial but not uncommon to most nations. Read More
SILVER SPRING, Md. – Eighty years ago, the Navy’s last flying aircraft carrier crashed off the coast of California and sank to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
The sinking of USS Macon (ZRS-5), a lighter-than-air rigid airship, resulted in few deaths but its loss ended the Navy’s quest to use airships as long-range scouts for the fleet.
While the idea died, the wreck Macon lives on as an important archaeological site and this week Naval History and Heritage Command, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and several non-profits came together to explore the wreckage, mapping out pieces of the airship and its four biplanes and studying the change in its material condition over time. Read More
In the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review, released days before the September 11 attacks, the Department of Defense announced a shift in approach—one that had been trickling through DOD since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Billed as “a new defense strategy and an associated risk management framework,” the emerging addition to the defense planning lexicon was a “capabilities-based approach.” Read More
Exasperation over foreign perceptions of insecurity in Nigerian waters is all too common. Read More