Category Archives: Long Form

Essay:  Strategies That Matter – Why Targets That Matter,  Don’t

Essay: Strategies That Matter – Why Targets That Matter, Don’t

A B-2 Stealth Bomber from Whiteman AFB in Missouri leads an aerial flight formation with F-18 Hornets from the during exercise Valiant Shield 2006. US Navy Photo

A B-2 Stealth Bomber from Whiteman AFB in Missouri leads an aerial flight formation with F-18 Hornets from the during exercise Valiant Shield 2006. US Navy Photo

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

Essay: Inside the Design of China’s Yuan-class Submarine

Essay: Inside the Design of China’s Yuan-class Submarine

People's Liberation Army's Navy (PLAN) Yuan-class submarine.

People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN) Yuan-class submarine.

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

Essay: Understanding Japan's Shifting Defense Policy

Essay: Understanding Japan’s Shifting Defense Policy

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviews members of Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) Oct. 26, 2014. Reuters Photo

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviews members of Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) Oct. 26, 2014. Reuters Photo

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

Exploring the Wreck of USS Macon, The Navy's Last Flying Aircraft Carrier

Exploring the Wreck of USS Macon, The Navy’s Last Flying Aircraft Carrier

A screen grab of video from the Aug. 18, 2015 dive on the USS Macon. Ocean Exploration Trust Photo

A screen grab of video from the Aug. 18, 2015 dive on the USS Macon. Ocean Exploration Trust Photo

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

Essay: Capability-Based Planning and the Death of Military Strategy

Essay: Capability-Based Planning and the Death of Military Strategy

Lt. Cmdr. Kirk Benson, points at a map of the South China sea at the Tactical Flag Command Center (TFCC) of the USS Blue Ridge. Reuters photo via VOA.

Lt. Cmdr. Kirk Benson, points at a map of the South China sea at the Tactical Flag Command Center (TFCC) of the USS Blue Ridge. Reuters photo via VOA.

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

Essay: Changing the Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Paradigm

Essay: Changing the Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Paradigm

A Harpoon missile is launched from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) during a live-fire exercise on Sept. 15, 2014. US Navy Photo

A Harpoon missile is launched from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) during a live-fire exercise on Sept. 15, 2014. US Navy Photo

During the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis (1995–96), United States naval dominance was demonstrated through the deployment of two carrier battle groups as a show of force within 100 miles of the Chinese mainland. Then-Secretary of Defense William Perry could state that while the Chinese “are a great military power, the premier—the strongest—military power in the Western Pacific is the United States.” Read More