Friday, February 17, 2017

Army Stands Up 6 Brigades to Advise Foreign Militaries |

Army Stands Up 6 Brigades to Advise Foreign Militaries |

The U.S. Army announced Thursday the creation of six new brigades designed to take on the service's growing mission of training and advising foreign militaries.

The first of six planned units known as Security Force Assistance Brigades, or SFABs, as well as the new Military Advisor Training Academy will be established at Fort Benning, Georgia, starting in October, according to an Army press release

The brigades are the service's first permanent units whose core mission is conducting security cooperation activities, allowing quick response to combatant commander requirements, the release states.

Until now, the service has been deploying combat units to train, advise and assist security forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other partner nations. The new units are designed to enhance the readiness of the Army by reducing demand for existing brigade combat teams to conduct security force assistance operations, preserving BCT readiness for full-spectrum contingency operations, according to the release.

The new units have an added benefit of serving as the framework of a brigade combat team that could rapidly expand if needed to meet future requirements, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Army chief of operations.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Take Off the Pentagon’s Gloves in the ISIS War? Not So Fast. - Defense One

Take Off the Pentagon’s Gloves in the ISIS War? Not So Fast. - Defense One

Policies intended to reduce civilian harm didn’t arise out of elite Washington think tanks or academia; they arose from the military’s own lessons learned.

There are worrying signs the United States is about to back away from its role in setting the high bar for reducing civilian casualties in conflict. That would be a horrible mistake.

President Donald Trump consistently has said he believes the U.S. has been hamstrung in the fight against Islamic terrorists by fighting a “politically correct” war. In December of 2015, he famously said, “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families,” a tactic illegal under international law. On January 28, Trump  issued a memorandum asking for a “review of recommended changes to the rules of engagement and other policy restrictions that exceed the requirements of international law regarding the use of force” in the fight against ISIS. This should give advocates for civilian protection and anybody who has an interest in defeating ISIS reason for concern.

U.S. military leaders of the war against ISIS have reportedly hoped the new administration would get the White House and National Security Council out of the day-to-day decisions they felt were hamstringing war operations. Nonetheless, given the high risk that an increase in civilian deaths stemming from U.S. actions will be portrayed by our adversaries as a deliberate expression of the President’s stated intentions, we believe the Pentagon, which will ultimately shoulder the blame and any operational consequences of civilian casualties, should proceed with an abundance of caution. Some options for ramping up the fight against ISIS  (and possibly Al Qaeda) may be worth considering. But when it comes to protection for civilians, now is not the time to “take the gloves off” in the fight against terrorists.

The “gloves” in this case are rules and constraints on the use of lethal force by U.S. forces, expressly intended to limit civilian harm, which meet or exceed the requirements of international humanitarian law. These rules were codified at varying thresholds and levels of specificity and clarity by the Obama administration in the Presidential Policy Guidance on direct action against targets outside of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, and the Executive Order on Pre- and Post Strike Measures to Address Civilian Casualties.

There's No One At the Helm of White House Foreign Policy - Defense One

There's No One At the Helm of White House Foreign Policy - Defense One: Flynn’s departure won’t solve the Trump administration’s central dysfunction.

There are two theories of the future of President Trump’s foreign policy and the National Security Council. In one, the good ship NSC, like a Nantucket whaler of old, has had a hard shakedown cruise, but is coming to. A couple of misfits have been tossed overboard, and the captain has given up trying to run the ship. He periodically shows up on deck to shake his fist at the moon and order a summary flogging, but for the most part he stays in his cabin emitting strange barks while competent mates and petty officers sail the NSC. It’s not pretty—the ship rolls and lurches alarmingly—but it gets where it needs to go.

This could happen. Trump, overwhelmed by a leadership task far beyond his experience and personality, will focus his efforts on infrastructure projects and the like, and quietly concede the direction of foreign policy to his sober secretaries of state and defense, with a retired general or admiral to reassemble something like an orderly White House process. He is erratic but not stupid: he knows he is in over his head, hates the bad publicity his first few weeks bought him, and has family members nudging him in this direction.

Unfortunately, another possibility is more likely: The ship is in serious trouble.

Trump’s Empty ‘Ultimatum’ to NATO - Defense One

Trump’s Empty ‘Ultimatum’ to NATO - Defense One: Defense Secretary Mattis just called for Europe to increase defense spending or else...what exactly?

President Donald Trump’s “ultimatum” to NATO is, at best, as clear as mud and, at worst, an empty threat that will harm U.S. security interests. It’s a vague call for European member nations to increase their individual defense spending, which is the same thing four previous defense secretaries under President Barack Obama said every time they traveled to Europe for this thrice-a-year meeting of national security heads.

In Trump’s message, delivered by Jim Mattis during his first trip to Brussels as defense secretary, is a threat: pay up, or else. But what else, exactly? All Mattis said is that if European members states don’t do more, America will “moderate its commitment to the alliance.”

So: Washington thinks Europe isn’t taking the threat to NATO seriously enough. It says pay up and do more. If not, Washington threatens to defend the rest of NATO less? How does that make America safer, again?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

U.S. warns NATO - increase spending or we might 'moderate' support | Reuters

U.S. warns NATO - increase spending or we might 'moderate' support | Reuters: U.S. President Donald Trump's defense secretary warned NATO allies on Wednesday that they must honor military spending pledges to ensure the United States does not "moderate" support for the alliance.

Jim Mattis, on his debut trip to Brussels as Pentagon chief, also accused some NATO members of ignoring threats, including from Russia.

"America cannot care more for your children's future security than you do," Mattis said in a closed-door session with NATO defense ministers, according to prepared remarks provided to reporters.

Federica Mogherini: Europe will have ‘new relationship’ with US – POLITICO

Federica Mogherini: Europe will have ‘new relationship’ with US – POLITICO: Political conflict in the U.S. is a threat to stability worldwide, Europe’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini warned on the back of her first meeting with Donald Trump’s administration.

“I have never seen the U.S. so polarized, so divided and so ridden with conflict,” Mogherini told Die Welt in an interview published Wednesday, referring to her mid-February trip to Washington, D.C. “When the largest democracy in the world shows these kinds of tensions, that can be a destabilizing factor for the rest of the world.”

Mogherini met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and then national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has since resigned after revelations he was in contact with the Kremlin during Trump’s campaign.

There will be an increasing number of issues on which Europe and the U.S. take different positions but, she said, “this is no drama.”

NATO to stress ‘fair burden-sharing’ in Mattis visit – POLITICO

NATO to stress ‘fair burden-sharing’ in Mattis visit – POLITICO: NATO allies are ready to show the color of their money to the first emissaries of Donald Trump’s administration at a ministerial meeting in Brussels this week.

Ahead of the arrival in Brussels on Wednesday of Defense Secretary James Mattis, the first senior member of the new U.S. government to visit Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said defense ministers would focus on “fair burden-sharing.”

During the election campaign, Trump rattled NATO by describing the military alliance as “obsolete” and complaining that some member countries were not bearing their share of the finances. More recently, the president has toned down his criticism but he continues to beat the drum on costs.

“We strongly support NATO, we only ask that all NATO members make their full and proper financial contribution to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing,” Trump said during a visit to the U.S. Central Command headquarters in Florida earlier this month.

Stoltenberg insisted at a news conference Tuesday that military spending by NATO allies was already on the increase and he provided new data for 2016 showing an aggregate rise in spending of $10 billion. Still, the overwhelming majority of NATO countries fall short of the stated goal of spending 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense.