Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Inside NATO's Massive Exercise Trident Juncture 2015

Over 36,000 NATO and Partner nation troops,and,for the first time ever in a NATO exercise,international and nongovernmental organisations,are participating in Exercise Trident Juncture 2015,the biggest NATO exercise since 2002.The innovative exercise includes the EU and African Union as participants,along with the ICRC and other organisations.It is NATO beginning to shift from over a decade of intense counterinsurgency in Afghanistan to the current security environment-although its work in Afghanistan continues as dictated by conditions on the ground.*
TRJE 2015 will use new and evolving concepts;advanced technology;cutting edge military capabilities and the world's most modern land,sea and air forces,including special operations,in the most complex and realistic scenarios.The main goal is to train,evaluate and certify the NATO Response Force,at the core of which is the new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force,VJTF.The fictitious but realistic setting is a country beyond NATO's borders that is a victim of international tensions,natural hazards and a neighbour's aggression.The events will range from the effects of subversion and terrorism to grand military manoeuvers on a large scale;from the conditions of chemical warfare to the battlegrounds of cyber and information;from the intricacies of tribal rivalries to the challenges of unpredictable and autocratic political leaders.*
TRJE 2015 will primarily be held in Spain,Portugal and Italy-a huge area to provide safety for the complex manoeuvers.The exercise is characterised by:
1.the size of the training area,which is huge to Europeans;
2.speed-speed on the land,sea or in the air;
3.multiple events happening simultaneously in the huge training area.
In the scenarios,airports are heavily fought for,both defending or taking them;the use of artillery,IEDs and propaganda are represented;four full brigades of marines will be coming in and out of several amphibious operations together,with air cover assisting;a fight for air superiority and a fight for freedom of navigation are enacted;the use of the Global Hawk UAV is tested.The exercise is divided into phases CPX,the Command Post Exercise for strategic and operational level staff training,evaluation and certification with the EU and AU;and LIVEX for Tactical level troops engagements throughout Italy,Portugal and Spain;the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea;plus Canada,Norway,Germany,Belgium and the Netherlands.At the conclusion of TRJE 2015,the headquarters staff from Joint Forces Command Brunssum will be officially certified to head the NATO Response Force,if activated,throughout 2016.Its core element,the VJTF,is required to respond with 5,000 troops in 48 hours to crises in the East and South of the Alliance.*
Those participating in TRJE 2015 are 27 of the 28 NATO Allies,plus Partners Australia;FYROM;Sweden;Finland;Austria;Bosnia-Hercegovina;and Ukraine.It runs from 28 September to 3 November.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Combating ISIL:Where It Stands Now

We are providing the Syrian Kurds with a tremendous amount of air support,said General Lloyd Austin,Commander of US Central Command,at a hearing before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on 16 September.A portion of this element held on in Kobani.They've increased their size and activity and made a significant difference in the Northeast, with the help of the sustained airstrikes they requested.They will also need to partner with the Syrian Arabs in the neighbourhood,and we're helping them with that.
Turkey has shortened the lengths our fighter pilots are forced to fly.They are focused on ISIL elements in Syria,and we have asked them to tighten up their borders to stop the flow of foreign fighters.We will provide air support to our trained fighters and intelligence,surveillance and reconnaissance over-watch,and have already done so with our first class of trained fighters.We have undertaken airstrikes for trained Syrians under threat by al-Nusra.What our special operations forces have done in Northern Syria is,they began to train elements like the YPG Kurds.There are ten of thousands of Kurds on the battlefield fighting ISIL.*
Only four or five of our first class of moderate Syrian fighters are in combat now,explained Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth.The others were captured by ISIL or fled from them.Immediately they entered Syria,they were attacked by ISIL.
Note:soon after the hearing,a second class of 75 US-trained Syrian fighters graduated.*
The assessment right now is,the Assad regime is not in immanent danger of falling.We're going to make sure we have the ability to protect ourselves at all times,General Austin added.
1.We remain vigilant.
2.We work in the battlespace in such a way that we avoid conflicted zones as much as possible.
3.We routinely use all of our ISR assets before we use weapons.
4.Our joint tactical air controllers are in the command and control centres.They have visibility of what's going on in the target area and visibility of where the friendly troops are.*
ISIL is a transnational threat,and if left unchecked,it will continue to expand and occupy territory,erase international boundaries and export terror to other parts of the world-and in particular,to places like our homeland.We see the beginning of this in the lone wolf phenomenon,and the threat will continue to increase.
Assad is losing capability every day.The wild card is,if Iran or Russia move in and shore him up,that would extend things for a period of time.We continue to look at what the possibilities for encounters with the Russians are.The Russians have not started operations as of this point.Our pilots have to have certainty that there are ISIL targets that can be engaged.We can see the targets,so that is not an issue.*
In Iraq,we're going to need a greater commitment from the partners we're enabling.I think they want Mosul back;they want to stabilise Anbar first,and then take back Mosul.*
Iraq is starting to open the pipelines as to which units will be trained,said Ms.Wormuth.They are starting to plan for this.There are now 4,000 Sunni fighters in Anbar that weren't there six months ago.*
Our airpower is supporting the Syrian Kurds and the Syrian Arabs who are with them.They are not enough to counter ISIL alone.ISIL has made a net gain in personnel over the past 24-36 months,General Austin told the Committee;but they have less money.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

China and Russia:Power and Partnership

Several scholars have been carefully analysing developments in the military postures of China and Russia,as well as the strategic interrelationship between the two states.
China's recent naval buildup is aimed at:
1.targeting the US fleet;
2.targeting US allies;
3.targeting US bases,
in the view of Thomas Karko,International Security Program Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.The US must invest in more standoff and penetrating weapons to meet this challenge,such as the LRSO,or long range standoff missile;and the LRS-B,or long range strategic bomber.It must invest a lot more in the fleet and missile defences against these Chinese threats as well,which are conventional threats.
As Admiral William Gortney noted,for the forseeable future,we are still going to need rockets to kill rockets.*
The Chinese are doing testing every three months.That will require a layered counter.Hardening,deception and dispersion are needed.We need to proliferate counters to these things and to alleviate the strain on our forces.US Navy and US Army stress is only going to get worse.
China-Russia ties are taking the form of arms sales,as well as exercises in the Pacific and the Mediterranean.It's a great concern to many Asian militaries.Both states appear dissatisfied with the status quo.Historically,dissatisfied states tend to clump together to work against the hegemons.Both Russian and Chinese leaders call for an end to US alliances in those areas,according to Zack Cooper,Japan Chair and Asian Security Issues-Fellow at CSIS.
Russia and China are employing hybrid warfare in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea.We are reaching an important inflexion point here if these ties continue to grow.For the first time,Chinese military equipment may be flowing toward Russia.China is trying to sell a frigate to Russia,observed Paul Schwartz,Russia Military&Security Senior Associate at CSIS.
China has produced about 80 catamaran small missile boats,complemented with air and submarine-launched missiles,to overwhelm US missile systems.In the far east,China and Russia can pretty quickly link up ship-to-ship.China and Russia joined together to limit US basing in Central Asia.They want to see US power limited and constrained.They share opposition to US ballistic missile defence.*
China opposes NATO expansion because they do not want to see US military influence get stronger,said Jeffery Mankoff,CSIS Russia&Eurasia Program Deputy Director&Fellow.*
Something else has to happen to drive China and Russia really closely together,added Paul Schwartz.China is still very closely integrated with the West.Some kind of shock in the Western Pacific;a Taiwan Strait dispute;a Senkaku Islands dispute,would have to happen.
The Japanese navy is more competent than the Chinese.It has better leadership skills and traditions.The Chinese coast guard is building a 10,000 tonne paramilitary coast guard ship.They will push and push until Japanese or US Navy ships show up.The Japanese have more than 40 highly capable destroyers and diesel electric submarines,while Vietnam is building up its navy with Russian technology.The Chinese still rely on conscripts,but are developing a mid-level cadre.
If China keeps building like they are,they are 15-20 years away from matching the US Navy.They are starting to deploy an aircraft carrier to learn from and plan to deploy three more with over-the-horizon targeting capability,the CSIS expert believes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Will the Fed Raise Rates This Month?

I think the volatility is going to sideline the Fed in September,said Mohamed El-Erian,Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz.The second and the third facts have turned violently against the Fed.If they make a mistake,it could spill over into the economy.There isn't much the Fed can do.The market doesn't have the circuit-breakers that it needs.That is a major paradigm change for the marketplace.The market has to find its own equilibrium and level,and that's going to take some time.*
China helped create a market bubble in their stock market,and now they're finding it very hard to control.I think they will be able to soft-land the economy at around 6%,but we are going to observe the financial instability.
I pay a lot of attention to the currency markets.It started flashing red early on and started contaminating other markets.Central banks are having tremendous difficulty because the currency markets are coming unhooked regardless of what the fundamentals are,and the fundamentals are stronger relative to the rest of the world,noted Mr.El-Erian,who is a native of Cairo,Egypt.