Nature of the Problem

H.R. McMaster, February 2017 until April 2018 National Security Advisor under President Donald Trump, describes how critical it was at the beginning of his tenure to get clarity on scope. Listen to minutes 3:00 to 4:15 about “the nature of the problem”, and about “framing out the problem”:

McMaster earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He turned his dissertation on the strategy of the U.S. in the Vietnam War into his book entitled Dereliction of Duty.

Joe Rogan is one of the most widely listened-to long-form interviewers on the Internet. His podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has as of February 2022 nearly twelve million subscribers. More viewers, and more loyal viewers, than most networks tv shows. Because he has serious guests, asks the right questions, and listens.

Leaked German military documents

The Guardian. 2017. A leaked defence document has revealed the country’s worries about the breakup of the global order – a scenario with serious consequences for post-Brexit Britain.

The German defence ministry set out its worst-case scenario for the year 2040 in a secret document that was leaked to Der Spiegel last week: “EU enlargement has been largely abandoned, and more states have left the community … the increasingly disorderly, sometimes chaotic and conflict-prone, world has dramatically changed the security environment.”

The 120-page-long paper, entitled Strategic Perspective 2040, is a federal government policy document – and the scenarios it imagines are grimly realistic: an east-west conflict in which some EU states join the Russian side or a “multipolar” Europe, where some states adopt the Russian economic and political model in defiance of the Lisbon treaty.

McNamara on Flexible Response

Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 – July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth United States Secretary of Defense, serving from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

He remains the longest serving Secretary of Defense, having remained in office over seven years. He played a major role in promoting the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. McNamara was responsible for the institution of systems analysis in public policy, which developed into the discipline known today as policy analysis.

JFK – New Look military strategy

The New Look policy, though initially useful, quickly became obsolete with the introduction of inter-continental delivery systems that undermined the credibility of a deterrence threat. The cornerstone of U.S. and European defense strategy was then threatened as the U.S. could no longer rely on nuclear threats to provide security for it and its allies.

John F. Kennedy won the presidency by claiming that the Republican Party had allowed the U.S. to fall behind the Soviets into a missile gap. Upon entering office Kennedy cited General Maxwell Taylor’s book The Uncertain Trumpet to Congress for its conclusion that massive retaliation left the U.S. with only two choices: defeat on the ground or the resort to the use of nuclear weapons.

Technology had improved since massive retaliation was adopted. Improvements in communication and transportation meant U.S. forces could be deployed more effectively, quickly, and flexibly than before. Advisers persuaded Kennedy that having multiple options would allow the president to apply the appropriate amount of force at the right place without risking escalation or losing alternatives. This would improve credibility for deterrence as the U.S. would now have low-intensity options and therefore would be more likely to use them, rather than massive retaliation’s all-or-nothing options.

Flexible Response was implemented to develop several options across the spectrum of warfare, other than the nuclear option, for quickly dealing with enemy aggression. In addition, the survivability of the retaliatory capability was stressed, leading to the diversification of the strategic force, development of the strategic triad, and half the Strategic Air Command force being put on permanent alert status.

The Kennedy doctrine did not include the ability to fight nuclear wars because of the idea that it would undermine deterrence, was technologically unworkable, would fuel the arms race, and was not politically feasible.

Flexible Response warfare

Flexible Response, also called Flexible Deterrent Options (FDO), U.S. defense strategy in which a wide range of diplomatic, political, economic, and military options are used to deter an enemy attack.

The term flexible response first appeared in U.S. General Maxwell D. Taylor’s book The Uncertain Trumpet (1960), which sharply criticized U.S. national security policy. Initially designed to thwart communist expansion more effectively, the strategy has become a fundamental principle of American military thinking.fare

How Short-Term Thinking is Threatening our National Security

September 2022. Many of the problems we face today, from recent global recessions to climate change, can be traced back to short term thinking. This week, host Elisa is joined by Ari Wallach, futurist and author of Longpath: Becoming the Great Ancestors our Future Needs.

Ari acutely notes that we are at a significant turning point in history, one when bold change is needed to lay the groundwork for future generations. Yet, many Americans remain distracted by division and focused on the here and now.

How do we compare to other nations that might be taking a longer term view of themselves? And how can we rethink our political, corporate, and education systems to better adapt to, and take leadership in, establishing the innovations to come?

How Short-Term Thinking Makes the U.S. Worse at Fighting Wars

The Atlantic. 2012. In 2010, the U.S. adopted a new tactic in southern Afghanistan: it began to bulldoze entire villages to clear them of IEDs. The policy — reminiscent of Vietnam, of destroying villages to save them — spoke to a deeper issue with how the war was being fought.

Short-term objectives were emphasized over long term planning or consequence management. Destroying villages carries enormous long-term costs for a region, and the U.S. military just wasn’t paying attention to what those would be.

How will Germany spend €100 billion?

Deutsche Welle: Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a historic increase in military spending. It included a one-time sum of 100 billion Euros to swiftly upgrade the armed forces, and a pledge to spend at least 2 percent of Germany’s economic output on defense every year.

So what exactly is Germany planning to buy with these billions? Germany’s government has just announced it’s activating its early warning plan in anticipation of possible shortages of gas supplies from Russia.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck stressed that there are currently no shortages, but that the government would be establishing a crisis team to monitor the situation more closely. The move follows Russia’s demand for gas payments in rubles, which Germany and other western nations have rejected.

German WWI planning

The outbreak of World War I demonstrated changes in warfare and warplans of both sides were thrown into disarray. This video looks on a strategic level how Germany attempted to find its path to victory in this new situation.

Otto von Bismarck is supposed to have said to Germans: “The biggest wisdom in the war is to know when to stop when you are succesful.”

Mike Tyson definitely said: “You can have all the plans in the world till you get punched in the face.”

Why the Schlieffen Plan failed

The Schlieffen Plan was the blueprint for Germany’s army to avoid a two-front war with Russia and France. It was supposed to be the solution for a quick victory against arch enemy France by invading Belgium and the Netherlands to circumvent French defenses.

Helmut von Moltke adapted the original plan by Alfred von Schlieffen and ultimately failed when the Germans were beaten at the Battle of the Marne. The video explains the numerous reasons why the Schlieffen Plan was doomed to fail.