Bush's lone military superpower vision

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February 16, 2001 atimes.com Editorials

ANALYSIS Bush's lone military superpower vision (Part 1 of 3) By Uwe Parpart Editor, Asia Times Online Part 2: The enemy is China Part 3: The nature of future wars and US strategy

After watching a display of simulated missiles stream toward the United States at Norfolk, Virginia, Naval Air Station last Tuesday, US President George W Bush vowed to work with Nato allies to confront the threat of nuclear weapons.

At the headquarters of Allied Command Atlantic, Bush had stood before three large video screens displaying high-tech war games conducted jointly by the United States and Nato, directed from the command ship, USS Mount Whitney, 50 miles off the Virginia coast. Then, at an outdoor rotunda ringed by the flags of the 19 Nato nations, he said he was committed to working in unity with US allies on defense, whether against missiles or extremist attack, and on peacekeeping: "I'm here today with a message for America's allies. We will cooperate in the work of peace, we will consult early and candidly with our Nato allies, and we'll expect them to return the same ... Nato is the reason history records no World War III, by preserving the stability of Europe and the trans-Atlantic community. Nato has kept the peace and the work goes on." US Navy personnel and diplomats from Nato states based in Washington attended.

The Bush message was multi-purpose: to make clear once again that the new US administration will proceed with National Missile Defense (NMD) development, but also to allay fears of US unilateralism. "In diplomacy, in technology, in missile defense, in fighting wars and, above all, in preventing wars, we [in Nato] must work as one ... The defenses we build must protect us all," the president said.

Plans for US national and Theater Missile Defense (TMD) are embedded in Bush's broader "new strategic vision" which, he said at Norfolk, would "challenge the status quo" and "redefine war on our terms". To begin to realize this vision, Bush is redirecting US$2.6 billion from the $310 billion defense budget for next year to research. But beyond pay increases for military personnel, no immediate rise in the defense budget is envisaged. Prior to that, a "top-to-bottom" review of the military, including its strategy, missions, modernization priorities and nuclear weapons arsenal is to be carried out, an initial take on which has been entrusted to Andrew W Marshall, the little known, but to security policy insiders legendary, 79-year-old director of the equally little known Office of Net Assessment in the Department of Defense (Pentagon).

Marshall is an unconventional military thinker and a controversial figure in defense circles for his outspoken criticism of some of the traditional pillars of US strategy and procurement policy. He has questioned the usefulness of the new F-22 fighter, the crown jewel of the Air Force's acquisition program, and has called the Army's heavy tanks and the Navy's aircraft carriers possible deathtraps that ought to be phased out before they prove to be the horse cavalry of the 21st century. But Marshall has a long and close association with new Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and there is a great likelihood that major conclusions of his review will become part of the new US military strategic doctrine and weapons programs.

The initial Marshall review is on an extraordinarily fast track. It was ordered on February 6 and is to be wound up by the middle of March - not next year, but this year - lasting a total of six weeks. In this short period of time, Marshall and his team are to conduct a broad analysis of America's likely future adversaries and the nature of future wars and to determine how many conflicts the US should be prepared to fight at once and what forces will be required to do so. But Marshall is arguably the man best prepared anywhere to carry out this daunting task. He started his career in 1949 as a nuclear strategist at the Rand Corporation, has served as a civilian Pentagon official since 1973, and since the late 1980s has headed numerous major studies on revolutions in military affairs (or "RMAs" in Pentagon-speak).

In mid-1993, he finished the first US assessment of an emerging military-technical revolution (MTR). Marshall began to favor the term "military revolutions" to describe the kinds of transformations he foresaw based on his reading and appreciation of the writings of Marshal N V Ogarkov, the 1980s chief of the Soviet General Staff. In 1984, Ogarkov speculated that "the emergence ... of automated reconnaissance-and-strike complexes", including qualitatively new electronic control systems and very accurate, long-range munitions, will "make it possible to sharply increase (by at least an order of magnitude) the destructive potential of conventional weapons, bringing them closer to weapons of mass destruction in terms of effectiveness". Then, in the wake of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Russian observers concluded that the "integration of control, communications, reconnaissance, electronic combat, and delivery of conventional fire into a single whole" had been "realized for the first time". Marshall has been on that general tack ever since and more recently has integrated notions of information and "cyberwarfare" into his thinking.

As for identification of potential US adversaries in the post-Cold War period, Marshall's focus has been on China. In 1999, he sponsored war games and analyses concentrating on threats in Asia generally and from China specifically. "Most US military assets are in Europe where there are no foreseeable conflicts threatening vital US interests ... The threats are in Asia," he wrote at the time. And the "Asia 2025" study concluded that the view that Chinese-American relations might evolve gently and fruitfully had to be rejected: whether strong or relatively weak, "China will be a persistent competitor of the United States ... A stable and powerful China will be constantly challenging the status quo in East Asia. An unstable and relative[ly] weak China could be dangerous because its leaders might try to bolster their power with foreign military adventurism."

Sound familiar? It was one of the themes of George W Bush's major campaign speech on US foreign policy. Similarly, Marshall is responsible for much of the contents of a Bush speech on military policy delivered at the Citadel military school in September 1999. What Bush advocated in 1999 is now being implemented.

((c)2001 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd. All rights reserved.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 22, 2001



Part 3: The nature of future wars and US strategy By Uwe Parpart

For several years the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) has declared that it is pursuing fundamental changes to the US force structure and modernization programs that are designed to capture an emerging "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA). What sort of revolution are we talking about?

Andrew W Marshall, director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, the man now charged by President George W Bush and by his new (and former, during the Ford administration) immediate boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, with conducting a fast-track review of US strategy and weapons programs with a view toward taking revolutionary new developments into account, says that RMAs result "when the application of new technologies to a significant number of military systems combines with innovative operational concepts and organizational adaptation in such a way that it fundamentally alters the character and conduct of a conflict".

Marshall's starting point in defining the current RMA with the aim of restructuring the US military "top-to-bottom", appears to be the 1991 Persian Gulf War. That war, he says, "needs to be seen as something like Cambrai [the 1917 battle in which the British first employed tanks on a large scale]". In the 1920s and '30s, the German military applied the lessons of Cambrai and evolved the tank- and ground- attack aircraft-led "blitzkrieg" tactics that allowed it to defeat numerically vastly superior French and British forces in 1940 in record time. But much as the British and French to their detriment did not build fast enough on the basis of technological and tactical innovations that had given them victory in World War I, Marshall complains that the US defense establishment in the 1990s has been slow in pushing ahead with in-depth transformation of US forces in line with technologies and operational concepts that proved so devastatingly effective in the Gulf War. "Back in 1990," he lamented at a Brookings Institution presentation last year, "I thought we were at about 1923. Now, after the passage of 10 years, I think we have reached 1924."

The Gulf War equivalent of massed tank attack at Cambrai was deployment of superior information gathering and processing technology to convey real-time intelligence on the battlefield and enable use of lethal, long-range, precision-guided munitions on a continuous 24-hour basis. Numerically superior Iraqi forces barely ever knew what would or did hit them, found what hit them impossible to locate or out of range of their weapons systems, and saw their own internal communications systems shut down or severely degraded by electronic attack. The ground war was over in less than 100 hours with minimal US and allied forces casualties.

Those Gulf War lessons are embodied in the US Joint Chiefs of Staff "Joint Vision 2010" and "Joint Vision 2020" (the latter issued in May 2000) military doctrine and the parallel Force XXI US Army concept which stresses superior situational awareness, high-speed operations, massing of effects, and precision deep fire. But apparently President Bush, who accused the Clinton administration of "neglect" of the military during the election campaign, and reviewer Marshall believe that too little is being done too slowly by way of implementation. And judging by Marshall's writings and speeches, he will want to go further and in his ongoing assessment of US forces and strategy take into account not merely the need for rapid introduction of technological advances and concomitant operational concepts, but also the threats arising from so-called asymmetrical responses by technologically less advanced potential US adversaries.

One such asymmetrical response (denoting the use of unconventional tactics in combat rather than use of forces of comparable size and quality and employing similar tactics) was demonstrated by Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War when he decided to fire primitive but effective Scud missiles at declared non-combatant but close US ally Israel and at US and allied logistics bases in Saudi Arabia. US defenses proved largely ineffective in countering that threat. Another such response was the attack by Islamist terrorists allegedly linked to Afghanistan-based Osama bin Laden on the US missile destroyer Cole in the port of Aden last year. Yet another example of the threat of asymmetrical warfare is the rudimentary, but potentially devastating, nuclear-ballistic missile capability of countries such as North Korea and Iran, reviewed in 1998 by a US panel headed by Donald Rumsfeld which recommended deployment of US ballistic missile defenses.

More generally, what asymmetric responses to technically superior US capabilities could accomplish is laid out in great detail in the book Unrestricted Warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, published by the Chinese People's Liberation Army Literature and Arts Publishing House (Beijing) in February 1999. Methods of warfare proposed in the book include hacking into websites, targeting financial institutions, engaging in terrorism, and using the media, to name only a few. The authors are two senior colonels from the younger generation of Chinese military officers. In an interview with Zhongguo Qingnian Bao, Qiao stated that "the first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden".

So, Marshall has his hands full with his US forces review and knows that even with national and theater missile defense and timely implementation of revolutionary technologies and tactics, US security and the "full spectrum dominance" ("the ability of US forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the entire range of military operations, from nuclear war to major theater wars to smaller-scale contingencies") aimed for in "JV2020" will not be easy to come by. He himself has pointed out that most of the tools of information warfare or long- range precision strike weapons are or will soon be available to most anyone.

"JV2020" calls for the US "to work to shape the international security environment in ways favorable to American interests, be willing and able to respond to the full spectrum of crises as needed, and prepare now for an uncertain future". But what exactly are those "American interests" that the "international security environment" should be tailored to suit? Do they include containing the influence of an economically and militarily increasingly powerful China in Asia, as the Marshall "Asia 2025" study (see Part 2 of this series) seems to suggest? Does the American national interest demand that the US military spring to the defense of Taiwan in case of conflict with mainland China? Does it demand enforcement of no-fly zones in Iraq 10 years after the Gulf War and if so, for how long?

In his recent Norfolk, Virginia speech (see Part 1 ), George W Bush said, "We must put strategy first, then spending. Our defense vision will drive our defense budget, not the other way around." That's agreed. But strategy itself cannot be narrowly defined only in terms of superior military-strategic capabilities or else military commitments become open-ended and unlimited, by definition regarding the rise of any power anywhere as an intrinsic threat to the United States. Bush and his advisers during the election campaign showed a fair understanding of that. They criticized what they saw as the Clinton administration's "open-ended deployments and unclear military missions" and pledged "to find political solutions that allow an orderly and timely withdrawal [of US forces]". Bush also pledged that, "As president, I will order an immediate review of our overseas deployments - in dozens of countries." That review, much as Marshall's review of US military capabilities, is now in order and should be as "challenging to the status quo" as Bush has mandated Marshall's exercise to be.

((c)2001 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 22, 2001.

oops! This one didn't insert properly.


Part 2: The enemy is China

By Uwe Parpart Editor, Asia Times Online

US President George W Bush has tasked the obscure Office of Net Assessment of the Department of Defense (Pentagon) and its publicity- shy director, veteran - very veteran, he's 79 years old - Andrew W Marshall, with conducting a fast-track, six-week review of American military strategy in light of revolutionary military-technological developments and changed, post-Cold War international strategic alignments and potential adversaries. Judging by published views of Marshall and the Office of Net Assessment, the likely principal new challenger of US dominance is China, and India bears close watching.

In the summer of 1999, Marshall assembled a group of academics, former government officials and current uniformed and civilian Pentagon officials for his annual summer study of military-strategic topics. But this time around, the subject was not Marshall's long- time favorite, military-technological revolutions, it was Asia - specifically China. The Office of Net Assessment director had long complained that the Pentagon and the US military were bereft of China experts, but this gap was going to be redressed. The challenge put before the study group was to imagine what Asia and China would be like in the year 2025 and what threats this might pose to American interests in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.

Some interesting worst-case scenarios emerged. Today, China has about 1.2 billion people and a GDP of US$1 trillion growing at an annual rate of 7-8 percent. By 2025, its population will be 1.5 billion, its GDP in the $6 trillion-$7 trillion range (comparable to that of the US or the EU in the mid-1990s), and it will be able to avail itself of the most advanced technologies. Now imagine that this economic giant has intimidated Taiwan into effective submission, persuaded Korea and Japan to close the US bases on their territories, and made a deal with India to divide Asia into spheres of Chinese and Indian influence at America's expense. What sort of China would that be? A China, says the "Asia 2025" study group report, that "will be a persistent competitor of the United States" and "will be constantly challenging the status quo in East Asia". And on the other hand, "an unstable and relatively weak China could be dangerous because its leaders might try to bolster their power with foreign military adventurism".

The type of military threat China would pose in 2025 or the type of military action it and other Asian nations could engage in in the interim years are developed with numerous details in the "Asia 2025" report. Even prior to 2025, off-the-shelf cruise missiles will be available to China and other Asian nations on the global arms market. Satellite-based navigation systems will make those weapons highly accurate. And, of course, such missiles can be nuclear-armed. "As a result, states in the region may have powerful methods of ... influencing the behavior of their neighbors that do not involve the threat or use of major forces for invasion, conquest or occupation of territory. Instead, force will be used and objectives will be obtained increasingly through strategies that seek to coerce, intimidate or deny access," the report states.

And the following scenario for future Taiwan crises is seen as possible, even likely: China decides to try to force Taiwan to accept reunification on Beijing's terms. Its first military step is a naval blockade of Taiwan. The United States sends ships to challenge the blockade. In response, the Chinese threaten missile attacks or hit American vessels, persuading Washington that it has to choose between going to war and pulling back. Hesitation in Washington or a decision to retreat prompts the collapse of the Taiwanese stock market, currency and economy. The Taiwanese establishment quickly accepts whatever deal Beijing is offering - and that isn't all. US failure to support its ally persuades other Asian powers that they, too, must accommodate the rising China. Japan makes a deal with Beijing for security and autonomy, in return agreeing to close all US bases. A reunified Korea, swept up by nationalist sentiment, also expels the Americans. China effectively dominates the entire region. "An Asia it dominates but does not conquer or occupy is China's goal," the study says. But it also imagines another China whose economy has crumbled and whose communist regime is ended by a military coup. In more general terms, write the study's authors, "We are concerned that many people in the defense planning community believe that the future will be largely a projection of the present ... [But] we are likely to be surprised by the 'non-linear' nature of the events and forces that shape Asia's new strategic environment."

All this might be written off as paranoid or, for that matter, self- fulfilling worst-case scenario mongering in which study conclusions lead to implementation of US policies that inevitably bring about what the scenarios outline. But Marshall and his teams do not simply pull scenarios out of thin air. In 1996, the Office of Net Assessment commissioned a laborious translation of hundreds of books and journal articles by mid-level Chinese military officers showing that Beijing's future military leadership sees US military power as waning and plans to exploit weaknesses in US weaponry and supply lines should conflict occur. The Pentagon analysis of Chinese military writings was disclosed in September 1997 to the US Senate Intelligence Committee in a hearing on intelligence challenges posed by China. Pentagon analyst Michael Pillsbury told the committee that the Chinese studies acknowledged that China's forces remained decades behind those of the United States. But they argued that China could catch up with power-leveraging weapons such as highly accurate cruise missiles and torpedoes. US Navy task forces, strung-out supply convoys, logistics bases, military computers and even stealth aircraft could become vulnerable if China exploited the proper technologies. One book published in 1996 by Maj Gen Li Zeyun contained articles, said Pillsbury, written by 64 People's Liberation Army authors listing in detail weaknesses in US Army, Navy and Air Force capability. The articles, Pillsbury said, were not only "very unfriendly'' toward the United States, they also were highly accurate in their analysis of weak points in US weaponry.

The Chinese strategy, according to Pillsbury, involves "asymmetric warfare", leveraging inexpensive technology to defeat expensive US technology. Chang Mengxiong, former senior engineer of the Beijing Institute of Systems Engineering, wrote that by developing superior information technology the Chinese military could adopt methods that were "like a Chinese boxer with a knowledge of vital body points who can bring an opponent to his knees with a minimum of movement". An article by Major-General Sun Bailin of the Academy of Military Science argued that the US dependence on information superhighways made it vulnerable to attack by "electrical incapacitation systems". Captain Shen Zhongchang and co-authors from the Chinese Navy Research Institute wrote about techniques for defeating a larger, more powerful navy, including highly accurate, land-based, anti-ship missiles. Shen's article paid particular attention to attacks aimed at logistics bases and supply lines, noting for example US supply operations during the Persian Gulf War.

So, Marshall and his colleagues are not merely talking through their hats. As the Bush administration's "top-to-bottom" review of US military capabilities proceeds, it will take into account the Chinese capabilities, strategies and tactics the US expects to encounter in coming years.

((c)2001 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 22, 2001.

"electrical incapacitation systems". A term to remember.

Microsoft exec: Hacking came from China ISP

2001-02-23 by Cydney Gillis Journal Business Reporter

REDMOND -- Microsoft Corp.'s No. 3 executive says that human error -- not any vulnerability in its software -- is the culprit when hackers crack computers.

That includes a break-in the Redmond software giant's own computer network suffered last October. Yesterday, Bob Herbold, Microsoft's soon-to-retire chief operating officer, revealed for the first time that the hacking originated from an Internet service provider in China.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 23, 2001.

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