Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 05/04/13

Massenbach-Letter

Udo von Massenbach
Guten Morgen.
Seit Mai 2012:

Auch an die
Mitglieder des Verteidigungsausschusses
des Deutschen Bundestages.
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News alert:

West embargoes arms to Syrian rebels over their resale to al Qaeda-

DEBKAfile Special Report March 30, 2013-

„This week, the region finds itself caught up by a menace more immediate even than a chemical war:seizing control of an important regional water source.“

The Western arms pipeline to the Syrian rebels fighting Bashar Assad is starting to run dry since the discovery that some of the weapons are being resold and used by al Qaeda in its conquest of southern Syrian and takeover of positions on the Jordanian and Israel borders. French President Francois Hollande for this reason reversed his government’s policy. “We will not do it [send the Syrian rebel arms] as long as we cannot be certain that there is complete control of the situation by the opposition,” he said Friday, March 29.
That day too, Ankara announced that Turkish authorities had impounded 5,000 shotguns, rifles, starting pistols, gunstocks and 10,000 cartridges in the village of Akcakale before they were sent across into Syria.

debkafile’s military sources: These steps are effectively putting in place a Western embargo on arms supplies to the Syrian rebels and not only the Assad regime. Saudi Arabia and Qatar remain their only sources of weapons.

This follows information reaching Washington, Paris, Ankara and Jerusalem in recent weeks that parts of the weapons consignments destined for the Syrian rebels, especially the Free Syrian Army, are being resold to Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamist militia which this week proclaimed itself al Qaeda of Syria amid a major offensive for the occupation of southern Syria.

The aggressive Al Qaeda push has in fact swept beyond the important plans finalized last week for a US-led campaign to combat the Syrian chemical weapons threat.
Two weeks ago, high-resolution maps were spread out in Jerusalem, Ankara and Amman, marking out zones inside Syria for their armies’ operations under the joint command centers the US set up last year in the three countries for combating chemical warfare.

Those plans and centers switched over last week to operational mode.
Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu made an unconvincing attempt to separate the Turkish-Israeli reconciliation from the Syrian issue. However, the fact remains that it was Barack Obama, during his trip to the region on March 20-22, who brought Turkey together with Israel and Jordan for the first joint operation in history on the soil of an Arab nation under US command.

This week, the region finds itself caught up by a menace more immediate even than a chemical war:

Scarcely noticed by the world and Israeli media (busy celebrating the Passover festival), Jabhat al Nusra is about to overrun southern Syria.

Using Western- and Arab-supplied arms smuggled in for the Syrian rebels from Turkey and Lebanon, the jihadists are taking up positions on the Israeli and Jordanian borders while also assuming control over the Yarmouk River and its tributaries.

Water in the Middle East has caused the outbreak of more than one armed conflict. And indeed 50 years ago, Israel and Israel fought a war, including aerial dogfights, to dominate that same Yarmouk River. The dispute was finally resolved when the United States stepped in and brokered an agreement for the distribution of its waters among Syria, Israel and Jordan.

Alarm over Nusra Front territorial gains has accordingly taken precedence over the chemical threat in the deliberations of the joint US-Israeli, US-Jordanian and US-Turkish command centers.

Al Qaeda’s Syrian wing has even been able to obtain from Iraqi jihadists its own stock of primitive chemicals – but weapons nonetheless.

The West hesitated too long before cutting off the supply of arms to the Syria rebels; it is already too late to prevent al Qaeda occupying international border regions and seizing control of an important regional water source. Dislodging them would call for a military offensive proper – which seems to be the rationale for the large military field hospital Israeli set up this week on its Golan border with Syria.

http://www.debka.com/article/22865/

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Massenbach Iraq, Afghan wars will cost to $4 trillion to $6 trillion, Harvard study says
By Ernesto Londoño,

Mar 28, 2013 11:28 PM EDT

The Washington Post Friday, March 29, 12:28 AM

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher.

Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.

“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,” the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.”

Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.

“Historically, the bill for these costs has come due many decades later,” the report says, noting that the peak disbursement of disability payments for America’s warriors in the last century came decades after the conflicts ended. “Payments to Vietnam and first Gulf War veterans are still climbing.”

Spending borrowed money to pay for the wars has also made them more expensive, the study noted. The conflicts have added $2 trillion to America’s debt, representing roughly 20 percent of the debt incurred between 2001 and 2012.

Bilmes’s estimate provides a higher range than another authoritative study on the same issue by Brown University’s Eisenhower Research Project. Brown researchers put the price tag at roughly $4 trillion.

Both figures are dramatically higher than what U.S. officials projected they would spend when they were planning to go to war in Iraq. Stephen Friedman, a senior White House official, left government in 2002 after irking his colleagues by publicly estimating that the Iraq war could end up costing up to $200 billion.

It’s unclear how long Washington will keep paying bills for that conflict, which dragged on for nearly a decade and became deeply unpopular at home and in Iraq. Judging from history, it could take quite awhile. The Associated Press recently found that the federal government is still cutting checks each month to relatives of Civil War veterans nearly 150 years after the end of that war.

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http://costsofwar.org/

http://costsofwar.org/iraq-10-years-after-invasion

Jun 29, 2011 02:27 PM EDT

TheWashingtonPost

New estimate of U.S. war costs: $4 trillion

By Jason Ukman

Amid a growing debate over how to bring down the government’s debt, a new study has concluded that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan has cost up to $4 trillion over the past decade.

The study, by the nonpartisan Eisenhower Research Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, also estimates that at least 225,000 people, including civilians, troops and insurgents, have died as a result of the conflicts. Of that number, an estimated 6,000 were uniformed U.S. military personnel.

Pentagon spending accounts for only half of the budgetary costs incurred and represents a fraction of the full economic cost of the wars, according to the study. Among other line items, the study’s contributors — more than 20 economists, political scientists and other experts — estimate federal obligations to care for past and future veterans will eventually total $600 billion to $950 billion.

The estimates are based on reports from the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service and myriad other sources.

The $4 trillion estimate could be fodder for lawmakers increasingly concerned that the United States can ill-afford to maintain a large military presence in Afghanistan.

The study’s authors say that’s a debate worth having.“Some people will say that’s an expensive price tag, but what we’re trying to do makes it worth it. Other people will say we can’t afford it,” Catherine Lutz, co-director of the “Costs of War” project, said in an interview. “That’s the debate.”

Lutz said the group began its research about a year ago, but that it’s fortunate that the findings are being released in the midst of a major debate about government spending. It “makes no sense” to have that debate without solid data, she said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/new-estimate-of-us-war-costs-4-trillion/2011/06/29/AGnolfqH_blog.html

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Policy = res publica

Bärbel Freudenberg-PilsterFreudenberg-Pilster ‚Report: 5000 Afghan troops quit their job every month’

Six nations prepare for major Helmand operationAccording to the latest figures revealed for every 10 new soldiers recruited to the Afghan National Army (ANA), at least three are lost because they have been sacked, captured or killed in action.

The issue has created concerns regarding the ability of Afghan security forces to protect emerging democracy when coalition forces are leaving the country in less than years time.

Around 5,000 Afghan troops are are quitting every month, according to the latest attrition rates confirmed by British officials.

As the Afghan army and police forces are seen as vital to prevent the return of the Taliban however the Afghan National Security Forces’ (ANSF) failure to hit recruitment and retention targets is particularly troubling for Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

The latest British Government assessments of Afghanistan’s progress towards the goals of stability and democracy confirm that the rate of recruits leaving is far worse than targets set by coalition leaders, amounting to 63,000 every year, or more than a third of the current size of the army, The Independent reported.

The Foreign Office (FCO) has also admitted that the number of recruits exiting the ANA, the border police and the national civil order police has caused “a drain on skills”.

In the meantime Afghan defense ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said the statistics of the report is not correct and he also ruled out concerns that that Afghan army is being threatened by attrition rate.

Article taken from Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper – http://www.khaama.com
URL to article: http://www.khaama.com/report-5000-afghan-troops-quit-their-job-every-month-2319

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Politics: from Vision to Action

Barandat Can the Marines Survive?
If America’s amphibious force doesn’t adapt, it’ll be dead in the water.
MARCH 26, 2013

On one day in 1965, a large sortie of U.S. Air Force F-105s dropped over 600 750-pound bombs on the Thanh Hoa Bridge, just 70 kilometers south of Hanoi. The result was the loss of five U.S. aircraft and a complete failure to destroy the bridge. Amazingly, the bridge would withstand over 800 more sorties from U.S. aircraft in the next seven years and receive the moniker „The Dragon’s Jaw“ because of its seeming indestructability and the nearby air defenses that stymied U.S. forces. Finally, in 1972, a sortie of F-4Ds carrying the new Paveway laser-guided bomb destroyed the Thanh Hoa Bridge.

Although not obvious at the time, the advent of the Paveway marked the beginning of a dramatic transformation in U.S. military technology that would change warfare forever. The revolution in precision munitions that began then has so accelerated in recent years that enemy forces can no longer operate in formations and in mass. They simply present too big a target.That, in turn, means that the days of U.S. corps, divisions, and brigades maneuvering on a battlefield with tanks, artillery, and motorized/mechanized infantry are numbered. Our surveillance capabilities allow us to sense everything on the battlefield. Any sizable vehicle formation, or single vehicle for that matter, can be destroyed with the click of a button half a world away. On today’sbattlefield, movement means death.

A lively debate is taking place within the Pentagon these days over how to adapt to this new reality. The Air Force and the Navy have come up with a new concept called Air-Sea Battle, which focuses on integrating naval and air forces to defeat adversaries with precision weapons backed by robust intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets. Simply put, the Air Force and the Navy are embracing new technology and have come to understand that with an integrated approach they should be able to defeat an enemy that is hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles away.

By contrast, the Marines — and the Army — are still trained in infantry tactics that would be recognizable to a World War II vet, organized to fight big land battles with heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers. There’s an elephant walking around the Pentagon these days and everyone is trying to ignore it. No one wants to talk about the fact that land forces, as currently organized, are becoming increasingly irrelevant. This is not to say that there is no use for ground troops. They are needed, but in future conflicts they will only play a secondary role. Land forces will no longer win wars. Computers, missiles, planes, and drones will. If the Marines want to survive, we’re going to have to adapt — and fast.

Struggling for Relevance

The Marines are a door-kicking service, designed to breach enemy territory and establish an entry point for the Army’s strategic land capability.But the U.S. military’s development of unmanned aircraft, combined with stealth technology and unmatched ISR capability, makes it almost impossible for an enemy today to significantly impede the landing of U.S. forces on a beach or at a port. Forcible entry no longer requires landing forces — it takes precision strikes, coordinated by special operations forces as needed. But if the door is going to be kicked in by a cruise missile, an unmanned aircraft, or other platform delivering precision munitions, why does the Marine Corps insist on maintaining such a large amphibious forcible entry capability based around the same Marine who stormed ashore at Tarawa? Because to argue that the United States does not need a forcible-entry force would be to question the very necessity of having a Marine Corps. Unfortunately, that is the question the Corps must now answer.

The Marines could have pushed for change 10 years ago. Following the 9/11 attacks, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approached the Marine commandant and asked if the Marines could take on a special operations role within the Department of Defense. For the secretary, it seemed logical. The Marine Corps is designed to operate independently when necessary; it can sustain itself with a well-oiled logistics organization, and it even has its own air wings. At the time, most special operations forces resided in the Army and in Navy Special Warfare and there was an emerging shortage of operators. The Corps could have filled the gap in special forces that existed right after 9/11.

The Marine Corps leadership balked at this proposition. A compromise with Rumsfeld did lead to the creation of Marine Special Operations Command, which now operates under U.S. Special Operations Command, but it was slow to get off the ground and has had trouble establishing credibility within the special operations community. The Marine Corps then focused on fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next 10 years. With Iraq over and Afghanistan drawing to a close, planners can now focus again on what the United States will need in a possible unlimited war. But the Marine Corps — and the Army — have been caught flat-footed, unable to truly grasp the superiority of U.S. technology and how ground forces must adapt to harness its potential.

So what should the Marine Corps do?

First, it needs to recognize that future wars will be very different. Firepower will be brought to bear by unmanned surveillance aircraft and by small, highly trained teams. These teams will be fast, exceptionally physically fit, able to operate independently, but also able to operate with larger forces when necessary. Teams will be inserted by parachute, landing zone, or over the horizon from the sea. They will be backed up by a robust logistics tail and continuous, round-the-clock air support that provides security to compensate for their small size. Air support will consist of fixed-wing assets at sea, national assets based around the world, and fleets of unmanned aircraft that constantly surveil each team and the area in which they operate. That means teams are unlikely to be surprised or ambushed, and when threats are identified, they can be quickly neutralized by precision munitions launched from drones, manned aircraft, and ships. The teams will be able to conduct precision operations and a variety of raids, or hundreds of operators can be employed in coordination with each other during high-intensity conflicts.

In short, the future of warfare is in special operations, and the Pentagon will need a lot more operators. The future of the Marine Corps is as a special operations force that functions in a sustained combat mode.

Second, the Marine Corps needs to start thinking in terms of what the military calls „jointness“ — the ability to operate with other services. The Department of Defense is now joint through and through, and yet the Marine Corps still prides itself as an expeditionary force, able to deploy with limited external support. That has been a strength of the Marine Corps, but today it may be a liability. One problem is that the Marine Corps does not own most of the precision weapons platforms that are needed to operate on future battlefields. It needs to accept that it will have to rely on its sister services (particularly the Air Force) for ISR and close-air support to ensure the viability of small teams. Yes, there is probably some benefit to having a Marine pilot supporting Marine ground forces, as we were always told at The Basic School. But is a Navy or Air Force pilot really unable to adequately support Marines on the ground? Just maintaining the command, control, communications, computers, combat systems, and intelligence structure that will eventually connect every Marine on the battlefield will require Air Force platforms. The Marine Corps will not be able to maintain the data connectivity needed to manage the future battlefield. Instead of fighting jointness, the Corps should articulate how it can be leveraged to make Marines even more lethal.

Third, the Corps will have to completely change its approaches to doctrine, training, and equipment. Organizing for land battles or amphibious forcible entry is outdated, because U.S. firepower can obliterate any enemy force that dares to occupy the battlespace. Quite simply, there will be nothing for tanks and large troop formations to fight. The future belongs to small teams who will not be supported by air power and precision munitions, but who will actually support air power and precision munitions. The doctrine of close-air support will be reversed, turning into „close-ground support“ whereby Marines will be a supporting component in a much larger campaign of missiles and guided munitions.

To operate in small teams that can coordinate a massive precision-engagement campaign, Marines will have to change the way they fight and train. The ethos of „every Marine a rifleman“ will shift to „every Marine a JTAC,“ or joint terminal air controller. A Marine or team that cannot communicate on the battlefield will die. Marines will manage and become experts on dozens of different communications platforms ensuring double and triple redundancy. The battlefield of the future will be wired with data pipes bigger than the Alaskan Pipeline. If commanders today worry about information overload, they haven’t seen anything yet. Every warrior on the battlefield will have access to the common operating picture, able to call in dozens of precision strikes from multiple platforms at once. Graduation exercises at infantry school will be based around scenarios that test the ability of the individual and team to operate in austere environments under physically grueling conditions — while maintaining continuous communications over several waveforms. The Crucible will look like a day at the fair.

Organizationally, the Marine rifle squad as we know it today will no longer exist. Each squad will have a signals intelligence specialist, data and communications specialists, demolitions experts, one or two corpsmen, a sniper, and two or three machine gun teams — only one or two team members may be certified „JTACs“ but all must know how to coordinate the use of precision munitions and air assets via multiple radio and data waveforms. From the lowest-ranking member of the team to the general officer leading the joint task force headquarters, live video feeds will stream continuously, giving every warfighter a clear, concise picture of the battlefield. Rarely will the Marine of the future use his personal weapon; „rifleman“ will become an antiquated term.

Elite Again

Leadership organization and manpower management will all have to be addressed if the Marine Corps is to conduct a significant re-organization. Marines operating in small teams will probably require over a year of training, probably more. A normal four-year enlistment might not be cost effective. Force structure may have to be reduced in order to ensure there are enough recruits with the qualifications and physical abilities to make the cut as operatives in the new elite Marine teams. Suffice it to say, the changes will hit every area of the Corps from recruiting to training to organization to equipping. The Marine Corps has been historically infantry-centric; to remain so could mean its eventual irrelevancy.

We will never fight another war in the mud. However, special forces can currently operate only for short periods of time; they cannot operate in a sustained mode in the face of significant opposition. The Marine Corps is in a position to fill the gap that currently exists within the special forces community. The Marine Corps must recognize the change that is sweeping the U.S. military and be the trailblazers we have always been when it comes to innovating and providing the most bang for the nation’s buck. Failure to act could mean increasing irrelevance for a force that has been one of the United States’s most storied and effective fighting organizations.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/26/can_the_marines_survive?page=full

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China in the Eyes of the Saudi Media
By: Mohammad Al-Sudairi
Publication Date: March 4th, 2013
Publisher: Gulf Research Center

Abstract: This paper is primarily aimed at examining the question of why Saudi public opinion, in contradistinction to wider regional trends and despite active promotion of bilateral ties, continues to hold persistent negative attitudes about China. Due to limitations in available surveys and polls, the paper draws on material taken from the Saudi media covering the period 2006-2012 and focusing on a set of political and economic topics with the hope of identifying existing themes and images about China therein. By examining how China is perceived by the press, and how the perceptions are conditioned by political messaging and populist sentiments, this paper hopes to uncover some of the sources underlying the Saudi population’s negative perceptions about China. This study is a preliminary attempt at re-examining some of our widely-accepted beliefs regarding the dynamics shaping Sino-Arab relations, and especially public receptivity towards China.

http://grc.net/index.php?frm_module=contents&frm_action=detail_book&pub_type=16&sec=Contents&frm_title=&book_id=80426&op_lang=en

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Middle East

Kaplan: Israel’s Insightful Cynicism

Israel is in the process of watching a peace treaty unravel. I don’t mean the one with Egypt, but the one with Syria. No, I’m not crazy. Since Henry Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy in 1974, the Israelis have had a de facto peace agreement of sorts with the al Assad family. After all, there were clear red lines that both sides knew they shouldn’t cross, as well as reasonable predictability on both sides. Forget about the uplifting rhetoric, the requirement to exchange ambassadors and the other public policy frills that normally define peace treaties. What counts in this case is that both sides observed limits and constraints, so that the contested border between them was secure. Even better, because there was no formal peace agreement in writing, neither side had to make inconvenient public and strategic concessions. Israel did not have to give up the Golan Heights, for example. And if Syria stepped over a red line in Lebanon, or say, sought a nuclear capacity as it did, Israel was free to punish it through targeted military strikes. There was usefully no peace treaty that Israel would have had to violate.

Of course, the Syrians built up a chemical arsenal and invited the Iranians all over their country and Lebanon. But no formal treaty in the real world — given the nature of the Syrian regime — would likely have prevented those things. In an imperfect world of naked power, the al Assads were at least tolerable. Moreover, they represented a minority sect, which prevented Syria from becoming a larger and much more powerful version of radical, Sunni Arab Gaza. In February 1993 in The Atlantic Monthly, I told readers that Syria was not a state but a writhing underworld of sectarian and ethnic divides and that the al Assads might exit the stage through an Alawite mini-state in the northwest of their country that could be quietly supported by the Israeli security services. That may yet come to pass.

Israeli political leaders may periodically tell the media that Bashar al Assad’s days are numbered, but that does not necessarily mean Israelis themselves believe that is an altogether good scenario. Indeed, I strongly suspect that, for example, when the Israelis and the Russians meet, they have much in common regarding Syria. Russia is supporting the al Assad regime through arms transfers by sea and through Iraq and Iran. Israelis may see some benefits in this. Russian President Vladimir Putin may actually enjoy his meetings with Israelis — who likely don’t lecture him about human rights and the evils of the al Assad regime the way the Americans do.

True, a post-al Assad Syria may undermine Iranian influence in the Levant, which would be a great benefit to Israel, as well as to the United States. On the other hand, a post-al Assad Syria will probably be an anarchic mess in which the Iranians will skillfully back proxy guerrilla groups and still be able to move weapons around. Again, al Assad is the devil you know. And the fact that he is no longer, functionally speaking, the president of Syria but, rather, the country’s leading warlord, presents challenges that Israelis would prefer not to face.

What about Hezbollah, in this admittedly cynical Israeli view? Hezbollah is not a strategic threat to Israel. Hezbollah fighters are not about to march en masse over the border into Haifa and Tiberias. Anti-missile systems like Iron Dome and David’s Sling could reasonably contain the military threat from the north. Then there are Israel’s bomb shelters — a one-time only expense. Hezbollah, moreover, needs Israel. For without a powerful Israel, Hezbollah would be robbed of the existential adversary that provides Hezbollah with its immense prestige in the Lebanese political universe, making Hezbollah so much more than just another Shiite group battling Sunnis.

Israel’s war against Hezbollah in 2006 is known as a disaster. But it did have its positive side effects: Israel has had seven years of relative peace on its northern border, even as the war usefully exposed many inadequacies in the Israeli military and reserve system that had been building for years and were henceforth decisively repaired, making Israel stronger as a consequence.

Threats abound, truly. The collapse of the al Assad regime may lead to a weapons free-for-all — just like in post-Gadhafi Libya

Harvard-Financial Legacy-Iraq-Afghanistan-RWP13-006_Bilmes.pdf
Iraq_ 10 Years After Invasion _ Costs of War-new research findings.pdf

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