An Assessment of the 2018 U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Strategy Summary

Doctor No has worked in the Cybersecurity field for more than 15 years.  He has also served in the military.  He has a keen interest in following the latest developments in foreign policy, information security, intelligence, military, space and technology-related issues.  You can follow him on Twitter @DoctorNoFI.  The author wishes to remain anonymous due to the work he is doing.  The author also wishes to thank @LadyRed_6 for help in editing.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group. 


Title:
  An Assessment of the 2018 U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Strategy Summary

Date Originally Written:  November 11, 2018.

Date Originally Published:  December 3, 2018.

Summary:  On September 18, 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released a summary of its new Cyber Strategy.  While the summary indicates that the new document is more aggressive than the 2015 strategy, that is not surprising as President Donald Trump differs significantly from President Barack Obama.  Additionally, many areas of adversary vulnerabilities will likely be taken advantage of based upon this new strategy.

Text:
  The U.S. DoD released a summary of its new Cyber Strategy on September 18, 2018[1].  This 2018 strategy supersedes the 2015 version.  Before looking at what has changed between the 2015 strategy and the new one, it is important to recap what has happened during the 2015-2018 timeframe.  In 2015, President Obama met with China’s Premier Xi Jinping, and one of the issues discussed was China’s aggressive cyber attacks and intelligence gathering targeting the U.S. Government, and similar activities targeting the intellectual property of U.S. companies.  The meeting and the sanctions before that did bear some fruit, as information security company FireEye reported cyber attacks from China against the U.S. decreased after that meeting[2].

Russia on the other hand, has increased cyber operations against the U.S. and other nations.  During 2014 in Ukraine, Russia seized Crimea, participated in military operations in Eastern Ukraine, and also demonstrated its might in cyber capabilities during these conflicts.  Perhaps the most significant cyber capability demonstrated by Russia was the hacking and immobilizing of Ukrainian power grid in December 2015[3].  This event was significant in that it attacked a critical part of another country’s essential infrastructure.

The cyber attack that had the most media coverage likely happened in 2016.  The media was shocked when Russians hacked the U.S. Democratic National Committee[4] and used that data against Presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, specifically in social media during the U.S. Presidential election[5].

The U.S. had its own internal cyber-related problems as well.  “Whistleblower” Reality Winner[6] and the criminal negligence of Nghia Hoang Pho[7] have somewhat damaged the National Security Agency’s (NSA) capabilities to conduct cyber operations.  The Nghia Hoang Pho case was probably the most damaging, as it leaked NSA’s Tailored Access Operations attacking tools to adversaries.  During this timeframe the U.S. Government also prohibited the use of Kaspersky Lab’s security products[8] in its computers due to security concerns.

Also worthy of note is that the U.S. administration has changed how it conducts diplomacy and handles military operations.  Some have said during President Obama’s tenure his administration micromanaged military operations[9].  This changed when President Trump came to the White House as he gave the U.S. military more freedom to conduct military operations and intelligence activities.

Taking these events into account, it is not surprising that the new DoD Cyber Strategy is more aggressive in its tone than the previous one.  Its statement to “defend forward to disrupt or halt malicious cyber activity at its source,” is perhaps the most interesting.  Monitoring adversaries is not new in U.S. actions, as the Edward Snowden leaks have demonstrated.  The strategy also names DoD’s main adversaries, mainly China and Russia, which in some fields can be viewed as near-peer adversaries.  The world witnessed a small example of what to expect as part of this new strategy when U.S. Cyber Command warned suspected Russian operatives of upcoming election meddling[10].

Much has been discussed about U.S. reliance on the Internet, but many forget that near-peer adversaries like China and Russia face similar issues.  What China and Russia perhaps fear the most, is the so-called Orange Revolution[11], or Arab Spring-style[12] events that can be inspired by Internet content.  Fear of revolution leads China and Russia to control and monitor much of their population’s access to Internet resources via the Great Firewall of China[13], and Russia’s SORM[14].  Financial and market data, also residing on the Internet, presents a vulnerability to Russia and China.  Much of the energy sector in these countries also operates and monitors their equipment thru Internet-connected resources.  All of these areas provide the U.S. and its allies a perfect place to conduct Computer Network Attack (CNA) and Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) operations, against both state and non-state actors in pursuit of U.S. foreign policy goals.  It is worth noting that Britain, arguably the closest ally to the U.S., is  also investing in Computer Network Operations, with emphasis on CNA and CNE capabilities against Russia’s energy sector for example.  How much the U.S. is actually willing to reveal of its cyber capabilities, is in the future to be seen.

Beyond these changes to the new DoD Cyber Strategy, the rest of the document follows the same paths as the previous one.  The new strategy continues the previous themes of increasing information sharing with allies, improving cybersecurity in critical parts of the homeland, increasing DoD resources, and increasing DoD cooperation with private industry that works with critical U.S. resources.

The new DoD Cyber Strategy is good, provides more maneuver room for the military, and its content will likely be of value to private companies as they think about what cyber security measures they should implement on their own systems.


Endnotes:


[1] U.S. Department of Defense. (2018). Summary of the Department of Defense Cyber Strategy. Retrieved from https://media.defense.gov/2018/Sep/18/2002041658/-1/-1/1/CYBER_STRATEGY_SUMMARY_FINAL.PDF

[2] Fireeye. (2016, June). REDLINE DRAWN: CHINA RECALCULATES ITS USE OF CYBER ESPIONAGE. Retrieved from https://www.fireeye.com/content/dam/fireeye-www/current-threats/pdfs/rpt-china-espionage.pdf

[3] Zetter, K. (2017, June 03). Inside the Cunning, Unprecedented Hack of Ukraine’s Power Grid. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2016/03/inside-cunning-unprecedented-hack-ukraines-power-grid/

[4] Lipton, E., Sanger, D. E., & Shane, S. (2016, December 13). The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/russia-hack-election-dnc.html

[5] Office of the Director of National Intelligence. (2017, January 6). Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution. Retrieved from https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

[6] Philipps, D. (2018, August 23). Reality Winner, Former N.S.A. Translator, Gets More Than 5 Years in Leak of Russian Hacking Report. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/us/reality-winner-nsa-sentence.html

[7] Cimpanu, C. (2018, October 01). Ex-NSA employee gets 5.5 years in prison for taking home classified info. Retrieved from https://www.zdnet.com/article/ex-nsa-employee-gets-5-5-years-in-prison-for-taking-home-classified-info/

[8] Volz, D. (2017, December 12). Trump signs into law U.S. government ban on Kaspersky Lab software. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-kaspersky/trump-signs-into-law-u-s-government-ban-on-kaspersky-lab-software-idUSKBN1E62V4

[9] Altman, G. R., & III, L. S. (2017, August 08). The Obama era is over. Here’s how the military rates his legacy. Retrieved from https://www.militarytimes.com/news/2017/01/08/the-obama-era-is-over-here-s-how-the-military-rates-his-legacy/

[10] Barnes, J. E. (2018, October 23). U.S. Begins First Cyberoperation Against Russia Aimed at Protecting Elections. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/23/us/politics/russian-hacking-usa-cyber-command.html

[11] Zasenko, O. E., & Kryzhanivsky, S. A. (2018, October 31). Ukraine. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.britannica.com/place/Ukraine/The-Orange-Revolution-and-the-Yushchenko-presidency#ref986649

[12] History Channel Editors. (2018, January 10). Arab Spring. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.history.com/topics/middle-east/arab-spring

[13] Chew, W. C. (2018, May 01). How It Works: Great Firewall of China – Wei Chun Chew – Medium. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://medium.com/@chewweichun/how-it-works-great-firewall-of-china-c0ef16454475

[14] Lewis, J. A. (2018, October 17). Reference Note on Russian Communications Surveillance. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from https://www.csis.org/analysis/reference-note-russian-communications-surveillance

Assessment Papers Cyberspace Doctor No Strategy

Options for the Strategic Goals of the Royal Canadian Navy

Lieutenant(N) Fred Genest is a Naval Warfare Officer in the Royal Canadian Navy and has deployed operationally in HMCS Charlottetown and HMCS Fredericton.  He is currently completing a Master of Public Administration degree while on staff at the Royal Military College of Canada.  He tweets at @RMCNavyGuy.  This article does not represent the policies or opinions of the Government of Canada or the Royal Canadian Navy.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


National Security Situation:  The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is in the process of recapitalizing its fleet but has not had a significant debate on its strategic goals in decades.

Date Originally Written:  December 19, 2017.

Date Originally Published:  March 12, 2018.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  This article is written from the point of view of the senior Canadian political and military leadership.

Background:  Successive governments have asserted that Canada must deploy warships overseas to help maintain international security and stability[1].  Despite the RCN’s fleet recapitalization, there has been no debate about the best way to employ its forces.

Current RCN employment is based on history, Cold War thinking, and national myths. Canada sees itself as “punching above its weight” since the Second World War.  In that war, Canada gave control of its forces to the British and American leaders, with disastrous results at home such as the closure of the St. Lawrence seaway.  During the Cold War, Canadian warships deployed with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Standing Naval Forces; this continues in the 21st century.  In its role as a “junior partner” since World War 2, Canada has followed the British and American lead in security and defence, subordinating its national interest to the alliance’s goals.

Significance:  As a sovereign middle power, Canada can set its own strategic priorities[2].  A commitment-capability gap—insufficient units to accomplish designated tasks—has been identified in the RCN since at least the 1964 White Paper on Defence[3].  The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) saw this as normal at the end of the Cold War[4].  A 2013 report[5] stated that Canada would have difficulty meeting its readiness and force posture requirements until well into the 2020s.  Adjusting the current strategy could help reduce the gap.

Option #1:  Maintain the status quo with a medium global force projection navy[6], constant rotations with NATO, and a worldwide presence.

Risk:  With Option #1 the commitment-capability gap could grow.  The Government of Canada (GoC) intends to be prepared to participate in concurrent operations across multiple theatres[7].  However, readiness goals will not be met until the late 2020s[8], perhaps even until the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) project is completed in the 2040s.  Manning is, and will remain, a problem in certain areas like anti-submarine warfare and engineering.

By continuing the historical pattern of letting alliance leaders determine its strategy, Canada is abdicating its responsibility to protect its national interests.

Gain:  There is prestige in being one of the few navies that routinely deploys around the world[9], and RCN ships are recognized by its allies as the “go-to” during operations[10].  Option #1 improves Canada’s standing in the world, especially amongst peer allied nations, and allows Canada to exercise some leadership in international affairs.  This increased leadership role allows Canada to further its interests through diplomacy.

Furthermore, there is a morale-boosting effect in having regular overseas deployments; sailors, like soldiers, are keen to acquire “bits of coloured ribbon.”  In the RCN, this is achieved through overseas operations.  Regular overseas deployments or lack thereof may therefore be a factor in recruitment and retention.

There is also an internal political gain: by highlighting successes abroad, the GoC can raise awareness of the RCN and increase popular support for its foreign policy[11].  This is beneficial to the RCN, as popular support can translate into political pressure to obtain the tools required to achieve its institutional goals.

Option #2:  Downgrade the RCN to a medium regional power projection navy.  Cease overseas deployments except for specific, time-limited United Nations or NATO missions critical for peace or security.

Risk:  No longer routinely deploying internationally would be seen as a loss of prestige, and could lead to a loss of informal diplomatic leadership.

Local operations are often unpopular with sailors, and removing the opportunity to go overseas could lead to a loss of morale, with obvious effects on retention.  Also, one of the main ways Canadian sailors are trained for full-spectrum operations is through workups leading to an overseas deployment, and through multinational exercises while deployed.  Removing those training opportunities could reduce personnel readiness.  Option #2 could also harm the justifications for future, or even current, procurement projects.

Gain:  RCN commitments would be more in line with capabilities.  The GoC’s commitments will continue to be difficult for the RCN to meet in the next decade[12]; reducing the level of commitment would allow the RCN and its allies to plan based on actual capabilities.

Carefully selecting operations as part of Option #2 would also let Canada set its own priorities for its warships.  In recent years, Canadian ships have taken part in operations that were only vaguely related to Canadian interests, such as European Union migrant activities.  Not committing to those operations would free up the RCN to take part in more nationally-relevant operations.

With the CSC, Canada will maintain a full-spectrum capability, and being a medium regional power projection navy does not preclude overseas deployments.  Option #2 would bring Canada in line its European NATO peers, who keep their warships near their own waters, to protect their national interests.

Another challenge for the RCN is its maintenance budget, which is insufficient to meet all requirements. One of the effects is that ships have to swap parts to achieve material readiness and some repairs are left undone due to a lack of parts or available personnel.  Deployments, especially repeated overseas deployments by the same units, are hard on equipment. Reducing the number of overseas deployments under Option #2 would reduce premature failures and maintenance costs.

Other Comments:  Option #2 may not be feasible in the current political climate, but this does not preclude vigorous examination.

Recommendation:  None.


Endnotes:

[1] Department of National Defence. (2017a). Leadmark 2050: Canada in a New Maritime World. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/assets/NAVY_Internet/docs/en/analysis/rcn-leadmark-2050_march-2017.pdf 
— Leadmark 2050 is a document produced by the Royal Canadian Navy to set its long-term vision beyond its five-year strategic plan. It is a follow-up to the 2001 publication, Leadmark 2020.

[2] Lindley-French, J. (2017). Brexit and the Shifting Pillars of NATO. Retrieved from http://www.cgai.ca/brexit_and_the_shifting_pillars_of_nato

[3] Department of National Defence. (1964). White Paper on Defence. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/dn-nd/D3-6-1964-eng.pdf — While it did not call it as such, the concern was evident.
  In Commonwealth countries, White Papers are used to provide information about government policy to parliamentarians and the public.  In Canada, there have been three White Papers on Defence since World War 2: 1964, 1971, and 1994. Major defence policy documents were also released in 1984, 1992 and 2017.

[4] Department of National Defence. (1987). Challenge and commitment : a defence policy for Canada. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/dn-nd/D2-73-1987-eng.pdf

[5] Department of National Defence – Chief Review Services. (2013). Evaluation of Naval Forces. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2015/mdn-dnd/D58-33-2013-eng.pdf 
— This document evaluated the RCN’s performance from 2008 to 2013, particularly the ability to generate and employ naval forces as directed by the GoC.

[6] Department of National Defence. (2017a). Leadmark 2050: Canada in a New Maritime World. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/assets/NAVY_Internet/docs/en/analysis/rcn-leadmark-2050_march-2017.pdf

[7] Department of National Defence. (2017b). Strong Secure Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2017/mdn-dnd/D2-386-2017-eng.pdf

[8] Department of National Defence – Chief Review Services. (2013). Evaluation of Naval Forces. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2015/mdn-dnd/D58-33-2013-eng.pdf

[9] Department of National Defence. (2017a). Leadmark 2050: Canada in a New Maritime World. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://navy-marine.forces.gc.ca/assets/NAVY_Internet/docs/en/analysis/rcn-leadmark-2050_march-2017.pdf

[10] Department of National Defence – Chief Review Services. (2013). Evaluation of Naval Forces. Ottawa. Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2015/mdn-dnd/D58-33-2013-eng.pdf

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

Canada Fred Genest Maritime Option Papers Strategy

Future Risk & Surge: Brian Christopher Darling

Editor’s Note:  This article differs from the regular format we use at Divergent Options per a request from Nate Freier of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College.  This article has the writer imagining that they are a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SecDef).  The writer is responding to a request from the SecDef for a two page memo that defines or describes strategic and military risk and identifies national security situations that may take place from 2017 to 2027 that would require the U.S. Department of Defense to surge personnel or capability to address.  The entire call for papers can be found here.  


  Brian Christopher Darling has served in the United States Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qatar.  He has master’s degrees in Liberal Studies and Public Service Leadership from Rutgers University and Thomas Edison State University, respectively.  Mr. Darling is presently employed at Joint Force Headquarters, New Jersey National Guard.  He can be found on twitter @briancdarling and has written for NCO Journal.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


20 February 2017

Dear Secretary Mattis,

The Department of Defense faces a number of significant challenges in the coming decade.  Some of these situations involve familiar scenarios, some involve rising threats, and worst-case scenarios involve combinations of state and non-state actors and cyber warfare.  Not all threats to national security come from outside influencers either as the current state of the economy places the entire Department on precarious footing.  The purpose of this memorandum is to define strategic and military risk in the context of three areas that might well require a surge of United States armed forces.

It is prudent here to discuss risk assessment.  Although the previous administration sought to create more multilateral relationships and to conclude contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the current President is faced with threats from an unstable North Korea, a resurgent Russia, and continued violence by state and non-state actors in CENTCOM.  The scenarios discussed herein require major risk considerations in terms of force management risk (manpower and readiness), institutional risk (funding and logistics), and future challenges[1].

The first area where the United States may be obligated to commit additional forces is the Middle East, commonly referred to as the CENTCOM Theater.  The Overseas Contingency Operations ongoing in CENTCOM drain manpower and readiness from forces which might otherwise be employed in EUCOM, PACOM, and elsewhere, thereby emboldening adversary states in those regions.  Further, surging forces to existing contingency operation locations risks an appearance of impropriety by the United States through support of oppressive regimes with records of human rights violations[2].

By surging forces in CENTCOM, the United States demonstrates its continued commitment to stability in the region.  Modular escalation of forces also serves to deter Iranian intervention in conflicts in Iraq and Syria[3].  A surge of forces to allied countries in the area would allow for rapid response to conflict within the region, to wit: the destruction of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and ongoing conflicts with Al Qaeda and their affiliates and the Haqqani network[4], the conclusion of the first being a stated goal of the new administration.

A discussion involving the ongoing hostilities in Syria logically leads to a consideration of a rising hegemonic threat.  This second possible area of consideration is the EUCOM Theater, involving a rising Russia and a surge of forces in Eastern Europe.  By surging forces to Eastern European nations formerly associated with the Warsaw Pact, the United States risks escalating tensions with Russia.  Further, reassigning forces from the pool available to CENTCOM creates an operational risk in the Middle East and a future challenges risk in both CENTCOM and PACOM.

A surge of forces in EUCOM would demonstrate the new administration’s continued commitment to NATO[5].  The President has previously publicly questioned the value of the alliance[6]; surging forces to counter Russian territorial expansion is a visible demonstration of the United States’ continued support of the existing international order. A surge of forces in EUCOM would also deter further Russian annexation of territory previously controlled by the former Soviet Union, as it has been aggressively active in previous years[7].

The final area where a surge of forces may be necessary is in South Korea, in the PACOM Theater.  The North Korean regime has become increasingly unstable and its nuclear threat has become more volatile[8].  Surging forces to PACOM risks nuclear intervention by the unstable North Korean regime, as well as grating the Pakistanis and emboldening our Indian allies.  Perhaps most significantly, a surge might also risk aggravating the United States’ relationship with China.

Demonstrating support of our allies in PACOM continues the themes of the previous administration’s pivot to the pacific.  The President has continued to demonstrate an interest in improving America’s Pacific alliances[9].  The United States would provide a balance of power between the rising economies in the area and a hegemonic China.  A surge presence in the Pacific theater would also reassure Taiwan, which might fear Chinese aggression[10], while also balancing potential conflicts between India and Pakistan[11].

Given the current manpower of the armed forces, any of the options above present an unsustainable future challenges risk to the Department of Defense.  Consideration must also be given to the condition of the platforms available to the services; the Air Force and Navy are currently dealing with issues regarding decades-old weapons platforms[12].  Although the President has sought more cost-effective relationships with vendors[13], there is a long-term institutional risk to development and acquisitions.


Endnotes:

[1]  Gates, R. (2010). Quadrennial defense review. Washington, DC.

[2]  Dorsey, James. (2017 January 18). “Qatar’s Backtrack On Labor Rights And Cooperation With Russia Reflects New World Order”. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/qatari-backtracking-on-labour-rights-and-cooperation_us_587c5ef5e4b077a19d180f56

[3]  Bar’el, Zvi. (2017, Feb 11). “In Iraq, the U.S. Invests, ISIS Loses and Iran Gains”.  Retrieved from http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iraq/.premium-1.770944

[4]  Lamothe, D. (2017 February 9). “Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan opens door to a ‘few thousand’ more troops deploying there”. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/02/09/top-u-s-commander-in-afghanistan-opens-door-to-a-few-thousand-more-troops-deploying-there/

[5]  Smith-Spark, L., and A. Shubert. (2017, January). “Poland welcomes thousands of US troops in NATO show of force”.  Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/14/europe/poland-us-troops-nato-welcome/

[6]  Gordon, M.R. (2017, January 15). “Trump Criticizes NATO and Hopes for ‘Good Deals’ With Russia”. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/15/world/europe/donald-trump-nato.html?_r=0

[7]  Dews, F. (2014, March 19). “NATO Secretary-General: Russia’s Annexation of Crimea is illegal and illegitimate”.  Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2014/03/19/nato-secretary-general-russias-annexation-of-crimea-is-illegal-and-illegitimate/

[8]  BBC News. (2017, February 12). “North Korea ballistic missile test sparks condemnation” Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38950733

[9]  Reuters.  (2017, February 11). “Trump and Japan’s Abe take a swing at golf diplomacy”.  Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/11/trump-and-japans-abe-take-a-swing-at-golf-diplomacy.html

[10]  Graham-Harrison, E. (2017, February 4). “Islands on the frontline of a new global flashpoint: China v Japan”.  Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/05/china-v-japan-new-global-flashpoint-senkaku-islands-ishigaki

[11]  IANS. (2017, February 12). “Pakistan sounds alarm over ‘nuclearisation’ of Indian Ocean by India”. Retrieved from http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/pakistan-sounds-alarm-over-nuclearisation-of-indian-ocean-by-india/story-Hdp49Lb4wpsPHYhbjs8A1M.html

[12]  Serbu, J. (2017 February 8).  “Military readiness problems can’t be fixed overnight, Defense chiefs warn”.  Retrieved from http://federalnewsradio.com/defense/2017/02/military-readiness-problems-cant-fixed-overnight-defense-chiefs-warn/

[13]  Cohen, Z. (2017 February 4). “After Trump attack, Lockheed Martin slashes F-35 cost”. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/03/politics/f-35-lockheed-martin-cost-reduction/

Brian Christopher Darling DO Partners Risk Assessment Strategy U.S. Army War College

Future Risk & Surge: Chris Townsend

Editor’s Note:  This article differs from the regular format we use at Divergent Options per a request from Nate Freier of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College.  This article has the writer imagining that they are a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SecDef).  The writer is responding to a request from the SecDef for a two page memo that defines or describes strategic and military risk and identifies national security situations that may take place from 2017 to 2027 that would require the U.S. Department of Defense to surge personnel or capability to address.  The entire call for papers can be found here.


Chris Townsend is an active duty U.S. Army officer with 20 years of service.  He is a Middle East and North Africa Foreign Area Officer.  He can be found on Twitter @FAO_Chris and has written for the Journal of Defense Resources ManagementSmall Wars JournalArmchair General, and the Strategy Bridge.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.


16 February 2017

MEMORANDUM FOR: Secretary of Defense

SUBJECT: Strategic and Military Risk

1.  DEFINING RISK:  Risk is any uncertainty that could complicate military operations or limit strategic options in responding to threats to U.S. interests.  Risks to strategic and military response can be categorized into three areas:  Operational, Institutional, and Global.

a.  Operational risk represents potential threats to military options and includes the presence of near-peer adversaries capable of area denial and the creation of threats across multiple domains simultaneously; weapons of mass destruction; adversarial Cyber, Space, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities; and the potential for simultaneous multiple-theater, multiple-phase conflict.

b.  Institutional risk includes the forces, funding, and acquisition uncertainties and inefficiencies.  These affect the size, training, equipping, readiness, and resilience of the fighting force and the ability to project power in response to dispersed threats while defending the homeland and assisting civil authorities.

c.  Global risk represents the uncertainties introduced by climate, politics, and societal factors.  Complications introduced from changes to climate or natural disasters, competition for resources, challenges to sovereignty, cultural friction, and global, criminal—independent or state-aligned—actors all present risks that must be mitigated and used to inform planning.

2.  THREAT SCENARIOS:  The greatest threat to the United States response capability is a simultaneous, multiple-theater, multiple-phase, multiple-domain conflict compounded with a homeland defense requirement in an era of dwindling resources and forced reductions in manning and equipping in a global political environment where the U.S. has reduced basing, access, and overflight options due to lapsed efforts in relationship maintenance, coupled with a lack of partner capacity and poorly defined political and strategic end states.

a.  The most likely scenario for the next ten years is for America to continue its military involvement in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan as Iran seeks to increase its influence through the continued proliferation of the Iranian Threat Network and meddling in regional politics.  As the conflicts resolve, there will be significant requirements for the U.S. to train and equip security forces to maintain the fragile stability in these countries.  Periphery conflicts like Egypt in Libya, Turkey in Northern Syria and Iraq, and Saudi Arabia in Yemen will strain resources as the U.S. continues to support partners with equipment and training.  Counterterrorism efforts will continue to require attention and resources around the globe and here at home.

b.  The most dangerous scenario is state-on-state aggression that either through treaty or interest requires U.S. engagement in addition to the ongoing security missions around the globe.  Potential conflicts include Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, Iranian-Saudi War, Chinese seizure of Taiwan and surrounding waters, clashes between India and Pakistan, and North Korean attacks on South Korea or Japan.  Any such conflict would expose the inability of the U.S. military to truly project power in multiple theaters while protecting the homeland.

c.  The most disruptive scenario would be a full-scale, multiple-domain attack on the homeland while forces are deployed into multiple theaters.  Potential adversaries have demonstrated the capability to disrupt internet, power, and communication systems in addition to the ability to shoot down satellites.  Significant network outages would create chaos in civilian arenas and significantly challenge military planning.  Space capabilities of new satellites deployed by potential adversaries could threaten lateral physical or cyber attacks against our satellites creating long-term disruption.  The U.S. could find itself unable to address threats from distant adversaries that have developed capabilities that increase stand-off distances and preclude insertion of forces without significant risk.  Other belligerents would likely seize on U.S. preoccupation by launching efforts to resolve regional disputes.

3.  SURGE REQUIREMENTS:  In every scenario the U.S. would be required to surge forces in response to aggression or instability.

a.  U.S. Forces must be capable of surging forces into two separate theaters while maintaining ongoing security requirements at home and abroad.  Current manning, arming, and equipping forecasts are insufficient for this kind of conflict, straining the ability to respond, reducing the margin of error, and increasing the costs.  Potential conflicts with near-peer adversaries would be longer wars with higher casualties that embolden those that threaten our interests while undermining the confidence of allies and partners.

b.  The priority now must be to shift current security and training responsibilities to partner nations with U.S. support.  Domain owners must refocus on basic proficiency in their respective domain: air, land, sea, cyber, space.  Efforts to establish relationships between domain owners that allow for quickly assembled Joint Task Forces to effectively operate are vital to addressing potential threats.  The risks from multi-domain battle and anti-access/area denial must be addressed through focused strategic planning for ways to defeat these threats and develop our own capabilities in these areas.

c.  While global risk can only be understood and used to inform planning, operational and institutional risk can be managed by military and civilian leaders.  Legislative and doctrinal efforts must define the institutional and operational risk tolerance thresholds and match those assessments with funding and programs to mitigate residual risk.  Without a rebalance away from ongoing security requirements, and a refocus on core domain competencies absent the uncertainty of sequestration, the U.S. will find itself challenged in the most likely scenarios and sorely outmatched in the most dangerous and disruptive ones.

4.  POC for this memorandum is Christopher P. Townsend, MAJ, SC.

Chris Townsend DO Partners Risk Assessment Strategy U.S. Army War College

Future Risk & Surge: Nathan Wike

Editor’s Note:  This article differs from the regular format we use at Divergent Options per a request from Nate Freier of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College.  This article has the writer imagining that they are a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SecDef).  The writer is responding to a request from the SecDef for a two page memo that defines or describes strategic and military risk and identifies national security situations that may take place from 2017 to 2027 that would require the U.S. Department of Defense to surge personnel or capability to address.  The entire call for papers can be found here.  


Nathan Wike is an officer in the U.S. Army and a member of the Military Writer’s Guild.  The opinions expressed are his alone, and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group. 


13 February 2017

MEMORANDUM FOR:  SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

SUBJECT:  The Ability to Surge Personnel in Response to Contingencies

INTRODUCTION:  The Secretary of Defense recently requested a series of position papers that describe national security situations that may take place from 2017 to 2027 that would require the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to surge personnel or capability. This is a critical step in considering the potential threats to U.S. national interests that may arise within the next decade. However, it rests upon a key assumption: that the DoD is capable of surging personnel to respond to a contingency. This topic directly relates to all four components of risk, outlined on page 90 of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. This memorandum discusses the means by which the DoD can surge personnel to rapidly expand the joint force in response to a contingency, and the potential risks.

BACKGROUND:  Since the 1970s, the U.S. military has relied upon the all-volunteer force (AVF) to fill its ranks. This force is unquestionably one of the most professional and capable militaries in all of history. The AVF has met every challenge with distinction, and is a credit to the nation. However, the AVF may not be enough to ensure victory against a peer or near-peer competitor in a conflict where vital U.S. interests are at stake. History reveals that in every major war, where the U.S. has faced an existential threat (e.g. the American Civil War, WWI, WWII), more than volunteers were required to achieve victory.

An unfortunate side effect of the AVF is that the methods and skills for utilizing the various means of surging military personnel have atrophied, or completely passed from the lexicon. These means equate to methods of conscription, which are inherently unpopular in any society. However, they are crucial in a major contingency.

DISCUSSION:  A well-conceived and tested system of surging personnel is a strategic capability that serves U.S. national interests. It provides assurance that the DoD can rapidly grow the joint force with the most qualified personnel available. This in turn serves as a deterrent to conflict. The options may be politically and socially difficult to implement, or even to contemplate. But losing a war would be even more so.

There are four primary methods through which the DoD may surge personnel. They may be applied in any sequence, or concurrently with one another. All are governed by the United States Code (USC). These four methods are: involuntary extension, ready reserve mobilization, enhanced recruitment strategies, and military selective service. Each method has various pros and cons that must be assessed prior to implementation.

Involuntary extension, colloquially known as “stop-loss,” is the fastest way to surge military personnel. This method retains a service-member beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date and up to their contractually agreed end of active obligated service (EAOS). Involuntary extension, which generally affects junior officers and enlisted personnel, is governed by Title 10, USC, Section 12305(a). This option has LOW operational and institutional risk, as it provides an immediate pool of trained personnel who are already assigned to units, and it has been used throughout the various operations throughout the 21st century. However it entails MODERATE force management risk, especially as is relates to morale and recruitment, and it is not sustainable over time.

Ready reserve mobilization affords the ability to recall service-members to active or reserve component service within 400 days of their ETS. This method affects a broad range of personnel from all ranks and occupational specialties. Ready reserve mobilization is governed by Title 10, USC, Section 12301(a). It has LOW operational risk, since affected personnel are not too far removed from military service, are generally of higher ranks and experience, and may quickly be re-integrated into units. This method has HIGH force management and institutional risk. It has been utilized within the last decade, but only for a minute percentage of personnel, and though all personnel assigned to the ready reserve are legally required to meet certain standards, in practice there are virtually no incentives to comply.

Enhanced recruitment strategies are the means by which the various recruitment apparatuses of the DoD can induce new personnel to volunteer for military service. This method primarily affects initial entry personnel, though it may extend to lateral entry personnel for select occupational specialties. This method has MODERATE operational risk, as it requires compromises in standards, and personnel arrive at units lacking valuable experience. It has MODERATE force management and institutional risk, as it preserves the spirit of the AVF, and the DoD can manage this method within existing structures, provided additional financial and material resources can be made available.

Military selective service, colloquially known as the draft, allows the DoD to draw upon the entire (male) population to meet personnel requirements, for all specialties. This is the most strategically significant option, by far. Military selective service is governed by Title 50, USC, Chapter 49. However it has HIGH risk across all categories. It has not been used since 1973, excludes eligible females, and the DoD no longer has the apparatuses or plans in place to monitor, induct, and assimilate the potentially vast numbers of eligible personnel.

CONCLUSION:  The risk to future challenges is currently HIGH, given that none of the aforementioned options are currently planned for, let alone regularly tested in the context of a major contingency operation. Reduction in risk can only come through a comprehensive review of the DoD’s processes to surge personnel, according to the USC. The options of involuntary extension, ready reserve mobilization, enhanced recruitment strategies, and military selective service must be incorporated into DoD strategic planning, then operationalized as part of exercises, and in practice for select cases. The ability to rapidly surge personnel is a strategic capability that must be preserved and modernized in order to safeguard U.S. interests from 2017 to 2027 and beyond.

DO Partners Nathan Wike Risk Assessment Strategy U.S. Army War College

Syria Options: U.S. Grand Strategy

Mark Safranski is a Senior Analyst for Wikistrat, LLC.  His writing on strategy and national security have appeared in Small Wars Journal, Pragati, War on the Rocks  as well as in recent books like Warlords, inc., Blood Sacrifices:Violent Non-State Actors and Dark Magico-Religious Activities and The Clausewitz Roundtable.  He is the founder and publisher of zenpundit.com.


National Security Situation:  The Syrian Civil War.

Date Originally Written:  December 23, 2016.

Date Originally Published:  January 16, 2017.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  An analyst considering U.S.  national interest in terms of grand strategy.

Background:  Aleppo has fallen and with it the last shreds of credibility of President Obama’s policy on Syria.  None of Obama’s policy goals for Syria since the Arab Spring revolt were achieved.  In Syria, the Assad regime has crushed western-backed opposition fighters with direct Russian and Iranian military ground support; the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still controls swaths of Syrian territory[1] and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally Turkey has conspired with Iran and Russia to exclude the U.S. and UN[2] from Syrian settlement talks.

Significance:  While Syria itself is of little strategic value to the U.S. beyond secondary implications for Israeli security, the utter failure of the Obama administration has brought U.S. diplomatic prestige to a nadir reminiscent of the Iranian hostage crisis or the fall of Saigon.  Worse, defeat in Syria occurred in a broader context of successful Russian aggression in Ukraine, uncontested Russian meddling in an U.S. presidential election, and perceptions of U.S. strategic concessions to Tehran in the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA[3]).  Should the next administration want to accomplish more than Obama, it is vital that they  1) address Syria within the context of increased Russian-U.S. competition and 2) seize the initiative in restoring the influence of U.S. leadership with substantive and symbolic policy changes in regard to Syria and Russia.

Option #1:  Salvage Syria primarily in terms of a comprehensive re-ordering of U.S.-Russian relations to reduce threats to international stability from inter- and intra- state conflict.  Henry Kissinger’s concept of “linkage[4]” should be revived as a guiding principle rather than treating all points of international conflict or cooperation with Moscow as unrelated and occupying separate boxes.  Russian misbehavior needs to be met with appropriate countermeasures.  If U.S.  diplomats are assaulted by Federal Security Service (FSB) thugs, Russian diplomats in the U.S. are restricted to their embassies.  If U.S.  elections are hacked, Russia’s large number of intelligence officers under diplomatic cover in the U.S. are promptly expelled.  If “little green men” appear in friendly states, the U.S. instigates tough banking, economic or security aid pressure on Moscow.  Likewise, instead of trading public insults, the U.S. under Option #1 should negotiate frankly over Russian concerns and be prepared to build on points of cooperation and make concessions on a reciprocal basis.  If the U.S. could strike deals with Brezhnev we can do so with Putin.

Risk:  The U.S. begins from a position of weakness in regional conflicts, having little direct leverage over events on the ground in Syria or eastern Ukraine, which is why U.S. policy must shift to focus on systemic and strategic levels.  U.S. bureaucratic and political stakeholders have simultaneously pursued incompatible goals (i.e. overthrow Assad, stop ISIS, keep Syria intact, support rebels, fight terrorism, non-intervention) and will strongly resist a genuine strategy that forces choices.  Demonstrations of political will may be required by the new administration to convince partners and adversaries now skeptical of U.S. resolve or capability.

Gain:  Russian-U.S. relations could eventually shift to a “new detente” that replaces a high level of friction and peripheral aggression to if not friendly, at least business-like engagement.  Regional conflicts and attendant humanitarian crises could be moderated or settled in a stable diplomatic framework.  Progress on issues of mutual security concern such as Islamist terrorism could be made.  Trust in U.S. leadership could be regained.

Option #2:  A second strategy would be to address Syria narrowly with the objective of a settlement that cuts U.S. losses and attempts to return to as much of the status quo ante as possible – a weak state governed by Assad with minimal ability to threaten neighbors, guarantees for minorities, no ISIS or Islamist terror group in control of territory, and a removal of foreign military forces.

Risk:  While preferential to the current situation, Option #2 could be perceived as a U.S. retreat due to dropping longstanding unrealistic policy goals (i.e. regime change, Syria becoming a liberal democracy) in return for real increases in regional security and stability.  Domestic opposition in the U.S. from neoconservative and liberal interventionists is apt to be fierce.  The effort may fail and Syria could see a large-scale military build-up of Russian and Iranian military forces, threatening Israel.

Gain:  A diplomatic end to the conflict in Syria would have multiple benefits, not least for Syrian civilians who bear the brunt of the costs of civil war.  Preventing permanent state failure in Syria would be a strategic win against the spread of ISIS and similar radical Islamist Sunni terror groups.  The flow of refugees to Europe would markedly decline and those abroad in states like Turkey or Jordan could begin to return to Syria.  Finally, Syria would not become a major military outpost for Russia or Iran.

Other Comments:  It is most important that the new administration not begin by leaping into any particular foreign policy problem, including Syria, but start with a grand strategic end of improving U.S. global position and capacity, which in turn increases U.S. ability to uphold a stable, rules-based, international order. 

Recommendation:  None.


Endnotes:

[1]  Euan McKirdy and Angela Dewan, “Reports: ISIS retakes ancient Syrian city of Palmyra”, CNN, December 12, 2016.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/12/middleeast/palmyra-syria-isis-russia/index.html

[2]  Ben Hubbard and David E. Sanger, “Russia, Iran and Turkey Meet for Syria Talks, Excluding U.S.” New York Times, December 20 2016.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/world/middleeast/russia-iran-and-turkey-meet-for-syria-talks-excluding-us.html

[3]  United States Department of State, “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” January 17, 2016.  https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/iran/jcpoa/ 

[4] Makinda, S. M., “The Role of Linkage Diplomacy in US‐Soviet Relations,” December, 1987.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8497.1987.tb00148.x/abstract

 

Mark Safranski Option Papers Russia Strategy Syria United States

Future Risk & Surge: A U.S. Army War College & Divergent Options Call for Papers

armyandstrength200

Acknowledgements:

Before we discuss this call for papers, Divergent Options would like to publicly and sincerely thank Loren DeJonge Schulman of the Center for a New American Security.  Loren, without you this call for papers would never have happened.  Divergent Options is in your debt.  If you need anything in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Background:

One of the four things we aspire to do at Divergent Options is to partner with research organizations to call for papers on a national security situation they have requested us to explore.  It is within this context that Divergent Options is proud to announce a partnership with Nate Freier of the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) at the U.S. Army War College.

In the summer of 2016 SSI began a year-long study of strategic and military risk and risk assessment.  The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development, Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff J-5 Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, and the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, Headquarters, Department of the Army sponsor SSI in this undertaking.

Since initiating the research, SSI has assembled a joint team of defense analysts, serving officers, and national security professionals to take a comprehensive look at the U.S. Department of Defense’s risk assessment challenges.  In the final analysis, SSI is endeavoring to arrive at meaningful conclusions for the entire U.S. Department of Defense by examining how the Pentagon defines, identifies, and accounts for risk in strategy development and strategic decision-making.

Opportunity:

This call for papers represents an opportunity for potential Divergent Options authors to assist in SSI’s research efforts.  If you have ever wanted to be able to provide your ideas to the Pentagon, here is your chance.

Call for Papers:

In this call for papers, we invite potential authors to imagine that they are a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense (SecDef).  The SecDef has asked you to prepare a two-page memo that:

–  Defines or describes strategic and military risk and their various components.

(Note that the SecDef views components of risk as akin to operational, force management, institutional, and future challenges risk as described on page 90 of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review).  

–  Describes national security situations that may take place from 2017 to 2027 that would require the U.S. Department of Defense to surge personnel or capability to address.  The SecDef asks that you describe national security situations that are the likeliest (e.g. routine), most dangerous (e.g. most militarily lethal), and most disruptive (e.g. highly demanding and unanticipated).

–  Describes how these surge demands will impact U.S. Department of Defense priorities and strategic and military risk assessments.

Deadline for Submission:  February 3, 2017.

Submission Papers To:  submissions@divergentoptions.org

Call For Papers DO Partners Risk Assessment Strategy U.S. Army War College