Functionalist Conservative

John Bolton's Great Game of Nuclear Chicken

National Interest - 11 hours 28 min ago

Daniel L. Davis

Security, Asia

The United States must avoid the trap of seeking the perfect deal with North Korea at the expense of an effective peace regime—and end up with neither.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is great at wrecking international agreements. He’s terrible at building security. If we are to restore the momentum that President Donald Trump built over the past year but lost at Hanoi, then Trump will have to resist Bolton’s questionable advice and pay more attention to his own foreign-policy instincts.

A photo taken prior to the beginning of the “historic summit” between Trump and Kim Jong-un shows John Bolton sitting at the negotiating table with the president. The man who had conducted all the preliminary negotiations with the North Koreans, Stephen Biegun, was relegated to a seat along the back wall.

It came as little surprise, then, that the summit ended badly, without any agreement being signed and future negotiations in doubt.

If the intent of overall negotiations was to lower tensions and increase the chance of peace on the peninsula, then the summit was the perfect set-up. According to the South Korean officials I spoke to in Hanoi and Washington, the private conversations they had with both the U.S. and North Korean negotiating teams led them to believe a “small deal” had been hammered out by both sides. It wasn’t the “big deal” South Korea had hoped for, but a “small deal” would still have been a welcomed step on the path to ultimate success. It would have paved the way for a fourth summit between Moon Jae-in and Kim, one in which Seoul was expected to “continue the positive momentum.”

On February 28, when word first reached the Korean media center in Hanoi that the summit had suddenly ended without an agreement, I could hear a palpable gasp among the shocked group. In the weeks following the summit, I have talked to sources in South Korea and I have talked to another source with direct access to North Korean officials. My sources paint a consistent and grim picture: although the government in Seoul is publicly putting a good face on the situation and the North Korean press has been mostly silent on the summit’s outcome, the view behind the scenes is far more pessimistic.

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F-15X: Why the Air Force Needs this Deadly Fighter Jet

National Interest - 11 hours 34 min ago

Frank Gorenc

Security,

Adding the F-15X to the current 4th and 5th gen fighter mix is a reasonable and affordable way to ensure the viability and strength of the future fighter force. Many will argue we cannot afford to add another fighter to our current inventory. However, adding the F-15X is really about adding needed capability so that today’s 4th and 5th gen fighter mix is ready to meet future warfighting requirements. Considering the possibility of an existential great power, near-peer conflict with China or Russia as described in the NDS, I say we have no choice.

Adding the F-15X to the current 4th and 5th gen fighter mix is a reasonable and affordable way to ensure the viability and strength of the future fighter force. Many will argue we cannot afford to add another fighter to our current inventory. However, adding the F-15X is really about adding needed capability so that today’s 4th and 5th gen fighter mix is ready to meet future warfighting requirements. Considering the possibility of an existential great power, near-peer conflict with China or Russia as described in the NDS, I say we have no choice.

America depends on airpower. Airpower underpins the military options leaders use to enhance deterrence and if deterrence fails, to fight and win with minimum casualties.

(This first appeared last month.)

A key element of America’s airpower is the fighter force. Historically, fighter aircraft development has shaped militaries and tactics like no other combat system. Today’s emerging technologies, concepts of operations (CONOPs), and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) have increased fighter effectiveness to extraordinary levels. 

The U.S. Air Force flies a mix of 4th and 5th “generation” fighters. The 4th gen F-15, F-16 and A-10 fleet is very capable and continues to be the backbone of today’s force. Fourth gen fighters fill the majority of the combatant commander (COCOM) taskings including homeland air defense alert and expeditionary taskings worldwide. The smaller fleet of 5th gen fighters are “low density/high demand” with 187 F-22s and 150+ F-35s. Stealth and sensor fusion technologies make them the most lethal and survivable fighters in the world. The Air Force intends to continue procuring 48+ F-35s per year and upgrading the F-22. Up to this point, the complementary mix of a small but stealthy 5th gen fleet combined with a large fleet of very capable 4thgen fighters has proven adequate in meeting today’s warfighting needs.

Unfortunately, today’s fighter force mix, despite increasing numbers of F-35s over time and upgraded F-22s, will likely not be enough to meet future needs.  Specifically: 

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Machine Gun Madness: Did Russia Just Create the Ultimate Weapon?

National Interest - 12 hours 34 min ago

Task and Purpose

Security,

Let's find out. 

One final problem could rain on your minigun parade; the system is designed to work with the PKM machine gun, which is a rather hard find in the American inventory — unless you are playing OpFor, that is.

Images have been circulating on Twitter of a Russian Spetsnaz soldier apparently testing out a PKM heavy machine gun with an unusual ammunition-feeding backpack that bears an uncanny resemblance to Jesse Ventura's alien-perforating minigun from Predator. The backpack, known as the Scorpio, is a product of Front Tactical Systems — and according to The Firearm Blog, it was designed at the request of the Russian military as a method of increasing machine gun efficiency.

(This first appeared last year.)

The United States previously developed a similar system when the inventive U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vincent Winkowski threw together a backpack-fed machine gun on the battlefield during a firefight with the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard in Afghanistan in October 2011, citing the M-134 backpack-fed minigun touted by Ventura's Sgt. Blain Cooper in the 1987 action classic.

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Security Brief: Boeing 737 Safety Systems Under Scrutiny; Terror in Christchurch

Foreign Policy - 13 hours 15 min ago
Federal transportation officials are examining the aircraft giant’s safety reports.

Syria’s Civil War Is Now 3 Civil Wars

Foreign Policy - 13 hours 30 min ago
The fight to depose Assad is over. The battle over his regime’s boundaries has no end in sight.

Navy vs. Nukes: U.S. Navy Plans to Test Missile Defenses Against ICBM

National Interest - 13 hours 33 min ago

Kris Osborn

Security,

The Pentagon plans a “first-of-its-kind” test of an unprecedented weapons capability to intercept and destroy an enemy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile "ICBM" -- from a Navy ship at sea using a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA.

The Pentagon plans a “first-of-its-kind” test of an unprecedented weapons capability to intercept and destroy an enemy Intercontinental Ballistic Missile "ICBM" -- from a Navy ship at sea using a Standard Missile-3 Block IIA.

The concept, as articulated by Pentagon officials and cited briefly in this years’ DoD “Missile Defense Review,” would be to use an advanced SM-3 IIA to “underlay” and assist existing Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI), adding new dimensions to the current US missile defense posture.

“We are going to test this,” a senior Pentagon weapons developer told Warrior Maven.

The testing, Pentagon officials tell Warrior, is slated for as soon as next year. The effectiveness and promise of the Raytheon-built SM-3 IIA shown in recent testing have inspired Pentagon weapons developers to envision an even broader role for the weapon. The missile is now “proven out,” US weapons developers say.

“The interceptor (SM-3 IIA) has the potential to offer an additional defensive capability to ease the burden on the GBI system and provide continuous protection for the US homeland,” the Pentagon Missile Defense Review states.

The report specifies that Congress has directed DoD to examine the feasibility of the SM-3 IIA against an ICBM-class target.

“The SM-3 IIA was not designed to take out ICBMs, but is showing great promise. This would be in the upper range of its capability -- so we are going to try,” the Pentagon official told Warrior.

A mobile, sea-based ICBM defense could massively expand the protective envelope for identifying and intercepting enemy attacks. As opposed to fixed, land-based GBIs, Navy ships could maneuver into key positions based on warnings or intelligence information. Should they operate closer to the shore, Navy ships armed with SM-3 IIAs could bring the possibility of taking out an ICBM early in its flight, perhaps just after it enters space.

“Due to the mobility of sea-based assets, this new (SM-3 IIA) underlay capability will be surged in a crisis or conflict to further thicken defensive capabilities for the US homeland,” the DoD Missile Defense Review adds.

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Elite Eagle: The Air Force Could Arm New F-15X Fighters with Hypersonic Missiles

National Interest - 13 hours 44 min ago

David Axe

Security,

New Eagles could be launch platforms for "stand-off weapons, hypersonics," Air Force major general David Krumm, the service's director of strategic plans and requirements, told Air Force magazine reporters John Tirpak and Brian Everstine.

The U.S. Air Force could arm new F-15 Eagles with a hypersonic missile. That is, assuming Congress lets the flying branch buy the upgraded fighters.

New Eagles could be launch platforms for "stand-off weapons, hypersonics," Air Force major general David Krumm, the service's director of strategic plans and requirements, told Air Force magazine reporters John Tirpak and Brian Everstine.

"They can go a long ways to assist the penetrating forces," Krumm said of the new F-15s.

It remains to be seen whether Krumm's argument will sway skeptics.

The latest F-15EX variant of the five-decade-old Eagle design has been the subject of simmering controversy in the media and in Washington, D.C when in mid-2018 news first leaked that the Pentagon planned to buy from Boeing as many as 144 of the twin-engine planes.

Critics in the media pointed out that the Air Force didn't actually want the new F-15s. Instead, the U.S. Defense Department's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, one of the military's many analytical organizations, convinced the office of acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan to add eight F-15EXs to the department's 2020 budget proposal.

Shanahan is a former Boeing executive. Shanahan's spokesperson Joe Buccino said Shanahan has recused himself from any procurement decisions involving Boeing, but at least one ethics group has filed a formal complaint accusing Shanahan of favoring the Chicago plane-maker.

The Defense Department compelled the Air Force to request eight F-15EXs as part of the flying branch's 2020 budget request. The eight planes would cost $1.2 billion.

The Air Force reportedly would buy another 136 F-15EXs through the mid-2020s. The new Eagles would replace 1980s-vintage F-15Cs in some or all of the nine squadrons that fly the older type -- three in the active force and six in the Air National Guard.

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Meet the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59: The Navy SEALs Old Gun

National Interest - 14 hours 34 min ago

Kyle Mizokami

Security,

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 semi-automatic handgun served U.S. Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War and then went on to become one of the American nine-millimeter high capacity pistols, the Model 59.

The Odyssey of the Smith & Wesson Model 39/59, from its Germanic origins to the gun shops of America and the jungles of Vietnam, was unique and very much a product of the Cold War. Although out of production and no longer common, Smith & Wesson’s nine-millimeter handgun has earned a noteworthy place in American firearms history.

One of the earliest American nine-millimeter pistols was adopted for wartime service to take out enemy sentries… and barking dogs.

(This first appeared last month.)

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 semi-automatic handgun served U.S. Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War and then went on to become one of the American nine-millimeter high capacity pistols, the Model 59.

The Smith & Wesson Model 39 had its roots in postwar America. U.S. troops, encountering the Walther P-38 on the battlefield, had a favorable impression of the German pistol. U.S. gunmaker Smith & Wesson decided to make an Americanized version of the P-38 for the domestic market, and borrowed heavily from Walther’s design. Internally, the Model 39 was very similar, to the point where magazines could almost be swapped between guns. Externally there were key differences, including a 1911-type full barrel slide removed with a twist of a barrel bushing. The Model 39 went on commercial sale in 1955.

The Model 39 was a double action pistol. It was 7.44 inches long and weighed just 26.5 ounces empty with a four-inch barrel. It was a recoil-operated handgun using a modified version of the Colt/Browning locking system used on handguns such as the 1911. Like the Walther P-38 the slim metal, single stack magazine held eight rounds of 9-millimeter Parabellum.

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F-35 and F-15X: The Air Force Combo That Might Be Unstoppable

National Interest - 16 hours 34 min ago

Charlie Gao

Security,

In a future air fight, it’s possible that the more stealthy F-35A could get closer to enemies, spot them, then relay targeting data back to F-15Xs, which could launch the missiles at threats from a safe distance. The US military has embraced this kind of networked warfare as a whole, and the strengths of the F-15X and F-35A complement each other in such an environment.

In a future air fight, it’s possible that the more stealthy F-35A could get closer to enemies, spot them, then relay targeting data back to F-15Xs, which could launch the missiles at threats from a safe distance. The US military has embraced this kind of networked warfare as a whole, and the strengths of the F-15X and F-35A complement each other in such an environment.

(This first appeared last month.)

In January, the first Red Flag exercise of the year began, pitting the USAF and various partners against various realistic air-to-air combat scenarios.

The exercise is considered by many to be “as close to real air-to-air combat” as possible and is instrumental in the development of air-to-air tactics and skills for USAF aviators. Several units equipped with the F-35A fighter jet participated.

Notably, this year’s Red Flag featured a more “contested” environment that assumed that the United States would not be able to maintain full air-superiority, simulating an air war against a peer or near-peer adversary with a modern air force and anti-air weapons.

The F-35 was designed for that environment. So how did it fare?

A public affairs release from one of these units, the 388th Fighter Wing, sheds some light on how the F-35A outclassed older jets during the exercise.

The most dramatic example of this is recounted in an anecdote by the 388th’s Operations Group commander. In an environment with heavy jamming, a young pilot just out of training flying an F-35 was able to spot a threat that a more experienced 3,000-hour pilot could not, as the other pilot was flying a 4th gen craft. The new pilot told the other pilot to turn back, then proceeded to eliminate that threat and multiple others.

While the exact nature of what happened is unclear due to operational security, is it possible that the F-35A’s EOTS or DAS targeting system visually spotted an enemy threat that went undetected by jammed radars.

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The Japanese Air Force Needs an Upgrade

Foreign Policy - 16 hours 49 min ago
Faced with China’s increasing aggression, Japan must invest in fifth-generation fighter jets to deter Beijing’s expansion.

Here Comes the Stealth: Is Russia's Su-57 Almost Here?

National Interest - 17 hours 34 min ago

Mark Episkopos

Security,

In a recent interview with one of Russia’s leading state news agencies, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) President Yuri Slyusar announced that the first, serially produced Su-57 units will be transferred to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) by the end of 2019.

Even in the optimistic view that the Russian military has the necessary funds to produce all of its fifteen Su-57’s on schedule, a major investor like India can prove vital to the financial solvency of the Su-57 platform for decades to come. Building a few showpiece Su-57’s is relatively easy, but also militarily inconsequential. The Su-57 will only be adopted as Russia’s flagship air superiority fighter if it can be mass-produced through an affordable, reliable production process.

(This first appeared last month.)

Is Russia’s fifth-generation stealth fighter on the verge of deployment readiness? The manufacturer seems to think so.

In a recent interview with one of Russia’s leading state news agencies, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) President Yuri Slyusar announced that the first, serially produced Su-57 units will be transferred to the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) by the end of 2019.

“During the Army 2018 exhibition, we signed two contracts with the Ministry of Defense for the delivery of the fifth-generation Su-57 fighter and multifunctional Mig-35 system. The serially produced Su-57 will enter the VKS this year,” Slyusar told Ria Novosti last week. He went on to say that a total of fifteen Su-57’s will be delivered to the Russian military “in the near future.”

Slyusar’s announcement comes on the heels of much more pessimistic forecasts by western analysts that the Su-57 should not be expected to enter serial production until 2027 at the earliest.

It should be noted that this news, unlike many past reports citing anonymous sources within the Russian military-industrial-complex, comes from an on-the-record interview with a major outlet. The fact that Slyusar is willing to put his name behind this production timeline suggests a degree of newfound confidence in the Su-57 program.

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Raptor Forever: How the Stealth F-22 Will Kill America's Enemies for Decades

National Interest - 18 hours 34 min ago

Charlie Gao

Security,

Some impressive upgrades are planned. 

The upgrades also add new crypto technology to the F-22, a critical upgrade given how the F-22 is expected to work in hostile electronic warfare environments. This is paired with a “transmit” module for the Link-16 datalink, which would allow the F-22 to share as well as receive radar and other targeting data from other aircraft. The F-22 only had a “receive” Link-16 module earlier.

While much attention has been focused recently on the F-35 and F-15X, not much has been given to the U.S. Air Force’s premier air superiority fighter, the F-22 Raptor.

While the Raptor was one of the most advanced aircraft in the world when it entered service in the early 2000s, sensor, radar, and datalink technology have all advanced since then.

The Raptor has received relatively few upgrades compared to legacy fourth generation F-15 and F-16 aircraft and now is significantly outdated in some ways. For example, F-16s, F-15s, and F/A-18s are all equipped with the JHMCS missile cueing technology, which allows a pilot to lock onto an aircraft just by looking at it. The F-22 currently does not have this capability.

The USAF, until now, has been largely pursuing a strategy of upgrading the F-22 via software, allowing the F-22 to more effectively use sensors it already has while incorporating minor hardware upgrades to allow for the integration of new weapons. But is this strategy sustainable as radars and electro-optical sensors get more powerful and smaller?

The answer is complicated. While the F-22 airframe is perhaps the most capable “chassis” in service in the USAF, with vectored thrust and supercruise capability, its stealth nature makes it hard to add on additional sensors and pods without compromising the stealth characteristics, limiting its ability to be upgraded. The shutdown of F-22 manufacturing facilities in 2011 also limited the upgrade potential of the F-22.

So how does the military plan to solve this? The latest upgrade for the F-22 comes in two parts: a hardware and a software upgrade. The upgrades are called Baseline 3.2B and Update 6. They have a couple goals: integrate the latest air-to-air missiles and improve the networked warfare capability of the F-22.

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Dropping Bombs: The Air Force Considers This the "World's Largest Sniper"

National Interest - 19 hours 34 min ago

Kris Osborn

Security,

The BLU-129 is increasingly in demand because, among other things, it is capable of quickly tailoring its explosive charge depending upon the threat, using what’s called “variable yield effects.” Variable-yield effects allow for attackers to adjust the explosive power while in-flight, in some cases enabling extremely effective, yet precise, more narrowly-configured attacks.

Hasse explained that the BLU-129 brings additional elements of attack flexibility, because instead of traveling with both very large, heavier bombs, a pilot can simply drop four BLU-129s on a target to increase blast effect.

The Air Force is revving up production of the air-dropped, precision-guided BLU-129 bomb increasingly in demand by warzone commanders - so accurate, lethal and precise, it is called “the world’s largest sniper accuracy.”

(This first appeared last month.)

The often-requested weapon, described as an adaptable carbon fiber bomb, is specially engineered to control “field effects” and create low collateral damage resulting from air attacks.

“The Air Force is currently producing BLU-129 bomb bodies to address operational demand,” Capt. Hope Cronin, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.

The BLU-129 is increasingly in demand because, among other things, it is capable of quickly tailoring its explosive charge depending upon the threat, using what’s called “variable yield effects.” Variable-yield effects allow for attackers to adjust the explosive power while in-flight, in some cases enabling extremely effective, yet precise, more narrowly-configured attacks.

“There are limited numbers of this weapon, and we want to hold onto it for those missions which need to have only that capability,” Col. Gary Haase, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), told Warrior Maven in an interview last Fall at an Air Force Association Symposium.

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Floating Train Wrecks: These Aircraft Carriers Are Naval Nightmares

National Interest - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 23:00

WarIsBoring

Security,

And this is why. 

Imposing, flexible, able to sail fast and launch devastating air strikes at long range, aircraft carriers are the ultimate expression of national power. And many of the world’s best-armed countries are acquiring them. China, Russia, India, Brazil, the U.K., France, America.

But just getting your hands on a flattop is hardly enough. For every example of a country that succeeds in deploying a functional carrier and matching air wing, there’s a counter-example: a flattop hobbled by mechanical problems, stricken by age, sidelined by bad design or stuck with warplanes that simply don’t work.

(This first appeared back in 2013.)

What follows are not the success stories. They are the case studies in flattop failure … and object lessons for all the countries building aircraft carriers today.

Mother Russia’s tugboat bait

The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, was launched in 1985 and joined the fleet in 1991. Since then the 55,000-ton, fossil-fuel-powered flattop has managed just four frontline deployments—all of them to the Mediterranean, and all of them just a few months in duration.

By contrast, American flattops typically deploy for at least six months every two years. The nuclear-powered USS Enterprise, commissioned in 1962, completed 25 deployments before leaving service in 2012.

One of Admiral Kuznetsov’s major problems is her powerplant. The vessel is powered by steam turbines and turbo-pressurized boilers that Defense Industry Daily generously described as “defective.” Anticipating breakdowns, large ocean-going tugs accompany Admiral Kuznetsov whenever she deploys.

Poor maintenance makes life difficult and dangerous for Admiral Kuznetsov’s 1,900 sailors. A short circuit started a fire off Turkey in 2009 that killed one seaman.

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Mystery Solved: Why Russia's Aircraft Carrier Pumps Out So Much Black Smoke

National Interest - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 22:00

Charlie Gao

Security,

Any guesses? 

These engineering difficulties are also given as a potential reason for the Kuznetsov's super-smoky nature. Vice Admiral Pyotr Svyatashov explained, saying that because of improper calibration in the preheating or injection mechanisms, the Mazut injected into the combustion chamber might not have had time to combust fully—in other words, the partially burned products are causing the black smoke.

For most sailors who served on the Admiral Kuznetzov, Mazut is the stuff of legends. The ultra thick, tarry black substance that powers the ship is known for being rather toxic, sticky, and not easy to get out of clothes. But why did the Soviet navy keep powering its ships with Mazut? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the fuel? Why exactly is the Kuznetsov so smoky?

(This first appeared years ago.)

Not all Russian ships run on Mazut. Of all the large ships the current Russian Navy operates, only the Sovremenny-class destroyers and the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier run on Mazut. Given the large profile the Admiral Kuznetsov on the global scene—being Russia's only aircraft carrier—naturally, some curiosity has arisen about what it runs on and why it produces so much smoke.

Mazut is a heavy petrochemical fuel. While most sources refer it to being taken from the very bottom of a distillation stack, this is inaccurate as "mazut" is a blanket term for very-heavy oil products, including those that can be formed from blending heavier oils with some slightly lighter ones.

In the West, Mazut would fall into the Bunker B and Bunker C fuel oil classifications, although the ISO 8217 standard has superseded these categories. Under the ISO 8217 standard, Mazut may be classified as RMG or RMK fuel.

These thick, heavy fuels were, by and large, the standard for both military and commercial vessels up until the 1960s and 1970s. Their thick nature gave them a very high volume to energy ratio compared with lighter distillates. But to be burned, they often had to be preheated and pressurized in a complex series of boilers and pipes.

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China’s Economic Black Box

Foreign Policy - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 17:53
Beijing’s recent GDP downgrade shows that it is serious about fixing its data problem.

Meet the Patton: Why the M60 Tank Is Still A Killer After Decades on the Battlefield

National Interest - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 16:00

Sebastien Roblin

Security,

The M60 Patton was the mainstay of the U.S tank fleet in the 1960s and 1970s, before being replaced by the M1 Abrams tank currently in service. However, more than five thousand Pattons remain in service in the armies of nineteen countries

The Patton may reliably soldier on and contribute its heavy firepower to the battlefield—but in an era where minimizing casualties and denying propaganda victories to the other side is important, its dated armor protection will remain a liability.

Just how far can you soup up a tank from the 1960s?

(This first appeared serveral years ago.)

The M60 Patton was the mainstay of the U.S tank fleet in the 1960s and 1970s, before being replaced by the M1 Abrams tank currently in service. However, more than five thousand Pattons remain in service in the armies of nineteen countries. Earlier this year, Raytheon unveiled its Service-Life Extension Package (SLEP) upgrade featuring a new engine, fire control system and 120-millimeter gun.

This M60 SLEP is in competition with a pre-existing three-tier upgrade offered by Israel Military Industries for their M60 Sabra. Sabras in Turkish service, designated the M60T, are active on the battlefield of Northern Syria today, while older-model Pattons are fighting on both sides of the war in Yemen.

The new Pattons are faster and deadlier—but are they tough enough for the modern battlefield?

America’s Cold War Battle Tank

The M60 traces its ancestry all the way back to the M26 Pershing heavy tank, a few dozen of which saw action at the end of the World War II. The Pershing was evolved into a series of Patton tanks armed with 90mm guns, including the M46, M47 and M48. The M60, introduced in 1960, was the last: a tall-profiled brawler designed to outmatch the ubiquitous Soviet T-54 tank by virtue of its heavier armor and long M68 105 millimeter gun.

The 50-ton M60s were deployed to Europe in case World War III broke out, and didn’t see action in the Vietnam War, except for some bridge-laying and engineering variants. Instead, M48 tanks took on North Vietnamese PT-76s and T-54s in a small number of engagements, and even battled Swedish-made tanks in the Dominican Republic.

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How to Save America from the Fentanyl Flow

National Interest - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 15:57

David Luna

Security, Americas

Washington needs to double down on its cooperation efforts with Beijing, Mexico City and Ottawa, bilaterally and through a new four-way framework against this deadly commerce.

As the United States debates “emergencies” at its southern border and negotiates a trade deal with China, U.S. leaders must confront the lethal trade in fentanyl from other North American countries and China and the opioid epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year.

We need to double down on assuring effective cooperation with China, Mexico and Canada, bilaterally and through a new four-way framework against this deadly commerce.

China is a major source of the illicit synthetic fentanyl—plus its analogs and precursor chemicals—that makes its way to North America. Significant quantities flow from China through Mexico and Canada, and some of it arrives directly in the United States. Most fentanyl (as well as other synthetics and opioids) is smuggled through legal points of entry and via international mail carriers.

The United States has regularly engaged the Chinese government on these illegal drug flows. In late 2018, President Donald Trump voiced his assessment that Chinese president Xi Jinping is committed to help stem the flows of illicit fentanyl and dangerous chemical precursors by cracking down on criminal clandestine labs and shippers and regulating these pharmaceuticals as “controlled substances.”

Mexico and the United States agreed on a plan to go after the entire chain of drug smuggling to the United States in 2017, which includes fentanyl, heroin and other illegal drugs. U.S. rhetoric about the U.S.-Mexico border and politics have hampered progress, however. Canada and the United States work well bilaterally, and the three North American countries hold drug policy talks annually to address the threat to all three societies.

China’s high-level commitment to crack down on illegal drug commerce amid ongoing trade talks is important. It must be solidified as part of a U.S.-China understanding, particularly given the addictions and deaths that illegal drug trade is driving. The real measure of President Xi’s political will is enforcement that reduces the volume of illicit fentanyl and other synthetic drugs flowing to the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

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North Korea—Now What After Hanoi?

National Interest - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 15:57

Wallace C. Gregson

Security, Asia

Washington must double down on alliances and not offer more concessions.

If we’ve tried to do something for twenty-five years and not found success, we may wish to reconsider our objective and our plans. Four U.S. administrations pursued the elimination of North Korean nuclear weapons. Four failed.

This was not for lack of effort. We deployed many forms of negotiation and development assistance, including—most ambitiously—the international Korean Peninsula Economic Development Organization and its promise of light water reactors to supply electricity in support of the Agreed Framework in the 1990s. There was no national distribution grid, but that was something to be solved down the road. This was in the early post-Cold-War Clinton years when we had reason to think we could accomplish anything. I didn’t work, for many reasons. Subsequent administrations made very credible efforts, also to no avail.

Perhaps we are pursuing the wrong objective. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program started in the 1950s. They will not abandon this capability. Continued pursuit of this impossible dream allows Kim to outplay us and imposes diplomatic, reputational and financial costs on America and our allies.

Kim’s nuclear and missile weapons programs are means serving more than one end. These include regime survival through deterrence against forcible regime change. Coercion is another benefit. Domestically, nuclear weapons demonstrate the power of the Kim ruling family, useful to keeping his core supporters, estimated at a million or so, in line. Beyond North Korea’s borders, nuclear weapons shape the actions of Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States because North Korea cannot be ignored.

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How Will the Growing U.S.-European Split Affect NATO?

National Interest - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 15:56

Ted Galen Carpenter

Security, Europe

Policy recalcitrance on the part of the European allies has been growing for years.

An array of news stories over the past two weeks confirms that Washington’s NATO allies are increasingly defiant toward U.S. policy objectives that they consider misguided or merely inconvenient. One prominent blow came when Turkey finalized its purchase of S-400 air defense missiles. Trump administration officials had told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government for months that executing that deal was unacceptable. Not only would the S-400s be incompatible with systems that other NATO members were deploying, thus undermining a coordinated NATO air defense, but the purchase symbolized a disturbingly cozy relationship that was developing between Turkey and Russia. The administration warned its Turkish ally that “grave consequences” would occur unless Ankara backed away from the sale. Yet Erdogan seems intent on ignoring Washington’s thinly veiled threat.

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