Panetta on Afghanistan rescue; Why the Corps isn’t dining out; Global Trends report out this AM: what’s a conflict game changer; A Marine lieutenant colonel may need his major insignias back, and more.
- By Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.
John Campbell is expected to be nominated to become the Army’s new vice chief of staff, Situation Report is told. Just days after the Pentagon announced that the current vice, Gen. Lloyd Austin, would be nominated to be U.S. Central Command commander, we’re told by two individuals close to the process that Gen. John "J.C." Campbell will be nominated to replace Austin as vice. The final decision was made in recent days. Army officials would not confirm the expected confirmation.
The move would put an experienced operator in the Army’s No. 2 spot, responsible for most of the Army’s day-to-day management. Considered affable and genuine, Campbell is well regarded across both the Army and the military’s joint world for his acumen as a war commander steeped in battlefield strategy and operations.
Campbell was a brigade commander in southern Afghanistan in the early days of the war, where we were told he had a reputation for listening to locals with "grace and attentiveness." Later as a one-star, he was the deputy director of regional operations for the Joint Staff’s director of operations. Now serving as the Army G-3, Campbell has been focused on the service’s new "regionalized brigade" program in which units are given regional expertise to deploy smarter, more culturally aware soldiers.
On Nov. 15, Campbell had been nominated to be promoted to a four-star and take over U.S. Army’s Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., but Austin’s nomination to lead Central Command forced a change in the Army’s plans. Thought to be an "operator’s operator," he will confront a learning curve as the vice, which requires deep involvement in resource and budget issues.
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When it comes to cutting the military, Jim Amos has certain principles that are inviolate. Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos told Situation Report on Friday that the Marine Corps has entered a period of austerity as it attempts to perform its job and pay its bills with reduced funding. It’s a question of doing what’s "good enough" without sacrificing readiness, manning levels, and capability. But that means fixing old Humvees and buying fewer new vehicles (read: Joint Light Tactical Vehicles) and reducing the number of other nice-to-haves, he said.
"The guidance I gave the Marine Corps: figure out what is good enough. In other words, what will work for us over the next five or six years of austerity," Amos said on his plane on a return trip from Camp Lejeune, N.C. on Friday on which Situation Report and another reporter accompanied him. "The Marine Corps is not eating out."
Earlier this month, a group called the Force Optimization Review Group, which included about 50 "really smart" colonels and lieutenant colonels, gathered at Quantico, Va. to come up with an austerity game plan, Amos told Situation Report. Amos directed them to figure out a way to pay for a force of 182,100 Marines without trimming essentials: high manning rates for units (97 percent for enlisted; 95 percent for officers); a "C-2" readiness rate for deploying units; and maintaining 100 percent of the equipment and training those units need.
On Marine end-strength: "At 182,100, we can do what the nation’s strategy expects its Marine Corps to do, just barely," he said. "It’s not a fat Marine Corps, it’s not an excessive Marine Corps, there’s no fat on it."
The Marine Corps has already cut 50 percent of both their conferences and "TAD," or temporary additional duty assignments as part of pre-emptive cost-cutting move, Amos said.
Amos is bullish on Marines and Africa: The Marines now have a Special Purpose Air Ground Task Force sitting off the coast of Sigonella Air Station in Italy for use within the U.S. Africa Command AOR. But in a region in which there is not only a growing extremist threat but also a large demand for relationship-building, the U.S. military is looking at expanding its engagement. Amos said the "marketing" of the U.S. military in Africa in the past could have been better — some believed the military was turning its back on partners or potential partners there. That has begun to change, with new counter-terrorism initiatives to combat groups in Mali, Nigeria, Libya, and others. But there will also be more training.
The Corps, for example, is in the "concept development phase" of designing a larger force that could be available soon.
Amos: "If this part of the world is going to stay problematic, then how do you address it? Do you have to address it with large, huge forces? I don’t think so. But you gotta address it. So what we’re going to try to do is build a rapidly employable — not deployable because they’ll already be there — rapidly employable force that can help the combatant commanders out and we’re working on that right now and I think we’ll have that in the next 30 days."
Why Amos was at Camp Lejeune on Friday: To open the Wounded Warrior Hope and Care Center, a comprehensive and state-of-the-art gym, conditioning, rehabilitative and transition center for wounded, ill, and injured Marines and sailors and their families. It’s very similar to one that was opened on the West Coast and was the brainchild of two Marine spouses, one of whom’s officer husband was critically injured. Amos gave repeated props to the women, Shannon Maxwell and Robin Kelleher, for their vision and drive to get the center opened.
Why it’s called the Wounded Warrior Hope and Care Center: Because despite efforts by some Marines to change the name to something edgier, like "Devil Dog Warrior Transition Center," or some such, Amos fought to keep the name the women originally wanted: The Hope and Care Center.
Don’t call it "Le-shune" or "La-June." Purists continue their campaign to call the Marine Corps’ main operational base on the East Coast, Camp Lejeune, "Camp Le-jhern," in respect to the proper French pronunciation of the name of Gen. John Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, of "Marine Corps Birthday Message" fame.
During the opening of the outdoor ribbon-cutting ceremony, Lt. Col. Nick Davis, commander of the Wounded Warrior Battalion East Command, joked about first one helo flying overhead, then another, temporarily interrupting the ceremony. "Leave it to the wing to come. It’s what they do to upstage Marine infantrymen," Davis said. "Just like Marine Corps Aviation, it takes two flyovers to find the L-Z."
In the audience: Amos, a fighter pilot. Amos, jokingly, told Davis he might want to find his old major insignia, hinting he might be demoted for the comment. "You’ll make a helluva fine major," Amos said.
Meanwhile, Elaine Donnelly is back. The woman who led the charge against repealing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" is back with a new-and-improved Web site, announced this morning, to combat what she says is the Obama administration’s hard push "to impose even heavier burdens of social engineering on the men and women of our military." The Center for Military Readiness is "analyzing the current research project that General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, announced in February of this year. Pentagon feminists and their civilian feminist allies are trying to score major victories before Congress has the chance to provide attentive oversight on serious questions, including assignments in direct ground combat (infantry) battalions that attack the enemy with deliberate offensive action." http://bit.ly/iguk8t
Panetta thanked Special Operations for the dramatic rescue of the American doctor from a development organization who was captured by the Taliban Dec. 5. The rescue resulted in the death of one American SEAL. "I was deeply saddened to learn that a U.S. service member was killed in the operation, and I also want to extend my condolences to his family, teammates and friends. The special operators who conducted this raid knew they were putting their lives on the line to free a fellow American from the enemy’s grip. They put the safety of another American ahead of their own, as so many of our brave warriors do every day and every night. In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld. The torch of freedom burns brighter because of them." CNN story: http://bit.ly/QR1rOX
New "megatrends" will change the way the world looks over the next several years, according to the National Intelligence Council’s new "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds" report, out this morning. Those megatrends include: individual empowerment ("Individual empowerment will accelerate substantially during the next 15-20 years owing to poverty reduction and a huge growth of the global middle class, greater educational attainment, and better health care."); diffusion of power ("The diffusion of power among countries will have a dramatic impact by 2030."); demographic patterns ("We believe that in the world of 2030 — a world in which a growing global population will have reached somewhere close to 8.3 billion people (up from 7.1 billion in 2012) — four demographic trends will fundamentally shape, although not necessarily determine, most countries’ economic and political conditions and relations among countries." They include aging, a shrinking number of youthful societies, migration, and growing urbanization); growing food, water, and energy nexus ("Demand for food, water and energy will grow by approximately 35, 50 and 50 percent respectively owing to an increase in the global population and the consumption patterns of an expanding middle class.").
But the report also includes a game-changer, "potential for increased conflict," particularly due to intrastate conflicts in countries with mature populations that contain politically dissonant, youthful, ethnic minorities. "Strife involving ethnic Kurds in Turkey, Shia in Lebanon and Pattani Muslims in southern Thailand are examples of such situations," the report’s authors wrote. "Looking forward, the potential for conflict to occur in sub-Saharan Africa is likely to remain high even after some of the region’s countries graduate into a more intermediate age structure because of the probable large number of ethnic and tribal minorities that will remain more youthful than the overall population." The Global Trends report: http://bit.ly/UrKVk5
Noting This Morning
- Intel News: Israeli special forces conducting cross-border ops in Syria. http://bit.ly/Xq8np6
- Defense News Intercepts: First pics of X-47B UAV on Truman. http://bit.ly/RUcYOV
- Danger Room: U.S. spies see superhumans, instant cities. http://bit.ly/UxcBqe
- CNN: Syria fears it will be framed on use of chemical weapons. http://bit.ly/QSkWGH
- WaPo: Gunmen kill women’s activist in Afghanistan.
- Al-Jazeera: The many faces of Afghanistan’s spy chief. http://aje.me/SL6YFg
- New Scientist: Syria’s chemical weapons pose danger. http://bit.ly/RkPmmC