This is the final announcement for the most timely presentation on….

2016: 

YEAR OF DECISION IN AFGHANISTAN

with

MAJOR-GENERAL RICK OLSON (USA-Ret)

Former commanding General, 25th U.S. Infantry Division in Afghanistan
and with a commentary by

GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID (USA-Ret)

Former Commanding General, U.S. Central Command
The Ramada, Friday, May 6, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

After more than 13 years of war, the United States again faces a major decision point in Afghanistan. Specifically, what troop levels are required for success in that conflict and what tactics/strategies should be employed.

The President and his key national security advisors are considering revising troop levels and deployment patterns at this time.  President Obama appears to be inclined toward restraint with respect to force levels and enhanced intervention in that troubled country.  In contrast, his former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and several national security experts, have expressed concerns that if the United States does not enhance its presence on the ground in Afghanistan, the weak government in Kabul will lose additional territory to various insurgent groups, principally Al Qaeda.  The President and his national security team must consider force levels and deployments in the context of escalating tensions and challenges in the broader Middle East.  This includes the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, and various radical Islamic groups in Libya, Somalia, Nigeria and other areas.

General Olson will review the observations/recommendations made by the outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General Campbell, and will analyze the vision and expectations laid out by General Nicholson, who replaced Campbell. Olson will provide a candid assessment of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, and will look at what key decisions will need to be made (e.g., what sort of “end state” is envisioned, what forces will be required, and for how long should we anticipate maintaining these forces and capabilities). He will summarize by forecasting what we can “hope for” by the end of 2016, vice where we “should expect to be”.

A West Point 1972 graduate, General Olson has commanded at every level from platoon to division, including his last three years of service as the CG of the 25th Infantry Division (light), including in Afghanistan.  General Olson also served as the Commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, responsible for all security and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan.

We are pleased that General John Abizaid will offer comments on Olson’s presentation and security challenges in the region.  Abizaid is the former Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), overseeing American military operations in the 27-country region from the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, to South and Central Asia.  In that role he commanded over 250,000 U.S. troops and oversaw the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailinginfo@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be pro-rated membership applications for the July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Trump on U.S. Foreign and Economic Policy

By Jerry O’Driscoll and Tyrus W. Cobb

Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump laid out a foreign policy approach that—not surprisingly—“would put America first”.  In his carefully scripted (and read) first serious foray into American global issues, Trump called for a major build-up of the military, a rejection of “one-sided” trade pacts, a reconsideration of the strained relationship with Russia, and a turn away from “nation-building” in troubled spots in the world. Unusual for the candidate, Trump stayed largely “on script”, reading carefully from a prepared speech that seemed to reflect more input from his political advisors than national security experts (indeed, if he has any!).

Trump said that, under his administration, “America would be great again” and that it would once again “be a reliable friend”.  He promised predictability, criticizing President Obama’s somewhat incoherent approach to global events, especially in the Middle East. But even as Trump laid out these policy approaches, he also advocated “more unpredictability” so that America’s adversaries would be uncertain of his response in a crisis situation.  And, while promising he would position America as a more “reliable ally” to our global partners, he strongly suggested he might move dramatically away from our long-standing alliance systems, especially NATO.

On the economic front, Trump lamented the decline of American manufacturing and the exodus of jobs overseas.  He vowed that “there would be consequences” for U.S companies that shift manufacturing operations to countries with lower labor costs.  We are not sure how economic liberty, the foundation of economic growth, fits into Trump’s vision.

Additionally, what matters for locating any business are total costs not just labor costs. Germany and Switzerland are high-wage countries, but export powerhouses. Many low wage countries, for example Vietnam, struggle to export because of poor infrastructure. Trade deals that Trump denounces, like Nafta, have made U.S. manufacturers globally competitive by allowing them to integrate production from Northern Mexico up the I-35 Corridor to the Great Lakes and into Canada.  That is notably true for American auto producers. Trashing Nafta would as likely push manufacturing out of the United States as attract it back in.

Trump’s speech and his recent remarks have been marked by a most unusual approach to relations with Russia and with President Vladimir Putin personally. “I see that improved relations with Russia, from a position of strength, as possible”, he said.  At the very least he promised to make it a priority to find out “if the Russians can be reasonable”. Some critics saw this as portending a division of the world into “spheres of influence”, maybe granting Putin and Russia more freedom of action in Eastern Europe, including in Ukraine, in return for greater cooperation from Moscow in other crisis regions—especially the Middle East.

Trump has spoken most often about China in the context of trade. He has said that China is “killing” us on trade.  But our relationship with China is about far more than trade.

China is actually struggling with the inner contradictions of its economic system. Private, globally competitive firms exist alongside bloated state-owned enterprises churning out products that cannot be sold on global markets.  The Chinese leadership knows it needs to reform, but is fearful of losing its political grip in the process. Additionally, there are power struggles within the party.  The leadership is stroking xenophobia to divert the attention of the population away from internal problems.  That makes China a potentially dangerous adversary.  What is the Trump doctrine for China and our Transpacific alliances?

The candidate was particularly strong in demanding more from our allies, especially in NATO.  Trump correctly pointed out that our allies have failed to meet the mandated 2% of GDP toward defense spending (it used to be 3%!).   As Trump observed, “We have spent trillions of dollars….on planes, equipment, ships, missiles….building up our military to provide a defense for Europe and Asia”.  He demanded that “the countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense—and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves”.

We believe Trump is serious on this point—it’s not just the “art of the negotiation” he is practicing here, but he is espousing a deep-seated suspicion of entangling alliances worldwide.  He questions whether our national interest, which must come first, is really a primary consideration in our quest for global alliances around the globe, to contain Russia and China.

Critics have alleged this is a throwback to an “isolationist” America First global approach, and indeed it is.  Trump’s calls for increased military and financial assistance from our allies is accompanied by the implicit threat to rethink the rationale for our network of global commitments, and if our allies do not share a greater part of the financial burden and commit more military force to the pacts, then maybe it is time to rethink the underlying rationales for these alliances!  He is probably right on these points.

Successive U.S. Administrations have not rethought American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Regardless of his electability, Trump may have initiated a much-needed foreign policy rethink.  That would not be a bad thing.

Dr. O’Driscoll is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and formerly vice president and director of policy analysis at Citibank.  Dr.Cobb served as Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan for National Security Affairs and as a Director of Soviet, European and Canadian Affairs from 1983-89.

2016:

YEAR OF DECISION IN AFGHANISTAN

with

MAJOR-GENERAL RICK OLSON (USA-Ret)

Former commanding General, 25th U.S. Infantry Division in Afghanistan

and with a commentary by

GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID (USA-Ret)

Former Commanding General, U.S. Central Command

The Ramada, Friday, May 6, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

After more than 13 years of war, the United States again faces a major decision point in Afghanistan. Specifically, what troop levels are required for success in that conflict and what tactics/strategies should be employed.

The President and his key national security advisors are considering revising troop levels and deployment patterns at this time.  President Obama appears to be inclined toward restraint with respect to force levels and enhanced intervention in that troubled country.  In contrast, his former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and several national security experts, have expressed concerns that if the United States does not enhance its presence on the ground in Afghanistan, the weak government in Kabul will lose additional territory to various insurgent groups, principally Al Qaeda.  The President and his national security team must consider force levels and deployments in the context of escalating tensions and challenges in the broader Middle East.  This includes the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, and various radical Islamic groups in Libya, Somalia, Nigeria and other areas.

General Olson will review the observations/recommendations made by the outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General Campbell, and will analyze the vision and expectations laid out by General Nicholson, who replaced Campbell. Olson will provide a candid assessment of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, and will look at what key decisions will need to be made (e.g., what sort of “end state” is envisioned, what forces will be required, and for how long should we anticipate maintaining these forces and capabilities). He will summarize by forecasting what we can “hope for” by the end of 2016, vice where we “should expect to be”.

A West Point 1972 graduate, General Olson has commanded at every level from platoon to division, including his last three years of service as the CG of the 25th Infantry Division (light), including in Afghanistan.  General Olson also served as the Commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, responsible for all security and reconstruction operations in Afghanistan.

We are pleased that General John Abizaid will offer comments on Olson’s presentation and security challenges in the region.  Abizaid is the former Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), overseeing American military operations in the 27-country region from the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, to South and Central Asia.  In that role he commanded over 250,000 U.S. troops and oversaw the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Please join us for what will be a very interesting discussion. A full breakfast will be served ($15 Members, $25 Non-Members, and $10 for students with ID and military personnel in uniform; free for WWII Veterans). We recommend that you arrive by 8:30 to enjoy some breakfast, coffee and conversation.

You are encouraged to RSVP by clicking HERE. You may also RSVP by e-mailinginfo@nationalsecurityforum.org. Just a reminder, after the forum, we will be pro-rated membership applications for the July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 period. Forms will be available at the forum, though you can also access the application form by clicking HERE. For your convenience, we accept cash, check and credit card payments for both the breakfast and membership fees.

Summary of the presentation on….

FLY, FIGHT, LEAD—WIN!

with

Rear Admiral Scott Conn

Admiral Scott Conn, the Commander of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, presented a fascinating briefing on the training conducted at the Fallon Naval Air Station.  Conn pointed out that the Center teaches advanced methods of strike-fighter employment through various courses, including the famed “Top Gun” program.  Personnel are trained in air-to-air and air to ground roles, as well as electronic warfare (EW), battle management, and airborne C2 (command and control) missions.  The Fallon NAS provides advanced tactical training, not just for strike fighter aircraft like the FA-18E/F, but for E-2 Airborne Early Warning (AEW), EA-18G Airborne Electronic Attack and their MH-60 S/R helicopters as well.

A key point made by the Admiral was that the primary goal of the intense training conducted at the Center was to achieve “asymmetrical advantages”, specifically in graduating pilots and crews who possess superior tactical knowledge and capabilities than that of adversarial forces.  As the Center’s guiding principal states, “Excellence is its own reward.  Strive to be the best in the world in everything we do”.  Or, as the Warfighting Development Center model states, “Fly, Fight, Lead– Win!”.

The Admiral traced the evolution of the missions performed at the NAS from the famed “Top Gun” in 1969 to the multiple missions performed by the Warfighting Development Center today.  Pilots train on fighter aircraft, such as the F/A-18 (A-F); the EA-18G Growler, the F-16 A/B; and specialized aircraft, such as the E-2C (AEW), and MH-60 S/R helicopters.  This is all conducted, Conn noted, in the Fallon NAS training area which encompasses more than 13,000 square miles, including four bombing ranges and six restricted areas!  Training is conducted not just against inanimate objects, but involves “real world opposing forces”– pilots flying adversary forces fighter aircraft, EW platforms, and today, drones.  Conn emphasized that training at Fallon is “real world driven”; that is, against notional adversarial forces with highly sophisticated air defense capabilities.  Quite often training is also conducted in conjunction with Nellis Air Force Base to the south, in increasingly important joint operational missions.

While we cannot summarize the Admiral’s remarks in other areas that were “off the record”, Conn did respond to questions regarding recent challenges that U.S. military forces are encountering throughout the world.  This includes Russian actions that threaten the Baltic States (which are part of NATO), including recent tactics that were highly unprofessional (barrel rolls near U.S. ships in the region).  He also presented his observations on issues regarding the “Rules of Engagement” in conflict areas ranging from the South China Sea to the Middle East.

In all, a most professional and informative presentation! The link to Admiral Conn’s PowerPoint is below.

NAWDC Command Brief DHQ April 20

Save the date for the upcoming presentation on….

2016: YEAR OF DECISION IN AFGHANISTAN

with

MAJOR-GENERAL RICK OLSON (USA-Ret)

and with a commentary by

GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID (USA-Ret)

The Ramada, Friday, May 6, 2016, 9:00 a.m.

After more than 13 years of war, the United States faces again a major decision point in Afghanistan. Specifically, what troop levels are required for success in that conflict and what tactics/strategies should be employed.

General Olson commanded the 25th Infantry Division during simultaneous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He will review the observations/recommendations made by the outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General Campbell, and will analyze the vision and expectations laid out by General Nicholson, who replaced Campbell. Olson will provide a candid assessment of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, and will look at what key decisions will need to be made (e.g., what sort of “end state” is envisioned, what forces will be required, and for how long should we anticipate maintaining these forces and capabilities). He will summarize by forecasting what we can “hope for” by the end of 2016, vice where we “should expect to be”.

General John Abizaid, who as CENTCOM Commanding General oversaw the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, will offer comments.

No need to RSVP at this time.  The full announcement will be forthcoming about a week before the event.