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The Global Operating Environment: Strategic Implications


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Presentation by Douglas Macgregor (Colonel, US Army, retired) on 15 May 2015,

Published in: News & Politics
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The Global Operating Environment: Strategic Implications

  1. 1. BMG, LLC A presentation to CGSC Class, Logistics University Fort Lee, Virginia by Douglas Macgregor, PhD Colonel (ret) U.S. Army EVP Burke-Macgregor Group LLC 15 May 2018 The Global Operating Environment: Strategic Implications The Global Operating Environment
  2. 2. BMG, LLC Historic Problems with American National Military Strategy: 1. Failure to recognize that American resources and American patience are not unlimited; 2. Failure to define attainable political-military goals; 3. Failure to accurately gauge American competence to execute; 4. Failure to identify America’s competitive military advantage; 5. Failure to understand the opposing forces. “I cannot help wondering why none of us realized what the modern rifle, the machine gun, motorization, the airplane, and wireless telegraphy would bring about.” Sir John French, Commander of the 1914 British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France Strategic Considerations:
  3. 3. BMG, LLC Northeast Asia: China, the Koreas and Japan “If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the U.S. is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on par with our South Korean friends.” U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, Korean Herald, 12 May 2018 Ichiro Fujisaki, former Japanese ambassador to Washington, noted: “The U.S. [Army] presence is more symbolic than really there to fight against North Korea.” “U.S. Troop Presence Not on Agenda of N. Korea-U.S. Summit,” Chosunilbo, 11 May 2018. During their meeting in Tokyo, Abe and Li agreed that China will expand imports of farm products from Japan… two more Japanese mills for polishing rice for shipments to China, including one in Hokkaido. The Japan News, 13 May 2018
  4. 4. BMG, LLC Russia, Israel and Iran:  Iran has tried to increase the permanent Iranian presence in Syria by adding a naval port, but Assad refused due to Russian objections;  Putin has consistently demonstrated his willingness to tolerate Israeli attacks against activities in Syria that support the Iranians or Hezbollah;  Iran and Hezbollah were useful allies in the Syrian civil war, but Russia has no interest in prolonging conflict in Syria that will consume more resources and cause more Russian casualties;  Israel will likely press until a pro-Israeli government (like the Shah’s) exists in Tehran.
  5. 5. BMG, LLC Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Near East  Turkish President Erdogan is playing a clever hand;  If Turkey can dominate Kurdistan [with the rationale of eliminating terrorist threats], Washington will complain, but is unlikely to stop Turkey from regaining control of large oil fields lost in 1919 at Versailles;  American assumptions that a weak, Shi’ite-majority- ruled Iraq would be hospitable to Sunni Arabs or Kurds were, and still are ridiculous; Bottom Line: The challenge posed to US national security, to the health and safety of Americans on U.S. soil, has overwhelmingly been from Sunni Islamists, not Shi’a Islamists [a.k.a. Khomeini’ists].
  6. 6. BMG, LLC Germany, France and NATO “Merkel will increase defense spending to 1.3% of GDP next year, but then it will fall back… As a result Germany will continue to take advantage of the military spending undertaken by others, including Britain but also, of course, America.” “Who is the West’s real rogue elephant?” Sunday Times, UK, 13 May 2018 The German Military is “not equipped to meet the tasks before it.” Hans-Peter Bartels, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, 20 February 2018, The Telegraph President Macron: "I regret the decision [JCPOA] of the American President. I think it's an error.“ Quoted in the Associated Press, 9 May 2018
  7. 7. BMG, LLC Time, Space, Lethality Implications  Range + Precision increases Lethality, Expands the Battlespace (ISR-STRIKE);  One salvo from 5 BM-30 Smerch (MLRS launchers) can devastate an area the size of NYC’s Central Park (3.2 square miles) in a few minutes.  Dispersion plus Mobility Reduces Exposure to Enemy C2, ISR and WMD;  Dispersion demands thinking Soldiers (self- organizing and self-contained formations);  Time to Decide: Future Warfare demands real- time decisions based on incomplete data sets.
  8. 8. BMG, LLC When Armies don’t change: In the West, between 1919 and 1939 the Generals squandered the potential for revolutionary change. • After WW I, the Western Armies viewed tanks through the lens of traditional warfighting. Air Force officers were divorced from developments on the ground. • Between 1919 and 1939 the British, French and American Army Senior leaders focused on single service solutions— traditional Infantry/cavalry/artillery roles. • Generals fought for budget share & end-strength, not capability; • Generals Experimented with the “familiar,’ preserving the status quo structure—suppressing innovation.
  9. 9. BMG, LLC • Between 1927 and 1935, the Germans created a special purpose organization (staffed with captains, majors, LTCs and a Colonel) to experiment with the new technologies of war that was not subordinated to the German Army branch structure. • Free of interference, the special purpose organization created new combined arms formations to cooperate with Air Force fighter and reconnaissance aircraft. • In 1935, Germany established the HQTRS for five new Panzer (armored) Divisions. By 1940, Germany fielded 10 Panzer Divisions. The special purpose organization produced revolutionary change in 1940. When armies Change:
  10. 10. BMG, LLC Don’t Bet on Unobtainium  When modernizing, don’t build a better carburetor. Go for fuel injection;  However, betting on a ‘once in a generation’ technological breakthrough is not a winning strategy. It has failed before;  The hype and expectations of artificial intelligence (AI) are far beyond the technical reality. (Brooks and Aaronson versus Kurzweil on AI).
  11. 11. BMG, LLCConclusions 1. Strategy demands change in how Washington views the world; 2. “If you believe theologians, nothing is innocent; and, if you believe the military nothing is safe.” Lord Salisbury, UK PM; 3. Without honest, rigorous experimentation, modernization fails; 4. If you prepare for the Super Bowl, you can fight a pickup team; 5. However, if you prepare for a sand lot pickup team and you go to the Super Bowl, you lose. “… just by creating the Futures Command, is that going to solve your problem? The answer is no." Raymond DuBois, former undersecretary of the Army during the FCS effort. Quoted in Military.Com, 28 April 2018