How will the U.S. military stay competitive? This is about far more than platforms, bombs, and guns. It is fundamentally about people. And with archaic personnel systems plaguing the armed forces and the Department of Defense, our talented young men and women are being drawn away into the private sector in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter sat down with WOTR’s Ryan Evans to talk about the Force of the Future initiative – a sweeping program of reforms that aims to bring the Department of Defense into the 21st Century in terms of how it manages its most important asset: human beings.
In the midst of a minefield on day two of Desert Storm Task Force Ripper, Marine Corps Operations Officer Richard Zilmer stepped out of his armored personnel carrier, squinted up at the sky, and saw nothing but black from horizon to horizon. Iraqi forces, trying desperately to blunt the attack of coalition armies, had set fire to hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells and oil-filled trenches.
“The sun was a little white ball about the size of a ping-pong ball that you could look up at directly,” Zilmer, now a retired lieutenant general, said at the Wilson Center on October 21. “This was surreal to about the third power…truly for me a moment that I’ll never forget.”
He wondered, does anyone know we’re here? Or know why we’re here? The puzzle pieces linking energy and national security started to shift into place.
Numerous recent news accounts in Uzbekistan would seem to indicate mounting agitation over alleged activity by Islamic State — an extremist organization not previously known to have made inroads into the country.
Dozens of individuals have reportedly been arrested on suspicion of having links to the terrorist group, and some security forces are said to have been placed on high alert amid concerns about possible unrest. For all the clamor, little is understood about whether Islamic State has genuinely established a presence in Uzbekistan, and whether semi-official claims of anti-terrorist sweeps can be taken at face value.
In the latest case to draw public attention, Tashkent-based website 12news.uz cited an unnamed Supreme Court official on November 13 as saying a 23-year old man called Muhammad Abdullaev had been sentenced to 13 years in prison for his association with Islamic State. 12news.uz has served as a conduit for multiple alarming stories about alleged Islamic State incursions into Uzbekistan.
Between 2014 and June 2015, China conducted four major tests of its hypersonic missiles (with a fifth test in August). The fourth test of Wu-14, its ultra high-speed nuclear delivery vehicle, demonstrated a capacity for “extreme maneuvers.” It was assessed as travelling at a speed of Mach 10 (flying at 10 times the speed of sound or approximately 7,680 miles per hour). To understand this in comparative terms, a missile flying at subsonic speed can reach a maximum of 500-600 miles per hour.
To qualify as “hypersonic,” a missile would have to move at least five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), as well as be able to evade counter-fire and strike with great precision. To date, no country has achieved this performance but several nations are working on it.
Building an army in a short space of time is a very difficult task. To be sure, there are some impressive examples. Cromwell’s republican New Model Army was put together while the English Civil War was already underway; Washington’s army of US Independence quickly wore down and beat the British in the 18th century; Napoleon’s revolutionary army was born from the French Revolution and swept all Europe before it; the Red Army of the Soviet Union was forged from the chaos of its defeat in World War I.
But the list of failures is just as spectacular. The South Vietnamese Army boasted billions of dollars, up-to-date equipment and state-of-the-art training, but couldn’t control even South Vietnam itself. It ultimately surprised observers only by holding on as long as it did after the Americans left.