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Defense Innovation in China

[ 0 ] January 29, 2015 |

The Diplomat: APAC (one of my employers), recently introduced a new app. The app has a magazine format, and I have an article on defense innovation in the Chinese military-industrial complex in the third issue.

Yet for all of this success, serious questions persist. China remains dependent on access to foreign technology, with many of its most important systems stemming from Russian and Western designs. More importantly, however, China must figure out a way to manage the growing divide between its military and civilian economies. The United States and Europe have struggled mightily to harness their military-industrial complexes (MICs) to private industry, particular in the information technology sector. China’s MIC will soon face the same problems, and how it manages this obstacle will matter much more than questions about how much technology it can steal from the West.

I highly recommend both the article, and the app.

I believe that LGM will not merely endure: We will prevail

[ 205 ] January 28, 2015 |

One more obstacle falls in LGM’s ruthless, albeit leisurely paced, march to the top of the blogosphere.

Vaxxing

[ 119 ] January 27, 2015 |

Last Tuesday, my daughter Miriam complained at breakfast of itchy skin. Miriam complains about a great many things (she’s generally quite insistent that most maladies, from stubbed toe to mild fever, require a trip to the emergency room), and so I didn’t initially take the complaint all that seriously. That afternoon, she complained to her mother, who noticed that a small rash had broken out on her arm. Miriam also had a couple of minor blisters on her legs, and so despite the lack of fever, we resolved to take her in the next morning.

On Wednesday, the doctor diagnosed Miriam with chicken pox. No fever, no nausea, few pox, but chicken pox nonetheless. We mentioned that Miriam had been vaccinated, and our pediatrician noted that she sees about one case a year of a kid who’s been vaccinated by nevertheless gets the disease. It apparently has a transmission rate of roughly 10%, and the cases are 10% as severe for a vaccinated kid as for an unvaccinated.

I got the chicken pox when I was 14. It was hell; constant itching, lethargy, deep unpleasantness all around. I missed two weeks of school. Miriam, the child who complains relentlessly (and eloquently, for a five year old) about every illness or injury, real and imagined, barely raised a peep about her rash, and missed only two days of school. Oh, and her twin sister Elisha has yet to develop the pox.

Dayenu, varicella vaccine. Dayenu.

Air Forces All Over the Place!

[ 4 ] January 27, 2015 |

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at the three most effective air forces flown by Asian countries:
B

ut effective air forces need more than flashy fighters. They need transport aircraft that can provide strategic and tactical airlift, and Aerial Early Warning (AEW) planes that can maintain surveillance and control of the sky. They need a defense-industrial base that can keep the warplanes in the air. This article looks at the three most effective air forces in Asia, in the context of their ability to put planes in the sky, to make sure those planes are well flown, and maintain a reliable supply and procurement base.

GoT at ISA

[ 3 ] January 25, 2015 |

This, by LGM alumna Charli Carpenter, is very well done:

Tragically, Alex and I won’t make the panel because of unforeseen new commitments. Nevertheless, if you’re at the ISA conference I can’t imagine a more interesting Wednesday afternoon panel.

As China Pushes Forward…

[ 6 ] January 24, 2015 |

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at five areas the Chinese military may want to improve:

What weapons should China be developing and building right now?   There’s an inherent tension between defense procurement and innovation.  On the one hand, the Chinese military needs platforms now in order to fulfill the increasing scope of its responsibilities.  On the other hand, funds committed to production and operations don’t go into innovation, or to the integration of new weapon systems.

With this trade-off in mind, this article takes a look at five kinds of weapon that China can develop in the short, medium, and long terms.  China needs systems to secure its borders, ensure the defense of its trade routes, and potentially challenge the United States in the Western Pacific. The list concentrates on systems that enable these missions, with a focus on weapons that other countries either already have or are developing.

 

Travails of a Starter Carrier

[ 15 ] January 23, 2015 |

The South China Morning Post has a very interesting series on the purchase of the Ukrainian Varyag, the half-constructed aircraft carrier hulk that eventually became Liaoning, China’s first operational carrier. Some thoughts up at the Diplomat:

China’s acquisition of Varyag was contingent on a series of often improbable events. How would China’s carrier program have worked out differently if Ukraine has rejected the purchase, or the Turks had refused transit of the ship, or if the hulk had sunk along the way (a real possibility at the time)?

The Problem is Structural

[ 58 ] January 22, 2015 |

An update on Major General Post:

A prominent lawmaker is calling for an investigation of a major general’s reported comments blasting officers as treasonous if they work with Congress against Air Force plans to retire the A-10.

Maj. Gen. James Post, vice commander of Air Combat Command, reportedly told officers at a recent meeting of the Tactics Review Board at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, that they were not to speak with Congress about the service’s attempt to retire the attack jet.

“Anyone who is passing information to Congress about A-10 capabilities is committing treason,” Post is quoted by former airman and blogger Tony Carr as saying.

Post reportedly prefaced his comments by saying “if anyone accuses me of saying this, I will deny it,” according to Carr’s “John Q. Public” blog.

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who wants to keep the A-10 in service, has called on Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to investigate the reported comments, McCain spokesman Dustin Walker told Air Force Times.

A-4 McCain is right on the particulars, but the problem isn’t with any one individual. Post voiced (in clumsy terms) what the vast bulk of the Air Force hierarchy is thinking about the A-10. The USAF has made its case on the Warthog openly, and strictly on the merits it’s not that awful of a case; the A-10 has a limited future because of its inability to survive in contested airspace. Hell, if any of the Strelas that ISIS fired at A-10s a few days ago had found their mark, the entire fleet would likely have been withdrawn from action.

The problem is that the A-10 represents the only palpable commitment that the USAF has to the close air support mission, and that no one trusts the USAF to pay much attention to the mission when the A-10 is gone. And that problem stems from the fact that we’ve badly misorganized our military forces around the idea that one service should control stuff that flies (as long as it has fixed wings and doesn’t fly off aircraft carriers), regardless of what those planes are supposed to do. And senior officers have every incentive to focus on the parochial needs of the service, rather than on the contribution the service makes to the joint mission.

And, I should hasten to add, there’s a solution…

If You Have a Nickel to Spare…

[ 2 ] January 21, 2015 |

drop it over at Lance’s place. I like to think of Lance as LGM’s Ozzie Altobello.

History of the Battleship

[ 62 ] January 20, 2015 |

This is extremely well done.

In the late Sixties, Milton Bradley created the game Battleship, which introduced the catch phrase “You sank my battleship” to the general public.

It is still the shortest and most accurate history of the battleship to date.

In other battleship news, the manuscript for the book I’ve been developing out of Sunday Battleship Blogging is now with the editors. We should have some info soon regarding publication dates, etc.

Dartmouth Has Trained You Well

[ 110 ] January 19, 2015 |

Now that’s good trolling.

I suppose there’s something to be said about the manner in which the terms of conservative “intellectualism” have changed over the years. In the 1980s and 1990s, D’Souza felt the need to make an effort at what amounted to mainstream respectability. Today, he has no interest in it, and it’s hard to identify conservatives who have the same pretensions. I guess that Ross Douthat would be the closest to having “crossover appeal.”

Digital Arms Race

[ 8 ] January 18, 2015 |

I’m old enough that I can remember when the Snowden docs were about domestic spying and civil liberties:

In addition to providing a view of the US’s own ability to conduct digital attacks, Snowden’s archive also reveals the capabilities of other countries. The Transgression team has access to years of preliminary field work and experience at its disposal, including databases in which malware and network attacks from other countries are cataloged.

The Snowden documents show that the NSA and its Five Eyes partners have put numerous network attacks waged by other countries to their own use in recent years. One 2009 document states that the department’s remit is to “discover, understand (and) evaluate” foreign attacks. Another document reads: “Steal their tools, tradecraft, targets and take.”

It’s interesting stuff, of course, the breathless citation of Marshall McLuhan aside.

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