RealClearDefense Articles

Task Force One Navy Final Report: "The Emperor's New Clothes" Redux

Phillip Keuhlen - December 6, 2021

Executive Summary  The Task Force One Navy Final Report was launched from the twin assumptions that the Navy suffers from systemic racism and that diversity benefits the Navy's military mission. Those assumptions are not supported by evidence. The use of data in support of the report's findings and recommendations is flawed by logical fallacies and by misapplied or misrepresented data to support its distorted narrative.  Themes that are central to Critical Race Theory and its allied movements find an active voice in the TF1N Charter and Final Report, confirming a philosophy and a...

#StopXinjiangRumors: The CCP’s Decentralised Disinformation Campaign

Jake Wallis & Albert Zhang - December 6, 2021

Video testimonials from Uyghurs saying they’re content with the economic opportunities provided for them through Chinese Communist Party re-education programs; promotion of Xinjiang as an idyllic tourism destination; commentary on the positive impact of CCP policies on the health and life expectancy of the region’s Uyghur population; content distributed in multiple languages on US and Chinese social media platforms: these are all efforts revolving around the hashtag #StopXinjiangRumors to recalibrate international perceptions of life in the Xinjiang region. The content is...

To Deter China, Invest in Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

Christopher Yeaw - December 4, 2021

Escalation. It’s Indiana Jones pulling out a revolver in response to the whirling blades of the Arabian fighter. It’s also Russia or China employing ultra-low-yield theater nuclear weapons in conflict to stun the United States and our allies into submission to achieve ambitious strategic goals. Escalation is funny in a movie but deadly serious in real life. The U.S. has suddenly awoken to the realization that it is in the unenviable situation of facing two nuclear-armed peer competitors who have positioned themselves favorably regarding the net nuclear balance and are looking to...

Making the Military Climate-Ready for What Truly Matters – Modern Warfighting

Tim Gallaudet - December 4, 2021

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has expressed his commitment to include climate considerations as an essential element of our national security. This is not new to the DoD, and the recently released DoD Climate Adaptation Plan details the intended efforts by the Department to make the military more climate-ready. This is a wide-ranging plan, covering everything from training, installations, and supply chains. Unfortunately, the breadth and depth of the document dilute what should be its primary focus – warfighting. The topic is indirectly addressed in a Line of Effort on...


Russia’s Military Buildup Reveals Stone-Cold Reality: Ukrainian Entry Into NATO Would Make War More, Not Less, Likely

Daniel L. Davis - December 3, 2021

It is time to accede to political and strategic reality and move from dangling the prospect of NATO membership for Ukraine – which would neither deter Russia nor improve America’s security – to one in which we focus on outcomes that have a chance of reducing the possibility of war in Europe: encourage Ukraine to adopt a position of neutrality and engage diplomatically with Russia to implement the Minsk Protocols. Refusing to do so increases the chance for a war that would serve neither the interests of Ukraine, NATO, nor the United States. The fears of renewed war between...

Kurt Campbell on What America Is for, “Rather Than What We’re Against”

Sasha Fegan - December 2, 2021

The White House “Asia tsar” spoke with Lowy InstituteExecutive Director Michael Fullilove on the shape of the region. Veteran U.S. official Kurt Campbell has long championed more American engagement in Asia and is credited as the architect of Barack Obama’s 2015 “Pivot”. He is often referred to as President Joe Biden’s “Asia Tsar” and has been influential in shaping the “Quad” grouping and the recent AUKUS agreement. Speaking at the opening of the Lowy Institute’s Indo-Pacific Operating System Conference, Campbell’s...

Iran’s Quest for Soleimani’s Revenge Goes to Latin America

Emanuele Ottolenghi - December 2, 2021

Shortly after a U.S. strike killed Iran’s most senior general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad in January 2020, both Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah swore revenge. Nearly two years later, Iran and Hezbollah have not meaningfully struck back at their enemies, particularly the United States and Israel — but not for want of trying. On November 28, Kenyan and Israeli media reported the arrest of an Iranian businessman by Kenyan, whom they suspect was plotting attacks against both local and Israeli targets. These revelations emerge only weeks after Colombia’s daily El Tiempo...

What Else Haven’t We Been Told about China’s Hypersonic and Nuclear Capabilities?

Mark B. Schneider - December 1, 2021

In October 2021, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten stated that the U.S. has conducted nine hypersonic missile tests in the last five years, whereas the Chinese have conducted "hundreds.” This implies a Chinese programmatic level of effort vastly in excess of what is publicly available in open sources, including the Pentagon’s annual China military power report. Indeed, the 2021 version of the Pentagon report only states, “During 2020, the PRC fielded its first missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle [the DF-17] and advanced its scramjet engine...


The Folly of Generals: How Eisenhower’s Broad Front Strategy Lengthened World War II

Jeffrey Crean - December 1, 2021

The Folly of Generals: How Eisenhower’s Broad Front Strategy Lengthened World War II. David P. Colley. Philadelphia, PA.: Casemate, 2021. From the execution of the Schlieffen Plan in August 1914 to Douglas MacArthur’s drive to the Yalu River in November 1950, the quest to turn tactical opportunities first into operational breakthroughs and then into strategic triumphs preoccupied 20th century military leaders.[1] The events on the French front in World War II during September 1944, specifically Patton’s inability to progress beyond the Metz fortress complex and,...

Beyond Subs for Australia: Building a Pax Pacifica

Henry Sokolski - December 1, 2021

America's offer to supply British and U.S. nuclear submarine technology to Australia (AUKUS) became a political fact almost instantly. President Biden and prime ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison announced it. Yet, whatever its outcome, if it's just limited to building subs, it's unlikely to deter Beijing. To accomplish that and create a real Pax Pacifica, Washington will have to up its ante and forge additional strategic technology collaborations between Japan, South Korea, and Europe. What will happen if Washington doesn’t? Seoul and Tokyo could go their own way. Having been...

A Bridge in Babylon

John Young - December 1, 2021

A Bridge in Babylon: Stories of a Military Chaplain in Iraq. Owen R. Chandler. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2021. Recent works of note on the chaplaincy have generally fallen into one of two categories: scholarly treatments of the institution, often focused on one particular war or era; and individual or collective chaplain memoirs. Many of the broader histories, such as Ronit Y. Stahl’s Enlisting Faith, have offered thoughtful appraisals of the impacts of the military chaplaincy on American society, or of American society on the military chaplaincy. Conversely, more narrowly...

Assessing the Threat from Social Media Enabled Domestic Extremism in an Era of Stagnant Political Imagination

David Nwaeze - November 30, 2021

David Nwaeze is a freelance journalist and former political organizer based out of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, who has spent over two decades among the U.S. left.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.  Title:  Assessing the Threat from Social Media Enabled Domestic Extremism in an Era of Stagnant Political Imagination Date Originally Written:  November 19, 2021. Date Originally Published:  November 29, 2021. Author and...


The Brain Is a Battlespace

Michael Miklaucic - November 30, 2021

“The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.”   – General James Mattis  Nothing could be more true today than this quip from the former U.S. Marine icon and former Secretary of Defense General James Mattis. In an age of pervasive information flows and global connectivity, our ability to process and validate information is vital to our national security. This raises an important issue in the current strategic competition between today’s great powers. The problem is two-fold; first, the United States and its partners and allies...

Russian Navy Test-Fires Hypersonic Missile in the White Sea

Associated Press - November 30, 2021

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s navy has successfully test-fired a prospective hypersonic missile, the military said Monday. The Defense Ministry said the Admiral Gorshkov frigate in the White Sea launched the Zircon cruise missile, hitting a practice target 400 kilometers (215 nautical miles) away. The launch was the latest in a series of tests of Zircon, which is set to enter service next year. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Zircon would be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Putin has emphasized that its...

A New Chinese National Security Bureaucracy Emerges

Joel Wuthnow - November 29, 2021

Introduction An intriguing aspect of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s political consolidation was the establishment of a Central National Security Commission (CNSC; 中央国家安全委员会, Zhongyang guojia anquan weiyuanhui ) at the end of 2013. The CNSC seemingly empowered Xi, who was put in charge of the new body, and through a permanent staff structure, perhaps set the stage for more effective strategic planning and crisis response [1]. Over the last few years, subordinate National Security Commissions (NSCs) have been installed at all tiers of the party structure down to the...

Congress Dithers in Weeds With F-35 Engines As China Sabre Rattles

Mike Paoli - November 27, 2021

Will the U.S. go to war with China to defend Taiwan? Despite the recent, three-hour virtual summit between President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping effort to reduce tensions, the risk is apparent. China is rattling its sword, menacing Taiwan by repeatedly launching dozens of fighter jets toward the island while threatening the U.S. by conducting nuclear-capable hypersonic missile testing. Although President Biden committed us to defend Taiwan from attack and the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act provides for arms sales, the island republic is still flying F-16s, a 1970s-era fighter jet. Rather than...


Collisions, Groundings and Fires: Is the Navy Ready for War?

Brent D. Sadler - November 27, 2021

On October 2, the USS Connecticut ran into an underground mountain in the South China Sea. The Navy has fired the nuclear attack sub’s top three officers, citing loss of confidence in their leadership. Less than three weeks after the Connecticut accident, the Navy released the results of its inquiry into last year’s loss by fire of the USS Bonhomme Richard.  It attributed the tragedy to failed leadership at numerous levels. Beyond leadership problems, both incidents revealed another critical naval predicament: its dangerously limited ability to do battle damage repairs. In a...

What To Do About China?

Anthony Cowden - November 27, 2021

In a recent article, John J. Mearsheimer traced America’s post-Cold War policy of engagement with China and the goals the U.S. hoped to achieve: “Washington promoted investment in China and welcomed the country into the global trading system, thinking it would become a peace-loving democracy and a responsible stakeholder in a U.S.-led international order."[1] Mearsheimer goes on to document how spectacularly that strategy has backfired: “Far from embracing liberal values at home and the status quo abroad, China grew more repressive and ambitious as it rose. Instead of...

The Unchecked Rise of the China-Iran-Russia Axis

David Woo - November 27, 2021

According to a new Axios report, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan recently "floated to his Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata" a proposal for an "interim agreement" with Iran that would offer to "release some frozen Iranian money" in exchange for Iran suspending "enriching uranium to 60 percent". This story strengthens my conviction that the next and seventh round of the U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiation, due to start on November 29, will go anywhere. The Axios report, quoting an unnamed Israeli official, suggests that Israel is opposed to an interim deal that it (rightly) fears will...

Astute Versus Virginia: Which Nuclear-Powered Sub Is the Best Fit for Australia?

Sam Goldsmith - November 26, 2021

Picking the right design for the Royal Australian Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines is extraordinarily complex and difficult choices will need to be made. There are two contenders, the Royal Navy’s Astute-class submarine and the US Navy’s Virginia-class submarine, which refers to the ‘Block V’ variant of the boat. Both designs are very good, and in some respects they’re equal. Both are fitted with reactors that never need refuelling, both feature advanced pump-jet propulsors, both support Tomahawk cruise missiles and both will require Australia to field a...