Fatal Flaws Undermine America’s Defense Industrial Base

February 19, 2024 (NEO - Brian Berletic) - The first-ever US Department of Defense National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS) confirms what many analysts have concluded in regard to the unsustainable nature of Washington’s global-spanning foreign policy objectives and its defense industrial base’s (DIB) inability to achieve them.


The report lays out a multitude of problems plaguing the US DIB including a lack of surge capacity, inadequate workforce, off-shore downstream suppliers, as well as insufficient “demand signals” to motivate private industry partners to produce what’s needed, in the quantities needed, when it is needed.

In fact, the majority of the problems identified by the report involved private industry and its unwillingness to meet national security requirements because they were not profitable.

For example, the report attempts to explain why many companies across the US DIB lack advanced manufacturing capabilities, claiming:

Many elements of the traditional DIB have yet to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies, as they struggle to develop business cases for needed capital investment.

In other words, while adopting advanced manufacturing technologies would fulfill the purpose of the US Department of Defense, it is not profitable for private industry to do so.

Despite virtually all the problems the report identifies stemming from private industry’s disproportionate influence over the US DIB, the report never identifies private industry itself as a problem.

If private industry and its prioritization of profits is the central problem inhibiting the DIB from fulfilling its purpose, the obvious solution is nationalizing the DIB by replacing private industry with state-owned enterprises. This allows the government to prioritize purpose over profits. Yet in the United States and across Europe, the so-called “military industrial complex” has grown to such proportions that it is no longer subordinated to the government and national interests, but rather the government and national interests are subordinated to it.

US Defense Industrial Strategy Built on a Flawed Premise 

Beyond private industry’s hold on the US DIB, the very premise the NDIS is built on is fundamentally flawed, deeply rooted in private industry’s profit-driven prioritization.

The report claims:

The purpose of this National Defense Industrial Strategy is to drive development of an industrial ecosystem that provides a sustained competitive advantage to the United States over its adversaries.

The notion of the United States perpetually expanding its wealth and power across the globe, unrivaled by its so-called “adversaries” is unrealistic.

China alone has a population 4-5 times greater than the US. China’s population is, in fact, larger than that of the G7 combined. China has a larger industrial base, economy, and education system than the US. China’s education system not only produces millions more graduates each year in essential fields like science, technology, and engineering than the US, the proportion of such graduates is higher in China than in the US.

China alone possesses the means to maintain a competitive advantage over the United States now and well into the foreseeable future. The US, attempting to draw up a strategy to maintain an advantage over China (not to mention over the rest of the world) regardless of these realities, borders on delusion.

Yet for 60 pages, US policymakers attempt to lay out a strategy to do just that.

Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs: Why This New Munition Can't Help Ukraine

February 9, 2024 (The New Atlas) - US Announces Transfer of Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs to Ukraine (Again)...



- GLSDBs were announced in late 2022 and expected to arrive in Ukraine some time in 2023 however this announcement suggests they are only just now arriving in Ukraine;

- Russia has already claimed to have intercepted GLSDBs transferred to Ukraine before this most recent announcement;

- The Western media admits Russia has had success both jamming and intercepting similar munitions transferred to Ukraine including guided rockets fired by HIMARS and JDAM guided bombs;

- GLSDBs are manufactured by joining relatively plentiful bombs and rockets, however, the process of joining the components together limits the number of GLSDBs that can be produced at any given time;

- Like other munitions provided to Ukraine, GLSDBs will face both quantitative and qualitative limitations falling far short of Russian equivalents;


References:

Reuters - Ukraine's new 100-mile bomb from Boeing is ready, sources say (January 31, 2024):
https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/ukraines-new-100-mile-bomb-boeing-is-ready-sources-say-2024-01-30/
Reuters - Exclusive: U.S. weighs sending 100-mile strike weapon to Ukraine (November 28, 2022):
https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/100-mile-strike-weapon-weighed-ukraine-arms-makers-wrestle-with-demand-sources-2022-11-28/
CNN - Russia’s jamming of US-provided rocket systems complicates Ukraine’s war effort (May 2023):
https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/05/politics/russia-jamming-himars-rockets-ukraine/index.html
Reuters - Russia intercepts five HIMARS, JDAM bomb, 37 drones over Ukraine in last 24 hours (October 2023):
https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-intercepts-five-himars-jdam-bomb-37-drones-over-ukraine-last-24-hours-2023-10-01/
Business Insider - Russia is jamming 'sophisticated' US weapons being used in Ukraine, making them useless, report says (August 2023):
https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-disable-sophisticated-us-missiles-used-ukraine-gps-useless-report-2023-8
Reuters - Russia says it intercepted GLSDB smart bomb in Ukraine for first time (March 2023):
https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-says-it-intercepted-glsdb-smart-bomb-ukraine-first-time-2023-03-28/

US Bombing Spree Won't Reverse Decline of US Primacy in Middle East

 February 6, 2024 (The New Atlas) - Update on US military operations in the Middle East…





- US retaliates for deadly attack on US bases in the region by targeting Iranian-linked infrastructure and formations in Iraq and Syria;


- The US base was allegedly hit by a drone and despite attempts to depict it as a “lucky hit,” it demonstrates how vulnerable US troops occupying the region have become;


- US air defenses are insufficient in terms of quantity and quality to protect US bases from a growing number of missiles and drones;


- While the US insists it is not seeking conflict in the region, its sole purpose in the region is to violently overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments and coerce the rest of the region to advance US interests at the cost of their own interests and sovereignty;


- US Department of Defense officials have admitted that in Syria the US is deliberately withholding the nation’s own energy and agricultural resources to use economic recovery and reconstruction as “leverage” over Syria and its allies;


References:

Voice of America - US Begins Retaliation for Deadly Drone Attack on Its Soldiers (February 2, 2024):
https://www.voanews.com/a/us-begins-retaliation-for-deadly-drone-attack-on-its-soldiers-/7468958.html
New Yorker - The Redirection (2007):
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection
New York Times - Behind the Sudden Death of a $1 Billion Secret C.I.A. War in Syria (2017):
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/world/middleeast/cia-syria-rebel-arm-train-trump.html
CSIS - Syria in the Gray Zone (October 31, 2019):
https://www.youtube.com/live/MFsFOS5Odno?si=EFUG5T6Mjw8edqSp&t=849
US Department of Defense - Dana Stroul, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East:
https://www.defense.gov/About/Biographies/Biography/Article/2539910/dana-stroul/
Popular Mechanics - A Drone Attack Devastated U.S. Troops in Their Sleep. Is This the New Normal? (January 29, 2024):
https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a46573324/drone-attack-us-troops-tower-22/
Washington Post - https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2024/01/29/jordan-drone-attack-us-confusion/

Ukraine’s Black Sea “Victory” is a Distraction

February 5, 2024 (NEO - Brian Berletic) - Ukraine has invested heavily in carrying out complex operations to strike at targets across Crimea including Russian naval vessels, ports, as well as striking at civilian infrastructure including the Crimean Bridge. According to Kiev, this is all part of a strategy meant to first isolate the peninsula, then seize it from Russia.


The Western media, for its part, has invested heavily in convincing the world that Ukraine is “winning” in the Black Sea, and is building on these victories not only toward seizing Crimea but also toward defeating Russia altogether.

In reality, Ukraine’s operations in the Black Sea are a distraction away from Ukraine’s growing crisis amid what is fundamentally a land war, a crisis that if left unaddressed will inevitably lead to Ukraine’s defeat.

A Heavy Investment 

Ukraine’s desire to isolate and seize Crimea has manifested itself as a long-term long-range strike campaign using everything from naval and aerial drones, to the most sophisticated and capable long-range strike capabilities transferred by the West to Ukraine.

Air-launched cruise missiles fired by what remains of Ukraine’s air force have targeted ports, military bases, and civilian infrastructure across the peninsula. Ukrainian warplanes are sometimes targeted and destroyed while launching salvos of air-launched cruise missiles, reducing even further Ukraine’s combat power. The salvos of missiles are met with Russia’s formidable air and missile defenses as well as electronic warfare capabilities, resulting in the loss of the vast majority of the munitions.

The remaining missiles, along with an equally sparse number of drones able to bypass Russian defenses have destroyed naval vessels, damaged buildings and infrastructure, including in one attack, damaging the Crimean Bridge. However, these successes are few and far between, occurring about once every 2–3 months.

The long-term campaign has nonetheless forced Russia to relocate the majority of its Black Sea Fleet further east along the coast of mainland Russia. This relocation in and of itself has been billed as a major victory for Ukraine in the Black Sea.

However, as recently as late last year, Ukraine itself warned of a persisting danger from the Black Sea Fleet and its use of Kalibr cruise missiles. With a range of up to 2,500 km, Kalibr cruise missiles can hit any target anywhere in Ukraine, even from the Black Sea Fleet’s new location.

Despite Ukraine’s occasional success in targeting Russian naval vessels, the vast majority of the Black Sea Fleet remains intact and continues to play a supporting role in Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO), a military operation primarily taking place on land.

Another aspect of Ukraine’s Black Sea “victory,” is the supposed opening of shipping corridors.

While it is true that Ukrainian shipping has resumed from levels close to zero following the opening phase of the SMO, it remains at a fraction of pre-war levels, according to an article published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in November 2023. Considering the damage the protracted conflict has caused Ukraine’s economy, even if shipping were to return to pre-war levels as a more recent Reuters article claims, it is unlikely to even help sustain Ukraine’s economy, let alone aid in economic recovery.

The premise that Ukraine has reopened the Black Sea despite Russia’s best efforts to blockade Ukrainian shipping is highly flawed. Analysts may assign many reasons as to why Russia is not stopping renewed Ukrainian shipping, but an inability to militarily do so is not among them. If semi-irregular forces in Yemen are capable of significantly disrupting shipping in the Red Sea, Russia’s much more advanced anti-shipping capabilities which include long-range anti-shipping missiles and diesel-electric attack submarines are more than capable of significantly disrupting shipping in the Black Sea.

Despite Western governments and the Western media claiming the term “Special Military Operation” is a euphemism for full-scale invasion, Russia has demonstrated significant restraint, including in terms of escalation in the Black Sea.

What is left, after separating headlines from actual strategic success, is an expensive Ukrainian and NATO investment for what amounts to a series of public relations victories. While Russia finds itself embarrassed by the necessity to relocate the Black Sea Fleet, the fleet’s role in launching cruise missiles continues uninterrupted. While Russia sought to block Ukrainian shipping through the Black Sea, primarily as a means of blocking arms shipments, considering the depletion of Western arms stockpiles, there is little left to send regardless of how it arrives in Ukraine.

US Withdrawal from Syria and Iraq: The Worst-Case Scenario

January 29, 2024 (NEO - Brian Berletic) - Rumors and announcements have swirled recently regarding the presence of US troops in Syria and Iraq, and the prospect of at least a drawdown of troops taking place in one or both locations. This follows escalating violence between local militias and US forces, who have traded missiles and airstrikes amid the ongoing Israeli invasion of Gaza and a resulting decline in regional security.


While the Pentagon was quick to deny claims that US forces might withdraw from Syria, CNN in a January 25, 2024 article, “US and Iraqi governments expected to start talks on future of US military presence in the country,” would note that discussions would “focus on whether and when it will be feasible to end the US military presence in Iraq.”

A similar process took place preceding the eventual withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in Central Asia, completed in August 2021.

The withdrawal from Afghanistan was interpreted at the time as a symptom of waning US power, and while that may be a contributing factor, other analysts feared it was merely a means of freeing up US resources to expand conflict elsewhere.

This fear was confirmed by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during a press conference in December 2022, in which he admitted:

When it comes to Russia’s war against Ukraine, if we were still in Afghanistan, it would have, I think, made much more complicated the support that we’ve been able to give and that others have been able to give Ukraine to resist and push back against the Russian aggression.

It should be noted that the US had been deliberately drawing Russia into a wider conflict in Ukraine for years leading up to Russia’s Special Military Operation. The RAND Corporation in a September 2019 policy paper titled, “Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground,” would include an entire chapter titled, “Provide Lethal Aid to Ukraine,” explaining that:

Expanding U.S. assistance to Ukraine, including lethal military assistance, would likely increase the costs to Russia, in both blood and treasure, of holding the Donbass region. More Russian aid to the separatists and an additional Russian troop presence would likely be required, leading to larger expenditures, equipment losses, and Russian casualties. The latter could become quite controversial at home, as it did when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

The following month, under the Trump administration, the US would begin supplying Ukraine lethal aid in the form of Javelin anti-tank missiles, ABC News would report. It was clearly the beginning of a policy meant to draw Russia in and draw as much “blood and treasure” from Russia as possible. It was at this time a withdrawal from Afghanistan was under serious consideration. It would begin under the Trump administration and finally be fully implemented under the subsequent Biden administration.

The withdrawal, in hindsight, was a clear prerequisite for freeing up the resources required for the upcoming US proxy war in Ukraine against Russia.