Marawi Lets SF Put Iraq Lessons Learned To Use

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Today's things: USAF robots; 'space Pearl Harbor'; SF Iraq experience helps in Philippines; the other
 

5 NatSec Things

November 10 · Issue #15 · View online
Your Daily Look at War from the Cheap Seats

Today’s things: USAF robots; ‘space Pearl Harbor’; SF Iraq experience helps in Philippines; the other F-35; Marine wins pissing contest

Because robots that learn can't go wrong
Gen. Goldfein is Chief of Staff of the USAF, and he’s either a Terminator , or he’s never heard of Skynet. Or he’s just another leader trying to embrace change as fast as he can before it runs over him. Either way, when the robot overlords do make a human mimicking robot, it’s gonna look like Goldfein.
Because what the General wants besides your clothes and your Harley is to automate tasks that right now take a lot of personnel, like refueling aircraft. He’s worried that the Air Force is going to be asked to do more, but won’t be able to recruit enough people to do it. 
So he plans to fill that gap with machine systems that communicate, and learn. Since if Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that robots that learn have humanity’s best interests at heart. Before Will Smith plays him in the coming Robocalypse, though, Goldfein does have one solid point: he’s tired of different weapons systems by different manufacturers that, because of their proprietary bullshit, won’t talk to other systems the Air Force already has. And if there’s one thing that Skynet hates, it’s when it can’t communicate with the rest of Skynet.
Space Corps backers worried about 'space Pearl Harbor'
Because sometimes you get bored with 9/11 references, at some point to frighten the public enough, you have to invoke something that’s going to appeal to an older generation. And by raising the specter of a ‘space Pearl Harbor,’ sponsors of the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) wanted to make sure that the Space Corps happened faster than you could say, “Why the fuck is Doogie Howser dressed like a Nazi and trying to read that bug’s mind?”
This is what happens when you binge-watch Battlestar Galactica and start drafting versions of appropriations bills. The Senate version of the bill banned Space Corps outright, so getting any kind of concession to get even a commissioned study to look at the issue was a victory for Reps. Cooper and Rogers. Who are worried that the Air Force sees space as a distant third place to things like fighters and bombers. 
The people that don’t want Space Corps are all worried that adding an additional force just creates more bureaucracy and would detract from the current mission in space already a major component of USAF operations. And when the Cylons do come, chances are good they’ll be speaking Mandarin.
SF's Iraq lessons learned put to good use in the Philippines
Marawi, in the Philippines, was home to around 200,000 people, most of them Muslims. Then the Islamic State showed up, turned it into a battlezone, and five months later, peace has broken out. That’s thanks to the combined efforts of Philippine forces and their American Special Forces mentors. 
Those would be the same mentors that taught their Philippine counterparts how to fight in a city. Which isn’t a skill that those same forces had honed over the years, as most of their operations focused on operations in the jungle. Which doesn’t offer a whole lot of urban terrain for conquering. 
And if the SF can impart anything else they learned from Iraq, it’s that laying waste to a city and killing all the bad guys does not victory ensure. Because the Islamic State, while crippled and much of its territory taken back, is an idea. A concept. And while the Americans would like to think they can shoot their way to victory in a war against an idea, that win continues to prove elusive. 
If Wal-Mart built a Joint Strike Fighter, it'd look like this
That has to be one of the finest paragraphs ever written about a weapons system. The article’s all about the Chinese/Pakistani effort: the JF-17. Because while the US wants to shop the crazy expensive F-35 to its allies, there are a lot of other markets that would like a joint strike fighter, but don’t have Lockmart level funds. 
Give this a read if you’re at all interested in how the fall of the Soviet Union has redefined a lot of military aviation markets. Because where Moscow used to be the sole proprietor of the hardware going to their satellites, the aircraft they’d sold or given away has gotten older. And those same markets are looking for a replacement. 
The JF-17 is a marvel of a distinct approach to engineering: simple, sustainable, and cheap as hell. Well, cheap at least when its compared to US made products. And while American defense companies have their markets, Beijing and Islamabad are finding buyers for their less flashy products.
Court: Urinating Marine sniper wins pissing contest
It’s called unlawful command influence (UCI), and the military ruled that the USMC’s top officer used it when dealing with the Marine snipers filmed pissing on an insurgent corpse in Afghanistan. And while the initial punishment for that sniper wasn’t extreme, Gen. Amos’ influence in the case meant there was no way he’d have a fair hearing. 
This has been an alarming trend in military cases recently, where senior commanders, anxious to see that their version of justice gets done, try to influence key actors in a case. Rather than letting the rule of law run its course, military leadership seems to be increasingly worried about its image in an age where their careers may hinge on how someone felt they handled infractions of any kind. 
What that sniper did was wrong on a few levels, but Gen. Amos erred in trying to make the case go his way. So long as leadership is more worried about its image than about the law, these kinds of responses to cases can be expected to continue.
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