Oh the apoplectic comments we’ll hear if a pro-nuke Newsweek think-piece should appear.
Archive for August, 2009
Not to be confused with social media like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, strategic communication is significantly different. It even warrants a spot in the Joint Dictionary, where strategic communication is defined as “Focused United States Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of United States Government interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power.”
In short order, Admiral Mullen’s article first says ‘we’re awful’ (my paraphrase) and then advises us to get back to basics, where “we can start by not beating ourselves up.” He then proceeds to beat everyone up. While the article is only about 1300-words, in it Mullen invokes the word “we” around 25 times. In context, he appears to apply “we” to the U.S. military in about 20 of those usages and to the American people in general about three times. However, the tone of “we” as it seems to apply to the military is one of failure. Here are many of the descriptions: we have walked away; we have allowed; we need to; we haven’t invested; we haven’t always delivered; we know better; we could learn; we must know; we hurt ourselves; we must be vigilant; we don’t fully–and don’t always attempt to–understand; we must listen; we should use; we need to worry; we (need to) learn to be more humble, and; we need more…credibility.
On this day in 1928, the Kellogg-Brand Pact was signed. The pact initially included France and Germany (and 13 others including the U.S.). It was signed in Paris and was ratified by the U.S. Senate 85 to 1.
The pact’s signatories agreed that all future conflicts would be settled using peaceful means and likewise renounced war as an instrument of policy.
A little less than twelve years later, German troops occupied Paris.
The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is a legislatively mandated review of DoD strategy and priorities. Some in Congress feel the QDR has been used to avoid DoD transparency and accountability and that an honest review of fundamental national security issues will not be addressed in the QDR, but rather, that the QDR will rather be used to rationalize budgetary and resource allocation decisions which have already been made.
The President’s lead for defense is Secretary Robert Gates and he has been quite clear where he thinks the DoD needs to go. So, is the QDR supposed to be a reflection of his vision, or is it supposed to be the independent thoughts of a group of disparate national-security thinkers?
As for me, I think it is the former and not the later. Secretary Gates has presented a consistent path to first win the war we’re in and to concurrently prepare for an uncertain future. The fact he was asked to stay on as SecDef almost certainly means he has the total confidence of the President and has been provided an exceedingly long-leash in taking action to shape both current and future activities as they affect the defense community.
For the Air Force, these judgments and decisions have included capping the F-22 program at 187 airframes, procuring more UAV capability, cancelling TSAT, and revitalizing the nuclear enterprise. There is little subtly here–it is all quite plain and clearly announced in speeches and writings.
When we were in the Cold War, we used Cold War strategy, policies, and resourcing decisions. We are now in an era of irregular warfare. While the consequences of war with a near-peer are potentially far more dangerous than IW, the likelihood of that occurrence is less and is a risk the Secretary has assumed. The DoD strategies and priorities he has established will in effect be the QDR and rule the day until other challenges take their places.
Is this QDR being mailed-in? Perhaps, but does it matter?
Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, the Director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law from the University of Mississippi, School of Law came in to brief the Air War College Space Elective today. Fantastic!
The link reports half the two-piece payload fairing did not separate from the second stage as it should have. The extra weight turned the effort into another sea-sat (maybe a land sat). The fairing issue sounds analogous to the Orbiting Carbon Observatory failure, which rode on an OSC provided Taurus XL.
UPDATE: The first report from the field is always wrong. Spaceflight Now (via the Korea Aerospace Research Institute) reports the orbital parameters were supposed to be perigee at 186 miles and apogee at 932 miles. CNN relayed perigee may have been missed by almost 35 miles. There may be some data mangling regarding miles and kilometers.
South Korea’s Space Launch Vehicle-1, AKA Naro-1 (what, even rockets have street names?) has launched. The two-stage booster was jointly built with the Russians (at a reported cost of $400million) and the satellite was domestically produced in South Korean.
It was announced the launch failed to put its satellite into its desired orbit. The Times report says the satellite was an extra 36 kilometers farther from the earth than it should have been.
Since the announced mission of the satellite was to observe the atmosphere and ocean, and those sorts of missions are often polar orbits, it would seem likely the satellite may not be optimally positioned, but a plus 20-mile miss distance should be able to provide plenty of functionality.
However, if it is supposed to be a low-flier, and maybe even a spy satellite, this sort of miss distance may well prevent mission objectives being fulfilled.
The dreaded but ambiguous “loss of confidence.” For more, check the Global Security Newswire.
Andy Pasztor of the WSJ reports the administration is “leaning towards outsourcing major components of its space program.” This would mean some competition (or even cancellation!) for the planned NASA-sponsored Ares programs which (in six to eight years) will be used to resupply the International Space Station with materials and astronauts. To paraphrase Emil Faber, “Competition is good.”
The Air Force would like the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle to get man-rated. That would allow them to have some of the cost-burden of that program, which was supposed to provide cost savings of at least 25 percent on USAF launches (cue Bob Euker sound-bite: “Just a bit outside”) to other users. Likewise, commercial providers like Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX will be in the mix, too. However, don’t expect the Ares programs to go down without a fight.
Also, while the President “has confirmed his commitment to human space exploration,” the next part of the challenge will be to understand exactly what the President means by ‘human space exploration.’
We are already at the point where human space exploration–currently defined by orbiting the earth in the ISS–fails to satisfy. One manned trip to the Moon may satisfy for a short while, but after that…
“Manned space” needs to provide a vision of space travel that is not completely disconnected with reality. Space tourism may be the start. Perhaps the lessons learned in space tourism and the technologies developed in that aspect of the space economy will be applied to the space domain in general. I think it is space’s best hope.