Dr. Earl Tilford's blog

War by algebra defies the true nature of war

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[Editor’s note: This article first appeared at Breitbart.com.]

Many Americans think of war as a great national struggle, as was the case during WWII, where violence rose to address the belligerents’ objectives. These were “total” wars between nation-states driven by incompatible political ideologies supported by the mobilization of industrial-age economies. For the United States and its allies the objective was unconditional surrender. Read More»

Air power’s siren song — again

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In the early morning of Sept. 23, 2014, American air forces — joined by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Jordan — began striking targets in Syria as part of ongoing operations against the terrorist group ISIS.

Nearly a week earlier, Sept. 17, 2014, marked the U.S. Air Force’s 67th anniversary as a separate service. It remains the world’s foremost military instrument capable of striking globally in support of American national security interests. Read More»

War — A matter of semantics

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“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.”
— President John F. Kennedy

For most people, war is an unthinkable horror. While generals must think realistically about war, an important duty for a political leader is to inspire others to do the unthinkable.

Modifiers attempt to qualify war with words like limited, total, defensive, preemptive, just, unjust, good, bad, glorious, tragic, legal, illegal, etc. Read More»

Do we have a war strategy for ISIS?

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President Obama in his Sept. 10 speech did not deliver a viable war-fighting strategy against ISIS. In fact, the president doesn’t seem to understand that ISIS is at war with the U.S.

The 18th century Prussian strategist General Carl von Clausewitz defined war as “an act of force to compel the enemy to do your will.” By that strategic definition, ISIS, the spawn of al Qaeda, has been at war with Americans for nearly two decades. Its modus operandi is terrorism, which is currently defined as “violence conducted against innocents to achieve a political objective.” Read More»

Strategy 101: A primer for President Obama

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In August 1961, while the Soviets erected the Berlin Wall to plunge the Cold War into the deep freeze, President John F. Kennedy ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to devise a nuclear-first strike plan. Read More»

Needed: Intense face time with Vladimir

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President Barack Obama has spent a lot of TV face time opining on race relations in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2009, on the George Zimmerman trial of 2012-13, on the riots in a St. Louis suburb last month, and plenty more.

His attention was fixed on fundraising in Las Vegas when terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, on fundraising in New York when a Malaysian plane was shot down by Russians, and he was vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard while Russia furthered its aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine. Read More»

Camelot & the Syrian crisis

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Nov. 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the end of Camelot. During its tenure, President John F. Kennedy’s administration set national security precedents that have influenced the way Washington has approached military commitments to the present day.

For instance, in January 1961, after inheriting a crisis in Laos, the newly inaugurated president asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff for advice. Only the Air Force was optimistic about the prospects for intervention, as long as nuclear weapons could be used to close four passes from North Vietnam into Laos. Read More»

A more immediate threat

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On July 23, 2012, Syria — one of seven nations not to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention — admitted owning a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. A foreign ministry spokesman warned that Damascus would use these weapons against any force intervening in its civil war. NATO estimates that Syria produces several hundred tons of chemical/biological (chem/bio) agents annually. Read More»

Merge Air Force into Army, convert Pentagon into shopping mall

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[Editor’s note: This is Part II of Dr. Tilford’s series on “Restructuring the Department of Defense.]

The U.S. Department of Defense must restructure to accommodate deep budget cuts and, more importantly, be ready for the challenges of 21st-century warfare. Those challenges will include unconventional operations and wars fought in vastly expanded battle spaces. Reforms are needed in three areas. Read More»

DoD must be reorganized for today’s wars

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In 1914, on the eve of the Great War, the Duke of Cambridge wrote, There is a time for all things. There is even a time for change; and that is when it can no longer be avoided.

Speaking of change, the current debt crisis could force drastic cuts in the Department of Defense budget, perhaps as high as 50 percent.

In the immediate post-Cold War era, DoD futurists envisioned a 25-year period of strategic pause before the nation faced a major peer competitor sometime between 2015 and 2020. Read More»

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