All posts by mark3ds

That Stretched US Air Force–One Major War at a Time

Further to this post,

The incredible Shrinking US Air Force, or, Waiting for NGAD

the very realistic and capable air force secretary speaks very frankly (wish we had people like him in the spin-mad, all image all the time, Canadian government–see the secretary’s impressive bio here)–at Air Force Magazine:

Kendall: ‘Unrealistic’ for Air Force to Fight Two Wars While Modernizing

June 24, 2022 | By Abraham Mahshie

As Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall looks to modernize the force, he is calling for tough decisions that will shrink the size of the fleet [see post noted at start of this one] and make the waging of two simultaneous wars “unrealistic,” he said at an AFA [Air Force Association] Leaders in Action event June 24.

Kendall sat down with AFA’s president, retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, for an in-person discussion attended by a hundred air power professionals and enthusiasts at the Air and Space Forces Association’s headquarters in Arlington, Va. Kendall addressed topics ranging from threats posed by China and Russia to the ongoing congressional funding decisions that he said are necessary to keep pace with China’s heavy technological investments.

“I think it’s quite frankly unrealistic to think that we can have a force that will fight two major wars at the same time,” he said. He also said he did not believe any nation was capable of immediately ramping up from a peacetime force to engage in a prolonged, conventional war [emphasis added, note that “immediately”].

Kendall demurred when asked how many combat squadrons the Air Force should maintain, but he was clear in his commitment to take on the risk of a smaller Air Force flying fewer hours in order to make big investments in the short term.

“The critical thing is to get to the next-generation capabilities as quickly as we can [emphasis added, see this post yesterday: “USAF NGAD: Big Laser-Shooting Arsenal Fighter?],” he said. “Do we maintain current capability, keep the platforms that we have, or do we shrink down a little bit in order to get to the future? I think those are the trade-offs that we’re going to have to face.”

The Air Force currently has 55 operational combat squadrons, 32 in the Active duty and 23 in the Guard or Reserve, according to a Heritage Foundation study. And according to data provided to Air Force Magazine by the Air Force, fighter pilot hours declined 16 percent from 2020 to 2021, to an average of just 6.8 hours per month per pilot.

Kendall said it would be “hard” to get pilot hours back up, but he still called the force “healthy.”

“We’ve got to think carefully about the balance,” he said. “We’ve got to do it in a way which maintains a healthy force, while we’re doing this, as well as keeps pace with the technological competition.”

To continue to deter and defeat adversaries, Kendall called for leveraging “integrated deterrence,” or the flexing of allies’ and partners’ military and non-military capabilities, while the U.S. catches up to China’s decades of heavy military investment [e.g. various missile capabilities for attacking US bases in the Western Pacific].

Kendall has been pounding the pavement on Capitol Hill, he said, taking a classified threat briefing to the committees of Congress in order to help convince members of the importance of modernization over fleet size.

“Our average aircraft is 30 years old, and we have some aircraft that are not tailored to the high-end fight at all,” he said. “The people who manage and operate those aircraft do a fantastic job—I’m real proud of them. But we’re going to have to get to the next generation [emphasis added].”

And situation of the US Navy vs the PLA Navy is hardly encouraging either.

PREDATE: Kendall in 2012 under the Obama administration–imagine a senior Canadian official being so brutally frank:

F-35 Production Move Was ‘Acquisition Malpractice’: Top DoD Buyer

Given earlier comments by the F-35 program head, today’s [Feb. 6] remarks by the acting head of Pentagon acquisition that “putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice,” isn’t really news so much as confirmation that senior Pentagon leaders know mistakes were made.

Frank Kendall, who has been nominated to take the chair as undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told a Feb. 6 event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies here, that the decision “should not have been done” and that “now we’re paying the price for being wrong.” This was Kendall’s first public appearance since he was nominated to lead the Pentagon’s acquisition efforts.”..

Relevant post a year ago:

US Air Force Planning vs PLA in Indo-Pacific

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

USAF NGAD: Big Laser-Shooting Arsenal Fighter?

Perhaps amongst other things. At US Naval Institute News:

Report to Congress on Air Force Next-Generation Air Dominance Program

The following is the June 23, 2022 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Air Force Next-Generation Air Dominance Program [NGAD, more on the CRS here–excellent and expert non-partisan papers].

From the report

According to the Air Force, the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program is intended to develop “a portfolio of technologies enabling air superiority.” The Air Force intends for NGAD to replace the F-22 fighter jet beginning in 2030, possibly including a combination of crewed and uncrewed aircraft, with other systems and sensors. NGAD began as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project. Since 2015, Congress has appropriated approximately $4.2 billion for NGAD.

NGAD is a classified aircraft development program, but the Air Force has released a few details. On September 15, 2020, then-U.S. Air Force acquisition executive Dr. Will Roper announced that the Air Force had flown a full-scale flight demonstrator as part of the NGAD program. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall announced on June 1, 2022 that NGAD program technologies have matured enough to allow the program to move to the engineering, manufacture, and design phase of development.

Is the Goal of NGAD a New Fighter? 

While a stated aim of the NGAD program is to replace the F-22 fighter jet, the aircraft that come out of the NGAD program may or may not look like a traditional fighter. The Air Force is developing technologies involved in NGAD to provide air dominance. Part of the program’s goal is to determine how to achieve that end, independent of traditional U.S. military approaches to air dominance. NGAD could take the form of a single aircraft and/or a number of complementary systems—manned, unmanned, optionally manned, cyber, electronic—forms that would not resemble the traditional “fighter.”

For example, a larger aircraft the size of a B-21 may not maneuver like a fighter. But that large an aircraft carrying a directed energy weapon, with multiple engines making substantial electrical power for that weapon, could ensure that no enemy flies in a large amount of airspace [my “arsenal fighter”]. That would achieve air dominance. There appears to be little reason to assume that NGAD is going to yield a plane the size that one person sits in, and that goes out and dogfights kinetically, trying to outturn another plane—or that sensors and weapons have to be on the same aircraft…

The USAF certainly seems to be thinking, and prototyping, very creatively. The efforts had better work.

A very relevant recent post:

The incredible Shrinking US Air Force, or, Waiting for NGAD

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

US Defence Aerospace Companies Now Federal Government Lobbying Outfits

Funny how the biggies will almost all have their HQs in the D.C. area–at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

First Take, June 13, 2022

Graham Warwick June 10, 2022

VIEW FROM THE BELTWAY

Virginia Snags Another Aerospace Giant

Raytheon Technologies will move its global headquarters from suburban Boston to Arlington, Virginia, this summer, making it the last of the Big Five U.S. defense contractors to base its operations in the Washington region. The move into an existing Raytheon office tower near the Potomac River “increases agility in supporting U.S. government and commercial aerospace customers,” the aerospace giant says. But it is not expected to result in a large number of job shifts. Boeing announced last month that it is moving its home base from Chicago to Northern Virginia, following Northrop Grumman (2011) and General Dynamics (1991). Lockheed Martin is headquartered in nearby Bethesda, Maryland.

Capitalism at its finest hard at work. eh?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

What Monroe Doctrine? Dragon Spreading its Wings over Latin America and Caribbean

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Chinese President Xi Jinping, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, and their wives by a Chinese ship in the Panama Canal, December 3, 2018. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images”.)

Further to this 2015 post,

China Buying Brazil, or, What Monroe Doctrine?

the pace of the PRC’s embrace just keeps accelerating–below from a major article at Business Insider June 6 ( via Canadian Military Intelligence Association). The US military does seem to be rather hyping the defence worry factor at this point; the huge Chinese economic influence is worrying enough it its own right:

The US military is watching China’s presence grow in Latin America, and it doesn’t like where things are going

*US officials and lawmakers have for years voiced concern about growing US influence in Latin America.

*For military and national-security leaders, that influence has security implications for the US.

*Despite US warnings about dealing with China, many leaders in the region see little on offer from the US.

As the US increases its focus on global competition with China, officials have singled out Beijing’s inroads into Latin America as a growing threat to countries there and to US interests in the region.

At recent congressional hearings and public events, those officials have cautioned that China is investing in digital and physical infrastructure, natural resources and extractive industries, and in political and military relationships across Latin America and the Caribbean in a multipronged effort to secure access and influence and gain leverage over countries there in order to advance its own commercial and strategic interests.

Although China’s engagement with the region has focused on economic ties and it has not established a military presence there [emphasis added], US military commanders, national-security officials, and lawmakers believe Beijing’s investments have implications for US security.

At an August 2021 hearing on her nomination to lead US Southern Command, which is responsible for Central and South America, Gen. Laura Richardson said China comes to the region “with very sophisticated plans in order to capture the interests of the countries, willing to loan billions of dollars.”

“I look at that from the military lens of projecting and sustaining military power for the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] with this expansion,” Richardson said at the time.

Richardson’s remarks echoed those of her predecessor, Adm. Craig Faller, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2021, his final appearance as commander, that China was “rapidly advancing” toward its goal of “economic dominance” in Latin America within the next decade [emphasis added].

Beijing “is also seeking to establish global logistics and basing infrastructure in our hemisphere in order to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” Faller told lawmakers [evidence?].

At a hearing on China’s presence in the region in April, Sen. Marco Rubio, citing a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said China is using its economic heft and political ties to convince countries there to make decisions that favor Beijing and “undermine democracy and free markets.”

The same report, Rubio added, said China’s military seeks “to deepen its engagement in the region by funding the construction of ports, space programs, and other dual-use infrastructure that frankly is pretty clear it appears to have a limited economic purpose but could serve as future operating bases, even of rotational bases, for a hostile navy close to our nation’s shores [note that “could”].”

Strategic concerns

China has become the top trading partner for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and is second-biggest, behind the US, for the region as a whole. Its trade with the region has risen from $18 billion in 2002 to $180 billion in 2010 and to $450 billion last year [emphasis added].

The region’s largest countries have attracted Chinese investment in agricultural commodities as well as in ecommerce and other technology, including surveillance technology. Smaller, resource-rich countries in Latin America have attracted Chinese interest in mineral wealth and oil exploration.

Chinese firms have also pursued infrastructure projects across the region — many as part of Beijing’s sprawling Belt and Road Initiative — but especially in areas that facilitate access into or around the continent.

Richardson has said the Chinese presence around the Panama Canal and near the Strait of Magellan are her “two greatest concerns, strategically.”

The canal is one of the world’s most important trade corridors, particularly for goods flowing between the US and East Asia. It is “a strategic line of communication that we want to keep free and open for the global economy but also for our global war plans,” Richardson told senators in March.

China has invested billions of dollars in projects around the canal and Chinese state-owned enterprises are present “on either side [emphasis added],” Richardson said. “What I worry about Chinese state-owned enterprises that have capability and infrastructure there is that they can be used for dual use, which means civilian but also military.”

The Strait of Magellan sees less traffic but remains an important route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, including aircraft carriers too big for the canal, and is close to resource-rich Antarctica. China’s presence in ports and other projects “around the tip of the southern cone” of South America is worrisome [emphasis added], Richardson said…

Richardson’s counterpart at US Northern Command, which is responsible for North America and parts of the Caribbean, has expressed similar concerns. “China’s very aggressive in the Bahamas right now,” Gen. Glen VanHerck told the House Armed Services Committee in April 2021.

“They have the largest embassy in the Bahamas right now, and they continue to buy up [the] tourism industry to have access and influence,” VenHerck said at the time, adding that those Chinese projects “do have access right now to an overwatch, if you will, of our Navy test and training facilities, which is very, very concerning.”..

Chinese military basing in Latin America is still “rather hypothetical” [indeed!] [Margaret] Myers [director of the Asia and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue] told Insider, “but there’s a sense that based on the sorts of investments that we see in areas of strategic interest to the US and some of the investments that we see in ports with potential dual-use capacity that things are headed in that direction.”..

China will likely “explore what it looks like to establish more significant military relationships in Africa or in the Pacific before they try something like that in the Western Hemisphere [emphasis added] because of how much more likely a strong US reaction would be,” the analyst said, requesting anonymity because of professional commitments.

[Many] Latin American leaders…fear the paternalism that has often characterized US policy toward the region. Many leaders want to avoid taking sides in the competition between Beijing and Washington but welcome Chinese engagement because they see it as offering what the US is unable or unwilling to provide, like expanded trade, coronavirus vaccines, or infrastructure investment.

Richardson often notes that 21 of the 31 countries in Southern Command’s area of responsibility have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative [emphasis added] and told the House Armed Services Committee this spring that several of its multibillion-dollar projects were particularly worrying, among them a $5.6 billion highway in Jamaica and a $3.9 billion metro project in Colombia, a close US ally.

“This region is rich in resources, and the Chinese don’t go there to invest. They go there to extract,” Richardson said of those projects.

At an event in Washington, DC, in April, Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, said US concerns about Chinese projects there were “totally unwarranted” and that China has pursued investments in Jamaica for “a long time while the US has been looking all over the place.”

We would want to see more US investment in Jamaica, but Jamaica can’t postpone its development needs until the US decides to come in [emphasis added],” Holness said.

Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political risk consultancy, said that when Colombia has issued tenders for infrastructure projects, “US companies are completely AWOL.”

“So how can the US blame Colombia for giving them over to Chinese bidders, who are, by the way, the lowest bidders?” Guzmán told Insider.

The Biden administration’s signature international development effort, Build Back Better World, has foundered, and US private-sector investment has been hard to attract to the region, either because of the overall environment or because the opportunities, particularly infrastructure projects, aren’t well suited for American firms.

“There are efforts to try to increase and incentivize US investment in Latin America and the Caribbean now. The problem is that a lot of these initiatives are private-sector-led,” Myers said, “and in a moment in time when the investment environments aren’t necessarily improving in Latin America, it’s very difficult to generate that interest [emphasis added].”..

Richardson and other officials say the US military’s best asset for engagement is security cooperation — military education, training, and other exchanges that build on the US’s already extensive partnerships in the region [those “partnerships” in the past have not always had happy results for local populations, something they remember]

China’s defense cooperation with Latin American countries “is far less” than that of the US, “but it does exist and the overall trend line has been going up,” Daniel Erikson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere, said at a conference in May…

The PRC in this hemisphere, as in Africa and Asia, is able to take a much longer and coherent approach to executing policies than the US, especially economic ones in light of the Americans’ reliance on the private sector.

Relevant earlier posts:

China: First Africa, Now Latin America [2014]

PRC’s Neo-Colonialism in Africa, Notably Congo (DRC) Section [2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song of sorts, by Canadian band Joe Hall and the Continental Drift–“Nos Hablos Telefonos”:

Hong Kong a Year After Apple Daily Polished Off/ Canadian “Naive Narcissism” (note Xi UPDATE)

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “‘Something is missing. Hong Kong is still beautiful but it feels too quiet’: former Apple Daily journalist Norman Choi in Hong Kong, June 2022. Photograph: Chan Long-hei/The Guardian”.)

Further to this post a year ago,

The PRC is Rotting Hong Kong to the (Apple Daily) Core

now from one of its journalists, at the Guardian:

‘My career is finished, my friends are in prison and I’m an alien in my city’: life after Hong Kong’s Apple Daily

When the city’s largest pro-democracy newspaper was forced to close, Norman Choi got a new job in McDonald’s. Many of his colleagues were not so lucky

Read more: A year on from Apple Daily’s closure, what’s left of Hong Kong’s free press?

Ten weeks after the sudden end to my career as a journalist, I found myself standing behind a cash register in McDonald’s. My days as a newspaper editor at Apple Daily, which was forced to close in June 2021, were busy. Now, I take order after order for fast food.

In some senses my new job is much like my previous life as a news editor where I worked long hours to provide huge numbers of people from all walks of life their daily fix of breaking news. The difference now is that I now work with food instead of information.

I’m trying to embrace my new life but some of my old daily routines are hard to shake off. Every morning I still spend an hour in front of the computer, reading the latest news, but independent, quality news is getting harder to find.

You get the same breaking news notifications from various media, but they all toe the official line. The 4 June anniversary of Tiananmen Square appears to have been rubbed from history. In what people now call “the new normal”, there is no candlelight vigil to mourn the dead.

The Apple Daily’s website has been erased from the internet, leaving no trace. A tremendous amount of history has disappeared from the public view, clean and empty like a square after bloodshed [emphasis added].

Having spent half of my life in the media, journalistic instincts are etched deeply into my mind. Even after months away from a newsroom, I instinctively think about how I would handle a big story when it comes up in the news. After Russia invaded Ukraine, I had a dream of sleeping inside a tank in Kyiv with my photographer. I could hear bullets hitting the tank, before I woke up to heavy rain slamming on my bedroom window.

Sometimes I feel like a garden gnome, hunkered down and being comfortably ignored. Other times I feel anxious and helpless when I think about my former colleagues in custody [emphasis added].

I have known some of them for many years. In our old life, one joined me on a 100km charity walk in Japan, another often went trekking with me. Surrounded by nature we watched the sunrises and sunsets together. We shared hot dumplings on a chilly day after another exhausting hike. We laughed and cried together.

While they have been detained for almost a year., I still feel their presence.

Now, although Hong Kong is still beautiful, it is too quiet. Even though I have not left to start a new life elsewhere, I am an alien in a strange city. Lately, I have been training to become an electrician, taking classes with many others who have become unemployed. Even when I qualify there is no guarantee of a stable job.

It is a struggle to try and put my emotions at what has happened to us all into words, so instead I will share an excerpt from a letter I received from a fellow journalist, now in prison.

“Life will nevertheless push us forward, like a stream that brings both hungry and sleeping fishes downstream. Strong wind will lead us towards tomorrow, no matter if we are anxious or calm.”

*Norman Choi was Apple Daily’s features editor before the newspaper closed in June 2021.

Plus from David Mulroney:

Remind me why this former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is still serving on a Hong Kong court:

As a the wife of a friend said, a lot of Canadians in high positions suffer from “naive narcissism”.

UPDATE: Oh dear:

A related post from December 2021:

Stand News Shut Down in Hong Kong–Canadian Cantopop Star Denise Ho Arrested, Released on Bail–Ottawa Bleats

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

India at BRICS Summit: Russia Hardly Isolated over Ukraine

As this blog has been pointing out–see posts noted at the bottom of this one–Bad Vlad is far from becoming an international pariah as a consequence of his invasion of Ukraine, despite what many in the West seem to believe. From Foreign Policy’s “Morning Brief”:

India’s BRICS Balancing Act

India has been pulled into the Quad (and now I2-U2), so can it continue playing nice with Russia and China, too?

By Colm Quinn, the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.

The BRICS Summit Begins

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa meet virtually today for a summit of BRICS nations. As well as a chance to discuss economic strategies outside a Western-dominated system, the meeting once again shows that, although Russia is isolated from the West, for the rest of the world it is still very much open for business [emphasis added].

Russian President Vladimir Putin joins the gathering today at a time when his country has become China’s largest crude oil supplier—a position usually enjoyed by Saudi Arabia. He will hold talks with a group of leaders who have so far tempered any criticism of the war in Ukraine.

Indeed Xi Jinping, in his address to the BRICS Business forum on Wednesday, appeared to lay the blame on Ukraine for Russia’s invasion, calling it a “wake up call” and a reminder that “attempts to expand military alliances and seek one’s own security at the expense of others will only land oneself in a security dilemma.”

Addressing the same forum, Putin was bullish on the economic opportunities presented by the group, touting negotiations on opening Indian chain stores in Russia, increasing Chinese industrial imports and “reorienting trade flows” to BRICS nations. According to Putin, trade with the group increased by 38 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

He added that the BRICS group could soon go a step further by challenging the U.S. dollar, creating its own international reserve currency based on the “basket of currencies of our countries.”

India’s options. For India, also a member of the Quad—along with Australia, Japan, and the United States—it faces a challenge to keep up its balancing act between East and West [emphasis added].

“India lives in a rough neighborhood and has been able to stick by its non-aligned policy to ensure its strategic autonomy by essentially engaging with everybody, and they’ve done a pretty good job of that,” Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told Foreign Policy [see this post: “Russia vs Ukraine: India’s Strategic Autonomy (tous azimuts) in Action“]. “But as great power competition continues to heat up, not just between the U.S. and China, but now the U.S. and Russia, it’s going to be increasingly difficult and delicate to maintain that balance.”

Indian officials aren’t naïve about their position, and are reportedly working to block any attempts to insert anti-U.S. messaging into the BRICS joint statement as well as slow any attempts to expand the grouping.

That the BRICS grouping is not known as a particularly effective combination may work in India’s favor. “I think that India can make a gamble, which I think is pretty safe, and it can essentially, pledge full support for everything BRICS is doing to show that it’s a loyal member of the group, while at the same time betting on the strong likelihood that BRICS won’t be able to move the needle forward on a lot of the issues and plans that are discussed,” said Michael Kugelman, an Asia expert at the Wilson Center and author of FP’s South Asia Brief. “That would then spare India from having to make awkward decisions about how far to go and pursue policies within BRICS that could put it at odds with the West.”

India is in high demand in a busy few weeks for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He travels to Germany over the weekend to attend the G-7 summit and in July he joins another new grouping (and acronym) I2-U2, with the leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States [emphasis added]

In its own way India still seems to be sitting fairly pretty.

A video on start of BRICS summit:

Those earlier posts:

Russia’s War on Ukraine, or, What Stinking “Free World”?

Russia Invading Ukraine: Countries Standing Aside, Africa Section

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds


Enough Already with the Canadian “Arctic Sovereignty” Hoo-Hah, Underpants Section

(Photo at top of the post is of Russian nuclear icebreaker “Yamal”.)

Further to this post,

NORAD, or, Enough Already with the Canadian “Arctic Sovereignty” Hoo-Hah

…In fact the major defence concern in the Arctic is that its airspace offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America. Nothing to do with any threats to our sovereignty up there. And airspace over Labrador also offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America . But nobody is wringing their hands over protecting Canada’s “Labrador sovereignty”. Go figure. One might almost think Canadians were neurotic about the Arctic…

now, via the estimable Andrea Charron, by Prof. Adam Lajeunesse (website here, tweets here) with the title of the year so far:

JUNE 18, 2022 [at the “Quick Impact” webpage of the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network (NAADSN/RDSNAA, tweets here)]

The Underpants Gnomes of Arctic Sovereignty

Adam Lajeunesse
St. Francis Xavier University

This week the National Post published a sweeping editorial on Canadian Arctic sovereignty. Warning of the growing threats from great power competitors and the fragile state of our northern defences, the Post ’s editorial board painted a grim picture of Canada’s ability to keep the North both strong and free. Russia is building a powerful icebreaker fleet and renovating its Arctic bases; China, meanwhile, has labelled itself a ‘Near-Arctic State.’ From this, the Post extrapolates considerable danger. It is superficially threatening to be sure.

This may instill fits of polar peril in some, but to this scholar it brings to mind tiny cartoon characters: the Underpants Gnomes, from that irreverent cartoon South Park. Notorious thieves who steal underpants in the night, these creatures were asked why they do it. Step one is stealing underpants they declare. Step three: profit! When pressed to elaborate on step two, they draw a blank.

The National Post has offered us Underpants Gnome logic. Step one, they declare is an expanding Russian icebreaker fleet or growing Chinese Arctic interests; step three is a loss of Canadian sovereignty. Step one is more Canadian military capacity; step three is more sovereignty. Like their gnomish counterparts, there is a gaping hole in the argument. I would challenge the Post to fill in the blanks and answer the obvious question: what is step two?

The notion that growing Russian power in the Arctic naturally threatens to strip Canada of its “status as a northern power” or may lead to us “ceding great swaths of territory to hostile and autocratic regimes” is a big prediction not even remotely explained. Precisely which territories will Russia conquer? How and why would Russia invade a NATO power to steal Arctic territory thousands of kilometres from its own coast? The Post is correct that Russia has a growing icebreaker fleet, but how is this a threat to Canada? These ships are slow and unarmed. They are not designed nor suited for any offensive operations. If Russia would like to use them to deploy soldiers to Ellesmere Island, I suspect that Canada would be inconvenienced by – as former chief of the defence staff General WalterNatynczyk once quipped – having to go and rescue them [I fear that these days the federal government would in fact be very hard pressed doing that].

Russia has also expanded its military bases across northern Siberia. “In the past 16 years, Russia has refurbished 13 Soviet-era Arctic bases and numerous other smaller ports” warns the National Post.

Again, this is taken as a threat without question. Why? Across these bases, Russia has deployed an array of ant-shipping and air-defence missile like the high-end S-400 and Bastion systems. None of these can reach Canada and, even if they could, how does that invalidate Canadian sovereignty? NATO has weapons that can reach Russia, and yet Russia retains its sovereignty. Russia’s militarization of the Arctic is not a threat; it is evidence of Moscow’s own insecurity in the region. And, if the Russian military chooses to send critical weapons systems to Siberia, NATO should applaud that. Better there then in Kaliningrad or Ukraine [in any event the main Arctic military/naval action relates to Russia’s northwestern High North in Europe–see first post noted at bottom of this one].

China is, likewise, held up as a threat to Canadian sovereignty. That country certainly has shown a greater interest in the North over the past ten years and has been expanding its capabilities. Despite this, declaring China a threat requires elaborating on connections that the Post leaves implied. In recent years Chinese companies have been steadily losing favour across the circumpolar North. Confucius Institutes are closing, strategic investment reviews are being strengthened, and China’s soft power has been crumbling in the face of its human rights violations and “wolf warrior” diplomacy. Missing from the Post’s logic is that crucial step which explains where exactly that threat is going to come from.

The Post also laments that Canada has failed to “beef up its Arctic naval fleet in order to project power in the North.” We must buttress Arctic combat capability, says the editorial board, so that the Canadian Armed Forces have the “resources it needs to defend our sovereignty in the Far North.” Step one combat power, step three sovereignty.

The question of sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic relates to the legal status of the Northwest Passage and differing interpretations of international law; Canada calls the waters of the Arctic Archipelago internal while the US [along with quite a few other countries] believes that an international strait runs through the region. Canada’s diplomats and military leaders have known for generations that no amount of combat power will fundamentally shift that legal dispute. The notion that more defence capability magically translates into sovereignty cries out for elaboration.

Russia and China are obvious international security threats to Canada and its allies. Both authoritarian states pose an existential risk to the rules based international order and to Canadians’ safety and way of life. Meeting those threats, however, requires a nuanced understanding of where those risks are most acute, not an exaggerated or alarmist panic. A healthy debate on the many risks to Arctic security is important but unsupported implications and insinuation don’t help. I would love to ask the National Post’s editorial board what their ‘step two’ really is, to see if they can do better than the Underpants Gnomes.

Related posts:

Russia, The US, NATO and the High North–The Far West of the Bear’s own Arctic, that is [April 2021]

No Need for Hoo Hah over Under-Ice Dragons in the Arctic [May 2022, Prof. Lajeunesse a co-author]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Enfin, PM Trudeau’s Government Commits Money to Several Aspects of NORAD Modernization

Further to this recent post on US pressure on Canada over NORAD,

US Air Force Chief of Staff Visits Ottawa: What’s Missing in This Story?

the Canadian minister on national defence made the Big Reveal June 20, likely with the June 29-30 NATO Madrid summit in mind (to show allies we are Doing Something on defence) as well as trying to placate the Biden administration.

It is clear the announcement at Trenton air base was rushed–a two tweets:

The news release is here. There is still no “Backgrounder”–customary with such major announcements–giving details about, and projected timelines and costings for, the individual projects mentioned.

Some key points:

1) The initial C$ 4.9 billion over six years (i.e. just over $800 million per year) for NORAD modernization is not new money; it was already included in the government’s April 22 budget; there are no details about what the promised $40 billion over 20 years is for;

2) All the major projects are related to detecting threats and processing the relevant information; only two projects relate to acquiring new kinetic defence capabilities. There are also some upgrades for existing NORAD-related facilities;

3) There is no indication of how these specifically Canadian initiatives relate to US plans to modernize NORAD (some of which may not fit in with this government’s thinking–see “left of launch” post below);

4) Canada is still staying out of the US’ GMD ballistic missile defence system;

5) Minister Anand, for some odd reason, did not name either Russia (main threat now) or China as the adversaries involved.

To begin with, an excerpt from an article last year in Aviation Week and Space Technology:

…the radars of the U.S.-Canadian North Warning System (NWS) are still functioning, although their days seem numbered…

The early-warning system lacks the range to detect Russia’s Tupolev Tu-160 bombers [or Tu-95 ones] before they can launch cruise missiles and the resolution to track the latest Russian cruise missiles, particularly the stealthy nuclear Kh-102, after they are launched.

In other words, right now the capacity to intercept the bomber “archers” before they can launch their missile “arrows” at quite some distance from North American does not exist. And tracking those missiles on their courses to targets inside North America is exceedingly problematic. So it would now appear the main future challenge will be tracking and then shooting down the cruise missiles, not the bombers themselves (which may well have fighter escorts in any event–see this 2015 post: “NORAD to Face Escorted Cruise Missile-Carrying Russian Bombers?“).

Here are extracts from a Globe and Mail story:

Canada commits $4.9-billion over six years to modernize NORAD defences

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Patrick Brethour Tax and Fiscal Policy Reporter

Defence experts told The Globe and Mail the spending commitment, nine days before a NATO Leaders’ Summit in Madrid, seems to be an effort to create the appearance that Canada is devoting more money to the military. Canada has come under pressure from allies, the U.S. in particular, to raise its military spending to meet NATO’s target level for each of its members: the equivalent of 2 per cent of annual economic output. Canada’s current defence spending amounts to 1.33 per cent…

“As autocratic regimes [Russia? China?] threaten the rules-based order that has protected us for decades and as our competitors develop new technologies…there is a pressing need to modernize NORAD capabilities,” Ms. Anand told reporters…

The new setup will have several components, according to Ms. Anand. “Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar” will provide early-warning radar coverage and threat tracking from the Canada-U.S. border to the Arctic Circle [clearly to track cruise missiles through Canadian air space after they have been launched].

The second component will be a “Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar” system to provide the same coverage and tracking over and beyond the northernmost approaches to North America, including Canada’s Arctic archipelago [clearly to track cruise missiles immediately after launch from Russian bombers well away from North American airspace–and perhaps track the bombers themselves–and not vulnerable to interception and attack by NORAD fighters].

A third piece will be a new network called Crossbow, which will be made up of sensors with what Ms. Anand called “classified capabilities.” They will be located throughout Northern Canada, where they will provide another layer of detection.

A final component will be a space-based surveillance system, which will use satellites to collect intelligence and track threats, she told reporters.

…She did not provide a breakdown of how the $4.9-billion would be spent, and did not offer any estimate of when the new surveillance equipment would be up and running. She said Canada will spend a total of $40-billion over 20 years for NORAD modernization under the plan [emphasis added]

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba [a professor who really knows her NORAD and defence stuff], said it’s important that Canada is “thinking about and working on the joint defence of North America.”

But, she added, she thinks Monday’s announcement was aimed first and foremost at Canada’s NATO allies.

“There is incredible pressure that Canada spend more on defence, so they can go to NATO and say, ‘Look, we are spending more,’ ” Prof. Charron said. “At least they are going to the table with something.”..

Asked when Ottawa would reach its 2-per-cent commitment [to NATO], Ms. Anand pointed to Canada’s “upward trajectory” in defence spending….

With the $4.9-billion for NORAD, she said, “our defence spending is now on an even sharper upward trajectory.” However, that $4.9-billion is part of the $8-billion announced in the budget [emphasis added].

But Ms. Anand declined to provide a precise defence-spending target, or to explicitly pledge that Canada would reach the 2-per-cent threshold…

Prof. Charron said the new radar and surveillance projects will take “years and years” to build [emphasis added]

And from a CBC story:

The new network will monitor not only the Arctic — NORAD’s traditional domain — but also Pacific and Atlantic approaches to the continent [see the “Worries” post noted at bottom of this one”–our two fighter bases are well to the interior at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec and ill-placed to deal with threats approaching from those oceans; might we start rotating fighters through east and west coast bases as thought needed?]

Canadian Lt.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander at NORAD, said he and other top military officials have been taking notes on Moscow’s air campaign [vs Ukraine].

“Some of that assessment is classified, but I can tell you that we’re seeing the usage of cruise missiles in that theater, like we were expecting it, and like we expect that that cruise missile may be used in the future, against potential … critical infrastructure in North America [emphasis added],” Pelletier told CBC News in an interview following the minister’s statement.

Asked whether Canada will end its prohibition on participating in the U.S. ballistic missile system (BMD), Anand said the government will maintain the current policy of non-involvement [emphasis added]

As for those new kinetic capabilities:

Canada will also acquire new air-to-air missiles [the new AIM-260 the US is developing?] that will be compatible with the 88 F-35 fighter planes from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which will replace the aging F-18s of the Canadian military aviation in the coming years.

We will also work to develop options for a Canadian ground-based air defense capability” added the minister, remaining stingy with details…

Presumably that ground-based air defence capability will be missiles capable of intercepting cruise missiles closing on their targets. Will they be placed to defend our fighter bases at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec? Critical infrastructure such as ports? Nuclear power plants? Major cities in case of a possible demonstration nuclear attack (a 2016 post: “NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2“)?

Just for comparison’s sake, the current cost for the Stage 2 expansion of the Ottawa’s (pop. some one million) new Light Rail Transit system is $4.6 billion.

Here’s a video of Ms Anand’s announcement and news conference:

Those posts noted above:

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Jews and the Pogroms in the “Bloodlands” After World War I

(A review here of Timothy Snyder’s superb history, “The Bloodlands”; image at top of the post: “Abraham Manievich: Destruction of the Ghetto, Kiev, 1919, The Jewish Museum, New York City”.)

The chaotic, brutal and often murderous aftermath of World War I in Eastern Europe and the Balkans is largely unknown, indeed unwritten about, in the English-speaking world. Here are extracts from an article at the NY Review of Books on three books that point out precursors to the Holocaust in Poland and Ukraine:

Rehearsal for Genocide

Magda Teter

Three recent books conclude that the anti-Jewish pogroms following World War I help to explain what would take place a generation later.

Reviewed:

Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets

by Elissa Bemporad

Oxford University Press, 238 pp., $78.00

International Jewish Humanitarianism in the Age of the Great War

by Jaclyn Granick

Cambridge University Press, 404 pp., $39.99

In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918–1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust

by Jeffrey Veidlinger

Metropolitan, 466 pp., $35.00

The war in Ukraine has simultaneously forced to the surface and upended the memory of a history that had fallen into oblivion. The past, we see once more, can be reinvented and reinterpreted. In 2014 Slava Ukraini became the slogan of an independent, westward-looking Ukraine, when the Euromaidan protests resulted in the ousting of its president, Viktor Yanukovych, and his flight to Russia. In 2018 it became the official greeting of the Ukrainian army. Since February 24 of this year it has become a worldwide cry of solidarity.

Yet its roots lie in post–World War I violence. Ukrainian nationalists hollered “Glory to Ukraine” not only in their fight for independence but also during horrific massacres of Jews in 1918–1921 that killed over 100,000 people, possibly even as many as 200,000, sometimes wiping out entire Jewish populations in towns and villages. The shout was then taken up in the 1930s and 1940s by far-right Ukrainian nationalists, who were implicated in anti-Jewish and anti-Polish attacks and in collaborating with the occupying Nazi forces. Although banned by the Soviet authorities, it survived among émigrés in the West…

Three recent books excavate this century-old story and shine light on its lasting importance. Elissa Bemporad’s Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets looks at the memory and consequences of this violence in the Soviet Union. Jaclyn Granick’s International Jewish Humanitarianism in the Age of the Great War examines the rise of nongovernmental humanitarian mobilization in response to World War I and its savage aftermath—a mobilization aided by the ascendancy of the United States and its Jewish community. Jeffrey Veidlinger’s In The Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918–1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust offers an account of the brutality in the years that followed World War I in Eastern Europe and argues that it created conditions for the mass murder of Jews a generation later during World War II.

What all three books show is that the Great War did not end in November 1918. In the east, in the territories that are now in Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus, bloodshed not only continued but intensified, as multiple factions sought to establish new countries on the ruins of empires that “in a stunning development,” Veidlinger says, “had crumbled in just a few days.” Ukrainian nationalist groups fought for an independent Ukraine while clashing over their visions of what it would be, having to face both Bolshevik and White Russian forces from the east and, from the west, Polish troops seeking to reestablish an independent Poland. As each group embraced different ideas of loyalty, belonging, and citizenship, Jews were caught in between—trapped as permanent outsiders, unable to fit into the newly fashioned nation-states [emphasis added].

Just days after the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, Polish soldiers arrived in Lviv, a multiethnic city with significant Polish and Jewish populations, and a Ukrainian minority amounting to just under 20 percent, to claim it for Poland. The city, whose name changed according to the political powers that controlled it—Lwów, Lemberg, Lvov, and Lviv—was, as Veidlinger puts it, “the linchpin of the multinational state” envisioned by Marshal Józef Piłsudski. He dreamed about reinstating Poland to “the historic borders of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth,” a vast multicultural polity that had been wiped off the maps of Europe in 1795, after its final dismemberment by the Habsburg Empire, Prussia, and Russia. But on November 1, a few weeks before the Polish troops’ arrival, one of the Ukrainian national groups had already announced in Lviv “the establishment of the West Ukrainian People’s Republic,” raising the blue-and-yellow flag over the city hall, to the ire of the Polish population.

Faced with a conflict between Poles and Ukrainians, the Jewish community in Lviv sought to remain neutral, a move that rendered it vulnerable to attacks from both sides. On November 22, soon after the Polish troops had taken control of the city, Jewish self-defense groups were disarmed, shops were looted, and, according to a 1919 report, “all who resisted were brutally assaulted or shot, and many women and girls were outraged,” an early-twentieth-century euphemism for rape [emphasis added]. The violence lasted three days, leaving at least seventy-three and perhaps as many as 108 Jews murdered and 443 wounded.

The Lviv/Lwów pogrom was a turning point. It targeted a specific group that had been uninvolved in the struggle; it was organized and destructive, and, Veidlinger shows, militarily sanctioned—“instigated by armed soldiers in the line of duty rather than by roaming gangs of ruffians or local discontents.” Most importantly, the massacre took place “not during the three-week conflict between Polish and Ukrainian forces over control of Lviv but rather after Polish soldiers had secured the city.” Jews thus were not “collateral damage” of a military operation but rather “were deliberately slaughtered [emphasis added].”..

The pogroms of 1918–1921 differed significantly from previous pogroms: these massacres were approved and largely perpetrated by troops and people in positions of authority. Moreover, since the Ukrainian People’s Republic had proclaimed support for minority rights (a model later adopted by the Allied powers in the treaties with Poland and other newly emerging countries), including the recognition of Yiddish as one of the country’s official languages, the attacks were especially alarming. They demonstrated “to the Jews of Ukraine and to the world that even a government established on the principle of minority rights and national autonomy could not protect Jews from violence.” Finally, pogroms in towns like Dubovo (near Cherkasy), Fastiv, and Proskuriv, where whole communities were wiped out in a matter of hours or days, made it possible to imagine genocidal murder.

In Proskuriv, the forces of the Directory, headed by a twenty-five-year-old former agronomist named Ivan Semosenko, were told to protect the Ukrainian army’s reputation so it would not be “sullied by looting and theft” and take an oath, promising that “they would kill ‘from the old to the young’ but not steal.” They were good to their word. When Jews offered money to save their lives, they were reportedly told that, having “received an order not to rob, but to kill,” as one witness recalled later, “they didn’t need money, just Jewish souls.” Within four hours, between nine hundred and 1,200 Jews were killed. The events in Proskuriv were so shocking at the time that they were compared to the Armenian genocide of 1915–1916 [emphasis added].

In Fastiv, over a few days in September 1919, nearly two thousand Jews were said to have been murdered—some burned alive, trapped in locked homes and synagogues that were then doused in kerosene and torched. Others fled the town, and still thousands of others were wounded or died of disease. Later estimates put the death toll at eight thousand.

…“At the end of World War I and in the midst of the Polish-Soviet war,” Ukrainian nationalists, Poles, the White Army, and the German armies “equated the Bolsheviks and the Jews,” Bemporad writes, “labeling Bolshevism as a quintessentially Jewish doctrine”—that is, “‘foreign,’ ‘other,’ and ‘evil.’” In Pinsk, which was, as Granick writes, “in the combat zone between Poland and Russia, Polish soldiers stormed a gathering of Jews who were organizing the distribution of Passover food provided by [the] JDC [Joint Distribution Committee],” a Jewish American relief agency formed in 1914. The soldiers, assuming it was “a meeting for subversive, Bolshevist purposes,” shot thirty-five Jews and arrested many others.

The belief in Judeo-Bolshevism held by all these anti-Bolshevik forces, each fighting to realize its distinct and clashing political goals and ideologies, was galvanizing and deadly [emphasis added]. The fact that the Bolsheviks did indeed stop anti-Jewish massacres only deepened this pernicious conviction and, Bemporad shows, was what “ultimately enticed so many Jews to fight on the side of the world Revolution, to wage a war against counter-revolution, and to forge an alliance with the Soviet state. The pogroms made Jews Soviet.”..

Thousands of Jews moved to major cities across Eastern Europe, making small-town, traditional Jews more visible and alien. Many cities could not sustain the influx. Jews and their status became an issue in the negotiations in Paris. According to Granick, “The refugee problem became a Jewish problem”—one that was exploited, in the interwar period, by xenophobic nationalists and demagogues like Hitler.

So although the anti-Jewish atrocities of 1918–1921 may be a forgotten genocide, absent “from history textbooks, museums, and public memory,” they were widely known at the time, both in the region and in the West. The Soviet authorities designed their commissions to research and prosecute the perpetrators, and on September 8, 1919, The New York Times said an American commission would go to Ukraine to report to President Woodrow Wilson on the pogroms; the ominous lede stated that “127,000 Jews have been killed and 6,000,000 are in peril.”..

Approaching the history of World War I and its aftermath from three different vantage points, Bemporad, Granick, and Veidlinger each conclude that the shocking anti-Jewish assaults of 1918–1921 help to explain what would take place a generation later. The “unprecedented” scale of destruction and “the performativity of violence against Jews” can now be seen, Granick argues, as a “bridge” to the Holocaust. According to Veidlinger, the pogroms and what they stood for became “an acceptable response to the excesses of Bolshevism,” leaving a heritage of social tolerance for killing Jews. In 1941, therefore, when the Nazis invaded the territories of what is today Ukraine, they were able to mobilize the local population to do their dirty work, since it “had become inured,” he says, “to bloodshed and primed to target Jews in ethnic violence [see this post: “Hitler’s Ukrainian Executioners“] .” Furthermore, the connection between Bolshevism and Jews, as well as the nexus of anti-Semitism and opposition to Soviet rule discussed by Bemporad, made the atrocities of World War II less shocking…

The stories Bemporad, Granick, and Veidlinger tell in their very different books remind us how much our world is an heir to the violent legacy of World War I. Yet they also show, as the war in Ukraine underscores, that perhaps we do not have to be trapped in this past. Slava Ukraini is no longer a slogan of the perpetrators of anti-Jewish violence; it is a slogan of a country defending liberal democratic values, whose president is a descendant of Holocaust survivors.

Magda Teter

Magda Teter is a Professor of History and the Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies at Fordham. She is the author, most recently, of Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth. (June 2022)

UPDATE: From a very acute observer of the Canadian and international scene:

Related posts on the Holocaust itself:

Endlösung

Jedwabne: A Murderous July 1941 Polish Pogrom–and God?

A Great Book From a Romanian Jew, Mihail Sebastian: “Journal 1935–1944: The Fascist Years”

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds