Archive: Future War

Unmanned and Dangerous: The Future U.S. Military?

The controversy over the availability of unmanned reconnaissance and strike drones in Iraq and Afghanistan has become one of those quintessential Washington dramas that plays while Rome burns. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is pushing for more drones to...

By William M. Arkin | April 30, 2008; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (34)

In the War Against Terrorism, Intelligence Drones On

Finding a "needle in a needle stack": That's how the head of Army intelligence training described the new challenge of spying in the war on terrorism. Searching for a "needle in a haystack" would be much easier, he says, because...

By William M. Arkin | April 28, 2008; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (15)

Beware Military Calls for 'Balance'

'Balance' is a complicated word.

By William M. Arkin | April 16, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (65)

Obama's Missile Defenses

His position is more complicated than it seems.

By William M. Arkin | March 11, 2008; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (54)

Goodbye Spy Satellite: Anyone Know the Price Tag?

The real story behind the satellite shoot-down.

By William M. Arkin | February 21, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (54)

Insurbordination and the F-22 Fighter: It's Not So Simple

The Air Force has better arguments for needing more F-22s, but it's not making them.

By William M. Arkin | February 15, 2008; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (48)

Hollow Army, Hollow Patriotism

The Army is missing its recruiting goals and lowering its standards. That undermines prospects on the battlefield. It also raises questions about the country's willingness to support its troops.

By William M. Arkin | January 23, 2008; 08:42 AM ET | Comments (40)

The Gulf in the Gulf

The new intelligence estimate on Iran hasn't toned down Bush administration rhetoric -- or improved our understanding of the dynamics in that region.

By William M. Arkin | December 10, 2007; 08:33 AM ET | Comments (77)

Gates in Africa

Likely at the top of the secretary's agenda is AFRICOM, the new U.S. command on the continent that really shouldn't be run by the military and may not be necessary at all.

By William M. Arkin | December 3, 2007; 07:58 AM ET | Comments (16)

Bombs Not To Get Worked Up About

Russia's new "father of all bombs" and recent bomber missions over the Pacific are best seen as bids for attention.

By William M. Arkin | September 17, 2007; 07:11 AM ET | Comments (21)

Sustainable Military Development

A little dispatch from this morning's Pentagon news clips helps explain why the Army cannot sustain deployments in Iraq beyond next summer -- and may offer offer a solution to its chronic personnel shortage.

By William M. Arkin | August 30, 2007; 07:24 AM ET | Comments (20)

Is a Bigger Army a Better Army?

Prospective soldiers are voting with their feet. For the second consecutive month, the Army has missed its active-duty recruiting goal, even with its lower standards for new recruits. As long as the war in Iraq continues, the Army will have...

By William M. Arkin | July 10, 2007; 07:24 AM ET | Comments (38)

More Subs, Fewer Boots on the Ground

When I wrote about the Navy's reconfigured Trident submarines, I heard from an active-duty officer serving on one of them. And he has prompted some further thoughts on the value of the gigantic in the war against terror. My basic...

By William M. Arkin | June 26, 2007; 07:56 AM ET | Comments (34)

The Low-Tech War Against Terrorists

Lebanon has been at the forefront of future conflict for at least a year, first with last summer's ill-named "Katyusha" rocket war and now with the death of six Spanish peacekeepers by an "improvised explosive device," or IED, an innovation...

By William M. Arkin | June 25, 2007; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (12)

When the YouTube Generation Goes to War

If Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates had a blog, most people in the military wouldn't be able to read it. At military bases throughout the world, the .mil domain filters out and restricts access to blogs and other "personal"...

By William M. Arkin | May 16, 2007; 09:54 AM ET | Comments (70)

Looking Beyond Iraq, and Bush

With presidential candidates now formulating the nitty-gritty of their national security policies and experts maneuvering to attach themselves to campaigns, it almost seems as if the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls are actually pondering America after Iraq. But appearances can...

By William M. Arkin | May 11, 2007; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (57)

In War Planning for Iran, Truth Is the Linchpin

Kuwait. Every American adventure overseas has a geographic linchpin, an essential country that the United States needs to go to war. In the case of Iraq 2003, it was Kuwait. Without Kuwaiti bases, the United States would not have been...

By William M. Arkin | February 26, 2007; 08:34 AM ET | Comments (62)

Plans, But No Intention for War With Iran

Earlier this week, the BBC carried a report that said it had learned "U.S. contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure." The BBC also said "diplomatic sources" told...

By William M. Arkin | February 23, 2007; 08:38 AM ET | Comments (123)

All Over the Globe, the New, New Strategy is to Pile On

There's some interesting geo-political tidying up going on in the Bush administration, some new tough words about the world that seems part of the new strategy for Iraq and a scene-setter intended to launch the President's State of the Union...

By William M. Arkin | January 17, 2007; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (35)

Predictions for 2007, and one surprising death

A surge of troops in Iraq now a foregone conclusion -- the Democratic Congress will prove to have neither the courage nor vision to stop the President -- what does 2007 hold out for national security? I've made some predictions,...

By William M. Arkin | January 4, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

2007 from the War Room

To fully understand President Bush's decision to surge forces into Iraq and stick with the mission, to understand that it is not just stubbornness or some grand vision of a greater good being pursued, one has to look at the...

By William M. Arkin | January 3, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (22)

Rumsfeld's Africa Command

One of Donald Rumsfeld's final acts as secretary of defense will be to put the finishing touches on an Africa Command for the U.S. military. It will be the first post-World War II command covering the African continent, which is...

By William M. Arkin | December 14, 2006; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (39)

North Korea Exposes Our Paper Arsenal

Long before North Korea's nuclear test, Bush administration types were pointing fingers at the Clinton camp for "failures" of diplomacy, Democratic weaknesses around the globe and the naiveté of diplomacy: Whether the "threat" was Iraq or North Korea, the new...

By William M. Arkin | October 12, 2006; 10:09 AM ET | Comments (35)

The Vigilant Shield 07 Exercise Scenario

Supplement to Early Warning blog posting for October 6, 2006 (From the Vigilant Shield 07 exercise scenario, taken from U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) briefing documents dated August 2006.  The material in brackets is added by the author to explain acronyms.Irmingham = IranNemazee =...

By William M. Arkin | October 6, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (44)

Dealing with the Devil

Last week in Beirut, I was amused by posters of Hugo Chavez, fists in the air, congratulating Hezbollah on their “divine victory” over Israel.Two weeks earlier, Chavez was in Syria, exhorting his new-found friends to “resist together American imperialist aggression."Yesterday,...

By William M. Arkin | September 21, 2006; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (131)

Israel's Military Strategy and Conventional Wisdom

Indiscriminate conventional wisdom now runs through mainstream reporting on the Lebanon war. Israeli airpower alone can never defeat Hezbollah. There is a disproportionately high level of civilian deaths. Lebanon is being "destroyed." The U.N. high commissioner for human rights,...

By William M. Arkin | July 20, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (109)

Lebanese Civilian Deaths May Embolden Terrorists

After seven days, 13 Israelis and about 230 Lebanese civilians had been killed in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. A natural initial question is: Does the ratio indicate Israeli excess in its response to Hezbollah attacks? The Israeli...

By William M. Arkin | July 19, 2006; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (77)

The Inhumanity of Unmanned Missiles

North Korea's launch of a long-range, ballistic missile is described one week as provocative and unacceptable, and reluctantly accepted the following week. The missile itself symbolizes only the North's unpredictability.  It could hardly be taken seriously as a "threat,"...

By William M. Arkin | July 10, 2006; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (47)

A Rational North Korea

The South Korean government now is saying a North Korean missile launch is not an imminent threat.  Pyongyang, meanwhile, is hinting that all it really wants is attention -- and to enter dialogue with Washington.  The North knows it...

By William M. Arkin | June 21, 2006; 08:23 AM ET | Comments (128)

Air Heads: Military Origins of the Current Afghanistan Mess

Yesterday, I wrote about the ideological inability of the Bush administration to focus, and its single-minded military pursuit of al Qaeda at the expense of nation building and political understanding and reconciliation. In a longer article I wrote for...

By William M. Arkin | June 13, 2006; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

America's New China War Plan

U.S. national security policy towards Russia, such as it exists as a separate entity from overall foreign policy objectives, is to not treat the country, despite its pseudo-democracy, it thousands of nuclear weapons and its large and capable military,...

By William M. Arkin | May 24, 2006; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (123)

Iran: Send in the Marines?

Less than three weeks after Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in central Baghdad in April 2003, the U.S. military finished campaign planning to invade Iran.  Of course, the word finished is a bit misleading. The contingency planning process never really...

By William M. Arkin | April 12, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (82)

Debating the Iranian 'Trendmill'

Yesterday, I asked whether the Iranian "threat" hadn't reached a tipping point, where a potential threat to the West and oil is declared an imminent threat, and whether recent stories about Iranian military capabilities and support for terrorism weren't part...

By William M. Arkin | April 6, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (50)

Is China the New Threat?

The Pentagon's new Quadrennial Defense Review takes the first formal step in designating China this country's number one enemy.  Most coverage of the QDR has focused on the planned growth of special operations forces, its hardware decisions and its articulation...

By William M. Arkin | February 8, 2006; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (48)


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