Strategic Observer


Daily Observations for 13 December 2019

Daily Observations for 13 December 2019
December 13
16:16 2019

Good morning, and welcome to my Daily Observations.

On my radar: Congress wants to be updated on Army, Navy long-range fires

While the U.S. military was busy fighting low-intensity conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 18 years, great power competitors Russia and China were busy developing weapon systems for a large-scale war, including long-range “fires” — missiles and artillery. Both nations have overtaken the United States in this arena, and that includes the development of hypersonic missiles as well. But both services are currently focused on fielding long-range fires to counter enemy forces on land and at sea, at range. Indeed, the Army has made long-range fires development its No. 1 priority. That appropriate committees in Congress want to be kept in the loop on this issue makes it pretty obvious that it’s a priority in fact, not simply in name. We have to be able to ‘reach out and touch’ our enemies at range in any modern conflict of battles will be lost before they really begin. Bottom line: For once, there appears to be no disconnect between the military and Congress on this priority, as has often been the case in the past.

What I’m also tracking:

U.S. Air Force Tests New Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile [sourceAnalyst comment: Speaking of missile development, this missile development is a direct result of the U.S. leaving the IBM Treaty after catching the Russians cheating. 

U.S. Military Official Warns Of Dangerous Escalation In Iran-Backed Attacks In Iraq [source]

A primer on China’s spy war targeting the U.S. and the West [source]

NATO continues to stoke tensions on all fronts, Russian Foreign Ministry cautions [source]

One final thing:

Russia’s problems with its sole remaining aircraft carrier, the Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov, caught fire this week during what officials say was a welding incident. The fire left two Russian naval officers dead and injured 11 others. “Admiral Kuznetsov faced multiple malfunctions and technical issues since its launch in 1985. The non-nuclear vessel is currently undergoing a pricey renovation and maintenance program and is not due to return to active service before 2021. Russian authorities said that the repairs, reportedly set to cost up to $1 billion (€880 million), would modernize its power plant and electronic systems.” [sourceAnalyst comment: I wonder if, at some point, President Putin and Russian lawmakers simply decide this ship isn’t worth the cost and scrap it altogether in favor of building a new one or forgoing carriers altogether.

Notable Quotable: “But, in the end, Trump raised very important questions that previous U.S. presidents have dodged. He was not diplomatic, but he was not wrong to step on some sensitive toes if the Atlantic Alliance is to remain strong and focused on its very real and deadly threats.” — “Trump is Right to Shake-Up NATO.” [source]

About Author



Jonathan Davis holds a BA in political science and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis. He has 30 years' worth of experience reporting on domestic politics and foreign policy.

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