My late teacher of intelligence and strategy Harold Rood liked to say, “You run the show or the show runs you.” (Book here.) It was a corollary to his axiom that “Nothing happens for no good reason.” With these counsels in mind, there are some ominous news items from the last few days:
The crew of a guided-missile destroyer fired three missiles to defend themselves and another ship after being attacked on Sunday in the Red Sea by two presumed cruise missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi-forces, USNI News has learned.
During the attack against USS Mason (DDG-87), the ship’s crew fired the missiles to defend the guided-missile destroyer and nearby USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) from two suspected cruise missiles fired from the Yemini shore, two defense officials told USNI News.
Now why would someone fire on U.S. ships in the Red Sea? An accident, miscalculation, or a dry run?
And what’s this? Russia setting up decoy planes, like we did in England just before D-Day?
In a field outside Moscow, workers armed with little more than green fabric and air compressors are creating an imposing weapon. . . It is a decoy, lifelike in appearance from as close as 300 yards.
“If you study the major battles of history, you see that trickery wins every time,” Aleksei A. Komarov, the military engineer in charge of this sleight of hand, said with a sly smile. “Nobody ever wins honestly.”
Mr. Komarov oversees army sales at Rusbal, or Russian Ball, a hot-air balloon company that also provides the Ministry of Defense with a growing arsenal of inflatable tanks, jets and missile launchers.
As Russia under President Vladimir V. Putin has muscled its way back onto the geopolitical stage, the Kremlin has employed a range of stealthy tactics: silencing critics abroad, hitching the Orthodox Church to its conservative counterrevolution, spreading false information to audiences in Europe and even, according to the Obama administration, meddling in American presidential politics by hacking the Democratic Party’s computers.
There’s also a report (in Russian only for now) making the rounds that Russia’s foreign ministry is telling officials based abroad that they should send their kids home immediately. (UPDATE: The Daily Mail has the story here.) Meanwhile, Putin has reportedly cancelled a trip to France next week.
This, from Jane’s Defense Weekly:
The US military is to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) counter missile battery to the Republic of Korea (RoK) as quick as possible, the White House said on 10 October in response to an official protest.
“The United States is working with the RoK to deploy this system as soon as feasible in order to more safely defend our RoK ally and US military personnel deployed to the region from the North Korea nuclear and ballistic missile threat,” read the statement. A written petition decrying the deployment, created in July, garnered enough signatures (more than 100,000) to warrant a response.
The petition called the looming THAAD deployment “a controversial move that will likely … escalate tension in the region, by provoking North Korea, China, and Russia into a spiralling arms race in the region that is already heavily militarised”.
I wonder why the White House is suddenly in a rush to deploy missile defenses to South Korea? It’s not like any bad guys out there might be thinking about taking advantage of a supine American president, or the confusion of a presidential transition, especially if a neo-isolationist candidate should happen by fluke to win? The Russians are not pleased with this step.
As Prof. Rood liked to say, “In a world that can promise neither peace nor safety to sovereign nations, it is the burden of statesmanship to look ahead to distant dangers that are today obscured by more immediate concerns, only visible, perhaps, to the informed, thoughtful and far-sighted.” Rood liked to boil it down this way:
All those ponderous words and phrases like “sufficiency,” “deterrence,” “qualitative superiority,” “essential equivalence,” “mutual assured destruction” and the rest are obscure in meaning and even when explained, leave the ordinary sensible mind with the impression of flim-flam. To be tempted into asking some simple question like, “who’s going to win if there’s a war” is to brand oneself pitifully naïve at best, or at worst, a throwback to some earlier days when wars were won by the side that was strongest and best prepared to wage war.
I can’t speak to the preparedness of our military, but our leadership class doesn’t appear to have much of a grasp on things.