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Morning Recon

Good Friday morning and welcome to MORNING RECON.  On this day in 1944, American forces invade and take control of the Marshall Islands, long occupied by the Japanese and used by them as a base for military operations. Also, General George C. Marshall, in a memorandum to President Roosevelt dated February 3, 1944, wrote: ‘The fact that the ground troops, Infantry in particular, lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy, makes the maintenance of their morale of great importance.

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Morning Mission Brief Podcast
Solutions for the All-volunteer Military
Federal Drive with Katherine Kidder and Amy Schafer of CNAS

Today’s Top Stories

NATIONAL On Russia, Trump Should Follow Reagan
By Jim Banks, RealClearDefense: “In each of the countries we visited – Poland, Romania, Estonia, and Ukraine –leaders remarked that they are again looking to the United States for Reaganesque resolve to protect against the threats they face from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.” Trump’s Diplomatic Deficit
By Christopher R. Hill, The Strategist (ASPI): “Connecting the strategic dots between Afghanistan, Syria, and North Korea has become an unavoidable task. Only by doing so can the world begin to discern something resembling a coherent, if misguided, approach to US foreign policy by President Donald Trump’s administration.” Trump and Russia: No Clear Policy
By John Sipher, The Cipher Brief: “There is a concept in military operations called commander’s intent. Commander’s intent is a simple and concise expression of objectives, enabling troops to make individual and team decisions in the absence of direct orders.  A quote attributed to retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus sums up the concept: “In the absence of guidance or orders, figure out what the orders should have been and execute them aggressively.””

McCain: Striking North Korea a Last Resort
By Anthony Capaccio & Ilya Arkhipov, Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump is well aware that a preemptive strike against North Korea must be a last resort, in large part.”

China On Track To Reach Parity With U.S. In Pacific
By Senator David Perdue, RealClearDefense: “U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Admiral Harry B. Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command about China’s increasing influence in the Asia-Pacific region and the threat of China’s growing investment in its military.”

Defense Acquisition Reform Bill Coming Soon
By Scott Maucione, Federal News Radio: “House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) says he will release his yearly acquisition reform proposals to the public in the next few weeks. This will mark Thornberry’s third tranche of updates to the Defense Department’s acquisition process over three years.”

Budget Threatens Army’s Part in European Reassurance Initiative
By Yasmin Tadjdeh, National Defense Magazine: “As a resurgent Russia continues to provoke its neighbors with aggressive behavior, a U.S. initiative to support European allies may be hurt by a budget impasse on Capitol Hill, Army officials said April 27.”

Thousands of U.S. Troops Deploying to Afghanistan, Europe This Summer
By Corey Dickstein, Stars and Stripes: “About 5,700 U.S. soldiers will deploy later this year to Afghanistan and Europe on regular troop rotations, the Army announced Thursday.”

Navy and Marine Corps Preparing for Combat in the Littoral
By Steven Stashwick, The Diplomat: “For much of the post-Cold War era the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps practiced amphibious landings with an assumption that the Navy would have control of the seas they were operating in. The threat of Hezbollah-trained anti-ship missiles during the evacuation of non-combatants from Lebanon in 2006 and expanding anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities in competitors like China suggested that the assumption of conducting amphibious operations from uncontested seas no longer held.”

“Enlisted Military” Ranks As One of the Worst Jobs in the World
By Sarah Sicard, Task & Purpose: “Online job database CareerCast released its annual job rankings list on Thursday, and to nobody’s surprise, “enlisted military” came in 197th out of 200 occupations, making it the fourth-worst job in the United States. The surprising thing, however, is that the profession is slipping: Last year, it was only the fifth worst.”

Dead Drop: April 28
By Anonymous, The Cipher Brief: “STAGING A COO AT CIA: Last week we told you that CIA Executive Director Meroe Park is planning to retire.  This week we can report that her successor will be Brian Bulatao, a U.S. Military Academy classmate and former business partner of CIA Director Mike Pompeo.  The new #3 is getting a new title too.  No longer will the position be called the “EXDIR” but instead will be re-branded as “Chief Operating Officer . . . “

INTERNATIONAL U.S., RUSSIA: Russia Claims U.S. Missile Defense in Europe Could Lead to Nuclear War
By Tom O’Connor, Newsweek: “Top Russian officials have issued public warnings about what they see as risks associated with the U.S.’s extensive missile defense system in Europe. The officials, from Russia’s political and military elite, said Washington’s actions could increase the likelihood of nuclear conflict.” COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS
Russian Nuclear Weapons Policy:
Implications for US Nuclear Deterrence and Missile Defense

By Mark B. Schneider, RealClearDefense: “Unlike the U.S., nuclear forces are Russia’s highest military priority. In December 2016, President Putin declared Russia is “stronger than any potential aggressor,” has modernized almost 60% of its strategic forces and directed that Russia further strengthen its nuclear Triad. In March 2017, he said that modernizing Russian military forces “concerns the strategic nuclear forces, above all.” In January 2017, Russian Defense Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu stated that development of the strategic nuclear force was Russia’s first priority, noting Russia will “continue a massive program of nuclear rearmament, deploying modern ICBMs on land and sea, [and] modernizing the strategic bomber force.””

Before Fighting a Costly War With North Korea, a Strategic Reassessment
By Daniel L. Davis, RealClearDefense: “Before the United States gets involved in a potential war on the Korean peninsula, a critical question must first be answered: are there vital national security interests involved that are commensurate with the cost of war? The short answer: no.”   

Distributed Lethality and the Failure to Break Naval Stovepipes
By Wes Hammond, Strategy Bridge: “The balkanization of the Navy’s personnel structure threatens the fleet’s ability to conduct naval maneuver warfare in the emerging contested sea control environment. For over 70 years (and particularly after the Cold War ended), U.S. naval supremacy has allowed the U.S. Navy to view the sea as a sanctuary to operate from. It could focus on leveraging the advantages of sea control to project power and influence, as opposed to fighting to achieve it.”   

China, the UN and the Rules-Based Global Order
By Lisa Sharland, The Strategist (ASPI): “Later today US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will preside over a ministerial-level meeting of the UN Security Council on North Korea. Most observers will closely focus on Tillerson’s remarks, yet there’s no doubt that China—Pyongyang’s ally—has a pivotal role in diffusing tensions.”   

Will the Chairman turn? China contemplates its North Korea policy
By David Kelly & Joost van Deutekom, Lowy Interpreter: “When US President Donald Trump told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping over chocolate cake that he was launching airstrikes on a Syrian airfield, Chinese observers immediately read it as a message to Xi with implications for North Korea. They read Washington’s declaration of an end to ‘strategic patience’ over North Korea and the rising in prominence of the North Korean nuclear arms issue on the US agenda as decisive changes, and they saw the strike on Assad as heightening the threat of preemptive US action. The speed of Trump’s decision to strike distanced him from Obama and reinforced Trump’s unpredictability.”   

What War With North Korea Looks Like
By Bill Powell, Newsweek: “The batteries of North Korean artillery lie just on the other side of the divided peninsula’s demilitarized zone. There are thousands of them—some hidden, others out in the open. Artillery shells are stored in an elaborate network of tunnels; and though much of the weaponry and ammunition is old, U.S. forces stationed in South Korea have no doubt they would be effective.”   

Trouble for NATO on the Black Sea Coast?
By Adam Maisel & Will DuVal, Modern War Institute: “The November election of Rumen Radev as president of Bulgaria has contributed to growing concerns that several former Soviet satellite states are drifting back into the orbit of Putin’s Russia. European anxieties have remained heightened since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, state-sponsored proxy war in Ukraine’s eastern borderlands, and a myriad of other events including meddling in elections that allow Russia to impose soft power. A rash of pro-Russian candidates have expanded Russian influence over former Soviet states, and many worry that Bulgaria may become the next Trojan horse state. Considering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unabashed ambitions to restore Russian greatness by hook or by crook, such political shifts take on more alarming context.”   

Auftragstaktik: Decentralization in Military Command
By Kevin Kallmes, Notes on Liberty: “Many 20th century theorists who advocated central planning and control (from Gaetano Mosca to Carl Landauer, and hearkening back to Plato’s Republic) drew a direct analogy between economic control and military command, envisioning a perfectly functioning state in which the citizens mimic the hard work and obedience of soldiers. This analogy did not remain theoretical: the regimes of Mussolini, Hitler, and Lenin all attempted to model economies along military principles . . . ”   

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