A few defense and security links ahead of the weekend:
The U.S. Defense Department announced that approximately 800 more U.S. troops will deploy to South Korea in February 2014. The DoD press release reported that the U.S. will deploy the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st U.S. Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas to Camps Hovey and Stanley, Republic of Korea, on February 1. The DoD said that this “this action supports the United States’ defense commitment to the Republic of Korea as specified by the mutual defense treaty and presidential agreements.”
In a piece titled “Pacific Pivot vs. Mideast Crisis: Army Reinforces Korea As Iraq Burns,” Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. examines the costs of the U.S. rebalance to Asia for its goals in the Middle East. The piece heavily cites General Ray Odierno, U.S. Army Chief of Staff. According to Odierno, “many of those soldiers that were assigned to PACOM were off in Iraq and Afghanistan … Last year we stopped that, so they are all back in the Pacific region.”
Over at the Lowy Institute’s Interpreter blog, Sam Roggeveen argues that recent photo-ops reveal a “high degree of foreign content, and not always obtained with permission” in China’s newest naval hardware. He writes that this trend “reveals both the limits of Chinese technology and the scale of China’s ambitions, with Chinese authorities seemingly regarding intellectual property laws as a quaint artifact.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan received the first shipment of U.S. anti-ship missiles intended for use in its submarines, strengthening their offensive capabilities. The Harpoon missiles are part of a $6.5 billion arms purchase by Taiwan. Taiwan already uses Harpoons on its frigates and F-16 fighters.
Earlier this week, scandal emerged after excerpts from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ book Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War highlighted an insidious civilian-military divide at the highest levels of the Obama administration. The dust still hasn’t settled, with most of the analysis so far being based off a few choice excerpts offered by The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Surely the whole 500+ tome will provide much more for defense analysts’ scrutiny. Gordon Lubold and Yochi Dreazen, two of Foreign Policy’s national security correspondents, explore the impact of the memoir on Gates’ legacy and reputation. His image as “as the consummate professional, the reluctant, bureaucratic hero with the steel trap for a brain, the discreet adviser who was as humbled by the office he held as he was by his meetings with the young troops fighting the wars he was brought in to fix” is no more.
Also on Gates’ memoir, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that Gates’ disagreements with Obama matter and should inform the contemporary U.S. debate on its Afghanistan policy moving forward. My colleague Zachary Keck argues along similar lines that Gates’ memoir vindicates President Obama’s “good enough” Afghanistan strategy. Also, if you missed it, I took a look at Gates’ comments on Pakistan – he adds a powerful voice to a chorus of experts and analysts who would agree with the assertion that Pakistan is “really no ally at all” for the United States.
Over at The Pulse, I take a look at the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s 2014 Security Index. The report should cause for concern in India, which was ranked below Pakistan and China for nuclear materials security. The entire NTI report ranks 25 countries which possess nuclear materials for civilian and military use.
DEFCON Hill reports that a classified Pentagon report found that “Edward Snowden’s leaks about National Security Agency programs have put U.S. troops at risk and prompted terrorists to change their tactics.”