Presented by USAA MORNING RECON: Is the U.S. Navy Dying?; Closing the Civilian Awareness Gap; New Threats for Missile Defense; A-10 “Elephant Walk"

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Morning Recon

Presented by USAA

Good Thursday 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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Today’s Top Stories

NATIONAL Why President Trump’s Defense Budget Is Dead on Arrival
By Mackenzie Eaglen, The National Interest “President Trump’s first defense budget is a more muscular version of former president Obama’s plans. It is a budget that begins to repair—but does not rebuild—the U.S. military."

Trump Leaks Two U.S. Navy Subs Near North Korea
By Joseph Trevithick, The WarZone: “The United States may have two nuclear submarines positioned near North Korea, able to strike at the reclusive regime if necessary. These details emerged thanks to a confidential transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and his counterpart in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. “

Mattis Intervened to Increase Munition Buy in FY18 Budget Request
By Aaron Mehta, Defense News: “U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis personally intervened to increase the number of munitions being bought in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2018 budget request, pushing procurement of six specific weapons to the maximum production rate industry can handle, a top Defense Department official said Tuesday."

Boeing, DARPA to Build Experimental Spaceplane
By Irene Klotz, Reuters: “The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on Wednesday said it will invest up to $146 million in an alliance with Boeing to build an experimental spaceplane that can deliver small satellites into orbit on a daily basis."

Lockheed Martin Drops Out of U.S. Navy Missile Competition
By Christopher P. Cavas, Defense News: “Lockheed Martin, frustrated by changing requirements the company feels are skewed to a particular competitor, is dropping out of the U.S. Navy’s over-the-horizon missile program intended to give a lethal capability to littoral combat ships and frigates."

Navy Adds Second Attack Sub to 2021 Plans
By Megan Eckstein, USNI News: “The Navy plans to buy a second Virginia-class attack submarine in Fiscal Year 2021 to keep the industrial base building two SSNs a year even during Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine procurement, several Navy officials confirmed today."

Air Force Accelerates F-35 “Threat Library" to ID Russian & Chinese Stealth Aircraft
By Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior: “The Air Force is accelerating development of a special, high-tech, on-board threat library for the F-35 designed to precisely identify enemy aircraft operating in different high-risk areas around the globe – such as a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter or Russian T-50 PAK FA 5th Gen fighter, service leaders said. “

U.S. Air Force: 30 A-10 Warthog “Elephant Walk"
By Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics: “The U.S. Air Force just staged an “elephant walk" of A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack jets as a show of force. The May 22 exercise took place at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. In a statement on Facebook, the base stated the exercise “was conducted in order to demonstrate the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy combat ready forces across the globe.""

INTERNATIONAL U.S., CHINA: U.S. Warship Challenges Beijing’s Claims in South China Sea
By Idrees Ali & Phil Stewart, Reuters: “A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since U.S. President Donald Trump took office."

Closing the Civilian Awareness Gap
By Kathy Roth-Douquet, RealClearDefense: “Our military, which deploys around the world to protect our nation, is an all-volunteer force. Those who choose to serve on our behalf willingly make the deep sacrifices that military service requires. For those who have not served in the military or been part of a family with an active duty service member, it can be hard to visualize just how difficult military family life can be."   
Congress Should Embrace BRAC
By Dan Caldwell, RealClearDefense: “Every Soldier, Sailor, Marine, and Airman knows that being overweight and out of shape hampers performance. In the same way, the bloated budget and wasteful inefficiencies at the Department of Defense (DoD) make our fighting force less effective. A good opportunity to trim that fat is through base realignment and closure (BRAC)." 
Missile Defense Needs to Address New Threats
By Mead Treadwell, RealClearDefense: “As North Korea works furiously to advance its nuclear missile arsenal to threaten our homeland, an upgrade of America’s missile defense systems could not come at a more crucial time." 

Lessons from Transforming the U.S. Military’s Approach to Talent
By Ash Carter, Harvard Business Review: “When Army 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Riley was a senior at the University of Virginia, he ranked 10th out of 5,579 in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) National Order of Merit List. Upon graduation, he was proudly commissioned an Army officer and selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford, where he pursued a master’s degree in international relations. That was where the trouble began."
Is the U.S. Navy Dying?
By Dave Majumdar, The National Interest: “The United States Navy is in a dire situation when it comes to the readiness of its aircraft, ships and submarines. The blame for the situation can be laid directly at the feet of the U.S. Congress, which has failed time and again to pass a budget."

Beyond the Legend of Kokoda
By Sean Dorney, Lowy Interpreter: “‘Beyond the Legend’ is a good sub-title for this absorbing collection of contributions from an impressive array of former soldiers, military historians, academics and others from Australia, the US and Japan, brought together for an international conference at the Australian War Memorial in 2012 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign."
Res ad Triarios venit: Aging and Warfare in 2050
By Artur Varanda, Strategy Bridge: “"Things have come down to the Triarii." This is an old Roman saying, meaning that the situation has come to its bitter end. When the legions were essentially made of conscripted citizens, the Triarii were the oldest and wealthiest soldiers, and in battle they stood behind the lighter and younger Hastati and Principes. Usually, the Hastati were employed first, followed by the older and wealthier Principes, which usually were enough to win the battle. Having to commit the Triarii—the oldest, most influential citizens—into the mêlée meant that the situation was dire, and that victory was to be attained at all costs."

Combating Corruption
By David Jennen & Charles Barham, Small Wars Journal: “Transnational Organized Crime. TCOs threaten the United States for two principle reasons. First, TOC networks threaten U.S. national interests. TOC, like TTOs, find it easy to develop and mature in unstable countries or failed states with weak rule of law. They penetrate both government institutions and licit businesses where they increase corruption and contribute to increased instability. TOC has become increasingly complex and significantly threatens U.S. and international security by expanding their reach into areas that present a threat to public safety, public health, governmental institutions, and economic stability."

What to Expect at Today’s NATO Leaders Meeting
By Sara Bjerg Moller, War on the Rocks: “Although not officially a summit (the last NATO summit took place in Warsaw in 2016 and the next one won’t be until 2018), today’s meeting of NATO leaders comes at an important moment in the alliance’s evolution. Usually staid affairs, this gathering of leaders from all 28 NATO member countries promises to be anything but."

How NATO Endures in the Twenty-First Century
By Seth Johnston, Modern War Institute: “Nearly every aspect of NATO—from its missions to its membership—is strikingly different than at the Alliance’s founding in 1949."

Clearing the Air on Transatlantic Burden-Sharing
By Jordan Becker, War on the Rocks: “Transatlantic burden-sharing is atop the agenda for this month’s meeting of NATO leaders – President Trump’s first trip to confer with heads of state and government from the entire alliance. And for good reason."

Japan, South Korea Shaken by Pyongyang, Beijing – And Now, Washington
By Will Edwards, The Cipher Brief: “South Korea and Japan are attempting to maintain business as usual in their alliances with the U.S., but the Trump Administration has not made this easy. A gap between President Donald Trump’s unpredictable comments and the more measured statements of his top Cabinet members has made building relations difficult."

China’s Imperial Overreach
By Brahma Chellaney, The Strategist (ASPI): “Chinese President Xi Jinping’s tenure has been marked by high ambition. His vision—the ‘Chinese dream’—is to make China the world’s leading power by 2049, the centenary of communist rule. But Xi may be biting off more than he can chew."
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