MORNING RECON: THAAD in South Korea Won’t Defuse Tensions; Russia’s Lethal Stealth Submarines; North Korea Advancing Towards Nuclear Capable ICBM

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Morning Recon

Good Monday 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 As Trump Flip-flops in Asia, Things Slide China’s Way
By Euan Graham, The Interpreter: “In Southeast Asia, while the Trump Administration has lately moved to engage allies and partners bilaterally and through multilateral fora, the results of the recent ASEAN summit in Manila were not encouraging for those hoping for a concerted stance on the South China Sea." 

Army, Marines Look to Lighten Combat Load
By Todd South, Army Times: “The Army and Marine Corps continue to work together to try and reduce the weight of troops’ body armor, according to a recent government study." 

Transforming the Navy’s Warfare Tactics and Weaponry
By Carl Prine, San Diego Union-Tribune: “"… This has probably been the hardest and the best thing the Navy has done for the surface community," he added. “We’ve taken a lot from the aviation community because they’re the ones who first had (Witties), but I’ll tell you that this school was demanding. There was no mercy involved. And if you failed, they had no qualms about reassigning you to do something else."" 

The Pentagon’s New Algorithmic Warfare Cell
By Marcus Weisgerber, Defense One: “By year’s end, the Pentagon wants computers to be leading the hunt for Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, through turning countless hours of aerial surveillance video into actionable intelligence." 

Marines to Overhaul Cold Weather Gear
By Hope Hodge Seck, Kit Up!: “A hump through the snow-covered sub-freezing moonscape of the Arctic is the wrong time to find out your boots won’t stay latched into your skis." 

Raytheon Modernizing the Navy’s Favorite Destroyer
By Rich Smith, Motley Fool: “The upcoming Flight III will be the largest class of DDG 51s ever built, both in size and in quantity. Current plans call for at least 33 Flight III destroyers to be built, at the rate of roughly two per year, and each one will displace 9,800 tons — about 18% bigger than the original Flight I Arleigh Burke." 

Will the Navy Build Faster, Smaller Carriers?
By Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior: “The Navy is analyzing the results of an extensive study into the future of aircaft carriers – will the Navy change shape, design or size of its future carriers? Do modern weapons make the carrier, in its current configuration, too vulnerable and therefore obsolete? What will the Navy recommend?" 

Move Over, Humvee. The U.S. Army Has a New Ride.
By Hugh Lessig, AP: “The Army’s newest ride has a 340-horsepower diesel engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and seats four comfortably." 

Why U.S. Special Forces Want Russian Machine Guns
By Michael Peck, The National Interest: “Why would U.S. special forces want to manufacture Russian machine guns? Just watch any video of a conflict such as Iraq and Syria, and the answer becomes clear." 

INTERNATIONAL U.S., JAPAN: Japan Keen on Procuring Aegis Ashore
By Ananya Roy, International Business Times: “Like South Korea, Japan is also looking to bolster its defences with a new missile defence system, amid increasing provocations from North Korea. But the government is keen on procuring an Aegis Ashore missile defence system and not the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad), sources from the ruling party said." 

CHINA: China Deploys New Aircraft to South China Sea
By Mike Yeo, Defense News: “China has deployed its latest airborne early warning and control aircraft to an air base on the fringes of the disputed South China Sea, according to exclusive satellite imagery obtained by Defense News." 

RUSSIA: Russia’s Lethal Stealth Submarines
By Kyle Mizokami, The National Interest: “The Kilo class of submarines were very successful in both a technical and export sense. A submarine meant nearly as an afterthought for Soviet allies became a legend in the eyes of NATO. Fifty-three submarines were built over a period of thirty-three years, often providing Russian shipyards with critical work that kept them open during the lean post Cold War years. In addition to Russian operations against Islamic State, as tensions in the South China Sea increase the possibility of a naval skirmish, we could see Kilo submarines in action in Asian waters." 

Al Qaeda: Hamza Bin Laden Filling His Father’s Shoes?
By Thomas Joscelyn, FDD’s The Long War Journal: “Hamza bin Laden, the son of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, has released a new message offering “advice" for “martyrdom seekers in the West."" 

Weekly Recon: Will Sig Make the M17? Breaking Up With M16…
By Blake Baiers, RealClearDefense: “Can the U.S. Military Finally Break Up With the M16? – The U.S. military has a storied love-hate relationship with the standard service rifle, particularly the M16 family of weapons. Thrust into service at the height of the Vietnam War, mechanical issues plagued the rifle, earning the distrust of soldiers and marines. Over fifty years of service and improvements, including the adoption of the smaller, lighter M4, the M16 family of rifles still struggles to get beyond the harsh Vietnam critiques. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are driving a renewed desire for an M16 replacement . . . "   

First Signs of National Mobilization for War Are Appearing
By Daniel Gouré, RealClearDefense: “An interesting concatenation of parallel efforts to pull the U.S. military up by its proverbial bootstraps is beginning to show signs of purposeful strategic direction. There are calls from many quarters to increase the sizes of the Navy, Army, Air Force, , Marine Corps. Add to these the proposals to accelerate near-term Army land force modernization, ramp up the production rates of our most modern military systems such as Virginia-class submarines, the F-35 fighter, late model Army Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, and expand the Marine Corps’ amphibious warfare fleet."   

THAAD in South Korea Won’t Defuse Current Tensions 
By Eric Gomez, RealClearDefense: “U.S. officials confirmed that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense battery deployed on a South Korean golf course reached initial operating capability. As tensions grow on the Korean peninsula, THAAD’s deployment is supposed to improve deterrence by bolstering the ability of the United States and South Korea to defend against North Korean ballistic missiles."   

North Korea Advancing Towards Nuclear Capable ICBM
By John Schilling, 38North: “North Korea’s latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile. The missile would have flown a distant of some 45oo kilometers if launched on a maximum trajectory. It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that might enable them to reliably strike the US base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)." 

Changing Course on the Korean Peninsula
By Adam Taylor, Washington Post: “The Korean peninsula’s deservedly been labelled a ‘flashpoint’ for well over a half a century but flare-ups in tension appear to be happening more frequently. Under the Trump administration, Washington’s seemingly more inclined to allow matters to come to a head, hoping to then put the issue on a new trajectory. And certainly, the sensible way to think about the peninsula is in terms of a change in the trend of developments, rather than an abrupt and decisive transformation." 
The Era of Cyber-Disaster May Finally Be Here
By Adam Taylor, Washington Post: “On Friday, the world was hit by one of the biggest cyberattacks in recent history. The culprit was “ransomware" known as WanaCryptOr 2.0, or WannaCry. It operates by encrypting a computer system and demanding a ransom to release it. Interpol thinks that more than 200,000 people in more than 150 countries were affected — and things could get worse. Experts are warning that many office workers could return to work Monday and find their computers compromised." 
WannaCry Attack: Is U.S. Intelligence Responsible?
By Elaine Shannon, The Cipher Brief: “"Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage," Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, charged in a blog on the company website.  “An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen."" 

How American Special Operators Gradually Returned to Somalia
By Mark Moyar, The Atlantic: “The death of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken and the wounding of two more U.S. troops in Somalia this month marked the first deadly engagement for American forces in the country since the Battle of Mogadishu of October 1993. The two events differ in notable respects, not least in their magnitude—the battle of October 3-4, 1993, resulted in 18 Americans killed and 79 wounded. But both operations reflect the adverse conditions that U.S. special-operations forces, and the United States more broadly, face in the world’s most dysfunctional states." 

American Power & Liberal Order
By Carlo Valle, Strategy Bridge: “Overall, American Power is a policy framework that is easy to read and yet full of substance. It bridges the gap between intellectual and practical policy. And while there is nothing necessarily revolutionary about the framework, it hammers home the United States’ role in the world as a promoter of democracy and the liberal order." 

Leading Millennials in the Military
By Keith Humbard, Small Wars Journal: “One significant hurdle facing military leaders today is the unique challenge of leading millennials. Defined a person born between 1984 and 2000 depending on who you ask, millennials make up much of the active duty military force at the ranks of captain and below. According to the 2014 Military Demographics Review, 4 out of 5 active-duty service members were 35 years old or younger and more than half the active-duty officer corps fell in the millennial bracket." 

Fleet Maintenance and Sustainment for Naval Maneuver Warfare
By Wes Hammond, Strategy Bridge: “During a naval conflict against a competent adversary, our forward, fixed (and mostly foreign) infrastructure is equally at risk for conducting battle damage repairs as well as for conducting necessary ship maintenance and resupply by the combat logistics force. If forward facilities are not available for these critical tasks, what will take their place?" 

Russian Blue Water Ambitions: Betting on Multi-Purpose Frigates
By Ihor Kabanenko, Eurasia Daily Monitor: “At a recent meeting of the defense ministry collegium, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, noted that new multi-purpose frigates, similar to the Admiral Gorshkov–class, equipped by high-precision long-range weapons, should become the main combat ships of the Russian Navy." 

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