Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

Print Print Email Email Share Share Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close

loading...

You Might Have Missed: Kissinger, China’s Navy, and Counterinsurgency Wars

by Micah Zenko
April 25, 2014

The Secretary’s Analytical Staff Meeting on Non-Proliferation,” U.S. Department of State, August 2, 1974.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I just have a reluctance to have the United States go charging around the world, like Don Quixote, for every conceivable problem, including one of great importance, where there are other countries whose interest in it ought to be even greater, who affirm loudly that they are interested in it, and not make them share some of the responsibility. (page 41-42)


Jeremy Page, “China Won’t Necessarily Observe New Conduct Code for Navies,” Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2014.

Beijing won’t necessarily observe a new code of conduct for naval encounters when its ships meet foreign ones in disputed areas of the East and South China seas, according to a senior Chinese naval officer involved in negotiations on the subject.

(3PA: Last month, I coauthored an article on “How to Avoid a Naval War With China,” noting that the United States and China have drastically different interpretations of current agreements that regulate interactions at sea.)


DARPA Officials Show Hagel Technologies Under Development,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 23, 2014.

A defense official speaking on background told reporters that Hagel was brought up to date on the progress of three other DARPA programs:

Plan X, a foundational cyberwarfare program to develop platforms for the Defense Department to plan for, conduct and assess cyberwarfare in a manner similar to kinetic warfare;

– Persistent close air support, a system to, among other things, link up joint tactical air controllers with close air support aircraft using commercially available tablets; and

– A long-range anti-ship missile, planned to reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. Autonomous guidance algorithms should allow the LRASM to use less-precise target cueing data to pinpoint specific targets in the contested domain, the official said. The program also focuses on innovative terminal survivability approaches and precision lethality in the face of advanced countermeasures.


Meet the Press,” NBC News, April 20, 2014.

SEN. BOB CORKER: We have relationships with 138 countries around the world where we help them with hardware and other kinds of things…

SEN. BOB CORKER: I think we’re going to lose eastern Ukraine if we continue as we are. And I think it’s going to be a geopolitical disaster if that occurs.

(3PA: Was Ukraine ever America’s to lose? European countries, that have more ties to Ukraine, are divided on whether they should intervene at all. Last week, a senior European official said, “Are the member states united on this? No. Are they willing to die for Ukraine? I don’t think so.” Meanwhile, John Kerry’s advisers said arming Ukraine forces is an option.)


Actions Needed to Strengthen Management of Unmanned Aerial System Pilots,” U.S. Government Accountability Office, April 10, 2014.

In response to the increased demand, the Air Force has significantly increased the number of RPAs it uses for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and precision strike capabilities, according to Air Force documentation. Consequently, the Air Force has increased the number of its pilots flying RPAs from approximately 400 in 2008 to about 1,350 in 2013.

As of December 2013, there were 1,366 RPA pilots, or around 85 percent of the total of 1,600 pilots determined by the Air Force as necessary to sustain RPA operations and training for 65 CAPs. In addition, the Air Force anticipates increasing the number of RPA pilot staff positions across the Air Force from 111 as of December 2013 to 300 by fiscal year 2023 to serve at various Air Force commands, including at Headquarters Air Force and Air Combat Command.


Jason Lyall, “Bombing to Lose? Airpower and the Dynamics of Coercion in Counterinsurgency Wars,” Social Science Research Network, April 6, 2014.

I take up the challenge of theorizing and testing the coercive effects of airpower in counterinsurgency wars…

Four main findings emerge. First, airstrikes and, to a lesser extent, shows of force, are strongly associated with net increases in the mean number of post-event insurgent attacks in targeted villages relative to control villages. Second, these increases are fairly long-lived, lasting at least 90 days after an air operation, though the magnitude of the effect dissipates over time. Third, consistent with a reputation-based argument, these effects are largest in the immediate vicinity of the targeted location. Finally, and perhaps most counterintuitively, these effects are not associated with civilian casualties. Instead, battle field dynamics provide nearly all explanatory leverage when accounting for post-event patterns in insurgent attacks… (page 1-2)

In our context, airpower as a coercive instrument comes in two forms. First, shows of force are non-lethal threats that signal to insurgents that punishment will be forthcoming if they do not cease their actions…Second, airstrikes represent the actual imposition of harm on insurgent organizations to compel them to abandon their political ambitions by imposing costs on rebels, their leadership, and supporters among the populace. (page 4)

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required