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Oct. 23, 2014
Notes from the Pentagon

B-52s buzz over Europe, and Swedes hunt for Russian sub
Large-scale NATO war games underway in Europe this week include the deployment of B-52 nuclear-capable bombers, as non-NATO member Sweden hunts for a Russian mini-submarine in its territorial waters.

U.S. Strategic Command said an unspecified number of bombers would conduct two long-range flights simulating conventional attacks as part of the NATO war games involving more than 20 warships and several submarines and aircraft in the Mediterannean. The games are called Noble Justification.

Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said in a statement that the B-52 flights demonstrate a “flexible and always-ready force to respond to a variety of threats and situations.”

NATO leaders requested the bombers for the war games, which include 13,000 troops in Europe and the Mediterranean.

They are practicing “command, control and employment of simulated conventional weapons” attacks in cooperation with Spanish naval forces in what is known as the Maritime NATO Response Force.

NATO approved the force during a summit in Wales last month as a response to Russian aggression.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic affairs policymaker, said Strategic Command’s deployment of bombers is a step in the right direction but should be used to demonstrate NATO’s tactical nuclear weapons simulation, in addition to conventional arms practice.

“The Russians are openly making various types of nuclear threats,” Mr. Schneider said. “Under these circumstances, an extended deterrence message is necessary.”

The alliance has stepped up exercises amid heightened tensions over Russia’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and ongoing subversion in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian military’s activities have unsettled many NATO allies, especially in Eastern Europe.

“It exercises a high-density, high-threat scenario in which NATO responds to a threat to its integrity, and the sovereignty, of its member states,” Royal Navy Vice Adm. Peter Hudson, NATO’s maritime commander, said in a statement.

No specifics of the scenario for Oct. 13-26 exercises have been disclosed. NATO said the war games are practice for response to “crisis situations anywhere in the world, at short notice.”

Meanwhile, Swedish naval forces on Wednesday continued the hunt for a Russian submarine among the scores of islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago near the capital.

The hunt began Oct. 16 after Swedish intelligence intercepted a message from the submarine to a Russian base at the Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad. A Swedish military official described the vessel as a mini-sub of the type used by Spetsnaz, or Russian special operations forces, for electronic spying and human agent insertion and extraction.

Sweden’s supreme military commander, Gen. Sverker Goranson, told reporters on Tuesday: “Our aim now is to force whatever it is up to the surface with armed force, if necessary,” the Swedish news outlet The Local reported.

Several Swedish ships are searching for the sub, which was sighted briefly before it disappeared.

Andrew Marshall, longtime director of the Pentagon’s future warfare strategy center known as the Office of Net Assessment, will step down in January.

“For over four decades, Andy Marshall has been one of the United States’ leading national security thinkers, anticipating future threats and realizing opportunities that others often missed,” Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power and projection forces, said in a statement on the retirement. “Through the strategists he mentored and advanced, Dr. Marshall’s legacy of analytical rigor and strategic foresight will continue for decades to come.”

Mr. Forbes urged the Net Assessment shop to maintain its role as a leader of strategic innovation and thinking without Mr. Marshall, who turned 93 last month.

The planned retirement was first reported by Defense News. A Pentagon spokeswoman said she had no announcement to make on Mr. Marshall’s status.

Considered a gifted strategic thinker, Mr. Marshall was dubbed the Pentagon’s “Yoda,” after the “Star Wars” Jedi master. He created the office in 1973 under the Office of the Secretary of Defense and achieved the remarkable bureaucratic feat of remaining its only director through a succession of Democratic and Republican administrations.

In 2011, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta was asked by Inside the Ring about rumors that Mr. Marshall would be replaced. “Andy Marshall? No, he’s an institution,” Mr. Panetta said.

Mr. Marshall had admirers and detractors, and was influential in changing Pentagon and U.S. military bureaucratic thinking on several strategic issues, notably China.

During the 1990s, Mr. Marshall used annual U.S. war games to coax the Navy into adopting a more realistic posture on the growing threat from China’s military, which had been downplayed by pro-China advocates in government and in academia.

One defense source said, however, that Mr. Marshall reversed course on China as a result of pressure from liberal Obama administration policymakers.

Beginning in the 2000s, he spent an estimated $4 million on contractor studies that sought to portray China as a nonthreatening power or one so beset by problems that it poses little long-term threat, according to the source familiar with the studies.

Additionally, many of the Office of Net Assessment’s war games involving China scenarios were canceled.

“He was trying to show he mended his ways,” said a defense official. “And it didn’t work. His office became split over China between those who view China as a threat and those who regard China as a benign power.”

Another criticism of Net Assessment under Mr. Marshall is that the office did not devote enough resources to dealing with strategies supporting the war on terrorism.

Mr. Marshall, through a spokesman, declined to be interviewed.

The anti-corruption campaign of Chinese President Xi Jinping targeting government officials and military officers is notable for not targeting “princelings” — the privileged offspring of Communist Party elders and military leaders.

That is the conclusion of an U.S. intelligence analysis that reveals the elite princelings are flourishing under Mr. Xi, the leading member of those known in China as “Second Generation Reds.”

Since taking power as Communist Party general secretary two years ago, Mr. Xi has taken down some 50 senior officials and thousands of lower-ranking officials in the campaign.

The two most senior officials axed for corruption — called “tigers” because of their high ranks — were Zhou Yongkang, the party’s security czar and a member of the seven-person collective dictatorship that rules China, and Gen. Xu Caihou, a former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, the most powerful organ within the communist system.

However, neither of the two officials was part of the princeling faction now in charge. Only Bo Xilai, the party chief in Chongqing who was ousted in 2012 in a major corruption scandal, is a princeling.

The disparity between princelings and non-princelings caught up in the anti-corruption campaign was not lost on Chinese Internet commentators.

A tally of corruption targets posted on the popular microblogging site QQ Weibo stated that no princelings were among the 842 officials arrested in the first half of this year. Also, the 54 officials who died of unnatural causes from January 2013 to April 2014 were all of humble origin.

The selective crackdown prompted one Internet user to post a picture of Mr. Zhou with the comment: “Corrupt officials all hail from lowly classes and the Second Generation Reds are all perfect men.”

Another blogger said the anti-corruption campaign will fail if it “turns out to be a case of Second Generation Reds clearing out their domestic slaves.”

A third post praised the downfall of Mr. Zhou and Mr. Xu, but asked: “What about the numerous tigers with a revolutionary background?”

A blogger identified by the handle Prisoners of Huaxia wrote that the anti-corruption campaign appears fruitless because the princelings regard China as a “family asset” for China’s communist leaders and their relatives to gain riches.

To bolster his campaign and prevent political and other sniping from non-princelings within the regime, Mr. Xi last month picked two generals, Liu Yuan and Zhang Youxia, for promotion to the Central Military Commissions, the South China Morning Post reported.

Both generals are the offspring of party elders and close associates of Mr. Xi.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter at @BillGertz.

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