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Great discussions with security, defense, and foreign policy experts recorded over drinks.

From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-27 11:06:28

The Truth Shall Set You Free: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the Cold War

On this week’s episode of Horns of a Dilemma Clement Center Senior National Security Fellow Mark Pomar, who helped to oversee the Russian language broadcasts of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty during the Cold War, discusses his book, Cold War Radio: The Russian Broadcasts of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Pomar is joined by […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-27 08:45:35

Japan’s Strategic Shift Is Significant, but Implementation Hurdles Await

Last month, the Japanese government released three landmark strategic documents: the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Defense Buildup Plan. Collectively, they represent pathbreaking change and may signal that Tokyo not only shares a common strategic vision with the United States but is also committed to do far more for its own […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-26 08:45:53

Reconsidering Clausewitz on Friction

In the marginalia of his copy of On War, influential fighter pilot-theorist John Boyd laments that Carl von Clausewitz never thought about inducing friction for the adversary: “Overcome friction, yes—but also why not magnify friction for the adversary commanders?” Perusing his pencil marks, “He does not imply that it may be beneficial to increase friction.” […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-25 08:45:21

Into the Pickle Barrel: How Thinking About Precision as a System Can Expand the Munition Stockpile

The camera from a small drone steadies on a Russian T-72 tank somewhere in Ukraine. Slight movements can be seen in the video as the Ukrainian operator makes final adjustments to the drone’s position. Then, release. The munition – a grenade with a 3D-printed plastic fin assembly – falls into the frame and quickly disappears. […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-24 08:45:25

The Triumphs and Tribulations of Peter the Great: What Putin’s View of 18th-Century Warfare Can Tell Us About Ukraine

Why did Peter the Great wage the Seven Years War? Why did he fight the Swedes for seven years? And the Battle of Poltava, do you know where it is? Where are Sweden and Poltava? The decisive battle of the armies of Peter the Great and Charles XII took place near Poltava: Why were they […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-23 17:38:50

Manpower, Materiel, and the Coming Decisive Phase in Ukraine

In his latest discussion with Ryan on the war in Ukraine, Mike Kofman explains why the coming spring and summer will be strategically decisive. He also offers his analysis on the Russian command reshuffle, new Western kit, and the grinding battle for Bakhmut.   Image: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-23 08:45:27

Software Defines Tactics

The book “The Bomber Mafia” revolves around the efforts of military officers to develop effective tactics for a bomber force, emphasizing the feedback cycles between operational results and new bombsight and aircraft development. This storyline is timeless: Major military advances like the Blitzkrieg tactics credited with Germany’s rapid gains at the opening of World War […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-20 14:48:23

The Contradictions of J. Edgar Hoover

Many great figures in American history are full of contradictions. Thomas Jefferson wrote stirringly about liberty while owning human beings as property. Woodrow Wilson was both the idealistic author of the 14 Points, and a racist who re-segregated the federal work force. But few figures in American history embody as many contradictions as the two […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-20 08:45:21

Learning to Train: What Washington and Taipei Can Learn from Security Cooperation in Ukraine and the Baltic States

From Russia’s brutal re-invasion of Ukraine to China’s outraged response to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, 2022 had a profound impact on Taiwan’s national security. It was thus only fitting that the year would end with a consequential shift in the country’s defense policy. In a nationally televised address on Dec. 27, […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-19 08:45:35

Deterrence Through Doctrine: The Case for a Joint Counter-Landing Doctrine

“As the British confronted the possibility of invasion during the summer of 1940, military planners faced an obstacle that seemed unbelievable in a nation that had been threatened so many times in the past. They had no doctrine for defending against an amphibious landing.” – Theodore Gatchel, At the Water’s Edge  In 1940, as Great […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-19 08:45:16

Looking Back at President Biden’s Foreign Policy

Chris, Zack, and Melanie get together to talk about a new assessment of President Biden’s foreign policy two years into his administration. Using “A Better Biden Doctrine” by Stephen Wertheim and Matthew Duss as the foundation, the team looks at how well Biden has kept the foreign policy promises he made on the campaign trail, […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-18 08:45:30

A New Path For Syria’s Kurds

No regional power has tried to oust the Syrian regime as openly as Turkey. Since the start of war in Syria in 2011, Turkey trained and armed opposition groups, hosted millions of Syrian refugees, and in 2020 even directly clashed with regime forces. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called Syrian President Bashar al Assad a […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-17 08:45:08

Public Politics in the Wartime Russian Dictatorship

Will President Vladimir Putin’s regime implode? Unfortunately, the media’s fixation with this question — understandable as it might be — has prevented us from gaining a more holistic understanding of how Russian politics are working right now.  While fully in the grips of a new form of bellicose, authoritarian rule, Russia has not fallen down […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-13 12:07:28

The Arc of a Covenant

This week’s episode of Horns of a Dilemma features author and public intellectual Walter Russell Mead speaking about his book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People. As Mead discusses, the trope that American foreign policy toward Israel can be explained by the outsized influence of […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-13 08:45:38

The Real Reasons for Taiwan’s Arms Backlog — and How to Help Fill It

In a recent letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sen. Josh Hawley argued that the Biden administration’s military aid to Ukraine has compromised more important efforts to strengthen Taiwan’s defenses. As evidence, he pointed to Taiwan’s nearly $19 billion weapons backlog. Hawley is not the first to link military support to Ukraine and Taiwan’s […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-12 08:46:30

Japan’s Shift to War Footing

Throughout the Cold War, the United States and Japan focused on the threat from the Soviet Union, but with tensions increasing around Taiwan, Tokyo has turned to its south, adopting principles that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed for before his death.  This week’s events are the latest in this trend, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-12 08:45:38

Partnership, Not Threats: How to Deepen U.S.-Indian Naval Cooperation

Aircraft carriers from the U.S. and Indian navies sailed together to lead the second phase of the Malabar 2020 exercise, conducting advanced air defense drills with their respective MiG 29K and F-18 fighters. In 2021, American and Indian guided-missile destroyers worked closely together, alongside the USS Carl Vinson and Japanese and Australian frigates and destroyers. […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-11 08:45:25

Leveraging U.S. Capital Markets to Support the Future Industrial Network

Editor’s Note: This article is the result of a multi-track study at Business Executives for National Security into the industrial framework supporting U.S. security as introduced in Forging the Industrial Network the Nation Needs. $56 trillion is nearly three times the size of the U.S. economy.  This vast pool of capital in U.S. capital markets […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-10 08:45:52

Ukraine’s Consequences Are Finally Spreading to Syria

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is reverberating more than 1,000 miles away in Syria. Squeezed by its strategic blunder, Moscow’s shrinking strategic bandwidth and its diminished capacities in Syria have disrupted the conflict’s complex power dynamics, potentially imperiling the relative calm that has prevailed since March 2020 and undermining U.S. interests. Amidst feverish jockeying among regional […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-09 08:45:29

Don’t Drive Away Smart Students

Since 2000, over 50,000 Chinese Ph.D. students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math have remained in the United States following their studies at American universities, generating cutting-edge research and founding start-ups valued collectively at $100 billion. For example, Yi Cui, after completing his undergraduate degree in China, came to Harvard University to […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-06 12:17:20

Reconstructing the Roots of January 6

On the second anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, Horns of a Dilemma features a talk by University of Texas, Austin Professor Jeremi Suri about his new book, Civil War by Other Means: America’s Long and Unfinished Fight for Democracy. In seeking to understand the events of January 6, 2021, Suri looks to the American […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-06 08:45:48

How to Win Friends and Choke China’s Chip Supply

On Oct. 7, the Biden administration took a risky gamble, introducing a sweeping set of new export controls that will reach deep into China’s advanced semiconductor production, supercomputing, and artificial intelligence ecosystems. These novel and ambitious restrictions usher in a new phase of technological competition with China.  But they have been implemented unilaterally, without the […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-05 18:48:45

A Disquieting Winter at War in Ukraine

Michael Kofman joins Ryan for their first discussion of the new year on the war in Ukraine. They cover the state of play at the various fronts, manpower and materiel, the Russian strike campaign, and more. Image: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-05 08:46:57

Ukraine and the New Two War Construct

How much security is enough security? During the Cold War, the question was rather straightforward. The United States had one adversary — the Soviet Union — which it would need to deter and if necessary, defeat. For the last three decades, this deceptively simple question has proven exceedingly difficult to answer. For years, American defense […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-05 08:45:47

Debating the Defense of Taiwan

Chris, Melanie, and Zack discuss whether it is possible, and wise, to try to stave off a conflict with China over Taiwan — possibly for a very long time. A recent article by Jude Blanchette and Ryan Hass urges policymakers to find ways to forestall conflict. But is it a mistake to presume that conflict […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-03 08:45:09

An Honest Broker No Longer: The United States Between Turkey and Greece

Over the course of 2022, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has maintained a steady drumbeat of provocations targeting Greece. The year began with his foreign ministry issuing a statement threatening to declare Greece’s sovereignty as “debatable” if it continued to “militarize” its Aegean islands. Since threatening to move against Greece’s Aegean territories in September, Turkey’s […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2023-01-02 08:45:15

American Defense Priorities After Ukraine

Russia’s war against Ukraine has peeled back the veneer and revealed the rot within Moscow’s military machine. Kyiv’s impressive battlefield successes imposed major losses on Russia in terms of territory, manpower, and materiel. The tide has turned in a brutal war of attrition. Russia’s gains are being reversed ever so slowly and at significant cost […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-30 08:46:30

Most Read War On The Rocks Articles of 2022

As we look back at 2022, the world seems a lot different than when we assembled this list in 2021. While it appeared as if Russia was preparing for war at this time last year, analysts differed on whether Moscow was engaged in an elaborate bluff to force Kyiv to make concessions or if President […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-30 08:45:31

Turkey’s Russian Red Light in Syria

Turkey and Syria’s ministers of defense met in Moscow this Wednesday, in their first talks in more than a decade. The two countries’ defense and intelligence chiefs met alongside Russian counterparts, where the three defense heads reportedly discussed “the Syrian crisis, the refugee issue, and joint efforts to fight against all terrorist groups in Syria.” […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-29 08:45:07

Toward a More Dynamic Italian Military

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a wake-up call for European countries. Against the backdrop of a systemic shift in European security, Italy has accelerated a process of force modernization and defense policy review. Indeed, Italy’s military expenditure has been rising since 2015, reaching an estimated budget of 28.7 billion euros ($30.4 billion) this year, or […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-28 17:50:48

Nukes, Negotiations, and Lessons From the War in Ukraine

Ryan recently traveled to Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base where he was joined by three of the many big thinkers teaching servicemembers down there: Andy Akins, Anna Batta, and Mark Conversino. They covered the risk of nuclear war over Ukraine, the prospects for negotiations, why so many struggle with strategic empathy, and efforts […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-28 08:45:52

Ukraine’s Long-Term Road to Recovery

When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited a liberated Kherson city in southern Ukraine in mid-November, he declared that Ukraine’s victory there marked “the beginning of the end of the war.” Though much remains to be seen, President Zelenskyy’s words highlight the importance of thinking about rebuilding Ukraine after the war ends.  To that end, the […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-27 08:45:05

Psychological Capabilities for Resilience

When the National Socialists assumed power in Germany in 1933 and ushered in a series of laws that segregated Jews from “Aryan” society, most Jews believed that the Nazi regime would not remain in power for long. It was not until the “Night of Broken Glass” in 1938 — when Nazis coordinated violent, widespread attacks […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-26 08:46:30

“NUTS!” — McAuliffe’s 1944 Christmas Letter

Editor’s Note: In honor of Christmas, we proudly publish the text of Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s 1944 Christmas letter to the U.S. 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne. An image of the letter can be found here. Read the story behind this famous letter.   MERRY CHRISTMAS HEADQUARTERS 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION Office of the Division Commander 24 December 1944 […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-26 08:45:56

The Last Gasp of Peace: The Christmas Truce of 1914 and the Modern Profession of Arms

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2019. The story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 is often considered “played out,” especially in historical circles, but it is a compelling tale; its best and most impactful role is on the young minds of the military who have not yet heard it. It is hard […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-23 14:42:02

Dauntless Courage at Midway

Many stories of the Battle of Midway highlight the role of cryptography in breaking Japanese codes and the herculean effort to reapir USS Yorktown after the battle of the Coral Sea so that she could participate in the battle. In this week’s Horns of a Dilemma, author Steven McGregor highlights a less known but equally […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-23 08:45:37

The Islamic State is Cautiously Optimistic about a New Turkish Operation in Syria

In internet forums over the past several weeks, Islamic State members have expressed cautious optimism about the benefits of a potential Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria. For the group’s scattered fighters, further Turkish attacks against the Syrian Democratic Forces could represent a unique opportunity to reconstitute their strength. Given the organization’s weakened (yet resilient) […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-22 17:22:42

Localized Offensives: The Direction of the Conflict

Mike Kofman and Nick Danforth start this episode by analyzing the latest events in the war and the fighting in and around Bakhmut. Mike offers his thoughts on Russia and Ukraine’s stockpiles of artillery, and what that may mean for the fighting this winter and beyond. The conversation concludes with a discussion about foreign support for […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-22 08:45:52

How to Get Ahead in Washington: Lessons from the Renaissance and Baroque Eras, Part 2

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series. The first was published yesterday. This scenario may sound immediately familiar to War on the Rocks readers: in the midst of an animated discussion at a work function, your interlocutor’s gaze suddenly begins to wander, slowly sweeping around the room, logging faces and names, […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-22 08:45:26

The Risks of Nuclear Proliferation in Asia

Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia. Are Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling, North Korea’s advancing capabilities, and China’s nuclear modernization program likely to spur additional nuclear proliferation? How satisfied are South Korea and Japan with current U.S. nuclear extended deterrence guarantees? And what should policymakers in Washington do in response to questions about […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-21 08:45:56

How to Get Ahead in Washington: Lessons from the Renaissance and Baroque Eras, Part 1

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series.  In the winter of 1935, a freshman senator from Missouri arrived in the district of Columbia after having driven cross-country for over a thousand miles. With almost no legislative experience or friends in Washington, he was, in his own words, “green as grass,” and as […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-20 08:45:49

Turkey’s Zero Sum Foreign Policy

In the past three decades, four militaries and insurgent groups bracket fired American forces deployed abroad. In three cases, this ended badly for the attacker. The Islamic State, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group all suffered from devastating airstrikes in response, punishing those that chose to open fire on American positions. The fourth military, however, […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-19 08:45:40

Deterrence and Commitment Across the Taiwan Strait: Lessons from Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy

Instead of embracing either strategic clarity or strategic ambiguity on Taiwan, the United States has now ended up with a very non-strategic form of ambiguity. Facing the dual challenge of deterring a Chinese invasion without encouraging Taiwanese leaders to engage in political risk-taking, successive administrations have only muddied the waters with a series of conflicting […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-16 14:03:42

The Ghost of Missiles Past

The deployment of the Soviet SS-20 missile system in the 1970s and 1980s, and U.S. plans to deploy the Pershing II and Ground Launched Cruise Missile in response, spurred a crisis within NATO over U.S. nuclear deterrence in Europe. Susan Colburn, associate director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies at Duke University’s Sanford School […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-16 08:45:47

America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Runs Through Ukraine

Over the past year, Washington has helped rally Europe to support Ukraine’s heroic defense of its sovereignty. Yet amidst the enthusiasm that this has generated, some observers remain concerned that the war in Europe will distract the United States from the more profound threat that it faces from China. They shouldn’t be. Given the deepening […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-15 08:45:23

NATO’s Maritime Vigilance: Optimizing the Standing Naval Force For The Future

Winter, 1968. A multinational force of American, British, Dutch, and Norwegian ships sails the North Atlantic, defending NATO’s shores under a shared flag — a first in modern history. Five decades later, when NATO’s core mission is more relevant than it has been in a generation, the alliance’s navy is adrift. NATO still maintains standing […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-14 08:46:42

Is China Planning to Attack Taiwan? A Careful Consideration of Available Evidence Says No

Is China preparing to invade Taiwan within the next two decades? In the past year, fears that war could break out in the Taiwan Strait have grown palpable, owing in large part to the shock of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Conflict scenarios that once seemed inconceivable have become a frightening reality. Commentators warn that Beijing […]

The post Is China Planning to Attack Taiwan? A Careful Consideration of Available Evidence Says No appeared first on War on the Rocks.

From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-14 08:45:53

Strategic Outpost Brings You Santa’s 2022 National Security Gift List

Happy holidays to all you national security nerds out there! This is red-nosed Rudolph checking in for Santa this year. The old man has asked me to share his gift list for the season with you while he and Mrs. Claus battle all the leaks in their gingerbread house. That global warming thing is kicking […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-13 08:46:14

How Doctrine and Delineation Can Help Defeat Drones

As Iranian-made drones continue to spread destruction across Ukraine, observers have been reminded once again of the dangers unmanned aerial systems pose. The United States, to its credit, has made significant progress in bolstering its capabilities to combat this threat, particularly through the investment of the Pentagon and the defense industrial base in counter-drone research […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-13 08:45:39

Don’t Drag the Military into Politics

American respect for its military is plummeting. It has dropped by 30 points in the past five years in surveys conducted by the Reagan Foundation. In their recently released poll, less than half of respondents have a great deal of trust and confidence in America’s military. Unless both civilian and military leaders take corrective actions […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-12 08:45:11

How to Win Friends and Influence Autocrats: Toward a Democratic Security Initiative

On 11 October, Canada’s Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, made a high-profile call for friend-shoring. Freeland argued that the world’s democracies should come together to reconstruct global supply chains in a manner that is consistent with “our most deeply held principles.” She then went further, arguing for strengthening a much wider […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-09 16:14:34

Freedom and the Rule of Law

Nathan Law first came to international prominence as a student leader of the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in 2014.  In the years that followed, he was elected as the youngest parliamentarian in Hong Kong’s history, debarred from holding office, convicted for his activities in leading student protests, jailed, released, and exiled–all before his 30th […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-09 08:45:28

Making Joint All Domain Command and Control a Reality

Decision superiority — the ability to assimilate, analyze, and act upon information acquired from the battlespace more rapidly than an adversary — has always been crucial. It enabled the Royal Air Force to defeat a numerically superior German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain and it formed the basis for North America’s defenses during the […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-09 00:36:50

Winter and Beyond: An Inflection Point in the War Over Ukraine

Mike Kofman and Ryan Evans start this episode by taking a step back to the beginning to put this stage of the war in context. Mike offers possible scenarios on the next few months of the war, discusses Ukraine’s recent strikes on Russian bases deep in Russian territory, and assesses the state of forces, munitions, […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-08 08:45:50

Making Hard National Security Choices

Chris, Zack, and Melanie sit down to discuss Richard Fontaine’s recent Foreign Affairs article on prioritizing national security threats. Why is it so hard for those in charge of the nation’s security to pick and stick to the most important national security priorities? How should the United States determine where scarce resources are allocated? If China […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-08 08:45:23

NATO’s Nordic Enlargement: Contingency Planning and Learning Lessons

In Finland, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered memories of the Winter War, when Finnish forces fought off a similar assault in 1939-40 with the assistance of thousands of Swedish volunteers. These memories prompted a swift and decisive response, as both Nordic countries abandoned their longstanding military nonalignment and applied for NATO membership less than three […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-08 08:00:23

Cognition and Curiosity: A Conversation with Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson

War on the Rocks threw a party for almost 200 people on the sidelines of I/ITSEC, the premier modeling and simulations conference held every year in Orlando. At this party, we had a special guest for a live podcast recording: Lt. Gen. Brian “Smokey” Robinson, the commander of Air Education and Training Command. In a […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-07 08:45:49

Disentangling The Digital Battlefield: How the Internet Has Changed War

Journalists have described the invasion of Ukraine as the world’s “first TikTok war,” the most “internet-accessible war in history,” and history’s “most viral” social media war. But this kind of hype tells us only so much about the real impact of digital technology on the current conflict.  So far, three significant digital trends have emerged […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-06 08:46:15

The 2022 War On The Rocks Holiday Reading List

Kerry Anderson  The Daughters of Kobani, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. This deeply researched book highlights the role of Kurdish women fighting against ISIS in Syria. In sharing their stories, the author offers nuanced perspectives on the war in Syria, the plight of the Kurds, and the battle against ISIS. In particular, the individual motivations and experiences […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-05 08:45:27

Fighting and Winning in the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Starlink has proved critical for combat operations in Ukraine, and the system appears nimble enough to withstand sophisticated Russian electromagnetic attack. The U.S. military once dominated this domain, but due to lack of investment and years of flying close air-support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. skills have atrophied. Starlink’s agility has impressed many senior […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-02 12:15:55

China’s Campaign Against the Uyghur People

In this week’s epsidode of Horns of a Dilemma, Sheena Greitens, head of the Asia Policy Program at the University of Texas, Austin, joins author Nury Turkel to discuss Turkel’s book, No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs. Turkel, who was born in a re-education camp during China’s culturual revolution, uses […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-02 08:45:50

A Plan to Push Back Against China’s Fishing Practices

The Soviet fishing fleet was once a near-permanent fixture on America’s Pacific coast, hauling in an estimated 1.2 million tons of fish until the two sides reached an agreement to limit the Soviet catch in exchange for a relaxation of rules on Soviet port visits. Moscow’s fishing fleet dwindled in the years after the collapse […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-12-01 08:45:06

The Kadena Conundrum: Developing a Resilient Indo-Pacific Posture

The long-standing debate over whether the United States is prioritizing China and the Indo-Pacific region has reignited once more. The debate centers on U.S. posture — the forces, bases, and agreements that constitute America’s overseas military presence and make up the backbone of the U.S. Department of Defense’s deterrence strategies — in the Indo-Pacific.  The […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-30 15:01:15

Josh Wolfe on Investing in American Defense

Ryan sat down with Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital, in his New York office earlier this month to talk about why he is drawn to invest in companies working on national security challenges. But the conversation covered much more than that. They covered everything from the major defense industry primes to why anger is […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-30 08:45:55

Turkey’s Future Drone Carriers

The Turkish TB2, the “Toyota Corolla of drones,” is cheap and reliable — but not fast or powerful. Despite its slow-speed and visibility to ground-based radar, Turkey’s armed drones have gained fame in turning the tide of war in Syria, Libya, and the Caucasus. The now famous Bayraktar TB2s are also credited with helping Ukraine […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-29 08:45:19

The Pentagon Can’t Count: It’s Time to Reinvent the Audit

In the past, headlines about the Pentagon failing its financial audit again would never have caught my attention. But having been in the middle of this conversation when I served on one of the Defense Department’s advisory boards, I understand why the Pentagon can’t count. The experience taught me a valuable lesson about innovation and […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-28 08:45:25

COSCO’s Hamburg Terminal Acquisition: Lessons For Europe

Europe is waking up to the dangers of overreliance on authoritarian powers, but largely lacks the toolkit necessary to mitigate dependencies on the very regimes most willing to exploit them. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent weaponization of Europe’s energy dependency on Moscow has hit every corner of the continent’s economy. Meanwhile, Xi Jinping has […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-28 08:44:04

Why The United States No Longer Leads on Free Trade

Chris, Melanie, and Zack try to understand the U.S. government’s approach to global trade. Two successive presidential administrations have turned their backs on trade liberalization, and there is little enthusiasm in Congress for free trade – and a fair amount of outright hostility. For all the talk of “friendshoring” and building resilient supply chains, Washington’s […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-27 01:00:30

How the Gipper Won

Before he became governor of California and later president of the United States, Ronald Reagan was an actor. In the 1940 film, Knute Rockne: All American, Reagan portrayed Notre Dame running back George Gipp who, on his deathbed from pneumonia, told Coach Rockne to have the team “win just one for the Gipper.” Rockne related […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-25 08:45:20

The Rise and Fall of the Pentomic Army

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev failed to reach an agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons while in power, but both men agreed in 1985 “that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” These words were not always widely accepted and, for decades, the United States and the Soviet Union rehearsed […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-24 08:45:05

War and Thanksgiving

Editor’s Note: This is our annual Thanksgiving article, originally published in 2013. Happy Thanksgiving from War on the Rocks!  Today is all about tradition: turkey and stuffing; family, friends, and football.  From early childhood, we all learn the origin story of Thanksgiving that is so mythically central to its celebration.  Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony marked […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-23 08:46:30

How Can the Marines Learn From the Falklands War?

How does one stop a revisionist autocracy from invading its island neighbor? If the invasion lands on this nation’s shores, how does one force the withdrawal of an adversary with local numerical superiority while operating at hundreds or even thousands of miles from main logistical hubs? In 1982, the British had to solve this exact […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-23 08:45:49

Invisible Blockades and Strategic Coercion

The use of naval mines goes back more than two centuries, but the use of these weapons by both Russia and Ukraine has renewed discussion about the value of this technology for modern warfare. Beyond Ukraine, a naval mining operation from 50 years ago offers lessons that can be applied today and signals how naval […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-22 08:45:02

Ukraine and the Future of Offensive Maneuver

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series on the contemporary challenges to offensive maneuver based on observations from the war in Ukraine, and the implications for the U.S. Army. For months, commentary on Ukraine focused on stalemate and the prospect that changing technology augured a looming age of defense dominance in […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-21 08:45:54

Don’t Let Zeitenwende Get Derailed

Days after the invasion of Ukraine, recently elected Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced major changes in German defense and energy policy, signaling a profound change in how Europe’s largest economy views its role in the world. The policy, dubbed Zeitenwende, was a direct rebuke of Berlin’s previous approach towards Russia. However, Zeitenwende risks being derailed, Germany’s […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-18 12:15:21

When the (Micro) Chips Are Down

This week’s episode of Horns of a Dilemma is a must-listen for anyone who knows that microchips are a national security issue, but perhaps doesn’t really understand just why chips are so strategically important. It is equally enlightening for those who have been closely following the security issues around microchips and are eager to know […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-18 08:45:51

Listen to Xi Jingping about Taiwan

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is not imminent. If we listen to the words of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, that is.  Xi’s much-anticipated Party Congress work report, delivered last month at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, offered sinologists the most authoritative assessment of the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to a range of […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-17 14:58:18

The Liberation of Kherson

On this episode, Ryan and Mike discuss the liberation of Kherson, the Russian military’s strategy before the start of the winter, and Ukraine’s efforts to retain the initiative once the weather improves in spring. We also offer a sample from Mike’s latest members-only podcast, the Russia Contingency, which features an in-depth conversation with RUSI senior […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-17 08:45:13

The Bias For Capability Over Capacity Has Created a Brittle Force

The military brass has been sounding the alarm about the imminence of a potential Chinese attack on Taiwan. But this urgency is not reflected in the Pentagon’s budget. Last month, the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, said he needs to prepare his service for potential aggression against Taiwan this year. But by prioritizing […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-16 08:46:45

Ukraine Needs Air Defense Assistance to Protect Hard-Won Victories on the Ground

Editor’s Note: This piece is a companion to the latest members-only podcast, The Russia Contigency with Michael Kofman. In this latest episode, Michael speaks with Justin Bronk and Jack Watling, both senior research fellows at the Royal United Services Institute, in great detail about the air war over Ukraine, and their recent observations from field research in the […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-16 08:45:15

The F-16 and Nuclear Security: The Fault Lines in the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship

The health of America’s bilateral relationship with Pakistan is tethered tightly to American attitudes on the export of its most successful fighter: the F-16. During the Trump administration, the United States denied Islamabad the fighter over concerns about support for terrorism. The Biden administration reversed course and authorized the sale of military equipment worth $450 […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-15 08:45:09

Why Wait to Promote Potential? Because It Will Make the Air Force Better

In January 2021, Toyota dethroned General Motors after 90 years to become America’s top-selling automaker. One of the principles behind Toyota’s success is known as the Second Toyota Paradox: By leaving requirements ambiguous, pursuing an abundance of prototypes, and purposefully delaying decisions on production, Toyota has proven it can design better cars faster and cheaper […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-14 08:45:22

Escape From Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: We have published a members-only podcast about this article on the WarCast feed. This special members-only podcast series will feature the stories of efforts to help Afghan airmen escape from the country after the Taliban takeover.     Sunday Aug. 15, 2021 was another hot and cloudy day in Northern Virginia. That morning, […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-14 07:45:19

A Conversation with Ukraine’s Special Operations Commander

While in Ukraine, Ryan sat down with Brig. Gen. Viktor Khorenko, the commander of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces. They discussed the roles and missions of Ukraine’s special operators in this war, from its opening days to the present, as well as how their Russian enemies have operated. We hope you enjoy this discussion, which marks […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-11 10:19:46

The Politics of Passion

Politics is serious business. According to Aristotle, “the main concern of politics is to engender a certain character in the citizens and to make them good and disposed to perform noble actions.” But some political leaders seek to manipulate passions and prejudices, rather than appealing to reason and pursuing a noble end. The ancient Greeks […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-11 08:46:40

Byte, With, and Through: How Special Operations and Cyber Command Can Support Each Other

At first glance, special operations and cyber operations may seem worlds apart from each other. However, Special Operations Command and Cyber Command share global areas of responsibility with missions that span the gap between peacetime and war. The Department of Defense is already taking incremental steps to combine special operations forces and cyber capabilities. On […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-11 08:45:17

Is the Israel-Lebanon Maritime Boundary Agreement Replicable?

For the past decade, policymakers have argued that the Eastern Mediterranean’s offshore natural gas deposits could help support Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russian hydrocarbons. But maritime disputes between Eastern Mediterranean states over access to these resources — and questions about the feasibility of several grandiose projects — dampened commercial interest.  These assumptions were […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-10 08:47:00

The Return of Cartography

Editor’s Note: This is a preview of Midafternoon Map, War on the Rocks’ latest members-only newsletter. Midafternoon Map provides a cartographic perspective on current events, geopolitics, and history. In each installment we’ll explore the role of maps in reflecting, distorting, and ultimately creating reality. At best, cartography can play a unique role in simplifying matters that […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-10 08:46:35

Debating the National Defense Strategy

Is the National Defense Strategy actually a strategy? Melanie, Chris, and Zack debate the Biden administration’s recently released National Defense Strategy. Do integrated deterrence, campaign, and enduring advantage add up to more than the sum of their parts? Does the unclassified version of the National Defense Strategy make any hard choices to connect ends and […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-10 08:45:15

The Path Ahead in Turkey’s Upcoming Electoral Campaign

In approximately eight months, Turkey will hold elections that will either mark the consolidation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian power or give Turkish democracy a new lease on life. Erdogan’s opponents are more united than ever, and analysts appear sanguine about their chances. But the opposition still faces a number of stiff challenges stemming […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-09 08:46:16

The Gap Has Been Bridged!

Editor’s Note: This is the introductory essay for Volume 5, Issue 4 of the Texas National Security Review, our sister publication. Be sure to read the entire issue.  Alexander George would be very happy.  Three decades ago, George lamented the divide between international relations scholars and foreign policy practitioners in his classic Bridging the Gap: Theory and Practice […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-09 08:45:00

Relative Dominance: Russian Naval Power in the Black Sea

Russia is struggling in its war on Ukraine. Kyiv’s military advances have allowed the country to seize back more of its territory, vindicating Western efforts to deliver military equipment and weapons to Kyiv to stem Russian advances and to enable Ukrainian forces to retake territory Russia had annexed. In response, Russia has gone into a […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-08 08:45:29

Wargaming Climate Change: Who Plays for the Red Team?

The U.S. Department of Defense spends many millions of dollars on wargaming every year. For anyone who has participated in such games, the recent news about Taiwan might provoke an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu. The sequence of events — a visit by a prominent American politician, aggressive People’s Liberation Army posturing, and a U.S. […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-07 08:45:30

Why Dictators are Afraid of Girls: Rethinking Gender and National Security

In 1987, Argentinian mothers gathered to protest the disappearance of their sons and husbands at the hands of the authoritarian military junta. The movement served as a catalyst for a successful pro-democracy movement in Argentina that ended the Videla regime. Similarly, through public demonstrations of maternal grief, the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, which began in […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-04 11:15:15

Keeping Civil-Military Relations Civil

Civil-military relations is not a topic that gets many hearts racing. Yet attention to the relationship between the military and the society it serves has become more urgent after it was revealed that Gen. Mark Milley, the nation’s most senior military officer, worked with cabinet and sub-cabinet officials to frustrate the desire of President Donald […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-04 07:45:47

Mending the “Broken Arrow”: Confidence Building Measures at the AI-Nuclear Nexus

Accidents happen. There have been hundreds of accidents involving nuclear weapons, which the military dubs “broken arrow” events. In 1981 the U.S. Department of Defense released an official “comprehensive” list of 32 such events and details of hundreds more have been published after the end of the Cold War. Yet, despite these close calls and […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-04 07:44:15

The Case for Getting Rid of the National Security Strategy

The Biden administration recently released its first National Security Strategy. As is the custom in Washington, the document was greeted with fanfare by bureaucrats eager to promote their work, beat reporters with deadlines to meet, and think tank pundits, who skim to find mention of their pet issues. But the National Security Strategy is a […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-03 07:45:28

Don’t Expect Any More Russian Help on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Russia’s position on Iran’s nuclear program has always lagged behind its confrontation with the West. Before the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow actively supported diplomatic efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. After the invasion, Russia initially disrupted these efforts, but soon reverted to a more neutral stance. Now, with Moscow becoming ever more dependent on Tehran […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-02 07:45:15

Preventing Wars is as Important as Winning Them: Lessons From Past Naval Strategies

The American sea services were busy on Oct. 18, 2022. The destroyer USS Roosevelt was in the Baltic Sea, visiting Poland as it concluded the Joint Warrior 22-2 exercise. The American aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush was in the Mediterranean operating with NATO allies. In the Pacific, the Sama Sama exercise organized by American, Philippine, […]

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From War on the Rocks at 2022-11-01 07:45:50

Train Like You Fight: Updating America’s Adversary Fleet

If the U.S. Air Force is committed to maintaining its edge over peer competitors, it should strengthen and modernize its training adversary force. Currently, the professional adversary force, known as the “Aggressors,” is made up of only two squadrons of the oldest, least advanced F-16s in the fleet and one squadron with a handful of […]

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