Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How the Enlightenment Ends by Henry Kissinger

A powerful read.  Only Henry Kissinger could combine the Enlightenment and Article Intelligence for a critical essay.

In addition to reading this important essay for the philosophical (and technical) discussion there is one paragraph that should inspire us all because Dr. Kissinger is truly the epitome of a life-long learner and we should all strive to emulate him in at least this aspect. As brilliant an intellect as he is he knows his limitations and set out to overcome them.  At 94 years old he knows he has much to learn.  How many of us who are much younger and are digital immigrants or even digital aliens have said that this AI stuff is just too complicated or complex and I do not need to worry about it and will leave that to our youth.


Aware of my lack of technical competence in this field, I organized a number of informal dialogues on the subject, with the advice and cooperation of acquaintances in technology and the humanities. These discussions have caused my concerns to grow.

The internet age in which we already live prefigures some of the questions and issues that AI will only make more acute. The Enlightenment sought to submit traditional verities to a liberated, analytic human reason. The internet’s purpose is to ratify knowledge through the accumulation and manipulation of ever expanding data. Human cognition loses its personal character. Individuals turn into data, and data become regnant.

A powerful conclusion that we should really ponder:

The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy. Other countries have made AI a major national project. The United States has not yet, as a nation, systematically explored its full scope, studied its implications, or begun the process of ultimate learning. This should be given a high national priority, above all, from the point of view of relating AI to humanistic traditions.

AI developers, as inexperienced in politics and philosophy as I am in technology, should ask themselves some of the questions I have raised here in order to build answers into their engineering efforts. The U.S. government should consider a presidential commission of eminent thinkers to help develop a national vision. This much is certain: If we do not start this effort soon, before long we shall discover that we started too late.

How the Enlightenment Ends

Henry A. Kissinger/May 15, 2018
Philosophically, intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of artificial intelligence.
Three years ago, at a conference on transatlantic issues, the subject of artificial intelligence appeared on the agenda. I was on the verge of skipping that session—it lay outside my usual concerns—but the beginning of the presentation held me in my seat.
The speaker described the workings of a computer program that would soon challenge international champions in the game Go. I was amazed that a computer could master Go, which is more complex than chess. In it, each player deploys 180 or 181 pieces (depending on which color he or she chooses), placed alternately on an initially empty board; victory goes to the side that, by making better strategic decisions, immobilizes his or her opponent by more effectively controlling territory.
The speaker insisted that this ability could not be preprogrammed. His machine, he said, learned to master Go by training itself through practice. Given Go’s basic rules, the computer played innumerable games against itself, learning from its mistakes and refining its algorithms accordingly. In the process, it exceeded the skills of its human mentors. And indeed, in the months following the speech, an AI program named AlphaGo would decisively defeat the world’s greatest Go players.
As I listened to the speaker celebrate this technical progress, my experience as a historian and occasional practicing statesman gave me pause. What would be the impact on history of self-learning machines—machines that acquired knowledge by processes particular to themselves, and applied that knowledge to ends for which there may be no category of human understanding? Would these machines learn to communicate with one another? How would choices be made among emerging options? Was it possible that human history might go the way of the Incas, faced with a Spanish culture incomprehensible and even awe-inspiring to them? Were we at the edge of a new phase of human history?
Aware of my lack of technical competence in this field, I organized a number of informal dialogues on the subject, with the advice and cooperation of acquaintances in technology and the humanities. These discussions have caused my concerns to grow.
Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order.
But that order is now in upheaval amid a new, even more sweeping technological revolution whose consequences we have failed to fully reckon with, and whose culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.
The internet age in which we already live prefigures some of the questions and issues that AI will only make more acute. The Enlightenment sought to submit traditional verities to a liberated, analytic human reason. The internet’s purpose is to ratify knowledge through the accumulation and manipulation of ever expanding data. Human cognition loses its personal character. Individuals turn into data, and data become regnant.
Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs. In the process, search-engine algorithms acquire the capacity to predict the preferences of individual clients, enabling the algorithms to personalize results and make them available to other parties for political or commercial purposes. Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.
Inundated via social media with the opinions of multitudes, users are diverted from introspection; in truth many technophiles use the internet to avoid the solitude they dread. All of these pressures weaken the fortitude required to develop and sustain convictions that can be implemented only by traveling a lonely road, which is the essence of creativity.
The impact of internet technology on politics is particularly pronounced. The ability to target micro-groups has broken up the previous consensus on priorities by permitting a focus on specialized purposes or grievances. Political leaders, overwhelmed by niche pressures, are deprived of time to think or reflect on context, contracting the space available for them to develop vision.
The digital world’s emphasis on speed inhibits reflection; its incentive empowers the radical over the thoughtful; its values are shaped by subgroup consensus, not by introspection. For all its achievements, it runs the risk of turning on itself as its impositions overwhelm its conveniences.
As the internet and increased computing power have facilitated the accumulation and analysis of vast data, unprecedented vistas for human understanding have emerged. Perhaps most significant is the project of producing artificial intelligence—a technology capable of inventing and solving complex, seemingly abstract problems by processes that seem to replicate those of the human mind.
This goes far beyond automation as we have known it. Automation deals with means; it achieves prescribed objectives by rationalizing or mechanizing instruments for reaching them. AI, by contrast, deals with ends; it establishes its own objectives. To the extent that its achievements are in part shaped by itself, AI is inherently unstable. AI systems, through their very operations, are in constant flux as they acquire and instantly analyze new data, then seek to improve themselves on the basis of that analysis. Through this process, artificial intelligence develops an ability previously thought to be reserved for human beings. It makes strategic judgments about the future, some based on data received as code (for example, the rules of a game), and some based on data it gathers itself (for example, by playing 1 million iterations of a game).
The driverless car illustrates the difference between the actions of traditional human-controlled, software-powered computers and the universe AI seeks to navigate. Driving a car requires judgments in multiple situations impossible to anticipate and hence to program in advance. What would happen, to use a well-known hypothetical example, if such a car were obliged by circumstance to choose between killing a grandparent and killing a child? Whom would it choose? Why? Which factors among its options would it attempt to optimize? And could it explain its rationale? Challenged, its truthful answer would likely be, were it able to communicate: “I don’t know (because I am following mathematical, not human, principles),” or “You would not understand (because I have been trained to act in a certain way but not to explain it).” Yet driverless cars are likely to be prevalent on roads within a decade.
Heretofore confined to specific fields of activity, AI research now seeks to bring about a “generally intelligent” AI capable of executing tasks in multiple fields. A growing percentage of human activity will, within a measurable time period, be driven by AI algorithms. But these algorithms, being mathematical interpretations of observed data, do not explain the underlying reality that produces them. Paradoxically, as the world becomes more transparent, it will also become increasingly mysterious. What will distinguish that new world from the one we have known? How will we live in it? How will we manage AI, improve it, or at the very least prevent it from doing harm, culminating in the most ominous concern: that AI, by mastering certain competencies more rapidly and definitively than humans, could over time diminish human competence and the human condition itself as it turns it into data.
Artificial intelligence will in time bring extraordinary benefits to medical science, clean-energy provision, environmental issues, and many other areas. But precisely because AI makes judgments regarding an evolving, as-yet-undetermined future, uncertainty and ambiguity are inherent in its results. There are three areas of special concern:
First, that AI may achieve unintended results. Science fiction has imagined scenarios of AI turning on its creators. More likely is the danger that AI will misinterpret human instructions due to its inherent lack of context. A famous recent example was the AI chatbot called Tay, designed to generate friendly conversation in the language patterns of a 19-year-old girl. But the machine proved unable to define the imperatives of “friendly” and “reasonable” language installed by its instructors and instead became racist, sexist, and otherwise inflammatory in its responses. Some in the technology world claim that the experiment was ill-conceived and poorly executed, but it illustrates an underlying ambiguity: To what extent is it possible to enable AI to comprehend the context that informs its instructions? What medium could have helped Tay define for itself offensive, a word upon whose meaning humans do not universally agree? Can we, at an early stage, detect and correct an AI program that is acting outside our framework of expectation? Or will AI, left to its own devices, inevitably develop slight deviations that could, over time, cascade into catastrophic departures?
Second, that in achieving intended goals, AI may change human thought processes and human values. AlphaGo defeated the world Go champions by making strategically unprecedented moves—moves that humans had not conceived and have not yet successfully learned to overcome. Are these moves beyond the capacity of the human brain? Or could humans learn them now that they have been demonstrated by a new master?
Before AI began to play Go, the game had varied, layered purposes: A player sought not only to win, but also to learn new strategies potentially applicable to other of life’s dimensions. For its part, by contrast, AI knows only one purpose: to win. It “learns” not conceptually but mathematically, by marginal adjustments to its algorithms. So in learning to win Go by playing it differently than humans do, AI has changed both the game’s nature and its impact. Does this single-minded insistence on prevailing characterize all AI?
Other AI projects work on modifying human thought by developing devices capable of generating a range of answers to human queries. Beyond factual questions (“What is the temperature outside?”), questions about the nature of reality or the meaning of life raise deeper issues. Do we want children to learn values through discourse with untethered algorithms? Should we protect privacy by restricting AI’s learning about its questioners? If so, how do we accomplish these goals?
If AI learns exponentially faster than humans, we must expect it to accelerate, also exponentially, the trial-and-error process by which human decisions are generally made: to make mistakes faster and of greater magnitude than humans do. It may be impossible to temper those mistakes, as researchers in AI often suggest, by including in a program caveats requiring “ethical” or “reasonable” outcomes. Entire academic disciplines have arisen out of humanity’s inability to agree upon how to define these terms. Should AI therefore become their arbiter?
Third, that AI may reach intended goals, but be unable to explain the rationale for its conclusions. In certain fields—pattern recognition, big-data analysis, gaming—AI’s capacities already may exceed those of humans. If its computational power continues to compound rapidly, AI may soon be able to optimize situations in ways that are at least marginally different, and probably significantly different, from how humans would optimize them. But at that point, will AI be able to explain, in a way that humans can understand, why its actions are optimal? Or will AI’s decision making surpass the explanatory powers of human language and reason? Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them—in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology. The most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed is this: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them?
How is consciousness to be defined in a world of machines that reduce human experience to mathematical data, interpreted by their own memories? Who is responsible for the actions of AI? How should liability be determined for their mistakes? Can a legal system designed by humans keep pace with activities produced by an AI capable of outthinking and potentially outmaneuvering them?
Ultimately, the term artificial intelligence may be a misnomer. To be sure, these machines can solve complex, seemingly abstract problems that had previously yielded only to human cognition. But what they do uniquely is not thinking as heretofore conceived and experienced. Rather, it is unprecedented memorization and computation. Because of its inherent superiority in these fields, AI is likely to win any game assigned to it. But for our purposes as humans, the games are not only about winning; they are about thinking. By treating a mathematical process as if it were a thought process, and either trying to mimic that process ourselves or merely accepting the results, we are in danger of losing the capacity that has been the essence of human cognition.
The implications of this evolution are shown by a recently designed program, AlphaZero, which plays chess at a level superior to chess masters and in a style not previously seen in chess history. On its own, in just a few hours of self-play, it achieved a level of skill that took human beings 1,500 years to attain. Only the basic rules of the game were provided to AlphaZero. Neither human beings nor human-generated data were part of its process of self-learning. If AlphaZero was able to achieve this mastery so rapidly, where will AI be in five years? What will be the impact on human cognition generally? What is the role of ethics in this process, which consists in essence of the acceleration of choices?
Typically, these questions are left to technologists and to the intelligentsia of related scientific fields. Philosophers and others in the field of the humanities who helped shape previous concepts of world order tend to be disadvantaged, lacking knowledge of AI’s mechanisms or being overawed by its capacities. In contrast, the scientific world is impelled to explore the technical possibilities of its achievements, and the technological world is preoccupied with commercial vistas of fabulous scale. The incentive of both these worlds is to push the limits of discoveries rather than to comprehend them. And governance, insofar as it deals with the subject, is more likely to investigate AI’s applications for security and intelligence than to explore the transformation of the human condition that it has begun to produce.
The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy. Other countries have made AI a major national project. The United States has not yet, as a nation, systematically explored its full scope, studied its implications, or begun the process of ultimate learning. This should be given a high national priority, above all, from the point of view of relating AI to humanistic traditions.
AI developers, as inexperienced in politics and philosophy as I am in technology, should ask themselves some of the questions I have raised here in order to build answers into their engineering efforts. The U.S. government should consider a presidential commission of eminent thinkers to help develop a national vision. This much is certain: If we do not start this effort soon, before long we shall discover that we started too late.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

JDN 1-18, "Strategy." 25 Apr 18

This is apparently a new publication. I just saw it for the first time today on the SAMS planners net.  The 47 page publication can be downloaded here. http://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/jdn_jg/jdn1_18.pdf?ver=2018-04-25-150439-540

I do not recall ever seeing a single joint publication focused solely on Strategy in joint doctrine.

I think the author must have been a National War College graduate or faculty member.

I think this will be useful not only for PME but also in civilian institutions that focus on security studies and strategy.

Note that I have excerpted the definitions of interests below.

Key chapter quotes:

Chapter I Theory
“Without a strategy, facing up to any problem or striving for any objective would be considered negligent.” Sir Lawrence Freedman Strategy: A History

Chapter II Strategic Ends and Means
“The most fundamental task in devising a grand strategy is to determine a nation’s national interests. Once they are identified, they drive a nation’s foreign policy and military strategy; they determine the basic direction that it takes, the types and amounts of resources that it needs, and the manner in which the state must employ them to succeed. Because of the critical role that national interests play, they must be carefully justified, not merely assumed.” Robert J. Art, A Grand Strategy for America 

Chapter III Strategic Ways
“The most complete and happy victory is this: to compel one’s enemy to give up his purpose, while suffering no harm oneself.” Flavius Belisarius (505-565) 

Chapter IV Assessing Strategy
“No plan of operation extends with certainty beyond contact with the enemy’s main hostile force.” Field Marshal General Helmuth von Moltke the Elder Chief of the German General Staff (1857-1888) 

JDN 1-18, "Strategy." 25 Apr 18

This joint doctrine note (JDN) provides guidance to develop, implement strategy, and
assess strategy. It focuses on the development of national-level military strategy and how
the military instrument of power is used, in combination with the other instruments of
national power, in pursuit of policy objectives. It discusses the essential elements of any
strategy; the relationship of ends, ways, and means; and the interaction among strategic
objectives, national strategy, and military strategy. It also examines strategies that may be
developed in different situations. Finally, it looks at how strategy is made, who makes it,
what moral criteria guide strategic decisions, and what pitfalls may occur in the making of

One approach is to categorize national interests as vital, important, and peripheral. 

 Vital interests: What are we willing to die for? States generally have four vital interests: security of the home territory, safety of citizens at home and abroad, economic prosperity, and preservation of the national way of life. 

 Important interests: What are we willing to fight for? Nations important interests generally include freedom of access to the global commons, regional stability, secure alliances, or the promotion of the state’s values. 

 Peripheral interests: What are we willing to fund (deploy peacekeepers, balance trade deficits)?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

[Washington Talk] North Korea denuclearization solution ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani and I participated in a 20 minute talk show "Washington Talk" with host Eunjung Cho produced by the Voice of America.  This is broadcast in both South Korea and north Korea and the target audience is the elite in Pyongyang.  

Unfortunately I do not think we solved the denuclearization problem. :-)

The video is in English with Korean subtitles and is at this link:

[Washington Talk] North Korea denuclearization solution ...

Washington tackles a weekly analysis of North Korean hot issues with Washington experts. This week, we will examine whether the US and North Korea will be able to find contacts in the denuclearization law, and analyze the meaning of Korean art troupes' Pyongyang performances.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ICAS Event on C-SPAN: U.S.-North Korea Talks

This event for the Institute of Corean American Studies took place yesterday on Capitol Hill.  Dr. Taro O and I had to do an impromptu talk in place of the Honorable Mary Beth Long who could not make it at the last minute.  My remarks are first followed by Dr. O and the William Brown and Larry Niksch.  

Edward Luttwak followed with a talk (at the 1 hour mark) on how unprepared is the ROK government and military based on his four visits to the Peninsula since Jimmy Carter was President.  I have never heard such a disrespectful presentation that was extremely insulting to not only our allies but also to every US commander in Korea since Jimmy Carter.  Needless to say I was incredulous when I heard his presentation.

Last to speak is Tong Kim (at the 2:04 mark).  He is a career State Department translator who has spent decades translating for our senior most US officials to include our Presidents in north and South Korea.  He accompanied Secretary Albright to north Korea, among other trips to Pyongyang.  He has met more senior north Korean officials than any American.

U.S.-North Korea Talks A group Korean Peninsula analysts shared their views and insights on the strategies President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un can bring to their meeting scheduled for later in the spring. The panelists also gave a historic perspective of previous U.S.-North Korean talks and what some of the drawbacks can be when negotiating with the North Korean regime. close 


  • William BrownFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Sang Joo KimSenior Fellow & Executive V.P.Institute for Corean-American Studies
  • Synja KimPresidentInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Tong KimFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Edward N. LuttwakConsultantDepartment of Defense->Office of Net Assessment
  • David S. MaxwellFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Larry A. NikschFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Tara OSpecialistCenter for Strategic and International Studies->Pacific Forum Asia Policy
Fewer People 


Saturday, March 3, 2018

North Korea's Nuclear Talks with South Korea US Combined Training Prospects

I did a Voice of America talk show yesterday with Frank Jannuzi for broadcast into north Korea (and it is shown in South Korea as well). (It is in English with Korean subtitles).

I think the title should be North Korea's Nuclear Talks with South Korea US Combined Training Prospects.  I think this went from English to Korean and back to English.

The 20 minute video can be viewed here.

Washington tackles a weekly analysis of North Korean hot issues with Washington experts. This week, we will evaluate the role of Korea as a "dialogue partner" between the US and North Korea on the occasion of the PyeongChang Olympics, and look at the implications of the US union training, which is expected to resume next month. Progress: Jo Eun Jung. Daring: Frank Jannuzi (President of Mansfield Foundation), David Maxwell (ICAS Senior Researcher, Korea Institute for National Unification)

N. Korea issues warning over U.S. military provocations

We should remember that north Korea considers the ROK/US Combined Forces Command exercises a provocation while north Korea conducts provocations that includes shelling civilian and military personnel on islands and murdering 46 South Korean sailors when it sank the Cheonan.

north Korean propaganda has pundits, progressives (in the ROK) and the press (and those who sympathize with north Korea) calling for another postponement or even cancellation or a at least a reduction or scaling back of the upcoming exercises.  But we should ask ourselves objectively what do we think we will get from north Korea if we postpone, cancel, or scale back the exercises?  What do these people think the north will do in return?

  • Will the north end its provocations to gain political and economic concessions?
  • Will it end its winter and summer training cycles?
  • Will it withdraw the thousands of artillery and rocket systems along the DMZ?
  • Will it cease its infiltration of spies and SOF into the South?
  • Will it cease its unification campaign using subversion, coercion, and if necessary force?
  • Will it end seeking to split the ROK/US Alliance?
  • Will it ends its global illicit activities (counterfeiting, drug trafficking, use of slave labor)?
  • Will it end its proliferation activities around the world?
  • Will it end its WMD cooperation with Syria and Iran?
  • Will it end its human rights violations and crimes against humanity?
  • Will it come to the negotiating table?
  • Will it pledge to denuclearize?
  • Will it denuclearize?

Does anyone think that postponement, cancellation or scaling back of the exercises will result in a reduction in tensions?

The only thing we will see happen if we postpone, cancel, scale back the exercises is that the regime will shift fires to new propaganda targets and continue all of the above.  The only thing we will get in return for postponing the exercises are:

  • A reduction in ROK/US military readiness.
  • A reduction in ROK/US deterrent capabilities.
  • More emboldened north Korean propaganda as it will deem cancellation a success (and it will still focus on the exercises even if we scale it back to a one platoon, one aircraft, and one ship exercise)
  • More demands on the ROK/US alliance that will not be reciprocated by the regime.

And of course all of the above is not all inclusive, the north will think of many more ways to benefit from our decision to cancel the exercises.

We should remember that the reason for the exercises is due to the stated and demonstrated threat to the very existence of our blood ally the Republic of Korea.

The bottom line is that we will get nothing in return for postponement or cancellation of the exercises. Some might feel good about doing it in the misguided idea that it will somehow change north Korean behavior and reduce tensions but I believe that they could not be more wrong.

N. Korea issues warning over U.S. military provocations

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's representative told the United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva last month that Pyongyang stands ready to fight back against any military provocation from the United States, the North's official media reported Saturday.
The Korean Central News Agency quoted the North's representative to the U.N. office in Geneva as telling the plenary meeting of the U.N. disarmament conference on Tuesday that it is a legitimate right of a sovereign state to take measures to increase its national defense capability for coping with outside threats.
"(North Korea) was compelled to possess a nuclear deterrent in order to protect its sovereignty and the security of its nation from the harsh hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. that have persisted for years," the unidentified representative was quoted as saying in English.
"However, the hostile forces led by the U.S. labeled the exercise of this legitimate right as a 'threat to global peace' and misused the voting mechanism of the U.N. Security Council to cook up several 'sanctions resolutions' in an attempt to deprive the DPRK of its self-defensive right." The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
The North's representative then accused the U.S. of "amassing huge strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula, and mulling staging joint military exercises aimed at a pre-emptive nuclear attack on North Korea."
"In order to defend itself from such threats, the DPRK had access to nuclear weapons, treasured sword of justice. As we have stated on numerous occasions, we will consider any type of blockade as an act of war against us, and if the U.S. has indeed the guts to confront us in any 'rough' manner, we will not (hesitate) to respond to it," the representative said.
A Reuters photo taken Feb. 27, 2018, shows Han Tae-song, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, speaking at the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.Photo by: Yonhap

Friday, February 23, 2018

Congressional Statement for the Record (Korea) from Commander, (CINC) UNC/CFC/USFK

I missed this when it came out on February 14.

I recommend reading this for a good understanding of the military situation in Korea. Usually these statements are a formality but given the situation in Korea this 16 page statement is worth reading.  There is some important information. 

I would like to highlight one excerpt on the Conditions-based OPCON transition plan.  Note that the new combined command will have a Korean Commander and US Deputy Commander.  Just as currently is done the command will continue to operate under the bilateral guidance of both Presidents (or their delegates - I assume the Military Committee will remain to exercise oversight and provide the guidance).  Note also the statement that US forces will continue to operate under US national authorities just as they do now and just as the ROK military forces currently do and will continue to do.  The bottom line is there is no sovereignty issue for the US just as their is not now for Korea.  And just as a reminder Korean forces provide by the ROK JCS to the ROK/US Combined Forces Command have never been under "US Command."

e. Conditions-based OPCON Transition Plan (COTP). The Alliance has made significant progress in setting the conditions for the future combined command. The command will continue to operate under the bilateral guidance of the Presidents of the United States and South Korea or their delegates. After this transition, a U.S. general officer will change roles to serve as the Deputy Commander of the future combined command and remain as commander of the UNC and USFK. U.S. forces will continue to operate under U.S. national authorities. The Alliance is prepared to accelerate OPCON transition as South Korea continues to develop and acquire the critical capabilities required for the Alliance’s wartime success. The OPCON transition process must proceed in a way that strengthens deterrence against North Korea and enhances our combined capabilities. 

The ROK Minister of Defense and U.S. Secretary of Defense pledged in October 2017 to make joint efforts to implement the commitment by President Trump and President Moon in June 2017 to enable the expeditious conditions-based transfer of wartime OPCON. The Minister of Defense emphasized South Korea’s commitment to complete the preparations necessary to exercise OPCON in accordance with the signed COTP. The draft organization of the future combined command was discussed, and the Ministers decided to continue to refine the concept through combined exercises and certifications. They also committed to develop Alliance guiding principles for the further enhancement of combined defense posture post-OPCON transition. The two sides decided to reexamine the implementation plan for OPCON transition, such as the Alliance capability acquisition plan; Terms of Reference – Relationship (TOR-R) and Operation Plan; and combined exercises and certification plan. They also agreed to jointly review and update COTP by the 2018 SCM.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Special Warfare Magazine - Special Operations In the Pacific

For those with an interest in SOF in the Asia-Pacific Region the latest edition of Special Warfare Magazine from the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School has about 90+ pages of articles.

06 | SOCPAC Overview and Map 
08 | In Depth: SOCPAC Commander 
11 | Asia Threat Overview 
15 | Remaining First in Asia 
20 | Tailoring Logistics Support 

22 Nepal Overview 
31 Maiti Nepal 
32 SOF Mountaineering and Training 
34 Mahabir Rangers 
40 Left of Zero: SOF Crisis Response 

44 Sri Lanka Overview 
54 Crisis Response: Floods and Landslides 
56 Flood Response 
58 | Photostory: India 

60 Operation Enduring Freedom 
62 Sustaining Partnerships 
64 Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination 
66 The Philippine Primer 

72 | Narrative Fusion Cell 
74 | Republic of Korea: Engagements that Last 

76 Photostory: Thailand 
78 SOF Roots in Thailand 
80 Cobra Gold 2017 

83 | Japan: Permanent Partners in the Pacific Rim 

84 | Effectiveness of a Forward-stationed Special Forces Battalion 

86 | Mongolian SOF 

88 | Photostory: Singapore 

90 | Maritime FID in Bangladesh

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

De Oppresso Liber

De Oppresso Liber (to free the oppressed). Or more appropriately to help the oppressed free themselves. Some day we will help the other 25 million Koreans living in the north to free themselves.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Why does the Kim Family Regime have nuclear weapons?

There are six purposes for the KFR’s nuclear weapons. 

The first is survival. We know from Hwang Jong Yop (1997) that the regime believes the US will not attack a nuclear armed nation but if there was a war on the Korean Peninsula they believes that if it did not have nuclear weapons that the US would use them on the north. So the first purpose is for survival. 

Second, nuclear weapons support its unification strategy which is three fold: subversion of the ROK, coercion of the ROK, and if necessary by force and nuclear weapons directly support the second two. And we should keep in mind that the KFR believes unification is key to its long term survival. 

The third is enhanced reputation and legitimacy - in the KFR mind nuclear weapons make it a power that should be treated like Pakistan and of course it is believed to enhance domestic political legitimacy the elite and with the people. 

Fourth they support the seven decade plus blackmail diplomacy strategy to conduct threats and provocations to gain political and economic concessions. 

Fifth similar to enhanced reputation it supports the regime’s “business” as a proliferator. It has proliferated nuclear technology to Syria (why did the the Israelis bomb the nuclear site in Syria? Although we have not seen much nuclear proliferation they are proliferating missile capabilities and developing those missiles with a nuclear capability makes them more marketable. 

Sixth is that if war does take place they will employ them and employ them quickly. The success of their campaign plan is dependent on rapid occupation of the peninsula before the US can reinforce it so I expect they will use nuclear weapons against Korean port facilities (e.g., Pusan) and the 7 UN based in Japan that are critically important ISBs for the flow of US forces. And if the alliance conducts a counter attack into the north I would expect they would use nuclear weapons on their own soil. A target would likely be an amphibious landing on the north’s east coast. 

So if we think about it there are a lot of reasons why the KFR believes nuclear weapons are in its interest and there is not much anyone can entice them with to give them up. Food aid? Diplomatic recognition and normalization? Security guarantees (like the US and Russia have to Ukraine in return for them giving up nuclear weapons)? There is no good reason why they should give them up. That is why I always say that the only way we will see an end to the nuclear program and the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime is through the establishment of a unified United Republic of Korea (UROK) that is non-nuclear, economically vibrant, secure and stable with a liberal constitutional government determined by the Korean people. 

Of course that cannot happen until there is no more KFR. There are only four paths to this. 

Peaceful, which is most complex and hardest to achieve but should be the basis for all unification planning. 

Second is war because that will destroy the regime but of course we do want to expend the blood and treasure that will cost. 

Regime collapse- also complex and dangerous and could lead to war or at least some level of conflict that will cause huge suffering. 

And fourth is the outlier: internal dynamics lead to the fall of the regime that is replaced by new leadership that if nurtured and encouraged could seek peaceful unification. 

That is a long shot but it is also why we need to continue the strategic strangulation campaign (as the administration calls it extreme pressure) while we cope, contain, and manage the situation to allow internal dynamics to cause change (and of course all this must rest on a combined alliance military capability that can deter, defend, fight, and win). 

How the Enlightenment Ends by Henry Kissinger

A powerful read.  Only Henry Kissinger could combine the Enlightenment and Article Intelligence for a critical essay. In addition to re...