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Michael Carl Haas (The Diplomat) — Over the last several months, the debate about the future of the United States’ nuclear-powered carrier (CVN) fleet has picked up speed again, with several major contributions coming from both sides of the aisle.
Back in October, Seth Cropsey, Bryan McGrath, and Timothy Walton published their very detailed take on how to keep the carrier weapon system in the game.
Not long after, well-known carrier critic Jerry Hendrix followed up on his earlier thinking on the subject in Retreat from Range: The Rise and Fall of Carrier Aviation. Most recently, Kelley Sayler contributed a study on the Growing Threat to U.S. Aircraft Carriers. The issue was also discussed at length in House Armed Services Committee hearings on February 11, 2016.
Ben Watson & Patrick Tucker (Defense One) — The momentum has shifted in the U.S.-led coalition fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, so it’s time to commit more forces for the looming battles ahead, the top U.S. civilian and military leaders told reporters Friday.
“We have a series of recommendations that we will be discussing with the president in the coming weeks to further enable our support for the Iraqi Security Forces, or ISF,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joe Dunford. “The secretary and I both believe that there will be an increase to the U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks—but that decision hasn’t been made.”
“We’re broadening both the weight and the nature of our attacks on ISIL,” added Defense Secretary Ash Carter. “In both Syria and Iraq, we’re seeing important steps to shape what will become crucial battles in the months to come.”
Omar Lamrani (Stratfor) — A new arms race is unfolding between the world's great powers. Hypersonic missiles, which are both accurate and extremely fast, stand to change the face of modern warfare by rendering the current generation of missile defense systems ineffective.
As competition heats up among Russia, China and the United States to be the first to deploy hypersonic missiles, each will become more vulnerable to attack by the others. If tensions rise, so will the risk of pre-emptive strikes among the longtime rivals.
Hypersonic missiles travel at least five times the speed of sound. Only a few other manmade devices are capable of reaching hypersonic speeds, including ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles and unmanned spacecraft such as the Boeing X-37. The only manned aircraft to achieve hypersonic speed is the rocket-powered North American X-15, which broke speed and altitude records when it was introduced in the 1960s.
Scott Stewart (Stratfor) — An American man was wounded March 10 in a knife attack in Fintas, Kuwait. A statement from the U.S. Embassy did not specifically label the attack an act of terrorism, but the wording intimated as much, warning of the threat of planned extremist actions against American and Western citizens.
The Fintas incident came on the heels of the March 8 killing of an American graduate student in Tel Aviv, the most recent episode in a long series of attacks in Israel that Hamas is calling the "knife intifada." This is not, however, something that happens only in the Middle East.
Since December, there have been several attacks employing edged weapons in and around the New York subway system, and on Feb. 11 a grassroots jihadist wielding a machete attacked patrons at a Mediterranean restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Most recently, on March 14, a man with a knife attacked a Canadian armed forces recruitment center in North York, wounding two service members.
Stratfor — The United States is in talks with Australia to deploy more strategic bomber aircraft at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin. Beyond further strengthening the U.S.-Australian military alliance, moving U.S. bombers to Australia from their usual station in Guam will protect them from China's intermediate-range missiles.
As for Australia, deeper cooperation with the United States is a welcome step toward greater security, especially since China is still stoking tensions throughout the region with its claims to contested waters in the South China Sea.
With limited resources and vulnerable maritime supply lines, Australia has long sought to enhance security through strategic military alliances with strong naval powers. During World War II, the United States replaced the United Kingdom as Australia's principal military ally.