The Indian Ocean and US Grand Strategy: Ensuring Access and Promoting Security
Peter Dombrowski and Andrew C. Winner, eds. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014. 223 pp. Notes. $29.95.
Reviewed by Lieutenant Commander Matt Myers, U.S. Navy
Over the past five years, it has become fashionable to speak of an “Indo-Asia-Pacific.” This term was featured prominently in two successive national-security strategies, though it has yet to take root in the organizational structure of any U.S. government department. Editors Andrew Winner and Peter Dombrowski’s new book, a collection of essays by regional and strategic-studies experts, goes some way toward bridging this gap by building on the concept of a cohesive Indian Ocean region (IOR) put forth in works such as Robert Kaplan’s Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power and C. Raja Mohan’s Samudra Manthan: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific. The contributors’ diverse backgrounds give the book the feel of a roundtable debate on potential U.S. strategies for the region, enlivened by the Damoclean sword of the fiscal cliff and the budget sequester that loomed over the project’s conception in 2012.
The book begins with chapters by the scholars most skeptical about the IOR’s strategic value to the United States. Libertarian policy scholar Christopher Preble and strategist Walter Ladwig argue that the IOR is an ideal place for regional powers to shoulder the burden of keeping the peace. Ladwig’s “Neo-Nixon Doctrine” would build the IOR security architecture around influential regional democracies and bolster it with grants of military hardware and training. This “capacity-building” approach explicitly assumes that our partners’ goals would be congruent with our own, and it implicitly assumes away lingering suspicion of U.S. motives and intraregional rivalries that capacity-building efforts could inadvertently fuel.
Preble addresses his chapter directly at the growing mismatch between the ends and means of U.S. grand strategy, arguing that the United States needs to rein in its overseas commitments to further shrink a defense budget sized for a bygone era of economic and military “unipolarity.” In his judgment, homeland defense is the military’s primary responsibility, though he believes that a greatly pared-down U.S. military could still retain the capacity to project power overseas whenever and wherever necessary in the face of modern anti-access challenges.
Sea power gurus James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, along with Japan expert Michael Auslin, counter the “offshore balancing” approach by emphasizing that our allies are more likely to view U.S. pullback as abandonment, not empowerment, while reminding the reader that the forward bases, specialized repair facilities, and logistics chain required for power projection from half a world away took years to build and could not be easily reconstituted if abandoned. These are timely warnings, as our lease on Diego Garcia, a strategic atoll in the Indian Ocean, is due to expire at the end of next year, and Singapore frequently practices its own form of balancing between American and Chinese power.
With China investing heavily in the Indian Ocean littorals, Washington’s newfound interest in the region has inspired a sense of déjà vu in commentators who recall how Soviet presence drove our last Indian Ocean strategy. William Martel cautions that a return to containment would be a mistake, considering the dense economic interconnection between the United States, China, and all our major allies. While a look back to 1914 demonstrates that economic interdependence does not preclude major-power war, it is counterproductive to ask our allies to choose sides prematurely. Our strategic relationships with South Asian partners must stand on their own merits, as few potential regional partners will volunteer to be Washington’s pawn in a global contest with Beijing.
Teresita Schaffer’s chapter comes closest to examining U.S. strategy from a South Asian perspective, rather than simply mapping broader foreign policy debates onto the IOR. Where other authors recommend a deeper relationship with India, even at the expense of our relationship with Pakistan, Schaffer lays out which regional organizations are worth taking part in and at what level. She recognizes that among countries that value their strategic autonomy, the United States will have to work through “loose coalitions” rather than alliances, and (unlike Preble) she is untroubled by the fact that some of these coalitions may include Islamabad.
Even if they disagree on the IOR’s relative importance within America’s global commitments, the book’s contributors agree it is a coherent region that demands a coherent strategy. The liabilities inherent in the Department of Defense’s division of responsibility for the IOR between PACOM in the east, CENTCOM in the northwest, and AFRICOM in the southwest is not lost on them, but no one delves into what a possible INDOCOM might look like or where it might sit. Conjuring that command’s geographic boundaries, structure, and home base could be Dombrowski’s and Winner’s next project; they have clearly demonstrated the need for it.
Lieutenant Commander Myers is the Carrier Air Wing 5 intelligence officer and previously served with VFA-195, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. A class of 2009 Olmsted Scholar, he holds a master’s degree in history from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
The Fourth Marine Brigade in World War I: Battalion Histories Based on Official Documents
George B. Clark. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2015. 296 pp. Index. Biblio. Illus. $39.95.
Reviewed by Colonel Dick Camp, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)
With over 20 books to his credit, George Clark has earned a first-rate reputation for producing thoroughly researched and richly detailed accounts of men in combat. The subject of his latest book, as the title suggests, recounts the battle history of the 4th Marine Brigade as part of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (Regulars) in the American Expeditionary Force during World War I.
The book draws on after-action reports, field orders, messages, and other official documents to record the combat actions of the brigade and each one of its separate battalions through the major battles of the 2nd Infantry Division—Verdun, Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont, and the Meuse-Argonne. Clark has done a masterful job of assembling and organizing the official reports into a cogent account. He points out, however, that the reports are dependent on “the officers in charge at the time. Some were great record keepers, while others weren’t concerned with posterity and kept little documentation.”
Clark follows the brigade’s two regiments—the 5th and 6th—from their formation at Quantico, Virginia, to their initial training with veteran French units in the trenches of Verdun during the winter of 1917–18. Clark notes, “They really didn’t gain much except to learn what a disaster trench warfare was for the infantrymen.” Following the stint in the trenches, the Marine Brigade, as part of the 2nd Infantry Division, was thrown into the Château-Thierry sector to repel the last German offensive of the war.
It was here at a place called Belleau Wood that the Marines stopped the Germans, thereby earning a reputation as a superb fighting force. Clark’s excellent organization of the after-action reports by unit—sometimes down to the company level—and by date brings clarity to a battle that is sometimes difficult to follow. “Les Mares Farm was located less than thirty miles from Paris and in 1918 it would be the closest that the Germans would get to that long-sought city,” he writes. Clark also incorporates visceral individual accounts into the text. “Captain Lester S. Wass screamed, ‘Get going. What do you think this is, a kids’ game? Move out!’ A lieutenant in the 18th Company declared, ‘All we wanted were some Germans in our sights. Just a few lousy Boches to shoot the living guts out of.’”
After Belleau Wood, the book follows the brigade to Soissons, “which badly hurt the 6th Marines,” then the bloodbath at Blanc Mont and the senseless attack along the Meuse River after the armistice had been signed that would go into effect the next morning at 1100. Clark is never hesitant to insert his own commentary: “No soldier or Marine wanted to die now that the war was just about over . . . [but] those bright lights decided how wonderful it would be if the Marines took additional ground. . . . They wouldn’t be going, of course.”
The remainder of the book—the armistice, homecoming parades, and the brigade’s inactivation at Quantico—completes this comprehensive chronicle of one of the U.S. military’s most distinguished units.
Clark has artfully crafted an excellent resource for the World War I historian. It combines in one volume most of the existing official documents dealing with the 4th Marine Brigade’s participation in some of the bloodiest battles of the war. The book is well illustrated with maps and photographs to assist the reader in understanding the tactical disposition of the units and to bring the text alive. It is an important contribution to our knowledge of the Great War.
Colonel Camp is the author of 15 nonfiction and fiction books and more than 200 military articles. His professional résumé also includes speaking on U.S. military history.
@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex
Shane Harris. Boston: Houghton Milfin Harcourt, 2014. 263 pp. Notes. $27.
Reviewed by Master Chief Petty Officer David A. Mattingly, U.S. Navy (Retired)
We live in a time in which data ranging from personal information ascertained by purchases at a corner grocery store to the nation’s most valuable defense secrets can be stolen, not by traditional spies but unknown individuals sitting at consoles. Shane Harris wrote @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex to educate and inform America about network warfare, a growing threat to everyday life in today’s global economy. Weapons entering America’s arsenals are dependent on the “military-Internet complex” from their inception all the way through their operational lives. Will the next war be won or lost on the cyber battlefield?
Harris, an award-winning author on defense-surveillance policy issues and the future of warfare, explores both the threat to the U.S. military networks by foreign governments and those in government and corporate America who protect the nation’s data and the network itself that is critical to everyday life and defense. He draws on the expertise of cyber pioneers such as retired National Security Agency director Keith Alexander as well as officials at Google and other corporate data holders to present a clear picture of this complex threat.
Defense traditionally is the responsibility of the government. However, in today’s cyberspace, the government shares this responsibility with the corporations that own, maintain, and provide the network for what could be considered the country’s most valuable assets—its data. Harris describes how stolen data compromised the Joint Strike Fighter program. Investigators looked at hundreds of corporate computers from the main contractor, Lockheed Martin, as well as those of smaller companies that provided the aircraft’s individual parts and components. Assuming that the hackers were linked to China, Harris argues, “American fighters might one day go into battle against their clones. American pilots might be flying against Chinese foes who already knew the F-35’s vulnerabilities.” He asks the critical question: If this data was so valuable, why wasn’t it protected better?
Harris unveils the conundrum of conducting both offensive and defensive operations by two organizations: the NSA and its relatively new partner, the U.S. Cyber Command. The command’s mission to run and defend the government’s networks is complicated by the fact that the “military does not own and operate most of its network infrastructure” it relies on for combat operations, the day-to-day operations at the Pentagon, and the myriad bases, camps, and ships at sea. Cyber Command separates the newest mission of cyber “offensive” operations, which have proven to be a valuable weapon in the asymmetrical battle being fought today against terrorists that rely on the Internet.
The attacks on militaries and governments do not garner the press coverage of attacks on Americans’ financial and commercial enterprises. Reports that thousands of retail customers’ personal data were stolen received news coverage for weeks and still surface as business managers try to ensure the security of their networks. It would seem obvious to turn to the government for assistance. But as Harris explains, the government’s cybersecurity capabilities have nothing new to offer to the civilian cybersecurity services owned or operated by former government cyber warriors.
Cyber warfare is here to stay. As Harris says, “Time is running out; there are many questions for policy makers like whether NSA and Cyber Command should have different leadership and how government and commercial operations should be blended for the greatest effect.” Dwight Eisenhower warned of “misplaced power,” and Harris finishes his book by saying, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with peaceful methods and goals.”
Harris’ examination of both the offensive and defensive sides of cyber warfare delves into the issue at a practical level for anyone interested in future threats to the United States. He also provides well-documented historical examples of how outsiders have hacked both government and corporate computers, and the broken relationship between the government and corporate cyber warriors. @War belongs on the bookshelf of every warfighter as well as those who study the future of war. Harris succinctly discusses errors in U.S. cyber policy in a way that is enjoyable as well as informative for anyone who wants a better understanding of the newest battlespace.
Master Chief Mattingly served as an intelligence specialist in the U.S. Navy. After retiring, he served with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and as a senior analyst at MNF-I/USF-I J-2. He is now a consultant on national-security issues, and is a member of the Military Writers Guild.