US Navy – Interview: Zumwalt Commander Capt. James Kirk

- USNI News – USNI News contributor Cmdr. Daniel Dolan, interviewed the commander of Zumwalt (DDG-1000), Capt. James Kirk, on 31 March. The ship—first in a class of three next-generation destroyers—is among the most expensive surface ships the U.S. Navy is building. The ship features a slew of new systems and the smallest crew yet for a ship her size. Dolan asked Kirk about the ship’s handling, the hull, some of the history of her namesake, and brought questions from members of the Naval War College staff ahead of the ship’s christening on Saturday at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

Ukranian Navy – Ukraine’s Last Ship

- USNI News – The flagship of the Ukrainian sea service now sits parked in a commercial port in the picturesque seaside town of Odessa, more known for its nightclubs than its military infrastructure. Next to it floats a handful of tiny coastal boats sporting Ukraine’s colors, blue and yellow. This is all that’s left of Ukraine’s navy.

US Navy – Navy’s European Missile Sites Move Forward

- Defense News – The military could speed up deployment of a land-based missile defense shield in Europe to hem in a resurgent Russia, the Navy 3-star in charge of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said in early April. Vice Adm. James Syring said it was possible to speed up the deployment of the second Aegis Ashore installation, planned for Poland in 2018, but such a move would require some help from Congress.

Terrorism – Al-Qa’ida, the second act: Why the global ‘war on terror’ went wrong

- The Independent – Twelve and a half years after 9/11, al-Qa’ida-type organisations control an area the size of Britain in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Include Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia and the territory they rule is larger in size than the UK. What is so extraordinary – and blameworthy – is that this vast expansion of jihadist groups comes even as the US, Britain and others are waging a “war on terror”. In the name of such a struggle, great sums have been spent; wars have been fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; civil rights have been curtailed; and torture, rendition, detention without trial and domestic espionage have been justified. But attempts to eliminate the supposed enemy have wholly failed. It is to consider the roots of this failure that The Independent published a five-part investigation by our distinguished correspondent Patrick Cockburn this week. The aim of the series is to show the extent to which jihadist organisations identical in ideology and methods to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida have survived, flourished and are now stronger than ever.

US Navy – Silent threat: Are sea mines the Navy’s Achilles’ heel?

- Virginian Pilot – A generation ago, the Navy promised to get better at finding and destroying sea mines. The proclamation came months after the first Gulf War, when Iraq’s use of more than 1,000 underwater bombs overwhelmed the Navy’s fleet of anti-mine ships and helicopters. Two U.S. warships were rocked by explosions, and the Pentagon was forced to abort plans for an amphibious assault on Kuwait, leaving some 30,000 Marines stuck at sea. More than 20 years after that embarrassment, the sea service is still working to make good on its pledge to fully address a centuries-old threat that some analysts have called the Navy’s Achilles’ heel.

Geopolitics / Ukraine – Putin steals the CIA’s playbook on anti-Soviet covert operations

- Washington Post – The West has made NATO’s military alliance the heart of its response to Russia’s power grab in Ukraine. But we may be fighting the wrong battle: The weapons Russian President Vladimir Putin has used in Crimea and eastern Ukraine look more like paramilitary “covert action” than conventional military force. Putin, the former KGB officer, may in fact be taking a page out of the United States’ playbook during the Ronald Reagan presidency, when the Soviet empire began to unravel thanks to a relentless U.S. covert-action campaign. Rather than confront Moscow head-on, Reagan nibbled at the edges, by supporting movements that destabilized Russian power in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Angola and, finally, Poland and eastern Europe. It was a clever American strategy back then, pushing a wounded Soviet Union and opportunistically exploiting local grievances wherever possible. And it’s an equally clever Russian approach now, offering maximum gain at minimum potential cost.

A brilliant analysis by David Ignatius.