Weekend Reading: Sept 25–27

September 25, 2015

OPM failed harder than we thought. Wired (among many other outlets) has this story. Apparently, 5.6 million fingerprints of federal employees were among the data breached from OPM. It was originally thought it was just 1.1. million. If you are a federal employee, @Maliciouslink has alerted us to a portable device being issued by the government to solve this problem (this is a joke, please do not actually do this and then sue us).  And if you aren’t worried enough, here are the nine scariest things China can do with all that OPM data. Oh, and only one person has been fired for this whole thing. At RealClearPolitics, Michael Auslin has an interesting take on what a cyberspace pact between the United States and China would mean, and it ain’t good.

After that dose of government incompetence that may impact you for the rest of your life, do you need a drink? We do too. Check out our Molotov Cocktail blog for a few choices.

The Islamic State on your bookshelf. That’s where it should be at least. WOTR’s Will McCants’ new book ISIS Apocalypse came out this week. For our money, it’s the best book out on the topic so far. Will met up with David Ignatius and WOTR’s Ryan Evans to talk about this nasty extremist group that has accomplished what al Qaeda only dreamed up — a self-proclaimed Caliphate across a wide swath of the Middle East. Listen! And check out another podcast he did with WOTR Senior Editor Mark Stout at Johns Hopkins University.

Do you want a free copy of the book? Then enter this contest and lay out the Islamic State’s way of war in 25 words or less.

The Iran Deal and China’s Rise. It turns out, the two have a connection. Over at The Interpreter. Jacob Berah, once a staffer in former Sen. Richard Lugar’s office, laments that the congressional reaction to the Iran deal may not bode well for America’s ability to manage its relationship with China, the world’s biggest emerging power. He writes, “The controversy over the Iran deal raises the spectre that as key points of contention with China become the subject of politicised debate in Congress and on the campaign trail, the ability of the executive to conduct deft diplomacy in response to tensions with China will be curtailed. In particular, an environment where acts of significant diplomatic compromise, concession or accommodation are portrayed as capitulation will make it increasingly difficult for US leaders to find creative ways to solve disputes and avoid escalation with China.”

Wanted: Purpose. Veteran Audrey Ireberri writes about the hardest thing about transitioning out of the military and into civilian life: losing a sense of deep purpose. Check out her article at Task & Purpose and have a look at our blog on the military and veteran experience, Charlie Mike.

Stop this nonsense about the operational level of war. That’s what Larry Doane, a U.S. Army Major currently serving as a Congressional Fellow, has to say at Small Wars Journal. This may seem like an overly wonky and unimportant debate, but it has a direct impact on how we understand, and therefore fight, wars. Doane writes: “Military problems consist of strategy and tactics, regardless of scale, and the principal contribution of the military professional is the operational art linking the two.” In addition to being an important debate, it is an old one that has raged for a long time. It would also be worth your time to revisit Alien: How Operational Art Devoured Strategy by Brigadier Justin Kelly (ret.) and Michael James Brennan.

Raid so hard. Over at Information Dissemination, Jonathan Altman says we should bring back raiding — “a military operation by amphibious and/or airborne forces to temporarily seize enemy territory for some operational purpose.” He writes that in the most likely conflicts of the future, “raiding would seem to be an essential part of a military planner’s toolkit. Raids convey national level resolve at a minimum risk of friendly loss of life, and provide an adversary with either escalation off-ramps and/or clear direction that a behavior will not be allowed to continue.”


Photo credit: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant, USMA Public Affairs