Nation’s DIME 1824

Media pundits have written and said a lot concerning President Trump’s meeting with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un this past week. It is an historic event in our life times. Not because they signed a document drafted by others in the government bureaucracies, but the fact leaders sat across from each other and talked. Six months ago many felt we were going to war on the Korean Peninsula. The rhetoric between the leaders went up several octaves, missile tests were accomplished, and military might flexed muscles on both sides. The meeting in Singapore caused me to go back and re-read some of the things the great Chinese General Sun Tzu said in his book The Art of War. The question still remains: What are the political, informational, military, and economic ends states

In the Diplomatic arena,

The great Chinese General Sun Tzu states in his book The Art of War, “the art of war is of vital importance to the state, it is a matter of life or death, a road to either safety or ruin.” North Korea is neither safe nor alive, and I feel the reason Kim is entertaining these meetings. The political end state on the Korean Peninsula is normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea’s neighbors. How do you define normal in this instance? There has not been dialogue between North Korea and it’s neighbors since the end of the Korean War. As Lieutenant General Dan Leaf states in this article, a good start is establishing a diplomatic presence in each of the four countries involved, the US, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. Establishing presence then opens the door for continued progress to normalizing relations.

In the Informational realm,

The media scoffed at the “propaganda” video President Trump showed Kim Jong Un. I thought it was a brilliant information move. Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy” and “in the midst of chaos there is also opportunity.” The video illustrated to Kim what is possible for his country and his position on the world stage. President Trump’s video strokes Kim’s ego showing him what that position may be. The video also shows what the consequences if the wrong choices are made. President Trump followed Sun Tzu’s admonition to “build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across” by giving Kim a video of what could be. The video was shown on North Korea’s ONE television channel.

In the Military area,

Many of you do not know the UN Security Council meetings, the rhetoric between Trump and Kim over the last year, and the military exercises were all part of a section in the North Korean War Plan. They are called Flexible Deterrent Options, and are designed to ratchet up the pain level on Kim over a period of time to keep him from going to war. It is the classic case of Sun Tzu’s supreme skill of subduing your enemies without fighting. 

One event probably really unnerved Kim in September of last year. Three B-1 bombers escorted by twelve F-15C Eagles flew up the east coast of North Korea in the middle of the night, all loaded with live weapons. Three KC-135s from my old squadron at Kadena supported the Show of Force. A US Air Force Combat Cameraman was flying in one of the KC-135s and snapped some great pictures of the F-15s refueling. A Marine Corps squadron of F-35 stealth fighters were also involved, a plane we know even the most sophisticated Russian air defense systems cannot find. I feel these exercises were a big reason Kim came to Singapore and met with President Trump and why Kim wanted all exercises over South Korea halted. The military end state for Kim is his air defense network becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed. 

In the Economic area,

A country so isolated for so long will not know or understand what foreign investment can and will do for them. I mentioned in another article five entire provinces of North Korea have no electricity, running water, sewage treatment, and roads to move vehicles in and out of these areas. South Korean and Japanese construction companies could change all of this, but who would pay for the infrastructure upgrade? South Korea has sheltered money in the case war broke out. The Chinese are certainly relieved there will not be a war on the peninsula in the near future, sparking one of the largest refugee migrations and the subsequent drain on their economy. The restructuring of Iraq has taken trillions, what would restructuring North Korea cost? 

The meeting in Singapore was a great first step but the Trump Administration has yet to publish what their vision of North Korea would be and how the regional powers pursue an end sate on the peninsula.

— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.

Have a great weekend!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.

Nation’s DIME 1823

Many experts have offered pessimistic views of the value in the upcoming meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on 12 June. President Trump hosted North Korea’s Kim Yong Chol in preparation for the upcoming meeting in with President Kim Jung Un last week. Four star General Kim Yong Chol’s assignment was to put the meeting into hyper-drive.  It looks like the meeting has a green light. This past week Singapore’s Foreign Minister Dr. Balakrishnan visited North Korea to work details of the meeting next week. 

The question many are asking is what will come of this meeting and more importantly what will peace on the Korean Peninsula really mean. I believe there is just as much danger in peace as there is in war. Let me explain why.

In the Diplomatic area,

There remains a lot of diplomatic maneuvering behind this meeting. As President Trump and Kim Jong Un sit across the table from each other, what is the political end state each leader pursues? There are other players watching this meeting closely in the Middle East. President George Bush stated in his 2002 National Security Strategy the Axis of Evil included North Korea and Iran, the later being a true enemy to peace in the Middle East. I hope President Trump asks Kim Jong Un about his diplomatic, military, and economic involvement with Iran. Iranian ballistic missile technology is based on North Korean medium and long range technology shared with them. Iran’s missile test facility is almost an identical copy of North Korea’s test facility at Sohae. On the night of 6 September 2007, an Israeli Air Force strike package of eight planes destroyed a nuclear power plant in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. The Israelis knew North Korean scientist were providing expertise in the construction of the reactor based on the North Korean nuclear facility at Yongbyon. They even had pictures of North Korea’s lead scientist in a track suit at the site. The rector was built in Syria with North Korean light water technology funded by the Iranian regime. By the way, Yongbyon is one of the most heavily defended pieces of landscape on the planet. 

There has been no word of this, but will President Trump sit across the table from Kim Jong Un and outline his twelve demands on North Korea detaching itself from Iran’s agenda just as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined for a new deal with Iran? North Korea and Iran are tied at the hip and there needs to be a discussion of how North Korea has been involved with Iran in the Middle East.

President Trump meeting with General Kim Yong Chol in the Oval Office. Photo courtesy UPI

In the Military arena, there is one item that is a little scary, because it ties peace with a potential collapse of the North Korean economy.

I recently received an article from the news service NightWatch and their 6 June article is something everyone should read. NightWatch subscription can be found here and is $24 a year. It confirms some thing we all knew when I was stationed in Okinawa during the 1990’s. North Korea’s economy depends on their military industrial complex for its life blood. One million men and women serve in the North Korean military on active duty. Their military reserves and Red Guards accounts for another 20% of their 25 million population. A third to maybe half of the North Korean population depends on the military for their meager economic life. If peace comes to the Korean Peninsula, what will the population of North Korea do for work? Many factories producing daily consumer goods have a portion of the floor dedicated to producing something supporting their military. Peace on the peninsula implies a large portion of the North Korean military would not be needed and restructuring or downsizing their military feed economy could potentially cause their economy to collapse. Kim Jong UN relies on the military to keep him in power. Any potential upset to the military complex puts his status as leader in danger. And I’m sure he knows that.

South Korea would also be affected in a similar way but not with the same potential damage to the economy. South Korea and the US have a large military presence with supporting contractors and military industrial complex keeping forces ready in case of war. There are millions of South Koreans and US expatriates depending on those military contracts for their livelihood. Breaking down North Korea’s nuclear program may be small potatoes when downsizing and reconfiguring both country’s military-industrial economies may be the larger problem starring all of us in the face.

Kim Jong Un and General Kim Yong Chol (circled) watch a ballistic missile test/Reuters

In the Economic area,

When I taught at the Joint Forces Staff College in Virginia Beach, I developed a class on nation building and restructuring following a major war. The case study scenario I used was North Korea. Based on the terrific paper called Restructuring Iraq by Dr Conrad Crane at the US Army War College, I created an exercise illustrating how ugly nation building in North Korea might be. There are five whole provinces in North Korea with no paved roads, no running water, no electricity, no sewage system, and very little food. It may take hundreds of billions of dollars to bring what we enjoy as common services in the United States to the provinces of North Korea. Have you ever looked at a picture of their capitol Pyongyang North Korea at lunch time? There are maybe five cars on the road. Restructuring a nation so closed off to the world for over five decades would be an incredible task. How do you gain the trust of people who have been taught for decades you are the enemy when their economy has collapsed? Looks and sounds a lot like Iraqi doesn’t it.

The meeting in Singapore is now five days away.

— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.

Have a great weekend!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.

Nation’s DIME 1822

There is so much going on around the world this week: North Korea comes to Washington DC, Assad thinks his military can remove us from Syria, and the jobs growth numbers lowest in years.  Let’s get started.

In the Diplomatic arena,

A lot has been written about the on-again/off-again meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North Korean Spy Master Kim Yong-chol met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier in the week. They discussed the 12 June meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Kim Yong-chol delivered a message to President Trump today, and now the 12 June meeting is back on. This is political intrigue at the highest levels!

In the Information arena,

President Bashar Assad of Syria gave the US military an ultimatum: Get out! Assad said he will force the US out if need be. That did not go well for his Army in February. President Trump has openly stated our goals in Syria are not yet accomplished. There are a lot of players in Syria: Russia and Iran the largest forces. Expect the rhetoric to increase over the next few weeks.

In the Military area, some interesting things concerning the F-35.

During a recent Commanders Conference, Israeli Air Force Major General Amikam Norkin told 20 nation senior commanders Israeli F-35s have dropped weapons in anger. The General said the jets are flying all over the Middle East. Russia has placed some of their most sophisticated air defense systems in Syria. The IAF destroyed some of them recently.

US Air Force F-35s from Hill AFB have been deployed as part of a Pacific Air Forces Security Package over the last six months. The 34th Fighter Squadron are in the process of deploying home as Alaska F-22s replace them in theater. These deployments are important because the jets were part of Flexible Deterrent Options using low observable aircraft like F-35 and F-22. Why is Kim Jong Un talking to President Trump? Air Force stealth airplanes have been flying in his neighborhood. 

A 34th Fighter Squadron F-35 prepares for a mission from Kadena Air Base Upper Fighter Ramp.

Some great Economic news out today.

The unemployment numbers are the lowest since 2000Black unemployment was also at the lowest since 1972. The President also implemented tariffs on several of our allies which has raised a few eyebrows. What will these tariffs accomplish remains to be seen.

As I said, this week had a lot of news.

—Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.

Have a great weekend!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.

Nation’s DIME 1818

President Trump should kill the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iranian Nuclear Deal. Reached in Vienna on 14 June 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council; China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany. Iran is the real threat in the Middle East and we handed them the means to continue terrorizing anyone standing in their way of dominating the region. 

P5 plus One nations sign Iran Nuclear Deal

In the diplomatic arena,

President Trump will decide soon if he will pull out of the Iran Deal in place. Most feel the Deal is dead, and he will pull out. What will happen if Trump pulls out is unclearPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is adamantly against the deal. What are the diplomatic consequences of pulling out of the deal?

In the Information area,

The war of words between Iran and the west took a sharp turn this week. Netanyahu announced the Mossad captured Iranian documents from Tehran’s nuclear archive. Netanyahu laid out the case Iran has lied about their program, which may be continuing at a faster pace with recent activity

An IAF F-16I Sufa prepares for takeoff on a bombing mission over Syria/Photo by xnir

In the Military arena,

Israel and Iran are engaged in a proxy war in Syria, with their Russian allies looking on with very sophisticated air defense weapons. The Israeli Air Force has struck Iranian targets in Syria three times now. The most recent on 30 April, the 47th Brigade southeast of Hamma Syria. IAF F-15Is armed with GPS guided weapons destroyed several buildings and storage areas, containing suspected surface to surface missiles from Iran.  Approximately 200 missiles exploded in underground storage. The secondary explosion registered 2.6 on the richter scale!

In the Economic area,

What are the economic impacts of pulling out of the Iran Deal? There are a number of impacts if Trump pulls out. Any event in the Middle East has an impact on gas prices.  Sanctions placed on Iran and they immediately held military exercises in the region.. The scary part of this is the Obama Administration gave Iran over one billion dollars. What are the Iranians doing with that wad of cash

There is one man all of us need to be watching. His name is Major General Qassem Soliemani, leader of the Quids Forces, Iran’s foreign army which is busy in Syria.

— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.

Have a great weekend!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.

Nation’s DIME 1816

Airspace over Syria became very congested and contested this past Saturday 14 April. At 4 am US, British, and French strike aircraft destroyed three targets suspected of being connected to the Syrian Chemical Weapons program. These air strikes on the chemical weapons facilities brought swift reprisals from Vladimir Putin and the Russian Ambassadors to the US and UN. The Russians feel threatened in the US-Russia-Iran-Israel proxy war taking place in Syria. 

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Twitter, “Again, we are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences.” He went on to say “Insulting the President of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible. The US – the possessor of the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons – has no moral right to blame other countries.”

What could those possible consequences be to the Nation’s DIME?

Vladimir Putin and President Trump meeting in DaNag Vietnam courtesy Sputnik News

In the Diplomatic area,

On 9 April Russian Envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzia fiercely stated on the Security Council floor the chemical weapons attack on Douma Syria was “staged” and any military action in response brings “grave consequences.”

Early Saturday US and coalition aircraft launched long range cruise missiles at the three targets.

Saturday morning Envoy Nebenzia submitted a Security Council resolution condemning the air strikes the night before. The Russian diplomatic measure condemned the “aggression,” demanding the three allied partners refrain from further military action. The resolution did not pass the Security Council vote. China and Bolivia voted with Russia in condemning US, British, and French action. All other Security Council members rejected in strong terms the Russian resolution.

The real loser in the air strike may be Vladimir Putin. After all his rhetoric, the Russian military in Syria could do nothing to stop the attack. And we may never know the content of the suspected chemical weapons sites as investigators have been blocked from analyzing the sites.

Envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzia submitting Russia's resolution to Security Council

In the Informational arena,

The information war resulting from the air attack continues. Prior to the attack, Putin flatly said his military would shoot down US missiles, which did not happen. Ambassador Antonov said afterward “Insulting the president of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible.” Russia and the Assad government continue to say the Barzeh Science Research Center produced antidotes to snake venom, no chemical weapons are produced in the facility.

The US and British remain defiant of the Russian rhetoric, defending their actions for destroying the three weapons facilities.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov

There is a lot to cover in the Military area,

Many have asked me can the Russians really shoot down our missiles? Maybeif they can find them. US airwar planners learned the lessons of Israel’s Operation Orchard, the air strike on the Syrian nuclear plant near Deir ez Zor. Saturday morning Syrian air defenses fired blindly after the cruise missiles hit their targets. Russians did not respond from their Latakia airbase. Comforting to Assad I’m sure.

Adding insult to injury, the Israeli Air Force destroyed an Iranian military facility near Damascus. They claim Iran stored “advanced” air defense surface-to-air missile system at the facility later the same day. The IAF strike package also penetrated Syrian airspace and returned without a scratch. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement after the attack. The Begin Doctrine states no country will threaten Israel and its existence, and the IAF lost an F-16 a couple weeks ago.

Putin looking into the cockpit of an SU-57 stealth fighter, deployed and flying missions over Syria

I learned some critical information in the Economic area,

Additional sanctions implemented against Russia because of Putin’s support to Assad are having an effect. The Russian Ruble is weak right now but Putin can hit Americans, Britons, and the French in their pocketbooks. And it’s an economic leverage tool Putin used in 2014 I was unaware of until talking recently with a Delta Airlines Captain. Putin has threatened to close his airspace to US airline overflights, causing airliners to fly longer, more expensive routes around Russia. American and Delta flights from Detroit to Peking China take longer to reach Peking without Russian overflight, creating two critical issues. Airlines are operating with a shortage of pilots to fly longer routes and rising fuel costs. Airline pilots have restrictions on how many hours they can fly. Swapping aircrews also takes intermediate stops. Longer flights consume more fuel and all of you have seen the rise in gas cost at the pump as the travel season is upon us. These costs are passed on to you, the passengers.  But Putin also loses money when overflight fees decrease, so its a two edged sword closing airspace.

— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.

Have a great weekend!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.

Nation’s DIME 1815

All of us wait to see what President Trump will do WRT the chemical weapons attack on the suburb town of Douma near Damascus, now is a very good time to review the nation’s DIME and reasons NOT to strike Syrian for last week’s chemical attack. 

In the Diplomatic area,

Ambassador Nikki Haley on Monday condemned the chemical weapons attack before the UN Security Council. She stated “Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded, no hospitals to save their lives, no doctors or medicine to ease their pain.” She implicated the Russians in those attacks. Russian UN Envoy Vassily Nebenzia urged the US and it’s allies refrain from military action over the chemical weapons attack because he cannot exclude war.

In the Information arena, the war of words continues.

Russia has been very vocal about what their response will be if the US or our allies use military force on the air base the chemical weapons attack originated from. Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin said his country would respond to any US missiles fired into Syria by shooting them down.  

President Trump tweeted “Get Ready!” because  the weapons he will use are “nice, new and smart!”  

Responding in Arabic on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, Ambassador Zasypkin increased the rhetoric. He said “If there is a strike by the Americans, then … the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired.” 

Really? If two or three B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base Louisiana launch cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Ocean, Russia is going to bomb Barksdale?

Former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger stated clearly when the US should use Military force. The Weinberger Doctrine has six “tests” for employing the US military. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell added two more, fully and frankly analyzing the risks and cost, and have other nonviolent policy means been fully exhausted.

I agree with former Representative Duncan Hunter in his 2013 article. Attacking Syrian responding to the chemical weapons attack does not pass the Weinberger-Powell doctrine tests.

In the Economic area, the expansion of military involvement in the Middle East will affect our economy. Many of you noticed the rise in gas prices over the last two weeks. Current events do have affects on your pocketbooks. One cause is the potential for a US strike in Syria. How much gas prices will rise remains a mystery. Here are three articles here, here, and here explaining how military action in Syria will or will not affect gas prices.  

— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.

Have a great weekend!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.