From Pearl Harbor To The Western Pacific: Is The US Navy Sleepwalking Into The Future? Part I

Author’s Note: Part I has turned out to be shorter than I expected, owing to a family issue that has taken up more free time than I expected. So, I will conclude Part I over the weekend and go forward from there. Apologies. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.

On September 10, 2001 the military power of the United States was a pillar of American hegemony, but one still searching for a permanent role in the post-Cold War era. Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US Navy was the dominant naval power on the planet. Unfortunately, the navy designed and built to defeat the Soviet Union at sea in the later years of the 20th Century was finding it difficult to adjust to the new security and geopolitical realities of the next century. The terrorist attacks launched against Washington DC and New York City on the next day were an indicator of the new paradigm facing both the United States and its naval service. The next war would be unlike any conflict the US had fought before. It would require a new hybrid force of high-technology weapons and equipment married to more traditional facets of warfare like special operation teams and close air support. The new military, by design and circumstances, would be a more agile, technologically advanced, and lethal force shaped to defeat lighter, unconventional enemies.  A sharp contrast from the heavy maneuver divisions, fighter wings and carrier battlegroups of the 1980s and early ‘90s.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Navy found itself playing critical, but supporting roles in the wars fought there during the first two decades of the 21st Century. Navy SEALs and carrier-based air power were the most visible broadswords of American naval power in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The emphasis shifted from fighting and winning a war at sea against a near-peer naval power to the counterinsurgency and littoral operations inherent to the Global War on Terrorism. Junior officers coming into the service from 2001-2016 were not trained to fight and win a modern war at sea. The culture and priorities of the US Navy was shifting dramatically over a short period. The navy’s focus turned landward and remained there in the absence of a valid naval adversary lurking to seaward. And with this new reality came a cornucopia of new weapon systems, electronics, aircraft, and ship designs aimed at use in a low intensity/counterinsurgency conflict.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Fights For His Political Life

Pakistan’s embattled leader is not giving up without a fight. Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation as a no-confidence vote prepares to make its way through parliament on Sunday. He told Pakistanis he has no intention of leaving office on anyone else’s terms. “I will not resign,” Khan said, invoking a cricket analogy: “I will fight until the last ball.”

Also in the address, Khan blamed the United States, claiming Washington has conspired with opposition parties to remove him from power. Criticism of the US war on terror, US drone attacks against targets in his country and Pakistan’s refusal to allow the US military to stage attacks against targets in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan from the country were cited as the primary reasons for the US to seek his dismissal. Khan also claimed the US is attempting to control Pakistan’s foreign policy.

It is no secret that Washington is dissatisfied with Pakistan’s geopolitical maneuvers in recent months and years. Khan has attempted to reach out to Afghanistan’s new Taliban leaders and establish a rapport that could lay the foundation for a relationship down the line. Under Khan, Pakistan has continued to foster closer ties with China as US-China relations continue to deteriorate.

Khan has also had problems at home. Namely, the cooling relations between him and the military. Although Pakistan’s military is no longer the de facto ruler of the nation, it maintains a powerful presence in domestic politics. Some would even say it continues to control Pakistan from behind the scenes. The fact it now perceives Khan as a possible threat speaks volumes about the vast political instability that exists just beneath the surface in Pakistan.

Author’s Note: Back to Ukraine later this evening or tomorrow, as well as some changes to the blog’s theme and layout. The present setup is only permanent. Once I get some time tomorrow, I’ll work on it.

Last Plane Out

There’s not much left to say. A book closes as America’s twenty year commitment to Afghanistan comes to an inglorious end. For men and women who spent time there in uniform or as government employees, this is moment is bitter. All of that treasure, material, and blood…..twenty years worth…..wasted.

Now begins a new book for the people of Afghanistan, their new leaders and the world. The ramifications of the American exit will be felt for some time. Yet it remains to be seen what form they will take, or what areas of the globe will feel the impact most directly. Thoughts to ponder today and into the near future.


The British evacuation operations at Kabul Airport have come to a close today with the final departure of a flight carrying Afghan civilians. On the ground at the airport, the US is entering the final phase of its own operations before the 31 August withdrawal date. US commanders continue to stress that the probability of another attack on the airport remains considerable following a limited number of US drone strikes that have killed a handful of high-profile ISIS-K members. As of 1430 hours, Eastern time today, over 117,000 people have been evacuated from the country. Of this number, 5,400 are American citizens. The number of US troops currently deployed to the airport is declining as well. There are now 4,000 troops on the ground there, down from a highwater mark of 5,800 reached earlier in the week.

Recent reports from Kabul seem to suggest the Taliban and Turkey are close to reaching an agreement on Kabul airport. Under the proposed agreement, Turkey and Qatar will operate Kabul Airport, with Turkey expected to provide security through a private firm employing mostly ex-Turkish troops. This move is similar to one Turkey executed during the Azerbaijan-Armenia war last year. In exchange for permission to assume responsibility for airport operations, Turkey is expected to formally recognize the Taliban government. This will make Turkey the first nation to extend diplomatic recognition to the Taliban.

In Afghanistan, the Afghan State Bank has ordered all banks to open under an emergency framework intended to solve the liquidity crisis. The long term fate of Afghani banks remains up in the air, however. The Taliban is unlikely to allow interest-based banks to operate as they have been doing for some time. A Sharia-compliant banking system will have to be designed to replace the traditional banking system now in place. The Taliban government has made it clear it wants monetary affairs to be governed by the Sharia laws.

Afghanistan Update: 27 August, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern

After yesterday’s twin suicide bombings that killed 90+ people including 13 US troops, air operations have resumed, and the evacuation is again underway. The operation has reached its final phase with the United States planning to remain until 31 August if necessary. Many other Western nations have brought their operations to a close or will do so by the weekend. Canada, Spain and Germany have both ended evacuation flights. France will halt its operation today. As many nations wind down their respective operations, Turkey is in discussions with the Taliban over the future of Kabul airport once international forces depart. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said his government’s talks have centered on Turkey running the airport. For the short term at least, Kabul’s airport needs to remain operational if Afghanistan’s new leaders are to have a functional relationship with the outside world. Turkish troops and equipment have been a part of NATO’s commitment.

In the United States, the Biden administration is contending with heavy blowback after yesterday’s suicide bombings. President Biden’s handling of the Afghan crisis has come under close scrutiny and received significant criticism from the US public. Last night after Biden addressed the nation he followed up by taking questions from the reporters on hand. Unfortunately, the president started off with a shocking admission: “Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here. The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell from NBC.” That statement ignited a firestorm on social media with many people wanting to know just who is calling the shots at the White House. Biden has long relied on a list of pre-selected reporters, however, yesterday’s admission, coming hours after the deaths of 13 US soldiers struck a decidedly sour note with some. Biden did state last night that the US is committed to completing the evacuation and promised ISIS-K will be targeted in the future.