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  • Admiral Roughead Speaks

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on November 6th, 2015 (All posts by )

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    Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations 2007-2011, recently spoke to our organization. A U.S Naval Academy graduate, he was one of only two officers in the US Navy to have commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He’s currently on the board of directors of both Northrup Grumman Corp and The Center for a New American Security. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. I paraphrase some of his remarks below.

    A Wilderness of Disorder

      Clearly the old order we grew up with is rapidly disappearing. I use that in the Shakespearean sense, where the wilderness is this multitude, this mass of uncertainty that really surrounds us. That’s the period we’re in. And I do think Europe today, NATO today, epitomizes that. If you look at the structure of NATO it has started to parse into many different groups. If you’re in the East, the threat is Russia. If you’re in the South, it’s North Africa and the Middle East. If you’re in the West, Russia and the Middle East are, well, other people’s problems.

    The Narrative

      We’re in a time when we place a higher value on ‘The Narrative’ than we do on the substance of a problem. The idea is that if we get the narrative right, we’ve got it right; when in point of fact it is the underlying substance that is important.

    A Changing Landscape in Asia

      I’m not of a mind that China’s had it’s run and now it’s into a different phase. I think we’re going to see them work very hard with a very centralized approach to weather some of their economic issues. As China looks to the future, it has a strategy that has an economic underpinning and a military underpinning. At its heart is the “Belt and Road” initiative which consists of a Maritime Belt around the Indian Ocean, a Silk Road across Asia, and the Asia Development Bank. It a very interesting strategy that will press China deep into the heart of Asia.

      Russia finds itself in a partnership with China that is historically inconsistent. China has been a strategic competitor of Russia, and Russia will soon find itself the junior in that relationship.

      The associations and relations we have in Asia are going to be hugely important.

      India, Japan and China will be pressing into space in a very big way. We need to think about the business and strategic effects of that.

      Asia has found the submarine. We are going to see a proliferation of submarines and unmanned undersea systems there unlike anywhere else.

    Our Focus is Too Close

      We tend in think in terms of the next budget, what’s in the news, what’s capturing our attention at the moment. We need to spend more time thinking about the patterns of life, about what the drivers are and how they span a generation or perhaps two generations.

      We are in a time when actions are more event driven than strategy driven. This is partly driven by the explosion of information availability, people now have instantaneous access to information that was once the purview of the elite. It has shortened the deliberation time leaders have before judgement is delivered from the public domain. It is forcing a compression of events. We need to act less hastily and think more.

      Because of this information space we now exist in, we have gotten away from being able to thoughtfully assess whether something is an existential threat, or a vital threat, or perhaps not even a threat. But because of this flood of information, we have now begun to associate violence somewhere with a threat, which is not always the case.

    He also touched on many other subjects including: the declining performance of our schools and toll that will take on our entire society, the loss of boundaries between the personal and the public and the corrosive effect that is having on our society, the rise of political and religious extremism, our loss of leadership in nuclear power development, the need to develop directed energy weapons, the increasing importance of unmanned vehicles, and the desperate need we have to develop cyber-warfare and cyber-defense capabilities.

    Admiral Roughhead gave me the impression of someone intelligent, thoughtful, and someone aware of the questions that need to be asked but not sure of the answers.

     

    9 Responses to “Admiral Roughead Speaks”

    1. PenGun Says:

      “This is partly driven by the explosion of information availability, people now have instantaneous access to information that was once the purview of the elite. It has shortened the deliberation time leaders have before judgement is delivered from the public domain.”

      This is, of course, the reason behind so much of what confuses you lot, and why so many people are so hard to convince of the insane crap, that you used to run your philosophy of control with. It will only get worse.

      The fact that most of human knowledge is available to anyone is a massive game changer.

    2. Mike K Says:

      “We need to spend more time thinking about the patterns of life, about what the drivers are and how they span a generation or perhaps two generations.”

      This is an old criticism that went “Russia plays chess and America plays poker, where we get a new deal after every hand.”

      I’m not sure how true that is about China. They have made terrible errors in short term thinking, such as “The Great Leap Forward,” “The Cultural Revolution,” the killing of millions of birds and the One Child Policy.

      The resident troll, as usual, adds nothing.

    3. Anonymous Says:

      “The resident troll, as usual, adds nothing.”

      Could not have said it better myself.

    4. Mike K Says:

      In and area where I know very little, this is now available and I hope somebody more knowledgeable than I will do a post on this.

      The one small area that I know a little about is medicine and this seems worrisome.

      There are also, as expected, serious problems for affordable medicine and healthcare, privacy, surveillance and more.

      I looked at the section and could find no obvious problem but others know much more.

    5. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I amused my own self a while ago by assembling a collection of our resident troll’s various comments, and five minutes of trying to make sense of those few of his revealed biographical details … which were amusingly contradictory. Frankly, I think s/he is a thirty-something member of the douchiose living in a high-rise in some big city, rather than a sixty-plus black-sheep Brit emigre,computer-nerd, motorbike-gang handing-on, garbage-truck driving, friend of the bears Ninja warrior.

      He made a sensible, on-point and knowledgeable comment a couple of months ago. Forget the topic of the moment, but it was there. Your average blind squirrel does find a nut, now and again. (Figure of speech, Penny — not a statement of fact.)

    6. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      One more thing I’ll add, I think Admiral Roughead (retired) would make a good national security advisor or a good secretary of defense.

    7. Grurray Says:

      “Russia finds itself in a partnership with China that is historically inconsistent. China has been a strategic competitor of Russia, and Russia will soon find itself the junior in that relationship.”

      I agree with this. This relationship has always been one-sided.
      The energy deal that Russia signed with China earlier in the year that was supposed to make Western sanctions irrelevant is starting to hurt the Russians now that the price of natural gas has tanked. The Chinese will continue to squeeze the desperate Russians.

      “In and area where I know very little, this is now available and I hope somebody more knowledgeable than I will do a post on this.”

      Mike K, looks like the link doesn’t work. Can you explain further?

    8. vxxc2014 Says:

      Why look for problems overseas when there are such problems at home?

      Including all the trouble you want and more.

    9. Mike K Says:

      “looks like the link doesn’t work. ”

      It went to a piece on the TPP and a section that was including medicine. Now, I can’t remember where it was.