The Common Defense Newsletter: Volume 1, Issue 2
The Common Defense aims to activate an untapped pool of independent, former senior military leaders, who have the credibility, subject matter expertise, and experience to promote solutions-based analysis on the national security challenges facing our Nation. 

In this issue, Lt. Gen. Robert Elder (USAF - Ret.) highlights the national security benefits of taking a system of systems approach to the Air Force's JSTARS Recapitalization. Next, Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf (USAF - Ret.) has provided The Common Defense with the opportunity to republish his paper, “An urgently practical approach to the Korean Peninsula.” The former Deputy Commander of PACOM makes his case for a “comprehensive, federated strategy” for fundamentally shifting the Korean paradigm and establishing a lasting peace in the region. The paper won Lt. Gen. Leaf the Oslo Forum Peacewriter Prize.   
JSTARS Recap: Mission Effectiveness
Lt. Gen. Robert Elder (USAF - Ret.)
The Department of Defense faces many challenges including an increasingly unpredictable geopolitical environment, continuing fiscal constraints, and the need to be able to respond quickly and decisively to threats to our national security. The USAF is similarly influenced by these factors as it develops its budget and plans the force structure and weapon systems needed to meet national defense needs. 

One weapon system that is high on the USAF priority list is the fielding of the next generation Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2) and Ground Moving Target Indications (GMTI) system called the Joint STARS Recapitalization or JSTARS Recap. The BMC2/GMTI mission is in high-demand from the Combatant Commands (COCOMs) because of the need for forward deployed BMC2/GMTI capability to support operational needs.  

The JSTARS Recap mission is complex, requiring the ability to track hundreds to thousands of targets simultaneously and provide air, sea and ground forces with accurate battlefield intelligence. Being able to Find, Fix, Track, Target and Assess (F2T2A) enemy movements is an area where the USAF has provided an advantage to our forces with the E-8 Joint STARS. 

The E-8 Joint STARS weapon system, built more than 30 years ago, continues to meet this challenge. The original Joint STARS completed its original Development and Operational tests during “Desert Storm” in 1991 and has been deployed in every crisis since then providing invaluable BMC2/GMTI support to COCOMs worldwide. During that period, the E-8 fleet surpassed one-million flight hours with more than 200,000 hours supporting combat operations.  

The E-8C flight rate is three-times what was expected when the aircraft was delivered to the USAF. This high utilization rate and the age of the aircraft has made maintenance and sustainment increasingly expensive, which led the USAF to seek replacement with a more cost-effective and capable medium-size business jet solution that provides at least equal or better mission effectiveness.

Recent articles have focused significant attention on the different aircraft in the competition but little on the mission effectiveness of the primary mission system or the cost of operating the different platforms—the most important elements of this Recap program. Additionally, there has been talk of the potential benefits of commonality. Commonality has merit, but there is clearly more to be gained from mission equipment commonality (10 operators) than aircraft commonality (2 pilots).

The Air Force’s stated goal for this program is to save operations and maintenance costs for the Ground BMC2/Surveillance mission, reduce personnel cost by leveraging technology to conduct the mission with a crew of ten operators, and improve mission performance through use of new technologies. If history repeats itself, electronics miniaturization and advanced software will lead to future weight and crew size reductions.  The Air Force took a wise approach when it optimized the requirements for the current JSTARS mission and right-sized the crew complement.

To summarize, the right sized total weapon system is not an airplane, but a system of systems—aircraft, sensors, and BMC2 mission equipment--fully integrated to provide real time, accurate targeting information to warfighters. In the case of JSTARS Recap, this complex integration of system components includes an advanced BMC2/GMTI suite with proven advanced automation tools to track thousands of targets simultaneously, reduced manpower requirements; a modern, high-performing, near all-weather radar capable of accurate tracking/targeting; a robust communications system, and the capability to rapidly reprogram the systems and insert new technologies as they become available. 

From my own experience flying the E-8C BMC2 system, the higher the JSTARS Recap can fly, the better: Higher altitudes allow the radar to see further and identify masked enemy combatants in complex mountainous terrain, which is the case with many of the countries that threaten US interests. Higher altitude allows greater stand-off ranges for survivability as well. 

Another benefit of JSTARS Recap is the ability to rapidly deploy worldwide, with greater unrefueled ranges, and the capability to land at many more NATO approved runways than the E-8C allows to gain immediate access to the mission area and obtain more  efficient use of the mission system.  This offers a huge operational advantage to the warfighter.

In a time of increased global instability and constrained resources, the JSTARS Recap acquisition program has rightly focused on the total mission package, not just the airplane. The best choice for the JSTARS Recap weapon system will be the one that provides the USAF maximum mission effectiveness and mission flexibility, proven BMC2/GMTI capabilities, and lowest total cost of ownership. We owe the best possible JSTARS Recap to our warfighters in the air and on the ground.

An Urgently Practical Approach To The Korean Peninsula 
Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf  (USAF- Ret.)
This paper was originally published by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue

The dynastic Kim family regime in North Korea survives because of the notion that the  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) stands alone. The simple rationale that guides all  the actions of the leaders of the government of North Korea and ensures the servitude of its  citizens is that the whole world is out to get them, partly out of jealousy and partly from flawed  ideology. Given conditions in the North, that seems ludicrous, even crazy, to outside observers.  The North Korean people and leaders have evolved into caricatures because of individual and  collective behaviour that is far outside the norm. However, there is a rationale here, not insanity.  If Albert Einstein was correct and “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and  expecting different results”, then North Korean leaders are anything but insane. They have  engaged in a long cycle of provocation, sanction, negotiation, agreement, and regression that, in  its repetition, has achieved two key goals: maintaining the myth among their population that the  world is against them and only the regime protects the North Korean people, and gaining  attention and concessions from the world community. That is not crazy. Insanity would be to  expect that the failed approach of holding progress in any area with North Korea hostage to  denuclearisation can succeed.

Of all the security challenges facing the world in 2017, it is difficult to find one more complex,
vexing and important than the situation in the Korean Peninsula. A remnant of the Cold War, the
standoff embodies the complexity of modern conflict. The Republic of Korea’s (ROK’s) democratic  government and the Kim Jong-un regime in the DPRK are, in essence, two sects, with ages-old  tensions between them exacerbated by rapid development in the south and equally fast  regression north of their tense border. China’s increasingly assertive role in regional and global  affairs, combined with the unknowns which attend a new US administration’s evolving approach  to regional security, further complicate matters and take them well beyond a simple Cold War  standoff.
"Of all the security challenges facing the world in 2017, it is difficult to find one more complex,  vexing and important than the situation in the Korean Peninsula."

On that uncertain footing, events are forcing the Koreas to the front page. In South Korea,  President Park Geun-hye was forced from office by scandal and newly-elected Moon Jae-in has  indicated he will return to the ‘Sunshine Policy’ of direct engagement with the North. The DPRK  government allegedly assassinated the half-brother of its leader using VX nerve agent. Days later,  tensions rose again when the North fired four medium range missiles into the sea within 200  miles of Japan. The US responded by accelerating deployment of the first components of the  Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea. That move was  heavily criticised by China, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying that “the two sides are like two  accelerating trains coming towards each other”, and asking whether both are “really ready for a  head-on collision?"* Reports that a punitive strike is under consideration by the US, coupled with  North Korea’s words and deeds, seem to validate Wang Yi’s assessment.

These events might seem like a continuation of the decades-long cycle of tension. A recent report
on the DPRK missile launch began: “It’s that time of year again; North Korea usually registers its
displeasure over the annual US-South Korean military exercises with some show of force…”**  Given that there has not been a major renewal of conflict since the armistice was signed in 1953,  is this in fact simply more of the same? Or is there an urgent need to modify the assumptions  and approaches associated with achieving lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula?

* Ben Wescott, “US and North Korea set for 'head-on collision', China warns”,, (8 March
2017), available at
** Margaret Hartmann, “North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles Into Japanese Waters”, New York Magazine,
(6 March 2017), available at

To read the paper in its entirety, please visit this link 
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