Today's 5 NatSec Things, January 29 2018 - Issue #22

Revue
 
Today's things: US to build more rockets; Kabul bombing; back Ankara already; US carrier to 'nam; Chi
 
January 29 · Issue #22 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: US to build more rockets; Kabul bombing; back Ankara already; US carrier to ‘nam; Chinese base in A'stan?
Mandatory Monday notation or something: I’ve consciously made this a newsletter instead of a daily blog post because I like to think if you’re willing to sign up for something that ends up in your inbox, you’re probably gonna read it. 
So, thank you for the privilege of stomping through all the other things that end up here. I’m having a blast writing this every weekday, and I hope you’re enjoying what you read. One of the things I like about how Revue is set up is that it makes it stupid easy to send me feedback. 
Here’s the thing…if you hit that thumb up/down button? Drop me a note. Let me know what’s working/what’s not. And if you like it, or even if you don’t but know someone who would, send it along to someone else. 
And as always, thanks for reading!

Air Force wants its own (rocket) booster seat
For a minute there it looked like the space race might have turned a corner, what with Russian rockets putting other nation’s astronauts and supplies into space. So we weren’t talking about DC vs. Moscow anymore, but humanity against the vacuum of space and the shared challenge of the final frontier. Finally Roddenberry’s vision could be realized, although with maybe a little less Shatner. 
Except that what happens on earth affects what happens in space, and since things with Russia have been getting tense for a couple minutes now, the Americans are rethinking a relationship where the US relies on Russian rockets to get shit into orbit. Given the necessity of space based platforms to US goals, this isn’t a bad idea. Well, except for maybe humans.
Not to get all Independence Day here (the first one, kids…don’t even talk to me about that Hemsworth abomination)  but until we manage to stop thinking about borders as barriers to cooperation, we’re never going to move forward in meaningful ways as a species. 
Sure, there’s tablets and touchscreens and AI that can teach itself, but it’s all still happening under different flags. 
And until that flag is just a big ol’ globe, nothing really changes.
Today's nomination for "Worst use of an ambulance in Kabul" Today's nomination for "Worst use of an ambulance in Kabul"
Taliban packed an ambulance full of things that go boom on Saturday. Then they drove it past a checkpoint into a part of Kabul with some embassies and a once-popular-with-expats Chicken Street shopping area. 
And set it off. 
So far the death toll is 100+, with another 100 and something wounded. 
I’m not being glib with numbers, it’s just that the numbers keep climbing. It’s one of the worst attacks yet in the Emerald City, and it doesn’t help the US narrative that the Americans are winning the war. 
Unless this is in response to increased pressure thanks to US airpower to places that aren’t Kabul. In which case the Boys from Balochistan need to keep their brand in the headlines. 
Keep making the point that they’re viable. 
That they’re really winning this thing even when they’re having their asses handed to them thanks to American pilots. 
Regardless…this kills me. I know people in Kabul. People I worry about. 
People that have to live with the threat of exploding ambulances. 
This is not what winning looks like. 
Stavridis and his January Turkey recipe
I keep tossing op-eds into this thing against my better judgment. Because I’m not super keen on parroting other people’s analytical pablum. 
Since that analysis (like all analysis) is someone’s best guess and they haven’t done their homework. 
Not so with Stavridis. This is a man who’s got the bona fides to explain a lot of stuff to us simple folk. And here he’s talking about all the reasons the Americans need to back Turkey’s play in Syria. 
No matter how much the US wants to side-hug the Kurds. 
Because the Americans are never going to commit to backing the Kurds. 
And in the long term scheme of things, having Turkey as a valued ally is better for the US than supporting the Kurds. For a lot of reasons, to include the role Turkish forces and soil play in thinking about what the US and NATO may have to do if the current slapfest with Moscow turns into a shooting war. 
Prepping for 'nam deployment, carrier crews practice pushing helos into the water
The US is planning to send an aircraft carrier back to Vietnam. Hopefully the visit goes better than the last time a carrier was offshore there. Since back then there was a whole lot of pushing helicopters off the decks into the ocean and cramming refugees on board. 
A carrier deployment to any country is symbolic of cooperation, and a message to the rest of the region that the US and Vietnam are probably playing on the same team if things get weird. 
And by “weird,” I mean if China opts to take its current expansion plans more seriously. And if the US opts to respond with more than a sternly worded letter. 
It’s a smart move that doesn’t commit either party to anything. Sure, you stay the night in the harbor, your sailors come ashore. And all the other boats that go along with a carrier deployment put their sailors ashore, too. 
But it’s not like Hanoi’s signing defense contracts or agreements with DC. Which visits like this are a prelude to, and now that Hanoi can legally buy American guns, call this a little incentive. 
China to world: Nope, no base in Afghanistan...no, really...no
The official Chinese response to report on pretty much everything is to look surprised, act concerned, then deny, deny, deny. I’m sure it says something else in Mandarin. But since I don’t speak the Mandarin, we’ll go with this. 
Beijing’s got an interest in Afghanistan what with its borders and a terrorist organization or two made up of the Uyghr ethinc minority be-bopping in the region. There have been reports of Chinese military patrols in Afghanistan that as a matter of course Beijing has denied, but the photographs seem real enough. Of course, I think Bigfoot exists, so I’m not the best judge of photographic accuracy. 
Now there are rumors that the Chinese are planning to take their incursions to the next level by building a base in the graveyard of international cooperation. 
Probably true(ish), as the Chinese lose nothing by doing so, and gain a measure of security that’s worth taking the risk of whatever international ire a base could raise. 
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