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Pentagon rethinking how to concentrate on China by arraying forces

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Pentagon rethinking how to concentrate on China by arraying forces

 

As it rethinks the positioning of military powers around the world, the Biden administration faces a conundrum: how to concentrate more on China and Russia without withdrawing from long-standing Mideast challenges and to make this change with potentially leaner Pentagon budgets.

A month-long “global posture” analysis was ordered by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin just days after taking office. It will determine how the U.S. can better organise and sustain its far-flung network of forces, arms, bases, and alliances to improve the foreign policy of President Joe Biden.

The analysis is part of the administration’s attempt to map a course for an army still trapped in decades-old wars in the Mideast, facing flat or shrinking budgets, and struggling with internal concerns such as racism and extremism.

Its result may have a lasting effect on the first priority of the military: ensuring that it is ready for combat in an age of unpredictable control of weapons. Links with allies and partners are also at stake, undermined in several cases by the “America first” approach to diplomacy by the Trump administration.

The analysis by Austin is closely linked to a pending administration decision on whether to fulfil the pledge made by the previous administration to withdraw entirely from Afghanistan this spring. And it advances separately from big-dollar concerns regarding the modernization of the nuclear strategic force.

Like the Trump administration, Biden’s national security team sees China as the No. 1 long-term security threat, not militant extremists like al-Qaida or the Islamic State group. Biden sees great importance in U.S. contributions to European nations in the NATO alliance, unlike his predecessor.

That could lead to major shifts in the U.S. military “footprint” in the Middle East, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, albeit with limited success such changes have previously been attempted. For instance, the Trump administration felt compelled to send thousands of additional air and naval forces to the Persian Gulf region in 2019 in an attempt to deter what it called regional stability threats. In recent days, with violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Biden has seen reminders of this issue.

It may also mean supporting Biden’s recent attempts by military commanders to look for creative ways to deploy forces unattached to permanent bases that bear political, financial and security costs. A recent example was a visit to a Vietnamese port by a U.S. aircraft carrier. Commanders see value in deploying forces on less predictable cycles in smaller groups to keep China off track.

Before Biden took office, signs of reform were surfacing.

In December, Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke of his own view that the rethinking of old forms of organising and positioning forces is argued for by technical and geopolitical change.

U.S. forces’ very survival will rely on adjusting to China’s growth, the dissemination of technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics, and the advent of unconventional challenges such as pandemics and climate change, Milley said.

“In the future, smaller ones would be ideal. He told a Washington conference that a small force that is almost invisible and undetectable, that is in a constant state of movement, and is widely dispersed, will be a force that is survivable. “If you’re dead, you’re not going to achieve any goals.”

Last month, Austin made a comparable, narrower argument about the positioning of U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific.

“In response to China’s counter-intervention capabilities and approaches, supported by new operational concepts, there is no question that we need a more resilient and distributed force posture in the Indo-Pacific,” Austin wrote in response to Senate questions raised in advance of his confirmation hearing.

Also, Austin noted his concern about competing in the Arctic with Russia.

“This is rapidly becoming a region of geopolitical competition, and I have serious concerns in the Arctic and around the world about the Russian military build-up and aggressive behaviour,” he wrote. “Similarly, I am profoundly concerned about China’s intentions in the region.”

That’s not arguing for leaving massive U.S. military centres overseas. However, it indicates more focus on the deployment of smaller groups of troops to nontraditional destinations on shorter rotations.

This change is underway already.

As part of an intensified emphasis on the High North, the Army, for instance, is building what it calls a “Arctic-capable brigade” of soldiers. As great powers fight for natural resources that are more available as ice packs recede, that region is seen as a potential flashpoint. Similarly, for the first time, the Air Force is sending B-1 long-range bombers to Norway, Russia’s NATO ally and neighbour.

China sees itself as an Arctic country, but its increasing assertiveness in Asia and the Pacific is the key U.S. concern for Beijing. China, in the U.S. view, tries to create military power to discourage or block any U.S. attempt to interfere in Taiwan, the semi-autonomous democracy that Beijing sees as a renegade province that must inevitably return to the communist fold.

This month, a Council on Foreign Relations study called Taiwan the most probable trigger for a war between the U.S. and China, a possibility with dire human implications that it said “should worry the Biden team.”

The study said, “Millions of Americans could die in the first war in human history between two states with nuclear weapons.”

Washington also mentions concern about China’s attempts to modernise and eventually extend its nuclear arsenal while refusing to engage in any talks on international nuclear arms control.

During the Obama administration, the sharpened emphasis on China began. The Trump administration went further by officially announcing that the top threats to U.S. national security were China and Russia, not global terrorism.

Some are now wondering whether this move went too far.

In an interview, Christopher Miller, who served as Secretary of Defense for the final two months of Donald Trump’s presidency, said he believed that China was a key threat to national security. But he said U.S. commanders elsewhere in the world told him that the emphasis on China was costing them the money they needed.

“So I felt it was time to rethink this and make sure we had no unintended effects,” Miller said.

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Avalanche defenseman Sam Girard ruled out with injury against Vegas Golden Knights

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Avalanche defenseman Sam Girard not practicing. He was checked into the boards by Steven Stamkos in overtime at Tampa Bay

Avalanche defenseman Sam Girard will miss at least one game resulting from an awkward check into the boards on Saturday from Lightning captain Steven Stamkos.

Coach Jared Bednar confirmed that Girard won’t be available on Tuesday when Colorado hosts the Vegas Knights at Ball Arena. He is still considered “day-to-day” for return with an upper-body injury.

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New Christmas movie drive-in at Red Rocks to screen favs from “Love Actually” to “Die Hard”

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New Christmas movie drive-in at Red Rocks to screen favs from “Love Actually” to “Die Hard”

The continuing, sold-out success of Denver Film’s annual Film on the Rocks series at Red Rocks Amphitheatre has now birthed a sibling.

Film on the Rocks: Holiday Drive-In Series kicks off Friday, Nov. 25, with a baker’s dozen of crowd-pleasing films that tap our nostalgia and seasonal sentimentality, such as “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Love Actually,” “Gremlins” and “Die Hard.”

Tickets cost $59.50 per car, per film, and will include a movie-themed snack pack. Passes are on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 29 via redrocksonline.com.

Like the warm-weather Film on the Rocks, the outdoor series — not to be confused with the Holiday Twin drive-in in Fort Collins — is set against the majestic natural backdrop of the famous amphitheater. As with summer 2020, it’s taking place in the parking lot and not in the seated amphitheater. (Although it’s easy to see people sitting happily in the snow for a couple of hours at Red Rocks, given that this is Colorado.)

“For more than two decades, Film on the Rocks has been delivering memorable summer traditions and experiences to our audiences,” said Kevin Smith, chief marketing officer for Denver Film, in a press statement. “Beginning this year, we’re excited to join our partners at Denver Arts & Venues to extend that experience and help create some stand-out winter memories for thousands of our guests around some of their favorite holiday films.”

Programmers will screen 13 “all-time holiday classics, including a season cartoon before each feature film,” according to the press statement. The program in partnership with Red Rocks owner and city agency Denver Arts & Venues, runs weekends through Dec. 12. It also kicks off just a couple of weeks after the finale of Denver Film’s 44th Denver Film Festival.

Holiday Drive-In movies will be presented on a 48-foot by 28-foot LED screen in the Red Rocks Lower South Lot 2 parking area, with sound delivered through a designated FM radio frequency. Guests are required to remain inside their vehicles for the duration of the events, organizers said, with gates opening an hour before the show with a 350-vehicle capacity.

Here’s the full lineup:

“Planes, Trains & Automobiles” — 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” — 8 p.m. Friday, Nov 26

“Polar Express” — 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27

“Die Hard” — 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27

“Home Alone” — 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28

 “Gremlins” — 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3

“Jingle All the Way” — 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4

“Batman Returns” — 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5

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Recipes: What to do with all those apples

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Recipes: What to do with all those apples

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

I went apple picking last weekend, along with about a million other people in the New York metro area. Is it me, or does recreational apple picking just continue to surge year over year as a fall activity? Some people are not into it, which I get, and yes, cynically speaking, it’s an excellent flannel-clad Instagram moment. But I’ve done it for years, and, for my small kids who live nowhere near a farm, it’s a very clear moment of connection: Fruit comes from trees!

There is one problem, though, which is that I somehow thought bringing home a half-bushel of apples was reasonable. It was not. So far I have baked one pie and dispensed apples to everyone in my home every day, and we have barely made a dent in the pyramid of fruit that now stands in my kitchen. Maybe you’re in this situation, too.

And so I’ve got a few ideas below for how to use them up at dinner. You could also make applesauce, apple butter or apple jelly. You could put them in muffins, crumbles and cakes. You could layer them in sandwiches. You could roast them with sausages or toss them into kale salad. You could serve them with sourdough pancakes or a Dutch baby.

1. Sheet-Pan Chicken With Apple, Fennel and Onion

Con Poulos, The New York Times

Sheet-pan chicken with apple, fennel and onion in New York on Sept. 27, 2018. This ultra-simple five-star recipe from Colu Henry matches chicken thighs with tart apple, which sweetens in the oven. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Chicken thighs are roasted with classic fall ingredients for a quick, flavorful sheet-pan supper. The toasted fennel seeds subtly amplify the anise flavor of the roasted fennel and play nicely with the apples and onions. Look for an apple on the tart side as it will naturally sweeten as it cooks in the oven. If you want to use bone-in chicken breasts you can, just make sure to cut the cooking time by a few minutes so they don’t dry out. Serve with a bright, bitter green salad flecked with blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

By: Colu Henry

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, tough outer leaves removed, cored and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tart apple, such as Mutsu (Crispin) or Granny Smith, halved, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • Flaky salt, for serving

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a small skillet, toast the fennel seeds over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pound into a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle or, alternatively, roughly chop. In a large bowl, toss together the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the fennel seeds and season well with salt and pepper.

2. Place the onion, fennel and apple slices on the sheet pan. Toss with the remaining olive oil and season well with salt. Spread in an even layer. Add the chicken skin side up on top of the vegetables and lay the rosemary (distributing evenly) on top of the chicken. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the onions, fennel and apples are softened and have begun to caramelize at the edge of the pan.

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