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Welcome to another issue of SEA STATE!

NEWS THIS WEEK:

“India’s Top Military General Dies in Helicopter Crash” (NYT): On December 8th, General Bipin Rawat, India’s highest-ranking military officer, died in a helicopter crash in the southern state of Tamil Nadu along with his wife and 11 others. General Rawat served as the Chief of Defense Staff (India’s equivalent of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) since 2019 and was leading efforts to modernize India’s armed forces while facing threats along its borders with Pakistan and China. General Rawat was traveling to the Defense Services Staff College to address faculty and staff when the helicopter crashed. During his tenure as Chief of Defense Staff, General Rawat faced challenges as India’s economy slowed, and set out a plan to unify different branches of the armed forces to avoid duplication of resources.

“U.K. Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited to U.S.” (NYT): On Friday, a British court ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the U.S. where he faces the possibility of decades in prison if convicted under the Espionage Act. The Biden administration has continued an effort to seek the extradition of Mr. Assange, originally initiated under the Trump administration. The case is expected to be appealed to Britain's Supreme Court. Mr. Assange, at a minimum, is a highly controversial figure within American defense circles. An extradition of Mr. Assange would launch a significant Constitutional battle in the U.S. where many support his innocence under First Amendment rights.

IN DEFENSE NEWS

“House Passes $768 Billion Defense Policy Bill” (NYT):The House of Representatives greatly increased military spending with bipartisan support, with many supporters touting the bill as necessary to counter China and Russia. The bill will also remove the authority to oversee serious crimes, such as sexual assault, from commanders. Several proposed elements of the bill were eventually dropped, such as requiring women to register for the Selective Service System and repealing the law authorizing the invasion of Iraq, which has been used to justify other conflicts. The bill’s passage will impact the daily lives of every military member, from broad strategic goals to necessities like wages and legal protection.

“Navy Halts Hawaii Fuel Tank Operations During Investigation” (AP): The Navy has temporarily shut down several fuel storage tanks, which are situated over an aquifer in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, while it conducts an investigation into how petroleum got into the local tap water. An investigation was opened when nearly 1,000 military households located on Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam reported that their tap water smelled of fuel with many reporting various sickness symptoms after consuming the water. The Navy’s water system provides water for approximately 93,000 people in and around Pearl Harbor and when the potential fuel leakage was reported, state officials ordered the Navy to “pause operations, treat contaminated drinking water, and safely defuel… underground storage tanks.”

While the Navy has been in compliance with these demands, they have also contested Hawaii state orders that the “suspension remain in effect until independent evaluators can ensure that appropriate actions are taken to protect drinking water.” This scenario offers a unique perspective on an issue of civil-military affairs, where the interests of the public (to have clean drinking water) have to be balanced with those of the Navy, which requires a large supply of fuel to carry out its increased operations in the Pacific and is unwilling to rescind its control of determining the duration of the fuel tanks’ suspension.

“U.S.-led troops end Iraq combat mission, as planned - military officials” (Reuters): On Thursday, Iraqi and American officials announced that all U.S.-led forces in the country have transitioned to a training and advisory role. About 2,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, and that number will remain largely unchanged, as most currently stationed there already fill advisory positions. The U.S. originally deployed troops to Iraq in 2014 with the mission of defeating the Islamic State (IS). Since 2017, IS activity in Iraq has consisted mostly of low-level insurgency. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have communicated that they are now capable of handling the IS threat, and U.S. coalition commander Major General John Brennan affirmed, “We will remain here to advise, assist, and enable the ISF at the invitation of Republic of Iraq.” Although the dynamic between U.S. and Iraqi forces is practically unchanged, the announcement represents a diplomatic proceeding that fulfills President Biden’s agreement in July to end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by December 2021.

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BOOK REVIEW

How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions by Susan Eisenhower (2020)

As one of the most respected figures in American military history, Dwight Eisenhower has no shortage of historical material written about him. This book, written by his granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, is uniquely structured not as a chronological biography but rather as a collection of major episodes from Ike’s life that defined him as a leader. Although President Eisenhower is a leader of another era and of another service, officers in the sea services have much to learn from the simplicity of President Eisenhower’s leadership style.

This book’s utility is demonstrated by how the author frames the challenges that General and President Eisenhower faced. They were not merely tactical or even strategic challenges that defined Eisenhower’s career, but more importantly, it was interpersonal issues that Eisenhower overcame. One of the most insightful lessons came from the recounting of President Eisenhower’s conflicts with Senator Joseph McCarthy. While criticized at the time for not more publicly denouncing Sen. McCarthy, Eisenhower’s genius is revealed through letters and diary entries that show Eisenhower’s refusal to stoke McCarthy’s flames by contributing to the vitriol. In a hyper-partisan era, leaders of all ranks can learn from this example of refusing to play into division and partisan rhetoric.

The book focuses primarily on Eisenhower’s experiences as the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and as President of the United States, so the vignettes from the book may seem distant from the day-to-day concerns of junior officers. Nonetheless, How Ike Led is a robust primer on fundamental leadership skills that will benefit JOs throughout their careers.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as the mountains.”

— Daniel Webster

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This issue of SEA STATE was written and edited by Sam Lick, Lauren Hickey, Emma Quinn, Yash Khatavkar, Nick Romanow, Sarah Claudy, Viraj Patel, and Christian Hoffman.

SEA STATE is not affiliated with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or the Department of Defense. All views expressed or shared in this newsletter are the authors’ own and not necessarily endorsed by the U.S. government or any military entity.

Copyright (C) 2021 Sea State News. All rights reserved.

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