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Mr. Rogers said the Pentagon’s decision to cancel deployment in Europe of the SM-3 IIB advanced missile-defense interceptor, which was opposed by Moscow, sends a signal of U.S. weakness.

The cancellation, announced Friday, is “unambiguously another concession” to the Russians on missile defense, similar to the 2009 decision to abandon deployment in Europe of more powerful ground-based interceptors that Russia also opposed.

Mr. Rogers said the decision on the SM-3 IIB came weeks before the administration’s defense budget submission to Congress and also prior to the upcoming visit to Moscow by National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon, who is said to be seeking to gauge Moscow’s willingness to engage in a new round of strategic arms cuts.

Russia has been violently opposed to our missile defenses, specifically the Phase IV development of the SM-3 block IIB missile, almost since you announced it,” Mr. Rogers said in his letter.

“Indeed, Russia’s Chief of its General Staff Col. Gen. [Nikolai] Makarov, threatened to attack U.S. missile defenses in Europe. And now, your administration has terminated the SM-3 IIB, just as the Russians demanded.”

Mr. Rogers added that new arms talks are being sought despite “ongoing and significant concerns about Russian arms control compliance.” He did not elaborate. Mr. Rogers said he believes presidential advisers are urging Mr. Obama to announce a new push for deeper strategic nuclear cuts on the upcoming fourth anniversary of his April 5, 2009, speech in the Czech Republic capital Prague where he called for eliminating all nuclear weapons.

McMaster on war

Army Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a combat veteran of two Iraq wars and current commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, provided some candid assessments of U.S. military doctrine during a speech in Washington on Wednesday.

Gen. McMaster is the closest thing in the Army to a policy rock star and is regarded as an outspoken and innovative strategic thinker.

Some of the comments by the two-star general during a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies sounded indirectly critical of past U.S. military efforts in Iraq and current efforts in Afghanistan.

Gen. McMaster criticized what he termed the “raiding mentality” among some military strategists who argue that bombing or special operations forces will win wars fast and cheap, calling it “a fundamental unrealistic expectation.”

Another “wrong lesson” of the past 12 years of warfare is the exaggerated benefit of using proxy military or security forces, Gen. McMaster said.

In Iraq, the U.S. military built up Iraqi police and security forces and later found that the Iraqis were “largely captured by Shia Islamist militias that were to some degree under the direction of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran,” Gen. McMaster said.

Some U.S.-trained Iraqis were involved in ethnic-cleansing campaigns against opponents, while other Iraqi forces defected and joined al Qaeda, he said. In Afghanistan, some U.S.-trained Afghan security forces were taken over by local criminal networks, Gen. McMaster said.