Friday, December 21, 2018

Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea by Robert Collins

Let me say that anyone who will work in north Korea with the Korean people outside of Pyongyang must read this report.  If you are going to be inspecting nuclear sites or conducting remains recovery operations or conducting operations after conflict or after regime collapse you should read this report and take it with you when you deploy (but only if the Kim family regime is no longer in power - do not take it to north Korea under any circumstances while Kim Jong-un and the regime remain in power).   Every Special Operations soldier - SF, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations - should commit this to memory.  Every NGO and aid worker should commit this memory.  Anyone planning operations in the human domain in  north Korea should commit this to memory.  And anyone who wishes to help the Republic of Korea achieve unification ( A United Republic of Korea (UROK)) should read this report as it will provide insight and assistance on how to overcome the indoctrination and reintegrate the Korean people living in the north back into the real world.  I hope that the ROK Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Unification and the Korean Institute of National Unification will translate this into Korea so Korean soldiers and Korean NGOs can benefit from the tremendous research that went into writing this report. 

Below the summary are some excerpts of my remarks I provided at the National Press Club when Robert Collins' report was presented by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.  I will try to revise my remarks and write a review of the report.  But until then please know that I strongly recommend this report.

Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea is a comprehensive study of how North Korea’s Kim regime denies human rights for each and every citizen of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In doing so, this report examines human rights denial policies and practices. Local institutions are responsible for this denial at the schools, housing units, workplaces, and beyond. To justify this political approach towards shaping North Korean society, the North’s Party-state specifically focuses on loyalty to North Korea’s Supreme Leader and the KWP by incorporating regime-centered ideology into every fabric of socio-political life through these local institutions.  

Along with his previous seminal works Marked for Life (Songbun) and Pyongyang Republic, this trilogy forms the basis for understanding the human domain in the north and for the necessary area studies that must be conducted by everyone engaged in NGO work in the north, those who might have to conduct military operations, the intelligence community that is charged with making sense of what is happening inside the north and negotiators who not only must consider the nuclear threats but also the human rights abuses as part of a holistic negotiations strategy.  I especially recommend this to journalists who need to understand what life is like and how human rights are denied in north Korea so that they can accurately write about the conditions and horrors that are commonly experienced by so many Koreans living in the north every single day of their lives.

The penultimate point I would like to make is that this report lays out all the human rights violations of the regime.  They are so numerous.  But one crime really stands out to me that is perhaps the most egregious of all.  The basic family unit and structure is what is most under attack by the Party-state.  The fact that the Korean people in the north, children and parents alike, cannot enjoy the wonders, the love, and the protection of family surely has to be a crime against humanity.  It saddens me that these words are in one of the most popular children’s songs:

Our Father is Marshal Kim Il-sung
Our home is the bosom of the party
We are one big family
We have nothing to envy in the whole wide world.

Finally, A key question for all of us is when the Korean people in the north are freed how will a United Republic of Korea undo the indoctrination of the Korean people that has occurred over the past 70 years.  This report will contribute to the search for the ways to do that.

Yes, I am thinking beyond the Kim family regime.  My pessimistic assessment is that there will be no end to the nuclear program nor the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity by what we know as the mafia-like crime family cult called the Kim family regime until there is a unified Korea.  The Republic of Korea needs to prepare for the future of a United Republic of Korea and one of the most critical aspects of that preparation is understanding the plight of the 25 million Koreans living in the north.  This report makes a critical contribution to that understanding.  I commend it to every person who thinks about the Korea question.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?

Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?

David Maxwell

It pained me to read the latest issue of the USASOC Historian Office's publication Veritas and it pains me even more to have to write these words.  You might not be familiar with Veritas because it is not published on line, only in an expensive high gloss print publication.  The specific article in the recent edition is “The OSS Influence on Special Forces.”  The article can be downloaded HERE

The author's thesis is that since only 14 members of the OSS actually served in Special Forces their contribution was not as great as has been described over the years.  The author uses fashionable modern academic analysis focusing solely on data and numbers to reach this outrageous in this conclusion: “The result was concrete evidence of disinformation and exaggeration perpetuated by the active force and veteran associations.”  The only “concrete evidence” the author cites is the number 14.  (As an aside there were at least 15 members of the OSS who served in Special Forces from 1952 to 1954. His list fails to include Robert McDowell who served with the OSS in Yugoslavia.)

The author is trying to prove his thesis by relying on numbers.  However, he undermines his argument with this statement:
Therefore, the five former OSS instructors in the SF Department, constituting approximately one-third of the instructor cadre from 1952-1954, are the ones who provided the most influence from their OSS experiences on the developing forceBecause the five interacted with or impacted every soldier trained in the SF program at the school, they gave students undergoing instruction an exaggerated impression about the overall presence of former OSS veterans in SF.
What the author fails to recognize and appreciate is that the OSS was an organization known for two things: punching well above its weight, i.e., making outsize contributions from its small numbers; and for conducting effective influence operations. At its peak there were some 13,000 members with 7500 serving overseas which was less than one Army division while the Army fielded over 90 divisions in WWII. Its Morale Operations branch focused on “persuasion, penetration, and intimidation” to destabilize governments and mobilize indigenous resistance at the strategic and tactical level.

Rather than assess the numbers of OSS members in SF the author would do a great service by reminding readers that today’s SF assessment and selection, organization (especially the ODA), training, doctrine, and most important the foundational mission of SF, unconventional warfare, are directly related to and descended from the OSS.  For those interested I recommend perusing the USASOC web site OSS Primer and Manuals accessed HERE.  USASOC’s own website says: “Special Forces traces its roots as the Army’s premier proponent of unconventional warfare from the Operational Groups and the Jedburgh teams of the Office of Strategic Services.” I personally traced the development of SF doctrine and the unconventional warfare mission from the OSS to the present (then 1995) HERE.

Continued at Small Wars Journal here:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Giving in 2018 - Recommendations

Dear Friends, 

 I do not normally do this (except I did this last year and the year before too) and I certainly do not mean to use my email distribution and news service for solicitation so please forgive me.   I was asked for recommendations of organizations to support so I thought I would share with you the organizations to whom I give.  I support five main causes: The Green Beret Foundation, The Small Wars Journal,  The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Spirit of America, and the OSS Society (and I do also contribute to WAMU so I can get my daily does of NPR as well).  As we near the end of the year and since it is "Giving Tuesday" and people are making decisions to give to worthy causes I thought I would share this with you.   Please give to your favorite organizations this year (despite the changes in the tax laws which may reduce the incentive for some to give).  If you need a suggestion for giving please consider Spirit of America, The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, The Green Beret Foundation, the OSS Society, and Small Wars Journal.

I would be remiss if I did not add the great organization to which I now belong, The Foundation for Defense of Democracy, which has the best mission for a retired Special Forces soldier (and anyone interested in national security and foreign policy): "FDD conducts in-depth research, produces accurate and timely analyses, identifies illicit activities, and provides policy options – all with the aim of strengthening U.S. national security and reducing or eliminating threats posed by adversaries and enemies of the United States and other free nations."  

Spirit of America:

The Committee For Human Rights in North Korea:

Green Beret Foundation:

Small Wars Journal:

Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Friday, November 23, 2018

On the Passing of COL (RET) John Collins, Warlord Emeritus

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving Day, we lost a true national treasure, Colonel (Retired) John Collins, Warlord Emeritus at age 97.  There are very very few who have had such an impact on US national security thought as Colonel Collins.  Please read his books on military strategy and military geography, special operations (he is the creator of the Five SOF Truths) and small wars and others.  From his service in World War II to being General Westmoreland's planner to teaching at the National War College to his second career at the Congressional Research Service he was a prolific writer and exceptional leader, teacher, thinker, and mentor.  His lasting legacy is the creation of the Warlord Loop during which for almost two decades he mentored approximately 500 national security practitioners from the military, foreign service, intelligence community, and other government agencies as well as scholars and journalists.

For those who have never met him below is a video of his last presentation he made to the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University in 2014.  Below the You Tube link is the prepared text on National Security Choices that he used for his presentation.  His words are timeless and provide important insights for any aspiring (and current) national security practitioner.

Col. John M. Collins, Ret. spoke to students from the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University's Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service on March 20, 2014 at the Mortara Center for International Studies. Col. Collins's presentation, drawn from his impressive career in the US Army and Congressional Research Service, aimed to guide students through their long-term career planning in the security sector, as well as provide expert advice for career procurement and advancement.

National Security Career Choices
Not many are aware that Dave Maxwell appointed me as his personal adviser when he became Associate Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. Well, actually what he said was, “John, when I want your advice I’ll ask for it.” I thought he’d never ask, but he’s finally invited me to address choices that will shape the personal lives and professional careers of his students, a topic that I never considered until last week. There must be at least 10,000 sharpies who know more about that subject than I do - - but I don’t see any of them here this afternoon, which increases my confidence by several orders of magnitude.
What are my qualifications?  Yogi Berra famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I’ve come to countless forks in the road during the last 90-plus years, and have made countless choices, good, bad, and indifferent. Lessons learned came too late to help me, but they aren’t too late too late to help you, so humor me. Pay attention. Take notes. Act like you really believe that what I’m about to say is important.  
Choice 1. Basic Objective
When Alice in Wonderland asked the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” the cat’s response was, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” The first question you should ask yourself consequently is, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Neither education nor employment options fit any career pattern until you make that elemental decision.
My son Sean’s interests in outer space blossomed at age nine on May 25, 1961 when President Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon and return him safely before that decade ended. U.S. astronauts became Sean’s heroes. He yearned to join that elite band of brothers, but failed because bottom lines on eyesight charts looked blurry. I like to think I helped shape his life-long career by counseling him as follows      while he was a high school student: “These are the tough math, physics, and other courses you must take to make your dreams come true.” He complied, culminated his academic career with a PhD in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from MIT, and now is one of this nation’s premier authorities on ballistic missile defense.
I, in comparison, wasted most of my youth, dropped out of high school twice, dropped out of college once, and passed age 30 before I had the foggiest notion who I wanted to be if I ever grew up. Saint Matthew finally showed me the light with words he wrote 2,000 years ago: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.” How could anybody even imagine a more stable vocation? I figuratively said “Send me in coach,” light years behind son Sean when he was 30 years old.
Choice 2. Public or Private Service
Public and private service both provide a wide range of employment opportunities for national security newcomers, who must decide which venue best satisfies their aspirations and purse strings. I’ll hit a few high spots for consideration.
Most public sector employees work for the federal government. Uncle Sam pays all the bills and his representatives determine requirements, whereas individuals who opt for private service depend on nongovernmental organizations for guidance and remuneration. Various surveys claim that the private sector pays best, but generalizations are difficult to defend, unless the duties described are similar. There’s no way, for example, to reasonably compare the responsibilities and pay of managers in Macy’s basement with U.S. political emissaries in Benghazi or military combatants who voluntarily lay their lives on the line whenever required. Governmental employees on the other hand enjoy incomparably greater job security. Probable risks versus potential gains accordingly deserve careful consideration before you opt for private versus public sector employment.
James Montgomery Flagg’s famous “Uncle Sam Wants You” poster and an overdose of idealism helped tip my scales toward public service before I enlisted as an Army private 71 years ago, a decision I’ve never rued. The back cover of my memoirs, which a “vanity press” recently published, depicts a slight modification of the oath I took as a second lieutenant in December 1942: “I, John M. Collins, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge whatever national security duties I perform. So help me God.”
Choice 3. Civilian or Military

Budgetary problems already prompt Congress to reduce federal expenditures, perhaps across the board. National security nevertheless will remain a compelling U.S. interest in perpetuity, so well qualified applicants like those in this room will continue to find opportunities for employment, of which the following selections are merely representative.

Most U.S. citizens are well aware that the Department of Defense and its Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps subsidiaries offer national security aspirants a wide range of command and staff billets in combat, logistical support, and administrative organizations, plus attractive promotion ladders for go-getters. There’s something there for everybody who hankers to strut about in a military uniform.  

Few are equally familiar with our Coast Guard, which belongs to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but may pass to Navy control any time the President  decrees or in wartime if Congress so directs. Its responsibilities include search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, aids to navigation, ice breaking, environmental protection, seaport security, and military readiness.  
The switch-hitting National Aeronautics and Space Administration, commonly called NASA, performs civil as well as military functions. Armed forces benefit from    reconnaissance, surveillance, missile warning and tracking. Meteorological intelligence, navigation, and communications missions benefit both clients, who lean so heavily on NASA’s space satellites and ground installations that employment opportunities won’t dry up during the foreseeable future.  
The State Department’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs oversees seven bureaus, plus a zillion embassies and consulates. Entry- and mid-level Foreign Service Officers hop scotch from one assignment to another in assorted cultures that create a smorgasbord of challenges. Results prepare them to work productively with senior U.S. and foreign leaders of all political persuasions. The most valued players sequentially master several languages well enough to conduct business, negotiate agreements, and favorably represent this great nation’s interests every day, often under immense pressure. The Agency for International Development, which technically is part of State but often pursues programs independently, demands similar qualifications.

The U.S. Intelligence Community, a coalition of 17 agencies and other organizations, recently was honored as one of the 10 best places to work in our federal government. Employment opportunities at CIA range from paper pushing to “spook” work, which some veterans applaud for intermittent adrenaline rushes. Competent intelligence analysts put facts and figures together in context, taking cultural peculiarities into account. Estimators postulate short-, mid-, and long-range trends, like whether Arab Spring is likely to spread or collapse. Intelligence personnel deployed overseas, like State’s Foreign Service Officers, benefit immeasurably from “street smarts” and foreign language proficiency, including local dialects that minimize misunderstandings (Arabic, Chinese, Pashto, Farsi, Korean, Russian, and Japanese are most in demand today).  

Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government lists more than 250     “freelance” think tanks at home and abroad. Some, typified by the Brookings Institution, the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Institute for Defense Analyses, are widely respected and influential, whereas many are so narrowly based and/or biased that applicants should carefully investigate respective pedigrees before they apply for admission. I’m particularly bullish about the Congressional Research Service, which has long been an educational beacon on Capitol Hill because, unlike any other organization in the world to my knowledge, its bylaws forbid analysts to support anybody’s policy or publically occupy any position on the opinion spectrum. Members of the Senate and House of Representatives consequently consider CRS reports as the current equivalent of holy scriptures and seek private advice from CRS contacts in chambers.  
Choice 4. Doer or Thinker

Ward Just, while drafting his treatise entitled Military Men in 1970, asked Major General Samuel Koster, who then was Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, why US. armed services had never sired a strategic thinker comparable to Clausewitz. “We’re more interested in the ‘doer’ than the thinker” was that two-star educator’s reply, even though doers seldom do as well as they should unless skilled thinkers assist. Mindsets akin to Koster’s still flourish, which is one reason why the current crop of U.S. military leaders and civilian policy-makers generally become grand tacticians and practitioners of operational art who win battles and campaigns but seldom excel at grand strategy, which wins wars.

That sad situation is by no means new. Strategic pioneers who create theories, concepts, and other intellectual tools for use by doers have been scarcer than hen’s teeth throughout human history. Sun Tzu, Mahan, Liddell Hart, Herman Kahn, and Bernard Brodie, the world’s first nuclear strategist, are prominent exceptions. Lenin, Mao, Giap, Billy Mitchell, and a handful of others who practiced what they preach, remain even rarer. Please note that no woman, not even Joan of Arc, has ever occupied either category. Who knows? The first female to terminate that trend may be in this very room. The lopsided imbalance between doers and thinkers meanwhile will persist until educators unlike General Koster encourage creative thinking, which Henry Ford called the hardest work there is, and potentates atop our national security pyramid reward their products.      

Choice 5. Open Mind or Party Line  

Your choice between open mind and party line should be easy, because    individuals who paste right or left, liberal or conservative, hawk or dove labels in the middle of their forehead abdicate any requirement to think. Reasonably knowledgeable students of national security affairs rarely need to heed anything they say, because most of their opinions are predictable. Professionals as well as neophytes nevertheless should review all sources with open minds, because nobody other than myself is always right and nobody is always wrong.
Party line proponents intellectually rooted in concrete additionally tend to respond sluggishly to radical changes that, in accord with Murphy’s Laws, can occur without notice at the worst possible times and places. Rear Admiral J.C. Wylie's little gem entitled Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control consequently contains a plea for adaptable concepts and forces, since nobody other than God can consistently predict the onset, scope, tenor, intensity, course, and consequences of any collision on the conflict spectrum from nonviolent competition to military wargasms. Requirements therefore exist for a rucksack full of policies, plans, and programs designed to facilitate smooth transitions in emergencies because, as Wylie succinctly put it, "planning for certitude is the most grievous of all…mistakes."  

Choice 6. Be a Problem-Solver or Complainer  

The President of the United States, Secretaries of State and Defense, the JCS Chairman, service chiefs, and combatant commanders lack institutional ways to generate and sustain chain reactions of creative thought that they could use to solve strategic, operational, tactical, logistical, budgetary, and countless other pressing national security problems. Autocratic restrictions, built-in biases, compartmentalization, enforced compromise, and security classifications make routine reliance on nonresident thinkers imperative. Who knows you in that particular context is even more important than who you know.

The best way to attract favorable attention is by submitting opinion pieces to national security periodicals. Don’t let rejections and lack of recognition discourage you, because Rome wasn’t built in a day (I just thought that one up). My first four professional articles disappeared into black holes. Others expired in editors’ offices, but anonymity disappeared almost immediately after I expanded my National War College syllabus into a primer entitled Strategy for Beginners, which received nine pink slips before Naval Institute Press published it in 1973 as Grand Strategy: Principles and Practices. The August 8, 1975 issue of Economika, Politika, Ideologiya in Moscow praised that book for “fundamental research carried out in this complex, multifaceted and contradictory field.” Other plaudits followed at home and abroad. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish editions appeared, the first two without regard for copyright. A Russian translation of my Military Geography opus later joined that collection.  Many of my CRS reports and issue briefs made headlines around the world after I established the equivalent of “I call, you haul” relationships with a slew of journalistic heavy hitters. You surely can do better, armed with one or more diplomas from this highly respected university.

“Sharp Pens Sharpen Swords,” a brief tutorial in the May-June 2006 issue of Military Review, might expedite your acceptance as a noted national security author. It compares pluses and minuses of 15 pertinent outlets that vary considerably with regard to frequency of publication, clientele, and contents, then terminates with writing tips that I’ve assembled during the last several decades.

Choice 7. Specialist or Generalist

Be relaxed. Stay cool. Choice 7 is the grand finale.
Most national security professionals open and close their careers as specialists, who figuratively dig political, military, economic, sociological, psychological, technological, or other “post holes.” Generalists, who figuratively “plow fields,” are a mile wide and a quarter inch deep, but possess speaking familiarity with all or most specialties. Their mission is to help the President of the United States, Congress, subordinate decision-makers, and their advisers put myriad pieces of gargantuan national security jigsaw puzzles together properly by preparing optional solutions to short-, mid-, and long-range problems. The transition from specialist to generalist usually takes years, but it’s not too early now to make that your ultimate aim, provided you persevere.

My personal trek from national security specialist to generalist began when I was a captain in 1950 and lasted much longer than Mao’s Long March, which consumed a mere 366 days. A strategic intelligence stint in the Pentagon as the U.S. Army’s Arab-Israeli desk officer came first in 1950; two years later I shifted to the Far East at theater level; Major Collins thereafter sampled operational intelligence with XVIII Airborne Corps, and finally learned a bit about tactical intelligence with the 82d Airborne Division. Lieutenant Colonel Collins unexpectedly became an operational planner at Fort Bragg in 1963 and continued that tack as a colonel in Vietnam. The National War College Commandant finally started me on the generalist track as his Director of Military Strategy Studies in 1969, nearly two decades after the starting date.

Did that crazy quilt pattern make me nonmarketable? Not at all. On the contrary, each of those out-of-sequence assignments served as a building block before 51-year-old civilian Collins became Senior Specialist in National Defense at the Congressional Research Service, an assignment that demanded generalist capabilities near the apex of this nation’s national security apparatus. “The Accidental Strategist,” which Joint Force Quarterly published in April 2010, traces my serendipitous trip from top to bottom and back again.


Thus far the words of today’s Holy Gospel. I hope that guardian angels heap good fortune on those of you who opt to become national security professionals. Your names won’t appear on lists of the world’s wealthiest individuals but, as I discovered eons ago, service to the United States of America in any capacity will more than compensate.

I’ve already told you more than I know about career choices, so await your questions with great trepidation. Dave Maxwell will relay them to me, because I’m deaf as a stone. His computer also contains a transcript of this presentation, on the off chance that any students in this audience might request a copy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

What game theory teaches us about war | Simon Sinek

Worth the 10 minutes to watch.  Values and Interests. Although a few years old it is timeless.

What game theory teaches us about war | Simon Sinek

Published on Nov 8, 2016

What would happen if ‘win’ and ‘lose’ are no longer the only options when fighting a war? What if a third, more abstract ideal becomes the goal? And -- what if not all the players are aware of the new rules? Simon Sinek uses game theory to explain some of the strategies and outcomes behind past and present wars. TEDArchive presents previously unpublished talks from TED conferences. Enjoy this unedited talk by Simon Sinek. Filmed at TEDTalksLive in 2015

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Video: The Tip of the Spear: From Virginia Hall to Gina Haspel

This 15 minute video is from the OSS Society Donovan Award Dinner on October 20th.  CIA Director Gina Haspel was awarded the Donovan Award.  This video is a tribute to her and the women of the OSS and the intelligence community.  I do hope the CIA will approve release of her speech as it was excellent and should be read and heard by the public.  She and the women of the OSS and intelligence community should be an inspiration to us all.

For all my SF Brothers:  Note the connection of Gina Haspel to 10th SFG.  How many MOS librarians and Language Lab managers did you recruit for the CIA's clandestine service? 

The Tip of the Spear: From Virginia Hall to Gina Haspel

Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea by Robert Collins

The 130 page report can be downloaded here: uploads/pdfs/Collins_Denied_ FINALFINALFINAL_WEB.pdf Let me say ...