Thought for the Day

"No matter how busy you are, you must find tome for reading, or you surrender yourself to to self-chosen ignorance." Confucius

Sunday, October 19, 2014

AUSA: Contemporary Military Forum #6: Strategic Quality of Landpower

For those of us who missed the AUSA convention.  The 2 hour 13 minute panel video is at the link below (this is one of 14 panels).  

Moderated by LTG James Dubik and the speakers are LTG Cleveland, LTG McMaster, Max Boot, Sarah Sewell, and Viva Bartkus.

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Video: Contemporary Military Forum #6: Strategic Quality of Landpower

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Persistent Influence and the Strategic Quality of Landpower Introductions By: Retired Lt. Gen. Janes M. Dubik, U.S. Army, AUSA Senior Fellow Lead Speaker: Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command Panelists: Max Boot, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations Sarah Sewell, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights U.S. State Department Lt. Gen. Herbert R. McMaster, Jr., Deputy Commanding General, Futures/Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Dr. Viva Bartkus, Ph.D., Professor, University of Notre Dame

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change

Quite an interesting thesis.  But I think Glennon discounts the third leg. Partisan political machinery.  (Glennon hand waves it away).  I think if the double was in control we would have seen things done much differently in  Iraq (the withdrawal and lack of SOFA), Libya (no ground forces and "leading from behind"), Syria (lack of full support to the resistance two years ago and not just the lame non-lethal assistance), the Syrian chemical weapons "red line," and now the late move to "train and equip" the rebels and the "anything but Bush" strategic direction in Iraq and Syria, just to name a few.  No, I think President Obama owns all those and that illustrates the elected leadership is calling the shots with the support of and blessing of the partisan political machinery.  Yes everything rests on politics, every national security action is a political action or must be understood from the political perspective but it is the partisan political class that makes the double government (or perhaps a "triple government.") I know from an Asian perspective that the Asia advisers in the administration have no standing with the President and his key circle of advisers because none of them came through the "crucible" of the 2008 and 2012 president election campaigns  (except for Mark Lippert the new Ambassador to Korea for which Korea is very happy).  Maybe our republic has shifted from the three branches - executive, legislative and judicial to the elected, the shadow bureaucracy (the "self governing national security apparatus") and the partisan political machine.

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.
The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon
By Jordan Michael Smith
  |    OCTOBER 19, 2014

THE VOTERS WHO put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.
But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.
Why did the face in the Oval Office change but the policies remain the same? Critics tend to focus on Obama himself, a leader who perhaps has shifted with politics to take a harder line. But Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon has a more pessimistic answer: Obama couldn’t have changed policies much even if he tried.
Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.
Glennon cites the example of Obama and his team being shocked and angry to discover upon taking office that the military gave them only two options for the war in Afghanistan: The United States could add more troops, or the United States could add a lot more troops. Hemmed in, Obama added 30,000 more troops.
Glennon’s critique sounds like an outsider’s take, even a radical one. In fact, he is the quintessential insider: He was legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a consultant to various congressional committees, as well as to the State Department. “National Security and Double Government” comes favorably blurbed by former members of the Defense Department, State Department, White House, and even the CIA. And he’s not a conspiracy theorist: Rather, he sees the problem as one of “smart, hard-working, public-spirited people acting in good faith who are responding to systemic incentives”—without any meaningful oversight to rein them in.
How exactly has double government taken hold? And what can be done about it? Glennon spoke with Ideas from his office at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. This interview has been condensed and edited.
IDEAS: Where does the term “double government” come from?
GLENNON:It comes from Walter Bagehot’s famous theory, unveiled in the 1860s. Bagehot was the scholar who presided over the birth of the Economist magazine—they still have a column named after him. Bagehot tried to explain in his book “The English Constitution” how the British government worked. He suggested that there are two sets of institutions. There are the “dignified institutions,” the monarchy and the House of Lords, which people erroneously believed ran the government. But he suggested that there was in reality a second set of institutions, which he referred to as the “efficient institutions,” that actually set governmentalpolicy. And those were the House of Commons, the prime minister, and the British cabinet.

IDEAS: What evidence exists for saying America has a double government?

Continued at the link below)

The CIA's Wrong: Arming Rebels Works

Some interesting excerpts:

Criticism keeps pouring in and the Obama administration is hard pressed to prove it made the right decision back then, on the one hand, but has good reason to change its mind now as it tries to train new cadre to fight, not Assad, but ISIS. “This makes no sense,” says the same CIA veteran.
But from Obama’s point of view, actually, it does. The basic principles by which this administration operates are clear for anyone to see, even if the once-eloquent POTUS now finds it impossible to articulate simple ideas:
Obama does not believe in overthrowing foreign governments.
Obama does not intend to occupy foreign countries.
Obama does not think American troops—overt or covert—provide very good answers to the world’s crises.
Indeed, Obama sees very clearly what most average Americans see: U.S. efforts to overthrow bad guys abroad usually wind up making things worse, and the only reason to move against them is if they pose, as Tom Clancy would say, a “clear and present danger” to the United States.
Back in January, Obama told David Remnick of The New Yorker that when he was thinking about arming Syrian rebels a couple of years ago, he “actually asked the CIA to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much.”
The New York Times ran a story last week that suggested CIA covert operations failed again and again to achieve the policy objectives set for them.
Just about everyone I talked to afterward in the U.S. intelligence community saw this as a story put out by the administration. One retired high-ranking intelligence officer said the article “seems founded on the kind of leaks that are permissible when beneficial to folks in high places but prosecutable when done by others.”

What the NY Times article and Christopher Dickey's article here (as well as the emphasis on 'train and equip") illustrate is that policy makers really do not understand the nature and conduct of unconventional warfare.  It is neither an abject failure in every case nor is it a war winner in any almost any case but it is a viable strategic option if used in the right conditions at the right time by the right organizations.  But most importantly it is both risky and hard and what makes it most difficult for policy makers and the public is that it is time consuming.  It cannot be employed "in extremis" in most cases (in the fall of 2001 post 9-11 being an exception) and really requires long term preparation, thorough assessments, and relationships with key players to have  chance of being successful.  And most importantly in must absolutely be part of and in support of  a coherent policy and strategy.
Christopher Dickey



The CIA's Wrong: Arming Rebels Works

President Obama has weighed the options and concluded America does more harm than good when it sets out to topple regimes. OK. But don’t pretend that’s the CIA’s fault.
PARIS, France—What could be more cynical than a covert operation? Sure, there’s always a lot of talk about fighting for freedom, defeating tyranny. What was it Ronald Reagan called the Contras and the Afghan mujahedin? “They are the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers.”
Actually some of the Contras whom I knew were the moral equivalent of pathological killers. They were so out of control that the CIA, which had armed them and trained them, finally had two of their commanders hunted down and executed.
As I say, covert ops: cynical business.
But recent reporting on the subject has been profoundly and, indeed, dangerously misleading about both the truth and the consequences surrounding such operations.
All sorts of politicians—left, right and center; former administration insiders and confirmed outliers—have been talking about arming and training Syrian rebels as if that could have been the salvation of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship in Damascus in 2012, and would have preempted, somehow, the rise of the horrific organization that calls itself the Islamic State, but which we’ll call by the acronyms it despises: ISIS or ISIL.
Certainly there was bitter infighting inside the administration back then. As one agency insider told me, “three years ago the Syria program was headed by a man who was competent but not senior enough to run such a high-profile account.” So Langley decided to cut short the tour of the then-CIA station chief in Bangkok and bring him in to head up the show. But “he was so shocked by the disorganization and lack of seriousness that he submitted his papers to retire.”
Criticism keeps pouring in and the Obama administration is hard pressed to prove it made the right decision back then, on the one hand, but has good reason to change its mind now as it tries to train new cadre to fight, not Assad, but ISIS. “This makes no sense,” says the same CIA veteran.
But from Obama’s point of view, actually, it does. The basic principles by which this administration operates are clear for anyone to see, even if the once-eloquent POTUS now finds it impossible to articulate simple ideas:
(Continued at the link below)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Georgetown Position: Visiting Professor in Security Studies (Non tenure-track faculty)

Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Position ID:Georgetown-SFS-SSP [#4702]
Position Title: Visiting Professor in Security Studies
Position Type:Non tenure-track faculty
Position Location:Washington, District of Columbia 20057, United States [map]
Subject Areas: Political Science / Security, Peace, and ConflictU.S. Foreign PolicyU.S. Security PolicyInternational Relations
Appl Deadline:2014/10/22 (posted 2014/09/22, listed until 2015/03/22)
Position Description:  Apply    
The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University are seeking to fill a visiting professorship in the broad field of security studies. Rank and discipline are open, and scholars with government or other first-hand experience in the U.S. military are encouraged to apply. The term of the appointment is for eighteen months. The visiting professor will teach full-time in the master’s-level Security Studies Program, including teaching the program’s core courses.Interested applicants should submit a detailed cover letter and a curriculum vitae. Applications for this position must be submitted online at Faxed, mailed, or emailed applications will not be accepted.
Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For information on the Center for Security Studies, please visit the website at
Questions about the online application system should be directed to Olivia Payne, Manager of Faculty Affairs Queries about the position should be directed to Dr. Bruce Hoffman, Director, Center for Peace and Security Studies at
Georgetown University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer fully dedicated to achieving a diverse faculty and staff. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability or other categories protected by law.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at this website:
  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:
School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University
37th and O Sts, NW
Suite 301 ICC
Washington, DC 20057

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Edition of International Journal of Korean Studies

The new journal has been published on line.  The entire journal can be downloaded at this link in a single file.

Each article can be downloaded separately at the link below.

C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels

We likely missed any possible chance to successfully work with the Syrian resistance two or more years ago.  Now we are even less likely to be successful given the changing conditions but we are in the position that we just have to "do something" and do it perhaps for the wrong reasons.

I would be interested in reading this study.  I suspect; however, some of the reasons for failure include not conducting a thorough assessment of the resistance potential of organizations and movements and as in Syria today, and doing too little, too late.  One aspect of the study I would be interested in reading about are situations where our assessment of the resistance potential by qualified personnel resulted in a decision not to support because the assessment showed little chance of success or the resistance movement's objectives could not be aligned with our interests.  I doubt anyone really looks at this aspect.  But that is the reason why I argue that one of the important missions for both the agency and the SOF community is to be continually assessing the resistance potential of current, nascent and potential future resistance organizations.  By understanding the resistance that exists around the world we will be in a better position to develop strategic options and avoid many of the pitfalls we have experienced and that this report will likely show.  But the problem really lies with policy makers who grasp at straws and want to "do something" and then force the intelligence community and SOF to conduct long duration unconventional warfare operations "in extremis."  A modification of one of the SOF truths is that it is hard to conduct effective UW by beginning UW operations after crises occur.  (of course Afghanistan 2001 might be considered an exception by some but the reality is that the success of OEF from October 2001 to January 2002 rested on the foundation of relationships built prior to 9-11 that allowed for at least sufficient understanding of the resistance potential.)

C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels

By OCT. 14, 2014
    Mujahedeen rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan in 1980. CreditAssociated Press

    An internal C.I.A. study has found that it rarely works.WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba. The continuing C.I.A. effort to train Syrian rebels is just the latest example of an American president becoming enticed by the prospect of using the spy agency to covertly arm and train rebel groups.
    The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.
    The findings of the study, described in recent weeks by current and former American government officials, were presented in the White House Situation Room and led to deep skepticism among some senior Obama administration officials about the wisdom of arming and training members of a fractured Syrian opposition.
    Rebel fighters in Nicaragua in 1987. CreditJohn Hopper/Associated Press
    But in April 2013, President Obama authorized the C.I.A. to begin a program to arm the rebels at a base in Jordan, and more recently the administration decided to expand the training mission with a larger parallel Pentagon program in Saudi Arabia to train “vetted” rebels to battle fighters of the Islamic State, with the aim of training approximately 5,000 rebel troops per year.
    So far the efforts have been limited, and American officials said that the fact that the C.I.A. took a dim view of its own past efforts to arm rebel forces fed Mr. Obama’s reluctance to begin the covert operation.
    “One of the things that Obama wanted to know was: Did this ever work?” said one former senior administration official who participated in the debate and spoke anonymously because he was discussing a classified report. The C.I.A. report, he said, “was pretty dour in its conclusions.”
    (Continued at the link below)

    U.S. Army Special Operations Command Counter-Unconventional Warfare White Pa

    This is from the Public Intelligence web site.  The white paper can be downloaded at this link:  


    U.S. Army Special Operations Command Counter-Unconventional Warfare White Paper

    October 13, 2014


    Counter-Unconventional Warfare White Paper

    • 46 pages
    • September 26, 2014
    During the last decade, the U.S. military, along with its interagency and international partners, has generated significant capability to counter the irregular threats presented by non-state terrorists, insurgents, and criminal groups. During these same years, a distinct challenge to America and its partners in NATO and beyond has arisen through an innovative mix of such irregular threats. This challenge is Hybrid Warfare combining conventional, irregular, and asymmetric means, to include the persistent manipulation of political and ideological conflict. Foreshadowed by Iranian actions throughout the Middle East and by Chinese “unrestricted warfare” strategists in the 1990s, Hybrid Warfare has now reached its most brazen form in Russia’s support for separatist insurgents in Ukraine.

    (Continued at the link below)