Thought for the Day

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wednesday Evening Readings

I do not know what the details are for USSOCOM funding of Johns Hopkins APL but from the work I have observed that they have been doing from the Assessing Revolution and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) project to the typology of resistance to a conference on UW I observed today, I can say that the work they have been doing is top rate and the best support to the military I have observed in my military career.

No: CR-040-15
March 03, 2015

Massillon Construction and Supply LLC,* Massillon, Ohio (W91237-15-D-0005) and Mi-De-Con Inc.,* Ironton, Ohio (W91237-15-D-0004) were awarded a $15,000,000.00 firm-fixed-price contract with options for various small construction projects within the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the Corps of Engineers with an estimated completion date of March 2, 2018. Bids were solicited via the Internet with eight received. Funding will be determined with each order. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington, West Virginia, is the contracting activity.
UPDATE: ECS Federal Inc., Fairfax, Virginia (W52P1J-15-D-0023); Deloitte Consulting LLP, New York, New York (W52P1J-15-D-0024); and LOGC2,* Huntsville, Alabama (W52P1J-15-D-0025) have been added as awardees to a previously announced (March 21, 2014) maximum $461,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity task order contract for program management support services for the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems headquarters, directorates, project and product offices and related organizations. These contractors are being added to the previously awarded suite of contracts due to corrective action. Funding and work location will be determined with each order with an estimated completion date of Feb. 26, 2020. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, is the contracting activity.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, a university affiliated research center in Laurel, Maryland, is being awarded an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract with a maximum value of $405,000,000 for theoretical analyses, exploratory studies, and/or experiments in various fields of science and technology; and engineering and/or developmental work for the practical application of investigative findings and theories of a scientific or technical nature through employment of their eight core competencies in support of U.S. Special Operations Command. The work will be performed in Laurel, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by February 2020. Fiscal 2015 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $656,428 are being obligated at time of award. Contract funds will not expire as the end of the current fiscal year. The award is the result of a sole source acquisition. U.S. Special Operations Command is the contracting agency (H92222-15-D-0004).


"If the commander on the ground approaches either me or the secretary of defense and believes that the introduction of special operations forces to accompany Iraqis or the new Syrian forces, or JTACS, these skilled folks who can call in close-air support, if we believe that's necessary to achieve our objectives, we will make that recommendation," Dempsey told the House Appropriations Committee's defense panel.

Dempsey does not rule out U.S. ground troops in Syria

By Andrew Tilghman, Staff writer4:27 p.m. EST March 4, 2015

Note the detailed list of specialities and organizations  at the end of the article.

4,100 jobs opening to women in special operations units

By Jim Tice, Staff writer6:25 p.m. EST March 4, 2015

At least someone is having a Solarium conference.  I do wish we would have a national level Solarium Project focused on strategy and policy and red teaming our national security strategy as Ike did.  But I think GEN Odierno is planting some seeds for the future.  With all due respect to the distinguished people and organizations that have participated and organized Solarium like projects I am advocating the real thing, directed by the President with the participation of key officials who will also be responsible for implementation.  All the other conferences are nice to do but the leadership does not seem to embrace the recommendations.  I want the President to own the project and by having his key officials participate they can take a hard look at strategy and then ideally (the operative term or the dream) they would have buy in for implementation of the strategy that would have been thoroughly debated, vetted, and red teamed as well as alternate strategies examined.  A question for the development of the current NSS: we're alternative strategies presented and was there a red team process as part of the development. 


Few are optimistic about the near term, but these level-headed observers agree that a U.S.-led ground war would only add fuel to the raging fire. The only real strategy, Cronin and the others contend, is to help Muslim allies in the region contain the Islamic State, to stop it from amassing more territory and to force it into a position where it collapses in on itself by failing to expand.
A very tall and sobering order.

New ideas required to fight this brand of terror

By Steve Paul 
The Kansas City (Mo.) Star
Published: March 3, 2015


"He's conducting an internal inquiry," Dempsey said, adding that he is confident Austin will "take the appropriate action." He did not say what that might be.
The briefing was done by an officer at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He spoke by phone to a group of reporters in the Pentagon on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by Central Command.
The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets.

Pentagon calls Mosul briefing a mistake by CENTCOM

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter testifies before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
The Associated Press
Published: March 3, 2015


The Pentagon will never be Google, and it shouldn’t try to be, but it can foster an entrepreneurial spirit and inject proven commercial technology expertise into strategic leadership and acquisition positions to better understand and evaluate new solutions. Industry CEOs will have to look across their organizations and determine if they have the right talent to compete in this new environment, and boards of directors and shareholders will have to evaluate their CEOs as well.
In the midst of all of this chaos and process, the new Secretary of Defense,Ash Carter, may need to hold his own version of the “Last Supper”, as his mentor, William Perry did in 1993, to boldly lay out to both the defense and commercial technology industries how he intends to reimagine a diverse, healthy national security marketplace. Progress will come slowly, but the futures of the Pentagon and the industrial base are inextricably intertwined and hard decisions will have to be made to regain and retain technology dominance, and keep America safe in the 21st-centur
The National Security Marketplace Must Become Stronger


March 4, 2015 · in 

U.S. envoy to Seoul Lippert injured in attack by armed assailant

2015-03-05 08:05
   U.S. envoy to Seoul Mark Lippert was seriously injured Thursday morning after being attacked by an armed assailant, official sources said.

   The envoy was on his way to attend a morning lecture in central Seoul when the attack took place.

   Lippert, bleeding heavily, was rushed to a nearby hospital, the sources said, adding that the suspect was immediately arrested although his or her identity is still not known.

   SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap)
Good analysis and overview by Steve.


Although the jihadist threat is far from over, special operations forces have also begun looking toward the type of future enemies they might be ordered to fight. In a September 2014 white paper, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) argued that SOF must now master what it called “counter-unconventional warfare.” This idea grew from the sort of multidimensional aggression that Russia has used in Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet Union. As the USASOC white paper explains:

Russia currently employs special operations forces, intelligence agents, political provocateurs, and media representatives, as well as transnational criminal elements in eastern and southern Ukraine. Funded by the Kremlin and operating with differing degrees of deniability or even acknowledgement, the Russian government uses “little green men” for classic UW (unconventional warfare) objectives. These objectives include causing chaos and disrupting civil order, while seeking to provoke excessive responses by the state’s security organs—thus delegitimizing the Kiev government. Additionally, Russian elements have organized pro-Russian separatists, filling out their ranks with advisors and fighters. Russia’s UW has also included funding, arming, tactical coordination, and fire support for separatist operations.

Countering this kind of hybrid warfare will depend on cooperation among many U.S. government agencies, but the special operations forces will play a leading role. After all, Russian hybrid war relies heavily on special forces, and there is nothing better than a special operator to thwart an enemy special operator.

Role Reversal: U.S. Special Operations Forces After the Long War

A U.S. special operations forces soldier leads Iraqi special operations forces while practicing movement techniques, Baqubah, Iraq, April 6, 2011 (photo by Flickr user DVIDSHUB used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).
By Steven Metz, March 3, 2015, Feature

I am happy to read that Gene Sharp is referenced.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday Evening Readings

If they have enough time.  They might consider what preparations they can begin making now and not wait for two or three years to begin a cold start toward unification (though I know they are not really waiting)

But I will again ask the question to US policy makers.  What is the US doing in terms of developing a plan to support the ROK in achieving unification because unification is the only way to both end the north's nuclear program and stop the horrific suffering of the Korean people living in the north who are subjected to some of the worst human rights abuses in modern history at the hands of the mafia-like crime family cult of the Kim Family Regime.

Video at the link.  Can't tell if this is real or trick photography.  I am sure that if it is real that no American taught them to do something like this (or at least I hope not).

Afghan Special Forces demonstrate scary sharpshooting (Video)


N. Korea ready to fire medium-range Nodong missiles: military source

By Sgt. Donovan Lee, Defense Media Activity


But beyond the knee-jerk criticism, the president’s National Security Strategy is not just a bowl of rice pudding. Although readers won’t find a strategy aimed at a unitary threat with clear ends, ways, and means, there is a pretty coherent philosophy at work. This strategy is the second and last of Obama’s presidency, and it rightly describes a world beset by challenges and in dire need of American leadership (“lead,” “leader,” and “leadership” appear 94 times in the context of the United States’ role in the world). It is not “leading from behind,” as the president’s restless and war-ready critics love to claim. Nor is it hard-charging unilateralism.
Instead, the world of President Obama’s National Security Strategy is one in which the United States’ economic and military might serve as the bedrock of strong, participatory, and rules-based global institutions. It’s smart multilateralism—working within the international system while also being willing to bear the burden of defending it, although not always with military power. This is likely as close as we’ll get to an “Obama Doctrine.” As the president told West Point graduates in a major foreign policy address last year:
Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only—or even primary—component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail. And because the costs associated with military action are so high, you should expect every civilian leader—and especially your Commander-in-Chief—to be clear about how that awesome power should be used.
A lot of good words.  The problem in my mind is that a strong leader does not telegraph his strategy or publicly remove any options, e.g., a superpower can never remove military force as an option and in fact by leaving military force on the table and demonstrating not only the capability but the will to use it, can actually result in better diplomacy and in fact allows a leader to always be able to lead with diplomacy and refrain from using military force.  But stating self-restraint in public (in the vain hope that it will generate good will for the US) can lead to self defeat in statecraft.

Tuesday Morning Readings

Good article from Michael.  Finally a scholar and foreign policy adviser who writes about and understands special operations.

Some good recommendations.  In addition to the resurrection of the LIC Board from the Reagan era I would also consider the Special Operations Policy Office (SOPO) which might be especially important for special operations support to political warfare.

My summary of Michael's thesis from a paper I am working on:  SOF (surgical strike and special warfare) is not either/or, it is both/hand and must have a yin/yang relationship. Just as good strategy requires balance and coherency among ends, ways, and means (and this is a constantly adjusting relationship - thus the requirement to "do strategy") there needs to be the proper balance and coherency among the disciplines of special operations, surgical strike and special warfare.

Michael's conclusion:

Surgical strike-oriented SOF will remain key pieces for countering terrorism and conducting other critical assignments in both war and peace. But the recent Russian practices of using political and unconventional warfare in Ukraine, the situations in Syria and Iraq, and conflicts elsewhere show that special-warfare SOF supported and enabled by non-SOF military forces and other interagency partners will also be very busy for the foreseeable future. Again, both are valuable instruments in the United States’ toolkit of capabilities, but are best used when the circumstances dictate their use. Policymakers and the public should not become too enamored with their being a panacea for providing perfect solutions to difficult problems.

The Seductiveness of Special Ops?


March 3, 2015 · in 

UN watchdog ‘seriously’ worried by North Korea nuclear program

By  on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

U.S. spy chief says he got a mixed reception in North Korea

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 2, 2015 7:42pm EST


“There’s a distinction to be made between the tactical/operational effect and the strategic one,” Leed said. As a deterrent to aggression and a tripwire triggering US commitment, a small force can have a strategic impact out of proportion to its size.

This is an important change for obvious reasons and is good to see.


Not to discredit Aquino, but more credit goes to social media. The democratic country is rich in competing interests and free speech. Now with the surge in smartphone cameras and mobile devices, an opponent who sees someone in office take money or drive a bling-y new car can send a tweet or post the dirt to Facebook. “Right now everyone in government and outside government is monitoring each other,” Manila-based Banco de Oro UniBank chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas says. “Social media are there to ring the bells, so people try to be very careful in how they do things.” Graft remains, he says, but “it has gone down significantly.”

FORBES ASIA 3/02/2015 @ 9:00PM 1,068 views

Why Graft Is Declining In The Notoriously Corrupt Philippines

Does not appear to be a pretty picture.  Excerpt:

Most of the losses in the Afghan Army over the past year appear to be due to desertion, the coalition said in a written response to questions about the newly declassified data. Smaller percentages came from ordinary discharges and, more worryingly, from deaths in combat, of which there were more than 1,200 last year, a record for the army.
But no matter the reasons, the numbers cast a harsh spotlight on one inescapable fact: The army, the centerpiece of the American-led campaign to stabilize Afghanistan, is losing people far faster than it can replace them. The rate of decline, if not reversed, could leave the army effectively incapable of fighting the Taliban across much of Afghanistan within the next year or two, according to some American military officials and analysts.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Some links for Monday Readings

It is PSYOP not PSYOPS  (at least the author did not use MISO).  From the Red Team Analysis Society.  

Nevertheless this has some interesting information with many useful citations for those looking at this issue.

The Foreign Policy Essay: The South Korean Sentry—A “Killer Robot” to Prevent War

Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 10:00 AM


"It's not hard for a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy. But such provocations produce paralysis, not progress," she said during a seminar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank, in what appeared to be a reference to South Korea and China. "To move ahead, we have to see beyond what was to envision what might be."

 Parties denounce U.S. diplomat's remarks on S. Korea-Japan ties

2015/03/02 16:10

Although he is my boss, I do strongly recommend Bruce's new book Anonymous Soldiers.  It holds many lessons for today.

March 2, 2015

Why Terrorism Works

André da Loba for The Chronicle Review

Excerpt.  And the highlighted portion below should beg the question of whether we can find any Syrian opposition organizations whose interest can align with the US.  That might be the crux of the problem with our entire effort in Syria.

They have argued for weeks a freeze plan is fundamentally flawed.
When it was first mooted by Mistura, Hadi al-Bahra, then-president of the Syrian National Coalition, dismissed the idea. “Assad’s brutality and repression has been an incubator for extremism,” he said.
“Cease-fires and limiting existing violence provide a temporary solution, but not a permanent resolution of the crisis. Cease-fires without a clear vision for a full and comprehensive political solution will give the regime time to regroup and reorganize itself to continue its crimes against the Syrian people at a later stage,” he added.
Rebel antipathy to a cease-fire only deepened.
Infuriated by Washington’s focus on the Islamic State group, Syrian rebels have feared the West is ready to sign off on a behind-the-scenes bargain with Assad, one permitting him to remain in power.

Very interesting initiative.  Whether it is feasible or if it ever comes to pass I think the discussion alone is important as it puts pressure on the issues of human rights and  the Kim Family Regime.  And of course north Korea is unlikely to participate in the peace park initiative. 

And I think the title is a little misleading - the DMZ is not north Korea's.

Seoul hopes to build U.N. headquarters, peace park near North Korea’s DMZ

By Guy Taylor - The Washington Times - Monday, March 2, 2015

Perhaps he should have added "next time."