Thought for the Day

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Do Drones Work?" with Dr. Byman, Dr. Fair, and Dr. Swift

This 1 hour and 20 minute video may be of interest to anyone who is concerned with drones and targeting killings.  All three professors provide some very enlightening and insightful commentary, in fact some of the best I have ever heard.

"Do Drones Work?" with Dr. Byman, Dr. Fair, and Dr. Swift





Published on Sep 16, 2014
Georgetown University Security Studies Program Professors Daniel Byman, Christine Fair, and Christopher Swift discuss the United States' use of drones in prosecuting the war on terrorism. The panelists discuss issues surrounding the drone program, including its efficacy, legality, and future use.

Dempsey: If campaign fails, ground troops possible

We are piecemealing this strategy hoping that each piece will add up to success.  We are obviously not going "all in" for obvious political and domestic reasons which of course has led to the mismatch in ends (destruction of IS) and ways - weak coalition with indigenous forces trained but not effectively advised by US forces using a "model" (Yemen and Somalia) that is inappropriate or inapplicable to this situation.

"To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committees, using an alternative name for the group.

Dempsey said the White House has ruled out the use of special operations forces on the ground, but Obama has told him to come back "on a case by case basis" if the situation changes.

If we are not going to at least let our Special Forces do the job right (which means effective advising through actions on the objective) then we may as well through in the towel now or go right to the final course of action as GEN Dempsey says.

Pressed during questioning, Dempsey said that under certain circumstances he "would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of ground forces."
...

"Are pilots dropping bombs in Iraq a direct combat mission and will U.S. forces be prepared to provide search and rescue mission if pilots get shot down and be prepared to put boots on the ground to make that mission be successful?" Inhofe asked.
"Yes and yes," Dempsey said.
And then there is this excerpt.  With all due respect if we want to have an indigenous capability in Syria it is not merely a train and equip program.  We need to focus on unconventional warfare (and I am only assuming that someone has done a complete feasibility assessment and determined that there is sufficient resistance potential that we can exploit - if not then we had better go to plan B which is I guess boots on the ground).

Dempsey said it would take three to five months to establish the training program, working with moderate Syrians who have been driven from their homes by Islamic militants. An estimated two-thirds of the approximately 30,000 extremists are in Syria.

We cannot simply give the Syria opposition some training and weapons and then just turn them loose.  We need to consider what it takes to conduct effective unconventional warfare, develop and enable their underground and auxiliary as well as their guerrilla forces and most of all consider what comes "next" - e.g., how are we going to influence the situation after the fall of Assad (because you know that the resistance we train, advise, and enable to go after ISIL/IS is going to exploit our support to go after Assad).

Dempsey: If campaign fails, ground troops possible

Story user rating:
    

By DONNA CASSATA and LOLITA C. BALDOR
Published: 10 minutes ago

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the first in a series of high-profile Capitol Hill hearings that will measure the president's ability to rally congressional support for President Barack Obama's strategy to combat Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Obama last week outlined his military plan to destroy the extremists, authorizing U.S. airstrikes inside Syria, stepping up attacks in Iraq and deploying additional American troops, with more than 1,000 now advising and assisting Iraqi security forces to counter the terrorism threat. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's top military leader told Congress on Tuesday he would recommend that the United States consider deploying ground forces to Iraq if President Barack Obama's expanded air campaign to destroy Islamic extremists fails.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel that the goal for American advisers is to help Iraqi forces with planning, logistics and coordinating military efforts by coalition partners to take out members of the Islamic State group.
"To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committees, using an alternative name for the group.
Pressed during questioning, Dempsey said that under certain circumstances he "would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of ground forces."
Obama has maintained that American forces will not have a combat mission in Iraq.
Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel fielded questions from lawmakers as Obama met at the White House with a retired general who is coordinating international efforts and House Republicans privately reviewed legislation that would grant the administration's request to train and equip the forces who will combat the militants.
There was no indication of organized resistance to the administration request. The legislation is likely to come to a vote in the House on Wednesday and the Senate by week's end.
Still, some lawmakers said they doubted Obama's current plan was sufficient to achieve his stated goal of degrading and defeating the Islamic state militants.
"I'm still not satisfied that the moderate Free Syrian Army is moderate or an army," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, referring to the 5,000 or so individuals the administration hopes to train.
House Speaker John Boehner, told reporters, "I think there's a lot more that we need to be doing, but there's no reason for us not to do what the president asked us to do."
The House's No. 2 Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, told reporters he supports support the president's request.
Dempsey said Americans in Iraq are serving in a combat advisory role but not participating in direct combat. However, if the Iraqi forces took on a complex mission to retake Mosul, the general said he might want U.S. troops to accompany the Iraqi troops or provide close combat advice.
The apparent contradiction of combat-trained forces not participating directly in combat was captured in one exchange between Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Dempsey.
"Are pilots dropping bombs in Iraq a direct combat mission and will U.S. forces be prepared to provide search and rescue mission if pilots get shot down and be prepared to put boots on the ground to make that mission be successful?" Inhofe asked.
"Yes and yes," Dempsey said.
Dempsey said the White House has ruled out the use of special operations forces on the ground, but Obama has told him to come back "on a case by case basis" if the situation changes.
Pressed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., about whether the U.S. would put troops on the ground in Syria if no other allies participate, Dempsey made clear his view that the American military alone - even with armored divisions on the ground in Syria - can't defeat the Islamic State group's threat.
Instead, he said, to defeat the threat, it will be crucial to have Arab and Muslim partners battling the group in the region.
The U.S. military has conducted strikes near Baghdad against the Islamic State group, which has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria. Dempsey said the United States is prepared to strike Islamic targets in Syria.
"This will not look like 'shock and awe' because that is not how ISIL is organized. But it will be persistent and sustainable," Dempsey said, referring to the air bombardment at the start of the Iraq war in March 2003.
Several lawmakers have their doubts about the United States being pulled into a larger war, with increasing numbers of American troops. The president has already dispatched more than 1,000 Americans three years after combat forces left Iraq.
Many Republicans and Democrats have expressed reservations about the ability to identify moderates in a country awash with rebel formations and shifting alliances. The Islamic State grew out of the al-Qaida movement, but the two are now fighting. In some instances, the moderate Free Syrian Army has teamed with al-Qaida's local franchise, the Nusra Front.
Hagel said the U.S. will monitor them closely to ensure that weapons don't fall into the wrong hands.
Dempsey said it would take three to five months to establish the training program, working with moderate Syrians who have been driven from their homes by Islamic militants. An estimated two-thirds of the approximately 30,000 extremists are in Syria.
"We have come a long way" in our ability to vet the moderate opposition and the U.S. learned a lot as it has funneled non-lethal aid to the rebels, Dempsey said.
Anti-war protesters filled the front rows at the hearing, chanting "no more war" at the start of the session and repeatedly interrupting the testimony. The protesters were escorted from the room.
Hagel said the involvement will not be "an easy or brief effort. We are at war with ISIL, as we are with al-Qaida."
At the White House, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who is coordinating international efforts to combat the Islamic State militants.
The legislation taking shape in Congress includes a provision stating that "nothing in this section shall be construed to constitute a specific statutory authorization for the introduction of U.S. armed forces into hostilities or into situations wherein hostilities are clearly indicated by the circumstances."
The provision reflects a congressional divide between hawks seeking tougher action than that proposed by Obama and lawmakers weary from more than a decade of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
____
AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and reporters Erica Werner, Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor and Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Some First Principles of American Military Strategy

Some very succinct, clear and common sense  guidance that could probably fit under the glass of most desks of people on the Hill and in the West Wing and the Old Executive Office Building.  Kudos to Army Strategists Bazin and Sukman.

Some First Principles of American Military Strategy


This post was provided by Aaron Bazin and Dan Sukman, US Army strategists. The views expressed in this piece are theirs alone and do not represent the US Army or the Department of Defense.
If the ability communicate complex ideas in an easily understood way is a valuable skill to the strategic thinker, then first principles offer one possible point of departure from which to begin any discussion on strategy. A few months ago, we posed a question on various strategy-related email chains and Facebook pages asking interested parties what the first principles of military strategy were. We got numerous responses; some humorous, some vitriolic, but all very interesting.
Development of a first principle is akin to boiling down information to uncover the elemental truth that lies within. We culled through the responses and necked down the subject to consider only ‘American’ military strategy to add further clarity and context. Then we tried to synthesize, combine, and distill each one down to the core of its essence. Our final list includes eight, but there are undoubtedly many, many more. We offer the outline of the first principles below for your consideration:
Problem Statement: What are the first principles of American military strategy?
Thesis: America is successful when it aligns the use of force with first principles that reflect the essence of its national character. These first principles could include:
1) Have a Strategy. America is successful when it clearly defines success in terms of ends, ways, means, and risk. Failure occurs when policymakers have tactical fixation, lack as unifying vision, or cannot define achievable goals (e.g. McNamara and body counts). Americans love to win; therefore strategy must define what winning means.
(Continued at the link below)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Retired Marine Gen. John Allen to coordinate Iraq, Syria effort

If I could make one recommendation to GEN Allen it would be to consider establishing a SOF-led command that could integrate the entire special warfare and surgical strike efforts.  Since it appears that special operations are going to provide the bulk of the ground advisory forces and the effort in Syria is likely to be one of unconventional warfare this might be a good time to employ SOF operational art that balances special warfare and surgical strike in order  to orchestrate the entire SOF effort on the ground.  I would recommend this so as not to become overly fixated on the counterterrorism effort and better employ the capabilities across the entire spectrum of SOF.  Interestingly I learned this summer that the old US Army Special Forces Command has be reorganized and re-designated as the 1st Special Forces Command and now consists of not only Special Forces but also Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations forces.  But most importantly it has developed a cadre of campaign planners to support the Theater Special Operations Commands.  These campaign support teams and the operational division equivalent headquarters might be well suited for orchestrating the campaign in Iraq and Syria (especially in Syria since it appears to  be an unconventional warfare heavy operation).  If I were GEN Allen I would ask for this capability.

Although some might say that it is not a tested HQ, I would be willing to bet that it would be superior to any ad hoc HQ we are putting together.  And I would say that this mission is not an appropriate one for JSOC, even if some special mission units may be employed.  The diversity of the special warfare requirements go beyond JSOC and its superior hyper-conventional killing capabilities.  


Retired Marine Gen. John Allen to coordinate Iraq, Syria effort


By LOLITA C. BALDOR 
The Associated Press
Published: September 11, 2014
WASHINGTON - Retired Marine Gen. John Allen will coordinate the broad international effort to battle the Islamic State militants, as the campaign against the extremist group ramps up and nations begin to determine what role each will play, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Allen, who has been serving as a security adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, is expected to work with the almost 40 nations around the world who have agreed to join the fight and help them coordinate what each will contribute, several officials told The Associated Press.
The officials spoke about Allen's expected appointment on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of an announcement.
Allen comes to the job with vast experience coordinating international allies on the warfront. He served as deputy commander in Iraq's Anbar province from 2006 to 2008, working with Arab partners on organizing the Sunni uprising against al-Qaida. He moved from there to serve for two years as the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military troops and operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
Allen next became the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, where he worked with international allies who sent troops to the battlefield.
As a result of his experience, Allen is very familiar many of the Middle East nations and leaders considered crucial to the latest effort to degrade and destroy the Islamic State group militants who have seized control of portions of Iraq and Syria in a ruthless reign of terror. He also has worked closely with most of the key military and diplomatic leaders, including Gen. Lloyd Austin, the current head of U.S. Central Command, who will oversee America's military campaign.
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night that the U.S. will be expanding airstrikes in Iraq and into Syria, in an aggressive move to root out the Islamic State group extremists where ever they are. Obama, Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have spent the last week meeting with international leaders overseas in an effort to build a broad coalition of nations - particularly Arab countries in the region - to aid the fight.
Officials are looking for partners to help train moderate Syrian rebels, work with the Iraqi security forces, contribute equipment, ammunition, intelligence, logistics and funding, as well as possibly also launch airstrikes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Full text of President Obama’s speech outlining strategy to defeat Islamic State

Strong words (but the end about how good the US is doing seems out of place for a war speech).  I am glad he is asking Congress for support though I still question that he has the authority to execute a long term campaign.  Sixty days under the war powers act but he is going to need a new authorization to execute a long term campaign.  He should ask for and get an authorization for the use of military force.

However destruction and a counterterrorism campaign are not compatible.  Characterizing this as a counterterrorism campaign and conducting a counterterrorism campaign is not going to lead to the destruction of ISIL/IS.  This is not going to be Somalia and Yemen (except maybe for the length of operations - but we certainly have not destroyed AL Shabaab and AQAP in Somalia and Yemen to date).  The myopic focus on counterterrorism is going to hurt this.  It seems like false front simply to deal with the American people's war weariness.   Counterterrorism campaigns do not lead to the destruction of large enemy forces.  The problem in short is that this strategy does not have balance and coherency among ends, ways and means. The end - destruction of ISIL/IS is not likely to be achieved by the way - a counterterrorism campaign. We have a mismatch in ends and means.  But I am afraid that the President and his advisors are enamored with lure of counterterrorism as evidenced in this excerpt.  Iraq is not Somalia and Yemen or Abbottabad. 

Excerpt:

As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.
...
...This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.
President Obama speaks on the phone with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah from the Oval Office on Wednesday, ahead of his address to the nation outlining his strategy to defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
September 10 at 9:01 PM
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Address to the Nation
September 10, 2014
Washington, D.C.
As Prepared for Delivery
My fellow Americans – tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people. Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia. We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.
Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL – which calls itself the “Islamic State.”
Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.
In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists – Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.
So ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States. While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.
I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve. Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances. Since then, we have conducted more than 150 successful airstrikes in Iraq. These strikes have protected American personnel and facilities, killed ISIL fighters, destroyed weapons, and given space for Iraqi and Kurdish forces to reclaim key territory. These strikes have helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. That’s why I’ve insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days. So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.
First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.
Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American service members to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi Security Forces. Now that those teams have completed their work – and Iraq has formed a government – we will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission – we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We will also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL control.
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I again call on Congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.
Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into – and out of – the Middle East. And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort.
Fourth, we will continue providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.
This is our strategy. And in each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity, and in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria to drive these terrorists from their lands. This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.
My Administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.
Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved – especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.
My fellow Americans, we live in a time of great change. Tomorrow marks 13 years since our country was attacked. Next week marks 6 years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. Yet despite these shocks; through the pain we have felt and the grueling work required to bounce back – America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.
Our technology companies and universities are unmatched; our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history. Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day – and that makes me more confident than ever about our country’s future.
Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America – our scientists, our doctors, our know-how – that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people – or the world – again. And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.
America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia – from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East – we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding. Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward. I do so as a Commander-in-Chief who could not be prouder of our men and women in uniform – pilots who bravely fly in the face of danger above the Middle East, and service-members who support our partners on the ground.
When we helped prevent the massacre of civilians trapped on a distant mountain, here’s what one of them said. “We owe our American friends our lives. Our children will always remember that there was someone who felt our struggle and made a long journey to protect innocent people.”
That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety – our own security – depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold the values that we stand for – timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.
May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE LONG WAR by Conrad Crane

Some very important observations by Conrad Crane, the man behind FM 3-24 whose name you rarely hear associated with it.

Please go to War on the Rocks and read the entire essay: http://warontherocks.com/2014/09/observations-on-the-long-war/

I strongly agree with his conclusion about being "COINfused" - not to be confused but to have a fusion between the COINtras and COINdinistas.

But I have to take some exception to his comments about SOF and FID.  I concur on the critical importance of FID and the FID approach but I disagree with his characterization that SOF has been drawn to much to the dark side (though the role reversal of SOF and conventional forces he describes in Iraq is accurate and interesting to consider - but that should be understood to be a function of those who designed, executed, and led the campaign plan).  I think the Army and the US Army Special Operations Command have well articulated the Yin and Yang of SOF with Special Warfare and Surgical Strike and the vast majority of SOF and in particular US Army Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations forces are conducting Special Warfare with particular emphasis on FID.  I think that what causes confusion is that there is a dominant narrative both in the press and in the military that revolves around the high payoff immediate effects of surgical strike and there is a major command and control headquarters that is conducting those operations.  Special Warfare does not currently have that type of headquarters to integrate Special Warfare on a global scale.  USSOCOM does not do that though the separate Theater Special Operations Commands at the Geographic Combatant Commands do command and control Special Warfare and FID operations.    But they will never achieve the notoriety of the forces conducting surgical strike and therefore there is a perceived imbalance.  His comment about headquarters and playing the super bowl is especially applicable to the conduct of Special Warfare and FID.  The only super bowl capable headquarters we have is the surgical strike headquarters. I do also agree with his comments about Air Force FID and with the need for the Coast Guard to conduct FID.

But all his observation are very much worth pondering, discussing, debating and using as we move forward.

Observations on the Long War

OBSERVATIONS ON THE LONG WAR

September 10, 2014 · in 
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For more than a decade, I have been recording reflections about the course of the so-called “Long War” launched after the tragic events of 9/11. These are based on many unique experiences: being the recorder for the 2002 Army After Action Review on Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle, developing prewar Army plans to reconstruct Iraq, serving as lead author for the 2006 version of Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24 on counterinsurgency, visiting Iraq in 2007 for General David Petraeus, working on projects analyzing wartime assessment and war termination for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Army Training and Doctrine Command, and innumerable conversations with insightful civilian and military veterans returned from the field. This commentary has also been shaped by many international travels and my own reading of history. I hope to provoke more critical thought about where the American military has been and where it should be going.
There are two approaches to warfare: asymmetric and stupid. I have been quoted on this topic a few times, and need to expand upon it. All competent belligerents will seek an edge in conflict. Such an edge could be found through new technology, superior numbers, more effective strategy, or innovative tactics. No one has pursued such advantages better than the United States. The American military today is the most asymmetric warfighting machine in the world. All of those so-called “asymmetric warfare” cells and centers scattered throughout DoD are really analyzing how other actors pursue common ways of countering U.S. advantages that are outside our own preferences. These means are often the purview of non-state actors. Perhaps they should be called “uncomfortable warfare” centers, to borrow from Max Manwaring. We are deluding ourselves if we do not recognize the unique ways and means of American warfare, and the fairly commonplace and pervasive application of others’ “asymmetric” approaches to oppose them.
Conflict termination has become even more difficult, and outcomes even more uncertain. I was privileged to be a member of the team called upon by General Dempsey, when he was TRADOC commander, to analyze how the United States ends its wars. The project produced a number of case studies and eventually a book. War aims and desired end states always change over time because wars always take on dynamics of their own, and both sides must agree on final conditions if hostilities are really going to cease. Sometimes vague objectives like “unconditional surrender” are enough to direct military actions, but even in World War II, the final political end states for defeated enemies were not determined until the gunfire stopped. As the United States enters contemporary conflicts with more partners, and against adversaries that that are often loose and shifting coalitions of non-state actors, the number of players who can influence termination has expanded, as has the difficulty of enforcing any sort of agreed upon end state. Mosaic wars require a mosaic peace, which can also vary significantly in character from village to village and region to region. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for in contemporary complex conflicts is to reduce violence to a tolerable level, rather than really conclude them.
Precision targeting is not always the answer. America’s airpower is its greatest asymmetric advantage in major combat operations. The U.S. Air Force has doggedly pursued the ideal of precision bombing since the 1930’s and has achieved truly remarkable levels of accuracy. But when military museums of former enemies develop displays portraying American warfighting, the dominant theme is one of massed airpower (Hanoi even has a separate “Museum to the Victory Over the B-52”). Obviously there are certain propaganda angles that can be exploited from that perspective, but discussions with Chinese, Vietnamese, and Iraqi veterans reveal the persistent power of such images. One of the key motivators that drove so much of the Iraqi Army to go home in 2003 was their memory of B-52s in 1991. Leaflets displaying those aircraft dropping scores of bombs were used to intimidate the Serbs during Operation Allied Force. The deterrent impact of such operations should not be ignored. During the writing of FM 3-24 in 2006, the proposed imperative of “Use the Minimum Level of Force” was finalized as “Use the Appropriate Level of Force,” because of the realization that there are times when one really needs to hammer an enemy to make an impression. And that impact may reverberate for many years, and in the minds of many other potential adversaries.
Who controls the ground controls the message. Despite the strength of American airpower, our real and potential adversaries have developed many ways to counter that asymmetric edge, and not just with expensive anti-access technology. These other approaches include so-called “lawfare” – the push for international legal restrictions on uses of force most commonly employed by the United States – as well as deft information campaigns to cause public backlash against perceived atrocities. As the U.S. military found in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, one of the drawbacks of “long-range precision strike,” whether by Special Operations Forces or a drone, is that whoever controls the ground in the aftermath controls how the media spins the results. America’s enemies have become adept at quickly producing images of destroyed mosques and dead children supposedly from such missions, but often from other, unrelated (or fictional) incidents. The results of investigations that may clear American forces of wrongdoing appear too many news cycles later to change the accepted narrative.
(Continued at the link below)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Russia Is Revolutionizing Information Warfare

I would call this political and unconventional warfare.   Actions speak louder than words and the Russian use of propaganda is backed by action.

But this is an interesting idea - Russian reinvents reality. we have seen this before so I think Putin may be a student of Mein Kampf and the big lie:

All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X

But I think the discussion of Putin and Greenwald and his "anti-establishment drive" in this conclusion is very interesting as well.


The pressure on reality from capitalism and Capitol Hill coincides with an anti-establishment drive in the U.S. that likewise claims that all truth is relative. In a Prospect magazine review of Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide, for instance, George Packer writes, “Greenwald has no use for the norms of journalism. He rejects objectivity, as a reality and an ideal.” (Similarly, RT’s managing director once told me that “there is no such thing as objective reporting.”) Examining the sins of omission, biased value judgments, and half-truths in Greenwald’s book, Packer concludes that “they reveal a mind that has liberated itself from the basic claims of fairness. Once the norms of journalism are dismissed, a number of constraints and assumptions fall away.” The ties that bind Greenwald and the Kremlin consist of more than a shared desire to ensure Edward Snowden’s safety. In some dark, ideological wood, Putin the authoritarian gay-basher and Greenwald the gay, leftist-libertarian meet and agree. And as the consensus for reality-based politics fractures, that space becomes ripe for exploitation. It’s precisely this trend that the Kremlin hopes to exploit.
Ultimately, many people in Russia and around the world understand that Russian political parties are hollow and Russian news outlets are churning out fantasies. But insisting on the lie, the Kremlin intimidates others by showing that it is in control of defining ‘reality.’ This is why it’s so important for Moscow to do away with truth. If nothing is true, then anything is possible. We are left with the sense that we don’t know what Putin will do next—that he’s unpredictable and thus dangerous. We’re rendered stunned, spun, and flummoxed by the Kremlin’s weaponization of absurdity and unreality.




How Russia Is Revolutionizing Information Warfare


At the NATO summit in Wales last week, General Philip Breedlove, the military alliance’s top commander, made a bold declaration. Russia, he said, is waging “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare.”
It was something of an underestimation. The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare. It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. Take Novorossiya, the name Vladimir Putin has given to the huge wedge of southeastern Ukraine he might, or might not, consider annexing. The term is plucked from tsarist history, when it represented a different geographical space. Nobody who lives in that part of the world today ever thought of themselves as living in Novorossiya and bearing allegiance to it—at least until several months ago. Now, Novorossiya is being imagined into being: Russian media are showing maps of its ‘geography,’ while Kremlin-backed politicians are writing its ‘history’ into school textbooks. There’s a flag and even a news agency (in English and Russian). There are several Twitter feeds. It’s like something out of a Borges story—except for the very real casualties of the war conducted in its name.
 

AUTHOR

Peter Pomerantsev is a TV producer based in London. He is the author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible, a forthcoming book about working inside Vladimir Putin’s postmodern dictatorship. Full Bio
The invention of Novorossiya is a sign of Russia’s domestic system of information manipulation going global. Today’s Russia has been shaped by political technologists—the viziers of the system who, like so many post-modern Prosperos, conjure up puppet political parties and the simulacra of civic movements to keep the nation distracted as Putin’s clique consolidates power. In the philosophy of these political technologists, information precedes essence. “I remember creating the idea of the ‘Putin majority’ and hey, presto, it appeared in real life,” Gleb Pavlovsky, a political technologist who worked on Putin’s election campaigns but has since left the Kremlin, told me recently. “Or the idea that ‘there is no alternative to Putin.’ We invented that. And suddenly there really was no alternative.”
“If previous authoritarian regimes were three parts violence and one part propaganda,” argues Igor Yakovenko, a professor of journalism at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, “this one is virtually all propaganda and relatively little violence. Putin only needs to make a few arrests—and then amplify the message through his total control of television.”
We saw a similar dynamic at work on the international stage in the final days of August, when an apparent Russian military incursion into Ukraine—and a relatively minor one at that—was made to feel momentously threatening. Putin invoked the need for talks on the statehood of southeastern Ukraine (with language that seemed almost purposefully ambiguous), leaving NATO stunned and Kiev intimidated enough to agree to a ceasefire. Once again, the term ‘Novorossiya’ made its way into Putin’s remarks, creating the sense that large territories were ready to secede from Ukraine when, in reality, the insurgents hold only a sliver of land. (For an earlier example of these geopolitical tricks, see Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency from 2008 to 2012, when Russia’s decoy leader inspired American faith in the possibility of a westward-facing Russia while giving the Kremlin time to cement power at home and entrench its networks abroad.)
* * *
The belief in the absolute power of propaganda has roots in Soviet thinking. Jacques Ellul, in his classic 1965 study of the subject, wrote, “The Communists, who do not believe in human nature but only in the human condition, believe that propaganda is all-powerful, legitimate (whenever they employ it), and instrumental in creating a new type of man.”
But there is one great difference between Soviet propaganda and the latest Russian variety. For the Soviets, the idea of truth was important—even when they were lying. Soviet propaganda went to great lengths to ‘prove’ that the Kremlin’s theories or bits of disinformation were fact. When the U.S.government accused the Soviets of spreading disinformation—such as the story that the CIA invented AIDS as a weapon—it would cause howls of outrage from top Russian figures, including General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
(Continued at the link below)