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, December 17, 2014

Brief Thoughts on Responses to north Korean Cyber Terrorism

If it is north Korea how should we respond? Besides all the obvious ones (e.g., sanctions, statements of condemnation) here are a few for consideration.

There are four major diplomatic, economic/financial and military actions that can be taken to have a significant impact on Kim Jong-un's authority and the ability to keep the regime together.

One is to focus on the financial aspects of the regime's illicit activities and reprise the Banco Delta Asia actions but on a scale even greater than the $25 million.  Of course this would take Chinese agreement and tacit support.

The diplomatic action would be to persuade countries around the world where north Korean diplomats are conducting illicit activities to enforce their national laws and at a minimum declare them PNG and have them sent home or on the more extreme end incarcerate them for breaking national laws as they participate in drug trafficking, counterfeiting, and other illicit activities while hiding behind their diplomatic immunity.  The specific focus would be on Department 39.  Effective intelligence sharing and law enforcement activities could cripple the regime's ability to gain hard currency which could cause a loss of support among the regime elite and bring the regime to its knees.

The third action would be an aggressive enforcement of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).  Diplomatically the US should request all contributors to PSI to conduct enforcement actions together with the US to interdict the north's proliferation activities around the world which would also cut off the flow of hard currency to the regime as well as military material flowing to other bad actors.

The fourth would be to conduct cyber operations against north Korean commercial interests (illicit and front organizations) around the world (again this would reduce regime access to hard currency and resources).  Or as an alternative directly target the nKPA's hacking units and try to shut down their access to the internet (if that is possible).

These are some specific ways to get at the center of power of the regime and possibly influence regime behavior by creating a very painful existence for the regime and its elite.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Instruments of Statecraft: US Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism 1940-1990

  As we consider Unconventional Warfare, Political Warfare, and Counter-Unconventional Warfare in the 21st Century and look to operate in the strategic gap between peace and conflict or between diplomacy and war, this book looks at the US experience in the Cold War and provides many lessons for consideration.  Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counter-Insurgency, Counter-Terrorism, 1940-1990 by Michael McClintock, Pantheon Books, March 31, 1992.

Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990

PART ONE: Cold War and Special Warfare
  1. Interest, Intervention, and Containment
  2. Toward a Doctrine of Special Warfare
  3. The Legacy of World War II
  4. Toward a New Counterinsurgency: Philippines, Laos, and Vietnam
  5. Waging Unconventional Warfare: Guatemala, the Congo, and the Cubans
PART TWO: Camelot and Counterinsurgency
  1. The Kennedy Crusade
  2. The Apparatus in the Field
  3. Edward Geary Lansdale and the New Counterinsurgency
  4. The Heart of Doctrine
  5. Counterterror and Counterorganization
  6. Tactical Totalitarianism
  7. The Problem of Ideology
PART THREE: Special Warfare and Low-lntensity Conflict
  1. The Carter Years
  2. Morning in America and the Special Warfare Revival
  3. The Special Forces' Buildup
  4. The Middle East Calls the Shots
  5. Watching the Neighbors: Low-Intensity Conflict in Central America
  6. An Un-American Way of War

© 2002 Michael McClintock

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Is Peaceful Korean Unification Possible?

I outline what I think are  the four broad paths to Korean unification at this link.

Is Peaceful Korean Unification Possible?

By DEC. 11, 2014

After decades of dreaming of a reunified North and South Korea, many South Koreans, young people in particular, now see unification as irrelevant or too costly. This gives urgency to the effort by Park Geun-hye, president of South Korea, to boost domestic support for unification and lay the practical groundwork to make it happen.

The dream is at once quixotic and prudent. On the one hand, it is hard to imagine the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, voluntarily giving up his family-run dictatorship. On the other, recent Middle East history has shown how quickly borders can shift and regimes can crumble. If that should happen on the Korean Peninsula, leaders there and elsewhere in the region must be prepared to manage a hugely complex and disruptive transition.

As part of her initiative, Ms. Park has named a 50-member commission — including private-sector experts, government officials and the heads of six state-run research institutes — to develop a vision of what a unified Korea might look like, as well as road maps for getting there. In the best case, peaceful reunification would reunite long-separated families, free 24 million North Koreans from dictatorship, enhance regional security and eliminate North Korea’s nuclear threat. Unfortunately, other outcomes seem more likely: the continuation of the present hostile impasse, or, conceivably, the violent collapse of the North Korean regime.

A key player in the peninsula’s future will be China, the North’s chief political patron and the source of its fuel and food imports. Fearful of chaos on its border, China has long refused to exert the kind of pressure that would force radical change in Pyongyang. But China has recently shown more willingness to listen to South Korea on the unification issue, a good sign since Beijing’s cooperation in managing that process would be essential.

Ms. Park is the latest South Korean president to push for unification. But as the differences between the countries harden and younger generations of South Koreans lose interest, she may also be the last.

A version of this editorial appears in print on December 12, 2014, on page A34 of the New York edition with the headline: Is Peaceful Korean Unification Possible?. Order ReprintsToday's Paper|Subscribe

Friday, December 12, 2014

What sites to use to watch North Korea

What sites to use to watch North Korea

By David Maxwell, Best Defense guest columnist
Tom Ricks asked me to provide ten blogs/resources that Korean experts use to keep up on north Korea. By providing the links and references I use I am not implying that I am a north Korean expert, as there are no real experts on north Korea. We can only at best be students of north Korea, trying to understand the most opaque, tyrannical, and horrific regime arguably in the existence of the nation-state. In no particular order, here are some of the websites and resources that I use to try to better understand the situation and keep up with current events.
  1. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA): This is the official north Korean news agency and provides stories and news reports about north Korea written by trusted members of the regime. Although many will discount the bombastic rhetoric and blatant falsehoods, careful reading and study provides insights into how the regime responds to and thinks about events that concern the Kim Family Regime. And the bombastic rhetoric can be entertaining.
  1. The Daily North Korean (DailyNK): Published in South Korea by north Korean defectors. This site can be criticized by those who accuse north Korea defectors of having an agenda (they do, of course), but the site has many connections to people inside north Korea, and the experiences of defectors provide insights that cannot be found elsewhere, at least in reports provided on a daily basis. If you happen to be interested in unconventional warfare planning in north Korea, I recommend following this website. Of course, the information coming out of north Korea through this and every source should be treated with some skepticism until it can be vetted.
  1. U.S. Korea Institute at SAIS (38North): As stated on its website, it provides informed analysis of events in and around the DPRK. In addition to informed and quite good analysis, the site provides a lot of imagery of north Korea, often with analysis by Curtis Melvin, who in my opinion is the best imagery analyst never to have been trained by the US government intelligence community. He is masterful at interpreting imagery from open sources. You can also see his work and analysis at his blog, North Korean Economy Watch.
  1. Yonhap News is the semi-official South Korean news service. It provides timely new on events in both north and South Korea. Sometimes its articles require subscription access, but they can also be accessed through other sites such as Global PostThe Korean Herald, or The Korea Times.
  1. NDU North Korean Site (North Korean MIPAL): Although not a blog, this is a very useful archive of a very large amount official and unofficial documents concerning policy, strategy and the full range of scholarly work as well as key news articles on north Korea.
  1. NightWatch: John McCreary produces a daily overnight global intelligence summary assessing key events during the work week. Although Korea is not always covered, it often is, because John McCreary is a retired Asia and Korean analyst from the US intelligence community, so his expert Korea analysis is very useful. You can also subscribe to his email service.
(Continued at the link below)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

FBI official: 'No attribution' to N. Korea in Sony hack probe

I will have to leave it to the cyber experts but it seems like we are trying hard to make this not attributable to north Korea.  Seems like north Korea is the state with the capability and intent to execute such an attack. Are we more worried about the north's response to such accusations?  Are we worried that too much pressure is being put on the Kim Family Regime as the Commission of Inquiry's Human Rights report goes to the UN Security Council?  Given the north Korean threats of late the north, if the north did execute this cyber attack and we have evidence of it and decide to downplay it or refute the allegations against it, the regime will likely interpret our action as justifying their threats and blackmail diplomacy.  All they have to do is make threats of nuclear and missile tests and the US will back down to try to prevent a provocation.  We may be reinforcing bad behavior. Could a policy decision be trumping reality and common sense?  And to speculate even further is the Administration really thinking about re-engaging with the 6 party talks; e.g., if there is a violent provocation it would force a further delay in US engagement (yet this cyber attack should be seen as a severe provocation that in this instance cost some treasure to a corporation, what if the next cyber attack targets infrastructure and causes casualties?   Yes , I am probably exaggerating and can be called chicken little and the boy who cried wolf.  But if north Korea did this and we are deliberately trying to not attribute this to the north we may as well be paying ransom to kidnappers because the regime will not stop with this one when they assess they can get away with more.

FBI official: 'No attribution' to N. Korea in Sony hack probe

An entrance gate to Sony Pictures Entertainment at the Sony Pictures lot is pictured in Culver...

An entrance gate to Sony Pictures Entertainment at the Sony Pictures lot is pictured in Culver City, Calif., in this April 14, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

Dec 9, 2014, Last Updated: 3:27 PM ET
WASHINGTON  - A senior FBI official said on Tuesday that the agency has not confirmed widely held suspicions that North Korea is behind the unprecedented cyber attack on Sony's Hollywood studio.
"There is no attribution to North Korea at this point," Joe Demarest, assistant director with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cyber division, said while speaking on a panel at a cybersecurity conference sponsored by Bloomberg Government.
The comment casts at least some doubt on the widely held belief that North Korea has definitely been determined to be the culprit in the massive attack on the Hollywood studio, leaving room for other theories to emerge.
Cybersecurity researchers who have analyzed the malicious software used in the attack say that technical indicators suggest North Korean hackers launched the attack. People close to separate investigations being conducted by Sony and the government have told Reuters that North Korea is a principal suspect, yet a North Korean diplomat has denied that his nation is involved.
Demarest also said that there has been no confirmation of government involvement to date, though he did not elaborate.
FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell said the agency is continuing its search for the attackers but had no additional information.
Demarest's brief comments were the first public remarks by a senior FBI official about its investigation into the unprecedented attack on U.S. soil. Hackers stole vast quantities of data, then used malicious software to wipe data on computers, shutting down much of the Sony Corp unit's network for more than a week.
FBI representatives plan to meet with Sony employees on Wednesday to provide them training in cybersecurity practices, Campbell said.
"As part of our commitment to helping private industry protect against the threat posed by malicious cyber criminals, the FBI routinely provides briefings on cyber security awareness," he said.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

U.S: Al Qaeda kills hostages during SEALs raid on Yemen

An unfortunate outcome of course.  We should keep in mind the title of James Kyle's book on Operation Eagle Claw - "The Guts to Try."

The only good that could have come out of this would have been for the administration to establish a new precedent and not name the unit conducting the operation and discussing the details - lot of operational information  - launched from the USS Makin Island - CV-22 infil 10km from the objective, team compromised on the last 100 yards - surgeon aboard CV-22, etc.  We really should stop releasing the names of units and operational information.  Especially the names of units should not be released after the warnings on the military use of social media because of potential terrorist targeting.

U.S: Al Qaeda kills hostages during SEALs raid on Yemen

By Barbara Starr, Jim Sciutto and Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 6:04 PM EST, Sat December 6, 2014

  • State Department didn't know other hostage was South African, official tells CNN
  • Luke Somers "was really dedicated to Yemen," acquaintance tells CNN
  • Somers, a photojournalist, was captured in September last year
  • South African hostage Pierre Korkie was to be released on Sunday
(CNN) -- The element of surprise was lost in a failed U.S. military raid to rescue two Western hostages being held by al Qaeda militants in Yemen, a senior Defense Department official said Saturday.
American photojournalist Luke Somers and South African Pierre Korkie, a "respected teacher" who was to be released on Sunday, were fatally shot in the compound by a terrorist as the secret mission unfolded, a U.S. official said.
The relief group Gift of the Givers, which was helping secure Korkie's release, had recently informed his wife that "the waiting is almost over." CNN reported earlier that Korkie worked for Gift of the Givers, but the relief group said that he did not.
"Three days ago, we told her 'Pierre will be home for Christmas,'" said the group, which identified the South African hostage as Korkie. "We certainly did not mean it in the manner it has unfolded."
He was an "innocent man, a respected teacher," Korkie's wife, Yolande, said in a video made before his death.
President Barack Obama ordered Friday's mission because "there were compelling reasons to believe Mr. Somers' life was in imminent danger," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.
A video of Somers pleading for his life was released earlier this week by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. was given three days to comply with unspecified demand. Time was running out.
Arrangements for Korkie's release may have been missed by the White House.
The Obama administration assessed that there were two individuals at the location but did not know one was South African or that negotiations were underway for his release, a senior State Department official told CNN's Elise Labott.
Korkie and his wife were abducted in May of last year, but AQAP subsequently let her go. On Friday, a team of local leaders was finalizing arrangements to reunite Korkie with his wife and children, the relief group said in a statement.
Obama's decision
The President condemned AQAP's killing of the two hostages and explained his decision to authorize the rescue attempt.
"Earlier this week, a video released by his terrorist captors announced that Luke would be killed within 72 hours," Obama said in statement. "I also authorized the rescue of any other hostages held in the same location as Luke."
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that the President had received a recommendation to authorize the operation.
Obama offered his condolences to Somers' family.
"I also offer my thoughts and prayers to the family of a non-U.S. citizen hostage who was also murdered by these terrorists during the rescue operation," the statement read. "Their despair and sorrow at this time are beyond words."
'They lost the element of surprise'
The operation took place Friday at 5 p.m. ET, a U.S. official told CNN's Barbara Starr.
On Thursday, the Defense Department became aware of enough new intelligence about the location of the hostages to stage a rescue mission, the official said. A senior Defense Department official traveling with Hagel in Afghanistan said that the operation was accelerated because there was intelligence that Somers would be killed on Saturday morning (Eastern time).
Obama and Hagel were briefed the next day.
Two Osprey aircraft transported a team of about three dozen U.S. Navy SEALs, mainly from SEAL Team Six, and a combat medical team near the captives' location. There were no Yemeni forces with the U.S. commandos.
(Continued at the link below)