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, September 28, 2014

Korean DMZ Veterans 1954 to 1991


At the link is a 3 minute video of photos of Freedom Bridge and the DMZ.  I think I have stood in every location around the bridge from which each photo was taken.  To all my good friends and brothers who have stood guard at Freedom Bridge and patrolled the DMZ in those years:  Keep up the Fire and Stands Alone.

Thanks to Thomas Lucken for putting this together and posting it.

Korean DMZ Veterans 1954 to 1991


Published on Sep 27, 2014
This is dedicated to all those who served on the Korea DMZ from 1954 to 1991. We did a duty, most never knew about or will never understand! More then a few of our brothers gave it all and the 

Obama adviser: Trained Syrian rebels could fight Assad

Is there anyone on Obama's team (his closest advisers who have been through the "crucible" of the 2008/2012 campaigns who really sufficiently understands unconventional and political warfare as is being practiced today? (and I am not talking about partisan political warfare which admittedly the administration is well qualified to conduct).  I know there are experts in the Pentagon and perhaps even on the NSC who could really explain the difficulty that we face in conducting effective unconventional warfare and the folly of a simplistic train and equip program with the objective of hoping that a trained and equipped Syrian force will on its own (or with US air power) defeat ISIL/IS sometime in the future.  But if, as I have heard but of course do not know for sure,  the only people with credibility on the national security staff are those who have been through the election crucible my fear is that the President may not be getting the best advice (despite the Chairman and Joint Chiefs attempting to do so by giving their best military advice).

As an example I am hearing from people on the ground who really have insights into the situation that there is no "moderate opposition" and despite the attempts at training forces over the past months there are no actual vetted Syrian opposition forces.  Yet we hear from Administration officials that there are and our plans are dependent on them to achieve our objectives:

“The moderate opposition is key to both being able a counterweight on the ground to ISIL, and then, over time, also being a counterweight to Assad,” he added.
The quote below cries out for effective unconventional and political warfare.  But I have to ask again - is there a really a feasible unconventional and political warfare solution and do we have Administration officials who really understand what such a campaign and strategy would entail?  
“Building them up enables us to have forces on the ground that can deal with ISIL as we use our air power and other unique assets,” Blinken said. “At the same time, if you’re going to change the dynamics in Syria, if you’re going to get to a political transition that moves Assad out, you’re going to have to have a strong moderate opposition.”

I truly hope  Mike Nagata is doing a thorough assessment of the situation to include the true resistance potential and the feasibility of conducting an unconventional and political warfare campaign and if he finds it unfeasible I hope that people will listen to them.  And if he finds it feasible I truly hope that he will be properly resourced and supported for the duration plus six months so he can accomplish his mission. (my turn to invoke the hope COA)


Obama adviser: Trained Syrian rebels could fight Assad


By Timothy Cama - 09/28/14 09:43 AM EDT

A top adviser to President Obama said the military intends for Syrian rebels to use their training to fight President Bashar al-Assad after they fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken laid out the strategy in response to criticism from Fox News’s Chris Wallace that the United States’ involvement in Syria is alienating anti-Assad rebels who see the fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL, as helping Assad.
“We’ve seen strong expressions of support from the Syrian opposition for the effort that we’re making against ISIL,” Blinken said on "Fox News Sunday," using another acronym for the terror group.
“The moderate opposition is key to both being able a counterweight on the ground to ISIL, and then, over time, also being a counterweight to Assad,” he added.
Wallace said anti-Assad Syrians were protesting around the country Friday against the U.S. airstrikes that started last week in an attempt to hit ISIS. Those protesters represent the same moderate Syrians that the U.S. is training and arming to fight ISIS on the ground, so that it does not have to send American troops.
But Blinken was certain that the moderate Syrians support the U.S. mission.
“Building them up enables us to have forces on the ground that can deal with ISIL as we use our air power and other unique assets,” Blinken said. “At the same time, if you’re going to change the dynamics in Syria, if you’re going to get to a political transition that moves Assad out, you’re going to have to have a strong moderate opposition.”
Wallace asked if the military is planning to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria to protect civilians from Assad’s forces.
Blinken did not endorse the idea, but said the White House is considering it among a suite of options in its efforts in Syria.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Defending South Korea: Transferring Wartime Operational Command (OPCON)



The Heritage Foundation
Cordially Invites You

Defending South Korea:
Transferring Wartime Operational Command (OPCON)

Featuring a Keynote Address by
General B. B. Bell, U.S. Army (ret.)
Former Commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command, and United Nations Command

Followed by a Panel Discussion with
David S. Maxwell
Associate Director, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University

Michael E. O'Hanlon
Senior Fellow and Foreign Policy Research Director, The Brookings Institution

Hosted by
Bruce Klingner
Senior Research Fellow, Northeast Asia, The Heritage Foundation

The decision to return wartime operational control (OPCON) of Republic of Korea military forces to that country’s government has been controversial since its 2007 inception.  Washington and Seoul appear on the cusp of again postponing the scheduled date for OPCON transition.  Seoul cites North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities as justification for delay while others argue its past time for America’s ally to assume primary responsibility for its defense.

Beyond the timing of the transfer, there are concerns that the current plan to split the combined command into two separate commands is ill-advised and potentially dangerous during hostilities.  Indeed, Washington and Seoul have so fixated on OPCON transition as to be distracted from ensuring robust combined and integrated allied capabilities to deter and defeat the North Korean military threat.

Join us as General B.B. Bell, formerly the senior U.S. commander in South Korea, provides his thoughts and recommendations on this timely and important issue, followed by a panel of distinguished experts.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 – 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. 

The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium

RSVP online | or call (202) 675-1752
Terms and conditions of attendance are posted at heritage.org/Events/terms.cfm
All events may be viewed live at heritage.org
News media inquiries, call (202) 675-1761
 

214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE | Washington, DC 20002 | (202) 546-4400

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

U.S. lawmakers express support for Park's policy on unification

Maybe we can get the US government to develop a policy and more importantly a strategy to support the ROK in pursuit of unification.  Since our policy of strategic patience has become one of strategic paralysis, maybe a shift to a strategy based on support ROK unification would be more effective (certainly it would in the long run).

U.S. lawmakers express support for Park's policy on unification

2014/09/23 03:52
By Chang Jae-soon
WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- A group of U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday, praising and supporting her handling of North Korea and efforts to seek unification with the communist nation.
The letter, co-signed by 14 members of the House of Representatives led by Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA), was timed with Park's arrival in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly, where she plans to deliver a keynote speech about unification.
The lawmakers said that last month's visit to South Korea by Pope Francis "not only highlighted but confirmed the important leadership role that Korea is actively playing in the Asia-Pacific region." They called the South a "key U.S. ally, indispensable partner and friend."

   "We applaud your strong leadership and conviction especially in light of the continued acts of destabilization by North Korea," the letter said. "We support your efforts to maintain a firm and consistent posture against any threats and provocations by North Korea, while also seeking avenues for peaceful dialogue with the North for the eventual reunification."

   The lawmakers also expressed support for Park's vision for unification, known as the "Dresden" declaration, as well as her initiatives at increased reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, targeted humanitarian assistance and promotion of educational and cultural exchange programs.
The "Dresden" declaration was so named because Park unveiled it in a speech in the former East German city earlier this year. It calls for gradually expanding economic and other exchanges and cooperation between the two sides so as to lay the groundwork for unification.
The congressmen noted and congratulated Park on the establishment of a presidential committee on unification.
Recalling Park's speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress last year, they said Park's Korean Peninsula trust process is an important policy priority. They also expressed support for her vision to create a peace park in the Demilitarized Zone.
"Madam President, we reiterate our support for your initiative for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia as well as your goals and vision outlined in your Dresden Address," they said. "May we one day see a reunified Korea free of tyranny, oppression and suffering, and we look forward to partnering with you in the U.S. Congress to realize this important and shared objective."

   Connolly is co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Korea and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The lawmaker, who is known as a champion of the U.S.-Korea alliance, also played a role in the House passage of the North Korea sanctions bill in July.
The 12 other congressmen are Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Tom Reed (R-NY), Michael Honda (D-CA), Luke Messer (R-IN), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Billy Long (R-MO), Doug Collins (R-GA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).
(END)

Security studies master’s programs prep grads to defend national security

Claire was a great student in our program and one of eight from our program to be selected as a Presidential Management Fellow. I also had the pleasure of having her as  student in my class.

Security studies master’s 

programs prep grads to 

defend national security


Claire McCleskey enrolled in Georgetown’s Center for Security Studies Program after she finished college. She graduated in May and has been appointed a Presidential Management Fellow. (Jason Hornick/For Express)
As an undergrad at Georgetown, Claire McCleskey majored in security studies, a field that covers threats to national security like terrorism, weapons proliferation and international crime. When senior year came around, McCleskey knew she wasn’t quite done.
In the fall of her senior year, she took a class on terrorism, she says, “and I realized, ‘Wow, I love this, I want more of this.’ ”
So McCleskey, now 24, enrolled in Georgetown’s Center for Security Studies Program for a master’s degree, hoping to one day go into federal law enforcement.
The move was practical, she says. “The reality of the job market in D.C. was that if you didn’t have a master’s you didn’t have a lot of options,” McCleskey says.
Joanna Spear, director of the Security Policy Studies master’s program at George Washington University, says the job market is still tough for students who don’t have a master’s.
“We get people who have been out working for a number of years,” Spear says. “And then increasingly we’re also getting a community who are coming straight from undergraduate, because those entry-level jobs aren’t there anymore.”
Spear says the GW program is aimed at giving students skills to be competitive in the job market. For example, in addition to required classes in international security politics, defense policy and program analysis, students take economics and either a language course or quantitative analysis course, “because we’re in the era of Big Data now,” she says.
Past GW security studies students have gotten jobs at think tanks, nonprofits or in the government, including agencies like the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But, Spear says, the sequestration and shrinking federal budgets that caused the dearth of entry-level jobs are also prompting security professionals to look to new fields.
“I’m certainly thinking more about the private sector and what type of satisfying security careers you could have using the same skills,” Spear says.
To prepare students for the job market, many security studies programs in the D.C. area are set up so students can work or intern while taking classes. Most have classes on evenings and weekends. It typically takes between two and three years to complete the programs.
“I wanted it to be, ‘During the day I’m working and tonight I’m going to class,’ ” McCleskey says. “Which is what SSP students do.”
McCleskey, who graduated in May and found an appointment as aPresidential Management Fellow, says during school Georgetown helped her land an internship in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In fact, it was one of her professors who suggested she apply.
“Sometimes you think a master’s is going to be a magic bullet, and someone is going to hand you a job, which is not at all what happens,” McCleskey says. “But someone saying, ‘Hey, you should try this,’ is half the battle.”
McCleskey says her professors’ knowledge of the industry — which many still work in — has been an asset to the program.
“There are professors that are so approachable and want to get beers with you,” she says. “And then you learn that they had some really, really fancy job, and if you knew them in the workplace you wouldn’t be calling them by their first name.”
(Continued at the link below)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Obama Taps Star General To Build Syrian Rebel Army to Fight ISIS

It is about time.  A couple of comments.

First, Mike is the first career Special Forces officer who has been given overall command of an operation in the Middle East/South Asia since 9-11. There probably no one better qualified from any branch to do this.

Second, I hope that his mission is not only a train and equip program but that he is allowed to orchestrate a campaign in Syria that is based on unconventional warfare.  Congressmen should be demanding a comprehensive UW campaign based on this excerpt:

“They can show you lots of information on who they trained, where they came from and what kind of gear we gave them,” one lawmaker told The Daily Beast about the CIA training program. “But they can’t tell you what happens to them once they cross the border into Syria.” This lawmaker said this is because Obama has opposed embedding any U.S. personnel inside the opposition units once they are trained. “This is like throwing a bunch of guns over the border and saying, ‘Good Luck.’” 

If they do that and a comprehensive UW campaign turns out to not be feasible I am sure that Mike will so inform the leadership.  But a train and equip program is insufficient to accomplish our strategic objectives.

Staff Sgt. Horace Murray

WORLD NEWS

 
09.21.14

Obama Taps Star General To Build Syrian Rebel Army to Fight ISIS

General Michael Nagata is promising to build a new force to destroy ISIS but lawmakers worry he has been given an impossible mission.
As lawmakers prepared to take a risky and fateful vote on Obama’s plan to train and equip the Syrian rebels, the man who assured them it could be done was Gen. Michael Nagata, Obama’s point man for the mission to build an ISIS-killing army in Syria.
There are skeptics both inside and outside the government who doubt Obama’s new plan to arm the Syrian rebels can work. First of all, the administration has said for years that the moderate opposition can’t be a reliable partner for the United States in Syria. Only last month, Obama said that the rag-tag bunch of “former doctors, farmers, and pharmacists” could never win their civil war and the whole idea that arming them earlier would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy.”
Then Obama made a complete reversal, announced that portions of the Free Syrian Army were now vetted enough to help the U.S. fight against ISIS, and called on Congress to vote to give him authority train and arm them. Congress went along, but only after hearing from Nagata, who briefed both House and Senate members and staffers in classified settings and told them how he would get it done. Those briefed said they were impressed by the General but remained concerned Obama’s plan was fatally flawed.
Nagata has experience in the area. U.S. military officials say Nagata helped devise much of U.S. special operations support for Jordan. These officials also say Nagata also has worked on plans with the CIA at the secret Jordanian base used to train up Syrian rebels under the still secret but well reported joint DOD-CIA program that began in 2012. Nagata is currently in charge of special operations command for Central Command, the military command that includes Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. 
Lawmakers who have been briefed on the new Syrian train and equip program—which unlike the old one is entirely under military command as opposed to the CIA—raised concerns that it will suffer from the same flaws as the CIA program that began in 2012. 
“They can show you lots of information on who they trained, where they came from and what kind of gear we gave them,” one lawmaker told The Daily Beast about the CIA training program. “But they can’t tell you what happens to them once they cross the border into Syria.” This lawmaker said this is because Obama has opposed embedding any U.S. personnel inside the opposition units once they are trained. “This is like throwing a bunch of guns over the border and saying, ‘Good Luck.’” 
So far, according to this lawmaker, the CIA has trained no more than 3,000 rebels since 2012 out of the Jordanian base. 
(Continued at the link below)

Grand Illusion in Syria (vetting the resistance)

It is time that strategic decision makers understand the nature of unconventional warfare.  Vetting is not a one time event.  You do not turn the stop light power point chart from red to yellow to green. vetting is an ongoing process.  Training and equipping forces outside of Syria for the next year and then reinserting them to fight ISIL/IS sounds like a nice plan but we are only training tactical forces and as everyone knows some if not many will end up going to the other side or to other resistance organizations.  The key question that decision makers need to ask is what are we doing to advise, assist, and influence the underground and the real resistance leadership.  Sure we might train battalion commanders in Jordan, or Qatar or Kuwait or wherever but we need to get to the real resistance leadership.  And it is only if we get to that leadership and the underground we will be able to continue to monitor those already vetted as well as vet new personnel.

The real question for Congress should be are we going to authorize and approve a train and equip program or are we going to have a strategy and campaign plan of which real unconventional warfare is going to be a major component.  Programs do not accomplish strategic objectives in war or conflict or whatever we are going to call Syria.  Only strategy and campaign plans can.  Programs (and from what I have read about this one in the media) are tactically focused and not strategic or operational.  

Of course a complete and thorough assessment from an unconventional warfare perspective may reveal that there are serious and perhaps insurmountable problems at least in the near term.  So I suppose it is easier to just execute a program and hope something good comes of it.  Yes I said hope.

Those allies are the “moderate” and “vetted” — euphemisms for “not as scary as the other guys” — rebels in Syria, whom Congress voted last week to finance and train and arm. As fighting forces go, they promise to be rather less impressive than the last army we trained, since if all goes well just 5,000 rebels will be ready for the fight this year, or about one-sixth as many fighters as ISIS now has under arms. (And those odds get even longer when you consider that the rebels intend to use our weapons to fight the Assad regime as well.)Perhaps, just perhaps, there might be a lesson here about how hard it is to conjure up reliable allies amid the chaos of the current Middle East. But if so, we seem determined not to learn it, since our official strategy for fighting the Islamic State involves basically trying the same thing again, this time on the cheap: inventing allies, funneling them money and weaponry, and telling ourselves that it will all work out.



ACROSS years of war and at an extraordinary cost, the United States built an army that was supposed to prevent jihadists from gaining a sanctuary in the heart of the Middle East. It had American-trained leaders, American-made weaponry and 250,000 men under arms — far more troops and firepower than any insurgent force that might emerge to challenge it. 
That army was the Iraqi Army, and we know what happened next: The Syrian civil war spilled over into Iraq, jihadists first found a foothold and then led an insurgency against the Iraqi military, and the jihadists won. American-organized units were routed; American-trained soldiers fled; American-made weapons fell into the hands of the Islamic State, the self-declared caliphate with which we ourselves are now at war.

Those allies are the “moderate” and “vetted” — euphemisms for “not as scary as the other guys” — rebels in Syria, whom Congress voted last week to finance and train and arm. As fighting forces go, they promise to be rather less impressive than the last army we trained, since if all goes well just 5,000 rebels will be ready for the fight this year, or about one-sixth as many fighters as ISIS now has under arms. (And those odds get even longer when you consider that the rebels intend to use our weapons to
 fight the Assad regime as well.)Perhaps, just perhaps, there might be a lesson here about how hard it is to conjure up reliable allies amid the chaos of the current Middle East. But if so, we seem determined not to learn it, since our official strategy for fighting the Islamic State involves basically trying the same thing again, this time on the cheap: inventing allies, funneling them money and weaponry, and telling ourselves that it will all work out.
If our failure to build an army capable of stabilizing Iraq after our departure looks like a pure tragedy, then the arm-the-rebels gambit in Syria has more than a whiff of farce. But really it’s a studied evasion, a way for this administration to pretend that we don’t face a set of deeply unpleasant options in our quest to contain or crush the caliphate.
The first realistic, non-farcical option is the one that the president seemed to choose initially, when he launched limited airstrikes to rescue the embattled Kurds last month. This would basically be a strategy of containment and attrition, oriented around the current lines of battle in Iraq, in which we see if the Kurds and those Iraqi Army units that didn’t collapse can push the front westward, see if a post-Maliki government can woo local Sunni leaders, and use our air power to degrade the caliphate’s fighting capacity while letting its internal weaknesses degrade it from within.
The trouble with containment is that it would leave the Islamic State in control of a great deal of territory (with more beheading videos, no doubt) for months and years to come. Hence the administration’s pivot to Syria; hence the strategic dream palace that is our arm-the-rebels strategy.
(Continued at the link below)