Friday, November 30, 2012

Afghanistan Order of Battle from the Institute for the Study of War

Just in case anyone wants to know the Order of Battle for Afghanistan the Institute for the Study of War has graciously provided the attached document of the partial order of battle  at the web site below.  Note the caveats in the excerpted paragraph. It is fascinating to scroll through the names of the unit commanders.  Also the 108 footnotes are interesting.  Note information derived even from unit FaceBook pages.  Excellent example of what is available on Social Media and other sources to track this type of information.  As an example I have pasted the first 5 footnotes below.  From an OPSEC perspective we have to learn to operate in the age of global and social media where there is so much transparency.

This document describes the composition and placement of U.S. and other Western combat forces in Afghanistan down to battalion level. It includes the following categories of units: maneuver (i.e. infantry, armor, and cavalry) units, which in most cases are responsible for particular districts or provinces; artillery units, including both those acting as provisional maneuver units and those in traditional artillery roles; aviation units, both rotary and fixed-wing; military police units; most types of engineer and explosive ordnance disposal units; and “white” special operations forces, described in general terms. It does not include “black” special operations units or other units such as logistical, transportation, medical, and intelligence units or Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

For researchers and students, the document at this link combines all the orders of battle from October 2012 back to February 2009.

1 Established in the summer of 2012, SOJTF-A/NSOCC-A is a two-star headquarters that oversees all three allied SOF commands in Afghanistan: CJSOTF-A, ISAF SOF, and the “black” special operations forces of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command task force. See USSOCOM Fact Book 2013. 
2 CJSOTF-A is headquartered by troops from the 3rd Special Forces Group. Its core tasks are to advise the Afghan National Army’s special operations forces (the Afghan commando kandaks and Special Forces) and to train and advise the local police forces associated with the Village Stability Operations program. CJSOTF-A  controls six battalion-level task forces: two built around Army Special Forces battalions, two around Army infantry battalions, one around a Marine special operations battalion, and one around a Navy SEAL team. Navy Combat Camera Command Detachment 1210, “CJSOTF-A Presentation,” June 2012.  
3 2-3 Infantry is detached from 3rd SBCT, 2nd ID, and deployed in December 2011. TF Ghazni mixes conventional and special operations troops, and some of 2-3’s companies provide security for special operations forces elsewhere in Afghanistan. See “Winter Letter from the Commander, Patriot 6.” 
4 2-7 Infantry relieved 1-30 Infantry in October 2012. TF Balkh mixes conventional and special operations troops. See battalion Facebook page.  
5 Established in 2007, ISAF SOF is a one-star, brigade-level headquarters that oversees most non-U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan as well as one U.S. special operations unit, TF 10. Command of ISAF SOF appears to rotate between British and Australian officers; Brig. Mark Smethurst was in command as of March 2012.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Special Operations Command Seeks Bigger Role in Conflict Prevention

By Sandra I. Erwin 

U.S. special operations forces are the nation’s most celebrated terrorist killers. But they also have underutilized skills that could help prevent wars, officials said. 

The war against al-Qaida and other Islamic extremist groups has become more complex since the 9/11 attacks, said Army Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Navy SEAL raids and precision drone strikes alone will not be enough to defeat these enemies, he said.

“We have known for a long time that we are not going to kill our way to victory,” Mulholland said Nov. 28 at a Defense Strategies Institute conference, in Alexandria, Va.

What is needed, he said, are “preemptive efforts before the fight starts.”

Counterterrorism is “much broader than direct action,” he said. SOCOM Commander Adm. William McRaven is a strong believer in indirect methods of fighting terrorist groups, Mulholland said. 

McRaven would like to see special operations forces take on a larger role in the training of foreign allies — an activity known in military-speak as “building partner capacity.” Strengthening the internal security of friendly countries where al-Qaida and its affiliates are recruiting members would help counter these groups’ influence, and possibly prevent a wider conflict, SOCOM leaders believe. 

Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, have been deployed in these capacity-building roles for decades, but a more sustained effort is needed, said Mulholland. SOCOM’s skills and resources should help the United States stay “to the left of problems,” he said, instead of having to intervene later and put U.S. military forces in harm’s way.
(Continued at the link below)

Countdown to Pyongyang’s Missile Launch: Unha Rocket Stages at Assembly Building

Will the north launch before the ROK Presidential election?  There is imagery in the article at the 38 North website at the link below.

 |  || 

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Nick Hansen.

Preparations for a new North Korean rocket launch appear to be underway at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station located on its west coast. Based on DigitalGlobe satellite imagery released on November 23 and 26, trailers carrying the first two stages of an Unha (also referred to as the Taepodong-2) rocket were spotted parked near the main missile assembly building, a clear indicator that the rocket stages are being checked out before moving to the pad for an eventual launch.[1]

Other launch-related activities are ongoing. Empty tanks spotted at four locations indicate that the propellant buildings at the pad have likely been filled in preparation for the fueling of the rocket. The instrumentation site for monitoring a launch is still incomplete—one temporary building with a possible antenna has been established at the site, but instrumentation trailers are still parked near the assembly building. There is increased activity at buildings used to house VIPs in the past, including construction of temporary covered parking structures. Additionally, major improvements have been made to the observation building and grounds.

Exactly why Pyongyang is moving towards firing a long-range rocket at this time of year, contrary to past practice when launches typically occurred in spring or summer, remains unclear. Speculation has focused on North-South competition prompted by the South Korean satellite launch that was planned for November 29. If Pyongyang follows past practice in preparing for a launch, it could be ready to fire a rocket as early as the end of the first week in December. However, past practice has also been to announce dates and hours for sea or air closure areas for the rocket’s first and second stage impact areas, and to file for a frequency plan for a satellite in advance. Since that has not happened yet, the window would appear to be closing for an early launch.
(Continued at the link below)

CIA headed in the wrong general direction Agency should not be paramilitary force

This is a critical question about the future of US intelligence operations and national security.  Some will note that paramilitary operations are a fundamental part of the original CIA.  Part yes, but should it be the dominant one?  If so, then perhaps some of the other 15 agencies in the Intelligence community should have the lead for analysis and the like and the D/CIA should become the Director of the Central Paramilitary Agency  (but CPA would not sound so good as an acronym)

CIA headed in the wrong general direction
Agency should not be paramilitary force
·       Roy A. Harrell Jr.
·       Posted November 28, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.

More than 50 years ago, my resignation from the Central Intelligence Agency was effectuated. The Company, as it had always been known, had become a bit too militarized and was not what some of its founders such as Allan Dulles envisioned.

Intelligence was collected but rarely analyzed coherently so as to contribute to enlightened policies. Much of what was collected by the Company lay unused, some of us feeling it is too expensive to collect this data, not to mention the risk involved.

Moreover the trend was in the direction of militarization, a task that could be more expertly done by the Department of Defense.

I chose, as an interim measure, to throw my hat toward a smaller but more focused intelligence-gathering group at the Department of State. These are decisions I never regretted and throughout my subsequent career I maintained a discrete but respectful distance from Company personnel.

There had been other military personnel at the CIA helm, including Gen. Bedell Smith, but without the lurid detail emerging from the FBI investigation that led to the fall of Director David Petraeus. There will be attempts to attach significance to the delay in informing President Barack Obama of the chief spy's plight up the Potomac River and elsewhere, but those behind such efforts probably will be disappointed.
(Continued at the link below)

Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Public Opinion Warfare and the Need for a Robust American Response

Anyone with any interest in trying to understand China should study and know the "three warfares."  When my good friend Dean Cheng talks about China, I listen.

Winning Without Fighting: Chinese Public Opinion Warfare and the Need for a Robust American Response
By Dean Cheng
November 26, 2012

Abstract : Over the past decade, the People's Republic of China has exhibited a growing interest in waging asymmetrical warfare. The purpose of this interest is chilling: to enable the PRC to win a war against the U.S. without firing a shot. To this end, the PRC is expanding potential areas of conflict from the purely military (i.e., involving the direct or indirect use of military forces) to the more political. Such expansion will be fueled by manipulation of public opinion, legal systems, and enemy leadership. It is essential that the United States counter the PRC's new soft-power surge not only by rebutting political attacks, but also by taking the offensive and promoting America's positions to a global audience.

Over the past decade, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has exhibited a growing interest in waging asymmetrical warfare. To this end, the PRC released an initial set of regulations regarding political warfare in December 2003, before updating them in 2010. These "political work regulations" for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) address the importance of waging "the three warfares": public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare.

The "three warfares" represent the PRC's commitment to expanding potential areas of conflict from the purely military (i.e., involving the direct or indirect use of military forces) to the more political. Such expansion will be fueled by manipulation of public opinion, legal systems, and enemy leadership. But unlike more traditional military conflict, the foundation for political warfare must be established during peacetime so as to create beneficial conditions and context for the military conflict and, in turn, precipitate an early end to a conflict on terms favorable to the PRC. Indeed, if waged successfully, political warfare allows one side to win without fighting.

In hopes of being able to alter the strategic context of any future U.S.-PRC confrontation, the PRC is improving its ability to influence both global and Chinese public opinion. If the United States does not counter Chinese political warfare efforts, it may well find that its access to the Western Pacific is endangered by a lack of regional support—long before American forces even begin moving toward the area. In order to avoid being outmaneuvered by a PRC intent on winning without firing a shot, the U.S. must strengthen its strategic communications, public diplomacy, and media outreach capabilities.
(Continued at the link below)

Chinese police plan to board vessels in disputed seas

Some interesting excerpts:

New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which "illegally enter" Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported. 
"If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations," it added.

As a friend who forwarded this to me asked: Does this mean that they will board US vessels?  Guess we are living in interesting times.  Note comments from our good friend Juancho Sabban.  Count on him to test this and stir things up (when he has US warships in the area providing overwatch).

Chinese police plan to board vessels in disputed seas

6:28am EST

BEIJING/MANILA (Reuters) - Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships which illegally enter what China considers its territory in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move likely to add to tensions.

The South China Sea is Asia's biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty over waters believed to be rich in oil and gas.

The shortest route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it has some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. More than half the globe's oil tanker traffic passes through it.

New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which "illegally enter" Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported.

"Activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal," the English-language newspaper said.

"If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations," it added.
(Continued at the link below)

Sources: North Korea replaces defense minister

Three Defense Ministers in a year.  Another indication of Kim Jong-un consolidating power but also the rapid turnover may be an illustrative of the decision making philosophy of Kim Jong-un.  e.g.,   Is he making decisions on a whim?  Did the previous Defense Minister fail to demonstrate personal loyalty to Kim Jong-un?  Also appears to give an indication of the priority for the regime – provocations to gain political and economic concessions.   It also does not bode well for the north to become a responsible member of the international community (which of course should be no surprise).

Posted on Thursday, 11.29.12 
Sources: North Korea replaces defense minister


SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea has replaced its defense minister with a hardline military commander believed responsible for deadly attacks on South Korea in 2010, diplomats in Pyongyang said Thursday. It is the latest in a series of high-profile appointments leader Kim Jong Un has made since he took power nearly a year ago.

Diplomats in Pyongyang told the Associated Press that they were informed that Kim Jong Gak had been replaced as armed forces minister by Kim Kyok Sik, commander of the battalions linked to two deadly attacks in 2010 blamed on North Korea.

The diplomats declined to be named, saying they had not been cleared to discuss the matter with the media.

South Korean officials said they also received similar information about the North Korean personnel changes but gave no further details. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing government protocol.

The move comes amid speculation that North Korea may be preparing a long-range rocket launch. An April launch that broke apart after liftoff drew U.N. condemnation and deepened animosity between the Koreas. North Korea says its launches are meant to put a satellite into orbit.

Analysts say Kim Jong Un aims to use the personnel change to bolster his grip on the 1.2 million-member military, which forms the backbone of his rule over the country.
(Continued at link below)

Boat with 5 Dead Bodies Washed Ashore in Japan (Potentially north Korean)

I recall our Naval analysts in Korea telling us that the currents from north Korea would take an unpowered boat from the north Korean east coast to Japan in about 5 days. Not a good way to defect at this time of year but apparently this boat has been at sea for some time if the bodies were decomposed to only skeletons.

Boat with 5 Dead Bodies Washed Ashore in Japan

Five dead bodies were washed ashore in what is likely to be a North Korean boat on Sado Island off the western coast of Japan on Wednesday.

Japanese police said the bodies had decomposed down to the skeletons, while the rear end of the vessel was badly damaged with the engine missing, Kyodo News reported.
(Continued at the link below)

Big Issues Are Lost in Focus on Libya Talking Points

I concur.  The focus on the talking points is missing the forest for the trees.  We need to focus on at least three things:  (1) assignment of forces to AFRICOM, (2) the security analysis and decision making prior to the tragic event, and (3) the (my perception) strategic paralysis of decision making at the national level  (as I have said I remain concerned that the decision making process for our deliberate targeting using drones and SOF, with the expectation of superior intelligence and situational awareness as these operations are planned and executed, has eroded our crisis action decision making capability as we wait for the same quality of intelligence and situational awareness as in deliberate CT operations.)

I do not mean this as a partisan statement only as an observation of the discourse surrounding this whole situation.  Unfortunately the political spin on this is preventing us from getting at the important lessons that must be learned and the processes that must be corrected and improved while we continue to have our Diplomats (and others) in harm's way around the world.  The outcome of this will partisan fight between the Hilll and the WHite House will be the perceived political victory of the prevention of Ambassador Rice from becoming SECSTATE and this will not result in any improved US national security decision making to prevent or deal with these crises.   The only lesson learned is to be careful how you spin events after they happen. But I do not think that this will turn into a "Watergate" for the Administration which I think is what some hope.  We need to get on with business and solve the problems that this tragic event has revealed.

November 28, 2012

Big Issues Are Lost in Focus on Libya Talking Points

WASHINGTON — Three days after the lethal attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya, Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asked intelligence agencies to write up some unclassified talking points on the episode. Reporters were besieging him and other legislators for comment, and he did not want to misstate facts or disclose classified information.

More than 10 weeks later, the four pallid sentences that intelligence analysts cautiously delivered are the unlikely center of a quintessential Washington drama, in which a genuine tragedy has been fed into the meat grinder of election-year politics.

In the process, the most important questions about Benghazi, where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, have largely gotten lost: Were requests for greater security for diplomats in Libya ignored? Even if Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan has been decimated, what threat is posed by its affiliates and imitators in other countries where they have taken refuge? How can crucial diplomacy be conducted amid the dangerous chaos that has followed the toppling of dictators across the Arab world?

Instead, it is the parsing of the talking points — who wrote them, altered them, recited them on television or tried to explain them — that could decide the fate of a leading candidate for secretary of state, Susan E. Rice, currently the United Nations ambassador. On Wednesday, for the second time in two weeks, Ms. Rice received a hearty endorsement from President Obama in the face of a continuing battering on Capitol Hill.

“Susan Rice is extraordinary,” he said in response to a reporter’s question as he met at the White House with his cabinet for the first time since the election. “Couldn’t be prouder of the job that she’s done.”
Now the talking points could also affect the chances of a top candidate for C.I.A. director, Michael Morell, the agency’s acting director, who on Tuesday accompanied Ms. Rice to a briefing for some of her most vocal Senate critics and misspoke about changes in the original draft of the talking points.
(Continued at the link below)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Outside View: The commander in chief (Strategic Leadership)

Have not seen Clausewitz' phrase turned quite this way:
 war is an admixture of policy with other means
But maybe "admixture" is another translation for one of those German words.

But I am glad to know we are not alone:
Strategic failure isn't unique to the United States. Saddam Hussein and the mullahs in Tehran haven't done well in this category either. Nor did the Soviet leadership.
But where does the President find this guy?  (though I thought this would be the National Security Adviser):
One solution is antithetical to politics. Presidents desperately need a senior adviser well versed in strategic thinking and not dominated by domestic politics or the pressures of political expediency. Whether such individuals exist in nature or could survive that job is a test of presidential maturity.
Here Ricks' prescription can be translated from Army into civilian terms. Military leaders need to anticipate both the intended and unintended consequences of long-term policies and shorter-term directives. Before embarking on any action, commanders in chief would be well advised to follow this guidance by holding subordinates accountable for answering the vital question of "What next?" as a critical step in ensuring strategic success.
Unfortunately Presidents do not know anyone who is not dominated by domestic politics or the pressures of political expediency.  As an aside, after watching the movie "Lincoln" last weekend I observed that everyone around Lincoln was dominated by domestic politics and especially the pressure of political expediency.  It was only President Lincoln that had the strategic vision, the long view and who was able to both rise above the political fray but also at the same time  to mix it up in the political fray to accomplish his strategic goals. Strategic vision and leadership cannot be "contracted out" to some senior adviser – if Lincoln is any example, the responsibility for strategic vision and leadership lies with the President.

Outside View: The commander in chief
Published: Nov. 28, 2012 at 12:10 AM

HARLAN ULLMAN || UPI Outside View Commentator

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- To ensure civilian control over its military, the U.S. Constitution specifies that the president, and not a general or an admiral, is commander in chief of the armed forces.

As Clausewitz brilliantly observed nearly two centuries ago, war is an admixture of policy with other means. Thus, successful use of military force must be subordinate to the broader political context. That means to succeed as commander in chief, presidential understanding of what objectives strategy can and, perhaps more importantly, cannot achieve is crucial as well as holding subordinates accountable for carrying out that strategy.

That isn't always the case. Undue deference to political expediency and political correctness and the temptation of seeking overly simplistic or unrealistic strategic objectives are further guarantees for disaster. And holding generals and admirals responsible for executing a military strategy without making them accountable is a prescription for failure.

Journalist Tom Ricks' latest book "The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today" is a powerful reminder of how commanders in chief can come to grief over isolating responsibility from accountability.

In a remarkable critique of the generalship of the U.S. Army (and endorsement of the U.S. Marine Corps about which Ricks has separately written and clearly regards as the most professional of the four services), the author argues that since the end of World War II, the Army used the wrong lessons from the last war as the basis for selecting the leadership for the next and then failed to hold those unsuited for wartime command accountable.

A parallel exists with presidents who likewise don't always hold admirals and generals accountable for the right reasons.

Harry Truman finally fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur for insubordination during the Korean War. But George W. Bush dismissed Adm. William "Fox" Fallon and Barack Obama Gen. Stanley McChrystal not for failing in Iraq or Afghanistan but for making inappropriate comments to journalists (to their credit, as secretaries of defense, Dick Cheney and Bob Gates did relieve senior generals and civilians for cause).
(Continued at the link below)

NightWatch on north Korea

Mr. McCreary in his NightWatch below assesses the stability of the Kim Family Regime.  He says that the current crackdown on dissidents is the most severe in 20 years.  We should re-familiarize ourselves with Bob Collins' 7 Phases of Collapse or Patterns of Collapse.  We have seen north Korea in Phase 4 – "Suppression" for many years.   Mr. McCreary is alluding to potential for resistance which would be Phase 5. I think we should keep in mind some of the indicators of Phase 5 and now that once we are in that phase things could move very fast through Phase 6 (Fracture) and Phase 7 (Realignment).  But we should be observing for these conditions and indicators in Phase 5 (and we should keep in mind when faced with Fracture, Phase 6, the decision could be made to go to war) and always be asking in addition to planning what preparations can and should we be making to deal with this situation?

e. Phase Five: Resistance - This phase presupposes that the supression phase failed to meet its intended goals.  Local groups, even new sub-systems evolving out of independent activity, will gain confidence in their ability not to succumb to the government’s suppression attempts either through open resistance or manipulation of reporting that forwards false data.

                        1/  Refusal to obey government directives.  These directives will be ignored because those that resist perceive enforcement is unlikely.

                        2/ Usurpation of government assets, such as storehouses or competing sub-systems.  This will enhance the power of local resistance activities, whether economically or politically based.

                        3/ Threats and violence employed against internal security representatives to either win their culpability or simple elimination.  Resistance groups will lose their fear of internal security forces and either eliminate them, beginning at the basic level, or incorporate them into their local sub-system to assist in their activity.

                        4/ The more successful local resistance becomes, the more likely a resource-denied sub-system (which is already a paramilitary unit within the nKorean social system) will begin to employ counter-force against the regime’s mobilized military units.  Such an incident will become a central issue dominating the attention of the Core Group.

                        5/ Successful armed resistance, though only at the sub-system level (company to battalion-sizedparamilitary level) will lead the regime’s Core Group to employ combined arms operations against the resistance group.  Some military leaders receiving such orders will hesitate to employ maximum indiscriminate force against local citizens and will immediately berelieved if not executed on the spot.  Other leaders will execute the executioner.  The depth of the resistance phase can be measured by the rank of the officer who does not obey orders from Pyongyang.

                        6/ Low echelon border units, along both the northern border and the DMZ, will cross the border and the MDL while senior echelons are preoccupied with resistance suppression.   Platoon commanders will be capable of initiating a platoon level crossing of the border or DMZ for the purpose ofavoiding punishment, chaos, or worse.  After eliminating the company’s single political officer, a company commander would be capable of taking a whole company across the DMZ.  The senior battalion commander would be forced to call for artillery fires into the DMZ or beyond to halt the platoon or company-sized defections across the DMZ.  He would do this knowing that he would probably be immediately executed for permitting it to happen in the first place.  This process would not likely end until the division or corps level.
Let me clarify one thing about Bob's 7 Phases of Collapse for those who do not follow north Korea. Bob's work was based on a scholarly analysis of failed states and how regimes collapse throughout history up through the 1990's when he completed his research.  He then applied this to the unique conditions of north Korea and developed a framework for how to look at the possibility of north Korean regime collapse and what process it might follow.  I know everyone wants to know if and when north Korea will collapse; however, Bob's work has never made any such predictions.  It is only about what to look for to try to identify indicators of collapse and again to provide a framework for how to view the process and understand what is happening.  I can say with certainly that there has been no work done in the academic or intelligence communities to match this analysis.  If there is anything comparable, I have not come across it in the last 20 years.  But the bottom line is that his work is not predictive but I think it provides the most realistic look at what might happen as the regime becomes threatened by its own internal contradictions. But I will continue to try to beat the drum we (we as in the ROK-US Alliance) had better ensure that we are prepared to deal with collapse as well as war and a combination of the two - if none of this occurs and there is peaceful Unification or the north radically changes its behavior and becomes a responsible member of the international community I will gladly accept the moniker of Chicken Little.

For those who are interested in reading some more on this, here is the link to Robert Kaplan's 2006 Atlantic article "When North Korea Falls"


NightWatch 20121127

NightWatch Graphic
For the night of 27 November 2012
North Korea: Leader Kim Jong-un is cracking down on anti-government activities, according to a report published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). In his name, security authorities received orders for a mass flushing out of "dissidents."
The regime convened a large-scale meeting on Friday, 23 November, in Pyongyang attended by leaders of local police offices to discuss how to hunt down any people threatening national security.
Kim sent a message to the meeting that read, "We must find all of the notorious dissidents, who are hiding a knife behind their backs and waiting for the right timing to trigger a riot, and flatten all of them mercilessly," KCNA reported.
Kim ordered enhanced security near giant statues of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Chong-il astride horses. Kim Jong-un told the heads of his internal security agencies to find and eliminate rebellious people.
He also convened a meeting of judges and prosecutors in Pyongyang on Monday, KCNAreported. Kim sent them a letter, delivered by his secretary, entitled, "How to improve the judiciary and the prosecution."
"Through improving the judiciary and the prosecution, we can eradicate all crimes and illegal acts and stand the revolutionary order upright in order to push forward with a strong, prosperous nation," Kim said. "They should strictly deal with anti-state criminals who have bad backgrounds but don't show it outwardly."
During visits to the Ministry of State Security in October and in November, Kim directed that the ministry "should protect people from enemy strategies and mercilessly crack down on traitors who have wrong dreams without hesitation."
Comment: Despite executions of military officers appointed by his father and the continuing purge of officials suspected of disloyalty, Kim Jong-un's regime is not stable. This is the most extensive crackdown in at least 20 years and is an admission that the leadership transition is not complete or accepted.
As for defacing statues and pictures of the leaders, that is a time-honored North Korean tradition, despite severe punishments for those who get caught. North Koreans draw mustaches on the pictures. A long range missile launch or space launch would be a useful diversion from the internal upheaval Kim has instigated.
Those who hoped that a Swiss-educated North Korean leader would be any less Korean must be disappointed. What began as a purge of top leaders suspected of disloyalty to Kim now is being extended to the population at large.
(Continued at the link below)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

North Korea’s Illegal Weapons Pipeline Flows On

I am grateful to the Wall Street Journal for maintaining visibility on north Korea's weapons exports which are of course key to regime survival and also support enemies of the US and the free world.  Note at the very least China turns a blind eye these activities.
  • Updated November 27, 2012, 9:18 p.m. ET
North Korea’s Illegal Weapons Pipeline Flows On

By JAY SOLOMON in Washington, YUKA HAYASHI in Tokyo and COLUM MURPHY in Shanghai

Illegal shipments of missile technology and weapons from North Korea have flowed unabated under the leadership of Kim Jong Eun, dashing Western hopes that Pyongyang’s new leader might moderate his country’s aggressive proliferation activities.

Ships or planes bound for Myanmar and Syria and loaded with weapons-related equipment originating in North Korea have been diverted or blocked in recent months, U.S., Asian and Arab officials say. The United Nations has imposed sanctions against Pyongyang’s weapons trade.

The disclosures come amid new fears that North Korea is preparing for its second long-range missile launch since Mr. Kim took power in late 2011. Satellite images this week showed increased activity at North Korea’s satellite-launch station on its western coast.

The Obama administration and allied governments have been hoping to test Mr. Kim’s willingness to more directly engage Washington and perhaps open up his isolated nation. U.S. officials note that the younger Kim is the first North Korean leader who didn’t live through the 1950-53 Korean War. And the Swiss-educated dictator, believed to have been born in 1983 or 1984, has initiated some economic reforms, reorganized the military and shown a liking for Western pop music since succeeding his late father, Kim Jong Il.

Nonetheless, North Korea’s continued arms exports and missile tests are signs that the younger Mr. Kim has little desire—or ability—to change Pyongyang’s roguish behavior. Indeed, U.S. and Asian officials said they are still not certain if Mr. Kim has fully consolidated power over North Korea’s generals. And the cash-strapped North is desperately in need of the hard currency it gets from arms exports.

U.S. officials believe North Korea has remained one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s closest partners, helping develop Damascus’s missile and chemical-weapons programs even as a civil war has engulfed the Arab country. U.N. inspectors believe Damascus and Pyongyang secretly built a nuclear reactor in eastern Syria before Israeli jets destroyed the facility in 2007.
(Continued at the link below)

Monday, November 26, 2012

It really is that bad: A powerful speech on North Korea

The speech is at this CSPAN link:

I of course wholeheartedly concur with this excerpt from his speech:

… At some point, it will have a hard or soft landing, at some point those people will be free, and the question mark is how many people die to get to that point. And the more we do now, the more we do to preemptively prepare and act, the lower that number will be. Because there’s no question that it will end some way, in a big way, and it will be the issue for everyone in the region, if not the world, to deal with.

It really is that bad: A powerful speech on North Korea

Posted by Max Fisher on November 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

It’s not easy to talk to people about North Korea. The story is so awful, and so static, what more is there to do, or even to say? This speech by Adrian Hong, a strategic consultant who also co-founded a U.S.-based NGO that assists North Korean escapees, starts with that question. His 10-minute speech, which you can view here, makes a powerful case for the moral urgency of the long-running North Korean crisis.

“One challenge I always have when I speak about North Korea is I run out of adjectives for how bad things are. And many of you that follow policy or human rights situations oftentimes get jaded with numbers,” Hong begins, speaking at an event for Melanie Kirkpatrick’s book Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, sitting between Kirkpatrick and Joseph Kim, a young escapee whose journey her book chronicles. “It’s very easy for us to write off bad things because we just assume these are bad things that happen ‘over there,’ and many times they don’t necessarily affect us. And the challenge with North Korea in particular is that things are so bad on such a scale and scope that it sounds fake. It sounds unfathomable, it’s impossible to really comprehend.”
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Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, or Mao Zedong? Who do you consider the best military strategist?

I hope this stirs a lively debate.  I do think everyone should read Michael Handel's Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought.

I would make one comment about this.  Note that we are not discussing anyone who is still alive today. I would add to Professor Holmes' challenge and ask are there any living strategic theorists who should be considered as part of the best military strategist discussion?

Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, or Mao Zedong?
November 26, 2012By James R. Holmes

Who do you consider the best military strategist? James Holmes surveys the field for some answers.

Last week we kicked off the winter term in the Naval War College’s Intermediate Level Course, dubbed Strategy & War. We spend the first week of seminars with the giants of strategic theory, namely Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and Mao Zedong. That provides a platform from which we vault into historical case studies for the balance of the course. We encounter the rest of the greats—Thucydides, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Sir Julian Corbett, David Galula—along the way. At the outset of any seminar I like to canvass the students about their predispositions toward strategy. Solomon-like, I decree that each person justify his choice by listing a favorite passage from that theorist’s writings.

Does Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, or Mao speak to a particular group of people more, and why? Which concepts find more favor? Mao tends to finish third, probably because he carries heavy historical baggage. In six years of overseeing seminars, I have never had a Maoist class. Whatever the Chinese Communist Party chairman’s strategic ingenuity, it’s hard to overlook the mounds of dead Chinese bodies stacked up during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, when Mao made the transition from tearing down a state to building his own. By my unscientific count, around a quarter of students ‘fess up to being admirers of Maoist works such as On Protracted War. On the whole, setting aside Mao’s third-party candidacy, seminars generally incline slightly to Clausewitz’s On War or to Sun Tzu’sThe Art of War.

This result implies that the late Michael Handel, who taught in my department when I was a mere whippersnapper of a student—hard to believe, I know—was correct to conclude that there is no clear-cut Asian or Western way of war. 

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What Would Lincoln Do? Historians examine how Lincoln would have handled other eras' challenges, like the War on Terror

Saw the movie Lincoln this weekend.  It was a fascinating look at him and the passing of the 13th Amendment.

What Would Lincoln Do?
Historians examine how Lincoln would have handled other eras' challenges, like the War on Terror

November 23, 2012

There is no end to literary projects examining Abraham Lincoln, one of our nation's most enigmatic heroes. ButLincoln: A President for the Ages, timed to complement the new movie by Steven Spielberg, parses our 16th president through a new lens. Historians, journalists, and scholars imagine in a compilation of essays how Lincoln would have faced varied historical challenges of other eras. One scholar, for instance, theorizes why Lincoln might have fit in well with today's celebrity culture. The book's editor, Karl Weber, who also edited Food, Inc. and Waiting for 'Superman', recently spoke to U.S. News about the multifaceted leader. Excerpts:

What does this book add to our understanding of Lincoln?

We tried to reflect the multiplicity of Lincoln, because he is obviously a very complex historical figure. Perhaps people are not familiar with Lincoln as a hard-nosed political wheeler-dealer, for example. We invited a dozen historians to speculate how Lincoln might have handled a historical challenge very different from the ones he faced. We thought this would be an opportunity to delve into his character, his political instinct, the values that shaped him—and then apply those to issues from other times. We asked historians: How do you think Lincoln would have dealt with women's suffrage? If Lincoln had been president at the end of World War II, would he have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima? Would he be an idol of the conservative Christian right or would he do battle with them? The essays give us a new look at Lincoln, and yet they ground what they say about him in things Lincoln said and did.
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers

Admiral McRaven is tied for number 17.

Foreign Policy presents a unique portrait of 2012's global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them.

Are you smarter than a US Marine? Take the recruitment quiz

Note this is not Marine specific; it is the military test common to all branches (but it makes for a nice headline) You can scroll through the 24 questions (the whole test is 105) at the link below.  Every high school graduate should be able to get all of these 24 correct (and I would hope the 105 as well).

If this is what is required to be an effective Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, or Marine in the US military which I would interpret to mean that passing this test is required to be able to learn and execute US military tactics, techniques and procedures – e.g., doctrine.   This would seem to have implications when we try to create a foreign military force in our image  (which seems to be our default technique)– to able to effective employ US weapons and tactics and doctrine probably requires a certain level of literacy.  The question should be asked – do we try to raise the foreign level of literacy to meet the US standard in order to make them able to employ US doctrine or do we teach them tactics and doctrine and provide them with equipment  they are capable of employing and maintaining based on their level of education and unique history, customs, culture, and traditions?  This has obvious implications in places like Afghanistan and wherever the Army and its Regionally Aligned Brigades might be conducting Security Force Assistance.

Are you smarter than a US Marine? Take the recruitment quiz

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is made up of 10 tests, including 225 questions, but only four of the tests are used to see if you qualify to join the US military. Each branch  – the Marines, Navy, Air Force, etc – has a different qualifying score. The other tests – including science, electronics, mechanical knowledge – help the military determine what jobs you may be qualified to do.
Since only four areas  -–  Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), and Math Knowledge (MK) – are used to compute your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score, our 24 sample questions cover just those areas. The actual military recruitment test has 105 questions in these four subjects.
Are you smart enough to be a US Marine or join the Air Force? Take our quiz.
David Clark ScottStaff writer

Question 1 of 24
1. WK: "Antagonize" most nearly means ...





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Bing Maps says Israel, Japan and South Korea don't exist

Guess Apple is not the only one afflicted with these types of glitches.   I wonder if someone at Bing/Microsoft was thinking to somehow avoid the name controversy over over Dok do/Takeshima or East Sea/Sea of Japan and inadvertently just left both countries' data off the system?  Was the reason for leaving Israel off due to someone's idea that it would appeal to the broader Middle Eastern market if Israel was not on the map. Is this more political correctness attempts run amok and backfiring?  They should remember Lincoln and what he said about trying to please everyone.

Bing Maps says Israel, Japan and South Korea don't exist

Posted: 25 Nov 2012, 00:24, by Alan F.

Where has Tokyo gone on Bing Maps? (R)
Move over Apple Maps, Bing Maps on Windows Phone 8 has lost three countries out of the 110 it covers. This happened despite the use of data from Nokia's Navteq that has been integrated into the Windows Phone 8 application. According to Bing Maps, there is noIsraelJapan or South Korea. That is despite good maps for Israel and Japan being available on the desktop version of Bing Maps. And Japan was looking pretty good on the previous version of Bing Maps for Windows Phone.
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"Shadow of Roh" neck and neck with dictator's daughter before South Korea polls

It is hard to imagine that using a moniker such as the "Shadow of Roh" would be a positive thing but South Korean politics can be difficult to understand.  But it is a clear indication that if Moon is elected then we will see a return to the soft line Sunshine Policy which is exactly what the north wants (and needs to ensure its survival).

Although I do not agree with a single 5 year term, one nice thing about the South Korean political system is how short is the official campaign period.  It is the month before the election and the candidates are just now registering to declare themselves officially as candidates for office.  Sure we be nice if we adopted such a short official campaign period.  After  listening to some of the talks shows and news reports this weekend I think the 2016 US Presidential campaign is already underway.

"Shadow of Roh" neck and neck with dictator's daughter before South Korea polls,0,5802859.story

Ju-min Park and David Chance
3:14 p.m. CST, November 25, 2012

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's December presidential election looks set to turn into a referendum on two of the country's most polarizing leaders as the daughter of military dictator Park Chung-hee faces off against a former aide to ex-President Roh Moo-hyun.

Park's authoritarian rule propelled South Korea from poverty to the cusp of developed-nation status and ended when he was assassinated in 1979. The left-wing Roh's single five-year term closed in chaos as economic reforms failed and a policy of engagement with North Korea was wrecked as Pyongyang pushed ahead with a nuclear weapons program.

Roh committed suicide in 2010 after bribery charges dogged his retirement.

The conservative candidate, Park Geun-hye, 60, who is bidding to become South Korea's first woman president, and left-winger Moon Jae-in, 59, formally registered their candidacies on Sunday after independent Ahn Cheol-soo dropped out to support Moon.

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Counterfeit Kicks in Pyongyang

Another good look into the nature of the Kim Family Regime and the importance of counterfeiting to the regime.  Note the hard currency estimates (Marcus Noland and the Peterson Institute do some of the best north Korean economic research).  Note the comments about the "middle class" in Pyongyang.

In regards to counterfeiting Coca Cola I would have to agree with their assessment.  I think it is easier for the regime to get ahold of nuclear weapons designs than it is the secret Coca Cola recipe. (though I wonder if they tried to reverse engineered it?)

by Alex Melton | November 25th, 2012 | 07:00 am 

 North Korea has been known for its counterfeiting activities for decades.  Products ranging from cigarettes to liquor to $100 US bills have been known to make their way out of North Korea.  Typically, the counterfeit industry is export oriented.  Counterfeiting activities are intended to earn hard currency by smuggling items through China and other nations. Our most recent estimates place annual income from counterfeit currency around $20 million dollars with another $100 million likely coming from counterfeit cigarettes.  Given that North Korea likely runs current account deficits at around half a billion dollars a year, revenues from counterfeiting are much needed.

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China's Role in Southeast Asia Questioned

China is experiencing its own "blow back."  Some (e.g., Chalmers Johnson) may have thought this only applied to US espionage and foreign policy but I guess China can experience it with its own "Chinese Characteristics."

But of course this is the key to the US rebalancing to Asia:
"The big question, I think, is whether the ASEAN states believe that the United States actually has the resolve and the resources to follow through on the commitments that have been made in recent years. If they begin to doubt this they will have to do more to appease Beijing," Friedberg said.

November 25, 2012

China's Role in Southeast Asia Questioned

BEIJING (AP) — China is finding the once friendly ground of Southeast Asia bumpy going, with anger against Chinese claims to disputed islands, once reliable ally Myanmar flirting with democracy and renewed American attention to the region.

The changing terrain for Beijing was on view this past week at a conclave of East Asian nations in Cambodia. Wen Jiabao, China's lame duck premier who usually exudes a mild, grandfatherly air, got into a sharp exchange over the contested South China Sea islands. The leaders of the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam reacted furiously when host Cambodia suggested that all sides agreed not to bring outside parties into the dispute — a reference to the U.S.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, buoyed by the first visit ever by a U.S. president to Myanmar, projected an image of a confident, friendly America, calling for a reduction in tensions and seemingly taking no sides.

Beijing is struggling to find its feet as its own power grows, but the U.S. refuses to cede influence in the region, emboldening other countries not to fall in with the Chinese line.

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Kim Jong Un's Baby Mama Ri Sol Ju, North Korea's enigmatic new first lady, is already turning heads and making headlines.

Some more perspective on the cult of the Kim Family Regime.

Ri Sol Ju, North Korea's enigmatic new first lady, is already turning heads and making headlines.


In July, when North Korea's state media identified Ri Sol Ju as the wife of the country's supreme leader Kim Jong Un, reporting the couple's visit to an amusement park, the contrast with his father, Kim Jong Il, could not have been starker. State media reports and official accounts of the elder Kim's activities and behavior never mentioned any of his four (or five) wives or seven children.

In fact, North Korea's new leader seems to be putting some distance between himself and his father. By allowing the country's state media to report on his marital status and identify Ri by name, Kim Jong Un has aligned himself more closely to his paternal grandfather, North Korean founding father and president Kim Il Sung, whose first wife Kim Jong Suk is a venerated figure in North Korea's political culture. State propaganda rarely, if ever, explicitly identifies Kim Jong Un as Kim Jong Il's son; documentary films, essays, and editorials refer instead only to "bloodline" and "revolutionary family."

That bloodline has become all the more significant in recent weeks, as it has emerged that North Korea's first lady might be pregnant. On Oct. 29, 2012, Madame Ri made her first reported public appearance with her husband in almost two months, attending a concert and a soccer match. (A source with personal ties to the Kim family ascribed Kim Jong Un's 20-day gap in public appearances in June to "wanting children.") In the images and video footage of the events published by North Korean state media, Ri wears a long, loose jumper and her face is swollen. Neither still images nor film footage reveals her full figure. All the imagery of her standing is taken from a distance (or without zoom), and there are no close shots of her standing next to her husband; she instead walks directly behind Kim to avoid the camera lenses.

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