Friday, May 31, 2013

Country Reports on Terrorism 2012

Please go to this link on the State Department web site to access the entire report chapter by chapter for the entire report via PDF.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 is submitted in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the "Act"), which requires the Department of State to provide to Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act. The report was published May 2013.

Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.
The Report and Related Material

-05/30/13   Chapter 1. Strategic Assessment
-05/30/13   Chapter 2. Country Reports: Africa Overview
-05/30/13   Chapter 2. Country Reports: East Asia and Pacific Overview
-05/30/13   Chapter 2. Country Reports: Europe Overview
-05/30/13   Chapter 2. Country Reports: Middle East and North Africa Overview
-05/30/13   Chapter 2. Country Reports: South and Central Asia Overview
-05/30/13   Chapter 2. Country Reports: Western Hemisphere Overview
-05/30/13   Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism Overview
-05/30/13   Chapter 4: The Global Challenge of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorism
-05/30/13   Chapter 5: Terrorist Safe Havens (Update to 7120 Report)
-05/30/13   Chapter 6. Foreign Terrorist Organizations
-05/30/13   Chapter 7. Legislative Requirements and Key Terms
-05/30/13   National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism: Annex of Statistical Information [ PDF version   ]
-05/30/13   Terrorism Deaths, Injuries and Kidnappings of Private U.S. Citizens in 2012
-05/30/13   Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 (PDF)  [1811 Kb] 

Why China Is Not the Solution to the Korean Crisis

An analysis of China's influence over north Korea extending back to the Korean War.  An important conclusion (and one with which I largely agree based on much of the historical analysis as outlined in this article):

None of this, of course, is intended to suggest that China is not a critical player in the region, or that the U.S. can simply ignore China in its quest for solutions in Korea. But it is vital that policymakers in the U.S. and beyond recognize that China’s influence on Pyongyang is much more limited than conventional wisdom holds. Looking to Beijing for a solution is hence not only an abdication of American leadership but will also likely prove futile even as it distracts policymakers from making the more serious choices that have to be made. It is an embrace of easy rhetoric at the expense of hard reality, and accepting the hard reality is an imperative first step towards a resolution of the Korean crisis.
May 31, 2013
By Mitchell Lerner

Beijing calls the shots in North Korea? History shows that thinking is misguided.
As tensions on the Korean Peninsula have grown, much of the relevant conversation within the United States has focused on China, the one nation that, according to many American policymakers, can control the North Korean leadership. “China does hold the key to this problem,” explainedSenator John McCain, who described the Chinese “failure to rein in what could be a catastrophic situation,” as “disappointing.” Many otherpolicymakers and media outlets agree.

This thinking is, however, fundamentally flawed on numerous levels. To begin with, it abdicates American leadership, deferring to a rival in an area of great strategic and economic interest. It also embraces facile solutions at a time when difficult decisions are needed. The U.S. may not have many good options on the Korean peninsula, but the nation’s long-term interests require its leaders to make some hard choices, rather than fall back on rhetorical nostrums that distract and delay without offering any substantive vision. Most significantly, however, the current approach suffers from a fundamentally flawed understanding of the true nature of the Sino-North Korean relationship.

Over the past decade, the world has finally begun to gain insights into DPRK policymaking, largely through materials obtained from former communist bloc states, most of which have been collected by the North Korea International Documentation Project. On a most basic level, these materials do confirm that China has been both North Korea’s most consistent ally and a vital provider of assistance in many forms. At the same time, these archival documents also suggest that the Sino-North Korean relationship has always been much more complex than Mao’s famous claim that the nations were “as close as lips and teeth” suggests.

These new materials point to four additional aspects of the relationship that policymakers must also consider. They suggest, first, that the alliance is rooted in strategic self-interest rather than strong fraternal or ideological bonds; second, that the closeness of the relationship has waxed and waned dramatically based on changing internal conditions and the evolving international environment; third, that DPRK leaders have often seen China as too expansionist, too assertive, and too unreliable to be fully trusted; and finally, that throughout the past half-century, the DPRK leadership has firmly and consistently resisted Chinese efforts to influence their policymaking.

These realities were on display as early as the Korean War. In the months preceding the North’s surprise attack against South Korea in 1950, China strongly discouraged the DPRK from launching a military campaign and refused Kim Il Sung’s suggestions for greater intelligence collaboration. A resentful Kim thenfailed to provide China with information about his war preparations, and did not even send a representative to brief the Chinese until three days after the attack. Mao was furious, venting that, “They are supposed to be our next-door neighbor, but they did not consult with us before taking military action, and they did not even notify us of the outbreak of the war until now.” The Chinese, of course, later intervened to save the North, but they did so because of Soviet pressure and a desire to protect and expand their own influence, not because of any genuine commitment to Kim. For his part, Kim was also reluctant to accept the Chinese as equal partners for fear of sacrificing his political control, leading to tensions over strategy and decisionsranging from the organization of the military command through control of railroads to the specific tactics to be implemented. In these cases, Kim almost always had to defer to the Chinese, given his need for their military support and Josef Stalin’s frequent interventions on the Chinese side. Nevertheless, Kim clearly resented the way the great powers made critical decisions without regard to his wishes, steadily fought against allowing his patrons to control internal matters, and constantly sought to minimize Chinese influence.
(Continued at the link below)

When Does North Korea Get Re-Listed as a State Sponsor of Terrorism?

A good question from Claudia.

When Does North Korea Get Re-Listed as a State Sponsor of Terrorism?
Posted By Claudia Rosett On May 31, 2013 @ 1:00 am In Uncategorized | No Comments

Iran’s global extravaganza of state-sponsored terrorism is getting some well-deserved attention this week [1], with the release of the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism [2], plus the sentencing of dual national Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar (for conspiring with Iran’s Qods force to try to bomb the Saudi ambassador in Washington), plus the massive indictment issued by Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman (whose investigation of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center, AMIA, in Buenos Aires, has uncoveredIranian terror network [3]s throughout Latin America).
But spare a thought, also, for Iran’s partner in proliferation and exemplar of evil — North Korea. The State Department roster of State Sponsors of Terrorism [4] is weirdly short, with just four countries listed: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. Why isn’t North Korea on the list?

The short answer is that from 1988-2008, the U.S. did indeed list North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism — a distinction that North Korea had richly earned, with its career of bombings, abductions and weapons traffic and training for fellow terror-sponsoring states.  The Bush administration removed North Korea from the list in late 2008, in a desperate last-ditch attempt to salvage the ill-conceived, duplicitously conducted and utterly failed 2007 nuclear freeze deal piloted by special envoy Chris Hill.
Since then, North Korea — in its official Non-Terrorist-Sponsoring incarnation — has carried out a slew of missile tests (including long-range ballistic missiles); conducted two nuclear tests,  in 2009 and 2013; torpedoed and sunk a South Korean frigate, the Cheonan (killing more than 40); shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong (killing four);  dispatched weapons shipments to Iran and Hezbollah; and threatened nuclear strikes on Washington, Seoul and the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

In addition, according to the State Department, North Korea has yet to provide a full accounting for at least 12 Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted by North Korean “state entities” in the 1970s and 1980s. (Think about that — being kidnapped and held in North Korea for more than 30 years. At what point, for the abductees and their families, is that no longer supposed to qualify as state-sponsored terrorism?).

And then there are the reports of North Korea expert and political scientist Bruce Bechtol, a former senior analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose new book “The Last Days of Kim Jong Il [5],” includes a full chapter on North Korea and Support for Terrorism.  Bechtol argues that “North Korea has shown throughout its history that it is intent on engaging in rogue behavior and providing support for terrorism.” At a seminar this week in Washington, at the Heritage Foundation, he charged — as this Chosun Ilbo account [6] details — that among North Korea’s terrorist clients are Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Somalia’s al-Shabab, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and al Qaeda.
(Continued at the link below)

N.Korea 'Supplies Arms to Terrorists'

Something very much overlooked.

N.Korea 'Supplies Arms to Terrorists'

North Korea continues to give military assistance to terrorist organizations around the world under new leader Kim Jong-un, an American academic claimed Wednesday.

At a seminar at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Prof. Bruce Bechtol of Angelo State University, a former analyst at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, said its Cold-War network allows the North to keep supplying weaponry to several countries and terrorist organizations.

He named Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, Lebanon's Hezbollah, Somalia's al-Shabab, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, and al-Qaeda.
(Continued at the link below)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Naming America's Nameless War

Dr. Bacevich brings up the unhelpful trend of spending more time trying to name the war/conflict rather than trying to understand it.  We have spend more than a decade trying to name the war and at the same time trying to put new names on old concepts for dealing with the threats we face.  We can argue about names but I would rather we expend the intellectual capital on trying to understand the threats and develop effective policies, strategies, and plans to address the war/conflicts that threaten us and our friends, partners, and allies.  Once we understand the character of the war or conflict then perhaps we can come up with a useful name that will accurately represent the threat and/or our response to it.  We should keep in mind that the threat goes beyond terrorism.

May 29, 2013
Naming America's Nameless War

For well over a decade now the United States has been "a nation at war." Does that war have a name?
It did at the outset. After 9/11, George W. Bush's administration wasted no time in announcing that the U.S. was engaged in a Global War on Terrorism, or GWOT. With few dissenters, the media quickly embraced the term. The GWOT promised to be a gargantuan, transformative enterprise. The conflict begun on 9/11 would define the age. In neoconservative circles, it was known as World War IV.
Upon succeeding to the presidency in 2009, however, Barack Obama without fanfare junked Bush's formulation (as he did again in a speech at the National Defense University last week). Yet if the appellation went away, the conflict itself, shorn of identifying marks, continued.

Does it matter that ours has become and remains a nameless war? Very much so.

Names bestow meaning. When it comes to war, a name attached to a date can shape our understanding of what the conflict was all about. To specify when a war began and when it ended is to privilege certain explanations of its significance while discrediting others. Let me provide a few illustrations.

With rare exceptions, Americans today characterize the horrendous fraternal bloodletting of 1861-1865 as the Civil War. Yet not many decades ago, diehard supporters of the Lost Cause insisted on referring to that conflict as the War Between the States or the War for Southern Independence (or even the War of Northern Aggression). The South may have gone down in defeat, but the purposes for which Southerners had fought -- preserving a distinctive way of life and the principle of states' rights -- had been worthy, even noble. So at least they professed to believe, with their preferred names for the war reflecting that belief.

Schoolbooks tell us that the Spanish-American War began in April 1898 and ended in August of that same year. The name and dates fit nicely with a widespread inclination from President William McKinley's day to our own to frame U.S. intervention in Cuba as an altruistic effort to liberate that island from Spanish oppression.

Yet the Cubans were not exactly bystanders in that drama. By 1898, they had been fighting for years to oust their colonial overlords. And although hostilities in Cuba itself ended on August 12th, they dragged on in the Philippines, another Spanish colony that the United States had seized for reasons only remotely related to liberating Cubans. Notably, U.S. troops occupying the Philippines waged a brutal war not against Spaniards but against Filipino nationalists no more inclined to accept colonial rule by Washington than by Madrid. So widen the aperture to include this Cuban prelude and the Filipino postlude and you end up with something like this: The Spanish-American-Cuban-Philippines War of 1895-1902. Too clunky? How about the War for the American Empire? This much is for sure: rather than illuminating, the commonplace textbook descriptor serves chiefly to conceal.

Strange as it may seem, Europeans once referred to the calamitous events of 1914-1918 as the Great War. When Woodrow Wilson decided in 1917 to send an army of doughboys to fight alongside the Allies, he went beyond Great. According to the president, the Great War was going to be the War To End All Wars. Alas, things did not pan out as he expected. Perhaps anticipating the demise of his vision of permanent peace, War Department General Order 115, issued on October 7, 1919, formally declared that, at least as far as the United States was concerned, the recently concluded hostilities would be known simply as the World War.

In September 1939 -- presto chango! -- the World War suddenly became the First World War, the Nazi invasion of Poland having inaugurated a Second World War, also known as World War II or more crypticallyWWII. To be sure, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin preferred the Great Patriotic War. Although this found instant -- almost unanimous -- favor among Soviet citizens, it did not catch on elsewhere.
Does World War II accurately capture the events it purports to encompass? With the crusade against the Axis now ranking alongside the crusade against slavery as a myth-enshrouded chapter in U.S. history to which all must pay homage, Americans are no more inclined to consider that question than to consider why a playoff to determine the professional baseball championship of North America constitutes a "World Series."

In fact, however convenient and familiar, World War II is misleading and not especially useful. The period in question saw at least two wars, each only tenuously connected to the other, each having distinctive origins, each yielding a different outcome. To separate them is to transform the historical landscape.

On the one hand, there was the Pacific War, pitting the United States against Japan. Formally initiated by the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, it had in fact begun a decade earlier when Japan embarked upon a policy of armed conquest in Manchuria. At stake was the question of who would dominate East Asia. Japan's crushing defeat at the hands of the United States, sealed by two atomic bombs in 1945, answered that question (at least for a time).

Then there was the European War, pitting Nazi Germany first against Great Britain and France, but ultimately against a grand alliance led by the United States, the Soviet Union, and a fast fading British Empire. At stake was the question of who would dominate Europe. Germany's defeat resolved that issue (at least for a time): no one would. To prevent any single power from controlling Europe, two outside powers divided it.

This division served as the basis for the ensuing Cold War, which wasn't actually cold, but also (thankfully) wasn't World War III, the retrospective insistence of bellicose neoconservatives notwithstanding. But when did the Cold War begin? Was it in early 1947, when President Harry Truman decided that Stalin's Russia posed a looming threat and committed the United States to a strategy of containment? Or was it in 1919, when Vladimir Lenin decided that Winston Churchill's vow to "strangle Bolshevism in its cradle" posed a looming threat to the Russian Revolution, with an ongoing Anglo-American military intervention evincing a determination to make good on that vow?
Separating the war against Nazi Germany from the war against Imperial Japan opens up another interpretive possibility. If you incorporate the European conflict of 1914-1918 and the European conflict of 1939-1945 into a single narrative, you get a Second Thirty Years War (the first having occurred from 1618-1648) -- not so much a contest of good against evil, as a mindless exercise in self-destruction that represented the ultimate expression of European folly.

So, yes, it matters what we choose to call the military enterprise we've been waging not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in any number of other countries scattered hither and yon across the Islamic world. Although the Obama administration appears no more interested than the Bush administration in saying when that enterprise will actually end, the date we choose as its starting point also matters.
Although Washington seems in no hurry to name its nameless war -- and will no doubt settle on something self-serving or anodyne if it ever finally addresses the issue -- perhaps we should jump-start the process. Let's consider some possible options, names that might actually explain what's going on.

The Long War: Coined not long after 9/11 by senior officers in the Pentagon, this formulation never gained traction with either civilian officials or the general public. Yet the Long War deserves consideration, even though -- or perhaps because -- it has lost its luster with the passage of time.
(Continued at the link below)

Ready, Fire, Aim: Why the U.S. should have launched an ICBM during the North Korean crisis.

Although I have stated (and still believe) that what has been most useful in managing this current north Korean provocation cycle is the fact that the ROK/US Alliance did not blink and that the north's strategy to split the Alliance has not been effective this time around.  I also think that the demonstration of Alliance strength and resolve has been critical to influencing the decision making of the Kim Family Regime.  That said, I do believe that it was a mistake to not conduct the ICBM test (or more precisely it was a mistake to announce it would be delayed).  Not conducting it does not influence north Korea in a positive way, the regime interprets it as weakness especially when there are reports assessing the reason is to prevent provoking the regime.  I think this is the only significant mistake we made in terms of dealing with north since since last December (and the announcement of the delay more so than the delay of the test itself).

Why the U.S. should have launched an ICBM during the North Korean crisis.

Even good intentions can backfire, as the Pentagon has just been reminded. In April, amid constant threats of nuclear war from Pyongyang, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel decided to postpone the regularly scheduled test-firing of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base. North Korea, it was feared, could misinterpret the launch either as a blunt show of resolve, which could have further escalated the crisis, or, less likely, as an actual attack which could have provoked god-knows-what. But, ironically, the decision to delay -- and to announce it very publicly -- may have created more problems for Washington than it solved.

At the time of Hagel's directive to stand down, North Korea was threatening to strike U.S. territories and allies with nuclear weapons, and it was taking its mobile-missile launchers for a joyride. During the crisis, the United States intentionally used military maneuvers as deterrence messages to Pyongyang. In response to these moves, such as B-52 overflights of the peninsula, the Kim regime's tantrum grew louder and louder. So it is understandable that the Pentagon would have been eager to avoid having one of its Minuteman launches perpetuate this escalatory spiral.

But, despite the Pentagon's insistence that the routine Minuteman test had nothing to do with North Korea and could therefore be delayed without consequence, the postponement created the opposite impression. Minuteman launches don't usually make a splash (at least not outside the South Pacific, where they come down), but international media attention to the test, which finally took place on May 22, has been unusually high. In South Korea, news of the test flight crept into reporting of North Korea's recent short-range missile launches and even of North Korean envoy Choe Yong-hae's visit to China. The Associated Press, Reuters, and RIA Novosti also covered the Minuteman launch in the context of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. All of this is exactly what the United States did not want.
The unintended link prodded Pyongyang to respond with more fiery words. Since the Pentagon's announcement, the North Korean propaganda machine has painted the planned launch as yet another demonstration of the U.S. imperialists' relentless adherence to their "hostile policy." It asserted that a U.S. Minuteman test will bring "dark clouds of a missile race to hang over North East Asia" and warned that "intercontinental missiles [are] by no means a monopoly of the U.S."

This may seem like typical North Korean posturing, but it's not. Between January 1996 and April 2013, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) mentioned the Minuteman only once -- in relation to details leaked from the 2002 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review. (When slamming U.S. "warmongering," North Korean propaganda usually references the specific weapons system being brandished. However, even searches for general mentions of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles yield only around a dozen results.) However, since the Pentagon's delay, there have been three specific mentions of the "Minuteman." All berate the decision to proceed with the launch.

In contrast, from January 1996 to the present, KCNA condemned the B-2 approximately 52 times and the B-52 approximately 126 times. References to U.S. ballistic missile submarines are slightly more difficult to count, as North Korean propaganda happily muddies the distinction between nuclear-powered and nuclear-weapons submarines. KCNA citations of U.S. "nuclear-powered submarines" number in the hundreds, and they often refer to ballistic missile subs. In addition, there are 17 references to Ohio-class submarines -- most of which carry ballistic missiles -- and to specific submarines within that class.

Apparently, North Korea has not been scared of all U.S. nuclear weapons equally. Platforms that have been directly linked to U.S. extended deterrence guarantees for Japan and South Korea, or that can be theater-deployed, seem to be the ones that keep the Korean People's Army up at night. Bombers and submarines can be incorporated into U.S.-South Korean military exercises in the region, which North Korea allegedly fears might be used as a veil for a sneak attack against them. After all, military exercises are the cover Kim Il-Sung used to start the Korean War. KCNAspelled out its concerns with the air and naval legs of the deterrent in March: "What should not be overlooked is that the U.S. picked up B-52 and nuclear-powered submarines out of these nuclear strike means... for a nuclear strike drill under the simulated conditions of actual war against the DPRK."
(Continued at the link below)

Monday, May 27, 2013

(Yonhap Interview) In new book, Bechtol says Kim Jong-il still matters in N. Korea

If you have an interest in north Korea, read Dr. Bechtol's book.

2013/05/28 08:25 KST

(Yonhap Interview) In new book, Bechtol says Kim Jong-il still matters in N. Korea
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, May 27 (Yonhap) -- Bruce Bechtol, a prominent North Korea expert in the U.S., believes it's important to revisit the final years of the Kim Jong-il regime to fathom the strategy of the current leadership of Kim Jong-un.

   "I think that everything that's going on right now in North Korea was set up by Kim Jong-il before he died," in December 2011, he told Yonhap News Agency in a phone interview.

   Bechtol, an associate professor of political science at Angelo State University in Texas, said that's why he authored a 223-page book, titled, "The Last Days of Kim Jong-il: The North Korean threats in a changing era." It's his third book on North Korea.

   "My assessment is that Kim Jong-il made a number of policy moves during the last years of his rule that will have a profound effect on how North Korea evolves in coming years," Bechtol said in the book.

   A defiant foreign and military policy, a track record of proliferation and the development of a nuclear weaponization program point to the conclusion that Kim's plan was for North Korea to continue operating as an aggressive, authoritarian state, he added.

   Writing such a book focusing on the policy of the late North Korean leader is rather unusual, as the world is paying attention to almost every word and act of the new young leader Kim Jong-un.

   Under the junior Kim's leadership, the North has shown a mixed signal by talking about economic reforms, churning out military threats and hinting at an intent to talk with Washington.

   The North fired two long-range rockets in 2012 and carried out a nuclear test earlier this year.

   Most recently, however, North Korean envoy Choe Ryong-hae told Chinese leaders that Pyongyang was willing to return to the dialogue table, including the long-stalled six-way nuclear talks with South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

   Bechtol, formerly a senior intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, doubts Pyongyang will avert its course.

   "Because the primary motivation behind North Korea's nuclear proliferation is money - not ideology - and because the regime's isolation is inclined to make incoming funds an ongoing issue, this highly dangerous proliferation policy is probably going to continue under the new regime," he said.
(Continued at the link below)

In Terror Shift, Obama Took a Long Path

“We must define the nature and scope of this struggle,” Mr. Obama said, “or else it will define us.”
I concur and that is why I argue it is wrong to define the struggle in terms of terrorism alone.  Our enemies are conducting the most comprehensive, holistic, and sophisticated form of warfare that is at once subversive, psychological, and political in nature with terrorism as one visible violent element.  We need to understand that our enemies are conducting unconventional warfare and we must develop and execute a strategy that will counter unconventional warfare.

May 27, 2013

In Terror Shift, Obama Took a Long Path
WASHINGTON — The pivot in counterterrorism policy that President Obama announced last week was nearly two years in the making, but perhaps the most critical moment came last spring during a White House meeting as he talked about the future of the nation’s long-running terrorism war. Underlying the discussion was a simple fact: It was an election year. And Mr. Obama might lose.

For nearly four years, the president had waged a relentless war from the skies against Al Qaeda and its allies, and he trusted that he had found what he considered a reasonable balance even if his critics did not see it that way. But now, he told his aides, he wanted to institutionalize what in effect had been an ad hoc war, effectively shaping the parameters for years to come “whether he was re-elected or somebody else became president,” as one aide said.

Ultimately, he would decide to write a new playbook that would scale back the use of drones, target only those who really threatened the United States, eventually get the C.I.A.out of the targeted killing business and, more generally, begin moving the United States past the “perpetual war” it had waged since Sept. 11, 2001. Whether the policy shifts will actually accomplish that remains to be seen, given vague language and compromises forced by internal debate, but they represent an effort to set the rules even after he leaves office.

“We’ve got this technology, and we’re not going to be the only ones to use it,” said a senior White House official who, like others involved, declined to be identified talking about internal deliberations. “We have to set standards so it doesn’t get abused in the future.”

While part of the re-evaluation was aimed at the next president, it was also about Mr. Obama’s own legacy. What became an exercise lasting months, aides said, forced him to confront his deep conflicts as commander in chief: the Nobel Peace Prize winner with a “kill list,” the antiwar candidate turned war president, the avowed champion of transparency ordering operations over secret battlegrounds. He wanted to be known for healing the rift with the Muslim world, not raining down death from above.

Over the past year, aides said, Mr. Obama spent more time on the subject than on any other national security issue, including the civil war in Syria. The speech he would eventually deliver at the National Defense University became what one aide called “a window into the presidential mind” as Mr. Obama essentially thought out loud about the trade-offs he sees in confronting national security threats.
“Americans are deeply ambivalent about war,” the president said in his speech, and he seemed to be talking about himself as well. Mr. Obama said the seeming precision and remote nature of modern warfare can “lead a president and his team to view drone strikes as a cure-all for terrorism,” and it was not hard to imagine which president he had in mind.

“We must define the nature and scope of this struggle,” Mr. Obama said, “or else it will define us.”

In a sense, that had already happened to Mr. Obama. Somehow he had gone from the candidate who criticized what he saw as President George W. Bush’s excesses to the president who expanded the drone program his predecessor had left him. The killing he authorized in September 2011 of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen tied to terrorist attacks, brought home the disparity between how he had envisioned his presidency and what it had become. Suddenly, a liberal Democratic president was being criticized by his own political base for waging what some called an illegal war and asserting unchecked power.
(Continued at the link below)

US intelligence embraces debate in security issues


Clapper, who has been working on intelligence issues for a half-century, is well aware of how jittery many Americans feel about the spy community. The internal debates, he believes, should bolster their confidence that intelligence officials have thoroughly weighed all aspects of some of the world's most difficult security issues before deciding how high a threat they pose. 
"I think it'd be very unhealthy - and I get a lot of pushback from people - if I tried to insist that you will have one uniform view and this is what I think, and that's what goes. That just wouldn't work," he said. "There is the fundamental tenet of truth to power, presenting inconvenient truths at inconvenient times. That's part of our system."
Much of the focus of this article is on man hunting and intelligence to support drone strikes or in the case of north Korea, enemy capabilities.  While that is hard and important work, what is the real challenge is intelligence analysis anticipating actions and most importantly to be able to assess the intent of others whether they be hostile state or non-state actors.

But I absolutely agree with the thrust of the article in that dissension and disagreement within the intelligence community is not a bad thing.  It illustrates that there are people thinking critically out there and that intelligence is not subject to politicalization (at least among the analysts – but the politicalization can still occur after the assessments and analysis are provided to policy and decision makers).

US intelligence embraces debate in security issues

Published: Today

FILE - In this May 1, 2011, image released by the White House and digitally altered by the source to obscure the details of a document in front of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right with hand covering mouth, President Barack Obama, second from left, Vice President Joe Biden, left, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, right, and members of the national security team watch an update of the mission against Osama bin Laden in the White House Situation Room in Washington. As the world now knows well Obama ultimately decided to launch the raid on the Abbottabad compound that killed bin Laden, though faced with a level of widespread skepticism from a veteran intelligence analyst, shared with other top-level officials, which nearly scuttled the raid. That process reflected a sea change within the U.S. spy community, one that embraces debate to avoid “slam-dunk” intelligence in tough national security decisions. (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) - In the months leading up to the killing of Osama bin Laden, veteran intelligence analyst Robert Cardillo was given the nickname "Debbie Downer." With each new tidbit of information that tracked bin Laden to a high-walled compound in northern Pakistan - phone records, satellite imaging, clues from other suspects - Cardillo cast doubt that the terror network leader and mastermind was actually there.

As the world now knows well, President Barack Obama ultimately decided to launch a May 2011 raid on the Abbottabad compound that killed bin Laden. But the level of widespread skepticism that Cardillo shared with other top-level officials - which nearly scuttled the raid - reflected a sea change within the U.S. spy community, one that embraces debate to avoid "slam-dunk" intelligence in tough national security decisions.

The same sort of high-stakes dissent was on public display recently as intelligence officials grappled with conflicting opinions about threats in North Korea and Syria. And it is a vital part of ongoing discussions over whether to send deadly drone strikes against terror suspects abroad - including U.S. citizens.

The three cases provide a rare look inside the secretive 16 intelligence agencies as they try to piece together security threats from bits of vague information from around the world. But they also raise concerns about whether officials who make decisions based on their assessments can get clear guidance from a divided intelligence community.

At the helm of what he calls a healthy discord is Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has spent more than two-thirds of his 72 years collecting, analyzing and reviewing spy data from war zones and rogue nations. Clapper, the nation's fourth top intelligence chief, says disputes are uncommon but absolutely necessary to get as much input as possible in far-flung places where it's hard for the U.S. to extract - or fully understand - ground-level realities.

"What's bad about dissension? Is it a good thing to have uniformity of view where everyone agrees all the time? I don't think so," Clapper told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. "...People lust for uniform clairvoyance. We're not going to do that."

"We are never dealing with a perfect set of facts," Clapper said. "You know the old saw about the difference between mysteries and secrets? Of course, we're held equally responsible for divining both. And so those imponderables like that just have to be factored."

Looking in from the outside, the dissension can seem awkward, if not uneasy - especially when the risks are so high.

At a congressional hearing last month, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., read from a Defense Intelligence Agency report suggesting North Korea is able to arm long-range missiles with nuclear warheads. The April 11 disclosure, which had been mistakenly declassified, came at the height of Kim Jong Un's sabre-rattling rhetoric and raised fears that U.S. territory or Asian nations could be targeted for an attack.

Within hours, Clapper announced that the DIA report did not reflect the opinions of the rest of the intelligence community, and that North Korea was not yet fully capable of launching a nuclear-armed missile.

Two weeks later, the White House announced that U.S. intelligence concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad has probably used deadly chemical weapons at least twice in his country's fierce civil war. But White House officials said the intelligence wasn't strong enough to justify sending significant U.S. military support to Syrian rebels who are fighting Assad's regime.

Because the U.S. has few sources to provide first-hand information in Syria, the intelligence agencies split on how confident they were that Assad had deployed chemical weapons. The best they could do was conclude that the Syrian regime, at least, probably had undertaken such an effort. This put Obama in the awkward political position of having said the use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line" and have "enormous consequences," but not moving on the news of chemical weapons use, when the occasion arose, because the intelligence was murky.

Lamborn said he welcomes an internal intelligence community debate but is concerned that the North Korean threat was cavalierly brushed aside.

"If they want to argue among themselves, that's fine," said Lamborn, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. However, he also said, "We should be cautious when evaluating different opinions, and certainly give credence to the more sobering possibilities. ... When it comes to national security, I don't think we want to have rose-colored glasses on, and sweep threats under the rug."
Clapper said that, in fact, U.S. intelligence officials today are more accustomed to predicting gloom and doom. "We rain on parades a lot," he said.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials say the vigorous internal debate was spawn from a single mistake about a threat - and an overly aggressive response.

Congress demanded widespread intelligence reform after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, to fix a system where agencies hoarded threat information instead of routinely sharing it. Turf wars between the CIA and the FBI, in particular, were common. The CIA generally was considered the nation's top intelligence agency, and its director was the president's principal intelligence adviser.
(Continued at the link below)

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Cyberattack Campaign for Syria

Although I am not qualified to judge the situation in Syria (as I am still not sure what is a potentially acceptable end state that we could seek in the situation – and I am just not clear on what we can achieve there with a reason chance of success), what intrigues me about this article is that this is one of the best articulations of cyber operations in support of Unconventional Warfare ("activities to enable a resistance or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power through and with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area").  Clearly what the author lays out will be activities to enable a resistance and both directly and indirectly will coerce and disrupt if not contribute to the overthrow of a government.

I am particularly intrigued by the concept of being able to established a digital safe haven which in today's environment probably is something that should be considered in every unconventional warfare campaign.  I think there could be some very useful synergy between Cyber Command and SOF for collaboration on unconventional warfare.  I am sure there is a lot of collaboration ongoing between USSOCOM and Cyber Command but I hope that includes on unconventional warfare as well.

Also note that not stated in the description of the author below is that he is a graduate student at Georgetown in our Security Studies Program (just for some truth in advertising).

A Cyberattack Campaign for Syria
Published: May 23, 2013

WASHINGTON — LAST week Syrians lost access to the Internet for the second time in a month. While the Assad regime claims the lapses were the result of a faulty network link, the evidence suggests that they were deliberate efforts by the government to hamper the opposition’s ability to communicate inside the country and with the outside world.

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As American policy makers debate additional measures to pressure President Bashar al-Assad and aid moderate elements of the opposition, they should consider a military cybercampaign to give Syrians the ability to communicate freely online. Doing so would serve our strategic interests, while also demonstrating a principled commitment to Internet freedom.

For example, through the military’s new Cyber Command, we could create a digital “safe haven,” akin to physical safe havens for refugees, by deploying long-distance Wi-Fi technologies along Syria’s borders and in rebel-held areas in coordination with vetted opposition groups. Platforms that enable transmission of Wi-Fi signals over distances of up to 60 miles are already in use in parts of South Asia and other rural markets.

With a guarantee of secure Internet access points, opposition groups would be able to link their terrestrial and wireless networks with those of like-minded groups. This would enable them to reach deeper into the country, giving broad sections of the Syrian populace Internet access. And because the United States would be able to monitor those networks, we could make sure that moderate opposition elements would be the primary beneficiaries.

Subsequent actions could include measures to counter the Assad regime’s capacity to monitor opposition communications within the existing telecommunications infrastructure.

All of this could be done without putting American boots on the ground: Cyber Command specialists could monitor these opposition-held networks from afar to counter any government attempts to interfere with them, while training moderate opposition elements to be able to operate and protect their own digital communications.

Anyone who doubts the power of open Internet access should consider Egypt.

After the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s government, as Salafists sought control by spreading propaganda through traditional media outlets, an Egyptian cardiologist-turned-satirist, Bassem Youssef, began broadcasting YouTube clips to expose their baseless claims. Today, Mr. Youssef’s program is one of the most popular in Egypt, and it is serving to carve out a niche in the country’s political discourse for Egyptians to question poor governance and radical theology.

The Egyptian example also highlights the long-term role that such a cyberstrategy could play in Syria once the regime falls. As in Egypt, the country will enter a difficult period of political transition, during which access to and control of digital communications will be vital. By ensuring that the population has an open means of coordinating and having access to the Internet, the United States could greatly further its goal of promoting moderate views.
(Continued at the link below)

Report raps military propaganda efforts as ineffective

I think it is somewhat ironic that we expended all the effort to change the name from Psychological Operations (PSYOP) to Military Information Support Operations (MISO) to try to eliminate the perception that these operations are considered propaganda and yet this entire article calls these MISO operations "propaganda efforts."  Of course Tom Vanden Brook has targeted anything dealing with information operations. PSYOP, MISO, influence, etc, etc as propaganda.  But old Vanden Brook is just like the other journalists who cannot tell the difference among Special Operations Forces as illustrated in these excerpts:

The report also outlines how propaganda works. In war zones such as Afghanistan, the military deploys three- and four-soldier MISO teams to drop leaflets telling insurgents how to surrender, air radio broadcasts "to explain U.S. military operations in a favorable light," collect local propaganda and devise counterpropaganda, according to the report.
In safer countries, teams of two to 10 special forces soldiers are deployed at the request of combatant commanders and ambassadors. They lead programs that include helping "instill confidence by local populations in their law enforcement" and offering rewards for information.

Report raps military propaganda efforts as ineffective

Tom Vanden Brook, USATODAY
4:57 p.m. EDT May 23, 2013

(Photo: NONE ISAF)
  • Series of Pentagon-run websites not coordinated with other efforts
  • Pentagon runs propaganda operations in 22 countries
  • The GAO did not release the report publicly
WASHINGTON — Pentagon propaganda programs are inadequately tracked, their impact is unclear, and the military doesn't know if it is targeting the right foreign audiences, according to a government report obtained by USA TODAY.

Since 2005, the Pentagon has spent hundreds of million of dollars on Military Information Support Operations (MISO). These propaganda efforts include websites, leaflets and broadcasts intended to change foreigners' "attitudes and behaviors in support of U.S. Government" objectives, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office. Some of them disclose the U.S. military as the source; others don't.

The Pentagon's response noted that it partly concurred with the GAO criticism. Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday the military is revising its tracking requirements for propaganda programs, has a pilot program to assess their effectiveness and will soon publish revised guidelines that emphasize better planning of its operations.

The report offers a rare glimpse inside the cloaked world of military propaganda, much of which is held secret by the Pentagon. It shows the effort extends from Southeast Asia to South America, with special operations troops deployed to embassies to "erode support for violent extremist ideologies."
The stakes are high. Used effectively, the programs can dampen extremism and increase support for U.S. military operations. However, "if used ineffectively, MISO activities have the potential to undermine the credibility of the United States and threaten (Pentagon) and other agencies' efforts to accomplish key foreign policy goals," the report says.

While the report says some of the military's propaganda teams have succeeded in the 22 countries, "it is unclear whether MISO activities are effective overall."

"Once again we are seeing a misguided spending approach by the government," said Scott Amey, general counsel of the non-partisan watchdog the Project on Government Oversight. "It is horrifying to think that millions are spent on propaganda with little administration of those funds and without some metric of the campaigns' success."

Military propaganda and marketing efforts have been the focus of a series of USA TODAY stories. In 2012, the paper found that the Pentagon had spent as much as $580 million per year on propaganda programs at the height of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but had trouble gauging their effectiveness. It spent $54 million last year, according to the GAO. The GAO refused USA TODAY's request for the report, which was obtained from another government source.

The GAO found three "weaknesses" in the Pentagon's tracking of its propaganda programs:

• The Pentagon and Congress "do not have a complete picture" of the efforts and the funding used to pay for the programs.

• The Pentagon can't measure the effects of propaganda programs well enough to know where to allocate funding.

• Lacking goals, the Pentagon does not have "reasonable assurance" that it is putting resources into countries that need it.

Gregory noted that the Pentagon already provides Congress with substantial data on its MISO programs every three months.
(Continued at the link below)

Thursday, May 23, 2013


 A lot of interesting parts.  The HASC is happy with SOCOM education initiatives (page 68)  but appears unhappy with regional SOF Coordination centers (page 59) as it has limited funding to only those authorized by statute.  I wonder if this is a signal of displeasure with the Global SOF Network?  Note also I have been told that the Defense News article got the SOCOM budget numbers wrong.  The SOCOM budget will not be $12 billion but instead $9.9 billion with a $7.7 billion base and $2.2 billion for OCO.  Will be interesting to see what actually becomes law.


a) LIMITATION.—None of the funds authorized to
5 be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available
6 for fiscal year 2014 for the Department of Defense may
7 be obligated or expended to plan, prepare, establish, or
8 implement any ‘‘Regional Special Operations Forces Co9
ordination Center’’ (RSCC) or similar regional coordina10
tion entities.
11 (b) EXCLUSION.—The limitation contained in sub12
section (a) shall not apply with respect to any RSCC or
13 similar regional coordination entity authorized by statute,
14 including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Special
15 Operations Headquarters authorized under section 1244
16 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
17 2010 (Public Law 111–84; 123 Stat. 2541).

Here is the language that was referenced in the Defense News report yesterday regarding the SECDEF review and assessment  of US Special Operations Command.


5 (a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Defense shall
6 conduct a review of the United States Special Operations
7 Forces organization, capabilities, and structure.

8 (b) REPORT.—Not later than the date on which the
9 budget of the President is submitted to Congress under
10 section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, for fiscal
11 year 2015, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the
12 congressional defense committees a report on the review
13 conducted under subsection (a). Such report shall include
14 an analysis of each of the following:

15 (1) The organizational structure of the United
16 States Special Operations Command and each subor
17 dinate component, as in effect as of the date of the
18 enactment of this Act.

19 (2) The policy and civilian oversight structures
20 for Special Operations Forces within the Depar
t21ment of Defense, as in effect as of the date of the
22 enactment of this Act, including the statutory struc
23tures and responsibilities of the Office of the Sec-

retary of Defense for Special Operations and Low
2 Intensity Conflict within the Department.

3 (3) The roles and responsibilities of United
4 States Special Operations Command and Special
5 Operations Forces under section 167 of title 10,
6 United States Code.

7 (4) Current and future special operations pecu8
liar requirements of the commanders of the geo9
graphic combatant commands, Theater Special Op10
erations Commands, and command relationships be11
tween United States Special Operations Command
12 and the geographic combatant commands.

13 (5) The funding authorities, uses, and oversight
14 mechanisms of Major Force Program–11.
15 (6) Changes to structure, authorities, oversight
16 mechanisms, Major Force Program–11 funding,
17 roles, and responsibilities assumed in the 2014

18 Quadrennial Defense Review.
19 (7) Any other matters the Secretary of Defense
20 determines are appropriate to ensure a comprehen21
sive review and assessment.

22 (c) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 60 days after the
23 date on which the report required by subsection (b) is sub24
mitted, the Comptroller General of the United States shall
25 submit to the congressional defense committees a review

1 of the report. Such review shall include an assessment of
2 United States Special Operations Forces organization, ca3
pabilities, and force structure with respect to conventional
4 force structures and national military strategies.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

HASC Panel Adopts Administration's Special Ops Budget Request

Note the required reporting (if the bill passes into law with the language in the house bill).  Seems to me the HASC is giving SOCOM all the funding requested but is also asking for some detailed explanation of command relationships and support to the geographic combatant commanders as if they really want the Global SOF Network spelled out for them in detail.  Furthermore, the review and assessment of the organization, missions, and authorities can be interpreted in a number of ways but perhaps it is time for a thorough assessment of SOF some 26 years after Nunn-Cohen.  I think the HASC wants an azimuth check of SOF (despite the fact that everyone is enamored with SOF these days).  It will be interesting to do a detailed analysis of the language to determine the real intent of the committee.

But perhaps someone could explain to Mr. Bennett that there will never, ever be 70,000 commandos in the US military.  I think if you add together every SOF "operator" in a ground tactical billet (in Special Forces, SEALs/Naval Special Warfare, MARSOC, the Ranger Regiment, Special Tactics Teams, Combat Control Teams, and the Special Mission Units) you might have a total of 10,000 "of the most lethal killers."  There is no way that the operational force is going to grow by another 10,000 "commandos"  (and we should note that the only commandos we have in SOF are the Air Commandos of the Air Force Special Operations Command – nonie of our US SOF whether Rangers, SF, SELAS, or MARSOC go by the name commando).  


The legislation also would require Pentagon brass to "review and assess the organization, missions, and authorities related to U.S. special operations forces and U.S. Special Operations Command and to provide a report to the congressional defense committees." 
If enacted in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act later this year, that report would have to spell out all "policy and civilian oversight structures for special operations forces within the Department of Defense. 
Notably, the legislation would require the report to cover "current and future special operations peculiar requirements of the commanders of the geographic combatant commands, theater special operations commands, and command relationships between United States Special Operations Command and the geographic combatant commands."


HASC Panel Adopts Administration's Special Ops Budget Request
Posted: Wednesday May 22, 2013

Legislation approved Wednesday by a US House subcommittee fully supports the Obama administration's plan to budget special operations forces for more than $12 billion in 2014.
Moments before the House Armed Services intelligence, emerging threats and capabilities subpanel approved its part of the full panel's 2014 Pentagon policy bill, Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the legislation fully funds the administration's special operations request.

In its military budget request, delivered to Congress in April, the White House proposed spending $12.4 billion on America's elite commandos next fiscal year. If enacted by Congress, that would make special ops one of the few parts of the Pentagon's annual budget expected to grow during the sequestration era.

The $12.4 billion would help grow the ranks of the nation's most-lethal killers by 10,000, to a force over just over 70,000 commandos.

Subcommittee leaders said they authorized the administration's funding level because special operators are taking on a larger role in U.S. military operations, a trend they expect will expand in coming years.
(Continued at the link below)

‘Don’t do it in Korea’ U.S. Soldiers’ cultural awareness training

We should thank Bill Gates for being an excellent training aid for cultural awareness training in Korea.  Intelligent men learn from their mistakes and wise men learn from the mistakes of others (though I recall when this incident happened other photos of him with other national leaders with his hand in his pocket – he an equal opportunity insulter who apparently has not learned from his mistakes – or perhaps no one has told him he was making a mistake) .  I will bet that Soldiers will remember the object lesson below better than other examples (of course we also might see all the windows operating systems crash after this gets out).  

I am sure there are some Americans who are taken aback by this but I also will bet that this also might serve as a kind of apology for Mr. Gates' rudeness to the President and I bet there are some Koreans who might positively interpret this gesture (it sure caught the eye of the press as it is both in Yonhap news and in the Korea Times).  I think this is good initiative on the part of 2ID and USFK.

Yonhapnews (web)
May 21, 2013

‘Don’t do it in Korea’ U.S. Soldiers’ cultural awareness training

‘Don’t do it in Korea.’ (Dongducheon=Yonhapnews) Reporter Lim, Byeong Sik = Staff Sgt. Hun Lee Rosenberry, Korean-American service member, explained a proper way to shake hands in Korea based on an exemplary photo between Mr. Bill Gates and President Pak, Geun Hye during the Cultural Awareness Training at the Warrior Readiness Center, Camp Hovey, located in Dongducheon City, Gyeonggi Province on May 21.

(Dongducheon=Yonhapnews) Reporter Lim, Byeong Sik = “We have to be the ‘Warrior’ not a ‘Trouble maker.’”

There was an interesting education drawing soldiers’ attention at the Warrior Readiness Center, U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Hovey, located in Dongducheon City, Gyeonggi Province on May 21.
The education was the integrated Cultural Awareness Training with an assistance of the Northern Gyeonggi Province Office.

The training was carried out by an American of Korean descent, Staff Sgt. Hun Lee Rosenberry, and two Korean Augmentation Troops to the U.S. Army (KATUSA), Pfc. Yoo, Ha Lim and Pfc. Pak, Jong Weon for more than 100 newcomers.

The instructor team was selected through the strict test and prepared the presentation after practicing it more than 100 times for the last three months.

The attendees aged in 19 to 25 years old just arrived in Korea through the Incheon Airport a week ago. They took the time to adjust themselves in Korea before being stationed to their units.

A representative of the U.S. Army said “there used to be an introduction briefing about Korea to newcomers, but after the series of incidents in March, we decided to apply more effective training.”

The education started with the Korean History and Culture. Staff Sgt. Rosenberry, Pfc. Yoo and Pfc. Pak perfectly teamed up to explain the history from the ancient part which Korea once spread out to Manchuria area to the modern one which Korea has been divided since the Korean War.

USFK Newcomers’ Cultural education (Dongducheon=Yonhapnews) Reporter Lim, Byeong Sik = Baby-face young newcomers listened to the Cultural Awareness Training at the Warrior Readiness Center, Camp Hovey, located in Dongducheon City, Gyeonggi Province on May 21.

The presentation included not only a slide showing the size of Korea territory and population but also the climate such as the yellow dust.
(Continued at the link below)

S. Korea, Japan, US defense chiefs to meet

Will be interesting to see the results of this and how well the trilateral relationship does after recent events.  I concur that the members of the trilateral relationship need to show a united front but given the Japanese visit to Pyongyang and other Japanese actions of late, I have to ask the question: Will Japan play well with others?

S. Korea, Japan, US defense chiefs to meet
Posted: Wednesday May 22, 2013

The defense chiefs of South Korea, Japan and the United States will hold their first trilateral meeting for four years at the end of this month, with North Korea likely to top the agenda.

The three top officials will meet on the sidelines of the annual Asia Security Summit to be held in Singapore from May 31 to June 2, a South Korean defense ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

It will be their first three-way ministerial-level meeting since 2009, with defense dialogue between Seoul and Tokyo having been marred in recent years by a long-running territorial dispute and other issues.
(Continued at the link below)

Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation?

Is the OSS Contribution to Special Forces a Result of Disinformation? David Maxwell jrnl/art/oss-contrib...