Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughts on the Future of Special Operations: A Return to the Roots - Adapted for the Future

Please go to Small Wars Journal to read the entire essay.

Thoughts on the Future of Special Operations

by David S. Maxwell

Journal Article | October 31, 2013 - 2:44pm
Thoughts on the Future of Special Operations: A Return to the Roots - Adapted for the Future
David S. Maxwell
As the post 9-11 era of the War on Terrorism winds down, the Services are rightly looking to the future.  With the severe fiscal constraints, drawdown of personnel, and an uncertain future of threats there is a debate on whether the military should focus solely on traditional war fighting and deterrence or sustain and further develop the capabilities to deal with the unconventional warfare threats posed by state and non-state actors from the Iran Action Network to North Korea’s Department 39 to Al Qaeda.  The Special Operations community is having this debate as well and it has resulted in controversial visions for the future including establishing a Global SOF Network (GSN). 
The purpose of this paper is to briefly argue that the future of Special Operations rests in a thorough understanding of its fundamental and traditional missions and then adapting sound, tried and true, and still relevant historical doctrine, mission sets, and tactics, techniques, and procedures for the uncertain future operating environment.
In summary this paper will briefly highlight six specific points.
  1. The U.S. faces national security threats in three fundamental forms of warfare: nuclear warfare, conventional warfare, and unconventional warfare.
  2. The future is characterized by the need to conduct unconventional warfare (UW) and to be able to counter unconventional warfare.
  3. The U.S. has the greatest surgical strike capability in the world but it needs to prioritize and resource equally our special warfare capabilities. 
  4. The U.S. needs Strategists and Policy makers who have a deep understanding of and value the strategic options of UW and Counter-UW.
  5. Effective Special Warfare is counter-intuitively characterized by slow and deliberate employment – long duration actions and activities, relationship establishment, development, and sustainment.
  6. SOF will always have a role in hybrid conflict and conventional warfare. 
Unconventional Warfare
Unconventional Warfare is defined as “activities to enable a resistance or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow a government or occupying power through or with an underground, auxiliary and [or] guerrilla force in a denied area.”  This is not an exclusively U.S. centric definition but in fact describes the activities from Al Qaeda to the Iran Action Network.  There are myriad resistance movements around the world including but not limited to the Free Syrian Army to the Uighurs in China to the FARC in Colombia, Boko Haram in Africa and both Moro Islamic organizations and the New Peoples Army in the Philippines just to name a few.  It may be in the U.S. strategic interests to either support some of these movements through unconventional warfare or counter the unconventional warfare efforts of others.
The current doctrinal definition above does not describe the full range of unconventional warfare conducted by the U.S.  There is controversy over the definition and many do not agree with it even in the Special Operations Community.  One seemingly slight controversy is that the definition reads “underground, auxiliary, AND guerilla forces” implying that to conduct UW all three elements are required.  Some, as I do, argue that “and” should be replaced with “or” because a guerrilla force is not always necessary and in fact most people seem to get think the unconventional warfare equals guerrilla warfare.  In the 21st century effective unconventional warfare does not require a guerrilla force and certainly not one in the “traditional” sense as in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam.  Undergrounds and auxiliaries can be much more sophisticated elements of a resistance movement and employ terrorist tactics to achieve their political aims.  Rather than focus on the terrorism conducted, we should really consider how such organizations are actually conduct a form of unconventional warfare to achieve their strategic aims.
Therefore, it is important to look deeper into the meaning of unconventional warfare particularly since here is no agreed upon theory of unconventional warfare and certainly nothing to balance with theory of special operations put forth in Admiral McRaven's seminal work on special operations raids and direct action with his important principles of how small special operations forces can defeat larger ones.  The no longer published 1997 Joint Doctrine Encyclopedia is that last time that UW was fully described in non-SOF military publication.  This excerpt provides a foundation for the concept of UW that remains relevant today:
UW is the military and paramilitary aspect of an insurgency or other armed resistance movement and may often become a protracted politico-military activity. From the U.S. perspective, UW may be the conduct of indirect or proxy warfare against a hostile power for the purpose of achieving U.S. national interests in peacetime; UW may be employed when conventional military involvement is impractical or undesirable; or UW may be a complement to conventional operations in war. The focus of UW is primarily on existing or potential insurgent, secessionist, or other resistance movements. Special operations forces (SOF) provide advice, training, and assistance to existing indigenous resistance organizations. The intent of UW operations is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by advising, assisting, and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic or operational objectives.
When UW is conducted independently during military operations other than war or war, its primary focus is on political and psychological objectives. A successful effort to organize and mobilize a segment of the civil population may culminate in military action. Strategic UW objectives may include the following:
• Undermining the domestic and international legitimacy of the target authority.
• Neutralizing the target authority’s power and shifting that power to the resistance organization.
• Destroying the confidence and will of the target authority’s leadership.
• Isolating the target authority from international diplomatic and material support while obtaining such support for the resistance organization.
• Obtaining the support or neutrality of the various segments of the society.
Although this is from 1996 this offers a description of the kind of activities that SOF can conduct “to coerce, disrupt or overthrow a government or occupying power” in support of U.S. strategic objectives and is as relevant at the time of President Kennedy as it is at the time of President Obama.  It also can describe what organizations such as Al Qaeda and the Iran Action Network are doing today.
Since 9-11 we have reinvented numerous terms and concepts from counterinsurgency to irregular warfare to describe what many thought were new phenomena. John F. Kennedy and Barak Obama each articulated the enduring threats that we faced in the 1960’s and that we still face in the 21st century with these two quotes:
 “This is another type of war, new in its intensity, ancient in its origins - war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of combat; by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It requires - in those situations where we must encounter it - a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and therefore, a new and wholly different kind of military training.” 
“History teaches us that nations that grow comfortable with the old ways and complacent in the face of new threats, those nations do not long endure.  And in the 21st century, we do not have the luxury of deciding which challenges to prepare for and which to ignore.  We must overcome the full spectrum of threats – the conventional and unconventional; the nation-state and the terrorists network; the spread of deadly technologies ad the spread of hateful ideologies; 18th century-style piracy and 21st century cyber threats.”
Both Presidents describe similar threats for their times and each includes elements of unconventional warfare.  This is a timeless activity that evolves over time.  As one simple example today undergrounds and auxiliaries (these exist in some form even if the resistance organizations do not use this terminology) make extensive use of modern communications for recruitment, political mobilization and activities, psychological warfare, and for planning and coordinating operations.  Although some call UW an anachronism because their view is limited to World War II style resistance operations, a thorough study will reveal that UW is widely practiced in various forms today and has adapted to modern conditions, and thus the U.S. must be prepared to both practice it and counter it in accordance with its strategic interests.  It is imperative that the U.S. military and strategists and policy makers have a deep understanding of unconventional warfare and the requirement to counter it in the coming years.
Surgical Strike and Special Warfare
Although Title 10 of the U.S. Code in Section 167 lists the ten special operations activities in so far as they pertain to the conduct of special operations, all Special Operations can be described in two broad categories, Surgical Strike and Special Warfare.  These two categories should be useful to policy makers and strategists because these terms can broadly characterize “the yin and yang” of special operations which has variously been described has direct and indirect approaches or hard and soft power.  As yin and yang imply, SOF is most effective when there is the proper balance among its capabilities but that balance constantly shifts as conditions change.   Most importantly, the capabilities are not mutually exclusive but instead are mutually supporting and reinforcing when they are integrated to support national policies, an integrated strategy and comprehensive campaign plans.
Surgical strike as defined in ADRP 3-05Army Special Operations is “the execution of activities in a precise manner that employ special operations in hostile, denied, or politically sensitive environments to seize, destroy, capture, exploit, recover or damage designated targets, or influence adversaries and threats.”  The Title 10 missions that fall within this category are counter terrorism, direct action, special reconnaissance (including all the advanced surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities developed to support SOF since 9-11). Although not designated in Title 10, counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction would require support from the surgical capabilities resident in SOF.  The U.S. has developed a surgical strike capability that is the envy of the world.  It has a capability to find, fix, finish, exploit and analyze (F3EA) that has captured and killed numerous high value targets as well as disrupted and destroyed networks and cells conducting or threatening to conduct operations against U.S. interests.
Special warfare as defined in ADRP 3-05 3-05 Army Special Operations is “the execution of activities that involve a combination of lethal and nonlethal actions taken by a specially trained and educated force that has a deep understanding of cultures and foreign language, proficiency in small-unit tactics, and the ability to build and fight alongside indigenous combat formations in a permissive, uncertain, or hostile environment.” 
The Title 10 activities that fall under special warfare include unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, civil affairs and military information support operations (formerly psychological operations).  There are three other activities listed in Title and these include humanitarian assistance, theater search and rescue, and such other special activities designated by the President or Secretary of Defense.
Special Warfare has been the traditional mission of the majority of U.S. SOF.  It can be seen in the traditional names of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Special Warfare magazine that dates from the 1960’s and the Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Command.  In the 1962 edition of theSpecial Warfare Magazine special warfare consisted of three distinct and overarching missions: Unconventional Warfare, Psychological Warfare, and Counterinsurgency.  A similar construct is useful today with the recognition that surgical strike is a mission of co-equal importance to special warfare.
Some today argue that the use of “warfare” in the name is counter-productive due to perceived (and I would suggest unwarranted) sensitivities with other U.S. government agencies.  Some offer judgments that Ambassadors do not want military personnel coming to their country team announcing that they are there to conduct special warfare.  We should keep in mind that the credibility of SOF lies first and foremost with its combat prowess across the joint SOF force and the ability of every SOF operator to fight and win across the spectrum of conflict.  There should never be an apology for the fact that SOF operators are fighters first who possess special skills and training that allow them to conduct the myriad missions of special warfare and surgical strike.  SOF should never run from its reputation and failing to recognize both its roots and its capabilities by jettisoning special warfare would compound the mistake that was made by eliminating psychological operations for military information support operations.
(Continued at the link below)

NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say

I wonder if anyone has done any detailed forensic analysis on the documents that Snowden is releasing (which may be different than the ones he stole).  I wonder if he has not doctored the documents in some way to generate further controversies.  It seems like we are going to see quite an NSA versus Google/Yahoo dust up here.  But if the fight is going to be based on Snowden's documents perhaps if they are doctored that should be exposed.  Of course on the other hand to effectively expose doctored documents and to prove it would require release of other classified information that might also damage national security.  Snowden is in a win-win situation then because he (and Greenfield) can doctor anything to suit his agenda and he cannot be challenged.  A real Catch-22 potentially.

NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Published: October 30

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — including “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.

The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters . From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information among the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

In a statement, the NSA said it is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”

“NSA applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons — minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination,” it said.

In a statement, Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said the company has “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping” and has not provided the government with access to its systems.

“We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform,” he said.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said, “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”

Under PRISM, the NSA gathers huge volumes of online communications records by legally compelling U.S. technology companies, including Yahoo and Google, to turn over any data that match court-approved search terms. That program, which was first disclosed by The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper in Britain, is authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and overseen by the Foreign ­Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

Intercepting communications overseas has clear advantages for the NSA, with looser restrictions and less oversight. NSA documents about the effort refer directly to “full take,” “bulk access” and “high volume” operations on Yahoo and Google networks. Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner.

Outside U.S. territory, statutory restrictions on surveillance seldom apply and the FISC has no jurisdiction. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has acknowledged that Congress conducts little oversight of intelligence-gathering under the presidential authority of Executive Order 12333 , which defines the basic powers and responsibilities of the intelligence agencies.

John Schindler, a former NSA chief analyst and frequent defender who teaches at the Naval War College, said it is obvious why the agency would prefer to avoid restrictions where it can.

“Look, NSA has platoons of lawyers, and their entire job is figuring out how to stay within the law and maximize collection by exploiting every loophole,” he said. “It’s fair to say the rules are less restrictive under Executive Order 12333 than they are under FISA,” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
(Continued at the link below)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Preoccupied Obama criticized over North Korea policy

The fact is there are too many crises, foreign and domestic, for the Administration to manage.  The best course of action is for the Administration to ensure the strength of the ROK/US Alliance to provide the foundation for President Park to continue the execution of her policy of trustpolitik.  The US is just not going to be able to effectively deal with north Korea at this time given all that is on the Administration's plate.  But this is a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.  If we do we are likely to again be taken to the cleaners by the Kim Family Regime as we have in the past because we are so distracted.  If we do not we will be blamed as the north continues its blackmail diplomacy and the development of its nuclear program.  If I could make one recommendation if would be for the President to sign a finding to target the north's financial activities to pressure the regime and force it to deal with the ROK, undercut the legitimacy of the regime among the elite as it will lose the ability to provide luxury goods, and perhaps most important the loss of access to its illicit funding activities will hinder the development of its nuclear program.  

Of course as a superpower we should be able to manage all these crises but apparently at this time we are unable to.

Preoccupied Obama criticized over North Korea policy

Associated Press
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Published: October 29, 2013
This Oct. 9, 2013 satellite image taken by Astrium, and annotated and distributed by 38 North shows the Sohae site where North Korea launched a long-range rocket into space in December 2012. U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, North Korea is conducting major construction at its main missile launch site, apparently to accommodate larger rockets and new mobile missiles.
WASHINGTON — Preoccupied with domestic woes and high-stakes Mideast diplomacy, the Obama administration has little time these days to focus on the ominous signs that its enemy North Korea is advancing its nuclear weapons program.
Within the past two months the secretive nation has restarted a reactor that can produce plutonium for bombs. Recent satellite photos also appear to indicate new tunneling at its underground nuclear test site and major construction at its main missile launch site.
The Obama administration, like Congress, is deeply skeptical about negotiating with the North, which says it wants to restart aid-for-disarmament talks. The U.S. has opted to tighten sanctions on Kim Jong Un's regime, while also pressing China to exert more pressure on its troublesome ally.
But the administration's own first appointee as envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, and former Clinton administration negotiator, Robert Gallucci, said the U.S. government has not had direct contact with a senior North Korean official for more than a year and that the current diplomatic impasse only buys time for Pyongyang to develop its nuclear program further.
The former envoys said that in informal talks last month, North Korean officials told them they were willing to negotiate about their nuclear weapons program. "Whatever risks might be associated with new talks, they are less than those that come with doing nothing," Bosworth and Gallucci wrote Monday in the International New York Times.
Coming from Bosworth in particular, that's pointed criticism. On his watch, the administration's engagement with Pyongyang was very cautious — a policy dubbed "strategic patience" — and actually drew criticism from then Sen. John Kerry who favored more active efforts to talk with the reclusive regime.
But the United States appears unlikely to re-enter talks with North Korea anytime soon, although Kerry, now secretary of state, has kept that possibility open if Pyongyang takes concrete steps to show it is serious about denuclearization.
For one thing, the administration has its hands full. On foreign policy, it is embroiled in diplomacy on Iran's nuclear program and the Syrian civil war — adopting moderate stances that have rankled some of its allies in the Mideast. It's also fending off anger from allies in the West, such as Germany, France and Spain over spying allegations.
On the domestic front, President Barack Obama has lurched from a budget-standoff that sparked a 16-day partial government shutdown and brought the U.S. within a whisker of debt default, to damage limitation over the botched roll-out of his landmark health care policy.
That leaves little time, or perhaps political appetite, to chance the administration's arm at another round of diplomacy with Kim Jong Un, whose government spoiled the last round in spring 2012 by launching a rocket into space — what the U.S. regarded as a test of ballistic missile technology that could potentially threaten America. Then this February, the North conducted an atomic test and later threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the U.S. when it led the international effort to tighten sanctions.
Now North Korea says it wants to restart multi-nation nuclear talks, but is resisting any preconditions and is asking for the U.S. during those talks to conclude a peace treaty to replace the temporary armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Bosworth and Gallucci are urging the administration to relax its requirement that "North Korea meet its demands before any dialogue begins" — a reference to Washington's desire to see a freeze in the North's nuclear and missile programs before returning to the six-nation talks, that also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
(Continued at the link below)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Korea Cannot Let Japan Deploy Troops Abroad

I think Korea could be making a strategic error.  I fully understand all the historical animosity but the fact is that Japan is a sovereign nation and neither Korea nor the U.S. can prevent it from deploying troops or participating in collective self-defense any more than Japan can prevent Korea from doing so.

This is the time for cooler diplomatic heads to prevail in Korea. I think that contrary to the conclusion in the article Korea will have a better chance of boosting its geopolitical role by thinking and acting realistically and making decisions based on real interests. Yes history is important and we understand that suspicion lingers but policy cannot always be made based on that and even less on emotion (domestic politics notwithstanding).  And I think there is one thing that the Koreans should remember and that is that in the case of the Korean peninsula the international community 9and the US) is likely to have learned from history and will not allow a repeat of Taft Katsura in 1905 and the annexation of Korea in 1910 by Japan.  Putting the US in the middle between Korea and Japan and then asking the US to choose between the two is not a wise diplomatic move for either Korea or Japan (and certainly not for the US).

Korea Cannot Let Japan Deploy Troops Abroad

A high-ranking government official has asked U.S. officials to "reflect" Korea's sovereignty over the entire Korean Peninsula before endorsing Japan's right to engage the country's strictly defensive military in operations abroad. 

This is the first time that Korea has directly put its position to the U.S. about the issue of Japan's attempts to legitimize so-called "collective self-defense," which would allow Japanese troops to fight abroad if an ally is in some way under threat. This could lead to Japanese troops being deployed to the Korean Peninsula in support of the U.S. Forces Korea in the event of an emergency here.

Koreans have a deep-seated suspicion of Japan's military since the brutal occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 until the end of World War II.
Although the UN Charter gives governments the right to collective self-defense, Japan voluntarily relinquished it due to its pacifist postwar constitution. But now the hard-right Abe administration is trying to amend the constitution to assert it again, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. have endorsed the move in order to keep China's rising military power in check.
That is why Seoul wants to make sure that Japanese soldiers are never again allowed to land on Korean soil, whatever the circumstances. In order to make sure it does not happen, Seoul must strike a cast-iron agreement with the U.S. while strengthening its own defenses.
Japan's attempts at rearmament will have a major impact on Northeast Asian security. An arms race between China and Japan will create clouds of a new Cold War in the region, and U.S.-Japan relations could take precedence over U.S.-Korea ties. South Korea would then find itself in a dilemma because it is dependent on the U.S. for its security and on China for business.

The rightwingers now in charge in Japan are also aggressively pushing the country’s flimsy colonial claim to Korea's Dokdo islets. In every aspect, Japan's moves to assert the right to collective self-defense involve Korea.
(Continued at the link below)

Report: Obama unaware NSA spied on world leaders

I really wonder who is advising the Administration on this.  This is truly a damned if you do and damned if you do not response. But  I think it would be better to accept full responsibility for doing what every government does or wishes they could rather than giving the appearance that the President is out of touch and not in full control of the executive branch (you would think that there would need to be a Presidential finding for an activity such as this).  And if it turns out he did know (in 2010 vice 2013) then it would be a cover-up and we know where that leads.  And from a politics standpoint for someone to think that this line of strategic communications somehow protects the President must surely be misguided.  To throw the NSA under the bus will not go over politically and I think not only the political opposition will jump on this, but it could very well further damage relations with our allies (worse than the spying itself) as they will perceive that the Administration is not in control of its security services and puts politics above national security.  Perhaps ironically this could make the mistrust even greater – our allies are more likely to accept (privately) that they were monitored but will likely trust us less with this line of strategic communications because it appears that the Administration is 1) not in control and 2) has little to no loyalty to the US intelligence community and military which is a dangerous view from a national and international security perspective.  And finally we should remember that the NSA is a military organization so there is likely to be increased civil-military friction.

I would have recommended to whomever is devising this strategic communications plan that the best course of action would have been for the Administration to accept full responsibility and then leave it at that without trying to make excuses that leave itself vulnerable to the inevitable lines of questioning that will persist for the remainder of the Administration of what did the President really know and when did he know it?  I am sure we are going to see hearings on this and investigative journalists will not rest (Until Bob Woodward publishes his next book that will explain it all).

Report: Obama unaware NSA spied on world leaders

By Justin Sink 10/27/13 09:51 PM ET
The White House was unaware of National Security Agency surveillance targeting world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and ordered the spy agency to cease some monitoring programs after learning of them, according to a report Sunday in The Wall Street Journal.

According to the paper, the White House first learned of the operations during an internal administration review over the summer. After their revelation, the White House ordered the NSA to halt some monitoring programs, including the one tracking Merkel. Other surveillance efforts are still winding down.

The Journal report contradicts a story in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that suggests that the president was personally briefed on the operation to monitor Merkel’s phone three years ago.

But according to the Journal’s reporting, President Obama only authorized broad intelligence-gathering priorities. Senior administration officials told the newspaper that individual surveillance levels were made on the agency level.

The report comes as top German intelligence officials were set to travel to Washington this week to ask questions about the alleged surveillance of Merkel.

On Friday, NBC News reported the White House might be open to no-spy agreements with Germany and other close allies outraged over the alleged surveillance of their leaders’ phone and digital communications.

“We are already in diplomatic and intelligence channels talking to the Germans, French, countries around the world — Brazil and Mexico, as well,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told the network. “I think we’ll have a series of bilateral discussions with these countries and look at multilateral discussions as well.”

The U.S. has preexisting no-spy agreements with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.
(Continued at the link below)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rice Offers a More Modest Strategy for Mideast


The blueprint drawn up on those summer weekends at the White House is a model of pragmatism — eschewing the use of force, except to respond to acts of aggression against the United States or its allies, disruption of oil supplies, terrorist networks or weapons of mass destruction. Tellingly, it does not designate the spread of democracy as a core interest.

It appears that the Administration is shifting the dominant position on American Exceptionalism from the "crusader" to the "exemplar" (per Thomas Jefferson)or more specifically the shift is from a Jacksonian foreign policy model to a Wilsonian/Jeffersonian alignment.

But I think this may be illustrative of the way the Administration is operating this term and may indicate that the President feels he was burned by past collaborative efforts involving DoD, DoS, and CIA. 

It was a tight group that included no one outside the White House, a stark contrast to Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan review in 2009, which involved dozens of officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Ms. Rice said she briefed Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel over weekly lunches.

I suspect that this will be the foreign policy and strategy model for the remainder of this term and we should consider what that means for the US and the future.
October 26, 2013

Rice Offers a More Modest Strategy for Mideast


WASHINGTON — Each Saturday morning in July and August, Susan E. RicePresident Obama’s new national security adviser, gathered half a dozen aides in her corner office in the White House to plot America’s future in the Middle East. The policy review, a kind of midcourse correction, has set the United States on a new heading in the world’s most turbulent region.
At the United Nations last month, Mr. Obama laid out the priorities he has adopted as a result of the review. The United States, he declared, would focus on negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, brokering peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and mitigating the strife in Syria. Everything else would take a back seat.
That includes Egypt, which was once a central pillar of American foreign policy. Mr. Obama, who hailed the crowds on the streets of Cairo in 2011 and pledged to heed the cries for change across the region, made clear that there were limits to what the United States would do to nurture democracy, whether there, or in Bahrain, Libya, Tunisia or Yemen.
The president’s goal, said Ms. Rice, who discussed the review for the first time in an interview last week, is to avoid having events in the Middle East swallow his foreign policy agenda, as it had those of presidents before him.
“We can’t just be consumed 24/7 by one region, important as it is,” she said, adding, “He thought it was a good time to step back and reassess, in a very critical and kind of no-holds-barred way, how we conceive the region.”
Not only does the new approach have little in common with the “freedom agenda” of George W. Bush, but it is also a scaling back of the more expansive American role that Mr. Obama himself articulated two years ago, before the Arab Spring mutated into sectarian violence, extremism and brutal repression.
The blueprint drawn up on those summer weekends at the White House is a model of pragmatism — eschewing the use of force, except to respond to acts of aggression against the United States or its allies, disruption of oil supplies, terrorist networks or weapons of mass destruction. Tellingly, it does not designate the spread of democracy as a core interest.
(Continued at the link below)

Robert B. Rheault, Green Berets commander who faced scandal in Vietnam, dies at 87

Some Vietnam and Special Forces history for Sunday morning.

Robert B. Rheault, Green Berets commander who faced scandal in Vietnam, dies at 87

Robert B. Rheault, a charismatic Army colonel who could scale mountains, dive to the ocean floor and speak flawless French, arrived for his second tour of duty in Vietnam in May 1969, when the war was at its raging peak. He had the job that had been his destiny, commander of the Green Berets, the elite Special Forces unit that often operated outside the standard Army chain of command.
Within a month, Col. Rheault (pronounced Roe) was embroiled in a case that spread to the highest levels of the Pentagon, White House, CIA and Congress and brought a premature end to his promising military career. The Green Beret murder case, which was splashed across magazine covers and in headlines for weeks, became one of the most puzzling, disturbing and tragic episodes of the war, but it has largely been forgotten in the decades since.
(AP) - Col. Robert B. Rheault, a former commander of the Army’s Green Berets in Vietnam in 1969.
In the words of Time magazine, it was “a Vietnam War scandal second only to the My Lai killings” — in which U.S. troops killed hundreds of innocent civilians — “and one of infinitely more complex moral overtones.”
Col. Rheault died Oct. 16 at his home in Owls Head, Maine. He was 87.
His wife, Susan St. John, confirmed his death. She did not disclose a cause.
Col. Rheault, a 1946 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., joined the Army’s Special Forces in 1960. He traveled all over the world, engaging in actions along the East German border and peering into China from high in the Himalayas. He trained military units in Jordan, Pakistan, Tunisia and Iran.
In one training exercise, according to Jeff Stein’s 1992 book “A Murder in Wartime,” Col. Rheault’s commandos sneaked into the headquarters of a sleeping U.S. general, drew a red line across his throat and left a note on his pajamas that said, “You are dead.”
During Col. Rheault’s first tour in Vietnam in 1964, he was an intelligence and operations officer with the Green Berets. Few people knew what he did on his long solo forays into the jungle, but he always came back alive.
In the mid-1960s, when he received a master’s degree in international relations from George Washington University, Col. Rheault also worked as a counterinsurgency specialist for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had close contact with top officials at the White House, State Department, Pentagon and CIA. He was among the few people who knew about clandestine U.S. operations in Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia and Laos.
As the war in Vietnam began to be questioned on the home front, the Green Berets remained one of the few popular parts of the military during an unpopular war.
In 1966, “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” a song co-written and sung by Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler, was a ­No. 1 hit on the pop charts. In a flattering 1968 film portrayal of Special Forces units in Vietnam, John Wayne played a colonel in “The Green Berets.”
‘A scintillating leader’
(Continued at the link below)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ask a North Korean: "These days, many North Koreans criticize their government in front of other people."

A good read with some good insight on north Korean propaganda and indoctrination.  Just taking this at face value we can make a couple of conclusions.  On the one hand if people are openly criticizing the government it appears there would be resistance potential that could be exploited to undermine the Kim Family Regime.  And people with these attitudes will be important in a post regime collapse scenario.  If the author is correct and there are 20-30% of the population who still believe in the north's propaganda (and note the reference to anti-Japanese partisan warfare and Kim Il-sung liberating Korea and giving birth the Guerrilla Dynasty) then in a post Kim Family Regime scenario we can expect that there will be significant resistance to the ROK efforts to reunify the Peninsula as 20-30% of the population is between 4 and 6 million people (out of approximately 23 million).   In addition to targeting the 2d tier leadership in the influence campaign as well as the 17 to 19 million these 4 to 6 million people need special attention in terms of influence and it is not too early to begin that now.

Rations? Only after the grains are “cooked, eaten and pooped”
Ask a North Korean: "These days, many North Koreans criticize their government in front of other people."

Every week we ask a North Korean your questions, giving you the chance to learn more about the country we know so little about. This week Jin W. from London asks:
Do North Korean people really believe North Korea is the center of the world and its leader is superhuman?

I would say in North Korea, there are simply two sorts of people: people who have no doubt that North Korea is the center of the world and its leader is for sure superhuman and people who simply do not think this is true. You might wonder, then, what the ratio is like between these two groups of people.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a clear cut number on this. That’s because in North Korea it is very hard to know what others are really thinking about. Because of the strict regulations on free speech, people cannot exchange their frank opinions with others openly, so we do not know what other people are really thinking about. However – from my very subjective impression – around 70 to 80% of North Koreans probably disagree with the idea that North Korea is the center of the world and that the country has a superhuman leader.
Let me tell you why I assume like this.
“Before 1994 people believed that they were enjoying the happiest life on earth”

Before 1994, when North Korea was ruled by Kim Il Sung, people were distributed food rations from the government. At that time, you really didn’t have much to be worried about when you finished all your given work for the day. People believed that they were enjoying the happiest life on earth in reward for their consistent loyalty to their leader. At that time, the government’s propaganda seemed to be working pretty well.
However, the situation has since changed. Far from receiving regular food rations, these days even the water and electricity supply is limited. People have to manage on their own through the markets, instead of depending on the government like they once did. Furthermore, there is too much information coming in now from the outside. As such, people don’t  believe everything told to them by the government as they once did.
However, I would assume that 20% to 30% of North Koran people still take the propaganda from the government as the complete truth. I myself used to be a living proof of the propaganda education. My father, who was a military officer, raised his kids as radical communists. Because what I learned at school exactly matched with what my father told me, I did not have to question anything.
“I myself used to be a living proof of the propaganda education”

Father used to tell me that we North Koreans had been liberated from Japanese colonization and American threats only because the people had worshiped their leader so sincerely. He said without our leader, Kim Il Sung, we would have had to live miserably just like the Japanese or South Koreans – who were deprived of all basic dignities as human beings.
Growing up I once heard horrible stories about a Korean girl who went to school in Hanbok (Korean traditional costume) and had her Hanbok  ripped off with a knife by her Japanese classmates. I also heard about South Korean kids who had to shine shoes of American soldiers to earn their own tuition. Listening to those stories of our fellow Koreans, my little heart was broken with sympathy and I often thought about possible ways to bring all those people to North Korea. But my father told me that it was because of the South Korean government and the U.S. that these people could not come to North Korea even though they wanted to. He concluded that this was why we should drive the U.S. military out of the Korean peninsula as soon as possible and reunify Korea. That was the only way that North Korean people and South Korean people could prosper together, he told me.
When I was a kid, in my eyes my father was truly a great person. He always put other people’s happiness before his own and he lived his life primarily for the community, society and nation that he belonged to. I was deeply proud of my father, who was so different from others. I often thought I wanted to be an even greater person than him and from time to time, I pictured myself becoming a party officer or an army executive member, even though I was a girl.
“My conclusion was that I should be loyal to the government”

Looking back, thanks to my father’s education, I was inspired to think thoroughly about the real definition of our society, community and nation, and agonized over what is a meaningful and valuable life to live. My conclusion from all those thoughts was that I should be loyal to the government. I believe this conclusion contributed to my later decision to serve in the military army with a gun on my shoulder. Even though the decision was a complex outcome of many different factors, I felt great pride and satisfaction working my nation’s military.
You might wonder what kind of satisfaction it was. I know it may sound a bit silly but we – I would like to use the North Korean military ‘we’ to express what I felt part of – felt good that our work had a visible influence on the attitudes of the South Koreans and Americans.  To be more specific, I was told that when we took a strong stance in developing cutting edge nuclear weapons, then the U.S. would often propose a return to negotiations in response. At those talks we could then ask the Americans to provide us with rice or other scarce resources, or lead them to unlock the economic blockade against us. That’s what I read from the education material, too. In short, I learned that ‘Our leader’s courage and audacity conquered the world.’
(Continued at the link below)

1/23/2020 Korean News and Commentary

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