Saturday, November 30, 2013

North Korea Accuses Detained U.S. Veteran of War Crimes

I am afraid the regime is going to continue to look for human bargaining chips to try to force political and economic concessions.  


“I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people as advisor of the Kuwol Unit of the UN Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Far East Command,” the apology said.

For those interested partisan operations in the Korean I have a provided a short excerpt below the article.  Many of us who have served in Korea know Commander Park well and have heard his speech and drank soju with him every September as he points out his home across the Han river estuary.  At the link below is a declassified report on UN Partisan operations from 1951-1954.

November 30, 2013

North Korea Accuses Detained U.S. Veteran of War Crimes

BEIJING — North Korea accused an elderly American veteran of war crimes, and released a video Saturday of him confessing to “hostile acts” during the Korean War and while he was a tourist there last month.
The veteran, Merrill Newman, 85, of Palo Alto, Calif., who has been held since Oct. 26, appeared on the video dressed in a blue American-style shirt and wearing rimless spectacles as he read excerpts from the apology from several sheets of white paper.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency released a full text of the apology, in which he asked for forgiveness. The agency said in a separate statement that Mr. Newman was involved in the killing of innocent civilians during the Korean War.
Mr. Newman, a retired technology executive and a world traveler, went to North Korea on a trip organized by a licensed tour group to fulfill a longtime desire to see the country where he had served as an infantry officer, his family said.
There was no indication from North Korea what the next steps would be. The State Department had no immediate comment.
In the written apology, which was dated Nov. 9, Mr. Newman is quoted saying: “If I go back to U.S.A., I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading.” The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The reference of a possible return to the United States could be interpreted as a sign that the North Koreans were considering sending Mr. Newman home, according to a person familiar with the case and North Korea. The person declined to be identified because of the sensitivities of the matter.
The apology, written in disjointed English, contained details of what Mr. Newman supposedly did during his tour of duty in the Korean War.
“I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people as advisor of the Kuwol Unit of the UN Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Far East Command,” the apology said.
The written apology signed by Mr. Newman says he asked his guide to look for surviving soldiers from an action that he participated in against the Korean Peoples Army, and that he had brought into North Korea an “e-book criticizing the Socialist DPRK.”
Mr. Newman was pulled off a plane Oct. 26 as it was preparing to leave North Korea for Beijing. Something appeared to have gone awry on the last full day of Mr. Newman’s tour when he was asked to talk to one of his tour guides in the presence of another North Korean and without his traveling companion, a fellow retiree from California, said his son, Jeff Newman.
The two retirees traveled with two Korean guides on a trip organized by the London-based Juche Travel Services, an outfit that says it appeals to “smart, independent” travelers.
Mr. Newman told his traveling companion, Bob Hamrdla, that the conversation had not gone well and he had a bad feeling about it, the son said.
The State Department’s special envoy for North Korea, Glyn T. Davies, said in Tokyo last week that the United States was considering strengthening economic sanctions against Pyongyang, a threat that was partly in response to the situation involving Mr. Newman.
After Mr. Newman’s detention, the State Department stiffened its travel advisory, warning Americans they could be subject to arbitrary arrest if they went to North Korea as tourists.
An estimated 9,000 Western and about 30,000 Chinese tourists went last year to North Korea, a destination that attracts people curious about life under the nuclear-armed, absolutist authoritarian regime.
American veterans of the Korean War have previously visited North Korea on guided tours - similar to the one Mr. Newman was on – and have not run into trouble, American officials said.
(Continued at the link below)
8240th Army Unit (AU) Association
United Nations Partisan Forces Korea (UNPFK)
The 8240th AU Association is a group of Korean veterans who fought as partisans under the control of the United Nations Command during the Korean War.  We will not rewrite their history here, but I've posted this info to help understand why this Chapter is bonded to them and why we support them.
At the onset of the Korean War, which began with the North Korean invasion of the South in June 1950, the US Army had no "Special Forces" as we do today that were trained to conduct unconventional or guerilla warfare behind enemy lines, but the need quickly arose.  The US Army learned it had "large anti-communist partisan forces" that had escaped North Korea and had set up ad-hoc bases on islands off the coast and were conducting limited operations into their homelands in North Korea, so the Army quickly assigned US advisors to support, equip, and train these partisans.  These US advisors included Army Rangers, personnel who had guerrilla warfare experience from WWII, and personnel who could think "outside the box" and operate in austere conditions with limited support.
The Partisan forces grew in strength to approximately 38,000 by the end of the war and had a significant impact on the outcome [It is estimated that it took approximately two divisions of Chinese Communist and North Korean forces to provide rear-area security against partisan operations].  The number of advisors grew as well to support and advise the growing number of partisans.  Special Forces as we know it today began in mid-1952, and in early 1953, approximately 90 officers and men from the second graduating class of the new SF school arrived to support these partisans operations.  Herein lies our link to the 8240th AU, and that kinship continues to this day.
Some interesting points:
  • Most of these partisans were not soldiers - they were local government officials, school teachers, policemen, skilled laborers, etc.
  • Most were from North Korea but did not support communism, so they escaped North Korea either before or after the invasion.  When communist rule sweeps through an area that was considered dissident, it is not very kind to the populace.  A saddening story told to me by a veteran:  At a young age he hid beneath his Grandmother's dress as the North Korean Communists lined up his Father (a policeman), his Mother, and all his siblings, and executed them with gunshots to the back.  He lay under the body of his grandmother and later escaped to an island, and at a young age was doing whatever he could to help the partisan effort... carrying water, cooking, etc.  Several of the partisan supporters were female as well.
  • Many partisans did not make it back from their high-risk missions behind enemy lines - they had one of the highest casualty rates of any unit during the war.  Some patrols were simply never heard of again after insertion.
  • There are only about 2,500 known survivors remaining today, with another estimated 500 survivors that have chosen to remain anonymous.  And because they fought as "partisans" under UN/US control, and not as South Korean soldiers, they were not recognized by their own government as fully-fledged veterans.  They only received about 1/3 of the benefits as other Korean veterans did.  The US Congress recognized them this decade thanks to the hard work of some caring US veterans, and the South Korean government finally recognized them in 2008 with full veteran benefits, of which a percentage can be passed onto their children.
Mr. Park, the President of the 8240th AU Association and former Commander of a partisan unit during the war, gives his speech each year at the 8240th Memorial on Gyodong Island in South Korea.  He points to a house on the North Korean shore just across the straits... "That is my house.  I have not been there since the  war.  I hope my family still lives there and is safe, but I suspect not."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Technological progress gave China confidence to declare ADIZ: analysts

 I was asked earlier today by a journalist for some insight on what may happen in this situation.  Here are my musings.

I am afraid I do not have any real insight on this.  I can only offer you my opinion and say that we have surely entered the ultimate Chinese curse: "may you live in interesting times."  We are sure to see some interesting times ahead.  But I am hesitant to speculate on what may happen or what the real Chinese intentions are.

I would say that although we are going to support our allies (both Japan and the Republic of Korea) I think what most security specialists will say is that the US military will continue to fly through the ADIZ to ensure freedom of navigation and to prevent a de facto ceding to the Chinese the disputed territory and air space.  Some may argue that if they are successful in this gambit that they will establish other ADIZs  throughout the South China Sea and therefore claim other disputed territories which cannot be allowed to take place.  Others may argue that the Chinese have blundered and miscalculated.   Still others may argue that the Chinese actions may justify why it needs to establish its own National Security Council as discussed at the Third Plenum because of past foreign affairs and national security blunders and miscalculations (e.g., the EP-3 incident and the testing of the "stealth" aircraft during Secretary Gates trip to China).  Along these lines others may argue that this is for domestic internal politics in China.  And still others who study the Eastern way of war would argue that the obvious action is not the real action action as all warfare is based on deception.  I think a key question that we should try to understanding (assuming this is not a blunder or miscalculation or just some other attempt to overcome the 100 years of humiliation and make people show respect for China) is what are the Chinese trying to achieve?  How does the ADIZ help the Chinese in some way?  Or is the ADIZ a diversion and what seemingly unrelated objective might the Chinese be trying to achieve?  Some would say that the Chinese are presenting the exact threat that many American security specialists have been saying and that many security specialists want – a perfect bi-polar security threat that would allow for another NSC 68 like grand strategy of containment focused on the new communist threat posed by China rather than the former USSR.  China could very well giving us the threat we want while developing threats we do not see and thus ensuring we build our military capabilities toward the threats we want vice the threats that may be more real.  Unfortunately I do not know what those threats might be.

I mention all of the above just to illustrate some of the unknowns and how hard it is to try to assess the Chinese, US and alliance responses.  My sense is that there will be strong pressure in the US security community along the lines of this ADIZ cannot stand and that we must assert our freedom of navigation rights through international airspace and we cannot allow any country to arbitrarily establish such ADIZs (and of course the counter argument is that the US has established such ADIZs).

I think we will see continued US air activities challenging the ADIZ. I do not see the Chinese having the capability to permanently enforce the ADIZ or deny aircraft from transiting it. They will likely send up aircraft and there will be pilots playing games of chicken much like during the Cold War.  But of course there is a chance for miscalculation.  We should remember that the Chinese pilot who clipped the EP-3 was named Lieutenant Wong Wei (we would say "wrong way" for the joke) and although that is humorous I think it is also illustrative that military operations and war takes place in the realm of chance in Clausewitz' trinity (and of course the other two being passion and reason).  My fear is that chance and passion may dominate in this situation when reason on the part of the governments involved does not restrain or temper the other two.

Technological progress gave China confidence to declare ADIZ: analysts

Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 3:40am
Minnie Chan
Improvements in the People's Liberation Army's air surveillance and control systems helped give Beijing the confidence to create its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, military experts said.
China is the last major power in the region to set up such an identification zone, as effectively policing the area requires advanced coastal and airborne radar systems and the capability to track, identify and monitor numerous flying objects simultaneously.
For years, the PLA struggled to obtain such technologies and develop its own airborne early-warning systems. Western countries put an embargo on the sale to Beijing of the necessary equipment after the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, the country finally had the hardware and software to police its own ADIZ, said Xu Guangyu , a retired PLA general.
"The declaration is not only a testament to China's awareness of the need to protect its rights in the air and at sea, it also shows the PLA's capabilities of mastering the technology," Xu said.
"The PLA's air defence systems have undergone some major upgrades over the years, achieving improvements in early-warning equipment, air reconnaissance and surveillance that enable the military to deal with all sorts of foreign flying objects entering into the Chinese air defence identification zone," he added.
The centrepieces of China's new air surveillance system are the airborne early-warning and control systems developed by the PLA. China is one of only four countries - Israel, Russia and the United States being the others - to have mastered such systems.
The military unveiled its KJ-200 and KJ-2000 early-warning aircraft in 2009. Beijing has refused to disclose the exact number of the airplanes in service.
(Continued at the link below)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An important and often overlooked aspect of the Vietnam War.  We should keep this example in mind in all our work with indigenous forces.

The Snake-Eaters and the Yards


The Vietnamese tribesmen who fought alongside American Special Forces won the Green Berets’ admiration—and lost everything else.

American wounded soldiers of the special forces are evacuated by helicopter from a camp in Plei Me, south Vietnam, November 1965.Wounded Green Berets are evacuated by helicopter from a camp in Plei Me, South Vietnam, in November 1965.
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
In 1965, syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak used a frontier metaphor to describe the American Special Forces’ advisory role with Vietnamese tribesmen. “Assume that during our own Civil War the north had asked a friendly foreign power to mobilize, train, and arm hostile American Indian tribes and lead them into battle against the South,” they wrote.   
Rebecca Onion, who runsSlate’s history blog The Vault, is a writer and academic living in Philadelphia. Send her an email or follow her on Twitter
If that historical hypothetical suggested wild possibilities, Evans and Novak used it advisedly. For four years, Special Forces had been training an oppressed minority group in guerrilla tactics, providing them with weapons and acting as de facto aid workers in their communities. When Americans remember Vietnam, we often think of the war as having three major actors: the North Vietnamese, the South Vietnamese, and the American military. But there was another player: the Montagnards.
The indigenous Montagnards, recruited into service by the American Special Forces in Vietnam’s mountain highlands, defended villages against the Viet Cong and served as rapid response forces. The Special Forces and the Montagnards—each tough, versatile, and accustomed to living in wild conditions—formed an affinity for each other. In the testimony of many veterans, their working relationship with the Montagnards, nicknamed Yards, was a bright spot in a confusing and frustrating war. The bondbetween America’s elite fighters and their indigenous partners has persisted into the present, but despite the best efforts of vets, the Montagnards have suffered greatly in the postwar years, at least in part because they cast their lot with the U.S. Army. In a war with more than its share of tragedies, this one is less often told but is crucial to understanding the conflict and its toll.
The Montagnards, whose name is derived from the French word for mountaineers, are ethnically distinct from lowland, urban Vietnamese. In the early ’60s, writes military historian John Prados, almost a million Montagnards lived in Vietnam, and the group was made up of about 30 different tribes. The Montagnards spoke languages of Malayo-Polynesian and Mon Khmer derivations, practiced an animistic religion (except for some who had converted to Christianity), and survived through subsistence agriculture.
In the early ’60s, the Green Berets were supermen of the Cold War: tough, smart, and canny.
When the United States Special Forces first arrived in Vietnam in the early 1960s, the Montagnards were already decades into an uneasy relationship with Vietnam’s various central governments. Before their withdrawal, the French had promised to give the Montagnards protected land—a promise that vanished with them. The Communist government of North Vietnam had included the right for highlander autonomy in its founding platform in 1960, but many Montagnards were uneasy about Communist intentions. Meanwhile, South Vietnam’s President Ngô Đình Diễm had begun to settle refugees from North Vietnam in the highlands. His government neglected education and health care in the Montagnard areas, assigning inexperienced and ineffective bureaucrats to handle their needs.
Tensions between the Vietnamese and the Montagnards were ratcheted up by racism. Vietnamese called the tribal people mọi, or savage. Prados recounts a story of a “young Vietnamese woman who told an American, in all seriousness, that Montagnards had tails.” Stereotypes about the “primitive” nature of the tribesmen—unfounded beliefs that they were all nomadic and lived by slash-and-burn farming—made it easier for the government to advocate the expropriation of their lands.
* * *
Meanwhile, in the United States, American Special Forces were taking on an increasingly large role in American military planning and strategy. The Cold War seemed to demand a decentralized, versatile style of fighting. In 1961, John F. Kennedy, a proponent of such irregular warfare, authorized the use of the iconic green beret, a symbol that would capture a nation’s imagination. In the early ’60s, the “Berets” were seen as the supermen of the Cold War: tough, smart, and canny. 
Starting in 1961, in an initiative at first run by the CIA, the Special Forces moved into the Vietnamese mountains and set up the new Village Defense Program (a forerunnerof the better-known Strategic Hamlet Program). The Montagnards’ forested mountain homelands, which ran along the Cambodian and Laotian borders in the western portion of Vietnam, were prime highways for North Vietnamese forces to move men and materiel. The Viet Cong, understanding the way the Southern government discriminated against the tribes, promised much if the tribesmen would defect—and some did. But the VC also preyed on isolated villages, taking food and pressing Montagnards into labor and military service.
When Kennedy visited Fort Bragg in 1961, the Green Berets demonstrated their skills by catching, preparing, and eating a snake.
The working relationship between Green Berets and Montagnards began in the Village Defense Program. Detachments of 12 Green Berets trained Montagnards, drawn from the tribe dominant in the surrounding area, into “civilian irregular defense groups,” or CIDGs. The idea was that a security zone would radiate outward from each camp, with CIDG serving as defense forces, advised by small groups of American Special Forces and South Vietnam’s own special forces, the LLDB. With help from the Navy’s Seabees, Special Forces built dams, roads, bridges, schools, wells, and roads for Montagnard groups, and Special Forces medics provided rudimentary health care. By December 1963, 43,000 Montagnard defenders guarded the area around the first camp, Buon Enao, from the Viet Cong, while 18,000 Montagnards were enlisted in mobile strike forces, which were deployed by air to spots where conflict broke out.
In interviews, Special Forces often described the people they were training as loyal, honest, and friendly and compared them favorably to Vietnamese allies. In 1970, Gloria Emerson of the New York Times visited a CIDG camp at Dakseang. The Green Berets there were uninterested in being interviewed, but she managed to ask them some questions about the Yards:
When they talk of the Montagnards—uncorrupted by the cities, physically superior to most South Vietnamese, less sophisticated in their outlook—the Americans are fiercely possessive ... Because the Green Berets enjoy their own toughness, they appreciate some of the more primitive aspects of the Montagnards’ habits.
The tribal customs were strange; but then, the regular Army found Special Forces’ ways odd. Edward E. Bridges, a Green Beret who was at Fort Bragg when Kennedy came to visit in 1961, remembers that as part of their demonstration for the visiting president, the men caught, prepared, and ate a snake. The nickname “snake eater” stuck to the Special Forces. The Berets, who often made jokes about the Yards eating dogs and seemingly unpalatable vegetation, saw something of their own values in these ways.
(Continued at the link below)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Special Forces Sergeant and JFK and more.

I could not resist posting this piece of history.

  • This is Francis J. ("Frank") Ruddy. He was the Special Forces sergeant who served in President Kennedy's funeral detail, and placed the Green Beret on the Commander-in-Chief's grave. He was born in Scranton, PA and made combat jumps in Europe (17th Airborne Division) and Korea (187th Regimental Combat Team). He was a Team Sergeant and Group Operations/Intelligence Sergeant in 1st Special Forces Group in 1956-1959, and later rose to CSM of the 101st Airborne Division. He was incredibly strong, and cool under pressure. In 1977, LTC (Ret) Scott Madding described to me how a Thai parachutist had become a towed jumper back in 1956, and Sergeant Ruddy (the jumpmaster) pulled him back into the aircraft by hand because the plane had no static line retriever.. It sounds unbelievable, but Colonel Madding saw him do it, and was still impressed twenty years later. Ruddy's niece married Captain Danny Harrington, who commanded the Headquarters Company of 1st Group in the 1980's. A double salute to President John F. Kennedy, and to Command Sergeant Major Frank Ruddy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The uses of force: Two difficult wars offer compelling lessons

Nice play on the old adage by Mr. Shapiro of amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics.

Capacity is important of course but capacity without strategy is like the adage that Sun Tzu never said but is commonly attributed to him: "tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."  We can have all the capacity in the world but if we do not have effective policies and strategy it will do us little good.

But I do agree that the military must but cut but not to the quick.

The uses of force

Two difficult wars offer compelling lessons

Nov 23rd 2013 |From the print edition
We’re the US Army and we’re here to help

“AMATEURS TALK STRATEGY, professionals talk capacity.” Jeremy Shapiro, who recently left the State Department to join the Brookings Institution in Washington, has put his finger on a central question for foreign policy. For the liberal, open-market system to endure is in America’s interest—and in the general interest, too. America does not yet face a direct challenge from China and Russia. But as the dominant power it must be able and willing to maintain the system, or norms will fray and tensions grow. Does it have the capacity?
The question forces itself on policymakers just now because the demands placed on American primacy have changed. In the cold war, explains John Ikenberry, an academic, America provided security and other services to many countries. But the threat is no longer so great and security is therefore no longer so valuable. For many countries in large parts of the world, the past decade has been not about war and financial crisis but about peace and prosperity. Those countries want more of a say. 
    At the same time, according to Moisés Naím of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the old centres of power, including governments, have less room for manoeuvre. Their authority to dictate values and behaviour has been undermined by a profusion of new political actors and interest groups who are mobile and connected.
    Some conclude that in such a world dominance is impossible: there are too many actors with the power to block anything they dislike. The rest of this special report will examine how far that is true by looking at the components of American primacy—sharp military power, sticky economic power and the sweet power of American values—before drawing some conclusions about how America should act. In each case, as Mr Shapiro has observed, the starting point is capacity.
    Seen from Washington, the main threat to America’s armed forces is to be found not in Helmand or Hainan but in the automatic budget cuts of the sequester. This roughly doubles the savings that will have to come from the Pentagon’s budget in the next nine years, to about $1 trillion.
    During the summer Chuck Hagel, the defence secretary, mapped out a possible first round of cuts: shrinking the army by up to 110,000 troops from its current target of 490,000; and losing possibly two of ten aircraft-carriers, as well as bombers and transport aircraft. The alternative, Mr Hagel said, was to cut spending on modernisation.
    Cut, but not to the quick
    Inevitably, the proposed cuts have stirred up a hornets’ nest. But just how bad are they? In the ten years to 2011, when America was at war, pay and benefits for the army increased by 57% in real terms. The number of support staff, too, grew rapidly. Because Congress will not touch this large and politically sensitive part of the budget, the cuts must be borne elsewhere.
    That is a foolish way to run an army. However, even without the sequester, much of the enormous build-up in spending after the attacks of September 11th 2001 should be going into reverse. Moreover, America’s military might will remain unchallenged, even after the cuts. Just after Mr Hagel set out his ideas, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress about the Pentagon’s revised plans for potential wars around the world. Large invasions may be out, but it can draw on quick-reaction forces and stealth air power and ships. And not only does it outspend most of the rest of the world combined on conventional defence (see chart 3), it also has a formidable nuclear arsenal and the wherewithal for cyber-warfare.
    The real question is not whether the country can go to war if it has to, but whether it fights the right sort of war when it chooses to. Modern America has shown an unrivalled appetite for battle. During more than half the years since the end of the cold war it has been in combat. That is not just because of the war in Iraq, which lasted from 2003 to 2011, and that in Afghanistan, which began two years earlier and is still unfinished. Even before that, between 1989 and 2001 the United States intervened abroad on average once every 16 months—more frequently than in any period in its history.
    (Continued at the link below)

    A new ASEAN approach to the Korean Peninsula?

    Maybe ASEAN should make it the "seven party talks."  With all due respect to the former Secretary General he does capture the essence of the north Korean position but he does not really offer a new approach other than for ASEAN to deeply study the issues and see things through Pyongyang's eyes:

    But this line of thinking fails to duly consider the dynamic of the relationships between North Korea on the one hand and the US, South Korea and Japan on the other. For North Korean decision-makers their main, and perhaps only, concern is their own political, if not physical, survival. Their other likely concern is the survival and welfare of their families and friends after they are gone. (This is true in many other parts of the world.) Thus, what they fear most is regime change. And almost every day they hear threats of and demands for, explicitly or in effect, regime change from countries that are militarily stronger than North Korea.
    As a result, North Korea may perceive nuclear weapons as its only effective defence and means of survival. Thus rather than focusing solely on nuclear weapons, in order to improve the prospects of a deal the international community might do better by finding ways to begin to build trust with North Korea and offering effective and credible guarantees against regime change.
    A new approach towards North Korea is clearly called for and could contribute immensely to peace and stability in the region
    But there have been numerous agreements and commitments  over the years that would ensure the security of north Korea but the regime has broken every one of them. The problem is not only that the vital national interest of the north is survival of the Kim Family Regime but that the north still has hostile intent toward the ROK and the ROK/US Alliance to achieve reunification by force so that it can ensure regime survival.  It continues to execute its strategy to split the ROK/US Alliance and get US forces off the Korean peninsula.  Sure we would like to build trust on the Peninsula and President Park is providing the opportunity to do just that with her policy of Trustpolitik.  However, in response I am reminded of the famous movie quote from Animal House in which John Belushi says "You screwed up.  You trusted us."  That has been happening for some six decades.

    A new ASEAN approach to the Korean Peninsula?

    November 23rd, 2013
    Author: Rodolfo C. Severino, ISEAS
    The chairman’s statement at the ASEAN Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan last month once again ‘stressed the need to maintain peace, security and stability in the Korean Peninsula’.
    This included a call to encourage ‘peaceful dialogue including creating a positive atmosphere for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks’, and a reiteration of ‘the importance of fully complying with obligations in all relevant UNSC Resolutions and commitments under the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks… [and] support for all efforts to bring about the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner’. The ASEAN chairman’s statement at the East Asia Summit, the day after in the same city, said much the same thing, with the addition of trust-building and ‘humanitarian concerns’.
    These are similar to previous ASEAN statements on the Korean Peninsula. But such statements have failed to make any significant contribution toward cooling tensions.
    Each year the ASEAN chair, which is rotated among the ten members states on an annual basis, has the responsibility of producing the first draft of the chairman’s statement. Subsequently, negotiations are conducted among all the ASEAN member states. Usually this is done on the basis of the previous year’s statements and thus often ends up being almost identical year in year out, unless some new and significant developments have unfolded, such as the sinking in March 2010 of the South Korean naval vessel, ROKS Cheonan.
    The result of this process is unsurprising given the necessary compromises involved in all negotiation. Avoiding any new, deep or realistic analysis requires less negotiating time and effort, both of which are invariably in short supply in the run-up to the summits and the annual mid-year meetings of foreign ministers. Moreover, bilateral relations with major powers and their interests in ‘sensitive’ subjects always have to be taken into account.
    In order to truly promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula we need to place ourselves in the shoes of Pyongyang’s leaders and look at the disputes from their viewpoint. The international media and many academic commentators tend to see the North Korean ‘problem’ with purely external eyes focusing almost exclusively on nuclear non-proliferation. It is assumed that the ball is in Pyongyang’s court and the ‘problem’ can only be solved if North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons stockpile and production capacity.
    But this line of thinking fails to duly consider the dynamic of the relationships between North Korea on the one hand and the US, South Korea and Japan on the other. For North Korean decision-makers their main, and perhaps only, concern is their own political, if not physical, survival. Their other likely concern is the survival and welfare of their families and friends after they are gone. (This is true in many other parts of the world.) Thus, what they fear most is regime change. And almost every day they hear threats of and demands for, explicitly or in effect, regime change from countries that are militarily stronger than North Korea.
    (Continued at the link below)

    Dennis Rodman ready to return to North Korea

    Sounds like The Rodman needs to register as a foreign agent of north Korea since he is now becoming a Public Relations representative (or useful idiot) for the regime.

    "Let's go over there because this is a great opportunity for everyone to see a different culture. ... 'This country is so bad. This city is so bad.' OK, great, come see it and tell the world when you come back, 'Hey, it's not as bad as you think.' And that's why I'm taking NBA players over there.

    Dennis Rodman ready to return to North Korea

    November 23, 2013
    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea, February 28, 2013.
    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea, February 28, 2013. Photo: Reuters
    Dennis Rodman is preparing to thrill North Korean fans during an exhibition basketball tour there late next month.
    Though he ducked questions about whether his Christmas-time visit would be used for propaganda purposes by Kim Jong Un, the 29-year-old leader of one of the world's most repressive regimes, Rodman said he'll be accompanied on the trip by a dozen or so former NBA players.
    But he refused to name names.
    "I have seven people right now," Rodman said.
    "I talked to a couple of guys last week. Lot of guys are saying, 'OK, great. I'll go. We'll go.' But I'm not saying this to get people to go over there to prove a point.
    "Let's go over there because this is a great opportunity for everyone to see a different culture. ... 'This country is so bad. This city is so bad.' OK, great, come see it and tell the world when you come back, 'Hey, it's not as bad as you think.' And that's why I'm taking NBA players over there.
    "To show them, so they can come back and talk about it."
    Back in the news as a self-appointed ambassador and friend of Kim, Rodman returned on Thursday to where he won the last three of his five NBA championships playing alongside Michael Jordan.
    On a promotional tour to pitch a vodka brand, Rodman, 52, held court downtown amid camera flashes.
    Rodman said he wouldn't talk about his relationship with Kim or North Korean politics, including its widely condemned human-rights record and secretive nuclear weapons program.
    Though he eventually touched on those subjects, Rodman glossed over several related questions and largely ignored a challenge to his answer about whether North Korea was holding US citizens as hostages, including 85-year-old Korean War veteran Merrill Newman
    (Continued at the link below)

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare

    A video well worth watching featuring our own Security Studies Professor and Director of Teaching Dr. Robert Egnell and his co-author and our good friend Dr. David Ucko and Dr. Thomas Mahnken, another good friend.

    Published on Nov 20, 2013
    The IISS-US book launch for "Counterinsurgency in Crisis: Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare" featured a panel of guests, including the books authors, David Ucko and Robert Egnell, as well as discussant Thomas Mahnken, Senior Research Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. David Ucko is currently an Associate Professor at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University as well as  Adjunct Fellow at the Department of War Studies, King's College London and Robert Egnell
    is a Visiting Associate Professor and Director of Teaching in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

    The British military--long considered the masters of counterinsurgency--encountered significant problems in Iraq and Afghanistan when confronted with insurgent violence. In their effort to apply the principles and doctrines of past campaigns, they failed to prevent Basra and Helmand from descending into lawlessness, criminality, and violence. The lessons from these experiences are as urgent as they are relevant, not only for Britain but also for the United States and other key NATO allies. Most critically, they point to the nature and challenges of intervention, of counterinsurgency, and of understanding and properly implementing strategy.

    On the basis of their newly published book, Counterinsurgency in Crisis, David H. Ucko and Robert Egnell will discuss the contributions and limitations of counterinsurgency for the expeditionary settings of today and tomorrow. In calling attention to the enduring effectiveness of insurgent methods and the threat posed by under-governed spaces, the two authors underscore the need for military organizations to acquire new skills for meeting the likely irregular challenges of future wars. Yet as their book makes clear, the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq also point to the need for more modest forms of intervention, and greater realism about what the West can and cannot do.

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    Son Tay Raid

    Let us remember our brothers who were both on the raid and were imprisoned.

    From an old SF friend.

    On Thursday, November 21, 2013 3:43 PM, wrote:

    Subject: Son Tay Raid

    Some 43 years ago, tonight, some 58 hard charging Army SF with the assistance of our US Air Force went into Ho Chi Minh's backyard and wreaked Havoc! While the POWs had been moved, the raiders immediately felt as though they had failed in their mission. Little did they know that their mission, the raid on Son Tay into North Vietnam made a hell of a difference to our POWs that were being held. 
    To all who were on the Raid, a Big Salute and to those who have passed, I say, RIP. 
    Also to our AF Raiders also a Big Salute. 
    You guys are the American Patriots that made this Country Great. 
    Thank you for your Sacrifice and your Courage!!

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Ex-USFK commander backs OPCON delay

    I participated in this  panel yesterday with GEN Tilelli, Dr. Patrick Cronin, and Dr. Michael O'Hanlon.  Obviously GEN Tilelli's comments are the most news worthy.  Below the article are my talking points.  Needless to say I concurred with and reinforced GEN Tilelli's position on OPCON transfer (and provided some additional perspective.)

    By Kang Seung-woo
    Former Gen. John Tilelli
    A former top U.S. military commander in Korea said Tuesday he supports a delay in the planned transfer of the wartime operational control (OPCON) here.

    South Korea is scheduled to take over the OPCON in December 2015 from Washington, but the Park Geun-hye administration has asked the U.S. to review that plan given the continuing threats posed by North Korea.

    “Realistically, the U.S. must take that request very seriously,” retired Gen. John Tilelli said in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington-based think tank. Tilelli served as commander of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) from 1996 to 1999.

    The 72-year-old stressed that the timing of the OPCON transfer should be decided on based on the status of preparations for it and the state of relations with North Korea.

    “OPCON transfer must be based on conditions rather than time. So we have to look at the conditions on the peninsula at large, the threat and the capabilities, and then determine when OPCON transfer is appropriate,” Tilelli said.

    Along with the OPCON transfer, the decades-old Korean-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) is supposed to separate U.S. and Korean command structures, alongside a new alternative body that will be headed by a Korean general.

    But the former four-star general voiced objections to dissolving the CFC, saying it is one of the best alliance mechanisms in existence.

    “In my view, the Combined Forces Command should remain exactly the way it is today, and as we look to the future, determine what is the necessity of changing the command structure at all,” he said.

    He added the CFC is effective not only in terms of military strategy and operation, but also in promoting people-to-people exchanges between the troops and the families of the allies.

    Tilelli has become the second former USFK commander to speak out against the planed OPCON transition, echoing comments made by Burwell Bell, who led USFK from 2006 to 2008.

    In April, Bell sent a letter to the Ministry of National Defense and said that talks over the transition should be permanently postponed as long as the North is capable of developing nuclear weapons.

    Ahead of the letter, Bell said, “the sooner, the better” in reference to the transition.

    Meanwhile, Tilelli said that Korea should consider a split-buy of F-15s and F-35s in retendering its fighter jet program in order to boost its combat capability.

    The Boeing product was voted down in September due to its lack of stealth function and the Lockheed Martin’s stealth fighter is seen as a contender to secure the 8.3 trillion won ($7.5 billion) deal.

    “In a real sense, a mix of F-35s and F-15s is the right decision,” he said, stressing that payload is as important as low-observable technology to counter Pyongyang’s threats.

    Talking Points CNAS November 19, 2013
    David S. Maxwell

    I would like to briefly make six points.

    A.    OPCON Transfer
    B.    Alliance Joint Vision End State
    C.   north Korean Threats
    D.   north Korean Strategy
    E.    Kim Family Regime Internal Dynamics.
    F.    Alliance Way Ahead

    1.  We should understand that the so-called OPCON Transfer Plan was the result of emotional decision-making on the part of both our governments from events in 2002-2003.  It was NOT the result of sound strategic analysis.  OPCON transfer means that the ROK/US Combined Forces Command will be dissolved if the current plan is executed in 2015.

    2.  The 2009 Alliance Joint Vision Statement that was reaffirmed by Presidents Park and Obama in May 2013 states that the alliance end state is the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.  Of course north Korea will decide whether it is peaceful or not but the end state is clear: it will result in unification.  From a military perspective we must analyze our capabilities and strategies from the standpoint of how to best support achieving that end state with the military instrument of power.

    3.  There are many threats on the Korean peninsula: from violent provocation to proliferation, from the range of asymmetric threats to include short and long range missiles and illicit activities, to the nuclear program and blackmail diplomacy to the two ultimate catastrophic challenges of war or regime collapse or possibly regime collapse AND war.  We need to defend against provocations.  We need to not succumb to blackmail diplomacy.  We must deter war and prepare for regime collapse.  In short there are four major tasks for the Alliance:

                A. Deter, Defend, and Maintain the Armistice.
                B. Prepare for War AND Regime Collapse.
                C.  Sustain the strength of the Alliance.
                D. Transform the Alliance.

    4.  The north Korean strategy is clear:  survival of the Kim Family Regime is the vital national interest.  Blackmail diplomacy though provocations and the nuclear program is the key to gaining political and economic concessions.  The strategic aim is reunification of the peninsula under the rule of north Korea to ensure regime survival.  A critical element of the north’s strategy is to split the ROK/US Alliance and ultimately remove US forces from the Korean peninsula so that in its calculus it will have the balance of power to fight and win a war to reunify the Peninsula.  We should keep this in mind as we conduct the necessary strategic analysis of how to best organize ROK/US military forces.

    5.  We do not have a good understanding of what is happening within the Kim Family Regime.  We know Kim Jong-un is consolidating power.  We do not know how effective his leadership really is.  We cannot be sure about his strategic decision making.  We can assume that he is following the playbook written by Kim Il-sung and updated by Kim Jong-il but we do not know how he is adapting it.   He seems to be making his mark with “Byungjin” the simultaneous nuclear and economic development to follow in his father’s footsteps of Military First Politics, and his grandfather’s establishment of Juche.  We can see that the contradiction of Byungjin can lead to friction, stress, and perhaps even regime collapse over time.  And unfortunately when faced with regime collapse Kim Jong-un’s only option may be to go to war.

    6.  Given the complexity and uncertainty of the situation on the Korean peninsula what should we do?  The first priority is to maintain the strength of the ROK/US military Alliance.  This not only deters north Korea it also provides the foundation for President Parks’ policy of trustpolitik.  Second, we need to cease the discussion of OPCON Transfer and instead determine how to best organize our military forces to support all the alliance requirements from diplomatic support to deterrence to preparation for regime collapse to support of reunification of the Peninsula.  This strategic analysis should be objective and not based on emotion and should result in the optimal military organization which I would recommend as a ROK/US combined command with a ROK General Officer in command that still answers to the ROK/US Military Committee as the current ROK/US Combined Forces Command does.  Third, we need to continue to train our forces for war but also the Alliance needs to prepare for regime collapse and use all elements of national power to lay the foundation to mitigate the threats inherent in regime collapse.

    In conclusion, the strength of the ROK/US Alliance is the vital component for success in dealing with north Korea.  We must transform our military forces to provide the most effective capabilities to support ROK and US strategic objectives.  We should discard the talk of OPCON Transfer and instead develop a new combined command that will ensure the Alliance is prepared for war and regime collapse and can support the achievement of a reunified Korea.

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