Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Obama Close to Authorizing Military Training of Syrian Rebels

A day late and a dollar short?  (based on discussions I have heard with people coming from the region with long presence there many of the answers to the basic questions below would be negative)

I would like to see the feasibility assessment for the conduct of unconventional warfare with specific emphasis on an analysis of the resistance potential.  I wonder if someone has asked the very basic and fundamental questions laid out in Mark Grdovic's excellent Leader's Handbook to Unconventional Warfare (can be downloaded at this link: http://publicintelligence.net/leaders-guide-to-unconventional-warfare/).  And then of course we should be asking about the unconventional warfare campaign plan that will be executed to support the resistance.

From pages 25-26:

The Criticality of the Feasibility Assessment Planning must remain limited until certain assumptions have been confirmed as valid. If operations proceed without a proper assessment of feasibility, the likelihood of unintended consequences is high. To gain an accurate picture, operational personnel will need to meet with indigenous personnel who represent the resistance forces. This can take place inside the denied territory (extremely high risk), in the U.S. or in a third-party nation. While meeting representatives in the U.S. or a third nation provides a safer option for an assessment team, it conversely provides a less reliable assessment for potential capabilities. The normal questions that comprise a feasibility assessment are as follows: • Are there groups who could be developed into a viable force? • Are we in contact with or can we make contact with individuals representing the resistance potential in an area? • Are there capable leaders, with goals compatible with U.S. goals, which are willing to cooperate with the U.S.? • Can the leaders be influenced to remain compliant with U.S. goals? • Are their tactics and battlefield conduct acceptable by the Law of Land Warfare and acceptable to the U.S. population? • Will the environment (geography and demographics) support resistance operations? • Does the enemy have effective control over the population? • Is the potential gain worth the potential risk? Is this group’s participation politically acceptable to other regional allies? 
Expatriates can prove to be a valuable resource, particularly in regions where the culture is largely unfamiliar or alien to a planner’s frame of reference. However, great care should be taken to ensure the individual’s claims are valid. An expatriate’s influence in a given country is inversely proportional to the length of time he has been away from his former homeland and the level of control measures, propaganda and intimidation employed against the population. While there are many reasons an expatriate might exaggerate his influence in a region and attempt to exploit the situation in his favor, he may legitimately be surprised to find his own assessment of his influence to be grossly inaccurate. During normal peacetime conditions, a person can spend years away from a country and expect to maintain his contacts and influence. Under the pressures of a harsh regime or occupation, this time period is reduced significantly. 
Operational personnel involved in determining the feasibility of a potential campaign must have (1) clear campaign objectives, (2) a desired end state and (3) knowledge of exactly what level of support is available and acceptable. Without these specifics, negotiations with potential resistance forces would be futile. During assessment, if conditions prove to be unfavorable, planners need to also consider if there are measures that could change the current situation to one that would be favorable. For example: 
• Can a potential resistance group be persuaded to cease unacceptable tactics or behavior? • Can a coalition ally be persuaded to accept a specific resistance group’s participation under certain conditions? • Can the enemy’s control over the population be degraded? • Can the population’s will to resist be bolstered? • What can actually be achieved given the constraint of time? Operational detachments need time to organize with their indigenous counterparts, to develop a working relationship in terms of trust and credibility, and to build up the guerrilla capability and supporting infrastructure, while remaining relatively undetected by the enemy. These objectives would take considerable time to achieve in friendly territory, operating with U.S. units. For forces working within enemy territory, dealing with unfamiliar units and coordinating operations across a wide, decentralized and compartmentalized front, the time requirement is much greater. 
Risk Analysis and Risk Acceptance 
Planners and commanders need to appreciate the relationship between risk and capability. The resistance capability that can be developed is directly proportional to the amount of time available to operational detachments on the ground. If the risk associated with inserting U.S. operational detachments is considered to be unacceptable until the night prior to an invasion, the desired operational capabilities will likely not be in place for several months. During operational phases, forces (to include U.S. advisers) are normally out of range of many capabilities that are generally accepted as the norm in conventional military operations. These absent capabilities may include medical evacuation, close air support and continuous lines of communication. The associated risks from not having these inherent standing capabilities can be mitigated to some degree by many SF operating techniques. Commanders will likely need to accept a greater degree of decentralization than they may be used to from operational elements during these types of operations. 

Obama Close to Authorizing Military Training of Syrian Rebels

President to Discuss U.S. Move in Address at West Point

May 27, 2014 9:49 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama is close to authorizing a mission led by the U.S. military to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad and al Qaeda-linked groups, a move that would expand Washington's role in the conflict, U.S. officials said.
A new military training program, if implemented, would supplement a small train-and-equip program led by the Central Intelligence Agency which Mr. Obama authorized a year ago.
U.S. officials said the new military program would represent a significant expansion of Washington's public efforts. U.S. officials don't discuss the CIA's limited training program because it is covert.
In a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday, Mr. Obama will signal backing for the new training effort by saying he intends to increase support to the armed Syrian opposition, including by providing them with training. Mr. Obama isn't expected to provide details about how, or where, that training would be accomplished.

Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com

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