Saturday, May 30, 2015

OSS: The Myth That Never Dies

John Schindler's  very strong critique of the "OSS myth."  Regardless of whether the truth lies closer to the myth or to Schindler's busting of the myth there is still a lot to be learned from the good and bad of the OSS.  While I agree we should not base strategy and operations on romantic notions of the OSS there are many aspects that do have applicability today but this cautionary conclusion is very much worth pondering.  And I still think there is more right than wrong in Ignatius' OpEd.  But I also do not believe that the use of air power and SOF in Iraq and Syria are the silver bullets that can achieve success along that many in the administration would like them to be.

There are aspects of the OSS legacy that all American intelligence officers today should be proud of. Its can-do attitude and its intrinsic bias for action are things that today’s risk-averse IC could use a strong dose of. But doing espionage the OSS way, shooting before aiming while not taking counterintelligence seriously, will lead to more problems than solutions. Moreover, militarizing CIA, which is proceeding rapidly, is certain to cause troubles in the long run. CIA and the Intelligence Community need to do better. Assessing the OSS legacy honestly would be a good start.

OSS: The Myth That Never Dies

May 30, 2015
It’s now apparent to anyone with open eyes that the Islamic State is on the march in Iraq and is not being halted by American actions. Obama’s ardor to defeat Da’ish can charitably be called diffident, so people are seeking answers for what’s gone so wrong here. To anyone versed in how the White House and the Pentagon get along, it’s evident that what experts term “the civil-military dialogue” over Da’ish is in a bad way.
Reports of American aircrews and special operators, who are the pointy end of our spear in Iraq, being upset by White House micromanaging the campaign against Da’ish, to the detriment of military effectiveness, cannot help but echo President Johnson’s failed efforts to bring Hanoi to the peace table in the mid-1960’s through airpower. Then there’s the issue of strategy which, to the extent it can be detected at all in our pseudo-war against Da’ish, is clearly lacking reassessment, since the enemy is winning despite our efforts.
Someone needs to be blamed, and as is so often the case inside the Beltway, the spooks offer a prime target. It’s always tempting to cite “intelligence failure,” since that’s shrouded in mystery and the Intelligence Community can’t always defend itself against such media accusations.
Along comes David Ignatius to explain that the root of our misguided war on Da’ish is an “intelligence deficit” — we simply don’t know enough about the enemy. It speaks volumes that the IC may not know enough about a country that we recently occupied for nearly a decade and have been at war with, or in, more or less nonstop since 1990. Ignatius cites General Martin Dempsey, the nation’s top military officer, explaining that the Pentagon was surprised by recent Da’ish successes. Blaming spooks, of course, is an easy thing to do when you have no clear strategy.
Yet there is ample evidence that our recent failures in Iraq stem not from a lack of intelligence, rather from top decision-makers, military and civilian, not knowing what to do about Da’ish. In particular, the Obama administration let Ramadi fall to the enemy, despite having “significant intelligence” about what was going to happen. This speaks to a failure of policy, not intelligence.
That said, Ignatius is a savvy journalist who has a close relationship with Langley, so when he says CIA isn’t doing a very good job in Iraq, that matters. Additionally, most of what he says about CIA shortcomings on the ground are accurate, particularly his charge that Agency personnel, confined “inside the wire” in places like Afghanistan and Iraq for their own safety, are missing out on important things.

(Continued at the link below)

Friday, May 29, 2015

The need for old-fashioned spying on the Islamic State

The conclusion highlighted below is probably one of the most important statements about intelligence in the 21st century.

Excerpts:

A vivid example of the knowledge gap came in an interview with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that was broadcast this week by PBS’s “Frontline.” Correspondent Martin Smith asked him whether the United States had plans for the loss of Mosul last June.
“Well, no, there were not,” Dempsey answered. “There were several things that surprised us about [the Islamic State], the degree to which they were able to form their own coalition both inside of Syria and inside of northwestern Iraq, the military capability they exhibited, the collapse of the Iraqi security forces. Yeah, in those initial days, there were a few surprises.”
...
Lessons learned? It doesn’t seem so: Nearly a year later, the United States was blindsided again by the collapse of Ramadi. What’s wrong?
The first answer is that the CIA must work with partners to build spy networks inside the Islamic State. Recruiting jihadists is not “Mission: Impossible.” The Islamic State is toxic and has made enemies wherever it operates. But to work this terrain, the agency will have to alter its practices — taking more operational risks and reducing its lopsided emphasis on drone strikes and other covert tools.
...
Let’s be honest about what it would mean to fix the problems Morell describes. CIA officers would have to get out of protected enclaves to spot and recruit the principal agents who, in turn, could find sources within the jihadist lair. Staying “inside the wire” isn’t just ineffective, it’s dangerous, as became tragically clear in 2009 when a Jordanian double agent entered the CIA sanctuary in Khost, Afghanistan, and killed seven Americans.
​Conclusion:
For decades, the CIA and the military have tried to fix intelligence problems by relying on National Security Agency surveillance. But the jihadists have gone to school on the leaks about U.S. capabilities and learned to mask their operations. Gathering intelligence against this 21st-century jihadist adversary, paradoxically, will require the kind of old-fashioned spying and resistance operations we associate with the CIA’s founding generation in the OSS.
​Just as a reminder everyone should ready George Kennan's 1948 policy planning memo​ at this link: 
http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/history/johnson/65ciafounding3.htm
​Ignatius is advocating a return to political warfar
e and 21st century unconventional warfare.  Kennan was prescient.

By David Ignatius Opinion writer May 28 at 7:54 PM 
The unexpected fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State this month is the latest sign of a basic intelligence problem: The United States doesn’t know enough about its jihadist adversaries to combat them effectively.
This intelligence deficit afflicts the military, the CIA and other agencies. The problem has been several decades in the making, and it won’t be fixed easily. The solutions — recruiting more spies and embedding Special Operations forces — will bring greater risks.
David Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. View Archive
A vivid example of the knowledge gap came in an interview with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that was broadcast this week by PBS’s “Frontline.” Correspondent Martin Smith asked him whether the United States had plans for the loss of Mosul last June.
“Well, no, there were not,” Dempsey answered. “There were several things that surprised us about [the Islamic State], the degree to which they were able to form their own coalition both inside of Syria and inside of northwestern Iraq, the military capability they exhibited, the collapse of the Iraqi security forces. Yeah, in those initial days, there were a few surprises.”
Lessons learned? It doesn’t seem so: Nearly a year later, the United States was blindsided again by the collapse of Ramadi. What’s wrong?
The first answer is that the CIA must work with partners to build spy networks inside the Islamic State. Recruiting jihadists is not “Mission: Impossible.” The Islamic State is toxic and has made enemies wherever it operates. But to work this terrain, the agency will have to alter its practices — taking more operational risks and reducing its lopsided emphasis on drone strikes and other covert tools.
(Continued at the link below)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Gray Zone: Russia and Iran's Hybrid Playbook


A 1 hour and 17 minute video that is worth watching.  

Frank Hoffman begins at 37:38 taking about the Hybrid Threat concept on its 10th anniversary.  Probably one of the best presentations on Hybrid Threats from the foremost thinker on Hybrid Threats.

The Gray Zone: Russia and Iran's Hybrid Playbook


Published on May 22, 2015
USAWC Partner: Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security

Panelists: Robert Nurick, Senior Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security; Dr. Maren Leed, Senior Adviser, CSIS; Dr. Michael Connell, Senior Research Scientist and Director, Iranian Studies Program, CNA; Dr. John R. Deni, Research Professor Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational Studies, USAWC Strategic Studies Institute; Mr. Frank G. Hoffman, Senior Research Fellow, INSS
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Monday, May 25, 2015

The Need to Understand and Conduct UW

My musings on unconventional warfare (and countering unconventional warfare), foreign internal defense and political warfare from discussions with Octavian Manea over the past few months.  I should have added now that I am retired from the military I am unconstrained by doctrine, unconstrained by funding, unconstrained by a chain of command and claim an academic freedom defense to state how I really feel. :-)

Read the remainder at Small Wars Journal at the link below

The Need to Understand and Conduct UW

by Octavian Manea

Journal Article | May 25, 2015 - 2:54am
The Need to Understand and Conduct UW
Octavian Manea
Interview with retired US Army Special Forces Colonel David S. Maxwell.
David S. Maxwell is the Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies in the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University.  He is a retired US Army Special Forces Colonel with command and staff assignments in Korea, Japan, Germany, the Philippines, and CONUS, and served as a member of the military faculty teaching national security at the National War College.  He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, the Command and General Staff College, the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth and the National War College, National Defense University.
SWJ: Insurgency, counterinsurgency, foreign internal defense, terrorism, counterterrorism - does this spectrum of possibilities fall within the larger framework of Unconventional Warfare (UW)?
David Maxwell: Terminology is important. But since 9/11 we have embarked on an effort to rename wars, rename conflicts and come up with new doctrinal terms trying to explain old things in new ways. As Clausewitz said before you embark on a war you first must understand the war. But in America there is this tendency to first must name the war and in order to understand the war we have to name the doctrinal terms that we are going to use. We spend more time on naming than on understanding. When it comes to counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism I subscribe to Colin Gray who said that the strategist needs to understand his subject, which is not COIN, not CT, but strategy for its particular challenge in COIN or CT. I think we spend more time on arguing about COIN and CT than we really do trying to devise effective strategies to protect our national interests some of which includes either defending against terrorism through CT or helping others to conduct counterinsurgency which I still think is a very necessary capability that our military needs. Although the way we have conducted counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan must be thoroughly examined, whether this is the right or wrong way.
At the same time, seeing everything through only the lens of terrorism really misses the point. Looking at everything as a terrorism problem has hurt our strategic thinking. 9-11 was a tragic event and there are people out there that are conducting terrorist acts, trying to harm the West, the US, and western interests. But terrorism is not the only problem. Naming Al Qaeda a terrorist organization is correct from a legal point of view, but what they are really conducting is more of a form of unconventional warfare. UW is a form of warfare that has been conducted for generations and for millennia. It is part of the nature of war. The phenomena we are really facing emanates from a fundamental aspect political-military operations and that is revolution, resistance, and insurgency.  Clausewitz described the paradoxical trinity and UW falls within it. But we have this tendency trying to put everything into a box - terrorism, insurgency, hybrid conflict, conventional war, nuclear war – when we really need to look at and understand the strategies of the organizations and nation-states conducting warfare. I fear that we don’t spend enough time understanding strategy. Do we understand the strategy of ISIL, of Boko Haram? We have to do a better job of thinking strategically. And one weakness is our inability to observe and understand the strategies of our opponents.
SWJ: What are the key components/dimensions of UW?
(Continued at the link below)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Thanks to Dave Dilegge for posting this (as he does every year).  We should all read and reflect on this by Monday.

Memorial Day 2015

by SWJ Editors

SWJ Blog Post | May 22, 2015 - 12:52pm

HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868
I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us. Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.
II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
III. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief N.P. CHIPMAN,
Adjutant General Official: WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fighting And Winning In The "Gray Zone" & My Thoughts on Revolution, Resistance and Insurgency

To add to this important essay I would recommend reading the USASOC White Paper SOF Support to Political Warfare as a construct for fighting and winning in the "gray zone."  It can be accessed at this link:  http://maxoki161.blogspot.com/2015/03/sof-support-to-political-warfare-white.html Below this article are my summarized thoughts in 7 charts on revolutions, resistance and insurgency and strategy in the gap between peace and war.

FIGHTING AND WINNING IN THE “GRAY ZONE”

May 19, 2015 · in 

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The United States possesses the most capable armed forces in the world. America leads the world in military expenditures, spending more than the next nine nations combined — seven of which are either U.S. friends or allies. In part because of this dominance, the world has been free of major power wars for decades.
But trends such as globalization, mass access to technology and communications, and asymmetric reactions to U.S. tactics in Afghanistan and Iraq are converging into an era where more and more conflicts are being fought at the lower end of the conflict spectrum. These form a “gray zone”between traditional notions of war and peace.
Gray zone conflicts are not formal wars, and little resemble traditional, “conventional” conflicts between states. If the spectrum of conflict is conceived as a line running from peaceful interstate competition on the far left to nuclear Armageddon on the far right, gray zone conflicts fall left of center. They involve some aggression or use of force, but in many ways their defining characteristic is ambiguity — about the ultimate objectives, the participants, whether international treaties and norms have been violated, and the role that military forces should play in response.
Gray zone conflicts abound in today’s world. Within the past 18 months alone, Russia annexed Crimea and is fomenting civil conflict and separatism in eastern Ukraine; the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) burst into international headlines by beheading civilians and grabbing land in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram has been conducting a brutal insurgency in Nigeria; and the Houthi rebellion in Yemen has accelerated and driven the country’s president out of the capital. Each of these confrontations is characterized by“hybrid” threats that may combine subversion, destabilizing social media influence, disruptive cyber attacks, and anonymous “little green men” instead of recognizable armed forces making overt violations of international borders.
(Continue reading the above article at the link below)

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Time to Prepare for Regime Change in N.Korea

We have rarely read and heard the Korean media say this.  But we have wasted the last 19 years (since we really began looking at the possibility of regime collapse) by not effectively preparing for it and only paying it lip service because we really do not want to invest in the necessary preparations and instead only deal with problems when they become crises after they happen.

The reign of terror stems from Kim’s insecurity about his grip on power because he inherited his position. This is evident in the frequency of demotions and promotions among his top officials. But this type of rule is certain to have serious repercussions.
There are limits to human endurance. Skepticism about Kim's leadership ability is apparently spreading in the North, and top officials are probably the most vulnerable to such suspicions. 
Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition always says North Korea will soon collapse. This never seemed very plausible, but it is beginning to now. Seoul must prepare for this possibility. 

Time to Prepare for Regime Change in N.Korea

North Korean Army chief Hyon Yong-chol was executed for treason on April 30, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers here Wednesday. 

According to the NIS, Hyon was caught dozing off during a military rally on April 24-25 and failed to obey or complained about Kim's orders. Hyon was apparently executed by anti-aircraft gun as hundreds of people watched the gruesome spectacle at a military academy in Pyongyang. 

The NIS said that several other key North Korean officials were purged over the last six months, including Ma Won-chun, the director of a new agency under the North's National Defense Commission overseeing the construction industry, Pyon In-son, a vice minister of the People's Armed Forces and central party finance and accounting cadre Han Kwang-sang.
The weapon used to execute Hyon was a FLAK gun, which would have blown his body to smithereens. Kim apparently executed his uncle Jang Song-taek the same way back in late 2013. One of the offenses Jang was found guilty of was applauding Kim too feebly and lounging in his seat during one of Kim's speeches. Jang was executed four days after his arrest and Hyon three days, but where Jang was dragged before a kangaroo court, there no trial at all before Hyon's execution. 
Kim has apparently executed around 70 of his officials since he took power more than three years ago. Some were executed by flame thrower in order to leave no trace. Witnesses to the grisly executions must not turn their heads or shed tears and must write essays on how they felt after watching the horrific events. This is too barbaric for words.
The reign of terror stems from Kim’s insecurity about his grip on power because he inherited his position. This is evident in the frequency of demotions and promotions among his top officials. But this type of rule is certain to have serious repercussions.
There are limits to human endurance. Skepticism about Kim's leadership ability is apparently spreading in the North, and top officials are probably the most vulnerable to such suspicions. 

Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition always says North Korea will soon collapse. This never seemed very plausible, but it is beginning to now. Seoul must prepare for this possibility. 
englishnews@chosun.com / May 14, 2015 12:48 KST

Monday, May 11, 2015

U.S. Spy Agencies Closely Watched N. Korea Underwater Missile Test

In response to a question I was asked about what Kim Jong-un is doing I provided this response that I thought I would share.


This is in accordance with the Kim Family Regime playbook.  Byungjin is the Kim Jong-un policy which incorporates the Military First Politics of his father and is essentially the simultaneous development of the north's nuclear program and the economy.  Recall that the last revision of the DPRK constitution declared that it is a nuclear power.  This is their logical progression to a "triad" capability (at least a photo shopped one as you noted).  They want to be considered a nuclear power and in fact some speculate (as do I) that the only way they will return to the Six Party Talks is not for denuclearization (CVID - complete verifiable irreversible denuclearization) but for strategic arms limitation or reduction talks.  They want to be treated as a nuclear power and to them it is a logical step to develop (or appear to develop) an SLBM.

If this is all fiction (likely) then this is part of its strategy to be able to influence the international community to come to the Six party talks (or more importantly to make politically and economic concessions as part of its blackmail diplomacy which is based on their assumption that the US and the international community will continue to try to "buy off" its nuclear program but will not resort to war as they are effectively deterring us with its nuclear capability - their fundamental assumption is that the US will not attack a nuclear armed nation) as well as for domestic political legitimacy.  And we support the regime's efforts on domestic political legitimacy by focusing on its nuclear and military capabilities.

Dr. Bruce Bechtol provides some very good commentary here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02qh7v9  starting at counter 7:57.  I strongly recommend listening to him.

Joe Bermudez has been tracking this for some time open source. Below is from last October.

North Korea: Test Stand for Vertical Launch of Sea-Based Ballistic Missiles Spotted

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By 
28 October 2014



I should certainly hope our intelligence agencies were closely watching. But someone should also do an image search for submarine launched ballistic missiles and see if the photos below were taken from other launches.  It would be fun to call out the Kim Family Regime if fake photos could be proven.

U.S. Spy Agencies Closely Watched N. Korea Underwater Missile Test

Test preparations detected days ago



Kim Jong Un observes missile launch / KCNA
Kim Jong Un observes missile launch / KCNA
BY: 
May 11, 2015 5:00 am

An Open Letter to President Donald Trump (on north Korea) By George Hutchinson and Robert Collins

Some very innovative thinking here by George and Bob.  It would not be hard to put together a team (led by George and Bob of course) from t...