Monday, May 30, 2011

FBI in Afghanistan - The Series

Ever wondered what the FBI does downrange? I recently stumbled across this interesting series from the FBI's PR team. It won't be news to many of you but I thought I'd bring together the series in one place. Biometrics and CSI techniques are very important in a war zone where you are looking to pinpoint individuals.

Part 1 Our Role in the War Zone
Part 2 The Major Crimes Task Force
Part 3 Contract Corruption: Holding Americans Accountable in a War Zone
Part 4 Biometrics: A Measure of Progress
Part 5 Humanitarian Effort in the War Zone
Part 6 Turning Information Into Intelligence

ISI and Attacks in Pakistan - Confidence in Nuke C2?

The WashPost reports on Pakistani security and how it has been compromised.
The ISI is believed to have an entire branch — known as the “S Wing” — devoted to relationships with militant organizations. Some analysts believe the wing operates with relative independence, whether by design or default, that gives top brass plausible deniability when cooperation between the spy service and insurgents comes to light.
The story follows in the wake of the attack on the Karachi naval base where between 4 and 6 terrorists tied down security forces for 16 hours in a shootout that claimed 10 people and 2 US made P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. The Karachi attack is the most significant against a military target since the 2009 attacks on GHQ and a mosque used by military leaders in Rawalpindi.

Iran Helps Syria Crush Protestors

Iran in Syria (WashPost)

U.S. officials say Iran is dispatching increasing numbers of trainers and advisers — including members of its elite Quds Force — into Syria to help crush anti-government demonstrations that are threatening to topple Iran’s most important ally in the region.
This story is worth following. Imagine if NATO had done in Syria what it is doing in Libya? The road to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, all pass through Syria. If the outcome could be controlled - and we all know how that goes - encouraging reform in Syria would be a much richer strategic prize than even a perfect outcome in Libya. The good news in both cases is the insurgents are well motivated and dedicated - and on the right side of history. We have shifted from the days when everything that went wrong was blamed on America (irrespective of cause) to a new appreciation for allied efforts to assist even in cases that are not as strategically vital (Libya) as others (Syria).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hundreds of Terror Training Camps Allowed by Pakistani Military

The Long War Journal has picked up a piece from the Times of India that claims Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed leaders have admitted that "the Pakistani military allows [them] to operate freely and run hundreds of training camps."
Syed Salahuddin, the leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen, admitted that the Pakistani military permits his fighters to move freely and run training camps in the region."Our mujahideen can come and go at their own will," Salahuddin told a local news agency, according to The Times of India. "There is no question that the army can stop us."
The story is interesting but not surprising.  Certainly consideration has to be given to the motivations of the source as well as the publication. Both have motivations to make and print these claims, respectively. Syed Salahuddin, like other terrorists before him, gain when they encourage friction between Pakistan and India thereby taking attention and focus away from terror plans to take down the Pakistani state. The Times of India, perhaps understandably, has been at pains to repeatedly say "I told you so" about arch-rival Pakistan's complicity in all things South Asian terror, following OBL's discovery a short walk from Pakistan's West Point. 

Energy and Food Security Intertwined

In its May/June edition Foreign Policy Magazine has a cover story on the politics, economics and security of food. This is will worth reading.

Unfortunately, today's price hikes are driven by trends that are both elevating demand and making it more difficult to increase production: among them, a rapidly expanding population, crop-withering temperature increases, and irrigation wells running dry. Each night, there are 219,000 additional people to feed at the global dinner table. When the Indian monsoon failed in 1965, for example, President Lyndon Johnson's administration shipped one-fifth of the U.S. wheat crop to India, successfully staving off famine. We can't do that anymore; the safety cushion is gone.
At the same time, the United States... is now converting massive quantities of grain into fuel for cars, even as world grain consumption, which is already up to roughly 2.2 billion metric tons per year, is growing at an accelerating rate. A decade ago, the growth in consumption was 20 million tons per year. More recently it has risen by 40 million tons every year. But the rate at which the United States is converting grain into ethanol has grown even faster. In 2010,

US, Britain to Form Joint Security Board

The United States and Britain are planning to form a joint national security council, designed to allow the two allies close cooperation in dealing with security challenges. The two are expected to officially announce the creation of the new National Security Strategy Board during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to London this week. Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, and his British counterpart,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Warfare Against the Individual


Some thoughts on a Friday afternoon.

Warfare has evolved into a deadly contest between states and individuals. From mass on mass, to small teams on individuals, some potentially armed with weapons of mass destruction.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

DSB Report on ISR in COIN

Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Defense Intelligence Counterinsurgency (COIN) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Operations

Cover Memorandum Excerpt:
Based on its investigation the Task Force arrived at the following observations:
- DoD lacks a common understanding of COIN
- DoD has assumed responsibility for COIN ISR by default
- DoD ISR is narrowly interpreted to mean technical intelligence collection by airborne platforms
- ISR capabilities have not been applied effectively against COIN operations that deal with populations in part because a comprehensive set of intelligence requirements for COIN does not exist
- The U.S. Government is not investing adequately in the development of social
and behavioral science information that is critically important to COIN
- ISR support for COIN is currently being overshadowed by counterterrorism and force protection requirements
- Increasing the focus of ISR for COIN on incipient insurgencies would provide more whole of government options and reduce the need for major commitment of military forces
- New S&T solutions must address the crisis in processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) and associated communications caused by the deluge of sensor data
- New and emerging technologies and techniques can be employed to improve our understanding of COIN environments
The report provides the rationale for the Task Force’s findings and recommendations, responds to five specific tasks, and notes substantial policy guidance on aspects of COIN and ISR as well as numerous and inconsistent definitions of key terms associated with the study.

First sighted on SWJ.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Favorite Churchill Speech

Churchill We Must Arm   This speech is as relevant today as it was on Oct 16, 1938. This is an iTunes file. I particularly like the way in which he invokes the power of ideas for achieving victory. For a follower of Bletchley Park and the great men and women who worked there, one cannot but appreciate the double meaning.

Homage to The Cardinal

I was to be Sir Harry's second last PhD student.The following was written after I learned of his death in 1998, the year after my graduation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

There is no such thing as a crazy or mad enemy - Saddam's Strategy

If you want to understand just how profoundly badly we mis-judged Saddam and his intentions read these two excellent reports:

1. Saddam's War: An Iraqi Military Perspective of the Iran-Iraq War
2. Iraqi Perspectives Project

Why does this matter now?

Name your enemy. There is no such thing as a crazy or mad enemy. Everyone acts rationally. What is rational for a particular leader and people will depend on their culture.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Strategic Intelligence, CT and the Bin laden Raid - The end of COIN?


The following is  a text I have been working on of late. I was asked to modify the strategic intelligence piece to account for the implications of the bin laden raid. I have done that and gone further - to widen the discussion into the right future strategic policy. I argue that CT has proven itself to be more useful than COIN and that it will become the focus of effort for practical (budget) and operational reasons. The fact is we are fighting a network of individuals - not whole societies. We do need a networked way to fight the enemy network. I think we have it in CT. The piece ends with how CT can work in with the trends of the Arab spring. 

Foreign Policy, the 'Say-Do' Gap, and Strategic Choices in the Mid East

Admiral Mike Mullen first really impressed me when he issued a much needed corrective to the concept of "strategic communications" as it had developed in military circles over the course of OEF and OIF. I cant count the number of times serious military officers would say to me in frustration that if we could just tell the story of what we were doing more effectively, then we would be so much closer to success. This is an understandable frustration because they know when they are doing good work in their AO and they rightly want friend and foe to know how effective they are being. The problem really lies at the strategic level.
Strategic communication should be an enabling function that guides and informs our decisions and not an organization unto itself.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Contracting in Afghanistan

I wanted to bring some of the key reports and better commentary together under one link. The following represents a start:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Special Operations and COIN

The SOF Chair at Marine Corps University, LTC Mike Lewis, USA, and  fellow author in the Victory Among People book, has offered the SOF viewpoint to those already collected on the blog. Thus far we have examined a range of issues in the current fight from a Battalion S-2 perspective, to an assessment of Strategic Intelligence in Afghanistan, to assessments from both Gen Flynn and Gen McChrystal on the challenge of understanding the fight and new organisational models for fighting a network.

In SPECIAL OPERATIONS AND INSTABILITY: A MILITARY INVESTMENT STRATEGY LTC Lewis explores the roles of SOF and what it offers the US in a resource constrained environment.

Pakistan fires on US Choppers

I do not recall the government of Pakistan criticizing the violation of its sovereignty by AQ? The guys on the ground know our ROE so that suggests a lack of discipline on their part at best or a provocation at worst. It will take them time to work out their strategy but I think we should do branch and sequel analysis of how we'd react if they escalated.

Strategic Intelligence in COIN

The response to the Battalion level S-2 take on intel has been encouraging. For those interested in continuing this line of investigation to HHQ, please download Intelligence in Low Intensity Conflict: Lessons from Afghanistan, a chapter in Greg Mills and General Sir David Richard's new volumne Victory Among People: Lessons from Countering Insurgency and Stabilizing Fragile States, published in January by RUSI. The Intelligence chapter is written by Dr Adam Cobb, Professor of International Relations at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. From the text: An old saw has it that...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Battalion Level Intelligence - An S-2's Perspective

In a first for the blog, Marine Capt. Robert C. Schotter, is the inaugural guest columnist. Capt Schotter is an instructor at the Navy Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Va. and an experienced combat veteran having served most recently as a Bn S-2 in Afghanistan. The following are his insights into Bn Intel Ops and how they might be improved.


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Definition of Stupid? Giving Pakistan More Money and Expecting a Different Outcome

Its time for some hard truths about America’s #1 frenemy, Pakistan. Prima facie, it was in the interests of the Pakistani military to harbor OBL. So long as he was sitting in his terror mansion a short stroll from Pakistan’s West Point, America would continue to rain money down on the Pakistani military - a never-ending monsoon of military largess. The only way sunshine might pierce the clouds would be if HVI 1 was killed or captured. Bin laden was the ultimate goose that laid the golden egg. Without their prize, they astutely judged that the US would soon lose interest and downsize in Afghanistan. After all, it’s exactly what America did last time. We might have forgotten, but they did not.

Saudi's Panic - Publicly

I am reprinting this in full given its gravity. Senior fellow's at the King Faisal Center for Research & Islamic Studies, don't just issue OPEDs like this unless very careful consideration is given to what they are going to say - no doubt in close consultation with the government. What is interesting about this is the very public shot across the bows.

I think this effort will backfire. It gives the impression they are panicking. They are in trouble on 3 fronts - at home from extremists, on their eastern flank from Iran and on every front by the Arabian Spring. This will be a wake up call for some in DC but it sends a signal that the regime is losing its grip. Look out world oil markets!!

Update: Interesting article on culture and possibility of Arab Spring inside the Kingdom

ISI Head Offers to Resign

Given bin Laden was within walking distance of Pakistan's West Point, as Fareed Zakaria asked the Pakistan Ambassador to the US about Pakistan's role - was it complicity or abject negligence? In this story we see the head of the ISI offering to fall on his sword as AQ attacks Pakistan. It must be frustrating when those you cultivate attack you. When will Pakistan understand that the tiger it has created is getting more hungry by the day? Pakistan is obsessed with India - talk about looking the wrong way when you cross the street!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Finding Bin Laden - The Science

There was an interesting side story to the OBL strike - a couple of scientists had applied scientific method usually used (ironically enough) to find endangered species and came up with an interesting model for where he might be hiding. This tallies with a book written by two of OBL's family members (a wife and son) that reportedly talked about his preference for populated areas "kept safe houses in Kabul because he believed the Americans would never bomb a big city for fear of killing innocent civilians." (Washington Post story linked above).

This is an interesting insight into the intelligence process.

Sen Lugar's Race and the Tea Party

In turbulent times immoderation is easy and makes people feel good, but is it a basis for running a superpower? The harder course is to think deeply about the problem and come up with realistic solutions. Having a man of Sen Lugar's judgement and experience, with a long view of history, is a valuable national asset for both sides of the aisle. This is one of those 'canary in a coal mine' indicators my students often hear about. It is a small piece of a mosaic - but one that is worth watching for what it says about the bigger picture.

Bin Laden's Great Escape - The Tora Bora Files

I was doing some background reading for a book chapter I am writing on intelligence in the search for OBL and came across a Senate Report, a related USSOCOM report and NYT story on OBL's escape from Tora Bora. Previously I had only seen the Dalton Fury book and Jawbreaker.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Onion Reveals CIA behind Facebook

Thinking about the Facebook Revolution in Iran or the Arab Spring? Social media cuts both ways.

TRANSFER - Assessing ISAF's Efforts to Hand Over Security to GIROA

Tom Johnson of NPS has issued a new analysis and critique of the critically important transfer piece of 'clear, hold, build, transfer' strategy in Afg.

General Mike Flynn's Works

Readers will be familiar with MG Mike Flynn's Fixing Intel report for CNAS. He has just released a new article on SWJ entitled Sandals and Robes to Business Suits and Gulf Streams: Warfare in the 21st Century

Underestimating a Competitor - China's Investment in HST

In INT there are many temptations to under or over estimate a competitor or enemy. This short opinion piece on the impact of financial management of the explosive growth of China's high speed train network is a brief case study.

Soviet Strategy in Afg - Parrallels?

I urge colleagues to read "PARALLELS WITH THE PAST
How the Soviets Lost in Afghanistan, How the Americans are Losing", By Larry Goodson and Thomas H. Johnson. Clearly SOF and Strategic Intelligence are making serious inroads into the enemy but can the same be said with the approach of the general purpose forces? This is a thought provoking work and the discomfort you might feel reading it is a sign its worth reading.

Use a Network to Fight a Network

A few items have come out of late that in general terms discuss mirroring the enemy in order to defeat it.

General McChrystal's piece in FP, It Takes A Network, briefly recounts how JSOC and later ISAF adapted to the threat they faced.

NDU's Chris Lamb and Evan Munsing, have recently released "Secret Weapon: High-value Target Teams (HTT) as Organizational Innovation", as their release states:
All three innovations—networked-based targeting, fusion of intelligence and operations, and counterterrorist-counterinsurgency integration—required unprecedented collaboration between diverse departments and agencies and between SOF and conventional forces. Together, these innovations set the stage for the dramatic reversal of the security situation in Iraq in 2007.

PBS' great Frontline program has added a video coda to these writings in its "Kill/Capture" program and its inside the Taliban look at enemy operations in Afghanistan, "Fighting for bin Laden"

MILINT innovation is taking place here.

Bin Laden - Special CTC Sentinel Edition

This is an excellent first beyond the newspapers analysis of the BL take down and its consequences. If you click on the link the PDF file will download.

Amazon Wish List

Folks like to know what a war college professor is reading. I use my Amazon wish list as an electronic bibliography. You can see what I am reading, have read, or am about to read across the span of my interests. There are over 300 listings - I try to find the best each discipline or subject has to offer and hope you find the list useful.

Friday, May 13, 2011