Sunday, July 31, 2011

Afg - Keane and West in HASC Testimony

General Keane is just back from Afg and Bing West has visited many times and written an important counter-orthodoxy book on the war. This 2 hour long youtube video of their testimony to the House Armed Services Committee is well worth a look.

Keane didnt pull any punches, here are some highlights:

Recognize our “soft” policy with Pakistan as it pertains to the
sanctuaries has failed. There is NO doubt that Gen. Kyani and Gen.
Pasha, the Chief of Staff and the Director of ISI are complicit in
supporting the sanctuaries.

Pakistan - 2nd CIA Chief in 7 months Leaves

VOA reports
The Central Intelligence Agency's station chief, who oversaw the intelligence team that found Osama bin Laden, is not expected to return.
The man cannot be named because he is undercover and the CIA has not commented on the matter.
It is the second time in seven months that the top U.S. intelligence officer has left the post in Pakistan. The previous station chief had to leave after a Pakistani official admitted that his identity had been leaked, causing a security breach.
Relations between the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, have been strained since bin Laden was killed in a secret raid by U.S. special forces last MayU.S. and Pakistani officials say the top U.S. intelligence official in Islamabad has returned home because of medical reasons.

1/3 in Garmser

Since the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment arrived in Garmser in mid-April, they have struck fewer than 10 roadside bombs, none of which have proved fatal. Just one grenade and “no more bullets than you could fit in your front pocket” have been fired their way, said the battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Sean Riordan.
See the rest here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Aspen Security Forum Interview Videos

Hat Tip to Checkpoint Washington for alerting MILINT to a series of videos of a star-studded national security conference at the the Aspen Institute. Former DNI Dennis Blair takes a remarkably critical look at CT spending and proportionality of the US response to terrorism versus say domestic violence (his example, not ours). Much has already been made of his take on drone attacks in the same discussion, but there is a lot more to his remarks than just that. Please check back for updates and commentary as MILINT checks through the speakers. Gen Lute and Adm Olson will likely be well worth watching.

China - Estimation and Related Analytical Challenges

What does a major train accident have to do with China's future as a strategic power?....

National debt crisis; nuclear Pakistan perpetually on the brink of implosion and radicalization; Iran seeking nukes and doing its level best to destabilize as many places as possible; Yemen going over a cliff providing sanctuary to AQ from which it can attack the US; wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and stalemate in Egypt; virulent narco-insurgency in Mexico; constant cyber attack from all points on the compass; proliferation of dangerous technologies unchecked; and then there is China.

The national security council has a lot on its hands. It is the nature of things that the closest gator to the boat gets the most attention. But chugging along in the background is China, enjoying record growth and a concomitant spread of its interests - both direct and indirect.

Competition with China is inevitable, war is not. Decision makers in Beijing and Washington have choices both now and into the future. This is the essence of Kissinger's On China thesis, that old school realists like MILINT have supported for years. Within that finely balanced set of political calculations, getting intelligence right is clearly a very important challenge.

US Debt in Charts

The NYT has a very useful set of charts with data on the US debt.
Update: Bloomberg analysis - Why the Debt Crisis Is Even Worse Than You Think

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New GAO Cyber Testimony & Report


Pakistan - New CJCS, New COA?

Admiral Mike Mullen was well known for his frequent visits to, and his close relationship with, his Pakistani counterpart General Kayani. In recent comments Adm Mullen's presumptive replacement, General Martin Dempsey, has taken a more cautious if not critical line on Pakistan - see this short note over on DR.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Defense Cuts - Deputies Start the Debate

From DR - good story on recent Congressional testimony on looming defense cuts - the Generals all seem amicable enough during this opening debate but expect it to get very ugly in the coming years.

Afghanistan - Absolute MUST Watch Speech

If you read or watch nothing else on this topic this year you MUST WATCH this phenominal speech by Rory Stewart. MILINT readers may be rubbed the wrong way by the speech because it is so different to almost all the narratives out there - and this is exactly why it is important to have exposure to it. Rory is not just an iconoclast for the hell of it - his Afghanistan knowledge and experience run deep. He is committed to the country, not as a contractor eager to make money from his 'assessments' that we need to stay the course indefinitely, but as a practitioner-scholar, who among other things established a foundation dedicated to the preservation of the arts (broadly defined) in Kabul. Yes he walked across Afghanistan and wrote a famous book about that experience, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of his commitment to understanding the culture, society and strategic dilemmas inherent to that fated country.

Stewart's speech is truly magnificent. First, the full 20 mins is delivered without notes but with a precision and logic of an essay. As someone engaged in the world of ideas, for that alone MILINT admires this work. But more importantly, second, he outlines in very clear, well reasoned, terms a completely different narrative than exists in most of the dominant discourse, in the US at the very least. He articulates how the West's reaction to AQ in Afghanistan went off the rails when it abandoned its small footprint strategy and adopted a much heavier footprint. Readers will be familiar with MILINT's position on large versus small footprints. Stewart touches on the negative consequences of over-spending - both well intentioned and unforeseen.

Critics will focus on one or two minor points and argue them to death, but its hard to ignore the overarching thesis Stewart presents to the audience. The question is, after a decade, we are still no closer to the kind of resolution that the US seeks. It is past time to try something different. No one has all the answers and no one is suggesting Afghanistan is easy - but we must at a minimum consider alternative viewpoints and Rory Stewart has done us all a service by presenting one.

[Disclosure, MILINT met RS at a conference once a few years back].

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Yemen - Much Worse Than You Think

Considering all the recent AQ attacks on the US have emanated from Yemen, from the underwear bomber, to the printer bombs, to the Time Square and subway bombers, if you are the least bit interested in what the US military is going to do next as a core focus of effort - keep reading.

Afghanistan is old news. The AQ center of gravity has gone critical in Yemen and is building towards a crisis in nuclear armed Pakistan. Deciding which is more important is dependent on a number of variables. Yemen is going over the edge, it does not have nukes but it is rapidly becoming about as perfect an example of an ungoverned space that is viable for a terror sanctuary as can be imagined. Amid the chaos, terrorists have already mounted several attacks on the US homeland.
The Saudis say Iran is financing the rebels — known as the Huthis — so as to create a pressure front against them, much the way Iran uses Hezbollah in Lebanon. .. “The Saudis are now putting strings on the money they give us,” I was told by Abdullah Rashid al-Jumaili, a tribal sheik from Jawf province, in the far north. “They want us to spread the Sunni faith, and to fight the Huthis.” ... “It seems there is now a struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in northern Yemen,” he said.
[from featured source below].
Pakistan has nukes, a large population and territory and sits at the center of a vortex of geostrategic issues that go way beyond Afghanistan to include India, China and Iran. In the next 5 years the two countries will be central to the future of AQ. The best antidote to AQ has come from within Islam - the Arab Spring. But the pressures for reform and the pathway to peaceful development has been different in each case. While the Arab Spring has found some purchase in Yemen, the countervailing forces seem to be with chaos, not better governance (democracy). Pakistan has completely missed the Arab Spring boat - because its socio-economic and political development is decades behind Egypt and the others, so noted an expert at a recent not for attribution event MIL INT attended.

On July 20, the NYT Magazine carried a very detailed and long story on whats really been going on in Yemen. It bears very close scrutiny:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

FBI Arrests 14 for Alleged Involvement in ‘Anonymous’ DDoS Attacks

From New New Internet Blog - seems Anon not so untouchable after all. FBI clearly got some impressive skills - for confirmation of this let's see if there are any convictions. 

FBI Arrests 14 for Alleged Involvement in 'Anonymous' DDoS Attacks

The FBI announced this week the arrest of 14 suspected members of hacking collective Anonymous for their alleged involvement in December's cyber attack on PayPal's website.


The arrests are part of FBI's ongoing investigation into coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations. The 14 individuals were arrested in 10 different states across the country and are being charged for allegedly coordinating and executing attacks against PayPal's computer servers.


In late November 2010, PayPal suspended the WikiLeaks' account after the whistle-blower site leaked confidential State Department cables. The action froze WikiLeaks' ability to receive donations, and the site declared PayPal "tried to economically strangle WikiLeaks."


In retaliation of PayPal's actions against WikiLeaks, some members of Anonymous launched denial-of-service attacks against the site as part of their plan, "Operation Avenge Assange."


Following their arrests, the defendants were charged with various counts of conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the intentional damage charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 charge.



Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 22, 2011

Transferred Afghan towns face tough challenges

On road again but had to put this Army Times story up. 

Transferred Afghan towns face tough challenges

MEHTERLAM, Afghanistan — In this city of 100,000, people are scared to wander out at night, the chief judge was recently fired for allegedly collaborating with insurgents, officials accuse each other of corruption and the police force is barely large enough to patrol the streets.


Sent from my iPhone

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pakistan-US Relationship - Colbert Nails It

Ok so this is a serious policy wonk military intelligence blog for 99% of the time... and I'll occasionally go off the reservation when circumstances go beyond belief.. witness the LSE.... But I have got to hand it to Colbert and his writers, they have hit a satirical home run on the nature of our relationship to Pakistan. In this 5 min segment before the interview with Tim Garton Ash, which is insightful on the domestic-international interface in its own right, Colbert shows how self-defeating our relationship with Pakistan has become. Its funny because its so on point. Quote of the day on the role of Pakistan supply lines into the war in Afghanistan "who cares, that war is unwinnable. Yes, but with out their help, we cant keep fighting it"....  Then later, on aid to Pakistan... "you just gave him [terrorist] my money!"... Response.. "I have heard these disturbing rumors and will conduct a thorough internal investigation, which will require more money".

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Israel to Strike Iran Nukes by Sept

So predicts former CIA officer, Robert Baer, reported in the Jerusalem Post. In a related story in the same paper, the recently retired head of Mossad has some pretty pointed observations about Iran, the Arab Spring and Syria.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

NATO in Libya: Snatching Prolonged War from the Jaws of Victory


Gadaffi Close to Collapse + NATO Want a Ceasefire - Incredible! Two Army Times headlines tell a typical tale:

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is facing dramatic shortages of fuel for his soldiers and citizens in Tripoli, and he is running out of cash to pay his forces and what is left of his government, according to the latest U.S. intelligence reports. In France, the foreign minister reported that Gadhafi is prepared to leave power.
NATO suggested Tuesday that it would be willing to stop bombing Libya during Ramadan, if Moammar Gadhafi's forces also honored a cease-fire during the Muslim holy month.
Comment: Its an old joke in my classroom that is so often told all I have to do is draw a big arrow on the whiteboard and everyone grunts in acknowledgement. Meade at Gettysburg, the Turks at Gallipoli, Patton thundering through France to the border, halting the bombing of North Vietnam, the Japanese not attacking the oil tanks on Oahu, you all have your fav examples... You have the enemy on the run and then you stop. Yes there were good reasons for stopping in all of the examples cited and all the others you might be thinking about - but the story of the one that got away is as old as war itself... Lets not give Gadaffi a break just when he is feeling the pinch. 

The second story makes NATO sound more pinched than Mummah, when in fact its probably some politically correct PR noob pushing a kinder gentler campaign on NATO leadership. Stopping for Ramadan might seem to be all sensitive to the Muslim world, but in fact giving Gadaffi time to regroup will ensure many more Muslims die. Now is the time to force the dagger home, not take a knee.

Mumbai II

Latest from NYT. One wonders if the Indians will exercise restraint this time.

From on the road...

http://nyti.ms/qeMTJZ

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3/5 in Sangin

Danger Room carries this story -  I wanted to get it out to readers asap - here is the DR link

Some key take aways (all direct quotes emphasis added):

1. Marines performed superbly in very difficult condition
2. Military successes stimulated reconciliation and population mobilization. The population-centric COIN that preceded the Marines had relied on political outreach and economic development to convince Sangin’s residents to abandon the insurgency and join the government side. Military force was minimized based on the theory that violence would create “accidental guerrillas,” kill off potential negotiating partners and alienate the insurgents so much that they would never consider reconciling with the government. This approach accomplished little.
3. The ultimate sustainability of the counterinsurgency approach recommended in this report—and of most anything spearheaded by foreigners in Afghanistan—will come down to the quality of Afghan leadership that is in place in the coming years, particularly at the local level... While we can afford the coming cuts to Afghanistan’s economic and social development programs, we cannot afford to cut the human capital development that the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and other entities are now conducting.

Comment: The author of the report, Dr Mark Moyer has written extensively on leadership as decisive in war. In a sense that's a truism. There are many other factors that are also important and in this report we see Moyer going further than some of his past work because the Marines activities and successes go beyond excellent leadership. A willingness to change tactics in the face of an orthodoxy can be painted as leadership, which indeed it is, but then anything that works can be painted as leadership - which is my issue with leadership as a measure of effectiveness. Willingness to change takes moral courage but it also takes smarts to see through a problem and find new solutions - the former is leadership the latter is good strategy. Moyer makes a good point where he discusses the enemy-centric and population centric approaches to COIN and points out that the US has adopted both approaches both in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is certainly true and MIL INT would add that the balance between the two was not equal. Indeed, as MIL INT has argued here and elsewhere the balance is weighted toward an enemy centric approach in Afghanistan now and as his own research shows, that has gone a long way to delivering results.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Source - FAS Blog Well Worth A Look

The Federation of American Scientists has a great blog that I discovered last night. One of a series of blogs on all sorts of security issues, I particularly like their Strategic Security Blog. It has some pretty interesting analysis of Pakistan's nukes - including some great google earth overhead imagery that was once the domain of the highest levels of intelligence services. They have similar imagery on China's SSBNs among many other interesting and useful reports and comments. Check them out.

Playing Chicken with the Debt

 I saw this on Rick's blog and am putting it up here too... mostly so I can point students to it in future. Good one pager from the Economist on the debt.

And the closer you look, the more unprincipled the Republicans look. Earlier this year House Republicans produced a report noting that an 85%-15% split between spending cuts and tax rises was the average for successful fiscal consolidations, according to historical evidence. The White House is offering an 83%-17% split (hardly a huge distance) and a promise that none of the revenue increase will come from higher marginal rates, only from eliminating loopholes. If the Republicans were real tax reformers, they would seize this offer.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

We Are Still Giving Pakistan Billions, Just Not This Week

The Post reports 
The Obama administration has delayed payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in promised military aid and reimbursement to Pakistan to reflect its displeasure with that country's lagging security cooperation, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials." Post Story. 
The results have been mixed. Pakistan has given the CIA access to bin Laden's residential compound and has allowed interviews with individuals at the compound who were taken into custody. After first refusing new visas for CIA personnel, Pakistan has approved dozens of them.
But an experiment in shared intelligence failed last month when information given to the Pakistanis about the location of several Taliban and al-Qaeda weapons factories in the tribal areas resulted in an apparent tip-off to militants, who evacuated the sites before the arrival of Pakistani military units.

We are giving these guys NVG? Who are we kidding?

Deception and Winning - Only "10-20 key AQ leaders left Globally"-Panetta

Percival (R) and staff stroll to the surrender table in the midday sun
Moments away from the fall of Singapore in 1942, Lt Gen. Yamashita order his artillery to continue their high rate of fire despite the fact they only had enough ammo for a few more hours of shelling. Having completely underestimated their enemy for many months if not years, the numerically superior allied forces on the island collapsed before the Japanese arty ran dry.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said he believes the United States “is within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaida.” Is Panetta underestimating his enemy on a scale similar to Percival? Or is AQ just as close to defeat as Yamashita's numerically inferior boys back in 42?

Panetta said that globally there are only 10 to 20 key al-Qaida leaders remain on the battlefield and "and tracking them down would mean the defeat of the terror organization." The AFPS continues

Saturday, July 9, 2011

HQ Staff Work - Metrics, or, Damned Lies and Statistics

MIL INT particularly likes a report published over at SWJ by Maj Grant Martin (Army SOF). The paper is about the use of "Operational Design" a planning methodology currently popular in some circles. But the report's true value it seems to me is an interesting insight into being on a HQ staff and what a group of smart folks in a difficult situation see as important or not.

In one (edited) section Maj Martin talks about the futility of metrics if the wrong thing is being measured.
Our group took all of these issues in during a briefing from the assessment folks. We discovered quite quickly that our metrics were measuring short-term progress and not a lot of long-term progress that would enable “transition”. In fact, we could not find many metrics at all that gave us a feel for how the Afghans were coming along in terms of taking on more and more responsibility.

Friday, July 8, 2011

PME - It Could be Worse Part Deux

There is a cancer at the heart of academia. In the field of International Relations and Politics, the LSE had one of the best reputations, not just in Britain, but in the world. Yesterday MIL INT discovered that the LSE had granted a PhD to Saif Gadaffi and a donation to the school was provided at some point (it now appears after the degree was granted). MIL INT was particularly annoyed that despite the Gaddfi's having a long association with terrorism against the UK and other countries (Saif "Escorted the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi home to die in August 2009"), the LSE fawned on Muammah during a VTC seminar. MIL INT strongly believes in dialogue, even with monsters, as a matter of principle - namely to air all sides of an argument.** But fawning on them is another matter.

I did not question the veracity of mini-me's PhD. Even if some LSE academics are completely compromised, from a purely political/bureaucratic posterior-covering perspective I would have thought that his supervisors would make extra efforts to ensure that there was no plagiarism. HA! How naive, if not foolish of me. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and looked up his PhD supervisor. My foolishness was thrown right in my face...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

PME - Student ROE for AY 2012 The X rated edition

Thinking about the intro brief to the start of the year... and somehow this perfect storm of a list came to mind. In order of priority - this is how you survive PME in my classroom with my accent.

PME - Student Rules for AY 2012

Just Do It - The Code applies - but pay particular attention to rule 3.

PME - It Could be Worse. A LOT LOT Worse

How much worse I hear you cry? How about granting a PhD, in political science no less, to the son of a dictator who is currently mowing his people down in the streets? Dissertation title? "Operation Regime Stay: Convincing the West You Can Change Your Spots While You Exterminate the Opposition" - no but it might as well have been. But wait... thats not all.... During the course of mini-me's time at the school the family foundation donated millions to the school. Buying a degree? How could you think such a thing?

It gets worse.... No really, it does. Having taken millions from the dictator and given mini-me a PhD you might think that holding a "Seminar" with the great leader might be going a tad too far (by video conference of course because he was too afraid of being arrested for his crimes against humanity - including proven acts of terrorism against the University's host country). How about throwing in a fawning academic (allegedly on the dictator's gravy train) to praise his longevity in power (sans election naturally).

Any guesses yet? Kim Jong Il Polytechnic? The Stalin Academy of Human Rights? The Pol Pot Center for the Study of Human Kindness?

Professional Military Education - Not a Contradiction in Terms

Professional Military Education (PME) has come under a lot of criticism of late. Some of it is on point. Full disclosure: MIL INT's day job is as a Professor at just such an institution and it is a subject about which MIL INT is quite passionate. Consequently, after this is published MIL INT might have a lot more time to devote to the blog!

Perhaps the most balanced and well crafted contribution has been made by Dr George E Reed who published an essay on the topic at DefensePolicy.org. (MIL INT has not met Dr Reed). Reed refers to a range of works in the current PME debate. I will add them here for ease of reference:

Killcullen and COIN as Conventional Wackamole Ops

Checkpoint Washington reports on General Rodriguez comments on his departure from ISAF to the effect that progress is being made. Indeed, it is in the South. So terrorists shift to the east where there is now a growing problem. There has been a growing problem in the north too where terrorists have increased attacks on supply lines.

Those that criticize CT as wackamole don't seem to realize that without hundreds of thousands of troops to cover all areas - terrorists will shift operations away from NATO forces. This gives the appearance of success in areas where ops are ongoing but also results in a new problem elsewhere.

Killcullen's recent interview highlights this dynamic
So it's a bit of a mixed picture frankly. The area where the American search forces have been for the last 12 months is showing significant improvement, but the rest of the country is much more of a mixed picture. ... 

Afghanistan - Afghan Troop Surge

Readers will be familiar with MIL INTs take on Afghanistan, namely that there are a number of key issues outside of US control. These include Pakistan, the credibility of Govt of GIRoA, the applicability of western ideas and institutions to a pre-modern territory comprising a number of competing nations (ethnicities, tribes etc), and the ability of the Afghan security forces to accept the transfer in the clear-hold-build-transfer continuum.  SWJ Blog reports on General Caldwells latest NDU article on this latter vital piece of the puzzle. He has made remarkable progress but MIL INT is concerned that it wont be enough to outweigh the other factors weighing against a realistic solution in the territory. We certainly wish him and his team well and thank them for their efforts.

Pakistan - Nukes More Vulnerable?

NPR had a good story this morning on the security of Pakistan's nukes -
For years, Pakistan has been fearful that in a crisis, the U.S. might try to seize its nuclear bombs. The bin Laden raid has led some in Pakistan to advocate dispersing the nuclear weapons to numerous secret sites. But greater dispersal can lead to greater insecurity, with more people knowing about hiding more bombs in more places. [Ed: MIL-INT emphasis added]
AFPAK Daily Brief has a related round up

The Post reported Wednesday on allegations made by A.Q. Khan, considered the founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, that North Korean officials bribed senior Pakistani army officers during the late 1990s in return for nuclear technology (Post). Khan, who has not been allowed to speak to Western investigators, provided a letter to journalist Simon Henderson (available here - [this looks bogus to MIL INT - too specific in naming names and numbers]) that Khan says proves the payment of more than $3 million in cash and jewels to the former chief of Pakistan's army Gen. Jehangir Karamat, as well as retired Lt. Gen. Zulfiqar Khan (Post, AP, Reuters, CBS). Pakistan's interior ministry took Khan to the Islamabad High Court this week, accusing him of "not cooperating" with Pakistan's government in making his security arrangements (ET).

MIL-INT's judgement is its only a matter of time before terrorists in Pakistan go for a nuke site -  if they can penetrate GHQ, ISI HQ, blow up high end P-3s deep inside a major military base - it does not take long for them to work out how to strike a nuke site.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Prison Hulks in USN






Australia was founded as a convict colony when the prison hulks in the Thames could take it no more. Decommission ships of the RN, no longer ruling the waves, were anchored and filled to the gunnels with those who sought to waive the rules. Vile savages guilty of stealing a loaf of bread and other crimes, as the myth goes. 

As with British defense spending and forced force structure downsizing, so with a means of detaining the vile of today for the mighty USN it would seem. 

The USS Boxer appears to be the first modern American example. The boys over at DR have got the contemporary story and raise some good questions about the practice. See


Picture credit:

The Fighting Temeraire (a prison hulk following a life of glory on the ocean wave) tugged to her last berth to be brokenJ. M. W. Turner, 1838, National Gallery, London

Chinese Electric Cars

The guys over at Oil and Glory have a short piece on the state of the Chinese electric car industry and market. For the former, read drywall on wheels. For the latter, read not if it's not cheap. Chinese consumers not wanting to throw money away - imagine!

The German model keeps coming to mind as the antidote to US style cheap n fast globalization. High cost but high quality. We just have to hope that there will be an American middle class left to buy stuff after they were mugged in their homes by Wall St bankers from 2008 onwards. Meanwhile financial reform is a cruel joke...

http://oilandglory.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/07/05/are_the_chinese_really_a_shoe_in_to_win_the_electric_car_race

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Indian Defense Porn Channel

It must be film night here at MIL-INT - wandering around the internet after the last posting I came across this gem - the Indian Defense Force has a YouTube channel - who knew? Well 1992 subscribers at the time of writing. The production values are borderline CNNish... ok they are hilarious - an aircraft carrier puff piece by two hyperactive body builder types who bounce around so much doing their lines I'm pretty sure they would not pass a piss test.

Old School Spying Documentary

This terrific old video documentary on the CIA was recommended by a new blog I'm monitoring : Checkpoint Washington. Director of CIA Dulles' interview is remarkable - it is both frank and comparatively long. Today's public affairs folks would freak out if the current DCIA operated like this. It details global actions including the coup in Iran, CIA ops against Sukarno, actions in the Congo and Latin America. The interview with Air America pilots was pretty cheesy but nevertheless fascinating on a few levels. Well worth an hour of your time if you are interested in such things, and as you are here, that means you are!

It caught my while researching a forthcoming paper on CT replacing COIN from an intel perspective.
ABSTRACT
The US still talks COIN but in reality the strategy has shifted to a global counter terror campaign aided by the incredible strategic intelligence capabilities it can tailor to individualized challenges. We have entered the era of bespoke warfare, where concern for collateral damage and its political consequences have demanded personalized strategic responses from major states.Intelligence is about understanding context and ultimately, enabling change. It used to be the case that strategic intelligence provided contextual understanding (and ideally warning) and military intelligence provided the commander with a pathway through which violent change could be effectively implemented. Today these relationships are reversed. Military intelligence is being asked to provide cultural context and strategic intelligence is lining up targets to be hit. When bin Laden escaped Tora Bora, the stage was set for a long campaign against a completely new target set. It took time to build an intelligence system aligned to the novel challenge of finding individuals within a shadowy global network. The Abbottabad raid was without any exaggeration, the culmination of a decade of fundamental change in the character of, and inter-relationships between, US intelligence, military forces and grand strategy. Strategic intelligence assets have turned to answer the most tactical questions imaginable, right down to the location and activities of specific individuals. How individuals connect through social, electronic, and financial networks, in both combat zones and far away from them, has consumed strategic intelligence programs. Equally, MI programs have struggled to adapt to non-technical challenges of understanding culture, religion, ethnicity, and social structures, in profoundly foreign operational environments. Taken together, these are the most radical reconfigurations of the business of intelligence since the dawn of the nuclear age."

The Science of CT

Following from an earlier posting on scientific predictions about bin Laden's likely location (that turned out to be uncannily accurate WRT the type of location if not the specific location), an article has just been published in Science, one of the top two journals in any scientific field (Nature is the other), that describes a means by which insurgency can be predicted. I found this over on Danger Room - have a look at their analysis. My analysis continues below.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saudi - US Security for Oil Facilities

From an AP story run in Army Times on new US-Saudi security cooperation - which might in part explain recent Saudi efforts to get other OPEC members to adjust prices down - although such actions would have other benefits for KSA.
The force’s main mission is to protect vital oil infrastructure, but its scope is wider. A formerly secret State Department cable released by the WikiLeaks website described the mission as protecting “Saudi energy production facilities, desalination plants and future civil nuclear reactors.”

Pakistan - 70% population View US as an Enemy

The Pew Research center has released a new poll on Pakistani attitudes to the US in the wake of the bin Laden raid. The results of a new poll were also touched on in the last story.

Pakistan at it Again - University Competition to Honor bin Laden in Verse

You can't make stuff like this up - Punjab University - let that word sink in for a minute, is running a competition to honor bin Laden through the most peaceful of means - poetry. The AP wire story, carried in Stars and Stripes, gives good coverage of the tensions inherent in Pakistan.
"Whoever is America's friend is a traitor!" roared the head of the student group, Zubair Safdar, in an interview with The Associated Press.
His views were echoed by 19-year-old student Bismah Khan as she read one of the posters promoting the bin Laden contest. One of three topics for the essay section was: "Osama, a thorn piercing the hearts of infidels."

US Asks China for Alt Supply Line to Afg?

In a comprehensive article in the Post that ran July 2, the tenuous US supply lines to Afghanistan were examined WRT ongoing and future difficulty in supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan via frenemy Pakistan. Fast becoming more enemy than friend in the wake of the Abbottabad raid, the US dependence on fraught supply routes crossing over 1600 kms from Karachi to Kabul and beyond. This has been a subject of interest of mine for a while now.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Costs of War

How much has the US spent on war since 2001?  $3.2-4 Trillion!

In the course of researching intelligence issues related to the adoption of CT over COIN in Afghanistan (coming soon), I have come across a website that brings a marco assessment of the costs of war - broadly defined. It has some credible academics associated with it who have done important work in the field, including Linda J. Bilmes, Neta C. Crawford, and Andrew J. Bacevich. The site is worth exploring and looks quite comprehensive. Some will quibble with the political leanings of some of the specialists associated with the site and that might be fair - but show me a credible alternative! I doubt there is one.
This is from their site and is an interesting summary - I'd like to see the data behind it.

Bin Laden - Intel from Raid Starting to Surface

Reports are starting to surface on the treasure trove of intel captured by SSE - here's a quick list that will be updated as new reports come to light - readers are invited to make submissions so we can keep this as comprehensive as possible.

Post - Bin Laden document trove reveals strain on al-Qaeda
Post -  Al-Qaeda data yield details of planned plots