30 December 2010

2010: Outtakes and Deleted Scenes

Poor panda hat...
It seems that I left out a few great links in yesterday's 2010 end-of-year roundup.  

In a stunning move, France signed defense cooperation agreements with with her former enemies Britain and Germany.  Of course, that hasn't stopped Aaron Ellis and Xavier Rauscher from debating the merits of Emperor Napoleon and Lord Wellington.  Meanwhile, the ladies of 6th Generation Warfare got sexified (uh, and Petulant Sage and Sean702 did a good job as well).  We saw the Son of Neocles take on the Naval Academy's critics, met Greyhawk and Lt. Col. Bell at the Milblog Conference 2010, and witnessed the end of the Predator era, as well as the dawn of a new era:  Chris Albon Day

Not to mention, some sites are so good, I can't limit myself to just one link.  So here's Adam Elkus' Rethinking Security, as well as Patrick Porter's Offshore Balancer, Mark Safranski's Zenpundit, Dr. Rex Brynen's Paxsims, the crew at FaST Surgeon, and the ever-wonderful Kings of War and Small Wars Journal.   

28 December 2010

2010: The Year We Make Contact With Some Pakistani Shopkeeper

This perfectly sums up the year
2010's almost history.  From Afghan adventures to Wikileaks' wackiness, it's been a heck of a ride.  Full of heroism, brilliance, and facepalm aplenty, let's take a look at the last year in national insecurity. 

PowerPoint Rangers Lead the Way! In April, we were treated to Elisabeth Bumiller's amazing op-Ed in the New York Times, showcasing the anti-PowerPoint rantings of several notable military officials, including Secretary Robert Gates, Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, Colonel T.X. Hammes, and some other cool dude. Later, in August, US Army Colonel Lawrence Sellin railed against the rampant bureaucracy and PowerPoint culture of ISAF Joint Command (IJC) in Afghanistan. And though Col. Sellin was summarily chastised and dismissed from his post, he quickly became a folk hero in Army circles. In November, technology website TED.com finally deciphered the cryptic "Afghanistan Stability Chart", which revealed some not-so-startling truths about the war in Afghanistan. Take a look.

And the thing that'll getcha/Stan didn't even get his pictcha'/On the cover of the Rolling Stone. Poor Stan McChrystal. Earlier this year, the former commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan was already on thin ice after a much-hyped campaign in Marjah--with its dubious "government-in-a-box" strategy--fizzled in the sands of Afghanistan. McChrystal would remark that Marjah, the focus of what was to be a month-long operation, was a "bleeding ulcer" in Helmand Province. If that wasn't bad enough, Gen. McChrystal had the misfortune of being stuck in Paris after a conference, the result of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, which grounded nearly all air travel in Europe. Making the best of the situation, General McChrystal spent a night on the town with several members of his staff...and, of course, Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. After a few ill-mannered remarks on the part of McChrystal and his staff (fueled by Bud Light Lime, no less), the General was recalled to the White House so quickly the blogosphere didn't even have time to decide upon an appropriate Twitter hashtag. (Though #RollingStan and #McClusterFuck were clearly the two favorites)

And if you thought the McChrystal Scandal was bad... For months, military journalist Michael Yon had not only called for the head of US General Stanley McChrystal, but also Canadian General Daniel Menard, the latter of whom was relieved of command for a negligent discharge of his C-8 carbine, as well as a negligent discharge of another sort with a female enlisted soldier.  In a shocking move, both Generals David Petraeus and Jonathan Vance were temporarily "demoted" to replace the gaps in NATO's leadership in Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, in another portion of Helmand Province, the commander of the 2-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Lt. Col. Frank Jenio was relieved by Col. Brian Drinkwine, allegedly over "inappropriate PowerPoint slides".  However, further investigation revealed a sordid story--Dr. Leslie Drinkwine, Col. Drinkwine's wife, was banned from brigade functions as a result of undue influence within the brigade, a point of contention Lt. Col. Jenio has recently challenged.  Elsewhere, Col. Harry Tunnel, commander of the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team--notorious for its infamous "kill team"--relieved a company commander in the Argandab Valley.  Later examination, however, reveals that the young captain might have had a better handle on counterinsurgency tactics than the colonel, going so far as to hammer General Petraeus' counterinsurgency guidance on the door of his command post as an act of defiance.   

2010:  The Year We Make Contact With the Taliban.  Sort Of.  Ah, Pakistan, our "valuable ally", and perennial pranksters.  In February, milbloggers rejoiced when Pakistani security services arrested nearly half of the top leadership of the Taliban's Quetta Shura, including Mullah Baradar, seen as the Taliban's number two.  Others, however, were rightly skeptical.  In August, Dexter Filkins reported that Pakistani officials gloated that Baradar's arrest was little more than an attempt by Pakistan's security service, the ISI, to derail peace talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban.  Undeterred, ISAF forces went to great lengths to protect a suspected Taliban leader from ISI interference during a second round of peace talks with the Karzai government.  After a few meetings, however, officials suspected a ruse.  As it turns out, the "Taliban leader" in talks with the Karzai government was merely a shopkeeper in Quetta, Pakistan--allegedly an ISI plant.  The joke was short-lived, though.  Hours after the story hit the Washington Post, North Korean forces fired artillery upon the island of Yeonpeyong in South Korean waters, sparking a tense international crisis.

Wikileaks, Wookieeleaks, and, erm, Weenieleaks.  In April, shocking gun-camera footage from an Apache helicopter hit the Internet, spurring intense debate regarding the conduct of land warfare, and raising questions as to its mysterious source.  Within two months, US authorities apprehended their prime suspect:  Private First Class Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst from the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade, then assigned to Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq.  Manning, known by the screen name "BradAss87", was reported to authorities by his confidant, hacker Adrain Lamo.  In a series of chats published on Wired.com, Manning admitted to smuggling out the gun camera video, as well as hundreds of thousands of classified field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, plus over a quarter of a million classified State Department cables.  The US Government sprung into action, albeit too late.  Wikileaks scored the largest intelligence coup in history, with government authorities scrambling to minimize the damage.  Mercifully, the damage was light; the US government either aims to be the most transparent in the world, or maybe it just, in the words of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, "leaks like a sieve" anyways.  Nevertheless, in typical reactionary fashion, the US government established a number of knee-jerk, draconian measures, including banning all access to news sources which report on Wikileaks, and establishing a Wikileaks Task Force, with the appropriate acronym, "WTF".  Defense Department officials even encouraged service members to turn in suspected leakers; unless, of course, said leakers are top-level generals releasing classified Afghanistan strategy reviews to box in the president.  Meanwhile, disillusioned Twitterers lampooned Manning and his megalomaniacal partner, Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange, with "Wookieeleaks", a series of humorous "secrets" from the Star Wars universe.  Add in the nocturnal escapades of Julian Assange, aptly named "weenieleaks", cyber-mischief between supporters and detractors of Wikileaks, and a super-secret virus known as "Stuxnet", and 2010 truly was an exceptional year.   

In other news.  Lauren Jenkins, one of the Panda Hat twins, took on Misha Collins; I took on Army Knowledge Online; Mother Jones took on banned books in the information age; and the gang at On Violence took on Clausewitz.  Meanwhile, the crew at Ink Spots negotiated the epic Truce of Tom Ricks, while Mr. Ricks took on the Army's Warrior Transition Units, and Spencer Ackerman took on Blackwater.  All the while, the Second Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne tackled open-source software, while the Fourth Brigade tackled Lady Gaga. Elsewhere, several fellow milbloggers and I were accused of advocating war crimes, Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta earned the Medal of Honor, and "Restrepo" was one of the best films of the Sundance Film Festival.  And what end-of-year roundup would be complete without mentioning the Committee on Public Safety, Adam Elkus' super-empowerment, Adam Weinstein's excellent defense coverage, and Ink Spots' insights on the Afghanistan War?

So there you have it.  A year of highs and lows.  A year of success in Afghanistan.  Or setback. Or more of the same.  In short, just another year in the realm of national security.  May 2011 be...interesting.

22 December 2010

Who needs Wikileaks when you have the US Air Force?

In the wake of Wikileaks' "Cablegate" scandal, US Secretary of Defense (and former CIA Director) Robert Gates downplayed Wikileaks' impact, quipping, "Every government in the world knows the US government leaks like a sieve". 

Nevertheless, to its credit, the US military has undergone a Herculean--albeit heavy-handed and futile--effort to contain the damage from Wikileaks and prevent future leaks.  Such steps include banning all URLs which contain "Wikileaks", blocking all access to the New York Times, and setting up a program to rat out "leakers".  The CIA has even established an ill-conceived Wikileaks Task Force, with the appropriate acronym, "WTF".  I really wish I were making that up

Yet, human stupidity is one of those unstoppable forces of nature, always yearning to break free, despite humanity's best attempts to contain it.  Fortunately, for stupidity's sake, there are US Air Force officers.

This week, news sources reported that Pentagon officials sent the wrong internal assessment reports to aerospace giants Boeing and EADS, rivals in the bid for the US Air Force's new tanker.  Thus, Boeing wound up with detailed information on EADS' project, and vice versa.  As if the KC-X needed any more embarassing scandals.

It's still not certain how Boeing and EADS wound up with each other's information.  Perhaps the service in charge of cyber-security has trouble figuring out that newfangled e-mail contraption?

If there's a silver lining to all this, it's that the US Air Force won't be able to read about its ineptitude on the New York Times' website.  That's a plus, right?

21 December 2010

Doctrine Man goes through US Customs

Admit it, we all get a little nervous when we go through Customs at the end of the deployment. Uh, not me, of course.

20 December 2010

Lest you think I've been slacking...

The third and final edition in my series on America's All-Volunteer Force is up at the Swiss blog, offiziere.ch.  Be sure to check out the first two editions, if you haven't already.  

19 December 2010

There's smart security, and there's stupid security. This is stupid security.

This week, the US Air Force tried to prevent unauthorized access to Wikileaks by block airmen from viewing the New York Times, Der Speigel, the Guardian, and other news sites known for hosting Wikileaks documents.  According to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists:
In the past, government agencies have selectively blocked access to private websites that post controversial, disputed or classified information. But a block on the New York Times web site is really unheard of. It represents an extreme misunderstanding of information security policy.
Yes, this is the same US Air Force that's been given control of US CYBERCOM.  (*Facepalm*)

16 December 2010

AAAA UAS Recap (We need a new acronym)

Despite a touch of illness during the conference--my system apparently can't process American food any more--I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and learned quite a few interesting tidbits about the wild world of drones.

• Unmanned Aerial Systems represent the largest field of personnel growth within the US Army Aviation branch. Of nearly 4,000 new positions within Army Aviation units, nearly 2,400 will be UAV operators, maintainers, or coordinators. In fact, the field is expanding so rapidly that there's currently a 14-month waiting list for some UAV courses.

• The legendary fighter pilot and strategist John Boyd was known to say, in regards to force structure, "people, organizations and equipment..in that order". Nowhere is this more true than in, surprisingly, the "unmanned" community. During a conversation with an Australian colonel, I discovered that the Australian Army had, for years, been having a degree of difficulty task-organizing its fleet of small, tactical UAVs. Much like the British Army, many felt that UAVs were an asset designed for use by field artillerymen for spotting purposes (plus, artillerymen seem to be idle hands these days). However, such an arrangement often ran into difficulties in training, standardization, and airspace deconfliction--quite perilous on a modern battlefield, where airspace is congested enough as it is. Thus, the Australians took a cue from the US, and began to view their UAVs as aviation assets.

Nevertheless, the conference didn't really adequately address the proper proponent for UAV proliferation. Though the Army Aviation Association of America states, quite emphatically, that Army UAVs are tactical assets managed by aviation soldiers, the reality is more complex, and will continue to be so as these systems become even more ubiquitous. Certainly, the triumphant claim that UAVs are aviation assets is jingoistic at best, and conflicts with the fact that Army UAVs are typically pushed to the lowest level practicable. In many cases, that's the infantry platoon at the remote combat outpost on the Pakistani border.

The beginning of the end of the Predator? As the Great Satan's Girlfriend would say, "Oh, it's true, bay bee".

• As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the Army will look to the future, where massive Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and luxurious facilities may not be available. As many UAVs currently need a runway for takeoff and/or landing, Army planners will eventually start looking at Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs for reconnaissance and even resupply missions. Currently, there are plans for an autonomous Bell 407 and a K-MAX helicopter, both capable of carrying sling-loaded equipment to remote outposts in Afghanistan.

• Only two things keep US Central Command's General James Mattis up at night; one of them is the thought of UAVs in the hands of our adversaries. It's not an ill-founded fear, either: Iran supplied Hezbollah with UAVs--some packed with explosives--which were used in the 2006 Lebanon War. Then, in early 2009, an Iranian UAV wandered across the Iraqi border near Balad Ruz, whereupon it was shot down by an American fighter jet. In fact, feedback from the Combat Training Centers indicates that OPFOR UAVs are a "game-changer"; so much so that observer/controllers actually limit their use during major exercises.

• The new "pink team" is a combination of an armed helicopter and a UAV. Get used to it, guys.

• Finally, though I certainly understand that unmanned aircraft represent an incredible new technology, I found that much of the rhetoric still bordered on the utopian. Though we sing the praises of unmanned systems, rarely do we stop and reflect on the occasional missteps. I think I might have been the only one who walked up to the Northrop-Grumman booth and said, "Fire Scout? Didn't that get lost and fly through Washington, DC?"

Stay tuned for more updates as I slowly try to make my way through the last few weeks' worth of Afghanistan analysis. I have to admit, I felt a bit ashamed to meet up with Exum last night without having read his latest Afghanistan piece. Time to log some time on the iPad.

13 December 2010

Unmanned Aerial System Symposium 2010

After 24 hours of traveling, I've finally arrived at the Mariott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Virginia for the 2010 Unmanned Aerial Systems Symposium, hosted by the Army Aviation Association of America. Well, that, and for a handful of beers with the Panda Hat twins.

I'll be live-blogging the event with the #AAAAUAS tag on Twitter. Stay tuned, as it should be an interesting conference, especially since, according to the Great Satan's Girlfriend, I make good drones go bad. (That's actually not as sexy as it might initially sound.)

(Photo courtesy of US Army-Korea IMCOM on Flickr)

12 December 2010

In the Army, we facepalm more by 9 AM than most people facepalm all day.

Prussian military philosopher Karl von Clausewitz introduced us to the concept of "friction" in military operations. According to Clausewitz, friction includes small, unforecasted events which inevitably occur during every operation, such as miscommunication, poor navigation, or misrouted supplies. Over time, a series of such small mistakes might eventually slow down an offensive. For instance, Helmuth von Moltke encountered friction during the early days of the First World War, when fierce Belgian resistance and swift Russian mobilization stymied the well-laid Schlieffen Plan.

According to legend, Napoleon would reduce friction in the Grande Armee by writing orders as simply as possible. The Corsican would then give the orders to a French corporal, noted for being the most dim-witted soldier in the entire Grande Armee. Should the corporal misinterpret the orders, Napoleon would revise them, thus ensuring that his orders were clear and explicit.

But while Napoleon's corporal was the cause of friction, I have the Defense Travel Service. (And a lieutenant) Verily, if DTS were a private travel agency, like Priceline, it's safe to say the organization would be bankrupt by now. Not even having Captain Kirk in your commercials can save you from such ineptitude.

Though I encountered considerable friction on my way to the airport this morning, I was fortunate enough to encounter two locals who also happened to need a taxi from the parking lot to the terminal. We decided to pool our money and grab the first taxi. Fortunately, the two Bavarians spoke English, so I struck up a little conversation.

"So, uh, what time is your flight?"

"Oh, ve do not have a flight." said one.

"Oh really?"

The two Germans giggled, "Ja, ve are just going to airport to drink."

My watch showed 6:30 in the morning.

"You what?"

"Ve live around here in Munchen, and ve vere just here for a party. But ze party is over and now ze airport is the only place to get beer".

Declining their gracious invitation to join them for a beer (or five) at 6:30, I arrived at the ticket counter. Fully prepared to eliminate any friction, I had my confirmation numbers in hand. Nothing could thwart my plans now.

Well, except for the fact that there was no ticket in the system. Yeah, despite multiple e-mails with words such as "Your ticket is confirmed", I still had no ticket. Fuck you very much, Mr. Clausewitz.

I consulted the ticket counter, carefully pointing out confirmation numbers for each leg of my flight. Indeed, something seemed particularly odd about having confirmation numbers for each leg of the flight and no ticket.

I then called the travel agency, which uses an American phone number. In its defense, however, the agency does accept collect calls. (Remember those? Neither do I. Time to rack up a cell phone bill. I'm currently on hold for my third call today as I type this).

According to the travel agency, despite having a confirmation number, no ticket was ever issued. Relaying this information to the Lufthansa representative got me little more than quizzical look.

"How, exactly, is that possible. That doesn't make any sense."

"Remember, this is the US government. They're not exactly the most competent organization in the world."


"Yeah. Ever heard of Wikileaks?"

09 December 2010

Hardly Heroic

In the past few days, some media outlets have trumpeted Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, as an information-age hero.  After all, his activities do play in to a convenient narrative for an anti-American, tin-foil hatted, and politically naive crowd.

Nevertheless, those who view Assange as a paragon of virtue might want to reconsider his altruism and loyalty to his compatriots.  Though Wikileaks' Twitter page proudly displays a banner which reads "Free Bradley [Manning]", in reference to the Army intelligence analyst who provided Wikileaks with its biggest intelligence coup to date, representatives for Manning claim that Wikileaks has yet to provide a single dime for Manning's legal defense fund, despite promises to do so.  Manning currently faces fifty two years in Federal prison, while Julian Assange has recently flaunted the documents stolen by Manning as some sort of insurance policy against arrest or murder.

A man of the people, indeed.

08 December 2010

Julian Assange Facepalm

Julian Assange, is, without a doubt, the most inept manager in history:
The arrest without bail of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday has left the organization in a state of uncertainty, despite transition plans laid out prior to his surrender to British police, according to one dispirited WikiLeaks activist who spoke to Threat Level on condition of anonymity.
Assange left Icelandic television journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson in charge of the group in his absence, the activist said. But now the embattled organization’s secrecy and compartmentalization are apparently hindering its operations.
Specifically, midlevel WikiLeaks staffers have been mostly cut off from communicating with hundreds of volunteers whose contact information was stored in Assange’s private online-messaging accounts, and never shared with others.
You people are familiar with the concept of transparency, right?

Update:  Julian, let me help you out.  Here's some advice on organizational communication, written in 2006:
Information flows from conspirator to conspirator. Not every conspirator trusts or knows every other conspirator even though all are connected. Some are on the fringe of the conspiracy, others are central and communicate with many conspirators and others still may know only two conspirators but be a bridge between important sections or groupings of the conspiracy. If all conspirators are assassinated or all the links between them are destroyed, then a conspiracy no longer exists.

07 December 2010

Thanks to XTranormal, I am super-empowered

Are you upset with Army bureaucracy, but lack the skills to express yourself with your own original artwork?  Fear not, for there is always XTranormal.

I think my next project will be to sum up the awesomely hilarious (and enlightening) debates between Xavier Rauscher and Aaron Ellis.

Believe it or not, I have been busy...

Please check out my guest-post at offiziere.ch, the first of a three-part series regarding the All-Volunteer Force in America.  Part one is worth it just for the statistics alone.

Part two will be released on Thursday.  I might have to wait until next week for Part three, as I expect to fly from Munich to the US over the weekend.  And I can't go to Munich without partaking in, well, public diplomacy, so to speak.  And you all know what that means, right?  (Plenty of ill-concieved Tweets, that's for sure!)

Best. Idea. Ever.

If you're the type that likes to stick it to the man--and if you're reading this blog, you probably do--then let's raise $1.8 million and make this happen.

Help me buy an Army Base! (WWII Ft. Igloo--Black Hills Army Depot, South Dakota)
This will be a base that will require no post registration for your vehicle, no reflective belts, and you can walk on the CSM's grass until your heart's content. PT will be an option only for those who wish to do it.  There will be no IG, no EO, no CQ, and no safety officers.  You can walk outside without any headgear and every acre will be designated a no-salute zone.
This is the American Dream, my friends.  Well, that and establishing your own micronation.

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State of form reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government had deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounded determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

Read more at:

Those interested in the impact and development of carrier warfare might also want to check out David Horowitz' "The Diffusion of Military Power".

06 December 2010

I have the plot for the next James Bond movie

Just picture him saying,
"If our demands are not met"
Julian Assange, who recently released a list of sites considered "vital" US interests, has claimed that his allies will release the entire collection of 250,000 State Department documents--a "thermonuclear device", as he called it--should anything happen to him.  Not that he had any intention of keeping them secret, though.

Bradley Manning, I hope you sleep happy at night knowing that you face fifty-two years in prison for the sole purpose of providing Julian Assange with an insurance policy.        

05 December 2010

ATTN: Small Wars Journal

To:  Dave Dilegge, Bill Nagle
From:  Starbuck (Identity pseudo-secret)


I've come up with the next step in the evolution of the Small Wars Empire.  You know that debate between Col. Gian Gentile and John Nagl?  We should best sum up the salient points in Xtranormal.  Complete with vulgarities, of course.  We can even get Doctrine Man in on the fun.  What say you?

PS--I think that Xtranormal will quickly become just as verboten as Wikileaks for DoD personnel.

04 December 2010

No, seriously, this really was the "Most Awesome Week Ever".

I enlisted the help of the Great Satan's Girlfriend for this week's "Most Awesome Week Ever".  Let's see the gang at Danger Room top that!

Without further ado, the one and only GSGF:

Wiki Liquer kicked off the week with hot deets - devouring shameless, sad incorrect memes. Few surprises - yet - aside from the delightful sensation (kinda tingly, actually) of being proven correct on nearly every matter of un and import.

Tons of quizes about Assange - One of the hottest -"Think creatively. The WikiLeaks document dump is sabotage, however quaint that term may seem. We are at war - a hot war in Afghanistan where six Americans were killed just this past Monday, and a shadowy world war where enemies from Yemen to Portland, Ore., are planning holy terror. Franklin Roosevelt had German saboteurs tried by military tribunal and executed. Assange has done more damage to the United States than all six of those Germans combined."

At least Great Satan's Cyber Command seems to be on the case - the Wiki Leaks site has been chased around the world - last word being hosted in the minaret free zone of Swizzylanders. 

Outrageous actually - to imagine in the attorney heavy Age of Stuxnet, Wiki Leaks is alive and well, while over 3 score illicit musical downloader sites (that never betrayed or killed anyone) are shut down.

Teufel Hunden Verboten! Leatherneckers banned from scoping out Assange's audacious gossip airing fest  

Censorship? "Fact is, if you want to read the leaked stuff, you can- for the rest of your damn life. But no one is obliged to make it any easier." 

Sazeman-e Hefazate Ettela'at! Iran's internal security cats -a Revo Guard org natch - has been worried too much about soft targets like Barbie and Road Runner (meep meep!) to actually do their real gig - protecting high ranking members of the Regime's nuclear chicanery drive. 

Oh Snap! Fergie Ferg gets felt up at LA X - maybe professional laffy taffy is a security threat?

Little and Great Satan share quite a bit in common in city fighting (a new improved bloody Aachen style) with the same MO and results - yet totally diff response in the internat'l community:

 New York Times reported that in Afghanistan’s Kandahar region, “American forces are encountering empty homes and farm buildings left so heavily booby-trapped by Taliban insurgents that the Americans have been systematically destroying hundreds of them” in order “to reduce civilian and military casualties.” They even destroyed houses that weren’t booby-trapped because “searching empty houses was often too dangerous.” And as an Afghan official correctly noted, “It’s the insurgents and the enemy of the country that are to blame for this destruction, because they have planted mines in civilian houses and main roads everywhere.”

This is precisely what Little Satan did in Cast Lead, for the same reason: Finding tons of booby-trapped houses, schools, even a zoo.  Goldstone, totally dissed that idea, accusing Little Satan of gleefully wrecking the innocent civilian rich joint, in a deliberate effort to target innocent civilians. Far from blaming Hamas for booby-trapping houses, they blamed Little Satan for destroying the traps. No word yet if Goldstone plans to indict Great Satan.

Those cats in the Strip and the Stan were lucky! Coulda gone "Grozny" on 'em!

Dr Col Nagl put steel on target about Iraq. In it to win it - is still powerful meds - regardless of where the action is in CENTCOM's gap. Isolationists - rejoice! World Politics Review broke out predictions and ideas for the free world to down size their militaries, ease tensions (not!) at the same incredible instant they cut and run on security commitments

DPRK continued to hang on in the news this week - in spite of Wiki Leaks - and thanks to China totally queering the mix. "It is unacceptable to 'condemn' or even 'express concern' over North Korea. Security Council talks have come to a standstill."

Ex CIA spy guy and academe au courant Dr Priller indulges in some exceptionally inappropriate hand wringing and Great Satan hating. Embarrassing really - warning about the dangers - not of NoKo, Iran or genocidal Sudan  - but of American Exceptionalism.

Persian and Arabs don't get along much but Shibley Telhami explains Arab street loves a new clear Persia!

No surprise - poor Arab League has been led by the nose for eons by peripheral powers - like Great Britain, the Ottomans, Persia, Little and Great Satan

Don't blame Wiki Leaks - it's the Foreign Policy! Scary stuff that will require heavy petting ala hyper puissance to repair.

DADTDC - Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Care

And the President/CiC visits troops in Afghanistan.

03 December 2010

I hate to rain on the XM-25's parade, but...

While I'm certain the Army's new XM-25 grenade launcher is excellent, I disagree with the enthusiastic claims of its developer, Colonel Doug Tamilio.  Let's see if you catch it:

"This significantly changes the art of warfare for a soldier.  He no longer has to worry about maneuvering on an enemy position..."

Sir, I beg to differ.

Maneuvering on the battlefield has been central to land warfare from ancient times to the "Thunder Run" of 2003.  Since then, we've seen the implementation of chariots, arrows, crossbows, gunpowder, cannons, muskets, breech-loading rifles, artillery, machine guns, tanks, air power, nuclear weapons, and network-centric warfare.  And yet, we are to believe that a "smart" grenade launcher will completely eliminate the need to maneuver on the battlefield?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I'm going to invoke the quintessential Elkus-Burke argument, as best summed up by Joseph Fouche:
Here is a major theme of the Elkus-Burke ouvre that I sum up as “Hey numbnut, have you ever considered the possibility that your big rock pointy stick armed mob chariot calvary phalanx legion cannon musket rifle needle gun machine gun artillery trenches bomber tank indirect approach special ops nuclear weapon network global guerrilla Twitter decline of the nation-state operational design giant anime robots super-empowered individual does not represent a complete sea change in the historic course of war, strategy, politics, culture, or apple pie?” While this appeal to a moderation contrary to the whirlygig obsessed mindset of most Americans is not as strong as Oliver Cromwell’s “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken?”, it certainly rubs all those who come a peddling their one magic bullet to resolve all political or strategic or military questions the wrong way...
...[Adam Elkus and Crispin Burke embark upon their usual] routine of destroying the dreams of cranks, sci-fi enthusiasts, and procurement officers everywhere. Can the romance of technological miracles survive such a cold shower?
Seriously, the claim that maneuver on the battlefield is obsolete is as facepalmingly full of hubris as the belief that air to air missiles would make dogfighting obsolete.

Nevertheless, I eagerly await feedback from the field.  Anyone in Afghanistan care to weigh in?  Does this weapon live up to the hype?  

02 December 2010

Next in the reading queue...

At the recommendation of the other half of Elkus-Burke, I've acquired a copy of Martin van Creveld's "Supplying War:  Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton".  

Tom Ricks often says that amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics, and people who "know what they are talking about" study personnel.  And while the title of the book suggests that van Creveld is concerned with merely the realm of supplies, the realm of logistics also involves the funding and raising of armies.  

Personnel policies are irrelevant if soldiers aren't paid or fed.  Today, we take these issues for granted; but that certainly wasn't the case for the bulk of human history.  Just ask Napoleon about his vacation in Russia

It's been quite an interesting read thus far.  I might actually go so far to say that some of the greatest inventions in warfare have been canned foods and preservatives, the internal combustion engine, cold-weather clothing and heaters, and night-vision equipment.  These allow armies to campaign anywhere they choose, for as long as they desire.  They also permit armies to operate day and night, and all year long--a relatively recent development in warfare.  

It's in this light that Washington's achievements at the Battle of Trenton and at Valley Forge are all the more impressive.  It's also in this light that the difficulties of the British Army during the Revolutionary War--completely reliant upon supplies from Britain--are that much more understandable.

My exclusive interview with Julian Assange

Update: the video is up at Youtube.

01 December 2010

Gates, Mullen: Survey supports DADT repeal

The report is out, and suffice to say that the results aren't surprising.  Months ago, a thread on the 10th Mountain Division's "Sound Off" blog revealed many of the same issues and attitudes towards DADT repeal.  

I really don't have much to add, having not read the entire survey, so  I'll just refer you to Spencer Ackerman and Adam Weinstein's recent coverage.