Monthly Archives: July 2008

Domestic Cold War

Between those  generally satisfied with the imperfect America that is and those whose allegiance lies with the more perfect America that can be if only the right people are in charge.

Political Prisms

What’s going on today in our country isn’t normal politics. In normal politics honorable people will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how best to deal with the issues that confront us – national security, border control, healthcare, education, energy, the environment, and all the rest. What’s going on today is a kind of domestic Cold War — a seemingly endless standoff, with the occasional hard skirmish — between those of us who see the US for what it really is, and those of us who are seeing the US through a prism. And remember, unlike real prisms these intellectual prisms — or, if you prefer, these political prisms — are invisible. If you’re looking at the US through a political prism, you don’t know you’re seeing through a prism and you won’t believe anyone who tries to tell you that you are.

This is why Americans who see our country and the world through a prism are impervious to facts.

Forty years of hard work by the Left have paid off. Our schools, our universities, and the mainstream media have successfully implanted political prisms into the minds of nearly half our population. That’s why so many of our elections are so close, why so many key Supreme Court cases are decided by five-to-four votes, and why we always seem to be split down the middle on whatever issue confronts us – the war, the economy, immigration, healthcare, energy, the environment, and all the rest.

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Filed under Idea War, Morale Operations

Demolishing couple of planes would do a loads of good to calm the itchy and aggressive nerves of the US

So says Brigadier Zaman, over at The Pakistani Spectator, a Pakistani blog written in English which interviewed Gerald of Internet Anthropologist Think Tank.  I stumbled upon Brigadier Zaman’s entry while perusing the blog and he was feeling pretty froggy two weeks ago:

Where United States has decided to wage a war in the FATA area, the Pakistani security forces have also devised their strategy. All the supplies to the NATO and US forces go through the Pakistan all the way from Karachi port through G.T Road up to the Peshawar (which makes a distance of thousands of kilometers) and then enters the Afghanistan. US cannot afford suspension of these supplies, and that would be one of the powerful leverage in the hands of the Pakistani forces to leash the US forces.

Moreover, Pakistan could resume the support to Taliban in Afghanistan and could engage US and NATO forces pretty severely in the central and Northern Afghanistan. The attack of US on the tribal belt would certainly unite the different factions of Talibans, and then Pakistan could facilitate the militant coalition of Mangal Bagh, Maulana Fazlullah, Haji Namdar, Qazi Mehboob and Baitullah Mehsud against the US onslaught. This would give Pakistani government dual benefit of getting rid of the militants from their areas, while giving US a tough time in their yet another misadventure.

When US attack, Pakistan must not go against the Taliban, because then instead of striking at US, Talibans would start suiciding in the Pakistani cities, and then it would be an impossible situation for Pakistani forces to handle, and they would be hapless in front of the US led NATO forces.

And what should be done to the continuous violation by US aircrafts of Pakistani aerial space? Despite a strong protest lodged by Pakistan with the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan over attack on the border town of Angoor Adda, a US fighter aircraft and pilotless spy planes again intruded into Pakistan’s airspace in Bajaur, and North and South Waziristan tribal agencies. And this practice has become a daily routine.

Demolishing couple of planes would do a loads of good to calm the itchy and aggressive nerves of the US, and that would teach them that Pakistan is not their Banana republic, and while Yousuf Raza Gillani, our puppet Prime Minister puked in front of Michael Mullen of US, the images of drones’ wreck would speak themselves.

They can’t make the writ of Islamabad run in the F.A.T.A., they can’t be bothered to do much to prevent hostile armed bands from leaving sanctuaries on their side of a boundary that really doesn’t make much sense, they can’t or won’t stop armed invasions of a friendly neighboring state launched from  territory they claim as theirs, and they can’t exercise  de facto and de jure sovereignty over what they claim is part of their national territory like other nuclear-armed Westphalian nation-states.  All these things they cannot do, but they can threaten to shoot down our Predators with the F-16’s we gave them.

Cooler heads will prevail.  Deals will be made.  The Great Game will go on.  Our English-speaking Pakistani “allies” perhaps are unfamiliar with the Jacksonian American concept of what goes around comes around.

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Filed under The Forgotten War

Our Pakistani Allies

Don’t miss Bribing Pakistan.

July 29, 2008: The U.S. has agreed to play by local rules in Pakistan, in order to get the government to take stronger measures to prevent al Qaeda from setting up bases in the Afghan border areas. This involves a large bribe, in the form of allowing the Pakistanis to shift over $200 million from American aid for counter-terror operations, to a program for updating Pakistani F-16 fighters. The reasoning behind this is actually quite simple. While many (up to a third) of Pakistanis back Islamic radicals (like the Taliban and al Qaeda), nearly all Pakistanis fear an attack from India. There is good reason for this fear, as India has more than six times as many people, an even larger economy and 3-4 times the military power of Pakistan. But most importantly, the Pakistani government has been, for nearly three decades, been supporting Islamic terrorist groups that make attacks against Indians. This angers the Indians quite a bit, and most Pakistanis know it.

Read the whole thing.

I’m getting real tired of the Paks.

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Red Ball Express Rides Again?

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Lifeline to Victory — The concern with logistics and supply can–in wartime–suddenly turn from exact numbers and cold calculations to chaos and hot, flying lead in combat. This scene features LTC Richard N Batchelder Chief Quartermaster for the Second Corps. The fierce Confederate raider John Mosby and his partisan rangers struck frequently and violently, but Batchelder personally commanded his men in fighting them off, insuring the constant delivery to the army of food for the men and forage for the animals. For his tireless actions and distinguished gallantry, LTC Batchelder was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The beans and the bullets and the go-juice must get through.  Some times it has to be fought through. 

When I worked at KAF I responded to many a call around dark time at the Container Reception Point because the Romanians guarding the place had knocked off leaving a gaggle of unescorted Host Country National (usually Pashtun) and Third Country National (Pakistani passport-holding Pashtun and Punjabi) jingle truck drivers on our hands.  What I know about what goes on between Karachi and Kandahar I picked up during the interminable wait for the Base Defense Operations Center to get Force Protection out to come police these guys up.    Some of it I picked up from drivers, some from our guys in the yard, some from our terp, and the rest I’m guessing.  All anecdotal, but T.I.N.S.

Karachi is the Sea Port of Debarkation for Operation Enduring Freedom.  The place where they unload the boat. Karachi is for OEF what Shuaiba, Kuwait is for OIF, and the Main Supply Route, or OEF’s Route Tampa up from Karachi, is 759 klicks.  472 miles of bad road, shake down, extortion, break down and delay.  The drivers get jacked around at Karachi by Pakistani Customs, the Pakistani version of the Teamsters, the trucking company they contracted with, and all the various trolls setting up road blocks for the collection of protection money, and then they get to sit in a parking lot at Chaman waiting to cross over to Spin Boldak.  Things go boom in the night in that parking lot.  By the time they got to us, a lot of them were a bit testy. Some times they wanted to fuss at us over what ever shaft they had got or abuse they had suffered on the way. They exaggerate to pull on your heart strings with the most pitiable ordeals imaginable, but some of that was indeed happening. Neither the U. S. Army, Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, Canadian Forces, British, Romanians or Dutch military escorted these jingle trucks until they got through Spin, and often not even then. Some times they weren’t even part of a convoy. Just a lone truck, a driver and his alternate lifestyle partner diddy-bopping on up the road.

This situation may be changing. The Bagram Regional Contracting Center, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan seeks information pertaining to the availability of convoy support within the private industry. This would involve the capability to provide armed convoy protection that covers Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The contractor shall ensure that all convoys consist of at least one (1) English-speaking expatriate for every gun truck that will be used.

That won’t be a job.  That’ll be an adventure.

But where does the Red Ball Express fit in?  That’s what I was thinking of when I started this post.

These Private Military Company “mercenaries” lefties love to hate will be more like Merchant Mariners manning guns on Liberty Ships during the Battle of the Atlantic.

See also Listen to your Loggy Toads.

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Filed under Logistics, The Forgotten War

the enemy had another weapon; the media and political opposition in their opponents homeland

Lessons Of The Iraq War

They knew they would be dealing with an unusual enemy, a stateless force based on ideology and religion based hatred. This foe was weak, in the conventional military sense, but was armed with two powerful weapons. First, there was the suicide bomber, and terrorism in general. Against civilian populations, this was a very effective weapon. Against a professional and resourceful military foe, it was much less so. But the enemy had another weapon; the media and political opposition in their opponents homeland. The media is eager to report real or imagined disasters and mistakes. This is how the news business has stayed solvent since the mass media first appeared in the mid 19th century. Al Qaeda was run by people who were aware of this, and knew how to exploit it, both among friendly (Moslem) populations, and in nations they had declared their enemy. This they did by exploiting the proclivities of the political oppositions in the West.

Many in the West considered terrorism a police matter. But al Qaeda believed that if they could turn it into a military campaign, by getting Western nations to use military force, they would trigger an angry reaction among Moslems. Al Qaeda had long preached that the West was the enemy of Islam, and a Western invasion of Moslem nations would prove this. They also knew that many in the West would not approve of military action. These politicians, and their followers, would continue to insist on treating Islamic terrorism as a police matter. This would cause political turmoil in the West, and weaken counter-terror operations.

 

 

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But al Qaeda still had a lot of Support in the West. The political opposition in the United States, true to form (as in all past American wars) found ways to criticize the Iraq operation without actually joining the enemy. The media in the West backed the opposition, as that’s where the headlines, and the profits, were.

Oppositional elements within the Counter Insurgent’s polity seek to de-legitimize the war effort, damage The People’s confidence in the government and military, and persuade The People that “The Loyal Opposition” has a better way.  The Insurgent seeks to do the same.  They are partners in regime change.  This partnership cannot really be dealt with decisively by a democratic Counter Insurgent lest they appear to be “repressive” and “authoritarian” and “illegitimate.”  Fear of embarrassment, ridicule and persuasive counter-argument by Counter Insurgent supportive citizens infuriated by “The Loyal Opposition’s”  enthusiastic collaboration with the Insurgent are the only brakes on sedition.

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Filed under Idea War, Morale Operations, Old Media

Hey; it sucks to be there. You know what would suck worse? Having it be for nothing.

Old Blue’s pithy comments about media coverage of the Battle of Wanat  over at The Belmont Club are worthy of wider dissemination. 

First of all, anyone who views Iraq and Afghanistan as two separate wars is so far off point as to be immediately discredited in any further discussion. I have an Afghanistan Campaign Medal and a Global War on Terror Service Medal. Those who serve in Iraq have an Iraq Campaign Medal and a Global War on Terror Service Medal. Two campaigns; one war.

Many who have not qualified for a campaign medal still have the GWOT medal. One war. Why do we not grasp this?

Secondly, do not be so quick to declare victory and let’s all leave Iraq. The nature of insurgents is that they don’t hang around where you are. The tactics employed in the surge were sound counterinsurgency tactics, including “be a little of everywhere.” In order to leave, the local government must be strong enough to handle what amounts to criminal activity on its own.

Galula’s primer on counterinsurgency warfare described the effect of going into an area in force as stepping into a puddle. The water (insurgents) splashes out, but when the foot is removed, it rushes back in to fill the void. The other work of establishing the governmental functions, such as the police, seems to be going well; but if we leave too soon, we will find ourselves in another surge or leaving a huge mess to destabilize the entire region. Don’t leave a void for the water to rush back into. Simple idea, complicated but not impossible in practice. So difficult, not even all generals can get it right.

Don’t be so quick to criticize; this shit is HARD to do right.

Lastly, I’ve looked back over the last discussion (including mine) on this subject. We all pontificated, based on what was reported in the media, about an engagement vastly different from the one that actually occurred. Personally, I’m embarrassed that I did not heed my own counsel and wait for the real picture to emerge. I should have known better, because I’ve been involved in both tactical situations.

I also know better than to go along with thinking that an outgoing unit would begin the establishment of a COP, Firebase, or FOB in the middle of a RIP/TOA. The incoming unit would make those kinds of decisions, because the establishment of a permanent site is not taken lightly. It’s a huge IO coup if the next unit in can’t support it and it is left to the enemy.

A year or so ago there were Taliban pictures released of them “overrunning” an abandoned FOB in the 205th Corps area.

I lived for a month out of hasty VPB’s in the Tag Ab Valley. We had two American gun trucks, a couple of ANA armored personnel carriers (side note: seeing a BMP-1 next to an M-113 in the same livery is just plain weird to an old cold warrior like me,) and a bunch of ANA and ANP LTV’s (four door Ford Ranger diesels with pintle mounts for machine guns above and behind the cab.) Being attacked en mass was our worst nightmare.

We were also there when they started to build what is now Firebase Kutschbach by Tag Ab Village. It started as a VPB and grew quickly into a full-fledged firebase.

Those young men from the 173rd lived our nightmare scenario. Afghanistan is like a box of chocolates; you just never know. Those young men occupied a VPB in bad guy country and the nightmare happened. My heart goes out to them in complete empathy, and I am awestruck by their actions in the midst of that nightmare.

The “incompetent” Lieutenant died reinforcing his OP, leaving the larger perimeter to go to where his men were in the most peril. I believe that incompetent little bastard may just have qualified himself for a Silver Star or possibly The Medal. A week ago today he was declared an idiot, though, based on a map recon and an opinion.

This is just one clear example of how f-’ed up our press is in the coverage of this war. They don’t know what they are talking about because they have not bothered to become subject matter experts on what the hell they are talking about. They bandy about words that mean something, like COP or FOB, without using them in the proper context. It is to the point that a guy who was THERE not long ago can’t get a clear picture of what happened. How can an American citizen, whose job is not to become an expert in the lexicon of war, possibly understand the situation? How can an American citizen, OUR center of gravity, support what is nebulous and so poorly reported that he/she cannot make any reasonable sense of it?

One clear example in so many fuzzy ones that they can never be counted. When I was boots on the ground, we knew. We saw the myriad of inaccuracies. Little things. A million holes in a blanket make it a net; not good for keeping you warm, but it might keep the flies out if you cover the window with it.

Lots of little examples. Do you remember the helicopter that made an emergency landing in Parwan Province last year with two senators on board? The ground force that reached them and brought them in was reported to be the DSTB, 82nd Airborne. What was not reported was that it was Co B, 1-158 Infantry, Arizona and Hawaii National Guard who were attached to the DSTB. Small fact, but just another little hole in the blanket-become-mosquito net.

When I talk about IO, IO is not just aimed at the enemy; it is also for the benefit of the people back here upon whose support we soldiers depend. Nobody believes the Army when it says something… or when it is silent out of respect for the process of notification of loved ones. So we depend on our media to have the sense that God gave a rabbit and not do a half-assed job of reporting it.

Our IO is so poor, and OUR press such a non-help in making sense of all of this that we have mis-educated the public to the point that one our PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES doesn’t understand about the idea that it’s ONE WAR on terror. How can anyone solve a problem that they don’t see clearly? How can a public support a war that they can’t see clearly?

Whose job is it to help them understand?

I feel like an idiot for having bought into this one. The AP sucks, the NYT is practically criminal, and while people have somehow found it in themselves to “support the troops but not support the war,” a lot of us troops are fed up with not having what we sacrifice to do truly understood.

You want to see a pissed-off soldier? Go ahead and let everything that we have worked for, sweated for, and bled for go for naught because it has become “fashionable” to “support the troops” by bringing them home before the job is done. Hey; it sucks to be there. You know what would suck worse? Having it be for nothing. You asked us to do a job. After 9/11 everyone had veins in their teeth and a taste for blood. Now that taste has turned to shit because the American public cannot make any sense of the crap that they are fed every day, but they are still asked to form an opinion.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Pyhrric victory, my ass; and COL Preysler is right; they won.

Those guys don’t need to be compared to John Wayne. They have built their own legend. John Wayne would have happily taken a check to play one of those guys in a movie.

We all need to take a look at ourselves. Myself included.

Jul 21, 2008 – 7:39 am

Bolding added by me.  See also On the Pakistani border, comments at Jul 14, 2008 – 9:36 am, Jul 14, 2008 – 12:41 pm, Jul 14, 2008 – 6:00 pm, Jul 15, 2008 – 6:38 am, Jul 15, 2008 – 1:23 pm, and Jul 15, 2008 – 3:14 pm.

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Filed under Morale Operations, Old Media, PSYOP, The Forgotten War

“Any U.S. plan to combat Islamist extremism that relies on effective ground action from the Pakistani Army, the FC, or the Khasadars will fail.”

Propaganda and Peace Deals: The Taliban’s Information War in Pakistan

 

U.S. Assistance Unlikely to Make Impact

Although the United States declared it will invest $400 million to train and equip FC troops to combat the Pakistani Taliban and slow cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, even in the best of circumstances it would be hard to get FC troops to actively engage the Taliban; in fact, many of the FC troops are related to Taliban members.

After factoring in the FC’s demoralization, it becomes evident that no amount of training and equipment will likely be able to overcome the pull of local ties, when combined with the fear and guilt engendered by the Taliban’s intimidation tactics and propaganda. Marksmanship classes or Kevlar vests will not change the social realities on the ground, or the near total information dominance of the Taliban in FATA. The likelihood of a return on the $400 million investment is low.

 

 

Between the ISI, the ethnic Pashtun Taliban sympathizers at all levels of the Pakistani Armed Forces, and the Taliban’s highly successful Psychological Operations, the Paks aren’t much of an ally. But somehow the jingle trucks from Karachi and tankers from Rawalpindi keep getting through. When they stop getting through, there won’t be much reason left to worry about pissing off the Paks.

The nuclear Westphalian nation-state of Pakistan is incapable of exercising sovereignty over the tribal areas. Can they do much about cross-border raids?

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Filed under Morale Operations, PSYOP, The Forgotten War