Monthly Archives: August 2008

Spinning Gustav

Does God vote?

How well the strategic communications challenge of tomorrow’s land fall is met will decide the election, which will decide who wins the Iraqi and Afghan Campaigns of the Global War On Terror .

The Bush Administration must prove competence.  The American people don’t seem to believe in federalism during hurricane season.  Haitian-style mayors and banana republic-style governors will not be held accountable by the Main Stream Media for their failures.  Everything bad that happens will be Bush’s fault, and all possible ways of tarring McCain with that brush will be tried.  Katrina had seriously adverse strategic impact on the war.  Gustav could have the same, or worse, IF this hurricane isn’t spun better than Katrina was.  Much depends upon Governor Jindal.

McCain-Palin must prove empathy.  Some commenter on a blog I can’t remember the name of right now Charles at The Belmont Club had the idea of turning the Republican National Convention into a disaster relief telethon.  That is exactly the kind of maverick, unself-absorbed  rejection of stereotypical Republican cliches needed.  I hope McCain wraps up the pageantry with a minimum of butt-kissing and mobilizes the delegates for disaster relief efforts, all the while working the phones to persuade, influence and change events on the Gulf Coast.  This is an opportunity to test self-reliance coupled with volunteerism, charity, and non-governmental solutions.  I hope Sarah Palin doesn’t even show up in St. Paul.  Better she appear on a big screen, live from Ground Zero in Plaquemines Parish, in her polo shirt and cargo pants, wet and muddy from doing something besides talking.

Obama-Biden must tie any Bush Administration or Jindal Administration disaster relief goat screws to McCain, with the implication being that if the election had been held by now and they had won, the seas would have fallen and the globe would have cooled and hurricanes wouldn’t come any more.  Their biggest challenge will be in muting the unseemly triumphalism and schadenfreude of their overjoyed minions gleefully reveling in the Republican’s weather troubles.  They will call for blaming, victimhood, and sitting on your ass waiting for the government to distribute cheese.  Obama will be in Chocolate City castigating McCain for dynamiting the levies and finding fault with everything the Feds do.  America owes New Orleans, don’t ya know, and enough can never be done for them.

How the GOP Convention should deal with Gustav.

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Filed under Idea War, Info Warriors, Morale Operations, Old Media, PSYOP

ONCE A MARINE: An Iraq War Tank Commander’s Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery

Buy this book!  Comes out in October. 

The Cee-Gar Marine’s Story

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Filed under G-2

Private Military Company Paramilitary Information Support Team

Blackfive has some good stuff about Blackwater that has mostly been OBE.  I resuscitated a necropost over there and reproduced it below:

The good news is, the usual suspects have missed this thread and we have been spared their inanities.

The bad news is, this thread is dead.

Don’t know if I can revive it or not, but I will make some observations.

I’m not anti-Blackwater.  I’m not one that calls people who work for Private Military Corporations “mercenaries”.  I spent 29 months down range as a contractor.  Never had any dealings with Blackwater people, but did have occasion to observe DynCorp, ArmorGroup, USPI, SOC-SMG, EODT, Wolfpack, and Enrys.  I got no beef with any of them. 

Blackwater gets lots of hate directed their way, most of it undeserved, most of it from anti-war, anti-American, anti-capitalist propagandists.

Having said all that, I’m pondering the implications for the Counter Insurgent Supportive blogosphere of Tier I milbloggers involving themselves in the public relations campaigns of for-profit Private Military Corporations.  Pondering, not criticizing.  I’m not sure I’m against the idea enough to criticize anything.

When a blog or group of blogs and contributors and commenters acts as a People’s Information Support Team on behalf of elements of the United States Armed Forces who, for a variety of legal and political reasons, are not free to engage the domestic target audience, that can be construed by people like me as Civilian Irregular Information Operators exercising their unencumbered First Amendment rights to persuade, change, and influence.  The intended beneficiaries of such efforts are usually the troops, sometimes their leaders, and occasionally the C-in-C.  Everybody who participates in such efforts, either as blogger, commenter or lurker, has their own motivations.  I think it is safe to assert that patriotism, nationalism, respect for our warriors, disdain for internal oppositional elements and apprehension that domestic enemies, if left uncountered, will combine with foreign enemies to hurt our favorite Westphalian nation state all help motivate participants.

Does a for-profit Private Military Corporation with a robust public relations effort and free access to the domestic target audience need a Paramilitary Information Support Team?

Just asking. 

Does a for-profit Private Military Corporation deserve the same respect, good will, and positive affirmation usually afforded by milbloggers to the military?

This comment is long enough already and its getting late.  If anybody reads this and wishes to continue the discussion I’ll have it up over at my place.

As you can see, my comment above is less about Blackwater than it is about the gray areas between civilian and military, for-profit and inherently governmental, public relations and psychological operations, Irregulars and Regulars.

See B. Hussein O. and Private Military Contractors

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Filed under PSYOP Auxiliaries

Ye Shall Know the Truth

The Truth About Russia in Georgia by Michael Totten. It’s all good, below are some of my favorites:

Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia.

Virtually everyone is wrong.

Great retro propaganda poster here.

They had to stop that column, and they had to stop it for two reasons. It’s a pretty steep valley. If they could stop the Russians there, they would be stuck in the tunnel and they couldn’t send the rest of their army through. So they did two things. The first thing they did, and it happened at roughly the same time, they tried to get through [South Ossetian capital] Tskhinvali, and that’s when everybody says Saakashvili started the war. It wasn’t about taking Ossetia back, it was about fighting their way through that town to get onto that road to slow the Russian advance. The second thing they did, they dropped a team of paratroopers to destroy a bridge. They got wiped out, but first they managed to destroy the bridge and about 15 Russian vehicles.

You really need to read the whole thing.

I’ve been paying attention to the employment of Russian terror troops, and here’s  Thomas Goltz on that topic:

. . . Don’t forget, they sent in a lot of irregulars, Chechens, Cossacks, Ossetians, Ingush – basically thugs. Not normal Chechens or Ingush – thugs. Thugs out for a holiday. Many Western camera crews were robbed at gunpoint ten meters from Russian tanks while Russian commanders just stood there smoking their cigarettes while the irregulars…that happened to a Turkish TV crew. They’re lucky to still be alive. Some of the Georgians were picked up by the irregulars. If they happened to be female, they got raped. If they happened to be male, they got shot immediately, sometimes tortured. Injured people we have in hospitals who managed to get out have had arms chopped off, eyes gouged out, and their tongues ripped out.”

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Filed under IW, PSYOP

“Channeling messages through volunteers in internet forums”

British Research, Information and Communication Unit has started a counterprop campaign.

Revealed: Britain’s secret propaganda war against al-Qaida

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Filed under PSYOP Auxiliaries

Why do Americans Hate the Word Propaganda?

Because the British snookered us into WWI with it, and Wilson’s man Creel continued the scam. You can fool all of the people some of the time, but when the people find out they’ve been had they usually vote the bums out.

All this took place nine years shy of a century ago, four generations back, but America’s ability to counter adversarial propaganda, defeat hostile Morale Operations and muster up and retain the national will to exercise power on the world stage is still hampered by our inability to be objective about a vital component of psychological operations.

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Filed under Morale Operations, PSYOP

Irregulars, Militias, Paramilitaries and Russian Schrecklichkeit Truppen

Militias, Cossacks, and Chechens

Militias, Cossacks, and Chechens

Who were those masked men?

Who sent ’em?

Who did they answer to?

“Russian troops take a village followed by South Ossetian militias and Chechen and Cossack mercenaries.”

The mercenaries and militias then expel civilians, looting property and burning villages so that the displaced have less incentive to return, “doing the dirty work” while official troops do nothing to intervene

“A week ago Russians, Ossetians, Chechens and Cossacks came and burned our house,” he told me. “All of the Georgian people living in the village had to flee.

“I don’t think I will be able to go back to my village. It’s in the area the Ossetians want to keep. I’m terrified. I’m a farmer. I have no clue how I can make a good life for me and my family in the city,”

Sulim Yamadayev has been officially dismissed from his post as commander of the Defense Ministry’s Vostok battalion in Chechnya

South Ossetians happily loot village in Georgia

“This is not looting, this is trophies,”

Russian-backed paramilitaries ‘ethnically cleansing villages’

South Ossetian militiamen have torched houses, beaten elderly people and even murdered civilians in the lawless buffer zone set up by the Russian Army just north of Gori.

A serious curfew kicked in at sundown, and the streets turned instantly lethal, not least because the tanks allowed in marauding irregulars — Cossacks, South Ossetians, Chechens and the like — to do the looting in a town that the Russians had effectively emptied.


Filed under IW, PSYOP, PSYOP Auxiliaries

Strategic Communication Management Services

Military to select firm for ‘info ops’ initiative in Iraq

MNF-I RFP here.

counter misinformation spread by hostile parties. Stopping rumors

You know.  Stuff milblogs and civilian irregular information operators do for free.

See also Volunteer Internet Awareness Services


Filed under PSYOP

What Bernard-Henry Levy Saw

And HuffPo posted it.  Not a fan of HuffPo.  Or their commenters.  But they did good.  This time. 

Excerpts of particular interest:

The Russians arrived, and in their wake, Cossack and Ossetian gangs pillaged, raped and murdered. As they did in Chechnya, they rounded up the young men and drove them away in trucks, to unknown destinations.

Almost every other car is an unmarked car jammed with militia, recognizable because of their white armbands and their headbands.Gori does not belong to the Ossetia which the Russians claim they have come to “liberate.” It is a Georgian town. And they have burned it down, pillaged it, reduced it to a ghost town. Emptied.

The engineer tape arm bands are the mark of  Russian schrecklichkeit truppen.  The Chechens are ostensibly under the nominal control of GRU.  The South Ossetians, so far as I can tell, aren’t under anybody’s control.  When they annoy the Russian Army they are dealt with, otherwise they plunder and rape with impunity.  The Cossacks appear to me to be intermixed with the South Ossetians.

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Filed under G-2

Chinese Cyber Warriors

Click here to watch a 23 minute video about what the Other Side is doing.  Real People’s Information War stuff.

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Filed under CNA, Info Warriors, PSYOP Auxiliaries

If A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words . . .

. . . then Arkady Babchenko has a photographic magnum opus of Tolstoyian proportions. Click only if you have a strong stomach. Corpses of Georgian soldiers and hideously wounded Ossete brigands. Lots of engineer tape white arm bands, the mark of the South Ossetian militia. Lots of rag-bag, lackadaisical, route-stepping, half-vast, undisciplined, unsoldierly pieces of sub-cetacean shit.

I hope Babchenko’s pics are seen by millions in the West before Ivan figures out the damage being done to his propaganda campaign.

Nekulturny, tovarisch. Nekulturny.

Вы некультурный, товарищ. Некультурный!

H/T: Andrew Bolt’s reader Michael.


Pic in question over here.

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Filed under IW, PSYOP

Why Aren’t WE Doing This?

An Army of Ones and Zeroes
How I became a soldier in the Georgia-Russia cyberwar.

H/T: -the Armorer


Filed under CNA, G-2

Achtung! Kosaken!

I’ve become something of a student of Irregular Warfare since starting this blog.  Lately I have been paying close attention to the Russo-Georgian War and reports of Ossete, Chechen and Cossack irregulars.  They’ve been following in the wake of the Russian Army’s unconscripted kontraktniki  regulars (called that because they sign enlistment contracts; the same term is also used to describe Russian mercenaries in the Balkans and Chechnya) like jackals after lions, burning, pillaging, looting, plundering, raping, and going medieval on Georgian ass.  Seems amazing to me that in this day and age Tsar Volodka has called up the Cossacks to pacify the Near Abroad.  Until very recently I had no idea that they still existed as an armed paramilitary force.

Strange parade in a strange land

Kremlin Backing of Cossacks Heightens Tensions in the North Caucasus

Cossacks back to fight again


“The Russian Army can’t be bothered to bring the paramilitaries under control. Its attitude is ‘let them have their revenge’,”

Russia’s Cossacks rush to join fighting with their “brothers”

Putin sends for Cossacks in fight against terrorism

Knout or quirt?
billy club or quirt?

Both.  It’s a nagayka, good for beating horses and persecuting non-Russian minorities .

These guys may look like reenactors, but they take themselves very seriously.

Watch Return of the Cossacks and March of the Cossacks

MORE: a Cossack and a Chechen from an ethnic irregular militia unit fighting alongside the Russians

massacres, looting, and arson by irregular Cossack paramilitary units swarming across the border

Cossacks maintain close contact with militia in Kaluga. They call their cops militia. Kaluga is a city 117 miles southwest of Moscow.

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Apologists in the West

Victor Davis Hanson

The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left. They know that half-a-million Europeans would turn out to damn their patron the United States for removing a dictator and fostering democracy, but not more than a half-dozen would do the same to criticize their long-time enemy from bombing a constitutional state.

The Russians rightly expect Westerners to turn on themselves, rather than Moscow — and they won’t be disappointed. Imagine the morally equivalent fodder for liberal lament: We were unilateral in Iraq, so we can’t say Russia can’t do the same to Georgia. (As if removing a genocidal dictator is the same as attacking a democracy). We accepted Kosovo’s independence, so why not Ossetia’s? (As if the recent history of Serbia is analogous to Georgia’s.) We are still captive to neo-con fantasies about democracy, and so encouraged Georgia’s efforts that provoked the otherwise reasonable Russians (As if the problem in Ossetia is our principled support for democracy rather than appeasement of Russian dictatorship).

From what the Russians learned of the Western reaction to Iraq, they expect their best apologists will be American politicians, pundits, professors, and essayists — and once more they will not be disappointed. We are a culture, after all, that after damning Iraqi democracy as too violent, broke, and disorganized, is now damning Iraqi democracy as too conniving, rich, and self-interested — the only common denominator being whatever we do, and whomever we help, cannot be good.

I’ll be updating this a lot.


Filed under G-2

Russian Dragons

Many links in the comments over at The Belmont Club.

Laughing_Wolf says No, It’s Not Good at All

Part of what is being done now is to show the Czech’s and others that being an ally doesn’t mean the U.S. really will defend you. If we don’t back our ally against a direct military attack here, the lesson is clearly made that the U.S. will not do anything about an attack on their territory.

Russia, Georgia wage PR battle for hearts and minds

20110107 Cyber War Case Study: Georgia 2008


Filed under IW

A Robot Can Do Your Job

Pentagon’s Unmanned Spokesdrone Completes First Press Conference Mission

H/T: Chief Wretchard

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Filed under G-2

Internet Defense Force

The Jews have one. 

A group calling itself the Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) hacked into a Facebook group called, “Israel” is not a country!… … Delist it from Facebook as a country!” early Sunday morning, erasing thousands of members’ names from the site. The JIDF was founded by an American Jew in response to a terrorist attack that took the lives of eight young yeshiva students in Jerusalem earlier this year.“This is a major victory against Jew haters,” proclaimed a JIDF source who spoke on condition of anonymity. The source said the group “goes after Jew-hating internet sites.” More than 4,000 names were deleted from the anti-Semitic “Israel is not a country!” group’s database by the hackers.

A JIDF statement posted on the hacked site announced, “This was one of the most vile, most antisemitic, most pro-Jihad and most disgusting, and most importantly, most ACTIVE hate groups on the internet. It actively promoted hatred, violence, murder, and genocide. Despite tens of thousands of complaints, Facebook wouldn’t remove it, as they claimed that this incitement to murder was “legitimate political discourse” – Facebook’s negligence and abdication of responsibility gave us no option but to take matters in our own hands…..”

And Michael Tanji sends me this:   
Jewish Internet Defense Force ‘seizes control’ of anti-Israel Facebook group

The Jewish Internet Defense Force, a group that claims to have 5,000 members worldwide, says it is steadily removing members from a viciously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic group on Facebook, having taken control of the group on Sunday.

 The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) describes itself as a group of Jewish activists who fight anti-Semitism and terrorism trends throughout the Internet. It says it formed as a grassroots effort in 2000, mainly to mount mass e-mail campaigns, in response to the second intifada. It then began operating on various Web sites, including Facebook, to spread news about Israel and Jewish issues.

Thanks, Mike. I’ll spread this around to the Jawa Internet Defense Force.
See also Facebook: ‘Anti-Semitic’ group hijacked by Jewish force and Inside The Jewish Internet Defense Force.

UPDATE: Strategy Page catches up — Internet Vigilantes

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Filed under CNA, Info Warriors, IW

Afghan tribes will not fit into a modern framework

The Endless War

Afghanistan has been for centuries, and remains so today, a nation built on tribalism. The figures differ but the academic consensus is that the Pushtun (aka, Pashtun, Pathan, etc.) are calculated at 42% to 36 % of the population, with the Tajik at 27% to 34%, depending on whether one accepts the CIA World Factbook figures or an unofficial compilation of past census figures, respectively.

In any case the Pushtun are the dominant tribe and the Tajik follow closely. Hazara and Uzbeks close in with about 10% each and another 13% accounts for groupings of smaller tribes. To emphasize the complexities, one must note there are approximately 60 Pushtun tribes divided into 400 sub-tribes.

The Durrani tribal federation of Pushtuns has been dominant since the 1700s, well before the British arrived. President Hamid Karzai is from the Popolzai clan of Durrani, whose two other main clans are the Barakzai and Alikojai. These three groups were favored for leadership by NATO after the Taliban were routed. Naturally, all the non-Durranis have resented the situation and the Western sponsors ever since; thus providing a convenient and ready supply of dissident fighters, with and without Taliban connections.

The Alikojai, headed by its warlord, Dad Mohammad Khan, has been battling the previously Taliban-favored sub-tribe, the Itzhakzai, in the area of the Sangin poppy-growing region of Helmand Province. Keeping track of current and traditional animosities and alliances is a continuing anthropological task for British and Canadian field intelligence, which has operational responsibility for that provincial sector.

SIX MONTHS AGO President Hamid Karzai stunned everyone by supporting the concept of not sending more foreign troops into his country. He told the German newspaper Die Welt: “More than anything else we need help to rebuild our human capital and our institutions, our army, our police force, our administrative structure, our judiciary, and so on.”

A basic knowledge of anthropology is of great value to a soldier in these times.

Karzai’s goal of “rebuilding institutions” would be fine if there had been a history of a modern administrative structure before the Taliban other than the Soviet-constructed communist bureaucracy. What Karzai may have been talking about is what the Economist referred to as “the ancient code of tribal behavior known as Pushtunwali.” This is the rule of conduct that is the ethical guide for Pushtun life.

This code is enforced by councils of tribal elders in negotiation, creating a policing mechanism known as arbakai. As fascinating as such a cultural structure may be, it really can’t be conceived of as a foundation for a modern state. How much relevance outside of Pushtun society it may have is also questionable.

Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan certainly questions it. We are going to develop professional, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, politically correct Dudley Dorights focused district by focused district over the next ten years, or however long it takes, so they think.

Perhaps the essential political military lesson of Afghanistan is best learned by accepting the fact that Afghan tribes will not fit into a modern framework. Making our national strategic plans with that firmly in mind may be what the noble Hamid Karzai, the great Pushtun leader of the Popolzai clan of the Durrani tribal federation, fluent speaker of English, French, Pushto, Farsi, Dari, Urdu, Hindi has been trying to tell us. Or maybe he’s just trying to stay alive and in power. In any case, in some form or other, Afghani wars, small and large, will go on no matter outside involvement.


Filed under IW, The Forgotten War