Intelligence Bulletin #1

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 5 months ago

Intelligence bulletin #1 covers the following subjects: [1] Iran’s Quds forces, [2] international war against the CIA, [3] recent combat action in Ramadi, [4] State Department unauthorized absence in the global war on terror, [5] British pullback from Iraq and the Mahdi army, [6] Iranian activities inside Iraq and Israeli concerns, [7] the M-16, [8] speculation on thermobaric weapons inside Iraq, [9] the wounded, and [10] A-10 flyover video.

Iran’s Quds forces

The Quds Force is an arm of the IRGC that carries out operations outside of Iran.  The AP recently reported on Iran’s highly secretive Quds forces being deeply enmeshed within Iraq:

Iran’s secretive Quds Force, accused by the United States of arming Iraqi militants with deadly bomb-making material, has built up an extensive network in the war-torn country, recruiting Iraqis and supporting not only Shiite militias but also Shiites allied with Washington, experts say.

Iran likely does not want a direct confrontation with American troops in Iraq but is backing militiamen to ensure Shiites win any future civil war with Iraqi Sunnis after the Americans leave, several experts said Thursday.

The Quds Force’s role underlines how deeply enmeshed Iran is in its neighbor — and how the U.S. could face resistance even from its allies in Iraq if it tries to uproot Iran’s influence in Iraq.

But as quickly as the connection between the Shi’ite insurgency and Iran is pointed out, the report equivocates, saying “still unclear, however, is how closely Iran’s top leadership is directing the Quds Force’s operations — and whether Iran has intended for its help to Shiite militias to be turned against U.S. forces.”  This line is parroted in a recent Los Angeles Times article on the same subject, as the subtitle reads “Does the government control the Quds Force? Experts aren’t sure.”  Picking up on the same AP report, Newsday says the same thing.

As I discussed in The Covert War with Iran, the deep involvement of the Quds Forces, Badr Brigade and other Iranian personnel assets in Iraq is undeniable.  But it is fashionable to bifurcate the actions of the Quds and Badr Brigade from the “highest levels of government in Iran.”  Even General Peter Pace does this, recently saying after reviewing the intelligence on Iran’s involvement in Iraq, “that does not translate that the Iranian Government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this…What it does say is that things made in Iran are being used in Iraq to kill coalition soldiers.?  This reply paints Pace in a bad light, as Tony Snow responded when asked if we were confident that the shaped explosives were delivered to Iraq with the explicit ok of the Iranian Government, “yes.?

If it is admitted that Iran’s involvement is intentional and goes to the highest levels of the government, then the conversation backdrop changes from one of a country “which is merely trying to secure its position in the region in the potential absence of U.S. forces,” to one of a country “which is at direct war with Iraq and the U.S. by covert means.”  The question becomes one not only pertaining to the success of OIF, but of the overall regional war in which the U.S. is now engaged.  At least Iran has no problem admitting the regional nature of the conflict.

International War Against the CIA

The Washington Times reports on Germany having issued arrest warrants on 13 CIA agents that they say are suspected in an abduction of a German citizen in what is alleged to be an anti-terrorist operation “gone wrong.”  Similarly, in Italy a judge has ordered 26 Americans, most of them thought to be CIA agents, to stand trial along with Italian spies for the 2003 kidnapping of a Muslim cleric, who says he was flown to Egypt and tortured.  This should be seen as more than a warning shot over the bow of the international intelligence community.  The proper context is a covert war against the CIA, where unilateral action meets quick reaction in the courts of the “offended” country.  Such, it should be noted, are the perils of participation in the international courts.  As it is, if convicted these agents merely lose their ability to travel to countries who have extradition treaties with Italy or Germany.  If the U.S. assists Italy or Germany, or if in the future the U.S. participates in the international courts, these agents could end up in prison overseas.

Consistent with the same theme, a U.S. soldier is on trial in absentia in an Italian court for a March, 2005, “killing” of an Italian in Iraq who did not heed warnings at a checkpoint.  This instance also raises again the important issue of rules of engagement.  As one officer writes to me, this soldier now has to avoid travel to countries which have extradition treaties with Italy.  And this, for the rest of his life — for doing the job that America asked him to do.

Recent Combat Action in Ramadi

February 22 saw intense combat action in Ramadi between U.S. forces and insurgents:

U.S. troops battled insurgents in fierce fighting that killed at least 12 people in the volatile Sunni city of Ramadi, the military said Thursday. Iraqi authorities said the dead included women and children.

The six-hour firefight began after U.S. troops were attacked by insurgents with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades Wednesday evening in eastern Ramadi, said marine spokesman 1st Lt. Shawn Mercer.

The fighting ended after “precision-guided munitions” damaged a number of buildings being used by the insurgents, he said. Twelve insurgents were killed and three wounded, Mercer said. He said there were no civilian casualties.

However, Dr. Hafidh Ibrahim of the Ramadi Hospital said 26 people, including four women and children, were killed when three houses were damaged in the fighting.

One local news station in Minnesota led the story with the headline “Women and children killed in fighting in Ramadi.”  The Middle East Online even reverses this story and headlines with “Marines kill civilians, claim killing Iraqi insurgents.”  Assuming for a minute the accuracy of the assertion that women and children were killed in the combat action, since “precision-guided munitions” were used the result was not a consequence of area bombardment either with artilliery or air-delivered munitions.  For those who would amend the outcome of this battle if it were possible, we are forced to ponder just what action was taken that should not have been, or what action should have been taken that wasn’t.

Turning away from the battle because there may be non-combatants in the structures means that the U.S. is confiming the insurgents in their choice of tactics.  If the U.S. will not fire upon insurgents inside structures, then the insurgents have safe haven from which to conduct offensive operations.  On the other hand, if the reader prefers room clearing operations to precision-guided munitions, then the choice is being made to sacrifice U.S. lives because there may be non-combatants in the structures, these operations themselves also being subject to killing of non-combatants.  Room clearing operations are highly casualty-laden operations, and in a battle such as was described here, there would certainly have been U.S. troops deaths had they conducted these operations.

Once again this turns to the issue of rules of engagement, which have been covered in the following articles:

There is also an article by Colonel W. Hays Parks, published in the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, entitled Deadly Force is Authorized, that is recommended reading.

Absence of the State Department in the GWOT

On February 22, 2007, in my article Modern Counterinsurgency, I said:

But the Marines are frustrated, many with visions of OIF1 in their head.  Marines who have become experts at squad rushes and “closing with and destroying the enemy by fire and maneuver? are instead called to be social workers.  While the Marines can accomodate and adapt, the necessity to do this exists because the bumbling State Department has yet to engage in the global war on terror and thus hasn’t the people or infrastructure in place in Iraq to effect the vision of nation-building.

Chris Muir, recently back from an embed in Iraq, e-mailed Glenn Reynolds, and on February 23, 2007, Glenn published the note from Chris at Instapundit, including this snippet:

The State Department appears completely absent from the theatre, and the Army has done the work of infrastructure projects & rebuild, community relations, political organization, etc.

When I look around my home here this morning, I appreciate more readily the invisible but strong level of infrastructure only possible with an organization and co-operation of a society. This is what I saw the Army doing for Iraqis from scratch, and as they reiterated to me there, it ‘will take time’ for the Iraqis to get to that day.

Chris should have also mentioned the Marines in his note.  At Fort Leavenworth, officers recently discussed strategy for Iraq.  The following poignant observation was made by Brig. Gen. Mark O’Neill (h/t Small Wars Journal):

Part of the strategy being implemented by Petraeus and Iraqi forces is to station soldiers in smaller units in neighborhoods to keep their presence before the population. Keeping that constant face of security is critical, officers said, in gaining legitimacy for the Iraqi forces and improving their ability to provide security with little or no U.S. support.

O’Neill said the fight would remain difficult, but success is still possible.

“You’re up to your hips in it,” he said. “You don’t have the luxury of not being fully committed.”

But this is exactly what is occurring.  The State Department has been granted the luxury of not being fully committed.  The Army and Marines are at war, with the State Department UA.  Thousands of State Department employees, many who majored in international studies in college, read literature written by others on international relations and talk about talking.  Meanwhile, men who trained to perform battlefield maneuvers worry about and work on water, electricity, government, language and sectarian reconciliation on scene in Iraq.  So much for the college degrees in international studies.

British Pullback from Iraq and the Mahdi Army

The Brits have announced their pullback from Basra.  The usually brilliant Mark Steyn observes that Blair is having political troubles at home, but then defends Blair by saying:

If their job is all but done in the Shia south, why could not Blair redeploy British troops to Baghdad to share some of the burden of the Yankee surge? Well, because it’s simply not politically possible. Not even for a leader who shares exactly the same view of the Islamist threat and the importance of victory in Iraq as President Bush.

The misguided part is not that Blair cannot achieve redeployment of the British troops to Baghdad because of lack of political support.  This is true.  Rather, it is in calling the job “all but done” in Basra.  In fact, the pullback is being called a defeat.  There has been a degeneration in security for the British forces over the past couple of years (h/t SWJ):

Richard Beeston, diplomatic editor of The Times of London recently returned from a visit to Basra, his first since 2003. He says in 2003, British soldiers were on foot patrol, drove through town in unarmored vehicles and fished in the waters of the Shaat al Arab on their days off. He says the changes he saw four years later are enormous.

“Nowadays all troop movement in and out of the city are conducted at night by helicopter because it’s been deemed too dangerous to go on the road and its dangerous to fly choppers during the day,” he says.

Beeston says during his latest visit, he noticed a map of the city in one of the military briefing rooms. About half of the city was marked as no-go areas.

IraqSlogger reports that the Mahdi army is in de facto control of Basra; the same organization the U.S. is battling in Baghdad has the loyalties of the police in Basra:

The town’s police is efficient, albeit dominated by members of the Mahdi, a Shiite militia loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr. According to journalist Ghalid Khazal, 75 percent of the city’s police officers follow orders from Sadr headquarters. That number is roughly the same as that mentioned by General Major Hassan Sawadi, the former police chief of Basra, one and a half years ago, when he said. “I estimate that 80 percent of the force’s members do not obey my orders.”

All of this raises again the important question of Moqtada al Sadr.  The New York Times has an article that discusses the divided loyalties of the Mahdi army, summarized by IraqSlogger:

“Every question about Mr. Sadr’s motives touches on a different facet of Iraq’s future,? Damien Cave writes in the Times. Most interesting in Cave’s important review of Sadr’s position is his description of the cleric’s complex relationship to Iran, which both enables and undermines Sadr by aiding him directly, while at the same time supporting lower tiers of the Sadrist organization, encouraging them to be more independent. Sadr has responded by protecting loyal members from the security clampdown and purging disloyal elements, going so far as withholding protection to them from the Iraqi or American forces. Cave’s article is by far the most important Iraq article of the day and should be required reading for all those war pundits who still write about Sadr’s organization as though it were a monolithic and unitary force in Iraqi politics. That may be Sadr’s goal, but it’s not the reality. In the midst of the security clampdown, the Sadrist current is undergoing a centralization campaign, and its complex relationships with both Iran and the Iraqi government include both rivalry and partnership.

We have known for some time that the Mahdi army is a loosely coupled organization, and it appears as if Sadr is willing to sacrifice some of the more delinquent elements of his organization to save the whole.  When the whole is thus saved, it will still be friendly to Iran.  Michael Ledeen has some interesting remarks concerning Sadr and the NYT article.

Iranian Activities Inside Iraq

Austrian 0.50 caliber sniper rifles have been discovered in the hands of Iraqi insurgents, these rifles being ordered from an Austrian firm by the Iranian government.

More than 100 of the.50 calibre weapons, capable of penetrating body armour, have been discovered by American troops during raids.  The guns were part of a shipment of 800 rifles that the Austrian company, Steyr-Mannlicher, exported legally to Iran last year.  This leaves approximately 700 more high-powered rifles potentially in the hands of insurgents, with direct responsibility attributed to Iran.  These rounds are not only easily capable of penetrating body armor, but also HMMWV armor as well (even up-armored HMMWVs).

Not limited to land, Iranian patrol boats have been probing Iraqi waters.  Iran has vowed not to ‘retreat one iota’ from its nuclear pursuit, and appears to be on course with the development of highly enriched Uranium for the purpose of a nuclear weapon.  The U.S. has contingency plans for an air strike on Iran, these plans making the British fearful.  Tony Blair has come out directly against military action, and Vice President Dick Cheney has refused to take the military option off of the table.

Unless the U.S. is in the region for years to come, it is doubtful that efforts to curb Iranian influence will be successful.  However, in spite of the lack of willingness to admit to the regional conflict in which we are now engaged, the situation may in fact force itself on the scene due to circumstances completely beyond our control.  Israel has asked the U.S. for permission to use Iraqi air space in an over-flight to target Iranian nuclear facilities.  Note well that Israel requested permission from the U.S., not Iraq.

The U.S. is under what the U.N. security council calls a ‘security partnership‘ with Iraq.  Sovereignty over the air space is questionable at this point if we have regard for the U.N. resolution (a position which I am not advocating).  But Israel, assuming that the U.S. will grant the permission, is on the clock.  They know that the troops will be coming home, and then there is no appeal.  The Iraqi government will not grant access to attack Iran.  In fact, they will warn Iran of the impending strike.  The current administration is in power for two more years, and Israel will not wait until after they leave office.  Olmert has likened Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon to a second holocaust, and he is relatively dovish compared to his possible successor Netanyahu.

The upshot of all of this is that in order for Israel to secure its future against a nuclear Iran, the next two years are not just vital.  They are literally determinative.  The next administration may not be the ally of Israel that this one is, and thus Olmert or his successor cannot entrust their security to the U.S. beyond the next two years.  The clock is ticking on a nuclear Iran and air strikes to stop them.

M-16

Every so often the issue of the M-16 comes up.  I published some thoughts on it in Kill Versus Wound — The M16A2 .22 Caliber Round.  I have been following the issue of the M16 and more discussion has occurred recently.  I also recently enjoyed shooting an M4 (actually, A-15, M4 mil specs) on a range in Pickens, S.C.  Eugene Stoner is universally regarded as a genius for the design of the Stoner system of armaments, and properly so.  The rifle I shot was light, tight, compact and accurate, and the sights could be trained on the target quickly due to the minimal recoil.  In my opinion it is a magnificent weapon (with one significant caveat).

The Strategy Page recently had informative article on the 5.56 mm round:

The debate over the merits of 7.62mm versus 5.56mm bullets has been going on since the M-16 was introduced in the 1960s. While each side has its proponents, only the “slow and heavy” crowd gets anything published, since only opposing the establishment is news. But there are plenty of supporters for the 5.56mm round. Many of them are in the US Army, and serving in combat.

Most of the complaints come from people who just like the larger (US or Russian) round, and their preference is more visceral than logical (as it is with many supporters of 5.56mm). The fact remains that soldiers would be able to carry fewer of the larger, 7.62mm, rounds. This is not a popular option among troops in the combat zone. Those combat troops know how to aim properly and take down the target, and find that the 5.56mm round does the job.

When a 5.56mm round hits one of those “slender” targets “that keep coming”, what nobody mentions is that the serious wound (the idea that they cause little damage is incorrect) means that the target is probably going to bleed out in not too long (unless he gets treatment from a medic, which takes him out of the fight). This is because the 5.56mm round is a “tumbler” and will “tumble” at very high velocity. This causes enormous flesh and organ damage.

Global Security documents the use of the M16A2 in Iraq, including some of its problems (such as barrel length, making it difficult for close quarters combat, and of course pointing to the M4 with its shorter barrel and retractable stock as the solution).  However — and here is the caveat to the magnificence of the Stoner system — it sustains frequent jams, and this is a problem that has had real consequences.  It is customarily asserted that weapon cleaning can prevent or reduce the frequency of jamming, but my experience is that jamming occurs as a result of ammunition and machining tolerances, and not necessarily having anything to do with weapon cleanliness.

The Marine Corps Times has an extensive article on a potential replacement for the M4/M16 initiated by special operations forces (followed on by a discussion thread at the Small Wars Journal).  But this will likely not be available to be implemented large scale for some time.  Weapons, in this instance, are like body armor.  There is significant inertia associated with the Department of Defense, and fielding equipment that is seen as “better” is not customary.  Difficulties with funding, studies, procurement and QA programs, usually causes the delay in deployment of new equipment until all known liabilities have been perfectly rectified (or at least that is the intent).  This means that the M4/M16 will likely be in service for the foreseeable future.  I have heard reports from members of the armed forces that for the well-trained infantryman, any jam can be cleared in five seconds or less.  While I am certainly not capable of this, I don’t doubt that training decreases the down time from a weapons jam.  There isn’t much an NCO or officer can do about the defense budget.  But they can ensure well-trained infantrymen.

Speculation on Thermobaric Weapons in Iraq

I have access to information on my readers, including (but not limited to) type (repeat/new visitor), content they read, how long they stay, location, network domain, network location, and search words.  A high level military network domain visitor (I will not cite the domain) recently searched on the words “thermobaric weapons terror iraq,” and visited my article Thermobaric Weapons and Body ArmorDefense Tech had an article late in 2005 which claimed that the insurgents in Iraq had not gotten thermobaric weapons yet.  However, they correctly noted that the Russians have constructed thermobaric weapons for a long time, and some of these have made their way to the Chechen separatists.

Have the Chechens and their thermobaric weapons made their way to Iraq?  Have rogue weapons made their way from Russia to Iraq?  At this point it is merely speculation, but it is educated speculation.

The War After the War

The wounded.  Perhaps the most important link in this article.

A-10 Flyover Video

A-10 Flyover.  Enjoy.

  • Koyuavci

    Your wrong on State Department not being in Iraq. While we aren’t here on the level of the Army/Marines, DoS is in country. We move as much as we can and have lost people as well. Maybe you should ask someone or do a bit of research before making accusations.

  • Breakerjump

    “Maybe you should ask someone or do a bit of research before making accusations.”

    That has got to be the funniest thing I’ve heard all day long. You embarrass yourself, Koyuavci.

  • lirelou

    As a retired SF type who spent a tour with State, I would caution against gratuitious slights against those State types who are in Iraq. All organizations have a corporate culture, and no two are as diametrically opposed as those of the expeditionary forces and State. (I use expeditionary forces to separate those servicemembers who do “do the hard time” in the sandbox, versus those fellow uniform-wearers of whatever service who manage to homestead outside the sandbox.) State has the very same “two State Departments” mentality. Just like in the military, there are those who seek out the hard tours, those who, while not volunteering, willingly accept hard tours, and those (a majority in State) who do everything they can to avoid hard service, to include resignation if that is their only choice. If you are taking cheap shots at the Staties in Iraq, you are picking on the wrong crowd. Better to direct your anger or disdain elsewhere. Myself, I always saved my nastiest barbs for those fellow combat arms career officers who managed to spend 1965-72 in service without ever setting foot in either Southeast Asia or Korea.

  • Herschel Smith

    I would have thought it obvious that my disdain is not for the “staties” in Iraq. Why would it be? They’re engaged. No, it is for the SD generally which is, for the most part, not engaged in the GWOT. I will borrow some words from my friend Oak Leaf at Polipundit recently.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022302049_pf.html

    Begin quote:

    In Diyala, the vast province northeast of Baghdad where Sunnis and Shiites are battling for primacy with mortars and nighttime abductions, the U.S. government has contracted the job of promoting democracy to a Pakistani citizen who has never lived or worked in a democracy.

    The management of reconstruction projects in the province has been assigned to a Border Patrol commander with no reconstruction experience. The task of communicating with the embassy in Baghdad has been handed off to a man with no background in drafting diplomatic cables. The post of agriculture adviser has gone unfilled because the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided just one of the six farming experts the State Department asked for a year ago.

    “The people our government has sent to Iraq are all dedicated, well-meaning people, but are they really the right people – the best people – for the job?? asked Kiki Skagen Munshi, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who, until last month, headed the team in Diyala that included the Pakistani democracy educator and the Border Patrol commander. “If you can’t get experts, it’s really hard to do an expert job.?

    Almost four years after the United States set about trying to rebuild Iraq, the job remains overwhelmingly unfinished. The provincial reconstruction teams like those in Diyala are often understaffed and underqualified – and almost unable to work outside the military outposts where they are hunkered down for security reasons. Today, there are just 10 of the 30-person teams operating in all of Iraq.

  • Dave N.

    Nice post, great topics and links.

    1. Strange that Tony Snow can give a straight “yes” to a question that General Pace felt the need to waffle on. I can understand General Pace not wanting to get out front of the President on announcing something like this, which as you say could count as an act of war. However, my patience has worn pretty thin with supposedly “leadership” people giving weasely, legalistic answers to questions when they darn well know the right answer and it’s pretty simple. That’s not leadership, it’s just abuse. When did talking plainly and truthfully become forbidden?

    2. Wouldn’t one think that we ought to have some kind of language in our mutual defense treaties with NATO countries and other allies, to give some kind of diplomatic cover to covert operators doing (or attempting) legitimate security operations across borders? I could understand hostile countries prosecuting CIA agents. But countries with extensive security-sharing agreements with us, I’d think there’d be a more co-operative arrangement already in place. We don’t have agreements to cover this kind of contingency in place with Germany and Italy? Did we miss a step?

    3. Reading Col. Parks’ article, I’m again astonished that modified versions of ROE are written willy-nilly by military lawyers, and not subjected to the type of testing in controlled experimental conditions I have outlined in a previous comment, but rather are just promulgated with a “let’s see what happens” attitude. Nobody would field a weapon system without testing it under controlled conditions first, but according to the lawyers, its perfectly okay to field a set of ROE without having tested it first under controlled conditions, and compared to other competing ROE sets. This is part of the legal way of thinking, gumming things up again, in this case specifically, relying on retrospective studies to determine the outcomes of their work, and apparently not realizing that nearly every other profession under the sun uses prospective studies to predict the outcome of their work, and looks askance at retrospective studies as tools of the sloppy and the lazy.

    Name me a medication that was marketed before being tested for effectiveness and safety with prospective studies, rather than just thrown at patients without testing, and with only retrospective studies to “see what happened” afterwards. There aren’t any. Sure, there are still mistakes and things withdrawn from the market after retrospective studies. But how many more mistakes would there be, if prospective studies weren’t required before new medicines were marketed?

    But I’ve already described how I think ROE could be scientifically developed and evaluated, I won’t rehash it again. The problem is not one of thinking up the experimental methods, a few cognitive psychologists could do that. The problem is that the lawyers who inflict untested ROE on our troops are coming from a worldview (legal process of legislation combined with agencies and departments writing regulations, and courts following up afterwards) in which it is acceptable to inflict untested rule sets on populations (legislation, or regulations, written almost entirely ad hoc), and then only after people have suffered under them for a time, evaluate their efficacy and side effects (court cases which challenge the rules introduced by the legislation or regulation). It is this mindset of putting out their product (rules) untested, and then later looking backward to see if it worked, and insisting that because this is “how the legal system does things,” that that makes it somehow acceptable, that just boggles the mind. How they get away with it, more than three centuries after the scientific revolution showed the need for experiment to separate good ideas from wrong ideas, what works from what doesn’t work, is nothing short of astonishing. The ROE problem is just a microcosm (and a tragic one) of this larger human struggle to emancipate ourselves from nonsensical ways of thinking.

    4. I’m sure DoS workers are present in Iraq, and have suffered there. I’d be interested, however, in hearing how many DoS workers are in Iraq, and what exactly they’re doing. We have somewhat over 130,000 military people there, and we hear a lot of them are doing civil affairs. How many DoS people are on scene? How many Peace Corps people? And what do they do? The Peace Corps started as an outfit that would actually install plumbing and so forth. In more recent years we hear they’ve gone upscale. “What, a village school needs plumbing? I’ll have my people talk to your people. We’ll make up a slideshow and see if we can put together some financing. Run it up the flagpole. Let’s schedule some meetings. Maybe bring in some NGO’s too, work up some proposals. Then take bids, get some contractors to come in, look at it, present schedules and budgets. Great. Let’s do lunch sometime.” How many DoS people (let alone Peace Corps) are turning wrenches and pulling cable in Iraq, and how many are pushing paper or making slideshows? And when the Marshall Plan was helping rebuild Western Europe, how many people were assigned to make up and present slideshows back then? As opposed to sorting out Displaced Persons and cleaning up the rubble?

    5. Hearing that the M-16/M-4 system is still plagued by jams all these decades after the M-16 was originally plagued by jams, is just heartbreaking. Blaming jams on troops not cleaning them often enough is shameful. Another excuse I have heard is that America’s M-16′s and M-4′s jam because they’re more precisely made (tighter tolerances), in accordance with our philosophy of minimizing colateral damage. The H&K 416 seems to debunk that excuse, I can’t imagine either H&K making a low-accuracy gun, nor SOCOM accepting one. So we don’t field high-jam-rate M-4′s in the name of accuracy. One canard put to rest, anyway.

    So now they’re back to blaming dirt, and blaming America’s highly professional troops who follow the ROE even under the worst circumstances, but who, according to the Generals, are just too darned lazy to clean their guns as often as they’re told to. Are they KIDDING? Who would believe that? And are we to believe that in wars America fought prior to the introduction of the M-16, there wasn’t dirt, dust, sand, and/or mud present in large quantities on the battlefield? Apparently a transformation second only to the Fall from Grace occurred when the M-16 was fielded, suddenly battlefields became dirty places. What a coincidence! All this is just another shameful refusal to admit the obvious, and buy and field a better gun for the troops. No disrespect for Mr. Stoner, but come on, enough is enough. The original design, if I recall, was to be a lightweight survival rifle for aircrews, not a main battle rifle, the M-16 became that more by expedience than true suitability. (Go ahead and flame me, I am far from an expert in this area, and I know the M-16 family has its fans. People come to love a weapon that they have trusted their lives to, even if it has obvious flaws when viewed objectively. It’s probably a basic psychological instinct, like loving your family members despite their flaws.) But come on, sentiment aside, it’s a machine, it’s supposed to work right in the expected environment and conditions.

    I do understand the advantages of the varmint-class .223, or 5.56, whatever; a veteran of WWII of my acquaintance told me he definitely preferred the M-1 Carbine over the M-1, due to being able to carry more rounds of ammunition for the same weight, in addition to the gun itself being lighter. That experimental gun mentioned in the article, that weighted 18 pounds due to having some kind of 1000-yard grenade launcher built in, makes me think we have the wrong guys working on this problem. Likewise, the nonsense that we would have to change out all one million rifles in the inventory at the same time. Of course you’d want to change over entire units at one go, possibly up to Brigade level. But that’s closer to maybe 4000 or fewer, rather than a million, at a time. And it’s not like the US has never fielded multiple types of infantry rifles at the same time. Even more, it’s not like the H&K 416 (or Colt re-design using similar piston system) uses a new caliber of ammunition (I understand why that would be a much bigger deal).

    I recall reading somewhere that during the Indian Wars, the Native Americans frequently had better rifles than the US troops, repeaters even, because the Indians would buy what they could get on the market, and the Federal troops were issued relics from the Civil War. Maybe we could have some staff officer make up a powerpoint slide set on “Lessons Learned from the Indian Wars” to get the ball rolling. Nothing happens without a good slide set to help make the case. Nobody will believe the troops, but put something on a slide, suddenly it has credibility.

    Joking aside, to not even have a competition at this point, just seems like an error due to pridefulness or something related; we can’t admit we need a new rifle, because that would validate the criticism the old one has gotten for the past 40 years. With that attitude, the Pentagon will still be buying M-16/M-4 family guns a hundred years from now. It’ll never be the right time to admit they really do jam. This is an occasion that demands actual leadership. Not the kind of “leadership” that gives weasely, legalistic answers to questions when they darn well know the right answer and it’s pretty simple. But I’m back to where I started.

  • Dave N.

    To Liralou, just read your comment, I’m not trying to be out of line, I just haven’t seen any news or info (in years) about what DoS is doing in Iraq. From following the news, if I didn’t know better, I’d think the only thing the State Dept. did was to stick up for and make excuses for the worst regimes on the planet. And once in a while tell Israel not to defend itself so much. If State is doing good work in Iraq, that’s great, and I commend those who are doing that. But from one year to the next, we don’t hear about it.

    The only thing I can recall hearing, this whole time, that connects the State Dept. with Iraq, is the whole Joe Wilson going to Niger brew-ha-ha, his pathetic attempt to discredit the Bush Administration, which only discredited himself. That’s the image that State has projected, that they’re a bunch of clowns who are trying to subvert the Administration’s policies.

    So, again, I do respect anyone from DoS who actually is in Iraq and doing useful things. We just don’t hear about them.

  • Herschel Smith

    Thanks Dave for your extensive comments. And just for the record, I have asked Koyuavci for proof of employment with the SD (such as a *.gov e-mail). It is no different from requirements from military folks, for whom I require an e-mail from an *.mil network domain (and never publish). To the time of this writing, I have not received confirmation.  Edited: Confirmation.


You are currently reading "Intelligence Bulletin #1", entry #468 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Department of Defense,Intelligence,Intelligence Bulletin,Iran,Iraq,Military Equipment,War & Warfare and was published February 25th, 2007 by Herschel Smith.

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