Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 7 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

U.S. Assessing Response to Pirating of Quest

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From The Boston Globe:

Somali pirates have hijacked the yacht of an American couple who traveled the world handing out Bibles, and the US government said yesterday it was assessing possible responses.

Pirates hijacked the yacht Quest on Friday, two days after a Somali pirate was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York court for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. That incident ended when Navy sharpshooters killed two pirates holding the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips.

The Quest is the home of Jean and Scott Adam, a California couple who have been sailing around the world since December 2004, according to a website they keep. Two other Americans were also believed to be on board.

The couple — who are members of the Marina del Rey Yacht Club in California — run a Bible ministry, according to their website, and have been distributing Bibles to schools and churches in remote villages in areas including the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America, and French Polynesia.

The yacht is expected to reach Somalia today. A US military spokesman said: “We’re aware of the situation and we continue to monitor it.’’

“All relevant US agencies are monitoring the situation, working to develop further information, assess options, and possible responses,’’ said Matt Goshko, a US Embassy spokesman in Nairobi.

It’s a shame that this particular situation occurred to a missionary couple who have no money for ransom payments like a huge corporation would.  And just to be clear, it’s entirely possible that the U.S. deploys yet another SEAL team who performs near miracles to obtain their safe release just as with the Maersk Alabama.

I will applaud the rescue if that exigency obtains.  However, just to be equally clear, even if this does happen, it doesn’t in any way speak to my main thesis that until the swamp is cleared out, piracy will continue to happen, and deployment and logistical support of SEAL teams to deal with every instance of piracy of U.S. citizens and/or vessels is completely infeasible and unsustainable in the long term.

The National Debt and A Loan Shark Named China

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 6 months ago

This article in CNBC.com yesterday highlights the lengths to which the U.S. government went to appease China during the fiscal crisis of 2008 and 2009.

Confidential diplomatic cables from the U.S. embassies in Beijing and Hong Kong lay bare China’s growing influence as America’s largest creditor.As the U.S. Federal Reserve grappled with the aftershocks of financial crisis, the Chinese, like many others, suffered huge losses from their investments in American financial firms — from Lehman Brothers to the Primary Reserve Fund, the money market fund that broke the buck.

The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks, show that escalating Chinese pressure prompted a procession of soothing visits from the U.S. Treasury Department.

In one striking instance, a top Chinese money manager directly asked U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for a favor.

Lest anyone think that China’s obvious leverage does not affect our foreign policy, there is this:

The concern in certain influential Washington and Wall Street circles is that Beijing would leverage its position as the main enabler of U.S. overspending. And the cables provide a glimpse into how much politics inform relations between the world’s two largest economies.

One cable cites Chinese money managers expressing concern that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan — a major, longstanding irritant in the relationship — could sour the Chinese public on Treasury purchases.

Get that?  It is the “Chinese public” that is so concerned about arms sales to Taiwan.  The authoritarians in Beijing are at the mercy of public opinion.  Who knew? I guess another Tienanmen Square is about to break out any time now.

Is there any better example of the malignancy of our soaring debt than this?

China has the Treasury Secretary running to them with assurances that their investments will be protected, at a time when American pension funds and ordinary American investors are taking massive losses.

Not only that, China more or less demands that its plan to buy over $1 Billion of Morgan Stanley shares get immediate Treasury Department approval (rather than wait the customary 2-week review period) and, magically, the approval is obtained the next day, without any formal application having been filed.

And, oh, by the way, the Chinese public is very concerned about arms sales to Taiwan so the U.S. had better knock that off, too.  (And the Chinese public is also very concerned about any actions that might interfere with Iran’s nuclear weapons program).

One of the unmistakable messages from this article is that China exercises enormous leverage simply by threatening to stop buying up U.S. treasury bonds.   Although the article also claims that China needs to buy treasuries, the article never explains or supports that claim.  The “need” is clearly a one-way street.   China has other places to invest their cash whereas the U.S. cannot find any, other investor that can buy up treasury bills on anything like the scale of China.

This should serve as an urgent wake-up call, particularly to those in Congress who are debating the remaining funding of the federal government for 2011 and the budget for 2012.  The U.S. simply cannot afford to get any deeper into debt, especially not with China.

In our own, personal lives, it is one thing to take a short-term loan from a friendly relative.  No one in their right mind would get deeply in debt to a hostile co-worker.  What the U.S. is doing amounts to getting into deep debt with a loan shark.  Even a community organizer should have some experience with that outcome.

Make no mistake, the only reason that the U.S. has not gone off the financial cliff at this point is because we continue to enjoy incredibly low borrowing costs for our bond sales.  The article makes clear that there is a direct connection between China’s actions in the U.S. debt market and the interest rate that the U.S. has to pay on its short-term and long-term borrowing.  If the cost to the U.S. of borrowing rises in any substantial way, interest payments will eat up huge amounts of the federal budget.   At that point, the U.S. will either have to default on that debt which would have calamitous consequences, or the U.S. will have to print huge amounts of money which would likely result in the kind of hyperinflation that hit, for example, Argentina in the late 1990′s.

Of course, China has to be careful.  It is not in their interest to push the U.S. into default or devaluation of the dollar.  And, as the article notes, the U.S. is the single, biggest purchaser of Chinese exports.  All the same, this is not “mutually assured destruction.”   This enormous leverage that China now holds over the U.S. can render us paper tigers, afraid to take any action that might upset or anger our Chinese overlords.   To put it in loan sharking terms:  while it may not be in China’s interest to kill us, there is plenty of pain that they can inflict short of death.

So, bearing all of this in mind, we are confronted with a President proposing a $3.8 Trillion 2012 budget that requires over $1.4 Trillion (!!) in new borrowing from China, among others.

This is beyond a “lack of leadership” as some have said.  Given the realities of our fiscal situation, I suggest that the President’s budget comes very close to a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Reprimands in Marine Deaths in Ganjgal Engagement

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

Recall that in 2009 three Marines and a Navy Corpsman approached the remote Kunar village of Ganjgal where they were ambushed in what was surely a planned incident.  At the time even the women and children could be seen firing weapons, spotting or carrying munitions.  The Marines made repeated calls for artillery and air support over the next couple of hours, with support denied due to the fact that the authorizing Army officers could not verify that noncombatants wouldn’t be harmed.  We know this because a McClatchy reporter was with the Marines.  In other words, whatever obfuscation that the Army can throw at this incident cannot supersede the conclusions that we can draw directly from McClatchy’s report.

And obfuscation came.  The Army did an investigation that concluded, among other things, that the officers were out of the command center for decision-making during this engagement.  But in fact they were out only some of the time, and did indeed refuse on multiple occasions to authorize supporting fires.  They also had the presence of mind to authorize white phosphorus rounds to provide smoke and thus give cover for retreat, so they knew about the danger.  They just didn’t authorize support.

The families have pursued a conclusion to this, and they may have finally gotten it.

The Army “severely reprimanded” two of the three officers cited for negligence after a flawed mission in eastern Afghanistan resulted in five U.S. deaths, according to a congressman who pushed for the information’s release.

The Army officers were cited for poor planning and oversight of a Sept. 8, 2009, operation in Ganjgal, a remote village near the Pakistan border with Kunar province. Three Marines and a corpsman were killed on the battlefield after they were repeatedly denied air and artillery support while pinned down by more than 100 insurgents. A soldier died the following month of medical complications related to wounds he suffered in the ambush.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Army recently shared with him documents indicating two of the three officers cited last year in a joint Army-Marine Corps investigation were deemed primarily responsible for the mission’s failures and given reprimands, likely career killers.

“There was nothing else we could do,” Jones said of the discipline. “This was a very tragic situation that never should have happened.”

Jones, whose congressional district includes thousands of Marines at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps air stations New River and Cherry Point, got involved in October after family members of the fallen troops expressed disgust that the Army refused to disclose whether anyone was held accountable for mistakes that led to their loved ones’ deaths. On Jan. 28, he sent letters to the families of each service member informing them what he learned.

Army officials declined to comment on the disciplinary action. The officers are entitled to privacy unless they are charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said Col. Thomas Collins, an Army spokesman.

The Ganjgal investigation, conducted by Army Col. Richard Hooker and Marine Col. James Werth, determined that the “negligent” leadership of three officers at nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce contributed “directly to the loss of life which ensued.” They refused direct calls for help from U.S. forces on the ground and failed to notify higher commands that they had troops under fire, the investigation found.

The officers were members of Task Force Chosin, a unit comprising soldiers from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, N.Y. The military has not released their names, but they are likely captains or majors.

Killed in the battle were four members of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, out Okinawa, Japan: 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, 25; Gunnery Sgts. Aaron Kenefick, 30; and Edwin Johnson, 31; and Hospitalman 3rd Class James Layton, 22. Hours after the battle began, they were found in a ditch shot to death, stripped of gear and weapons.

A former corporal, Dakota Meyer, is nominated for the Medal of Honor for charging into the kill zone to find the four military trainers and carry them to safety.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, 41, survived the battle despite suffering several gunshot wounds. He died Oct. 7, 2009, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington after his body rejected a blood transfusion he received in Afghanistan, said his widow, Charlene.

Charlene Westbrook questioned why the third officer cited for negligence wasn’t reprimanded, and said she is frustrated the Army hasn’t explained the rationale for its disciplinary decisions.

“We were searching for answers, not for the same thing we’ve been told before,” she said. “It’s very frustrating and, again, another betrayal, I feel.”

Collins said the families were provided complete, redacted copies of the investigation report last year. There is no indication they were ever promised an update on disciplinary actions, he said.

Reprimands in the Ganjgal case were delivered after similar discipline was rescinded last year for mistakes made in Wanat, Afghanistan, during an ambush July 13, 2008. Nine soldiers died and 27 were wounded in the battle.

Perhaps the families have partial conclusion (and I confess, I didn’t know until this report that Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook had also perished) .  I had previously recommended that the Army field grade and staff level officers involved in this incident find a different line of work.  And now they must do exactly that.  I had said that the source of this problem – rules of engagement and micromanaging the military – would not be targeted, and General McChrystal wouldn’t even so much as be mentioned in the AR 15-6.  I was right on all accounts.

When he took over the campaign in Afghanistan, McChrystal quickly issued a severely debilitating tactical directive, but in fact added to the cultural milieu with his own interpretation:

“If you are in a situation where you are under fire from the enemy… if there is any chance of creating civilian casualties or if you don’t know whether you will create civilian casualties, if you can withdraw from that situation without firing, then you must do so.”

As for micromanaging the military, when the Marines first entered Marjah in the Helmand Province, General Rodriguez, then second in command in Afghanistan, decided that he wanted to micromanage a completely separate command structure, that of the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF).  “Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marja in February, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense.”

The officers on duty that fateful day the Marines were killed in Gamjgal were responsible for their decisions.  It gives me no joy to report or comment on their demise as officers in the U.S. Army.  But the climate of micromanagement of forces in theater set in motion by Generals McChrystal and Rodriguez was also responsible for the incident at Ganjgal.  Incidents can (and in fact most often do) have more than a single root cause.

I will forever hold General McChrystal responsible for the deaths of three Marines, a Navy Corpsman and a Soldier in this incident.  Until he admits to the debilitating nature of his command and visits these families to watch them weep, this incident is unresolved, and the families have no closure.  He can join as many boards of directors as he likes.  There is unfinished business, and the ghosts of four Marines and a Soldier are watching.

Prior:

Taliban Ambush in Eastern Kunar Kills Four U.S. Marines

More Thoughts on Marines and Rules of Engagement

AR 15-6 Investigation of Marine Deaths in Kunar Province

Happy, Clappy Democracy in Egypt

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

I warned you.  Now we learn that the Muslim Brotherhood plans on an official political party in Egypt, something that was never allowed under Mubarak.  For whatever else he did or didn’t do, he kept the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sayyid Qutb in prison.  But there still seems to be some confusion out there in spite of the fact that things aren’t all peace, love and flower power in Egypt.

Seriously?  Is this what the liberal media and establishment thinks?  That anything Obama said had anything to do with anything regarding Egypt?  Does the liberal media really not understand the danger?  Is it that they won’t acknowledge it, or really and truly that they don’t know about it?  Are things that bad off in the liberal establishment?

Austrian Court Enforces Sharia

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

From NRO’s Corner:

Today, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a young Viennese mother, was convicted under section 283 of the Austrian penal code of vilifying religious teachings for her negative commentary on Islam in a lecture before a political-party gathering in Vienna; she was fined 480 Euros. Sabaditsch-Wolff, a diplomat’s daughter, had lived and worked for several years in various Middle Eastern Muslim countries, and at the lecture in question spoke critically of the treatment of women and the practice of jihad in Iran, Libya, and other places that she had lived in. The court found that Austria’s free-speech guarantees protected her from hate-speech charges.

However, it seems the case turned on the judge’s reasoning that her statement that Islam’s prophet Mohammed was a “pedophile” was defamatory since his child bride Aisha (age six at the time of marriage and nine at the time it was consummated) remained his wife when she turned 18.

So an Austrian judge has adjudicated on whether a man who lived 1400 years ago was a pedophile, entering the realm of, um, let’s see, none of the court’s business – any more than the court has to do with what Ms. Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff had to say about it.

Good Lord!  You can’t make this stuff up.

Prior: Mythical Sharia – Or Not

The Pirates are Winning

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

In Response to SOF and Piracy I linked Andrew Exum’s disagreement with me over the proper response to piracy.  Exum advocated the use of SEALs, and I advocated the use of large quantities of U.S. Marines in a long term presence.  When the Maersk Alabama was retaken by the U.S., it was with SEAL teams.  Andrew did a victory dance, and his commenters lambasted my views at Abu Muqawama.  One commenter made the observation that while I addressed a larger issue than just this situation, this situation was indeed unique in that there were hostages – as if the problem of piracy and ransom payments isn’t comprised by the aggregate of multiple hostage situations.

It is frankly rather puzzling to me how someone can so badly misinterpret my views.  It betrays the prose for either sloppy or dishonest, and Exum isn’t dishonest.  John Nagl of CNAS refused to correspond with me after this post, and Andrew Exum has exchanged only one short e-mail since then.  The whole exchange really was rather bizarre for fully grown men.  My points all along pertained to the use of SEAL teams as a remedy for the problem of piracy.  There simply aren’t SEAL teams, aren’t enough aircraft and aren’t sufficient logistics for the use of SOF to be a remedy to the problem of piracy.  And the SEAL teams are needed elsewhere and for other things.  In the grand scheme of things, it makes little difference whether the Maersk Alabama was rescued or not.

I had further said that I talked with one Marine Scout Sniper (on the 26th MEU, before this incident) who had a boatload of pirates in the sights of his Sasser .50 sniper rifle from a Helicopter, and he refused to take the shot because, well, “Hell, who wants to get tangled up with the lawyers when he gets back to the ship?”  In fact, taking the shots to save the Maersk Alabama required approval of the POTUS.

Folks, pirates aren’t that hard to find.  The Marines of the 26th MEU did it frequently in the Gulf of Aden.  While in the Persian Gulf, they also had an Iranian helicopter virtually land on board the deck of the USS Iwo Jima with Iranian gunners laughing at the Marines, and the U.S. Navy ordering the Marines NOT to engage for fear of creating an “international incident” (how’s that for “rules of engagement”?)  One of my points was that with aircraft, radar, LCACs and other sea-based craft, there is adequate means of locating and interdicting pirates, regardless of the size of the Gulf of Aden.

The problem isn’t finding them.  The problem is what happens then.  Now with that background, let’s cover recent data concerning pirates.

The Somalian pirates seized another big ship the other day. This time it was a large oil tanker. I spoke with a friend who owns ships and lives in Athens about the latest attack. He provided some interesting information. My notes from the conversation:

The seized tanker is owned by a large and successful family owned Greek shipping company. Pirates have hit Greek ships before, but this is the largest ship to be captured. There is $200mm worth of crude on board. The vessel is worth $100mm – 200mm. There was a crew of 25 of which eight were Greeks, most of whom were officers.

The Greek shipping world is PISSED at this one. The combination of the money and the fact that Greek crew members are involved makes this a very big deal.

I got a status on the bigger picture in pirate land:

There are currently 20 ships of all sizes and uses currently being held by Somali pirates. There are approximately 700 prisoners being held. It generally takes two to three months to negotiate and pay a ransom. My guy estimated that in the past year nearly $300mm in ransom has been paid to pirates.

There have been attempts to thwart the pirates but they are (obviously) not working. NATO has warships in the region as does the United States. The problem appears to be the “rules of engagement”. The Western powers have the ability to stop and search suspected pirate ships. But when the pirates see them coming they dump their arms overboard. Therefore they are released as only armed ships and crews can be seized and taken out of commission. The pirates are well aware of these rules.

This article goes on to make an important observation.

The final consideration is what is happening within Somalia. There is a group called al Shaabab. They are Muslim extremists. They too are highly armed. They have been fighting with the Somali pirates. Al- Shaabab wants to take over the job the pirates are doing. They want the money and the power that comes from pirating ships.

My guess would be that the Islamic militants will win, and the pirates will lose (the pirates will become Islamic militants).  I have previously recommended something like the following concerning pirates: tell the lawyers to go home, find the pirates, line them up on the deck of the ship, and shoot each and every one of them.  Dump their bodies into the sea, and videotape the entire event.  Post the video to YouTube as a warning to future pirates.  Thus, an end to piracy.

Of course, this seems brutal and uncivilized to many.  Indeed it is.  But value judgments have a way of being nuanced, difficult things that eventually turn on you and create unintended consequences.  My recommendation is brutal, but consider the alternatives.  Hostages continue to be taken, ransoms are paid, lives are lost in a continual drip and drain of violence in the Gulf of Aden, and – perhaps best of all – yes, the world funds Islamic militancy with the ransoms.

A similar example might be the problem of illegal immigration.  This problem is easy to solve, but the U.S. doesn’t yet want the solution.  The more violent method would be to line the border with troops and fire on sight at anyone crossing the border.  The less violent method would be to imprison any CEOs or company owners who hire (knowingly or not) illegal aliens.  But for a whole host of reasons (mostly related to providing corporate welfare), America isn’t yet ready for any solution to illegal immigration. Maybe one day it will be.

So we have made the judgment to appear civilized to the world – and us.  This kicks the can down the road, but it feels good for the time being unless it’s our relative who has been taken hostage.  We don’t recognize the increased cost of goods because of ransom payments and increased costs of security.  We don’t acknowledge that wealth has a moral component, i.e., God demands that we use of it wisely, something that would militate against funding Islamic militancy.  We are civilized, and that’s all that is important at the present.

But let those numbers wash over you again.  Seven hundred prisoners are being held at the moment.  Some $300 million has been paid in ransoms to Somali pirates.  There aren’t enough SEAL teams and logistics isn’t sufficient to conduct cloak and dagger operations to free them all.  Oh sure, it can be interesting, reading about guys doing HALO jumps with re-breathers on, dropping their parachute just before the water, swimming to destination and engaging the target.  Things like this are what guys play in video games like Call of Duty 4.

But this just isn’t reality in the Gulf of Aden with 700 hostages being held and Islamic militants wanting to muscle in on the action.  And concern for pirates dropping their weapons into the sea just before being captured won’t win the day.  We can win the war on piracy, but currently we are not.  As these things go, it’s fairly straight forward and easy given what we have dealt with in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

To date we have chosen not to deal with the problem.  As I have pointed out before, just as with illegal immigration, we want piracy more than we want the solution.  Piracy (and illegal immigration) exists because we want it to.  Those value judgments are indeed complex things, no?

Prior:

Response to SOF and Piracy

Somalian Piracy

Piracy: The Only Solution

Pirates?  Call the Marines … Er, the Lawyers

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.

UPDATE #2: Ah … isn’t this fun?  Fark has a discussion thread up with one commenter responding thusly: ” … If I can’t kill someone for laughing at me, I don’t want to kill anyone anymore.”

Poor fellow.  It has nothing to do with that.  It has everything to do with force protection, and the Iranians were laughing at the U.S. because they knew we wouldn’t take it seriously regardless of our military doctrine.

San Diego Port Authority: Homeland Security Has Got No Clothes!

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 6 months ago

Last week, WKGTV, a San Diego ABC News station, interviewed the Assistant Director, Al Hallor, for the San Diego port authority about security at the port.

During the interview Hallor confirmed that “weapons of mass effect” have been found by U.S. government agencies in apparent attempts to smuggle such devices into the country.

Customs and Border Protection officers clear 80 percent of all cargo before it enters the United States. Congress has mandated that they clear 100 percent of cargo imports by 2012. In San Diego, every cargo container is driven through a radiation detector before leaving San Diego’s seaport.”So, specifically, you’re looking for the dirty bomb? You’re looking for the nuclear device?” asked Blacher.”Correct. Weapons of mass effect,” Hallor said.”You ever found one?” asked Blacher.”Not at this location,” Hallor said.”But they have found them?” asked Blacher.”Yes,” said Hallor.

I could be wrong, but this would seem to qualify as a major news story.

So far, however, the only, other media source to report on this is The Daily Mail in the U.K.

The Department of Homeland Security has sought to tamp down any interest in the story and has explained Hallor’s comments as confusion or nervousness at being interviewed.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps Hallor has yet to get the Administration memo that government officials should never be honest or candid with the public about the grave threats that we face.  In that sense, Hallor is like the little boy in the nursery tale that was too innocent not to blurt out, “The Emperor’s got no clothes!”

Perhaps it is the rest of us who should be nervous.  Very nervous.

The Navy in Asadabad?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

In Response to Afghanistan: We No Longer Give Pens and Stationary Away, DirtyMick responded as follows:

I was on the previous two PRTs in Kunar. They need to jettison the navy element and make it an army effort. Previous two Navy commanders (especially the one with the Nevada National guard in 2009/2010) focused too much on the soft aspect of coin, were in overall charge of the army manuever element at camp wright (like army running a ship), had a hard on for wanting to take non essential navy personnel (ie anybody not engineers) into places like the pech river valley and north of asadabad, and passing out badges and awards like candy on Halloween (so navy guys can be just as stacked as an 0311 marine cpl.). Torwards the end of this summer did my higher chain of command do things like cancel projects in the pech only after many months of us getting shot up in the pech. Why build a school for assholes when they’re shooting RPGs at us? I will never work on a PRT again.

And in response to Abandoning the Pech Valley Part II, Scarbelly79 said:

I was with DirtyMick in Asadabad during 2009-2010; I felt like our time was wasted in large part to satisfy the egos and experimentations of everyone who wanted to show how nuanced they were, and how we were going to make a lasting impact by NOT killing the enemy… An old vet told me once that “when you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”.

It’s bad enough that Army and Marine Corps field grade officers are unwilling to risk their careers by granting air and indirect fire assets to troops in contact… We have Navy surface warfare officers and Air Force admin officers “leading” PRT’s; most of them without applicable experience or training – but trying desperately to pick up their O6 as they blame the Army and Marine Corps for screwing everything up.

The Pashtuns are not suicidal fanatics, they are brigands. We won’t win them to our side by bribing them with roads (when many of them don’t own cars), hospitals (without doctors to staff them), or electricity (when most of them don’t own televisions). We will win them to our side by effectively separating the militant Taliban from the general populace by hunting them down and killing them.

If you look back at the advent of Naval officers on PRTs in Afghanistan, it has pretty sad and naive theoretical framework.

The teams were founded in 2004 and are designed to be mobile goodwill ambassadors for coalition forces, using their transportation, logistics and communications capabilities to access the most remote Afghan villages.

Once there, the specialized personnel can hold medical, dental and veterinary clinics, and help build roads, wells, schools, irrigation systems and other facilities that will improve life for Afghans who have known only war and poverty for generations, Hartung said.

What about the infantry, you ask?  Why, they handle force protection for the team.  That’s right.  Force protection.  But DirtyMick and Scarbelly79 have given us reason to think that things are even worse now.  Naval officers are adorning themselves with medals at the expense of the fighting men, and then blaming the Army and Marines to boot.

Let’s make one thing clear.  We can discuss ineptitude all day, or organizational inadequacies, or lists of reasons that we are failing in Afghanistan.  We can treat that with clinical precision and a degree of detachment as a scientist.  But for a Naval officer on a PRT to complain and blame the fighting men is about as low as it gets.  I’m not sure what medals adorn the Naval officers on the PRTs, but unless they have been involved, engaged and active in kinetic operations and under fire, they don’t deserve and shouldn’t be awarded Combat Action Ribbons.  This would be a travesty.

Finally, here is the prerequisite for a Naval officer to complain about anything – ANYTHING – that is going on in Afghanistan.  Pick up a weapon, go on patrol, take fire, and kill the enemy.  Until you do, no one cares about your complaints, and playing the blame game with men under fire is immoral.  If you are a Naval officer who wants to complain, then lodge it right here, right now.  But show us your combat action ribbon first.  Tell us all about it.  We’re waiting.

Ambush and Fire Fight

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

In the spirit of good, instructive combat video, these Soldiers fight their way out of an ambush in Afghanistan.  My only comment is that it would be helpful if the authors would post information on date, location and units.

Lights Out On U.S. Foreign Policy? “The Clapper” and the Muslim Brotherhood

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 6 months ago

This is simply stunning.

On February 10, 2011, Director of National Intelligence, Gen. James Clapper, appeared before the House Select Intelligence Committee.  In response to a number of questions from Rep. Sue Myrick (R-9th Dist. NC) regarding the threat posed by The Muslim Brotherhood, Gen. Clapper made this outrageous statement:

“The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.  They have pursued social ends, the betterment of the political order in Egypt and etcetera.  [Interruption by Rep. Myrick in attempt to refocus].  In other countries, there are also ‘chapters’ or franchises of The Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in the pursuit of violence, at least internationally.  And with that, since there are entities associated with The Muslim Brotherhood here in the United States I will ask [FBI] Director Mullens to speak to that.”

(Emphasis Added)

And “speak to that” Director Mueller did.   Perhaps Mueller failed to get the memo from the Administration on whitewashing the MB.  Maybe he has yet to succumb to the zombie spell.  In any event, Mueller had no difficulty stating that, “I can say at the outset that elements of The Muslim Brotherhood, both here and overseas, have supported terrorism.”

To which I fully expected Director Clapper to jump in and respond with something like, “Yes, of course, terrorism, but not, you know, violent terrorism.”

Most news organizations are, strangely enough, not including Mueller’s comments but you can view them on C-SPAN.  The relevant portion with Rep. Myrick begins at the 1:22:22 mark.  Rep. Myrick recites some very devastating information about the MB which makes Clapper’s remarks all the more outrageous, not to mention non-responsive— something that seems to irritate Myrick to no end.

What does this say in a larger sense?

For one thing, I think we are witnessing (perhaps it is more accurate to say, we have been witnessing for some time now) the ultimate Dumbing Down of American government.  Anyone can now trot up to Capitol Hill and testify about international terrorist groups if Gen. Clapper is any measure.  I can only shudder to think what Clapper would say about those secular Hezbollah do-gooders.   This is our Director of National Intelligence! This guy is theoretically in charge of all the other intelligence services in order to provide a coordinated and comprehensive picture of, among other things, significant threats to the U.S.

Maybe I am over-reacting here.  Maybe the House Select Intelligence Committee just decided to post a sign-up sheet outside the chamber door and Clapper was the first guy on the list.  He isn’t really the DNI, is he?

Does anyone else want to sign up?

A word of caution.  Do not sign up to testify before a Congressional committee on weighty topics like national security or international terrorism, unless  you have your own spokesperson who can issue “clarifying” statements if you happen to make a fool of yourself.

That makes Clapper one, lucky guy.  Before the D.C. sun had set, a spokesperson for the DNI “clarified” Clapper’s remarks:

“To clarify Director Clapper’s point, in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak’s rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation. He is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization,” DNI spokesperson Jamie Smith said.

Nice save.  You, er, figured that out from the inclusion of “Muslim” in the name, did you?

The spokesperson claims that Clapper was merely making a point about the MB’s participation on the political system.  Was that Clapper’s point?  Watch the video yourself and decide.

Clapper’s point seemed to be a direct response to Rep. Myrick’s concerns about the radical nature of the MB, particularly considering Myrick’s with the damning statements from the F.B.I.’s own investigation of the MB and its involvement in sponsoring terrorism that grew out of the Holy Land Foundation case.

Clapper’s testimony seemed designed to blunt Myrick’s protrayal of the MB as a radical Islamist group with a very definite agenda to subvert Western democracies. Clapper’s statement seemed calculated to portray the MB as a non-violent, almost benign or even benevolent presence in Egypt.   It is the equivalent of, “Don’t be silly, Congresswoman, the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t have any grand plan for promoting an Islamic caliphate and universal muslim rule.”

Why would Clapper, an important voice of the Administration, want to mischaracterize the MB in this way?

Part of the reason may be simple damage control.

Flopping about like a freshly caught fish, the Obumble Administration cannot make up its collective mind on whether or how to respond to events in Egypt.  Perhaps Clapper’s testimony reflects an effort to re-cast the MB as secular and moderate in order to claim, after the MB takes power in Egypt and bares its feral teeth, that they are shocked, shocked!

This is something like a 2011 re-make of the 1979 movie classic, Jimmy Carter and Khomeini, where Obama plays the role of heartbroken lover, surprised to find that the moderate, secular Muslim Brotherhood that promised they would respect him (and political liberties) in the morning is a radical Islamist afterall.  The problem with re-makes, of course, is that we have seen it before.  We know how the 1979 movie ended and no amount of re-casting by Obama is going to change things this time around either.

But there is something more than just damage control here.  These statements are so far off the mark that they seem almost delusional.  I would not be the first one to raise that possibility.

Look at the sorts of things Clapper said in that one, short statement.  The MB is an “umbrella term”?  No, it’s not.  The Muslim Brotherhood is a very definite and distinct group, founded in 1928 in Egypt with the stated goal of restoring fundamentalist Islam to dominance throughout the Middle East and beyond.  From Egypt, the MB has inspired and/or formed off-shoots— Clapper uses the term “franchises”– in other countries.  Like Hamas.

And what about his claim that there is “no overarching agenda” ?  If you watch the C-SPAN video from 1:22:22 on you will see that Rep. Myrick gives ample evidence of the MB’s overarching agenda and that agenda is not confined to Egypt but includes the U.S. as well.

Still it is difficult to believe that even this Administration could be so deluded.  Andrew McCarthy suggests that this is more of a case of  willful stupidity.

It may be simply that and no more.  But there is a nagging uneasiness.  If it is not delusion nor cynical damage control or willful stupidity, that leaves one, very disturbing possibility.

After watching this Administration over the last 2+ years, seeing the repeated follies and seeming mistakes over and over, one cannot help but wonder whether this is intentional.  How could an Administration be so thoroughly and consistently incompetent?  As the saying goes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.  The Obama-Squirrel, however, seems to be avoiding the nuts and throwing out the ones that have been collected after decades of hard work by others.

The situation in Egypt bears watching, not only because of the important geopolitical implications, but because of what it may or may not say about the larger policy goals of this Administration.


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