Judge Upholds California Gun Microstamping Law

Herschel Smith · 01 Mar 2015 · 10 Comments

CBS Sacramento: A federal court has rejected a challenge to California’s gun safety law, possibly paving the way for a requirement that new guns mark the bullets they fire so they can be traced. The ruling on Wednesday was a defeat for two gun rights groups that argued the Unsafe Handgun Act violated the constitutional right to bear arms. The law prohibits the manufacture or sale in California of any gun that doesn’t meet certain safety requirements. It was aimed at outlawing cheap…… [read more]

Taliban Cross-Border Operations

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

As we have discussed before, nationalism is out of accord with both the tenets and goals of radical militant Islamism.  Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, and Salafists and Wahhabists worldwide have no recognition of the legitimacy of borders.  This characteristic of being a transnational insurgency coupled with Pakistan’s capitulation to them has caused problems for the so-called border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Recently The Captain’s Journal said that the most recent deals with the Taliban made Afghanistan the sacrificial lamb while intending to maintain Pakistan’s stability.  Almost as if on cue, a report comes to us on current Taliban freedom to roam to and fro about the border region.

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – In early June, about 300 fighters from jihadist groups came together for a secret gathering here, in the same city that serves as headquarters to the Pakistani army.

The groups were launched long ago with the army’s clandestine support to fight against India in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. But at the meeting, they agreed to resolve their differences and commit more fighters to another front instead: Afghanistan.

“The message was that the jihad in Kashmir is still continuing but it is not the most important right now. Afghanistan is the fighting ground, against the Americans there,” said Toor Gul, a leader of the militant group Hezb-ul Mujahedeen. The groups included the al-Qaida-linked Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, banned by Pakistan and branded terrorists by the U.S., he said …

Militants say they operate with minimal interference, and sometimes tacit cooperation, from Pakistani authorities, while diplomats say the country’s new government has until now been ineffectual in dealing with a looming threat.

“Where there were embers seven years ago we are now fighting flames,” a serving Western general told The Associated Press, referring to both Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions. He agreed to be interviewed on condition his identity and nationality were not revealed …

Pakistan’s Mohmand and Bajaur tribal areas are emerging as increasingly strong insurgent centers, according to Gul, the militant. His information was corroborated by Pakistani and Western officials. Both those tribal areas are right next door to Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

“Before there were special, hidden places for training. But now they are all over Bajaur and Mohmand,” he said. “Even in houses there is training going on.”

A former minister in President Pervez Musharraf’s ousted government, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said insurgents were being paid between 6,000 and 8,000 rupees — the equivalent of $90 and $120 — a month in Mohmand and grain was being collected to feed them. He did not identify the source of the donations but said Pakistan’s army and intelligence were aware of them.

Maulvi Abdul Rahman, a Taliban militant and former police officer under the ousted hardline regime, said jihadistsympathizers in the Middle East are sending money to support the insurgents and more Central Asians are coming to fight. Rahman said under a tacit understanding with authorities, militants were free to cross to fight in Afghanistan so long as they do not stage attacks inside Pakistan, which has been assailed by an unprecedented wave of suicide attacks in the past year.

“It is easy for me now. I just go and come. There are army checkposts and now we pass and they don’t say anything. Pakistan now understands that the U.S. is dangerous for them,” he said. “There is not an article in any agreement that says go to Afghanistan, but it is understood if we want to go to Afghanistan, OK, but leave Pakistan alone.'”

Again, just as we had pointed out, the Pakistani deal with the Taliban has as its sole purpose to save Pakistan.  It will ultimately lead to the strengthening of the Taliban and the destabilization of Pakistan as well, but given the Pashtun rejection of the war on terror and the malaise of the Pakistani Army, The Captain’s Journal expected the deals to occur.

Note that the Kunar Province mentioned above is the location of 50% casualty rate for U.S. forces in recent combat operations.  As the reader might have suspected, The Captain’s Journal says if the Taliban want to fight us in the tribal region, saddle up!  Send the Marines after them, border or no border.  If Pakistan won’t do the job, then the U.S. can.

Nine U.S. Soldiers Killed in Kunar, Afghanistan: What Can We Learn?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

It was a very bad weekend for U.S. Soldiers in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.  A combat outpost in the Kunar Province has sustained heavy fighting with the Taliban, and nine U.S. Soldiers have been killed, while fifteen were wounded (along with four Afghan troops).  What can we learn from the deaths of nine Soldiers?  We’ll focus our efforts under four headings: (1) The Taliban spring offensive, (2) the evolution of Taliban tactics and capabilities, (3) small, disconnected combat outposts, and (4) inadequate forces.

The Taliban Spring Offensive

We have covered the escalation of violence and insurgent activity in Afghanistan recently, but as far back as five months ago U.S. Army intelligence and General Rodriguez were claiming that the Taliban efforts inside Pakistan would effectively kill any chances it had inside Afghanistan, thus negating any consideration of a Taliban spring offensive.  The Captain’s Journal called this out as an analysis and intelligence blunder, and we were right.

Violence and insurgent activity have increased yearly since 2002.  Generals (and Colonels) and intelligence analysts who examine and assess the data and conclude that a spring offensive is unlikely, while at the same time the Pentagon knows better and planned for one by deploying 3200 Marines to the theater, should be replaced if they haven’t already been.  They are at best an impediment to the success of the campaign.

Critical analysis capabilities and an understanding of the ebb and flow of military campaigns (especially insurgencies) should be one of the minimum qualifications for holding a position of such power and authority in the U.S. armed forces.

Evolution of Taliban Tactics

While we have pointed out that Taliban tactics would evolve over time to one of fire and melt away, roadside bombs, suicide bombs and otherwise asymmetric guerrilla warfare, this attack seems to have been much more sophisticated and conventional in both its planning and execution.

A Taliban attack that killed nine U.S. soldiers, the biggest single American loss in Afghanistan since 2005, was a well-planned, complex assault which briefly breached the defenses of an outpost near the Pakistan border.

The Taliban have largely shied away from large-scale attacks on foreign forces since suffering severe casualties in assaults on NATO bases in the south in 2006. Instead the militants have scaled up hit-and-run attacks and suicide and roadside bombs.

“The insurgents went into an adjacent village, drove the villagers out, used their homes and a mosque as a base from which to launch the attack and fire on the outpost,” said NATO spokesman Mark Laity on Monday.

The Taliban also chose the timing wisely.

Troops from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan army only moved into the combat outpost in the mountainous and forested Pech Valley district of Kunar province days before and the defenses were not fully constructed.

Which raises the question of force protection and combat outposts.

Combat Outposts

The use of combat outposts in Ramadi and elsewhere in the Anbar Province (where they were introduced well before the surge and security plan for Baghdad) involved connectedness to other combat outposts in the case of resupply or reinforcement issues.  The combat outposts were not randomly placed throughout Anbar, and neither were they garrisoned before ready for force protection.

The force size in this combat outpost was small: 45 U.S. troops and 25 Afghan troops.  The nearest help was air power, which was used with effectiveness, but not before a large number of troops were killed or wounded.  With nine U.S. soldiers killed, this is an appalling 20% of U.S. Soldiers lost.  With fifteen more wounded, this amounts to approximately half of the U.S. soldiers garrisoned at this outpost counted as casualties.  Further, because force protection was not possible at this point, the Taliban were the ones to engage in the chase rather than U.S. troops.

The governor of neighbouring Nuristan province, Hazrat Noor, said: “After the attack the US troops decided to move their base to the district centre of Wanat and they tried to build shelters there in the bazaar overnight. Now the Taleban have attacked again.” US strategy in Afghanistan has focused increasingly on the use of smaller and more numerous bases, called combat outposts. They aim to give US forces greater influence in local communities. However, American military commanders have privately admitted that such small bases could prove vulnerable if the Taleban was able to concentrate enough fighters and take the base by surprise, as apparently happened yesterday.

Finally, while the loss was horrible, it is necessary to think about the effectiveness of the battle.  Normally U.S. troops inflict a kill ratio of 10:1.  Forty insurgents were killed in the battle, dropping the results to a rate of about 4:1.  This is not high enough.

Inadequate Forces

As we have been arguing for half a year, more forces are needed in Afghanistan, and not of the kind which cannot engage in kinetic operations (e.g., the Germans) due to political decisions at home.  Combat outposts are effective when combined with the proper size force to make almost constant contact with the enemy and population, and engage in the chase of insurgents.  None of these things obtained in the battle in Kunar.

Summary

Due to the high losses, this unit is likely combat ineffective and needs replacement (or at least reinforcements) soon.  This time around, additional troops need to be committed to the area of operation in recognition of its strategic importance.  The Captain’s Journal has already recommended the redeployment of the Marines to Afghanistan.

Sons of the Soil or Deal with the Devil?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

The important and always interesting MEMRI has an article on current Pakistani military operations in the North West Frontier Province.

On June 28, 2008, the Pakistani government ordered a military operation against Islamist fighters in the tribal district of Khyber Agency, which borders on the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The next day, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said at a hurriedly-called press conference in Lahore that this military operation was aimed at the Taliban and was launched as a last resort. He explained that his government’s policy vis-à-vis the Islamist militants was based on three components: launching a dialogue with the Taliban; offering a development package to the regions in which it is active; and ordering military action as a last resort.

Prime Minister Gilani criticized the Taliban’s actions in the areas under their control, such as burning down girls’ schools, beheading alleged criminals, closing down barbershops that do shaving of beards, disregarding the peace agreements with the NWFP government, and undermining the government’s authority in the federally administered tribal areas (FATAs) and in the NWFP.

It should be noted that the Islamist groups targeted by the military operation in Khyber Agency – namely Lashkar-e-Islam and its rival, Ansarul Islam – are not formally part of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban Movement). However, their objectives and actions are identical to those of the Taliban. These groups also constitute a good example of how small groups of criminals develop muscle over the years and acquire a set of ideological objectives, depending on the social context in which they evolve.

But this was not the main reason that prompted the Pakistani government to launch a military operation in the tribal district of Khyber. This district, which borders Afghanistan on one side and the NWFP on the other, is important not only because the main supply route of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan passes through it, but also because of its proximity to Peshawar, the NWFP capital. In fact, the operation focused on the town of Bara, just five km from Peshawar, where Lashkar-e-Islam headquarters are located. The immediate reason for the military operation is the Taliban’s gradual encroachment on this city.

Military operations are not targeting Baitullah Mehsud’s organization.  They are targeting some very specific non-aligned groups that immediately threaten Peshawar.  But if the disposition and ideology of these groups is identical to those of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, what is the expected disposition of the balance of the threats?  After all, one might surmise that if the radicals in the Khyber Agency have the same goals as the Tehrik-i-Taliban, and Peshawar is under current threat, then the Tehrik-i-Taliban would be the next logical target.

We have long ago noted that the Pashtun rejected the global war on terror, and that the Pakistani Army believes that the war against the Taliban is American-made, and one in which Pakistan should not be engaged.  So who, then, is the enemy?  The Asia Times (“Sons of the Soil”) gives us a glimpse into the make-believe world of the Pakistani military leadership at the present.

The resilient Taliban have proved unshakeable across Afghanistan over the past few months, making the chances of a coalition military victory against the popular tide of the insurgency in the majority Pashtun belt increasingly slim.

The alternative, though, of negotiating with radical Taliban leaders is not acceptable to the Western political leadership.

This stalemate suits Pakistan perfectly as it gives Islamabad the opportunity to once again step in to take a leading role in shaping the course of events in its neighboring country.

Pakistan’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi are thrilled with the Taliban’s sweeping military successes which have reduced President Hamid Karzai’s American-backed government to a figurehead decorating the presidential palace of Kabul; he and his functionaries dare not even cross the street to take evening tea at the Serena Hotel.

June (28 US combat deaths) was the deadliest month for coalition troops since they invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and fatalities have increased steadily since 2004, when 58 soldiers were killed that year. The total more than doubled to 130 killed in 2005, 191 in 2006 and 232 in 2007. One hundred and twenty-seven have died so far this year.

Pakistan’s planners now see their objective as isolating radicals within the Taliban and cultivating tribal, rustic, even simplistic, “Taliban boys” – just as they did in the mid-1990s in the leadup to the Taliban taking control of the country in 1996. It is envisaged that this new “acceptable” tribal-inspired Taliban leadership will displace Taliban and al-Qaeda radicalism.

This process has already begun in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

A leading Pakistani Taliban leader, Haji Nazeer from South Waziristan, who runs the largest Pakistani Taliban network against coalition troops in Afghanistan, recently convened a large meeting at which it was resolved to once again drive out radical Uzbeks from South Waziristan. This happened once before, early last year.

In particular, Nazeer will take action against the Uzbeks’ main backer, Pakistani Taliban hardliner Baitullah Mehsud, if he tries to intervene. Nazeer openly shows his loyalty towards the Pakistani security forces and has reached out to other powerful Pakistani Taliban leaders, including Moulvi Faqir from Bajaur Agency, Shah Khalid from Mohmand Agency and Haji Namdar in Khyber Agency. Nazeer also announced the appointment of the powerful commander of North Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, as the head of the Pakistani Taliban for all Pakistan.

The bulk of the Pakistani Taliban has always been pro-Pakistan and opposed to radical forces like Baitullah Mehsud and his foreign allies, but this is the first time they have set up a formal organization and appointed an amir (chief) as a direct challenge to the radicals.

There it is in a nutshell – the Pakistan strategy for the war on terror.  The Pakistani military isn’t concerned about Nazeer’s military actions against the coalition in Afghanistan.  They are siding with one Taliban faction against another in the hopes of the stability of the Pakistani government.  Afghanistan is the sacrificial lamb in this deal.

As for the brave Nazeer’s first actions in this deal?  Yes, it’s driving out those powerful Uzbeks from Pakistan!  Without them the landscape takes a turn for the idyllic according the Pakistani military strategy.  As for Baitullah Mehsud who has around 20,000 fighters, he will likely have none of this.  Nazeer’s life will be in serious danger very soon if he pursues this plan.  It’s more likely that it isn’t the plan at all.   It’s more likely that Nazeer is playing the Pakistani military for fools.

As for the military actions near Peshawar, exactly what have they accomplished?  MEMRI fills in the blanks.

The operation yielded the arrest of several civilians and low-ranking fighters. Pakistan’s mass-circulation Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang wondered who wrote the script for the Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem, stating that it targeted nothing more than “empty buildings [used by] the banned organizations Lashkar-e-Islam, Ansarul Islam and Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi al-Munkar,” and that “not one of the leaders or fighters [of these organizations] was captured.”

The heart for the struggle is gone.  Military operations are conducted against pretend targets, deals are struck with local warlords who haven’t the power to really challenge the Tehrik-i-Taliban (and probably would’nt if they could), and the Uzbeks are bullied as if they constitute the real problem in Pakistan.  When the Pakistani military and current political leadership awakens from this dangerous slumber and realizes that it has made a deal with the devil, it may be too late for at least large parts of Pakistan.  Afghanistan will then be directly in the sights.

Combat Video

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

This is an instance of combat in Anbar where the tactic of fire and melt away didn’t work out so well for the insurgents.  Warning.  Language.

Prior: Marine Combat Video 1

Special Operations and the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

The always interesting Bill Gertz at the Washington Times has the scoop on a hot debate between the intelligence community and DoD on the use of Special Operations inside Pakistan to kill or capture OBL.

Defense officials are criticizing what they say is the failure to capture or kill top al Qaeda leaders because of timidity on the part of policy officials in the Pentagon, diplomats at the State Department and risk-averse bureaucrats within the intelligence community.

Military special operations forces (SOF) commandos are frustrated by the lack of aggressiveness on the part of several policy and intelligence leaders in pursuing al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his top henchmen, who are thought to have hidden inside the tribal areas of Pakistan for the past 6½ years.

The focus of the commandos’ ire, the officials say, is the failure to set up bases inside Pakistan’s tribal region, where al Qaeda has regrouped in recent months, setting up training camps where among those being trained are Western-looking terrorists who can pass more easily through security systems. The lawless border region inside Pakistan along the Afghan border remains off-limits to U.S. troops.

The officials say that was not always the case. For a short time, U.S. special operations forces went into the area in 2002 and 2003, when secret Army Delta Force and Navy SEALs worked with Pakistani security forces.

That effort was halted under Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, who recently blamed Pakistan for opposing the joint operations. Mr. Armitage, however, also disclosed his diplomatic opposition to the commando operations. Mr. Armitage, an adviser to Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain, told the New York Times last month that the United States feared pressuring Pakistani leaders for commando access and that the Delta Force and SEALs in the tribal region were “pushing them almost to the breaking point” …

Another major setback for aggressive special operations activities occurred recently with a decision to downgrade the U.S. Special Operations Command. Under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the command in 2004 began to shift its focus from support and training to becoming a front-line command in the covert war to capture and kill terrorists. In May, SOCOM, as the command is called, reverted to its previous coordination and training role, a change that also frustrated many SOF commandos.

Critics in the Pentagon of the failure to more aggressively use the 50,000-strong SOF force say it also is the result of a bias by intelligence officials against special forces, including Pentagon policy-makers such as former CIA officer Michael Vickers, currently assistant defense secretary for special operations; former CIA officer Mary Beth Long, assistant defense secretary for international security affairs; and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a former CIA director.

There’s more at the link, but the gist of the argument is captured above.  More than a little daydreaming of daring-do invades this notion of the use of special operations to perform the hard activities.  It’s a nice notion, this dream of more training in explosives, airborne qualifications and language making soldiers into supermen and capable of leaping borders and mountains in a single stride, but the fact is that the Pashtun are opposed to the global war on terror, and upon questioning, it has now been learned that the majority of Pakistani soldiers in the NWFP are in favor of the Taliban and believe that they are in a wrong war with them.

The Pakistanis don’t want combination bases with U.S., be they special operations or otherwise.  Any known special operations presence inside the tribal region would be an open invitation to mortar fire and the unnecessary death of all of the special operators caught without the proper force protection, and this — very soon after discovery.

The Small Wars Manual makes no mention of the use of special or black operations (although it does incorporate the use of distributed operations with as small as squad-size units connected to larger forces), but focuses more on known presence and contact with both the population and the enemy, as the Marines have done in the Helmand Province.

The reflexive turning to black operations and surreptitious engagements to remove high value targets is an artifact of the failed Rumsfeld paradigm for Afghanistan.  High value targets, according to the Small Wars Manual which makes little mention of such a thing, are not so high value after all.

The proper use of special operators has to do with the conduct of operations and operations support which requires different and specialized training (such as language, airborne qualifications, training of indigenous fighters, reconnaissance, and so forth).  There is no replacement for the conduct of counterinsurgency, not even special operations.  Afghanistan is the place to start for the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban.  After Pakistan senses commitment to the campaign, their disposition towards U.S. troops on Pakistani soil will change.

The Right Prescription for the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 7 months ago

Admonitions to spin off factions of the Taliban or Taliban-sympathizers against the so-called “hard core” Taliban are becoming commonplace.  But who are the Taliban?  We have already discussed the disaggregation of the Taliban into drug runners, war lords, petty former anti-Soviet commanders, criminals, Afghan Taliban, Pakistan Taliban, al Qaeda, and other rogue elements in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Drug runners, local war lords and other criminals can be dealt with differently than the Taliban.  Drug runners will likely not have strong inclinations to Islamic fundamentalism and certainly not the global expansion of the same.  On the other hand, the religiously motivated fighters within Afghanistan likely number as many as ten thousand fighters, including 3000 or so full time insurgents.

Then there is the Afghan Taliban who are not located within Afghanistan but who are indigenous to Afghanistan, under the leadership of Mohammed Omar who is probably in or around Quetta, Pakistan.  They continually resupply Taliban fighters and give them rest and sanctuary within Pakistan.  Quetta is a revolving door of support for Afghan fighters.

This group is organizationally disconnected with the Tehrik-i-Taliban, or Pakistan Taliban.  These are groups of Taliban who are led by various commanders, the most powerful of whom are Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, and Mullah Fazlullah in the SWAT valley.  The Tehrik-i-Taliban number tens of thousands more fighters.  It is estimated that Mehsud alone owns 20,000 fighters.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban are different than the Afghan Taliban in that they have brought a hard core global expansionist focus to their radical religious views.  It is what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban.

Some Afghan Taliban have laid down their weapons and taken up the Taliban cause in politics.  They have not changed their belief system – the same one that allied itself with the Taliban fighters and al Qaeda prior to 9/11.  The Afghan fighters who remain active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have not laid down their weapons and still harbor hopes of regaining the leadership of Afghanistan.  The Tehrik-i-Taliban are hard core radicals, and shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.

Not a single group or subgroup listed above can be violently turned against the active Taliban fighters, mostly because their are ideologically aligned.  In Anbar, Iraq, the more secular Sunni tribes had the religiously motivated al Qaeda thrust on them from the outside with all of the oppressive violence, and it didn’t take long for them to rebel.  The same is not true of either Afghanistan or Pakistan.  The proof is pre-9/11 history in Afghanistan where the hard core fighters – including al Qaeda – had safe haven.

There are repeated instances of misdiagnosis of the problem.

Given this state of affairs, Karzai and his foreign allies will not be in a position to do much against the Taliban and its supporters unless they work on three main objectives simultaneously. One is to address their political and strategic vulnerabilities; another is to widen and speed up reconstruction. A third is to re-establish a stable Afghan-Pakistan border by pressuring Pakistan  to halt all support for the Taliban.

True enough for potential future Taliban fighters whom we wish to keep in the fold, this prescription is wrong for the existing Taliban because the ailment has been misdiagnosed (and besides, pressure has already been put on Pakistan, to no avail).  For the Taliban, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum has the right suggestion: “NATO forces must be united in their commitment to wage war against the Taliban.”  No single group can be spun off to fight the Taliban in lieu of Western military operations against them.

Al Qaeda Withdrawal from Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

In Resurgence of Taliban and al Qaeda we relied on the CTC Sentinel at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point to show that there had begun a steady redeployment of al Qaeda and foreign fighters away from Iraq and to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  “By 2007, jihadist websites from Chechnya to Turkey to the Arab world began to feature recruitment ads calling on the “Lions of Islam” to come fight in Afghanistan. It appears that many heeded the call. This was especially true after the Anbar Awakening of anti-al-Qa`ida tribal leaders and General David Petraeus’ “surge strategy” made Iraq less hospitable for foreign volunteers.”

This steady drain of fighters away from Iraq has increased lately as reported by the Gulf News.

Some groups of Al Qaida terror network in Iraq have started leaving the country towards other hot spots in Africa like Sudan and Somalia, security sources tell Gulf News.

A key reason behind the change in strategy by the so-called Al Qaida Organisation in Mesopotamia is the intensity of the latest military strikes launched by Iraqi and US forces against the network, which has been the major challenge to restoring the stability of Iraq, the sources said.

“Our intelligence information indicates the withdrawal of certain groups of Al Qaida fromIraq because of the military strikes. Many of them have escaped through the borders with Syria and Iran to hotter zones such as Somalia and Sudan,” Major General Hussain Ali Kamal, head of the Investigation and Information Agency at the Interior Ministry, told Gulf News.

“I believe this is the beginning of the complete withdrawal of Al Qaida from Iraqi territory.”

A source at Iraqi Ministry of National Security said that documents and letters found in hideouts of “some elements of Al Qaida” during search operations in Sunni suburbs in Baghdad, which were previously under the control of Al Qaida, “prove these elements left Iraq for Somalia and Sudan”.

The sources for this article are mistaken that al Qaeda has “started leaving the country.”  They had started during the campaign for Anbar and later during the initial stages of the security plan for Baghdad.  The pace has apparently increased according to intelligence obtained directly from al Qaeda.  This is very good news for Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the vigilance must not wane.  Al Qaeda left Iraq and headed for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and now Somalia and the Sudan (among other countries – AQ was already present in Libya).

The Captain’s Journal has previously recommended that the U.S. Marines be deployed to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom, and Somali and Sudan and other countries in Africa and the Middle East will need our attention.  While Iraq must be made secure and stable, we must not forget that the long war is against a transnational insurgency which has no recognition of borders as important or even existent with respect to its ideology.

Marine Money in the Helmand Province

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

In U.S. Marine Style Counterinsurgency we discussed the Marines’ complaint shop after kinetic operations in and around Garmser.  The Marines pay for broken windows, dead farm animals, busted doors, and so forth.  This is the right thing to do, as well as being productive policy.  The surest way to lose the cooperation and respect of the population is to destroy their property and ignore their consequent needs from the battles.  Much money was promised, but at the end of the article it came to light that so far, the money was promised but not forthcoming.

There’s one flaw in the Marines’ campaign. While they freely issue compensation vouchers, they don’t have any actual money to give out yet. The cash, the Marines tell the villagers, will be here on July 1. The date has already slipped once, from mid-June, and some people doubt they’ll ever see the money. “If we don’t pay them on the first,” Sgt. Blake said, “it’s going to be bad.”

The Captain’s Journal responded, “the money had better be there because it affects the reputation of the U.S. Marines and the COIN effort underway in Afghanistan.  Time for the DoD to “belly up to the bar.”

True to the consistent reputation of the Marines, the money is shown below displayed nicely, just prior to be handed out to locals.

Photo courtesy of DVIDS.

The Taliban Can Be Beaten

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

First the British were going to show the U.S. all about proper rules of engagement, proper counterinsurgency, and right conduct in a foreign country.  As Basra headed downhill, the British were demoralized and talked of the “good war” in Afghanistan – the campaign that must be won.  This vision has evaporated, and not just because of the talk by David Miliband and Des Brown.  The support is vanishing at the grass roots level.

Britain went into Helmand two years ago on the basis of gung-ho, and gung-ho still censors public debate. Yet behind the scenes all is despair. A meeting of Afghan observers in London last week, at the launch of James Fergusson’s book on the errors of Helmand, A Million Bullets, was an echo chamber of gloom.

All hope was buried in a cascade of hypotheticals. Victory would be at hand “if only” the Afghan army were better, if the poppy crop were suppressed, the Pakistan border sealed, the Taliban leadership assassinated, corruption eradicated, hearts and minds won over. None of this is going to happen. The generals know it but the politicians dare not admit it.

Those who still support the “good” Afghan war reply to any criticism by attempting to foreclose debate. They assert that we cannot be seen to surrender to the Taliban and we have gone in so far and must “finish the job”.

This is policy in denial. Nothing will improve without the support of the Afghan government, yet that support is waning by the month. Nothing will improve without the commitment of Pakistan. Yet two weeks ago Nato bombed Pakistani troops inside their own country, losing what lingering sympathy there is for America in an enraged Islamabad. Whoever ordered the attack ought to be court-martialled, except it was probably a computer.

We forget that the objective of the Afghanistan incursion was not to build a new and democratic Afghanistan. It was to punish the Taliban for harbouring Osama Bin Laden and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for Al-Qaeda training camps. The former objective was achieved on day one; the latter would never be achieved by military occupation.

It took the U.S. Marines to pacify Garmser, and so one has to wonder at just how gung ho the Brits were, especially when a single book can cause such moribund views of the campaign.  Continuing with Jenkins’ commentary:

Two things were known about the Taliban at the time and they are probably still true. First, under outside pressure their leaders were moving from the manic extremism of their “student” origins, even responding to demands to curb the poppy harvest. The present Nato policy of killing the older leaders and thus leaving young hotheads in charge is daft.

Second, the Pashtun Taliban are not natural friends of the Arab Al-Qaeda, despite Bin Laden being given sanctuary by the Taliban’s Mullah Omar. Bin Laden helped the Taliban by murdering Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Tajik leader, but that put a Tajik price on his head, which no man wants. Then the 9/11 coup made the Taliban pariahs even within the region.

Jenkins is being foolish and making things up.  There is no strategy to “kill the older leaders and thus leaving young hotheads in charge.”  Further, to pretend that the Taliban were or are moderating their views is worse than stolid and dense.  It’s dangerous, specifically because of what Jenkins recommends.

What is sure is that Al-Qaeda, as a (grossly overrated) “threat to the West”, will not be suppressed without Taliban cooperation. This means reversing a policy that naively equates “defeating” the Taliban with “winning” the war on terror. Fighting in Afghanistan is as senseless as trying to suppress the poppy crop. It just costs lives and money.

The British view of the world has grown bizarre, or at least it has for Jenkins’ and the friends with whom he cavorts.  All the Taliban really want is their piece of the pie.  Drive al Qaeda and the other globalists out, they will.  Only, this is daydreaming.

A more hearty view comes from inside Afghanistan from warlord-turned-military commander Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum.

Following a traditional exchange of greetings and compliments, I asked the general to explain how the Taliban have managed to rebuild their support base and expand the insurgency.

“The Taliban are not unbeatable, and they do not field large troop formations,” he said. “They are a loose-knit group without a central organization in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban are equipped in Pakistan and sent into southern Afghanistan to wage an insurgency and to prevent reconstruction.”

When asked what was necessary to defeat the insurgents, Dostum was quick to respond.

NATO forces must be united in their commitment to wage war against the Taliban, and they must create a unique Afghan fighting force to help them accomplish this,” he said. “The current (Afghan) national army with its current leadership will never be efficient.”

The proposed new Afghan force would be recruited from Dostum’sown former Northern Alliance fighters, numbering about 5,000, and the general believes he is the best candidate to lead this army.

“I haven’t been defeated at any stage in time,” he boasted. “I will crush the Taliban with a complete defeat in a very short time, just six months, and push them totally outside of Afghanistan’s borders.”

Then the fledgling Afghan army would have the breathing space it needs to develop into a professional fighting force, he said.

The Northern Alliance, recall, is the group that forced the Taliban out with a slight bit of help from the U.S.  After this, we felt it necessary to enter into all manner of shady deals with Taliban-sympathizers rather than deploy forces to the theater, and thus the campaign has steadily gone downhill since (with steadily worsening security).

Rather than being the answer to the malaise in the campaign, making shady deals with Taliban and their sympathizers is what has gotten the campaign where it is today.  While it may be a most delightful daydream to imagine that we can simply leave the theater to good men who will drive out the extremists, the problem is that the men we will leave the theater to are the extremists.

Two Worthy Causes

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

No Greater Sacrifice

The men and women of the United States Armed Forces and law enforcement communities risk their lives every day for our country and our way of life. There is no greater sacrifice: to serve, to work, to fight – and if need be – to lay down one’s life for the cause of freedom. In making this sacrifice, every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and law enforcement official is forced to leave his or her loved ones back home.

No Greater Sacrifice (“NGS”) serves to bridge the educational development and professional mentoring gap for the children of our nation’s fallen heroes. Our job is to help finish their work by raising funds to pay for college tuition and graduate degree programs and to provide professional mentoring for their children. NGS accomplishes its mission by funding the charities that are already on the ground working on behalf of this noble cause, including:

The Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation
And other local charities that support the NGS mission

Operation Worship

You don’t have to be for or against war to support someone who has volunteered to defend your freedom and your country. Being in harm’s way takes its toll on the individual and the serviceperson’s family. You can encourage them with a personal note and a spiritual help.

Open Window Foundation, a non-profit ministry, created Operation worship to serve U.S. military people around the globe.

Tyndale Publishing House designed a Bible especially for deployed military people that includes a special page for your personal message of encouragement or prayer.

Stop by your local Christian store for a $4.99 Bible, write your message and we’ll ensure it’s delivered free to a deployed soldier or soldier’s spouse.

100,000 Bibles for our troops in 100 days.



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