Thursday, December 29, 2011
Persia, modern Iran, was undone by its decentralized form of government. Modern Iran suffers no such illusions. The reign of the ayatollahs being set into motion by a revolution against the US backed Shah.
While the US and the rest of the Western World worried about terrorists, Iran pursued a two-pronged course of becoming a major power. First is the much hyped Iranian nuclear weapons program. Ahmadinejad has pursued a nuclear weapons program as a way of Iranian self-realization (hence my references to the Persian Empire).
The second and more subtle approach has been becoming the chair of OPEC. Iran now sits at the head of one of the most i
influential organizations when it comes to national security and the economy.
Secretary Clinton has been an outspoken critic of the Iranian nuclear weapons program and has, thus far, been unsuccessful in changing Ahmadinejad's mind. I suspected the announced US Navy drills in the region are another attempt to convince Iran that the US means business. However, Iran seems equally determined to tell the US to "piss off" and has allegedly found the US carrier battle group. To be sure, this is not that difficult. Moving that much metal around in the ocean creates all types of signatures.
Iran has not been just sitting around waiting for the Sec Def to send in the troops. First was the rumored recruitment of a Mexican drug cartel to help assassinate a Saudi Arabian diplomat in the US. Now comes a story about the US selling 84 X F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. While the $20 billion price tag was enticing to the US, the need for the Saudi family to have better fighter aircraft was paramount. After all, the Arabian and Persian empires were not exactly friends.
As though this weren't enough for the Obama Administration, now comes news of Patriot missiles that were on the way to China. The Patriot missiles were the darlings of the first Persian Gulf War. Patriots missiles protected coalition forces from the very real danger of chemically armed SCUD missiles. China possessing such technology, in light of the passing of North Korea's long-time leader, is not good news. Had the Finland doc workers been less vigilant, the US would be at a terrific disadvantage on the Korean peninsula.
I don't know what will happen in 2012, the Mayan calendar not withstanding. We have a presidential election, a troop downsizing, budget cuts, continued unemployment, a contentious relationship with Pakistan, a worse relationship with Iran, and now an unknown taking over the reigns in North Korea. It seems like the perfect storm.
Iran pinpoints US carrier
Patriot Missiles Seized
US to sell F-15s to Saudi Arabia
Friday, December 23, 2011
Even after teaching TSA personnel, I have some of the same concerns. Looking for what happened previously prevents a more fluid approach to looking for the unusual. Case in point, removing shoes. One moron tried it, didn't work, but we still look for shoes. This lead another moron to stuff liquid explosives in his underwear. It didn't work either but not because of our screening process but because of vigilant passengers.
The article also points out the greatest flaw, we are focusing our efforts almost exclusively on passengers. Support personnel and vendors, who work daily at the airport, can easily by-pass procedures or smuggle weapons on-board for other operatives to use.
I also believe if we want to down an airliner, there are multiple ways to do it that don't require the terrorist to ever set foot on an airport.
Do we still need TSA? Yes but not for any reasons the author wrote about. TSA provides a tremendous psychological deterrent to would-be terrorists. Much like the greeter at Wal-mart, TSA lets people know someone is watching. It also makes other travelers feel that something is being done to make them safer. You can't prove a negative, we really can't prove how many terrorists were stopped by TSA. But TSA doesn't just stop terrorists. They seize weapons, drugs and larges sums of cash daily. Most of these seizures result in arrests and convictions by law enforcement agencies.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Exclusive: North Korea's military to share power with Kim's heir | Reuters
Monday, December 19, 2011
So let's review the last 60 years on the Korean Peninsula. Japan occupied Korea through the end of WWII, after which the North was controlled by the Soviet Union. After the Korean War (1950-1953), Kim Il-Sung adopted a policy of "self-reliance" which set the stage for North Korea's isolation from the rest of the modern world. It also resulted in the longest cease-fire in history. The United States has maintained a heavy troop presence there ever since the war.
According to the CIA Factbook, North Korea "demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control. "
KIM Il Sung's son, KIM Jong Il (who died of heart attack over the weekend), was officially designated as his father's successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM's death in 1994.
Under Kim Jong Il, North Korea focused exclusively on becoming a nuclear power at the cost of starving its own people. A German documentary film maker recently gained access to North Korea. Kim Jon Il's obsession has turned the capital, Pyongyang, into a bizarre movie set. Traffic cops stand in intersections directing non-existent traffic. High rise buildings are empty facades with elevators that don't operate.
The nuclear program was no empty promise. North Korea seemed to take great delight in firing ballistic missiles over Japan or at the Hawaiian islands. The missiles were clearly capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
The cost has been millions of North Koreans starving. It has often been speculated that the North would revolt against Kim but he was fondly referred to as "Dear Leader". A North Korean newscaster broke down in tears while announcing the death of Kim Il-Jong.
Kim Il-Jong did realize he needed to set a succession plan in motion. Instead of the 70-year senior Kim, North Korea now has his inexperienced 28-year old son Kim Jong-eun. Much like when an established monarch would pass, Kim Jong-eun is not guaranteed to remain in power.
First, it has long been assumed the only thing preventing the reunification of the Korean peninsula was Kim Jong-Il. Rival North Korean generals and Workers’ party officials will jostle for positions. China may not support reunification efforts which would allow a US ally to be on its border.
Kim Il-eun was promoted by his father to four-star general (though he has never been in the military). He may feel it necessary to prove his "street creds" by escalating hostilities against South Korea or US forces stationed in the Pacific. Or some of the general staff may take advantage of the younger Kim's lack of experience to start aggression.
The one good signs seems to be shares on Seoul’s Kospi index closed down 3.4 per cent. China may not want an economic crisis on its borders. Foreign investors, already leery about the European economic crisis, may become skittish about Pacific markets. This may create an incentive for cooler heads to prevail.
The one area that should cause some concern is the history between Pakistan and North Korea. Pakistan sold Stinger missiles to North Korea back in the late 1980s. Pakistan and US relations have heated up over the recently killing of Pakistani soldiers by US forces. Kim Jong-eun may be drawn into escalating this tension. The US is not in a position to deal with this two-pronged attack and still be able to keep Iran in check.
Sixty-two airmen and 55 soldiers assigned to Camp Adder, known to the Iraqis as the Imam Ali Base, on the outskirts of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, boarded a C-17 from Travis AFB, Calif., on Dec. 17 for a flight back to Kuwait. It was the last flight from the last US military base on the last night of Operation New Dawn.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
In a rather "revoltin" development, Iran has now posted a video showing what looks like a RQ-170 Sentinel drone. I can't help but draw an analogy to the 1960 downing of a U-2 spy plane flown by CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told members of the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday that he expects the Pentagon's strategic review to be complete by year's end. That review is likely to outline the fate of the Air National Guard's newest airlifter, the C-27J, which embarked on its first deployment to Afghanistan this summer. The service already has purchased 21 aircraft, with plans to purchase 17 more. However, that appears to be under debate as service leaders grapple with fiscal uncertainties. Schwartz said the "decision is not final" over whether to put the remaining C-27Js on the chopping block, but he added that such a move "would be extremely painful to me personally." He explained that he made a "commitment" to retired Gen. George Casey, former Army Chief of Staff, "that I would not do this deal with him and then back out." The C-27J was originally an Army program, but was later transferred to the Air Force. "That was two years ago, so I've got personal skin in this," said Schwartz. But, Schwartz also said that budget constraints are forcing the Air Force to look at reducing entire fleets, "not a few here and a few there.
The C-27J was procured to backfill the tactical airlift gap created by the culling of the C-130s from the Air National Guard. As Katrina proved, the ability of the Air National Guard to use C-130s to move materials into Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana was critical to restoring infrastructure and services. Despite this track record, the 2005 Base Re-Aslignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations was to cull most of the C-130Hs and C-130Js from ANG. The C-27J was a stop-gap to allow the National Guard some tactical airlift for contingency response and homeland security. Barely a year after the first C-27s were fielded, the remaining airframes are in jeopard of being slashed. Not only will these airframes never get purchased, there is no other option available to the states.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Seven months later, Gaddafi has been run out of town and rebels are have created a Transitional National Council. NATO has spent "hundreds of millions," according to a state from NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral Stavridis back in June. Despite an intense air campaign, it took rebel forces many months to route Gaddafi forces. We may see and even more dictatorial regime emerge as opposition forces look to oppress former Gaddafi sympathizers.
Egyptians threw out Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring but again with no real plan as to what to do once he was gone. A good study might be to ask why the United States stood around while the successor to Anwar Sadat and the leader of the only Arabic country to get along with Israel was ousted. Well one would have to look a little practice called rendition used by many countries but most recently the United States. Rendition means moving a suspect (usually a terrorist suspect) to a third country where other means of persuasion can be applied. Egypt was the preferred destination for those that the US wanted interrogated. If you think about that for a minute, a country that could interrogate (read, torture) other suspects might have acquired those skills by first using them on their own people.
Oh, Egypt was doing us a favor either. Most of those that were sent their through rendition were early al-Qaeda operatives (you know, back when we gave Osama bin Laden Stinger missiles to use against the Soviet Union?). Now the latest is 19 dead in clashes with the government that has taken over in Egypt. Unlike Libya and Syria, at least 10 percent of Egyptians are Coptic Christians and are quite concerned that an ultra conservative Islamic government could take over.
Syrian leader Assad has been fending off rebels almost as long as in Libya but with different results. While former Libyan leader Gaddafi is on the run, Assad is still very much in control of Syria. Syria has warned against recognizing the rebels. Fighting has been intense but unlike Libya, Syrian rebels don't have the benefit of NATO air cover. Syria receives support and weapons from Iran which could be another reason the West has treaded much more lightly with this outbreak of the "Arab Spring".
What does the world get for all of the violence? It is difficult to say. It looks like France may have secured itself a choice seat at the table to discuss Libya's oil (which is around 2 percent of the world's production). If Egypt becomes more conservative, it means heightened tensions with Israel (security officers on both sides have been killed). Turmoil in Syria might mean some type of intervention by Iran (either overtly or covertly). Syria and Turkey have also been exchanging fire.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
France has strikes and protests on a fairly regular basis. The French followed suite with the Greeks (plus the Irish, Belgians and Spanish) in protest of exploding deficits created by European Union (EU) policies. Unlike their non-Gaul friends, the French took protests to a new level. French rail and airway workers struck shutting down the country for several days. Like Greece, French workers have threatened rolling strikes to keep the pressure on the government and EU.
Not to be outdone by their Norman neighbors, the British most recently rioted in August when police fatally shot Mark Duggan in North London. Originally the impetus of this riot was poor relations between police and the local community but as the riot quickly spread, the economic impact became quite evident. The rioters were looting communities and organized crime had figured out that through social media, they could recruit thugs to help them out. The police simply could not respond fast enough to a flash mob striking multiple businesses at one time.
Most white Americans are descendants of the same European nations that have experienced riots and protests in the last few years that it seemed the United States (which was founded by a revolution after all) would eventually see some type of protest. We did not have to wait all that long.
While the news media followed a hunk of space debris falling from the sky, a group called Occupy Wall Street started to stage protests in the financial district. A core group of around 200 protestors has been able to orchestra demonstrations consisting of thousands of people. Over 700 were arrested this weekend when the protestors staged a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Protestors have assembled in as divergent areas as Albuquerque, Boston and Los Angeles in support of the core movement in New York. While exact demands remain vague, interviews indicate people are protesting over financial policies that are leaving more and more Americans in debt. Two weeks into the protests and the movement shows no signs of abating.
While terrorism takes the front page (see al-Awlaki, while an influential cleric he never did pose a direct threat), the Occupy Wall Street poses a far different problem. What happens when hundred or even thousands of protestors all organize and demonstrate at the same time? There aren't enough law enforcement officers in the country to handle such a situation. Even if there were, where would they process or lock-up all of the demonstrators? We may be seeing a similar situation developing here in the US that has been going in Europe for the last few years. Unlike Europe, we have a much larger population which is connected virtually.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The commander of US African Command, Gen Ham, has three fears as a result of Libya. First, Libya has a large stock pile of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. Second is the large quantities of ammunition. Third, Libya has many of the components to make chemical weapons (even though Libya does not have chemical weapons).
When the Soviet Union fell, the stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons became available to terrorists and the black market. Inventory records either were destroyed or never existed so no one really knows what weapons may have found their way out of the former Soviet Union.
Gen Ham's concerns are another example of jumping into a conflict without a clear understanding of the implications. We do know who will follow Gaddafi as the new leader of Libya. Whoever that turns out to be will most likely be ousted as they will little traction. Now analysts are beginning to realize that no Gaddafi means no one is around tending to the store. The new regime is going to need funds to rebuild after the NATO air campaign. Selling the missiles and munitions could provide ready cash.
Shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles are low-cost and effective. You don't need to sneak in operatives and have them take flying lessons. Now a single operative, who could already be in-country, can now take a shoulder-launched SAM and down an airliner.
The general is concerned the cache of munitions could be turned into improvised explosive devices (IED). The munitions could be used as is to attack soft targets in the United States or embassies abroad.
Finally the components to make chemical weapons means rogue nations could find a ready supply. Chemical weapons are very difficult to deploy for small cell terrorist groups. Unless the weapons are manufactured by a qualified maker, the terrorists are at greater risk of being exposed to the weapon than the intended target.
All three of the general's fears are correct. Imagine had another course of action been pursued (like leaving things alone), this new threat to our security would be less or even non-existent.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sweden arrested four terrorist suspects on the eve of 9/11. Their intended target was an old heating plant that had been converted to an arts center. Sweden has been focused on radicalized Muslim terrorism but with the advent of Anders Breivik (the Norwegian right wing terrorist/mass murderer), experts started to look out for similar groups. The Swedish government has released few details about the four suspects. The attack may have been related a Swedish cartoonist who in 2007 drew the prophet Mohammed.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Transit authority police are patrolling Penn Station in New York armed with assault rifles. Wow, they must be preparing for an invasion along the lines of "Independence Day" or "Battle Los Angeles". Then I read this on MyWay:
New York City has mobilized a brigade-sized force to intercept three terrorists that may be armed with a car bomb. I saw the terrorists are winning just on economics. Yes, I agree NYC and Washington DC need to protect their citizens and visitors but the reaction is too cumbersome. The footprint is too obvious and goes beyond a show of force. We need a nimble response that can easily flow from one type of threat to another, one that doesn't cost the equivalent of the GDP of Mozambique.
Some future historian will write about the Global War on Terror and wonder why the United States spent billions of dollars to ostensibly hunt down one man. It took ten years to find him and then he was essentially shot on sight. If that was the goal all along, why was it necessary to mobilize the entire US military at the cost of thousands of lives?
I'm not that future historian. I'm trying to figure out if we aren't being snookered by a very small group into providing a huge response and costly response. What if the attackers are heading to Chicago? Detroit is right across from Windsor, Canada and has one of the largest Arabic populations in the United States. Detroit is only a few hours by car from Chicago which happens to be the hometown of President Obama.
Or what about LA? Los Angeles has Hollywood, a symbol of Western influence abroad. Los Angeles also has fewer police per capita than New York City (the most recent numbers I could find were from 1998; 55 per capita in NYC versus 26 per capita in LA). The weather is far milder and the border with Mexico provides a means of ingress or egress for the attack.
Analysts can sometimes over analyze the past and create an assessment that looks like the terrorists will repeat the same behaviors. Perhaps they will try to attack NYC or Washington DC but why? Those targets have already been hit. Even a moderately successfully attack on another city would create a far greater psychological impact.
Friday, September 9, 2011
The fact there is a threat should come as no surprise to anyone. People are fascinated by anniversaries that are a factor of 5, so the 10th is much poignant than say the 9th or 12th. All any would-be terrorist needs to do is come up with some detailed plan and leak it to the authorities. Bam! You know put the authorities into the classic dilemma of damned if you do or damned if you don't.
The authorities know that there is little real chance of an another 9/11 scale attack against NYC or DC. There are just too many resources focused on there now to make any attack successful. However, they can't afford to become lax and thus allow an otherwise ineffective effort to become successful. A threat to one of those cities could also be a feint and the real attack could happen elsewhere. There are many targets that do not have New York or Washington zip codes.
A number of events earlier this year have come together to make the 10th anniversary of 9/11 an especially intriguing date. Osama bin Laden was killed, Gaddafi was ousted and Libya bombed, the Arab Spring, Syria/Turkey/Israel/Egypt all shooting at each other, and the falling of the US bond rating are all rallying points for a terrorist cell to attack.
Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 69 people, identified himself as a Christian and slaughtered his fellow Norwegians because his country had become too liberal towards Muslims. The attack should have served as a reminder to analysts that it doesn't take a radicalized Muslim to become a terrorist.
Eric Robert Rudolph committed a series of bombings throughout the South from 1996-1998 ending in the Olympic Park bombing that killed two and injured 150. His motivations for such crimes? Abortion.
The real target of any terrorist attack is not the victim but the survivor. More people die each year in the United States from the flu then did in the WTC bombings. But which group gets a memorial? That's the point of a terrorist attack.
The other part is to cause the government to spend money and resources in reaction. New York City is spending huge amounts of its budget to add additional patrols (including air and maritime) to prevent an attack. Imagine what a fraction of that money could do for public works or social services! The terrorists are driving our priorities.
As the 10th anniversary draws near, we need to keep things in balance. While NYC and the Pentagon were in a state of chaos, the sun still rose and many people went to work on Sep 12th just like any other day. Be careful out there but don't let the potential threat cause you to make drastic changes. After all, you are at a far greater risk of being killed by a drunk driver than being a victim of a terrorist attack yet you are still driving. Keep it in perspective.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Want to know why relations between Turkey and Israel are strained?
In May last year eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish descent died on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the six-vessel convoy taking aid to the Palestinian territory of Gaza, in a raid by Israeli special forces in international waters. The U.N. reports did nothing to diffuse the situation by on one hand criticizing Israel for excessive force but then saying it Israel was right to impose a naval blockade to prevent arms from reaching Hamas. Turkey has not blacklisted Hamas as a terrorist group (Europe has making Turkey's attempts to join the EU difficult). Last week, Turkey announced that Israeli ambassador Gaby Levy was being expelled and all bilateral military agreements were suspended as it angrily rejected the findings of a United Nations probe into the deadly flotilla raid (source: Sydney Morning Herald). Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a total freeze of military and trade ties with Israel and threatened to visit Gaza as the one-time allies' diplomatic spat intensified.
Want to know why the United States has been silent on the issue?
The State Department last week announced that Turkey will host a ballistic missile defense radar in support of NATO's efforts to defend its European member states from attack. "The United States welcomes Turkey's decision," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a Sept. 2 release. Stars and Stripes reported that the United States hopes to set up the AN/TPY-2 transportable X-band phased-array surveillance radar at an undisclosed Turkish military site by year's end. The radar will link to Navy's BMD-capable Aegis ships that will operate in the Mediterranean Sea as part of the US Phased Adaptive Approach BMD architecture that will help protect Europe. Both Poland and Romania already have agreed to host US missile interceptor sites later this decade as part of the PAA. AFA Magazine
Forward-based radars enhance the missile defense system’s capability by adding precision in tracking and cueing interceptors against incoming missiles. Radars are capable of detecting ballistic missiles early in their flight and will provide precise tracking information for use by the missile defense system. This approach provides overlapping sensor coverage, the potential to extend ballistic missile defense system battle space, and to complicate enemy's ability to penetrate defense system.
The United States and NATO cannot create a ballistic missile shield without a presence in Turkey. Dealing with Turkey whenever its interests diverge from US policies becomes difficult. It is far easier to just ignore our Eastern ally and hope they can peacefully settle things on their own. Of course, that was before the Syrian government crackdown that is driving thousands of Syrians into Turkey.
Monday, September 5, 2011
U.S. officials said spy agencies are stepping up surveillance of Islamist-oriented elements among Libyan rebels. A government report circulated Tuesday said extremists were observed “strategizing” on Internet forums about how to set up an Islamist state in Libya after the regime of Col. Gadhafi is defeated.
I've wondered who would replace Gadhafi and what the government would look like. Western governments felt the transitional government would be superior to Gadhafi's regime. Of course, since Gadhafi has so successfully crush any opposition that likelihood of it succeeding is low. It simply does not have the infrastructure and history to keep itself in power. So the question becomes, what follows? It appears the LIFG (which according to the Washington Times has ties to LA Qeada), is thinking about creating an Islamist state. Even just the discussion of such a government could embolden efforts in other countries such as Egypt.
Some future historian or foreign affairs analyst will be able to answer, what was the point of taking out Gadhafi? Especially since neither the United States or the European Union had a plan beyond getting oil rights.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Officials are still trying to figure out why two US postal workers and an airman became sick while handling mail early Wednesday at Scott AFB, Ill. All three were sent to the hospital and later released after "experiencing adverse reactions to handling mail," according to a base release. Fourteen others were decontaminated on site. The postal center, education center, bowling alley, information tickets and tours office, and the airman family readiness center all were evacuated. As of Thursday afternoon, the postal center remained closed; however, officials had reopened the surrounded buildings. Bio-environmental specialists at Scott and explosive ordnance disposal technicians "found nothing of significance at the official mail center," although US postal inspectors continue to investigate. "Our personnel are safe and the buildings in which they work have been declared safe and we will proceed with normal business tomorrow," said base commander Col. Michael Hornitschek. He added, "We view this as an isolated incident that could have happened any particular day in any particular mail center" in the Air Force.
I was stationed at Scott AFB during the mid to late 80s. Even today, it still sits out in the middle of a corn field. Unlike say Andrews AFB (which is basically on the beltway in DC), the area around Scott is rural. The incident should serve as a reminder that incidents can occur anywhere.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
That's how Adm McRaven describes special operations forces and more importantly, the decision to use the counter-terrorism SEAL Team Six to back up the Rangers last month. The result was the deaths of 17 members of the elite Navy Seals, 5 members of a Naval Special Warfare unit that supports the Seals team, 3 members of an Air Force Special Operations unit, 5 members of an Army helicopter crew, 7 Afghan commandos and a civilian Afghan interpreter.
The new commander of Special Operations Command is facing criticisms from both special operators and military strategists about last months raid. Admiral McRaven is holding to "fungible" as justification for putting an elite team as back-up. Yes, the SEALs can do this but is this the best use of their skills? The questions McRaven is dodging is when the mission was being planned, why did the planners go with an elite team to back-up the Rangers? There are many other units (with more firepower), as well as artillery units, that should have been in the planning process. Perhaps a limiting factor was no other units were available to back-up the Rangers. If so, why send them in to what appears more and more to have been an ambush.
In addition to the 38 lives that were lost, the US Special Forces community lost many seasoned operators. You can't just run out and replace that kind of skill set.
I also wonder if the planners did not get snookered into thinking the Rangers would be meeting a much less lethal force. Gen Custer is remembered for the Battle of Little Bighorn. Most high school students, if they study the battle at all, will simply say Custer and his forces were annihilated. What they don't realize is that Custer was a veteran of the Civil War and Indian Wars. He was a West Point graduate, a good strategist and field officer. There were numerous errors but it came down to under-estimating the threat. Custer split his forces up and failed to consider the superior numbers and firepower of his enemy (the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux had Henry repeating rifles. The soldiers had single shot carbines).
President Carter learned the risks associated with using helicopters to attempt an infiltration of special operators to rescue the American hostages in Tehran. Eight helicopters came in from the USS Nimitz. The fine sand caused one to crash and another to turn back. Six helicopters reached therendezvous point. The decision was made to abort the mission. A hot refueling (engines running) on the ground (very dangerous!) was attempted between the C-130 refueler and one of the helicopters. A combination of wind and sand caused the helicopter to crash into the C-130. Both aircraft were lost and 8 Americans were killed. The remaining helicopters were now stranded without fuel.
Military officers and senior NCOs study these events and yet we continue to repeat the same mistakes. Inserting or extracting troops with helicopters is always risky. Helicopters transition from "aircraft" to "ground target" quickly. It is at those times the mission is at greatest risk to mortar or artillery fire. Bombard the landing zone with artillery and mortar fire and you may score a hit. The Chinook in this case fell victim to that other weapon, the shoulder launch surface-to-air (SAM) missile. The same tactic that brought down Soviet Mi-24s in the Afghanistan and US Blackhawks in Somalia. It will continue to be an effective tactic for the foreseeable future.
Admiral Defends Use of Navy Seals Unit in Fatal Raid - NYTimes.com
Saturday, August 27, 2011
"Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa have repeatedly complained that the NATO intervention in Libya has gone far beyond the U.N. mandate approved by the council in March to protect civilians from violence by the government. They say they do not want the same thing to happen in Syria."
There are many more things at play here than Syria. Russia sees US influence on world affairs weakening. The Russians are going to continue to strike down US/European proposals in the future. It also doesn't hurt that Syria is a major buyer of Russian arms.
China continues to be a surging economic threat to the US and with the downgrade of the US bond market, China sees no reason to support a weakening superpower. The Chinese are also building their first true aircraft carriers, stealth fighters, and anti-shipping missiles. The United States debt prevents any real discussion of building weapon systems to counter these threats.
Finally, while France and the US may have no use for Gaddafi the rest of world sees the UN intervening in another country's affairs. We really have no idea what Libya is going to look like in a few years but whatever happens, it will be because of US/NATO intervention. The rest of the world is growing weary of such actions with Russia and China being in the best positions to do something about it.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
From Air Force Association Daily Update
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
So European colonial powers (albeit former) are still dictating what happens in North Africa and the Middle East. Perhaps I'm wrong but the European Union has not demonstrated the ability to tell anyone what to do.
"Four hundred people were killed and 2,000 wounded in three days of fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi in the Libyan capital Tripoli, the head of the rebel council said Wednesday."
These number seem low given the use of airpower to support the rebels. I suspect this may be a downplay on the actual carnage.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I just finished my last post about Libya and mentioned Turkey when this story caught my eye.
The Kurds occupy an area consisting of Northern Iraq, Southern Turkey, Western Iran and parts of Armenia and Georgia. The Kurds are not Arabic (they have their own language) and really have no place to call home. The governments of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Armenia basically have no use for the Kurds. After Desert Storm, Turkey and Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) agreed on Kurdish problem. Iraq would move their artillery up to the 38th parallel (the star of the northern no-fly zone) and shell Kurdish villages. The Kurds would be driven back into Turkey who had a hot-pursuit agreement with Iraq and could fly into Northern Iraq to strike the PKK. Oh, and the US was part of OPERATION PROVIDE COMFORT which was supposed to protect the Kurds (except for the Turks who were letting coalition forces stage at Incirlik).
Now 20 years later, the Turks and the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) and having more disagreements. As you can see from the map, the Kurdish problem could create an interesting cooperation between Turkey, Iran and Iraq. The presence of Turkey in NATO raises the ugly question, does an attack by the PKK on Turkey constitute an attack on NATO? If so, what will NATO's response be?
Gaddafi and Hussein were brutal in part because they had to get these divergent groups to work together. Iraq consists of three different groups; Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. It was easier to terrorize all equally than to workout out some type of compromise. Gaddafi successfully ran Libya that way for 40 years. Getting rid of Gaddafi does not mean Libya is going to become a democratic utopia in North Africa. Quite the contrary, the factions that were squabbling with Gaddafi will start to squabble with each other.
One of Gaddafi's sons stands to become either the next ruler of LIbya or leader of the revolutionary faction that will topple whoever follows Gaddafi into power. Nothing has really changed and actually Libya may follow Iraq into a destabilized, squabbling mirror of its former self.
Ambassador Rice is now taking Syria to task and wagging her finger at them as is to say, see what happened in Libya? It can happen to you! But there is a difference that the secretary seems to be ignoring. Gaddafi was very much a lone wolf in North Africa subsidizing his regime through supporting international terrorist groups (such as the Provisional IRA). In contrast, Syria is not a lone wolf and very much is under the influence of Iran (which provides funding and arms). Unlike Libya, Syria can deflect at any time its own domestic problems by starting a war with Israel. Israel is already experiencing problems with Egypt and having to deal with issues on two different fronts would be challenging even for the Israelis. Or Syria can pick a fight with Turkey and watch other Middle Eastern nations rise up against NATO.
Change is not always a good thing. Sometimes things change for the worse.