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July 2011

Mountain DustOff

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U.S. Army Capt. Gwendolyn Whitcomb, a flight nurse with Company C “Mountain Dustoff,” 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Falcon, administers medication to her patient, an Afghan National Army soldier, July 11. Whitcomb is a Ware, Mass., native.


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U.S. Army Spc. Christian Hinrichsen, a flight medic with Company C “Mountain Dustoff,” 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Falcon, and native of Clovis, N.M., treats an Afghan burn patient during a patient transfer flight July 11. Dustoff provided aid to more than 3,500 patients since arriving in theater in the fall of last year.

[Photos by 101st CAB, PFC Michael Syner]

Lawfare & our enemies

The current administration is making some horrendous errors in its misguided quest to treat the terrorist threat against us as a civil police matter. They are dead set on trying captured terrorists with no ties to the US and who committed acts of terror far from our country in US courts. This will imbue them with all the rights and privileges of US citizens and sets up scenarios where the ghost of Johnnie Cochran is floating around NY courtrooms intoning "If the suicide belt does not fit, you must acquit". The cognitive dissonance of this foolishness is painful to contemplate and it has led to some of the most convoluted maneuvering imaginable. Senators Lieberman and Ayotte ask some simple questions the Obama team has no good answers for.

The United States has a first-rate, professionally run facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that is designed for terrorist detentions, interrogations and military trials. So why would a suspected Somali terrorist, captured half a world away, be held on a Navy ship for two months of interrogations and then brought to a New York federal court for trial? In our opinion, there is no good reason.

Painfully true, but the answer is obvious, politics. The left hates Gitmo and Obama has used up tons of his cred by not closing it, so he will be damned if he'll use it even when it makes perfect sense to do so. Well damned he may well be, but for now they are doing their level best to create precedents that will handcuff our ability to deal with scum too evil to even deserve the title of criminal.

Andy McCarthy points out an equally outrageous attempt to lawyer our counterterror operations up in the case of a Hezbollah leader responsible for the deaths of numerous Americans in Iraq. One of the greatest mistakes of the Bush team's tenure was the total failure to hold Iran accountable for the hundreds of US troops killed directly and indirectly by Iranian operatives. There should have been military responses to the acts of war and terrorism committed by the Iranians and President Bush stands responsible for that lack of will. Now Obama seems determined to lower the bar even further.

An Iran-backed Hezbollah commander who killed American soldiers in cold blood has been in U.S. custody for four years. Most Americans would see this as a good thing. For the Obama administration, it is a vexing dilemma....

As Bill Roggio recounts at The Long War Journal, Daqduq partnered with Iran’s deadly special-operations unit, the Quds Force, to set up an intricate web of Shiite terror cells. Battalions of 20 to 60 recruits were brought to Iranian bases for schooling in close combat tactics, kidnapping, and intelligence collection, while also learning to use explosively formed penetrators, mortars, rockets, and sniper rifles. When their training was complete, they were loosed on Iraq. Fueled by Iranian supplies, they targeted and killed American and allied forces. Most notoriously, they carried out the January 2007 Karbala massacre, in which five American soldiers were killed, four of them as captives, handcuffed and shot before U.S. rescue teams could close in.

Daqduq was captured by American forces two months later. He has been in the custody of our military in Iraq ever since. He is not a defendant. He is not a capo in some Iranian Cosa Nostra family. He is a terrorist enemy of the United States, who has committed atrocities against American soldiers during a war authorized by Congress.

And yet the Obama team is not interested in using the military commissions, also specifically authorized by Congress and signed by Obama himself, to try Daqduq. They attempted to slide him over to the Iraqi government where the Shia factions who are tight with Iran would have been certain to release him. But news of that came out, and now they are stuck. We will soon lose our right to hold prisoners in Iraq and, so O is in a tough spot. He has to exercise some of that Commander in Chief authority to deal with an unlawful combatant caught on the battlefield during the prosecution of a war legally authorized by Congress. If they can find a rationale to try him in a civil court, they will have set a new standard for legal fiction. Terrorists are not common criminals and the sooner we get a President who understands this the better.

"You Hack, We Shoot"...

...but shoot WHO...with WHAT?


Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have delivered a stark warning to the Pentagon: its failure to address key questions surrounding how the United States military would respond to a cyberattack – and what precisely constitutes an act of war in cyberspace, for that matter – remains a “significant gap” in US national security policy.

Senior Pentagon officials for their part are griping, too, that the current Defense Department approach to cyberwarfare is “way too predictable.” Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently lamented that, in cyberspace, “there is no penalty for attacking [the US] right now. We've got to figure out a way to change that.”

To that end, some senior defense officials are increasingly pushing for the US to retaliate against cyber-sieges with counterstrikes – that could ultimately include launching a “land-based attack” on the perpetrator.

This article vacilates back and forth between kinetic response and cyber (sic) response.  It is tough to gauge just what it is Defense policy makers want to do.  

Interesting views on warfare are heard when coursing through the hallways at USCYBERCOM (a place I've had opportunity to visit).  One maxim that one hears is that, unlike traditional warfare, in cyberspace the offense is the stronger of the two.  Another is that cyberspace defies sports analogy because offense and defense occur simultaneously.  (My current client once opined that two-ball combat soccer may be the only appropriate sports metaphor.)  

One thing the cyberspace domain zealots forgot to do when making their pronouncement was to define things like "offense", "maneuver" and other terms of reference so that it may be properly integrated with other military categories.  

General Cartwright's laments that it should be 90% offense and 10% are interesting, but presumes a definition of "offense" that does not yet exist.  I get his point but I do not think the will exists to go anywhere near that ratio.  Also, is kinetics part of that 90% or is he strictly speaking to "cyber" action.

It will be interesting to see how this debate takes shape in the coming days, weeks and months, especially now that we have Defense strategy and are awaiting companion strategies from State, Commerce, and other Cabinet Departments with an interest.

The companion link, entitled "10 Ways to Prevent Cyberconflict" is a combination of a gigglefest and a "really? no kidding" list.  To wit:

Start cyberwar limitation talks

Tighten network security

Compel nations to assist those under attack

Define what a cyberwar is

Hold nations responsible for attacks

Ban the 'first use' of cyberweapons against civilian infrastructure, such as the power grid.

Launch an environmental-like initiative to clean up the Internet

Invent technology to safeguard networks

Rewrite cybersecurity laws

Make infrastructure more secure

The giggle part is where the cyberwar talks preceed the definition of cyberwar, and "compelling assistance".  The "no kidding" part are items like secure the network by inventing things to secure the network.  Also, the vast majority of these are defensive (and arguably "peacenik") suggestions.  The treaty is a howler since the US is the only ones who would probably actually comply (while killing ourselves in the process).

This is going to be an big, ugly bear to wrestle.  Maybe the multi-headed Hydra is a better analogy...

Manifesto: Anders Behring Breivik

Below is believed to be the manifesto written by the Norwegian extremist Anders Behring Breivik:


Knights Templar Log

Personal reflections and experiences during the preparation phases

My closest friends

Marius, my oldest friend. We have been close since we were eleven years old. We have had some ups and downs during the last 19 years but we have managed to preserve our friendship. He is a patriot but relatively a-political. He knows what is going on but doesn’t really care that much about the future as he is living his life now. Motto: a week without getting laid is a week without meaning;p He’s a good guy and I appreciate him. I started the process of de-socialisation 4 years ago to create a certain distance to my friends (to prevent them from finding out what I’m using most of my time on).

Axel and I have been friends since secondary school so it is almost 15 years now. We have had a couple of ups and downs but have preserved our friendship. Axels’ girlfriend Synne is a staunch Labour Party supporter so there is definitely a factor of strife there. Axel has embraced a lifestyle where career and family is in the centre. I’ve never revealed anything about my involvement in the European Resistance Movement to him. I try avoiding discussing politics with him as we are ideologically miles apart, especially after he embraced his fiancées political and world views which are extremely politically correct. I usually propagate the more moderate Progress Party ideological narrative when discussing politics with friends and friends of friends. It would be too risky to reveal anything else about my ideological standpoints. But Synne even thinks the moderate Progress Party are extreme and she has influenced Axel considerably. Very annoying but absolutely nothing I can do about that.

Martin and I have been friends since secondary school so it is almost 15 years now. He has been a stable friend over the years although he has significant trust issues due to the fact that he was bullied in his childhood. It is impossible to connect fully with him due to these psychological limitations but he is still a good friend. He is the typical apolitical career cynisist:)

Peter has been my closest friend since we met during our time at Oslo Handelsgymnasium High School. His parents (Hungarians) fled the Marxist Soviet Union in the 60s. He knows everything about me. Well, except my involvement in the resistance. I remember I had to lie to him several years ago, during the time I first initiated a relationship with the pan-European Resistance Network. He was the only person who knew I was actually travelling to Liberia and London in 2002 and I had to forward a credible cover to him. I couldn’t risk trusting him (or anyone) with my true intentions as it could potentially hurt him or me in the future. I told him I was travelling to Liberia to research the potential to smuggle blood diamonds and selling them in London. It was a great and very credible cover (I spent a couple of weeks preparing it) and he has never questioned the circumstances around those or any other trips. I’m not the type of person that takes lying lightly so it was hard for me to lie to him. I wish I could just tell him everything, but unfortunately I can’t. I know he is far from as ideologically confident as me so it would be meaningless to tell him and most importantly; if he knew anything it would incriminate him. Ignorance is blizz…

I have several other relatively close friends but won’t go into details about all. All of them are apolitical and pretty apathetic when it comes to politics.

Personal reflections and experiences during several preparation phases

April/May 2002

I am the Norwegian delegate to the founding meeting in London, England and ordinated as the 8th Justiciar Knight for the PCCTS, Knights Templar Europe. I joined the session after visiting one of the initial facilitators, a Serbian Crusader Commander and war hero, in Monrovia, Liberia. Certain long term tasks are delegated and I am one of two who are asked to create a compendium based on the information I have acquired from the other founders during our sessions. Our primary objective is to develop PCCTS, Knights Templar into becoming the foremost conservative revolutionary movement in Western Europe the next few decades. This in relation to developing a new type of European nationalism referred to as Crusader Nationalism. This new political denomination of nationalism will become the foremost counterweight to National Socialism and other cultural conservative political denominations, on the cultural right wing. Everyone is using code names; mine is Sigurd (the Crusader) while my assigned mentor is referred to as Richard (the Lionhearted). I believe Im the youngest one here.

Continue reading "Manifesto: Anders Behring Breivik" »

A Few Words From Joe Galloway


Joe Galloway, newspaper reporter and columnist, had a few words to say to the 2011 Convention of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association:

I had the chance to say some good things about all of you at the Memorial Service at The Wall on Sunday. I meant every word of that..... and more. You chopper guys were our heroes in Vietnam. You were our rides....but you were much much more than that. We were always either cussing you for hauling our butts into deep kimchi.....or ready to kiss you for hauling us out of it.

Continue reading "A Few Words From Joe Galloway" »

Defending the Weak

The attack on a youth camp in Norway -- the youngest killed, according to the reports this morning, was sixteen -- is shocking to me.  I am not shocked because of the violence, as surely we have seen enough violence from our fellow man lately to know that it is to be expected.   I am not shocked that the killer targeted the young, as that also has become usual among the wicked.  I am also not shocked to discover that the killer may have been a Christian rather than a Muslim; for there are good men and bad ones among all faiths.

What I find shocking, as a professional, is the number of people killed by what was apparently a single actor with a single handgun.  (Reports that there may have been more than one shooter are so far without confirmation; but even the outer limit of those reports suggests a very small number of shooters at most.)  Brian Fishman of the New America Foundation argues that firearms are becoming more deadly than explosives:

Perhaps the starkest lesson from the Norway attack is that, based on early reports, more people seem to have been killed by firearms than by explosives. In this way, the Norway attack reflects a larger trend in terrorism, exemplified most terribly by the November 26, 2008, terrorist attack in Mumbai, in which 10 gunmen collaborated to kill more than 160 people.

Respectfully, that's simply not right.  In fact, the reason that the United States' mass killings normally have been less traumatic than Iraq's or Pakistan's is that the killers usually use firearms rather than explosives.  Explosives routinely kill 30+ people in Iraq; almost no mass shootings approach that level.  

The lesson of Mumbai is that a team of men is far more dangerous than a man alone.  Even so, the Mumbai killers slew approximately 16 people each; here is what appears to be one man, at most two, who killed nearly a hundred.  Even Chairman Mao's killers, who numbered in the millions, did not do so much:  the outer range for people killed by the regime is still well under a hundred million.

How did this happen?  The reports suggest four factors, which I will list in increasing order of importance:

1)  The police did not arrive for two hours, giving him ample time to murder.

2)  Many threw themselves into the water in panic, and I suspect we will discover that panic or drowning killed a large number.

3)  He arrived dressed as a policeman, called everyone into a tight group around him, and only then began to shoot.  

4)  When he began shooting, everyone ran.

That last factor alone is responsible for almost all of the dead.  A tight group of young men taught to run at danger instead of away from it could have overpowered him almost at once.  

As that did not happen, he had a clear field of fire and a target rich environment.  As that started a panic, probably some were trampled and others drowned.  The police did not arrive for a long time, giving him time to finish what he had begun -- but the police will never be around when one of these mass killings happens, unless it is targeted at them specifically.  It is always easy to find a soft target if you want one, even in a police state.

The key lesson to mass shootings is that the whole of our societies must remember their duty to fight for the common peace and lawful order.  We must all do it.  We must train for it, and we must equip ourselves as well as the law and our natural abilities permit.  This is the duty of a citizen.  It is a duty that cannot be delegated to the police or to the military.  It must be borne by all of us.  We must train our sons for this duty also.  In a dangerous world, this alone is what makes civilization possible.

"Cyber" Arms Race?


h/t to Liberal Civvy and others who passed this one to me...

While it is important to bear in mind that there is a whole new dimension of activity going on regarding computers, networks, and "cyberspace", I get itchy when martial terms are so liberally (no offense, LC) dispensed in articles like this.  Its a long piece, uses all the scare words, and vacillates back and forth between truly military use of terms and militaristic euphemisms in a cyber context.

When I started working cyberspace topics in earnest last year I quickly derived a drinking game.  (Recommend using water for this unless you're looking for a quick drunk.)  Everytime the word "cyber" is used in one of these articles (except for cyberspace and CYBERCOM) take a drink.  Good way to stay hydrated. (This one has 22, for example).

My problem with the profligate use of "weapons", "war", "battles" and the lot in this context is that the laws associated with State on State action are not being applied here.  The number of non-State and/or independent actors that could be at work changes the game significantly.  Take for instance this leap in the first paragraph:

But two people close to the company say that they, as well as national intelligence investigators now looking into the case, suspect something more sinister: a professional heist performed by someone with ties to China or Russia. 

 While that is certainly a very possible assumption, it is far from complete or accurate.  Any number of corporate or private concerns, not to mention several other States (who we would normally term as "friendly") are quite capable of taking similar action and for the same reasons.  But so what?  If it were a Chinese or Russian with direct ties to their government, are we going to launch a retaliation?  No.

On the other side of this, is "espionage" the same as "war"?  And in the case of this event, is a physical attack to take a device the same thing as a "cyber" attack?  Where's the line on this?  

By logical extension, does that mean that hackers are now legitimate military targets at any time? Are hackers actually "cyber weapons" themselves? Is the hiring/employment of a hacker the same as proliferating a weapon?  

What's really scary is a bunch of commercial concerns "duking it out" in cyberspace without the controls and rules of kinetic, State vs State war (such that it is).


Guns or butter? Saving food stamps at expense of national defense

It is becoming clearer and clearer that Barack Obama has no real intention of tackling the government spending programs that pose the greatest risk to our future financial security.   And, if he has his way, he’ll certainly agree to some cuts in spending, to at least give himself some political cover and the ability to claim he’s engaged.  But if there are going to be any spending cuts, I think we all know where they’ll be if he gets his way:

“I think what's absolutely true is that core commitments that we make to the most vulnerable have to be maintained,” [President Barack] Obama said. “A lot of the spending cuts that we're making should be around areas like defense spending as opposed to food stamps.”

That’s not the first time recently he’s voiced that theme:

During his first-ever Twitter town hall meeting Wednesday, Obama said the Defense budget is so large that even modest cuts to it would free up dollars for other federal programs.

So it isn’t conjecture to say that his target is defense and his plan is to spend what is ‘saved’, not pay down the debt.  I also think it is quite clear that he plans to drastically reduce defense spending in a time we’re involved in three wars (how’s that “weeks, not months” war going?  5 months, counting and no end in sight), and defense commitments globally.

Continue reading "Guns or butter? Saving food stamps at expense of national defense" »

Explosion in Olso

Blast at the Prime Minister of Norway's office.  News and video here. Several dead and many wounded. Thoughts and prayer going out to the people in Oslo.

Photos from a Norwegian photog here.

The Jawa team is of course on it.

From a friend (waiting to see if I can quote him)   from ThreatsWatch.org that pieces stuff like this together.  This is of course speculation at this point:

Looks like a car bomb - reports of two, second perhaps not vehicle based, but pure blind speculation from afar. AQ hallmark tactic. Bomb 1 draws first responders, samaritans. Bomb 2 takes them out. Serves larger strategy of instilling fear. terrorism, after all.
Najibullah Zazi's father's trial just went to jury for deliberations, with his fate hanging in the balance.
See, the deal is that his son & pals were trained by AQ to be suicide bombers in NYC subways. The terror trail leads to swell folks in - wait for it - Pakistan.
Well, you see, in connection, there were "immigrants" arrested in Norway - freaking Norway - last year as part of a plotting Islamic terror cell that has links to - you guessed it - the same happy campers in Pakistan as Naji B and company.
And the rest of their "immigrant" friends in Norway (and elsewhere) were pretty pissed off that Norway dare have the testicular fortitude to throw Brothers in jail. PM Jens Stoltenberg’s not on the Eid Card List, to say the least.


That was all precisely a year ago in Norway. And the anniversary of Norway pissing off al-Qaeda coincides nicely with the related NYC terror trial of Papa-Zazi, who with his son shares links to the same chums in Pakistan as the incarcerated immigrants in Norway. Oslo, to be specific.