[I]n the last decade, the Russian "wet work" (assassination) teams are back. This is considered an intelligence operation, as it is often used to eliminate those supplying foreigners with damaging information about Russia.
How many people have been targeted by the SVR (foreign intelligence successor to the KGB) and GRU (military intelligence) SVR death squads are unknown. It is believed to be at least a dozen in the last decade. The most common targets have been members of Chechen terrorist organizations. Six of these Chechens have been killed in Turkey in the last four years. All were killed with a pistol used mainly by the Russian special operations troops.... Other hits were only suspected, because the target was taken out in such a way that it could have been an accident.
Russia denies any involvement with any of this, and they always have.
I'd like to point out that this is better than what we are doing, with our drone-and-airstrikes program of targeted killing, in at least three ways.
1) It is the mark of a more competent intelligence service. To infiltrate an enemy safe area and kill a man with a pistol -- or in a manner that looks like an accident -- is the mark of a highly competent clandestine service. How many members of the Haqqani network could we kill this way, if we wanted to do it? Could we walk a man into their compound, pop them, and walk him out again before the body was found? Arrange an accident? Refuse to comment on the operation to the press? Keep the documents from leaking?
2) It is more discriminating. A knife is an excellent weapon for this kind of war; a silenced pistol is a good weapon. A rifle can be a good weapon, in the hands of an expert. You get the man you want, and you don't kill women, children, or those who are accidentally near. I know full well how deep the protections are that we put around our operations to try to limit collateral damage especially of women and children, and I admire the work of the men and women who do it: but as a simple practical fact, aerial bombing kills more innocent people than Russian-type wet work. This is true in spite of the tremendous protections we have instituted, and the very best efforts of our people to ensure that such innocent deaths are as close to zero as they can possibly be.
3) It cuts down on political consequences. Our drone strikes in Pakistan have given that part of the political factions who oppose us a politically dynamite issue. They have put what supporters we have on the line. Combined with the bin Laden raid -- which would not have been the straw that broke the camel's back if it wasn't for the drumbeat of the drone strikes -- they have disrupted military-to-military cooperation between the PAKMIL and our forces, which decreases our insight into how things stand on the Pakistani side of the border, decreases pressure on our enemies, and cuts down on the ties that allow us to bring effective military intelligence analysis to bear on the problems we face there.
What do we get out of this? We get to say that we oppose assassination -- though not "targeted killing."
A wise man recognizes a good idea no matter who brings it to the table. If we're going to wage war through the targeted killing of individuals, we ought to engage in 'wet work' instead.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.