Oct 20, 2012

Beautiful Blowback and Bumbling Benghazi

Notice how the Malala Yousafzai narrative just keeps giving and giving. Splendid blowback.

And on Benghazi, funny the news this morning that COS Tripoli sent cable saying attack was terrorism. Funny because his outfit wrote the script for the officials who went on Sunday talk shows saying the consulate attack arose from a demonstration over the anti-Islam video.

Folks saying that OGA deception was - not to protect Obama anti-terror record - but to cover their own asses over the fuckup.

Whispers that Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi trying to round up help for Syrian rebels, that he met with Turkish intelligence official, and that OGA was responsible for his safety.

The controversy about all the "misstatements" about the 9/11 Benghazi begins to make sense.

Oct 2, 2012

Greasing Our Troops From Within - Not A Matter of Broken Etiquette

That the "just disaffected recruits" tweak of the "black market uniform" IO theme is patently bogus.

The Afghan government has issued a new pamphlet, written by Afghan and American officers, that says Afghans should not take offense at cultural insults by Westerners because there are the result of ignorance… after more than a decade of interaction and cultural sensitivity training. Hmmmm.

This pamphlet implies that the spate of murders is the result of trivial cultural miscues. Even the Afghan general involved in the effort thinks it is feckless, too little too late. 
The implication is that the US and NATO command believe American and NATO soldiers are to blame for their own murders because they were insensitive to Afghan behavioral norms.

This thesis insults the Americans, NATO soldiers and the Afghans after a decade of interaction. It is preposterous and trivializing to ascribe murder to minor cultural gaffes. 

The Afghans are more sophisticated and moral than that.The killings are a manifestation of a long term Taliban strategy, not a reaction to cultural misunderstandings.

PS: Clearly the "Afghan gov pamphlet" is a US PSYOP product.

Sep 6, 2012

Deconflicting the Afgh IO Matrix - Finally

Noticed something the other morning.

Yes, they definitely deconflicted the IO matrix. Nice. No more mention of "uniforms" or "disaffected recruits."

And then no sooner than I had finished answering a call and moved on to indulging in more news did I see this:

Training suspended for new Afghan recruits

More vetting for ties to insurgency. Doesn't sound like disaffected recruits. Messaging #fail.

Looks like they've finally decided to deconflict the "Black Market Uniform"/"Green on Blue"/"Insider Attacks" IO matrix.

It's been interesting to note how the "Afghan Uniform"/"Insider Attacks" narrative has swallowed up much of the oxygen in the discussions of the war recently. Gen. Allen being forced to admit that instead of around 10%, that a quarter of the insider attacks are by infiltrators.  The real number is doubtlessly 75-80% or even higher.

New messaging still deflecting from ultimate failure of Afgh mission if we can't leave honorably with trusted security forces in place.

Aug 22, 2012

IO Sophistry -- 'Infiltrator' Redefined

Another volley in the BS IO.

A NATO study has found that nearly 90 percent of such killings stem from personal disputes or outrage rather than insurgent plots to infiltrate the security forces or use them as cover for attacks.


John M. agrees that it is infiltrators.

It is clear that USG + MIL - in order to make their ridiculous IO narrative fly - have redefined "infiltrator" to mean someone who simply puts on a black market uniform and slips behind enemy lines to grease Coalition forces. I'm sure CI folks would object to such a limited definition. Even with such sophistry, the narrative proves false.

As we have argued for years (since the mess hall in Mosul, Iraq was blown up by someone mil announced was wearing a "black market uniform" - and investigation revealed to have been a infiltrated employee of the base), there is a determined information campaign to downplay the infiltrator problem in particular and the seriousness of insurgent challenges to post 9/11 US-led war efforts in general.

Domestic-facing Morale Operations do pay dividends. Ask many Americans who was the winner of the Iraq War and you will discover - to the surprise of everyone in the region - that it was the USA.

Indisputable that something like this is planned for our eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan.

AnglaVakt In Afghanistan

Another initiative, now a priority, is a program named “Guardian Angel.”

Also, notice that they have cleverly modified the "black market uniform" IO narrative. For the last month or so they have claimed that investigations determined that these are mostly not infiltrators (ridiculous on the face of it), but "disaffected" members of Afgh mil and police. They don't bother with the obvious implication if this was true - that treatment from US trainers or the shitty operational atmosphere or something equally bad was causing basically decent recruits to decide to turn on their Western allies.

They still do the "afghan uniform" misdirect in every case. Even when - as WaPo reported - the attacker wasn't even wearing a uniform. (The tea boy mentioned in NYT piece served the Afghan commander more than tea.)

US command has officially changed the designation from "green on blue attacks" to "insider attacks." And now we have this manpower-intensive "Guardian Angel" approach ...

The dire implications for the mission remain the same as when we first discussed the problem a couple of years ago. If our only hope for a decent exit from AF is to stand up a sizable security apparatus, and we have this disastrous "insider attacks" issue, we are fucked.

Hence, the only approach is to have a bullshit information operation to downplay the problem. 

May 28, 2012

Rolling Thunder

Prez went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial this AM to make a speech.  Third CINC (after Reagan and Clinton) to do so.

I almost decided to forgo my annual reading of Fuck The Troops in favor of today's Memorial Day piece from ZH.  (No endorsements necessarily implied.)

On a lighter note, another mil-oriented piece.  Back to heavier, a letter to his parents from Vonnegut upon liberation from his POW camp.

And from the same fine site, a good mental hospital piece.

You needn't strain your eyes reading the original typewritten xeroxes, transcripts follow the originals.

Apr 28, 2012

Inside UBL Raid - A Trifecta w/ Peter Bergen Played for Laughs?

Just saw this, Pakistan's spy agency seeks some credit for bin Laden's death.

Also this, ‘Manhunt’ details U.S. mission to find Osama bin Laden

In 2005, Bergen reports, a paper written by a CIA analyst became the guide for the ultimately successful hunt. With the absence of any plausible leads after nearly four years, the analyst proposed building the search on four “pillars” — bin Laden’s family, his communications with top al-Qaeda leaders, his occasional outreach to the media and his use of a courier network.

2005?  Really?  A rookie narcotics unit member on a half-assed police department could have come up with those ideas.

And then this:

As they debated how to find out whether bin Laden was inside, the CIA discussed numerous proposals.
“One idea was to throw in foul-smelling stink bombs to flush out the occupants,” Bergen says. Another was to use loudspeakers outside to broadcast from a purported “voice of Allah” commanding them to come into the street.

Methinks Bergen was getting played for laughs by his sources. 

And to complete today's trifecta, Raid to Kill Bin Laden Helped United States, Panetta Says.

Some of his details seem fanciful at best.

Mar 22, 2012

Post-Traumatic Growth - The Postwar Attitude Adjustment

A long PTSD piece for Sunday's NYT Magazine.
Post-Traumatic Stress’s Surprisingly Positive Flip Side

Deconstructing & Construing/Rambling -- Inside the Works

Dog and pony show time.

Also, this.  Nice.  Castro knew of JFK assassination plan, book says

Since Oswald was known to the Cuban exile community as a pro-Castro agitator (a suspected anti-Castro plant at that), he was already on Cuban intel scope by Summer '63.  I doubt Castro would have wanted to get blamed for the assassination.

O's Mexico City visits to Cuban and Sov embassies can be nicely explained away by Latell's version.

One problem. Kennedy was starting to thaw the US/Cuban and US/USSR relationships at the time of his murder.

Best theory identifies extremist right-wing US elements.  Would have required participation of some USG assets to have orchestrated the cover-up (Warren Commission irregularities, autopsy skullduggery, media campaign, etc.)

De-construction: Rumblings from Meatball Works
-"Perhaps I shouldn't have dismissed the kinetic IO angle.
That would mean not "retaliation", but a loud and clear warning to villagers over there against cooperating with enemy in the future
Maybe not."

-"Col. Kurtz. XXXXXXXXX who discussed the kinetic IO/PSYOP angle mentioned the little arms in a pile incident from Apocalypse Now when making his case to me.
No kidding.
COIN maybe, PSYOP definitely. (If indeed that's what happened.)"

Mar 13, 2012

Rwedux Rwednesday -- Losing Rwafghanistan

Posted by SMC 5yrs ago:

Being Modest, Being Newsweek Sep,2006

The United States edition of the October 2, 2006 issue of Newsweek features a rather different cover story from its International counterparts.

The cover of International editions, aimed at Europe, Asia, and Latin America, displays in large letters the title "LOSING AFGHANISTAN," along with an arresting photograph of an armed jihadi.

The cover of the United States edition, in contrast, is dedicated to celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz and is demurely captioned "My Life in Pictures."

Feb 27, 2012

Infiltration in Afghanistan Issue (Early Birds Get To Be Depressed First)

It is said that there is no security on the net - even among "security" firms (not that Stratfor was ever worth sierra - or was a security co.).

On another topic, glad that we got out there early on the infiltration in AF issue.  Has become quite the natsec crisis recently.  Although some narratives are still hanging on tenuously:

“If the trust, ability and willingness to partner falls apart, you are looking at the endgame here,” said Mark Jacobson, who served until last summer as the NATO deputy senior civilian representative in Kabul.

The killing of the U.S. officers on Saturday occurred two days after a man wearing an Afghan army uniform fatally shot two American troops in eastern Afghanistan, the latest in a string of incidents in recent months in which local security forces have turned against NATO personnel.

And another piece in NYT today. “Afghan good enough” - slogan of the day.

(Although gov/media axis generally is trying to position the story as a "stay the course" and "we can't be pushed out of AF" theme - what can we expect in an election year - doubts as to the viability of the mission are becoming clear even to some of the normally oblivious.)

Feb 14, 2012

LTC. Davis' (U) Report Published in RS

While we were otherwise distracted during our annual SMC-Con at Trump's swanky SoHo tower, the entire unclassified version of LTC Davis' Afghanistan report (84 page PDF) was published in Rolling Stone along with an accompanying piece by Michael Hastings (the correspondent that broke the Bud Light Lime story).

Lots of IO stuff in LTC Davis's report.

 As COL Leap never even considered the American public’s support of the war might have been waning as a direct result of what was physically happening on the battlefield, General Baker likewise fails even to address in his article that the information operations – conceptually a perfectly legitimate and useful tool – must be tied strictly to effective actions on the ground.  It is noteworthy that nowhere in the multi-page essay did the General address, even in passing, that the IO plan is worthless if it does not accurately support the actions and conditions on the ground.  Instead, he emphasizes this to Army troops:

For years, commercial advertisers have based their advertisement strategies on the premise that there is a positive correlation between the number of times a consumer is exposed to product advertisement and that consumer’s inclination to sample the new product.  The very same principle applies to how we influence our target audiences when we conduct COIN.

It is remarkable to consider that a senior ranking officer in the United States Army emphatically suggests that standard marketing strategies are the “very same” for combat operations, and yet it is also very telling.  In explaining why a certain operation run by the 1st Armored Division was successful, he cited exclusively the actions the IO staff undertook, implying the actions of the combat troops had either little or no real impact on their success.

Feb 6, 2012

In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower

In Afghan War, Officer Becomes a Whistle-Blower

“No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan,” he says in the article. “But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on.

(Check out his piece in Armed Forces Journal):

Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified. But I can say that such reports — mine and others’ — serve to illuminate the gulf between conditions on the ground and official statements of progress. 

PS: Exum, et al. are gonna be pissed.  ;)

Dec 11, 2011

High-stakes Hilarity (the ongoing progression of)

NYT says PAK Taliban in talks with gov.

WaPo says PAK Taliban not in talks with gov.

While we are dealing with the region, Crocker articulates the tailored narrative regarding last week's attack against Shiites in Kabul.  Says we have no idea who did it.  But it wasn't the group claiming responsibility.  And that the attack won't spawn sectarian violence.  Ambassador psychic?  Wishful thinking?  Something else?

PS Scuttlebutt months ago was that a RQ-170 (equipped with science modules) was flown over Fukushima from a base in S. Korea.

Loved the ZH quip re the Iran flap: "The good news is we will all be able to buy a personal drone at Wal Mart in 6-9 months."

Dec 8, 2011

#Dude -- Amusing US Policy T'wards PAK et al

Needless to say, dude's regurgitating conventional wisdom.  To dude's credit, dude does touch on the intel cooperation angle. Barely.

Amusing that US policy towards PAK has gotten so entangled in a wilderness of lies.

Just like US Iran policy.  And US Iraq policy.  And US policy toward all the others.

Sometimes being sneaky just doesn't pay.

PS: What could be more retarded than the public explanations of the recent PAK ambassador secret message controversy?

We are supposed to think that there are no channels more secure than a dodgy hedge fund type for the PAK ambassador to convey a very pro-American scheme to US officials.

Would only make sense if the ambassador wanted to avoid the institutional partiality of the most likely channel.  Meaning that he knows about some special reason to avoid using said channel.

If so, he picked the wrong dude to deal with.

Also, the way this played out would indicate that existing political arrangements with PAK are adequate.

Nov 27, 2011

Where's the River of Snot?

A senior US law enforcement official asked me if I noticed anything strange about the video footage of the UC Davis incident.

I told him that I had only seen the famous still photo in the press.  I hadn't seen any video.

"You've been exposed to pepper spray before haven't you?", he asked.  I recounted for him the time that I was responsible for a minimal AD from a large canister of the stuff inside a moving vehicle. 

He reached for his IPad and clicked on the first YouTube video he could find.  "What isn't right about this scene?", he asked.  I answered, "the protesters aren't hauling ass out of there. They aren't acting like they have been pepper sprayed."

"Where is the River of Snot?" He continued, "Before riot cops use pepper spray they mask-up.  Do you see any of the cops standing there wearing gas masks?  The stuff that they are spraying is marker.  They are identifying the protesters that they are intending to arrest.  Look right there, that other cop is standing in the mist with no effect."

He got no argument from me there.  That wasn't pepper spray.

"Then why aren't the cops coming to their own defense?," I asked.

Timing is everything.

Nov 15, 2011

Blast From the Past

Remember the mention of Cicely Angleton's passing? Now we have the obit of another member of the same exclusive circle. (The deceased was the sister of Mary Pinchot Meyer.)

While Mrs. Bradlee’s life with her husband Ben was in many ways charmed — private dinners at the White House and weekend getaways at Hyannis Port, Mass., with the Kennedys — it also had enduring sorrows. Their circle included Mrs. Bradlee’s older sister, Mary Meyer, a painter whose murder in 1964 on the C&O Canal towpath remains unsolved.

The case took an eerie twist, Ben Bradlee later wrote in his memoir, “A Good Life.” The Bradlees saw CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton picking the padlock on Meyer’s Georgetown art studio in an attempt to retrieve her diary. (Meyer and Angleton’s wife were friends.)

Mrs. Bradlee subsequently found the diary, which appeared to disclose her sister’s affair with late President John F. Kennedy. Mrs. Bradlee and her husband, who was serving as head of Newsweek’s Washington bureau, turned the diary over to Angleton with the promise that the CIA would destroy it.

More than a decade later, Mrs. Bradlee was upset when she heard Angleton had not kept his word. Through an intermediary, she got the diary back and set it on fire.

The real story is more spooky than here portrayed. Does anyone believe that Angleton would have conducted a black bag job himself over trifling gossip?