Friday, April 27, 2012

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Cold Water Splashed Onto the War Feverish: A Bit More on Lt. General Gantz's Remarks

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Cold Water Splashed Onto the War Feverish: A Bit More on Lt. General Gantz's Remarks


Adam L. Silverman, PhD*

Yesterday COL Lang wrote about Israeli Defense Force's Chief of Staff Lt. General Gantz's remarks pertaining to Iran.  I wanted to take a few lines and focus on some other portions of Lt. General Gantz's remarks, specifically those about Iranian strategic decision making.  Lt. General Gantz, told his interviewers from Haaretz, that "If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don't think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people."  While he still sounded a cautious note in regards to potential Iranian nuclear ambitions -  "But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous", his caution was tempered by his evaluation of both the Iranian Supreme Religious Authority and leadership.

This is a very important point that we need to be cognizant of, just as the Haaretz reporter was, for two reasons.  The first is that Lt. General Gantz's remarks echo those made by GEN Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he was visiting Israel.  The second is that it starkly differentiates the professional views of Israel's senior military officer, as well as its past Intelligence Chief Meir Dagan, from that of Israel's leadership, as well as a number of elected American officials and pundits.  If, as GEN Demspey, Lt. General Gantz, and Director Dagan assert, that the Iranian leadership, and therefore its decision making, is rational (and we should caveat this as within the Iranian context), then normal incentives such as economic sanctions and diplomatic initiatives, may bring about the changes in Iranian behavior that most would like to see.  ...


-bth: well worth reading in full.

Pentagon: Women in combat units to begin May 14 - Washington Times

Pentagon: Women in combat units to begin May 14 - Washington Times

The Pentagon on Thursday announced that a change in policy allowing female troops to serve in ground combat units below the brigade level will take effect May 14.

The policy change, announced in February, allows 14,325 jobs to be open to women, including those at the battalion level with ground combat units.

“The services will continuously assess their experience with these exceptions to policy to help determine future changes to the assignment rules,” the Pentagon said.

Previously, women could serve at the brigade level. The change allows women to serve in smaller units closer to the battlefield.

Earlier this week, the Marine Corps Times reported that the Corps would open its three-month infantry officer training course to women this summer...

-bth: fact is many brave women have been serving in combat for the last 10 years. This may give them better training and advancement opportunities.  That said there is a fundamental difference between being 'allowed' and being 'required' to serve in a small unit combat situation.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Report: NATO Misleads With 'Afghan-Led' Label - ABC News

Report: NATO Misleads With 'Afghan-Led' Label - ABC News

... 
The report charges alleges that the term has been so loosely applied that it has, in at least once instance, been used for an assault conducted entirely by U.S. troops.

The report entitled "Death of an Uruzgan Journalist" focuses on the case of Afghan reporter Omaid Khpulwak, who was caught in a TV and radio broadcasting station known as the RTA building in July 2011 when it was attacked by insurgent suicide bombers as part of a larger attack on the southern city of Tarin Kot.

Khpulwak survived the initial blast but was shot by an American soldier who mistook him for an insurgent, according to a U.S. military investigation report made public by Australia's "The Age" newspaper in January after a Freedom of Information Act request. The investigation also concluded that U.S. troops were the only ones to enter the building and that Afghan forces on the ground did not issue commands to those forces.

But a NATO news release a day after the attack said: "Afghan commandos and a combined team of Afghan national security forces responded unilaterally to insurgent attacks in Tarin Kot."

Clark argues in her report that the messaging put out by the Afghan government and NATO and U.S. forces following the attacks in Uruzgan obfuscated the role of U.S. troops, leading Khpulwak's family and others in Tarin Kot to suspect an intentional cover-up.

A spokesman for U.S. forces said it was still appropriate to call the Uruzgan response "Afghan-led" because Afghan forces were overseeing the entire response that day, which included defending against attackers at the governor's compound and elsewhere in the city...

bth: so basically the Pentagon loses credibility again by getting caught fabricating the situation.  What a pointless way to lose trust.  Astonishingly stupid on our part.  And for what?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Ayatollah Under the Bed(sheets) - By Karim Sadjadpour | Foreign Policy

The Ayatollah Under the Bed(sheets) - By Karim Sadjadpour | Foreign Policy

...  OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES, the women of Iran's younger generation have increasingly pushed back and loosened their veils, but any discussion of abolishing the veil altogether is not tolerated by Khamenei. In addition to opposition toward the United States and Israel, the hijab is often considered one of the Islamic Republic's three remaining ideological pillars. "For Islamic Republic officials, the hijab has vast symbolic importance; it is what holds up the dam, keeping all of Iranians' other demands for social freedoms at bay," says Azadeh Moaveni, an Iranian-American author. "Relax on the hijab, they think, and all hell will break loose; next people will want to swill beer on the street and read uncensored novels. They think of it as a gateway freedom."...

-bth: this is an excellent article, in fact, a series of articles on women in Islam.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In Interview, Taliban's Helmand Province Commander Tells New Taliban Urdu-Language Magazine About Use of Second-Trigger Landmines Against U.S. Troops

In Interview, Taliban's Helmand Province Commander Tells New Taliban Urdu-Language Magazine About Use of Second-Trigger Landmines Against U.S. Troops

 In an interview with Shariat, the newly launched Urdu-language magazine of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban's leadership organization), Taliban deputy emir for Helmand province Mullah Mohammad Daud Muzammil explained how Taliban militants are besieging U.S. military bases and use second-trigger landmines, which do not explode on first contact.

Shariat, a new monthly magazine for readers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Urdu-speaking diaspora in the West, was launched officially by the Islamic Emirate on April 19, 2012. Its editor is Waleed Afghan and its deputy editor is Sulaiman Ghauri; on its editorial advisory board are Dr. Haroon, Shams Abdali, Asad Afghan, Farhad Harvi and Ustad Faridoon.

Saeed asked to keep low profile, says aide – The Express Tribune

Saeed asked to keep low profile, says aide – The Express Tribune


ISLAMABAD:  Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed has turned down a ‘request’ from the government to limit his public appearances and activities after the United States announced a $10 million ‘bounty’ on him earlier this month.

Associates of Hafiz Saeed told The Express Tribune that government agencies ‘advised’ him not to participate in public rallies for the time being.

However, Senator Pervez Rasheed, the spokesperson for the Punjab government, said he was not aware of any such request made by the government.

Saeed’s aides said the suggestion was made because the government fears that his continued appearances might draw a hostile reaction from the US. They, however, said Saeed was adamant and would not accept any such demand.

They added that Saeed was planning to address a rally organised by the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) in Quetta later this week to mobilise the masses against the possible reopening of Nato supply routes.

-bth: at some point the government of Pakistan has to be held accountable for the actions of terrorists they let freely roam about their country.

Nuclear weapons nuclear detection dirty bomb nuclear terrorism | Homeland Security News Wire

Nuclear weapons nuclear detection dirty bomb nuclear terrorism | Homeland Security News Wire


A dirty bomb attack on downtown Los Angeles’ financial district could severely affect the region’s economy at a cost nearly $16 billion, fueled primarily by psychological effects which could persist for a decade
Los Angeles cleanup cost of a radiological weapon attack may reach $16 billion // Source: wikimedia.org

A dirty bomb attack on downtown Los Angeles’ financial district could severely affect the region’s economy at a cost nearly $16 billion, fueled primarily by psychological effects which could persist for a decade, according to a study by University of Southern California  researchers and others.

Published by a team of internationally recognized economists and decision scientists in Risk Analysis, the study monetized the effects of fear and risk perception, incorporating them into a state-of-the-art macroeconomic model.

“Terrorism can have a much larger impact than first believed,” said study co-author Adam Rose, research professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and coordinator for economics at USC’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE). “The economic effects of the public’s change in behavior are 15 times more costly than the immediate damage in the wake of a disaster.

“These findings illustrate that because the costs of modern disasters are so large, even small changes in public perception and behaviors may significantly affect the economic impact,” said Rose, who has published economic estimates of the 9/11 attacks, the Northridge earthquake, and other major disasters....

Afghan-US pact signals US won’t tolerate resurgent al-Qaida, attacks launched from Pakistan - The Washington Post

Afghan-US pact signals US won’t tolerate resurgent al-Qaida, attacks launched from Pakistan - The Washington Post

 KABUL, Afghanistan — A new strategic partnership that commits the U.S. to defend Afghanistan militarily for 10 years after most foreign forces leave in 2014 is intended to signal that the U.S. will not tolerate a resurgent al-Qaida or attacks launched by militants from neighboring Pakistan.

The agreement, parts of which were read out Monday in the Afghan parliament, is big on symbolism but light on substance. It leaves out specifics, including how much funding the U.S. will provide to support Afghan security forces or how many U.S. troops will stay on after the withdrawal deadline.

Afghanistan, for its part, insisted on approving any American military operations after 2014 and barred the U.S. from using its soil to attack other countries, such as neighboring Pakistan, where the Taliban, al-Qaida and al-Qaida-linked militants all have staging bases.

In the end, of course, the U.S. and allied interests differ from those of most Afghans,” said Andrew Exum, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington.
“The United States is most concerned with dismantling al-Qaida, while Afghans are most concerned with what infrastructure and financing the United States and its allies will provide beyond 2014.”...

-bth: there seems to me to be a huge area of common agreement on which to base a deal that would benefit both countries and under any circumstances would be less costly and more productive than our current heavy footprint.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Army investigating medal awarded to soldier who shot, killed David Sharrett II - The State of NoVa - The Washington Post

Army investigating medal awarded to soldier who shot, killed David Sharrett II - The State of NoVa - The Washington Post

... According to the Army’s Military Awards criteria, the Combat Infantryman Badge was created during World War II as the “fighter badge,” to “enhance morale and the prestige” of the infantry soldiers who operated under the worst conditions, suffered the most casualties and received the least public recognition.
The specific criteria for the award is that a soldier must be an Army infantry or special forces officer or soldier, must have “satisfactorily performed duty” in active ground combat, and in a unit “actively engaged in ground combat with the enemy,” in any unit smaller than a brigade.

The review of the award to Hanson is a small consolation to David Sharrett Sr., who has been pressing for more information on the specifics of his son’s death, and specifically the Army’s handling of its aftermath, for four years. He has felt that Army commanders knew of Hanson’s actions and covered them up, and finding that Hanson had received a prestigious award for the specific day he killed Sharrett’s son was a new and devastating wound.

When soldiers first located the dying David Sharrett II, unconscious on the ground in the darkness but still alive, they couldn’t find a wound on him. That was because he had been shot at close range with a 5.56-mm rifle round, which severed his femoral artery, an autopsy showed.

When Sharrett’s body was shipped back to the United States, the green-tipped NATO bullet was found. Forensics tests linked the bullet to Hanson’s rifle. An investigation was done in February 2008 which said that Hanson mistook Sharrett for an enemy fighter, though Hanson’s own statements never said that. In 2011, Hanson told an investigator he didn’t know he had shot anyone, though the video showed him moving away immediately after Sharrett fell.



Pfc. David H. Sharrett II and father David Sharrett Sr. after the son’s graduation from basic training in 2006. (Family photo)
Sharrett Sr. and reporter James Gordon Meek of the New York Daily News began seeking more information, and found that Hanson’s immediate commanders, Maj. Michael Loveall and Lt. Col. Robert McCarthy, were aware that Hanson had fled the battlefield and left behind two dead, two living and one wounded soldier. Then they learned that overhead video of the episode existed, showing nearly the entire battle, though not the moment when Sharrett was shot.

As a result of the investigation by Sharrett and Meek, aided by Douglas Kimme, the father of one of the other soldiers killed, the Army performed a more detailed investigation in 2011. That probe heavily criticized Hanson and appeared to formally reprimand him, though the recommended action was redacted.
After a story about the case appeared in The Washington Post in February, the Army released a summary of Hanson’s military record, including a list of his awards. Sharrett asked the Army to explain how Hanson received any recognition for what was reportedly his only brush with battle, and last Friday he received the order authorizing the infantry badge to Hanson.

“We’re glad to see that someone in the United States Army takes matters of ‘improper award allegations very seriously’,” Sharrett said Thursday night. “And we hope the Army will target its investigation into Lt. Hanson’s chain of command, who made a conscious decision to cover up Hanson’s desertion and reward his cowardice with a coveted combat badge.”...

--bth: You just have to wonder why the Army chain of command would tolerate this deceit  within the officer corp, award cowardice for this well connected Lieutenant and his chain of command.  And one realizes that no one in the chain of command gives a damn about justice or accountability in the death of Sharrett. Were it not for the intervention of his family and his buddies families, the LT would simply have gotten away with cowardice and stolen valor as he and his superiors planned.

US congressman refused entry to Afghanistan over criticisms of Karzai | World news | guardian.co.uk

US congressman refused entry to Afghanistan over criticisms of Karzai | World news | guardian.co.uk


Relations between the US and Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, came under renewed strain after a senior Congressman highly critical of the Kabul government was barred from entering Afghanistan.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Republican chairman of the House foreign affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigation, has been an outspoken opponent of Karzai. Rohrabacher has engaged with other Afghan leaders about a more decentralised form of government for Afghanistan and called for a US investigation into alleged government corruption.
He had been leading a delegation to Afghanistan but was stopped in Dubai on Friday on his way to Kabul. The other members of the delegation had visas for Afghanistan but Rohrabacher did not.
According to his press spokeswoman, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, personally intervened to convey a message from Karzai that the congressman would not be welcome and asking him not to continue to Kabul.
Rohrabacher was still in Dubai on Sunday but scheduled to depart on Monday....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It’s time to toss the all-volunteer military - The Washington Post

It’s time to toss the all-volunteer military - The Washington Post

 Since the end of the military draft in 1973, every person joining the U.S. armed forces has done so because he or she asked to be there. Over the past decade, this all-volunteer force has been put to the test and has succeeded, fighting two sustained foreign wars with troops standing up to multiple combat deployments and extreme stress.

This is precisely the reason it is time to get rid of the all-volunteer force. It has been too successful. Our relatively small and highly adept military has made it all too easy for our nation to go to war — and to ignore the consequences.

The drawbacks of the all-volunteer force are not military, but political and ethical. One percent of the nation has carried almost all the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the rest of us essentially went shopping. When the wars turned sour, we could turn our backs.

A nation that disregards the consequences of its gravest decisions is operating in morally hazardous territory. We invaded Iraq recklessly. If we had a draft, a retired general said to me recently, we probably would not have invaded at all.

If there had been a draft in 2001, I think we still would have gone to war in Afghanistan, which was the right thing to do. But I don’t think we would have stayed there much past the middle of 2002 or handled the war so negligently for years after that.

We had a draft in the 1960s, of course, and it did not stop President Lyndon Johnson from getting into a ground war in Vietnam. But the draft sure did encourage people to pay attention to the war and decide whether they were willing to support it.

Resuming conscription is the best way to reconnect the people with the armed services. Yes, reestablishing a draft, with all its Vietnam-era connotations, would cause problems for the military, but those could never be as painful and expensive as fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq for almost nine years. A draft would be good for our nation and ultimately for our military.
 
Thomas E. Ricks is a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and the author of “The Generals: American Military Command From World War II to Today,” forthcoming in October.

-bth: it is just too easy to send another man's son to war.

USAF comptroller: $1 billion IT system a bust - Air Force News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Air Force Times

USAF comptroller: $1 billion IT system a bust - Air Force News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Air Force Times


A seven-year, billion dollar investment by the Air Force in a new logistics management system has turned out to be a bust, officials say.
“I am personally appalled at the limited capability the program has produced relative to that amount of investment,” Air Force Comptroller Jamie Morin told the Senate Armed Services readiness and management support subcommittee on Wednesday.
The Air Force is now trying to sort out what can be salvaged from its investment on the Expeditionary Combat Support System and map out a way forward in a new report likely to be delivered to Congress next month.
The system is supposed to save billions of dollars by streamlining the Air Force’s supply chain management and providing an integrated approach for buying, moving and managing equipment. In an interview after the hearing, Morin described the new system’s “usable capability” as “negligible.”...

-bth: One has to wonder if the Air Force has lost its ability to manage a major program.  The last 10 years or so have been one bungle after another.