Unmanned Warfare news blast

The category “Unmanned Warfare” on this site is intended to highlight and comment on unmanned & remote warfare. In this context, I will use unmanned vehicles to refer to the collective aerial, ground, and naval vehicles (and vessels). This is better than writing all the acronyms. These may be not, semi-, or full-autonomous. They may be controlled on the battlefield or on the homeland by a civilian or a soldier.

UAV- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (news here)

UGV- Unmanned Ground Vehicle (info here)

UUV- Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

USV- Unmanned Surface Vehicle

News on both UUV/USV available here

Reports on:

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap 2005-2030 from Office of SecDef Aug 2005

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicles, Defense Science Board, February 2004


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The pace of unmanned vehicles, increasing sensors and even increasing autonomy will have a visible impact in the near future on the conduct of war. Just as private military companies affect foreign policy, military effectiveness, and national images through intended and unintended means, unmanned or remotely manned vehicles will alter policy. Perhaps PMC use is a foreshadowing of the mass deployment of unmanned vehicles. I suggest that decision-making modeling for the AI of semi- and full-autonomous unmanned vehicles be based on private security contractor decision-making. Eliminating the outliers of national fanaticism and opportunist mercenary, in the middle we have a skilled operator professionally and wholly committed to the job. However, this operator (as the older veteran, likely with a family) will avoid suicide missions, will have different cost-benefit analysis to live another day.

In the deployment of unmanned vehicles, what are we to expect? There are some hints today, including failures to communicate (including between robot and personnel… hopefully not too reminiscent of RoboCop). What about the Laws of War when an unmanned vehicle, “driven” by a civilian on the battlefield, in the US, or even sitting in an allied country kills a US soldier, a civilian, IGO/NGO personnel, or an allied soldier?

With that, here is a blast of unmanned vehicle news, mostly from the UAV blog, but not all:

  • Boeing to Perform Front-Line UAV Support for USMC, Navy
    Boeing contractor support personnel… have been involved in front-line support for their Scaneagle UAVs for some time now, and those UAVs have proven useful in campaigns like Fallujah and al-Anbar, operating from forward-deployed land locations and even from onboard high-speed ships.
  • UAVs get smaller: the Micro Air Vehicle nears readiness
    As each new conflict redefines war based on the technologies coming of age at that time, the Iraq campaign has seen the coming of age of the UAV in its many wonderous forms. It is the most-requested capability among combatant commanders and in the last 18 months, UAV numbers in Iraq have jumped from fewer than 100 to more than 400 and there are now nearly 600 UAVs in the Afghanistan and Iraq theatres. Even more interesting is the dizzying array of unmanned aircraft used in traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAV roles.
  • Israeli UAV Fires Upon Own Troops
    The IAF revealed on Tuesday that it had prevented a severe disaster on the previous day when it had halted the fire that a UAV was shooting at Israeli troops.
  • Unexpected Consequences of UAVs
    ‘While the U.S. Army has come to use its growing number of UAVs with great success, there have been negatives as well. For one thing, there are so many UAVs in the air, that the U.S. Air Force, which manages use of air space for all three services, has sometimes declared that even the smallest UAVs have to file flight plans. This usually means planning your UAV use 24 hours in advance. Ground combat commanders do not always have the luxury of 24 hours notice, and often find themselves calling for army helicopters or air force jets, already in the air, to please stop by and give them some top-down views of a ground battle in progress. These restrictions tend to be in effect only in busy areas like metropolitan Baghdad.’
  • UAV Planes’ tiny brains could save lives in war
    The brains of the Mosquito, as with all unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), is a tiny electronic circuit board called an autopilot that controls the flight and the camera. The Mosquito’s autopilot comes from Winnipeg-based MicroPilot Inc., a leader in a suddenly hot market.
  • Drone aircraft may prowl U.S. skies
    A House of Representatives panel on Wednesday (March 2006) heard testimony from police agencies that envision using UAVs for everything from border security to domestic surveillance high above American cities. Private companies also hope to use UAVs for tasks such as aerial photography and pipeline monitoring.

More to come later.

Related to unmanned vehicles is unmanned warfare, the title of this category. Below are is remote sensing link:

  • Mini-Sensors for "Military Omniscience"
    Spotting insurgents, sorting out friend from foe – it’s beyond tough in today’s guerilla war zones. So tough, that no single monitor can be counted on to handle the job. The Pentagon’s answer: build a set of palm-sized, networked sensors that can be scattered around, and work together to “detect, classify, localize, and track dismounted combatants under foliage and in urban environments.” It’s part of a larger Defense Department effort to establish “military omniscience” and “ubiquitous monitoring.”

Sport as Diplomacy? USA Swimming says absolutely

Many recognize sport as a form of public and cultural diplomacy. While some sports do not do well crossing America’s borders either outward (American Football) or inward (Football according to the rest of the world), swimming does. The worldwide reach of swimming is immediately evident at any Olympic Games, let alone the numerous other regional championship games held around the world. Remember the African athlete finishing the swim the 100m at the Sydney Olympics who had never swam that distance at once or in anything other than a hotel pool before.

The sport also crosses age barriers allowing athletes to continue to train and compete into their nineties as one National (or World?) champion 500yd swimmer proved recently (at a pace I know many people a fourth his age couldn’t). In short, it is one of the widest reaching sports, not as far as soccer, but with tremendous visibility and a huge national and international following around the globe.

With this in mind, Chuck Wieglus, Executive Director for USA Swimming, published an open letter to the National Team athletes, coaches, staff, board of directors of USA Swimming, and others within the US Olympic establishment. To be sure, this open letter shows a clear awareness of the value of swimming to highlight America and to raise awareness of the intense media spotlight that will be the Beijing Olympics.

Below is the full letter, also available here

Dear National Team Athletes:

As I watched the Winter Olympic Games and observed some of the more unfortunate incidents and reports that came out of Torino I reflected on just how special the performances of USA Swimming athletes have been over the years. You and your predecessors won 28 medals at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, 33 medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and equally impressive numbers in all preceding Olympic Games.  It is no surprise then that USA Swimming has been the world’s #1 ranked international swim team for so many years. These Olympic performance results are even more impressive when considered in the context of growing worldwide competition in our sport.  Today there are more than 190 member federations in FINA and winning Olympic medals is only going to get tougher in the future.

But there’s more than a medal-winning history to give you reason to be proud.  Of equal – and perhaps even greater importance – is the manner in which USA Swimming athletes have represented their country. U.S. swimmers have consistently reflected everything that most people think is good about American youth.  Beyond being prepared for optimum physical success, U.S. swimmers have presented themselves in a way that has reflected enthusiasm, humility, maturity, sincerity, team spirit and patriotism. 

For USA Swimming, the notion of team spirit is especially important.  While many may view swimming as an individual sport, USA Swimming has always gone into international competition as a TEAM.  Our coaches have continually stressed the importance of the team concept, and there is a true belief that when we act and function like a team we maximize the potential for greater performance results.  Supporting each other as teammates, no matter what the sport, is something that the average fan notices and appreciates.  Michael Phelps may have endeared himself to more American television viewers for the race he didn’t swim in Athens than for any of the six gold medals that he won.  When Michael gave up his relay team spot so that Ian Crocker could swim he showed he cared as much about a teammate as he did about himself.  And when the television cameras caught him leading his U.S. teammates in cheering for that relay team, Michael won hearts throughout the world. 

As harsh as the media spotlight may have been in Torino, it will burn even hotter at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  The media coverage in Beijing will dwarf that of any sporting event ever held.  Television cameras will capture every movement and microphones will record every word.  An off-hand comment, a surly facial expression, any negative body language will become fodder for a reporter’s negative story.  As good as we have been in the past about conveying positive images, we are going to have to be even better in the future. 

Following Torino, the press is going to be watching very closely to see how U.S. athletes behave.  It is now going to be more important than ever that you and your teammates commit yourselves to protecting the overwhelmingly positive image and reputation that has been the hallmark of American swimmers in the past.  You are representing not only yourself, but your family, your sport and your country and this should be a responsibility that you embrace with careful thought and sincerity.

The USOC has announced its intent to address athlete behavior more seriously in the future.  I ask you to join together with your teammates, coaches and others in the “swimming family” to lead the way.  As we prepare for the Beijing Olympic Games,  let’s include in our preparations a commitment to considering how we can best represent our sport and our country.  At a time when so many people in the rest of the world seem to dislike – or even hate – Americans, let’s use our participation in international competition as an opportunity to change attitudes.  Put bluntly, our objectives for Beijing should be twofold:

1.      To win medals!

2.      To win friends for the U.S. by the manner in which we conduct ourselves individually and as a team!

If you accomplish both of these objectives, I can assure you that not only will many awards and accolades be heaped upon you, but that you will have done something extraordinary that will be with you for the rest of your life.  Challenging times provide enormous opportunities.  You would not be a member of the USA Swimming National Team if you were afraid of tough challenges.  That challenge is now even greater and I encourage you to embrace it!


Chuck Wielgus Executive Director USA Swimming

What is “War”? Some definitions

In the challenge to understand “war”, here are some definitions. This is the first of two or three posts on listing definitions. One must understand anything in order to build an appropriate response, of course. This is true in the medical field as it is in politics and in conflict. On my desk are two books that I’m going through this week. The first is Colonel Callwell’s 1906 Small Wars and the second is Ahmed Hashim’s Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq, both of which are excellent so far and will be reviewed later (currently I’d say get them and get them now). On to the definitions:

War as an Act of Violence

  • “War is a violent contact of distinct but similar entities” – Quincy Wright, A Study of War, 1942
  • “War is an act of violence intended to compel our opponents to fulfill our will…” – Clausewitz, On War
  • “War is a contest or contention carried on by force” – Cicero
  • “War is that state in which men constantly exercise acts of indeterminate violence against each other.” – Martens, Precis du Droit des Gens, 1788

War as an Absence of Peace

  • “… the death of the insured on board the Lusitania must be conceded to be a result of war.” – Vanderbilt v Travelers Insurance Co., New York Supreme Court, 1920
  • “War is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse, with a mixture of other means.” – Clausewitz, On War
  • “War hath no fury like a non-combatant.” – Charles Edward Montague, Disenchantment, 1922
  • “The State of War is a State of Enmity and Destruction: And therefore declaring by Word or Action, not a passionate and hasty, but a sedate settled Design, upon another Mans Life, puts him in a State of War with him whom he has declared such an Intention, and so has exposed his Life to the Others Power to be taken away by his…” – Locke, Two Treatises of Government, 1690

UPDATE: MSNBC response to White House linkage to AQ

It is good to see the mainstream media picking on the senseless and misleading linkages the Bush Administration is making in the Middle East.

Reading "Fiasco," Thomas Ricks’s devastating new book about the Iraq war, brought back memories for me. Memories of going on night raids in Samarra in January 2004, in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, with the Fourth Infantry Division units that Ricks describes. During these raids, confused young Americans would burst into Iraqi homes, overturn beds, dump out drawers, and summarily arrest all military-age men—actions that made them unwitting recruits for the insurgency. For American soldiers battling the resistance throughout Iraq, the unspoken rule was that all Iraqis were guilty until proven innocent. Arrests, beatings and sometimes killings were arbitrary, often based on the flimsiest intelligence, and Iraqis had no recourse whatever to justice. Imagine the sense of helpless rage that emerges from this sort of treatment. Apply three years of it and you have one furious, traumatized population. And a country out of control.

The entire article, which is yet another not-so-disguised review of Ricks’ FIASCO, is certainly worthwhile. Although it is somewhat disappointing this review is a "web exclusive", making me wonder how or if the broadcast coverage & magazine may be influenced by this.

UPDATE: as I come across or hear about critiques about this MSNBC article, Ricks’ book ("another Monday morning quarterback"), and moral problems I feel it is important to understand the contemporary situation as events unfold. A book (to be reviewed here in the not too distant future) that is worth looking at for this is Ahmed Hashim’s Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq. Hashim, a Professor of Strategic Studies at the US Naval War College, has what is surely a more technical and detailed description of the cause and effect merry go-round based on what I’ve read of Ricks (reviews and his news piece) and his target audience and the to-date brief reading of Hashim’s book.

Landis & a positive test?

Eurosport.com and others are reporting:

Tour de France winner Floyd Landis has given a positive drugs test for the male sex hormone testosterone, his Phonak team said on Thursday.

Hopefully the B sample doesn’t agree with the test of the A sample, or there is a valid explanation (I have no idea what that scenario could be). Argh.

DC, Nagl, Galula, and the new Army COIN manual

I didn’t mention that when I’m in DC next week for the 2006 Naval S&T Partnership Conference, I will be also sitting in on “Rethinking the Future Nature of Competitions and Conflict” seminar sponsored with LTC John Nagl, author of the excellent book Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife (I recommend getting the revised / updated edition). This excellent series – of which the audio, video and presentation are generally available for download – is co-sponsored by the Department of Defense’s Office of Force Transformation and the Office of the Secretary of the Navy.

Continue reading “DC, Nagl, Galula, and the new Army COIN manual

Book Review: A Bloody Business: America’s War Zone Contractors and the Occupation of Iraq

An element of private military companies is the rediscovered opportunity to join “the fight” without joining a public military organization. Reasons for taking the private route include being too old, too unfit, short-term goals (i.e. quick money, <1yr commitment, the experience, etc), flexibility of choice, or any number of other reasons. The fact is private military companies providing security, logistics, and other services in and around the modern battlespace is re-democratizing war.

Looking at the private military industry operating in Iraq, in A Bloody Business Colonel Schumacher reviews many of its varied components beyond the almost cliche private security details (the shooters). From construction to trucking to training and even the security contractors, the author profiles elements of the private military industry as under-appreciated, undervalued, and, in many of his examples, highly patriotic.

This is a book heavy on cheerleading for the private contractors as individuals without spending too much time on the question of the appropriateness of the industry. These men and women do not get the same insurance, logistic support, fire support, medical support, or equipment the public armed forces receive. In return, they get the opportunity to serve at their leisure, higher pay, and little recognition. This book attempts to correct the latter as “[n]either a glorification nor a cheap shot-riddled exposé”, as the back of the dust cover describes it.

Indeed, most of the reviews on Amazon and other sites echo this sentiment: “…the incredible amount of dangers they face, often times it is more than money which motivates them. For the majority of the contractors, it is their chance to serve their country” and “[t]hey are no less patriotic, no less courageous, than people in the military.”

Colonel Schumacher glosses over the issues behind the tremendous increase in using private military companies in the last decade. He largely attributes the availability of skilled security resources as a result of “Up-or-Out” policies, but this is a narrow reading of reality. There is more there than that, especially military downsizing etc but like most of the political arguments, Schumacher oversimplifies to spend less time on the intellectual analysis (and long-term realities) and more on the daily realities of the contractor.

Interesting is his observation of the multicultural and multiethnic make up of PMCs, which reminded me of the democratic and ethnically blind pirates of the 17th Century as described in Benerson Little’s excellent book, The Sea Rover’s Practice (reviewed here previously). The comparison is not meant to suggest a similarity between pirates and private military companies beyond the organizational and motivational parallels between these non-state forces that operate with paradigms different from the societies they come from. One example is a more democratized operation that includes dropping the discrimination found in their contemporary societies — if they are operating on the same team or ship that is.

When Schumacher does explore the raison d’etre of PMCs use, he has both hits and misses. One "hit" is when he writes: “[b]ecause contract operations do not get the visibility that military operations do, the true cost, in terms of lives and impact on US foreign policy is disguised. As a concerned public, we need to be far more aware and informed about where, when, and how the United States employs these firm.”

However at the same time he misses the point by just including barely a page in his 262 page book on the political realities, but yet frequently returns to the point of the under-appreciated and under-supported contractor and their value. The latter is clearly the point he wants to make and does not want to delve into the politics behind their use like most other books on the subject. This is somewhat refreshing to a reader new to the subject but the human story should not outweigh the concern we the public should have over their deployment. The focus of the book is clearly to tell the story of the “unsung hero”. Schumacher makes no attempt to connect private military contractors with the evolution of war, which isn’t his purpose anyways.

That all said, the book really is a good read and good on first person (almost whole chapters are told by the participant with only setup by Schumacher) accounts. The focus on non-shooters is almost refreshing. At times reading like a novel, it is a quick read.

I was once asked for a reading list that included first-person accounts of private military companies in action. Just a few months ago, I was pressed to provide anything, but I’d include this on a reading list for another — non-academic — perspective.

2006 Naval S&T Partnership Conference

Next week — July 31 to August 3 — MountainRunner will be blogging from the Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference in Washington, DC.

What is this conference?

Presented by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) with technical support from the Office of Naval Research, the 2006 Naval S&T Partnership Conference is the successor to, and builds upon the success of, the six annual partnership conferences previously presented by ONR.  The 2006 Naval S&T Partnership Conference will provide key insight into the Navy & Marine Corps drive to enable revolutionary naval operational concepts that meet the challenges of the 21st century through strategic investment in S&T research.  The Conference will inform government, industry and academia of the direction, emphasis, and scope of the Department of the Navy’s investment in science and technology research, and how companies and universities can do business with the Naval Research Enterprise.

A number of blogs were inviting, including obviously MountainRunner. We will be credentialed as media in an experiment for the conference. In return, the conference simply requests we report (blog) on the conference. This may seem different, and it is, but it is certainly inline with a growing awareness of the Internet (see Defense Science Boards’ research into the value of Google, blogs, and other Net resources). I’ll post which blogs actually show when I get there next week (the confirmed list right now is short so the blog-exclusive press availability with the Chief of Naval Research may be closer to a one-on-one interview).

Here are the highlights of the conference, direct from its preliminary agenda:

  • Hear from the senior leadership of the Department of the Navy, the Office of Naval Research, and the Naval Research Enterprise
  • Gain an understanding of partnership opportunities for industry and academia, and learn how to do business with ONR and the Naval Research Enterprise
  • Get key insights into the Power and Energy challenges and opportunities facing the Navy and Marine Corps in the 21st Century
  • Meet one-on-one with Program Managers from ONR and across the Naval Research Enterprise, including Naval Laboratories and Warfare Centers
  • Learn how to participate in the challenge to creative innovative solutions to meet Fleet and Force requirements in the Future Naval Capabilities (FNC) and Innovative Naval Prototypes (INP) programs.
  • See and discuss innovative technologies from Industry, National and Federal Labs, and Academia in the Conference Exhibit Hall.

The Conference is being extremely helpful in facilitating additional interviews with the Office of Naval Research. Topics I’m looking to discuss and investigate further with ONR includes programs similar to the USS Emory S. Land reach out to Africa recently (blogged here previously and other public diplomacy programs), building strategic relationships ("partnership capacity" as defined in the QDR), thoughts on the Core-Gap & Barnett, and of course piracy. Of course those are just a few things I hope to ask and discuss, but we’ll see what actually transpires after reality sets in.

By the way, "science" is stretched beyond technology if you look at the ONR Science and Technology Departments, which include at the top level: Expeditionary Warfare and Combating Terrorism; Command, Control Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR); Ocean Battlespace Sensing; Sea Warfare and Weapons; Warfighter Performance Department; Naval Air Warfare and Weapons; and Office of Transition.

Any questions or topics you’d like to have asked or looked into, let me know. I’m open for suggestions, leads, etc.

More to come…

Defense Science Board to Study Impact of Google, Blogs, et al

Briefly, Defense Science Board to Study Impact of Google, Blogs, et. al. (defense acquisition, defence purchasing, military procurement):

The "blogosphere" has experienced 6000% growth since 2003, played a role in both reporting and aid coordination in the wake of terror attacks and disasters, and even birthed a whole genre called "MilBlogs" that are often penned by soldiers in the field. Which may explain why the Defense Science Board will conduct a study this summer on the military implications of Internet search engines, online journals and blogs.

Kenneth Krieg, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics and a former Defense Science Board member, requested the study on "Information Management for Net-Centric Operations" to help evaluate the implications of the information network boom. "’Googling’ and ‘blogging’ are making their way into military operations at all levels," Krieg wrote. "But the full implications of this revolution are as yet unknown, and we have no clear direction and defined doctrine." Krieg called access to information and collaboration among those who play a role in these missions "the lifeblood of military and civil-military operations."

Last comments re TdF

Since I posted something about the comeback ride of Landis and didn’t follow up with the joy of his victory, let me wrap up the Tour de France (TdF) postings with two things.

First, it is interesting the press, notably the French press, is referring to Landis as a ‘champion’ (versus Lance Armstrong as a ‘winner’) and is generally heaping praise on him. It really isn’t too much of surprise considering the friction between L’Equipe, and the French media in general, and Armstrong. However, I’m sure something else in the equation is Phonak isn’t an American team…

Second, is this news from Eurosport.com (a channel you should watch the Tour, World Cup, and any other serious sporting event on instead of OLN / Versus or ESPN… the coverage is far superior):

Jan Ullrich is reportedly in talks with Discovery Channel after it emerged that the German will have one last pop at Tour de France glory. Ullrich was fired by his team T-Mobile last Friday following his implication in the recent Spanish doping scandal ‘Operacion Puerto’.

Where’s Vino? With Kloden without a contract but apparently with offers from other teams, will 2005’s T-Mobile be reconstituted on 2007 Discovery? Can the personalities mesh? I’ll leave that discussion to the experts in the field as my Calfee is simply collecting dust…

Warning signal as Army recruiting standards fall

The need for the Army to lower its standards to allow in recruits who otherwise would have been rejected set the Army on bad trajectory. It was possible, of course nothing would come of it as these now-acceptable kids would be reformed by the Army. Indications of the types of kids they were bringing, or seeking to, was seen in the decision to allow previously prohibited inked necks and hands (while interestingly at the same time the People’s Liberation Army restricted its tattoo policy).

Continue reading “Warning signal as Army recruiting standards fall

A question of retention in the Army

Excerpted from a New York Times editorial back on June 28, 2005: The Not-So-Long Gray Line:

”I feel like politicians have created a difficult situation for us,” he told me. ”I know I’m going to be coming back here about a year from now. I want to get married. I want to have a life. But I feel like if I get out when my commitment is up, who’s going to be coming here in my place? I feel this obligation to see it through, but everybody over here knows we’re just targets. Sooner or later, your luck’s going to run out.”

At the time, he was commanding three vehicle convoys a day down a treacherous road to pick up hot food for his troops from the civilian contractors who never left their company’s ”dining facility” about five miles away. He walked daily patrols through the old city of Mosul, a hotbed of insurgent activity that erupted in violence after the 101st left it last year. The Army will need this lieutenant 20 years from now when he could be a colonel, or 30 years from now when he could have four stars on his collar. But I doubt he will be in uniform long enough to make captain.

Quoting Sneakers

60031755I’m probably one of the last people to see the 1992 movie "Sneakers", but I just did and found two fascinating and prescient quotes worth repeating here.

First, Redford to the NSA: You’re the guys I hear breathing on the other end of my phone.
NSA: No, that’s the FBI. We’re not chartered for domestic surveillance.

Second and more importantly: "It’s a war out there, a world war. It’s all about information…"

This is the killer quote of the movie. The guy who said it, a computer hacker with PlayTronic as his front, was likely thinking in terms of Future Combat System awareness of the "where" in battlespace and not the real bullseye of information of the "who" and the "why".


NYT Letter to the Editor: Training Foreign Armies

Ten days after an editorial appeard in the New York Times on June 12 (see below or link on NYT here) suggested a reduced role by State granting (and managing) foreign aid, the Pentagon responded. Today, two Secretaries of Defense co-signed a rebuttal: Training Foreign Armies

To the Editor:

Re "In Foreign Territory" (editorial, June 12), about the training and equipping of foreign militaries:

argue that Congress "should at least mandate that the programs financed
by the Pentagon conform to the same democratic and human rights
standards that apply when they are run by the State Department." We

Section 1206 of the 2006 National Defense Authorization
Act states that "the authority may not be used to provide any type of
assistance that is otherwise prohibited by any provision of law," and
that all programs incorporate "elements that promote observance of and
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; and respect for
legitimate civilian authority within that country."

You contend
that this legislation "marks the continuation of a dangerous shift in
responsibilities" from the State Department to the Defense Department.
Not only do both departments jointly develop 1206 programs, but the
secretaries of state and defense must also both approve them. The law
enables the two departments to maximize their capabilities to address
war-on-terrorism challenges.

Michael Coulter
Jeb Nadaner
Washington, June 16, 2006
The writers are deputy assistant secretaries of state and defense, respectively.

Here’s the detail from the Editorial that’s their primary bug:

Traditionally, the authority to train and equip foreign forces was the
territory of the State Department… [U]nder law, Congress requires the State Department to
verify that a government meets certain standards of rights and
democracy before it can receive assistance. But no such restrictions
impede the Defense Department, and the danger is more than theoretical.

It is already clear, as the editorial comments, that American foreign policy is increasingly militarized but what the editorial ignores and the Pentagonn alludes to is the role of the Executive. The Executive Branch "owns" both State and Defense. Defense has seen an increase in responsibility and issue ownership since 9/11, a fact MountainRunner has been commenting on for a while…

Continue reading “NYT Letter to the Editor: Training Foreign Armies

PSYOPS propaganda goes mainstream

Briefly, from mparent7777 (hat tip to John Brown):

From the website for"Strategic Communication Laboratories":

Homeland Security

The last 5 years have seen a flurry of Homeland Security scenarios enacted
and re-enacted on the streets of our cities. What if there is a biological
attack, or the detonation of multiple explosive devices? Many of these simulated
scenarios are excellent planning exercises for the emergency services and
security forces.

However, a major flaw has emerged in many of the scenarios – the
unmanageability of civilians. They do not behave as they are supposed to.
When a virus hits a city, civilians do not line up for vaccination:
they run for the hills. When terrorists are looking for a target, it is the
predictability of civilian behaviour that makes the terrorists’ job easier.
What if there was a way to control civilian behaviour when it counts?

Offering niche specialties as
"psychological warfare," "public diplomacy," and "influence operations," Strategic Communication Laboratories deserves a deeper look. This isn’t the Lincoln Group…

GAO Faults Pentagon Oversight

Briefly from the: Washington Post:

The Defense Department may not have enough staff to adequately monitor the performance of contractors hired to build and run weapons programs, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The Pentagon’s workforce devoted to weapons acquisition and oversight declined by 38 percent, to 60,000, from 1989 to 2002, the GAO said. The workforce remained steady even as contract obligations reached $270 billion in 2005, up from about $130 billion in 2000, the agency said. "Increased demands on the acquisition workforce have led to vulnerabilities in contract pricing and competition and in the selection of the most appropriate contracting techniques," according to the report, which was requested as part of this year’s defense budget to assess the Pentagon’s vulnerability to fraud, waste and abuse.

From the perspective of certain offices, it is not too inconvienent to allow poor oversight. This isn’t really surprising however. In 2003, the GAO faulted the Pentagon  for not developing plans to replace civilians in wartime, as prescribed by the DOD itself in 1990.

The need for civilian contractors to assist the military is clearly established, albeit unfortunately. Increasing dependence from outsourcing food and laundry services to logistics to has led to outright subing out for boots on the ground in the form of the private security contractors in Iraq today (and lest we forget wings in the air with the "pilots" of the larger UAVs now carrying weapons). Failing oversight is convienent when obfuscation of projected military power is politically necessitated.

What is the cost of the Iraq War? The cost to the US military is significant and not quantifiable in dollars…