Proliferation of the Sub

Briefly from back in June 2006, Sakina Mohamed of the Malaysian National News Agency writes how the Malaysians are being trained by a French company (monitored by the French MoD) to operate new (new to them) submarines. These could be useful for setting pickets, piracy interdiction (not really too useful for that actually), and what other legitimate use?

Update on Contractor Deaths

One of the many issues surrounding contractors in war is the lack of transparency. The recent FOIA denial of contractor names (individuals and firms) involved in incidents — which some argue grants more privacy than soldiers enjoy when involved in the same or similar incidents — highlights a lack of institutional accountability. Civilian control of these private military forces (to call them a single force is misleading) is largely lost as these (private) military units slip further from the bonds of the civil-military relationship on which this country is based.

It is fascinating that when we talk about "military science" and the "art of war" — the new "hot topic" with the latest ‘distraction’ of Israel & Lebanon — the calculus of effectiveness includes killed and wounded. However, in Iraq, because the government didn’t fully rally the American public into war (how has life been interupted if you don’t fly commercially?), to prevent and deflect media attacks, and so on, KIAs (not to mention wounded) have been hidden. Understanding and getting "into" the ‘science’ and ‘art’ requires a complete picture on the ground and KIA’s are important to this. As agents of our mission in Iraq, there is — intentionally — only one real system to track what is happening to the contractors, a law requiring insurance coverage oddly enough.

Is this a detriment of the contractor (shooter or truck driver)? Yes. Is this a detriment to the US citizen who is screened from the actual scope of mission? Yes. Is this detrimental to the overall project in Iraq? Most definitely. We have excluded a substantial number of agents (combatants and non-combatants alike… i.e. the contractors who carry weapons and those who do not) from our calculations on how we are doing and how we are to proceed.

With this in mind, Pratap Chatterjee of CorpWatch compiled this report (Contractor Deaths) based on the only real tool available to track contractors in Iraq. This tool is the Defense Base Act of 1941. From Pratap:

You may be interested in the total number of contractor deaths and injuries in Iraq broken down by company to date. The grand total is 608 and another 6,000 plus injured. Quite a few of them are probably Iraqi, especially for Titan corporation Titan/L-3 who supply the translators. Their total number of deaths is at 199.

These are Department of Labor figures based on the company requests for compensation and are generally considered to be lower than the real figure. For example KBR/Halliburton’s figures on this list indicates that Halliburton (represented here by their Cayman island subsidiary, Service Employees International) has suffered 40 deaths, while the company considers its total to have exceeded 77 for all operations (includes Afghanistan and Kuwait, although these are generally low caualty theaters) as of November 2005. (see

For a more detailed breakdown by name and incident go to Iraq Casualty Count (note that they only have 342 versus 608):

In case you are curious, note that the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq stands at 2592 today according to DoD stas gathered by Iraq Casualty Count. Other country deaths stand at 230 (not including Iraqis). See

Explanation of acronyms in the list:

NLT = no lost time
LTO = lost time 3 days or less
LT4 = lost time 4 days or more
DEA = death
COP = salary continuation
OTH = other or unknown

Note: The report is for Iraq only from 3/03 to 7/06. The data is sorted using the "Rule of 7" (6 or less omitted by name but counted toward the total) to protect privacy of the claimants.

From the National Counterterrorism Center, a new travel guide

Actually, it’s more of a counter-travel guide for counter-terrorism. The NCTC recently published a document – National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel (note the document name in the link) – that “proposes specific actions aimed at strengthening our efforts at home and abroad to constrain terrorist mobility.”

The document’s filename, “Terrorist Travel Book”, brought to mind Calvin Trillin, who authored A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme. Calvin was on the Jon Stewart show and his very dry wit was classic:

“I think the whole shoe bomber thing was a prank… the guy was an obvious bozo… he practically asked the flight attendant for a match… as I see it, there is one Arab terrorist with a sense of humor, known in his cell as Khalid the Drool. He said, “I bet I can get them all to take their shoes off in airports. Some people disagree with me, but, if the next one is called… the Underwear Bomber, you’ll know I’m on to something.”

Back to the handbook. This document seems to a) restate the obvious, b) rely on technical means, c) sees the value of multilateralism, d) and focuses on law enforcement and police mechanisms over military interdiction.

The document’s emphasis on fixing problems, such as human trafficking, focus on “terrorist” use and not the whole channel. This is short-sighted and fails to acknowledge that allowing this criminal behavior allows the conduit to function.

The need for a comprehensive and inclusive multilateral strategy is evident in the closing of this document:

We seek to deny safe harbor to terrorists wherever they are or seek to move. This strategy demonstrates the resolve of the US Government to strengthen international and US travel systems and make them as inhospitable as possible to our terrorist enemies. Building on the progress we have made in the years since 9/11, we will see continuing successes in constraining terrorist movements and in fortifying the will of the international community to devote increased attention and resources to this critical front in the War on Terror.

The reality and the expressed position of other documents, chiefly the National Security Strategy, state something far less than this “fortifying the will of the international community”. The NSS states we will operate independently when required:

The second pillar of our strategy is confronting the challenges of our time by leading a growing community of democracies. Many of the problems we face – from the threat of pandemic disease, to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, to terrorism, to human trafficking, to natural disasters – reach across borders. Effective multinational efforts are essential to solve these problems. Yet history has shown that only when we do our part will others do theirs. America must continue to lead.

The “terrorist travel book” is more understanding of the need to collaborate. It’s sensible, really. To build detection systems, technical or human, you need everybody working together. If we look at the role of public diplomacy as a tool to facilitate macro agreements, understandings, and the desire for protection as the “terrorist travel book” describes as the micro level (restricting individuals is rather granular), there is a huge disconnect. American public diplomacy programs lack fundamental requisites of “public diplomacy” as critical report after critical report describes.

An interesting and quick read.

Lastly, if there is a micro level and a macro level, there must be a meso level….

National means “state” or “federal”?

The Armchair Generalist has a good post on the building issue of who ‘owns’ the National guard. With deeper and broader dependency on NG troops for homeland defense and similar deep and broad dependency with regular forces overseas, who is paying (economically & socially) for these troops? Definitely an issue that is not discussed enough.

Question: the National Guard is the citizens’ militia, right? Others might argue the Michigan Militia or others are the true citizens’ militia, and they may be more ‘right’ today with the functional federalization of the NG. However, as these paramilitary groups border on or go beyond the illegal, firms like Cochise, Blackwater, ArmorGroup, and others form the real citizens’ militia as their requirements include lower barriers for participation (we’re not talking just shooters here). These other roles, which A Bloody Business chose to focus on, provide the real Lockean choice to the citizenry. Isn’t this part of re-democratizing the role of the warrior?

Nigeria and Islam, two brief facts

Did you know that Nigeria has a rich and long history of Islam extending 1,200 years. Slightly more than half of the country is Muslim, the other half is Christian, making it the largest Islamo-Christian country in the world. There are more Muslims in Nigeria than Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, and all of the Gulf countries combined.

Quick post: ONR and Science Diplomacy, Nagl and COIN

I’m having some connectivity issues while in DC so posting yesterday’s event will be later today or even tonight along with a report on today’s events.

Briefly on yesterday, interesting conference sessions with on Science and Technology for expeditionary warfare, assymetric warfare, sea warfare, etc. (see the right side of the ONR page for topics yesterday). Some reporting on this will appear here later.

Also had an opportunity for a 20min interview with the Commanding Officer for ONR-Global which was surprisingly (to me) an excellent example of public diplomacy (better name: science diplomacy) in action. This 20min meeting went 60 minutes when I had to leave, and already late for, John Nagl’s presentation on Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, as part of the Rethinking seminar series. Good information came from that in the Q&A, including a question about private security companies, and from sharing a cold beer with John and others after the seminar.

More to come later.

“Where’s My Blue Helmet?” Wherever it is, the people (and their bosses) wearing it are likely getting paid by SC

From Slate is this article: Where’s My Blue Helmet? How to become a UN Peacekeeper. (Thanks to David Isenberg for sending this out.)

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the possibility of a cease-fire with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Monday. Rice proposed using international peacekeepers throughout the country and to guard its borders with Israel and Syria. Siniora said he would consider a deployment of peacekeepers, but only if they came from the United Nations. Who are the U.N. peacekeepers, and where do they come from?They’re soldiers, police officers, and military observers from the United Nations’ member countries. Nations are expected to volunteer the members of their armed forces when askedin general, the developing world does most of the volunteering . As of last month, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India each had almost 10,000 troops in blue helmets, while American soldiers accounted for just 12.The contributing countries continue to pay their soldiers, but they get reimbursed by the United Nations at a standard rate of $1,028 per month, plus a few hundred dollars extra for specialists. Troops typically stay for at least six months at a time, with the exact details of the deployment schedule left up to the country that sent them.

Continue reading ““Where’s My Blue Helmet?” Wherever it is, the people (and their bosses) wearing it are likely getting paid by SC

Day One At the Naval S&T Conference 2006

This week is the 2006 Naval Science and Technology Partnership Conference at the Wardman Park Marriot in Washington, D.C. This conference is put on by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), in partnership and with technical support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The conference’s slogan should give you an idea of the topics to be covered over the next four days: “The Navy After Next… Powered by Naval Research”.

Continue reading “Day One At the Naval S&T Conference 2006