30 November 2009

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Source: SWF Institute

Today’s report that the Dubai Government will not guarantee Dubai World’s debt has finally provided me with the necessary catalyst I’ve been waiting for to write about Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF). I’ve been mulling the strategic implications of these funds, and their potential for future conflict, for quite some time. It is difficult to fully determine, but there is roughly $1.8 trillion invested in SWFs worldwide. The figure in 2008 was closer to $3 trillion, but the SWFs apparently suffered the same fate my portfolio did during the recent economic downturn, only on a much grander scale.

The US Treasury defines SWFs as a government investment vehicle which is funded by foreign exchange assets, and which manages those assets separately from the official reserves of the monetary authorities (the Central Bank and reserve-related functions of the Finance Ministry). These funds are used extensively by commodity-driven nations as a means of asset diversification for their economy. At first glance this all seems like a good thing, and in theory it is, as a diverse economy equals a more stable and risk-averse economy.

Where’s the danger?

The first is that governments will essentially disown their SWFs when things turn sour, like Dubai has done with Dubai World. This episode has sent tremors throughout the financial world, punishing companies (especially Financials) that do business in Dubai. It is also going to affect the flow of capital into other governments, making it more difficult and expensive for nations to finance their debt.

Now let’s look at the Linaburg-Maduell Transparency Index chart (shown at the top of the post) from the SWF Institute. The scores show each SWFs score and relative ranking with higher scores being the best, or most transparent. It is little surprise to see the list of nations at or near the bottom of this chart. Why does SWF portfolio transparency matter? Internal populations and international governments alike need to know what the long-term investing goals of another nation are in order to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to military conflict. What could conflict centered around an SWF look like? What if Venezuela’s fund was used to steal industrial technology from neighboring Columbia for use in its own endeavors, resulting in a significant setback to the Columbia economy? An Algerian SWF-funded joint venture in Mali was suddenly nationalized, essentially eliminating a previously unreported $20 billion investment (roughly half of Algeria’s estimated fund value)? Would it be more politically astute for one country to invade a neighbor in order to avoid domestic turmoil? Without explicit government backing and greater transparency in developing nation SWFs, the likelihood of military conflict is much higher. For more on the rise of the SWF, and the need for an international SWF economic policy, click here.


Lessons of Tora Bora

Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released their official report on what went wrong back in 2001 at Tora Bora (read the full 49-page report here). Entitled, “Tora Bora Revisited: How We Failed to Get Bin Laden and Why It Matters Today,” the paper definitely provides for an interesting read – ultimately arguing that, “Osama bin Laden was within our grasp at Tora Bora.” For more on the background and events at Tora Bora, you can also read SOCOM's account of the battle here or check out the recent book "Kill Bin Laden" by Dalton Fury (the pseudonym for the Delta Force Commander on the ground at Tora Bora). Although much of the motivation for the SFRC report was political (mostly pushed by Sen. John Kerry), it nevertheless provides for a great examination of the decision-making process of our top military and civilian leaders at the time. The authors of the report conclude that:

“Removing the Al Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat. But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide. The failure to finish the job represents a lost opportunity that forever altered the course of the conflict in Afghanistan and the future of international terrorism, leaving the American people more vulnerable to terrorism, laying the foundation for today’s protracted Afghan insurgency and inflaming the internal strife now endangering Pakistan”

The timing of this report is quite appropriate as President Obama reportedly plans tomorrow (01 Dec) to announce a surge of 30,000-35,000 US troops to bolster our COIN efforts there (with most of this force concentrating in the Southern and Eastern part of the country). Much of the language in the Senate report condemns the “Rumsfeld-Franks” plan from 2001 which “emphasized minimizing the U.S. presence by relying on small, highly mobile teams of special operations troops and CIA paramilitary operatives working with the Afghan opposition.” Some within the Obama administration (led by VP Biden) have recently argued for a return to this type of “CT light” warfare and a drawdown of US conventional forces – which would in reality give up any hope of an all-out “COIN/nation-building” strategy in Afghanistan.

As GEN McChrystal argued in his Afghanistan assessment this August, “The situation in Afghanistan is serious; neither success nor failure can be taken for granted.” He understands (and I think Obama now agrees) that we’re at a critical point, where we can either “Go Big” or “Go Home” (as we’ve discussed in previous posts). Clearly, McChrystal advocates the “Go Big” approach, arguing that, “Success demands a comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign. Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) – while Afghan security capacity matures – risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” Thankfully, it appears that after much deliberation, debate, and planning, President Obama has decided to accept risk and go for a win rather than a tie. It seems as though he has recognized the gravity of the decision he’s about to make and the associated risks involved and is committed (at least for the next 24-48 months) to giving it a shot. Despite the fact that our nation’s Soldiers will bear the effects of this decision (for better or worse), I feel this is the right thing to do. My only only major concern is whether 30-35,000 troops are enough to do the job (McChrystal originally asked for up to 60-80,000). As we listen to Obama’s speech tomorrow night and dissect his plan for the way ahead, it wouldn’t hurt to look back to 2001 and keep in mind the lessons we learned at Tora Bora.

27 November 2009

Lashkar e Tayyiba: Mumbai and Global Ambitions?

As usual, this month’s edition of the West Point CTC Sentinel is packed full of excellent and timely articles. In particular, their headline piece detailing the background and recent activities of the Pakistan-based Lashkar e Tayyiba (LeT) is well worth a read. Also, the WSJ has a great summary of the group here.

This Thanksgiving (Nov 26th) marked the one-year anniversary of LeT’s horrific attack against multiple targets across Mumbai – significant not only because of the attack’s high casualty rate but also because it was LeT’s first attempt to propel themselves onto the global stage by focusing on a “Western” target set. For a riveting account of the attacks, check out HBO’s recent documentary “Terror in Mumbai,” which overlays video of the attacks at multiple sites with real-time voice intercepts gathered by Indian intelligence. It’s fascinating and chilling to hear the attackers on the ground being directed over cell phone by their controllers many miles away in Pakistan, representing a new shift in TTPs. It was clear throughout the attacks that the LeT controllers’ main objective was to gain global media attention and ensure that all ten attackers martyred themselves (only one attacker survived).

For more background on the initial formation of LeT, their ties to Pakistani intelligence (ISI), a history of attacks, details of the Mumbai attack, and the group’s current disposition, check out the following resources:

-Lashkar e Taiba Wikipedia entry (here)
-RAND “Lessons of Mumbai” Report (here)
-Carnegie Endowment Mumbai Attack Site (here)
-MSNBC Detailed Timeline of Mumbai Attacks (here)

As we consider the future of irregular warfare and terrorism, it’s critical to monitor the threat posed by regionally-based terrorist groups who become increasingly mobilized in line with a global Islamist ideology. Although LeT remains primarily focused on targeting Indian interests in the short-term, I believe there exists a growing element within the group who desire to “go global” and parallel the path of AQ. Some reports also argue that LeT is increasing their cooperation with AQ and the Pakistani Taliban – an alarming trend based on the strong presence and large numbers of fighters that LeT has in the tribal regional of NW Pakistan. It will be very important to continue to monitor this group and potential splinter groups who may attempt another attack on Western interests in the next 2-3 years, especially across the border into Afghanistan.

We must also look to similar emerging threats from what have traditionally been regionally-based groups in Northern Africa (GPSC becoming AQIM), East Africa (al Shabaab movement in Somalia), Yemen/Saudi Arabia (AQAP), etc. Although these groups continue to primarily draw popular support and recruits based on local/regional grievances, elements within them are forming increasingly strong bonds with AQ proper (based in the AfPak region). These "AQ affiliates" have the potential to dramatically increase the global reach and capabilities of the group in the next 5-10 years if left unchecked.

23 November 2009

Afghanistan: Strategy Options

Today’s NY Times contains a good summary of the three main options that President Obama continues to debate for the way ahead in Afghanistan (see full article here). The graphic above describes the outlines of each one pretty well. The latest analysis from those with inside knowledge concludes that we’re not likely to get a final decision from Obama until after Thanksgiving, as he continues to try to rally support within NATO (for more on this, see JD’s earlier post here).

The only point I wanted to highlight was the similarities between the “40,000 option” and the plan proposed by Fred and Kim Kagan back in September in their joint study. You can the read the full report here. Both authors (a pretty influential husband and wife team) were part of GEN McChrystal’s policy review last summer, so their more detailed report offers a good idea of how the additional forces will be used (and where they are likely to be focused). Fred Kagan's plan for the Iraq surge in 2006-07, written for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), pretty much served as the backbone of Petraeus' campaign plan at the time, and I have a feeling that the Kagans' Afghanistan plan will do the same here in the upcoming weeks/months.

22 November 2009

AWG: "Attack the Network" Series

Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) published a series of useful information papers ("white papers") in March and April of this year covering the topic "Attack the Network" that are worth highlighting. All three papers discuss effective targeting methods at the Battalion and Brigade level. All three articles also offer recommendations on targeting methods and effectively linking targeting to collection platforms, and the creation of modified ISR Synch Matrices (more detailed, layered, and focused - but flexible). As a recent MICCC graduate I would argue that turning each of these papers into a 2-3 day block of instruction in the MICCC would be extremely useful - and timely.

We all watched as our peers in adjacent and higher units in Mosul targeted events and things (technologies) instead of high level individuals or entire networks. Time and time again we watched as ISR assets were improperly utilized to over watch blast sights where events had already occurred, or flex to people and developing situations where resulting collection would not direct immediate action or potentially answer questions pertaining to priority targets, related NAIs, or network fidelity.

The first article titled "Attack the Network Part I: Oil Spot Methodology" focuses on using this method as a model for describing insurgent influence. Use of this model helps the analyst (and S2 and commander) determine the motivations and positions of targets, and how they relate to the population (Center of Gravity). Doing this effectively will reveal which individuals are worth targeting i.e. how disrupting or removing them will impact to the entire network. As COIN focuses our targeting down to the lowest levels the conventional Army on a whole has a tendency to target individuals and not entire networks. From there, the paper describes the flaw in continued targeting of Tier III individuals which produces immediate, but not lasting effects in the battlespace. This first article argues the need for more focus on targeting Tier II individuals - or "intermediaries". Targeting at this level within the conventional BDE and BN is further facilitated by Regional Fusion Cells. Nothing new here - but reiterates important point I think. From the article:

"Attacking a network requires leaders and analysts to understand the link between an enemy's Critical Capabilities, Requirements, and Vulnerabilities, as well as, indicators reflecting that an enemy action has occurred."

With regard to ISR collection and management I do not believe that the average MICCC graduate received enough instruction on the emphasis for identifying indicators reflecting that an enemy action has occurred - which allows for predictive analysis and drives commander's decisions for action (to include continued development for action at a later time).

The second article, also great, is titled "Attack The Network Methodology: Part 2 Critical Vulnerabilities and Targeting" and outlines how to focus ISR by first conducting the Center of Gravity analysis which identifies threat networks, their critical capabilities, and their critical vulnerabilities. This article argues that we should "attack the threat's weaknesses and contain it's strengths" and offers a template for analysts that branch targets out from the Center of Gravity to the target's critical vulnerabilities.

The third article "Attack The Network Methodology: Part 3 Network Modeling and ISR Synchronization" offers solutions which focus ISR against enemy vulnerabilities after identifying observable indicators. The article offers ideas for a more detailed Intel Synch Matrix and wow - tells us to share it will all collection assets. This article is an analyst's delight - particularly the unusual (but looks very useful) way to break out doctrinal templating. Again - if only they had taught more of this way of thinking (and detailed dissection) at the MICCC!

Just wanted to point everyone in the direction of some of the interesting articles that AWG put out. Check it out at https://portal .awg.army.mil and use your AKO from there. Enjoy!

A Tribal "Awakening" in Afghanistan?

Dexter Filkins has a must-read article in today’s NY Times highlighting the emergence of several “anti-Taliban militias” in Afghanistan (read the full article here). The most interesting part of the article is when Filkins gives the back-story behind the formation of one specific group in the Achin district of Nangarhar province. He explains that the group began when several tribal elders got fed up with the Taliban’s encroachment into their area – one particular incident where the Taliban killed two local engineers who were building a dike in the valley seems to have served as the “tipping point.” After this, the locals stood up to the regional Taliban commander and refused to be intimidated; fighting back, killing the Taliban commander, and pushing Taliban forces out of the valley. Clearly, this is a significant event, but what does it mean in the broader sense for our efforts in Afghanistan?

To me, the first question is: How can we exploit this situation (and similar ones across the country)? Filkins explains that US SF teams have been establishing contact with some of these grass roots resistance groups, providing food, ammo, and communications gear. Clearly, top ISAF leadership is aware of these groups and is making efforts to reach out to and support them? However, this must be part of a broad, synchronized effort that includes corresponding information operations, reconstruction efforts, and offensive clearance and targeting operations to provide enduring security and reinforce the initial successes of these groups. I am reminded of the paper I recently read by MAJ Jim Gant, “One Tribe at a Time,” in which he lays out a strategy to establish Tribal Engagement Teams (TETs) that would enable other tribes to undertake similar offensives against the Taliban as well as reinforce those tribes who are already battling the Taliban (read his full paper here). As Gant acknowledges, this is a messy, long, and often complex problem, but it also offers great potential for success. In much the same way that some US commanders in Iraq embraced the emerging “Awakening” groups and formed the Sons of Iraq (SOI) program, we should consider a similar effort. Obviously, the tribal dynamics and isolating due to terrain are very different in Afghanistan, but I think that tribal engagements should be a key part of our revamped strategy in Afghanistan – another useful tool to provide lasting security, establish ad hoc local governance, and even stimulate the economy with salaries for those serving in the anti-Taliban militias.

And the second logical question: Do groups like this represent the first in a wave of what could become a country-wide phenomena or are these merely isolated groups motivated by local grievances? While it is tempting (and possibly even politically convenient) to view these groups as the beginnings of a larger-scale movement, we must be very cautious. Just as in Iraq, we must look at each village differently, understanding all of the unique elements of the operating environment (history, personalities of leaders, economic situation, terrain, enemy disposition, etc.) before trying to force “awakening” groups down the throats of Afghan tribal elders. Each tribe/village must be allowed to develop these groups on their own, based on the complex dynamics at work in that area – all of which will occur at different rates (or maybe not at all in some areas). Ultimately, US forces must be able to support and legitimize someone in each area who can show measurable progress for the people in terms of security, governance, services, and economics. In some places, this will be the tribal leaders, in others it may be the local district governor, in others it will be a strong ANSF commander. Tactical commanders must be empowered and resourced to recognize these power brokers (based on a deep understanding of the operational environment), empower them, and then support them when the Taliban forces try to intimidate, attack, and delegitimize them. We must take the lessons we learned from the Awakening groups in Iraq and not repeat the same mistakes made some places there.

Ultimately, the formation of these anti-Taliban militias in some parts of the country offers true hope for progress and short/mid-term success. However, we must determine how to weave these groups into the structure of the elected national, provincial, and district government in order to legitimize the Afghan government. Without doing this, we are ultimately battling ourselves. We must also hope that the Taliban continue to shoot themselves in the foot, creating grievances with the local populace that will finally move them beyond the “tipping point.” The frustrating part is that US forces can’t make this happen. All we can (and must) continue to do is provide security and create the conditions for groups like this to form.

It’s too early to tell exactly how this will all play out, but I think there’s some serious potential here…

The Yemen File

Andrew Exum and Richard Fontain, from The Center for New American Security, released a 7 page paper highlighting major security issues concerning Yemen. I want to keep this post short and I don't want to rehash the work Exum and Fontain completed, but I do want to bring attention to their paper.

There are three key dates we need to keep in the back of our minds when we look at Yemen.
2017 Yemen's Oil production will run dry = They won't have a national income!
2035 Yemen's population will double from its current size (40% are unemployed and 45% are under the age of 15
2009 90% of Yemen's water is inefficiently used for Agricultural purposes

On a previous post I advocated for our Government to get diplomatically and economically involved as quickly as possible. Yemen to date has not allocated any resources to discover how their country will make money post Oil. Countries like South Korea and China are currently buying up land in Africa so they will have the water rights to any fresh water on the land. Yemen needs to use their oil income to solidify fresh water resources.

We need a whole government approach to set Yemen up for success or risk AQAP having a population ripe for Islamic radicalization. We can fix their inefficient farming methods to increase their water usage effectiveness. We can help Yemen find an economic path (Dubi?) post Oil. I believe this will give us the leverage needed to effectively conduct a Counter Terror campaign to keep AQAP from becoming a global terror threat. A whole governmental approach now may reduce the need for military action later.


21 November 2009

Crossroads: Transnational Terrorism and Prison Gangs

Given the interdisciplinary nature of terrorism and the morphing methodology of the suspected terrorist, I envision this posting to serve as the first of many commentaries in a series which is to be called, "Crossroads." The purpose of this series is to promote dialogue and interaction between intellectuals relating to issues which are woven into the matrix of extreme jihadi violence, especially al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda's "principal architect of 9/11," Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is to be tried in a U.S. civilian court beginning sometime in the next six months. Not only will the amount of public media coverage his case receives boost recruitment and financing for AQ and its affiliates, but it will cause confusion amongst policy-makers and citizens alike concerning the appropriate methods of dealing with suspected terrorists. Of importance to this discussion, I wish to focus on why intellectuals and intelligence officials need to begin to discuss the multitude of potential problems we are on course to face once suspected terrorists are convicted and are sentenced to either await their execution or serve a [life] sentence in prison.

(Of course, discussing whether or not convicted terrorists should be sent to a prison cell at all - and proposing solutions for placement and aligning processes and procedures - is one conversation we must have in addition to this another time).

In light of the new avenue AG Holder, under the leadership of the Obama Administration, has paved for the U.S. legal system, at least for the time being - and putting aside whether or not the decision is actually constitutional - we must imagine the following:
  1. What type of setting, atmosphere, and environment KSM and other suspected terrorists will enter into;

  2. How they themselves will be viewed, understood, and regarded, and;

  3. Who they will have direct and indirect access to and interaction with.

Ultimately, we must converse with one another to decide on a) how we ought to move forward and b) what resources are at our disposal to prevent and counter organized recruitment, hierarchical indoctrination, planned bouts of violence, and uncontrollable outbreaks of dissent.

I think the most pressing issue is the spread of propoganda in support of the recruitment of operatives by connecting to prison-gangs. In this manner, AQ can become dynamically dangerous because of the capability it will have to expand its jihadi pool. Essentially, internal efforts within prison walls will reach external gang leaders in space and time.

Even when considering the various amount and diverse types of prison-gangs - in measuring mentality, philosophy, structural hierarchy, indoctrination methods, organized criminal activity, and employed violent methods - it is crystal clear that AQ ideology and methodology aligns itself with one group in particular; namely, the Neta Association also known as La Sombra, which means "The Shadow."

Founded by Carlos Torres in Puerto Rico, NA has grown to one of the top five prison-gangs in the U.S., mostly disturbing New England states of MA, CT, NY, and NJ as well as FL and TX. Torres formed the "cultural organization" to protect and further the rights of [Puerto Rican] prisoners in the midst of communal suffering and abuses. It sees itself as being the "voice of the marginalized," mainly as a direct result of the assassination of their leader in 1979 by a member of their Puerto Rican rival, G-27.

Roles of members are distributed according to their hierarchy, and gender responsibilities are understood horizontally: men recruit most Hispanic teenagers, teach gang values, and engage in violent campaigns while women take care of inmates, manage funds like secretaries, and provide "public service."

Of particular relevance to the crossroads of AQ and NA is the oath members take just before being "baptized" in to the organization:

“I swear to God and the Neta Association from this day on, I will live conscious to finish with the abuse that we confront, because of the administration...From this day on I will live conscious of my Neta brothers. Your suffering and pitfalls will be mine. Your bloodshed will be my bloodshed also. For this reason, I will never intend to take a life of a brother Neta."

Afterward, the member signs a sworn testimony, which states:
“I swear in the presence of my brothers and Almighty God that when I accept to be a brother of the Neta Association I will live by the norms, and protect them in my mind and heart. I will never kill another brother or his family. Your suffering will be my fight brother, their bloodshed will be mine also. I will be a warrior if it is necessary, so that the dreams of our brothers and leader Carlos La Sombra will be strong forever. I will fight against the abuse of the [G-27] and the corruption of the administration everyday of my life. I except it's ideals and I will respect the norms and leaders forever.”

Moveover, the leaders host a monthly meeting on the 30th day to pay homage to their fallen brothers. In concluding this ceremony, members recite the following:

"May the spirit of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the memory of our maximum leader, Carlos Torres Iriate, aka Carlos La Sombra; and the rest of our brothers that lost their lives in the struggle, reign in our hearts and minds forever and ever. . .”

Each of these three recitations, which are woven into the structured, ceremonial indoctrination process, highlight the strong, overwhelming use of religiously-centered ideology. Each also spotlights the "justification" inherent in their rhetoric. Furthermore, NA's theological interpretation of what it means to be loyal, trustworthy, and just is dictated to them through their ritualistic, communal tradition(s). This disturbing activity is homologous to AQ's method of propaganda to build a nation of fighters willing to die by way of "defensive jihad."

In conclusion, the parallels I have presented here - which represent only the tip of the iceberg when considering the comprehensive methodology and reach of NA - target problems on the horizon for intellectuals, intelligence specialists, and criminal justice professionals. I urge us to begin to first identify these striking similarities in order to script a plan that will structurally and systematically counter and prevent partnerships/alliances between convicted terrorists and prison-gangs, especially AQ and ones such as NA.

This work, I propose, can start with a case study analysis of the suspected chief of the Spanish AQ cell, Syrian Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas - alias Abu Dahdah - who was tried in Madrid and convicted to only 27 years in prison for conspiracy. (The DA argued for 60,000 years - 25 for each victim; thus, 2,400 total). 18 other AQ members were convicted, but what is interesting to study is the comment Yarkas made at the end of the trial:

"The existence of a terrorist cell is an invention. The relationships between the accused came about naturally [because] we've been living [in the country] for 20 years, we come from the same country, we have the same religion and the same customs."

Can we not imagine Khalid Sheikh Mohammed saying something similar to an NA President, Vice President, or Recruiter?

20 November 2009

Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of Not What I Asked For?

On an earlier post I attempted to speculate on President Obama's decision making process with respect to his pending AfPak strategy announcement. I think my speculative analysis of our Commander in Chief's AfPak meetings is still the most probable scenario. The interesting meeting for me was meeting #7 with the Joint Chiefs of Staff because as I stated, President Obama most likely had his mind made up and wanted the Joint Chiefs to lay out the intricacies of the logistical piece. As Pat replied Richard Holbrooke was dispatch to several nations, the most interesting being Russia. The reason being, we need Russia to play ball on this from a logistical stand point as another option for supply routes that don't travel through the Khyber Pass.

Now lets look at the Wall Street Journal's latest article and see how the pieces are falling into place. The WSJ reports that the Obama Administration has reached out to key NATO allies in recent weeks seeking increased troop commitments to the tune of 3000-7000. Lets take the high number, this means that Obama can send McChrystal 33,000 US troops and still met his request. NATO is going to hold a meeting on Dec 3 to finalize troop commitments following Obama's troop announcement. Most media groups report that Obama has 4 options on his plate with a 35,000 troop commitment mixed between combat and training forces being the favorite option. That means he only has to garner 5,000 additional coalition troops from NATO. Let me say that I actually appreciate the current administration's approach in their attempt to build "The Coalition of the Willing". Having said that, I want to now look at this possible decision from a military perspective.

The higher echelons of our military, to include Gen McChrystal's Staff, conduct a relative combat power analysis. This analysis is a way for the military to quantify the strengths of different units, so that we are making decisions based on Apples to Apples and not Apples to Oranges. I am speculating here; I believe President Obama is comfortable with only sending 35,000 troops but wants to give Gen McChrystal the 40,000 he requested. No one is going to stand up and say that garnering support from NATO allies is not worth the effort, but I don't believe that is what Gen McChrystal asked for. An Italian or Turkish battalion is not the same as an American battalion. We are no longer talking apples to apples. According to the WSJ the possible troop increases will look as follows:

Great Britain: 500 but the Administration believes they are willing to send up to 2,000 more (I love the Brits, if AQ was on Mars they would be on a space ship next to us)
Italy: 400 (Keeping the increased Afghan election security forces already deployed)
Turkey: 800 (Doubling their forces to 1600 total)
Romania: 600
France: They send none, but the Administration believes a troop reduction from Kosovo would free up 1,000 additional troops.
Germany: 1500 (This one is a reach, it will take serious political maneuvering from Angela Merkel to pull this off and it won't be decided until early next year)

So its 2300 highly likely, and 6300 if Great Britain, France, and Germany come through in a huge way. Either way, Gen McChrystal will take it and run even though Italy, Romania, and Turkey do not give him the same combat power the American equivalent he asked for gives him. There are two other points I want to bring attention to. With the creation of the Assist and Advise Battalion (AAB), there is no difference between combat soldiers and training forces. The combat soldiers will partner with ANA forces and the AAB units retain the ability to project combat power within their area of operations. The other point I want to comment on, the WSJ did not provide any information as to what kind of units the NATO countries are planning on sending. If our NATO allies agreed to send service and support units then McChrystal's arithmetic won't add up.

What I want anyone who reads this to understand are two things. I speculated that Gen McChrystal's assessment called for 40,000 American troops, not a combination of NATO and US. I also speculated that President Obama believes 40,000 counter insurgents in any capacity meets Gen McChrystal's request. I am confident that the main stream media will not analyze the differences between 40,000 US soldiers being very different from a combination of 40,000 US and NATO soldiers. Let me conclude by asking, I am sure Gen McChrystal wants as many NATO soldiers as possible, but did he request 40,000 total counter insurgents or 40,000 American soldiers?


19 November 2009

Future of Intel in Afghanistan: Enabling the ANSF

I’ve been doing some research and discussion with colleagues for another project of mine - trying to wrap our heads around all of the moving pieces involved in going “all-out” in Afghanistan. We’ve discussed strategic options several times on the blog already, but as we wait for a decision from President Obama, I wanted to try to really drill down to the operational and tactical levels and examine what the future of intelligence operations should look like when/if we surge additional combat forces. Below are some rough thoughts and several questions we’ve been thinking about. I would love some feedback and thoughts from everyone, particularly those who have studied or spent time in Afghanistan.

Working from GEN McChrystal's COMISAF Assessment and operational design (read it here), it's critical that we make significant investments to ensure we properly resource our COIN efforts in Afghanistan. He explains that, "Success demands a comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign." Clearly, one of the key pillars of this campaign is building ANSF capacity. (The report explains, "To execute the strategy, we must grow and improve the effectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and elevate the importance of governance”). Unfortunately, however, most discussions of increasing ANSF capability or capacity only speak in terms of adding more infantry troops. While much its clearly critical to increase the numbers of ANA and ANP forces, we must also ensure that all ANSF maneuver elements are also properly resourced with critical intelligence enablers and capabilities. As outlined in FM 3-24 (read it here), “Counterinsurgency (COIN) is an intelligence-driven endeavor.” Without a functioning intelligence capability, it will be nearly impossible for ANSF to successfully understand and counter the complex insurgency within their country.

GEN McChrystal himself recognizes the potential pitfalls of focusing solely on growing the numbers of “boots on the ground,” acknowledging that the, "[r]isks inherent in this [maneuver-focused] approach such as inadequate training and lack of organic enablers will be mitigated through close partnering and mentoring by Regional Commanders delivered through the ISAF Joint Command." Well, it sounds so simple when you just put it that way. But, several major questions remain: How will this be achieved? What are the capabilities of ANSF right now and where do they need to be? How can we leverage the cultural knowledge, HUMINT networks, and other skills inherent within the ANSF to truly enable full-spectrum COIN operations? What equipment/tools, methods, and training are required to provide ANSF with a baseline capability to conduct intelligence operations?

I’ve identified two critical lines of effort to focus on (with some initial thoughts outlined below):

1) Enable and Equip ANSF for Intelligence Ops: we must begin now to consider how we’ll expand ANSF intelligence capabilities. They don’t need to necessarily mirror our techniques or technologies, but I think there’s a great deal of potential in sharing our ways and means:

· SIGINT – Collection/Survey (need to work through classification challenges), Reporting (make our reporting releasable and develop an ANSF reporting capability), Analysis (methods/processes and software)

· HUMINT – how do we capture and capitalize on the ability of the ANSF to get better HUMINT than us? Must develop reporting formats/procedures, create a robust reports database, work to supplement their source funding

· Exploitation – this is likely where we could get the most bang for our buck initially; field them with a basic capability to do CELLEX, MEDEX, Biometrics (and develop corresponding tools, ingestion, archiving systems) and link their systems to ours so we can share all data both ways

· Fusion – Joint Fusion Cells at BN/BDE Level? Develop processes and systems to allow all of this intel to be fused and shared across all echelons and among partners (each battle-space owner runs a true Joint TOC with ANSF integrated; painful at first, but necessary). If this happens, what software can we develop to facilitate intel sharing and overcome translation and classification issues?

2) Set the Conditions for Robust Non-Lethal Targeting (necessary to truly do full-spectrum COIN right)

· Leverage the knowledge and cultural understanding of ANSF at the local/regional level

· Collect, ingest, and analyze non-lethal target data (personalities, ASCOPE – FM 3-24 p. B-3)

· Facilitate F3EAD for non-lethal targeting (mirror successful adoption of this process by conventional forces in regards to lethal targeting)

Additionally, as we consider how to enable Afghans to conduct intelligence support to full-spectrum COIN ops, we must look at ourselves and determine how best to shape ISAF elements to facilitate. Some ideas below:

Advise and Assist Brigades vs. MiTTs (ISAF vs. CSTC-A)

· I like the AAB concept in theory: make the battlespace owner responsible for partnering with and building capacity of ANSF; I think this will work.

· BUT, if we are deciding to go with the AAB model, we must give a great deal of thought to how to do it best (drawing on lessons learned from units down it now in Iraq and Afghanistan); what additional elements/enablers need to be added to the existing BCT MTOE? More HCTs? Additional CA, PSYOP, and IO elements?

· Company-Level Partnerships with Afghan Units: Land-owning maneuver companies are where the rubber meets the road; their partnership with ANSF will either make or break the success of the entire effort; MiTTs are only a supporting/enabling effort; this was proven true all across Iraq and will likely hold true in Afghanistan as well; these will be the folks living/working/eating with ANSF forces on a daily basis in Joint COPs

· If this is going to be the case, then we must man/equip/train robust Company intel elements (CoISTs) that can not only conduct analysis, but also train ANSF on basic intelligence ops.

· How then, must we organize/equip AABs and their corresponding companies to do this right? What special personnel/training/equipment must they be armed with?

· How can we ensure there is a robust Intelligence “Train the Trainer” program for all ISAF forces who will be partnering with ANSF elements?

· Currently, there is a huge gap in training for intelligence analysis at all levels (especially at the CoIST level within the BCT structure). What opportunities are there to improve this training (making more realistic/complex/scenario-driven? Focus on processes and critical thought vs. teaching tools? Preparing for unique CoIST role within an AAB conducting FID operations?)

There’s a great deal to think about here; and much more that I’m sure we haven’t even considered. Any feedback or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

18 November 2009

Helmand TOA Follow-up

This will be my last post for a few days while I turn my attention to a socio-cultural analysis writing assignment for the Captains Career Course. Before going incognito, I wanted to follow up to Pat’s comments & questions to my second Helmand TOA post.

AQ efforts in Britain:
AQ-affiliated groups appear to be quite active in their efforts against the UK, but for the most part AQ’s efforts have not replicated the level of Bekay Harrach’s efforts in Germany. The preponderance of open-source reporting revolves around the AQ brand demanding the release of
Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza al Masri. While AQ did not carry out any attacks on UK soil this year, they did execute a UK citizen who was kidnapped along the border between Niger and Mali. I was unable to determine whether the June 2009 execution of Edwin Dyer was directly attributed to the April 2009 threat of attacks if Qatada and Hamza were not released. It is, however, extremely plausible.

I also came across an Andrew Exum paper from May of last year titled
“The Spectacle of War”. In it, Exum writes “A recent study by al-Qaeda expert Jason Burke demonstrated that insurgent propaganda videos on the internet had played a significant role in the radicalization process of young British Muslims convicted of planning or carrying out attacks on civilian targets in the UK.” The paper goes on later to quote this phenomenon as “cyber-mobilization”. I believe this form of propaganda is particularly threatening to the US and other western nations as it provides a cheap and simple “call to arms” for both overseas and domestic jihad. Perhaps this is actually the next phase of al Sahab’s propaganda campaign, where they turn from national governments to the incitement of foreign citizens?

Lessons learned (and not learned):
In 2008 the UK established a
special entity to combat AQ propaganda. The article hyperlinked essentially covers the UK’s national strategy for combating terrorism via the internet, even going so far as to list the group’s key three themes and methods for inserting them. On the western side of the Atlantic, DOD Information Operations campaigns are largely decentralized. I am not aware of a domestic IO campaign, but if there is one it is likely spread across multiple organizations and entities in a fashion similar to the DOD. An extremely appalling blurb came from Bill Gertz’s 17 November “Inside the Ring” segment for the Washington Times where he discusses Congressional plans to slash DOD IO budgets. As many are painfully aware, the US is lagging far behind in the information fight. I’ll try to cover my thoughts more extensively in a later post, but I want to get this idea out to stoke some discussion. Perhaps the way ahead for the US is a similar organization to what the Brits are running: a national-level Joint (USG, DOD, civilian) IO organization that fights the information fight on the domestic and international fronts. The organization would be broken up into COCOM-sized regions (CENTCOM, AFRICOM, NORTHCOM, etc) where the planners and executors are small (i.e. agile) task forces that plan and prosecute the IO fight. It’s a concept, but the key point is that we (read: United States) simply do not have an effective propaganda machine. Our IO efforts to date are too disjointed to be effective.

The only way to build an ISAF/NATO consensus is to first determine a desired endstate to the US Afghanistan mission in Washington. By clearly delineating the conditions required to withdraw US forces from AStan (and in my opinion they should not be overly optimistic conditions), our Coalition partners will be more effective in selling the benefits, costs and risks of each option (COIN, CT-pure, hybrid, etc) to their respective citizenry. Until the US completes this, all US troop increases and requests to Coalition partners will be portrayed globally as an escalation to an open-ended war. The US must take back the information initiative through greater transparency of its national objectives in AStan, and remind the world of the righteousness of the mission.


The Emerging Role of the Analyst: Can We Understand How "Suspected Terrorists" Interpret Radical Messages?

Allow me to briefly preface my thoughts with the statement that this is part of research that I am conducting for a broader analysis of "what motivates extreme jihadists - religion, culture, or politics(?)." For the time being, my comments are a response to Pat's post entitled, "Anwar al Awlaki: A 'Confidant' for Nidal Hasan."

Of particular interest, Pat states: "In the specific case of Nidal Hasan, intelligence officials were aware of the contact between Hasan and Awlaki, but assessed that this did not pose a threat; how can we improve our analytical processes and include additional factors when analyzing situations like this?" In short, I argue - as I have always - that theology must be a factor when assessing a) the meaning of radical leaders like Awlaki and b) the value of pursuing a situation in light of intelligence analysis.

This perspective is, as many scholars and professionals argue, "out-of-bounds" [to a degree] as a quantifiable and justified factor for conducting intelligence briefings. Simply stated, this factor has proven itself to be a driving force behind motivations for extreme jihadists - both leader and follower alike. The way to harvest accurate and timely insights is to understand the driving force(s) of the enemy, which in Hasan's case showcases itself in his political statements grounded in religious ideology. The rate and impact of his statements are quantifiable factors for measuring his progressive thought process, and thus an indication of his possible and/or probable actions.

This method reflects the gameboard of chess in that each player must, above all, understand the opposition. Terrorism, on both the domestic and international level, runs its course like a spoked wheel: the issue of terrorism lies at the center while each spoke represents a method by which the phenomenon is spread. Therefore, we need experts from various disciplines to remain ahead of the morphing enemy: finance and economics, sociology and psychology, religion and culture, history and warfare, science and technology, etc.

As presented above, intelligence officials need more religiously-minded scholars to hone in on the theological implications of diversified perspectives exposed by multiple sects in geographical locations. There is much division within Islamic sects horizontally, and the article in the Washington Post today highlights that messages presented by persons like Awlaki are left to "general interpretation" for suspected terrorists. Intelligence officials would prosper from having briefings on how and why these fundamental concepts relate to defensive jihad, offensive jihad, sahwa, dawah, and shariah - and the interconnection of each to the violent tactics and strategies employed by AQ operatives.

Please allow me to end by quoting a statement from the article above by a radical leader himself, an example of the place where we can start our analysis in this manner:
"These armies are the defenders of apostasy," Anwar al-Aulaqi wrote in English on his Internet site July 15 from Yemen, according to the NEFA Foundation, a private South Carolina group that monitors extremist sites. "Blessed are those who fight against them and blessed are those shuhada [martyrs] who are killed by them."
Do we understand this as offensive or defensive jihad, and what are the legal and human-rights implications of such an assessment? It is another factor in determing how we move forward, and in so doing encourages collaboration and coordination among intelligence officials and agencies.

17 November 2009

Helmand TOA Update and Saudi Economic Foreign Policy

Helmand TOA Update
The London Times provides a good update of the Brits' district-by-district TOA of Helmand Province, which I previously wrote about on 12 November. Highlights:

- 2010 is an election year. Gordon Brown has to have this in mind as domestic opposition to the UK’s AStan mission grows.
- The British military faces serious shortfalls and likely needs to pull out of ISAF in order to afford a large military modernization program. There are several articles about shortages in
armor and helicopters, among other major end items.
- The Brits have volunteered to host a NATO summit in January 2010 to develop a comprehensive political and military strategy. This is long overdue, and something that should have been done prior to the current Washington debate on the US way ahead. Whatever strategy or way ahead chosen for the ISAF mission must be a Coalition (NATO) way ahead, not a US mission that we hope/expect our partners to fall in line and support.
- The article cited PM Brown saying that operations had severely weakened al Qaeda through the depletion of its experienced leaders. I find this highly unlikely. Personal experience shows that organizations like this (in my case AQ/ISI) will likely suffer only in the short-term; examples include the deaths of
Jar Allah and Abu Qaswarah. The death of both these key personnel did not have the long-term organizational impacts we had hoped for. Another (likely more relevant) example is that of the TTP and Baitullah Mehsud. Baitullah was killed in a drone strike on 5 August 2009. The TTP Shura Council eventually chose Hakimullah Mehsud on 25 August to lead its operations. Several reports have since surfaced that Hakimullah Mehsud is more violent and ruthless than his predecessor. Citing just these few examples, the logic of his statement about the true damage done to AQ is likely flawed.

Economic Warfare
Foreign Policy’s Shadow Gov’t page has an interesting article (click above link) written by John Hannah about possible Saudi intentions of breaking the Iranian Regime through oil price controls. If the Saudi government is actually deliberately restricting oil prices through market saturation, it’s a stroke of brilliant (and quite dangerous) foreign policy. The US outspent the USSR during the 1980’s when oil prices were low. The pending economic collapse of the failing economy and social unrest in the USSR eventually led to Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika and glasnost. Based off the information provided in Hannah’s article about required oil prices for each country’s budget, the Saudis can easily afford to squeeze the Iranians financially, thus hopefully causing the Iranian Regime to erode internally. The real danger in this is that the Iranian Regime is unlikely to let things slip that far. This form of economic warfare, if proven, would likely cause either a conventional strike against Saudi Arabia (or other perceived cohorts), or an unconventional strike by a group like the Quds Force inside a Sunni oil-producing state well before the Iranian Regime loses control of their state.


16 November 2009

AAR Slide Show

The Small Wars Journal posted a great power point slide show from 1/5 Marines operating in the Helmand Province. This slide show will resonate with anyone who has conducted Counter Insurgency Operations in any foreign country. I think most of us are concentrating on the upper echelon policy options for the current Administration and I think it is easy to forget how difficult COIN operations truly are for those who have to execute those policy decisions.


Anwar al Awlaki: A “Confidant” for Nidal Hasan?

I know we’ve dedicated quite a bit of time to the case of Nidal Hasan, but I continue to be fascinated and alarmed by the events and people that contributed to what Bruce Hoffman described as Hasan’s “self radicalization” (see full article in the NY Times here).

Today’s Washington Post offers some insightful excerpts from the first interview with Anwar al Awlaki since Hasan’s shooting spree at Ft. Hood (see full article here). Recent investigations have revealed that Nidal Hasan had semi-regular e-mail contact with Awlaki prior to the attacks and even attended several of his sermons at the Dar al Hijra mosque in N. Virginia. In the interview, Awlaki explains that, “he thought he played a role in transforming Hasan into a devout Muslim eight years ago,” and “that Hasan ‘trusted’ him and that the two developed an e-mail correspondence over the past year.” While it is possible that Awlaki is attempting to gain some fame (or infamy) for himself and overplay their relationship, I think it’s more likely that Hasan considered Awlaki to be a legitimate religious authority and looked to him for guidance and even inspiration. In multiple audio recording and blog posts, Awlaki encouraged attacks on US and other “infidel” armies (see an example here from NEFA). It’s no coincidence that his recordings were also found at the homes of several of the Fort Dix attack plotters.

Additionally, after the attack at Ft. Hood, Awlaki almost immediately posted a response on his blog calling Hasan a “hero” (see full transcript of Awlaki’s blog post here). For years, CT experts across the government have tracked Awlaki, stating in a report in 2008 that he was an “example of al-Qaeda reach into” the United States. In 2006, Awlaki left the US for Yemen, where he was then detained (reportedly at the behest of US forces) in 2007 and subsequently released. Since then, he has leveraged the Internet to distribute writings, audiotapes, and videos (all in English) to inspire jihad. For additional background on Anwar al Awlaki, see this in-depth biography and background on the NEFA Foundation site here.

The case of Anwar al Awlaki presents significant challenges and dilemmas for US intelligence and law enforcement authorities. While we can fairly easily track Awlaki and others like him through their writings and websites, how can we place effects on them (both lethal and non-lethal) when they reside in ungoverned spaces like Southern Yemen – which is quickly being reinforced as an AQ safe haven? How can we determine who Awlaki is engaging with in terms of both legitimate al Qaeda leadership as well as potential “self-radicalized” lone wolf types? In the specific case of Nidal Hasan, intelligence officials were aware of the contact between Hasan and Awlaki, but assessed that this did not pose a threat; how can we improve our analytical processes and include additional factors when analyzing situations like this? Clearly there are major legal and privacy aspects to this discussion, but it’s one we must have in order to prevent events like this from happening again.

Another MAJ Hasan Post

A close associate sent me this interesting piece on Nidal Hasan last night. The individual listed on the left column, eighth from the top on page 29 is indeed the alleged Ft. Hood, TX shooter. George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) confirmed the rumor by publishing an official press release on 6 November regarding Hasan’s status at their events.

On page 12 of the report from GWU, a balding man in Army Combat Uniform (ACU) is shown photographed at a December 2008 round table titled “International Strategy: Re-Invigorating Our Role in the World”. While impossible to confirm from the photo whether this is actually him or not, the male pattern baldness at least makes it plausible.

What exactly was MAJ Hasan’s intent at the HSPI forum(s)? Gawker.com has a quote from HSPI’s Deputy Director, Daniel Kaniewski, stating the following: He says institute staffers recall Hasan attending at least one task force event, and that he RSVP'd for several. "We do recall him speaking at one of our events as an audience member," he says, "but none of us recall what he actually said.” Why have no other people in attendance confirmed seeing him at the event? As a general rule of thumb, the one guy dressed (much) differently in the room will likely stick out, especially in as confined of an environment as this appears to be. This, of course, is obviously assuming that MAJ Hasan did indeed wear ACUs to the event he attended.

The slowly emerging details on MAJ Nidal Hasan’s past continue to get more interesting. On a separate and mostly unrelated note, what is it about Virginia Tech and mass murderers?

15 November 2009

The Counter Intuitiveness of Cyber Security

I found Wesley Clark's and Peter Levin's article, "Securing the Information Highway" in this months issue of Foreign Affairs very intriguing. The article highlights security vulnerabilities in both Software and Hardware. I found their recommendations to improve our security counter intuitive to my common sense. I want to pose a security scenario that I believe is rooted in common sense and show how the authors' recommendations challenge my beliefs.

The year is 2019 and Iraq's main internal security threat is criminal in nature. I have a billion dollars in cash and I don't trust any banks to secure my assets. I can only find three good security guards that are willing to put their life in jeopardy because crime is rampant. The local lock manufacturer's morals are compromised and has created security flaws into his designs as well as leaving his design schematics unsecured. From my perspective, I need to design and build my own locks as well as build a site that is small enough for three security guards. I need to limit the points of access to only one doorway. This seems common sense to me but according to the authors we need to take an opposite approach to achieve network security.

If we are concerned with monitoring all access points to prevent cyber attacks, my intuition says limit the number of access points. My doorway analogy is flawed because limiting the amount of access points to the network creates a "Stiff" system. The authors sum up this point by saying, "...bundling the channels in order to better inspect them limits the range of possible responses to future crises and therefore increases the likelihood of a catastrophic breakdown."

The authors point out our weakness to malicious hardware defects because we largely use foreign made components. To me, simple solution is control the production of mission critical components. The authors again defy my logic by stating its not a feasible solution to produce 100% American made components. The safe guard for us is found in building systems that can detect deficiencies and by configuring anti-tamper safeguards.

The final counter intuitive aspect of their article advocates for a paradigm shift from classified cyber security initiatives to an "Open Source" approach. The reasoning is simple, if we keep our security initiatives classified we effectively exclude the majority of skilled, creative, and innovative experts who are paid handsomely in the private sector. I understand we need to seek out talent, but how do we achieve security through transparency?

I look forward to learning more on this topic since I realized my basic security knowledge doesn't hold water in the Cyber Security field.


14 November 2009

Bud Light Commericals and Robotic Warfare: Just Right!

Bud Light

Have you seen the recent Bud Light commercials, in particular the one where one man tries to show his friend how he trained his dog? (This is not an advertisement for Bud Light or any associate of Bud Light). The message is artisticly explained: Bud Light is "just right," or as beer specialists often describe fine brew - "well-balanced."

Columnist Roger Cohen, in his recently published op-ed piece in the NY Times this past weekend entitled, "Of Fruit Flies and Drones," raises the question of how "video-game-like" international drone killings are fundamentally changing the way we "go to war." He notes that President Obama has authorized as many drone strikes in Pakistan in nine and a half months as George W. Bush did in his last three years in office; at least 41 total.

I assume Cohen is asking this question on an ethical level as well, as he argues that "when robots are tomorrow's veterans, does war become more likely and more endless(?)." The conclusion he draws in the midst of the "dark side of the war on terror" is that a public debate is needed to highlight "how targets are selected, what the grounds are in the laws of war, and what agencies are involved" in order to establish and maintain accountability for wartime decisions.

While I appreciate his concern for these types of questions, I think that the public is limited in the way in which a topic of this nature can be debated: what should be known, when it should be known, etc. The public has elected people to be knowledgable about these aspects, and we need to trust them to do their job. As JD remarked in his recent blog, "how do we achieve security through transparency?" These decisions ought to remain the responsibility of officials; the public will always debate without the full picture, and that might be "just right" like the Bud Light commercial portrays.

Robotic Warfare

Overall, Cohen does raise an important topic for further discussion; namely, the promise of success robotic warfare holds while engaged in the war on terror. While discussing morality and terrorism with my undergraduate advisor, I was asked by him: If Osama bin Laden had captured you and your group of 24; and you had a gun loaded with one bullet but could not kill yourself or him; and he said to you 'If you kill one of your people I will let you all go free;' what would you do? I still think to this day: "But Osama and AQ have changed the rules of engagement, and I can never trust him to let us go even if I kill one of my own."

Even though the example is dictated by boundaries, the point is: AQ and their associates, who work in linked-networks that are ever-morphing and increasingly indidivualized/separatist in nature, have changed warfare. It is now irregular warfare, as we do not even define it as guerilla warfare: no uniforms; no intentions to found or run a state-sanctioned government or soverign entity. Yet it is incorporated with intellectual persons motivated by a global vision and highly specialized in systematic training techniques, and it both supports and praises any ounce of extremist activity related to martyrdom. This type of warfare expects and accepts only one end and supports any means to that end.

Robotic warfare is able to meet these challenges on an ever-morphing war landscape. It is a controlled and precise way of targeting specific coordinates where "suspected terrorists" seek safe haven(s); it is "just right" and "well-balanced" because it limits simultaneously the possible diametric impact of harm to civilians. The technology being developed now offers a more promising means of a) obtaining more intelligence information which leads to b) the execution of successful operations.

The process is not simply, as Cohen puts it, "watch[ing] people get vaporized on a screen in Virginia and then drive[ing] home for dinner with the kids." Going to war using robotic warfare requires human capital as well - and expertly trained human resources for that matter - to integrate intelligence and communication tactics. It is a tool, like the internet, that can be used virtuously or co-opted. For example, dogs are "man's best friend," but the Red Army trained them to sit under enemy tanks with bombs attached during the Second World War.

Just Right

Just like bio-mechanics is a booming field, so too is a newly-forming science called bio-mimicry, which boasts nature as our "model, measure, and mentor." I think robotic warfare can grow more precise, more accurate, and more intelligent by integrating bio-mimicry in military operations.

For example, humpback whales eat the most krill when they employ a tactic known as "bubblenet feeding." The process: a group is formed and roles are understood; all dive down slowly to a specified depth; then one whale swims horizontally past his companions while blowing bubbles at a top rate; when this whale reaches the end of the line a second whale swims horizontally across while sounding a high-pitched noise. The high-pitched noise scares the krill swimming above the humpbacks and causes them to rise to the surface while the bubbles trap the krill in a net-like area. What promises the whales' success is, above all, teamwork. What successfully enables the whales to feast is the confusion of the krill.

Imagine, now, that bio-mechanics and bio-mimicry could reproduce this tactic in robotics technology. Could we employ an object(s) that mimics this in its mechanics? Scientists need to continue to work with a) intelligence analysts to understand threats, b) special forces to understand strategic opportunities, and c) military leaders to understand objectives so that the proper tools can be integrated to achieve operational victories in countering AQ and associates.