Looks as though Lex is coming to a similar conclusion. A million words or so and I was not having as much fun any more either.
July 24, 2010
December 16, 2009
December 14, 2009
Update: Chris and Ken in comments below reveal that the actual writer was a bubblehead: Dex Armstrong wrote the story first.
December 10, 2009
Brit ship is very capable as long as you don’t need to, uh, kill anything.
HMS Daring, first of the Type 45s, will have been in Navy hands for a year in eight days’ time. She is armed with nothing but a 4.5-inch “Kryten” gun turret and a pair of light 30mm cannon, suitable for shooting up pirate dhows and the like. This is an utterly pathetic amount of punch for a £1.1bn (at the latest estimate) warship with a crew of 200. Her first captain has already been and gone; the second, it now seems certain, will also depart before the ship is capable of achieving anything even vaguely in proportion to her cost or even vaguely worth his time commanding her. It won’t be at all surprising if the same thing happens with the second Type 45, Dauntless, which has just arrived in Portsmouth ahead of handover to the Navy tomorrow.
The whole saga is made even more depressing by the fact that it is very largely the vast expense of the Type 45s which has led to the swingeing cuts to the rest of the British fleet seen in recent years, and which is imperilling the future of the new carriers which would be so much more useful.
December 6, 2009
Afghan Quest proves Twain’s aphorism that a lie gets halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on.
The French had found rocket fragments from two rockets. One was Chinese and the other of Russian manufacture. They did not get the word out immediately. In fact, the reaction of the French leadership was to cancel a mission that they had planned and “wait it out.” They did not hit the streets immediately, telling the story and showing the rocket fragments to everyone they could find. This gave the Taliban time to concoct a ludicrous lie that, in the absence of any information to the contrary, some people were believing.
How many years in and we still haven’t figured out that the first lie wins the mindshare? That if you don’t push truth out there quickly, you’ll get your hat handed to you by people who are building a win out of any BS excuse story that sticks?
Months after telling a guy to do a job, everyone gets in a room to discuss how he’s going to do it…and immediately begin disagreeing as to what the job is.
…a mission statement on a PowerPoint slide: “Defeat the Taliban. Secure the Population.”
“Is that really what you think your mission is?” one of the participants asked.
In the first place, it was impossible — the Taliban were part of the fabric of the Pashtun belt of southern Afghanistan, culturally if not ideologically supported by a major part of the population. “We don’t need to do that,” Gates said, according to one participant. “That’s an open-ended, forever commitment.”
But that was precisely his mission, McChrystal responded, enshrined in the Strategic Implementation Plan — the execution orders for the March strategy, written by the NSC staff.
“I wouldn’t say there was quite a ‘whoa’ moment,” a senior defense official said of the reaction around the table. “It was just sort of a recognition that, ‘Duh, that’s what in effect the commander understands he’s been told to do.’ Everybody said, ‘He’s right.’”
You’d think someone between the staffs would have figured this out in the half a year interval between assignment and briefing. And “impossible”? Come on. That may be hard, it may be not what we want to do, but impossible?
Update: Weekly Standard blames the NSC.
December 4, 2009
…by forcing useful assets out of position, and hounding people out of the job they needed to do.
Great work. I see why the New York Times won’t report on the Climategate emails, now; revealing confidential information is reserved for destroying Americans acting in the national interest.
December 2, 2009
December 1, 2009
Why is Cracked magzine, of all places, so good at stuff like “5 Battlefield Screw Ups That Were Hilarious (Until People Died)”?
Bonus points for the submarine story.
Also, I once met a Japanese officer who was part of the Kiska evacuation–he missed a beatin’ and was alive to tell the tale because he left in a timely manner.
November 29, 2009
We’ve never been that good at information warfare, I suppose.
But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.
The Soviets had an entire “active measures” department devoted to churning out anti-American dezinformatsiya.
This Mark Steyn indictment of our enablers to MAJ Hasan’s act of war reminds me that we used to have a reasonable concern for actors who wanted to overthrown our government by force.
November 24, 2009
Here’s a verrry interesting link: the Arms Control Wonk starts looking at submarine radiated noise, using US unclas documents. He comes to a conclusion I disagree with and overcompress to: because Chinese boomers are noisy, no biggie, really.
A two of trumps beats an ace of any other suit. If there’s nothing there to stop a boomer, the boomer can do what it wants. It’s a big ocean, and we don’t have the numbers we had in the 60’s. So, yeah. Useful deterrent.
November 22, 2009
Update: Embassy denies secret talks.
If true, this is bad.
An Afghan source in Kabul reports that U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry is holding secret talks with Taliban elements headed by the movement’s foreign minister, Ahmad Mutawakil, at a secret location in Kabul. According to the source, the U.S. has offered the Taliban control of the Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Kunar and Nuristan provinces in return for a halt to the Taliban missile attacks on U.S. bases.
Source: Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), November 22, 2009
Hat tip: Steve Schippert, who is seething.
My translation of the article, fast pass, I’m out of practice, no computer translation:
Picture caption: Afghan children look at American patrols in Paktika region yesterday
Kabul, Islamabad: (agency name)
A well-informed Afghani source confirmed details of secret discussions happening between (name?) of the Taliban movement, among them the designated minister of war, and the American ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry. (and there was agreement). The same source [said there was] complete agreement before the American ambassador party request and it resulted in US conditions for proceeding.
Ambassador Eikenberry proposed that the movement be granted sovereign
power / authority in Kandahar state and Helmand and Orzkan and Kanr and Nuristan, in exchange for the ending of attacks on American bases in Afghanistan.
November 18, 2009
November 13, 2009
CDR Aboul-Enein’s finally done it. I’m going to rave about it sight unseen, based solely on his reputation.
Back in the mid-nineties, the Navy tried to build a Foreign Area Officer program. It didn’t work due to structural problems, but I was selected for the subspecialty along with a few other officers. I built a professional relationship with a few, including one guy with an unusual name who seemed to know a lot about the Middle East. As soon as I got back into port after 9/11, he was the first guy I emailed; I was worried about the potential for him to get caught up in harassment or trouble.
Turns out the opposite happened. He wound up being the guy who in the E-ring. He taught his fellow Americans about the insidious nature of islamist ideology and how normal folks in the Middle East think about warfare, a quiet, professional voice between the appeasers and the overly Jacksonian militants. This is very hard to do when so many people who oppose American values speak different things to different audiences, and lie to calm rational concerns about threat to people very willing to accept a reasonable-sounding voice. (Other officers I know have failed at this. Perhaps you remember a particularly ugly catfight between two in ’07 in the Pentagon from people who may resemble this.)
You know CDR Aboul-Enein if you took JPME II and studied the region, or were in the E-ring after 9/11, or in a variety of jobs we shall not mention here. He has written regularly in a number of publications, and has a particular skill in reviewing a book and giving you the essence of what’s going on–and he does that with books in Arabic that normally we would have no idea about. I’ve learned a lot about the region from his scholarship–and this has served me well when I got yanked from my previous warfare community into FAO work in the Middle East, where I’m deployed.
So he’s a friend of mine. I trust his instincts and read what he has to write.
And the guy snuck up on me and finally wrote a book. This is actually a book that could put him and his family at risk: not only the overheated response from the “kill ’em all” crowd, but also the risk from the irhabi types who will see the book pop up on their radar. It’s a summary of years of work he’s done, looking at who these people we’re fighting are. How do these people think? What’s the pump that draws from the pool of normal people and spits out these jerks? What’s the scholarship trail?
Here’s the book, published by USNI. Admiral Stavridis has written the foreword. Can’t get much higher recommendation than that.