29 June 2013

No Lack of Irony in Snowden Case

We've all heard about the 2009 chat log in which Snowden says that leakers should be shot.
Worse yet, during a remarkable January 2009 chat, Snowden wrote that Obama had "appointed a fucking politician to run the CIA." In that same conversation, he vented his rage over reading a New York Times article about US actions in Iran, which was based on confidential leaks.

TheTrueHOOHA Are they TRYING to start a war?
Jesus christ
they're like wikileaks
User19 they're just reporting, dude.
TheTrueHOOHA They're reporting classified shit
User19 shrugs
TheTrueHOOHA about an unpopular country surrounded by enemies already engaged in a war
and about our interactions with said country regarding planning sovereignity violations of another country
you don't put that shit in the NEWSPAPER
User19 meh
TheTrueHOOHA moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this?
TheTrueHOOHA those people should be shot in the balls.
TheTrueHOOHA But the tense exchanges also prompted the White House to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel and brief Israeli officials on new American efforts to subtly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, a major covert program that Mr. Bush is about to hand off to President-elect Barack Obama.
User19 meh
TheTrueHOOHA I wonder how many hundreds of millions of dollars they just completely blew.
User19 you're over reacting. its fine.
TheTrueHOOHA It's not an overreaction. They have a HISTORY of this shit
User19 with flowersand cake.
User20 [User21]'s mushrooms are :o
TheTrueHOOHA these are the same people who blew the whole "we could listen to osama's cell phone" thing
the same people who screwed us on wiretapping
over and over and over again
Thank god they're going out of business.
User19 the NYT?
TheTrueHOOHA Hopefully they'll finally go bankrupt this year.

But now, apparently, Ecuador is pissed that someone leaked the memo about them granted amnesty to the leaker, and want to prosecute the leaker who leaked the leak about the leaker leaking into leakedhood.

Officials on Thursday acknowledged that the Ecuadorean Embassy in London had issued a June 22 letter of safe passage for Snowden that calls on other countries to allow him to travel to asylum in Ecuador. But Ecuador's secretary of political management, Betty Tola, said the letter was invalid because it was issued without the approval of the government in the capital, Quito.

She also threatened legal action against whoever leaked the document, which she said "has no validity and is the exclusive responsibility of the person who issued it."

"This demonstrates a total lack of co-ordination in the department of foreign affairs," said Santiago Basabe, a professor of political science at the Latin American School of Social Sciences in Quito. "It's no small question to issue a document of safe passage or a diplomatic document for someone like Snowden without this decision being taken directly by the foreign minister or president."

So apparently, people who leak things to the media should be shot in the balls, and people whose country is protecting leakers should leak themselves.

By: Brant

28 June 2013

Apparently We Don't Need Wikileaks to Leak

The Justice Department is investigating GEN James Cartwright for leaking info about the Stuxnet attack.

A retired high-ranking US general is under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information about a covert cyber attack on Iran's nuclear programme, US media report.

Retired Marine General James "Hoss" Cartwright has been informed by the Justice Department that he is a target in their inquiry, NBC News reports.

Gen Cartwright was vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007-2011.

The Stuxnet virus temporarily disabled Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010.

The New York Times gave a detailed account last year about the virus, and how it temporarily took out nearly 1,000 centrifuges that Iran was using to purify uranium.

The newspaper said the attack was part of a wider cyber operation called Olympic Games, that was started under President George W Bush and accelerated under President Barack Obama.

The revelations prompted the US attorney to order an investigation into the leaks.

By: Brant

Russia Bailing on Syria?

Or just rearranging deck chairs on the Tartanic?

In a surprise move, Russia has pulled all its military and nondiplomatic civilian personnel out of Syria. That includes a complete evacuation of the naval supply station in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, which is often discussed as one of Russia's key reasons for its long and stubborn support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

"We have neither servicemen nor civilians in Syria anymore. Or Russian military instructors assigned to units of the Syrian regular Army, for that matter," a Russian defense ministry spokesperson is quoted as telling the Moscow business daily Vedomosti yesterday.

The Tartus naval supply station, Russia's only military base outside the former USSR, has been effectively closed, Russian deputy foreign minister and special Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed in an interview with a Turkish newspaper. He insisted that the base, which housed about 70 fulltime military technicians to service visiting Russian warships, was of no strategic importance to Russia.

By: Brant

27 June 2013

Papers and Presentations from The International Symposium on Military Operations Research

There's some great presentations in the archive of The International Symposium on Military Operations Research.

Dr Sabin's wargaming presentation is at the bottom.

By: Brant

25 June 2013

Army Announces Their Force Cuts

At least 12 brigades are getting the chop.

The Army will eliminate at least 12 combat brigades, relocate thousands of soldiers and cancel $400 million in construction projects as the first wave of federal budget cuts takes aim at military communities around the country.

In a massive restructuring, Army leaders said Tuesday that they will slash the number of active duty combat brigades from 45 to 33, as the service moves forward with a longtime plan to cut the size of the service by 80,000. And they warned that more cuts — of as many as 100,000 more active duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers — could be coming if Congress allows billions of dollars in automatic budget cuts to continue next year.

The sweeping changes would eliminate brigades — which number from 3,500 to 5,000 troops — at 10 Army bases in the U.S. by 2017, including those in Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Kansas and Washington. The Army will also cut thousands of other jobs across the service, including soldiers in units that support the brigades, and two brigades in Germany have already been scheduled for elimination.

Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, said one additional brigade will likely be cut, but no final decisions have been made.

How are they doing this? They're going to whack brigade HQs and put maneuver battalions back into the brigades, giving everyone 3 maneuver battalions again. The DoD announced their plans today:

Today the Department of the Army announced force structure and stationing decisions associated with the active component end-strength reduction of 80,000 soldiers, resulting in an Army end-strength of 490,000 by 2017. These reductions are consistent with fiscal constraints resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 and defense planning guidance issued in 2012, but do not reflect additional reductions that will be required if sequestration-driven funding reductions remain unmitigated.

Based on extensive analysis, the lessons of a dozen years of combat and the need to increase operational capability and flexibility, the Army will make the following changes to its force structure:
-Reorganize infantry and armor brigade combat teams (BCTs) to restore the third maneuver battalion and increase engineer and fires capability.
-Reduce active component BCTs from 45 modular to 33 reorganized BCTs.
-Continue growth in aviation, special operations, missile defense and cyber capabilities.

This active component force structure, in conjunction with Army National Guard and Army Reserve capabilities, supports the current defense strategy and meets combatant command requirements through regional alignment of forces and global responsiveness for contingencies. The decision to restructure armor and infantry BCTs helps mitigate the loss of BCTs by eliminating the headquarters but preserving 13 Armor and Infantry battalions that would be lost without the reorganization.

Stationing decisions necessitated by the reductions and reorganization were based on a comprehensive analysis of installation quantitative and qualitative considerations to include training, power projection, well-being, expansibility, regeneration, geographic distribution, environmental and socio-economic impacts, cost, and alignment with the defense strategy. Opportunities for community input were included through both the programmatic environment assessment public comment period and community listening sessions conducted in parallel with the military value analysis and qualitative stationing analysis, prior to the final decision.

Based on this comprehensive analysis, a BCT will inactivate at each of the following locations by 2017: Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Campbell, Ky; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Stewart, Ga., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Two BCTs, stationed at Baumholder and Grafenwoehr, Germany, will complete their inactivation in Fiscal Year 2013, leaving two BCTs in Europe to fulfill strategic commitments.

The reduction of 80,000 soldiers from the force represents a 14 percent reduction across the AC force. The specific impacts of these decisions on individual installations are being provided to affected Congressional delegations. The Army will conduct Congressional notification in accordance with Section 993, Title 10 U.S.C. prior to taking any irrevocable actions to implement these decisions.

What do you think? What doctrinal changes will come down as a part of the re-organization? What will happen to the divisional force structures and changes? It's mainly HQs personnel that are being shuffled, while the line units are going to stay reasonably intact and get put into new places.

The CSA's press conference and announcement is here.

By: Brant

Pat Buchanan Is Not Impressed

He's clearly not in agreement with new Pentagon rules about women in combat roles.

Did the young officers leading troops in battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, returning with casualties, say they needed women to enhance the fighting efficiency of their combat units and the survival rate of their soldiers?
Did men from the 101st and 82nd airborne, the Marines, the SEALs and Delta Force petition the Joint Chiefs to put women alongside them in future engagements to make them an even superior force?
No. This decision to put women in combat represents a capitulation of the military brass, a surrender to the spirit of our age, the Pentagon's salute to feminist ideology.
This is not a decision at which soldiers arrived when they studied after-action reports, but the product of an ideology that contradicts human nature, human experience and human history, and declares as dogma that women are just as good at soldiering as men.
But if this were true, rather than merely asserted, would it have taken mankind the thousands of years from Thermopylae to discover it?

There's a lot more at the link. I will say this - he makes a very valid point that there's been no data assessment comparing the combat effectiveness of non/integrated units. The data might show no change in effectiveness. It might show an increase; it might show a decrease. If it doesn't show an increase, then we're making decisions on criteria other than how effective units are in combat, and that's not always the best way to make decisions about the military. You can do it, and there might be good reasons to do it. But it's rare.

By: Brant

USAction! - Machinegunning

click to enlarge
An Indonesian army paratrooper prepares to fire an M240B machine gun during weapons training with U.S. paratroopers as part of exercise Garuda Shield 2013 at 1st Kostrad headquarters in West Java, Indonesia, June 14, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
By: Brant

21 June 2013

Battles Magazine

By: Brant

18 June 2013

Afghans Take Over Security from NATO

NATO has officially handed off security responsibilities to the Afghans.

Nato has handed over security for the whole of Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

At a ceremony in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai said that from Wednesday "our own security and military forces will lead all the security activities".

Observers say the best soldiers in the Afghan army are up to the task but there are lingering doubts about some.

International troops will remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, providing military back-up when needed.

The ceremony came shortly after a suicide bomb attack in western Kabul killed three employees of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and wounded more than 20.

and the West exhales. What happens next?

By: Brant

16 June 2013

NSA Claiming Credit for Busting Plots With Controversial Programs

The NSA is claiming that their controversial programs broke plots in 20 nations.

Top U.S. intelligence officials said Saturday that information gleaned from two controversial data-collection programs run by the National Security Agency thwarted potential terrorist plots in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries — and that gathered data is destroyed every five years.
Last year, fewer than 300 phone numbers were checked against the database of millions of U.S. phone records gathered daily by the NSA in one of the programs, the intelligence officials said in arguing that the programs are far less sweeping than their detractors allege.
No other new details about the plots or the countries involved were part of the newly declassified information released to Congress on Saturday and made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Intelligence officials said they are working to declassify the dozens of plots NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said were disrupted, to show Americans the value of the programs, but that they want to make sure they don't inadvertently reveal parts of the U.S. counterterrorism playbook in the process.

much more at the link, but not an inventory of the supposed busted plots...

By: Brant

14 June 2013

Happy Birthday to the US Army

On this day in 1775, the US Army was founded. Been kicking ass ever since.

The June 14 date is when Congress adopted "the American continental army" after reaching a consensus position in The Committee of the Whole. This procedure and the desire for secrecy account for the sparseness of the official journal entries for the day. The record indicates only that Congress undertook to raise ten companies of riflemen, approved an enlistment form for them, and appointed a committee (including Washington and Schuyler) to draft rules and regulations for the government of the army. The delegates' correspondence, diaries, and subsequent actions make it clear that they really did much more.

What's the best-looking uniform the US Army ever wore? Sound off in the comments below!

By: Brant

What Happens in the Next Drawdown?

For the past 30 years, the focus has been to avoid hollowing out the Army in the next drawdown. Will that happen again?

During the post-Vietnam War drawdown of the 1970s, cuts in defense spending and difficulty recruiting a quality all-volunteer military infamously led to a “hollow” force by decade’s end. That force botched the 1980 Desert One attempt to rescue American hostages in Iran, lost 241 Marines to a terrorist bombing in Beirut, in 1983, and stumbled badly as a joint force in the invasion of Grenada that same year. The cycle arguably repeated itself during the post-Cold War 1990s, when a decadelong “procurement holiday” resulted in a dangerously aging military arsenal and troops who were manifestly unprepared for the insurgencies they confronted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The problem for military leaders now is that the drawdown from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan comes not at the best of times but arguably at the worst. Consider the simple fact that readiness problems that took many years to carve out the force in the late 1970s are already affecting today’s military. And more than a year still remains before the last of the 63,000 U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan are scheduled to come home.

“I have testified to Congress that I came into a ‘hollow Army’ in the 1970s that had significant discipline problems, no money to train, and low standards,” said Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, speaking recently with reporters. “While I really don’t want to leave a hollow Army, that’s the road we’re headed down if we continue to have this budget impasse.” As a result of the sequester triggered in March by the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Army has already canceled six rotations at its premier training centers, limited 80 percent of its forces to rudimentary home-base training at only the squad level or below, reduced flying hours, and planned to furlough civilian workers who help maintain installations. If the sequester budget caps are kept in place in fiscal 2014, Odierno predicts they will create a readiness hole that will take the Army three to four years to climb out of. “The problem I have,” he said, “is that when the Army is not prepared and ready, we historically have paid the cost in lives lost.”

By: Brant

12 June 2013

Anniversary: "Tear down this wall!"

Today is the anniversary of the President Reagan's famous Tear down this wall! speech in West Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate. The complete text can be found here.

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

2-1/2 years later, the wall was down.

Do you remember the speech? What do you remember from it?

By: Brant

10 June 2013

Japanese Amphibious Exercises in California

Japanese troops are making a rare overseas training appearance in California.

Japanese troops will converge on California's southern coast in the next two weeks as part of a military exercise with U.S. troops aimed at improving that country's amphibious attack abilities.
U.S. and Japanese military officials said the unprecedented training, led by U.S. Marines and sailors, will help Japan's Self-Defense Force operate in stronger coordination with the United States, its main ally, and better respond to crises such as natural disasters.
China may see it differently, however, given the tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over a long-running dispute concerning islands claimed by both in the East China Sea.
"It's another dot that the Chinese will connect to show this significant expanding military cooperation," said Tai Ming Cheung, an analyst of Chinese and East Asian security affairs and director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California, San Diego.
China asked the United States and Japan to cancel the drill, scheduled to begin Tuesday, Japan's Kyodo News service reported, citing unnamed Japanese government sources. The Japanese Defense and Foreign Ministries would not confirm whether China had made any request but said they are going ahead with the exercises.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to The Associated Press for comment on whether China requested a cancellation. In regard to the drill itself, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "We hope the relevant sides can focus on peace and stability in this region, and do more to contribute to mutual trust and regional peace and stability."
U.S. military officials said strengthening Japan's amphibious capabilities is vital as the U.S. focuses more attention on developing an Asia-Pacific strategy amid ongoing U.S. Defense Department budget cuts. The region has been roiled by tensions due to North Korean long-range rocket and nuclear tests and maritime territorial disputes between China and its neighbors.
"If the 20th century taught us anything, it is that when democracies are able and willing to defend themselves it preserves peace and stability," said Col. Grant Newsham, Marine liaison to the Japanese military. "Most Asian countries welcome — even if quietly stated — a more capable (Japanese force) that is also closely allied to U.S. forces."

By: Brant

08 June 2013

Next Afghanistan Units Announced

The DoD has announced the next units for the upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

DOD Identifies Units for Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

The Department of Defense today identified a major unit to deploy as part of the upcoming summer rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan. The scheduled rotation involves one infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) with roughly 1,230 personnel. The deploying unit is the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.

By: Brant

The Overview of What the NSA Has Done

There are 2 recent big revelations about NSA data-mining, and here's a halfway decent write-up from the CSM (thru Yahoo!) about them. Much more at the link –

The Basics
In the name of fighting terrorism, the US government has been mining data collected from phone companies such as Verizon for the past seven years and from Google, Facebook, and other social media firms for at least four years, according to government documents leaked this week to news organizations.
The two surveillance programs – one that collects detailed records of telephone calls, the other that collects data on Internet-based activities such as e-mail, instant messaging, and video conferencing – were publicly revealed in "top secret" documents leaked to the British newspaper the Guardian and the Washington Post. Both are run by the National Security Agency (NSA), the papers reported.

Phone Records
On Thursday, the Guardian displayed on its website a top-secret court order authorizing the telephone data-collection program. The order, signed by a federal judge on the mysterious Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, requires a subsidiary of Verizon to send to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” through July its “telephony metadata,” or communications logs, “between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”
Such metadata include the phone number calling and the number called, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of calls. What's not included is permission for the NSA to record or listen to a phone conversation. That would require a separate court order, federal officials said after the program's details were made public.

Internet Data Mining
The existence of PRISM, the Internet-based data-mining program, appeared to take many in Congress by surprise, except for lawmakers serving on intelligence committees, who have been briefed about it. PRISM involves the collection of digital photos, stored data, file transfers, e-mail, chat services, videos, and video conferencing from nine Internet companies, according to a “top secret” document posted on the Washington Post website on Thursday.
What PRISM reveals is NSA’s desire to hunt for terrorist threats where people communicate most these days – over the Internet, cyber experts say. Its existence, unveiled just hours after the initial news story about the wholesale collection of phone records, rattled privacy advocates.
“These revelations are a reminder that Congress has given the executive branch far too much power to invade individual privacy, that existing civil liberties safeguards are grossly inadequate, and that powers exercised entirely in secret, without public accountability of any kind, will certainly be abused,” Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director, said in a statement Thursday.

By: Brant

06 June 2013

Anniversary: D-Day

By: Brant

05 June 2013

Mali-Tuareg Clashes

Malian army clashes with Tuareg rebels, heading for Kidal - Yahoo! News

The Malian army said on Wednesday it seized the village of Anefis following heavy fighting with the Tuareg separatist MNLA and was heading towards the nearby town of Kidal, the rebels' last stronghold.
It was the first fighting between the MNLA and the Malian army since a French-led military offensive launched in January. The French campaign ended Islamists' 10-month domination of Mali's desert north but left the Tuareg rebels in control of Kidal.
Mali's interim government accused the MNLA of violence against non-Tuaregs on Monday. The army has vowed to retake Kidal before national elections scheduled for late July.
"Our troops have taken Anefis this morning after intense fighting," said army spokesman Colonel Souleymane Maiga, adding that the fighting had begun early on Wednesday.
Moussa Ag Acharatoumane, Paris-based spokesman for the MNLA, said in a statement there was fighting between the Malian forces and MNLA fighters in Anefis but did not provide further details.
The MNLA has rejected Bamako's calls for it to lay down its weapons, saying it would resist any attempt to retake Kidal. It has said it is open to negotiations with the government if northern Mali's right to self-determination is recognized.

By: Brant

Swinging Fortunes in Syria

The Syrian Army claim to have captured the strategic border town of Qusair

The Syrian army seized control on Wednesday of the strategic border town of Qusair, Syrian media and security sources said, in a major advance for President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the country's two-year civil war.
Rebels said they had pulled out of Qusair, which lies on a cross-border supply route with neighbouring Lebanon and where they had fought fierce battles with government forces and Hezbollah guerrillas for more than two weeks.
One Hezbollah fighter told Reuters that they took the town in a rapid overnight offensive, allowing some of the fighters to flee. "We did a sudden surprise attack in the early hours and entered the town. They escaped," he said.
Assad's forces fought hard to seize Qusair, which had been in rebel hands for over a year, to reassert control of a corridor through the central province of Homs which links Damascus to the coastal heartland of Assad's minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
"Whoever controls Qusair controls the center of the country, and whoever controls the center of the country controls all of Syria," said Brigadier General Yahya Suleiman, speaking to Beirut-based Mayadeen television.
Mayadeen showed soldiers sticking Syrian flags with photographs of Assad on piles of rubble spilling from shelled buildings across the torn up streets.

By: Brant

04 June 2013

The Petraeus scandal - the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Now Jill Kelley is suing the US gov't over her treatment in the Petraeus scandal

A Tampa, Fla., socialite and her husband claimed in a lawsuit Monday that the government willfully leaked false and defamatory information about them in the scandal that led to the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director.
Jill Kelley and Scott Kelley filed the lawsuit in federal court against the FBI, Pentagon and unidentified officials in the government, claiming the couple's privacy was violated.
It was Jill Kelley who became the focus of national media attention last year after it was revealed she received anonymous emails from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' biographer and mistress. Broadwell allegedly told Kelley to stay away from Petraeus.
The Petraeus scandal widened when the Pentagon announced it was looking into emails between Kelley and Gen. John Allen, searching for possible evidence of an inappropriate relationship between the two married people. Officials later conceded that only a handful of the emails between Kelley and Allen had been of a flirtatious or questionable nature.
In a statement Monday, Kelley said that she went to authorities after getting the threatening emails from Broadwell.
"But unfortunately, we did not receive the confidentiality and protection," she said. "Instead we received highly hurtful and damaging publicity from willful leaks from high level government officials that were false and defamatory. In addition, we also learned that our personal emails were wrongfully searched, and improperly disclosed."
The lawsuit claims the federal government violated the Privacy Act. It also claims that government officials violated the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches in its review of Kelley's emails. The Kelleys claim they have suffered financial losses because of the government's actions and are seeking monetary damages and an apology, among other things.

By: Brant

01 June 2013

We Gave Them A Country

and they have chosen civil war instead.

More than 1,000 people were killed in violence in Iraq in May, making it the deadliest month since the sectarian slaughter of 2006-07, the United Nations reported on Saturday, raising fears of a return to civil war.
"That is a sad record," Martin Kobler, the U.N. envoy in Baghdad, said in a statement. "Iraqi political leaders must act immediately to stop this intolerable bloodshed."
Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in the last two months as al Qaeda and Sunni Islamist insurgents, invigorated by the Sunni-led revolt in neighboring Syria and by Iraqi Sunni discontent at home, seek to revive the kind of all-out inter-communal conflict that killed tens of thousands in 2006-2007.
Just this week, multiple bombings battered Shi'ite and Sunni neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, where at least 70 people were killed on Monday and 25 on Thursday.

By: Brant