Thursday, June 25, 2009

Insurgency is easy, it's the counter insurgency that's hard

Somalia, a place I know almost nothing about and what I do know comes mostly from Blackhawk Down and the occasional article or open source blurb. Still, the place absolutely fascinates me. The history show a tribal society that is in constant conflict with itself until some poor foreign element arrives and finds all guns turned on it. Nothing brings a warring society together like the distraction of a foreign invader, be it Italians, Brits, Ethiopians, or Americans.

I bring Somalia up because of one reason: I was bored and looking through some of my old notes from the MICCC last summer. I found myself reading my notes from a homework assignment (voluntary assignment I might add) given to us by one of the instructors. Our task was to choose an insurgency somewhere in the world and, after a nights worth of open source research, describe how we would either end that insurgency or help it along. I, being the anti-authority, punk wannabe that I am, chose the latter.

Here are my notes (unedited, I promise):

- Advance insurgent cause - Council of Islamic Courts, al-Shabaab militia
- Delegitimize the government - Transitional Federal Government
- IED and RPG attacks against government facilities
- convoys
- government members and workers
- threaten security forces
- Avoid larger conflict
- no large scale attacks
- avoid intervention by Ethiopia and/or the US
- Continue relationship w/ Eritrea
- if Ethiopia goes to war w/ Eritrea, expand attacks
- drive Somali government to Baidoa
- begin recruitment and small attacks in northern Somalia
- capture ports
- recruit by claiming government is a tool of foreign powers (Ethiopia)
- disrupt elections in 2009 thru intimidation and bombings

So there's my plan from last summer in a nutshell. Here's a link to what has happened recently in Somalia. Ethiopia has re-entered the country, but not in the scale, both in occupation areas and force, of 2006. The African Union is useless in quelling the violence. The Islamic Courts group has actually taken over and is the legit government and is now fighting the Shabaab. Last October, attacks spread to northern Somalia and one suicide bomber was actually recruited in Minnesota. Some of my scenario came true, some did not; but I love that part of my job.

Red teaming is the shit.

On a side note. Here's a link to a site offering cruises to the coast of Somalia where you can hunt Somali pirates. Part of the sick, twisted, adventure seeking side of me would totally do this. The other, more rational side says that it's a joke website since there is no phone number or email address where you can contact the company to book a cruise. Still, I think that would be a great business idea.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The grass is always greener under the giant glacier...

Greenland has been given self rule by Denmark, a move that will most likely lead to complete independence in a few years. Part of me says good for Greenland and part of me is a bit concerned. Most of Greenland's resources are still buried under quite a bit of ice and glacier which means that Greenland's autonomy is based on the knowledge that the ice will melt and access to those resources will be easier. The last paragraph of the article essentially makes my point:

"Greenland currently relies heavily on subsidies from the Danish government - which provide 30% of its GDP."

Pictured: Greenland's resources

So if Greenland were to gain independence right now they would be unable to support themselves as a country without a large amount of help from Denmark, or would need global warming to hurry up and melt that ice so all those wonderful resources can be mined. What a depressing scenerio, which leads me to the second to last paragraph:

"Newly elected Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist has vowed to concentrate on tackling big social problems, such as alcoholism, domestic violence and a high suicide rate."

If I lived in Greenland I'd probably be a suicidal alcoholic as well.

Just wait until the civil war between the green and red houses breaks out

I'm all for colonies and peoples wanting independence from foreign domination, such as the United States, Cuba, and all of Africa; but there is a point where independence is probably not your best option, and it's not like Denmark is stripping the resources of Greenland and enslaving its people. It's Denmark for pete's sake. Not to mention the area around the Arctic circle has the potential to become a major flash point of conflict between world powers as the ice melts and the (suspected) natural resources are more easily obtainable. The only reason this region didn't get discussed in my "Top 10" from a few posts back is because 2 of the nations which will most likely be involved in any conflict in this region are Canada and's Denmark (and Canada)for pete's sake. I could see US, Norwegian, and Russian forces postering around each other attempting to claim territory only to have Denmark and Canada build oil rigs while no one is paying attention.

Do you really want to become an independent nation only to have your autonomy infringed upon by world powers? Hmm, gain freedom only to lose it to Russia or the US or stay with Denmark but with self rule? I know what I would chose, it's Denmark for pete's sake.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Revolution will NOT be Twittered

Apparently something is going on in Iran. Somewhere along the lines of up to 500,000 people, many of them youth/university students, have taken to the streets to protest the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Similar to what happened in Moldova a view months ago (I will admit I had no idea what had happened in Moldova until I read about it today, in my defense I was getting ready for NTC), many of the young people are using technology to show the world what is going on. Utilizing the internet as well as an obsessive use of Twitter.

Some great pictures of the "Green Revolution" can be found on the Boston Globe's website. Pictures 28 and 29 were especially moving for me. A police officer has had the snot beaten out of him by the protestors and yet even though a few minutes ago he was most likely attacking the protestors, a few of them after he was injured moved him to safety. I doubt you would see that in the States. You look into the eyes of your enemy and sometimes you just see a man.

But anyway, my point is that despite some evidence of election fraud, I don't think Mir Hossein Mousavi won and I firmly believe that Ahmandinejad won fairly...despite all the mounting evidence to the contrary. Mousavi was not supposed to win and it was only a week before the election that his popularity suddenly shot up and he had a chance at winning. Ahmandinejad might be a little crazy, but he's pretty popular in Iran and I am not surprised that a majority of Iranians voted for him. I believe the problem is coming from the university students and others who feel that because all their friends voted for Mousavi then Mousavi was clearly the winner and all other scenarios clearly indicate a fix.

I noticed the same thing with the election of George Bush. "Well I didn't vote for him and no one I know voted for him so that means the election was stolen."

No, it means you need a more diverse group of friends. Hell, if we took this model then Senator McCain should have won the last election because where I was at I knew of only 1 or 2 people who voted for now President Obama.

As usual I have obligatory links to both Abu Muqawama and Wired/Danger Room both discussing the use of technology such as Twitter and how it affects our perception of current events. Just because we can see ourselves in the t-shirt and jean clad students making up the "Green Revolution" does not mean those protestors are part of a majority of Iranians who seek change. Although, I do admit I like the use of a color to show solidarity amongst your fellow protestors, much like Ukranians and their "Orange Revolution" (Why oh why did they use orange??? I hate orange. Clearly I need to be in on the discussion on color choices of revolutions).

To sum things up: there is no "Green Revolution". Even if Mousavi was elected it will change nothing in Iran that is controlled by the Ayatollahs. But I may be mistaken, 500,000 people in the streets can't all be wrong. One asshole blogging about it from thousands of miles away very well could be.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Things were so simple back when we were fighting the Soviets

Two important things to remember as you read this blog:

1. I try to keep myself as confused as possible in case I am captured by the enemy.

2. All my information comes from unclassified "open source". If I have an idea I want to present or want to discuss something I saw over on "SIPR" I make sure I can find information and links about it on the regular internet.

That being said...

This confuses the hell out of me. A Taliban commander was killed in western Afghanistan who happened to have ties to the Iranian Qods Force (The Iranian special forces). Now, I'm not naive enough to think that just because Iran is a Shia country and Al Qaida/Taliban is a Sunni organization that they will have nothing to do with eachother. However, Iran gave passive support to the United States and NATO to go ahead and defeat the Taliban/Al Qaida in Afghanistan back in 2001. I realize a lot has happened since then (a little adventure in Iraq comes to mind), but is all that really enough to push Iran to assist an organization that wishes to destroy all Shia?

Douglas Farah seems to think so. Senator McCain also mentioned something about Iran assisting Al Qaida but was forced to retract his statements and was made out to look like a confused old man.

Is there some grand Iranian-Al Qaida alliance? No, but Iran is facing US military forces on two of its borders and I have no doubt would make some deals and supply weapons and possibly a few safe zones for groups aligned with Al Qaida. Let's not forget that Al Qaida is really nothing more than an umbrella organization for different groups conducting attacks or attempting to conduct attacks around the world with a few guys at the top pulling some strings to eventually reach the goal of bankrupting/destroying the west, taking over corrupt Sunni governments, eliminating the Shia, and re-forming the Caliphate. Supplying some machine guns and RPGs to a band of ruffians in north eastern Iraq as well as some EFPs to some Taliban commander in Afghanistan is not likely to bring about the global change that Al Qaida seeks, but it will annoy the hell out of the United States and keep us occupied.

Let us not forget that there is some evidence that the United States/CIA is assisting a terrorist group with ties to Al Qaida. The Jundullah organization operates out of Pakistan and conducts attacks in Iran. This group appears to be affliated with other groups/organizations that are affliated with Al Qaida...yeah, you see how complex these things can get?

I am a bit amused that while doing some research on this, most left wing sites mocked the idea Iran would ever assist Al Qaida while most right wing sites saw it as proof of some grand alliance of evil. I don't like to get political, but sometimes the left is naive and the right is retarded.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whirlwind tour of the blogosphere

A few links of interest today that I feel like sharing:

Excellent use of drone aircraft to prove Americans didn't attack a bunch of civilians, some asshole did. An armored vehicle (I don't know what kind I can't view the video) was stuck in the mud in Afghanistan and a crowd gathered around to watch as locals tend to do. Someone threw a grenade and it was initally blamed on the Americans. Well, the Army turned around and showed the video from the UAV overhead proving that someone else other than the Americans threw the grenade.

Reminds me of an incident in New Baghdad during my last tour. A Bradley was stuck in the mud so the unit brought in another Bradley to get it out. That one got stuck. So they got a third Bradley. That one also got stuck. An M88 tank recovery vehicle was called also got stuck. It finally took a second M88 with a couple of Abram tanks to pull everything out while the locals just sat back and they should.

Smart move by the Army. They have ordered Army bases to stop blocking certain social media sites from their networks. The Army is spending a lot of time and money on reaching out to the civilian population and getting soldiers to spread their stories, but then blocking the soldiers from accessing the sites necessary to do the reaching out. FT Lewis already allows soldiers to access Facebook on the network, which is great when I'm bored.

Interesting comments by Abu Muqawama on Al Qaida attacks in Iraq and the strategic significance of those attacks. I'm not sure I agree with the statements made that we won't see a return to 2005/2006 and that counterinsurgency is over. I believe Al Qaida is conducting suicide attacks in order to frighten the population and/or attempt to bring back the violence of 2006. You never know which attack will drive the Shia militia back into the streets slaughtering Sunnis which will bring the Sunni population back into the arms of Al Qaida. A wounded animal doesn't just sit back and die, it strikes back in any way it can. I very much doubt the soldiers/marines currently in Iraq would agree that they are not fighting an insurgency. Attacks are still occuring daily against the Iraqi forces, civilans, and coalition forces. Not to mention I don't agree that what was occuring in 2006 was civil war. What I saw was genocide.

That reminds me of some stories I won't write about because I don't like being reminded of them.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I admit it, I have the maturity of a 15 year old

I went and saw Terminator Salvation last night and to be honest it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. All I really wanted was a bunch of humans running around getting attacked by big scary robots and lots of explosions and that's exactly what I got. It was no Terminator 2, but I knew that going into it and it was definitely better than Terminator 3.

Still, it was a pretty crappy movie. Fun, but crappy. Hilarious mocking of the movie can be found here. That is some quality mocking but don't go to the site if you plan on seeing the movie and don't want spoilers.

Next crap-a-thon will be Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a movie that I am seeing for entirely the same reasons as Terminator. Plus this one has Megan Fox.

Now where is my movie with robots, Megan Fox, AND zombie penguins?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Top 10 Global "Concerns"

Everybody loves a good Top 10 list so here is my list of areas around the world that concern me and have the potential to spread violence and chaos the way a hooker spreads STDs.

10. Iran
A large...relatively...and proud country controlled by a group of religious extremists and whose president denies the Holocaust ever occured. Iran appears to be on the verge of creating nuclear weapons and has stated one of its goals is to wipe Israel off the map. Add in a feeling of being threatened due to 40,000ish American troops on one border and 150,000ish American troops on the other and you have the potential for a very ugly conflict. Iran is also the country that utilized the first modern suicide bomber. A conflict with Iran will most likely look very similar to the Israeli/Lebanon War of 2006, only with nuclear weapons.

9. Mexico
Massive drug cartel problem. Ineffective local security. Ineffective national security. Corrupt local governments. Give these problems some time and some room to grow and one may find a nice little civil war erupting just across our border. Awesome.

8. Syria
Iraq and Syria share a border twice as long as the border between North and South Korea. Plenty of weapons and foreign fighters have slipped (and by slipped I mean easily driven) over the border between the two countries. Plus Syria has been attempting to create nuclear weapons for some time now. Would not surprise me to know that Al Qaida has training bases in the country.

7. Nigeria
Fighting has been on going in southern Nigeria for several years now over the rights to the country's oil resources. Nigeria also has a significant Muslim population that Al Qaida has attempted to exploit. There is also those pesky military coups that have popped up throughout modern Nigeria's history.

6. Mali
Mali? WTF? Mali has a lot of open and ungoverned space that can be easily exploited by terrorist organizations. Al Qaida in the Magreb is known to operate here. I could see Mali becoming the new Afghanistan.

5. Algeria
Speaking of new Afghanistans, Algeria is on this list for the same reason as Mali. Except that Al Qaida in the Magreb actually conducts attacks against security forces and recently a convoy of teachers. Those bastards.

4. North Korea
Do I really need to say anything here? Nukes...check. Large brainwashed military...check. Crazy dictator...check. Heir to the dictatorship who is crazier than current dictator...check. This one keeps me up at night.

3. The "Green Line" between Kurdish Iraq and Arab Iraq
The "Green Line" is the area of control between the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan controlled by the Peshmerga and the area controlled by the Government of Iraq. Conflict arises when the two can't agree where the line should be. One wrong move by either side and civil war, a true civil war not the concentrated genocide of 2006, could break out.

2. Somalia
Similar to Mali and Algeria just minus any effective government at all. The only reason Al Qaida has been unable to establish themselves here is because the Somali tribes/warlords won't stop fighting each other long enough. The current leader of the Transitional Somali Government is a guy who was the leader of the Islamic Courts which is an organization that 1 year ago the US was supporting Ethiopia in fighting. The Islamic Courts was/were supported by Al Qaida, then they weren't. Now Shabbab (the current bad guys in Somalia, try to keep up) are the bad guys supported by Al Qaida. Ugh, tribal societies give me a headache.

1. Afghanistan/Pakistan
You can't talk about Afghanistan without talking about Pakistan and vice versa. Pakistan has nukes and has very angry tribes loyal to the Taliban and Al Qaida who very recently fought their way very close to the capital Islamabad. The idea of a Pakistani government loyal to or controlled by Al Qaida gives me nightmares.

I encourage reader input. All two of you.

A nerd rejoices

This would make me extremely happy. So happy in fact that I just may shit rainbows if it were to actually happen. I don't see the show coming back, mostly because many of the actors are doing other projects, but I could see Fox or whoever doing one or two made-for-tv movies. Babylon 5 did that a couple of times.

A great show, killed off before its time because network execs are idiots.