Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The End...For Now

I've come to the extremely difficult decision to put an end to this blog. I just don't have the time nor the desire to update as much as I would like to so instead of a post or two a month I'm just going to step away.

The original purpose of Warhorse Intel was to describe my thoughts and experiences during my third deployment to Iraq in 2009. The blog evolved after my return to the States to writing about my thoughts of insurgencies and conflicts throughout the world as well as stories from my deployments. Writing became therapeutic and helped to remove some demons that hung around far too long. However, all things must end.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

ISIS and Boko Haram Now BFFs

Well I certainly didn't see Nigeria's Boko Haram declaring allegiance with The Islamic State©, although I probably should have seen it as a possibility. Overall this doesn't exactly change anything but the announcement, which apparently is legit, does show a shifting in power from the global jihadist dominance of Al Qaeda to the upstart ISIS/ISIL/IS. Due to my lack of knowledge in the nuances of African and Nigerian Islamic insurgency I would have assumed Boko Haram would have aligned itself with AQIM over ISIS, but apparently an offshoot of Boko Haram, Ansaru, has already done that. Boko Haram's brutal tactics are more similar to ISIS' than AQ's anyway.

ISIS is really building up that street cred.

To add to the fun, ISIS has apparently gotten a foothold in Afghanistan. An Afghan army general is claiming there are ISIS elements recruiting in some of the southern provinces, which is very interesting since the southern Afghan provinces are the Taliban's home turf. Could this be a sign that the Afghan population is turning against the Taliban and that the Taliban don't have the control that they claim? Possibly, but it concerns me that instead of fighting the Taliban with the government, or at least not supporting the Taliban, there are individuals who choose to join ISIS instead. At least the Taliban was the legit (sort of and not really in any internationally acknowledged way) government of Afghanistan at one point.

Where will ISIS pop up next?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thoughts To Chew On

I came across a couple of different articles today discussing civilian/veteran interactions and people's desire to thank active duty soldiers/troops as they come across them (usually in airports). As readers of my blog have noticed, I've written several times about my own personal experiences and feelings when strangers come up to me and start thanking me. It can get a bit awkward, especially for an introvert. My go to response is to just thank them for their "thanks" and move on. My real issue is when people I hardly know pry further then they should, often bringing up something about PTSD or my mental health.

According to this article, there is a growing number of veterans who don't even like to be thanked for their service. To some of these vets...
"...the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters."
I understand that sentiment, and a few times during my service (usually immediately after a deployment), I agreed with it. Thanking me felt especially shallow when it came directly after finding out what I did without any further inquiry into my life or story. What exactly is this person thanking me for?

But the statement (and the article in general) feels asshole'ish. This comment really irked me:
“At least with Vietnam, people spit on you and you knew they had an opinion.”
I'm sorry, but I'd rather be thanked than spit on. Don't let that chip on your shoulder blind you to what could be genuine thoughtfulness. Something I need to remind myself on occasion.

The second article is a little more sad. There are no heroes in it. A captain takes $40 (!) from an older lady who wants to thank him for what he does, not realizing that she's giving money to an officer who makes more than enough to support himself and his family. The officer, who is also a chaplain, should have declined the money. It's one thing to pay for someone's meal, it's another to just hand them money like they are a charity case. The author calls the captain out on it, but he does it in an obnoxious way which results in the chaplain fleeing the airport bar without paying his tab. Call the captain out on his error, but perhaps encourage him to use that money for a good use, like donating it to the airport USO or finding some lower enlisted soldiers who could use a free meal.


Friday, February 20, 2015

ISIS Threats, Italy Mocks

Back in November I wrote a post mentioning ISIS had (sort of) expanded into Libya. Since then, the organization, or at least those individuals claiming allegiance to ISIS, has captured some towns and a little bit of territory in the country. That's not particularly noteworthy; Libya is a bloody mess right now and I'm pretty sure I could get on a flight to north Africa, recruit twenty people, and capture my own little corner of Libya.

I'd call it Bani Warhorse or بني حصان الحرب. Somebody design me a flag.

Anyway...those little ISIS-alligned rapscallions like to use Twitter, and after the group captured the town of Sirte some ISIS-linked accounts threatened to conquer Rome. Good initiative there buddy, but maybe you should keep your focus on Tripoli or Benghazi before taking on a European capital. As for a response from Italy? Italians showed a bit of their humor and warned ISIS of Rome's horrible traffic and public transportation issues.

Good for them. Now I feel like a cannoli.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deployment Nostalgia

Here's a short blog post that attempts to explain deployment nostalgia. However, I'm not sure it's something that can really be put into words. One has to experience it for yourself before you truly understand.

To counter the above, a top ten list of why deployment nostalgia is bullshit. The reality is that deployments are horrible. I have experienced and agree with most of what's on this list. Especially Ali Al Salem Airbase, it really is purgatory on Earth. There's just no other way of explaining it.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Green On Blue Close to Home

A little over a year ago I left ISAF Joint Command headquarters at the Kabul International Airport. One of my jobs as an intelligence analyst was to research and gather information on insider attackers and help get as many of those individuals who had escaped after conducting those attacks on the JPEL/kill list. This post explains a bit why I took the job seriously, and a bit personally.

Despite all the insider attacks, or as we called them, green on blue attacks, I never felt unsafe or threatened on the base. There were plenty of people around (not that that would have mattered) and very few Afghan soldiers. I was more concerned with the pack of jackals that wandered around the base than I was of being shot by in infiltrator. Not even the insider attack had occurred on the base a couple years prior to my arrival gave me much concern.

Yesterday, an Afghan in a security force uniform (some say police, some say army) killed 3 US contractors and another Afghan.

Just a unpleasant reminder that you're never truly safe over there.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Another Coup In Yemen

When I last posted about Yemen, that country appeared to be potentially collapsing towards civil war. Or was already in a civil war. Depends how pessimistic you want to be. The Shia Houthi rebels from the north had taken the capital of Sana'a, booted out the prime minister, made a peace agreement with the president, and then started fighting with AQAP who were already assisting an insurgency in the south.

Well, things haven't exactly gone well for Yemen since then (no surprise). Two days ago, the Houthis stormed the presidential palace and shelled the residence of the president (who wasn't staying in the palace) in what was essentially a coup. A cease-fire was declared, but it appears the president, who I assumed was merely a puppet of the Houthis, has resigned along with his cabinet.

So the Houthis now have complete control over the capital and likely the government of Yemen. This certainly does not please the Sunnis in the south of Yemen, who are also still dealing with AQAP and are in no position to help establish a new government or demand representation in a new government. I see a split in the near future for Yemen.

Oh, ISIS is popping up there too. Hooray!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

UPDATE: Nigeria, ISIS, and AQAP

Ugh, Nigeria continues to be a hot mess thanks to Boko Haram and that group's apparent desire to be blood thirsty assholes, although I'm quite convinced the government of Nigeria has its share of the blame for the chaos.

On Saturday a suicide bomber struck a market killing 16 and wounding more than 20. The bomber? A 10 year old girl. The explosives were likely detonated remotely. It would not surprise me at all if this girl was one of the 300 or so school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last April.

Boko Haram is also continuing offensive operations and recently attacked the town of Baga near the border with Chad. Amnesty International claims 2000 people were killed in that attack. However, the Nigerian government states the death toll was more like 150. I don't know who to believe on this one. Amnesty International is likely getting their reports second hand, which may be exaggerated by locals, but Nigerian authorities are probably trying to downplay the death toll to prevent the government from looking incompetent and keep panic from spreading. Like I said, a hot mess.

Moving on to Islamic State news...because they are such fun group of lovable scamps. Oh look, the Da'ish-bags are using children to conduct their executions. The Islamic State really is doing every thing they can to get as many people as possible to hate them. I've been appalled by AQI/ISI/ISIS tactics since 2005 so nothing they do really comes as a shock to me anymore.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the Paris attack. I wonder what took them so long. I also wonder if France is going to get involved with the civil war in Yemen in order to defeat AQAP. The government of Yemen along with their Houthi puppet masters probably wouldn't allow that, but if France is angry enough that may not matter.

UPDATE: Amnesty International has issued (provided may be a better term?) satellite imagery of the area. Their death toll numbers are likely more correct than government of Nigeria's numbers.

So much ugly news. Here's a puppy to cheer everyone up:

He probably poops on the carpet though...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

AQAP Flexing Muscle?

I've held off for over a day now from discussing the events in Paris.The reason is due to my typical response of wanting to do some kind of analysis, and then usually being wrong, examples being the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway (I figured Islamic terrorism) and the Boston Bombings (I guessed domestic white supremacists). My gut instinct for this attack was Chechnyans due to the tactics and apparent professionalism of the attackers. This may be some bias of mine since the Boston bombers were of Chechnyan descent.  I didn't think (and still don't) they were "lone wolves" and assessed they were trained, funded, and ordered by either Al Qaeda In the Arabian Peninsula or Al Qaeda In the Indian Subcontinent.

I wasn't completely pulling this out of my ass. Witnesses state the attackers shouted "Allah Akbar" and said they were "Al Qaeda". AQAP from my perspective is the AQ franchise most likely to export terrorism at this time, however the attacks are similar to attacks in Pakistan and India, hence my thoughts pulling towards AQIS. 

Authorities are now saying that two of the suspects are brothers, born in France of Algerian descent. One of the brothers had been previously arrested for sending fighters to Iraq and Abu Musab al Zarqawi's insurgent cells; those cells and networks would become Al Qaida in Iraq and eventually ISIS.

So was this ISIS attacking France for air strikes in Iraq and Syria? No. Remember, ISIS and Al Qaeda have had a falling out. Also, ISIS is a tad busy right now and probably doesn't have the funding or the resources to carry out an overseas attack at the moment. The attackers also are reported to have said they were "Al Qaeda from Yemen", interesting thing to say when you're of Algerian heritage. But if the attackers are of Algerian descent, is Al Qaeda In the Islamic Magreb to blame? I'm not ruling them out. AQAP hasn't done much since fighting for Tuareg independence in Mali and then turning on the Tuaregs turning what should have been an easy win into a clusterfuck with French troops occupying Tuareg territory in Mali. Wait...French troops? Hmm.

So long story short, I'm blaming AQAP. I foresee more drone strikes in Yemen's future.