Wednesday, July 26, 2006

messed up the trackback to Belmont - Here's the link to post on UNIFIL

The Belmont Club: A Knife-Thrower at the Carnival

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rules of Engagement Against Enemy Intelligence Assets

I never was a "shooter." Although at one point we experimented with "weaponeering cryptology," our mission more often than not was to provide support to the guys pressing the button or pulling the trigger. Sometimes we would be on the same platform, other times supporting from a distance. Anyway... the idea is to provide target support, eyes on target, to the shooters. You guys make the tough calls on when and how to engage.

Say say you want to keep the enemy from getting his "eyes on target" against you...

Let's make two assumptions (1) you are at the forward edge of the battle area (2) any of the observation platforms below has the capability to provide some real-time data (video, voice, data) feeds to another location. The capability is what's important.

Engage these targets? Yes or no?

1. Manned unarmed reconnaissance aircraft?
2. Unmanned armed reconnaissance aircraft (UAV)?
3. Unmanned unarmed reconnaissance aircraft (UAV)?
4. Unmanned electro-optic system (think video camera on a border fence)?
5. Fixed observation post (you see the guy with optics)?
6. Concealed forward observer with a radio?
7. Observer with electro-optics (video camera)? (think the guy who films IED attacks)
8. Observer with electro-optics (video camera)? (think the guy transmitting to Al-Manar TV)

Any difference?

I posted this before the Israeli strike on the UN positions. The musings are simply about whether shooters should attempt to distinguish between whether someone observing and reporting on them is friendly. Regarding the UNIFIL KIA, while technically not friendly fire, I do not believe that the Israeli forces intentionally targeted them. Belmont Club, as usual, provided a superlative analysis of the why the intentional targeting claim doesn't hold water.

Back to Mudville.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Beware The Lure of Sexy Intelligence Work

Updated Below

Hmmm, did that headline bring you into the site? Welcome! Intelligence work in peacetime is the day in and day out monitoring of potential adversaries. Military organizations, Hizb'Allah or state forces, train the way they fight. That means you monitor training and exercises to learn how they operate and what their capabilities are.

So for the people who collect the intel, monitor the operations and analyze to learn those capabilities, ... what is sexy? Big exercises, combined arms, missile shots, aerial combat and weapons delivery, chemical warfare, special ops, infiltration, etc. You get the picture. Cool equipment. Highly trained, challenging foe.

What is not sexy? "Basic capabilities" How 'bout low level infantry operations. Barely literate guys in trucks and jeeps, with mortars, RPGs, and Assault Rifles.

That's not to say it doesn't get some attention, but by definition - the more complex operations/exercises will demand the talents of your more competent operators and analysts. And that day to day, low-level stuff? Give it to the new guy. Give it to the guy who couldn't handle the more complex targets. You certainly don't assign your "stars" to it. It's considered the drudge work of intelligence collection.

So what happens when you neglect the fundamentals of monitoring your adversary's basic capabilities?

"...Commanders said they were caught off guard by Hizbullah's mastery of anti-tank weapons, mortars and platoon-sized maneuvers...."

Getting "caught off guard" in combat means people die.

Bottom line... Sexy is fun. Sexy is exciting. But don't forget the basics.

UPDATE: I know how this works... but after writing this I can't get rid of the nagging feeling about the C-802 strike on the Israeli SA'AR. CDR Salamander gives an excellent command perspective of the event, but I see it as an intelligence failure. As spooks, we would tell our platform commander that our job was "to help put a missile on them, before they put a missile on us." While the skipper is ultimately accountable for fighting the ship, if I were an Israeli spook I'd have to take my fair share of responsibility on that one. Have the Israeli forces gotten soft?

UPDATE(7/27/06): Over at Counterterrorism there is a quick look analysis of yesterday's engagement at Bint Jubayl. Israelis suffered heavy losses (considering the small units engaged) against well-trained, well-equipped infantry. These terrorists are a new breed. Not guerrillas. Not "resistance." Not state actors. Not amateurs. Whatever they are, they are definitely dangerous. Combine combat effectiveness with a masterful use of propaganda, and you have a truly cabable enemy. Dig in for the long war.

Mudville open post

Sunday, July 16, 2006

AP Culture War Against Honor and Courage

Plenty of other commentators tackled Hollowood's changing Superman's values from "truth, justice and the American way" to "truth, justice, and all that stuff"

It now looks like AP got the same memo. I noticed the line last week in an Associated Press story about how values are taught to American soldiers. It went out over the wire and appeared in papers nationwide. Here's the money quote "But there's another lesson they're taught, one that's rooted in philosophy and old-fashioned values like honor and courage...."

It caught my eye and I asked myself when did honor and courage become "old fashioned?" Well, old fashioned isn't necessarily bad. It could be a stand in phrase for "traditional," or try to imply "good ol' fashioned". After all, they didn't say outmoded or outdated, right?

Then comes the AP story today on Zidane. How about this line "Yet some commentators have been loath to overlook the transgression, seeing in Zidane's act the morality of the vendetta, an outdated sense of honor and sexist machismo."

It wasn't those unnamed "commentators" that the AP is referring to calling Zidane's sense of honor outdated, it's the AP reporter who says that it's outdated.

I don't know who determines what's in style when it comes to core values like honor, courage, commitment.

But if we want to consider the traditional values of honor and courage as being in or out of fashion, then I submit that they're kinda like wingtip shoes. When you were young and saw grownups wearing them, they looked old fashioned. Heavy and clumsy even. At some point though as you grow up, you try them on and find that they're quite comfortable... they are classics. They may get a few scuffs from being used. But they still polish up nicely. They're worth the effort to own. They're good to walk in. They never go out of style.

Head back to Mudville or to my main page

Monday, July 03, 2006

Musings for Independence Day...

I believe that America is great because it started out as an ideal. A vision of something to strive for. In the Declaration of Independence our founders used lofty concepts of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

America is not perfect, for it was and is created by men, but it strives to reach the promise of those perfect rights bestowed by God.

How do I view the ideals...?

The ideal is that government has no rights, only power. Let me say that again. Government has no rights, only power. All rights belong to the people. The people cede power to government to help protect those rights. That's why I think especially harsh punishments should go to those government officials who betray their public trust. We must guard against the arrogance of some in government, lest it turn to tyranny. The government is an agent, a servant of the people, and can never have any rights of its own. Only power.

The ideal is that by working hard, you can get ahead. Whether an immigrant or a poor kid from the trailer park, as Americans we believe that if we work hard enough, we can do better. I wonder if we still tell little kids in school, "you could grow up to be president..." We should. The ideal is that in America government exists to protect the liberty and property of men, so the rewards of your commerce cannot be taken at the whim of a tyrant.

The ideal is that we can worship God freely, that there is not right or wrong way to worship. Of course, as a believer, I know that my way is the truth, but as an American, I feel no special compunction to force that truth upon you. As long as you are similarly motivated, we're good.

The ideal is that we have the freedom to speak. We can say what we want. No one has to listen, and the government certainly shouldn't be made to finance our speech. But they must protect it. Here, as in other places, certain speech may get you labeled as insane. But here, unlike other places, it won't get you thrown in the nuthouse. Even if you truly are insane.

America is an ideal, something to strive for. We may not live up to it all the time, but if the goal were easily achievable, it probably wouldn't be worth much. But it is.

It's hope.
It's bigger than any one of us.
It's still "the last best hope for mankind."

It's worth fighting for.