Friday, January 16, 2009

The Finer Points of Warfare: archive

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CNN: "Secret killing program is key in Iraq, Woodward says"

The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward. (...) The program -- which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb -- must remain secret for now or it would "get people killed (...) "It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have," Woodward said.

In "The War Within: Secret White House History 2006-2008," Woodward disclosed the existence of secret operational capabilities developed by the military to locate, target and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent leaders. National security adviser Stephen Hadley, in a written statement reacting to Woodward's book, acknowledged the new strategy. Yet he disputed Woodward's conclusion that the "surge" of 30,000 U.S. troops into Iraq was not the primary reason for the decline in violent attacks. "It was the surge that provided more resources and a security context to support newly developed techniques and operations," Hadley wrote. (...) >>>

Updated: 10th Sep 2008

Slate: "An Army of Ones and Zeroes - How I became a soldier in the Georgia-Russia cyberwar,"As Russian and Georgian troops fight on the ground, there's a parallel war happening in cyberspace. In recent weeks, Georgia's government Web sites have been besieged by denial-of-service attacks and acts of vandalism. Just like in traditional warfare, there's a lot of confusion about what's going on in this technological battle—nobody seems to know whether this is a centralized Russian attack, the work of a loose band of hackers, or something else. Having read so many contradicting accounts, I knew that the only reliable way to find out what was really happening was to enlist in the Russian digital army myself. (...) In less than an hour, I had become an Internet soldier. I didn't receive any calls from Kremlin operatives; nor did I have to buy a Web server or modify my computer in any significant way. (...) My experiment also might shed some light on why the recent cyberwar has been so hard to pin down and why no group in particular has claimed responsibility. Paranoid that the Kremlin's hand is everywhere, we risk underestimating the great patriotic rage of many ordinary Russians, who, having been fed too much government propaganda in the last few days, are convinced that they need to crash Georgian Web sites. Many Russians undoubtedly went online to learn how to make mischief, as I did. Within an hour, they, too, could become cyberwarriors. >>>
Times Online: "Russian fighting machine is showing its age, say military analysts"

Pictures of triumphant Russian soldiers sitting on armoured personnel carriers as they were driven through towns in Georgia (...) were so lightly armed and so uncomfortable and hot to sit in that the Russian soldiers felt safer perched on top. (...) For an invading force from what used to be a military superpower, Russia's 58th Army did not look like a modern fighting unit. Victory came as a result of overwhelming numerical superiority and a textbook Soviet-style strategy based on detailed planning that leaves little room for flexibility. It was shock and awe by force of numbers, rather than by precision-guided weapons. (...) >>>

Updated: 22nd Aug. 2008

Black Five: "Inside Baseball: On Clausewitz"

One of the longstanding disputes among people who spend their lives thinking about war is the continuing utility of Von Clausewitz's On War. In Armed Forces Journal, Phillip S. Meilinger takes the anti-Clausewitz position. Our friend COL David Maxwell, US Special Forces, currently the G3 for USASOC, writes to defend Clausewitz's continued position at the head of the reading list. I have his permission to publish his comments. My own thoughts are that the AFJ article raises some excellent points as re: non-Western societies motivations towards warfare. Yet COL Maxwell is right: the answers aren't in Clausewitz, but in learning to think about war. In the learning to think about the issues Clausewitz raises, as with a few other classics, you develop skills that will serve you well. I have found him tremendously useful in the current conflict, tribal though much of it has been. But read the arguments for yourselves, in the extended entry (...) >>>

Updated: 6th Aug. 2008

American Thinker: "Iran and the Lessons of Dunkirk," by Steve Feinstein

In early May 1940, less than a year after the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, Germany turned its attention to Western Europe with a vengeance. German armed forces -- utilizing their newly-perfected Blitzkrieg tactics of tank attacks coordinated with tactical air support -- smashed through the "Low Countries" of Holland and Belgium, and completed an end-run into the heart of France around its defensive Maginot Line. The heavily-fortified Line had been constructed after World War I and was supposed to keep France safe from any future German attack. However, the Line failed miserably (...) Military history is rife with examples of air power alone not being able to achieve the ultimate victory. Several factors need to be in place before air power can be utilized to its greatest effect (...) Dunkirk proved that when the attacking force lacks two out of three success factors, the mission fails. The US and Israel proved in 1945 and 1981 that when all three conditions are satisfied, the mission succeeds. The lesson of being "3 for 3" is one that military planners-- and any new American administration-need to understand completely. (...) >>>

Updated: 27th July 2008

Middle East Forum: "My Pentagon Years"

Douglas J. Feith was undersecretary of defense for policy in the Bush administration (2001-05), and is a professor of national security policy at Georgetown University. He previously served in several capacities in the Reagan administration. His articles on foreign and defense affairs have appeared in the Middle East Quarterly as well as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Commentary. He was educated at Georgetown University and Harvard College.

The Middle East Forum presented Douglas J. Feith in a discussion of his new book, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism (HarperCollins), a chronicle of his experiences as undersecretary of defense for policy in the Bush administration between 2001 and 2005. In this position, he formulated policy through critical stages of the wars in Iraq and against radical Islam. Feith began by articulating some of the thoughts developed by policymakers in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 attack. "In my book, I'm looking at the development of a strategy for the war on terrorism, and if one is going to understand that it is useful to go back and capture the frame of mind that we had as a country, and specifically that the policy makers had within the administration right after the attack."

Feith pointed out that President Bush's description of the situation right after 9-11 as a "war" was a significant break with previous U.S. policy. The standard response, for decades, was to have the FBI arrest the perpetrators, prosecute, and punish them. In his book, Feith chronicles how the administration crafted a strategy to fight a war against an amorphous enemy that was not only hard to locate, but hard to define. His thesis is that the U.S. "developed a proper apprehension of the threat and a good strategy," and that "the administration has done a better job of conceiving the strategy and executing it than talking about it." Indeed, the administration's failure was in explaining and justifying this strategy to the U.S. and the world, which is one of several major criticisms of the administration Feith makes in his book (...) >>>

Updated: 23rd July 2008

The nuts and bolts of sniping in a "" slideshow ...

Updated: 14th Mar, 2008


CNN: "U.S. deficient against Muslim insurgents, study says"

The U.S. military is seriously deficient in meeting "the threat of Islamist insurgencies," says a Pentagon-commissioned study released Monday. The Rand Corp. report characterizes "U.S. military intervention and occupation in the Muslim world" as "at best inadequate, at worst counter-productive, and, on the whole, infeasible." The Pentagon asked the nonprofit research organization to review strategies to thwart insurgents. (...) >>>

Updated: 11th Feb. 2008

Politeia: "The Transatlantic Gulf of Soft and Hardware"

(...) Since Robert Kagan's book "Of Paradise and Power" we better understand the psychological mechanism that says that if you have a hammer, you happen see a whole lot of nails. (...) the missions' aims often overemphasize peace related activities: development aspects and civil engineering projects, rendering highly trained military personnel a sort of hybrids between boy scouts and development workers. Another problem is evidently, in order to have peace, the war first needs to be won, which - heaven forbid - might even involve killing some terrorists! Those that do fully engage in winning that war, are viewed upon as bloodthirsty cowboys. This attitude constitutes supporting the troops. (...) >>>

Updated: 16th Jan. 2008

Politeia: "The Fable of the Water Buffalo and the Sparrow", by Dr Sam C. Holliday

While the 'Fable of the Knife' contains a useful lesson (...) we hope they will help others neutralize the global Islamic revisionist movement, known as the Third Jihad. >>>

Updated: 23rd Nov. 2007

Politeia: "The Fable of the Knife", by Dr Sam C. Holliday

(...) we must not forget the ‘Fable of the Knife’. Future hirabahists (Islamic extremists who kill the innocent) will surely remember it. >>>

Updated: 3rd November 2007

New York Post: "No Nightmare - Why 'Surge' is Working", by Pete Hegseth

... the new U.S. strategy has changed the facts on the grounds. ... what the critics failed to see was that >>>

Updated: 23rd Oct. 2007

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