Military and defense

4th Generation Warfare

The Israel-Lebanon Conflict has created tons of good discussion on geopolitics and warfare. This little nugget by William S. Lind caught my eye and indicates why states have so much trouble attacking terrorism and guerrilla warfare:

But his alternative, at least for a rollback force, includes privatizing the fighting function. The problem with this is that as the state privatizes security functions, for foreign wars or here at home, it strikes at its own reason for being and thus accelerates its crisis of legitimacy, which lies at the heart of 4GW. Once security is privatized, why have a state at all?

Conveniently, private armies have a long history of overthrowing states. There is good reason why the rising state of the 17th century abolished private armies and forcefully asserted a monopoly on violence.

John Robb’s weblog moves

I’ve been reading John Robb’s work for a while now since I came across the excellent Global Guerrillas, his web site on 4th Generation Warfare. His daily blog posting are excellent as well since he’s always picking up on significant trends and happenings. Anyway, he’s got a new blog hosted on Typepad. Until he moves his older posts you can read them here.

Food for thought: pain weapons

I was just reading a little blurb at BoingBoing that had to do with plasma-based, non-lethal weaponry that the US government is working on. They have been developing non-lethal weapons for some time, sticky sprays that glom onto adversaries, high-powered stink bombs to drive away crowds, directed energy weapons that cause intense pain (euphemistically called Active Denial Systems), etc.

In a Clausewitz-ian sense, it illustrates that the true objective of nation-state warfare is about control and establishing authority rather than destruction and violence, even if violence is used to gain those objectives. Non-lethal weaponry also provides arguable benefit for those seeking authority via force:

  1. Diminishes outrage at civilian casualties due to non-lethal means of coercion. This prevents using these casualties as justifications for violent opposition or revenge.
  2. Insulates armed-forces from internal problems of conscience due to diminished deadly violence.
  3. Non-lethal force can be applied widely and with less discrimination.
  4. Negates the effectiveness of mass gathering or “protests”. Dispersal is effective and immediate.
  5. Forces who use non-lethal weaponry can cloak themselves under a non-violent moralism. In other words, occupation forces would draw a moral distinction between themselves and armed insurgents.

Propaganda claims

Eventually, the Iraqis will eject the Americans from their country. The fact is, they live there and we don’t, so victory will eventually be theirs. Until then, it’s just a stalemate. I think it’s ironic when the Americans make claims against the other side’s propaganda since there has never been a more media-aware American military intervention. I found the following passage revealing:

One key reason to take Fallujah hospital early was likely to control information: The facility was the main source of Iraqi death tolls during the first U.S. siege of Fallujah in April, and U.S. commanders accused doctors there of exaggerating numbers.

The U.S military said Monday that insurgents had been in control of Fallujah General Hospital — located on the west bank of the Euphrates — and were “forcing the doctors there to release propaganda and false information.”

The media has lauded the ‘capture’ of the Fallujah hospital as a win for the Iraqis fighting “shoulder to shoulder” with the Americans, specifically this refers to Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion. The Americans use the brown-skins to put an “Iraqi face” on the assault on Fallujah. Who are the 36th Commando Battalion?

“The 36th was originally known as the ‘political battalion,'”
he said. That’s because it was formed from the militias of five major
political groups in Iraq: Iyad Alwai’s Iraq National Accord (INA), Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which backs Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and the two main Kurdish groups, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). About 110 soldiers were originally culled from each group.

This group isn’t representative of Iraq. They are splinter groups who have an interest in gaining more power in Iraq. When you have 10,000 American soldiers and a few hundred Iraqi mercenaries leading the assault, it’s clear who’s in charge. More importantly, it’s clear that the Americans do not have the support of the Iraqi people on the ground.

Bin Ladin’s Former ‘Bodyguard’ Interviewed on Al-Qa’ida Strategies

Bin Ladin’s Former ‘Bodyguard’ Interviewed on Al-Qa’ida Strategies via

(Abu-Jandal) Most of my answers were on Al-Qa’ida ideology and structure and why it deals in this way. The answers were to the point. They used to put forth rather strange questions. One question said: As far as we are concerned, 80 percent of what you said is true, but does Al-Qa’ida have chemical plants and nuclear weapons? I recall that my answer to them was that Usama Bin Ladin has a weapon that is far superior to all the US weapons. What is this weapon, the asked? I told them: “Among the believers are men, who have been true to their covenant to God: of them some have completed their vow (to the extreme), and some (still) wait: But they have never changed (their determination) in the least.” (Koranic verse) The US arsenal is full of weapons, but it does not have the men.

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Understanding group behavior and strategies of ants and terrorists, via Defensetech. Global Guerrillas: STIGMERGIC LEARNING AND GLOBAL GUERRILLAS

Allawi and martial law

There has been increasing talk of Allawi declaring martial law in parts of Iraq. In the following Christian Science Monitor article it states that: “the Iraqi government has repeatedly postponed its unveiling, because of US concerns that it grants Mr. Allawi too much power.”

On the contrary, It seems rather obvious that the US would have liked to have declared martial law itself and only refrained from doing so to prevent any negative consequences with regards to its already battered image as Iraq’s occupier. The hand-wringing over giving Allawi too much power is disingenuous. The US simply did not want to impose martial law themselves.

But other Iraqis reject the idea of martial law, seeing it as an extension of the US-led occupation and a reprise of Saddam Hussein’s regime. “If there is martial law, there will be arbitrary searches and arrests,” says Abu Ghayeb al-Kubaisi, a chicken farmer. “They will use the excuse of fighting terrorism or national security. If someone has an enemy, he will use that as a pretext for getting this person arrested.”

Mr. Kubaisi had just spent three hours at a checkpoint on Baghdad’s outskirts. A resident of Ramadi – a prime candidate for martial law – he described baking in the 120-degree sun while Iraqi troops held him at the checkpoint. “I think they took them to Egypt and Israel to teach them Israeli methods,” he says with disgust. (Egypt has been under emergency law since 1981).

Indeed, in many Arab countries, emergency laws, once declared, have dragged on for years or decades. “Emergency rule is often the Achilles heel of Arab constitutional systems,” says Nathan Brown, an expert on Arab legal systems at George Washington University in Washington. “In many countries, emergency rule becomes a permanent state that allows rulers to bypass the constitutional order completely.”

Indo-American dogfighting

Interesting entry from the ever informative

The whole world knows that if you mess with U.S. Air Force pilots, you’re going down. Hard.

Except, someone forgot to send the memo to India, apparently. Because, in recent exercises, Indian flyboys in low-tech Russian and French jets defeated American F-15C pilots more than 90 percent of the time.

Pentagon Seeks U.S. Spy Powers

From Wired.


Interesting interview with Vincent Cannistraro on some of the background events of the 1980’s and terrorism from Frontline.