Archive for the 'Pakistan' Tag

2nd

Wave Theory

May 2011

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The last 14-hrs have been a good one for our side in the long war against Islamic extremism. For over a decade, legion of professionals in and out of uniform have been trying to gather enough information on Osama bin Laden to give our leadership an opportunity to bring him to justice. Especially since 9/11, finding this man has been a career field of its own; success is sweet. This is their moment.

In the first wave after the word came out we have seen euphoria, pride, and thanks to all of those who executed an almost flawless mission. Every individual in this chain of professionals can take pride they truly were part of an important event in this war – and reminded the world again the capabilities of our nation’s military when opportunity meets preparation. No other nation could have done this.

Everyone, I hope, is taking time in their own way to bask in this first wave. From the MIDN at Annapolis, to NYC, to the people on my street who were lighting off fireworks at 1am – it was good to be able to celebrate. Enjoy the wave while you can – for most it will peak this afternoon – after that, we need to ponder the second wave.

The second wave is sober reflection.

As the adrenaline wears off, the coffee kicks in, and the mind starts to sort things out – certain facts should come to the front of the sober mind.

  • Check the Operational Diagram. This is not an end state. This is not a “mission accomplished.” This war is not over. Osama’s death is a decisive point – in a way an inflection point. In both a practical and symbolic manner, his death is a victory for us – but only in the proper context. Osama started a franchise operation. When Ray Kroc passed – McDonalds did not go away. There is much more work to be done – this is no time to rest, as the enemy will not rest.
  • Review your Sun Tsu. Though we can define it in any way we wish – often times you are in a war that is defined by your enemy. He wages war for his own reasons, so you need to recognize that so you know the war you are in. This war did not start with 9/11, and it doesn’t end now. This is not a global war against terror – terror is only a tactic. This is a war of culture, religion, world view, and grievance. This is a war with an enemy working within a decentralized, distributed network of command and control – regenerating, morphing, and regrouping with remarkable effectiveness. Their end state is nothing less than the destruction of your culture and way of life. Some may hope that Osama’s death will roll up terror, but hope isn’t a plan and that isn’t how this war will end. Hopefully we snagged enough paper and electronic records at the compound along with his body that we can roll up a lot of Osama’s organization, but that is like picking crabgrass out of your yard by hand – effective in a fashion, but not a cure. The weeds will come back.
  • From FMJ to Tinfoil. Osama body is now in the possession of Hagfish – yet we need to watch how his legend morphs. Most of his followers live in cultures that are soaked in conspiracy theories. Nothing is as it seems, and behind every clear act there is really a back story of intrigue and deceit. With no body to examine – conspiracies will flourish. Take the JFK assassination industry here and add a couple of decimal points, then you might get close.
  • Face and Payback. Things may tamp down a bit as lower level commanders hit the mattresses to preserve themselves until they know the extent of what we got from the compound. Others may want to get revenge for their commander directly or if they have access, they may pull the trigger on sleeper cells. Hard to know, but we should expect that with the killing of their figurehead – the enemy has an extra motivation to get revenge for losing face. Hope that they are too busy saving themselves to plan external operations in the near future – but be prepared for the fact that they can run operations as well as they did in 9/11 and they are a very patient lot.

There we are. A good day. A great day for our Navy SEALs and their supporting commands in Southwest Asia. It is good to remind others about our reach – this is a good Ref. A.

We also need to give a nod to the Commander in Chief. I am sure he was counseled about Desert One. Some probably advised him to go the route of bombing and cruise missile strikes. He didn’t do that though. Some group in his/our national security team briefed him on what was needed – up close and personal with terminal effect. He approved that action – high risk, high reward. Right call – right outcome.

There is another practical take-away as you get through the second wave – another lesson identified for the professional. Technology has its limits, as do precision/smart weapons. Since Publius Horatius, Spurius Lartius, and Titus Herminius Aquilinus stood at the head of the Pons Sublicius – it has always been a man at arms closing the enemy face to face that makes the difference – everything else is supporting arms. This century it was true with Saddam, his sons, and now Osama.

War is not new. It never has been. It never will be. Tools may change – but the essentials remain.

Celebrate, but prepare.



In the last week there has been a fair bit online likeĀ Chris’s post below about what is being done with the Navy-USMC team now, and elsewhere about what is coming to help with the humanitarian effort in Pakistan. Soft power is a popular topic.

The Department of Defense announced Aug. 13 the deployment of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSG ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU).

The combined Navy and Marine Corps team will leave later this month to bring significant heavy- and medium-lift aircraft and other assets to support flood relief efforts in Pakistan. The Kearsarge ARG/26th MEU’s capabilities will allow sailors and Marines to provide food, water, transportation, and other support, in partnership with the Pakistani military, to those in need.

The group is expected to arrive in the Arabian Sea in late September.

It will be at least six weeks, at the earliest, until initial effects are seen on the ground, so let’s speak to each other as adults.

This effort has everything to do about INFO OPS and STRATCOM, and little about a meaningful contribution to saving lives. That is fine – the argument can be made that this may save lives down the road through impact on the human terrain; but that is an argument, not a fact.

Some people will be helped – but within a standard deviation of the lives that the medical facilities, food, and supplies brought with the ARG could save if it helped on any standard day in Pakistan. Those who have been to AfPac know that even on a good day there is a humanitarian problem that needs what the USN-USMC can bring over the horizon.

Also remember that Pakistan is an incredibly poor country of ~175 million souls. For the rest of the life of our republic, every ARG/MEU deployment could go to the coast of Pakistan, and every day you could read, “... civilians from the town of XXXX are gathered inside a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter which has come to deliver humanitarian assistance and pick up victims …

A nation could go broke and a military worn out attempting to fix what cannot be fixed in any sustainable way by an ARG/MEU.

That stated, the ability to conduct humanitarian assistance has a long and honorable history in the US military and has its place. Taking six-weeks to help people suffering from water-born disease and lack of medical care is a long time to “help” save lives. Most who are in danger of dying now will be dead by the time the ARG/MEU gets there. On the extreme margins, we can help a few – but is that “our” job to save every soul in danger across the world? A Pakistani whose village is much better off than the homeless refugees of Darfur who are walking among the uncounted dead. Where, and at what cost-point, do you say, “enough.” When do the actions of a Republic start to look like the duties of an Empire?

If we are to do this, then we should do it better. More pre-positioned capabilities would be nice – so would strategic lift capable LTA assets (don’t laugh at Lighter-Than-Air when it comes to moving more tonnage than a C-17, faster than a ship, deliverable almost anywhere in a permissive environment). We don’t have that asset because like Command Ships, they aren’t sexy and therefor don’t get funded – so we have what we have.

There is a more fundamental question though. Do we want to be able to do this within means and capabilities – which is what we are doing now – or as a primary mission area? If you want to make it a PMA, then you will need to fund it. Cost it out and tell me what you will trade to be able to do this …. and then make the argument of the actual good you will derive from it.

Remember, at best – this helps the INFO OPS/Strategic Messaging efforts. We are talking about Pakistan. The delta in lives saved vs. the control sample is not that great. Just know that you are not doing “good” here – you are at best trying to buy good will – but really, how much good will?

The counter argument – and one made coldly – has two parts:
- This is like watering the desert. You can pour gallons on water on the desert – but if you don’t continue to do it on a regular basis, you soon end up where you started. No green shoots; just sand and lost money.
- How much good will did our efforts in Somalia in the early ’90s or the Pakistani earthquake half a decade ago accrue? How is that working for us?

It is not a mature intellectual exercise to do things with blood and treasure just to make ourselves feel good. Theory is just that – theory – without metrics to back it up. Given the spotty track record of these things in the last couple of decades – and in a period where we must learn to be careful with our funding – besides nice photo-ops and feeling good about ourselves, what are we getting for our effort?



Since July, monsoon rains have caused heavy flooding in many areas of Pakistan. The United Nations estimates more than 20 million people are affected. In response the disaster, the United States has launched a civilian and military relief effort in the country. As part of that effort, US military fixed and rotary wing aircraft are ferrying people and supplies to and from the flood zone. Below are thirteen photos from that military response.

Please consider donating to the NGO flood relief effort here or elsewhere.

Caption: Amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu and amphibious transport dock ship USS Dubuque steam off the coast of Pakistan in the early stages of supporting the Pakistani government and military with heavy lift capabilities to bring relief to those affected in flooded regions of Pakistan. Peleliu and Dubuque are a part of Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Dunlap.

Caption: A forklift with bags of humanitarian assistance is loaded by Pakistani workers into a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter that has arrived to take over the flight role from the U.S. Army in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the flood victims as part of the disaster recovery effort in Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, Aug. 13. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: Pakistani Air Force members help unload thousands of Halal meals from a U.S. Air Force C-130H at Peshawar, Pakistan, Aug. 1, 2010. The meals will go to Pakistanis affected by the floods that have devastated the region. The C-130H is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz.

Caption: Pakistani Air Force members help unload thousands of Halal meals from a U.S. Air Force C-130H at Peshawar, Pakistan, Aug. 1, 2010. The meals will go to Pakistanis affected by the floods that have devastated the region. The C-130H is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz.

Caption: Pakistan civilians from the town of Kalam are gathered inside a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter which has come to deliver humanitarian assistance and pick up victims of the flood, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly North West Frontier province), Pakistan, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: A member of the Pakistan military points in the direction to where the passengers from the U.S. Army Chinook helicopter need to go after being delivered to the town of Khwazakhela from the flooding, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly North West Frontier province), Pakistan, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: A Pakistani military member assists a man and child during the evacuation process to board a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter to the town of Khwazakhela, during the flood recovery effort in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, Aug. 11. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: Pakistan men from the town of Kalam form a chain to quickly unload a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter that has delivered humanitarian assistance and pick up victims of the flood, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly North West Frontier province), Pakistan, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: Pakistan men from the town of Kalam carry a bags of flour, while they unload a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter which has come to deliver humanitarian assistance and pick up victims of the flood, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly North West Frontier province), Pakistan, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: A little girl from who is evacuated from the town of Kalam wears a set of headphones to reduce the loud aircraft sound aboard a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter which has come to deliver humanitarian assistance and pick up victims of the flood, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly North West Frontier province), Pakistan, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: U.S. Army Sgt. Kristopher Perkins, a Chinook crew chief with Company B, Task Force Raptor, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon, holds a child in his lap after picking up 114 Pakistan victims during flood relief missions, Aug. 11, out of the Swat valley, Pakistan. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith.

Caption: A U.S. Army Chinook helicopter flies over the flood affected area in Pakistan on a return flight from delivering hummanitarin assistance and evacuating personnel to the town of Khwazakhela, as part of the flood recovery effort in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, Aug. 11. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.

Caption: A Chinook helicopter waits at the end of the hangar holding supplies for disaster relief due to flooding, Ghazi base, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, Aug. 7. Photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray.



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