Archive for January, 2012

Early report and not much in the way of details, but there is this from NATO Shipping Center Daily Piracy Update:

The M/V LIQUID VELVET, the previously pirated vessel that may have been used as a mothership, was disrupted by naval Counter Piracy forces in the evening of 10 January. This mothership is no longer considered a threat to merchant shipping.

RN Lynx helicopter

I expect more details will be forthcoming.

Should be interesting reading.

UPDATE: Looks like a blocking move by a Royal Navy force as set out here:

RFA Fort Victoria

Fort Victoria, which is operating as part of Nato’s Operation Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean, cut off the vessel’s progress when it was 90 miles from the coastline and forced it to return to Somalia.

Fort Victoria approached the Liquid Velvet under cover of darkness, before circling the vessel at speed. The ship’s Lynx helicopter was also used. Fort Victoria then followed Liquid Velvet as she retreated towards Somalia.



The Hack on STRATFOR

January 2012


As most of you are probably aware, STRATFOR was attacked by hackers in December. There is a bit more to the story than has been reported thus far, and it has some lessons and implications I think are relevant to the Institute and the online community of which we are all a part. In this post, I will simply share the words of the person most able to tell that story, our CEO.

By George Friedman

In early December I received a call from Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president of intelligence. He told me he had received information indicating our website had been hacked and our customer credit card and other information had been stolen. The following morning I met with an FBI special agent, who made clear that there was an ongoing investigation and asked for our cooperation. We, of course, agreed to cooperate. The matter remains under active investigation.

From the beginning I faced a dilemma. I felt bound to protect our customers, who quickly had to be informed about the compromise of their privacy. I also felt bound to protect the investigation. That immediate problem was solved when the FBI told us it had informed the various credit card companies and had provided those companies with a list of compromised cards while omitting that it had come from us. Our customers were therefore protected, as the credit card companies knew the credit cards and other information had been stolen and could act to protect the customers. We were not compelled to undermine the investigation.

The FBI made it clear that it expected the theft to be exposed by the hackers. We were under no illusion that this was going to be kept secret. We knew our reputation would be damaged by the revelation, all the more so because we had not encrypted the credit card files. This was a failure on our part. As the founder and CEO of Stratfor, I take responsibility for this failure, which has created hardship for customers and friends, and I deeply regret that it took place. The failure originated in the rapid growth of the company. As it grew, the management team and administrative processes didn’t grow with it. Again, I regret that this occurred and want to assure everyone that Stratfor is taking aggressive steps to deal with the problem and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

From the beginning, it was not clear who the attackers were. The term “Anonymous” is the same as the term “unknown.” The popular vision of Anonymous is that its members are young and committed to an ideology. I have no idea if this is true. As in most affairs like this, those who know don’t talk; those who talk don’t know. I have my theories, which are just that and aren’t worth sharing.

I was prepared for the revelation of the theft and the inevitable criticism and negative publicity. We worked to improve our security infrastructure within the confines of time and the desire to protect the investigation by not letting the attackers know that we knew of their intrusion. With the credit card information stolen, I assumed that the worst was done. I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by nhughes in Cyber | 12 Comments







Ya-Hussayn. Photo: U.S. Navy

Last week the VBSS team from the USS Kidd (DDG 100) boarded the Al Molai, an Iranian flagged fishing dhow, and freed a 13-man Iranian crew. The 15 pirates, ‘suspected pirates’, were using the dhow, ‘allegedly’, to conduct mother-ship operations in the Indian Ocean.

At the sight of the SH-60s and the mighty warship Kidd, the pirates decided discretion was the better part of valor and threw their weapons overboard and surrendered at once. Images taken after the boarding show an extremely grateful Iranian crew hugging American sailors and being sent on their way with USS Kidd ballcaps, water, food, and a smile.

Yesterday, there was yet another story of American vigilance and courage at sea as US Coast Guard cutter Monomoy saved six Iranian mariners from their disabled dhow, the Ya-Hussayn, in the North Arabian Gulf.

According to a statement from George Little, Pentagon Press Secretary, the Monomoy’s attention was alerted by flares and flashlight at 3am (local) from the crew of the Ya-Hussayn. The engine room was flooding and things were going south fast, said the dhow’s master, “without your help, we were dead.”

Of course Iranian “news agencies”, are reporting these incidents are mere U.S. propaganda.

High stakes theater or not, as Iran threatens to block Hormuz Strait, Washington is pushing right back on Tehran in all the right places…and while it’s unlikely that the effects of sanctions will have the desired result of turning the Iranian people against Khamenei, it might set the conditions for the necessary Persian Gulf two step that is about to ensue.

Does Tehran really want a conventional surface warfare showdown in the Indian Ocean or Persian Gulf?

No matter the affects of sanctions on the true sentiment (and living conditions) of the people on Valiasr Street (and it will affect them), I have to think that the institutional memory from the 1987/88 tanker wars remain and the Admiralty surely wishes to avoid a conventional surface engagement with any grey hull in 5th Fleet.

But then again, ‘unlikely’ battles are often begun with the inverse of just that logic. Cannons fire when we operate under the assumption that prudence, institutional memory and history have any real leverage over politics, emotion, and cynical, desperate fear mongers with too much power and too little time.


Always a Marine

January 2012


“Seamus” Garrahy described himself as “the luckiest Corporal in the Marine Corps”. Perhaps, but those who got to meet him were truly the fortunate ones. Corporal Garrahy was a very successful businessman and a beloved member of his community in Gettysburg, PA. But what he was most of all was a Marine, through and through. His “steaks and beers” get-togethers at the end of the Wounded Warriors Bike Ride were the stuff of legend.

While I was at an Army war game a few years ago at Carlisle Barracks, I heard of the Bike Ride and “steaks and beers” event at the finish line, at the home of a local Marine. I assumed he had been a fairly senior dude, or at least a retired Marine. But no, I was told, he was a Vietnam Vet, got out after his enlistment as a Corporal. But, I was also told, he retained his lifelong love of the Corps, and to show his appreciation to those who suffered wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan, hosted the post-Bike Ride bash at his beautiful home in Gettysburg. I was given permission to skip out of half a day at the war game to watch the finish of the race, so I drove from Carlisle to Gettysburg, and watched the Marines cross the finish line. The sight of those Marines who had lost limbs, or eyes, or bore other scars from their wounds, riding to the finish of the hundred-mile race, was definitely worth the trip.

At the “steak and beer” event, I had the opportunity to meet and shake hands with the most gracious host, a personable and outgoing man named Seamus. I thanked him for his generosity in providing what was an absolutely incredible spread. As we chatted briefly, he mentioned that he could not begin to repay the debt he owed to those Marines who had paid such a price for their country and their Corps. I found myself humbled in the presence of so many Marines who had overcome such wounds and pain to ride the race, but also humbled by a man like Seamus whose selflessness and kindness to his Marine brethren knew no bounds.

This morning, I read the news at BlackFive that Corporal Garrahy had passed away. He’d had a long fight with bone cancer, one which I am certain he waged with the same courage and spirit that marked his life.

James L. “Seamus” Garrahy, 70, 30 Plank Road, Gettysburg, PA died Monday, January 9, 2012 at his home.

He was born June 29, 1941 in Chicago, IL the son of the late John R. and Marie Lydon Garrahy. He is survived by his wife Linda Bell.

Jim was a veteran of the US Marine Corps and remained active in Marine affairs for the rest of his life. Through the years he has hosted thousands of active and retired veterans at his home in what had become known as “Steaks and Beers”. Seamus has also for the last five years hosted the finish line and post race event for the “Face of America – Wounded Warriors Bike Ride”.

A Memorial Service and celebration of Seamus life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, 825 College Blvd, Suite 102, Oceanside, CA 92057 or the Adams County SPCA, 11 Goldenville Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325.

Semper Fidelis, Corporal Garrahy. And thank you for the way you lived and how you served. The Corps mourns deeply the loss of one of us.


Since the President’s Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense came out last week, a lot has been written, pontificated, pondered, positioned, and puffed about it. A little bit of light, but a lot of heat too. Some don’t like it at all – some like me are, well, shrugable about it. This is in many ways a call to action for DoN. Let me explain.

This isn’t doctrinally perfect – but it is workable. Like all broad documents, it is the actions that follow that are important – and what money Congress decides to allocate in defense bills that follow. I go in to a little more detail over at my home blog, but let’s take some pull quotes that seem to nod toward the Sea Services the most and ponder them here.

There is nothing shocking in the document, but there is plenty “see Ref. A” quotes for people to use. For instance:

For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.

“… monitoring … activities … worldwide;” “ungoverned territories;” “striking the most dangerous groups;” – what is the best tool the National Command Authority can use to do this? A little USAF – but that is a Navy and Marine Corps core competency. We can sell that soap.

There are echos of what regular readers of USNI’s Proceedings have already read and internalized….

Across the globe we will seek to be the security partner of choice, pursuing new partnerships with a growing number of nations .– including those in Africa and Latin America .– whose interests and viewpoints are merging into a common vision of freedom, stability, and prosperity. Whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives, relying on exercises, rotational presence, and advisory capabilities. The United States will continue to lead global efforts with capable allies and partners to assure access to and use of the global commons, both by strengthening international norms of responsible behavior and by maintaining relevant and interoperable military capabilities.

Buy Fords not Ferraris sound familiar to anyone? CAPT Hendrix; call your office.

What about the Primary Mission Areas outlined in the document? Can you argue with these?

  • Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare
  • Deter and Defeat Aggression
  • Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges
  • Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Operate Effectively in Cyberspace and Space
  • Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent
  • Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities
  • Provide a Stabilizing Presence
  • Conduct Stability and Counterinsurgency Operations
  • Conduct Humanitarian, Disaster Relief, and Other Operations

Well, of course you can; the order and emphasis may be different, but Rummy or Dick Cheney could have put that list out.

If you want to be parochial about it – out of the 10, at least half are over 51% DoN, and none less than 30% DoN. Time to get you’re A-game running Navy.

… We will resist the temptation to sacrifice readiness in order to retain force structure, and will in fact rebuild readiness in areas that, by necessity, were deemphasized over the past decade.

That has Navy written all over it – especially our amphibious capabilities. It nods as well to ASW, AAW, and ASUW, as those are the core of what was deemphasized over the last decade. If you don’t agree – look at the #3 PMA.

There is more in the document. If you have not yet, get a cup of coffee, send the phone to voice mail and give it a read. It is less than 20 pages with big fonts and plenty of white space.

Going forward, if we are willing to engage with the challenge, this sets the foundation for a lot of positive creative friction. This is a great opportunity for us to make hard choices, get lean, and set proper priorities – things we didn’t do well in the fat years. It is of little use to cry and scream at the darkness that is our budgetary and political environment; light a candle. If you think more money is coming; you are intellectually lost.

To get this right in the reality we have, we need an open, loud, sharp-elbows, and thick skin discussion of the pros and cons of different courses of action, policies, systems, platforms, and accepted norms.

A2/AD, “Influence Squadrons,” Asian focus, rebuilding neglected readiness areas – these are all Navy areas. We need to embrace them and lean in to the President’s challenge. Less money is always less fun – but it can also bring rewards if you take advantage of the opportunities it can present.

There is work to be done.

I ate lunch yesterday with my life-coach, Mason. At 87 he’s as quick as a whip and a walking encyclopedia of life-knowledge. He’s also a Marine. Entrepreneur. Dear friend. He is now and always has been – in magnificent Robert Service fashion – le grand aventurier.

Central to lunch are broad ranging narratives told in an absolutely artful and entertaining way. Mason weaves moralizing stories with life lessons and humor and wisdom and humility. And for me, learning occurs as it did for the ancients and for our American ancestors – by listening and asking questions and being asked questions and by thinking. In this way Mason is the anti-internet. And I sort of love that more than anything else.

(No technology will ever be able to replace the experience of the story told through war-weary eyes.)

Mason and I talked about pretty much everything, as we always do. But near the end, over coffee, we talked about courage.

Mason told me that what we needed so desperately in this country was teamwork. Teamwork in business. Teamwork in our families. Teamwork in our politics. Teamwork in all we do. And I agreed.

“You might not change the world,” he said (referring to those of my generation who were willing to exhibit courage and promote teamwork), “but you sure as hell can make a difference.”

“What if that difference could indeed inspire change that would affect the world?” I asked, in a Jobbsian tone.

He smiled, as if to tell me that he knew that it could. And then we talked about the importance of the entrepreneur.

All day and into the night I thought about veteran entrepreneurs of the past, like Mason, and I wondered about the veteran entrepreneurs of the present. I thought about how much these men and women sacrificed to defend their country and now continue to sacrifice in starting their companies. And I found that relationship to be an elegant one.

But can the veteran entrepreneur make a difference? Does it promote the social good? Can the veteran entrepreneur make a real difference that can inspire change that can affect the world?

Based on the example of these four Naval Academy graduates and veteran entrepreneurs, I think that it just might…

Jake Harriman founded Nuru International, a company dedicated to ending terrorism by eradicating extreme poverty. Jake served in the infantry and Force Recon and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor. After graduating from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, he formed Nuru and has been working tirelessly in East Africa ever since.

Learn about Jake’s story here…

Jake’s story is inspiring and his message transformative. The work his company does each day educates and saves lives. Nuru is perhaps the most inspiring example of the veteran entrepreneur leveraging courage and teamwork to start a company that truly makes a difference to the world.

But I’m sure Jake would agree that making a difference starts small…

Bullets2Bandages ( was formed by two of my classmates Erik Spalding and Cole Evans. After leaving the Navy as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officers they launched a company that created a fashionable line of bullet jewelry created from demilitarized bullets and decorative dog tags.

Their vision is to turn an instrument of harm into a symbol of hope and healing.

A dedicated amount of the company’s proceeds go to specific programs that directly help our veterans. The Veteran’s Village of San Diego and the Travis Manion Foundation (named after our fallen classmate-hero-warrior Travis Manion).

Spalding told the Huffington Post: “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the country I grew up in. I’ve traveled all over the world and the unique thing about America is the opportunities are endless. But with that comes responsibility for those who are successful to reinvest in our country. I wanted to do something for domestic nonprofits. For us to continue to be in this country, we need to reinvest in our country. We were leaders in the military, now we want to be leaders in the civilian sector and create awareness for veterans. It’s kind of hard sometimes when you get out. Some people might be physically disabled, and some might have mental issues. A third of all homeless people are veterans. Some are sleeping on the streets tonight and that just doesn’t sit right with me. There are all these different challenges of changing into civilian life, and we just want to help along that process and be a leader for that in business.”

And there are more and more examples out there that I’m hearing about each week. Another classmate of mine, Nick Karnaze (pictured left), has started an incredible company that will bring stabilization solutions to high risk environments…

Nick cofounded The Stabilization Group with Mike Schraft a former USAID Development Officer and Air Force veteran. They are pioneering the use of Expeditionary Stabilization Teams (ESTs) designed to rapidly insert into pre-conflict, conflict, and crisis regions working at the grassroots level utilizing full-spectrum,population centric micro-economic developmentcapacity building training, civil society and local governance development as means of targeted stabilization. Seems to me like they’ll have their hands full as the landscape of the post-9/11 decade will no doubt be one of dangerous uncertainties and complex problems that will no doubt require their sort of business solutions.

And I’m aware of other innovative businesses that have launched as well – such as one that will teach veterans how to run for office in order to promote the election of individuals of sound character and proven leadership experience serving this country in war. And there’s more. Many more.

Does the veteran entrepreneur promote the social good? Can the veteran entrepreneur make a real difference that can inspire change that can affect the world?

If Cole, Jake, Erik, Nick and others like them are any indicator, the answer is decidedly ‘yes’ as a new generation of civic minded businessmen are about to make a big bang in corporate America.

And that’s a story I know Mason will like to tell.

Today at 5pm Eastern (U.S.), it’s a special anniversary show! Join us at Midrats Episode 105 for a sort of a cocktail party conversation.Or, as CDR Salamander put it:

Yes friends, believe it or not we are on our 105th episode!

Two years behind us, and a third in front. Though we already have some great guests lined up in the upcoming weeks, as a way of saying thanks to everyone for tuning in, for our 2nd Anniversary show we are going to try something a little different – we are going to turn the tables on ourselves.

This time, it is our friends, listeners and regular guests who will get to ask the questions and visit for awhile.

What would you like the hosts to talk about? Is there a topic you would like us to address that we don’t? Well here is your chance.

Look at the top of the showpage – that’s our call in number.

Remember, click here to join in the fun.

Posted by Mark Tempest in Podcasts | No Comments

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