Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ambassador Eikenberry Should be Fired For Not Supporting Military Effort in Afghanistan

The Director of the Warrior Legacy Institute and a former Special Forces Soldier has called for the replacement of Mr. Eikenberry - the current U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.  Mr. Eikenberry - during two tours in Afghanistan as a general officer had an unremarkable record.  Now he has come out against the Community Defense Initiative (CDI) which is one of the most dramatic and promising efforts to take place in Afghanistan.  He clearly is out of his league.  In 2002-2003 he was in charge of establishing the Afghan Army.  The process was painfully slow and he as the director of that endeavor failed miserably.  Now the Obama administration has made him one of the point men for the State Department in Afghanistan.  Read more on this topic in "More tough policy decisions", The Washington Times, January 27, 2010.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Special Forces in Afghanistan Segment to Air on CBS 60 Minutes - Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 7 p.m.

CBS 60 Minutes will air a segment on the U.S. Army Special Forces effort to train Afghan commandos.  The program will air on Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.  The news team spent time with an A-team from the 7th Special Forces Group in Afghanistan.  Read more about this program at the link below.

Private Security to Defeat Somali Pirates

Many commercial shipping firms are now evaluating the use of private security forces on board ships to protect crew, cargo and ships while transiting waters near Somalia.  Read more in "Shippers Mull Private Security against Somali Pirates", World Politics Review, January 27, 2010.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More Special Forces to Yemen

The Pentagon is sending more Special Forces teams to Yemen to help train up the counter terror forces in that country.  Read more in "Pentagon to Send More Special Forces Troops to Yemen", The Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2010.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DynCorp International is Criticized for Iraqi Police Training Contract

The Special Inspector General for Iraqi reconstruction has criticized DynCorp International for its implementation of the Iraqi police training contract.  Read more here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Community Defense Initiative (CDI) Meets Roadblocks in Afghanistan

Just when it seemed the U.S. military was heading in the right direction in Afghanistan with some recent changes in strategy we now receive news of a change in course.  One of the promising changes brought about in recent months was the implementation of the Community Defense Inititiative (CDI).  This, in short, was the stationing of U.S. Special Forces in tribal areas of Afghanistan in an effort to provide an organizing and supporting structure to tribes who were willing to resist Taliban pressure.  Special Forces ODAs would leave their FOBs (finally) to live among the people (what a concept).  Now it seems that the higher-ups feel this is not a good plan.  Hmmmmm.  Read more in "Afghan Community Defense Reigned In?", The Washington Independent, January 22, 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gates Indicates That Blackwater is Working in Pakistan

Secretary of Defense Gates has confirmed (it seems) that Blackwater (now known as Xe) is providing services to either the U.S. government or some type of Pakistan governmental entity in Pakistan.  This has generated all sorts of press in Pakistan.  See below:

January 22, 2010.  "Blackwater in Pakistan: Gates Confirms" by The Nation.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Scathing Report on Intelligence Failures in Afghanistan

Much has been wrote about the report that knocks the intelligence efforts in Afghanistan by the U.S. military. The report can be found online on The Wall Street Journal website at:

Triple Canopy to Move its HQs to Reston, Virginia

Triple Canopy, a firm providing security services overseas and here in the United States, has announced a move of its headquarters to Reston, Virginia.  Read more in the online article:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

6th Kandak Commando Honored for Actions in Kabul, Afghanistan

The 6th Kandak Commando was honored for its actions in helping to stop insurgent attacks in Kabul.  The honors were rendered at Camp Morehead where the Afghan Commando school has been training commando battalions.  The Afghan Commandos responded swiftly to the Kabul attacks and minimized the damage that the insurgents could cause.  Currently there are seven Commando Kandaks in the Afghan National Army (ANA).  The Afghan Commando program is one of the things that we have managed to do right in Afghanistan.  Read more in "Afghan commando unit honored for bravery in Kabul attacks", US CENTCOM, January 25, 2010.

One Tribe at A Time: A Blueprint for Success in Afghanistan by a Special Forces Officer

Major Jim Gant, a U.S. Special Forces officer, continues to win praise for his paper entitled "One Tribe at a Time".  His paper lays out a path to success in the counterinsurgency fight now ongoing in Afghanistan.  Gant had deployed to Afghanistan in the spring of 2003 and developed a relationship with one of the local tribes who helped to secure his area of responsiblity.  He is soon to return to Afghanistan.  Read more in "Jim Gant, the Green Beret who could win the war in Afghanistan", The Washington Post, January 17, 2010.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Military Man in the U.S. Senate

While it is amazing that Massachusetts elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate there is a little known fact that is also generating some interest.  Senator Scott Brown is also LTC Scott Brown of the Massachusetts Army National Guard.  There are not many members of congress who have served or are currently serving.

House Rep Wants to Ban Security Contractors

A congressional representative, Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, wants to pass the "Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act".  The bill would phase out the use of private security contractors in the current terrorism conflict.  Read "House Rep to introduce bill to ban private security contractors", Digital Journal, January 14, 2010 to discover how some of our congressional representatives "don't have a clue".

Thursday, January 21, 2010

CIA and Its Role on The Front Lines in Afghanistan

The CIA has been busy in Afghanistan.  Not only is it doing its traditional intelligence work but it has also expanded (or re-expanded) into paramilitary areas of endeavor.  Specifically, the CIA's Special Activities Division has grown since 9/11.  Read more on this topic in "C.I.A. Takes On Bigger and Riskier Role on Front Lines", The New York Times, December 31, 2009.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rescue of Travelers in Danger in Haiti

There are firms out there that will assist travelers who find themselves sick, injured or in places undergoing crisis.  One place currently in crisis is Haiti and one of these firms that is assisting folks trapped in Haiti is called International SOS.  International SOS is a crisis response company that operates throughout the world.  Read more about what this firm is doing in Haiti in "For Travelers in Danger, Someone to Swoop In", The New York Times, January 18, 2010.

Security Contractors in Haiti

The calls are out for qualified people to go to Haiti as security contractors, medics, escorts, and to help out in the general relief efforts.  The earthquake was devastating and the security situation is worsing every day.  Telephone calls and emails are being made by security contract firms looking for folks who have military or security experience - if you speak French or have been to Haiti that is a plus.  News services, relief organizations, and corporations with employees and assets in Haiti are seeking protection from the dire security situation on the ground in Haiti.  Some news articles are providing glimpses of the security contracting world as it relates to Haiti - see "Private Contractors to the Rescue?", The Huffington Post, January 15, 2010 or "Jobs: Static Security and Mobile Security Positions, Haiti", Feral, January 19, 2010.  Some of the firms on the list provided at this following link provide military support, disaster relief, and security contracting services.

Opium Trade in Afghanistan

The U.S. military continues to try to eradicate the opium trade in Afghanistan.  It probably will never succeed; no matter how one measures success.  Read an article on the topic entitled "How US is tackling opium trade in Afghanistan poppy heartland", The Christian Science Monitor, January 12, 2010.

Monday, January 18, 2010

U.S. Intelligence Deficient in Afghanistan

The top intelligence officer in Afghanistan has played a part in the release of a report that takes fault with the U.S. military intelligence process.  Read more in "Top intel officer slams work of U.S. spies in Afghanistan", CNN Politics, January 5, 2010.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Private Rescue Firms Aid in Search for Missing in Haiti Earthquake

Private rescue firms are aiding families and corporations in the search for missing Americans caught up in the Haitian earthquake disaster.  Read more in "In crises, private firms can be a safety net",, January 16, 2010.

Medical Insurance and Private Contractors Working in War Zones

An investigative reporter has been interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) on medical insurance plans that protect Americans working as contractors overseas for the defense department.  He states that the government and the private contractor is getting ripped off by the insurance companies - and that it is time for some changes to save money and protect American citizens who volunteer to work overseas in dangerous war zones in support of the American troops who are fighting for us.  Read more in "Screwing Over Private Contractors", The Huffington Post, January 12, 2010.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

List of Firms Offering Services and Available to Respond to Haiti Earthquake

The International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) has provided a listing of firms that are available to provide services for Haiti.
"In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA’s member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake’s victims. If you would like more information about IPOA and its member companies, you can read more here."
Read more here.

Al Qaeda, Drugs, Latin America, and Aviation

Al Qaeda has been instrumental in the establishment of an aviation network that smuggles drugs from South America to Africa and then on to Europe and other destinations.  Rueters is reporting that a network of rogue aircraft regularly cross the Atlantic Ocean with drugs from the cocaine-producing areas of Latin America.  These are big aircraft such as Boeing 727s.  Read more in "Al Qaeda linked to rogue aviation network", Yahoo! News, January 13, 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book: "Morghab Canyon" By James F. Christ - An ETT Caught in Battle in Afghanistan

In July of 2004 an Embed Training Team (ETT) working in Afghanistan is ambushed in a steep canyon by forces of an Afghan warlord.  The book "Morghab Canyon" is the true life account of this battle.  Acclaimed author James F. Christ is writing a series of books about the ETTs that were sent to Afghanistan to train up the Afghanistan National Army (ANA).  You can read more about the book and order it by clicking on the link below:

Morghab Canyon: Book Two of the ETT Series

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Xe Services Trying for Afghan Police Training Contract

Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) is bidding for a contract that could be worth up to one billion dollars for training Afghan police.  Read more in "Xe Services Aiming for Afghan Police Training Deal", ABC News, January 9, 2010.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Iraq Cracking Down on Security Contractors

Iraq has retaliated against a U.S. judges decision to drop charges against five Blackwater guards who were involved in a shooting incident in Iraq that supposedly killed 17 Iraqi civilians.  Iraqi authorities recently seized weapons and other equipment from foreign security firms in Iraq.  Read more in "Iraq confiscates arms in private security crackdown", Reuters, January 8, 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Criticism of the Community Defense Initiative (Afghanistan)

Khalil Nouri and Terry Green of New World Strategies Coalition, Inc. have written up an article that criticizes one of the new tools being rolled out by the U.S. military in Afghanistan.  It is called the Community Defense Initiative (CDI) - which calls for placing Special Forces teams with tribes at the local level to help them form their own community defense organizations.  The article is called "Exploiting Afghan Tribal Militias for an Optimal Counterinsurgency Campaign", Veterans Today, January 8, 2010.  What do I think of the article?  Horse manure.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Too Many Drones in Afghanistan? Not enough Analysts for the Intel?

A recent news article in the New York Times indicates that analysts may have trouble keeping up with the video that the large number of UAVs in Afghanistan are producing.  The demand for Predator, Reaper, and other UAVs has increased dramatically which has resulted in drones of all types to be deployed to Afghanistan.  Read the full article in "Miltary Is Deluged in Intelligence From Drones" (January 10, 2010).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Redefining Missions and Activities of Special Operations Forces

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has released a new "working paper" on special operations forces.  The paper is entitled "Time for Action: Redefining SOF Missions and Activities" (December 2009). 
"U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) have played a key role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the broader U.S. effort to destroy al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. In fact, over the past eight years SOF have experienced their most extensive and transformative use of the modern era. Still, these strategic national assets are not yet fully optimized for success.

This policy brief describes the unintentional difficulties and misunderstandings that flow from the current list of SOFOF activities; disaggregates and re-categorizes them into a new construct that differentiates missions from activities; and redefines the two general approaches to the conduct of special operations. These proposals have importance beyond a mere academic exercise. Taken together, they attempt to develop a more unified SOFOF community, with all Special Operations Forces working in support of six shared missions to greater strategic effect."
The document (in Adobe Acrobat PDF form) can be downloaded by clicking on a link found at this webpage.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Discussion on Contractors and Cost Effectiveness in Support of Military Operations

Security and military support contractors are getting lots of attention these days.  Some good reviews and some not so good reviews.  "Contractors and Cost Effectiveness", The Huffington Post, December 23, 2009 is one of those that is a not so good review - it is The Huffington Post after all.  What strkes me about this online article is not the main body of the article (wrote by David Isenberg) but the add-on comments at the bottom where some contributors refute the points made by Isenberg.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Advice on How to Get the Afghan Army on the Right Track: Start with Good Leadership and Some Advisors and Some "Partnering"

Mark Moyar wrote an article entitled "How to Whip the Afghan Army Into Shape", Foreign Policy, (December 22, 2009).  One of his first points is that the Afghan Army needs some good leadership but he recognizes this is hard to fix.  Karzai is part of the leadership problem with the appointment of relatives and cronies taking precedent over qualifications.  Moyar offers that the partnering of Afghan units with U.S. Army and Marine Corp units at the basic level will provide some relief to the shortage of Afghan military leadership at the junior officer and NCO ranks. 

Moyar further writes:
"Furthermore, for the past eight years, many of the NATO personnel assigned to work with Afghans have not possessed the right skills -- lacking expertise in guerrilla warfare, civil affairs, intelligence, or other important counterinsurgency activities. At present, the United States is in the process of taking action to correct these deficiencies, most importantly by deploying an entire active-duty Army brigade combat team to fill advisory billets."
Hmmmmm.  If, for the past eight years, we provided personnel who were " . . lacking expertise in guerrilla warfare, civil affairs, intelligence, or other counterinsurgency activities . . ."; how does an " . . .  active-duty Army brigade combat team . . . " fill the advisory billets?  One made up of a platoon of 19-year-olds, led by 24-year-old LTs, who don't know the culture, geography, language, religion, terrain, . . . etc.?

Moyar also states that the new initiative of "partnering" American units with Afghan units should provide dividends.  This is exactly what we should have been doing with our "white SOF" SF ODAs over the past several years (but didn't).

Moyar is a professor at the U.S. Marine Corp University and author of three books on counterinsurgency.  His latest is:

A Question of Command: Counterinsurgency from the Civil War to Iraq (Yale Library of Military History)

Click here for more news articles on the war in Afghanistan.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book: "The Bone Yard" - True Story of an Embedded Training Team Ambushed in Afghanistan

The author James F. Christ has wrote a book about a National Guard ETT or Embedded Training Team that gets ambushed in Afghanistan.  The time is October 2003, approximately two years after the war began; and after Bush administration, the military, and the country shifted focus from Afghanistan to Iraq.  The mission to train the Afghanistan Army was stalled and active duty troops were earmarked for Iraq.  The traditional trainers for a combat FID mission would have been Special Forces ODAs partnered with Afghan battalion-sized infantry units - but this received little funding, scant attention, and SF teams were doing other things.  Instead, teams of conventional National Guard Soldiers pieced together from a variety of units were mobilized, trained up for a very short period, and then sent into Afghanistan to stand up the Afghan Army.  James Christ is embarking on a project to write ten books about the ETTs - each book about a specific battle.  The first one is called "The Boneyard" and it was released in November 2009.  It is available on at the link below:

The Bone Yard: Book One of the ETT Series

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tora Bora: The Fight That Won't Die

Tora Bora continues to rear its ugly head from time to time.  Many from the right, left, center and other wise still want to argue whether we "let Osama bin Laden" slip away during the mountain battle.  For more on this read "Glasser vs. Feaver on Tora Bora: Who is right?", Foreign Policy, December 23, 2009.  For more news articles on Afghanistan click here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SkyGrabber: Putting UAVs to Use for the Insurgents

Lots is being made of the incredible story of how the Department of Defense's sophisticated drones are susceptable to having their video feeds intercepted by a $26.00 computer software program available online (just Google "skygrabber" to find out more).  Here are some articles discussing the dilemna:

"SkyGrabber: Is hacking military drones too easy?", The Christian Science Monitor, December 17, 2009.

"SkyGrabber: Powerful Software in the Wrong Hands", Now Public, December 17, 2009.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Afghan Police Training Switching from DoS to DoD: DynCorp Loses

There is lots of buzz with the news that DynCorp will lose the Afghan National Police (ANA) training contract.  And the opinions of this state of affairs differs greatly.  Read some positions on the topic at a thread on the SOCNET forum.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

DynCorp Protesting Contract Award Procedures for Afghan National Police Training Program

DynCorp International is protesting the contracting procedure for the award of the Afghan National Police (ANP) contract to be issued soon for Afghanistan police training.  Read more in this article.  For the past few years DynCorp has been under contract with the State Department.  The training program is being transferred to DoD and with the transfer comes changes on contract award procedures.  Hmmmmm.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Contractors to Train Afghan National Police

The Department of State sent representatives to testify before the Commission on Wartime Contracting recently.  During the testimony the representatives briefed the commission on the role that contractors are filling in training the Afghan National Police (ANP).  The current Afghan National Police program falls under the reponsibility of the State Department - specifically the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).  However, this will soon change as the lead will be assumed by DoD.  Civilian contractors will still be used (currently provided by DynCorp).  Read more in a posting on the DoS website concerning this topic.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Review of 2009 in Afghanistan: The Independent

The Independent, a United Kingdom publication, has offered an online analysis of the past year (2009) in Afghanistan.  The gains, the losses, and what the future holds for us.  Read "Review of the Year 2009: Afghanistan" (December 23, 2009).