Intellectual Rigor

Has anyone taken the time to read the ruling issued by Judge Taylor re Case No. 06-CV-10204, ACLU v NSA? I have. You can download the ruling from the Council of Foreign Affairs here. I wanted to read it for myself after reading all the articles praising and condemning it.

Full disclosure. I am not an attorney nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. My bride and the mother of my sons is a practicing attorney but that does not nor should it imply that I know what I am talking about. Having said that, even a non attorney like me can see where the ruling comes up short (I did take classes on constitutional history/law as an undergrad and as a graduate student).

Judge Taylor’s ruling reminded me of an e-mail my colleague received the other day. The author couldn’t help but throw in little editorial comments here and there. I am sure the comments were meant to plus up the credibility of the author. Instead of relying on facts to support his thesis, he had to throw in puffery that only made him appear to be an idiot. What the author accomplished was to cement our collective opinion that the author is an oxygen thief.

Oxygen thief, ration converter, dead baby, and other base epithets describe the idiots among us. The military is a human organization so we expect to contend with useless people. Because forward deployed units deal with life and death, we strive to minimize their influence.

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor is an oxygen thief. Appointed by President Carter in 1979, she has been allowed to serve ever since. Amazing. If this ruling is of similar quality to her previous rulings and opinions, she should have been impeached long ago.

Smarter people than me have already written about the rulings shortcomings so I will not comment on the ruling itself. You can read this article (you might have to register) by Ann Althouse, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin instead. You can also read this editorial from the Wall Street Journal or Andrew McCarthy’s piece written for the National Review. I must share what I think are the best quotes.

From Dr. Althouse:

…the judge has a constitutional duty, under the doctrine of standing, to respond only to concretely injured plaintiffs who are suing the entity that caused their injury and for the purpose of remedying that injury. We trust the judge to say what the law is because the judge “must of necessity expound and interpret” in order to decide cases, as Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in Marbury. But Judge Taylor breezed through two of the three elements of standing doctrine — this constitutional limit on her power — in what looks like a headlong rush through a whole series of difficult legal questions to get to an outcome in her heart she knew was right.

From the Wall Street Journal:

So let's set aside the judge's Star Chamber rhetoric and try to examine her argument, such as it is. Take the Fourth Amendment first. The "unreasonable search and seizure" and warrant requirements of that amendment have their roots in the 18th-century abuses of the British crown. Those abuses involved the search and arrest of the King's political opponents under general and often secret warrants.

Judge Taylor sees an analogy here, but she manages to forget or overlook that no one is being denied his liberty and no evidence is being brought in criminal proceedings based on what the NSA might learn through listening to al Qaeda communications. The wiretapping program is an intelligence operation, not a law-enforcement proceeding. Congress was duly informed, and not a single specific domestic abuse of such a wiretap has yet been even alleged, much less found.

As for the First Amendment, Judge Taylor asserts that the plaintiffs--a group that includes the ACLU and assorted academics, lawyers and journalists who believe their conversations may have been tapped but almost surely weren't--had their free-speech rights violated because al Qaeda types are now afraid to speak to them on the phone.

From McCarthy:

In the real system of separated powers devised by the Framers, the courts of the United States had no role — none — in defending this nation from foreign threats. That was to be the job of the president and the Congress, which is to say, the officials actually accountable to the citizens whose lives were at stake.

While Judge Taylor bleats about the need to respect “checks and balances,” the check our system has designed for national-security matters is political, not judicial. It implicates the right of all citizens collectively — the body politic — to self preservation. It is not concerned with such comparative trifles as the insatiable idio-obsessions of “activists” and gadflies — however theatrically petrified they may seem over the possibility that, for example, their “right” to shoot the breeze with Ayman Zawahiri might be “chilled” if the NSA lends its ears … along with an audience that already includes every foreign intelligence service on the planet.

The standing rules that Judge Taylor shunned are there for a reason. It is not a legalism. It is not some abstruse jurisprudential technicality that you’d need an Ivy League law degree to decipher. It is about the right of the American people to govern themselves.

There is a difference between collecting evidence for use in a criminal prosecution and the collection of information for use as intelligence. To listen in on a man who uses his phone to set up contract “hits” so he can monopolize Jefferson City’s drug trade does require a warrant. I don’t think a warrant is required to listen in on conversations between Joe Taliban in Afghanistan and his cousin, Masoud living in Jefferson City, coordinating the purchase of cell phones for use in IED trigger mechanisms! Article 3, § 3 of the US Constitution defines treason. If Masoud is a US citizen and he was in fact colluding with his cousin Joe Taliban, Masoud is conducting a treasonous act, not perpetrating a crime.

Congress is charged under Article 1, § 8 of the US Constitution to provide for the common defense among other things. Congress dictates how intelligence is collected. Article 2, § 2 states that the President is the Commander in Chief of the military. Article 3 defines the role of Judiciary and does give the ACLU the right to sue the NSA (Article 3, § 2) but nowhere in Article 3 does it mention that it has jurisdiction over the nation’s conduct of war but as mentioned already, does define treason. McCarthy is right in that war is a political issue, that is why the US Constitution charges elected officials to prosecute war, not the judiciary!

Judge Taylor’s poorly written ruling will be overturned. Unfortunately, it will be overturned because of her baleful lack of intellectual rigor, not on the strength of the arguments put forth by the defendant, the National Security Agency. Because of that, the ACLU will still argue that “warrantless” eavesdropping on conversations between foreign nationals working to kill my family and residents of the United States who are cooperating with the aforementioned foreign nationals are still illegal.

This is a hell of a way to fight a war.

CPT NightHawk


So Long and God Speed

Task Force Orion has left Afghanistan and they have built an enduring legacy for the Canadian Army. My colleague and I had a cigar with L Col Ian Hope, the task force commander, the night he left and we chatted about the way ahead and how we should be sorting out the Taliban. We also talked about Western Civilization, the works of Dr. Hanson (L Col Hope and I share the same enthusiasm for Dr. Hanson’s work), and the necessity of political will and the need for “heads on spikes”.

I hated to see them leave. I really enjoyed working with L Col Hope and the Patricia’s. It was a tough tour for them. They were in contact with enemy forces pretty much every day they were in Afghanistan. They are one tired bunch and you can see it on L Col Hope’s face. Despite all the nastiness they had to contend with, they made me a part of them.

L Col Hope and his staff bent over backwards to make me feel at home when I first reported for duty. They took my critiques and my advice to heart. As soon as the task force was able to they implemented the recommendations I made. These guys were willing to change procedures because they wanted to be the best and provide the most optimum conditions for their soldiers down range.

I was born in Melita, Manitoba. If my family had stayed in Canada, I would most likely have joined the Canadian Army. I would like to think that I would have been assigned to the Patricia’s or a unit that is affiliated with them. After twenty years of service to the US Army Reserve and the Missouri National Guard, I was finally deployed to a shooting war. I thought it was provident that I was detailed to Task Force Orion and that I was able to fight alongside my former countrymen. I believe that was no coincidence.

It has been a great honour serving with them. I will miss them dearly. Task Force Orion lost some good people. Volunteers all and from all parts of Canada, both regular and reserve, men and one woman. Here is the roll.

On 2 March 2006 Cpl. Paul Davis, Bridgewater, Novia Scotia and Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson, Grande Prairie, Alberta were killed when their LAV collided with a taxi that failed to yield. Five other soldiers were injured including their interpreter.

On 29 March 2006 Pte Robert Costall was killed in action defending a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Helmand Province. Eight Afghan soldiers plus one US soldier died as well. He was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and based in Edmonton with the 1st Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He was married and the father of a baby boy.

On 22 April 2006, four soldiers were killed when their G-Wagon struck an IED. Killed in the incident were Cpl. Matthew Dinning, born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and stationed at Petawawa, Ontario, Lt. William Turner, born in Toronto, Ontario and stationed at Edmonton, Alberta, Bombardier Myles Mansell, born in Victoria, British Columbia and stationed at Victoria, British Columbia, and Cpl. Randy Payne, stationed at Wainwright, Alberta.

On 17 May 2006, Capt. Nichola Goddard of Shilo, Manitoba, was killed in action when she was hit with an RPG. She was a Forward Observation Officer with the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, Shilo, Manitoba. Her artillery unit deployed with the Patricia's. Goddard was the first woman in Canadian history killed in a combat role and the first female member of the Canadian military killed in combat since the Second World War.

On 10 July 2006, Cpl. Anthony Joseph Boneca, a 21-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ontario was killed in action west of Kandahar City. He was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He volunteered to serve with the Patricia’s for this deployment. He was a reservist from the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment based in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

On 22 July 2006, Cpl. Francisco Gomez, 44, of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton, Alberta and Cpl. Jason Patrick Warren, 29, of Montreal's The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada died when the Bison they were in was hit by a suicide bomber. Eight other soldiers were wounded in the attack. The supply convoy that they were a part of was returning from a supply run.

On 3 August 2006, four Patricia’s were killed. Cpl. Christopher Jonathan Reid, 34, of Truro, Novia Scotia was killed when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb near Kandahar. Later on the same day, Sgt. Vaughan Ingram, 35, from Burgeo, Newfoundland and Labrador, Cpl. Bryce Jeffrey Keller, 27, of Sherwood Park, Alberta, Pte. Kevin Dallaire, 22, of Calgary, Alberta were killed in action supporting Afghan National Police clearing a suspected Taliban position in Zhari District. Three other soldiers were wounded in the RPG attack.

On 5 August 2006, Master Cpl. Raymond Arndt, 31, of Edson, Alberta was killed when his G Wagon was struck by a civilian truck. He was a reservist with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. Three others were wounded. They were delivering medical supplies to a FOB south of Kandahar City.

On 11 August, Cpl. Andrew James Eykelenboom, 23, of Comox, British Columbia, was killed when his vehicle was struck by a suicide bomber. He was a medic based in Edmonton, Alberta with the 1st Field Ambulance.

Volunteers all!

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"

And I said, "Here am I. Send me!

Isaiah 6: 5-8

I will always remember the sacrifices Task Force Orion made. Task Force Orion made a positive impact in Afghanistan. Canada should be proud of what they accomplished. I know I am.

CPT NightHawk


Embedded in Reality

I am now working at Task Force Aegis (the brigade headquarters). The incoming Canadian Battle Group (made up mostly of soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment) brought their own Information Operations officer so that freed me up to go back to brigade. Before, I was spending half of my time at the battle group and the other half at brigade. I am now spending all of my time at brigade.

Because of the ongoing unit rotations I had to get a “letter of input” for my evaluation before the Patricia’s redeployed back to Canada. I had a sit down with my rater for the first time today (I should have met my rater as soon as I arrived at Kandahar Airfield. I didn’t because I went straight to work for the Patricia’s). During our sit down we talked about our backgrounds, how we ended up in Afghanistan, the work we are doing here, and observations of our coalition brethren.

The focus of my observations are those who “get it” and those who don’t. By “get it” I mean those who understand what Information Operations is all about and when properly conducted and managed will facilitate the killing of Taliban in large numbers. Information Operations doesn’t work by itself, it is the velvet glove wrapped around the iron fist. The words only are effective when you back them up with deeds.

The Canadians: My new boss, a Canadian Major who is the number two Info Ops officer at brigade (I am the number three), commented that we should start calling the Canadian battle group the “Kinetic Canucks”. Most of the Canadian staff officers at brigade and the commander of the battle group “get it”. It’s in the news that the Canadians are piling on the Taliban which makes it easier for me as an Info Ops bubba to get my message out.

The Romanians: They “get it” also. Their equipment isn’t as good as ours but they are trying hard.

The Estonians: Nice guys, excellent English, but they don’t have any combat troops here so I can’t comment on whether they get it.

The Danes: See Estonians.

The French: No, they don’t get it. They were more concerned about having parties at their compound and scoring chicks (easy to do when you have free booze). Plus, they seriously underestimated some situations and it cost them.

The Dutch: They just took over the province I was at for six months. Boy, are they in for a treat. THEY DON’T GET IT!!! Austin Powers said it best, “there are two kinds of people I hate, those who are intolerant and the Dutch!” One of the first things they did on Kandahar Airfield was build a bloody nightclub (no booze though) that’s invitation only. Way to prioritize your efforts guys. Idiots.

Staff Weenies from NATO/ISAF: They don’t get it. Yesterday, the Canadians were raising hell with the Taliban and we didn’t hear a peep from NATO/ISAF. Well, it was Sunday after all and when you work for an organization that is called NATO (short for Not After Two O’clock), we shouldn’t have expected them to raise any interest in the boisterous activities in Regional Command South! The Canadians did NATO/ISAF a favor. The local Kandaharis are starting to think that NATO/ISAF can actually fight so instead of “I Suck At Fighting”, ISAF will only stand for “I Should Ask First”.

The Brits: They get it. They are kicking the snot out of the Taliban in Helmand Province. Today I was watching BBC World with a couple of our interpreters and I noticed that the Brits had fixed bayonets! I thought that was too funny! (Anyone who has seen Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Eddie Izzard’s comedy special Dress to Kill, or has spent some time around Brits will know of what I speak). Here is how I think they were driven to fix bayonets:

Subaltern: Sir, the men are irritated that we have run out of water. I am afraid that they may get a bit cross if we have no afternoon tea.
Commander: Right, will the water from the Helmand River make good tea?
Subaltern: If we boil the water and not use chemicals, the tea should be fine.
Commander: Very well, we must have tea so organize a detail.
Subaltern: Right sir, and oh, here comes a runner. My God man! Why on earth are you running in this dreadful heat?
Runner: Sir, we have spotted movement about and the platoon commander believes the Taliban are attempting to encircle our position.
Subaltern: Sir, I believe that we may not be able to send the water detail to the Helmand River.
Commander: That’s dash cunning of them! Interfering with our afternoon tea. What a bloody nuisance they have become. Color Sergeant!
Color Sergeant: Yes sir!
Commander: Kindly have the men fix bayonets and sort out this bloody nuisance the Taliban have become. We must have afternoon tea.
Color Sergeant: Very good sir! COMPANY!! FIX!! BAYONETS!!

Flag Gazer commented on my last post that she appreciates humor imbedded in reality. I have a lot of reality and I have to see the humor or I would go postal.

CPT NightHawk


Coalition Terrorist Threat Levels

In light of the recent arrest of would be suicide bombers in the United Kingdom and elsewhere who were planning to blow up civilian aircraft travelling over the Atlantic Ocean, we Americans along with our European friends have increased the threat level of imminent terrorist attack.

The Europeans do not use a color coded like us. I believe their system is a better reflection of their national characters.

The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and security threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross."

Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

CPT NightHawk



One of the people who commented on my last post posits that we can’t win against our current enemy with today’s “values”. So you don’t have to scroll all the way to the end of the last post, Zach’s comment follows:

Can a military that relies heavily on reserve call-ups win this new kind of war?
Can we win "Eastern" wars with Western values?

Only if we can find the vaules that helped us win WWI and WWII. So, the answer is.. No... we cant win with todays "values."

Zach’s comment answers the second question that LTC (Ret) Ralph Peters raised, winning an “Eastern” war with Western values. I think “values” and political will are being confused.

Do you believe that we Westerners don’t have it in us to kill the enemy? Please read “Carnage and Culture” by Victor Davis Hanson, PhD where he states that:

"The Western way of war is so lethal precisely because it is so amoral shackled rarely by concerns of ritual, tradition, religion, or ethics, by anything other than military necessity."

I want to hone in on the word “amoral”. Much is said today about morals and values. Can we win with Western values? What values are we talking about anyway? Do I love my sons differently than how my Dad loved me and my brother when were children? Are we referring to cultural mores where, in my opinion, we Generation Xers were promiscuous but the next generation would make Caligula blush?

We need to divorce the concept of “values” and “mores” from “attributes”. What makes us Westerners are our institutions and ideals such as consensual government, free inquiry and innovative enterprise, rationalism, and the value placed on freedom and individualism. The vulgarity of our culture is a small price to pay for the wealth and freedoms we enjoy and besides, there are far more people who try to live by the Ten Commandments than people who are pursuing a “hedonistic” lifestyle.

Back to “amoral”. The Western attributes of free inquiry, innovative enterprise, and rationalism have given us an economy that is able to produce a frightening war making capability. Al Queda may have knocked down the World Trade Center but we were able to put boots on the ground that were supported by satellite guided munitions and communications. Al Queda killed close to three thousand people on 11SEP2001. We have killed far more of them. The thing is, we could have killed many more.

In my last post I alluded to my disgust with ISAF because they don’t get it. The primary reason they don’t get it is because they don’t understand that Regional Command South (RC-South) is totally different from RC-North and RC-West. The Taliban originated in RC-South and they are not going away quietly. There are newspaper articles out there proclaiming a new Taliban insurgency. Newsflash people, the Taliban never really left, we only just this year started to fight them seriously in RC-South! Another reason they don’t get it is because they are European staff officers who are not aggressive about getting on with it.

In my conversations with some of the people of Afghanistan, the more knowledgeable ones are wondering why we aren’t getting on with it. They know we can kill with impunity from the air and from the ground (the Taliban may be great warriors, but Westerners are better soldiers) but we are seen as not being aggressive enough.

This leads me to my number one complaint about my job as an Information Operations officer. I am not the “cute and cuddly”, “warm and fuzzy”, officer that only deals with “non-kinetic” operations. According to Army Field Manual 3-13, destruction is one of the effects I try to achieve in the physical and information battle spaces. Officers who don’t get it look at me and ask “what can Info Ops do?” I respond with “Killing them supports Info Ops theme number three so go ahead and kill them” and they look at me in shock!!

LTC (Ret) Ralph Peters alludes to my frustrations in an article published in the Summer 2004 edition of Parameters (published by the US Army War College) found here. I quote:

…we shall hear no end of fatuous arguments to the effect that we can’t kill our way out of the problem. Well, until a better methodology is discovered, killing every terrorist we can find is a good interim solution. The truth is that even if you can’t kill yourself out of the problem, you can make the problem a great deal smaller by effective targeting…

With hardcore terrorists, it’s not about PSYOP or jobs or deploying dental teams. It’s about killing them. Even regarding the general population, which benefits from our reconstruction and development efforts, the best thing we can do for them is to kill terrorists and insurgents. Until the people of Iraq are secure, they are not truly free. The terrorists know that. We pretend otherwise.

Substitute Iraq with Afghanistan or any other terrorist haven and we have a solution but we need the political will to make it happen.

That’s the whole point. Zach’s answer about not winning with today’s “values” should read we won’t win unless we make the political decision to do so. We have far too many senior officers who think we can Info Ops our way out of it when we should be using Info Ops to facilitate more killing. The Afghans want the Taliban dead and we should oblige them. The citizens of our coalition brethren plus our own people need to make a decision as to how we want to prosecute the war, fight to win or fight half assed.

We Westerners have everything we need to win. Values? We don’t need them, only the will to win.

CPT NightHawk


Will it Hold?

One of the biggest problems we have in southern Afghanistan is a resurgent Taliban. Pakistan is our contemporary version of what Cambodia and Laos used to be for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The Taliban leadership hole up in Quetta and from there sends money and advisers. The government of Pakistan is ostensibly helping but for many years they have refused to govern the northern part of their country that borders Afghanistan. With an intelligence service that is riddled with Wahhabi diehards, President Musharraf is walking a very thin tightrope in trying to establish credible governmental authority in northern Pakistan.

Israel is dealing with a similar situation. After thirty four days of conflict Hezbollah (who operated from southern Lebanon), Lebanon, and Israel have agreed to abide by United Nations Resolution 1701 which you can read for yourself by clicking here (it is a PDF file). Israel will hand off Lebanese territory to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) who in turn will hand over the territory to the Lebanese Army. The Lebanese Army is supposed to supply 15,000 troops and UNIFIL will be increased to 15,000 troops as well. They will do joint patrols (sorta like what we do in Afghanistan with the Afghan National Army). Here is the kicker, the Lebanese Army is supposed to be the only recognized ARMED force in Lebanon, implying that Hezbollah must disarm.

In my humble opinion, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban are all cut from the same cloth and have the same sponsors. Iran, Syria, and some Pakistani factions have no interest in a stable and self governing Lebanon or Afghanistan. The Islamist Fascists we are fighting against need a base of operations which a non-functioning state provides. There is also the idea that your typical Muslim nowadays doesn't identify with the state but with their culture and religion. I quote from this article by Mark Steyn:

Here's a clue, from a recent Pew poll that asked: What do you consider yourself first? A citizen of your country or a Muslim?

In the United Kingdom, 7 percent of Muslims consider themselves British first, 81 percent consider themselves Muslim first.

And that's where the really valid Lebanese comparison lies. Lebanon is a sovereign state. It has an executive and a military. But its military has less sophisticated weaponry than Hezbollah and its executive wields less authority over its jurisdiction than Hezbollah. In the old days, the Lebanese government would have fallen and Hezbollah would have formally supplanted the state. But non-state actors like the Hezbo crowd and al-Qaida have no interest in graduating to statehood. They've got bigger fish to fry. If you're interested in establishing a global caliphate, getting a U.N. seat and an Olympic team only gets in the way. The "sovereign" state is of use to such groups merely as a base of operations, as Afghanistan was and Lebanon is. They act locally but they think globally.

And that indifference to the state can be contagious. Lebanon's Christians may think of themselves as "Lebanese," but most of Hezbollah's Shiite constituency don't. Western analysts talk hopefully of fierce differences between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, but it's interesting to note the numbers of young Sunni men in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere in recent weeks who've decided that Iran's (Shiite) President Ahmadinejad and his (Shiite) Hezbo proxies are the new cool kids in town. During the '90s, we grew used to the idea that "non-state actors" meant a terrorist group, with maybe a few hundred activists, a few thousand supporters. What if entire populations are being transformed into "non-state actors"? Not terrorists, by any means, but at the very minimum entirely indifferent to the state of which they're nominally citizens.

A few of us were sitting around the office wondering what the real goal of Hezbollah was and by extension Iran and Syria. If I learned anything from Gunny Poole, it’s all about the deception, baby. If a non-functioning state is in the best interests of Hezbollah et al, why not get a sworn enemy to do the work for you? How about “creating chaos to make an enemy easier to beat” (one of the 36 stratagems of deception from China).

LTC (Ret) Peters recently wrote an article listing lessons learned from the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. You can read the article here. What follows are the main points he wanted to make.

1: You can win every tactical engagement and still lose at the strategic level.
2: The global media can overturn the verdict of the battlefield.
3: If you start off on the wrong foot in war, you may never recover your balance.
4: Technology alone can't win 21st-century wars.
5: Never underestimate your enemy.
6: In war, take the pain up front, and the overall suffering will be far less.
7: Terrorism is no longer a limited, diffuse, disorganized threat.

As an Information Operations Officer in southern Afghanistan, I am trying to sort out points 1 and 2 (media operations, messaging, and psychological operations), and points 4 and 5 (our western predisposition to look condescendingly on an adversary not as technically advanced as us). Peters also raises the following two questions:

Can a military that relies heavily on reserve call-ups win this new kind of war?
Can we win "Eastern" wars with Western values?

Peters argues that Hezbollah isn’t some rabble with an AK-47 and a couple of magazines. Israeli soldiers encountered well disciplined fighters fighting from well prepared positions with planned exits. They had launched close to 4000 rockets into Israel, used the latest anti-tank weapons, and deployed reconnaissance drones. Israel is going to have to think long and hard about restructuring its military to counter the new professionalism of Hezbollah fighters.

As for the second question, Peters implies that the West will have to sacrifice its values and fight by the enemy's rules in order to win. The example he used was that Israel could have leveled apartment buildings to kill the Hezbollah command centers but instead Israel tried surgical strikes using commandos at great risk

I have to respectfully disagree with the LTC (Ret) Peters. The West is very good at killing people on a large and industrial scale. Ask any person of Japanese or German descent that was around during WWII. Or read Dr. Hanson’s “Carnage and Culture”. We won’t sacrifice our values to win, we just have to make a POLITICAL decision to win and win decisively.

So, what now for Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon will have to assert sovereignty in her southern area and Hezbollah will have to disarm. I don’t see it happening because Hezbollah has more advanced weaponry and better training than the Lebanese Army. UNIFIL will have to assert its authority by killing violators of the ceasefire who will more than likely be Hezbollah fighters. Because UNIFIL never asserted its authority in the first place, increasing its end strength to 15, 000 with soldiers from countries that think Israel is the real problem and that Germany should have finished the job will not be “combat effective” against Hezbollah.

You are probably wondering why I am talking about Israel and Hezbollah more than I am talking about Afghanistan. With the recent Transfer of Authority (TOA) with the NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), we are coming to the realization here in Regional Command South that ISAF doesn’t “get it”. I firmly believe that the Taliban “gets it” and is exploiting the situation. I wish I could say more but I would seriously compromise our operations. To give you a hint of what we are dealing with, ISAF stands for either “I Should Ask First” or “I Suck At Fighting”, depending on what unbelievable pile of crap is excreted from ISAF in Kabul.

Will the ceasefire hold between Hezbollah and Israel? Will ISAF be able to hold what gains we made in southern Afghanistan when we were under Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)? We can defeat the Taliban and Israel can totally defeat Hezbollah. Afghans who have studied our history are asking us why aren’t we getting on with it. We are very good at killing the enemy; we just need the political decision to unleash the dogs of war.

CPT NightHawk


Stabbed in the Back

Back in January a story was published in the Washington Post describing the situation in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. The PRT I was formally assigned to is at Tarin Kowt, the provincial capitol. You can link to the story here but because it was printed last January you will have to pay to see the rest.

I set up the interviews that Griff Witte, the reporter, had with some of the US troops. I also connected him to one of our computer networks so he can have Internet access to publish his story. When the story was printed we all thought he gave us and the coalition forces in the area a fair shake. He pointed out that Oruzgan Province is a tough province and there is a lot of work to be done but he did it fairly.

Fast forward to this month. I am really disappointed in Mr. Witte and his partner, Andy Mosher. It appears that these two so called journalists didn’t give my brethren in Iraq a fair shake at all. The article can be found here.

When you read the article it sounds like the Gulf Region Division, US Army Corps of Engineers, are all ate up. The reality is far different. Click here for the rebuttal written by MG William McCoy. Read it for yourself and you will see that Witte and Mosher are way off the mark.

I am taking this a little personally because I bent over backward to help Witte out when he visited the PRT. Judging by the tone of MG McCoy’s rebuttal, they rolled out the red carpet for Witte and Mosher. I know that the Gulf Region Division has top notch people working there because I know one of them. He and I were both 2nd Lieutenants in the 110th Engineer Battalion and he is now one of the Gulf Region Division’s operations officers.

This is a classic example of why we in the US military despise journalists. They lie, obfuscate, and selectively use a bare minimum of facts to get the “story” that follows a prearranged theme. We need reporters to report the facts, not journalists to make up a story. The public at home are not being served properly by these so called “journalists”. We help them and assist them and then they stab us in the back.

I’ll be damned if I ever help that little prick again.

CPT NightHawk


Fighting the Long War and Going to the Beach

I am back from Qatar and back at work. I had a very good time. On my last day I went cruising on a dhow and swam in the gulf. Pretty cool. Before I went on pass I received in an e-mail an interesting question. I was asked about what was going on between Lebanon and Israel. I am sure that there are many people back home that are wondering the same thing.

Right now I am reading Stephanie Guttmans book, The Other War, which discusses the media war between Israel and Yasser Arafat’s PLO during the so-called “Second Intifada”. I am continually amazed at the blatant bias directed against Israel in her efforts to secure her borders and protect her people. I knew that Israel always gets a bad rap but Gutmann points out that it didn’t always used to be that way. Israel has morphed from plucky new independent country to monstrous threat to the world at large.

There are a few articles out there that are arguing the case for Israel (and more arguing the case for Hezbollah and Hamas). I have nothing profound to say about the situation that others who are way smarter than me have already said.

Ralph Peters, a former intelligence officer, in his article here points out that the world will eventually pressure the Israelis to stop. Paragraph four is pretty scathing. I quote:

Europeans have more sympathy with Iran's nuclear program than they do with Israel's attempts at self-defense. But, then, the only thing continental Europeans regret about the Holocaust is that they didn't get to finish the job. Even as Europe suffers its own attacks by Islamist terrorists, Europeans defend the selfsame terrorists against Israeli retribution.

LTC (Ret) Peters isn’t kidding. Based on conversations I have overheard at the dining facility and elsewhere, I am embarrassed to report that some of my coalition brethren couldn’t really give one damn about Israel.

There has been much discussion about Israel’s use of force and how it is so disproportionate. For those of you without any military planning experience, you always go into the attack with disproportionate force. In some circles the planning factor for the ratio of attackers to defenders is three to one. When going after an enemy that fights asymmetrically, the ratio is even higher. Pierre Atlas in his article here makes an impassioned defense of Israel’s use of force. Mark Steyn has a biting article here and I quote:

But, when an army goes to war against a terrorist organization, it's like watching the Red Sox play Andre Agassi: Each side is being held to its own set of rules. When Hezbollah launches rockets into Israeli residential neighborhoods with the intention of killing random civilians, that's fine because, after all, they're terrorists and that's what terrorists do. But when, in the course of trying to resist the terrorists, Israel unintentionally kills civilians, that's an appalling act of savagery. Speaking at West Point in 2002, President Bush observed: "Deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend." Actually, it's worse than that. In Hezbollahstan, the deaths of its citizens works to its strategic advantage: Dead Israelis are good news but dead Lebanese are even better, at least on the important battlefield of world opinion.

This supports Guttmann’s thesis that the Israelis are not getting a fair shake in the media.

Speaking of getting a fair shake David Warren in his article here comments on the coverage of the Qana raid. At first the media was screaming that the air raid of Qana was an Israeli massacre and then coverage suddenly stopped. The reason the coverage mysteriously dropped was that the initial coverage was staged by Hezbollah. I quote:

Now look at the media pictures. Immediately you see several fishy things. For one, bodies displayed to media are removed, successively, from a single neat hole in the ruins. There is no evidence of a rescue mission having been mounted, or of a continuing search for bodies elsewhere under the rubble. The battered bodies do not resemble those which are seen after most real explosions and building collapses: their wounds do not look recent. All the blood and gore seems to be on just one body.

Moreover, as bloggers such as "Eureferendum" have demonstrated, by juxtaposing press photos from various newspapers, the men showing off the bodies -- and identified in captions as "Lebanese rescue workers" -- are the same as had been present at previous alleged atrocities. They are obviously not rescue workers, but Hezbollah propaganda agents.

Warren also states in his article that the Israelis dropped leaflets in the area for more than a week telling civilians to leave the area. Hezbollah, after using its rocket launchers from in between the houses in Qana, were moving them into the houses. Unfortunately, Hezbollah has a history of preventing at gun point civilians from leaving an area when Hezbollah needs dead civilians to amplify its message. Hezbollah must bear full blame for any civilian deaths (I am sure that civilians did die at Qana) but we must be cognizant that the Qana raid wasn’t the massacre it is alleged to be.

Why support Israel anyway? Why should we people of the West (North America and Europe) care about the Jews of Israel? What is Israel anyway?

Israel is the only functioning western style democracy in the entire Middle East. They have regular and transparent elections. They have a free market economy. They have an independent judiciary. They have a free press. In short, since Israel became a nation in 1948 they were able to carve out of the desert a pretty nice place to live, prior to that the place was a hovel.

The Israelis have nowhere else to go. They can’t go back to Europe because Europeans can’t stand them and tried to kill them off during WWII (It wasn’t just the Germans, people all over conquered Europe lent the Germans a helping hand). Besides, the enemy of Israel is also our enemy.

Al Qaeda, Hamas, HiG, Hezbollah, et al and their state sponsors (Syria and Iran) want to destroy the west and implement sharia law over the entire world. This is more than forcing Israel to give up land for peace. Israel left Gaza, the West Bank, and southern Lebanon and all they got was more grief. Her enemies want her destroyed.

We should identify with that. We lost close to three thousand people in one day on 11 SEP 2001 and we took the fight to Afghanistan and later Iraq. We need to let Israel do what Israel needs to do. Have I ever criticized Israel? Of course, I am an Information Operations officer and Israel has made some amazing blunders. What I will not criticize is her right to exist.

Victor Hanson, PhD, in this article here sees some similarities between now and the events of the 1930’s. His point is that we westerners are refusing to see what the real enemy is. I quote:

But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and it is even more baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Not any longer.

Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.

Mark my words; we are in for a long war. My sons will probably be called to serve and I will do my best to prepare them for that eventuality. The question remains as to how we are to conduct ourselves. Do we take this seriously or do we just accept the ad hominem attacks to our values.

I close this post with another quote from an article by Peters found here. I quote:

They sunned themselves on the beach where Richard the Lionheart fought. Rockets fell 30 miles up the coast. But these Israelis played volleyball.

They weren't callous. They simply refused to let terror control their lives…………

It's long been a cliche to note that Israel "made the desert bloom" after long centuries of Arab abuse of the soil itself and the destruction of the Biblical landscape of "milk and honey." But the settlers and their children who built Israel did more than irrigate orange groves. They built a civilization where there had been only neglect, decay and oppression.

Above all, the Israelis planted democracy and the rule of law in fields that had been hostile to elementary human decency and dignity for thousands of years.

And on the seventh day, they went to the beach.

CPT NightHawk