visitors since 4 oct 2008

What Is the Problem Here? Correct Version

One of the Chim Chims’ has asked to put up a guest post on a topic near and dear to both our hearts for different reasons:  the continuing efforts of the New York Times to kill a program I doubt was that big of a deal to begin with.  Chim Chim is a member of our intelligence services who has, after 20 years of work inside the bubble concluded that our intelligence services cannot provide good human intelligence.  My concern remains that stories like this place the outside the wire contracting community in danger least people get confused about what were doing out here.  Yesterday the New York Times ran another story about contractors being spies alerting the world that a retired CIA agent, Duane R. Clarridge, has a secure website and apparently continues to pester top intelligence officers with emails. The story was a pathetic hatchet job – you could have taken the same set of facts and spun a positive story from it.  There were nothing new in the report but this time the product of the alleged spy ring was said to be “…an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports…” which is a significant downgrading from previous NYT reporting.  There is nothing new in the story just a rehashing of last years pieces; what’s the point?  I don’t know but I’m guessing there are agendas in play at the New York Times to which we are clearly not privy.  If Mr. Clarridge is really running another CIA from his retirement home in southern California I say sign him up and save us a few billion a year.  But he isn’t (there is only so much you can do from a house) and there is nothing in the story supporting that claim by the New York Times.  Typical.  But I tire of the whole affair and will let Chim Chim have his say.

As I settle into a little holiday routine I opened my browser to read the morning news. The first story that jumped out at me was from the Associated Press by Ben Feller on the Obama review of Afghanistan. Now I realize this is the holiday season and all. I mean congress and the Senate are having a grand ole time giving each other gifts and sending the bill to the American taxpayers but at least they are doing it with gusto. You can read the legislative message to the American people, suck on this and Merry Christmas. Guess they missed the Nov. 2nd memo from the American people but we patriots have long memories. The review of Afghanistan war has no such hubris as it misses the mark so wildly it looks more like Ray Charles throwing out the first pitch at the world series (metaphor value only, not intended to offend the visually challenged). At least Ray’s pitch would be in the ballpark which this report is not.

Now I work in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I know all the players. I know our military is there but it is difficult to collect ground truth from inside the big box FOB’s (see Baba T’s previous posts on subject). Now it might surprise you to find out that I don’t blame Obama directly for this report (Ok I lied he is the president and responsibility starts at top but for arguments sake…) I blame the official government intelligence community. The systemic failure of collection, analysis, and appropriate action is deplorable. Boys and girls of the GS whatever world you have FAILED. Now I am sure you don’t see your abysmal work as failure but I know what you define success as. See my previous post. Now enough of the rhetoric now I will show you what you don’t know or don’t have the ability to find out.

Here are some excerpts from the news report with commentary or as I like to call it ground truth. I would like to provide the following disclaimer. I know about what I write, I did not read it, but live it on a daily basis. If you are employed by the CIA, DIA, or any other intel alphabets in the soup this will make you feel like a shumuck and your testicles or ovaries (gender neutral) will shrink. Whether you grow them back is up to you.

The most promising conclusions are that the senior leadership of al-Qaida in Pakistan is at it weakest since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks – and that the Taliban, a constant source of violence and instability in Afghanistan, has seen much of its power halted and reversed over the last 12 months.

Really, what brain trusts came up with this?   Memo to morons, al-Qaida in Pakistan and the Taliban in Pakistan are controlled by the ISI.  We are killing a record number of Taliban but the problem will always persist. When the Paks and the ISI get serious and stop double-dealing. We won’t or can’t do this because the CIA has a cozy relationship with the ISI. See boys and girls the agency has decided that only liaison relationships work and that the host country Intel services will feed them the information that can be turned into intelligence. This coupled with our signals capability should serve us well. This results in information spam or misdirection. We kill what the ISI and their agents give us.

One small example: Why can’t we kill Siraj Haqanni? I know, because the ISI is protecting him. How do I know this? Because DOD has had eyes on reports of him and his location and he still enjoys long walks in the Miram Sha bazaar talking of Jihad and small boys. Truth hurts I know.

Obama, inheriting a war he considered adrift but vital to American security, ordered a heightened U.S. presence and a renewed commitment to supporting Afghanistan’s development. There are now roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

The boys and girls fly into the fob, play Nintendo, workout, eat at the DFAC and fly home from the fob. Not all but the majority. You FOBits know who you are.

To support Afghanistan’s development you need to first deal with the problem on a State Department level. That would begin with bringing the current Afghan president into reality and out of his drug induced, euphoric, Soprano like state where he is supported with large sums of cash by the Iranians. Hey why change when you run a mafia type government, get paid by US to do it and then get paid by Iran to help them spy on the US. Barry we have a problem eh I mean Houston.

The report suggests that the gains against the Taliban “remain fragile and reversible.”

I tell you what. The Marines down south are making nice gains against the Taliban. They find them and kill them. These types of gains are not reversible. Might I suggest something crazy? Let’s emulate the marines on all levels of the playing field metaphorically of course. If someone shoots at us lets hunt them down and deal with them. Here is some more valuable ground truth, Afghans respect strength. We might have to wait two more years to implement this one.

Yet more emphasis is given to descriptions of progress.

“The surge in coalition military and civilian resources, along with an expanded special operations forces targeting campaign and expanded local security measures at the village level, has reduced Taliban influence,” the summary says.

I bet that it is in brilliant power point form. Let me translate. Our additional forces that have been sent to the FOB’s have increased the amount of pecan pie (deference to Babba T) needed to keep the FOBits sated. And oh yes our special operations forces are still working hard and expanding local security.

Guess what, if the special forces were allowed to actually live in the villages, induce pashtunwali and train the locals we could really reduce Taliban influence. It worked in Vietnam but now it is too risky.

Afghan army and police are scheduled to grow to more than 300,000 troops over the next two years. They face an estimated 25,000-30,000 Taliban guerrillas and other rebels.

Sounds like a fair fight.

There were no direct references to the corruption that plagues Afghanistan’s government or the fractured relationship that Obama’s administration shares with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Really I mean why really talk about the actual cause of the problem.

On al-Qaida, the review speaks of major progress in dismantling the Pakistan-based leadership of the terror network.

“Most important, al-Qaida’s senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001,” the report finds. It warns that the U.S. is still the principal target for al-Qaida, and that “Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to be the operational base for the group that attacked us on 9/11.”

The United States has lasting trouble in ridding Pakistan of its havens for terrorists.

The report raises that sore point by saying Pakistan must provide more help in solving the problem, particularly in the dangerous border zone with Afghanistan.

Yes the ISI must stop helping the fundamentalist terrorist. And Bill Clinton must become celibate. It sounds great but dang then reality sets in. We give Pakistan billions of dollars, maybe we could play the tough guy card at state (Pakis respect strength too).

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan has improved substantially in the last year – but the progress has been uneven, the report finds. The U.S. government is pledging improvements in 2011.

Uneven, what do you mean? Oh yeah, we give them money and we get Chapman. (How about that whole liaison thing and I didn’t even bake them a cake). Are they really renaming Chapman to Chap stick, because the latter is a better cover-up.

As plotting of terrorism continues against the United States, the defeat of al-Qaida will be best achieved by forcefully destroying the group’s sanctuaries and killings its leaders, the report says. Throughout, however, the report calls for sustained U.S. help in developing Afghanistan and Pakistan for its people, not just waging a military campaign.

Kill the bad guys and give money to the good guys. What brilliance.

Obama’s comments from the White House briefing room will not take on the tone of a major presidential address. Good thing since he is not a major president.  He is expected to cede the spotlight quickly to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who will field questions from reporters.

Bill Clinton wasn’t available.

This year has been the deadliest in the war for U.S. forces. At least 480 American troops have been killed in 2010, and more than 2,100 have died since the conflict began in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

The review took place over the last two months, led by Obama’s national security staff, with input from across government agencies and from commanders in the war zones.

Separately, new U.S. national intelligence estimates of Afghanistan and Pakistan paint bleak pictures of security conditions inside Afghanistan and of Pakistan’s willingness to rout militants on its side of the border, according to several U.S. officials briefed on both reports. U.S. military commanders have challenged the conclusions, saying they are based on outdated information that does not take into account progress made over this past fall.

Associated Press Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.

I’m glad writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report now if only the Official US intelligence community will contribute to the war.

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    16 comments to What Is the Problem Here? Correct Version

    • RJ

      “So what is the problem here?”

      Simple: Do we fight a war (destroy), or do we build a nation-state (construct)? Trying both brings us to where we are today, after nine years of blood and treasure being lost and spent…for what?

      I know…which came first, the egg or the chicken?

      The pictures of those old buildings…offering hints of a new tourist industry for Afghanistan? Or empty symbols previous “losers” left behind?

    • Another Chim Chim

      Yes, there is a problem. The problem with the military as well as our current society is that it run by lawyers. These types have NEVER been in harm’s way but want to tell you what you can and cannot do. These individuals want to tell you how to run a country but have never balanced their own checkbooks. When I first heard a retired 3 star tell me that before I did anything that I should first CYA, I though, got it. Cover your @$$. Boy oh boy was taken for a loop when I found out that the military that I had been separated for over 10 years dropped the “Call Your Attorney” bomb on me. That was my first introduction to how political correctness, feminism and perhaps worst of all, ATTORNEYs had weaseled into the social experiment that we now call the Armed (soon to be Dis-Armed) Forces. So of course as attorneys have snaked their way into military matters so shall they do the exact same thing into information and intelligence services. Why not? There is fame and fortune to be had there too, right? No we are not fighting a war. Because if we were we would effectively use non-violent means to inflict malice, consternation and internal combustion into the organizational aspect of the enemy. This would come in the methods of EFFECTIVE Information Operations and Psychological Operations PSYOPs. Not only do we not conduct these operations to even a rudimentary level, we have changed the moniker during ‘wartime’ to MISO. So are we serious about this incursion at all? Anyone who has been out and about would find it difficult to believe that we are performing at 80% of our capability. We can’t be this bad at doing things? Can we? Aren’t we still America?

      • RJ

        Another Chim Chim:

        Allow me to add to your thinking on lawyers:

        Every future lawyer learns three major lessons in school that they will later use for survival.

        1. Admit nothing!
        2. Deny everything!
        3. Talk any side of an issue!

        Sophists of modern day, yet when one reads the thoughts of Plato concerning lawyers–written more than 2350 years prior, one understands how these passive aggressive types do grand damage to those who pick up the Warrior mantle on behalf of a country.

        Exit question: How many lawyers are elected politicians in Washington, D.C.? How many elected politicians in Washington, D.C. who are military veterans? Combat veterans?

        Would there be a different perspective if those percentages were reversed?

        You Betcha!

    • Tom

      The photos are very cool.
      Looking forward to your “ruins exploration post”.
      Just finished reading Pressfield’s “The Afghan Campaign”.
      I love the spirit of effort. You show ruins returning to the earth.
      As we all shall. “But I tire of the whole affair……”
      Try this:
      define freedom,
      define justice,
      define human, human being being human.

    • ken

      “They aren’t rogue? Are they? How the Government chooses to use contracted information products, as information deliverables, is the Government’s decision.”

      Chim Chim.. u rock, what a great post, and… great pix timsan !!

    • Tech

      Not to distract from the discussion but after reading this yesterday I walked over to the chow hall to grab a coffee and a biscuit and walked right into the TOCroach in command throwing a fit to the kitchen staff about the lack of pecan pie at 0100. I got a giggle when you brought that up but now i’m a bit embarrassed and disgusted.

    • The loss of humint in intelligence occurred on my watch. Jimmy Carter riffed thousands of field agents, especially in the clandestine services across agencies. We have never recovered.

      One old school Brit running a dozen agents in southern Afghanistan could probably assemble more useful information than the entire CIA/DIA/etc infrastructure. We know this is what works and do nothing to ameliorate the problem.

      Haqqanis, Mullah Omars and all them Tollybons are running around Qetta and the territories like they own it in ISI safe houses and ISI supervised training camps and hostels.The ISI frickin bus the fighters to the border, hand them their weapons, and say “go shoot at these people or suicide bomb that market”.

      We are at war with elements of the ISI. The Chechen who just detonated his/herself at Moscow’s airport was said to have been trained in Pakistan.

      The strategic hamlet program in Vietnam worked pretty well, and could in fact be replicated in parts of Afghanistan.

      Dope grows all over the country, and both sides are in on the business, working together in many cases. It’s a business worth billions that fuels the unrest. The Mexican cartels are doing the same now.

      We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars using F-18’s and B-1’s to chase half a dozen fighters with AK’s, a DshK, and a few RPG’s.This is the essence of dumb.

      Go blow up a couple of ISI facilities anonymously. Let them know we’re serious. Find the bad guys drug stashes and burn them to the ground, and whack Siraj and a few of the other pederasts.

      Sorry for the rant, but despite Petraeus, our strategy is not effecting the change necessary for an acceptable exit strategy and it is likely more people I know are going to get hurt for nothing.

    • My own estimate of enemy numbers for 2010 was in the range of 100,000 to 150,000 available, (albeit not all together and at available at the same time). Or about double of my last years estimate and double again my 2008 estimate. I expect their numbers to double again this year, or come very close to it.

      Those numbers will continue to increase, no matter how accurate they are, just as they have increased every year since 2006.

      There will never be any change, nor an acceptable exit strategy beyond the Marines holding a safe exit airfield within chopper range of the Arabian Sea, unless the enemy is pursued into his home training grounds. On the eastern side of the Durand Line.

      Drones cannot stop the enemy growth, for the same reason waves of B-52’s couldn’t stop the North Vietnamese. For the same reason waves of B-17’s and B-24’s couldn’t stop the Nazi’s. Because air power can never take or hold ground, because air power cannot find or hit every available target. (yeah, I left out the B-29’s over Japan, because I/we do not really want to go there, do we?)

      Negotiation cannot stop the enemy growth either, and the enemy has worked very hard on making that quite clear.

      It’s not to late for a Strategic Hamlets/Phoenix Program modified to suit the locale. But none of that will work any better then the COIN farce we’ve wasted much of the last five years on. Nothing will work until the enemy safe havens are properly attended too.


    • jwest

      1. The strategic hamlet program, transplanted to Afghanistan could work.
      2. Will not.
      3. We lack patience and its adjunct, time.
      4. By the time I got over there, that program was long abandoned.
      5. All the special operations types who had implemented it were on operations, just like us grunts.
      6. The buzzword of my era was “Vietnamization.”
      7. That involved enabling the VN armed forces to be self supporting, enabling in turn, our exit from the arena.
      8. We all know how well that worked.
      9. Does any of this sound familiar?
      10. Erased a long harangue about what makes programs like strategic hamlet work: it’s irrelevant.
      11. I, and 99% of the folks with experience like mine, called this one years ago.
      12. Continue hoping to be proven wrong.
      V/R JWest

    • RJ

      Our president, Obama-Mao is occupied working on being re-elected.

      Those who work this war in “Opium land” would be wise not to irritate our dictator/tyrant/metrosexual leader from his intense focus on what really needs to be done within “his” world.

      “The boss is busy, he’ll get back to you when he has the time!” will be the recording General Patreaus might hear if and when he dials up that private number he was given some months back; even as General McChystral looked back at him while leaving the room–worried that a “sucker” was now our troops’ leader in a war the cic had no intention of winning by a decisive, classical and complete victory.

      Not reasonable, not necessary, not in our national interests!

      Expect John Kerry to volunteer to go over there and be our “Jovian” for the Taliban and friends to settle our conflict of interests.

      Hillary will leave the buffet line to come before American television cameras to declare peace with honor…or something like that.

      Obama-Mao will give a speech claiming solar is better than coal as gas for our cars reaches $4 bucks a gallon.

      Few will be present to welcome home our troops, who will arrive late at night at secure military bases.

      Heroin will be plentiful and cheaper to buy in America’s largest cities.

      This is just one of the nightmares I have…

    • I said parts of Afghanistan; specifically not the wild, wild east. Otherwise I agree. Hive the SE 1/3 of the country off as Pushtunistan and let the Pakistanis deal with the consequences.It is their second greatest nightmare.

      But nothing will get accomplished until we deal with the ISI and narcotics money. A couple few billion pays for a hell of an insurgency, and also funds insurgencies and gangsters all along the pipeline.

    • Meanwhile, other antique hunters simply purchase antiques for the earnings. They see a market potentially they are somehow able to load. While I don’t think that there is anyone around that can’t deal with antiques instead of be fascinated by its history and the thrill of the search, some antique dealers focus more about the dollars and cents with the trade. These people would be the salesmen (and women). They discover how to purchase an item along with successfully sell that item to get a profit. The best antique searcher are all three of a majority of these people combined.

    • TS Alfabet

      The only thing to do, really, is to be prepared. Have your emergency supplies ready at home and your family fully briefed on emergency procedures.

      The S!#t will hit the fan here in the U.S. sooner or later, sadly.

      If we are very, very lucky, it will be another underestimation by AQ of what it takes to bring America down.

      And THEN. THEN, all bets are off. ISI, Pakistan, Yemen, maybe even Iran, had better watch out. A fully roused America is an awesome and terrible thing unleashed. Then the politically correct will run and hide and the warriors will be set loose to set things right. No UN approval, no begging for permission.

      If we are not so fortunate, and the next strike is devastating, then…may that day never come. But we will have earned it with our present madness.

    • hooray; your writings on theater and writing much missed!

    • ken

      “There will never be any change, nor an acceptable exit strategy beyond the Marines holding a safe exit airfield within chopper range of the Arabian Sea, unless the enemy is pursued into his home training grounds. On the eastern side of the Durand Line.”

      The best input i have ever read in a comment here, like no shit !!