Attacking Command and Control Nodes: Two Examples Reveal a Change in the Face of War

In my last post I speculated that the drone, shot down by the Iranians, was an intentional baited ambush by the United States Navy. My theory is based on the pattern of events and the reported outcomes in current Iranian situation and, as I said in the last post, we may have have arrived here by accident, but we are here.

“Here” is the destruction of the Iranian missile control systems by a cyber attack launched during an aborted air raid. Missile control systems are closed kimono, they are never connected to the internet, all inputs into the system come from filtered targeted data or humans. The system went down one of two ways; through the return from a targeted platform, or through the actions of a human asset.

Given the historical record of the Central Intelligence Agency with human intelligence assets the chances they had an agent anywhere near Iran’s missile defense systems are remote. But it is possible and will cause the Iranians to launch a long, bloody, mole hunt. Mole hunts are an awesome tool to use against adversaries because a mole hunt will always turn up guilty people to be disappeared even when there are not guilty.

The United States had a gigantic Mole hunt in 2001 when weaponized anthrax spores showed up in the congressional mail room. Robert Muller and James Comey oversaw the ensuing investigation hounding one man to suicide while bankrupting another. Neither of the suspects had anything to do with the Anthrax attacks and the one who survived won a 5.82 million dollar settlement  after he was exonerated. That’s how mole hunts work; they find “guilty” people regardless of actual guilt, and right now Iran is in the middle of a big one. What could be better than that?

The simplest explanation for why a demonstrator drone, past its service life and headed for a junk heap, was sent over to the gulf and promptly shot down is the drone was serving a specific purpose that no other platform could serve. That service was (possibly) introducing a virus into the targeting systems. When we sent in a feint raid (pulling the planes back at the last minute) the virus the drone introduced was activated. The resulting damage was catastrophic for Iranian defense forces.

This morning in Kabul, Afghanistan there was yet another horrific bombing. This one targeted the Ministry of Defense offices responsible for administration and logistics. A truck bomb started the attack which was followed up by multiple gunmen who had no intention of surviving the assault. It is a typical Taliban attack in an area with no less than five schools as well as the Ministry of Public Works (across the Kabul River).

This map give you an idea where the attack happened but mis-identifies the area as “Puli Mohmood Khan”
This map give you a better idea of where the attack occurred (SE corner of Sash Darak) and what is around the area

At least 50 children were wounded, 43 people killed in the attack and it caused an unknown amount of damage to the Ministry of Defense computer center.

The Taliban, if they were aiming at the computer center, were attacking a legitimate target. One of the most critical vulnerabilities of the Afghan Defense Force is corruption, without addressing it there will be no more money from donor nations. The computer systems that the Taliban attacked are critical to the ability of the Afghan National Army to track and account for donor funds. The funds scheduled to flow into Afghanistan are tied to anti corruption benchmarks, fail to meet them and there will be no more donor dollars.

The Taliban do not have  sophisticated drones that can attack computers, so they used suicide attackers and accepted the killing and maiming dozens of young school girls as necessary for mission success. Yet with all that death and destruction it is inconceivable they did as much damage to the Afghans computer networks as we did to the Iranians missile control systems.

The face of war is changing, incrementally, but significantly. Military leaders have long known that if you want a new idea, read an old book and it looks like somebody was reading up on the Trojan War when they came up with the idea to slip a bug into the Iranian missile systems.

It is important to note that I am observing the situation for afar and have no insider knowlege. I could be wrong about the drone, there could be other explanations for why it was in theater, the drone may have had nothing to do with the cyber attack. But, from my observation post here in McAllen Texas, I don’t see any other explanations for this series of events.

McAllen Texas is in the news these days due to the surge of illegal immigrants flooding across the border. Do you know what I see on the streets of McAllen every day? Nothing, not one sign of migrants because they do not stay here. Once released by the Border Patrol they are dropped of at one of the Catholic Relief Charities where they are fed, allowed to rest and clean up and then given a bus ticket for some point in the interior where they may or may not know somebody. They are out of the valley in under 24 hours.

McAllen is the center of the Rio Grand Valley which is about 95% hispanic and solid blue, the one thing the locals will not tolerate are migrants driving down wages or draining social services. Buses leave McAllen, get through the Border Patrol inspection station in Falfurries before reaching their first stop, San Antonio. Do you know that San Antonio is number 3 in the nation (behind Seattle and San Francisco) for property crimes? See the connection?

If you did see a direct connection it was because I primed your with two facts (migrants are bused out of the valley and the first stop is San Antonio) and a third, unconnected fact, about property crime rates. It may be that property crime rates in San Antonio are sky rocketing because young, unaccompanied, migrants are bailing off the buses there and going to ground. That explanation is probable, but I don’t know it to be true.

I point this out to emphasize a bias in the coverage of the current confrontation with Iran. Most of the reporting I see primes the reader in a negative way regarding the decisions and consequences behind a drone being shot down and an air raid being cancelled at the last minute. We may have witnessed a epochal moment in military history with the attack by Drone on a critical asset but we can’t see it because an acute case of “Orange Man Bad” syndrome in the press.

The more I contemplate the decent of our media into a partisan echo chamber the more determined I am do something about it. It is now time for a national Name Our Hero’s campaign to focus Americans on a positive aspect of being American. The first hero we should name is our selfless kamikaze drone. A hero drone is exactly what we need at the moment because it has no gender or race or political affiliation. Drones came into their own under the Obama administration so I assume they are a bipartisan weapon.

To honor the stunningly successful performance of our first cyber warrior, and in a tip of the hat to the innate common sense of the British peoples, I am naming the drone Droney McDroneface.

The name is in honor of the United Kingdom’s first Arctic Research Vessel Boaty McBoatface and if you don’t know that story hit the link, it’s hysterically funny.

With my next post I’m going to take the Name of Hero’s movement national, but I need some help. I need a meme ninja to take the picture below and make it into Droney McDroneface.  I’m thinking a big cartoon smile and cheerful paint job would do but don’t know how to do it.  DM me if you are able to come up with something good.


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