‘Eventually I’m going to crawl inside your mouth and replace your internal organs.’ –Ben Gold


There are well over 100 small, irregular, asymmetric, and revolutionary wars ongoing around the world today. In these conflicts, there is much to be learned by anyone who has the responsibility of dealing with, analyzing, or reporting on national security threats generated by state and nonstate political actors who do not rely on highly structured organizations, large numbers of military forces, or costly weaponry—for example, transnational criminal organization (TCO)/gang/insurgent phenomena or politicized gangs. In any event, and in any phase of a criminal or revolutionary process, violent nonstate actors have played substantial roles in helping their own organizations and/or political patrons coerce radical political change and achieve putative power.

In these terms, TCO/gang/insurgent phenomena can be as important as traditional hegemonic nation-states in determining political patterns and outcomes in national and global affairs. Additionally, these cases demonstrate how the weakening of national stability, security, and sovereignty can indirectly contribute to personal and collective insecurity and to achieving radical political change. […]

Jamaican posses (gangs) are the byproducts of high levels of poverty and unemployment and lack of upward social mobility. Among other things, the posses represent the consequences of U.S. deportation of Jamaican criminals back to the island and, importantly, of regressive politics in Jamaican democracy. […]

It is estimated that there are at least 85 different posses operating on the island with anywhere between 2,500 to 20,000 members. Each posse operates within a clearly defined territory or neighborhood. The basic structure of a Jamaican posse is fluid but cohesive. Like most other gangs in the Americas, it has an all-powerful don or area leader at the apex of the organization, an upper echelon, a middle echelon, and the “workers” at the bottom of the social pyramid. The upper echelon coordinates the posse’s overall drug, arms, and human trafficking efforts. The middle group manages daily operational activities. The lowest echelon performs street-level sales, purchases, protection, and acts of violence as assigned. When posses need additional workers, they prefer to use other Jamaicans. However, as posses have expanded their markets, they have been known to recruit outsiders, such as African Americans, Trinidadians, Guyanese, and even Chinese immigrants, as mules and street-level dealers. They are kept ignorant of gang structure and members’ identities. If low-level workers are arrested, the posse is not compromised and the revenue continues to come in. […]

Jamaican posses are credited with being self-reliant and self-contained. They have their own aircraft, watercraft, and crews for pickup and delivery, and their own personnel to run legitimate businesses and conduct money-laundering tasks. In that connection, posses have expanded their operations into the entire Caribbean Basin, the United States, Canada, and Europe. The general reputation of Jamaican posses is one of high efficiency and absolute ruthlessness in pursuit of their territorial and commercial interests. Examples of swift and brutal violence include, but are not limited to, fire-bombing, throat-slashing, and dismemberment of victims and their families. Accordingly, Jamaican posses are credited with the highest level of violence in the English-speaking Caribbean and 60 percent of the crime in the region. […]

Today, it is estimated that any given gang-cartel combination earns more money annually from its illicit activities than any Caribbean country generates in legitimate revenues. Thus, individual mini-state governments in the region are simply overmatched by the gang phenomenon. The gangs and their various allies have more money, better arms, and more effective organizations than the states. […]

The great city of São Paulo, Brazil—the proverbial locomotive that pulls the train of the world’s eighth largest economy—was paralyzed by a great surprise in mid-May 2006. […] More than 293 attacks on individuals and groups of individuals were reported, hundreds of people were killed and wounded, and millions of dollars in damage was done to private and public property. Buses were torched, banks were robbed, personal residences were looted and vandalized, municipal buildings and police stations were attacked, and rebellions broke out in 82 prisons within São Paulo’s penal system. Transportation, businesses, factories, offices, banks, schools, and shopping centers were shut down. In all, the city was a frightening place during those days in May.

During that time, the PCC [one of the largest and most powerful gangs in the world] demonstrated its ability to coordinate simultaneous prison riots; destabilize a major city; manipulate judicial, political, and security systems; and shut down the formal Brazilian economy. The PCC also demonstrated its complete lack of principles through its willingness to indiscriminately kill innocent people, destroy public and private property, and suspend the quality-of-life benefits of a major economy for millions of people.

{ PRISM | Continue reading }

‘Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.’ –Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi


The Institute for Economics and Peace’s annual Global Peace Index (GPI) reported an increase in world peace after two consecutive years of decline. The change was driven by slight reductions worldwide in terrorist acts, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, military sophistication, and aggregate number of heavy weapons per capita. […]

The PPI concluded that North America and Western Europe are the most positively peaceful regions, and that full democracies have the highest average levels of peace both on the PPI and the GPI. This finding contributes to the ongoing debate about the efficacy of hybrid regimes versus democracies, suggesting that liberal democracies in fact produce more peaceful societies. […]

Sub-Saharan Africa was reported as the least positively peaceful region, followed by the Middle East and North Africa. […]

The most peaceful countries, Iceland, Denmark, and New Zealand, shared the characteristics of harmonious society, very little internal and external conflict, and especially, low military spending. With its high military spending and involvement in external conflicts, the U.S. slipped seven places last year to the 88th most peaceful country.

{ Diplomatic Courier | Continue reading }

Dies iræ!


There is still controversy over whether war is a science or an art. Efforts to define war as entirely a science have failed. Scientific methods are essential in explaining what occurs in war, and business models aid in managing military organization, planning forces, and designing weapons. Quantifying has its place, but these methods are less suitable as one approaches the operational and strategic levels. A knowledge and understanding of war must be based on science, but its actual conduct is largely an art. Scientific and technological advances will not change that reality. The character of war may alter substantially, yet its nature in the Clausewitzian sense will remain. Seeking to make war simple, predictable, and thus controllable will collapse under the larger weight of such intangibles as the human factor and the psychological elements, which will always ensure there is a fog of war. […]

Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) warned that so-called mathematical factors can never find a firm basis in military calculations. In his view, war most closely resembles a game of cards. […]

The most dramatic changes in military theory that led to a more refined view of warfare occurred in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The major cultural trends in Germany were romanticism, nationalism, and idealism. German romanticism challenged the fundamentals of the French-dominated Enlightenment’s worldview. It was opposed to the French cultural and political imperialism. It led to the awakening of German national sentiment. German thinkers of the “counter-Enlightenment” believed that concepts of knowledge and reality are fundamentally false, or at least exaggerated. For them, the world was not simple but highly complex, composed of innumerable and unique elements and events, and always in a state of flux. […]

Clausewitz believed only in broad generalities, none of which consistently held true in the fog and friction of actual combat. […]

The principal psychological features of any war are hatred, hostility, violence, uncertainty (or fog of war), friction, fear, danger, irrationality, chance, and luck. For Clausewitz, a war was a trinity composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity—a blind natural force. […] He pointed out that the only situation a commander can know fully is his own. […]

Clausewitzian views on the true nature of war remain valid today. The human element is the single most critical aspect of warfare. Human nature has changed little despite vast changes in military technologies. Warfare is too complex and unpredictable an activity to be taken over by machines or explained and managed by pseudoscientific theories. Only the human brain is fully capable of reacting in a timely and proper fashion to the sudden and unanticipated changes in the situation and countering the enemy’s actions and reactions. The enemy has his own will. He can react unpredictably or irrationally.

{ Milan Vego/National Defense University Press | Continue reading }

A crucial component of martial arts and meditation is learning to let go of the ego-self and enter into mushin


Every sect of Buddhism maintains that it is a religion of compassion and nonviolence. Throughout its history, however, Buddhism has occasionally been embroiled in warfare and military campaigns. Zen Buddhism in particular has managed to find its way into various military arts. From its incorporation into the Shaolin Monastery and the impact on the Japanese samurai to its absorption into the curriculum of several martial arts, Zen and fighting have come to be seen as closely related. This is due to certain characteristics of its doctrine as well as its practice. In fact, fighting is not entirely absent from Zen texts and literature. There are stories and kōans which depict amputations, encounters between samurai, or some kind of confrontation. Fighting, in the sense of an inner struggle is also present. […]

The objective of this examination is to draw parallels between Zen meditation and martial arts training and explore the reasons why Zen’s core philosophical doctrine and meditative practice can be integrated seamlessly into the martial arts.

{ SSRN | Continue reading }

Half a league onward! They charge! All is lost now! Do we yield?


Cinderella Castle is the worldwide-recognized icon of the Disney empire. Physical representations of it stand at the center of two Disney Parks: Walt Disney World in Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland. Assuming it were an actual fortress, how would you take it?

A ground must be chosen in which you can quickly secure a foothold into the Magic Kingdom. This position must be easily accessible for the invasion force, provide cover and concealment for the troops and give strategic advantage once taken while depriving the enemy of the same. For this mission, I choose the area outside the tracks, between Tomorrowland and Main Street USA. Consideration must be taken to ensure we are not spotted by the monorail.

{ Jonathan Kirk Davis, Sergeant of Marines/Quora | Continue reading }

related { Macaroni Combat films }

The continuation of policy by other means


From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet. […]

It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country’s infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives. The code itself is 50 times as big as the typical computer worm, Carey Nachenberg, a vice president of Symantec, one of the many groups that have dissected the code, said at a symposium at Stanford University in April. Those forensic investigations into the inner workings of the code, while picking apart how it worked, came to no conclusions about who was responsible.

A similar process is now under way to figure out the origins of another cyberweapon called Flame that was recently discovered to have attacked the computers of Iranian officials, sweeping up information from those machines. But the computer code appears to be at least five years old, and American officials say that it was not part of Olympic Games. They have declined to say whether the United States was responsible for the Flame attack.

Soon the two countries had developed a complex worm that the Americans called “the bug.” But the bug needed to be tested. So, under enormous secrecy, the United States began building replicas of Iran’s P-1 centrifuges. […] Those first small-scale tests were surprisingly successful: the bug invaded the computers, lurking for days or weeks, before sending instructions to speed them up or slow them down so suddenly that their delicate parts, spinning at supersonic speeds, self-destructed. After several false starts, it worked. One day, toward the end of Mr. Bush’s term, the rubble of a centrifuge was spread out on the conference table in the Situation Room, proof of the potential power of a cyberweapon. The worm was declared ready to test against the real target: Iran’s underground enrichment plant. […]

The first attacks were small, and when the centrifuges began spinning out of control in 2008, the Iranians were mystified about the cause, according to intercepts that the United States later picked up. “The thinking was that the Iranians would blame bad parts, or bad engineering, or just incompetence,” one of the architects of the early attack said.

The Iranians were confused partly because no two attacks were exactly alike. Moreover, the code would lurk inside the plant for weeks, recording normal operations; when it attacked, it sent signals to the Natanz control room indicating that everything downstairs was operating normally. “This may have been the most brilliant part of the code,” one American official said.

But by the time Mr. Bush left office, no wholesale destruction had been accomplished. Meeting with Mr. Obama in the White House days before his inauguration, Mr. Bush urged him to preserve two classified programs, Olympic Games and the drone program in Pakistan. Mr. Obama took Mr. Bush’s advice. […]

An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. […] It began replicating itself all around the world. Suddenly, the code was exposed. […] Within a week, another version of the bug brought down just under 1,000 centrifuges. Olympic Games was still on. […]

American cyberattacks are not limited to Iran.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

photo { Donovan Wylie }

Omar comin’ yo


Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) was a major war game exercise conducted by the United States armed forces in mid-2002, likely the largest such exercise in history. The exercise cost $250 million, involved both live exercises and computer simulations.

MC02 was meant to be a test of future military “transformation”—a transition toward new technologies that enable network-centric warfare and provide more powerful weaponry and tactics.

Red, commanded by retired Marine Corps Lt. General Paul K. Van Riper, used old methods to evade Blue’s sophisticated electronic surveillance network. Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to front-line troops and World War II light signals to launch airplanes without radio communications. … In a preemptive strike, Red launched a massive salvo of cruise missiles that overwhelmed the Blue forces’ electronic sensors and destroyed sixteen warships. […]

Another significant portion of Blue’s navy was “sunk” by an armada of small Red boats, which carried out both conventional and suicide attacks that capitalized on Blue’s inability to detect them as well as expected.

At this point, the exercise was suspended, Blue’s ships were “re-floated”, and the rules of engagement were changed. … The war game was forced to follow a script drafted to ensure a Blue Force victory. […] Red Force was ordered to turn on all his anti-aircraft radar in order for them to be destroyed, and Red Force was not allowed to shoot down any of the aircraft bringing Blue Force troops ashore. … They also ordered Red Force not to use certain weapons systems against Blue Force and even ordered that the location of Red Force units to be revealed. […]

Due to his criticism regarding the scripted nature of the new exercise, Van Riper resigned his position in the midst of the war game.

War colleges, where people learn to be soldiers, often have war simulations where different people play different parts of a war between “us” and “them.” Students and others are told that these are realistic, or at least as realistic as is feasible given the simplifications that simulations and games require.

But I’ve now heard personally from enough independent expert insider sources that I’m willing to post it: the above example was not a rare exception; war games are mostly fake.

{ OvercomingBias | Continue reading }

Inventors of figures and phantoms shall they be in their hostilities


{ List of countries by military expenditures | Thanks JLB }

Even the pope know to stay in bullet proof Benz trucks


{ Watch the video }

Out here, due process is a bullet


Lanchester Theory and the Fate of Armed Revolts

Major revolts have recently erupted in parts of the Middle East with substantial international repercussions. Predicting, coping with and winning those revolts have become a grave problem for many regimes and for world powers. We propose a new model of such revolts that describes their evolution by building on the classic Lanchester theory of combat.

The model accounts for the split in the population between those loyal to the regime and those favoring the rebels. We show that, contrary to classical Lanchesterian insights regarding traditional force-on-force engagements, the outcome of a revolt is independent of the initial force sizes; it only depends on the fraction of the population supporting each side and their combat effectiveness.

{ arXiv | Continue reading | Related: Lanchester’s Theory of Warfare }

photo { Clint Eastwood photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin }

‘Move not unless you see an advantage.’ –Sun Tzu


Is male libido the ultimate cause of war?

Across four experiments Lei Chang and his team showed that pictures of attractive women or women’s legs had a raft of war-relevant effects on heterosexual male participants, including: biasing their judgments to be more bellicose towards hostile countries; speeding their ability to locate an armed soldier on a computer screen; and speeding their ability to recognise and locate war-related words on a computer screen.

Equivalent effects after looking at pictures of attractive men were not found for female participants.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

Spew revisionist shit all you want.


How appropriate that you had to use someone else’s joke to take a swipe at me. I told you my idea. You did it two weeks later, VERBATIM. Spew revisionist shit all you want. Everyone knows you’re a hack. Also, everyone knows how you fucked over Paul Feig on the new show. All your press mentions “your” brilliant “Freaks and Geeks,” as if Feig didn’t even do the series. It must have killed you when the true genius behind it got nominated for an Emmy. Is your wife still livid about someone in the neighborhood building a house just like hers? Tell her I know how she feels. The reason I called was to tell you to piss off. We’ll never be “friends,” regardless of the pussy whining from your last email. I respect you zero.

{ From an exchange of emails in fall 2001 between Judd Apatow, the creator of the sitcoms Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared and a successful writer of Hollywood screenplays, and Mark Brazill, the creator of That ’70s Show. | Harper’s magazine | Continue reading }

artwork { Joe Heaps }

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you


Criminology has yet to achieve full recognition as an independent discipline. (…)

When criminology began to make claims as an independent discipline, it came under heavy attack and the knowledge it produces was criticized as a producer of and product of power–knowledge. (…)

As a case in point, political violence and armed conflict have traditionally been neglected by criminologists, as some consider them to lie outside the realm of the discipline. Criminology has shied away from the study of atrocities, genocide, human rights violations, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, particularly from a perspective that centres on imbalances of social power within societies. However, since the late 1990s and particularly since the beginning of the new millennium, criminologists have been looking beyond terrorism and have started to investigate a multiplicity of topics, such as genocide, torture, child soldiers, war, crimes against humanity, and so on.

{ Muse | Continue reading }

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles


While the United Nations and NATO come to their own policy positions, here is what I would do were I the Commander-in-Chief. In the middle of the night (tonight!) I’d send stealth aircraft and drop electromagnetic pulse weapons on all 13 Libyan Air Force bases as well as on selected Libyan Army bases and current battlefield targets. It’s hard to imagine needing more than 24 devices. These devices would destroy all command-and-control capability on both sides, fuse all military electronics, take out the mobile and wired phone networks, and probably shut down large parts of the Libyan electrical grid, ideally with little loss of life.

There are two ways to inflict such electromagnetic damage: 1) detonate a nuclear device in the atmosphere high over Libya, or; 2) use quite simple explosive devices pioneered in Russia and Los Alamos in the 1950s, each capable of doing the damage of dozens of simultaneous lightning strikes.

I’d choose door number 2.

By dawn, with the exception of the odd surviving tank, the Libyan war would be down to boots and AK-47s with the victor being he who commands more of both.

One more thing, though. If I were the President and ordered such a strike, I’d also order that it remain a state secret, which is the only reason that stealth aircraft would be needed — to avoid a radar record of the attack.

{ Robert X. Cringely | Continue reading }

more { Qaddafi Forces Renew Assault Against Rebels on 2 Fronts | And it will continue until the government falls or all the protest leaders are dead. Not until the protests end—until the leaders are dead. | America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels }

Wendy. Darling. Light of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya.


Has warfare been handed down to us through millions of years of evolution? Is it part of who we are as a species? At the heart of this question is whether humans have a natural capacity to kill other humans.

Some social scientists have concluded that evolution has in fact left us with this unfortunate ability.

Primatologist Richard Wrangham, a major proponent of this idea, developed the “Imbalance of Power Hypothesis” to explain how evolution could produce a propensity for warfare in humans.

The idea is that our primate ancestors could have gained access to additional food and other resources by attacking and killing their neighbors. Of course, these deadly attacks would have only been worthwhile if the attackers could ensure their own safety. So, Dr. Wrangham reasons, our ancestors would have carried out deadly attacks only when they severely outnumbered their victims. The conclusion is that our ancestors who were psychologically predisposed to cooperatively pick off their neighbors would have had a distinct evolutionary advantage. Or, in Dr. Wrangham’s words, ”there has been selection for a male psyche that, in certain circumstances, seeks opportunities to carry out low-cost attacks on unsuspecting neighbors.”

This trait would have been amplified and passed down through the generations until it was eventually inherited by modern humans, who presumably took this predisposition and ran with it, inventing more and more efficient ways to kill each other.

The “Imbalance of Power Hypothesis” is largely based on evidence of violence in the animal world, particularly observations of violent behavior among chimpanzees, our closest animal relatives.

But other social scientists have instead studied modern humans in an attempt to discover whether warfare is rooted in evolution. And, contrary to the predictions of the “Imbalance of Power Hypothesis,” many of these scientists have concluded that humans have an innate aversion to killing others.

{ Smells like science | Continue reading | Read more }

I chill with Frankie Lyman and Jimmy Hendrix crew, see this is new to you


Why war? Darwinian explanations, such as the popular “demonic males” theory of Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham, are clearly insufficient. They can’t explain why war emerged relatively recently in human prehistory—less than 15,000 years ago, according to the archaeological record—or why since then it has erupted only in certain times and places.

Many scholars solve this problem by combining Darwin with gloomy old Thomas Malthus. “No matter where we happen to live on Earth, we eventually outstrip the environment,” the Harvard archaeologist Steven LeBlanc asserts. “This has always led to competition as a means of survival, and warfare has been the inevitable consequence of our ecological-demographic propensities.” Note the words “always” and “inevitable.”

LeBlanc is as wrong as Wrangham. Analyses of more than 300 societies in the Human Relations Area Files, an ethnographic database at Yale University, have turned up no clear-cut correlations between warfare and chronic resource scarcity. (…)

War is both underdetermined and overdetermined. That is, many conditions are sufficient for war to occur, but none are necessary. Some societies remain peaceful even when significant risk factors are present, such as high population density, resource scarcity, and economic and ethnic divisions between people. Conversely, other societies fight in the absence of these conditions. What theory can account for this complex pattern of social behavior?

The best answer I’ve found comes from Margaret Mead, who as I mentioned in a recent post is often disparaged by genophilic researchers such as Wrangham. Mead proposed her theory of war in her 1940 essay “Warfare Is Only an Invention—Not a Biological Necessity.” She dismissed the notion that war is the inevitable consequence of our “basic, competitive, aggressive, warring human nature.” This theory is contradicted, she noted, by the simple fact that not all societies wage war. War has never been observed among a Himalayan people called the Lepchas or among the Eskimos. In fact, neither of these groups, when questioned by early ethnographers, was even aware of the concept of war. (…)

Warfare is “an invention,” Mead concluded, like cooking, marriage, writing, burial of the dead or trial by jury. Once a society becomes exposed to the “idea” of war, it “will sometimes go to war” under certain circumstances.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

‘A friend of mine spent twenty years looking for the perfect woman; unfortunately, when he found her he discovered that she was looking for the perfect man.’ –Warren Buffet


We may think of scorpions as all bad ass, but scorpions still have to be careful. They have a painful sting, but some animals have evolved immunity to that. Even if they can drive off a predator with a sting, a scorpion close enough to sting its attacker is close enough to be damaged by its attacker.

In many cases, the best bet for a scorpion is to run away.

Temperature could play a big part whether scorpions get away from an attacker. Scorpions are ectotherms, so their performance is profoundly shaped by the external temperature. Daily temperatures can vary quite widely where scorpions live, particularly in desert regions.

Carlson and Rowe took a look at how temperature and drying affected bark scorpions (Centruroides vittatus). (…)

The authors did not test whether scorpions’ stinging behaviour was affected by drying them out. This is an odd omission, given that the title of this paper promising an examination of both temperature and drying on antipredator behaviours in general.

{ NeuroDojo | Continue reading }

‘For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.’ –Hunter S. Thompson


Red is a color evoked by light consisting of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye.

Longer wavelengths than this are called infrared (below red), and cannot be seen by the naked human eye.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

In Judo, for instance, fighters are allocated Blue or White prior to competition, and in Taekwon-Do, the colours are Red and Blue. Boxers often wear multi-coloured or patterned trunks, but the colour of the gloves is often different.

Hill and Barton (2005) demonstrated that in the 2004 Olympic Games Red competitors were significantly more successful than blue competitors in an even contest. Basically, Red doesn’t give you a +10 str, but it will a) tip the bias of the point recorders in your favour; b) increase one’s competitiveness; or c) scare you opponent just enough so that you have an advantage.

Their paper, published in Nature, does not speculate on the cause – a, b, and c are my own speculations. They also found that Red vs. non-red and non-blue also tipped the advantage to the red competitors. It kind of stands to reason – red is a scary colour, it’s a natural marker of many evolutionary elements, and it’s visually arresting , like black.

I thought maybe it has to do with dominance of colour – but Dijkstra and Preenen (2008) demonstrated that in Judo (where competition is between blue v white) there is no relative advantage to blue – which is arguable the more dominant colour.

{ Psycasm | Continue reading }

photo { Adam Amengual }

‘For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.’ –Sun Tzu


In thinking about Afghanistan, it is essential that we begin by thinking about the nature of guerrilla warfare against an occupying force. The guerrilla lives in the country. He isn’t going anywhere else, as he has nowhere to go. By contrast, the foreigner has a place to which he can return. This is the core weakness of the occupier and the strength of the guerrilla. The former can leave and in all likelihood, his nation will survive. The guerrilla can’t. And having alternatives undermines the foreigner’s will to fight regardless of the importance of the war to him.

The strategy of the guerrilla is to make the option to withdraw more attractive. In order to do this, his strategic goal is simply to survive and fight on whatever level he can. His patience is built into who he is and what he is fighting for. The occupier’s patience is calculated against the cost of the occupation and its opportunity costs, thus, while troops are committed in this country, what is happening elsewhere?

Tactically, the guerrilla survives by being elusive. He disperses in small groups. He operates in hostile terrain. He denies the enemy intelligence on his location and capabilities. He forms political alliances with civilians who provide him supplies and intelligence on the occupation forces and misleads the occupiers about his own location. The guerrilla uses this intelligence network to decline combat on the enemy’s terms and to strike the enemy when he is least prepared. The guerrilla’s goal is not to seize and hold ground but to survive, evade and strike, imposing casualties on the occupier. Above all, the guerrilla must never form a center of gravity that, if struck, would lead to his defeat. He thus actively avoids anything that could be construed as a decisive contact. (…)

The asymmetry of this warfare favors the guerrilla. This is particularly true when the strategic value of the war to the occupier is ambiguous, where the occupier does not possess sufficient force and patience to systematically overwhelm the guerrillas, and where either political or military constraints prevent operations against sanctuaries.

{ George Friedman | Continue reading }

related { Has the West declared cyber war on Iran? Experts say the computer virus found in a nuclear plant is the work of a foreign power. }

‘In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.’ –Sun Tze


President Obama has secretly sanctioned a huge increase in the number of US special forces carrying out search-and-destroy missions against al-Qaeda around the world, with American troops now operating in 75 countries.

The dramatic expansion in the use of special forces, which in their global span go far beyond the covert missions authorised by George W. Bush, reflects how aggressively the President is pursuing al-Qaeda behind his public rhetoric of global engagement and diplomacy.

When Mr Obama took office US special forces were operating in fewer than 60 countries. In the past 18 months he has ordered a big expansion in Yemen and the Horn of Africa — known areas of strong al-Qaeda activity — and elsewhere in the Middle East, central Asia and Africa.

According to The Washington Post, Mr Obama has also approved pre-emptive special forces strikes to disrupt terror plots, and has given the units powers and authority that was not granted by Mr Bush when he occupied the White House. (…)
The aggressive secret war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups has coincided with a surge in the number of US drone attacks in the lawless border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, an al-Qaeda and Taleban haven, since Mr Obama took office.

Just weeks after he entered the White House, the number of missile strikes from the CIA-operated unmanned drones significantly increased, and the pattern has remained. In Iraq, US forces have killed 34 out of the top 42 al-Qaeda operatives in the past 90 days alone. (…)

The order also allowed for US special forces to enter Iran to gather intelligence for a possible future military strike if tensions over its alleged nuclear weapons programme escalate dramatically.

The seven-page document states that the surge is designed to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” al-Qaeda and other militant groups, and to “prepare the environment” for future military strikes by US and local forces.

{ Times | Continue reading }

Just as the Defense Department and its suppliers worry about dependence on foreign oil, they also must be concerned about growing needs — and potentially declining supplies — of rare earth metals.

Rare earth materials are used in commercial and military systems for their magnetic and other unique properties. They include rare earth ores, oxides, metals and alloys.

According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, worldwide availability of these materials may be limited to a few overseas sources, primarily China. GAO noted that the Defense Department is in the early stages of assessing its dependency on rare earth materials and is planning to complete a study by September 2010.

A potential disruption of supplies of rare earth metals would not only affect the U.S. military’s ability to produce high-end weapons, but would also jeopardize the nation’s adoption of green-energy technologies.

{ National Defense | Continue reading | Thanks Douglas! }