SWJ Odds and Ends

While not all inclusive, here are some items that caught my eye and interest so far this week:

COIN Education -- Abu Muqawama

This blog was first started to be a resource for all those out there looking to learn more about insurgency and counterinsurgency. Charlie is a long-time student of COIN who now teaches it to the U.S. military, and Abu Muqawama is a one-time practitioner of COIN who now studies it formally. The real mission of this blog is to pass along some of what we've studied and learned in the hopes that the readership might find some interest in it all. Accordingly, the two of us keep the Counterinsurgency Reading List updated and have now added a new section for the Counterinsurgency Book Club to the right.

Defense Secretary Urges More Spending on the "Civilian Instruments of National Security" -- MountainRunner

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants other agencies to step up, get funded, and do the work they excel at. He wants the other parts of government to not only start participating in the national security of the United States, but doing a better job if not simply starting to do something. Speaking at Kansas State University today, SecDef Gates sounded like a man truly concerned with national security, as he should, and concerned other parts of government are not being mobilized and funded to do their part.

America's long-term relationship with Iraq -- Westhawk

The U.S. and Iraqi governments have begun a negotiation on the structure of their long-term bilateral relationship. The very fact that this negotiation has begun indicates that the two governments must believe that the worst of the civil violence is now in the past. The two sides will terminate the United Nations authority for the multi-national force at the end of 2008. After that, the U.S. and Iraq will enter into a security assistance agreement, similar to scores of other such bilateral agreements the U.S. has with countries around the world...

Now that the War in Iraq is Over -- On Point

...what can the military do better in Afghanistan?

OK, we've not exactly won, but Gen Petraeus is sending a BCT home from Diyala Province and not replacing it. The "Concerned Citizens" Groups south of Baghdad, the Sunni "Anbar Awakening" are standing up in numbers and professionalism that was unimagined even 18 months ago. Do the Iraqi's like us? Hard to say, but so long as they're not killing us, let's be thankful for these small victories and let's pray that the trend continues.

Now, can we do the same in Afghanistan? We've got the same impressive military, AND some reasonable support from NATO. Plus we've been at it since 2001...so why aren't we rocking thru Afghanistan?

Because our message sucks...

Hunting al Qaeda in Iraq's Propaganda Cells -- Long War Journal

After a nearly two-month lull in videos released by al Furqan, al Qaeda in Iraq's primary propaganda arm, two new videos of attacks on US forces have been released over the past three days. Al Qaeda in Iraq is attempting to reestablish its propaganda presence in Iraq, while Multinational Forces Iraq is seeking to dismantle the network...

Give Up, And We'll Consider it a Deal -- Captain's Quarters

Osama bin Laden seems rather desperate to get the Western nations out of Afghanistan. In a new audio tape partially released by al-Jazeera, Osama tells Europeans that the American-led invasion of Afghanistan was unfair, because Mullah Omar's government didn't know about the 9/11 plot. Osama insists that he kept it very quiet...

A Conversation in Bagram, Afghanistan -- Austin Bay

Yesterday in Afghanistan an Air Force lieutenant colonel and I started one of those "well I don't know anybody and I've got to waste some time" chats. We were in the midst of a large crowd - a whole lot of chatting going on about life back in Kansas and how great it is in California. I could tell the man was tired. We talked for a bit, about Texas, about the Air Force. Then the momentum shifted, you know, when eyes connect and a bit of soul is exchanged. He started telling. He told me what he was seeing in combat - lots of action in the Himalayas, in the passes, airstrikes everyday on active Taliban. He'd put bombs on target - danger close missions with US infantry in contact - and he'd used his gun in strafing attacks, a Strike Eagle airman's means of direct action...

Men of Valor: Part III -- Michael Yon

The 4 Rifles first trip into Basra brought more than 15 hours of fighting that left a Pakistani driver killed, dragged away and never seen again by the British. Two British killed in action and many more wounded, a convoy of banged-up vehicles that ran the damage gamut from flat tire to complete destruction, and almost no break before it was time for Major Steve Webb to saddle up and move on again, his Welsh Warriors always taking point on another convoy...

The Saudis Are the Enemy -- Strategy and National Security Policy

I have long held that America's pathetic addiction to petroleum forces us into one of the most repulsive elements of our statecraft: a relationship with the barbaric and benighted nation of Saudi Arabia. Recent events have reminded me of that...

Managing the Barbarians -- Strategy and National Security Policy

For a long time I've felt contemporary American strategy is analogous to the process of "managing the barbarians" which states and empires (including the United States in its first century) have done this for thousands of years. We could learn a lot by looking at the techniques used to do this...

Moeller and Yates Stump for AFRICOM in Nigeria -- Threats Watch

Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, AFRICOM's Deputy to the Commander for Military Operations, and Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, the Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities, toured Nigeria's capital of Abuja in an effort to garner support for AFRICOM's establishment among Nigerian government officials. Moeller and Yates, General William Ward's two deputies in the AFRICOM command structure, visited with the chief of defense staff, the foreign affairs minister, and the national security adviser. Nigeria is a crucial state to get on the AFRICOM bandwagon due to its status as a major power in West Africa...

On Uganda -- Chris Blattman's Blog (Chris has three recent posts up on the civil war in Uganda, all worth reading)

If Uganda is such a strong state, it raises the question why a conflict was able to persist so long. How does a rag tag band of guerrillas consistently defeat one of Africa's more disciplined and professional armies? Most theories credibly question the government's interest and resolve in ending the conflict. Looting eastern DRC occupied much of the army's attention in the 1990's, and battalions of 'ghost soldiers' - soldiers paid on paper, but don't actually exist - supposedly left government forces woefully outmatched by the rebel group. Since the Acholi dominated the former government army and politics for so long, some argue (very plausibly, but admittedly without much real proof) that the government was actually interested in subjugating the Acholi by letting them effectively kill and displace one another.

The Six-Week Emergency -- Captain's Quarters

How long does it take to get to the end of a political emergency? Longer than it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, but shorter than it takes to get to the next election, at least in Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf now says he expects to cancel the PCO that sent his nation into a paroxysm of unrest by December 16th, the first time that he has given an end date for the state of emergency...

The Devil You Know -- Max Boot

Many conservatives, even those generally supportive of democracy promotion, have been supporting Pervez Musharraf on the "better the devil you know" theory (articulated in this article by Arthur Herman.). That is a reasonable theory, but it hasn't worked out in this case: Musharraf simply hasn't delivered the goods. Far from waging the kind of all-out battle against Islamic extremists that he has repeatedly promised Washington, he has instead repeatedly compromised and allowed the jihadists to get stronger, not weaker...

The Special Forces Plan for Pakistan: Mistaking the Anbar Narrative -- The Captain's Journal

While the campaign in Iraq continues and the Afghanistan campaign continues to suffer from a lack of adequate force projection, Pakistan remains fertile soil for making jihadists. Concerning the going-forward U.S. strategy for addressing the problem, the New York Times is the recipient of leaked preliminary strategy plans for counterinsurgency in Pakistan...

War Movies -- Belmont Club

Roger Simon tries to understand why antiwar movies have been doing so badly at the box office. Brian de Palma's Redacted recently grossed so little worldwide it has excited the pity of even amateur movie makers. The artistic failure, Simon believes, is rooted in the distance between the film-maker and the subject. They don't care about the great perils facing the world. They don't care about the history of war-torn regions. They don't care about the causes of the war itself except as a backdrop to make a political statements. The action of Redacted might be located in Iraq, but everyone knows it is really set in Vietnam. A curtain descends between the artist and his subect, a "curious distance, almost alienation" prevents an accurate portrayal of human dilemmas of war. When the primary goal of the cinematic narrative is to portray the United States as Nazi Germany and Bush as Hitler, a cartoon without humor becomes the inevitable result...

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Thanks Grim - link above now updated to the RCT 6 Blog - Dave

It's actually their unit blog I was talking about -- the website is perfectly good, but not that different from anyone else's. Their unit blog, though, is forward looking. There aren't that many units that do a blog-as-such yet, but Sgt. Deboard runs one for RCT-6:

http://fightin6thmarines.vox.com/

Though his duties means he can update it only every few days, it's still the best unit blog I've yet to see.