Small Wars Journal

04/23/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

Fri, 04/23/2021 - 8:05am

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs.

1. U.S. Concerns About Taiwan Put Focus on Island’s Defensive Weakness

2. FDD | OPCW Member States Hold Syria Accountable for Chemical Weapons Use

3. The Bloated Pentagon Budget Isn’t Just Wasteful. It’s Racist

4. The unconventional war between Israel and Iran

5.  China, neighbors weigh options, hedge bets as Biden prepares Afghanistan exit

6. Ransomware Targeted by New Justice Department Task Force

7. U.S. Senate passes 'Hate Crimes Act' in overwhelming vote

8. The US military is turning to special operators to fend off Russian and Chinese influence in its neighborhood

9. Follow-Up Comments: War, Peace and Taliban Spreadsheets

10. Book Review: Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States: Small Scale U.S. Interventions Abroad

11. Afghan military will collapse without some US help, says top general in the Middle East

12. Biden Looks to Progressive for Key Human Rights Post

13.  How Q’s 'Lost Drops' Undermine the QAnon Myth

14. STRATCOM boss clarifies comments on ‘zero’ extremism in his organization

15. AFP chief pushes Pinoy structures in West PH Sea

16. In Afghanistan, a Dangerous Surrender in a Misconceived War by Bing West

17. Virginia moving to eliminate all accelerated math courses before 11th grade as part of equity-focused plan

18. China Eyes More Bases in Africa, US Military Official Says

19. JSOU Report on Battle for Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan - 2001 | SOF News

20. Key GOP senators say they’re open to corporate tax increase

21. Sen. Coons sees new era of bipartisanship on China

22. Defending democracies from disinformation and cyber-enabled foreign interference

23. Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob “The Eagle” Gallagher

24. End the ‘Forever War’ Cliché

 

1. U.S. Concerns About Taiwan Put Focus on Island’s Defensive Weakness

WSJ · by Alastair Gale

Taiwan needs a strong conventional deterrence and defense capability. But it also needs asymmetric defense capability that can provide unconventional deterrence through resistance and resilience programs.

 

2. FDD | OPCW Member States Hold Syria Accountable for Chemical Weapons Use

fdd.org · by Anthony Ruggiero Senior Fellow · April 22, 2021

Excerpts: “At the next OPCW EC meeting in July, the Biden administration should lead an effort to adopt a decision demanding that Russia comply with its CWC obligations within 90 days, modeled on the July 2020 EC resolution on Syria. Seventeen current EC member states were among the 59 who condemned Russia on Tuesday, a robust start toward gathering the 28 votes needed for an EC decision.

While some states may regard such an EC decision as hasty, Russia also used Novichok in 2018 in the United Kingdom, inadvertently killing a mother of three instead of the Russian defector targeted for assassination. President Vladimir Putin evidently has yet to receive the message that it is unacceptable to use chemical weapons.

In the lead-up to the July OPCW meeting, Washington should also issue additional targeted sanctions on Russia and Syria and support the prosecution of officials who have committed atrocities.

The OPCW decision marks an important first step toward restoring the global norm of zero chemical weapons use. The fight will continue in the OPCW and elsewhere. The Biden administration must prioritize efforts to hold violators accountable.

 

3. The Bloated Pentagon Budget Isn’t Just Wasteful. It’s Racist

defenseone.com · by Diana Ohlbaum

Wow. I think we are really getting out of hand here. To follow the author's logic I guess there is nothing that is not racist.

 

4. The unconventional war between Israel and Iran

english.ahram.org.eg

Excerpts: “The unconventional methods that Israel has been using against Iran have included cyber-attacks, assassinations and psychological warfare. Other methods, such as the use of proxy wars, the sabotage of commercial shipping and diplomatic actions, are less effective since they also rely on other parties that may not be fully on board.

Israel’s tactics in this unconventional war have been attributed to Meir Dagan, the tenth director of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad between 2002 and 2010. In 2004, Dagan and deputy Tamir Pardo held a meeting attended by the other Israeli security agencies Shabak and Aman to discuss how to halt the Iranian nuclear programme.

The view was that if Iran truly wanted to manufacture nuclear weapons, it would eventually succeed. “What can we do [to change this],” Dagan asked.

 

5. China, neighbors weigh options, hedge bets as Biden prepares Afghanistan exit

washingtontimes.com · by Guy Taylor

Excerpts: “Frederick W. Kagan, who heads the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, said, “There are some fundamental disconnects in the way President Biden and his team are talking about the region and the way the region actually is now.”

“There is more than a trace in the language of their presentation that Afghanistan’s neighbors all have an interest in preventing a Taliban takeover and that terrorists don’t use Afghanistan as a safe haven,” Mr. Kagan said. “I really have a problem with conducting strategy or foreign policy in the subjunctive.”

...

“There’s an irony here that on the one hand Iran, Russia and China, they would be very happy to see U.S. forces leave, just because they don’t want that U.S. influence in their backyard,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center, said in a conference call with reporters last week. “However, at the same time, these countries do have an interest in a more stable Afghanistan.

“I think that these rivals of the U.S. are of two minds,” he said. “On the one hand, for strategic reasons, they’d like to see this U.S. footprint out of there sooner rather than later, but at the same time, I think they recognize that having those foreign forces there does prevent Afghanistan from deteriorating in ways that could impact their interests.”

Others point to major unknowns surrounding the question of how RussiaPakistan, Iran or China will respond should the U.S. withdrawal trigger a full-blown security meltdown or Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

China may actually be a net loser in terms of Taliban ascendancy, although I don’t think a Taliban takeover of Kabul is a foregone conclusion,” Mr. Haqqani said.

He said fears of potential Taliban collusion with Chinese Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic group facing harsh government persecution inside China, may inspire Beijing to throw its weight behind the current government in Kabul, which is trying to stave off a Taliban takeover.

 

6. Ransomware Targeted by New Justice Department Task Force

WSJ · by Dustin Volz · April 21, 2021

Excerpts:Mr. Carlin said the task force also will strive to find more “innovative uses of legal authorities…to protect victims before they are victimized.” Last week, the Justice Department revealed that the FBI had entered computer networks still vulnerable from a recent Microsoft Exchange Server attack that researchers have linked to China to remove malicious code. Mr. Carlin said that maneuver was motivated by concerns that criminal groups could hit those networks with ransomware.

Estimates on annual damages of ransomware attacks vary widely, but security companies generally agree the average size of ransoms has ballooned in recent years and that the overall toll on the economy is in the billions of dollars.

Mr. Carlin, who before returning to the Justice Depart focused on cybersecurity as a partner at the Morrison & Foerster law firm, said he has personally seen ransomware payments over $20 million.

“It wasn’t a hard calculation for the company because they could say it would easily be hundreds of millions in damages for them if they didn’t pay,” Mr. Carlin said. “In almost every case where they paid, they knew the amount of damage was 10, 20 times what they were paying.”

 

7. U.S. Senate passes 'Hate Crimes Act' in overwhelming vote

en.yna.co.kr · by 변덕근 · April 23, 2021

94-1. I wonder what is Senator Hawley's rationale? I wonder who were the other 5 senators who do not vote.

 

8. The US military is turning to special operators to fend off Russian and Chinese influence in its neighborhood

Business Insider · by Stavros Atlamazoglou

 

9. Follow-Up Comments: War, Peace and Taliban Spreadsheets

The New York Times · by Thomas Gibbons-Neff · April 21, 2021

I received these comments from a long time friend with whom I served in the Army more than 30 years ago. These require some deep reflection.

1. War, Peace and Taliban Spreadsheets – “After 20 years of killing one another, in suicide attacks, drone strikes, roadside bomb blasts, night raids and ground offensives, both sides understood the war on almost completely different terms”

 a)  Mirroring – The US practiced this and failed to appreciate the mindset of the Afghans, as a whole, the Pashtuns and, of course, the Taliban themselves.

b) The Taliban didn’t practice mirroring, because they didn’t care about the US mindset. They focused on achieving victory

c) The US was focused on nation building and categorized the conflict as an insurgency. The US then approached the problem as an insurgency without determining what it actually took to achieve victory.

d) The Taliban used everything at their disposal to achieve their strategic goals.

e) The US was unwilling to take the necessary steps, regarding Pakistan, and lacked the geopolitical will to defeat the Taliban (neither by force nor by guile).

f) The US has yet to develop a coherent/workable/sustainable strategy.

 

Lessons learned:

 1) Don’t commit military force without an intent and will to win.

2) Invest in more Professional Military Education.

3) Don’t engage in mirroring (either with those we’re supporting or our opponents). They’re not like us. They don’t think like us. They don’t behave like us.

4) Identify the problem correctly and apply the appropriate ways and means to accomplish the mission. 

 Assessment: In the case of Afghanistan, the US played the role of the Turks and Taliban played the role of Lawrence. The fact that most don’t want to see it in those terms should be a sobering wake-up call. It was and is a Pashtun revolt/uprising. We could have won. We should have won. We could still win. It has always been our choice.

Excerpts: “Practically every week, the Taliban delivered these lists of infractions to U.S. diplomats and military officials in Doha, Qatar, who took the complaints — investigating some and dismissing others as inaccurate.

In a way, the spreadsheets’ very existence supported President Biden’s rationale for pulling out completely, even when his generals wanted to stay: A conditions-based withdrawal, as the Pentagon wanted, seemed bound to fail because neither side could agree on whether the other party was even meeting the conditions they had signed on to.

After 20 years of killing one another, in suicide attacks, drone strikes, roadside bomb blasts, night raids and ground offensives, both sides understood the war on almost completely different terms.

 

10. Book Review: Irregular Soldiers and Rebellious States: Small Scale U.S. Interventions Abroad

Small Wars Journal · by Dave Maxwell

 

11. Afghan military will collapse without some US help, says top general in the Middle East

militarytimes.com · by Lolita Baldor · April 22, 2021

My thoughts: Understand the indigenous way of war and adapt to it.   Do not force the US way of war upon indigenous forces if is counter to their history, customs, traditions, and abilities.

I will bet you could read this in the assessments conducted by Special Forces in 2001-2002 (and even beyond). Every SF soldier knows this.

 

12. Biden Looks to Progressive for Key Human Rights Post

Foreign Policy · by Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch · April 21, 2021

I wonder who will be appointed the north Korean human rights envoy?

Excerpts: “Writing in Foreign Policy’s “It’s Debatable” column in February, Emma Ashford, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, wrote that the long-term U.S. response to the military coup in Myanmar and subsequent violent crackdown on protests would be “a test of which way the administration will tilt: human rights, or great power competition—and a reminder that these two missions are in tension.”

But the Biden team has continued to signal that it can walk and chew gum at the same time. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech last month that the administration would consistently denounce human rights violations at home and abroad, including in allied countries. “The Biden-Harris administration will stand against human rights abuses wherever they occur, regardless of whether the perpetrators are adversaries or partners,” he said.

 

13. How Q’s 'Lost Drops' Undermine the QAnon Myth

bellingcat.com · April 22, 2021

What a weird cult.

 

14.  STRATCOM boss clarifies comments on ‘zero’ extremism in his organization

militarytimes.com · by Meghann Myers · April 22, 2021

Excerpts: “More than 30 percent of troops who responded to a 2020 Military Times poll reported having witnessed racist or white supremacist ideology while serving, including 57 percent of those who identified as a racial or ethic minority.

Richard is not the only senior leader to confidently estimate the extremist threat within the military. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he believes that 99.9 percent of troops are serving with honor, despite the department acknowledging that it does not have a good data set to draw on.

“Even though the number’s small, it can have a corrosive, outsized effect, and that’s the point he’s trying to make,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Military Times on April 9, clarifying that Austin’s statistic is a “colloquialism.”

 

15. AFP chief pushes Pinoy structures in West PH Sea

newsinfo.inquirer.net · by Jeannette I. Andrade · April 23, 2021

Excerpt:According to the AFP chief, while the military has always challenged intrusions into the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, it is also considering other measures aimed at “enhancing our security posture” in the WPS.

But he did not give details, saying the information was not for public consumption.

 

16. In Afghanistan, a Dangerous Surrender in a Misconceived War by Bing West

WSJ · by Bing West

Excerpts: “President Biden set no conditions when he announced that the U.S. was pulling out of Afghanistan. Angry voices are sure to be raised in Congress when the most vicious terrorist groups, such as the Haqqani network, appear in Afghanistan. The White House would be wise to set a red line for Afghanistan, guaranteeing continued operations against terrorists who seek to attack the West.

The U.S. military is a family business. About 80% of service members have a relative who also served. The Afghanistan war spanned an entire generation. What the troops experienced and took away from the era has been communicated from father to son, from aunt to niece. The 1% of American youths who volunteer to serve are heavily influenced by their families. The U.S. can ill afford to further alienate this small warrior class by continuing to venture out into the world with dreams of nation-building. That’s not a proper job for the U.S. military.

 

17. Virginia moving to eliminate all accelerated math courses before 11th grade as part of equity-focused plan

foxnews.com · by Sam Dorman | Fox News

As someone tweeted: are the Chinese and other countries giving up on advanced Math study?

I wonder if this is someone's misguided idea to make all students "equal?" e.g., everyone to the level of the lowest common denominator?

 

18. China Eyes More Bases in Africa, US Military Official Says

voanews.com · by Jeff Seldin

Excerpts: "What they have done in the last two years is completed a very large and capable naval pier that adjoins their base," Townsend said of Chinese expansion at Doraleh. "This pier has a capability to dock their largest ships, to include the Chinese aircraft carrier as well as nuclear submarines."

Now U.S. officials say China is looking to set up a presence farther south along the eastern Africa coast, in Tanzania, and has an even more ambitious plan for Africa’s Atlantic coastline.

"This is the most significant threat from China,” Townsend told members of the Senate Armed Service Committee, saying Beijing wants “something more than a place where they can make port calls and get gas and groceries.”

"I'm talking about a port where they can rearm with munitions and repair naval vessels," he said. "They're working aggressively to get that."

 

19. JSOU Report on Battle for Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan - 2001 | SOF News

sof.news · by SOF News · April 22, 2021

The 154 page report can be downloaded here

 

20.  Key GOP senators say they’re open to corporate tax increase

Axios · by Kadia Goba and Hans Nichols

Is that hell freezing over?

 

21. Sen. Coons sees new era of bipartisanship on China

Axios · by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

It absolutely must be a bipartisan issue.

 

22. Defending democracies from disinformation and cyber-enabled foreign interference

aspistrategist.org.au · by Danielle Cave · April 22, 2021

The longer report is at this link

Excerpts: “There are models for collaboration between states in pushing back against interference. The European Centre of Excellence in Countering Hybrid Threats draws together expertise from across the EU and NATO to facilitate strategic dialogue on responding to hybrid threats, developing best practice, building capacity through training and professional development, and joint exercises. NATO Stratcom is another centre of excellence that combines both strategic and tactical expertise from across the alliance in collective defence against disinformation and information operations.

These models could be replicated through the Quad grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the US. The alignment of interests among these countries could provide an important vehicle for building structures like those that have been trialled elsewhere and offer resilience against cyber-enabled foreign interference. This should include multi-stakeholder 1.5-track engagement that brings together governments, civil society and industry; mitigates against the splintering of economic and national security interests; and drives greater investment in civil society capacity building around detection, strategic communications and digital diplomacy. Social media networks and search engines must do a better job at deterring and punishing actors that actively spread disinformation on their platforms and should audit what they categorise and promote as ‘news’.

Finally, there is strength in democratic collectives. Governments themselves can take steps to mitigate the risks of cyber-enabled foreign interference, but democracies can increase their power by banding together to attribute, raise costs and deter interference by other states. States targeted individually may be reluctant to escalate grey-zone aggression. However, where there’s a collective response, adversaries are likely to recalibrate their behaviour in the face of collective actions like diplomatic measures and economic sanctions.

 

23. Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob “The Eagle” Gallagher

sandboxx.us · by Frumentarius · April 22, 2021

The passing of another American hero.

 

24. End the ‘Forever War’ Cliché

Foreign Policy · by Steven A. Cook · April 22, 2021

Conclusion: "Advocates of ending forever wars have done a valuable service challenging the foreign-policy community on its assumptions. There are limits to American power, and not every problem has an American solution. Yet aiming to end forever wars is too pat, too neat. It does not allow for course corrections or any possibility that the United States has been or can once again be a constructive actor in the Middle East. It may well be that restraint is what is called for in the U.S. approach to the region, but the way that restraint is combining with the “ending forever wars” mantra is too limiting. After trillions of dollars spent, lives lost, people maimed, politics warped, Americans need to be careful in the Middle East, but that does not mean becoming wedded to a nifty slogan. The risks are too great."

 

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"Naturally, the common people don't want war ... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

- Hermann Goring

 

"A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen."

- Winston Churchill

 

"We all know that in war the political and military factors have to complement each other."

- Nguyen Cao Ky

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