Closing Thought–05Dec18

Before the SEALs….before Delta Force….before Special Forces…there was the 1st Special Service Force (1st SSF)……they were a short lived unit made up of troops from the US and Canada…..they proved their worth in the battle for Italy and went on to fight in Southern France during World War Two…..

I introduced my readers to this group back in 2016……https://lobotero.com/2016/11/11/the-black-devils/

04 December is the 75th anniversary of their attack on the Nazi stronghold of Monte La Difensa……

Today’s Army Special Forces groups trace their official lineage from the First Special Service Force (FSSF), an elite American-Canadian commando unit during World War II. Activated, July 20, 1942 at Fort William Henry Harrison, near Helena, Montana, the 3,000-man FSSF contained a mix of American and Canadian volunteers.(1) Trained and equipped for special operations in mountain terrain, the force first saw combat in the mountains of Italy 75 years ago this week.(2)
U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark’s Fifth Army had been pressing northward against the German defenses since landing at Salerno, September 9, 1943, with the goal of capturing Rome. Fifth Army’s approach was blocked by a series of German defensive belts known as the Winter Line. Tough enemy resistance, coupled with rugged terrain, inclement weather, and an inadequate number of Allied troops, slowed the Fifth Army’s progress to a crawl.
The steep slopes of Monte La Difensa presented a formidable obstacle to the Allied advance. In November 1943, the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division tried and failed to seize control of the mountain, despite a valiant ten-day effort. Other 3rd Division units attacked north of La Difensa, but also could not penetrate the stout German defenses. Limited successes along the front were offset by the high casualty rate. November 13, Lt. Gen. Clark called off further offensive operations for the remainder of the month.

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/302175/75th-anniversary-first-special-service-force-monte-la-difensa

I bring this up to help their legacy stay in the minds of Americans….for as it is theirs as well as my unit in Vietnam, the LRRPs, are ate up by the Hollywood story of today’s special ops units.

These men should be remembered for their courage and sacrifice not because they were some part of a greater whole……as the saying goes…”All gave some and some gave all”……

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The Mercs Are Coming!

By now everyone that cares about our status in the world knows that Russia and Ukraine are in a basic stand-off with tensions running high and emotions on the edge of ignition…..

Allow me to backtrack a bit……my regulars know how much I read and as it were write……I read something awhile back about using private mercs to fight insurgencies…..

The use of mercenaries and private military contractors (PMC’s) to provide operational support and fight in combat in conflicts worldwide has expanded tremendously since 9/11. The most notorious of these shadow armies, Blackwater, has put PMC’s in the public eye – for all the wrong reasons, when, in 2007, four employees were convicted in the U.S. court for killing 14 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad.

Granted, incidents of this nature are definitely not limited to PMC’s. Atrocities against civilians in combat by government and allied forces have been well-documented. The most notorious examples are Robert Bales, who went on a killing spree in Kandahar that ended in the deaths of 16 Afghan civilians, the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, the Maywand District murders in Afghanistan, and the Haditha killings in Iraq.

https://theantimedia.com/job-classified-contingency-operations-ukraine/

Granted the article is more about the Middle East but it could be expanded to bring in the world….

Now back to the Ukraine/Russia thing…..

It has been uncovered that the US is looking for a few good mercs to work on classified missions…..

The geopolitical analysis site SouthFront has unearthed from the pages of LinkedIn an incredible public job offering by a US defense contractor which reveals potentially sensitive information. The job posting mentions “classified Contingency Operations” in Ukraine and was posted a mere 15 days ago — just prior to last Sunday’s incident between the Russian and Ukrainian navies in the Kerch Strait.

Writes SouthFront,the US-based defense contractor company “Mission Essential” accidentally revealed a US military specialist deployment in the combat zones in Ukraine via a Job Advertisement on LinkedIn.

Crucially, it’s yet further evidence which disproves the years-long claims by Washington that the United States is not directly involved militarily in the Ukraine conflict. The public posting suggests US special forces operations are indeed active and ongoing as tensions with Russia soar.

https://theantimedia.com/job-classified-contingency-operations-ukraine/

So all you chest thumpers can prove your worth by putting your life where your mouth is located.

I have never been a fan of mercs being used by private contractors……

Further Reading:

https://lobotero.com/2018/02/13/the-dogs-of-war/

https://lobotero.com/2017/01/03/rise-of-the-american-mercenary-2/

https://lobotero.com/2016/03/11/those-security-contractors/

https://www.your-poc.com/the-private-military-industrial-complex-extending-conflict-duration-and-quality-the-cost-of-using-private-military-contractors/

https://www.brookings.edu/articles/outsourcing-war/

There is more just use the “Search” option……

Those Lying Eyes

First the big guns came to town….SecDef and SecState and waltzed in front of the US Senate and lied their asses off…..that may not be fair….they were told what to say to Senators (The Trump Line)……and apparently it was all bullsh*t.

To their benefit I will say that some Senators were put off because the CIA head was not in line to brief and they, Senators, wanted to know why…..

Their threats and bitching got the CIA director a trip to brief a few Senators……

Last week’s Senate briefings surrounding a challenge to the Yemen War were less about the limited testimonies of Mike Pompeo and James Mattis than about the conspicuous absence of CIA Director Gina Haspel. That, and reported admissions from the secretaries that she was forbidden from attending the closed door briefing, fueled a lot of anger in the Senate, and by extension growing resistance to the Yemen War.

In a sign that the White House fears losing the war vote outright, they’re now letting Haspel hold her own briefing Tuesday, for a very limited audience of what the administration believes are “key” senators, mostly committee leaders.

The focus of this briefing will be Saudi Arabia’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the CIA’s assessment that the Saudi Crown Prince was involved. The murder is adding to pressure in Congress to stop supporting Saudi wars, and Yemen would be the obvious choice in that regard.

Letting Haspel testify is a concession to the Senate, but the big question will be what she says. Clearly the whole reason she wasn’t allowed in the first place was fear she’d back the CIA’s assessment and hurt the Saudis. If she still does that, it would be strange to think it would placate any senators.

(antiwar.com)

After the briefing the Senators came before the cameras and made the case of MbS being a killer……

Senators came out of a closed-door briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday with some pretty unequivocal opinions about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s October death. What you need to know:

  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker put it like so: “If the Crown Prince went in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes.”
  • NPR points out that when senators were briefed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, Mattis said there was no “smoking gun” that showed the crown prince’s hand in the murder. Sen. Lindsey Graham picked up that thread Tuesday, saying there may not be a smoking gun, but there is a “smoking saw,” a reference to the bone saw allegedly used to dismember the journalist in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. He added there is “zero chance” the crown prince, whom he described as a “wrecking ball,” didn’t play a part, reports the AP.
  • And the New York Times has this from Sen. Richard Shelby: “All evidence points to that, that all this leads back to the crown prince. This is conduct that none of us in America would approve of in any way.”
  • The Washington Post’s take: “Senators put themselves in direct opposition to the White House, making clear that the evidence they heard had convinced them beyond the shadow of a doubt.”
  • And while they were fairly united as it relates to Prince Mohammed, the Times sees senators as being much less unified when it comes to where to go from here, on the heels of last week’s vote to consider ending the US’ involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The Hill has much more on the efforts and sticking points around the legislation here.
  • The AP reports that vote set up debate on the resolution, but when, or even whether, that will happen is unclear, as senators are considering whether to amend the measure, and, if so, how.
  • As for who was allowed to participate in the briefing, the Post reports only Senate leaders and the ranking senators on select committees involved in national security and Saudi policy as it relates to Yemen were included.

Politico reports Rand Paul didn’t number among them, and he wasn’t pleased with that, saying all senators should have heard Haspel’s testimony. “There are eight people in Congress who get briefings on intelligence. That is not democracy. That is not democratic representation nor is it democratic oversight. I think the very definition of the deep state is when the intelligence communities withhold information from Congress.”

My apologies to Haspel for I thought that her time away from first briefing was that the admin was trying to get all lies to confirm their, the admin, position.

And now that the “rest of the story” has been told there seems to be a “showdown” in the Senate brewing….

The Senate is barreling toward a floor brawl over how to respond to Saudi Arabia’s role in the slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Senators took a significant step this week advancing a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, marking a sharp break from President Trump, who has stood by Riyadh and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, even in the face of reports that the prince personally ordered Khashoggi’s death.

But now, lawmakers need to figure out what a final bill will look like as they prepare to take a next step of bringing the resolution up for debate — and a potentially raucous floor drama. The war powers fight is uncharted waters for a Senate that has repeatedly rejected attempts to challenge the White House’s war authority.

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/419214-senate-headed-clash-over-saudi-arabia

It will be telling by the conclusion of this Senatorial fight……admin and Senate at odds…cannot end well for either side….but will win this battle?

Another Lost Lesson?

They say (whoever “they” are) that each conflict educates our leaders and strategists…..but I find that not so accurate……for what did we learn about our short visit to the battlefields of World War One?  For that matter WW2 or Korea or especially Vietnam?

I know that we learned nothing from our ten years in Vietnam….for I see the same mistakes being made with our cute “War on Terror”…..a cute slogan only….you cannot defeat a tactic….

But I digress.

Will we, the US, make the same mistakes we made in Vietnam?

According to reports, the Army has delayed the publication of a 1,300-page internal Iraq war study commissioned by General Ray Odierno in 2013. The volume, which few in the public were even aware of, was an admirable project. After all, the U.S. military famously ignored and jettisoned any lessons after its defeat in Vietnam. Most of us would agree that simply can’t happen again.

So why the delay? Some fear the Army might be hesitant to publish a study that takes its leadership to task for decisions critical to the execution, and perhaps outcome, of the war. (Basically, while the Army says it wants to learn its lessons, it doesn’t necessarily want to see them in black and white.) One chief Army historian claimed it would “air” too much institutional “dirty laundry.”

Indeed, retired Colonel Frank Sobchack, a study team director, expressed concern about the delay in the report’s release, asserting “that the Army was paralyzed with apprehension for the past two years over publishing it leaves me disappointed with the institution to which I dedicated my adult life.”

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/will-iraq-become-another-lesson-lost-like-vietnam/

If not then tell me what it all has meant?

Possibly the most poignant line of the 1984 breakout hit “19” by electronic musician Paul Hardcastle was the one it deliberately drove home with synthesized drumbeat repetition: “In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26. In Vietnam he was nineteen…nineteen.”

When this song hit the radio airwaves, much of the Vietnam veteran cohort—those who had seen the worst fighting in that war—had been home for a little more than a decade. They were in their early 30s now—building careers, raising families, and politically active. The war’s horrors and fallout began reemerging in national headlines and sympathetic Hollywood films, along with Agent Orange and PTSD. A page had turned, too, in the national consciousness. Americans were finally beginning to separate their anger at the government from the young men who fought its war. The mantra became internalized: never again.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/ten-years-gone-iraq-and-afghanistan-vets-on-what-it-all-meant/

Will there be a lesson learned?  Or will we remain in the arrogant belief that we do everything properly?

Here is something to think about when it comes to Vietnam…..

“I’m going to Saigon,” said Secretary of Defense James Mattis last month before correcting himself. “Ho Chi Minh City – former Saigon.”

It was the fifth time that Mattis would meet with his Vietnamese counterpart, Minister of National Defense Ngo Xuan Lich, and it marked the defense secretary’s first visit to a former U.S. military base outside of Ho Chi Minh City. In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, Bien Hoa Air Base was home to 550 aircraft. Today, it is one of many sites heavily contaminated by America’s toxic defoliant of choice, Agent Orange.

https://original.antiwar.com/Arnold_Isaacs/2018/11/08/misremembering-vietnam/

Now you know!