Afghanistan After 17 Years

Break out the bubbly….we have an anniversary to celebrate……17 years ago this month, October, we entered into a war with the Taleban and AQ in the central Asian country of Afghanistan.

Seriously!

17 years and some of the troops were in diapers when it began and they are now fighting it….how many movies have been made about this situation….the length of the war that is…….those were considered “fantasies”.

This worthless back and forth reminds me of the 100 Years War fought between France and England in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Anyway we continue to deploy our troops and they continue the fight…..and after 17 years what have we learned…..either valuable or not?

Seventeen years ago this month, in response to an attack on American soil many times greater than had ever occurred before, the United States under Acting President Dick Cheney — sorry, make that Vice President — launched what became the longest and most expensive war in American history.

A war that, strangely and stupidly, still goes on with no more signs of victory than it has ever had in all these years.

The war on Afghanistan, begun in retaliation against the Taliban government of that country that had apparently harbored the al-Qaida organization we held to be instigators of the 9/11 attack, has been responsible for at least 110,000 Afghanistan deaths, including 31,000 civilians, and 2,375 American soldiers killed and 20,320 wounded, according to official statistics. Statistics that, like most things in that country, are highly unreliable and, for Americans, do not include the full number of mental casualties and the number of soldiers who have committed suicide in the years after serving, estimated to be between 10 and 20 a day.

https://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/commentary/on-afghanistan-war-anniversary-what-lessons-have-we-learned/article_2706490a-c89a-11e8-9e80-e3f0ce1bec79.html

Let us be honest……we learned the same thing that we learned after a decade of the Vietnam War……NOTHING!

I see the head of Blackwater does not take NO for an answer…..the Afghan government has told the world that they would NOT accept foreign mercs fighting their wars and yet…they keep trying……

The Afghan government doesn’t agree on much, but they appear overwhelmingly aligned in their rejection of Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s proposal to “privatize” the US occupation of Afghanistan.

A lot of the specifics of this plan have not been made public, but the broad strokes are that, 17 years into the US occupation, the military would be replaced outright by US-hired military contractors. Prince argues this would make the war cheaper.

Prince’s plan clearly can’t happen if the Afghan government refuses, but in the quest to replace the US military, replacing the Afghan government with a more favorable one might not be such a tall order. Prince has been holding a flurry of meetings in recent weeks.

The meetings are with influential Afghans, including top politicians who are potential replacements for President Ghani in the upcoming election. Prince insists he isn’t trying to interfere in Afghan politics, though it’s not a real secret that a more favorable government would be very good for him.

(antiwar.com)

Our so-called training mission is really trying to get more proxies ready to fight our wars for us……

Within a decade, Australia must anticipate greater economic, political and military competition in the Indo-Pacific and, as power balances shift, the ADF will struggle to sustain the technological advantage it maintained during the Cold War. In this increasingly multipolar security environment, the high-technology, high-lethality, high-cost conventional warfighting platforms we’re acquiring will be of decreasing use. These exquisite acquisitions will, paradoxically, increase the likelihood of low-cost proxy conflict, as we see in Syria. Indeed, this situation has led Daniel Byman to note that all of today’s major wars are in essence proxy wars.

Proxy wars are not a new phenomenon. During the Cold War, the threat of mutually assured destruction drove major nuclear powers to achieve political ends through indirect means—as when the U.S. fought Vietnamese forces that were heavily backed by China and Russia.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/10/15/proxy_wars_and_the_demise_of_conventional_warfighting_113892.html

With a new year will we have learned anything or will we continue down this same well worn road?

As a child of the 60’s I am always finding music to explain the stories I write…..and I think I found the best song to describe our involvement in Afghanistan……ENJOY!

We can check out….but we can NEVER leave!

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Is Cybersecurity A Priority?

You would think that cybersecurity would be a priority with this government after learning that it is so damn easy to hack our systems and process.  You would think.

So far with this 2 year old admin I do not see this as a priority…..instead of lambasting opponents try focusing on the security of this nation if your tiny mind can comprehend what we are looking at……

Not only were the elections vulnerable but our electric grid is not looking too safe either….and then a new GAO report really brings this gap home……

A new report out of the Government Accountability Office says the Department of Defense is “just beginning to grapple” with vulnerabilities in most of its new weapons systems. The upshot of the 50-page GAO analysis, per NPR: that, based on five years’ worth of tests, “nearly all” of its latest weapons systems are a cybersecurity nightmare, with easy-to-guess passwords and known vulnerabilities that were never remedied, among other issues. Just as concerning is that the DOD doesn’t even know “the full scale of its weapon system vulnerabilities” as the tests that were carried out “were limited in scope and sophistication,” the GAO notes. The tests, conducted from 2012 to 2017, were initially prompted by a request from the Senate Armed Services Committee to look into just how secure the Pentagon was able to keep its weapons systems.

The GAO notes the “widespread examples of weakness” fell under the umbrella of four cybersecurity categories: “protect, detect, respond, and recover.” The results weren’t great: In one case, for example, a test hacker guessed an admin password in nine seconds; in another, two testers needed just an hour to gain initial access to a weapons system. And, “once they gained initial access, test teams were often able to move throughout a system, escalating their privileges until they had taken full or partial control of a system.” To make matters worse, when vulnerabilities were found, they were often neglected: One test report showed just one vulnerability remedied out of 20 identified. Staffing issues contribute to the problem, as the salaries that cybersecurity aces can command in the private sector far exceed those that the government can pay. Full eye-opening report from the GAO here.

More from The American Conservative………

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-pentagon-incompetent-on-cybersecurity/

Great news if you are an adversary….not so much if you are a member of the cyber team that needs all the help they can get.

Hey D/bags….FOCUS!

Black Hawk Down

24 years ago this month …….

A name that will live in infamy (to use a phrase from the past)….the year is 1994 and the US military was sent into Mogadishu, Somalia on an UN peace keeping mission…..the US decided the way to go about their task was to put away a local warlord, Mohamed Aidid…..taking on this task was mission drift and it went horribly wrong.

The year is 2001 and Hollywood issues a film adaptation to the book “Black Hawk Down”……the movie was a success but then most movies about war are a success…..the actual “war” may not be a success but the movie will be.

During this engagement the US lost 19 soldiers and 73 wounded….but like most of the “war stories” there will be more to the story than the movie will tell……

The 2001 blockbuster war film Black Hawk Down depicted a battle largely forgotten upon the movie’s release. Being released in the wake of 9/11 also gave it an extra dose of significance it might not have held otherwise. The battle occupies a special place in American military history, a legendary status among other post-Cold War military engagements that struggle to gain recognition in the public eye.

The price paid for recognition, however, is that the story becomes a legend that takes on a life of its own. It goes on an unscripted journey, ending up in a place well-removed from where it began. Consequently, the public often appreciates the wrong story or only a part of it. 25 years after the Battle of Mogadishu and 17 years after the film’s release, what the public believes it knows about Black Hawk Down, if not entirely inaccurate, isn’t the whole story.

Dramatic retellings are, of course, entitled to take creative license with a true story. This piece doesn’t contest such alterations. Nor are any of these facts “untold” – they are widely available in various books on the battle. Instead, this piece aims to correct some widely-held assumptions about the battle and reveal some lesser-known facts that have the potential to alter public perception of the Battle of Mogadishu.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/10/03/what_you_may_not_know_about_black_hawk_down_113860.html

This was in our recent history…..keep in mind that NO war is as heroic or as romantic as the movie would have us believe.

Turn The Page!

Khe Sanh–1968

One of the more notable battles of the Vietnam War is Khe Sanh….there have been documentary after film about this battle….but since that was  50 years ago maybe some do not know what I am talking about…..

The U.S. military presence at Khe Sanh began in 1962, when Army Special Forces built a small camp near the village, located some 14 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam and 6 miles from the Laotian border on Route 9, the principal road from South Vietnam into Laos.

U.S. Marines built a garrison adjacent to the Army camp in 1966. In the fall of 1967, the People’s Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) began to build up its strength in the region, and U.S. officials began to suspect that Khe Sanh would be the target of an attack.

https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/battle-of-khe-sanh-1

This short video that lets you get a grip on the action taking place….

I bring this to your attention after reading a declassified document about those days …..

The top commander of U.S. military forces in Vietnam readied nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield in the early months of the brutal 1968 battle at Khe Sanh, according to recently declassified documents obtained by the New York Times.

https://taskandpurpose.com/vietnam-nukes-khe-sahn/

It is so sad that a nuke is their first response to the battle….did anyone consider the American troops in line with that possible nuke strike?

So sad that a nuke was even an option.

War, as French leader Georges Clemenceau famously said, is too important to be left to generals. Generals often see the battlefield in narrow terms, seeking victory at any price, if only to avoid the stain of defeat.

But what price victory if the world ends as a result?

And We Go To Syria

I have been showing for years that this war we are fighting in Syria is not going as we would like…..we went after ISIS after we were told for decades that Assad was the enemy of the free world.

And then I read an article about the US “New Strategy” for the war in Syria…..

As the civil-war aspect of the Syrian conflict winds down, the great power struggle among states is intensifying. It appears the Trump team has discovered that its ability to help solve the former will determine how it fares in the latter.

To that end, the president’s team is fine-tuning an approach to Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, freeze the conflict elsewhere in the country, and reinvigorate the peace process according to UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/10/new-syria-policy-helps-defeat-isis/

I got a good chuckle from parts of this piece……for one the diplomatic aspects…..as far as I have seen there are no diplomatic aspects.  Syria is a sovereign nation like the leader or not and it is NOT the US place to define their policies.

But that with all this so much crap passed around….there is a chance of mission creep?

One of the ten principles of war taught at all military colleges is “Selection and Maintenance of the Aim”. It sounds simple enough, but when the principle is not adhered to then things often go awry.

Think the invasion of Iraq – was the aim to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, or to establish a functioning democratic state in the heart of the Middle East? The military planned for the former, while the political leadership envisaged the latter. So what started out as a purely military operation morphed into a nation-building effort without the necessary political direction to transition in a timely manner from a military-led to a civilian-led effort. It became mission creep on steroids.

The ensuing chaos simply proved the perspicacity of the authors of the ten principles. And it also proved the relevance of another of those principles – “Unity of Effort”.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/danger-mission-creep-syria

On the diplomatic front…… “with actions like targeting Shi’ite militias or Russian mercenaries in Syria, neither of whom Congress authorized, on the grounds that they were engaged in hostile actions against rebel factions that the US, at least for the purposes of the attacks, were labeled “partners” at the time.”

None of that would lead to a positive diplomatic outcome.

What’s Next For The Middle East?

Most administration lackeys want the American people believe that all is going well in the Middle East…..Iraq is a lot calmer these days…Syria is  a mission creep….Saudis and UAE are still killing civilians….but Egypt is quiet and a good customer for arms…….but what will the future bring to the region?

Let’s play soothsayer…..

While no one knows the future, I believe that through a general understanding of the various geopolitical actors and atmosphere in the Middle East and surrounding regions, and a solid understanding of what the Bible says about the future, it is fair to make some general observations and predictions about what will happen next in that part of the world.

In light of the sudden shift in Tunisia and the complete instability in Egypt, everyone seems to be wondering what will come next. The following is a brief rundown of what the next several years should hold for the Holy Land, the greater Middle East and the surrounding regions.

First, let me say that what is happening in Egypt was entirely predictable. President Mubarak’s self-imposed reign was bound to come to an end soon enough. Now just happens to be the time. Mubarak will not be able to retain power.

http://www.prophezine.com/index.php

BUt if armed conflict were a possibility….then where will it be focused?

Escalating violence in two nations may threaten to plunge the already restive Middle East into a deeper conflict involving regional and international powers, according to the latest report by a leading monitor.

The Belgium-based International Crisis Group describes its “U.S.-Iran Trigger List” as “an early-warning platform to monitor, analyze and provide regular updates on key and increasingly flashpoints between Iran and the U.S. or their respective allies that could lead to a direct or indirect confrontation, or generally to a dangerous regional escalation.” It currently includes nine flashpoints with varying degrees of severity, the highest being “Critical,” across the Middle East and its periphery.

https://www.newsweek.com/next-middle-east-war-most-likely-start-these-places-according-new-report-998544

Okay with all that….when will the next conflict erupt?

Some analysts seem to think that the next flare up of violence will be focused on Gaza…..

The signs are ominous—especially in Israel and its neighbours, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. Violence, both actual and rhetorical, has been escalating on all three fronts. Gaza could become the immediate flash point as the Palestinians’ ‘March of Return’, which began on 30 March, intensifies and Israeli retaliation becomes increasingly lethal.

On 28 September, 20,000 Palestinians marched to the Gaza–Israel border and seven of them were killed by Israeli bullets. Such confrontations are now becoming an almost daily occurrence. The march began as a civil-society movement born of the mounting economic and political frustrations over the Israeli blockade of the territory that has made life in Gaza ‘poor, nasty, brutish and short’.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/10/04/when_will_the_next_war_erupt_in_the_middle_east_113866.html

Israel has already had numerous air sorties against an enemy they cannot find…in other words against civilians as a retaliation for something someone did…..

The Middle East is always a source for the possibility for violence…..it is only a matter of time…

Closing Thought–04Oct18

I remember when conservatives, Republicans, use to harp and rant about the debt and fiscal policies….those days are gone just recently the new tax cuts will explode the deficit and expand the debt that the GOP use to guard heavily.  According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the bill will add more than $1 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. The annual deficit for fiscal 2017 was $666 billion, or 3.5 percent of the overall U.S. economy. That share, because of the tax bill, will now increase, though by how much is a matter contentious debate.

The news about the state of the debt was released…….

The US spends far more on its military than any other nation on Earth, but very soon, it will not be the top expenditure of the US government. Rather, rising interest rates and years of mounting debts mean that soon, interest on the debt will overtake that.

Interest costs will be $390 billion next year, and more than $900 billion within a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. At present, US military budgets are in the $700 billion range, and themselves constantly growing.

Somewhere, these two growing lines will intersect, and the runaway military spending is a big reason why. There simply is no way for US to keep pouring substantial portions of a trillion dollars down the well annually for the military without borrowing, and that debt is just growing.

The US debt is huge, and that is in no small part because of decades of runaway military spending, and trillions dumped into nuclear weapons. Lawmakers largely are not interested in this matter right now, likely reflecting their unwillingness to cut military spending to try to get the debt back in line.

(antiwar.com)

And the Trump GOP wants another round of tax cuts…..are these toads serious?

Yes they are!

With the nation’s attention rightly transfixed by the Senate GOP’s monstrous efforts to ram through a Supreme Court nominee who has been credibly accused by multiple women of sexual assault, House Republicans on Friday voted overwhelmingly to approve another $3 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans just weeks before the November midterms.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/09/28/nation-transfixed-kavanaugh-monstrosity-house-gop-votes-give-rich-another-3-trillion

If the last round of cuts exploded the debt then what will another round do?

If you did not know about this end run by the GOP then you can thank your local media for the lack of coverage.

But if you are such a slow learner that you think the GOP tax cuts are a good thing…..then you are a moron or a wealthy person that is making out like a bandit….but for the wider picture of the cuts…..

Tax Day has come and gone. How are those cuts working out?

Spoiler alert: They’re not. Republicans sold their rush-job bill as a way to boost an already strong economy; my colleague Holden Miller boasted they would be jet fuel for growth and touted the year-end bonuses and wage growth so many got.

I argued that most people weren’t seeing increased paychecks, that the bonuses were one-time and heavily concentrated in a couple industries, and that they weren’t lifting up the economy as promised. Actually, in the long term, they’re putting an already strong economy at risk.

Every month we get more fresh evidence of that.

https://www.debt.com/americas-voice-on-debt/far-trumps-tax-cuts-failing/

Peace Out!