ltmurnau: (CX)
Wow, actual bread and circus.
It's not surprising that the Legions feel cut out of things, since they haven't exactly been following the script lately...

Afghan mission Day of Honour planning catches legion off guard

Legions across the country have had only days to prepare for May 9 commemoration event
By Leslie MacKinnon, CBC News Posted: Apr 28, 2014 11:18 AM ET| Last Updated: Apr 28, 2014 4:53 PM ET

A May 9 National Day of Honour commemorating the Afghanistan conflict will include a parade in Ottawa and a breakfast for families of soldiers and others who died during the mission, the government announced today.

But the commemoration is also supposed to be celebrated across the country at legion halls and military bases, and the Royal Canadian Legion says it has had little time to prepare.

Scott Ferris, director of marketing and membership at the legion's national branch, said in an interview, "It's just that with 10 days to plan it doesn't give anyone time to do the great justice to this day that it really needs."

A total of 40,000 veterans will be honoured, as well as the 158 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and several civil servants who were killed in the conflict.

Rick Hansen, the B.C. Paralympian whose Man in Motion world tour in the mid-1980s raised money for spinal cord research, and whose foundation still raises money for the cause, will emcee the event.

The government says former prime ministers and former Govenors General to attend the ceremonies.

The day will also feature a relay called Soldier On — runners will carry the last flag from Afghanistan from Trenton, Ont., to Ottawa. The flag, inside a specially built baton, will be passed on through Napanee, Kingston, Perth, Kanata and Gatineau.

The concept of a special day on May 9 to mark the Afghanistan conflict was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on March 18 when the last Canadian military contingent pulled out of Afghanistan.

That's when the legion started asking questions, but Ferris said it was impossible until last week to even find out when the two minutes of silence would occur in order to co-ordinate the timing in legions across the country. (It will be at 1:30 p.m. E.T.)

"This could have been a fantastic national event with thousands of legion branches getting involved across the country, hundreds of thousands of volunteers. The best we are left with now is scrambling to make something happen," he said.

The tribute breakfast for the families of the fallen will be sponsored by the organization True Patriot Love, which raises money to support soldiers, veterans and their families, and is receiving offers of financial support from the private sector.

Although the breakfast is described as private, corporate sponsors will be able to buy tickets at $1,000 per person, or $3,500 for a group of four.

Controversy over costs

There had been some controversy over the Day of Honour when some families received notices they would be expected to pay their own costs for travel to Ottawa.

However, the government announced it will pick up costs for the families' travel, meals and accommodations while in Ottawa, if True Patriot Love can't raise enough to cover the expenses.

Ferris doesn't have any problem with corporate sponsors paying for families' expenses and says he's glad the private sector is "stepping up." He worries that if government picks up the entire cost, a precedent would be set for several other commemoration events coming up, such as the 70th anniversary of D-Day in early June.

At a news conference Monday a spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office couldn't give even a ballpark figure for the Day of Honour's budget.

"Remembrance is fundamentally a key issue of the legion's mission statement," Ferris pointed out. "But back in 2012 we knew it was going to cost approximately $30 million to commemorate the war of 1812. We have seen nothing from the government in regards to cost."

He pointed out Remembrance Day is considered a day of honour for all veterans, and no one special ceremony was held for veterans of Bosnia or Rwanda.

Ferris continued that the government has been closing veterans affairs offices, and cutting back on some veterans services.

He said the legion's mission is split between honouring veterans and serving them. "We have to do both. But there has to be a balance."

NDP thinks government should pay families' costs

Jack Harris, the NDP's defence critic, said it is "totally inappropriate" to leave families at the mercy of voluntary donations and charities. "Are we trying to save money?" he asked. "You're left with the impression that the government is doing this without spending any money or doing it on the cheap."

Laurie Greenslade, whose son David was one of six soldiers killed on Easter Sunday in Afghanistan in 2007, told CBC News she and her husband planned to pay their own way to Ottawa. Then her husband's employer offered to pay "for everything."

"They wholeheartedly offered to do it, and they wanted to, and we were glad they wanted to, so we said 'yes,'" she said.

Other events for the Day of Honour will include:

■Displays of a Leopard II tank, a rigid hull inflatable boat, a military medical display and other displays from military engineers, Canadian Special Forces and the Foreign Affairs Department.
■Events across the country, in municipalities, local military bases and legion halls, some organized by MPs.
■A two-part fly-by salute. One will include a maritime patrol aircraft, a Globemaster, a Hercules, an airbus, and Griffon and Chinook helicopter, all used in Afghanistan.
■A ceremony for the families of the fallen in the Senate chamber with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Governor General, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Chief of Defence Staff General Thomas Lawson.
■ A 21-gun salute, and a single gunshot followed by two minutes of silence.
The Afghanistan memorial consisting of 190 plaques within eight panels will be on display in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill.

The parade will include 300 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 32 RCMP members, local police and 50 civilians who were part of the Afghanistan mission. Along the way, veterans of the Afghanistan war will join in .


'an that's that about that.
ltmurnau: (CX)
I just look at this and think, "whu...?"
Really, what next...

May 9 Afghan tribute cloaked in secrecy with two weeks left to go
No detailed information available on upcoming event
The Canadian Press Posted: Apr 23, 2014 7:06 AM ET| Last Updated: Apr 23, 2014 7:06 AM ET

A Royal Proclamation, a moment of silence in schools, and the heavy beating of helicopter rotors over Parliament Hill are slated for May 9, but the Harper's government attempt to turn commemoration of the Afghan mission into a national event is facing delays, confusion and the sting of politics.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently designated May 9 as the day to honour the sacrifices in the 12-year war against the Taliban.

Aside from cursory references on two government websites, there's little information about the event.

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (CX)
Mark Campbell, who was the best Platoon 2IC I ever had when I was in the Army and who later lost both his legs in Afghanistan, is one of the six plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

Veterans don't have social contract, Ottawa says in lawsuit response
Federal government responds to class-action lawsuit aimed at New Veterans Charter
By Kristen Everson, CBC News Posted: Mar 18, 2014 5:00 PM ET

The federal government is arguing it does not have a social contract with veterans in response to a class-action suit brought by veterans upset with the compensation arrangement offered to wounded soldiers under the New Veterans Charter.

The veterans' lawsuit claims the charter and the changes it brings to compensation for veterans violate the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Read more... )

God damn this government, saving a few dollars on the backs of these maimed people.
Aki has never voiced an interest in serving in the military, but if he did I would counsel him not to, not when your own government comes right out and says, you get what you get, and if that's nothing, well then you get nothing.
ltmurnau: (CX)
Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan formally ends

Understated ceremony held under heavy guard at NATO headquarters in Kabul
The Canadian Press Posted: Mar 12, 2014

Canadian troops capped a deadly and dangerous 12-year mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday, hauling down the Canadian flag at NATO headquarters in Kabul during a ceremony that was held under heavy guard.

"We were quite explicitly told today in Kabul that we could not even report on this ceremony until after it was done because of security concerns," CBC correspondent Paul Hunter said from Kabul on Wednesday.

"After all this time, they are still worried about security here in Kabul, and I'll tell you, the streets are filled with checkpoints and barbed wire and giant concrete blocks."

The ceremony, held under sunny skies, ended with Canadians involved in the NATO training mission leaving aboard a U.S. Chinook helicopter. The remaining Canadian personnel will leave by the end of the week.
Read more... )

The link ( leads to the site, where there are some infographics on the Canadian involvement in Afghanistan.
Twelve billion dollars in direct expenditure and 158 lives.
ltmurnau: (CX)
.. but as usual a lot has been happening.


Publishing schedule is now:

- Finnish Civil War (1918) in #82 of Paper Wars magazine, later 2013 or early 2014.

- Greek Civil War (1947-49) in #11 of Modern War magazine, summer 2014 (publisher had me adapt the game's "Algeria" family system to a COIN system Joe Miranda will introduce for his Iraq game in Modern War #6, but it wasn't hard to do and I managed to keep the flavour of the game)

- Next Lebanon War (hypothetical 201? IDF invasion) in #13 of Modern war, fall 2014. New system very loosely based on Joe Miranda's Bulge 20, shows asymmetry between high-tech conventional IDF and inchoate Hezbollah quite well I think - was to go in issue #9 but DG's publisher thinks an attack on Iran is more likely, so mine got pushed back for a game on that instead. I hope we're both wrong.

- Kandahar (2009-10 COIN in Afghanistan) in #17 of Modern War, summer 2015. Had an ambitious and intricate COIN system like a very upgunned Algeria that worked quite well and did a lot, in many subtle ways. But publisher thought it was too complex for a magazine game (they figure people want to spend 20 minutes or less learning the rules and plan to play these things possibly twice before the next issue comes out), so dropped in the District Commander engine for it (see below), which runs faster.

- Green Beret (1964 Central Highlands Vietnam, before US intervention) in #18 of Modern War, summer 2015

- Palace Coup, simple small multi-player game about a coup in an imaginary country, sent to Victory Point Games in the winter, they liked it but haven't heard from them lately

- EOKA (Cyprus 1955-59), been shopping this around but it's too obscure a subject, a guy made a very nice map for it but wants to put it on Kickstarter and I have my doubts. Sometimes I just want to dump these things on and let the 25 or 30 people who really want it, have it for $9.95 and then I'm shut of it.

- District Commander, COIN in a generic Red vs. Blue setting, just to test the engine which has three levels of complexity (diceless, diceless with chits, 1d6). I designed it with classrooms in mind, and in developing historical scenarios for it later (e.g. Helmand, Al-Anbar province, etc.). Kandahar will be the first such, now.

- Dios O Federacion, just worked this one out, it's a multiplayer card game on the power struggle in post-Chavez Venezuela (though really it's the setting for an engine I want to test out). Meant to point up the tension between expending resources on building one's own power base and battling others, and expending resources to solve common economica dn social problems which if left unattended make things worse for everyone, quickly. And you can do a coup.

Next week I am going to Montreal for six days for "Stack Academie", a game convention where I am Guest of Honour (!) with Volko Ruhnke. We are finishing off the last bits of A Distant Plain (our game on Afghanistan), which will be a major focus, and will cause some stir when it comes out in August. I haven't been in Montreal for 25 years, taking an extra day or two to walk about and see what's what. I don't care for flying anymore but I am looking forward to this. Also haven't spoken any French for 25 years, we'll see how much of it comes back.


Circuit Breaker has been chugging away monthly, quite nicely! Two-year anniversary in January. Have started a Facebook group for it now, don't know what took me so long.


January 12, 2013 – Two Years of Circuit Breaker!


Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft - Co Co Pino

Klaus Nomi - Cre Spoda

Nash the Slash - Wolf

Cabaret Voltaire - Doom Zoom

Neon Judgement - Chinese Black

Severed Heads - Mambo Fist Miasma

Chris and Cosey - Pagan Tango

Suicide Commando - Better Off Dead (remix by Dive)

Blutengel - Der Spiegel

Manufacture - Armed Forces

Feindflug - AK47

Apoptygma Berzerk - Friendly Fire

Tactical Sekt - Syncope

Clan of Xymox - Emily

Aircrash Bureau - 120 BPM

Ayria - Insect Calm

Legend - Benjamite Bloodline

Otto Dix - Ostrazhenie

Komor Kommando - Love Your Neighbour (request)

Neuroticfish - Prostitute (NYC club edit)

February 10, 2013

Murnau set list:

Nash the Slash - Reactor #2
Portion Control - Divided
Chris and Cosey - Pagan Tango
... Cabaret Voltaire - Doom Zoom
John Foxx - Underpass
Skinny Puppy - Deadlines
Kraftwerk - Numbers
Ege Bam Yasi - This is an Egg
Front 242 - Operating Tracks
Severed Heads - 4WD
Funker Vogt - Child Soldier
Covenant - Dead Stars
Mechanical Cabaret - Let's Go to Bed
2Bullet - Army March Drawn Sword Police
Combichrist - This is my Rifle (AK-47 remix)
Orange Sektor - Endzeit
Straftanz - Blood In Blood Out
Wumpscut - Krieg
AD:Key - Gruene Augen Luegen

March 10, 2013

DJ Murnau

Nash the Slash – Wolf
Einsturzende Neubauten – 3 Thoughts
Nash the Slash – Reactor #2
Portion Control – Chew You to Bits (rebuild)
Danse Macabre – She Believes
John Foxx – He’s a Liquid
Chris and Cosey – Exotica
Skinny Puppy – Chainsaw
Matt Sharp – We Have a Technical
Spine of God – Stripped
Covenant – Like Tears in Rain
Combichrist – God Wrapped in Plastic
Nachtmahr – Boom Boom Boom
Rotersand – Life Light
Technoir – Darkest Days
Apoptygma Berzerk – Friendly Fire
Ayria – The Gun Song
Orange Sektor – Polizisten

April 14, 2013

DJ Murnau

Test Dept - Long Live British Democracy (Which Has Flourished And Is Constantly Perfected Under The Immaculate Guidance Of The Great, Honourable, Generous And Correct Margaret Hilda THATCHER. She Is The Blue Sky In The Hearts Of All Nations. Our People Pay Homage And Bow In Deep Respect And Gratitude To Her, The Milk Of Human Kindness)
Test Dept - Legacy
Klaus Nomi - Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead
Attery Squash - Devo Was Right About Everything
Digital Emotion - Go Go Yellow Screen
Welle: Erdball - Tanzpalast 2000 (Commodore 64 version)
Kraftwerk - Die Modell
Nash the Slash - Swing Shift
Gary Numan - Cars (Dave Clark remix)
Prayer Tower - Warm Leatherette
John Foxx - 030
Clan of Xymox - Emily
Assemblage 23 - Surface
Spine of God - Stripped
Solitary Experiments - Star
AD: Key - Gruene Augen Lugen
Hocico - The Intruder
Ayria - Hunger
Eisenfunk - Citizen


And now this:

"A bill that would revive some provisions of Canada's Anti-terrorism Act will get a final vote in the House of Commons Wednesday night.

The bill — known as S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act — would bring back two central provisions that were originally instituted by the Jean Chrétien government after the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 but were "sunsetted" after a five-year period.

One allowed for "preventative detention," meaning someone can be held without charge for up to three days just on suspicion of being involved in terrorism. The person can then be bound by certain probationary conditions for up to a year, and if he or she refuses the conditions, can be jailed for 12 months.

The second provides for an "investigative hearing" in which someone suspected of having knowledge of a terrorist act can be forced to answer questions. The objective is not to prosecute the person for a criminal offence, but merely to gather information.

If he or she refuses, that person can be imprisoned for up to 12 months. When the Harper government, during its first term, tried to bring back the terrorism measures in 2007, the Liberals opposed the move. Now, however, the government has Liberal support and only the official Opposition, the NDP, is protesting the bill.

The bill has already been though the Senate, and has been awaiting third reading in the Commons for months, but was rushed suddenly into debate on Monday in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. A final vote expected Tuesday was deferred for a day.

Opposition critics have accused the government of trying to exploit the events in Boston and have skeptically pointed out the coincidence of pushing the bill to debate on the same day a major terrorist arrest was announced in Toronto.

In debate, the NDP pointed out it had proposed 17 amendments to the bill at the committee stage, but all were rejected by the Conservatives, who dominate the committee.

The Liberals support the bill and proposed no amendments."

I suppose this is as close as They feel they can come to a home-grown Patriot Act, at least for now. And I also find it difficult to believe that the arrest of those two useful idiots on Monday, who apparently had been under uneventful surveillance for a year and hadn't worked up to do anything yet, was not somehow coordinated with the Prime Minister's Office and the near-railroading of this bill (though with the help of the Liberals, it will be a slam-dunk).
ltmurnau: (CX)
An interesting take on drones, from teh Chronicle of Higher Education:

March 11, 2013

In the Shadow of Drones

Geoffrey Moss for The Chronicle Review
By David O'Hara And John Kaag

According to legend, at the battle of Thermopylae, the Persians' king, Xerxes, threatened to fire so many arrows at the Spartan soldiers blocking his invasion of Greece that the shafts would darken the sky. The Spartan Leonidas' famous response? "Then we shall fight in the shade." Today, as a growing number of our drones overshadow militants half a world away, it might be a good time to revisit this exchange between the two leaders at Thermopylae.

Leonidas' reply wasn't just bravado; it was contempt. Xerxes probably had no idea how weak his boast made him look. The Spartans were probably not armed with bows, just spears and short swords. The Spartans liked it that way; to fight at a distance was a sign of cowardice. Having been brought up in a strenuous militarist state, Spartan soldiers gladly risked their lives in battle in a way that most of us would find incomprehensible.

Plutarch's records of what Spartan mothers said to their sons as they sent them off to battle indicate that one of the worst things a Spartan could do was throw a weapon to save his skin. "Come back with your shield—or on it," some mothers would say. A son who dropped his shield or weapon was too cowardly to face his opponent, or so frightened of battle that he jettisoned his armor to lighten his load as he ran away. The mothers were saying, in effect, "If you don't come back with your weapons, I'll kill you myself, because I won't have a living coward for a son."

That may sound harsh or outdated—to send your son into hand-to-hand combat when technology existed that could kill his enemy at a distance—but perhaps the Spartan mothers were concerned not just with winning battles, but also with what kind of people their sons would become.

The fact that throughout history we have found certain killing technologies to be uncivilized is instructive. Pope Innocent II banned crossbows and slings in 1139. And some critics of the U.S. drone program still regard fighting at an anonymous distance as underhanded or illegitimate.

We are reminded of the French pilot Trou­in in Graham Greene's 1955 novel The Quiet American. Trouin didn't mind strafing his enemies when they could fire back, but he despised being commanded to drop napalm bombs from a safe height, where small-arms fire could not reach him. "We are fighting all of your wars, but you leave us the guilt," he complains. Others, far away, give the orders, and he must live with the consequences of having killed men who had no chance to fight back.

Today we take the effectiveness of drone strikes to be their legitimation. In our national mythology, we celebrate the Spartan virtues of our military, but at the same time we are becoming increasingly Persian. The ease of our lives makes it difficult to comprehend coming home on our shields. In John Brennan's testimony during recent hearings to confirm him as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, we hear the echoing threats of Xerxes, suggesting that technological superiority can allow us to win wars without really fighting them.

Brennan suggested that drone strikes were used as "a last resort to save lives," presumably soldiers' lives and the lives of those who might be threatened someday by terrorists. Those lives are undoubtedly worth saving, but we also discern in his remarks a growing sentiment about the future of armed conflict: that we do not need to be invested in direct warfare, because now we have use of "targeted lethal force." We no longer need to risk personal injury in actions of "last resort." All we need are arrows—that is, drones.

Of course, Spartan-style cultures, in which people are willing to fight in the shadow of certain death, have their own problems. The Spartan mentality arises in cultures that are often decidedly undemocratic and anti-intellectual. They emphasize not just physical bravery but also self-abnegation and blind devotion to a cause. Often they are unflinchingly invested in conflict simply because they have to be, lacking or eschewing the technological devices that would shield them from harm.

In other words, these martial values arise in communities that embrace Islamic extremism.

And so we rush to fill the sky with modern-day arrows to destroy the modern-day Spartans.

But it is not that simple.

The Persians hoped that their weapons would bring enemies to their knees, but the promised attack only emboldened them. Xerxes' superior forces eventually won that battle, but the legend of the Spartans' stand at Thermopylae gave their compatriots both time and spirit, and the Persians were eventually defeated. Ironically, the weapons that Xerxes hoped would win the war with a minimum of casualties only served to strengthen his enemy's resolve.

In the Brennan hearings, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, raised exactly that concern, quoting retired General Stanley McChrystal, who said recently: "The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who have never seen one or seen the effects of one."

The use of certain kinds of weapons might just convince our enemies that we lack the courage of our convictions, or that our weapons are both symptom and disease of a culture willing to kill as long as we don't have to see the fighting. Rather than dismiss that allegation, we should work to ensure that our enemies would be wrong to reach that conclusion.

If we are wise, we will be concerned with more than just winning today's battle. Our soldiers' lives are immeasurably precious, and we should not risk them without grave cause. But surely their souls, and the soul of our nation, are precious, too.

What happens to a soldier who is asked to kill more and more anonymously? What happens to a people who condone deadly hellfire from the sky, triggered 10,000 miles away, and then never know it has fallen? To a people unable to imagine that anyone could regard a cloud of incoming arrows as a pleasant shade to fight in? Or to a people for whom the expediency of drones and the avoidance of risk are sufficient to dismiss any ethical concerns they might engender?

David O'Hara is an associate professor of philosophy and classics at Augustana College, in South Dakota, and John Kaag is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
ltmurnau: (Default)

I knew Major Mark Campbell in the 1980s when he was Sergeant Mark Campbell.
He was my platoon 2IC when I was a platoon commander in the Militia, and one of the most competent people I've ever known.
Unlike me, Mark went on to join the Regular Forces.
In 2005 he lost both legs below the knee in Panjwaii District (Afghanistan) when an IED went off next to his vehicle.
Now, he and many other disabled veterans are getting screwed over by Veterans Affairs Canada, for the sake of saving a few dollars and cutting a few positions in the organization.
I'm glad he is speaking out about it.
I am proud of my country and my service (though my sacrifices were usually limited to being cold, wet and tired, nothing at all like what he has given) but every day I have less and less reason to be proud of its government.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Nope, nothing surprising about thsi, nothing at all.

Canadian army short on mid-level leadership due to Afghan mission

By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News November 28, 2011

OTTAWA — Canada's new training mission in Afghanistan is putting the army's "long-term health" at risk because of the demands being placed on the force's small number of sergeants, captains and other mid-level leaders, a new defence department report indicates.

There are now 19,500 full-time soldiers in the Canadian army, 3,000 more than in 2004. The force shrank significantly through the 1990s and early 2000s because of deep budget cuts, but began expanding again with Canada's involvement in combat operations in Kandahar starting in 2005.

That growth, however, hasn't been without its own problems, says the departmental performance report, an annual, internally-produced publication that looks back at the department's work over the past year.

"While Regular Force expansion has resulted in the Army having the right number of personnel, they are not distributed through the necessary ranks," the report reads.

It goes on to note that the army is "heavy" in lower ranks like privates, corporals and lieutenants, but "light" when it comes to senior non-commissioned officers like sergeants as well as mid-level officers like captains and majors.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk recently highlighted the importance of trained NCOs and mid-level officers.

"I cannot go onto the street and hire a sergeant, hire a major, hire a colonel," he told the Commons' defence committee on Nov. 3. "If you want a sergeant with 10 years of experience, it takes 10 years."

According to the performance report, military officials had anticipated that the end of the combat mission in Kandahar this past July would free up much-needed sergeants, captains and majors for other tasks.

But the government has since committed Canada to helping train the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police to ensure those two institutions are ready to take responsibility for the country's security by 2014.

The performance report says the Canadian military personnel who will be responsible for this task "are the same ranks which are (in) short (supply) in the army and are required in the training establishments (in Canada) where they preserve the long-term health of the army."

Instead, "the army has been drawing heavily on the militia to fill these gaps."

The militia is the army's name for its 16,000-strong reserve force.

The role of the reserves has come under scrutiny in recent months after a senior general, Andrew Leslie, noted recently that the number serving in the Canadian Forces has grown in recent years by 23 per cent, or more than 6,600, because regular force personnel were needed in Afghanistan.

This growth outpaced the regular force, with many of the so-called "weekend warriors" taking up full-time positions in headquarters and administrative positions. Leslie recommended slashing the number of full-time reservists to 4,500 as part of an effort to find $1 billion in defence department savings.

The Conservatives blasted past Liberal governments for overcommitting Canada's military, but University of Calgary defence expert Rob Huebert said the Harper government is in danger of doing the same thing.

The sergeants, captains and majors are the "heart and soul" of the army, he said, and their heavy commitment to Afghanistan is worrying for the army's long-term viability.

"Because it's always full capacity in Afghanistan instead of coming back to Canada to do the training," he said, "ultimately you end up eating your own young, so to speak."

Huebert said the report also highlights the dangers that are on the horizon as the defence department works to find billions in savings over the next few years.

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

ltmurnau: (Default)
This signed editorial from today's T-C says what I was thinking, only better. It's not exactly news, to people who have been reading the news, and IMIO Canada has slightly retreated in recent years from being "this most civilized of nations", but it needs to be said once in a while, to remind us of where we came from.

Editorial: Torture, WikiLeaks and our lost sanity

By Dan Gardner, Times Colonist December 7, 2010 6:48 AM

Last week, in response to a question from the opposition, a minister of the Crown stood in the House of Commons and assured the honourable members that neither he nor the prime minister of Canada advocates the murder of Julian Assange.

How is it possible that in this most civilized of nations, in 2010, a member of Parliament felt the need to raise the matter?

And while we're asking rhetorical questions that would not need to be asked in a sane world, how is it possible that the Republican party has so completely embraced aggression and brutality that almost all its leading figures feel the near-drowning of suspects is a valid interrogation technique and imprisonment without charge or trial is a legitimate practice that should be expanded?

Why is it that most people in the United States and elsewhere are not disturbed in the slightest that, despite abundant evidence, American officials who apparently committed heinous crimes in the war on terror will not be investigated and held to account, while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who apparently did nothing illegal, is hunted to the ends of the Earth?

And how in hell is it possible that when a former U.S. president admits he authorized torture -- which is to say, he admits he committed a major crime -- the international media and political classes express not a fraction of the anger they are now directing at the man who leaked the secrets of that president's administration?

I marvel at that paragraph. It would have been inconceivable even 10 years ago. Murder treated as a legitimate option in political discourse? Torture as acceptable government policy? No, impossible. A decade ago, it would have been satire too crude to be funny.

And yet, here we are. The question in the Commons was prompted by the televised comments of Tom Flanagan, political scientist and former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "I think Assange should be assassinated, actually," Flanagan said last Tuesday.

This was the hard-right laid bare. The day before, Sarah Palin said much the same. Explicitly or implicitly, so did many others.

Happily for the cause of decency, sanity and civilization, Flanagan apologized for his comments. Less happily, the others did not.

It started on Sept. 11, 2001. We were frightened. We were prepared to think the unthinkable, to accept what had been rejected, in the name of security. What was it Ben Franklin said about those who would trade liberty for security? We couldn't remember.

It was small stuff at first. There was talk of "stress-and-duress" interrogation techniques. It's only sleep deprivation and a little pain, we were told. It's not torture.

Incarceration without charge or trial. Kidnapping. "Enhanced interrogation." Detainee deaths. We learned more and more but cared less and less.

A 2009 Pew poll found half of Americans think torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified when interrogating terrorists. Another 22 per cent say it's "rarely" the right thing to do. Only one-quarter say it's always wrong.

Critics now call the Republicans the "party of torture" for good reason. Dick Cheney's bizarre and legally absurd claim that the near-drowning of prisoners -- "waterboarding" -- is acceptable because it isn't torture is now dogma among leading Republicans who either don't know or don't care that this and other policies they advocate would be deemed major crimes by any court in the civilized world.

Then along comes George W. Bush with a memoir and the boast that "damn right" he had authorized waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture. Torture is a major crime. Bush freely admitted it.

And the Convention Against Torture requires authorities everywhere to investigate and prosecute "wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed."

Which they refuse to do. And most people are just fine with that. Stuff the law.

Now, contrast this with Assange. One can argue -- as I would -- that Assange is an irresponsible zealot. One can also argue that there should be a law forbidding what he did. But there isn't. Legal analysts have looked hard but it seems that what Assange did wasn't a crime.

And a lot of people want the U.S. government to murder him.

I suppose, if I were considerably more cynical, and liked crude satire, it would be funny. But all it makes me feel is a vague sadness for something that has been lost.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist


And something from Julian Assange himself, writing to The Australian, a national paper Down Under. Nice swipe at Rupert Murdoch, too:

Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths
Julian Assange
From: The Australian December 08, 2010

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.


Famous Foax

Jul. 9th, 2010 10:04 am
ltmurnau: (Default)
GEN David Petraeus, the new commander in Afghanistan, talks with BGEN John Vance, the commander of Task Force Kandahar, outside Kandahar City.

My tenuous connection to this picture is that John Vance and I were in the same platoon in "phase training" at the Infantry School in 1985, learning to be rifle platoon commanders. I remember wowing him once (but only once) because I knew more about Soviet tactics than he did. I always thought he would go far, not only because his father was also a general but also because he was quite tough and smart in his own right.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Military readies reservists for threats to 'domestic front'
Adrian Humphreys, National Post
Published: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Canadian military has embarked on a wide-ranging plan to turn its reserve soldiers into focused units trained and equipped to respond to a nightmarish array of domestic threats, including terrorist "dirty bomb" attacks, biological agent containment, Arctic catastrophes and natural disasters.
Read more... )
Interesting article, including the frank admission that on certain occasions, it is necessary to keep people inside a secured perimeter.

These units would be commanded by "Canada Command", a headquarters created in 2006. It is headed by a Lieutenant General or equivalent rank (right now it's a Vice-Admiral). The Command is divided into six Regional Joint Task Forces (which would exercise operational command of units), three Search and Rescue Regions, and the Combined Force Air Component Commander. These organizations are "delegated authority to task available Canadian Forces resources within their areas of responsibility in support of domestic or continental operations". This includes reservists, of course.

Here also is a link to an interesting corollary, the Civil Assistance Plan that sets out the conditions under which the armed forces of the United States would "assist" the Canadian Forces (and, at least theoretically, the other way round) in the event of some kind of domestic event.

But this also reminds me (and this is what Bercuson is referring to) of the 1950s, a time when the reserve forces were all tasked with something called "National Survival": in effect, they were all to be converted to Civil Defence troops used to keep things in order in case of an atomic war. Enrolments plummeted; no one wanted to join the storied ranks of the Royal Buckshot Fusiliers just to learn how to work a Geiger counter or roll bandages.

(Heh, I just read a page or two of CF slang, and found I actually have a "Bachelor's Degree in Applied Ballistics and Crisis Management" (i.e. I completed Infantry Phase Training) from "Fire and Movement University" (the Combat Training Centre at CFB Gagetown, near Fredericton NB). Class of 1985.)
ltmurnau: (Default)
It's been almost a year since I went to the Naval Postgraduate School for a conference on Irregular Warfare, at which one of my game designs was very prominent.

It's been an ambiguous year since then - I had high hopes for contributing more to this kind of thing, since I have been designing and writing about terrorism and guerrilla warfare for years. I've done a lot more and probably better directed reading and designing during this time. But I am hampered because it's not my day job. It seems I am even more hampered by the fact that I am not an American citizen, and have no security clearance.

However, it looks as if this idea will be around for the US military to toy with for some time, since the genuine article isn't going away just yet.

Gates pushes military to embrace 'irregular warfare'

by Jim Mannion – Thu Dec 4, 9:11 pm ET

… WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for the military to develop an enduring capacity to fight "irregular" wars, and to rethink its reliance on ever more costly high-tech weapons.

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (Default)
The US military came out with FM 3-24, "Counterinsurgency", late last year. It is a different manual in that it is not written in the usual style, it incorporated input from social scientists, and it has an annotated bibliography - this last is a first.

Here is the reading list, starting with the canonical works. My comments are offered in [italics]

The Classics

Calwell, Charles E. Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1996. (Reprint of Small Wars: A Tactical Textbook for Imperial Soldiers [London: Greenhill Books, 1890]. A British major general who fought in small wars in Afghanistan and the Boer War provides lessons learned that remain applicable today.)

Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. London: Praeger, 1964. (Lessons derived from the author's observation of insurgency and counterinsurgency in Greece, China, and Algeria.) [Galula's work is very au courant right now, after sitting on the shelf for almost 40 years.]

Gurr, Ted Robert. Why Men Rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971. (Describes the relative deprivation theory, which states that unmet expectations motivate those who join rebel movements.)

Hoffer, Eric. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2002. (This book, originally published in 1951, explains why people become members of cults and similar groups.)

Horne, Alistair. A Savage War of Peace. New York: Viking, 1977. (One of the best analyses of the approaches and problems on both sides during the war in Algeria. For more on this conflict, see The Battle of Algiers, a troubling and instructive 1966 movie.) [Excellent history, excellent movie.]

Jeapes, Tony. SAS Secret War. London: Greenhill Books, 2005. (How the British Special Air Ser­vice raised and employed irregular tribal forces to counter a communist insurgency in Oman during the 1960s and 1970s.)

Kitson, Frank. Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency and Peacekeeping. London: Faber and Faber, 1971. (Explanation of the British school of counterinsurgency from one of its best practitioners.)

Komer, Robert. Bureaucracy Does Its Thing: Institutional Constraints on U.S.-GVN Performance in Vietnam. Washington, D.C.: RAND, 1972. Rand Corporation Web site < > (Bureaucracies do what they do—even if they lose the war.)

Larteguy, Jean. The Centurions. New York: Dutton, 1962. (A fact-based novel about the French experience in Vietnam and Algeria that depicts the leadership and ethical dilemmas involved in counterinsurgency. The sequel The Praetorians is also a classic depiction of the impact of ethical erosion on a military organization.) [Good novel, they made a not-great moview out of it with Anthony Quinn called Lost Command. I do not think The Praetorians is available in English.]

Lawrence, T.E. Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph. New York: Anchor, 1991. (Reprint of 1917 book published in London by George Doran. Autobiographical account of Lawrence of Arabia's attempts to organize Arab nationalism during World War I.)

———. "The 27 Articles of T.E. Lawrence." The Arab Bulletin (20 Aug 1917). Defense and the National Interest Web site < > (Much of the best of Seven Pillars of Wisdom in easily digestible bullet points.)

Linn, Brian McAllister. The Philippine War, 1899–1902. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2002. (The definitive treatment of successful U.S. counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines.)

Mao Zedong. On Guerrilla Warfare. London: Cassell, 1965. (Mao describes the principles which he used so well in seizing power in China and which have inspired many imitators.)

McCuen, John J. The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War. St. Petersburg, FL: Hailer Publishing, 2005. (Originally published by Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1966. Discusses theory, practice, and historical keys to victory.) [This is an interesting interpretation of CRW experiences to the date of its writing.]

Race, Jeffrey. War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1972. (Counterinsurgency is scalable. Depicts the evolution of insurgency in one province in Vietnam.)

Thompson, Robert. Defeating Communist Insurgency. St. Petersburg, FL: Hailer Publishing, 2005. (Written in 1966. Provides lessons from the author's counterinsurgency experience in Malaya and Vietnam.)

Trinquier, Roger. Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency. New York: Praeger, 1964. (The French school of counterinsurgency with a focus on "whatever means necessary.")

United States Marine Corps. Small Wars Manual. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1987. Air War College Gateway to the Internet Web site < > (This book, originally published in 1940, covers lessons learned from the Corps' experience in the interwar years.)

West, Bing. The Village. New York: Pocket Books, 1972. (A first-person account of military advisors embedded with Vietnamese units.)

Overviews and Special Subjects in Counterinsurgency

Asprey, Robert. War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History. 2 vols. New York: William Morrow, 1994. (First published in 1975. Presents the history of guerrilla war from ancient Persia to modern Afghanistan.) [Very thick and very detailed.]

Baker, Ralph O. "The Decisive Weapon: A Brigade Combat Team Commander's Perspective on Information Operations." Military Review 86, 3 (May-Jun 2006), 13–32. (A brigade combat team commander in Iraq in 2003–2004 gives his perspective on information operations.)

Corum, James and Wray Johnson. Airpower in Small Wars: Fighting Insurgents and Terrorists. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2003. (Depicts uses and limits of airpower and technology in counterinsurgency.)

Davidson, Phillip. Secrets of the Vietnam War. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1990. (MACV commander General Westmoreland's intelligence officer provides an insightful analysis of the intricacies of the North Vietnamese strategy of dau tranh ["the struggle"].)

Ellis, John. From the Barrel of a Gun: A History of Guerrilla, Revolutionary, and Counter-insurgency Warfare from the Romans to the Present. London: Greenhill, 1995. (A comprehensive short overview of counterinsurgency.)

Hammes, T.X. The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century. Osceola, WI: Zenith Press, 2004. (The future of warfare for the West is insurgency and terror according to a Marine with Operation Iraqi Freedom experience.) [Recommended.]

Krepinevich, Andrew Jr. The Army and Vietnam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. (Argues that the Army never adapted to the insurgency in Vietnam, preferring to fight the war as a conventional conflict with an emphasis on firepower.)

Merom, Gil. How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. (Examines the cases of Algeria, Lebanon, and Vietnam. Determines that great powers lose small wars when they lose public support at home.)

Nagl, John A. Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. (How to learn to defeat an insurgency. Foreword by Peter J. Schoomaker.) [Another recommended work, by one of the authors of FM 3-24.]

O'Neill, Bard E. Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2005. (A framework for analyzing insurgency operations and a good first book in insurgency studies.) [Recommended.]

Sepp, Kalev I. "Best Practices in Counterinsurgency." Military Review 85, 3 (May-Jun 2005), 8–12. (Historical best practices for success in counterinsurgency.)

Shy, John and Thomas W. Collier. "Revolutionary War" in Peter Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986. (One of the best overview of the various counterinsurgency schools, discussing both the writings and the contexts in which they were developed.)

Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Harvest/HBJ, 2000. (Describes the impact of General Creighton Abrams on the conduct of the war in South Vietnam. While he improved unity of effort in counterinsurgency, the North Vietnamese were successfully focusing on facilitating American withdrawal by targeting will in the United States.)

Taber, Robert. War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2002. (Explains the advantages of the insurgent and how to overcome them.)

Contemporary Experiences and the War on Terrorism

Alwin-Foster, Nigel R.F. "Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations." Military Review 85, 6 (Nov-Dec 2005), 2–15. (A provocative look at U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Iraq in 2003-2004 from a British practitioner.)

Barno, David W. "Challenges in Fighting a Global Insurgency." Parameters 36, 2 (Summer 2006), 15–29. (Observations from a three-star commander in Afghanistan.)

Chiarelli, Peter W. and Patrick R. Michaelis. "Winning the Peace: The Requirement for Full-Spectrum Operations," Military Review 85, 4 (Jul-Aug 2005), 4–17. (The commander of Task Force Baghdad in 2004 describes his lessons learned.)

Collins, Joseph J. "Afghanistan: Winning a Three Block War." The Journal of Conflict Studies 24, 2 (Winter 2004), 61–77. (The former deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations provides his views on achieving success in Afghanistan.)

Crane, Conrad and W. Andrew Terrill. Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-conflict Scenario. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2003. < > (Prescient look at the demands of rebuilding a state after changing a regime.) [Conrad Cran presented on FM 3-24 at the December MORS meeting I went to, and he was pretty impressive.]

Filkins, Dexter. "What the War Did to Colonel Sassaman." The New York Times Magazine (23 Oct 2005), 92. (Case study of a talented 4th Infantry Division battalion commander in Iraq in 2003-2004 who made some questionable ethical decisions that ended his career.)

Gunaratna, Rohan. Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. Berkeley, CA: University of Berkeley Press, 2003. (The story behind the rise of the transnational insurgency.)

Hoffman, Bruce. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2004. Rand Corporation Web site < > (Analysis of America's efforts in Iraq in 2003 informed by good history and theory.)

Kepel, Gilles. The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2004. (A French explanation for the rise of Islamic extremism with suggestions for defeating it.)

Kilcullen, David. "Countering Global Insurgency: A Strategy for the War on Terrorism." Journal of Strategic Studies 28, 4 (Aug 2005), 597–617. (Describes the war on terrorism as a counterinsurgency campaign.) [Kilcullen was a LCOL in the Australian Army and now advises the American military. I've read all these articles and they are excellent.]

———. "'Twenty-Eight Articles': Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency." Military Review 86, 3 (May-Jun 2006), 103–108. (Australian counterinsurgent prescribes actions for captains in counterinsurgency campaigns.)

———. "Counterinsurgency Redux," Survival 48, 4 (Winter 2006-2007), 111–130. (Discusses insurgency's evolution from the classic Maoist form to the modern transnational, shifting coalitions that challenge the United States today.)

Lewis, Bernard. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. New York: Modern Library, 2003. (A controversial but important analysis of the philosophical origins of transnational insurgency.)

McFate, Montgomery. "Iraq: The Social Context of IEDs." Military Review 85, 3 (May-Jun 2005), 37–40. (The insurgents' best weapon doesn't grow next to roads—it's constructed and planted there. Understanding who does that, and why, helps defeat improvised explosive devices.)

Metz, Steven and Raymond Millen, Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the 21st Century: Reconceptualizing Threat and Response. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2004. (Longtime scholars of counterinsurgency put the war on terrorism in historical context.)

Multi-national Force–Iraq. "Counterinsurgency Handbook," 1st ed. Camp Taji, Iraq: Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence, May, 2006. (Designed to help leaders at all levels conduct counterinsurgency operations but focused at the company, platoon, and squad levels. Contains a variety of principles, considerations, and checklists.)

Packer, George. The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. (A journalist for The New Yorker talks to Iraqis and Americans about Operation Iraqi Freedom.)

———. "The Lesson of Tal Afar: Is It Too Late for the Administration to Correct Its Course in Iraq?" The New Yorker (10 Apr 2006), 48–65. (The 2005 success of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment with the clear-hold-build tactic in Tal Afar.)

Petraeus, David. "Learning Counterinsurgency: Observations from Soldiering in Iraq." Military Review 86, 1 (Jan-Feb 2006), 2–12. (Commander of the 101st and Multinational Security Transition Command–Iraq passes on his personal lessons learned from two years in Iraq.)

Sageman, Marc. Understanding Terror Networks. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. (A former foreign service with Afghanistan experience explains the motivation of terrorists—not deprivation, but the need to belong.)
ltmurnau: (Default)
See earlier post as well.


Death Ray Replaced By The Voice of God
James Dunnigan 1/6/2008 12:44:59 AM

While U.S. efforts to deploy it's microwave Active Denial System (which transmits a searchlight sized bean of energy when makes people downrange feel like their skin is on fire) continue to be delayed, another non-lethal system, LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) has been quietly deployed to Iraq. And there the story gets a little strange.

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (Default)
From I have read Nagl's work and it is good; the trends identified in this article are not good.

An Officer and a Family Man
Why is the Army losing so many talented mid-level officers?

By Fred Kaplan
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008, at 5:56 PM ET

The early retirement of a lieutenant colonel ordinarily wouldn't merit the slightest mention. But today's news that Lt. Col. John Nagl is leaving the Army is a big deal.

It's another sign, more alarming than most, that the U.S. military is losing its allure for a growing number of its most creative young officers. More than that, it's a sign that one of the Army's most farsighted reforms—a program that some senior officials regard as essential—may be on the verge of getting whacked.
Read more... )

The Small Wars Journal is a very good site, if you are interested in this sort of thing: the Journal is all-online and free.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Now this is interesting... if they could be easily led into something, theoretically they could be led out again into social acceptability.

There is so much out there on new theories and methods of counterinsurgency, I despair of making sense of it all, still less sorting the wheat from the chaff. I am sure there's been more written on the subject in the last six years than there has in the last thirty-six.

Went to see Sweeney Todd on the weekend with [ profile] nocturnalmuse and [ profile] epexegesis. I liked it! But boy, they sure turn the sound up high in these here movin' picture houses.


Dec. 19th, 2007 02:21 pm
ltmurnau: (Default)
Conference in Monterey: well, I went, and they made a big fuss over me!

I started by flying into Los Angeles on Saturday. I was met by my friend Joe, who was also going to the conference. We went out to Bar Sinister in Hollywood, a nice Goth club with different rooms zand very good music. Sunday we went to Amoeba Records, where I bought far too much music and too many movies. Monday we spent driving the 350 or so miles up to Monterey, arriving while it was still daylight. We wandered around the Cannery Row area at the waterfront, quite tourist-trappy and they wanted $25 to get into the Aquarium so we passed. We stayed in a hotel just a block or so from the Naval Postgraduate School.

The group putting this on, the Military Operations Research Society, is a civilian think-tank funded by the US Departments of Defence, a lot of heavy math and computer science types. My social science background made me unusual I suppose. Many people there were civilians working for the military, but a lot of professional military officers too, since Operations Research is an actual service MOS. In fact, on the first day when I walked into the room for the plenary address I thought I had walked into a cornfield!*

I made a presentation there (on my game about the Tupamaros) to the "Counterterrorism" working group, and participated in a wargame being run by the "Counterinsurgency" working group. I found out, three days before leaving, that the wargame is a very slightly modified version of my Algeria game!

My presentation to the counterterrorism working group, on how I designed Tupamaro from history and adapted it to a game system, seemed to go down pretty well. One colonel from the Israeli Army was not that impressed and asked, "What kind of people play these games?" But in contrast, a colonel from the Saudi Arabian Army asked if I had done on Al Qaeda, and where he could obtain copies of my games!

They had constructed a civil-war type scenario that took place in a fictional island group in the South Pacific, with the southern group of islands trying to secede from the government through a guerrilla movement - it was too funny, because everything was written with Gilligan's Island references (e.g. the two main cities were named Howell and Maryanne, the guerrilla movement was called the Minnows, commanded by a shadowy figure knonw only as "The Skipper", etc.)!

They picked Algeria as the game system for the scenario, and had used Visual BASIC to make a version playable on the computer with a moderator. It was not a great match because Algeria models an "occupation" or colonial war type of conflict. My Shining Path game would have been much better to model the civil war scenario they had going. However, it probably made for better discussions among the participants, which were in fact many and heated. But very collegial and respectful, very different from a war-game convention!

They gave me a nice coin/medal/paperweight (not sure what it is, ironically it was made in China) in appreciation, and took my picture lots of times. I met a lot of people and might have a chance to work on some other projects with various people I met, hope so. I met some people from DRDC in DND, the people in Canada who do this sort of analysis for the Canadian military - they seemed mildly interested in what I was doing but I don't think I am going to book any flights to Ottawa just yet.

On Friday we drove back down to Los Angeles, and that night went out to Das Bunker, an interesting Goth-industrial club. An upstairs room for more dancy stuff, two lower rooms for power-noise and "retro 80s industrial", whatever that was. As at Bar Sinister, I tried handing out a few of my metal thingies but no one seemed to know how to take them. A lot of nice-looking people with interesting outfits but everyone seemed so po-faced, unless they were with their friends. I suppose that is how people learn to get along in Los Angeles.

Saturday we went back to Amoeba Records again, and looked around at the UCLA campus. The flight to Seattle was almost empty, and I got to Victoria about midnight.

At this conference, I was just bowled over by the respect and interest shown my ideas, and the collegiality I saw there. This was the first time I thought there was some real professional worth or serious intellectual content in what I've been doing for so long. It was a good experience and I'm glad I went.

Next June there is a big symposium in Connecticut and perhaps I might be able to do something then. At least now I've got my number from the JCO declaring me a "consultant".

*Why a cornfield? Because of all the kernels I saw there! Hyuck hyuck hyuck hyuck...
ltmurnau: (Default)
In other news, I am off on Saturday for a whole week! I'm going to Los Angeles, then back up to Monterey for a conference on Irregular Warfare analysis held by the Military Operational Research Society (a think-tank group supported by the US military), then back down to Los Angeles.

You never know where your hobbies might lead you – I have discovered that one of the simulations to be played by one of the sub-working groups at this conference is an only slightly modified version of my game on Algeria! Thankfully they gave me the proper credit. It'll be intersting to see what people think of this one.
ltmurnau: (Default)
U.S. version of Tillman's death 'utter fiction,' says brother

Meanwhile, in other news, Sub-Lieutenant Ogilvy has been awarded the Order of Conspicuous Merit....
ltmurnau: (Default)
BC Ferries to screen passengers

This is bloody ridiculous. What are they going to screen passengers for? Will I have to leave my nail clippers at home when I want to visit my dad on Pender Island?

Even in the crazy days after 9/11, when the commuter ferries from Bainbridge and Vashon Island to Seattle had an actual armed escort of Coast Guard cutters, Washington State Ferries never did this.

Ordinarily I'd suspect it's just a plot to keep people in the terminal a bit longer, so they can watch the giant TV and buy the overpriced coffee and trinkets. But this is just one for Stupid Security.


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