Monday, July 30, 2007
An excerpt from the essay shows the science and helps us understand there is more than just some black humour at play here:
'Missing the Target
An analysis of the attacks carried out in the last two years reveals a curious fact. In 43% of the bombings conducted last year and in 26 of the 57 bombings traced in this study up to June 15, the only death caused by the bombing was that of the bomber himself. Astoundingly, approximately 90 suicide bombers in this two year period succeeded in killing only themselves. This number exceeds 100 when you factor in those who succeeded in killing only one person in addition to themselves. There was one period in the spring of 2006 (February 20 to June 21) when a stunning 26 of the 36 suicide bombers in Afghanistan (72%) only killed themselves. This puts the kill average for Afghan suicide bombers far below that of suicide bombers in other theaters of action in the area (Israel, Chechnya, Iraq and the Kurdish areas of Turkey). Such unusual bomber-to-victim death statistics are, of course, heartening for both coalition troops—who have described the Afghan suicide bombers as "amateurs"—and the Afghan people—who are usually the victims of the clumsy bombings.
These statistics also represent a uniquely Afghan phenomenon that warrants investigation. In the first portion of this study, it was demonstrated that a part of the reason for this low kill ratio lies in the Taliban's unique targeting sets (Terrorism Monitor, March 1). As Pashtuns with a strong code (Pashtunwali) that glorifies acts of martial valor and badal (revenge), the Afghan suicide bombers are more prone to hit "hard" military targets than callously obliterate innocent civilians in the Iraqi fashion. On the rare occasions where there have been high casualty bombings of Afghan civilians, they tend to have been carried out by Arab al-Qaeda bombers.'
'NATO plans more restrained tactics in its war against Taliban guerrillas, including smaller bomb loads on aircraft, in an effort to cut civilian casualties, the alliance's head said in an interview published on Monday.
The Financial Times said NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had acknowledged that mounting Afghan civilian casualties had hurt support for NATO, and had said commanders had ordered troops to hold off on attacks in some situations where civilians were at risk.
"We realise that, if we cannot neutralise our enemy today without harming civilians, our enemy will give us the opportunity tomorrow," the paper quoted him as saying in an interview.
"If that means going after the Taliban not on Wednesday but on Thursday, we will get him then."
De Hoop Scheffer said that while it was impossible to avoid civilian casualties entirely, NATO was "working with weapons load on aircraft to reduce collateral damage".
More than 330 civilians have been killed in operations involving foreign troops in Afghanistan this year, according to Afghan officials and Western aid workers.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has warned that the casualties could damage support for the presence of foreign forces in his country.
The Financial Times quoted a NATO diplomat as saying that using smaller bombs could cut civilian casualties. "If you put a 250 kg bomb rather than a 500 kg bomb on the plane, that could make a huge amount of difference," the unnamed diplomat said.
The paper quoted other NATO officials as saying the alliance would increasingly leave house-to-house searches to the Afghan army to avoid confrontations.
Seems to pick up on our earlier comments around the same subject. The Guardian is following the same story with a bit more depth.
Credit where credit is due- Small Wars Journal had a selection of YouTube clips on Civil Affairs in action in the field. If you look under the 'Related' tab on the YouTube site, you can find a substantial amount of other similar videos.
Friday, July 27, 2007
'The F-16 and Shadow both beamed down live images of the house where the terrorists had hidden after firing on US forces. Now was option time. Which weapon to use? There were so many choices: mortars, missiles, and cannons of various sorts, among others. With the enemy hiding in the building, an F-16 and a Shadow orbiting in the black above, both peering down on thermal mode, the Battle Captain asked the Air Force experts,(the JTACs) what weapons the F-16 was carrying. As a JTAC started ticking off a long list, I was thinking, “How in the world to do those little jets carry all that?” In fact, I believe they were reading down the list for two jets flying in the same package. They carry a mixture of weapons cross loaded between the jets so that they will have the black magic needed for a likely situation.
In addition to the F-16’s bombs of various sorts, there was the MLRS rocket system dozens of miles away that had been precisely punching rockets through Baqubah rooftops for days. The MLRS had been flattening buildings that were rigged as giant bombs. There were the 155mm cannons on this base that can hit and flatten anything in Baqubah and beyond. The Apache helicopters could spin up with their rockets and cannons. Infantrymen could just roll in. Or tanks. Or Bradleys. Or Strykers. Even Humvees. The idea was to use just the amount of force to kill the enemy fighters, but leave everyone in the surrounds unscathed, if possible. If that was not possible, often they would simply not fire, but other times they would. Judgment call.
By about 0400, the Battle Captain had decided to use 120mm mortars. As a reference, if a 120mm were to land on a car, the car would be obliterated, but a 120mm would not be enough to flatten a decent house. The first round was shot, and the explosion left a black-hot thermal cloud on the two video screens. The impact looked hundreds of yards off target. Successive shots did not hone it, but got worse. It was starting to look like a turkey shoot, so the Battle Captain ordered the mortars to cease fire and refused to consider using the mortars again for that mission.
They discussed dropping a JDAM (a special type of bomb from one of the jets), but were worried about CD (collateral damage). The idea of a strafe run came up but that would likely cause even more CD, and so that idea was also nixed. Things sure look different from the comfort and safety of the TOC, even though the TOC is still so close to the battlefield that often the explosions can be felt from there. Still it’s like being a thousand miles away by comparison to being with the infantry in the dark and danger. (TOCs do get hit by rockets or mortars sometimes.)
The MLRS rockets and JDAMs were good enough to actually hit buried IEDs, and could easily take the house. The F-16 was carrying at least one concrete bomb—literally, just a bomb made from concrete, like throwing boulders at people—but a JTAC said, “We are not dropping a concrete bomb.” For some reason he didn’t want to just throw a rock. Personally, I don’t like to see bombs explode because it means we are still at war. But a strange feeling came over me: I wanted to see the F-16 drop a boulder on the people that shot at our guys. I knew if the rock hit them, the neighbors would be fine.
While they were discussing how best to kill the guys, the F-16 was running low on fuel. The jets flew low in a show of force and rumbled away. I walked to breakfast at 0515 while they were still plotting. I have no idea if they killed them and if they did, what method they finally settled on. But I know that when there is that kind of careful deliberation in the TOC, combined with excellent combat soldiers on the streets, (the low number of civilian casualties) that otherwise would seem unbelievable are believable.'
I had the privilege to see Charles Ferguson's movie 'No End in Sight' this evening.'Opening this weekend, tonight was a special screening co-hosted by the Center for American Progress'and'USC's Center on Public Diplomacy. Phil was there and got in a good question. Nick said he would, but I didn't see him.
Charles Ferguson has made a strong picture that will likely get strong traction by not playing on emotion but telling it like it was. Through 3,000 pages of interview transcripts over'70 interviews, plus 40 more in Iraq, he creates a riveting narrative with smart interviews spliced with press conference footage'to make this film. The result is some pretty incredible, and damning,'statements from former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine, General Jay Garner, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Col. Paul Hughes, Nir Rosen, George Packer and others. Splicing in news conferences from Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Cheney, President George W. Bush, and others helped tell the story of OHRA, CPA, and after. Needless to say, Rumsfeld plays a significant role in the movie through his press conferences.
If you'read Imperial Life in the Emerald City,'you already have an idea the charlie foxtrot the movie describes. If you read Packer's The Assassins' Gate, you already have an idea of what the movie's about, especially since it was over dinner with Packer in 2004 that Ferguson decided he needed to make this film.
The movie begins with the post-9/11 attempts to link Saddam with al-Qaeda, through'Shinseki's testimony,'the selection of Chalabi, the creation of OHRA, then the CPA, Bremer's four fateful orders (including de-Baathification and disbanding the military), but stops before the Golden Mosque Bombing. By then, as Ferguson said in the panel discussion after the movie (also on the panel were Greg Treverton from RAND and Nicholas Cull from USC), the die had been cast and the purpose of the movie fulfilled: highlighting the'mismanagement, the ignoring of sage and local advice, and the venality of the policy makers that created the environment of tinder the Golden Mosque bombing ignited.
Because of its strategic focus, there are areas the movie does not delve into, such as the private military contractor debate, save some brief comments and the showing of part of the Aegis Trophy Video. It also does not delve too far into the privatization of the rebuilding, save a few penetrating examples such as Marines working with local Iraqi's to build a frontier fort in 5 months for $200,000 while Parson's required over 17 months and spent well over $1 million more. But in truth, it doesn't need to get into these specifics as it instead focuses on a strategic leadership that created its own reality.
Speaking with Ferguson after the movie, it seems the distributor will put on the website interviews not included in the movie, such one with Larry Diamond. But don't hold your breath, it seems those won't be online for a long time, possibly a year.
This is a must see movie even if you have been paying attention. This is not Michael Moore emotional'hyperbole but a factual account of failed leadership. If you haven't been paying attention, which is probably not many readers of this blog, Ferguson creates an easily digested synopsis of how America managed to create an insurgency in Iraq.'''
'About 70 percent of the $506 million Iraqi reconstruction relief fund budget has been spent to build or renovate courthouses, corrections facilities, police and fire stations and training academies, a witness protection facility, and other related structures, Wolf said.'
The article also includes a video of a press conference on the subject, link is found in the text.
A second press release applauds the 25 PRTs as showing local authorities how to work more effectively with the central government.
'There is at least one PRT in each of Iraq’s 18 provinces, Reeker said, noting that Baghdad has several PRTs. Many PRT specialists come from the National Guard or reserves. These organizations help establish stability in Iraq by building capacity in areas such as government, economics, rule of law, services, infrastructure and public diplomacy.
The 25 PRTs in Iraq have more than doubled in number from the 10 that existed in April, as part of the president’s new way-forward strategy, Reeker said. The PRT effort is a joint coalition endeavor, he pointed out, noting that British-, Italian- and Korean-led PRTs also are working in Iraq.'
Interesting to see the evolution of the civil-military link of the Coalition surge in Iraq, months ago it remained merely vague concepts of how the civilian branch would complement the military aspect.
Monday, July 23, 2007
'With big grins and excited chattering, the children jumped up and down shouting, "Patang! Patang!" (the Pashto word for kite.) Soon the sky had several of the yellow, green and red kites with International Security Assitance Forces logos flying, much to the delight of the children dancing around below.
"These kites are so much fun," said Mahmad-Amid Hahn, a 12-year- old boy, as he made whooping sounds while his kite dipped and swerved in the air. "The Taliban would never give us these things." For the children who had never seen a kite before, some of the Polish soldiers stepped in to assist, unfolding the kites and showing them how to take off with a running start to get it airborne.'
One has to wonder if the ISAF-flags won't be yet another magnet for Taliban forces looking to see who has colluded with foreign forces, that violence will provoke more visits by foreign troops... the cycle of accusations of collusion will continue.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
'Barack Salmoni, deputy director of the centre, says the focus reflects a 2006 military assessment that "developing broader linguistic capability and cultural understanding is critical to prevail in the long war and to meet 21st century challenges".
During the six- to eight-week course, the marines learn about 200 basic words in Arabic - enough to allow them to deal with local people on the ground in Iraq...
But, Mr Salmoni says, the US military became aware of the need to give the troops' mission in Iraq "civil and cultural dimensions" when the Bush administration decided to establish a new Iraqi government.
The US military is trying to teach troops how to build trust with Iraqis.
"We noticed that we had the military tactics but lacked the knowledge of Iraqi laws and traditions so we needed to learn about them all. I am afraid we didn't anticipate all these bifurcations."
Since January, newly established PRTs (Provincial Reconstruction Teams) have increased their operations in Iraqi cities.
The military is becoming more involved in "civil affairs", which entails helping to build local infrastructure.'
This is the observation of a Rand Corp report commissioned by the US Joint Forces Command. There seems to be some dry humor in the report, we particularly liked the 'We will help you' brand- wasn't that the underlying rhetoric back in 2003?:
'Helmus and his co-authors concluded that the "force" brand, which the United States peddled for the first few years of the occupation, was doomed from the start and has lost ground to enemies' competing brands. While not abandoning the more aggressive elements of warfare, the report suggested, a more attractive brand for the Iraqi people might have been "We will help you." That is what President Bush's new Iraq strategy is striving for as it focuses on establishing a protective U.S. troop presence in Baghdad neighborhoods, training Iraq's security forces, and encouraging the central and local governments to take the lead in making things better.'
This video must be part of the 'show of force' brand that apparently hasn't worked....
While the accused contingent has not been named publicly, apparently the entire unit has been confined to base while the investigation continues.
In 2007 alone, there have been investigations into sexual abuse claims in the Sudan, Liberia, Haiti and Ivory Coast, and reports that sexual abuse allegations have doubled over 2006.
This new investigation follows on the heels of an ongoing probe of Indian peacekeepers stationed in eastern DRC, who allegedly were trafficking in gold and guns. The accusations suggested that the Indians were trading food rations for gold with Rwandan rebels.
Update: AlertNet stated the nationality of the suspended peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast is Moroccan.
Friday, July 20, 2007
This action stands in stark contrast to the US and UK, who have been- to be polite- 'reluctant' to carry out similar protection of staff whose employment with their forces have put their lives at risk.
Update: a more recent article has the top US diplomat in Iraq proposing to grant immigrant visas to the US to all Iraqis working with the Americans.
Of note are the qualifications for the position- a dream candidate with a solid military background, coupled with some years of pure, civilian humanitarian experience:
'Education: Masters' Degree preferably in political or social science, international studies, public administration, economics, or the equivalent combination of education and experience in related area. (civil-military coordination).
Minimum of 7 years of progressively responsible professional experience in humanitarian affairs, civil-military coordination in humanitarian operations, emergency preparedness, crisis/emergency relief management, or other related area, including at least 3 years of field experience in complex emergencies, including humanitarian efforts.
Extensive experience in working with humanitarian organizations and military forces;
Significant experience as a UN CMCoord Officer and/or completed UN training in civil–military coordination;
Thorough knowledge of international laws of armed conflict (international humanitarian law) and humanitarian principles.'
Thursday, July 19, 2007
'The contingents comprising the peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL have good cause for concern. Last month, six Spanish and Colombian UNIFIL soldiers were killed in a bomb ambush, the deadliest attack against the peacekeeping mission in its 29-year history. In a video message released this week, Al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri hailed the attack as "a response against those invading Crusader forces who were occupying a beloved part of the land of Islam". And, UNIFIL officials fear, given the worsening security situation in Lebanon, there could be more attacks on the way. "The major difficulty we are going to face for sure is this kind of terrorist attack because even if we have no idea yet who could be the perpetrators... another attack can come," Major General Claudio Graziano, UNIFIL's commander, told TIME in an interview at his headquarters in the southern coastal village of Naqoura.'
Whatever contacts may exist between UNIFIL and Hizbollah, there was also another roadside bomb that struck a peacekeeping vehicle, the second such incident in a month.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
NYT reports on the announcement of a commander for AFRICOM- pointing out that General William E. Ward is 'the Army's only black four-star general'.
DefenseLink has a more comprehensive press release on the same nomination. DefenseLink now has a dedicated page to AFRICOM.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
'The African Peacebuilding Coordination Programme seeks to enhance coherence across the peace, security, humanitarian, development and human rights dimensions of African peacebuilding operations. The purpose of the Programme is to improve the planning and coordination dimension of African peacebuilding operations. The Programme will work towards this overall objective through four output areas: (a) Training personnel responsible for planning and coordination and establishing a database of those trained; (b) Refining the training material already developed in the field and developing new training material; (c) Undertaking applied research that can inform policy development and training; and (d) Facilitating policy development aimed at assisting the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Regional Mechanisms, Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and African Member States to develop and adopt policies and operating procedures that will facilitate the system-wide coordination of peacebuilding operations.
- Day-to-day implementation of the African Peacebuilding Coordination Programme;
- Planning and conducting activities and training interventions;
- Liaison with donors, training partners and UN and AU Mission personnel;
- Research, analysis and writing;
-Preparing budgets and assuming responsibility for financial management of the Programme;
- Representing the Programme at regional and international conferences and meetings;
- Assisting with the strategic planning of the Programme and preparing annual proposals;
- Travel within and beyond the continent to implement the Programme.'
Sunday, July 08, 2007
- The US Department of State website has a briefing by Ryan Heny, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. The transcript gives a good preamble to the raison d'etre of AFRICOM. ''When it comes to the security or the defense part of this, AFRICOM is not meant to fight wars. It is one that is based on building partnership capability and in the areas of security cooperation. The missions that AFRICOM will emphasize are those of humanitarian assistance, civic action, the professionalism of militaries, assistance in border security and maritime security, and again the area of security cooperation and response to natural disasters.' The proposed comand structure is presetned as being a sort of non-linear/de-centralized HQ with 'nodes' spread across Africa.
- The International Relations and Security Network (ISN) has an exhaustive overview of AFRICOM- 'Questioning AFRICOM's intentions'. The piece explains:
'The Pentagon reportedly plans to establish another dozen bases in the region; in Algeria, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia.
But for now, AFRICOM remains an orphan without an African home, with Algeria and Libya rejecting the idea outright, and Morocco being distinctly cool.
The Transition Team will be housed temporarily at the US Army's Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart-Mohringen, Germany until the issue can be resolved. AFRICOM initially will be a sub-unified command, subordinate to EUCOM, also based in Stuttgart, with a projected Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by October 2007. As the Defense Department continues to search for a suitable African host country, high among its concerns is providing for the safety and security of an estimated 500 American personnel and their families who will staff the command.'
- Commentary on a recent WSJ article by UFPPC.
- Also, keep an eye out in September for an upcoming book entitled, 'Beyond Humanitarianism: What You Need to Know About Africa and Why it Matters'. The book will be a compilatoin of recent work by the Council on Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs.
'This CIMIC in UN & African Peace Operations Manual is a product of all the partners of the African Civil-Military Coordination (ACMC) Programme. It was jointly produced by: the Peace Support Training Center (PSTC)/ German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) Agency in Nairobi, Kenya; the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC) in Accra, Ghana; the South African National War College (SANWC); and ACCORD.
The ACMC Programme is funded by the Government of Finland. The German Government, through GTZ, supports the participation of the PSTC in the ACMC Programme.'
The manual is an excellent resource, including insructor tools, exercises, policy documents and videos (the bibliography alone is a good resource, includes descriptions of the videos). Further details on the manual, including contacts for the editor are found on the website.
Responding to threats abroad, US diplomats have quite evidently been obliged to adopt meaures to mitigate the risks, ranging from severe travel restrictions, to bunkering themselves into 'fortress-like compounds'. These measures affect embassies and consuls in 28 countries currently. To give soe scope to the restrictions: mission where employees receive danger pay has soared from 2 to 26 since the 1980's. Non-family missions, from 10 to 21.
These changes are having a clear 'operational impact': '"Security concerns have forced embassies to close publicly accessible facilities and curtail certain public outreach efforts, sending the unintended message that the United States is unapproachable," it said in the little-publicized April 26 report.
An internal review by the State Department in 2005 concluded that security concerns "often require a low-profile approach during events, programs or other situations, which, in happier times, would have been able to generate considerable good will for the United States."'
The indirect effects continue beyond negative perceptions of the US government- it is manifest primarily in the difficulty to recruit new staff, or to find staff willing to serve in higher-risk areas.
These insights can be constrasted with the realities of a separate article announcing the the re-opening of a US Diplomatic Unit in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. There the intersection of internal security concerns and national security interests is better expressed: 'With its lawless, island-dotted Atlantic shoreline, Guinea-Bissau has become a major hub for smuggled Colombian cocaine on its way to lucrative markets in Europe and elsewhere, prompting calls for international action to stem the trade.... The instability, along with high-level corruption, makes it fertile ground for drugs and gangs, security experts say.'
Thanks to the Security Management Initiative for the post.
Centred on the MONUC mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the article gives an overview of a string of incidents that have gone without serious investigation or action by the UN. The conclusion is foregone:
'The Chatham House debate offered alarming insights into the United Nations, where internal politics are preventing effective criminal investigations into personnel operating in peacekeeping missions.'
“The Corps of Engineers is building a new Female Training Police Station (FTPS) in An Najaf Province,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jan Carter, senior project manager, Gulf Region South (GRS), Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I). “It is a three-story facility with offices, jail cells, an armory, a communications room, guard towers, sleeping quarters and a courtyard for training new female police officers.”
“The objective for building the $134,000 female training police station is to help advise, organize and train Iraqi female officers on basic infantry tactics from squad to battalion level to further enhance the Iraqi police stations,” Carter said.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
'In addition to explaining why the UK makes a contribution to PSOs, the Guidelines outline, among other things, international policing principles, the legal context in which such missions operate, the kinds of tasks UK officers might perform, and the standards of behaviour expected of them. There is nothing similar available either nationally or internationally. The handbook will reinforce officers' pre-deployment training and act as an aide-memoire whilst on mission.'
The UK Internatinal Policing website which hosts the document is also an excellent resource.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Jobs- Humanitarian Operations Advisor, Center of Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance
'The Humanitarian Operations Advisor would support programs at the Hawaii-based Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (http://coe-dmha.org), specifically in the Humanitarian Affairs and Practice Unit. The unit provides the Center with resident expertise on the conduct of civilian humanitarian operations and access to an extended network of experienced humanitarian practitioners that enables the integration of current humanitarian practice and emerging trends in the international relief community into civil-military training and education programs. Working with key civilian partners, the unit also seeks to identify new requirements that meet the education and training needs of the international humanitarian community.'
Sunday, July 01, 2007
While the former SG is vague on precisely what the organization will do, he does provide one precise example of what they might do:
'For example, he says the United Nations and other members of the humanitarian community would not have been able to deal with natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and the earthquake in Kashmir without the help of the military.
"If the military had not come in and provided heavy logistical support … many more people would have died as we would not have been able to get to them," said the former U.N. chief. "And, so the military have become important players in humanitarian relief. And, yet, when we get together to discuss humanitarian issues, they are not around, they are not at the table."
"I think we would want to bring them to the table to discuss with humanitarian actors how we could cooperate. And, from my own previous experience, I know it is not an easy relationship," he added.
Mr. Annan says he recognizes private aid groups are not comfortable working with the military. He says he hopes the Forum can improve this relationship.'
'...Ban sees it [the splitting of DPKO] as an important part of the reforms process and asserts that it would increase the overall efficiency at a time when the world body is being asked to take on more and more responsibility of peacekeeping.'