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28 April 2015

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turcopolier

hank P

"This religious war stuff is all bullshit" A lot of people hoped it was "all bullshit' when more or less secular governments ruled the roost in the ME. I knew lots of people in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria who had married across the sectarian line. we Americans destroyed that trend. Now, the "bullshit" will kill you and the polysci/IR orthodoxy about economic determinism will do nothing to protect you. pl

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

Thx, thought as much ! Isn't there a provision though for the State (in this case Maryland) to have such a "police force" rather than sending in the National Guard ?
Centralised vs Federal both have their pros and cons, but in a situation like Baltimore - which is likely to replicate in other places - there seems to be no middle way at the moment between sending in regular police, even trained in riot control, and sending in the armed forces.

turcopolier

Patrick Bahzad

It is the traditional function of the militia (National Guard) to perform this function. No state could afford to have a body of riot troops standing by full time to do this and to relegate the function to the federal government is to surrender the essence of federalism and state sovereignty. pl

Patrick Bahzad

Understand. The thing i was wondering about is whether it wouldn't make sense for the National Guard to at least provide for some type of specialized units.
If there are 6 000 men in the Maryland National Guard, and if part of the mission is to deal with such situations, why don't they specialize 500 men for example in riot-control or urban "insurrections". Or do they ?

Patrick Bahzad

Forgot to mention the German counter-example: they're a federal State too, with States having wide-ranging prerogatives. Yet, regarding policing, each State has a police force called "Bereitschaftspolizei" (BePo) that is used under the control and command of German States (Länder) authorities for riots and crowd control.
States can also call in other States' BePo units, without referring to the federal level, and thus not surrendering authority to the Federal government.
A similar template, within the current National Guard structure, would make sense, or are there constitutional/organisational obstacles to it ?

William R. Cumming

The policy of all levels of government on riots and civil disorders is hoping it does not happen here. Thus, little or no need for training. And no specific annual funding of that training.

William R. Cumming

Adam! Thanks for this post. And all of your efforts here and I am sure elsewhere. Could you provide SST readers with your position description at the Army War College? Do all the War Colleges have an equivalent faculty position? Thanks in advance!

Also has the US Army recognized use of unencrypted social media by soldiers in some way? Army NG?

I BELIEVE THE BALTIMORE RIOTS FIRST SUCH EVENT WHERE ALL EMPLOYING SOCIAL MEDIA BUT COULD BE WRONG!

Ulenspiegel

Patrick Bahzad,

personally I do not share your assessment in case of the Spiegel that we see a rewriting of history:

Der Spiegel was in the past usually more or less aligned with the SPD (Social Democrats) and it was the SPD Bundeskanzler Schröder, who did not support the USA with OIF, IIRC with strong support by Der Spiegel.

The basic observations that ISIL was very professional pointed to a certain extend to some real artists in the background who lead the marionettes and the Spiegel gives an explaination where they come from. In the German context it does not make any difference whether these guys are ex-Baathists or "real" Muslims.

For German media there is no gain in promoting the second Bush, only minefields.


Charles I

Very astute, I was initially agog by the whole Atlantic Dabiq revelations while within a month i was at least aware enough to post on the internal divisions of an Iraqi tribe of Sunnis split on continuing with ISIS in face of their penchant for atrocities.

Charles I

oops. Thanks

FB Ali

Col Lang,

Welcome back! Glad to see you in prime form.

Doesn't this mean there is a rift in the royal family? Ostensibly over the Yemen policy, but perhaps underlying that are other deeper issues. It does show the system is not as stable as they like everyone to believe.

Nayyef and the hardliners are clearly on top. I wonder if there will be a bigger purge down the line?

Adam L Silverman

Patrick,

It's a good thing I too have several decades experience working on/about/with the region and a working understanding of the concerns you've expressed here at the time we did the study for the Army. We were very clear on the fact that we were being told what they wanted us to know as their truth or truths - a couple of times obviously and quite humorously so. Even with all of the concerns we stand behind the findings, but as with everything else to do with cultural and regional information, whenever I brief it I always start with: "what I'm about to present to you is true, until it isn't because I'm an outsider looking in and can never have a fully clear picture of what is actually going on."

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Cumming,

From July 2010 through June 2014 I served as the Cuitural Advisor to the Commandant/Commanding General of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) - specifically MG Martin from 2010-2012 and then MG Cucolo from 2012-2014. Because of different leadership styles I tend to think of myself as MG Cucolo's advisor. I was originally one of fourteen spread across the Training and Doctrine Commands US Army schools and centers by orders of GEN Wallace and his successor, who embraced the program and made it his baby, GEN Dempsey. None of the other services War Colleges, nor the joint war College - National at NDU - had or has an equivalent position. The program, which was a start up, ultimately succumbed to the politics within the generating force and the rice bowlism and budgetary fights that exist even when there's no artificially created budgetary crisis. The sequester was the death of the program overall, just as we were beginning to see promising results. I was the last formal cultural advisor - MG Cucolo immediately took to the program and paid for the last year of my orders when TRADOC's funding went down the sequester hole. He also put in a request to amend the USAWC TDA and make my position permanent, which is what GEN Dempsey had ordered all the commandants to do. Unfortunately, that request went up shortly before the sequester - it was basically DOA. My job, which was different than my counterparts because of the nature of the US Army War College, as delineated in my civilian mobilization orders, had the following duties: 1) serve as the senior advisor and subject matter expert on culture, region, and languages for professional military education, research, analysis, and policy to the Commandant and senior academic leadership and oversee all material pertaining to culture and region in the USAWC curriculum, courses, programs, etc, as well as developing and course directing USAWC's theater strategic level predeployment cultural certification course; 2) serve as the Professor of Culture, Strategy, and Policy (originally national security, strategy, and policy, but we amended it) on a faculty instructional team - supervise/advise three resident students a year, supervise strategy research projects, supervise USAWC fellows research projects, assist, as necessary with pertinent classes in the regional studies courses, teach electives - mine were Culture, Straegy, and Policy and a second on Religious and Other Identity Extremist Movements - and guest lecture in other electives as requested; 3) serve as the senior socio-cultural subject matter expert (temporarily assigned control/TACON) back to my higher headquarters the Army Culture and Foreign Language Directorate (ACFLD) at TRADOC (started in the G2 and got moved in late 2011 to the G3) and from November 2011 to February 2014 as the deputy to the director of the ACFLD; 4) provide cultural operations and operational support to the operational Army, Joint Force, DOD, and Interagency as needed - in this capacity I served TACON as the cultural advisor to III Corps thought out 2012, Chief Civil Affairs Branch from January 2012 through March or April of 2013, U.S. ar,y Europe in 2014, and provided support to CENTCOM, SOCOM, USASOC, 1AD, State, JIEDDO, and many others.

HankP

Col.Lang -

Just repeating what the Iraqi guy in the movie said. I don't think economics determines everything, but I don't believe it determines nothing either.

Fred

Adam,

" It will also likely go down the memory hole as the attempt is made to make what is going on in Baltimore all about the violence and not about the root causes of the discontent."

Also missing from the public discussion (which the Col.'s response to Jose above details) is any mention of the change in the traditional family structure, the role of deep religious faith therein and that so unacceptable topic: personal responsibility for ones own actions.

Patrick Bahzad

Adam,

Are you saying this position no longer exists then ? Has it been replaced by some other similar structure or by staff that's able to provide same level of expertise ?
As I suppose the answers to those questions are 'no', well, that is a real shame ... Cultural issues are important and can even save lifes sometimes.
At one point, I gave a few classes in "cultural awareness" for government employees being posted to "high risk" countries and the first thing I told the trainees was very simple: "never underestimate the predictibility of stupidity".
I suppose one could say the same about the military leadership sometimes ...

Patrick Bahzad

WRC,

Thx for that explanation ... makes perfect sense ;-)

turcopolier

FB Ali

I think that what we are seeing in SA is a normal evolution from one generation to another. Salman is really the driving force and he is a traditional Al-Saud family member in that he fears and hates both the Yemenis and the Iranians. pl

turcopolier

hankP

I agree that economics is one of the important factors that weigh on human destiny. pl

turcopolier

Charles I

BTW, very few National Guard units or individuals served in VN, certainly none form Ohio. LBJ decided not call them up as a political decision, one of his many crappy decisions. As a result, unlike today, the Guard became a haven for de facto draft evaders like Dan Quayle and GW Bush. pl

Patrick Bahzad

Makes sense indeed, but how about the contextualisation of responses you get ? how about the tribal structures and alliances orhostilities that you were aware off ?
I suppose you factored those elements into the equation, but if so, how can you draw a reliable picture of the situation or make projections on how it might develop, if you're just taking a snap-shot of a particular point in time, with no linking to past events and no projection into future developments ?
I agree about the baseline "this is true until it isn't anymore" but how is that actionable or usable in relation to operational intel that is being collected in the field ? Or did this exercise serve a different purpose, for example as benchmark against which other type of information could be measured for patterns or trends ?
Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of this type of work, but there are a number of methodological biases that need to be addressed. That was the point I wanted to make, not doubting the usefulness of undertaking such work in the first place.

Adam L Silverman

Patrick,

I was the last one formally recruited, vetted, and credentialed cultural advisor/cultural subject matter expert supplied by a formal Army program. The USMC has their Center for Applied Operational Culture and Languages (CAOCL), the USAF has the Air Culture Center, but they're focus is different. USMA West Point has a small, and in my opinion, under developed and under utilized cultural center. TRADOC has whatever the Intel Center of Excellence cultural center, renamed the TRADOC culture center, is doing, but what it was doing wasn't anywhere near comprehensive enough and they don't have, or didn't as of last Fall, personnel with the proper credentials to provide the educational and training support necessary, let alone what my counterparts were providing. There are a few ad hoc folks bouncing around, brought on by GOs they've done work for, which puts us back in the territory we were in before 2007: no way for anyone to centrally coordinate, program, recruit, vet, and deploy appropriate personnel to the right place or to formally interweave operational needs into professional military education from tactical to operational to strategic levels. And to top out it all off, there are several folks with the most dubious credentials that were, essentially greenwashed, by the finally recognized need for subject matter experts beginning in 2006/2007. I've had to both deconflict Army and joint units from them and try to repair the damage they've done before anyone gets hurt. Part of the issue is that a lot of military personnel don't really know how to vet civilian subject matter expert credentials. Almost no one is going to claim to be a colonel if they're not, as it's too easy in a military setting to out oneself, let alone be discovered. So instead of asking for transcripts or other verification of credentials and experience, they too often take the person's word. And once they're in, they've been greenwashed. Since the Army and DOD now refer to this area as language, regional expertise, and culture (LREC) I like to call these folks that we've essentially made legit and now can't get rid of as LREC herpes.

For full disclosure: I've assisted a former colleague with the Army over the past six months on how to develop proper vetting protocols for civilian subject matter experts.

Patrick Bahzad

Ulenspiegel,

True, "Der Spiegel" isn't exactly a proponent of Neo-Con policies, but I think you're being a bit naive regarding your other statements. May I remind you of the spin that was given to certain stories related to WMDs in Iraq for example: to achieve a better and more convincing result on a domestic US audience, some info/intel was leaked to foreign (British and Italian) newspapers which ran the thing on their front page, the advantage being that the Neo-Con clique was then able to point to foreign sources and state that this wasn't just their view, but that reliable newspapers in other countries had the same info.

If a story like the one about ISIS had been broken by the "Weekly Standard", "Front Page Magazine" or another of those BS publications, do you think it would look more or less convincing than "Der Spiegel" ? And did you notice the story was first brought up on the Spiegel's English Webpage, not in the German version. Which audience did they target by doing that according to you ? Probably not a domestic German audience I would say ...
Now, you could have had a British Newspaper like the "Guardian" bringing up the same story, but the "Guardian" has a few quite sharp and knowledgeable people among their staff. If you compare their coverage of this piece of news, you'll notice a sizable difference: the "Guardian" published one article about this, but they always referred to the report made by the Spiegel as their main reference. They carefully avoided to endorse any finding. Don't you think the "Guardian" could have gained access to the same documents, probably before "Der Spiegel" ?

Regarding the theory of puppet masters staying behind the stage and directing ISIS from there, it is ludicrous. They're only puppet masters because US intel hasn't seen them coming, as they were too busy believing and selling their own spin doctoring. Read Odierno's statements regarding the end of the Jihadi insurgents' threat in Iraq in july 2010, if you want to have a good laugh! They were so concerned about spinning another pseudo Iranian backed conspiracy against US troops at the time, that they missed the real elephant in the making !

Finally, please quote me in full when you're acknowledging what I said: I talked about a revisionist narrative being spun, I didn't say it was the Spiegel's doing. As a side-note, Schroeder advocated against OIF yes, for domestic electoral reasons, otherwise he would not have stayed in power, don't forget that ! So much for the "Statesman" figure ... And Schroeder is now on the board of directors of a company with close ties to Gazprom, don't forget that either. The "Spiegel" has gone mental about this, especially with the whole Ukraine thing,where I have noticed strong alignment between the Spiegel's editorial line and that of other news outlets much less respectable ... So much for consistency and impartial reporting I guess !

Patrick Bahzad

Thx for the reply, Adam ! I'm afraid I'll need to bring my own "knowledge base" up to date regarding these issues in the US Army, as I wasn't aware about most of these developments !
Might have to get back to you about some aspects, that is if you don't mind.

Charles I

Thanks.

It was clear the soldiers were expressing sheer human regrets at civilian age cohort deaths as their age peers, and was about the victims, not politics and un-rotated NG units. And to a man once on camera they each commented on how they couldn't get out of Cambodia soon enough, back to the "safety" of the war in Vietnam, which was what the particular protests and the news were centered on. NG never really even came up

SST has schooled me on the merits of the draft, pasty white elite deferments and all. The week's American Experience broadcasts certainly highlight the connect/disconnect between home and front, drafted and volunteer armies, and the relative powerlessness of domestic protest to deter foreign policy.

Having disconnected the plebes from war and FP, no wonder the eruptions now aboil are a function of more domestic existential concerns. Not knowing anything about the NG or much about the 50 states each in particular, I'm going to try conjure up a few pages of post-revolutionary Whatever-Feds- Is-Leftover vs the Mobs vs the locals, Staties and their NG's next time the plot thins in BOHICA, a lot of interesting cleavages and opportunities there.

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