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04 May 2016

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Matthew

Col: Didn't Kerry just let the cat out of the bag by saying that Aleppo can't "fall"? Is Aleppo part of Turkey now?

"'If Assad's strategy is to somehow think he's going to just carve out Aleppo and carve out a section of the country, I got news for you and for him - this war doesn't end,' Kerry said."

Mr. Kerry is committed to fighting to the last Syrian. How generous of him.


Ghost ship

"The line they are trying to draw now would prohibit any kind of incursion of Aleppo, it will not allow Aleppo to fall,"

He does know that about half of Aleppo is under government control, the recent breakdown of the ceasefire in Aleppo started with rebel shelling of the government-controlled area and incursions into government-controlled areas have continued? So, does he mean that government-controlled Aleppo will not be allowed to fall to Al Nusrah?

But then what to make of this:

"Russia withdraws 30 aircraft from Syria, including all Su-25 fighters
Russia has withdrawn about 30 aircraft from Syria, including all its Sukhoi Su-25 strike fighters, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday. “We have shown the withdrawal of our troops from the Khmeimim airbase. In particular, we withdrew aircraft – bombers, the Su-25 strike fighters,” TASS quoted Konashenkov as saying. A considerable number of personnel were also withdrawn, according to the military."

Maybe the Russians don't think they need close air Support for a while and are rotating them out for the moment.

b

Kerry again (for the third time) tried to get the ceasefire extended to al-Qaeda. I guess the Saudis are pressuring him.

Lavrov wasn't amused and rightfully rejected any such move.
http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160504/1039066758/lavrov-nusra-aleppo-truce.html

Tigermoth

Col,

I'm sure statements like these come when someone is at a "wits end". SS Kerry has nothing to put on the table anymore. So threats are in order but they have no "spine" as you mention.

FM Lavrov has asked SS Kerry to separate the "moderates" from the UN recognised terrorists. He can't do that and he can't get SA, and all, to do it either. Even Col Steven Warren admits they Aleppo is mostly held by Al Nusra.

http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/739157/department-of-defense-press-briefing-by-col-warren-via-teleconference-from-bagh

"COL. WARREN: Well, you know, I'm not going to predict -- (inaudible) -- what their intentions are. What I do know is that we have seen, you know, regime forces with some Russian support as well begin to mass and concentrate combat power around Aleppo. So this is something we're concerned about and something we'll keep an eye on.

That said, it's primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities. So it's complicated. We're watching it. Our focus, though, as the Combined Joint Task Force, is ISIL. And so don't forget that, that's our focus. The cessation of hostilities, the diplomatic and political processes -- while they certainly have -- are of interest to us and potentially could influence our operations peripherally, our focus remains ISIL."

So what Kerry is suggesting is going to protect Al-Nusra since they "primarily" hold it. I'm sure FM Lavrov made him aware of this again. So Kerry wants to prevent the defeat of Al-Nusra because Aleppo would then "fall" into the Syrian government's hands. He has a conundrum and it's going to take an awful lot of spin to make this seem rational.

I think it is just time for R+6 to get on with the job.

mbrenner

The phenomenon of 'stupidity' generates as many puzzles as does 'intelligence.' In this case, the behavior itself can only be called 'stupid' in terms of elementary logic: 5 - 2 does not = 8. It is also true that Kerry is no genius in IQ terms; his grade point average at Yale was lower than George W. Bush's. But that is irrelevant - anything above 65 is all that's required. Also, Obama obviously has a pretty high IQ and makes the same 'calculations' as Kerry does.

So, it's explanations that are needed. Some factors in the equation are readily identifiable: the American foreign policy Establishment's unbounded hubris as expressed in the faith in 'exceptionalism'; Cold War success triumphalism; a runaway 'can do' mentality; being locked into an Israeli (now Israeli-Saudi) view of the Middle East for multiple reasons; the Iran obsession; the absence of strategic design; a preoccupation with tactical incrementalism; an insular White House steeped in mediocrity and careerism; the suspension of critical intelligence by our political class generally. Add to these the psychological factors; group think; the errors that result from confusing motion and action; Kerry's ridiculous perambulations around the globe no-stop; unbounded vanity.

How all these factors come together is surely a complicated business. Especially when we add the 'X' factor: in crude terms, these guys are a bunch of dumb bastards who lack a sense of responsibility.

Mongoose

Perhaps if the U.S. embargoed Planters Peanuts along with Heinz Ketchup Assad would resign immediately (the Mongoose snickers).

What's up with the Borgmeisters nowadays? It's like they trip over one another looking for somewhere else or something else to screw over.

I'm also reminded of an old adage attributed to the Juwayni family's description of the Mongols in 13th-century Persia when I think of the Borgmeisters: "they consider the breaking of wind and the boxing of ears to proceed from the kindness of their nature."

Fred

Col.,

"No more Ketchup for Assad!" I'm sure there will be plenty at the Hope and Change Cafe located at the soon to be built Obama presidential library. Seriously though it looks like the Borg are in a panic over losing every conflict they generated in the past decade and with last night's crushing of Cruz it looks like only Hilary has any chance of stopping Trump - who might actually follow through on stopping the Borgist policies.

Bill Herschel

An Army Captain is suing the President, saying that he lacks the authority to go to war in Iraq and by extension Syria.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/05/opinion/is-americas-war-on-isis-illegal.html

He is not refusing to serve. Far from it. He works in the Headquarters of Inherent Resolve and vows to stay there.

I personally strongly believe that the President lacks the authority to commit troops to Iraq and Syria. I also very strongly believe that he could never get the votes in Congress to do it.

What do others think?

JJackson

Ah Embargoes, that one always works. Hell look a Cuba and Iran they are bound to fold any day now. Given half a century I am sure the Ketchup lovers of Syria will rise up and finish the deed. Assad's grandchildren must be quaking in their boots.

Tigermoth

mbrenner,

"Especially when we add the 'X' factor: in crude terms, these guys are a bunch of dumb bastards who lack a sense of responsibility."

My brother had the experience of having to deal with the SS on one of his globe trotting excursions. His comment to me went something like this: "It was all a Hollywood Production. It was choreographed down to the second, we had hour long meetings just on how the press was going to be handled right down to the what questions were allowed and who was going to ask them, when and where photos could be taken. It was total smoke and mirrors to make him look good."

Tigermoth

Col,

A question if I may. In the France 24 posts there was quite a bit of discussion of Special Forces. Not being military, I had assumed the different SF's in the different Branches of the Armed Forces more or less did the same job. I realized this was a misconception and that they had specialities.

From this and a also looking even further back to Patrick Armstrong's post on analysis of a Army's "design" to determine its purpose; can the same be done with Special Forces?

Can you get an idea of the probable offensive in the works from the type of units in the 250 Marines now deployed north of Raqqa?

gemini33

I just saw someone say Lavrov looked happy, shaking hands with Kerry, etc. And they just agreed to an Aleppo ceasefire. If Nusra is still excluded, then what does the ceasefire entail? What has changed?

I find this whole thing baffling, especially the threat about Assad "carving out Aleppo". And whatever it is, Russia agreed to it. Why? Are there forces in multiple other areas ready to march into Syria? Some other threat?

That being said, I really appreciated the ketchup humor. Any humor in this crazy situation is warmly welcomed.

Tyler

Assad just has to hold tight until January when Trump is inaugurated. Then the grown ups,will be in charge.

turcopolier

Tigermoth TTG and I have extensively discussed this subject here. Bestir yourself to find it. pl

turcopolier

JJackson

I am pleased to learn that you did not mistake my Ketchup Embargo suggestion for irony. pl

mbrenner

I should have emphasized that the blame for this foreign policy fiasco rests squarely with Obama. It is the President who is the custodian and animator of the country's external relations. He appoints all these people. He is responsible for riding herd on them. He is responsible for ensuring that premature and unassailable group think does not take hold. If he is neither disposed nor knowledgeable enough, then it is his job to select a National Security Adviser and other White House aides with the appropriate skills and talent do it on his behalf. Instead, we have a dilettante with an inflated sense of himself - a Mohammed Ali who never actually gets into the ring but instead surrounds himself with an entourage who tell him ceaselessly how great he is. Valerie Jarrett is Obama's 'Boudini(?) - Ali's sidekick and court jester.

different clue

Ghost ship,

I don't know enough to know how personally committed the RussiaGov is to the personal person of President Assad. They are clearly committed to the restoration of the Syrian Arab Republic to full authority over all its territory in the fullness of time. And the RussiaGov may rightly suspect that the concept of a transition to "no more Assad" is designed to destabilize a post-Assad SAR government badly enough that the alphabet jihadis can take over the country in the end. And the RussiaGov will not permit that to happen.

So Russia will stay committed to "yes more Assad" for just as long as the DC FedRegime and its Global Axis of Jihad stays committed to "no more Assad". Plus a little longer.

Babak Makkinejad

Very doubtful of that.

The war in Syria was started to wound Iran, Trump has not articulated any positive vision for the future of US-Iranian relations at all; what he has stated has been rather negative and retrograde.

Furthermore, I expect that the Cult of Shoah, will persist in US, France, UK and a number of other EU states and with that enmity with Iran.

Until and unless the electorate in several Western countries repudiate the semi-religion of Shoah, there will be no changes; in my opinion.

The war in Syria - I guess - would go on for another 4 or 5 years until R+6 kill the last jihadi there.

different clue

Fred,

It looks like Clinton will get the DemParty nomination by hook or by crook. If Trump gets the RParty nomination, then at least we have a choice.
We will have time to see who/what each candidate selects as its advisers and its prospective Cabinet Secretaries.

If Clinton refuses to say who her Cabinet people would be, Trump would be thereby given an opportunity to show Greater Transparency by announcing who all his Cabinet Secretaries would be. Even if his pre-announced choices were distasteful to many, he would get points and respect for at least having the decency to announce those choices ahead of time. The question would arise . . . why won't Hillary do the same? What is she hiding?

different clue

Tigermoth,

And the press people involved accepted this ahead of time?

walter

MBrenner, also: absence of negative consequences to US politicians, government officials, policy makers when/if plans fail; US citizens don't care about Syria; pride/ego of those involved.. they can say and do anything without any negative consequences... US private sector are at peak nihilism, apathy powerlessness...and perhaps rebellion.

WILL

Regarding the w/drawl of fixed wing Russian aircraft, read on one of the Russian news sites, maybe even thesaker.is that since the introduction of MANPADS, the helicopters are more survivable b/c they have an active defense system.

Haralambos

Both Col. Lang and TTG very graciously indulged my question similar to yours several days ago. Here are their responses.

Special Forces (GBs) and Other Forces
turcopolier said...
Haralambos
Army SF (GBs) are armed, traveling teachers of various things who can also do direct action missions (raids, reconnaissance, etc.) The rest; Delta, Seals, Rangers are all direct action fighters who have no substantial teaching skills other than those that any soldier has for training his own unit and no real cultural knowledge. They have the much simpler job of just fighting. Needless to say the rigid, narrow minded people who are most of any military force's leaders hate these guys. They know that the GB's judge them and that is unacceptable. pl
The Twisted Genius said...
Haralambos and others still befuddled by the mystery of the Green Berets,
I wrote this as a comment here several years ago to questions about the Green Berets.
"The SFODA organization has changed very little since Aaron Bank created it in 10th SFG(A) in 1952. At that time the idea was to work with resistance elements behind the Iron Curtain. That was still the primary mission when I was there in the early 80s. The ODA consists of 12 men. The NCOs are the heart of the team and receive beaucoup advanced training in their specialties. There are 2 communication specialists who, in my day, were skilled HAM radio operators. Today there is more emphasis on satellite and computer skills, so I'm told. There are 2 medical specialists who are close to field surgeons. They can set up local medical and veterinary clinics and advise locals on health and sanitation measures. There is a light and a heavy weapons specialist who can maintain, repair and train others in using almost any weapon known to man. The 2 engineers are demolition experts. My engineer sergeant could make a letter bomb that did not require extra postage. They can build and blow up bridges and advise on civic action projects. The team operations sergeant and assistant operations sergeant (usually functioning as an intelligence sergeant) originally come from one of the other specialties and, after much experience and additional training, become the team NCO leaders capable of leading the entire ODA. The ODA commander is a captain who, if he has half a brain, learns everything he can from the men he is blessed to command. The ODA executive officer was a lieutenant who was good for carrying a generator and jumping with the generator seat. (The seat always acted like a weathervane and spun you like a top when you exited the plane.) The XO is now a warrant officer. This was a brilliant move. The warrant officer was most likely an ops sergeant prior to going to warrant officer school."
"All members of the ODA study everything there is to know about their designated target areas and endeavor to learn the local language. This is not always the case, but it is the goal. All members also cross train in everyone else's specialties. The wealth of knowledge and skills resident in an SFODA is remarkable. These men are not door kickers, shooters or operators. They are Special Forces soldiers."
Further on in that comment string I added this in response to a question about why the DOD hierarchy hates the GBs:
"Why do they hate us? We may be perceived as hard to control, but I think it's just that we think for ourselves, make our own decisions, act on those decisions and accept the consequences of our actions. SF would rather function like this all the time. It probably makes the generals feel superfluous. This doesn't mean SF can't be controlled. We have more than enough discipline to follow orders when necessary. However, it more likely an SF man will call bullshit on a half-assed plan than a conventional soldier. Commanders don't like that. I guess it does boil down to Colonel Lang's answer, "The complaint that senior commanders often have about SF men is that they are hard to control."
I hope this, and the Virginia Statehouse speech of Nick Freitas, helps some of you finally understand us.


Fred

dc,

It is definitely going to be an "interesting" election summer. Long, hot and plenty of mud in the forecast; sadly. The Democrats face the same problem Cruz did when Trump started pointing out the details behind how delegates to the convention were actually chosen as opposed to the choosing of a candidate by the primary election voters. Since Hilary has overwhelming support among "super" delegates she's the one facing the issue. Somewhat of a role reversal since she is ahead in the race. I'm sure we'll start seeing some folks asking why some democratic delegates are equal (super!) and the rest are separate but equal (or something to that effect).

Richard Armstrong

I think that officer is going to retire earlier than he had originally planned to.

But seriously, between the war Powers act and the AUMF The president as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces can pretty much do whatever he wishes as long as he is certain to include the word terror in his pronouncement .

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