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15 October 2016


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mike allen


Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL tweeted that the "NSC meeting yesterday reviewed simultaneous pressure on remaining #ISIL strongholds #Dabiq, #Raqqa, #Mosul."

The Beaver


WRT Syria
ISSG has resumed in Lausanne

Apart from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, also present at the talks are the foreign ministers of Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.



I was in DIA but DIA was then the intelligence agency in direct support of the JCS.

Sorry, here I stopped here, and now is integrated into the overall intelligence structure? Seemed to make at least theoretically sense at the time.



The J-2 function has been separated from DIA I am told. DIA was always a coordinated part of the intelligence community. The IC is run by a committee of the heads of agencies who more or less coordinate their actions. DIA supports the DoD as a whole and analysis that the J-2, of the Joint Staff needs is done by DIA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_Intelligence_Agency pl

The Beaver

@ mike allen

From what I have read so far this morning , looks like FSA will take Dabiq back with air support from the USAF.They are already in control of Arshaf


How do those plans incorporate Allies (other countries)? For all the plans in recent history, have allies effectively been window dressing, or are allies actually relied upon?



Combined (planning with allies) usually takes place after the US Joint (inter-service) plan is approved. In WW2 Combined planning was obviously quite essential. These days, a coalition is mostly political window dressing. pl

Allen Thomson

> An accomplished briefer would have presented the Courses of Action.

As a slight aside, I worked for a while at a Beltway Bandit who had hired a former JCS briefer, a retired USAF O6, as a pitchman. The guy was a scarily good briefer -- I've never seen anything else like it.

The briefers, O3 and O4 IIRC, at the nuclear weapons familiarization course at Kirtland were similarly good on first hearing, but after a couple of times you realized that they were reciting a script, albeit very ably. The O6 was not only smooth, but knowledgeable of the topic, very supple in taking questions and responding to the audience.


Allen Thompson

Yes, to be really good briefer is a gift not give to many. Here is a snippet from one of my novels in which such a person appears. He is briefing A. Lincoln in the War Department during Chancellorsville.

"Abraham Lincoln had an ingrained prejudice against dandies. They made him uneasy. In the western region from which he had emerged, men dressed plainly, or roughly, but never obsessively. Lincoln found it surprising that the War Department staff officers who regularly briefed him were such dandies. Their bandbox perfection of dress and physical beauty puzzled him. He asked Henry Halleck why they all looked the same.
Halleck had not at first understood the question.
The president restated it another way, asking if they were all West Pointers.
The general in chief at last grasped the nature of the president's inquiry. He had shown both sympathy and amusement. He told Lincoln that this procession of the well born, well connected and well dressed was really the outcome of a process of "natural selection" as Professor Darwin would describe it. He gave it as his opinion, based on long observation of army politics, that nothing in the nature of a permanent change could be expected in this process. It was just the nature of things that the “rich got richer” in the army as in all other spheres of human effort.
One of these gorgeously uniformed creatures was attempting to brief him now. It was hard to focus on all the details. He looked out the tall windows at the sunlight disappearing from Seventeenth Street. The White House looked golden in the fading day. His legs ached. Sitting in these low chairs made his knees hurt after a while. The briefing officer paused, uncertain of the degree of attention he was receiving from the commander in chief. Lincoln looked at him, indicating that he should continue. The youthful major tightened his grip on the wooden pointer in his right hand. "And thus, Mister President,’ he said. “You can readily see that it is most likely that the Rebel attack against General Hooker's main force which occurred west of Fredericksburg this noon must be a diversion intended to cover his withdrawal from the defense positions which he occupies in strength just south of Fredericksburg." The slender, handsome major held the point of his stick on the big, hand drawn map which covered most of the wall behind him.
The president found the maps produced by the Army's topographic engineers to be art objects in their own right. This one was a mass of brown contour lines, blue streams and green forests. The watercolor washes which made up the larger blocks of color gave the room a strangely gay aspect.
The major's stick still showed the area of the Southern attack that seemed to have frightened Hooker so. The point of the stick lay on the eastern edge of the big green wood near a symbol which identified a church. Abraham Lincoln fished in a vest pocket for something, finally retrieving a scrap of paper. He looked at it for a few seconds.
The roomful of officials and officers waited.
"And so, Major," Lincoln began. "It is the opinion of the General in Chief that Lee is going to retreat?"
"Yes, Sir. He has no practicable alternative. He cannot take the risk of destruction of his army that the present situation imposes if he continues to defend behind Fredericksburg. General Hooker's plan has succeeded."
Lincoln looked around the room. Secretary Stanton and General Henry Halleck were conspicuous by their absence from this late afternoon presentation of information to the chief executive.
A general murmur of discontent ran round the room. Resentment at the role assumed by the briefer and his presumption in drawing a conclusion of this importance was evident.
"How far south do you think he will go?" Lincoln asked. “I mean Lee,” he said. His heavy eyebrows knit together in concentration.
Confusion and a trace of fear manifested itself in the major's handsome face. He did not like the audience’s reaction to his earlier remark. "I, I do believe he will have to go back to the North Anna, Mister President."
Lincoln leaned forward. "And that is where on the map?"
The major's stick traced the alignment of the Telegraph Road south from Fredericksburg to a wide blue line running west to east at right angles to the road. It was the North Anna River.
The distance was impressive.
Lincoln considered the map. "Twenty-five miles?" he asked the major.
The young man swallowed twice and nodded. "Yes, Sir," he said.
Lincoln meditated upon these matters a moment. He then turned to a brigadier general seated at the large table with him. "Philip," he said. "Why has Hooker drawn back if all this is as described? The opportunity lies before him." He raised the hand containing the small, irregularly shaped morsel of paper. "According to this note, which I made at one of these sessions a week ago, Lee has something like, 70,000 at most and our army around 120,000. Lee is divided between Fredericksburg and wherever it is that he is, over there in the west, by the woods." He waved at the map.
The major hastened to show the probable position of the Rebel force on the edges of the Wilderness.
"Why doesn't Hooker attack? Now!" Lincoln demanded of the brigadier general.
The general flushed red to his collar line. He attempted to make a good case for General Hooker's need to "straighten his lines.” He explained that the forest itself was a major obstacle and factor in the operation. It surely had caused a "disturbance" in the organization of the army. Hooker would undoubtedly attack in the morning in accordance with his original intention.
Lincoln listened quietly, respectfully. His hands made a tent before his features. "Mister Devereux?" he finally said without turning his head.
"Which of us do you mean, Mister President," Claude asked from his seat four rows back.
"Patrick," Lincoln said. "Will Lee think he must retreat?"
Heads turned toward the two men in civilian clothes seated side by side in the back of the room. It would have taken a keen observer to interpret the almost imperceptible nod which passed from one to the other.
"The logic presented here is impeccable, Mister President," Patrick said, "but he will also reason that he must fight you somewhere and turn back your army or face eventual defeat. Would the North Anna be a better place? I think not. The men would be discouraged by the retreat itself and he would be afraid they might not fight as well as they would farther north.."
Lincoln pulled his chair around to face them, and the rest of the group. His back was to the major. "You are a judge of men I think, Claude. Why has Hooker stopped in this way?"
Claude looked at his brother.
Patrick would not meet his eyes.
"There is something terrible in Robert Lee, Mister President," Claude began, "something, savage. It is normally hidden, but it emerges at times like this. The numbers, the geometry of that map all support both General Hooker's plan and the major's explanation, but I would guess that there was something about that Rebel attack today that did not fit with the logic of anything. Lee attacked as though he is not compelled to do anything! General Hooker is a smart man. He must be trying to figure out what it is that Lee is really going to do."
Lincoln swiveled around to stare at the brigadier general.
The red faced man shook his head. "No. No. General Hooker will attack in the morning. Lee will withdraw," he said.
Lincoln glanced at the major. "You do not seem as certain, young man," he said.
The staff officer did not respond.
The President of the United States left the room without goodbyes."
From "The Butcher's Cleaver "

mike allen

Beaver -

Good that Iran is there in Lausanne. I understand that the UN never invited them to the Geneva talks earlier.

In these ISSG talks I would hope Kerry talks as much to the FM of Iran, Mohammad Zarif about Syria as he does to Lavrov. Not that Kerry would get anywhere, as Zarif is a career diplomat and has studied international relations in both San Francisco State and the University of Denver compared to Kerry's lack of diplomacy background and education.

But it would be worth the effort. Russia and Iran have different goals in Syria. Kerry needs to understand that Iran will never give up Assad, their only ally in the MidEast.

The Beaver

Looks like MosulOp is ON

#US artillery has reportedly started pounding Da'ish targets near Mosul. Airstrikes being reported too. Could signal start of #MosulOp.


Please permit me to correct your typo. "It is what President TRUMP will have at HIS disposal." Don't feel bad Col. Anyone can make mistakes.


very interesting details and a view into a part of the real world that we never get to vote on (that's a good/bad situation). Let's pray that it never falls into the Borg trap -- oops, all ready has -- bureaucracy moribund.
One point missing from the post is the trigger. Can the President submit a plan requirement that is extremely specific?
As in, 3000 boots on ground in Yemen city XYZ on or by March 6 2017.



This is an interesting post. I remember the chain of command poster from basic. I have the impression that it wasn’t too long from Richard Nixon down to the training company commander.

I’ve seen too many movies and was only an E-5 for a year so it did not sink in to me that the Joint Chiefs are outside the chain of command. There is a completely separate planning bureaucracy centered on the White House. The National Chain of Command is the President, Sectary of Defense, Unified Combat Commanders, Joint Task Forces, Service Components/Forces. All Unified Commands are located outside Washington DC. There is lots of talk of civilian control of the military but one reason for the forever unwinnable wars and repeated SNAFUs might be that those who are doing the fighting are not doing the planning. The military planners do not control the operations and haven't the slightest idea what is happening on the ground except what is on the video screen.

The Beaver

@ mike allen

From what I read:
Kerry had a tête à tête with Lavrov and then Lavrov had one with Zarif before the meeting of the non-Syrians discussing Syria.

After 5 hours of meeting - the outcome is once again ZILCH (heard that Zarif was sitting across the table from the Saudi chihuahua)

Bill Herschel

In the words of Descartes, oui et non. Yes, from just about every practical point of view a coalition is at best a substitute for Security Council blessing.

But, everything you have described leaves out the United States Congress:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 :[The Congress shall have Power...] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Cameron made the forced error in 2013 of submitting military intervention in Syria to Commons who voted No. Congress would not have approved military intervention in Syria and at the very least there would have been a long and acrimonious debate. Obama was stymied.

A President Clinton can have her daisy chain with the JCS, but she must work day and night to make sure that Congress never gets involved. It is a great pity that there is no one on either side of the aisle who seems to care about this. The power to appoint Supreme Court Justices? Do they cost $500 billion a year and the lives of countless Americans? What about the power to declare war?


Sir, Normally,during General staff briefing a presentation of ENI COS is insluded. Is it the case during these JSC briefings ?
Could they have talked about Russian and Syrian Cos in case of attack on Syrian army ?

Chris Chuba

Yes indeed and I bet there will be no daily tally of civilian casualties at Mosul like we are getting at Aleppo.

Whenever I see U.S. cable news, I see a daily tabulation of civilian casualties at Aleppo from Russian and Syrian air strikes as if no militants are ever killed, yet there is never such curiosity about any project we are engaged in.

Operation, 'Elect Hillary Clinton' is officially on and will be completed by election day. No amount of carnage at Mosul will spoil the party. If the Russians really were 'meddlers' and 'spoilers' they would introduce resolutions at the UN calling for ceasefires and make accusations about warcrimes but they won't.

Col. the last sentence in your main topic sent a chill down my spine but yes, it is best to start accepting reality now. The Borg Queen will have the full power of the U.S. military, State, Intelligence, and Treasury Dept.'s to exercise her will and she is a very vindictive person who wants to make history. She wants some foreign country to erect a statue of her like they did for Bill at Kosovo.


I expect asymmetrical responses from Russia if/when D.C./CIA start their errant cyber attacks. Those Russian asymmetrical responses IMO will leave the CIA with their mouths open. The Russians have not been sitting on their laurels the past few years since Putin started running things. A meaner leaner deadlier Russian response my gut is telling me, is in the offing.

Russia will go asymmetrical in a real world fashion if D.C. decides to stupidly go into Syria. They have already so much as stated so.

Why D.C. can't simply leave Syria to the Russians, and tell the Israelis and Saudis that they'll have to take their oil and gas drilling elsewhere.

The Twisted Genius

In the 1990s, the Army had the Combined Arms and Services Staff School (CAS3) out at Fort Leavenworth for senior captains and majors. It taught staff planning and briefing, but seemed to live and die around PowerPoint briefings. Although it was supposed to be mandatory, I managed to stay away from it through grandfathering. No one i knew wanted to attend. From that point on, military briefings consisted of unimaginative PowerPoint slides that stretched out to the crack of doom. Before that it was often "death by viewgraph" when the briefer came in with a six to ten inch stack of viewgraph slides. Hard to believe we used pads of butcher paper and magic markers before that... if we used anything at all.



It was a half assed version of C&GSC designed to make officers capable of brigade level staff duties. pl



"ENI COS" What is that? pl


Bill Herschel

Well, that was my point, was it not? As I have written here before, the power to make war and the power to declare war are two different things. She will have the power to make war. pl

The Twisted Genius


I think he meant enemy courses of action.

aleksandr: If this is what you mean, this is often expressed as probable enemy course(s) of action and is included in paragraph 2 (Enemy) or the Intelligence Annex of operational plans, contingency plans and operation orders at every level of command I am familiar with. I am guessing that this is true at the JCS level. I never came close to working at that level. Colonel Lang can tell you for sure.

The Twisted Genius


CAS3 was universally despised in my circles. Perhaps the non-combat arms types benefited from it. C&GSC was eagerly sought by all I knew. As a reservist, I took it by correspondence.

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