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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Kurdish Northern Syrian - Rojava - Forces & Allies

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Interview by Jaime Ortega at The Daily Journalist with Ian Bach.

1) Abu Sayyaf was killed a few days ago, how will that affect ISI operations in IRAQ and Syria?

Leadership kills have little effect on overall effectiveness of ISIS as a fighting unit. But if we get lucky then we may get some power struggles, and we need to try to instigate and promote any in cohesion in their units.

2)  ISIL just captured Ramadi, and are trying to expel Syrian Armed Forces from Palmyra what message does that send to the those countries that support logistically and militarily govern by Haider Al-Abadi and Al-Assad?

Ramadi was a bit of a surprise to me. I expect many in the MIl and Intel communities felt that same, but it should not have been. For sure there was insufficient preparations to thwart the advances.
Palmyra is a sticky one. Syria wants this and if this was occupied by coalition forces Assad would need to fight or bargain with those forces who take Palmyra whether they are ISIS or Coalition forces.  ATM I have heard ISIS say because no Icons they are not planing to destroy Palmyra. This maybe a stall as they do not have the man power ATM to destroy the city and hold it militarily also. I except to see Syrian Gov Forces re-take Palmyra. If coalition forces took Palmyra it would be a game changer as this is the route for Syrian Gov forces to the East. For now ISIS will likely Tax Syrian Gov for the use of the Roads to the East.

3) If ISIL theoretically defeated Assad’s Syrian Armed Forces, and controlled mayor cities in Syria, will Jabat-Al-Nusra oppose an Islamic Caliphate governed by Al-Baghdadi? Would they fight each other, despite greeting their rhetorical alliance combating western forces?

Yes They will be fighting each other and I would expect they will fight each other before any ‘real’ assaults on Syrian Gov held areas. While advances against Syrian Gov areas are great for public relations it has been al Nusra who has made most of the gains on Assad. ISIS controls some electrical, oil, and water commodities they sell to Syria’s regime. So yes ISIS will be fighting al Nusra more and more. Their mentalities and also recent bad blood between the two is most likely the thing that will keep them from working together.
The Wahhabi mentality is found in both ISIS and al Qaeda (al Nusra) however al Qaeda views the world much different, and their future goals are also opposed to each others. There is some similarities but  the differences are what keeps them apart.

4) The US, and NATO, have financially supported Kurdish Pashmerga Troops, to help fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, but without ground troops are western forces doing enough?

The support US, NATO, Germany, Italy have helped the Kurds with small arms. but very little 
medium arms, and no heavy arms. The support is so slim and lacking that ammunition is used very sparsely. Also the West has not given enough support to the Sunni militias and they are not getting what they are suppose to get from the Iraqi Gov. US gives weapons/money to Iraqi Gov but can not give it directly to militias, Sunnis, Shia, or even the Kurds. Most of the weapons Kurds have are from Germany and Italy.
I am not sure the world, US, or EU Gov’s want US troops to go in boots on the ground. But the citizens of the west are a majority opposed. I think we all know this must be done with local forces. Foreign forces would most likely fuel the ISIS fire. I know ISIS and al Qaeda would love to see the west set boots on the ground. ISIS and AQI recruitment would skyrocket. Many in the West are blind to that fact.
I think the best thing the West can do is support the forces fighting against ISIS (including Kurds, Sunni, Christian, and Shia with heavy weapons. Personally I am against any support for anti Assad military missions. The approval rating for Assad in Gov Held areas is 90% and 50% in rebel held areas. 500,000 Syrian Gov military and another 250.000 National Defense Forces. The west of Syria has spoken loud and clear. The problem is the Western Nations are not listening.
The west’s mission for 2015 is train more ‘moderate rebels’. However these are not fresh soldiers. This is to give a current rebel an Ak-47, some camouflaged uniform, boots and a couple months training in Qatar and Jordan. Vetting is done in Jordan and Turkey. Then call the FSA? The FSA is not an effective movement, it is a makeshift, a ragtag team of loosely connected groups many of whom hate each other.
Their was over 12 main groups in the FSA, now it is maybe 5? only a year later? Many went to fight for the Syrian Gov, many went to Nusra’s Front, and some went to ISIS. This helped ISIS a Lot, it gave them access to US and EU advanced weapons including the famous TOW anti tank missiles.

5) There is intelligence suggesting Recep Erdogan is supporting ISIL, with the help of Intra-Secret/Service-Intelligence in Pakistan because of their former ties with Saddam’s Bathist party who is entwined with ISIL fighting Kurds. Is this possible?

I think Erdogan is playing and working with many nefarious characters. It is well documented that ISIS has been getting free medical services in Turkey, ISIS smuggles oil out via Turkey, so there must be some appeasement on Turkeys behalf to allow this, but it clearly is more orchestrated than what we are allowed to know and realize. Erdogan’s actions jailing,  Kurdish Journalists, bans on wearing PKK uniforms, or Kurdish Flags makes it clear how Erdogan feels about the Kurds. I am worried that Erdogan will at a minimum take over Rojava in Northern Syria.
I have not seen any actual evidence yet of Paki -ISI working with ISIS. It is possible elements within ISI is working with ISIS. But it maybe for a variety of reasons. There is for Sure Wahhabi followers within ISI. So it is just as likely that there is some at least sympathetic towards ISIS since both have Wahhabi roots and a Large Saudi backing. This is one reason ISI maybe have faction working with ISIS secret agencies love money they can make off the books for their most black programs. So for money, beliefs, and/or politics, and a variety of other factors may lure ISI to assist ISIS.

6) Is their a race between Al-Qaeda and ISIL to regain more regional power in the Middle East? The control of Libya is not only ISIL’s target, but also Al-Qaeda’s?

Libya is a GIANT nation with a lot of oil and minerals. So yes anyone would love to own Libya. As far as a race, sure we see the race. But al Qaeda is more patent and calculated. They will look for end result, delivery message. However one could argue that if ISIS gets Libya first al Qaeda will still have a win. The Top leadership of ISIS still have their al Qaeda ties.

7) Is there any other group outside of ISIL and Al-Qaeda who can present a serious hazard to western targets like the US or Europe?

The Chechen are a serious threat and this past year working with Anonymous a little in the online fight vs ISIS & AQ I have learned their online capabilities are based in Chechnya and some say the Saudi’s have told Putin flat out the Chechen’s work for them and if Putin didn’t stop helping Syria they would let the Chechen’s lose. Some say that is who killed the reporter that Putin got blame for the reporters death. So you can see they obviously have very smart IT people and strategists.
Also Muslim Jihad movements in SE Asia are still leery of AQ and ISIS. So the big 3 is ISIS, the various AQ, and the Chechen. Groups like those in SE Asia and even the Taliban are only concerned with local attacks not global wars. The Muslim Brotherhood is also dangerous but mostly in North Africa to Turkey
8) Democracy does not to suit well the Middle East, is it perhaps because politics will never take over religion? Is western democracy an illusion to reach in the Middle East?

Sure, western style democracy does not fit well in the ME. However even the US is having growing pains in the democracy department also. They need electoral finance reform desperately, and an end to a bi-party system. It would also effect their global standing in a positive way. But separation of state and religion is the best path forward for the Middle East. But it will likely be a long road.

9) A lot of children seem to adopt religious radicalism with danger. Will the hate towards the west ever change the minds of these Middle Eastern children, of is frantic radicalization a process that cannot be achieved by democracy?

Democracy will not end radicalization of youth. The number one thing that spreads radicalization of youth is disenfranchisement. With no job and no prospects for any real normal future many turn to radical views. ISIS and AQ and others like Muslim Brotherhood have very savvy Media Wings. We need to counter the media blitz, and change the conversation, before we can change the outcome. Perhaps winning the Media War vs Jihadist is the first step !!!

10) History has shown that in 1258 the brutal seizure of Mongols in Baghdad, gave lasting peaceful effects in the region up to 200 years. We have adopted democracy, but an Iron fist seems to be a better alternative to the sectarian violence shown in the Middle East. Has the issue of extermination, historically seen in 12th century by mongol troops ever been presented in congress as an alternative to defeat global Yihadist to secure national and international interest worldwide?    

You have a good point there.  The dictators seem to be much better at creating secular nations that are safe for any religion, or ethnic group. I was disappointed that the West did not view the actions of Sisi in a better light. Morsi the Muslim Brotherhood and his call for Sharia law in Egypt was nuts. I cheered for Sisi and the military and still do.

- Will the issue of extermination be seriously examined only after another 9-11 strikes the United States?  

There has been many exterminations of ethnic groups, the Mongols, Assyrian, the Great, Romans, Crusaders, Muslim, Christian, and on and on.
I do expect there will be another 9-11 style attack on USA but I do not think that will cause them to think about past exterminations. Their first thought will be who did it and how can we attack them back?

11) What is the best solution to resolve the Yihadist problem, considering history shows brutal retaliation tames radicals, whereas democracy flaws to give the same results?

I do think the Jihadist movement will be with us for at least another 20-40 years. It will die a slow death. The names of the groups will change with time. Their leaders will come and go. But in the end it will become passe. Perhaps the best way forward is to fight ISIS and AQ mentality in the Media. We need to win the Media War before we can win the fight against ISIS and AQ.

The Threat Posed by Islamic State ISIS – Dr. David Kilcullen Aussie Counterinsurgency Expert

David Kilcullen: It’s different in three major ways. Firstly, it is much bigger and more militarily capable than al-Qaida ever was. It has tanks, it has helicopters, it’s got very large numbers of artillery pieces, it’s got more than 30,000 fighters, so it’s significantly larger and more militarily capable. Secondly, it controls about a third of Iraq and about a third of Syria, including a network of very connected cities, economic installations that make it about between $2 million and $3 million a day in terms of revenue, and it’s really building a significant territorial state in the Middle East, which is something that al-Qaida was never able to do. Thirdly, and, actually, I think most importantly for people in Australia and New Zealand, it’s having a very significant reinvigorating effect on regional groups in South-east Asia, in Africa and the Middle East. That’s really taking us back almost to square one in terms of re-energizing a global jihad against the West. So I think all those three things adding up together, it’s really a very, very significant threat that’s somewhat larger than what we’ve really ever seen from al-Qaida.

Lisa Owen: Now, you were in Iraq with General Petraeus and helped to mastermind the troop surge there. That seemed to bring a level of stability, so why do you think we now find ourselves in this mess that we’re in?

Well, it’s actually very simple. There are two reasons, and you’re right, we did successfully stabilize Iraq, and we successfully destroyed al-Qaida in Iraq, which is the predecessor organization to ISIS, down to the point where it had less than 5 percent of its fighters left. But then the first reason is we pulled out too quickly. We essentially cut the cord and left at the end of 2011 and put the Iraqis in a position where a lot of the deals that were put in place as part of stabilizing Iraq between 2007 and 2010 just weren’t followed through on, and different parties in Iraq felt that the others weren’t acting in good faith, and the whole deal really fell apart, and that’s allowed the re-invigoration of ISIS. The second very significant reason is the Syrian civil war. So even though we had gotten ISIS down to a shadow of its former self, when the war broke out in Syria and lots of different groups turned against the Assad regime, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, at that time the head of ISIS, sent a number of his fighters into Syria to join that fight. And by their success on the ground against the Syrians, they’ve generated a lot of support within Syria. So we’ve seen two big groups—

Can we now say looking at this that the West’s intervention in Iraq was a failure?

No, I think that if you do something and it works and then you stop doing and things go bad, that means that what you did was working, not not working. What I think it tells us is that our whole approach since 9/11, which has essentially been to pick the most dangerous military aspect of Islamic jihadism worldwide and focus military effort on that has been short-sighted. And I’m worried that we’re about to make the same mistake again by switching targets from al-Qaida to ISIS, which is the next, sort of, crocodile to the canoe, if you like, instead of sitting back a little bit and saying, ‘What is it about these groups that makes them so appealing to people in our own societies, and how can we deal with that threat without, in the process, turning our own countries into police states?’ I think that’s really the question that everyone needs to be engaging on now. The military bit is important, but it’s not the forefront.

Okay, I want to come to that a bit later, but I’m wondering – is it now time to start thinking about a radical rejig in Iraq? Do we need three separate states there – Sunni, Shiites? You know, do we need to be thinking about that direction?

I think actually that ship has sailed. We’re already looking at a de facto soft partition, if you like, of Iraq into a sort of south-eastern part of the country that’s really dominated heavily by Iran and is controlled by the Shia majority government in Baghdad and then a Kurdish regional government that now includes not only northern Iraq but significant parts of Syria, and then you’ve got this sort of vacuum in the western part of the country where ISIS is currently. And it’s still a little bit unclear what the future of that part of Iraq is going to be, but I think the chance that it’s ever going to be a one single unified country again is really a bit of a fantasy at this point.

Okay, so let’s go back to the first principle question, then – should we, the West, be getting involved in this at all now?

I do think we need to be getting involved, and the reason I say that is because the reason that a significant number of people are joining Islamic State from our own societies is because they want to be part of something that’s successful, that’s world historic, that seems to be making a significant difference. And one of the most important things we can do to limit that recruitment is to, sort of, take the shine off the Islamic State. Does that mean we should be invading and occupying and trying to restabilise Iraq? Absolutely not. So I think it’s a question of how much is enough in terms of military effort to really set back Islamic State as this attractive thing that people are turning to. But, you know, that’s only part of the issue, as I said. There’s a lot of other stuff that needs to happen in our own societies that, in my view, is actually more important.

Yeah, so looking at the military effort, then – what do we need to do? You’ve been critical, I think, of the air strikes – the level of air strikes. Do we need boots on the ground? What do you see as the way forward?

I think that the way forward has been relatively well set in terms of the tactics of it, which is that we’re going to provide advisers, probably a limited number of special forces for raiding and targeting of high-value targets and then people to designate air strikes and control air power. So it is boots on the ground, but it’s not independent combat units. The main Australia, New Zealand, UK effort here is going to be in training Iraqis and possibly Syrians to take the fight directly to ISIS, but that’s going to be a matter of months, possibly years before those guys are ready to do that. Then—

But who exactly are they training, though? Because there are a lot of commentators that are saying, say, for example, the Iraqi army is in complete disarray and has fallen apart. So who exactly are they training?

That’s not actually a good understanding of what’s going on with the Iraqi military. The Iraqi special operations forces and a number of the Iraqi combat units are actually in pretty good shape. The problem is that over the intervening period since 2011, a lot of the leadership were weeded out and replaced with in some cases corrupt, in other cases sort of politically connected people who were much more interested in the politics of Baghdad than in actually building a viable military force. There’s a lot of potential in the Iraqi military, and I think it won’t be too long before they are able to come back. The real challenge is in Syria, and this puts its finger on the heart of the problem, which is a lot of Syrians are not willing to back a US-led effort unless it’s going to result in the overthrow of Assad. And right now, we’re not focusing on that. We’re not striking the Syrian regime, and there’s a worry that, sure, you can strike ISIS, but all you’re going to do is create space that allows the Assad regime to expand.

I want to just in the time we’ve got left talk a little bit about New Zealand’s involvement in this. Our Prime Minister says that we’re going to be behind the wire – that’s the phrase he likes to use. So not in the front line, offering people to train troops on the ground. But should we prepare ourselves for the possibility of casualties, even though he likes to say we’re away from the main action?

It really depends where New Zealanders end up. If they are not in Iraq, if they’re training people in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere, then I think that they are relatively safe from attack. It’s when you’re operating in Iraq or even in Syria that you’re going to find yourself in an environment where there really is not front line, and, sure, you can be inside the wire, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe. If I were advising Kiwis, I’d be saying, ‘Look, prepare yourselves for not only a significant military conflict but one that could last quite some time, and prepare yourself for a domestic threat within New Zealand.’ And that’s part of the challenge that we’re all facing, which is this is not just restricted to the Middle East. It is in our own societies, and it’s affecting public safety in big cities.

Well, when you mention the domestic threat, again, the Prime Minister has released figures publicly that says there are about 40 people who are on a watch list in New Zealand for supporting Islamic State, 40 more than need investigation and about five that have been fighting for Islamic State. Does that sound like realistic numbers to you?

I don’t have any better information than what you have, but it sounds about right when you compare it to what we’ve seen from the UK and Australia and Canada and the US. It’s about on par with that, and I think it’s worth pointing out that the number of foreign fighters who are going to join Islamic State is somewhere between 10 and 12 times the scale of what we saw during the Iraq War. It’s a very substantial number of people. I think the paradox again is the vast majority of Muslims are not involved in anything like this, but yet obviously 100 percent of people involved in the Islamic State are Muslims, so there’s a danger here that we’re going to tar everybody with the same brush and start looking at an entire subset of our own society as a threat. And I think that’s a really important fine line that we need to walk as we deal with the challenge.

But in saying that, how real is the threat on home turf? In New Zealand, say, that something could happen?

So again, back to your very original question – why is this more of a threat than al-Qaida? Al-Qaida’s style of operating was to generate teams of terrorists who would go in a pre-planned way to attack a target and so on. What we’re dealing with now is something that’s a lot, sort of, lower level but is actually rather more dangerous, which is this idea of remote radicalization so that individuals who have a social media connectivity with the Islamic State or they have friends over there becoming radicalized and essentially taking to the streets and carrying out more or less random acts of violence upon people in society. And the example that I point to is what happened in Woolwich in London last year, where two men of Nigerian descent ran down an off-duty British soldier on the street in a car—

And beheaded him in the street.

And then beheaded him in the street. Now, you can’t really protect against that in the same way you can protect against something like 9/11. The challenge for people—

So are you realistically saying, though, that that is something that could happen in New Zealand?

Absolutely. Absolutely. But I think what people need to say is how much surveillance, how much police protection are we prepared to tolerate before we turn our own societies into a police state? And you have to recognise that it’s a real risk and it could happen, but is it worth the sort of mass surveillance and police presence that governments may want to put in place to protect against it?

Well, it’s funny that—

And that’s something that every citizen needs to be involved in.

It’s funny that you raise that, because our government is saying that they would like to bring in 48 hours of warrantless surveillance so that they can watch people for 48 hours without going to the court for a warrant and that they would like to put cameras on private property. So how far or how much privacy should we be prepared to give up? And is privacy something that we have a right to now, or is that notion just gone?

Well, I think if you want to continue to live in a democracy that’s an open society, as New Zealand is, then it has to be something that’s open for debate, and we have to be looking very carefully at safeguards to the kinds of surveillance and security measures that people are putting in place. In Australia, for example, there’s been a debate where the Attorney General has said, ‘Well, look, it’s okay. We’re not planning to use these regulations in order to, for example, shut down journalists’, but once the regulations are on the books, some future government can use them to do whatever it wants. So I think we have to really be looking carefully at things like sunset clauses, where these regulations are up for review on a regular basis, and we have to be encouraging public debate and helping people see that it’s not choice between perfect security and risk at the hands of groups like ISIS. It’s about how much of your security or how much of your privacy and freedom are you willing to give up, and is it worth doing that in order to achieve security against this kind of risk? And, of course, the answer to that is different in every different country, and everyone needs to be part of the discussion, otherwise we’re likely to find ourselves looking back on this and saying, ‘It looked like a good idea at the time, but now we find ourselves living in a different society from how we were originally’.

Dr Kilcullen, thank you. So interesting to talk to you this morning. Thank you for your time and for joining us on The Nation.

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Transcript provided by Able.
Video Link Above to Charlie Rose Show

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ramadi = Evidence Iraq Needs to Develope Rapid deployment force

by Ian Bach June 5, 2015 Quick Reaction Force ww2
A couple months News Orgs were reporting G2 involved in Iraq strategy to retake Mosul - outlining the units needed, their make-up, and it looked good, 8 or 10 Brigades 5 general army 2 counter insurgent / counter terrorist 1 or 3 i forget policing & other local forces, maybe a couple Sunni Militias would be best. But it also said Coalition "was not going to rush in without a good plan." My fear was they would drag their feet, and not do the correct thing = "Go for the Jugular".

So they did nothing but target retakes and some defensive lines. But like in World War 2 with Norway the allies didn't lose that battle, it was given away.

Mosul could have been attacked a month or 2 ago - "Cut the head of the Serpent" even if it meant U.N. Units........... but I would not use U.S. Units.

ISIS has been moving around doing stabbing attacks then fall back to ISIS held areas. These pin pricks have at times been more than pin pricks, and end up like Tikrit, Mosul, Raqqa, each city fell because there was no effective quick deployment strategies. At least not an effective one. If the American Generals wont help put it together, than Iraq needs to find a partner who can assist in the implementation of a effective response. For best effect America can make good use of the Air Force, look back at the "Berlin Airlift". Humanitarian aide and Troop transport, & aerial attacks on forces that follow suicide attacks, It must be a large scale endeavor, as told in every COIN (counterinsurgency)  story book, but almost never implemented.

I saw one ISIS post bragging that a ethnic Sunni tribe of 9 million has signed on with ISIS, eeeeerrrr NOT !....

More like a peace treaty that reads "We won't kill your Sheiks if you let us run everything". also if their is 9 million in that tribe I bet only 1-3 million in Iraq (rest in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, & elsewhere.) of 3 million how many soldiers can you get?

The answer is about 20,000 to 40,000 by my estimates another 10-20k accidental guerrillas, but you also  get a 10 x that in people who they can tax and control who works and who doesn't, they get into everything, people hate these guys, for good reason. People flee towns when ISIS comes knocking they don't cheer.. As long as that metric remains true, than the enemy has not only lost the battle, but they have lost the War.

I am not sure who is running the Overall Military "show" in Iraq, but they should be fired. If we don't even attempt to effectively counter the enemies abilities, strategies, and tactics, then we have lost the Battle, and the enemy will continue to gain ground, loot, kill rape, destroy history, etc.

ISIS strategy = Piss off non Muslims and non Sunni Arabs get into a fight for land and politics and minerals, make Money (prob #1 on their list) tax, tax, tax, also they sell electricity, gas, &water to Syrian Gov. Now in Iraq they can sell water to Iraqi Gov.with their Dam at Ramadi, of course looting is another activity they love to do, rape pillage etc etc, Their online strategy is mostly aimed at requirement, indoctrinator (making it look cool to some disenfranchised youth or some psycho
ISIS Tactics = Fast attacks on Mass, lots of very large suicide tanker bombs, at start of battle many other various suicide Attucks to target individuals sheiks and communities,, kill scholars, any highly educated and looked up to figures kill or their possessions, kill any brave outspken people asap, after that the remaining citizens will pretty much do what you say and pay your tax, they know they will be punished if they don't. The money is used to fun "Global JIhad". This was a strategy that al Qaeda had been pursuing long before ISIS.

Coalitions Strategy = Sit wait and think of a really cool plan !!! (while the walls fall in)
Coalition Tactics = Wait until the enemy has had time to piss off the locals and find some really cool hiding places !!! they will tunnel and they love to set up lots of IEDs. SO expect Huge loses - because you waited till the enemy had time to dig in, also higley restrict your air force from even thinking about hitting any targets, unless Some overworked guy okays it. I say over worked guy. Because from the number of strikes I see it must be a one man show. We need thousands of people in that endeavor alone. hundreds of eyes in the skies, and thousands of eyes on the ground. If we do have that, then someone onm top must be sitting on his hands. - by Ian Bach June 5, 2015
Quick Reaction Force ww2
Architect of Soviet Victory in World War II: The Life and Theories of G.S By Richard W. Harrison

May 17th is Norwegian National Constitution Day, TAAC-N soldiers held a ceremony in tribute to their fallen #Afghan

Friday, May 15, 2015

Guns & Girls on Twitter

guns, ammo, girls, guns and girls, girls and guns, women at war, war, women, girl, girl&guns, sexy,

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sen. Cory Booker calls for action in online War vs ISIS

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., backed his colleague’s appeal. “Look at their fancy memes compared to what we’re not doing,” Booker said, displaying examples of jihadist online postings.

“There’s an obvious piece of legislation that we need to start working on,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said during a Homeland Security Committee hearing on “Jihad 2.0“.
“Let’s face it: We invented the Internet. We invented the social network sites. We’ve got Hollywood. We’ve got the capabilities… to blow these guys out of the water from the standpoint of communications.”

Booker is a prolific user of Twitter and a former viral sensation in his own right, as mayor of Newark. He said he knows “something about memes,” and added that “there are easy tactics how to get more voice, virality to messaging that we’re not using as a government.”
Instead, he lamented, the U.S. is spending “millions and millions of dollars on old school forms of media,” like Voice of America.

Sen. Cory Booker,, R-N.H., said that the private sector could play a greater role working with the government in any counter-recruitment initiative.
Here’s a clip from the hearing:
Also at the hearing, Peter Bergen, a senior New America Foundation national security expert, testified in favor of more lenient treatment for would-be fighters who reverse course before fully committing themselves.

He noted that Muslim families who see a son or daughter radicalizing online are deterred from reporting the matter to the FBI out of fear that he or she will be thrown in jail for more than a decade.
 “If somebody is not actually indicted for a potential act of terrorism, but merely for trying to go to Syria, we should be thinking about off-ramps that aren’t 15 years in prisons,” Bergen said.
Sam Sacks is a writer and reporter living in Washington, D.C. He is the co-founder of the watchdog 

news site The District Sentinel
Photo: Screengrab of Cory Booker at Senate hearing

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Iraq January 5th 2015 - Maps

Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: Books

Selected Books from the NATO Multimedia Library

Every Insurgency Is Different

CHICAGO — America faces a wide array of insurgencies across the globe, from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to the Taliban in Afghanistan, each one different in its aims, structures and strategies. So why do the United States and its allies take pretty much the same approach to all?
A “surge” briefly stabilized Iraq, but the same strategy failed in Afghanistan. Internationally backed negotiations succeeded in Bosnia, but have so far failed in Syria. Israel’s targeting of Hamas leaders has not degraded the group, even as the deaths of factional leaders have sowed confusion within the Pakistani Taliban.
This track record is spotty because the insurgents themselves vary tremendously, particularly in the social networks among their leaders, and between those leaders and the local communities in which they operate. All insurgents are not created equal, and so strategies need to be matched to the specific strengths and weaknesses of a group.
That said, it is possible to categorize insurgent groups as one of three primary types. The first, what we might call “integrated groups,” like the Afghan Taliban, rely on robust social networks to link leaders to one another and to local communities. They are resilient and cohesive: Despite various local feuds and internal disagreements, the Afghan Taliban have never collapsed into internecine warfare.
That cohesion helps to explain why the huge, decade-long American investment in counterinsurgency in Afghanistan has largely failed. Integrated groups can survive many of the standard prescriptions of counterinsurgency doctrine, leading to long, bloody conflicts. Only intense, often brutal, warfare, like Sri Lanka’s campaign against the Tamil Tigers, is likely to destroy or contain them.
Because organizations like the Afghan Taliban are unlikely to collapse quickly, governments need to consider deal-making as an alternative to protracted warfare, even if the groups pursue undesirable goals. They are cohesive enough to bargain with the government or international community, allowing them to implement agreements without splintering.
Insurgent organizations in another category, “vanguard groups,” have a tight leadership core but weak pre-existing links to local communities. They often emerge when urban, elite or foreign fighters try to mobilize parts of society with which they have few ties. Their cohesion lets them move fast and effectively, as the Bolsheviks did in Russia in 1917, or as Al Qaeda in Iraq did in the first years after the American invasion.
But unless they quickly embed themselves in local communities, vanguards are vulnerable to dissent and disobedience from below. That’s why Al Qaeda in Iraq was so susceptible to the Sunni Awakening in 2007. Similarly, the Islamic State has been able to rapidly expand as a vanguard, but its major weakness remains the possibility of counterrevolt by wary local allies.
Vanguard groups are also vulnerable to a wider range of government strategies than integrated groups. If their leadership is quickly eliminated or politically co-opted, the organization crumbles. The key to counterinsurgency against them, then, is to quickly target leaders while preventing these groups from rebuilding.

Vanguards present difficult dilemmas for peace processes, however: Even if leaders agree to a deal, they may not be able to persuade their local units to go along. Negotiating partners therefore need to actively bolster the leadership of such groups in order to prevent dissension and encourage unity — in other words, peace may require that a government support the leaders of a group it has long been fighting.
Groups in a third type, “parochial insurgents,” have a fragmented leadership splintered across powerful factions, despite existing under a shared organizational banner. They often emerge from loose alliances among distinct local networks. Their local ties make them militarily formidable, but leadership divisions leave them prone to internal splits.
The Pakistani Taliban is a classic parochial insurgent group that has been plagued by infighting, side-switching and an inability to build and maintain coherent strategies, even as it has been able to impose heavy costs on Pakistan’s government and society. These internal rivalries have triggered brutal violence against civilians to try to show a faction’s power, as in the group’s recent attack on a school in Peshawar. (Parochial groups shouldn’t be confused with truly fragmented organizations, like some of the non-ISIS groups fighting in Syria; such groups are fatally undermined by the complete absence of central leadership and are easily marginalized.)
Dealing with parochial groups presents a distinct challenge. Targeting the overall leadership — whether through violence or negotiations — is not very productive, since central control is weak. Killing top leaders may affect only their own faction, not the broader organization. Counterinsurgents are instead forced into long and messy campaigns focused on imposing state control at the local level.
Peace is also hard to negotiate and implement with parochial groups. Because of the weakness of central leaderships, local factions must be approached individually, an often protracted and byzantine process. Rather than grand bargains or overarching settlements, peace with parochial groups is built through live-and-let-live deals, cease-fires and local accommodations.
This diversity among insurgent groups means that some strategies that work in one place might be counterproductive in another. There is no such thing as counterinsurgency doctrine; rather, doctrines and strategies have to be tailor-made to unique situations, based on a careful study of the groups and the political, social and economic contexts in which they operate. Only then can America and its allies hope to stabilize conflict-weary regions of the world.
Paul Staniland is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of “Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse.”