For Your Eyes Only Military News

INDIA-PAKISTAN: Troublesome Assets

May 13, 2012: Pakistan’s problems along the Afghan border are mostly about the difficulty integrating its Pushtun and Baluchi tribes into the nation of Pakistan.  In southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan) there are the Baluchi, and in the northwest there are the Pushtun. Both groups  are very territorial, and hostile to outsiders. But people from Punjab (48 percent of the population) and Sind (29 percent) are better educated and possess technical skills lacking in the Pushtun tribal territories (16 percent) and Baluchistan (seven percent), and must be brought in to do work requiring education and experience. While Sind province has economic development levels similar to India, the tribal territories are more similar to the less developed nations in Africa.

What the tribes lack in economic development they make up for in terms of aggressiveness and hostility towards the more numerous and wealthier lowlanders. For thousands of years, these mountain tribes have raided and plundered their lowland neighbors. But the last time that happened was nearly a century ago, when Pushtuns from Afghanistan joined tribal brethren on the other (British India) side of the border and headed for the lowlands. The tribesmen didn’t make it and spent three months trying. When Pakistan was created in 1947, the tribes were still not pacified, and were a sixth of the population. Over the next 65 years, many Pushtun and Baluchi moved into the lowlands (especially the cities, like Karachi) while many lowlanders moved into the tribal areas, bringing needed skills and a veneer of government and modern civilization. But the tribal leader and their ancient form of government persisted, as did the custom of most adult males being armed, and ready to fight (or turn into a bandit). This, as much as the corrupt and self-serving Pakistani military has defined and defiled the history of Pakistan.

Negotiations have failed to persuade Pakistan to stop blocking NATO use of Pakistani roads to get cargo into Afghanistan. This is because the U.S. refuses to apologize for a friendly fire incident last November which the Americans consider partly the fault of the Pakistanis. As a result, NATO and the U.S. have been moving supplies and equipment over the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) via Central Asia. This is more expensive, and is costing the United States an additional half billion dollars a year (increasing overall Afghan operating costs by about four tenths of one percent a year). Pakistan closed its border to NATO supplies last November 26. In Pakistan, the American apology is very important to anti-American politicians who have bet their reputations on casting the Americans as unrepentant villains. The Americans are mad about Pakistanis constantly denying that some factions of the Pakistani government and military openly support Islamic terrorists and provide very public terrorist sanctuaries for them in North Waziristan (for al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban) and Quetta (Afghan Taliban).

In Pakistan’s tribal territories (Peshawar) a bomb went off near a police check point, wounding seven people. This is the fourth such bombing (against police) in the city in the last four days.

India and Pakistan continue to negotiate peace, which now includes increased trade and regular cricket games between teams from both countries. But Pakistan still openly supports the terrorism in Kashmir and refuses to shut down terrorist groups in Pakistan that openly plan attacks on India.

Meanwhile, Indian counter-terror efforts have been very successful in blocking most of these attacks. The vast majority of Indian Moslems want nothing to do with Islamic terrorism, and that makes it difficult for Islamic terrorists to operate inside India.
India is planning major economic programs for rural tribal areas where Maoist rebels are active. The success of this will depend on how well officials can control the corruption that usually wrecks plans like these. At the same time, the massive police presence in the Maoist strongholds is seeking to shut down the rural bases the rebels operate from. If more support can be obtained from locals, and the Maoists constantly chased out of their base camps, the rebels will decline and eventually become a minor nuisance. The Maoists are well entrenched in these areas and fanatical. They will not be easy to eliminate.

May 11, 2012: In Pakistan’s tribal territories (Khyber) four children were killed by a mortar shell as civilians were caught in the middle of a battle between soldiers and a tribal warlord.

May 10, 2012: In Kashmir, troops caught six Islamic terrorists crossing from Pakistan. The intruders refused to surrender opened fire and five were killed.
Pakistan successfully tested one of its Hatf 3 ballistic missiles. This model only has a range of 290 kilometers. Although described as nuclear armed, more likely to carry nuclear weapons is the Hatf 4, which has a range of 2,000 kilometers and has been in service since 2008. The big question mark is whether Pakistan ever perfected its nuclear weapons design (early tests indicated an unreliable design) and overcame the difficult engineering tasks involved in creating a nuclear weapon small and rugged enough to operate in a ballistic missile warhead. If not, it’s possible that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is an expensive and radioactive, fraud. Such massive deceptions are not unknown in Pakistan.

May 9, 2012:  The U.S. Congress cut aid to Pakistan by $800 million. This is in response to continued lack of cooperation by the Pakistanis in fighting Islamic terrorism. The Pakistanis provide sanctuaries for Islamic terror groups and refuse to cooperate in keeping them from crossing the border into and out of Afghanistan.

The commander of the 150,000 troops and paramilitary forces in Pakistani tribal territories wants to go after the Islamic terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan. This is mainly in reaction to recent actions that have left 13 Pakistani troops dead in the territories, including four of them beheaded by Islamic radical tribesmen. The general is likely to be overruled, as the Pakistani army sees the terrorist sanctuaries in North Waziristan and Quetta (Baluchistan) as valuable strategic assets (that help maintain some control over Afghanistan, and provide the only successful weapon against India). India, Afghanistan and the rest of the world opposes the existence of these terrorist sanctuaries, but the Pakistani generals hang onto these troublesome assets. The Pakistanis believe the American presence in Afghanistan won’t last, and once the foreign troops are gone, Pakistan can once more dominate its less populous, and landlocked, neighbor. The Afghans are not looking forward to that. Nor are many Pakistanis, as the Pakistani military continues to exercise a veto over anything the elected government wants to do, and continues to build its own economic empire, paid for by a large chunk of the government’s annual income.

In Pakistan’s tribal territories (Akora Khattak) two bombs were set off, wounding nine people.

May 8, 2012: In Quetta, Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) the chief of detectives for the province was killed. Many criminal and terrorist organizations wanted this guy dead, because of his success in hunting down criminals.

May 7, 2012: In Pakistan’s tribal territories (Khyber) Islamic radicals used explosives to destroy a primary school for girls.

May 6, 2012: In North Waziristan, an army patrol was attacked and that set off two days of fighting that left 21 soldiers and civilians dead.

May 5, 2012: In North Waziristan, American UAVs used missiles to kill nine Islamic terrorists.

May 4, 2012: A year ago, the American raid on the military town of Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden had been living for five years, was a huge embarrassment for the Pakistani military. To most Pakistanis, this was another example of army incompetence in defending the country, and proof that the army has been lying about its support for bin Laden and his terrorist followers.

The army survived this, by simply denying it had helped hide bin Laden, and now claiming that it had actually helped the Americans find him. Blatant lies and denials have worked for the army in the past, and continue to do so.

In Pakistan’s tribal territories (Bajur) a suicide bomber attacked a market and killed at least twenty people.

INFANTRY:  Throwing Off The Weight Of Good Intentions

May 13, 2012: There is a rebellion brewing in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.It’s all about the protective vest. This lifesaving bit of equipment has saved thousands of lives in the last two decades, but has, because of political grandstanding and media distortions, become too heavy and restrictive. The troops want lighter body armor, even if it does increase vulnerability to bullets. Marine and army experts point out that the drive (created mainly by politicians and the media) for “better” body armor resulted in heavier and more restrictive (to battlefield mobility) models. This has more than doubled the minimum weight you could carry into combat.

Until the 1980s, you could strip down (for actual fighting) to your helmet, weapon (assault rifle and knife), ammo (hanging from webbing on your chest, along with grenades), canteen and first aid kit on your belt, and your combat uniform. Total load was 13-14 kg (about 30 pounds). You could move freely and quickly like this, and you quickly found that speed and agility was a lifesaver in combat. But now the minimum load carried is twice as much (27 kg) and, worse yet, more restrictive.

While troops complained about the new protective vests, they valued it in combat. The current generation of vests will stop rifle bullets, a first in the history of warfare. And this was after nearly a century of trying to develop protective vests that were worth the hassle of wearing. It wasn’t until the 1980s that it was possible to make truly bullet proof vests using metallic inserts. But the inserts were heavy and so were the vests (about 11.3 kg/25 pounds). Great for SWAT teams, but not much use for the infantry. But in the 1990s, additional research produced lighter bullet proof ceramic materials. By 1999, the U.S. Army began distributing a 7.3 kg (16 pound) “Interceptor” vest that provided fragment and bullet protection. This, plus the 1.5 kg (3.3 pound) Kevlar helmet (available since the 1980s), gave the infantry the best combination of protection and mobility. And just in time.

Since the end of the Cold War more of the situations U.S. infantry find themselves in involve lightly armed irregulars who rely more on bullets than bombs. The bullet proof vest eliminates most of the damage done by the 30 percent of wounds that occur in the trunk (of which about 40 percent tend to be fatal without a vest). The Kevlar helmet is also virtually bulletproof but it doesn’t cover all of the head (the face and part of the neck is still exposed).

Even so, the reduction in deaths is significant. Some 15-20 percent of all wounds are in the head and about 45 percent of them are fatal without a helmet. The Kevlar helmet reduces the deaths by at least half and reduces many wounds to the status of bumps, sprains, and headaches. Half the wounds occur in the arms and legs, but only 5-10 percent of these are fatal and that won’t change any time soon. Thus since Vietnam, improved body armor has reduced casualties by more than half. The protective vests used in Vietnam and late in the Korean War reduced casualties by about 25 percent since World War II, so the risk of getting killed or wounded has been cut in half since World War II because of improved body armor. Much better medical care (especially rapid evacuation of casualties by helicopter) has helped change the ratio of dead to wounded from 1:3 during World War II to 1:5 today.

The Interceptor vest was an improvement in other ways. It was easier to wear and was cooler in hot climates because you could more easily adjust it to let some air circulate. You could also hang gear from the vest, making it more a piece of clothing. It’s still hot to wear the vest in hot weather but if you’re expecting a firefight, it’s easier to make the decision to wear the vest. You know it will stop bullets. U.S. troops who have fought in Afghanistan and been hit with rifle bullets that would have penetrated earlier vests are already spreading the word throughout the ground combat community. All you have to do is exercise in such a way that you are better able to carry the weight and still be mobile.

But as new, and heavier vests were introduced the troops often found themselves with protection, and weight, they did not need. For example, the latest vests will protect you from a hit high-powered rifle fired a close range. That is rare in combat. The latest vests will also protect you from multiple high-powered machine-gun bullet hits. Again, that’s rare and an increasing number of soldiers and marines are willing to trade that for less weight and more mobility.

The army tried to solve the problem by instituting new training methods that emphasized building muscle and the ability to be agile under all that weight. The new exercises helped somewhat, but moving vigorously with all that weight has led to more musculoskeletal problems, many of them with long term consequences.

The enemy has also adapted, knowing that the more heavily encumbered Americans were not as agile or as fast and that could be exploited. The frustration of being slower than your foe often led U.S. troops to exertions that brought on musculoskeletal injuries. The new body armor may protect from bullets and shell fragments but it does nothing for over exuberant troops.
So the soldiers and marines are getting louder in their demands for relief from protection they don’t need and restrictive protective vests that can get them killed.

LEADERSHIP:  Chinese Sailors Who Disobey

May 13, 2012: A month ago, Chinese warships training near the Japanese island province of Okinawa provided an interesting example of poor leadership and lack of discipline. It began when a Chinese helicopter flew towards a Japanese destroyer that was practicing landings and takeoffs with its own helicopter. The Japanese were monitoring Chinese radio and heard a Chinese commander order the Chinese helicopter pilot, several times, to go no closer to the Japanese destroyer. When these orders began coming the Chinese helicopter was 4,000 meters from the Japanese warship. The Chinese helicopter ignored the orders from his ship and came to within 90 meters of the Japanese ship, at an altitude of 30 meters (below the radio masts on the Japanese ship.) The Chinese helicopter pilot then heeded his orders and withdrew. The next day, another Chinese helicopter pilot also ignored orders and flew around a Japanese destroyer twice.

The Japanese government complained about these incidents to the Chinese government but the Chinese said it was all the fault of the Japanese. The Chinese did not explain how they arrived at that assessment, even though there was plenty of video of the two incidents. What the Chinese will not comment on at all is the frequent incidents of poor discipline on their warships. While the discipline situation is getting better, it’s still something that would not be tolerated in Western navies. The Chinese problems with their crews have led to some serious accidents. In one case, the entire crew of a submarine was asphyxiated when the diesel engines were not shut down as the sub dived.

There have been numerous breakdowns while at sea, and many subs that don’t leave port much because of reliability problems.  There are similar problems with surface ships, but are not as noticeable as those that occur on submarines.

INFORMATION WARFARE: They Died With Their Posse On

May 13, 2012: As the U.S. government becomes more aware of the Cyber War threat, and makes an increasing effort to defend the nation from hoards of hackers, it is running into some serious obstacles because of bureaucratic infighting, insufficient resources and laws that forbid the best qualified government employees to help.

Early on (in the 1990s) it was the Department of Defense that took the initiative to defend the country against attacks via the Internet. This effort was hampered by lack of money and lack of awareness by the other branches of the government. After September 11, 2001 everyone in the government became more security conscious, and a new bureaucracy (DHS, or the Department of Homeland Security) was formed. DHS was created largely from existing agencies (Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Immigration and Naturalization Services) with the addition of several new ones (like the Transportation Security Agency everyone encounters at airports). While some components of DHS are quite good (Coast Guard), most of them are mediocre or worse. Even though the Department of Defense was already heavily involved in Cyber War defense, DHS saw this as a DHS responsibility and has sought to take over whatever the Department of Defense is doing here. This has caused a classic bureaucratic brawl of epic proportions.

Then there’s another, even larger problem; Cyber War involves defending networks and computers, not real estate. Most of those computers belong to companies and individuals. To deal with this the government trying to formulate laws that would put all those computers under some control (for security purposes) of the government. This means more regulations stipulating what corporations and individuals must do to protect their networks and computers. Most Americans are hostile to this because networks in non-government organizations (especially banks and large corporations) are much better protected than those in the government, or even the military. No one wants to trust the government with something as crucial as Internet security, yet there is a need for someone to be in charge to deal with large scale issues (like what general protective measures to use for encryption or basic functions of the Internet). This is now taken care of by consensus among several voluntary organizations. This has not solved some major problems with Internet security, and few trust governments to do any better.

It gets even more bizarre when you consider that, historically, the military defended the “homeland” from foreign threats. This sometimes involved protecting the property of American citizens overseas, especially needed raw materials (like oil). The navy defended sea lanes (the unfettered use of shipping lanes for importing and exporting). But Cyber War doesn’t involve defending actual land, or sea access. While many Cyber War targets are military or government computers, most belong to American citizens in the United States. DHS sees this as something it should do. But the Department of Defense has a strong case in that it has a lot more experience in that area, and can reinforce that with conventional combat ability (to physically cut cables or destroy satellites used by a hostile power to wage Cyber War against the U.S.). Cyber War is an international effort, and not just restricted to the homeland. There’s also the fact that the Department of Defense is seen as a much more competent and well run organization.

Sadly, the American military is forbidden, by law, from defending the United States from within the United States. That is, as some DHS advocates would have it, why the Department of Defense cannot run efforts to protect Internet based operations within the United States.

That’s because the U.S. is unique in that, by law, the military cannot act as police inside the U.S. American Armed Forces are bound by the Posse Comitatus Act, which imposes limits on the use of federal military forces in domestic law enforcement.  The Posse Comitatus Act was originally enacted in 1878, in a largely successful effort to prevent the use of federal troops for enforcing the Fourteenth Amendment and other Reconstruction-era measures such as the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. All this was in order to facilitate the re-establishment of white supremacy in the former Confederacy. Fearing precisely that, President Rutherford B. Hayes opposed the measure, but it was passed over his veto. Despite these unsavory origins, it has become firmly embedded in American culture.

Posse Comitatus does not actually restrict all military support to law enforcement. Under certain circumstances such support is permitted, as outlined in Army Regulation 500-51, “Emergency Employment of Army and Other Resources, Support to Civilian Law Enforcement, 1 July 1983.”

• Actions taken for furthering a military or foreign affairs function of the United States, regardless of incidental benefits to civilian authorities.

• Actions taken under the inherent right of the U.S. Government to insure preservation of public order, and carrying out of governmental operations within its territorial limits, by force if necessary.

It’s believed that these exemptions would allow the Department of Defense to take the lead in Cyber War defense. But many Americans oppose this and no one knows how the courts would decide on this.

Moreover, there are detailed restrictions on the role of the military even within existing exemptions, to preserve the separation between civil and military authority.

Meanwhile, Congress has empowered the Armed Forces to support anti-drug operations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. A series of legislative initiatives during the ’80s modified Title 10 of the US Code to make the Department of Defense (DoD) the lead agency in international waters for the detection and monitoring of air and sea traffic likely to be involved in the illegal international trade in drugs, with the authority to pass the information to law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard. In addition, the Department of Defense can provide equipment and facilities to law enforcement agencies, and provide training and expert advice. Thus, although uniformed DoD personnel cannot directly participate in searches, seizures, arrests, or similar activities, they can provide important support to law enforcement agencies (e.g., federal troops cannot arrest someone for a civil violation, but can guard someone who has been arrested by a suitably authorize civilian law enforcement agency). The legislation further mandates that the appropriate departments arrange for Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETS) to be aboard “every appropriate surface navy vessel at sea in a drug interdiction area,” outside U.S. territorial waters.

So while the armed forces can perform certain roles in law enforcement, for the most part these are strictly support roles. Despite this restriction, these arrangements have worked pretty well. But new law enforcement missions have arisen in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. The Department of Defense sees its Cyber War defense efforts within the United States as a support rile.
In a curious loophole, Posse Comitatus does not restrict the Navy from conducting essentially law enforcement operations against anyone suspected of engaging in piracy, drug smuggling, the slave trade, and other activities defined by international agreements as “universal crimes.” That is, provided those individuals are neither American citizens nor in American territorial waters. Thus, in January 2002, Navy personnel boarded and searched the Hajji Rahmeh, a Syrian merchant vessel, in the Mediterranean Sea. Had the ship been in US coastal waters, or under US registry, however, however, the Navy would be prohibited from taking such action or even directly supporting a Coast Guard boarding team.
There have been recent calls to repeal or modify Posse Comitatus. However, this is likely to be very difficult to carry off. The Posse Comitatus Act has become deeply embedded in civil libertarian thought in America, on both the left and the right. For example, the very limited use of military reconnaissance aircraft to support the apprehension of the “D.C. Sniper” during October of 2002 led to a good deal of acrimony. A the time civil rights activists protested the measure, warning of a potential “slippery slope” in the erosion of constitutional rights. Similar protests have been heard from the right, with warning of grave consequences that might attend the modification of the law.

Meanwhile, the Department of Defense daily works on Cyber War defense with major corporations and other parts of the government (NSA, CIA, FBI, DHS and others) and is seems unlikely that DHS will be able to reverse that momentum. But a lot of political and DHS officials want to, which will make the attempt interesting to watch.


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