Archive for September, 2012

Soldier of Fortune Magazine Weekly Article briefing 24 TO 28 SEPTEMBER 2012

September 28, 2012

Kenyan troops stormed Kismayo – targeting al-Shabab.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton admitted that al-Qaeda was involved
in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

POWs and MIAs were honored by the Navy.

Afghan Local Police took out a number of insurgents near Shaghowlay village.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is searching for America’s POWs and

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has raised alarm
bells about the fuel situation in Afghanistan.

The ChiComs have commissioned their first aircraft carrier.

The Taliban leader known as Malang was taken out during an ISAF operation.

Abdul Rauf, a facilitator for al-Qaida, was killed during ISAF operations in
Kunar province.

British citizens are among foreign jihadists fighting in Syria.

ISAF forces assigned to Task Force Arrowhead saved three hostages being held
in Kandahar province.

The Army is improving the XM25 Punisher.

An airman missing since 1943 was identified.

Decision to evacuate eastern Libya divides US Intelligence Community

September 27, 2012

US consulate in Benghazi, Libya
On September 12, just hours after heavily armed militia groups stormed the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Washington made the decision to pull out its diplomats and intelligence officers from Eastern Libya. As US government envoys, spies and contractors started arriving at the Benina International Airport in Benghazi, many Libyans noted the “surprisingly large number” of Americans that came out of the woodwork. According to reports, at least a dozen of the American evacuees were in fact Central Intelligence Agency personnel. Their evacuation, which has essentially ended the presence of the CIA in eastern Libya’s most important city, is dividing the US Intelligence Community. On the one hand, some US intelligence insiders argue that the attack on the US consulate, which killed four US personnel, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, necessitated the decision to evacuate. A number of former US government officials told The Los Angeles Times this week that the evacuation was “justified, given the dangers in Benghazi” for US personnel. Another current official told The New York Times that the evacuation of the CIA station in Benghazi does not necessarily mean that the US has lost its intelligence collection capabilities in eastern Libya. Washington can still intercept telephone calls and emails and conduct satellite reconnaissance in the North African region, said the official. Others, however, leveled sharp criticism against the decision of the White House to evacuate its diplomats and spies from Benghazi, arguing that the move marked “a major setback in [US] intelligence-gathering efforts” in the country. Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer with decades of experience in the Middle East, called the move “disastrous for US intelligence-gathering capabilities”. Writing in Time magazine, Baer said that shutting down the CIA station in Benghazi would make it “almost impossible to collect good human intelligence” in the region, and described the move as a sign of “America’s declining position” there. A US official, who has served in Libya told The New York Times on condition of anonymity that the evacuation of CIA personnel from Benghazi was “ a catastrophic intelligence loss” for Washington. The same article hosts another comment, from an unnamed former CIA station chief with significant experience in the Middle East, who said that the decision to shut down the CIA station in Benghazi was “really disgraceful. Why spend billions of dollars a year on the intelligence service”, he said, only to “run away right at the moment when you most need intelligence?”. Both newspapers contacted the CIA, Department of State, and the White House, but all refused comment on the subject.

Tactics 101: The ‘Guard’ Mission in Security Ops

September 22, 2012


“No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.”


Niccolo Machiavelli

In our last article, we dissected the first of the big “3” security operations – the screen. In our discussion, we addressed several areas as they related to the screen. These included: 1) Providing you a definition of the screen. 2) Laying out the characteristics of the screen. 3) Addressing the key concepts of the screen. 4) Describing how a unit typically conducts a screen focusing on its’ 5 phases. 5) Presenting the types of screen operations. 6) Finally, we provided you a visual of and the definitions of the control measures you would typically utilize in a screen. We hope the one thing you will remember regarding the screen is that it is a very challenging operation to conduct. It is one that takes quality planning and preparation to set the conditions for execution success. Those who think you can throw a screen mission together without this planning and preparation will suffer the consequences.

Our article this month will key on the second of the big “3” security operations – the guard. Our agenda will be reminiscent of the prior month. We will look at these areas: 1) The definition of the guard. 2) How a guard differs from a screen. 3) The critical tasks of a guard operation. 4) Organizing to conduct the guard. 5) The types of guard missions. and 6) The control measures normally utilized in a guard mission. Let’s Move Out!

Definition – A guard force protects the main body by either fighting to gain time or by attacking, defending, and/or delaying the enemy to prevent him from observing the main body and potentially engaging it with direct fires. Additionally, it can be the key component in providing the main body with the freedom of maneuver it desperately requires to achieve success. Throughout a guard mission, the force will observe the enemy and report its’ actions to higher headquarters. A guard can be conducted in support of a stationary force or a moving force. It can be utilized in an offensive or defensive mission.

How does a Guard differ from a Screen?
The guard is clearly a step up from the screen in most regards. These step-ups include the following:

  • It possesses far more combat power than a screen. Consequently, it is equipped with enough firepower so it can fix, repel and even defeat the lead elements of an enemy force so it can’t engage the main body with direct fires.
  • A guard force will usually be positioned on a narrower front than that of a screen force. Thus, in a guard force, vehicles will have less dispersion than in a screen. This enables the guard force to concentrate combat power if it is required to fix, repel, or defeat the enemy.
  • Because of the mission of the guard force, it will engage the enemy with both its own direct fires and generally the main body’s indirect fires. Remember, as with the screen force, a guard force will operate within range of the main body’s indirect fires. As we discussed last month, a screen force does not want to engage the enemy with direct fires unless absolutely necessary. A guard force is equipped and prepared to conduct this direct fire engagement.

Critical Tasks
A unit conducting a guard may need to execute a number of various tasks in order to be successful. These include:

  • Destroying the security forces of the enemy. A guard force should be capable of destroying or certainly defeating the advance guard (we will address what an advance guard is further in this article) of the enemy. It should easily be able to destroy any screen forces of an enemy.
  • An imperative of any security operation is to gain and maintain contact with your opponent. It is no different in a guard. In fact, a guard will possess far more assets than a screen force to gain and maintain this contact.
  • Keep continuous eyes on the avenues of approach into the main body. The enemy can conduct an attack on your forces at anytime. So whether you are attacking or in a defensive posture, the force must be vigilant on keeping surveillance on the enemy approaches into the main body. If your intelligence determines that enemy forces could be significant, then a guard force may be utilized.
  • If forced to displace, the guard force must understand that the enemy will be right on their heels. This will normally be recon and security units. Consequently, the guard force must be prepared to disrupt and delay any enemy forces maneuvering behind them. As we have discussed many times in this series, a delay is a challenging operation. The guard force must be trained to meet this challenge.
  • There may be situations where it is the main body of the enemy and not its’ recon and security that are on their heels. If that is the case, the guard force must be ready to conduct a delay on these forces.
  • This is obviously a no-brainer, but if enemy security forces are able to get past the guard force, they must ensure this is reported to the main body.
  • Guard forces, no matter where they are operating must maintain contact with main body forces. This is especially critical when guard forces are positioned on the flanks.

Call in The Cavalry

Organizing for the Guard
In tactics anything is possible, but many things just aren’t feasible. Consequently, when we talk about what size unit could generate a force to execute a guard, the most feasible is an armored or mechanized division. These divisions are equipped with the perfect unit, organization and mindset to execute the guard – the cavalry. More specifically, within the cavalry it is the squadron (normally part of a cavalry regiment).


An Excellent Blend of Air and Ground Assets

The cavalry squadron is an excellent blend of ground and air assets that can accomplish the critical tasks we highlighted above. A typical cav squadron will have three troops (companies) assigned to it. Each of these troops will be a blend of tanks and fighting vehicles. They are trained to protect, observe, and report. They are additionally trained to defend, attack, and delay. The cav squadron also is equipped with air troops. These troops will have some type of observation helicopters assigned to it. In combination, it is a perfect blend.

Some units may not be fortunate enough to have a cavalry unit assigned to it. If not, this is not to say they cannot conduct a guard. They must simply be a bit more creative in organization. In manning the guard, they should utilize the cav squadron as its’ template. With that template, the right size unit would be an armored or mechanized battalion task force. The task force should have at least three companies assigned to it. These companies would then each be task organized with a blend of tanks and fighting vehicles. The air portion of the mix may be a little more challenging to create. If this challenge is unfeasible, the unit will just go with the ground assets.

Three Types of Guard – Advance, Flank and Rear

Types of Guard Missions
There are three types of guard operations a force can execute. These are advance, flank, and rear. Obviously, the mission and tactical situation will determine if the guard is required and if so, what type. Below we will discuss each type.

Advance Guard
Let’s highlight the key aspects of an advance guard:

  • Positioned forward of the main body and any screen forces
  • Ensure the momentum of any main body offensive operation
  • Protect the main body from surprise whether it is maneuvering or stationary
  • Facilitate maneuver of the main body by removing obstacles, repairing roads/bridges in the axis of advance
  • Can be utilized in an offensive or defensive context
  • If the main body is conducting an offensive mission; the advance guard will almost always be offensive in nature
  • If the main body is conducting a defensive mission; the advance guard will almost always be defensive in nature

Infantry Fighting Vehicles – A Key Component of the Advance Guard

Defensive Advance Guard
When conducting an advance guard in support of a defensive operation, it is all about protecting the force. This protection will be in several areas. These include protection from enemy surveillance (enabling the enemy to acquire intelligence on the main body defensive preparation), protection from surprise enemy offensive operations, protection from enemy indirect fires, and protection from enemy direct fires.

When conducting the defensive advance guard, the force will set-up into a defensive posture. The extent of the preparation efforts are tied directly to the tactical situation and the intent of the commander. Preparation efforts could range from a very hasty defense (almost mirroring a screen) to a very deliberate defense with obstacles and extensive preparation.

In many cases, the defensive advance guard will have to conduct a delay of enemy forces. This can be one of the most difficult missions any unit can conduct. There are several reasons for that. First, the odds are likely that they will have to conduct this delay against the enemy’s recon and security units. These are usually well-trained forces that will be difficult for a guard force to delay against. Second, the guard force will have to conduct a rearward passage of lines through a well-prepared defense. This must be well-planned and coordinated. If not, the guard force could find themselves caught between the friendly defense and the rapidly advancing enemy. Third, conducting a defensive advance guard is a physically and mentally demanding operation. Asking them to now conduct a delay adds to their physical and mental exhaustion.

Offensive Advance Guard

Offensive Advance Guard
When conducting an advance guard in support of an offensive operation, it is all about freedom of maneuver. Consequently, the advance guard will execute tasks that achieve this purpose. Critical in their operation is to provide surveillance of the enemy, provide early warning to the main body of enemy actions, breach obstacles and clear maneuver routes, and if required to fix, defeat, or destroy enemy recon and security assets.

When conducting an advance guard, the force will almost always conduct a movement to conduct. This allows them to develop the situation for the main body. Because they are executing a movement to contact, the guard force may wind up conducting a variety of missions including a hasty attack or preparing a hasty defense.

Based on the size of the unit, the advance guard may actually follow a covering force (we will discuss the cover in our next article). When this occurs, the level of coordination and communication obviously increases dramatically.

The tasks of a unit conducting an offensive advance guard are significant. Certainly, you must give this mission to a well-trained unit. The best situation is for the higher headquarters to assign this to a cavalry unit as we discussed earlier. If a cav unit is not available, the higher headquarters must assign it to one of their better subordinate units. No matter the unit, they may be required to conduct the following:

  • Breach obstacles to ensure freedom of maneuver for the main body.
  • Conduct a passage of lines with a covering force if the covering force is required to fall back.
  • Clear any axis of advance that the main body may require.
  • If a covering force is utilized, the guard force may need to destroy any enemy forces the covering force has bypassed.
  • When contact is made with the enemy, the guard force may conduct offensive operations, conduct a defense, or execute a delay based on the situation.

The Flank Guard

A commander will want a flank guard when he has an exposed flank with his unit or he is concerned significantly about one of his flanks. This flank guard could occur in an offensive or defensive mission. Like most security operations it has three key tasks. First, protect the force from enemy ground observation. Second, protect the main body from enemy direct fire. Third, protect the main body from a surprise attack from the flank. A flank guard could be of two varieties — moving or stationary. Let’s address each below:

Moving Flank Guard

A moving flank guard is certainly a test for any unit to execute. There are two big challenges for the guard unit in conducting the moving flank guard. First, they must gauge their maneuver to ensure it is coordinated with the main body. If they maneuver too fast; they are little value to the main body. If they maneuver too slowly; they are little value to the main body. Second, they must be located at a distance sufficiently apart from the main body so that they can provide early warning and ensure the enemy can not engage the main body with direct fires. If they are located too close to the main body, they are obviously not providing early warning. In fact, it may not be any warning at all.

In executing maneuver, the guard force has the same basic techniques available to it as a screen force.


First, they can maneuver by alternate bounds by units in the guard force. Thus, they are playing a game of leap frog with the stakes being far higher.


Second, they can bound by successive bounds. Here the unit will execute a series of maneuver and set during the main body’s maneuver.


Finally, based on the main body’s maneuver, the guard force may simply conduct a continuous maneuver throughout the mission. Below you will find a table addressing each of the methods available:



“Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>METHOD mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”> “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>CONSIDERATIONS mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”> “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>ADVANTAGES mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”> “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>DISADVANTAGES mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>
“Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Successive Bounds “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Enemy contact likely; Main body slow; Bound by troops in succession or simultaneously “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Most secure “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Slowest
“Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Alternate Bounds “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Enemy contact likely; Main body slow; Troops bound from rear to front “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Secure; faster than successive “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>
“Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Continuous Marching “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Enemy contact not likely; Main body fast; Troops remain in march column on route; Air screen on flank “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Fastest “Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Least secure

Whatever technique is utilized, the moving flank guard force must achieve the following:

  • Maintain eyes, at all times, of any enemy avenues that could threaten the flank of the main body.
  • Conduct reconnaissance of area between guard force and main body if the situation dictates it.
  • Ensure enemy recon does not maneuver through the guard force into locations where they could direct indirect forces into the main body. This means they must destroy or repel enemy recon forces.
  • Ensure enemy security forces (this could be guard or covering forces) or main body forces do not get into positions from the flank where they can fire direct fire into the main body. This means they must fix, repel, or defeat these forces.
  • Keep in contact with the lead elements of the main body. This is the only way to coordinate the maneuver of the guard force and the main body.

Stationary Flank Guard

In a stationary flank guard, the first key task is for the guard unit to get into a quality position so that they can achieve their tasks. Normally, the guard unit will depart their initial locations and conduct a zone recon until they get into initial positions on the flank guard. This zone recon serves a number of purposes. Besides clearing the zone, it allows them to get a good feel of the terrain that they are operating in. Once the guard unit gets into these initial positions, the guard force has two options in how they will operate. The first is that they can conduct a defense. This defense will probably not have the depth you may like because the force is likely to be a little more dispersed. The other option is for the guard force to conduct a delay. What option do you use? As always, it depends on the terrain, the enemy situation, and the friendly situation. Whatever the option, the stationary flank guard force must achieve the following:

  • Maintain eyes, at all times, of any enemy avenues of approach which could threaten the flank of the main body.
  • Ensure enemy recon does not maneuver through guard force into locations where they could direct indirect forces into the main body. This means they must destroy or repel enemy recon forces.
  • Ensure enemy security forces (this could guard or covering forces) or main body forces do not get into positions from the flank where they can fire direct fire into the main body. This means they must fix, repel, or defeat these forces.

Of all the types of guard missions this is the most overlooked. In the rear guard, as the name suggests, the guard unit protects the rear of the main body. This area is likely to be occupied by logistical units, combat support units, and command and control nodes. A commander will normally assign a rear guard in two circumstances.


First, is when the main body is maneuvering at a significant rate and has distanced itself from the rear area. This could come when the unit is conducting a pursuit or exploitation. In this case, the commander may decide that he wants these rear area units to stay in their current positions. However, because he is concerned about their security, especially being attacked by enemy remnants that may have been bypassed he wants a security force with them. This is a great mission for a rear guard. In the above graphic, you see that the rear guard has developed a series of battle positions in which to fight from and protect the rear units.


Second, is when the unit is executing a form of retrograde (maneuvering away from the enemy). Consequently, the rear area units may need security in their maneuver. Of the two ways in which a rear guard is normally utilized, this is clearly the most difficult to execute. Not only must the rear guard force contend with all the elements usually associated with a delay, but they must also focus on protecting the rear area units. These are units not typically versed at delay actions; consequently this could get a little dicey (not a doctrinal term!). This will take a quality unit to achieve success.

Control Measures
Just like a screen, there is group of control measures which assist a unit in conducting a guard. These are predicated on the type of guard you are conducting. A stationary guard will likely utilize predominately defensive control measures. The control measures for a moving guard will resemble those used for a movement to contact. Additionally, depending on the situation there will be measures added which will facilitate other operations such as a passage of lines, delay, etc… Below we will depict these control measures graphically and follow that with a discussion on each particular control measure.


Above you will find some basic control measures to facilitate an offensive advance guard mission. As we discussed earlier, a force conducting an offensive advance guard will normally execute a movement to contact. So as you see in the graphics, control measures are developed to facilitate a movement and contact. These control measures must assist in providing flexibility to the unit. Critical in providing this flexibility is the use of checkpoints and phaselines (which you see in abundance). Additionally: 1) Boundaries are established for each troop’s maneuver. 2) Coordination points are established on the boundaries of units to assist in coordination and communication. 3) Aviation control measures are placed on the graphics.

These include the future operating area of the aviation unit and their refueling/log area (FARP 1). 4) Locations for field artillery units are included along PL JEFF. These units are not internal to the guard unit, but you must carve out ground for them in order for them to support you.


A well-executed guard operation can truly set the conditions for a successful offensive or defensive operation. Its’ ability to protect the force in a variety of ways has an immeasurable effect. As this article has highlighted, a guard can take many forms. It, in itself, can be offensive or defensive in nature. It can be conducted to the front, flanks, or rear of the main body. It may be stationary or moving. Whatever the case, it takes a highly skilled and trained unit to execute a guard.

Our next article will focus on the last of the major security operations – the cover. Units conducting a cover possess significant combat power and are a force in themselves. We will look at how a covering force can be utilized in both the offense and the defense. We will also discuss how the cover ties into our previous security operations – the screen and guard. See you next month!

Situation Report: China’s Huawei Going Mobile? (Exclusive)

September 22, 2012

Huawei Technologies
The Chinese firm, Huawei Technologies, a provider of information and communications technology, has been constantly under fire in the United States and around for the world for its supposed deep ties to China’s military and intelligence establishment. It is not without some justifiable concern either. Prior to starting Huawei Technologies, the company’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, served for more than 10-years in China’s People’s Liberation Army’s engineering corps. This reality, rightly or wrongly, has added fodder for concerns that Chinese government interests are intertwined with those of Huawei. On September 13, Huawei Technologies and another Chinese firm, ZTE, were the subject of a Congressional hearing titled “Investigation of the Security Threat Posed by Chinese Telecommunications Companies Huawei and ZTE”. The purpose of the hearing, as explained by the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was to assess the potential danger of “telecommunications equipment manufactured by companies with believed ties to the Chinese government”.

HPSCI Hearings

In a written statement before the Committee, Charles Ding, Senior Corporate Vice President at Huawei, pressed the case (.pdf) that the firm was not a threat to the US or any other nation. Ding claimed, “We will never do anything that undermines that trust”, adding, “it would be immensely foolish for Huawei to risk involvement in national security or economic espionage”. Committee Chairman Congressman Mike Rogers remained skeptical. In his opening statement, he put the issue squarely on Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation’s lap by saying, “we have heard reports about backdoors or unexplained beaconing from the equipment”.  A representative of ZTE Corporation was quick to protest and counter accusations by attempting to explain such anomalies as harmless software bugs. The Chairman appeared doubtful observing, “one person’s bug is another’s backdoor”.

Emerging Mobile Threat?

With all the noise surrounding national security implications of Chinese telecommunications equipment and network hardware, a report by Marbridge Consulting on September 10 claimed that Huawei announced intentions to “develop its own mobile OS and high-end handset chip”.  In turn, it raises the question of whether or not a national security risk is about to extend into the US mobile consumer market.

Huawei Denies Report

Jannie Luong, Public Relations Senior Manager at Huawei told intelNews in an e-mail statement: “Huawei will not be launching a proprietary operating system in the foreseeable future”, adding, “our innovation strategy is governed by our commitment to open collaborations that benefit customers and consumers. To this end, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with our industry partners to bring together hardware and software that best meet consumers’ needs”.

While Huawei is publicly denying the intention to build a proprietary mobile operating system, it is interesting to note that it is not denying it could be building a mobile operating system entirely. The key point in Huawei’s statement may just be the fact that it will not be proprietary. The question quickly becomes: is it building an open mobile operating system? Or is Huawei developing one based on Android? Huawei replied to such questions by explaining, “we will not be launching our own OS. We’ll continue to work with all operation systems.” Android it is then?

A Future Huawei App Store

Even if Huawei has no intentions to launch its own proprietary operating system in the “foreseeable future” there does appear to be a strong business case for such a move by Huawei. “Given that China has its own mobile standards (TD-SCDMA), and other local players such as Alibaba are spinning their own version of Android (Aliyun), it is natural that Huawei executes on this trajectory, so a mobile OS isn’t a bridge too far”, explains Zubin Wadia, CEO of CiviGuard Technologies, a provider of emergency communications platforms for mobile phones and connected devices (full disclosure: the author has an equity stake in CiviGuard).

In terms of security risk and the potential danger, it may well be premature to start sounding the proverbial alarm, especially with Huawei’s limited customer base in the US. “Huawei will have to execute exceedingly well to gain significant market share in North American and European Union markets and we’ll know more by 2017”, Wadia adds. “But at this time, the attack surface is just too limited for this development to be a significant national security concern”.

An Open Question

Concerns regarding Huawei and its connections to China’s intelligence and military apparatus remain an open issue for debate.  The potential threat from Chinese manufactured telecommunications equipment and communications infrastructure does as well. It will be interesting to watch if Huawei announces it is developing its own open operating system built on Android.  Such a move seems likely.  In doing so, Huawei may well be keeping the door of national security concerns ajar and in fact may actually be inviting further scrutiny.

Intelligence News YOU may have have missed…….(US diplomatic attacks edition)

September 16, 2012

US consulate in Benghazi, Libya
►►Attack on US diplomats ‘was intelligence failure’. James Corum, an American military historian and the author of several books on military history and counter-insurgency, argues that the mob attacks on US diplomatic facilities in Cairo, Benghazi and Sana’a marked “one of the worst intelligence failures in American history”. Either, he says, US intelligence agencies had no warnings of mass action against the embassies, or senior intelligence officers disregarded or downplayed the information received from field agents. Finally, he suggests that “the real explanation is probably the latter”.
►►Attack on consulate in Libya ‘may have been planned’. Senior US officials and Middle East analysts raised questions Wednesday about the motivation for the Benghazi attack, noting that it involved the use of a rocket-propelled grenade and followed an al-Qaeda call to avenge the death of a senior Libyan member of the terrorist network. Libyan officials and a witness said the attackers took advantage of a protest over the film to launch their assault. Libyan Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said the security force was outgunned by the attackers, who joined a demonstration of “hundreds” of people outside the consulate
►►What happened in Benghazi was a battle. “It was not a simple mob that attacked the US consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday, killing four Americans. Benghazi was the scene of a pitched battle, one in which unknown Libyan assailants besieged American diplomats with small-arms fire for over four hours, repelling several attempts by US personnel to regain control of it. Nor was what happened in Benghazi a simple story of Americans assaulted by the Libyans they helped to liberate from Muammar Gaddafi last year. Libyan security forces and a sympathetic local militia helped the Americans to suppress the attack and get the diplomats inside to safety”.

Prominent Syrian defector thanks “French intelligence” for help

September 12, 2012

Manaf Tlass
A senior Syrian military commander, whose public defection to the rebel side last summer made news headlines around the world, has thanked the French intelligence services for helping him defect.  Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, a member of the Central Committee of the Baath Party and commander of the 10th Brigade of Syria’s elite Republican Guard, secretly left the country in early July. On July 6, he resurfaced in Paris and said he had defected to the rebel-led Free Syrian Army (FSA). His defection was hailed by both the FSA and Western powers as “an enormous blow” to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. His central position in Syria’s governing apparatus aside, Tlass was a major symbolic figurehead for the regime. His father, Mustafa Tlass, was Syria’s Minister of Defense for over three decades during the reign of Hafez al-Assad, the current President’s father. Consequently, the Tlass family has long been fully integrated in the Syrian political and military elite that has run the country for nearly half a century.  Although there were reports that the extended Tlass family was considered too close to the rebels by the Assad regime, Tlass’ defection in July came as a shock to most Syrians. The General reportedly disappeared from his post sometime in early July, shortly after sending his wife and son to Beirut, Lebanon. Rumor has it that he secretly traveled to Turkey and from there to Paris, France, either directly or after joining his family in Lebanon. The details of his defection, however, remain obscure. Speaking on Monday to French television channel BFM, Tlass, who is now based in Paris, said he was helped in “getting out of Syria” by what he called “the French services” —presumably the French intelligence services. When the French journalist asked him to clarify how exactly he was able to leave Syria, Tlass responded that he would rather not be drawn into a discussion on the details of his escape, because it could place his contacts inside Syria in danger. Instead, the prominent Syrian defector said he was grateful to the “French services for helping me get out of Syria, and I thank them for that”. He also told BFM TV that, prior to escaping to Paris, he had been a ‘defector-in-place’ for over a year, having “defected from the regime […] on the third month of the revolution”. Considering that the popular uprising against the al-Assad regime began in March of 2011, it would mean that General Tlass secretly switched to the opposition —and possibly became a French intelligence asset— sometime in June of 2011, over a year prior to his escape from Syria. He told his French interviewer that he had been holding secret meetings “with the revolutionaries […] since the start of the revolution” and decided to “defect while staying in my office”. The French government has refused to comment on General Tlass’ claims.

Secrecy News

September 12, 2012


A federal judge this week granted permission to J. William Leonard, the former director of the Information Security Oversight Office, to discuss three documents that were at issue in the trial of former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake.

Mr. Leonard, an expert witness for the Drake defense, had sought permission to publicly challenge the legitimacy of the classification of one of the documents cited in the indictment against Mr. Drake, which was ultimately dismissed.

The government had opposed the motion to lift the non-disclosure obligations in the protective order that bound Mr. Leonard.  Government attorneys argued that Mr. Leonard had no standing to make such a request, which was filed by Mr. Drake’s public defenders James Wyda and Deborah L. Boardman.  The government also said the request should be denied in order “to prevent a flood of similar claims by non-parties in other completed cases.”  Instead, prosecutors suggested, Mr. Leonard could file a Freedom of Information Act request for the records in question.

But Judge Richard D. Bennett said that “the government’s arguments in this case are inapposite.” Even if the documents were made available to Mr. Leonard under FOIA, “he would not have been permitted to discuss them as he would remain bound by this Court’s Protective Order.”

Judge Bennett therefore formally lifted the Protective Order and granted Mr. Leonard permission to publicly discuss his concerns.

The documents themselves, and the complaint that Mr. Leonard submitted to the Information Security Oversight Office, were released by the National Security Agency under FOIA in July.  (“Defense, Critique of NSA Classification Action Released,” Secrecy News, July 30.)

The complaint itself is still pending, and is awaiting a formal response from the Department of Justice, said the current ISOO director, John P. Fitzpatrick.

The challenge presented by Mr. Leonard extends well beyond the Drake case or the secrecy practices of the National Security Agency.  Essentially, the question posed by the former ISOO director’s complaint is whether there is any threshold beyond which classification of information is so completely unjustified as to trigger third-party intervention to correct the problem.  As of today, such corrective mechanisms are weak or nonexistent.


Prosecutors in the pending leak case of former State Department contractor Stephen Kim said they had discovered that the classified information Mr. Kim is accused of disclosing to a reporter without authorization had been circulated within the government more broadly than they had realized.

That discovery requires further investigation and disclosure to the defense, prosecutors said in a recent status report to the court.

“In short, the undersigned prosecutors have learned that the intelligence report identified in the Indictment had been used for purposes of drafting a separate intelligence product, which product was never finalized prior to the unauthorized disclosure at issue,” the status report said. “Some of the drafting occurred within the time period deemed relevant by the Parties.”

“The undersigned prosecutors are investigating this drafting process to determine its scope and what discoverable material may arise from it. The undersigned prosecutors have advised that their review of this additional information could take two additional months to complete before any materials related thereto are produced to the defense. While counsel for the defendant have not been informed of the content of this new information, counsel reasonably expect that it could have a material impact on their understanding of the government’s case, and likely will prompt additional discovery requests.”


A new annual report on government secrecy discusses the quantitative and qualitative obscurity of government secrecy policy which makes secrecy hard to evaluate and to control.

The report was published by, a coalition of some 80 organizations concerned with government transparency.

“Measuring what it is we actually know about the openness of the American government is not a straightforward endeavor,” the report says. “Information available to the public provides inconsistent and partial indicators about whether our government is becoming more, or less, open. In some areas, the information needed to know what the Executive Branch is doing and to hold it accountable to the public is not available at all.”

Even where quantitative data are available, as in the case of the number of classification decisions published annually by the Information Security Oversight Office, their qualitative significance is unclear, the report said.

“Having information about the quantity of secrets kept by the federal government tells us nothing about their quality.”

The report assembled the quantitative indicators of government secrecy and disclosure that could be obtained, and also discussed several categories that should be available but are not.

“Good information is essential for the public to know what interests are influencing government policies, and more,” said Patrice McDermott, executive director of “Partial and mis- information, however, erodes accountability and prevents the public from having an informed debate about critical national issues.”


New reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made available to the public include the following.

Pilotless Drones: Background and Considerations for Congress Regarding Unmanned Aircraft Operations in the National Airspace System, September 10, 2012

Global Access to Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation: U.S. and International Programs, September 10, 2012

Automobile and Truck Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas Standards, September 11, 2012

Overview of the Federal Procurement Process and Resources, September 11, 2012

Presidential Review of Independent Regulatory Commission Rulemaking: Legal Issues, September 10, 2012

Terrorism Risk Insurance: Issue Analysis and Overview of Current Program, September 10, 2012

Arizona v. United States: A Limited Role for States in Immigration Enforcement, September 10, 2012

Authority of State and Local Police to Enforce Federal Immigration Law, updated September 10, 2012

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Acquisition: Issues for Congress, updated September 10, 2012

Why did Canada suddenly suspend all diplomatic ties with Iran?

September 12, 2012

John Baird
On Friday September 7, 2012, John Baird, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that Canada was suspending all diplomatic relations with Iran and was expelling Iranian diplomats from the country, effective immediately. Additionally, said Baird, Ottawa would officially list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Canadian Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. By the time Baird made his announcement, all Canadian diplomats serving in Iran were on their way home. Iranian diplomats in Canada were given five days to leave the country. Relations between the two countries have been rocky since at least 2003, when Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi was killed under detention in Tehran, and Iran has not had a full ambassador in Canada for nearly five years. Still, the news surprised even former government insiders in Canada. Ray Boisvert, until recently Assistant Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, described Ottawa’s move as “unprecedented”. What was it that caused the final rupture in Canadian-Iranian relations? Why expel the Iranian diplomats now? Leading Middle Eastern experts in Canada cannot seem put their finger on a specific reason. Iran observer James Devine, of Canada’s Mount Allison University, told CBS that Ottawa’s move was “not tied to a specific event”. The Canadian former Ambassador to Tehran, John Mundy, said he believed the break in relations was not tied to a direct threat against Canadian interests. But CBS said many Iranian-Canadians believe the drastic move by the Canadian government should be seen as “an immediate sign” of a looming military attack on Iran by Western powers or Israel. In a recent article on the subject, Canadian political analyst Brian Stewart argued that Ottawa’s “overnight liquidation” of its diplomatic relations with Tehran must be rooted in “new intelligence” showing that Iran “absolutely poses a security threat in Canada”.  Stewart also raised the possibility that  Ottawa may have decided to suspend all diplomatic activity in Iran in order to pre-empt diplomatic sanctions by Tehran. Stewart said that Iranian intelligence may have confirmed that the Canadians have been aiding foreign intelligence-gathering efforts by the United States or others in Iran, and may have been preparing to expel Canadian diplomats from the country. Interestingly, just hours after Stewart’s opinion piece, the Associated Press reported that the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency had received “new and significant intelligence” that Iran had moved closer to being able to build a nuclear weapon. The report stated that the intelligence, which confirms Iran has been employing computer simulations of nuclear detonations, had been collected by Israel, the United States, and “at least two other Western countries”.  Meanwhile, reports from Iran say that the government in Tehran expects other Western countries to follow Canada’s example and close their embassies in Tehran this fall.


September 9, 2012



The four things you must consider in an Active Shooter scenario:

1. GET OUT!!!

Keep your Situational Awareness (SA) and find an exit – Try not to draw
attention to yourself. Don’t move to an exit where the shooter is focused on. Look for a window, door, primary and alternate, tertiary routes out

Leave everything behind – purse, groceries, bags, etc – those items can be replaced

When you exit – keep your hands clearly visible and up: You do not want
to be confused as a threat if Law Enforcement (LE) is already on scene

2. HIDE OUT!!!Hide out of view – behind cover. Cover is something that will stop a bullet, concealment is something that will hide you, but not necessarily stop a bullet. Many people confuse these two, do your best to get behind good cover. Unlike TV, a table, filing cabinet, chair, or bookshelf will more than likely not completely stop a bulletBlock entry to your hiding place – barricade, lock, obstacle the door, nook

and cranny where you are hiding Stay in your hiding place and wait for Law Enforcement to arrive –

contact the authorities if you can, stay as quiet as possible. Once again, try not to draw attention to your position
3. TAKE OUT!!!

Last Resort when in Danger – this is obviously a last resort. Many of us are not LE, but you could have access to something to throw, distract, or you might have a CHL license and have your weapon with youStop the Threat – if you act, do your best to take out the threat. Once again,

try to do it from a position of coverAct with Aggression – throw items (salt and pepper shakers, ketchup
bottles, tables, chairs, etc…) act decisively! If you are a CHL holder, you should know what to do


Secure the Active shooters weapon and your weapon – you don’t want to be seen as the Active Shooter by LE (Law Enforcement)
Raise your hands – you don’t want to create confusion with LERemain Calm

Avoid making quick movements – don’t be a perceived threat to LE when
you exit and/or they enter the scene, building

Keep your hands clearly visible

These are recommendations that are taught by many LE agencies, Department of Homeland Security, the military, and many CHL courses. Remember many of us are not Law Enforcement or Vigilantes. Secure yourself, your family and loved ones by first GETTING OUT, or HIDING OUT, and only as a Last Resort – TAKE OUT the Active Shooter.

Stay vigilant, maintain situational awareness at all times, plan for
the worst, and stay survival fit – body and mind!!!


10th Special Forces Group US Army

September 6, 2012
The 60th anniversary of the formation of the United States’ first Special Forces Group


Col. Aaron Bank acts as jumpmaster during a 10th Special Forces Group airborne training operations over Bad Toelz, Germany, in the early years of its existence. USA JFK Special Warfare Museum (Aaron Bank Collection)



“We had no precedent, no manuals. Herb Brucker and I developed our own program – the Army left us alone.”

-Col. Aaron Bank, USA (Ret.), first commander of 10th Special Forces Group

Authorized on June 19, 1952, and based in Fort Carson, Colo., 10th Special Forces Group is America’s oldest Special Forces unit. Activated at the height of the Cold War, its original mission was to plan and train for guerrilla operations in the communist bloc nations of Eastern Europe in the event that the Cold War turned hot. Since then 10th SFG’s mission has expanded to include combat, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, and humanitarian missions. Though its primary area of operations is Europe as part of Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), 10th SFG also conducts operations in the Middle East and Africa.


Col. Aaron Bank, first commander of 10th Special Forces Group and founder of the U.S. Special Forces. U.S. Army photo
Tenth SFG began as a squad-sized unit commanded by Maj. (later Col.) Aaron Bank. Even its name, 10th SFG, was part of a Cold War disinformation effort. Though the first unit of its kind, the decision was made to name it the 10th, implying to the Soviets that there were nine other SF units. Of his recruiting, Bank later recalled, “We didn’t just take the Airborne, but the cream of the Airborne – the hard-bitten troopers who were willing to take calculated risks and face challenges that conventional units need never be concerned with.” Volunteers included men who had served in the OSS, 1st Special Service Force, and the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), better known as Merrill’s Marauders, all units formed during World War II. Thanks to the Lodge-Philbin Act of 1950 that authorized the recruiting of foreign nationals, offering them U.S. citizenship after two years of honorable service, Bank was able to recruit dispossessed Eastern Europeans living in Western Europe. This helped establish the language and culture capability that has since become a hallmark of Special Forces.


Tenth SFG is also responsible for Special Forces’ distinctive headgear. Two men are credited as being the “Fathers of the Green Beret,” then-Captains Herb Brucker and Roger Pezzelle. In 1953, Bruckner had as his inspiration the berets worn by the British SAS and Parachute Regiment, respectively. Bruckner designed a distinctive green beret and in 1954, Pezzelle’s command became the first SF unit to wear the unauthorized headgear. Despite having to pay for the green beret out of their own pockets, soon every SF soldier was wearing the distinctive headgear. The green beret became an official part of the Special Forces uniform when President John F. Kennedy authorized it in 1961.


In November 1953, 10th SFG was divided, with half the soldiers deployed to a base in Bad Tolz, West Germany, and the other half remained at Fort Bragg, becoming the core of 77th SFG, later 7th SFG. During the same period, 10th SFG emerged briefly from the shadows, appearing in episode TV448 of the Army’s documentary television program The Big Picture, which the service produced regularly between 1951 and 1964.


Tenth SFG has a long history of operations on the African continent. Their first mission, covert, occurred in 1960. On July 1 of that year, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (now Zaire) got its independence from Belgium. By autumn, the country had plunged into civil war, putting at risk thousands of European and American lives. Tenth SFG received orders to covertly send a team to assist in the evacuation. Then-1st Lt. Sully H. de Fontaine was handed the mission. De Fontaine selected five volunteers: Vladimir Sobichevsky, George Yosich, “Pop” Grant, Charles Ernest “Snake” Hoskins, and Stefan Mazak. Sobichevsky would retire after 37 years with the rank of colonel, Yosich would retire a command sergeant major after 28 years of service, and Hoskins and Mazak would be killed in action in Vietnam, with Hoskins earning a posthumous Medal of Honor. Coordinating their part of the operation with Belgian paratroopers, who would hold the international media’s attention, over a period of nine days De Fontaine and his team successfully evacuated 239 refugees without suffering a single casualty. De Fontaine would retire in 1976 after 37 years of service with the rank of colonel.


10th Special Forces Group
10th Special Forces Group


Tenth SFG’s tradition of secrecy continues to this day. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the Boston Herald reported that its “penchant for secrecy is so exacting the base publicist didn’t know the unit had gone to war until they were on their way home from Operation Desert Storm.”


Tenth SFG has recently returned to Africa. Members of the unit are presently participating in the search to find and neutralize the terrorist Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.