Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Public transport and how to be prepared for terrorist attack

January 26, 2013

Do not go to the scene of a terrorist attack to watch

Terrorists like to set off secondary targets to kill as many police and rescue personnel as possible.

On a bus or train

Be alert for unidentified packages or someone hurriedly getting off and leaving a package. If this happens try to throw the package out a window if you can’t get off .

The underground (aka Subways)

If there is an explosion and there is no cover fall face down with your feet facing the coming explosion. Pull your elbows into your sides to protect vital organs and cover your ears. This will change you from a five or six foot tall standing target into a tiny six inch box on the ground. The blast may miss you entirely or flying shrapnel may hit the soles of your shoes. At worst you can you lose your feet – but you will survive.

Keep low to breathe the best air possible. Smoke inhalation is the number one cause of death after an explosion. If you are on a tube system that has been attacked try walking down the tracks until you find an emergency ladder leading up to the street.

If you are on a tube train or a bus that has been attacked first assess your own injuries then, if possible, help those around you.


Military And Intelligence News Briefs — May 16, 2012

May 17, 2012
U.S. Navy counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. U.S. Navy/Eric Beauregard


The Most Dangerous Shipping Route In The World Is Getting Its Own Navy — Business Insider

Shipping insurance companies are taking the fight against piracy into their own hands.

With plans to deploy a “private navy” in the Gulf of Aden — where Somali piracy is rampant — the Convoy Escort Program (CEP) hopes to have a fleet of 18 ships protecting merchant vessels by December, reports David Black at The National.



Does Israel Have Stealthy Black Hawks? — Defense Tech

Philippines to Buy Military Jets Amid Sea Dispute With China — Bloomberg Businessweek

Italian AF, Navy Head for F-35B Showdown — Defense News

Misery of defence: Tories find £12billion of unspent cash in MoD budget – but insist soldier cuts must continue — Mirror

US Leads Major War Drill in Jordan – Israel Not Invited — Arutz Sheva

US role in deadly Turkey air strike sparks alarm at Pentagon — FOX News/Wall Street Journal

Pakistan agrees to reopen NATO supply route to Afghanistan, but for a fee — McClatchy News

Cost to relocate Marines off Okinawa a moving target — Stars and Stripes

US submarine emerges near disputed shoal —

Panel calls for steep cuts in US nukes
— Stars and Stripes/AP

Not your grandfather’s B-52
— DoD Buzz

Pentagon restricts F-22 flights, safety a concern — AP

X-47B gears up for summer milestones — Naval Air Systems Command

X-47B Gears Up for Summer Milestones — Defence Professionals

Mini-Missiles For Mini-UAVs — Strategy Page

Contract Supports U.S. Undersea Warfare
— Defense News

Navy’s Sub-Hunting Skills Declined While China, Iran Built More Subs — Aol Defense

House Lawmakers Not in Agreement on U.S. Missile Defense Plans
— Defense News

What New Technologies Will Change Naval Warfare in the 21st Century — Strategy Page

Lead cyberspace tasks headed to Space Command — Air Force Times

Comptroller Blasts USAF’s $1B IT System Failure — Defense News

Blogger Shines Light on U.S. Shadow War in East Africa — The Danger Room

New Law Authorizes Reservists to Respond to Homeland Disasters — US Department of Defense

Army Opens Jobs in Combat Battalions to Women —

Rep Seeks Navy Ship Named for Gay Activist —

GI killed in Vietnam War to get Medal of Honor — AP

How CIA blood money led to family killing in Pakistan — The Guardian

US military deaths in Afghanistan at 1,843

For Your Eyes Only Military News

May 10, 2012

PHILIPPINES: China Wants It All

May 10, 2012: China is insisting that international agreements do not apply in its dispute with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal. Chinese warships entering the Filipino exclusive economic zone (anything within 380 kilometers of land) are violating a 2002 agreement by nations bordering the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal is 200 kilometers from the Philippines, and 850 kilometers from China. After signing the 2002 agreement China changed its mind three years ago and is now claiming ownership of the entire South China Sea.

Today, a Chinese military newspaper repeated the claim to Scarborough Shoal and warned that China would do whatever it takes to maintain its claim, no matter who (like the United States) backs the Philippines. That’s pretty scary stuff coming from an official military publication.

The U.S. has nearly tripled its military aid to the Philippines this year. The Philippines is offering American forces more access to Filipino military bases (especially airports and ports). The U.S. left its military bases in the Philippines two decades ago (after being there for nearly a century). That was a popular move in the Philippines, where there is no popular support for reestablishing such bases. That kind of move is not popular in the United States either, and there is even some reluctance to vigorously back the Philippines in its territorial disputes with China. All the U.S. will say is that it opposes the use of force in these disputes.

May 8, 2012:  In the north (Sorsogon province) three NPA rebels were killed during a clash with soldiers.

May 7, 2012: A Chinese news anchor accidentally described the Philippines as part of China. This was on a news show on one of the largest (and state controlled) networks. Many Filipinos believe this was no accident, and point out that the Chinese government has considerable control over their media and often plants rumors or organizes demonstrations or other “spontaneous” outbursts in support of government policies. Many Filipinos see this “accident” as a test of popular support for seeking to make the Philippines part of China.

This resonates with many of China’s neighbors, many of whom have border disputes with China and fear being claimed out of existence.

May 6, 2012: In the north (Camarines Norte province) NPA gunmen attacked soldiers who were doing social work in a village, killing a soldier and a civilian.

May 3, 2012: In the south (Surigao del Sur province) an NPA leader was arrested.

China sent ten fishing boats and four patrol boats to Scarborough Shoal and began illegally (according to Filipino law) fishing there.  The Philippines has not sent warships to drive the Chinese away this time.

April 30, 2012:  In the south (Camarines province) NPA gunmen attacked a basketball game between soldiers and local civilians, killing four soldiers and a civilian.

April 29, 2012: In the south (Camarines province) NPA gunmen and soldiers clashed several times, leaving at least ten dead.

LIBYA: Freedom Does Not Mean Anarchy

May 10, 2012: The interim government has adopted an unofficial motto; “freedom does not mean anarchy.” This addresses three major problems; corruption, tribalism and quickly resorting to armed force when there is a dispute. Major violence is down, but the corruption (often outright theft of government money and property) is still abundant. Libyans are unhappy with all this, and are having a hard time fixing the problems. Then there are the armed militias, which are often the source of corruption, as well as armed anger at the corruption.

Concentrating on the armed anarchy does little for the corruption and tribalism, but you have to start somewhere. The interim government is starting with law and order. This is the first thing to disappear after a decades-old dictatorship is overthrown. Dictators get tossed out because their subjects are fed up with all the secret police and terror. But freedom brings with it a period of anarchy, with many people uncertain about how to restore order. No one wants the secret police and terror tactics (to maintain order) to return, but also don’t want to live a lot of lawless armed thugs running around.  The government is trying to raise a force of 30,000 police, mainly to deal with armed disputes expected during the upcoming elections.

The interim government is also passing laws to clear up the legal chaos created by Kaddafi, and the revolution last year that replaced him. For example, rebels have been exonerated for breaking any then-existing laws while participating in the revolution. The government backed off on an effort to outlaw political parties based on religion or ethnicity. There was too much popular opposition, so these laws were withdrawn a week after they were enacted.

So far this month, Lebanese police say they have intercepted two attempts to smuggle weapons from Libya to Syrian rebels. It’s unclear if this is the work of gunrunners or the Libyan rebels trying to help their Syrian counterparts.

May 8, 2012: Over 200 former (and still armed) rebels tried to block access to the prime minister’s office, in an attempt to extract more money and other compensation for their services. The prime minister ordered police to break up the action. This resulted in 14 arrests and several wounded.

Police also dispersed a two-week siege of the national oil company headquarters. The protestors wanted an end to corruption (especially stealing oil revenue) and more jobs for the many unemployed (Kaddafi preferred to hire foreigners to run the oil operations.)

April 27, 2012: A bomb went off in a courthouse in Benghazi, but caused no casualties. The bomb was apparently set off by Kaddafi loyalists.
April 25, 2012: The NTC (National Transitional Council) has fired the interim government cabinet, accusing the cabinet ministers of incompetence. The NTC is having problems finding replacements.

COUNTER-TERRORISM:  The Screams In The City

May 10, 2012: A major source of terrorism in the world is the widespread custom of political parties maintaining armed auxiliaries to intimidate their opponents and anyone who might vote for them. Often these armed supporters are a local criminal gang, which is more interested in cash than politics. Governments sometimes come to their senses and try to shut down some of these gangs. This is difficult to do.

A recent example can be found in Pakistan. On April 27th, the Pakistani Army sent over a thousand troops and police, including several hundred commandos, into a Karachi neighborhood to destroy a major gang, which had long controlled the area. The gang, calling itself the “People’s Peace Committee” (or PAC), had long worked for the PPP, the current national ruling party. But there had been a series of disputes between PAC and PPP, so PPP arranged with the army, police and the rival Pappu gang to eliminate PAC. The operation was supposed to take three days. After five days the government called a time out, and, in practice, admitted that they had been unable to drive the PAC out of the Lyari neighborhood. Over fifty people died in the effort, with several hundred wounded. Most of the casualties were civilian bystanders. The PAC is basically a Baloch operation, with most members from the tribes of Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan). Gangs based on ethnic affinity are common in Pakistan, and around the world.

Politics is often a contact sport in Pakistan and it’s become common for political parties to ally themselves with criminal gangs to win elections. The gangster chiefs sometimes seek to enter politics themselves, or demand more favors from their patrons than the parties can justify. The gangsters are also, well, gangsters, and have unsavory reputations, despite the occasional Robin Hood type gesture. Political parties and their gang associates often part company, for political, financial or personal reasons.

There is a lot of political violence in Pakistan, especially in the cities. Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city, with 14 million people (eight percent of the nation’s population) and producer of a quarter of the GDP. Since Pakistan was founded, in 1947, there has been violence between the natives (Sindis, from the surrounding Sind province) and new groups from India (Mohajirs, Indian Moslems forced to flee the religious violence that accompanied the division of British India into Pakistan and India) and Pushtuns, Baluchis and other minorities from the Pakistani tribal territories.

The Pushtuns are the most numerous tribal minority in Karachi, but are divided by religious and tribal differences. There had long been smaller versions of these two communities in Karachi, but in 1947, hundreds of thousands of Mohajirs showed up. The Pushtun community grew more slowly, as enterprising young Pushtuns fled the poor, and violent, tribal lands for a better life in Sind. The Pushtuns found themselves shunned and feared in Karachi. The Mohajirs were wealthier and better educated, and were soon competing with the Sindis for control of the great city. The Pushtuns and other tribesmen produced a lot of criminal gangs, and a poor underclass. On top of this, there was also religious violence between various Moslem groups (especially Sunni and Shia) as well as between Moslems and non-Moslems (usually Christians and Hindus.)

What makes this such an incomprehensible mess is that each group has a different idea of what winning is. Most of these groups see political power as useful, and attach themselves to one political party or another. But political power is a means to an end. The old Sind clans in Karachi want to maintain the power they have held for centuries, and have nowhere to go but down. The Mohajirs have hurt the Sind clans economically and politically. But for sheer body count, the Pushtun groups (both political, criminal and religious) have been the most dangerous. The Pushtuns are pushing for respect, and more economic and political power. The Sindis and Mohajirs are reluctant to give it up. The religious radical groups (including the Taliban and al Qaeda) want a regional religious dictatorship. This puts them at odds with the Sindi and Mohajirs political parties.

This year, the violence has gotten much worse. Starting in January, when there were nearly 200 deaths from political and religious violence, the fighting has continued. Massive police efforts reduced the violence for a while, but the political and terrorist gangs kept at it. Police were ordered to “shoot on sight” any of the armed men responsible for turning many Karachi neighborhoods into combat zones.

While the violence is mainly driven by political parties seeking to establish control over parts of the city, Islamic radicals are heavily involved. The Taliban has established a presence among the two million Pushtuns in the city. Many of those killed have been Pushtuns, partly because the locals are hostile to Pushtun groups gaining more power, and partly because many Pushtun groups are fighting each other. But a lot of the violence is the result of the Taliban trying to prevent the police from stopping the Pushtun radicals establishing safe havens in Karachi. The wealthier Sindis and Mohajirs just want law and order, so that commerce can continue uninterrupted. Some of that commerce is illegal, like gun running and drug smuggling. The Pushtun gangs control a lot of this, but getting stuff in and out of the country often requires cooperation from Sindi and Mohajirs officials and gangsters.

Karachi is one the wealthiest parts of Pakistan, but the city itself is an explosive mélange of hostile groups. Add to that party politics and a disdain for rules and laws, and you get a very ugly situation.

INFORMATION WARFARE: Facebook And The Auction Of Doom

May 10, 2012: Internet security efforts are increasingly relying on lots of cash, with which to buy information that can protect networks. That’s because Cyber War (attacks on computer networks, usually via the Internet) requires ammunition, and the most common form of ammo is “Zero Day Exploits” (ZDEs). These are freshly discovered and exploitable defects in software that runs on the Internet. These flaws enable a hacker to get into other people’s networks and PCs. In the right hands these flaws enable criminals to pull off a large online heist or simply maintain secret control over someone’s computer.
An increasing number of large sites, like Facebook, are offering rewards for ZDEs that enable hackers to harm Facebook and its users. Since a lot of Internet experts and hackers are Facebook users, there are a lot of qualified ZDE finders out there with multiple incentives to find and report Facebook vulnerabilities. But even Facebook security people realize that ZDEs are valuable commodities, and you have to pay the going rate if you want to be a competitive buyer. Thus the “auction of doom” angle. If the potential payday is big enough, even the biggest Facebook fan will be tempted to sell a very valuable ZDE that could do great damage to Facebook.

ZDEs are rare. They are in great demand and are increasingly expensive to find, or buy, from legitimate researchers or on the hacker black market. The price of ZDEs varies a lot. That’s because not all vulnerabilities are equal. Some are much more valuable than others because they are more effective or allow attacks on a larger number of targets. Commercial Internet security firms offer rewards to people (usually software engineers who spend too much time on the Internet) who first discover a “zero day vulnerability”, as do governments and many other firms with a big interest in Internet security.  The rewards for really good ZDEs can sometimes exceed a million dollars. The commercial security firms, which provide services for corporate and government clients, offer the rewards openly. There is a more lucrative underground market, financed by criminals and some governments that offer even larger rewards.

Many ZDEs are specific to a particular website. That’s because each website has some unique characteristics that creates ZDEs that are rare, or only show up on that particular site. This is particularly true of heavily defended sites, like those of financial institutions, or mega sites like Facebook.

The users, especially large companies, get after the software publishers to find and fix the bugs quickly. This rarely happens, and discovering and fixing these vulnerabilities usually takes several months and sometimes as long as a year or more. This is largely because fixing these bugs is expensive and publishers don’t want to risk creating new ones. The publishers know that every time they open their source code to repair something there is high risk of creating more bugs. Moreover, it’s expensive to fix the bug, test the patched software and then distribute it to their customers. Thus, unless the bug is highly likely to be exploited, it is not attended to right away. The problem with this approach is that the software publisher may not be aware of how exploitable the bug is.

Criminals and Cyber Warriors have an interest in finding ways to exploit bugs that appear relatively harmless. That turns the bug into ammunition, for the Cyber War, and a way to make money, for the criminals. Those protecting large, or critical (banks, intelligence agencies) websites will usually fix problems very quickly. It’s the software companies that don’t have a similar incentive to move fast.

For over a decade now Cyber War and criminal hackers have secretly placed programs (“malware”) in computers belonging to corporations or government agencies. These programs (“Trojan horses”) turn the infected PCs into “zombies” (or “bots”) which are under the control of the people who plant them (the “botmasters”). Such control allows the botmaster to steal, modify, or destroy data or shut down the computer systems the zombies are on. You infect new PCs and turn them into zombies by using ZDEs. This is a big business, although a lot of that business is delivering spam. But mixed in with all the garden variety criminality is a lot of corporate and military espionage.

Cyber War commanders are resigned to the fact that they will have to use mercenaries if they want to survive any future Internet based conflict. Much use is being made of mercenaries right now in the race to build up stockpiles of munitions. In Cyber War the ammo is information. That is, knowledge of vulnerabilities in software connected to the Internet or major networks not connected to the Internet. It’s feared that China actually has a lead in this area, a lead they will not discuss but that the victims know exists.

COMBAT SUPPORT: We Can Fix It In Kazakhstan

May 10, 2012: Russia has agreed to set up maintenance centers in Kazakhstan to help maintain Kazakh warplanes, armored vehicles and other military equipment. Kazakhstan used to be part of the Soviet Union, and most of its military equipment is of Cold War era stuff from the 1980s or earlier.

Kazakhstan has over 150 modern combat aircraft, over a thousand armored vehicles and several hundred anti-aircraft radars, launchers and missiles that desperately need some attention.

Since Kazakhstan became independent in the early 1990s, many of the technicians capable of properly maintaining the high tech gear have either left for better paying jobs or left the country (especially if they were ethnic Russians). As a result, jet fighters and armored vehicles became increasingly inoperable. The new Russian maintenance centers, staffed largely with Russian technicians, will reverse this. The Russians will also train more Kazakh technicians, although the Kazakhstan government will have to come up with enough cash to pay these guys what they are worth.

Russia is using this program to gain more control over Kazakhstan and to maintain another market for new Russian weapons.

WHO WINS:  It’s Better To Be Feared Than Disobeyed

May 10, 2012: The Israeli military assumes that there will be another war with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Islamic terrorist organization that controls southern Lebanon, and has veto power over the Lebanese government. The Israeli forces have studied their 2006 war with Hezbollah, took into account new ideas that the enemy might come up with, and developed new weapons and techniques for the next war. Israel is determined to win a military and media victory. That won’t be easy.

In the 2006 war, Israel lost 121 troops and 44 civilians (from 4,000 Hezbollah rockets). Hezbollah lost 600 fighters, and 1,200 civilians (who were in and around Hezbollah facilities, mostly in southern Lebanon.) Israel has warned Lebanon that, if Hezbollah starts another war, Lebanon will suffer more damage and Hezbollah much more. Lebanon has threatened to fight back if attacked, but in practice, Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon and the Lebanese government will stay out of the way if there is another war.

Hezbollah appears to be using the same tactics as last time, when they declared a victory, even though they were driven north. The Israelis have developed some new moves they aren’t talking about. That’s not to say Hezbollah hasn’t got some surprises planned, but the Israelis have more of an incentive to put more hurt on Hezbollah if there is another war.

Over the last two years Israel has released aerial photos of Hezbollah military preparations in southern Lebanon. The photos showed villages being fortified and weapons and rockets being stored near and in schools and hospitals.

Hezbollah has organized an armed militia there, of about 20,000 men. Nearly a third of them have been to Iran for military training. There is a lot of open terrain in southern Lebanon, but the 40,000 rockets are mostly stored, and ready to be launched from, these fortified villages. The Hezbollah preparations are similar to those used by Hamas, and encountered by Israeli troops during the brief war in Gaza in early 2009. Hezbollah provides Hamas with military advisers, and Iranian weapons. Hezbollah is expected to make much use of bombs (booby traps and command detonated ones). But Israel also demonstrated their ability to deal with that during the 2009 war in Gaza.

Some of the new Israeli tactics have been revealed, including better ways to deal with civilians Hezbollah may use as human shields. Israel has even organized teams of lawyers to quickly work out the legal and media of Hezbollah ploys to try and portray the Israelis in the worst light. Hezbollah cannot win militarily, so they seek some kind of media victory. That is easier if they can help get a lot of Lebanese civilians killed.

Most civilians fled southern Lebanon before the ground fighting got to them in 2006, but that may not be possible to the same extent in the next war with Hezbollah. The Israelis apparently plan to hit the missile storage sites quickly, with smart bombs and fast moving infantry units travelling in armored vehicles. The Lebanese civilians know what Hezbollah is up to, and this has caused some tension among Lebanese civilians living on top of rocket storage bunkers. Hezbollah didn’t give civilians much choice. If they wanted a new house, real cheap, they had to accept the fact that they were going to live above a rocket storage bunker, and their home would be a target if there were another war. Hezbollah would rather be feared than disobeyed, and really needs dead civilians to achieve their goals.

INFANTRY:  Learning to Play Well With Others

May 10, 2012: The U.S. Army, noting the increased integration of Special Forces and regular infantry units in combat, has changed the way it trains and organizes infantry troops. This is to ensure that infantry and their commanders can more readily make the most of working with Special Forces. U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has long used its three elite ranger battalions to work closely with commando units (usually Delta Force or SEALs). But most often the rangers operate on their own carrying out particularly difficult missions, and often work with non-SOCOM infantry. All this is somewhat the opposite of what Special Forces were invented for.

Special Forces were originally conceived as a force that would work behind enemy lines, organizing resistance to enemy occupiers. That was based on World War II experience, and during decades of Cold War (1947-91) tensions the Special Forces prepared for that. During Vietnam (1961-72), the Special Forces often operated off by themselves in remote areas, but there were many opportunities to operate with American infantry units. In Afghanistan and Iraq, this became more frequent.

The army has noted that its regular infantry have become more capable in the last decade. This is partly due to the abundant combat experience acquired. But it’s also due to changes in training, especially basic training. The army, as is customary in wartime, has heavily modified its basic training. As part of that trend, four years ago, it was increased from nine to ten weeks. After tracking the performance of the 10 week trainees, the army found that the additional week was well worth it.

The additional basic training week is, in theory, to instill basic combat skills early on. These skills are expanded using an additional week or so of additional combat training for some combat support troops before they hit the combat zone. The additional training is also meant to improve the discipline and general military effectiveness of new troops. During the 1990s, basic training was watered down quite a bit, and that resulted in new recruits coming into their first units still acting a lot like civilians. The army has been trying to rectify that ever since.

The extra time was not just being used to enable trainees to learn their basic military skills better. Commanders and NCOs in combat zones have been complaining that many newly recruited combat support troops reach them not-quite-ready for combat. The problem, it turned out, was lessons being learned, but not pounded home so they would still be there when the new soldier reached the combat zone.

This led to a lot of other changes. There was far more emphasis placed on firing weapons, and doing the kinds of things you actually do in combat. For example, the army cut back on the long distance running, and instead got the troops used to sprinting short distances carrying all the weight (over 25 kg/55 pounds) of weapons and combat gear. Troops were also shown the best way to pull, or carry, a wounded buddy out of harm’s way. Actually doing this a few times makes the trainee aware that they can do it, and how hard it is. Sure beats going through that for the first time while you are under fire.

There is increased emphasis on hand-to-hand combat, but based on what troops actually encounter in combat. To this end, the army has developed a special form of close combat it calls “combatives.” The army has even made it into a competitive sport.

There is also renewed emphasis on making sure that, during Basic Training, the civilian recruits get that necessary mental adjustment needed to deal with the stress of combat. Basic tends to get watered down in peacetime, mainly for political reasons. Too many (or just any) injuries during training can get the media and politicians demand that the problem go away. During the 1990s, there was a major flap over the problems female trainees had keeping up with males. It wasn’t fair. It was made “fair,” but that began to change after September 11, 2001. By now, everyone is getting pretty strenuous Basic, but that will change one peacetime returns.

There is also a growing trend for new recruits (and young people in general) not being in good physical shape (fat and weak). An extra week in basic helped out there as well. But many combat veterans still believe that the combat support troops, especially those running convoys, or otherwise outside the wire (working outside base camps) just have not had sufficient training in combat basics.

Once soldiers graduate from basic, they go on to specialized training (AIT, or Advanced Individual Training). This can last from a few weeks, to a year, depending on their military job. If they are going to Iraq or Afghanistan, they usually get some combat training before they leave the United States, or before they arrive in bandit country.

For infantry, basic and AIT are combined with trainees staying in the same unit, with the same NCOs, for 14 weeks. This training is tougher than the ten weeks of basic everyone else gets. When not in combat, infantry are constantly training, and the army has developed new infantry training courses meant to teach new skills. This, combined with lots of combat experience, has greatly increased the combat abilities of the infantry, making them more capable of working closely with Special Forces troops. The improved combat training for support troops has also helped the Special Forces, who are less inclined to consider support troops they find themselves with (during, say, an ambush) a big liability.