Saturday, August 27, 2016

AWOL


Ello Ebberdobby!

Yours truly has been busier than a one legged fellow at an assets kicking contest - so all apologies for being Absent W/Out Leave!

Be back up with full time fully crunkness here directly

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

War Crimes Tribunal For Islamic State

 "The Defense Rests"

The military campaign against the Islamic State has jelled, and ISIS defeats continue to mount. As shown in the ouster of Islamic State forces last week from Manbij in Syria and Sirte in Libya, the group’s fighters are now fleeing abroad or into the desert rather than fight to the death to hold untenable positions in cities and towns. Raqqa and Mosul will be next and at that point the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq becomes a mopping-up operation, however bloody that may be.

Its morale broken and its administrative structures and military force collapsing, the ISIS operation is shifting from establishing a Muslim theocratic state and global authority to surviving as a collection of more or less coherent international terrorist networks. Across the world there may be even more terrorist attacks than before, but at a certain point jumping from one dismal assessment to another must give way to looking at the facts as they are. In the Middle East, numerous religious, ethnic, regional, and national conflicts remain to be addressed, but the Islamic State’s demise will be seen to be an event of historical consequence.

ISIS is the apotheosis of Islamist geopolitical jihad as launched by al-Qaeda in the late 1980s. It will have had a fearsome life, but its short-lived success is unlikely to be replicated, let alone surpassed. That Islamic State survives materially in some other, ultimately less unique and consequential form, is another matter. That other jihadist groups survive for the foreseeable future is also of lesser consequence. That the ideology of global jihad survives in a weakened form and still attracting certain numbers of recruits is also regrettable but not fundamental. Some fanaticisms need only time to burn themselves out.

The issue then is how to make the most of Islamic State’s destruction.

The greatest issue has to do with the present and future development of Islam in general, and Islam in the Arab world in particular. How the ISIS saga will be pondered and digested within Islam is an important element of world political and religious evolution.

A far from insignificant piece of that great debate involves what should be done with any ISIS leaders that are captured.

ISIS leaders must not escape accountability in some forum. Those responsible for Islamic State’s war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal depredations must not be allowed to simply disappear into prisons or be executed. ISIS should not be allowed to evaporate into historical oblivion.
The International Criminal Court, flawed as it may be, is the appropriate institution because its specific mission is to enforce U.N. covenants on these most heinous of crimes. And the very fact that the United States for its own specific reasons is not a party to the ICC treaty will lend legitimacy to the court’s jurisprudence. ICC cases are only brought to indictment and trial by its own Office of the Prosecutor, not by states.

Trying ISIS leaders at the ICC will furthermore demonstrate that religious war as well as war crimes committed for other reasons can be tried and judged as legal matters within the purview of agreed international law itself.

Dealing with ISIS legally as well as militarily will create a historical record of high importance. In the last analysis, the war against Islamic State is a matter of political will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Did The Ayatollah Win?

Today, the 77-year-old ayatollah—who reportedly suffers from cancer—is seeking to cement his legacy and to shape the political transition that will occur once he is gone. The nuclear agreement provides him with the building blocks to do that, and for now, at least, Khamenei and his allies look to be the deal’s big winners. 

The next U.S. administration is likely to face an unhappy choice: to continue to work with Iran or to challenge an increasingly entrenched supreme leader and his Revolutionary Guard.

 To understand Khamenei’s perspective on the negotiations and the resulting deal, the best place to start is Iran’s nuclear program. The agreement requires Iran to accept key limitations: Previously, the country had nearly 20,000 centrifuge machines producing nuclear fuel and was on the cusp of possessing weapons-grade uranium. A plutonium-producing reactor was also nearly online. 

 Today, only 5,000 centrifuges are spinning, the plutonium-making reactor has been made inoperable, and most of Iran’s enriched uranium has been shipped out of the country. Iran also agreed to grant greater access to its nuclear sites to inspectors from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to prevent the country from diverting fissile materials to banned military purposes.

Khamenei, however, doesn’t appear to share this view of the deal’s constraints. Just as Iran’s negotiators were agreeing to these terms in July 2014, the supreme leader delivered a speech about the nuclear program—without consulting his chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, according to U.S. and European officials. In the address, Khamenei said that his oil-rich country needed at least 100,000 centrifuges to power its civilian nuclear program in the coming decades. This was more than 20 times what the administration envisaged. 

Western diplomats wondered whether Iran’s diplomats really spoke for the supreme leader. 

Indeed, in recent weeks, Iranian officials have talked of their preparations to build 10 new nuclear reactors with Russian help. This will require a steady supply of nuclear fuel from centrifuges that will be allowed to go online in a decade.

 The Revolutionary Guard controls the program, and there’s a risk that in 10 or 15 years, they might decide to restart their weaponization activities.

 As for conventional military capabilities, the deal didn’t do much to curtail Iran’s ambitions. The supreme leader demanded a provision weakening a U.N. Security Council resolution that prohibits Tehran’s ballistic-missile development—and got it. He wanted the U.N. embargo lifted on Iran’s ability to buy or export conventional arms—and got it, in five years. He wanted to retain Iran’s ability to export arms—and the deal does nothing to interfere with that. 

 Finally, the nuclear deal also seems to have boosted Mr. Khamenei’s ability to influence the region. In the ornate former palaces and six-star hotels where the nuclear talks took place in Austria and Switzerland last year, U.S. and European officials talked optimistically about using the deal to stabilize a roiling Middle East. They hoped that Iran, the region’s great Shiite power, might play a constructive role in ending conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and, above all, Syria.


It hasn’t worked out that way. Even as the talks continued, Mr. Khamenei and his generals were plotting a much broader military campaign in Syria in partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to European, Arab and Iranian officials. Starting in January 2015, the supreme leader’s top aides began a series of visits to the Kremlin to chart out a plan to bolster the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The result was a highly coordinated operation in Syria that began just weeks after the nuclear deal was completed. Mr. Putin’s air force has pounded Syrian rebels, bombing not just Sunni jihadists associated with Islamic State or al Qaeda but also U.S.-backed fighters. At the same time, Mr. Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guard mobilized thousands of soldiers and Shiite militiamen to launch a ground offensive, with Iranian troops fighting alongside militants from Hezbollah and other Shiite militias. 

The joint Iranian-Russian operation drove back Syrian rebels who had been advancing on the Assad regime’s stronghold on the Mediterranean coast, according to Arab and U.S. officials, and allowed the minority regime to retake large swaths of territory. The Kremlin announced this week that it has started launching airstrikes in Syria from Iranian territory.

 Khamenei has sworn off any collaboration with the U.S. in the Middle East, even against shared regional enemies like Islamic State. Instead, he has continued Iran’s campaign to control the oil-rich Persian Gulf and weaken the influence of the U.S., Israel and its Sunni Arab allies across the region. U.S. military commanders say that they have seen no tapering off of Revolutionary Guard support for its allies in Yemen, Iraq or the Palestinian territories.

 Khamenei cannot know how the U.S. will respond to his uncompromising stance, especially with a new administration soon to take office. But he may figure that he wins either way. If the deal falls apart, he could call it proof that the Americans never could be trusted and figure that another round of biting U.N. sanctions will prove too difficult to assemble. If the deal survives, he will have his military continue to develop missiles and conventional arms to position Iran to become a latent nuclear weapons power in 10 years. 

Either way, it is the Ayatollah not his more moderate rivals, who are acting as if they have been strengthened by the nuclear deal.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Vanguard 2016

A maritime confrontation drill kicked off at waters of the Sea of Japan on Thursday between two Chinese naval taskforces. 
 
In the drill, the guided missile destroyer Xi’an, the guided missile frigate Hengshui and the supply ship Gaoyouhu formed the "red army", whose rivals were two guided missile frigates Jingzhou and Yangzhou, as well as the supply ship Qiandaohu from the East China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy.
After participating in the RIMPAC 2016 military exercise, the Xi’an, Hengshui and Gaoyouhu sailed northwest from Hawaii on Aug. 6 and entered the Sea of Japan via the Soya Strait.
The precession strike against "enemy" maritime strength jointly launched by warships and naval aviation force in pelagic environment was highlighted in the confrontation drill.
This drill is a scheduled one in the annual training plan of the PLA Navy, said a leading officer with the Staff Headquarters of the PLA Navy. It is a common practice for the world navies to carry out training at international waters, and the ongoing confrontation drill conducted by the Chinese naval taskforces complies with relevant international laws and international conventions

Sunday, August 21, 2016

WoW!

WoW - the Watchers Council has recently received an enhancement. It's WoW! Magazine

Great stuff posted daily so get your assets over and check out some of the most cutting edge diplopolititary thought on the web

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Drones Of Hiz"B"Allah


Muqawama!

The intolerant rocket rich terrorist Posse of Allah posted a video online purportedly depicting a commercial, quad copter-style drone dropping small explosive devices at alleged rebel positions in Aleppo, a major opposition-held city in northern Syria.

 The 42-second video, apparently a compilation of footage shot by the attacking drones themselves, seems to show the robots hovering a few hundred feet over vehicles and structures as small blasts scatter fragments and send smoke and dust billowing into the sky. 

In the third and final attack, the grenade-size munitions themselves—possibly Chinese-made MZD-2 artillery submunitions—are visible falling away from the drone. A person on the ground spots the bombs falling toward them and flees the targeted structure moments before the explosives detonate.

Hezbollah has deployed thousands of fighters to Syria to help bolster troops loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Hezbollah fighters lack heavy vehicles and weaponry but have moved quickly to adopt small, inexpensive drones for surveillance and attack missions. 

As early as November 2004, Hezbollah sent Iranian-supplied Mirsad drones into Israeli airspace on spy missions, catching Israeli air defenses off guard. Shortly thereafter, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed that the Mirsad could penetrate “anywhere, deep, deep” into Israel while carrying more than 200 pounds of explosives.
It was a bold claim for the time. The United States was the first country to deploy a modern, armed drone—the Predator—in 2001. For several years, America possessed a virtual monopoly on weaponized flying robots.
Nasrallah was perhaps exaggerating, but he wasn’t bluffing. In August 2006 during Israel’s brief, bloody war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the militant group launched three explosives-laden Ababil drones toward Israeli territory. Israeli jet fighters shot down all three robots.

Hezbollah’s current armed drones represent a departure from the group’s previous concept for drone operations. The Mirsads and Ababils were, in a sense, strategic terror weapons, meant to cross borders and strike fear in enemy populations. 

The submunition-armed drones that Hezbollah has deployed over Aleppo are, by contrast, strictly tactical. Hovering, commercial-style drones can fly only a short distance away from their operators and, under the best of circumstances, can haul only a few pounds of payload. But what the drone-copters lack in sheer power, they make up for in stability—hence their ability to accurately drop an unguided submunition.
They’re also cheap, easy to procure, and simple to operate. For all but the most impoverished military force, a $200 quadcopter is disposable. And that means the type could crop up again not only in Syria, but also on battlefields all over the world—as a bomber... or as a bomb itself, rigged to explode on command.

The Pentagon, for one, is assuming that small, cheap, weaponized drones will soon pose a significant danger to American troops. “I personally believe that the unmanned platform is going to be one of the most important weapons of our age,” U.S. Navy Capt. Vincent Martinez, who oversees technology development for the fleet’s bomb squads, told Defense News last year.

Martinez said he was doubly worried about drones crashing or landing while hauling improvised explosive devices or other munitions that the robot or its operator might trigger as bomb-disposal troops approach. “I’m going to have to start thinking not only about how I defuse the payload but how I defuse the platform,” Martinez said. “When I walk up on that platform, is it watching me, is it sensing me, is it waiting for me?”
The U.S. military is preparing its drone defenses. On Aug. 11, the fringe-science Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency asked for researchers and companies to propose technologies that might “detect, identify, track and neutralize these [drone] systems on the move, on a compressed timeline and while mitigating collateral damage.”

One private firm has already begun marketing one such tech. In March, OpenWorks Engineering began offering its SkyWall 100—in essence, a bazooka that fires a drone-entangling net—as a non-destructive robot-countermeasure. 

The U.S. Marine Corps, for one, is signaling that it won’t hesitate to simply blow up drones in midair. Skipping ahead of DARPA’s own solicitation, the Marines recently announced plans to fit a drone-blasting laser cannon to its new armored vehicle starting in 2022.

But with Hezbollah already lobbing grenades from quadcopters in Syria, the non-state perpetrators of small-scale drone warfare have the jump on the world’s established armies and their lumbering bureaucracies.
At present, weaponized drones are way ahead of defenses against weaponized drones. If you shoot one down, another might quickly take its place. 

And once it drops its bomb, you can only do what that unfortunate figure can be seen doing at the end of Hezbollah’s new video—run.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

After ISIL

There is no question that the Islamic State will be defeated in Mosul; the real question is what comes afterward.

P4, former CENTCOM Commander lays it out to play it out...

  Can the post-Islamic State effort resolve the squabbling likely to arise over numerous issues and bring lasting stability to one of Iraq’s most diverse and challenging provinces? Failure to do so could lead to ISIS 3.0.

 U.S. forces today obviously lack the authority, remit and sheer numbers of the U.S. elements in Iraq in 2003. They also do not have the mandate that we had in the early days. But the enabling forces that the U.S.-led coalition has provided for Iraqi elements over the past year — intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, advisers, logistical elements, and precision strike platforms, in particular — have been instrumental in the successes enjoyed by the Iraqis in Ramadi, Fallujah, Tikrit, Baiji, Qayyarah and a host of other battle sites. 

 Leaders of the various Iraqi elements will likely have their own militias, and there will be endless rounds of brinkmanship on the road to post-Islamic State boundaries, governing structures and distribution of power and resources. If those challenges are not enough, others will emanate from Iran and the Shiite militias it supports, from Turkey and Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbors, from the Kurdish Regional Government that understandably wants to retain the disputed internal boundary areas that its peshmerga now largely control, and so on. 

In the case of Mosul, Nineveh’s Sunni Arabs, in particular, will need considerable reassurances that their interests will be adequately represented in the new Mosul and Nineveh. But so will the Kurdish citizens of Nineveh (of multiple political parties), as well as Shiite Arabs, Shiite and Sunni Turkmen, Yazidis, Christians, Shabak and numerous tribes.

The best vehicle for carrying this out would be a provincial council like the one set up in 2003, and through a similarly inclusive process. Importantly, Shiite militias should play no role in post-Islamic State security and governance. Because Nineveh and the other Sunni Arab provinces lack significant energy resources and the leverage they provide, Kurdish-style constitutional autonomy is not a viable option. Nonetheless, Baghdad and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will need to be prepared to make more explicit commitments about levels of resourcing, and also perhaps grant the region greater autonomy in determining spending priorities. The task facing Abadi is exceedingly complex, but the only way forward is to squarely face the challenges, work to build relationships and press the many disparate parties to find common ground on the issues — aided by the U.S.-led coalition. 

The process to resolve post-Islamic State issues will be difficult and intense. But having enabled the defeat of the Islamic State and having provided the largest amount of assets to ensure further successes and reconstruction initiatives, the United States, together with its numerous coalition partners, will have considerable influence over the resolution of the issues.

 It will have to exercise that influence.