Saturday, May 30, 2015

WoW!!

WoW - the Watchers Council- it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.   

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.
 
Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t) 

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


See you next week!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Future Middle East

Aha - don't need any Ouija Boards to predestine how Future Middle East is gon look!

Today's Middle East is arguably more volatile and more dangerous than it has been for centuries. The rise of Islamic State and the prospect of a nuclear Iran each represent an unprecedented threat to global security. All the while the West appears increasingly at a loss as to what to do about any of this. Britain and America's influence in the region has weakened, and this newly emerging reality looks set to create some strange and previously inconceivable alliances.

Reports have been emerging from Middle Eastern news agencies of a secret meeting recently held in Jordan. What was particularly intriguing about this previously unpublicized gathering was that it reportedly brought together Israeli diplomats with those from Arab countries that officially have no dealings with the Jewish State; we can assume that figures from the Gulf countries were among those in attendance.

All the more interesting, it is being widely reported that the meeting was essentially convened to plan for a Middle East from which America has more or less retreated. Other reports claim that some of the Sunni states expressed openness to entering into security cooperation with Israel. If true, this indicates just how concerned the Sunni states are about the rise of a nuclear Iran, and just how little faith they have in 44's strategy for negotiating Iran's nuclear program away.

Of course, we don't know that the approach adopted by 44 will outlive his presidency. But the worries of many of America's traditional allies in the region are clear. If America does
continue to retreat from the Middle East, the vacuum left behind will quickly be filled by others. That could lead to an entire region that looks much as Iraq does today. Since Obama pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq at the end of 2011, the country has been lost to a tug-of-war between the Iranian-backed, Shiite-led government in Baghdad, and the Sunni Islamists militants who are now largely expressed through the Islamic State.

No one would deny that Iraq went through some dark days during the era of 43. But following the surge strategy launched in 2008, order was being restored, and it looked like there might be good reason for optimism. Now, as 44's administration increasingly disengages from the Middle East, the region is slipping into turmoil, hurtling from one crisis to the next. Desperate times indeed call for desperate measures, and if the Gulf states are now reaching out to Israel, we know just how desperate things have become.

The policies pursued by 44 in the Middle East have either simply failed, or worse, they have completely backfired. Take the airstrikes against ISIS that we were told would turn back the advancing jihadist tide. The recent fall of Ramadi makes clear that this approach isn't working. And then there is the administration's strategy on Iran, which was supposed to restrain Iranian ambitions and prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. But the negotiations now look well on their way to achieving the opposite.

At the very time that Washington is pushing for reconciliation, the Iranians have been showing signs of becoming more belligerent, not less. By harassing international shipping along the Strait of Hormuz, as they have been in recent weeks, the Iranians are sending a pretty clear message - just in case the message of "Death to America" that continues to echo out across the public squares of Tehran wasn't clear enough.

Worse, it is not only the Iranians that have read the West's negotiation stance as a sign of weakness. No longer believing that 44's administration will stop Iran, the Saudis are now threatening to develop their own nuclear capabilities and match those of Iran. The very negotiations that are meant to be preventing nuclear proliferation in the region may now be about to trigger a nuclear arms race in one of the most unstable parts of the world.

As the Gulf countries have dramatically increased their spending on military hardware, it is also worth remembering that back in 2010 it emerged from WikiLeaks that the Saudis were preparing to allow Israel to use their airspace for a strike on Iran's nuclear infrastructure. It's always been fashionable to complain about American heavyhandedness in the Middle East.


Under 44 we are beginning to see what the alternative might look like.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

China Strategy Paper 2015

After State Ran Media warned war with Great Satan was inevitable, the World's largest Collectivist State just put out her Strategic White Paper featuring China's  “active defense” military strategy

People’s Liberation Army Navy will expand its defense perimeter to include “open seas protection.” The air force will also expand its focus to include offensive as well as defensive military capabilities. “We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked”

Accordingly, the paper said the navy of the People's Liberation Army will "gradually shift its focus from 'offshore waters defense' to a combination of 'offshore waters defense' and 'open seas protection'".

And

Regarding outer space, the paper reaffirmed China's opposition to the weaponization of outer space and its disapproval of an arms race in outer space.

As for cyber space, it said "China will expedite the development of a cyber force" and enhance its capabilities in cyber situation awareness and cyber defense.

The paper also noted that as Chinese national interests stretch further abroad, it will "strengthen international security cooperation in areas crucially related to China's overseas interests".

It said the PLA will engage in extensive regional and international security affairs, and promote the establishment of the mechanisms of emergency notification, military risk precaution, crisis management and conflict control.

The paper highlighted future cooperation with Russian armed forces, saying the PLA will foster a comprehensive, diverse and sustainable framework to promote military relations.

On cooperation with the US, China intends to build a "new model of military relationships" that conforms to the two nations' new model of major-country relations.

It will strengthen defense dialogues, exchanges and cooperation with the US military, and improve the mechanism for the notification of major military activities as well as the rule of behavior for safety of air and maritime encounters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ISIS' Combat Bona Fides

The recent fall of Ramadi show ISIS had gained some hard won combat expertise...

Islamic State’s battlefield performance suggests the terrorist group’s tactical sophistication is growing—a development the Iraqis and the U.S.-led coalition have so far failed to counter

Islamic State commanders executed a complex battle plan that outwitted a greater force of Iraqi troops as well as the much-lauded, U.S.-trained special-operations force known as the Golden Division, which had been fighting for months to defend the city.

Islamic State commanders evaded surveillance and airstrikes to bring reinforcements to its front lines in western Iraq. The group displayed a high degree of operational security by silencing its social media and propaganda teams during the Ramadi surge.

The group also churned out dozens of formidable new weapons by converting captured U.S. military armored vehicles designed to be impervious to small-arms fire into megabombs with payloads equal to the force of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Over the three-day surge in Ramadi, Islamic State fighters launched at least 27 such vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or Vbieds, that destroyed Iraq security forces’ defensive perimeters and crumbled multistory buildings.

Military analysts said the new formidable weapon was the latest development showing how the group appears to be learning from battlefield defeats like the one in Kobani, Syria, last summer in pursuit of its goal to control the Sunni-majority areas of Syria and Iraq.

After the mid-April victories in the Albu Faraj and Sijariyah neighborhoods, an Islamic State commander told Islamic State’s radio station, Al Bayan, on April 27 that the group was ready to embark on its ultimate goal of winning control of Ramadi’s city center

On the same day, Islamic State distributed a military order hundreds of miles to the north in Aleppo, Syria, calling for a redeployment of the group’s most devout fighters to the front lines in Anbar and Salahuddin provinces in Iraq. Written in the name of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the order called for expert and religiously dedicated fighters for a one-time assignment, implying they would be used in suicide missions

By the end of April, officials in Anbar were reporting a surge of cars passing into Iraq from the Al Qaim border crossing—which Islamic State controls—near Syria. Officials in Ramadi said Islamic State fighters started arriving in groups of two or three in nondescript sedans, instead of the Toyota pickup trucks group members used to favor, in apparent efforts to blend in with civilian traffic and stay off radar of U.S. surveillance planes.

From early May, the group enforced a blackout of its own media posts from Ramadi. That was in contrast to other battlefields in the country, such as Beiji and Fallujah, where Islamic State supporters continued to post propaganda about battles

On May 5, Islamic State launched an attack on Ramadi’s city center, but Iraqi helicopters and the Golden Division repulsed the advance, Iraqi state media reported. Running battles along the bridges across the Euphrates River separating Ramadi’s southwestern Islamic State-held neighborhoods from the city center continued for days, with Iraqi forces holding their lines.

By May 13, Islamic State had established a team of snipers closer to where Iraqi police and army units were based, said Iraqi soldiers and state media.

The next day, Islamic State launched its surge by sending a single armored bulldozer to the concrete barriers on the outskirts of the government lines. The bulldozer worked unimpeded for close to an hour, removing concrete walls. Once the road was cleared, Islamic State fighters drove about six Vbieds, including an armored Humvee and armored dump truck, into the government complex.

Over the next 72 hours, the terrorist group set off at least another 20 Vbied and suicide bombs, U.S. officials said.

Islamic State took the government complex by May 15. The group launched another wave of vehicle suicide attacks on May 17, preventing Iraqi reinforcements from entering the city. The Golden Division, which had been cut off from the rest of the Iraqi forces, called for a retreat from town.

Once Islamic State’s black flag began flying from Ramadi’s city center, the group lifted its information blackout. It posted photos and eulogies for six suicide bombers it said were responsible for the initial wave of attacks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Counter Terrorism Canada Style


From Mail Call...

The Islamic State terrorist group now commands the greatest army of foreign mercenaries in modern history. Current estimates of its size range from 20,000 foreign fighters to a Central Intelligence Agency figure of 31,000. This army of fighters is essential to IS’s battlefield power, at least in terms of providing it with cannon fodder, and critical to its effort to recruit believers from around the world to help it build the infrastructure of a state, and ultimately a caliphate. The greatest number of recruits globally for IS has come from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia; from European countries, France, Belgium and Britain are the leading contributors. Canadians have also left to join IS since its dramatic rise to power in Syria and Iraq, although we don’t have an exact fix on the numbers. But the Canadian Prime Minister has signalled his belief that one is too many, telling a Montreal audience that “there is no legitimate reason of any kind in this country for someone to become a violent jihadist or terrorist or to join any kind of group that is involved or advocates that kind of activity.”

The more that political rhetoric swirls around national-security threats such as the foreign-fighter problem, the more difficult it will be to establish the exact scale of the threat. In reality, the danger posed by the relatively small Canadian foreign-fighter stream is threefold – it bolsters IS psychologically; it conjures up concerns about battle-hardened veterans who might return to Canada to incite and commit terrorism; it puts Muslim communities in Canada under an unwanted spotlight and may create a new set of tensions for them as they work to contribute to de-radicalization measures. Our biggest concern is not about how we prevent Canadian foreign fighters from blowing things up in Iraq and Syria, or even blowing things up if they manage to return to Canada, but how we stop them from blowing up community stability and inciting tensions within Canada.

When the government first announced a counterterrorism strategy in 2012, it used a model borrowed from the British, with four “pillars”: Prevent, Detect, Deny, Respond. The respond pillar is meant to ensure a capacity to deal with terrorist attacks that occur on our soil. When the CT strategy was launched, there hadn’t been any. Now there have been two – the attacks in Quebec and near Parliament Hill in October of 2014. The one good thing the October attacks brought to light is the degree to which Canadian society poses a strong, innate resilience to terrorist violence.

The Deny capacity, when it comes to foreign fighters, has been strengthened in recent years by a variety of new legal tools to prevent would-be jihadis from travelling. That includes criminal sanctions, passport revocation and the imposition of peace bonds, including the physical monitoring of so-called “high-risk” travellers. The controversial anti-terrorism act (Bill C-51), currently before the Senate, would add yet further to these capacities, including through a strengthening of our no-fly list. Even without C-51’s new measures, Canadian authorities had the tools to stop Canadian jihadis from travelling, so we are in a relatively strong place.

The Detect pillar is all about old-fashioned intelligence work, with some new twists. These include the need to monitor social media for clues to terrorist intentions, a high level of operational pressure that puts stresses on agency resources and the importance of being able to work with affected Muslim communities for early warning. The recent Montreal airport interdiction against 10 young Muslims alleged to have planned to travel to the Middle East to join the Islamic State appears to show that detection is working, aided by social-media garrulousness, alarmed families and communities, and heightened security-agency focus.

But what about Prevent? Here, the greatest challenge lies, and potentially our greatest weakness. Some will always slip through the cracks, notably the convicted “Toronto 18” member, Ali Mohamed Dirie, whose incarceration and subsequent release did nothing to dissuade him; who obtained false identity documentation, travelled to Syria and was killed in the fighting in 2013. We risk failure on the “prevention” front if the RCMP’s efforts at community engagement do not gain a stronger foothold, if CSIS is too emboldened by its soon-to-be-granted “disruption” mandate and if the government (of whatever stripe after October, 2015) fails to find a better way to justify Canada’s actions in the world, especially its international efforts against terrorist groups.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day


Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

I was thinking this morning that across the country, children and their parents will be going to the town parade, and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember.

Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid and passionate lives. … All of these men were different, but they shared this in common: They loved America very much. There was nothing they wouldn’t do for her. And they loved with the sureness of the young. It’s hard not to think of the young in a place like this, for it’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins.

And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong. 

If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. 

40 at Arlington

Sunday, May 24, 2015

WoW!!


WoW - the Watchers Council- it's the oldest, longest running cyber comte d'guere ensembe in existence - started online in 1912 by Sirs Jacky Fisher and Winston Churchill themselves - an eclective collective of cats both cruel and benign with their ability to put steel on target (figuratively - natch) on a wide variety of topictry across American, Allied, Frenemy and Enemy concerns, memes, delights and discourse.

Every week these cats hook up each other with hot hits and big phazed cookies to peruse and then vote on their individual fancy catchers.

Thusly sans further adieu (or a don"t) 

Council Winners



Non-Council Winners



See you next week!