Showing posts with label CIA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CIA. Show all posts

Sunday, March 13, 2016

SOF News

Afghanistan's Commandos. There are about 11,000 Afghan soldiers assigned to the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC). To many observers these are the men that will ensure Afghanistan does not fall to the Taliban and they are the crack troops that respond to dire situations (such as the fall of Kunduz city in late 2015). The commando and special forces units have a very low attrition rate - especially when compared to the remainder of the Afghan army and police forces. However, there are some problems. The commando units are not always used in the proper role and are usually over-employed by Corps commanders of the Afghan army. There is a shortage of training ammunition and uniforms . . . and the training facilities at Camp Moorehead (just outside of Kabul) are not sufficient for the number of soldiers training at that location. Read more in a news story by Tim Craig - "These are the 11,000 soldiers who might save Afghanistan", The Washington Post, March 8, 2016.

Hybrid Warfare Skeptic. The hybrid warfare concept has been around for at least a decade if not more. There are other terms and phases that have been introduced that are very close to the hybrid warfare definition to include, Ambiguous Warfare, Gray Zone, Political Warfare, etc. One commentator, Christopher Paul, provides his thoughts on the various concepts that describe the space between peace and war. A long intellectual read . . . if you are an SF dude then it is in your lane. Dr. Paul is a senior social scientist working for RAND Corporation. Read "Confessions of a Hybrid Warfare Skeptic", Small Wars Journal, March 3, 2016.

A New Unconventional Warfare Strategy & Human Domain. Carole N. House writes an extensive article that defines " . . . critical restructuring needs of the U.S. government . . . " and proposes " . . . strategic lines of effort to facilitate a comprehensive national approach to the conduct of unconventional warfare and countering its use against the United States". Read "Proposal of an Unconventional Warfare Strategy to Dominate the Human Domain", Small Wars Journal, March 7, 2016.

CANSOF and Africa. Canadian special forces have recently completed their participation in the U.S. military exercise called "Flintlock" that was held in Africa. (Ottawa Citizen, Mar 7, 2016).

Australian Special Forces Chief Making Amends. It's tough for a special operations soldier nowadays. In the current atmosphere of political correctness it is like walking on thin ice. Then again, the military is not a place where sexual harassment should take place. Those irascible folks from down under! Read someone finding out how difficult navigating this new terrain is in "Cleared special forces chief apologises to complainants", The West Australian, March 9, 2016.

US SOF in Libya. General Tony Thomas, currently the head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been nominated by President Obama to head up the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). He recently testified before (Wed, 9 Mar) the Senate Armed Services Committee where he stated that he supports the deployment of SOF to Libya to oppose the growth of the Islamic State. Read more in "Obama nominee supports sending special operators to Libya", The Hill Blog, March 9, 2015.

Italian SOF in Libya. The Italians made it in the news as well; although under unfavorable conditions. They have been accused of beating up (verbally and physically) news reporters in Libya. Probably a small incident but . . . (Eurasia Review, Mar 12, 2016).

SOF Mission in Somalia? It would seem that U.S. special operations are just about everywhere. A recent news report indicates that U.S. SOF conducted a helicopter assault on the al-Shabab terror group in Somalia. Read more in "U.S. Special Operations Forces Involved in Somalia Raid: Defense Officials", NBC News, March 9, 2016.

SOF, Corruption, and Somalia. One of the difficulties in working with foreign military forces that are engaged in internal conflicts is that the governments are usually corrupt. In underdeveloped nations this is usually the case. Thus special operations forces find themselves engaged in counterinsurgency efforts that prop up a corrupt government. This is true of Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other places. It is also true of Somalia. A good friend of mine who worked as a counterinsurgency advisor for several years in Afghanistan recently completed a two-year stretch in Somalia. His contract ended when he confronted a high-ranking Somali officer who was pocketing an excessive amount of money and supplies for his personal enrichment; robbing the lower ranking soldiers of ammunition, food, money, and other supplies. Want to know more? Read "Somalia: A Sober Assessment", Strategy Page, March 11, 2016.

SOF and the 'Small Footprint". Max Boot, a commentator on terrorism and national security, shares his thoughts on the over-reliance on special operations forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world in "The Perils of a Small Footprint", Commentary Magazine, March 10, 2016.

SF Training on Okinawa. The Green Berets of the 1st Special Forces Group train for many different types of missions in the Pacific region. Read more in "Special Forces get ready",, March 10, 2016.

SF LTC in Anti-Trump Ad. Mike Waltz, a two-time Afghan veteran, occasional commentator on Fox News, and author of one or two books about Afghanistan has been seen nation-wide in a widely distributed anti-Trump ad. Read more in "Former Special Forces Commander Featured in New Anti-Trump Ad", Task & Purpose, March 7, 2016.

SOF is Evolving and Adapting. The United States Special Operations Command's operators are adapting to an ever changing security situation around the world. On any given day U.S. SOF are deployed to over 80 countries. Read a DoD News release on this topic. (DoD News, Mar 8, 2016).

SOF in Pacific. General Votel, commander of USSOCOM, says that special operations continue to work in the Asia-Pacific region. Read "Commander: SOCOM Never Left the Pacific", Seapower Magazine,  March 8, 2016.

First Female SEALs in 2017? The Navy is pushing ahead to integrate women into the SEAL teams. New Navy documentation lays out the training, recruiting, and assignment plan to place women into previously closed special ops jobs. (Task & Purpose, Mar 11, 2016).

SOF & Maneuver Career Courses. The students of the Maneuver Captains Career Course and the SOF Captains Career Course are working together to enhance interoperability. (Bayonent & Saber, March 8, 2016).

NG SF General "H.B." Profiled. A Special Forces general gets himself into the news in "Olive Hill Childhood Was Foundation for Brigadier General",  Journal-Times, March 9, 2016.

CIA Director at SEAL Event. John O. Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency recently spoke at the Navy SEAL Foundation 8th New York City Benefit Dinner in early March 2016. Your can read his prepared remarks in a transcript provided on the CIA's webpage.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

ISIS, CTF, CT, and IO News

Video - ISIS and Money. Watch a four-minute long video explaining how the Islamic State funds itself and how government and private-sector efforts can cut off its funding. Defeating the Islamic State: The Economic CampaignThe Washington Institute, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Banking Network. "Money-exchange offices in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan funnel millions of dollars daily in and out of militant-held territory." Read "How Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers"The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2016. (Paywall subscription).

Money - Not Ideology. Two former Islamic State (IS) commanders who defected recently to Afghan authorities say that they joined the extremist organization not because of ideology but largely for money. (Voice of America, Feb 26, 2016).

State Dept & CVE Podcasts. The United States Department of State has been actively trying to counter violent extremism (CVE). Part of the effort is to educate communities about terrorism and violent groups through social media to include the use of podcasts. Read more in "New Podcast Series Examines Global Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism", DIPNOTE, U.S. Department of State Official Blog, February 22, 2016.

Social Media & Online Extremism. "The U.S. government, acknowledging its limited success in combating Islamic extremist messaging, is recruiting tech companies, community organizations and educational groups to take the lead in disrupting online radicalization". Read more in "U.S. looks to Facebook, private groups to battle online extremism", Reuters, February 24, 2016.

ISIS Propaganda. The international coalition is far from winning the information war against the Islamic State. Although airstrikes and proxy armies are taking its toll on the organization its social media campaign and its ideological momentum has not been blunted significantly. Read more in "Why ISIS Propaganda Works", The Atlantic, February 13, 2016.

'Khorasan Province' Video. The Islamic State in Afghanistan has released a series of videos about training that takes place along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Read "Islamic State 'Khorasan province' advertises training camp", The Long War Journal, February 23, 2016.

ISIS Info Flawed. An unusually high number of intelligence analysts (40% of the 1,000 analysts assigned to CENTCOM) said there were problems with the integrity of their reports and many have accused their bosses for slewing reports on ISIS. Read more in "400 Intel Pros Warn: ISIS Info Flawed", The Daily Beast, February 25, 2016. See also "Top House Lawmaker Accuses Pentagon of Obstructing Intel Probe", The Cable - Foreign Policy, February 25, 2016.

Obama and Global Campaign against ISIS. The State Department has released a press statement with info on the plan to destroy the Islamic State. Read "President Obama Discusses The Global Campaign to Degrade and Destroy ISIL", Dipnote Blog, February 25, 2016.

Guantanamo and Jihadist Propaganda. President Obama has vowed to close the prison on U.S. property in Cuba because it is a recruiting tool for ISIS and al Qaeda but ". . . some of those who study jihadist propaganda say Guantanamo actually isn't all that important as a recruitment tool, and it doesn't feature especially prominently in jihadist materials". Many of the prison occupants were captured and jailed soon after the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. forces. Read more in a news report by Defense One, February 24, 2016.

Journal - Perspectives on Terrorism. Volume X, Issue 1, February 2016 is now available online. Several articles about terrorism.

Afghan Captive at Guantanamo to be Released. A man held for over a decade in America's prison in Cuba is set to be released as he is deemed to no longer be a threat. (Miami Herald, Feb 26, 2016.)

ISIS Damaged in Eastern Afghanistan. The combination of Taliban attacks, Afghan security forces offensives, and U.S. airstrikes has damaged ISIS significantly in Nangarhar province. In part, this setback for the Islamic State was also aided by public uprisings against the organization - especially in Achin district. Some members of the group may move back into Pakistan or adjacent Afghan provinces (Logar and Ghazni).

Video - Terrorism and CT. The International Institute for Strategic Studes (IISS) has posted a video entitled The Changing Nature of Terrorism and Counterterrorism, February 24, 2016. Dr. Daniel Byman and Dr. Bruce Hoffman explain the increasingly global presence of terrorist networks, the evolution of the terrorism landscape since 9/11, and the role of technology in terrorism and counterterrorism. The video is about one hour long and can be viewed online here.

ISIS and Bomb Making. Thomas Gibbons-Neff provides us with the "how" of bomb making in "Where Islamic State gets its bomb-making materials", Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2016.

Intel News Update

Book - Playing to The Edge.  Michael V. Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency has penned a book entitled Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. Available on

"The Spider" of the CIA. James Jesus Angleton earned the name of "The Spider". He is well-known for his witchhunts seeking traitors within the CIA. Read "My Lunch With 'The Spider' Who Nearly Wrecked the CIA"The Daily Beast, February 27, 2016.

New CIA Spy Thriller. We all love (most folks) love a good spy thriller. A new one is soon to be released (courtesy of Henry Crumpton - former CIA employee). Read more in "STX Developing Spy Thriller with Former CIA Agent Henry Crumpton", Feb 2016.

CIA Agents and "Digital Dust". It is tough being an operative right now if you are undercover for the agency. Most potential agency recruits have used social media (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and they need to cleanse these accounts up once hired. But then the accounts just can't disappear . . . nor can new ones be established without suspicion. Read more in "Why the CIA Likes, And Dislikes, Social Media"National Public Radio, February 24, 2016.

CIA's Ground Branch. Jack Murphy writes about the Central Intelligence Agency's paramilitary organization in "Ground Branch: The CIA's covert alternative to special operations"SOFREP, February 25, 2016.

OPM Official Retires. On Wednesday, February 24th, Donna Seymour - the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Chief Information Officer (CIO) was to testify before the U.S. House about the security breach by the Chinese on two databases that contained the security clearance information of millions of government workers (Yes, I received the infamous OPM letter as well). But . . . she retired two days before the hearing. Read more in "Official overseeing breached OPM computer systems retires ahead of House hearing"Stars and Stripes, February 23, 2016.

Private Email Servers - Don't Do It! "U.S. spy agencies have told Congress that Hillary Clinton's home computer server contained some emails that should have been treated as "top secret" because their wording matched sections of some of the government's most highly classified documents . . . " Not to worry . . . if the Chinese can't hack the Office of Personnel Management security clearance data base then what chance do they have of a private server in someones' home? Oh, that's right. The Chinese have my SF-86! Never mind. Read more in a news report by Reuters, February 24, 2016.

SOF News & A Little Intel

MARSOC - Ten Years. MARSOC is celebrating its ten year anniversary. Read an article about the Marine Special Operations Command in "10 years of MARSOC: How the Marine Corps developed its spec ops command"Marine Corps Times, February 24, 2016.

Video - Marine Raiders. Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) has posted a 5-minute long video on about the history of the Marine Raiders (published Feb 24, 2016). This video is released on the 10th anniversary of the formation of MARSOC.

MARSOC Training. Jeremy Bender provides us photos and a description of the type of training that the Marine Corps puts its top operators through for the Marine Special Operations Command. Read "Come along to MARSOC training, where the Marine Corps grooms its top operators", Business Insider, February 24, 2016.

Romanian SOF to Afghanistan. The Romanian Special Operations Group ROU SOAG-3 of the Targu Mures-based 6th Special Operations Brigade Mihai Viteazul will be heading to Afghanistan soon.

Paper - Operational Art in Special Warfare. A host of writers (Fred Krawchuk, John Peters, Linda Robinson, and others) have penned a 186-page report entitled Toward Operational Art in Special Warfare as part of a RAND Corporation project. It was published in February 2016. The jist of the paper is that the U.S. DoD should strengthen its special warfare planning capacity and culture, implement institutional reforms to facilitate unified action among relevant U.S government agenicies, and develop enhanced influence capabilities.

Delta Force - The Truth! The hit show The Unit is going to soon air on the UK's Forces TV. To celebrate this event Forces TV takes a closer look at its inspiration - the U.S. Army's Delta Force. Read "Delta Force: The Truth Behind 'The Unit'", Forces TV (UK),  February 23, 2016.

SOF Operators Buying Their Own Equipment? A recent news report says that there is a disconnect between vendors who supply equipment for SOF units, the money allocated for the equipment, and the operators that use the equipment. Read more in "Lacking basic gear, special operators stuck buying their own equipment", Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2016.

SEALs - "The Quiet Professional?" - Not So Much! One of the catch phrases for the U.S. Army Special Forces has been "The Quiet Professional". The same cannot be said of the U.S. Navy SEALs based on the numerous autobiographies and movies that feature the U.S. Navy's special operators- some of it for fame and personal profit. Read a 85-page research paper on the topic entitled Navy SEALs Gone Wild: Publicity, Fame, and the Loss of the Quiet Professional, Naval Post Graduate School, December 2015.

1st SFGA and Its Whiskey. A craft bourbon has raised thousands of dollars to help special ops veterans and their families. Learn "How the 1st Special Forces Group Got Its Own Whiskey", War is Boring, February 23, 2016.

Evading Danger? One SF veteran provides advise on how to "Escape and evade danger like a Special Forces veteran", Business Insider, February 26, 2016.

AFSOC Wants More V-22s. The Air Force Special Operations Command would like to acquire three additional multi-mission V-22 Ospreys before the product line ceases. This would bring the total to 54 airframes. Read more in a news report by National Defense Magazine, February 26, 2016.

French SOF in Libya. The country of Libya has been in a constant state of turmoil since the fall of its long-time dictator. There are now two governments - one in Tobruck and one in Tripoli. In addition, sandwiched between the two cities along the Mediterranean Coast is a small enclave of about 6,000 Islamic State fighters. There are indications that some European powers may intervene - the Brits and Italians possibly. In addition, the United States and other nations are said to have small SOF teams in Libya. News now comes that the French SOF are there as well. Drone strikes have taken place and there are rumors about the occasional CIA agent being in the vicinity of the better hotels. Read "French special forces waging "secret war" in Libya: report", Reuters, February 24, 2016.

British SAS as Well? One news report says that the UK SOF are in Libya as well. Read "Special Forces spearheading 'secret war' against ISIS in Libya", Mirror (UK), February 25, 2016.

And Finally . . . U.S. SOF Heading to Fight Boko Haram. It appears that a small team of U.S. special operations troops may be heading to Nigeria to help the local army there to fight Boko Haram. This will be another "advise and assist" mission that SOF is well-trained to conduct. Sure . . . except that Nigeria is just one more corrupt dictatorship that is inept and clueless in how to fight a counterinsurgency. I think this is just pissing in the wind on trying to assist a regime that steals money from it's public and puts foreign aid funds into Swiss bank accounts. Read "U.S. troops likely headed to Nigeria for Boko Harma advisory mission", Military Times, February 26, 2016.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

SOF News

ANASF Trains ALP Recruit
SOF and Helmand Province. The fight for Helmand province is still ongoing despite the end of the fighting season. The Taliban control a number of the provincial districts (see what constitutes 'control of district') and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are barely holding on to some district centers. The United States has supported the ANDSF with air strikes and with SOF teams on the ground working with Afghan SOF units. Read more in "Afghan Province, Teetering to the Taliban, Draws In Extra U.S. Forces", The New York Times, December 13, 2015.

Book Review - Relentless Strike. Dr. J. Paul De B. Taillon reviews a book about the secret history of the Joint Special Operations Command. (Mackenzie Institute, Dec 1, 2015).

Tip of the Spear - Dec 15. The latest issue of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Tip of the Spear magazine has been posted online.

Homeless Man Lives in 3rd SFGA Barracks. According to one news report - "Almost Valor: Homeless Man Gets Away Living in the 3rd Special Forces Group Barracks as Fake Soldier",, December 22, 2015 - a civilian got a free ride for a few months living rent free (no doubt he had a meal card for the dining facility as well). Not so hard to do. Just square away your uniform, buzz cut your hair, be on time for morning formations, and the SGMs will leave you alone. Kind of reminds me of my four-month long backpacking trip through Europe in the 70s - I ran out of money at the end of the trip and spent some time in the transient barracks at Vicenza, Italy. Nice place.

UW Fills Gap b/t Peace and War. David Maxwell, a retired SF colonel explains Unconventional Warfare to us and says we need to develop a strategy to counter UW being conducted by our adversaries. Read his article "Congress Has Embraced Unconventional Warfare: Will the US Military and the Rest of the US Government?", Small Wars Journal, December 29, 2015. Learn more about unconventional warfare.

SOF and Global Deployments. Special Operations forces have been deployed to many countries over the past several decades. This has not changed under the Obama administration - especially given that the Global War on Terrorism (yes, some folks still use the term GWOT) has expanded in the last decade. Read more in "Obama's 'Boots on the Ground': U.S. Special Forces Are Sent to Tackle Global Threats", The New York Times, December 27, 2015.

Origins of Women in SOF History. A profile of a women who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. The OSS was the fore-runner to the CIA and U.S. Army Special Forces. An 8-min video posted on on December 9, 2015.

SOF and the Push for Women in Combat. A RAND study conducted on behalf of USSOCOM found that 85% of SOF operators were not in favor of fully integrating women onto the SOF teams. Many advocates of the push to have women fully integrated into special operations combat units are discounting the views of these SOF operators saying they lack experience with working with women and that they are only interested in preserving their "male-only domain". This viewpoint sells these very experienced SOF operators short. In fact, the SOF community was way ahead of most of the military with its use of female Cultural Support Teams (CSTs) as enablers with Special Force ODAs, SEAL platoons, and MARSOC units in Afghanistan. Read more on this issue in "Pentagon's women-in-combat push faces chilly headwinds", The Hill Blog, December 30, 2015.

More on Women and Combat Arms. It appears that the move to fully integrate women into the combat arms will see lots of attention put on SOF units. Read "How Not to Integrate Females into Combat Arms", Small Wars Journal, December 30, 2015. And what about the 'draft thing'? Is it time for women to register for the draft - I mean equal rights and equal opportunity should equate to equal responsibility.

JSOC Secrets. The Joint Special Operations Command, commonly called JSOC, is busy around the world. The personnel of the secret and lethal organization work in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and other conflict-ridden areas. Read more in "The not-so-secret history of JSOC", The Washington Post, December 15, 2015.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Intelligence News

Khost Protection Force & the CIA - Part 1. A regional counterterrorism pursuit team set up in Khost province by the CIA has been problematic due to human rights concerns and a lack of accountability. The CIA transferred the CPT to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) a few years back but still has some involvement. Western security officials maintain that the Khost pursuit team is one of the most effective elements fighting insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan. David Jolly tells us more in "Civilian Deaths Raise Questions About C.I.A.-Trained Forces in Afghanistan", The New York Times, December 3, 2015.

Khost Protection Force & the CIA - Part II. More info on the CIA-run and supported (still?) Khost Protection Force. See "CIA runs shadow war with Afghan militia implicated in civilian killings", The Washington Post, December 3, 2015.

John Brennan Presentation. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently (Nov 16) spoke at the Global Security Forum 2015 held by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). Topics include ISIS and global security. You can listen to his 48-minute address (video or audio) or download his transcript.

Movie - "Central Intelligence". A new comedy about a U.S. intelligence agent is to be released in 2016 starring "The Rock". Watch the movie trailer (USA Today, Nov 20, 2015).

More Spies Against ISIS? It appears that the Defense Department is ready to beef up the intelligence gathering against the Islamic State. Read "U.S. Spies May be Back in Action Against ISIS", Newsweek, December 1, 2015.

CENTCOM's Intel Credibility. The changing of intelligence analysts reports at the highest level to satisfy political beliefs is still a problem even though the story has all but disappeared from the headlines. Read "Obama's Intel Scandal", The Weekly Standard, December 7, 2015.

Taliban Holding Secret U.S. Hostage? A news report suggests that the Taliban are holding an American in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. See "Secret U.S. Hostage Held by Taliban Allies", The Daily Beast, December 1, 2015.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

CIA, Intel, and Afghanistan

Central Intelligence Agency Pubs. The CIA has declassified five important documents that are related to the 9/11 attacks. The documents provide important historical information about the DCI Counterterrorist Center Directorate of Operations, assessment of CIA's performance, and findings about the CIA's response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The pubs are available on the CIA's website at the following link.

Two Tunisians Held by CIA Released. Two long time detainees held first by the CIA and later the U.S. military were repatriated to Tunisia and subsequently released. Read more in a The Washington Post news story (June 26, 2015).

Studies in Intelligence, Volume 59, Number 2, June 2015. Unclassified extracts published on the Central Intelligence Agency library webpage.

Khost Protection Force (KPF) Targeted by Bomber. A senior Afghan official in Kabul stated that a suicide bomber that killed 25 in mid-July outside the former FOB Chapman was targeting the paramilitary group once led and supported by the CIA. In earlier years Chapman was the location of Special Forces and CIA led Afghan paramilitary units that operated near (or past) the Pakistan border. The KPF is now controlled by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS); which of course, was (is?) funded and advised by the CIA. (The New York Times, Jul 12, 2015).

Book Review. Kate Drew reviews a book by Thomas Fingar - Reducing Uncertainty: Intelligence Analysis and National Security. (E-International Relations, Jul 11, 2015).

Failed Drone Strategy. A former ISAF Intel officer - LTG (Ret) Mike Flynn has some comments on President Obama's reliance on drones to combat terrorism. "When you drop a bomb from a drone . . . you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good". (Politico, Jul 16, 2015)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Video - "88 Days to Kandahar"

The former CIA station chief in Islamabad, Robert Grenier, discusses the time just after 9/11 when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The video, hosted by Peter Bergen of New America, features Grenier - a long-time CIA operative. He discusses the few months when he found himself directing the "southern campaign", helping in the defeat of the Taliban, and assisting the rise to power of Hamid Karzai. Grenier also looks at the serious mistakes made by the United States in Afghanistan and offers some recommendations for the future. Grenier believes the U.S. should adopt a sustainable effort in Afghanistan. A phrase used in the video is "Go Long, Go Light". The video, entitled "88 Days to Kandahar", is 90 minutes long and posted on YouTube.

Friday, January 9, 2015

LTG Mulholland to CIA

Lieutenant General John F. Mulholland Jr. has been selected to be the new Associate Director for Military Affairs at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). LTG Mulholland has had a distinguished career in Special Forces. His unit, the 5th Special Forces Group, spear-headed the initial invasion of Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 weeks after the terrorist attack on 9/11. Over 300 of his SF operators along with 100 CIA operators linked up with the Northern Alliance and toppled the Taliban regime. Read more about his new job in a press release by the CIA dated January 7, 2015.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Khowst and CIA - 5 Years Later

"Five years ago, on a cold, gloomy December afternoon in the mountainous region of Khowst Province in southeastern Afghanistan, an al-Qa'ida terrorist detonated a bomb strapped to his chest and killed seven CIA officers and injured six others; one of the deadliest attacks ever conducted against Agency personnel. The suicide bomber had been recruited as a CIA informant and taken to Afghanistan to infiltrate the upper ranks of al-Qa'ida. For months, he provided the Agency with independently verifiable intelligence on the terrorist network, and he promised to lead the CIA to the group's most senior members. Instead, the asset was an al-Qa'ida double agent"

Read the rest of this story published by the CIA in "Khowst - 5 Years Later", CIA News & Information, December 2014.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CIA Continues to Assist Pakistan

Shuja Nawaz, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, writes an opinion about the CIA and the help it provides Pakistan in fighting terrorism. In 2011, the Central Intelligence Agency and the ISI (Pakistan's intel service), were not on speaking terms. However, there is a thaw in the air and some collaboration is taking place. According to Nawaz, the atmosphere can improve if the CIA would only try to understand ". . . Pakistan's aspirations and fears." (Hmmmm.) He says that the CIA ". . . should attempt to broaden its official relationships inside Pakistan to strengthen the country's civilian intelligence bureau and the newly formed National Counter Terrorism Authority." Yep. Work more closely with the ISI - the same organization from a country that sheltered Osama bin Laden, keeps Mullah Omar safe, and provides support and sanctuary to the Afghan Taliban. Read more in his opinion piece in The New York Times, December 21, 2014.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

CIA Analysis of HVT

According to a 2009 CIA analysis (it was secret until released by WikiLeaks) raids, drones strikes, and other types of military operations against high value Taliban targets had little overall effect. This was, in part, due to the militants ability to replace leaders. Some criticized the 'High Value Target" (HVT) operations as "whack-a-mole"; as soon as you hit one target, another pops up. In addition to the ease that the Taliban enjoyed in replacing leaders was the inability of the Afghan government to expand its counterinsurgency efforts throughout the country effectively. Perhaps the HVT operations would be more effective if done within the context of a successful COIN environment? Read more in "CIA analysis: 'high-value targeting' had limited effect against Taliban", The Washington Post, December 18, 2014.

Friday, November 7, 2014

444 Days: Story of CIA Officers held Captive During the Iranian Hostage Crisis

This blog post has nothing to do with Afghanistan but everything to do with how vulnerable members of the U.S. military and other governmental agencies can find themselves in a quickly developing hostage situation. In November 1979, 35 years ago, six Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers stationed at the US Embassy in Iran suddenly found themselves as hostages. They, along with other embassy employees, were held by radical Islamist students in the American Embassy for 444 days. The CIA has posted (on their website) the story of their days in captivity. See "444 Days in Tehran: The Story of CIA Officers Held Captive During the Iranian Hostage Crisis", Central Intelligence Agency News & Information Blog, November 4, 2014.

Over the years there have been more than a few CIA officers held in captivity. Some of these officers died in captivity. One CIA officer, William Buckley, was captured while serving as the CIA Station Chief during an extremely dangerous time in Lebanon. He died after days of horrific torture by his Islamic Jihad captors. Buckley was also an Army veteran of the Korean and Vietnam War as well as a Special Forces officer. See "CIA Remembers Agency Hero William Buckley", Central Intelligence Agency Press Release, March 14, 2014 and a dedication to LTC William Buckley by the Special Forces Association.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Drone Queens" - Who Are They?

In the battle against worldwide terrorism women of the United States are playing a major role. They are very visible in the military services and also in the intelligence services. So who are the "Drone Queens"? A recent news article says that they are women in their thirties with a decade or more of experience working for the CIA hunting for terrorists. Their colleagues refer to them as "the sisterhood". The television series "Homeland" is based on  Read more in "The CIA's Real Drone Queens", Real Clear Politics, October 21, 2014.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Khost Protection Force Suffers Casualties

Eight Afghan soldiers belonging to the Khost Protection Force were killed during an engagement in eastern Afghanistan. The deaths were caused by a car bomb that exploded during a raid on a remote compound by the paramilitary unit. Once they had secured the compound a car bomb went off. The Khost Protection Force was established, supported, and paid for by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Read more in "Car Bomb Kills 8 Afghans From Unit Linked to C.I.A.", The New York Times, October 15, 2014.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Irony of Heroin, Hoffman, and The War in Afghanistan

In the Sacramento Bee, Markos Kounalakis writes on the irony of the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, his role as a CIA officer in the movie "Charlie Wilson's War", and of the resurgence of the opium trade in Afghanistan. In his short piece published on February 6, 2014 he succinctly captures the story of the drug industry in Afghanistan and the unintended consequences (the military would say "second, third, and fourth order of effects") of the U.S. intervention in 2001 and fall of the Taliban regime. Read "Hoffman, heroin and the war in Afghanistan".

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Torture in Afghanistan

A writer from the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), Kate Clark, has posted a passage on torture in some of Afghanistan's detention centers. Read "The Trouble with Torture: NDS, Special Forces and the CIA", AAN, March 29, 2012.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Proposal for CIA Led Force in Afghanistan After Withdrawal of Troops

Plans are under consideration to put elite special operations forces under the control of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after the majority of the U.S. troops have left Afghanistan in 2014.  According to senior defense officials these plans are still just discussions of options - however the topic is getting plenty of newsprint and coverage on the Internet. There are merits to such a plan.  The CIA and special operations forces have worked closely together since the end of World War II in many conflicts. While the CIA offers greater operational flexibility the special forces community provides units and individuals specially trained to conduct the type of operations a post-2014 Afghanistan will require.  Read "CIA-led force may speed Afghan exit", Newsday, March 3, 2012.

Title 10 and Title 50 Debate: Convergence of the CIA and Special Operations in Afghanistan

With the recent news reports about the troop withdrawal soon to take place in Afghanistan (apparently before 2014) many have asked what the "stay-behind" force will look like.  Initially it was revealed that special operations forces would take a leading role in the operations post 2014. However, it would appear, based on recent news reports, that the CIA will play a leading role as well.  Special operations forces and the CIA have a long history of working together.  The CIA has shown it has the legal authority and operational flexibility to conduct operations that the military cannot.  The special operations community is encumbered many times by conventional force commanders, rules of engagement, and other restrictions. However, the CIA lacks the robustness, capability, and expertise that the special operators bring to the fight.  So they are natural partners in many conflict situations. Read a recent article about this topic in "Military-Intelligence Convergence and the Law of the Title 10 / Title 50 Debate", by Robert M. Chesney, Journal of National Security Law & Policy, January 24, 2012.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Worries about the CIA and SOF in Afghanistan Over the Long-Term

Not everyone thinks that keeping special operations forces and a strong CIA element in Afghanistan past 2014 is a good idea.  Kate Clark, a blogger for the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) and long-time Afghanistan resident, has wrote an article expressing her concerns.  She worries about the history of the CIA being a secret  organization and of US Special Forces not being entirely transparent about their operations (Hmmmmm  . . . .really?).  Read her blog post in "War Without Accountability: The CIA, Special Forces and plans for Afghanistan's future" posted on February 10, 2012.