Showing posts with label terrorists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label terrorists. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From Around The Web

Euro at 9 year low vs the dollar.  I wish it would have been 1.19 to a dollar when I was in Germany.
Deflation in Europe
The Greeks elected a leftist government that is anti austerity which could lead to them breaking the current agreement. The problem is once a country enters the IMF death spiral there really isn't a way out. Some smart people have argued that is intentional.

From Weapons Man
Some predictions for 2015
The Big Lie about Wanat (AKA why M4's aren't jamming and getting soldiers killed)
Wars to Study, to Study UW

From American Mercenary
Fake cell towers, IMSI grabbers, and how to secure communications through an unsecure medium

From Max Velocity
Max Velocity Riflemen training plan
1978 Nuclear Holocaust: March or Die 40 miles with 40 pounds in 24 hours is a darn good goal yet, for a healthy adult who is willing to do an extensive and deliberate train up, a reasonable goal.

From Sheriff Jim Winson
If You Can Shoot AKA why the gun famed border patrolman, shooter and writer would bury for bad times is an S&W Model 19 with a box of shells.
 
Also

Monday, December 9, 2013

Max Velocity on Terrorist Vs Freedom Fighter

An interesting discussion going on at Max's place. Suppose like all things the clearly defined extremes are a lot easier than the murky middle ground. Also I cannot help but observe that when we try to differentiate between 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter' those who we are ideologically compatible with tend to come out as 'freedom fighter' a whole lot more often.

The clearest issue in my mind is whether a given combative group chooses to target random civilians in order to spread terror or commits atrocities against innocent family members of the enemy side. If random people or civilian dependents of enemy combatants end up hurt or killed in a wrong place wrong time scenario that is unfortunate but war is messy. I think the difference is about intent and taking actions that are reasonably focused towards ones enemy.

Example: Lets say the Chinese invade America and I'm playing Red Dawn. A key officer in the PLA lives with his family in a small home near their base. My group wants to kill/ capture him so we plan a 0300 operation. The op goes bad. The officer was having trouble sleeping so he heard our entry and armed himself. In the craziness a kerosene lantern was broke and a fire stared. The officer died as did his family. This is an unfortunate situation but ole LT Wong made a choice for his family.

On the other hand if we tied up the whole family, covered them with petrol then did the dramatic cigarette toss that is not acceptable in my mind.

The hard truth is that was is an ugly dangerous business. You can do everything right and sometimes the wrong people still get killed. That being said accepting some inherent risk is different than being ambivalent. One might decide that certain tactics and weapons should not be employed in certain areas due to risk of collateral damage. A 500 pound IED designed to flip over a MAC V in the desert won't hurt anybody else, or at least not a lot of people. On the other hand that same IED emplaced for the same reason going off in a Bazzar on a peak shopping day would kill a lot of people.

Well those are my thoughts on that. As always feel free to join the conversation.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Harder Homes and Gardens, Rhodesian Style

I've seen this floating around the web before. Might even have posted it on here at some point. Anyway thanks to Max and K for bringing up this worthwhile topic.Whatever could be said about the Rhodesian Bush War and general post colonial struggles in Africa those farmers were hearty individuals who fought to protect themselves and their way of life. Something to be said for that.

Rhodesian Farmers Defensive Arrangements

The following is a general overview:

1) Most farmers fitted hand-grenade grills to the outside of all windows and Doors leading outside were likewise security grilled.

2) Many farmers built thick sand bag walls in front and under bedroom windows to stop bullets passing through walls and providing secured firing arc's. Beds were never placed against the outside walls of a farmhouse.

3) It was usual to have a designated safe room within the farmhouse that could be defended until support arrived. Sometimes this was a central corridor that allowed the farmer to move into other rooms to attack those outside through the windows. In the loft or ceiling over the safe room, some farmers laid sand bags to deal with possible mortar attack.

4) Every farmhouse in a given area was linked by a radio system called “Agric Alert”. This allowed radio contact with other farmers who formed their own defence units, usually under the umbrella of PATU (Police Anti-Terrorist Unit), which would react to a call from one of their neighbours for assistance. Another means of alarm raising was the use of a signal rocket - The Agric-Alert system was not done away with after the war, such was the lack of trust in Mugabe`s promises. It performed admirably as well when dealing with criminal activity such as stock theft. The alert system arranged for all farmers to check in with each other at a given time in the morning and evening as a means of monitoring their status. South Africa also had such a system Called MARNET.

5) Around all farmhouse gardens were erected security fences with barbed wire (or razor wire) and which often had simple alarm systems built into them.
There were usually 2 fences were placed about 50 m apart with a ditch dig close to the inner one - the inner fence was usually very high 10 feet with barb wire and close to the main house, about 4 meters away, the outer fence was lower and alarmed with simple soda cans with stones inside that would rattle and wake the dogs if there were disturbed.

the reason for the 2 fences and ditch was much like todays BAR Armour on Hummers that you guys use .. the inner fence would catch grenades and they would then roll into the ditch and explode there causing little damage. and an RPG fired at the house would also be caught by the fence and do little damage to the mail house

Within the inner fence boundary, every farmer usually had a couple of large dogs. The dogs were fed their largest meal in the morning instead of the evening, in order to help keep them awake at night. Other farmers had geese or ducks, which made excellent guard “dogs.” Gardens were kept deliberately trim so as to keep clear fields of view and fire etc. The farm houses also had outside flood lighting erected in such a way as to blind those outside the fence, but not to interfere with the vision of those within the farmhouse.

the flood lighting often included hardened lighting, usually behind sand bags , reflectors were used to provide light from lights shining vertically upwards because lights are the first targets and if the reflectors were shot they still worked ... albeit with a few holes


6) All farmers and their wives were armed with an assortment of weapons, and most farmers were trained military men. They had at least one assault rifle, usually an FAL 7.62, assorted shot guns, .303 hunting rifles and so forth. It was also not unusual for wives to carry Uzi`s around with them, or other equivalents such as the Rhodesian Cobra. All members of the family were trained on the various weaponry available to them, including the kids. In one famous incident a child successfully fought off the attacking terrorists after both of his parents were wounded. The main defensive weapons were at all times within immediate reach of the adult farmhouse occupants, and were placed next to the bed at night.

7) Some farmers used mine protected vehicles, as a favourite of terrorists was to landmine the driveway outside the fence. A great deal of time was spent looking at the dirt roads for freshly dug earth points and so forth when driving around the farm.

8) Some farm gardens and particular points external to the fence were wired with home-made claymore like devices strategically placed in areas where attackers were likely to take cover. In a few instances farmers deliberately erected “cover positions” for the terrorists to use outside the fence, which were then blown up upon attack. A particular favourite was a section of plastic piping filled with nails, nuts, bolts, screws and so forth. I witnessed tests with these and the tubes cleared large areas of their intended aiming point of all bush cover and leaves from trees etc for about 30 meters into the bush. By placing a number of figure 8`s in front of these tests, it was apparent from the strike patterns that not one of them would have walked again had they been terrorists.

9)Out buildings were often fitted which screens of thin steel or wood the provide false cover to intruders who would have to stand behind the sheets to fire around the corners of buildings but could easily be picked off if they did, by firing through there cover."

Rhodesian Farmers Defensive Arrangements

The following is a general overview:

1) Most farmers fitted hand-grenade grills to the outside of all windows and Doors leading outside were likewise security grilled.

2) Many farmers built thick sand bag walls in front and under bedroom windows to stop bullets passing through walls and providing secured firing arc's. Beds were never placed against the outside walls of a farmhouse.

3) It was usual to have a designated safe room within the farmhouse that could be defended until support arrived. Sometimes this was a central corridor that allowed the farmer to move into other rooms to attack those outside through the windows. In the loft or ceiling over the safe room, some farmers laid sand bags to deal with possible mortar attack.

4) Every farmhouse in a given area was linked by a radio system called “Agric Alert”. This allowed radio contact with other farmers who formed their own defence units, usually under the umbrella of PATU (Police Anti-Terrorist Unit), which would react to a call from one of their neighbours for assistance. Another means of alarm raising was the use of a signal rocket - The Agric-Alert system was not done away with after the war, such was the lack of trust in Mugabe`s promises. It performed admirably as well when dealing with criminal activity such as stock theft. The alert system arranged for all farmers to check in with each other at a given time in the morning and evening as a means of monitoring their status.
South Africa also had such a system Called MARNET.


5) Around all farmhouse gardens were erected security fences with barbed wire (or razor wire) and which often had simple alarm systems built into them.
There were usually 2 fences were placed about 50 m apart with a ditch dig close to the inner one - the inner fence was usually very high 10 feet with barb wire and close to the main house, about 4 meters away, the outer fence was lower and alarmed with simple soda cans with stones inside that would rattle and wake the dogs if there were disturbed.

the reason for the 2 fences and ditch was much like todays BAR Armour on Hummers that you guys use .. the inner fence would catch grenades and they would then roll into the ditch and explode there causing little damage. and an RPG fired at the house would also be caught by the fence and do little damage to the mail house

Within the inner fence boundary, every farmer usually had a couple of large dogs. The dogs were fed their largest meal in the morning instead of the evening, in order to help keep them awake at night. Other farmers had geese or ducks, which made excellent guard “dogs.” Gardens were kept deliberately trim so as to keep clear fields of view and fire etc. The farm houses also had outside flood lighting erected in such a way as to blind those outside the fence, but not to interfere with the vision of those within the farmhouse.

the flood lighting often included hardened lighting, usually behind sand bags , reflectors were used to provide light from lights shining vertically upwards because lights are the first targets and if the reflectors were shot they still worked ... albeit with a few holes


6) All farmers and their wives were armed with an assortment of weapons, and most farmers were trained military men. They had at least one assault rifle, usually an FAL 7.62, assorted shot guns, .303 hunting rifles and so forth. It was also not unusual for wives to carry Uzi`s around with them, or other equivalents such as the Rhodesian Cobra. All members of the family were trained on the various weaponry available to them, including the kids. In one famous incident a child successfully fought off the attacking terrorists after both of his parents were wounded. The main defensive weapons were at all times within immediate reach of the adult farmhouse occupants, and were placed next to the bed at night.

7) Some farmers used mine protected vehicles, as a favourite of terrorists was to landmine the driveway outside the fence. A great deal of time was spent looking at the dirt roads for freshly dug earth points and so forth when driving around the farm.

8) Some farm gardens and particular points external to the fence were wired with home-made claymore like devices strategically placed in areas where attackers were likely to take cover. In a few instances farmers deliberately erected “cover positions” for the terrorists to use outside the fence, which were then blown up upon attack. A particular favourite was a section of plastic piping filled with nails, nuts, bolts, screws and so forth. I witnessed tests with these and the tubes cleared large areas of their intended aiming point of all bush cover and leaves from trees etc for about 30 meters into the bush. By placing a number of figure 8`s in front of these tests, it was apparent from the strike patterns that not one of them would have walked again had they been terrorists.


9)Out buildings were often fitted which screens of thin steel or wood the provide false cover to intruders who would have to stand behind the sheets to fire around the corners of buildings but could easily be picked off if they did, by firing through there cover.
Read more at http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=160881#HiYPi6vsqmuf11yq.99
Rhodesian Farmers Defensive Arrangements

The following is a general overview:

1) Most farmers fitted hand-grenade grills to the outside of all windows and Doors leading outside were likewise security grilled.

2) Many farmers built thick sand bag walls in front and under bedroom windows to stop bullets passing through walls and providing secured firing arc's. Beds were never placed against the outside walls of a farmhouse.

3) It was usual to have a designated safe room within the farmhouse that could be defended until support arrived. Sometimes this was a central corridor that allowed the farmer to move into other rooms to attack those outside through the windows. In the loft or ceiling over the safe room, some farmers laid sand bags to deal with possible mortar attack.

4) Every farmhouse in a given area was linked by a radio system called “Agric Alert”. This allowed radio contact with other farmers who formed their own defence units, usually under the umbrella of PATU (Police Anti-Terrorist Unit), which would react to a call from one of their neighbours for assistance. Another means of alarm raising was the use of a signal rocket - The Agric-Alert system was not done away with after the war, such was the lack of trust in Mugabe`s promises. It performed admirably as well when dealing with criminal activity such as stock theft. The alert system arranged for all farmers to check in with each other at a given time in the morning and evening as a means of monitoring their status.
South Africa also had such a system Called MARNET.


5) Around all farmhouse gardens were erected security fences with barbed wire (or razor wire) and which often had simple alarm systems built into them.
There were usually 2 fences were placed about 50 m apart with a ditch dig close to the inner one - the inner fence was usually very high 10 feet with barb wire and close to the main house, about 4 meters away, the outer fence was lower and alarmed with simple soda cans with stones inside that would rattle and wake the dogs if there were disturbed.

the reason for the 2 fences and ditch was much like todays BAR Armour on Hummers that you guys use .. the inner fence would catch grenades and they would then roll into the ditch and explode there causing little damage. and an RPG fired at the house would also be caught by the fence and do little damage to the mail house

Within the inner fence boundary, every farmer usually had a couple of large dogs. The dogs were fed their largest meal in the morning instead of the evening, in order to help keep them awake at night. Other farmers had geese or ducks, which made excellent guard “dogs.” Gardens were kept deliberately trim so as to keep clear fields of view and fire etc. The farm houses also had outside flood lighting erected in such a way as to blind those outside the fence, but not to interfere with the vision of those within the farmhouse.

the flood lighting often included hardened lighting, usually behind sand bags , reflectors were used to provide light from lights shining vertically upwards because lights are the first targets and if the reflectors were shot they still worked ... albeit with a few holes


6) All farmers and their wives were armed with an assortment of weapons, and most farmers were trained military men. They had at least one assault rifle, usually an FAL 7.62, assorted shot guns, .303 hunting rifles and so forth. It was also not unusual for wives to carry Uzi`s around with them, or other equivalents such as the Rhodesian Cobra. All members of the family were trained on the various weaponry available to them, including the kids. In one famous incident a child successfully fought off the attacking terrorists after both of his parents were wounded. The main defensive weapons were at all times within immediate reach of the adult farmhouse occupants, and were placed next to the bed at night.

7) Some farmers used mine protected vehicles, as a favourite of terrorists was to landmine the driveway outside the fence. A great deal of time was spent looking at the dirt roads for freshly dug earth points and so forth when driving around the farm.

8) Some farm gardens and particular points external to the fence were wired with home-made claymore like devices strategically placed in areas where attackers were likely to take cover. In a few instances farmers deliberately erected “cover positions” for the terrorists to use outside the fence, which were then blown up upon attack. A particular favourite was a section of plastic piping filled with nails, nuts, bolts, screws and so forth. I witnessed tests with these and the tubes cleared large areas of their intended aiming point of all bush cover and leaves from trees etc for about 30 meters into the bush. By placing a number of figure 8`s in front of these tests, it was apparent from the strike patterns that not one of them would have walked again had they been terrorists.


9)Out buildings were often fitted which screens of thin steel or wood the provide false cover to intruders who would have to stand behind the sheets to fire around the corners of buildings but could easily be picked off if they did, by firing through there cover.

Read more at http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=160881#HiYPi6vsqmuf11yq.99

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Obligatory 9/11 Post

I am still angry. Not so much angry about the attack on 9/11 anymore. We pretty much squared that up by killing Osama Bin Laden, numerous Al Qaeda leaders and more foot soldiers than we could shake a stick at. We also invaded Afghanistan the divided chaotic country that harbored this network. Along the way we  got drunk then stomped some annoying but unrelated individual in a bar liberated Iraq.

Where does the world stand now? Some bad people are dead but in reality new bad people came up in the ranks to largely replace them. Iraq is a moderately functional psuedo democracy that could in time grow into a fairly functional one albeit by local standards; or degenerate into a Shia dictatorship maybe with a civil war. Afghanistan is still playing out but I suspect this history's rhyme will replay itself. Lots of Americans and people from various other countries have died. Billions or trillions of dollars were borrowed and spent. However I'm not angry about any of that.

I am angry because we did not learn the fundamental lesson of 9/11 which is that ignoring legitimate threats until they successfully attack us is foolish. Far better to do something to disrupt enemy networks before they hurt you than after. We have not learned this lesson. I fear the same sort of lawless terrorist chaos is happening in Yemen and a large part of northern Africa plus of course the whole Pastunistan problem has yet to be solved (if it can be). Even worse we may be aiding slightly better spoken front men to control nation states. The saying 'fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me' comes to mind here.

How are you feeling today?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thoughts on Insurgencies #9 North Ireland AKA The Troubles

Today I want to talk about The Troubles. I previously talked about Operation Banner An Analysis of British Operations in North Ireland.That is worth reading though it is a bit dry. So here we go.

For a brief recap the problems between England and Ireland probably go back 900 years or so. We will focus a bit more on current history. The Anglo- Irish war from roughly (start and stop points are hard for guerrilla wars) 1919 to 1922 ended up partitioning Ireland into 2 entities. The 26 counties that make up the majority of Ireland were granted Dominion status and the 6 counties that became Northern Ireland stayed part of the Empire. The 26 counties formally dissolved their last formal ties with Great Britain in 1949.

Northern Ireland makes up roughly 1/6th of the island of Ireland and is approximately 80 miles North to South and 120 miles East to West.

(Real quick Loyalists wished to stay part of the United Kingdom and were almost exclusively Protestant. Republicans wanted a united Ireland and were almost exclusively Catholic. Some folks may use Loyalist/ Protestant or Republican/ Catholic interchangeably.)

In Northern Ireland there was a slim Protestant majority and Catholics were narrowly outnumbered. The Protestants were generally loyal to England and the Catholics generally wanted a united Ireland. Protestants held all political power and filled the vast majority of the police and security forces. A slew of complicated voting laws kept power in Protestant hands.

Now we can fast forward to the 1960's. Protestant Loyalists have used their total grasp on power to discriminate against Catholics in terms of employment and housing. The narrow Catholic minority lived in cramped outdated housing and had massive unemployment.

This brings us to our first key point. People with nothing to lose are often willing to use physical force to change the established order that is the (real or perceived) reason for their undesirable situation.

The Irish Catholics were largely inspired by the American Civil rights struggle. They started organizing into groups to protest. In 1968 peaceful Catholic protests were suppressed by the Protestant government and Protestant Paramilitaries. Think Birmingham PD vs NAACP but the climate is cooler, everyone is white and the suppression is even more brutal.

I have heard the theory that the peaceful protestors were useful idiots put in place to get the RUC and Protestant Paramilitaries to overreact and let the IRA come back onto the scene. There is probably at least a shred of truth to this idea. 

In 1969 the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary AKA police force) and Protestant paramilitaries were brutally cracking down on Catholic Neighborhoods. A guy who lived in West Belfast at the time described them as "burning down streets and murdering people". After the Battle of the Bogside the British Army came in to stabilize the situation. Initially the Catholic community was happy to see the Army arrive to establish order. That honeymoon period ended pretty quickly. The early 70's were pretty messy with the notable Bloody Sunday On July 21 1972 where British Para's killed 14 unarmed protestors.

The British adopted a policy of open ended internment that some could argue was extralegal. Basically they rounded up all the IRA boys, tossed them in jail and threw away the key. It damn near worked except it was a massive IO (information operations) nightmare. They went back and forth on keeping these guys incarcerated. Hunger strikes by IRA prisoners were an IO nightmare for the Brits.

In any case during the late 60's and early 70's the IRA saw a resurgence that is difficult to believe. Coming into these events they were largely a group of old men just hanging out. Sort of like herpes the IRA never really goes away, they just go underground and wait till the right time to pop back up.

The Provincial IRA split off from the original IRA at this time. The IRA wanted to largely stand by while the PIRA wanted to act. This scenario of a more cautious group accepting peace and it's more aggressive branch forming a new group would repeat itself multiple times. These splits do not matter much at the big picture we are looking at but this one is notable as the PIRA had a much more local look than the overall IRA.

Historically the IRA was organized along roughly military lines. Recruiting was done through long term friends, neighbors and along blood lines. This made for an organization that was difficult to penetrate. It is important for us Americans to note that Europeans tend to stay in their neighborhoods/ villages/ communities much more than we do. Several generations of the same family living in a county is not at all uncommon. Penetrating an organization where members recruit folks they have known their whole lives is impossible.

During the mid 70's the IRA didn't need to recruit. The British Armies heavy handed tactics did it for them. As we discussed a couple paragraphs back their organization exploded. Like any rapid increase it had some growing pains. In particular their traditionally excellent OPSEC went to hell. They were seriously compromised which lead to a lot of arrests.

By the mid 70's the IRA had reorganized into the type of cellular structure we are used to seeing with Insurgent organizations.

Since the IRA typically recruited people they individually knew well it was a fairly casual process. Bobby who grew up a block over (and you knew was IRA) would ask if you were interested. If you were they would slowly bring you in. Maybe a potential recruit would do a few simple jobs (sit in a cafe and watch patrols, be a courier for innocuous items, etc) then maybe they get brought into an operation. The point is it might be a year or so before they were really into the mix of things.

As a general rule the IRA did not coerce recruits. This is a bad idea in general. People who do not genuinely want to be part of the organization are a significant security threat.

In Catholic communities everyone was involved in some part of the insurgency. Part of the reason was the IRA was part of the community.  Asking your life long neighbor to hold onto something, for the neighborhood  hardware store owner to sell you some stuff off the books, a nice old neighbor lady to occasionally host her 'nephews' for a few days, etc is an easy proposition. It helps that these community members were unhappy with the situation they were in but that probably wasn't necessary.

Many people were affiliated with the IRA to some degree. They fought to protect their communities against the Protestant Paramilitaries in times of need. However some were unwilling to go beyond protecting their community to acts of (real or perceived) terrorism. 

Occasionally the IRA would leak false information around potential informants. If that (false) information was acted on the informant would be questioned then killed.

In Northern Ireland people generally stay to their neighborhoods, or at least neighborhoods of the same group. Flags hanging on light poles or pained on street corners mark which group the area belongs to. Catholics stay out of Protestant neighborhoods and visa versa.

Initially training was conducted in rural areas. Quickly that became impossible. Training moved across the border into the Republic of Ireland and to international terrorist facilities, largely in North Africa.

Some members of the IRA joined the British Army. A good way to learn weapons, tactics, intelligence and exactly how their enemies fought. Others ended up in the US Army and Marines. These folks did their 3 year hitch then went back home well trained. The IRA got an excellent sniper or two this way.

In the 80's Libya was a huge supporter of the IRA. As AM noted conducting an insurgency that does not have outside support is almost impossible. It wasn't so much that Col Goddafi liked the IRA as that he hated the British. Libya gave the IRA TONS of Semtex, a whole lot of weapons (including shoulder fired AA weapons, RPG's and Dishka's) and tons of ammo.

The IRA provided local security in their neighborhoods (as the Protestant groups did in theirs). Interestingly despite the Troubles crime in general and murder rates were lower in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK. The reason for this is that people didn't call the cops, they called the IRA. The IRA did not screw around. Beatings, kneecapping, tar and feathering and of course good old fashioned murder were common punishments. While arguably hypocritical (a guy might get punished for selling drugs outside of IRA sanction, while the IRA was also selling drugs) and harsh they definitely kept crime down.

Aside from security the IRA provided a variety of basic services to their neighborhoods. They built community centers, funded local programs, etc. Basically a shadow government. It has been said everything Hamas did in Palestine was stolen from the IRA's book.

Funding- Hate alone does not make an insurgency go around. The need money. Funding started with collections and raffles. Pubs in Ireland and the US having a donation box for 'the cause' was quite common for a long time.The IRA robbed a lot of banks but that got dangerous. Eventually like the mob they used funds to purchase legitimate businesses which would make a profit. Guys who never had 2 dimes to rub together opening million dollar Irish Pubs in major US cities was one way that funds were washed and used to make a legitimate profit.

Compartmentalization- IRA operations were compartmentalized to the utmost extent. First and foremost this minimized the damage any individual could cause. Second it insulated the operations cell from incriminating weapons/ equipment/ clothing to the largest extent possible.

The community largely aided in this. A sniper would not have the rifle until a few minutes before the OP. 30 seconds after taking the shot he would be out of the building. 5 minutes later he would be in new clothes (including gloves). 15 minutes later he would have showered then changed clothes again and be in a safe neighborhood.  That guy is now impossible to find, at least in the context of this OP, though they might get him later on other intel.

The IRA had female members. Some ran the classic honey pot. Others formed a direct action cell. They principally smuggled small incendiary devices into British economic targets in an attempt to disrupt their economy.

Caches- There is no 4th Amendment in the UK. Catholic neighborhoods (as well as Protestant ones) were semi regularly searched for weapons and explosives. Consequently the IRA perfected caching. Weapons/ explosives and special equipment were dropped in one cache to be picked up by the DA cell then after the OP immediately dropped into another cache. Some support folks would grab the guns, clean them and store them till they were needed again. These operational caches were used extensively to get weapons where the DA (direct action) folks needed them. In addition to operational caches deep caches were used. These were generally along the Survivalist "bury a bunch of guns in case we need them some day" sort of lines but on a much larger scale. Individual cells kept their own caches to minimize the chance of one senior logistics guy being nabbed and half the PIRA's guns getting captured.

The fusion and cooperation between international terrorist groups is worth noting. The IRA/ Libya link has been discussed already. In 2001 3 IRA hard cases who happened to be explosives experts were caught leaving Columbia where the had been training the FARC in exchange for drugs/ drug money. These two lovely groups were introduced by the Basque Separatists ETA.

Ultimately the conflict between the IRA and the government ended in a truce. Neither side of the conflict was winning and they were both tired. Along the way many of the legitimate grievances about housing and employment discrimination against Catholics were addressed which helped to improve their collective situation and thus temper separatist tendencies.

I have been writing for 2 hours now. May have some more thoughts but I cannot recall them. Am tired of writing so this post is done. May have more on the topic later.

Hope you enjoy the little lesson and just maybe can gleam some useful stuff out of it.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombers Just the Tip of the Iceberg?

Somebody thinks they might be part of a sleeper cell. From what I can tell their actions were not particularly sophisticated and it doesn't seem there was much of an exfil/ hiding out plan. That makes me think they were probably acting alone or with minimal support at some point but who knows. It will be more interesting as information trickles out over the coming weeks.

That the motivations are presumably fundamentalist Islam but they grew up in the US is troubling. If they had moved here 3-4 years ago it would be a bit easier to understand their radicalization. Guess as Highdesertlivin said this is why (or at least part of it anyway) we carry guns.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Quote of the Day

"It’s hard to define because one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist." George H.W. Bush, on supporting the Contras and UNITA.

Hat tip to Libertas and Latte for the quote.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thoughts on Insurgencies 7: How They Happen, Advantages and Disadvantages

An insurgency could be defined as an armed competition for the heart of the people and thus power. Almost without exception insurgencies involve at least one non state actor otherwise they would just be a war.

Insurgencies develop when a group of people feels they are facing injustice (real or perceived) and either cannot or do not want to participate in the main stream political process. That they do not have the numbers/ influence to achieve their goals through normal political channels leads these groups to take up arms. I do not find ethics or value judgements to be particularly useful here. Many groups in the middle east as well as Africa had really legitimate cases to pick up arms but happened to be Islamic and or Communist a holes.

Folks like to talk about the white Afrikaners and Rhodesia's.  A small minority holding all of the power and most of the wealth in a system with very limited mobility is a good way to make the other people angry. That the small minority happen to be a different color than the poor majority is a real problem. Also it makes for a very good case as to why that system should be changed through violence. Of course sooner or later the many will question why they are so blatantly and brutally held down by the few. That the commie's would give these disenchanted groups indoctrination, training and weapons was just icing on the cake.

I cannot say it is a 1-1 thing but for insurgencies to really have a chance to take roots a lot of people need to be pretty unhappy as happy people do not fight their own government. The government needs to be incapable or unwilling to address their real or perceived issues that are making people so unhappy. Governments that are healthy have the right combination of being aware and able to address, if just in a token way peoples needs and having a viable security apparatus to keep the lid on things. So we have a couple conditions. We need a fairly large group of people that are really unhappy with their government and a government that cannot or will not address their needs and or shut them down with the security apparatus.

Now we have these two (or more but let's stick with two right now) opposing groups with a bunch of normal folks stuck in the middle. The government wants to maintain the status quo and the insurgents/ guerrillas want to be in charge or have some freedom or see land distribution in their favor or whatever. The government could be broken down into foreign or local. Foreign being the classic usually European Empire (say the Brit's in Malaysia, Kenya or whatever) and local (Rhodesia back in the day or Syria right now are fine examples). The difference is notable in that foreign or predominantly foreign (there is always a proxy force) forces have far less of a stomach for a long fight. It is pretty natural that folks will eventually give up on keeping/ taking over Nowhereistan and go back home. On the other hand and equally naturally people will fight tooth and nail to stay in power at home. This is why you see a lot more 10, 20 or 30 year conflicts between the local (national or state) regime and people who do not like them than with foreigners from far away. It is like a semi sporting fight between casual acquaintances and a brawl in a dark alley with a stranger. One ends when somebody gets hurt and the other ends when somebody is crippled or dead.

Both sides have advantages and disadvantages. Rather obviously the government has men, money, weapons, technology and pretty much every conventional warfare advantage you could name. On the other hand the insurgents/ guerrillas have some advantages also. One is low expectations. That they do not have to win but just have to convince people they are not losing is obviously an advantage. It is kind of like a handicap in golf. 

Another advantage is adaptability. It takes a conventional force like the Russians or the Americans forever to adopt a new weapons system. If we started now I would probably retire before a genuinely new weapon was widely fielded. On the other hand if a group of guerrillas finds that they need say a .50 caliber rifle they just need to get their hands on a few and train some dudes to use them. It could potentially be done in weeks. The same for new explosive charges or uniforms, radios or tactics.

Rather obviously guerrillas need weapons, ammunition, stuff and money. Money is probably the most important as it can readily be turned into the other stuff. We could break guerrilla funding sources into three basic streams. 1) Donations typically large foreign donations by sympathetic groups/ nations is pretty simple. A country such as both the US and USSR during the cold war or group such as Gulf State extremists supporting the Mujaheddin and then Taliban in Afghanistan and sympathetic Americans funding the IRA comes in with big bucks. Smaller donations can also be a consideration. 2) Various illegal or semi legal dealings such as drugs in the case of the Taliban and many South American Groups, the IRA selling guns and all manner of jerks and thugs robbing banks, printing fake money and running various scams. 3) Illegal taxes and forced donations from businesses and everyday folks. Either they are taking stuff without paying for it or making people make 'donations' or whatever. Unless people are sympathetic or they are providing some services in return this tends to make people unhappy though just about all insurgent and guerrilla groups do it.

Obviously it is a lot easier to conduct an insurgency if you are flush with cash. Groups with cash can get whatever sort of weapons they want, explosives, pay bribes and all sorts of fun stuff. This means that groups are hitting funding techniques 2 and 3 pretty hard. The difference between an insurgent group that is actively participating in the global gun/ drug/ smuggling/ etc trade and a big nasty gang like the Russian Mafia or MS-13 can get blurry. To me it comes back to the groups primary purpose. MS-13 are scary international gangsters to make money and get respect while the Taliban sell opium to fund their fight against the US and goals to regain regional domination or whatever.

As to equipment unless a group is getting  regular resupply via a friendly force or purchases they will by necessity use the same weapons systems as the government they are fighting. Having your own weapons, set up how you like and zeroed, in those calibers/ systems just makes sense. Even if you hate a system having one set up and put away for a rainy day is smart.

Well I am bored of writing now so it is time to wrap this up.









 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What If?

I started reading a book on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and it started something like this. "The saddest situations occur when both sides have a legitimate claim to being the good guys." Truly the situation that has occured and been perpetuated by various power players is a sad one for both sides.
What if we stopped giving the Israeli's, Egyptians, Palestinians and pretty much every other nation in that hotbed money and weapons? Aside from buying influence does making sure both sides are better armed really serve to help create a lasting peace? If you come outside to your tween boys fighting in the back yard do you give them each a stout stick? If your buddies get a bit rowdy at the bar do you give one a whiskey bottle and the other a knife? I don't think so.

Are we really helping Israel or are we enabling them to continue a dysfunctional conflict and not seriously search for a realistic solution? If we really care about the right of oppressed people to have an independent nation to call a homeland what about the Kurds or the Pastun's or the Tibetans?

Maybe one could argue that it is good for Israel that we back them with weapons, money and the implicit threat of force. However more to the point is it a good thing for America? Are we serving our independent needs and goals with these actions?

Even asking these questions could get me labeled an anti semite. That might concern me more than any position folks could take on the issue. Whipping out an "ist" every time you get questioned is the adult sociapolitical equivalent of a little  kid yelling "LALALALALALALALAL" or "I can't hear you" when they know their argument is losing.

I don't know what the answers are but asking questions might just be worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interesting Reading

I read a Operation Banner An Analysis of British Operations in North Ireland. It is dry, and one sided but interesting all the same. Probably a pretty good overview of the topic and it is hard to argue with the price. If anybody has read some other good stuff on the IRA or the Troubles please drop it in the comments section for me to check out. Extra bonus points for PDF's because I am cheap.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Anniversary-Ted Nugent said it better than I could

Here is a teaser-
"America must continue to identify and eradicate these terrorist vermin. We must never surrender to complacency or apathy as we did before Sept. 11, as they are the weakest link in our chain of security. We must remain vigilant and on the offense. Where two or more of these terror cultists gather, they should expect us to drill a hole in their foreheads." Read the rest here.
 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies Four

Thoughts on Insurgencies # Something
1) Occupiers or liberators (depending on which side you are on) can only have limited success when they willingly ceede terrain to the freedom fighters/ guerillas. If the Cong or Taliban are able to come into the village at night the occupiers will never be able to keep the populace safe or deny access to them to the guerillas.
2) If you are a guerilla or a partisan or really have picked any kind of side then keep it to yourself for a long time. In WWII parts of Europe (Holland and most of Russia come to mind) changed hands repeatedly. It would be very bad to have been loudly bragging about all the Germans you killed and how much stuff you broke to then have the tanks roll back in. If I was in a situation where some partisan shenannigans seemed appropriate I would certainly conduct them alone or in a very small group of people I trust deepy and would probably take them to my grave.
3) If you are anything except an occupier or a strait up hiding in the woods Red Dawn style partisan then be as grey as you can be. Grey will keep you alive.
4) American forces and to a lesser degree our allies that have been involved in the GWOT have learned some interesting skills. They have gotten really good at searching houses and structures. They are also using some very interesting technology in terms of biometrics. Getting a big enough database makes population and resource control very easy.
5) UAV's are suprisingly ineffective in weather that is less than ideal. In particular low level cloud cover and wind are issues for them.
Well that is all for now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts on Insurgencies (3?): Myths, Night Letters and Cost to Benefit Ratio

I have enjoyed writing this series (1, 2) and hope you have gotten something out of it. I was quite proud of the overwhelmingly positive response the first chapter got. I hope to keep a bit of that spark in every chapter. Anyway it is time for another chapter. I imagine it will continue periodically for the foreseeable future.

The first thing I am going to talk about today is what I think is the biggest myth about insurgents/ guerillas/ partisans in certain preparedness/ liberterian and pro gun circles. For lack of a better word lets call this myth the noble insurgent. In America the term Noble Patriot would fit better. The idea is that these noble insurgents are operating within an acceptable moral framework and level of violence against a clearly targeting a definite enemy and moving towards pure and worthy goals. This myth is so presumptuous and morally superior I cannot find the words to accurately describe it. It is to many men with an assault rifle and a copy of the Constitution what the nice college girl trying to earn her degree is to a guy in a strip club.

Lets disect it real quick. The Noble Patriot is absolutely sure that a) his cause is riteous or possibly holy, b) that the violence he commits against c) whomever is an evil supporter of tyranny (or otherwise disagrees with him) is just and noble for the end cause. We will go point by point.

A) My real concern here is that typically the crazier someone and their cause are the more riteous and possibly holy they believe it to be. Just because an individual or a group believe in a cause doesn't make it just. Also for heavens sake please don't find 3 pieces of scripture that, taken completely out of context, seem to support your cause and say it has sacred underpinnings. I am not going to say that all true believers are crazy. Some are decent sane folks who just believe really strongly about this or that. However some are completely off their rocker. There is nothing scarier than a true believer.

B) I don't have a real issue with this one. When you start hurting or killing folks I just can't see morally, ethically or otherwise how it matters much how you do it. To say that shooting them is OK but stabbing then is wrong, dropping mortars on them is OK but an IED is wrong, etc doesn't have much standing with me. Maybe a certain way is slow or cruel but at the end of the day the only person to whom that matters is the one it is inflicted upon. I don't think God differentiates between dudes you just shot in the face vs dudes you killed in another manner.

C) This is where the whole Noble Insurgent thing really breaks down. The Noble Insurgent ideal works only if we think in absolutes. People are absolutely good in the context of whatever your value system is or against it an absolutely bad. Anybody with experience in a chaotic area suffering a serious breakdown of law and order, let alone an insurgency or civil war can say that absolutes are a hard thing to find. Most people have some good elements and some bad elements. We are talking about a whole lot of shades of grey between a little bit of black and white on the perimiters. A and C come together to create some real issues.

I get reminded of a quote from The Goodfellas. "For most of the guys, killings got to be accepted. Murder was the only way that everybody stayed in line. You got out of line, you got whacked. Everybody knew the rules. But sometimes, even if people didn't get out of line, they got whacked. I mean, hits just became a habit for some of the guys. Guys would get into arguments over nothing and before you knew it, one of them was dead. And they were shooting each other all the time. Shooting people was a normal thing. It was no big deal." Another notable quote is "when the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail." Basically once you get into the habit of killing folks to solve problems it is disturbingly easy to start killing all sorts of folks to solve all sorts of problems.

The honest truth is that despite the purity of their goals insurgents/ whatever are going to have to do a lot of bad things. More significantly they are inevitably going to have to intimidate/ coherce/ conscript (at least in a limited way for limited tasks) and steal. The last Matthew Bracken book had a good portrayal of this. It is fine and dandy to think about killing enemy soldiers or traitors but what about a shop keeper, small business owner or average joe trying to get by in a crazy situation? This is where those shades of grey continue to be problematic. Sure capping a dude who you estimate to be 90% evil is an easy decision but what if you think he is  52% evil?

The blunt and honest situation, if you look at accurate real life examples, is that insurgents are eventually going to have to force some sort of goods, services or information out of people who are not willing to give it. It is truly unavoidable. The 'cause' is going to bump into some decent normal people who just want to live their lives. Shooting enemy soldiers is pretty clear cut but what about some average joe so you can get some food or fuel?

Before flaming this please realize that I am not saying all insurgents or insurgencies or 'patriots' are inherantly bad. Nor am I saying that some causes they could stand for are not entirely just. Personally I can say there are some situations where I would start collecting information, sabotaging and destroying infrastructure and killing enemy personnel. It would be like a more boring but also more effective Red Dawn. I am a pragmatist and thus believe that the ends can justify the means. My main point is that folks need to get off of a high, morally superior horse and come to terms with the fact that being a successful insurgen is going to mean doing some bad things. It is also going to mean doing some bad things to people who probably don't really deserve it.

Maybe it is easy for Americans to have a nice sanitized 60's Western PG view of this sort of thing because our Revolution was a really long time ago and our civil war is also beyond real authentic memory. We can say that in America these things are fine, clean and noble. We can also use cultural, ethnic and racial steriotypes to think that revolutions and civil war's in other parts of the world are not dirty, nasty and violent because of their inherant nature but because these people are somehow inferior to us. Anyway onto the next point.

Insurgents are successful largely (or at least in part) because they can effectively intimidate the populace. To burst your bubble even further they don't intimidate people because they are tough, virtuous and have neato rifles; but instead because they prove very willing to cripple, main or kill those who do not bend to their will. Night letters are a great example of the power insurgents can have. A night letter is just a letter, posted at night and attributed to a given group that gives a warning/ threat. For example lets talk about Afghanistan. Here is a story that isn't exactly true but is very like a lot of true stories. Those crazy Americans think it would be nice to teach girls (oh their wacky western ideas) to read, do basic math and stuff like that. Lets say they go to months of effort and great expense to build and set up a nice school for these girls to learn some stuff. They hire a teacher and all that too. The night before the scheduled big opening of the school the teacher gets a letter stuck to his door. It says "If you teach those girls, we will cut your head off" and is signed by the local insurgent group. No way the teacher is going to deal with that. He may or may not do a lot of things the next day but sure as hell isn't going to that school! The reason this letter is effective is not because the insurgents are pure of heart or have nice rifles; but because the insurgents have a track record of cutting people's heads off. They have probably cut the head off of a  couple people from the teachers village for whatever reason.


While I am diametrically opposed to the Taliban's perspective on educating young girls I cannot say their methods aren't awesomely effective. An insurgent in another place, provided they were willing to do what it takes to establish the kind of credibility required to get this sort of reputation, could accomplish a lot of things with night letters. Maybe the evil occupiers have a base in your area. On that base they have toilets and since they are exceeding the capacity of that system they have plumbing issues. They hire a plumber who then gets a night letter. Either the insurgents have already earned through blood some credibility and he quits or it takes till plumber #3 for them to get that credit. Night letters flow well into my next point.

Insurgents are never on an even playing field with the government/ occupiers. If they go life for life and dollar for dollar they will quickly lose. However if they can find a way to negate or otherwise tie up a significant amount of personnel, energy and money for a modest investment they are in business. Back to that night letter I talked about before. Lets say the occupiers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as lots of time and energy on a project and that project can be nullified by the insurgents posting a single letter. Even a force with lots of men, money and resources can quickly be worn down when the their large investments are countered by the 25 cents it costs to write a letter.

IED's are another great example. A fairly smart Iraqi bomb maker (specialized insurgent skill) with some electrical skills and a flair for creativity makes a new type of bomb. It costs $500 in components and a couple days of his time. Call it $750 just to have a number. That bomb blows up, messes up a vehicle and kills a few people. The Americans send numerous experienced specialists to study this bomb. Then the Army Center for Lessons Learned, EOD and numerous other groups and contractors spend a ton of money figuring out how to defeat this new threat. Millions of dollars are spent which then creates a new system or product. That product is created and fielded to as many groups as possible as quickly as possible. It costs tens of millions of dollars on the low end. So for an investment of $750 the insurgents killed 3 guys, wrecked a truck, tied up countless thousands of man hours and MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Insurgents can do well with this sort of techniques. Not flashy like direct action missions and that stuff but far more useful. Even if the enemy is 20x stronger and 20x better funded by using techniques that tie up vastly disproportionate amounts of their money and time they can be worn down into defeat.

I guess in closing being an insurgent is not a nice business. They do really bad things, sometimes to pretty decent people. If you don't believe that the ends justify the means then I suggest another hobby. If you do choose to be an insurgent then use the fear your group envokes to your full advantage. Also plan and conduct operations that will tie up disproportionate amounts of the enemies time, money and resources.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Recommendation

Ryan,

I just read "Seven Deadly Scenarios" (Seven Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century - by Andrew Krepinevich) from the CSAF's reading list. I found it interesting that two of the scenarios -- in a book explicitly about the DoD -- involved civil defense/disorder scenarios in CONUS. One pandemic ("What if the pig flu really killed people?") and one terrorist ("What if a terrorist group got ahold of some WMD and used them on US cities?").

Anyways, while I usually enjoy the books on the Army reading list as much or more than the AF ones, this one was thought provoking and possibly worth a read. I am looking forward to starting Washington's Crossing from the Army list (seemed appropriate for the season) next. You may be able to convince your unit to fund acquisition of the books as they are on the approved secretary reading lists.

Hope all is well with you and your family this holiday season.

Cheers,
A Reader

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget

It has been 9 years since those fundamentalist Islamic asshats hijacked some planes and used them to killed a bunch of Americans. I am a lot older and wiser than I was that fateful day but I am still really pissed. We are still at war but we didn't choose this. Those who think we can pull the covers over our heads and that the monsters who hate us will magically go away are either idealistic or fools.

NEVER FORGET!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

End of Combat Operations in Iraq?

The last "combat" brigade left Iraq today. I wouldn't say this means our efforts in Iraq are over but it is sure a significant milestone. As for what will happen now, time will tell. I do think it is very important that we practice expectation management. If we expect Iraq to be a nice calm place with totally functional, completely democratic and honest institutions and great infrastructure like say Israel (the only example I could think of in the middle east) we will be disappointed. However if we expect sporadic bombings and localized violence, semi corrupt elections along party lines and haphazard infrastructure we might be on the mark.  I say that for a couple reasons.

It is important to remember that early American history didn't go so smoothly. There were small localized uprisings, the government went broke and stayed there more or less and our first government failed entirely. We had some real problems with pirates robbing our ships. Around 20 years after our nation was established the British stomped us pretty badly and burned down our capitol. (Would it be ridiculous and war hawkish to suggest we burn down Buckingham Palace to get even? Better late than never right?) A couple generations later we fought a massive civil war. For some reason we Americans have a short memory and an even shorter attention span. We would like to make Iraq into a wonderful place over the course of a few short years. If we manage our expectations and take a longer view the situation can be seen more realistically.

What does this mean? Well hopefully we as a nation can finally borrow a little bit less money to keep things going. Also we will have fewer brave young Americans at risk which is always a good thing. Getting out of Iraq will allow us to increase dwell time for soldiers. This will almost certainly help with some of the problems (prescription drugs and suicide are notable) we are currently facing. More focused training time at home station will allow for the retrofitting and replacement of equipment as well as training which are good things. Also this will let our nation focus almost exclusively on Afghanistan which is something that has needed to happen for a long time. I don't know what will happen there but it would be a darn shame if we let a lack of adequate amounts of men, weapons and equipment be the deciding factor.

These are sure interesting times we live in.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Once Upon A Time In Afghanistan

An Afghani talks about how his country used to be. Lots of interesting pictures. Very worth reading.

Interestingly enough my Great Grandfather spent some time in Afghanistan in (I think) the 1950's building roads. My inner cynic does however note that the photographs and information from the article are of a sort of brief renaissance period for the country. Also probably more significant the pictures and information only involve the major cities. By far the majority of the population of Afghanistan is rural and I am not convinced that their lifestyle has ever changed that much. Of course some minor technology has been introduced but the fundamental patterns of life seem to be more or less the same as they have forever.

Take away a bunch of rifles, a truck or two, some radios and maybe a generator or a small scale hydro and I tend to think that a little Afghan village is probably about the same as it was 100, 200 or 500 years ago.
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