Category Archives: Afghanistan

Pivot to Asia? Must be the IEDs and need for Nano UAVs

Here’s a list of Army research and development projects from a document I obtained — dated November 2013 — covering the next five years.  I was surprised, well not really, that so many are just continuations of what is already being done in Afghanistan, but not surprised how much is to tame the information monster.  Don’t see much though that reflects any kind of commitment to some future big war.

The list (I didn’t correct for spelling or amplify; some items are inscrutable):

3rd Generation Forward Looking Infrared-Engine (3GF-E)
Acoustic Hailing Device
ACRO PET (London Larado) addition for Nitrate, Chlorate, and Urea explosives
Active Protection Systems
Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System
Air Vigilance
Airborne Counter-Explosive Reconnaissance and Targeting System
Airborne Electronic Attack
Airborne Recon Low-Multifunction Medium Altitude Recon & Surv
AirRobot AR150 with Dual IR cameras
American Innovations-Home Made Explosive Bulk Precursor Detection Kit
AMT, Sentinel XD CDS (Advanced Mesh Network)
AN/PSS-14 Cache Detection
Argonaut 200
Assured PNT
ATACMS Unitary Increment 0 Product Improvement
Automated Surveillance Security Platform
Automated Wide Area Surveillance
Autonomous Mine Detection System
Avatar II Tactical Robot
Axton SMART AT-32S 8-watt IR floodlight.
Bam Stick
Beagle – Handheld NQR
BETSS-C – Force Protection (FP) Suite
BFT2 Manpack
Biometric Automated Toolset (BAT) 4.0 SP6
Bistatic Surveillance System
Black Granite Integrated Sensor Suite
Black Kite
Blue Devil
BlueSky Mast Portable Modular Mast
Bobcat T110 with QinetiQ Robotic Kit with TARDEC roller
Bobcat with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Mobile Deployment System (MDS)
Boston Dynamics 30 lb robot with six paddles for rough terrain or swim
BuckEye – Geospatial Data Collection
C5ISR Aerial Layer
Cerberus Lite
Checkpoint Explosive Detection System Gen 2
CI and HUMIT Requirements-Reporting Operations Management Environment
CISCO Identity Service Engine
Colorimetric Reconnaissance Explosives Squad Screening
Combat Service Support Very Small Aperture Terminal
Combat Survivor Evader Locator (SEP)
Command Post of the Future
Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station
Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS) UMR – JERRV
Common Sensor Payload
Company Intelligence Support Team
Constant Hawk – Afghanistan
Constant Hawk – Iraq
Container Weapon System (CWS) with CROWS II, Javelin, and SEK remote SA Computer
COP camera system with CROWS I camera parts and new cables, GPS, and tripod
CORAL-SD II passive, non-intrusive, thermal detection system
Counter – Unmmanned Aircraft Sytems
Counter Radio Control Electronic Warfare – Crew Vehicle Reactive Jammer
Counter Radio Control Electronic Warfare – DUKE
Counter Shooter System with Highly Accurate Immediate Responses / Iron Curtain
Counter-Concealment Sensors
Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence Automated Reporting a Collection System
Covert Thermal Camera System
CREW 3.1
CREW Stryker FoV
Crew Vehicle Reactive Jammer (CVRJ) Fixed Site
Crosshairs Enhanced
Cryptographic Equipment and Services
CVRJ Platform Integration Buffalo
DCGS-A Edge Node (DEN)
Deep Sea Set
Department of Defense ABIS
Desert Owl
Dismount Blue Force Tracker
Dismounted Soldier Autonomy Tools
Dismounted Standoff Explosive Hazard Detection-Handheld Small Sized Detector
Dismounted Standoff Explosive Hazard Neutralization – Remote Initiator
Distributed Commom Ground Station-Army (DSGS-A) Cloud
Distributed Common Ground System – Army Increment 1 DSB 1.0
Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) Increment 1 Release 2
Duke V2 EA
Duke V3 Fixed Site
DUKE V3 Platform Integration Husky
Electromagnetic Pulse
Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations
Electronic Protection System on MRAP
Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS)
Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Digital
Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Optical
Evaluation of each additional candidate Nano Unmanned Air System (NUAS)
Expendable Unattended Ground Sensor
Eyeball Remote Camera System
Eyedrive throwable UAV
Fido Handheld Sniffer
Forensic Operator Advanced Kit
FORGE (Zero Base) Li-Ion
FOTOD-Screening Obscuration Device-Visual (restricted terrain)
GaRD Mobile System
GDC4S Intelligence Low Overhead Driver
General Fund Enterprise Business System-Sensitive Activities
Georgia Tech (GTRI) Integration of Boston Dynamics Sand Flea Hopping Robot
Global Broadcast Service
Global Visualization Information System
Gray Eagle
Green Laser Interdiction System (GLIS)
Guardrail/Common Sensor
Gunfire Detection System
GunSHOT Detection (GSD)
Gunshot Detection Simulation Training System
GyroCam RG-31
Hand Held Precision Targeting Device
Handheld Laser Marker
Handheld Minefield Detection System
Handheld Optical Augmentation
Harris Fusion Network Communication Server
Harris-Aerial C4ISR Payload Suite
Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team
Homemade Explosive Characterization
Hostile Fire Detection System Warfighter in the Loop Design Study and Demo
Hostile Fire Indicator
Hunter Upgrade
Husky Mounted Detection System
Improvements to Remote Monitoring System (RMS) Direction Finder.
individual Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare
Individual Gunshot Detection (IGD)
Integrated Blast Effects Sensor Suite (I-BESS).
Integrated Broadcast Service
Integrated Sensor Improvement
Integrated Sensor Tower Long Range
Integration of CROSSHAIRS 2.0 and CROWS II gun in static mount
Intelligence – Central Security Service – Project G
Intelligence Warfighter Function
Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer
Intelligence-Special Access Programs
IRobot Warrior robot with XADS StunStrike Xap Disrupter
Israeli Namer Feasibility Assessment
Joint and Allied Threat Awareness System
Joint Crew 3.3 Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device
Joint Direct Support Airborne ISR
Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS) Target Location Designation System (TLDS)
Joint Personnel Identification System, Version 2
Joint USFK Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition (JUPITR)
Joint Warning and Reporting Network
Kratos NeuralStar
L-3 CyTerra lightweight mine detector
L3GDS Hawkeye III Lite CoCP
Launched Electrode Stun Device
Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System (LMAMS) managed by PM CCWS
Light Guard
LightGuard Mercury
Linguist Geometry-Realtime Adversarial Intelligence and Decision Making
Live Aerial ISR Link (LAIL)
Long Range Acoustic Device 360X
Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System
Low, Slow Airborne Threat Response
Machine- Foreign Language Translation System
Magneto Inductive-Remote Activation Munition System
Man Portable Detection System
Marathon Robotic Human Type Target (RHTT) System.
Maritime Domain Awareness Joint Integrating Concept
Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System
Micro Tactical Ground Robot (MTGR)
Micro Unmanned Aircraft System
Mine & IED Detection – Minehound, Vallon VMR2
Mini-EOD Robot
Mobile Unmanned Tactical Transport
Motion activated camera with video storage and RF to portable Interrogation Set
Motion activated camera with video storage and RF to Route Clearance Vehicle
Multi-Function Electronic Warfare
Multiple Intelligence Sensor V4
Narcissus Counter Surveillance Systems
Networked EW, Remotely Operated (NERO)
One System Remote Video Terminal
One Tactical Engagement Simulation Systems
PackBot 510 Engineer
PackBot 510 Upgrades
PackBot 510 with FASTAC
Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter and Wi-Fi only Apple iPod Touch for control
Pearls of Wisdom
Persistent Surveillance Systems – Tethered
Phanton IR
Picatinny Optical Detection System
Polaris Diesel Ranger with QinetiQ Tactical Robotic Controller (TRC) and roller
Prioria Maveric lightweight, portable unmanned aircraft system (S-UAS)..
Prophet Enhanced
Prox Dynamics Nano Unmanned Air System (UAS).
Puma AE RQ-20A with MicroLink thin film solar cells on wing
PUMA DDL upgrades to PUMA DDL launcher, battery and 9 DB GCS antenna.
PUMA modules Micro Laser Marker (uLM) and Tactical Compact Comm Relay (TCCR)
RAID Mobile Tower
Rapid Attack Identification, Detection and Reporting System
Rapid Deployment Integrated Surveillance Systems
Rapid Reaction Tunnel Detection (R2TD)
Rapidly Elevated Aerostat Platform (REAP) Model XL R3500B
Rapiscan Eagle T1000
Raptor X
Raven GPU
RC-50/60 Modular Robotic Control System
RCV Buffalo Duke V3
Relevant ISR to the Edge 3G
RG-31 Medium Mine Protective Vehicle (MMPV)
Ringtail Common Tactical Vision
Robot upgrades
Robotic Bobcat with a Laser Vibrometry Imaging and Detection System (LVIDS)
Robotic Deployment System 2 on RG31A2
Robotic Pointman – Mini Flail
Route Clearance Interrogation System (RCIS) Type I
Route Clearance Interrogation System (RCIS) Type II
Route Clearance Mounted Detection & Marking
Route Clearance Mounted Explosive Hazards Survivability and Force Protection
Route Clearance Optic System
Route Clearance Vehicles Panther
Route Clearance Vehicles-Mine Protection Clearance Vehicle
Route Clearance Vehicles-Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection
Rucksack Portable UAS Pop
Rucksack Portable Unmanned Aircraft System
Sand Dog
Sapphire Detection System
Sarnoff fused color and thermal image camera
Saturn Arch
SCI Technologies TOCNET-G3
Semi-Autonomous Tactical Squad Robot
Sense Through The Wall (STTW)
SENTINEL Enhanced Target Range Acq & Class
Sentinel Hawk
Shop Equipment, Contact Maintenance System
Sickle Stick 2.0
Silicis 26-foot ISR balloon for robotic flight or tethered aerostat
SKYLARK I – Long Endurance (LE) UAS
Small Robot Standardization Effort
Small Tactical Multi- Payload Aerostatic System
Small Unit Support-IED Defeat (SUSI)
Small Unit Unmanned Aircraft System
Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) XM1216E1
Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle IBCT Increment 1
SOCOM Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) Version 1.1
Sparrow Sentry System for Vehicles – Portable
Speckles Unmanned Aircraft System
Speech to Speech Smart Phone
Standoff Suicide Bomber Detection System
Subterranean Operations
Suite of Integrated Infrared Countermeasures
Supersonic Pulse-jet IED eXcavator
Sweat GUTR
Symphony CREW
Sync-Think Eye-Tracking Rapid-Attention Computation (Eye-TRAC) with 850 IR LED
Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Moving Target Indicator Payloads (SAR/GMTI)
Tactical – SIGINT Payload
Tactical Assured GPS Reference System
Tactical Reconnaissance And Counter-concealment Enabled Radar
Tactical UAS
Tactical Unmanned Ground System
Tactical Unmanned Ground System (TUGS IBCT Inc 2)
Talon 3B Engineer
TALON IV Engineer
Team Stove
Threat Detection Fire Control System (Crosshairs 2)
Thru The Wall Radar
Towed Artillery Digitization Fire Control System
Trojan NexGEN
Trojan SWARM
TUAS Shadow Simple Key Loader
Unattended Transient Acoustic MASINT System
Unmanned Aircraft System Class I
Unmanned Aircraft System Class I (UAS CL1 IBCT Inc 2)
Unmanned Aircraft System Live Training System
Unmanned Cargo/Logistic Resupply
Urban Unattended Ground Sensors IBCT Increment 1
VADER (Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar)
Vector Sensor
Vehicle 360 deg fused thermal and visual camera to auto track up to 10 objects
Vehicle Observation Sensor System (VOSS) on the Medium Mine Protection Vehicle
Vehicle Optics Sensor System on the MRAP BAE RG-33L
Vigilant Pursuit
Viper Strike
Warlock-DUKE V2
Warlock-Duke V3
Weaponized Reconnaissance Against Insurgents by Targeting HELLFIRE
Wideband Remote Monitoring Sensor: AN/FSQ-234(v)1
Wolverine System
Zebra Imaging Tactical Digital Holograms (TDH)
Zion Bobcat

NSA Tailored Access Operations

Found a little more about Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the Computer Network Exploitation/Computer Network Attack (CNE/CNA) operation of NSA, long known, but mentioned in the Washington Post article last week revealing the National Intelligence Budget.  The Post describes TAO as “surreptitiously installing spyware and tracking devices on targeted computers and mobile-phone networks.”  I think that description is too broad.

Tailored Access Operations, or sometimes called Defense Tailored Access Operations, is part of the S3 Data Aquisition, or the Signal Intelligence Directorate.  It is made up of six subordinate elements (branches):

  • S321:  Remote Operations Center (ROC)
  • S323: Data Network Technologies (DNT)
  • S324: Telecommunication Network Technologies (TNT)
  • S325: Mission Infrastructure Technologies (MIT)
  • S327: Requirements & Targeting (R&T)
  • S328: Access Technologies Operations (ATO)

The Remote Operations Center is the primary CNE operation of the U.S. government to gain access and intelligence from computer networks in direct support to cyber security & network warfare missions.  It is made up of the following divisions:

  • NOC: Network Ops Center
  • ORD: Operational Readiness Division (Training)
  • IOD: Interactive Ops Division
  • POD: Production Ops Division
  • AOD: Access Operations Division

The Network Warfare Team (NWT) provides liaison between the military and TAO.

Two tool development organizations are also subordinate to TAO:

  • TNT- Telecommunications Network Technologies
  • DNT- Data Network Technologies.

Our Own Tribal Mess in Afghanistan

I was reading Joseph Trevithick’s piece on Afghanistan war command and control arrangements in Tom Ricks’ Best Defense blog, and it made me think about all of the organizations that I’ve tried to figure out over the years and why it’s so difficult.

Ricks’ readers provide erudite references to military histories and recommendations to read joint doctrinal manuals, suggesting if one just mastered the war college reading list one would get it all.   It also seems a subtle message that war should be left to the professionals.

Afghanistan is a particularly acute example of dysfunction though, one that reflects the nature of that country, our world, and the so-called war against terrorism.

First and foremost, everything about Afghanistan is tribal, which is to say, that the society is intensely tribal, split along family, ethnic, geographic, religious, and class lines.  We could learn something from the nation: It is both the reason why our e pluribus unum mission is so foolhardy and why our own organization there is so screwy.

Second, there is secrecy involved, not just the secrecy of military operational security to keep the enemy off balance and guessing but also the secrecy of competing bureaucracies and an evasive executive branch (military and intelligence community) trying to keep others out of its business.

Third, 9/11 spawned a very bad habit, predicated on the Rumsfeld assumption that the uniformed military was antique, brain dead and didn’t work.  So from day one in Afghanistan, the practice was to muscle aside the existing in favor of the ad hoc.  Of course this also benefited secrecy and evasion of oversight.  The price has been profound (and obscenely expensive).  Just look at how the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) has created its own army, its own air force, its own special ops, its own intelligence establishment, its own task forces, even procured its own equipment, and you get a flavor.

We are ourselves intensely tribal, but we are also amazingly rich, so not only do we start every endeavor well-endowed with diverse organizations but we keep building on them, unable it seems to let anything go or say no to anyone.  That’s why our Department of Homeland Security even has a unit in Afghanistan, advising local border authorities, with its own chain of command, budget, support structure, etc.

One look at the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) Advisor Guide, May 2011 and you get an idea of the mess.  A manual is needed to explain what-the-hell to all of those war college graduates.   I particularly chuckled at the list of countries from Australia to Tonga that were part of the ISAF Joint Command (IJC), there to “conduct population‐centric comprehensive operations to neutralize the insurgency in specified areas, and supports improved governance and development in order to protect the Afghan people and provide a secure environment for sustainable peace.”

According to the manual, they are:

  • “NATO Members: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America.
  • Euro‐Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC): Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrghz Republic, Malta, Republic of Maldova [sic], Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
  • NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Tonga, Tunisia
  • Istanbul Cooperation Initiative: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates
  • Contact Countries: Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand”

We tend to blame coalitions or NATO or those Europeans or Washington or even the command in Florida for mucking about in sacrosanct military business, as if some literal interpretation of the manuals is the answer.  What an evasion.  No wonder the war is endless, expensive, and has no chance of achieving any publicly-understood outcome.

The Crisis of Our Military

What ruins it for me in Bob Scales’ eloquent op-ed – “Too many wars, too few U.S. soldiers” — in The Washington Post about the Afghanistan shooting and the state of our Army (and armed forces) is that retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales also makes an unsatisfying argument on behalf of his institution and a military solution.

“A succession of national leaders,” Scales says, “fail to recognize that combat units, particularly infantry, just wear out.”  Then it’s the media to blame for “trying to make some association between the terrible crime of this sergeant and the Army’s inability to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.”

Then, the conclusion: “the real institutional culprit is the decade-long exploitation and cynical overuse of one of our most precious and irreplaceable national assets: our close combat soldiers and Marines.”

I agree whole-heartedly with Scales, who I count as friend and colleague, that the young soldiers shoulder an “enormously disproportionate share of emotional stress.”  And I believe something is very wrong.

Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap also has something to say about the Afghan shootings.  I received this press release from Duke University, where the former deputy judge advocate general hangs his hat these days, offering up Dunlap for interviews:

The “news tip” extensively quotes Dunlap making an argument for a “major revamping of Afghan policy” and promoting his hobby-horse of what he calls the scourge of “lawfare.”  Dunlap concludes:

“… given that it is virtually impossible to root out every potential rogue from the millions who serve in uniform, military planners may want to rethink the manpower-intensive strategies that have come to dominate American military policy, and especially counterinsurgency doctrine in which winning hearts and minds is said to be essential.”

I imagine that retired Air Force major general Dunlap, whom I always enjoy, isn’t suggesting a rethink in the same way Scales is.  To the airmen, manpower-intensive means boots on the ground, in other words, an argument for more airpower.

So:  More Army?  More Air Force?  A new, new counterinsurgency doctrine to fight forever wars?  Those are our choices?

I come away hungry for a non-institutional, non-Washington oriented societal argument.  Dunlap calls for “military planners” to rethink, which in the inferiority complex of the air force institution is code for the dominant ground service officers, the Army; Scales seems to only be able to name “national leaders” and “the media” for what he calls “exploitation and cynical overuse.”

One area where Dunlap is inadvertently wrong and Scales is right though is that there are not “millions who serve in uniform.”  Well, not in the way Dunlap means that there are millions.

There are technically just over two million in the active duty and reserves; but the military is nowhere like it was during the draft days of Vietnam or the true mobilization of millions in World War II or the Korean War.  And within that two million who serve are a far smaller number of deployable military personnel.  And within that few hundred thousand who deploy into Afghanistan (or did into Iraq) are a far smaller number who leave the (relative) safety fortresses to fight.  I know out there somewhere are some facts to back me up – that only a scandalously small percentage of all people in uniform have even ever deployed once to those actual countries; in other words, most do in fact shoulder the majority of the burden.

No one has cynically created this circumstance, but the military institution is well aware of this now ten-year old reality.  Firepower has become so concentrated and networks have become so large and ubiquitous that only tiny numbers of soldiers are ‘needed’ on the front lines compared to Scales’ days.  But as Scales and Dunlap both know, firepower isn’t what is going to win these wars, any more than a larger military or an air force/special operations dominated head-hunting campaign would.

We all share the blame for this ethical quagmire.  We cede war-making to an increasingly isolated professional caste, we cede to them the design and makeup of  the military, we facilitate and tolerate what Scales calls “exploitation” of a few as long as the dangers are kept away from us, and we don’t pay attention until our well-oiled and distant machine has a breakdown or an industrial accident.  And once the breakdown occurs – the rogue soldier, the errant bomb, the Abu Ghraib – we expect the floor managers and professionals to fix the machine.  To paraphrase someone: We are the machine.

Here! Here! Everything you need to know about Afghanistan shooting!!!

I wasn’t planning to write about the Afghanistan shooting, don’t want to write that kind of a blog.

But it’s kind of difficult to get away from the incident, and the truth of the matter is, why bother to blog at all if no one’s going to read it?  Which is to say: this minute’s views/comments are what matters in the 24/7 blah, blah, blah of a world, the mainstream news leading the pack with the greatest resources.  The corrosion of our discourse about everything, even serious things, is proven by the universal demand of who can move the quickest, which will be the go-to news service, who will produce new details, which will turn the cleverest phrase, which gets the best quote.  Heck, this blog might even get read because I’m clever in saying I’m already sick of it.

So, to dispense with it all, here’s all you need to know: If you were against the Afghanistan war, this is proof and affirmation; if you’re in favor of the war, this is just a hiccup on the way to promising progress. What more is there?  If you think the military kills indiscriminately, you still think it; if you don’t, you’re mad at all of those who think that the military kills indiscriminately.

If you’re Afghan, you’re outraged.  You’re probably not outraged if 16 school girls were gunned down in a dispute over family or tribal honor, you’re not outraged over corruption or human rights in general.  But you didn’t have anything better to do today anyhow.

If you hate the United States or hate Obama, this is reason to hate.

If you’re Foreign Policy or some other Washington-establishment rag, you do the requisite round-up of comments, as if anything is outside the proscribed scripts.

If you’re (TV-Novosti) or some other news organization that loves to hate the United States, you write a headline like “Several drunk Marines behind bloodbath, laughed on shooting-spree, burned corpses.”  Some Afghan eyewitness said it.

Publicly, on the web, on Twitter, the President, Secretary of Defense, NATO head, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, CENTCOM, and ISAF on down to the janitor at the Pentagon all apologized and expressed their condolences.

Obama even called Karzai and called the incident “tragic and shocking.”  The White House released a picture.  That kind of makes it a crisis, elevates it and debases it all at the same time.  By noon I imagine the information warfare maven will be predicting and wagering on the state of the battle of hearts and minds and selling your theory of what needs to be done.  Scratch that, they were on it yesterday.

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai from his vehicle outside the Jane E. Lawton Community Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on March 11, 2012. UPI/Pete Souza/White House.

Cash! Bonuses! for Speaking Dhivehi

Who exactly is spying on who, and for what?

The latest Wikileaks peak into STRATFOR Emails is being described as a unique insight into some shadow CIA, while meanwhile some are worried that the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring social media and conducting surveillance of OWS activists.  There is a little bit of truth in both stories, but it is such small potatoes.

The big daddy of spying is NSA’s eavesdropping apparatus, and it’s barely able to keep up.  It can’t process and translate all of the material it vacuums up from radio and telephone communications, cell phones, email, texts, chats, faxes, and websites belonging to the bad guys.  And the rest of the intelligence community is practically deaf in one ear unable to understand the languages of those who are considered the enemy — let alone the languages of our “friends.”

Into the breach marches an army of private contractors, who do a brisk business and are engaged in a death struggle with each other to find people who can speak obscure languages AND at the same time qualify for Top Secret clearances.

Arabic and the languages of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Dari, Pashtu, Urdu) are the priorities, but Farsi speakers, the language mostly of Iran, are in high demand these days.  As are African languages, because, well, we have a new African Command that is creating its own empire.

I compiled a list of the languages in demand right now, the companies who are looking for Top Secret cleared applicants, and some of the locations where the spying and analysis is done.

Hebrew anyone?  Only one country speaks that language.  Dhivehi?  That’s the language of the Maldives.  (updated 3 March 2012)

Language Company Location
Amharic STG Overseas
Arabic (Gulf, Egyptian, Iraqi, Levantine, Libyan, Moroccan/Tunisian, MSA, and Yemeni dialects) Acclaim Technical Services, AllWorld Language Consultants, Archimedes Global, CACI, Camber, Chenega; Ed Wallach Search Group, General Dynamics Information Technology, iNTELLITREX, L-3, LG-TEK, ManTech, Navanti Group, Northrop Grumman, PARSONS/McMunn Associates (MAI), ProSol Associates, Quick Services LLC,  Raytheon, SAIC, STG, TASC, VOR Technology Ft. Gordon GA; Ft. Meade MD; Suitland MD; Ft. Belvoir, VA; Herndon VA; McLean VA; Quantico VA; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Germany (AFRICOM); RAF Molesworth UK
Armenian Pluribus International
Azeri STG Overseas
Baluchi Boeing, ProSol Associates, TASC Ft. Meade MD
Bosnian Ed Wallach Search Group
Chinese AllWorld Language Consultants, Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, LG-TEK, ManTech, PARSONS/McMunn Associates (MAI), Pluribus International, STG Monterey CA; Hawaii; Ft. Meade MD; Suitland MD; Wright-Patterson AFB OH; Herndon VA; Overseas
Dari AllWorld Language Consultants, Boeing, Ed Wallach Search Group, ManTech, Navanti Group, Pluribus International, ProSol Associates, SAIC, STG, TASC Ft. Meade MD; Ft. Belvoir VA; Herndon VA; Quantico VA; Overseas
Dhivehi Acclaim Technical Services Northern VA
Farsi (Persian) Acclaim Technical Services, AllWorld Language Consultants, Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, Chenega, Epsilon, Inc., General Dynamics Information Technology, Global Linguist Solutions, iNTELLITREX, L-3, ManTech, LG-TEK, Navanti Group, Northrop-Grumman; PARSONS/McMunn Associates, Inc. (MAI), Pluribus International, ProSol Associates, Quick Services LLC, SAIC, Six3 Intelligence Solutions, STG, TASC Ft. Gordon GA; Ft. Meade MD; Suitland MD;  Ft. Hood TX; San Antonio TX; Ft. Belvoir VA; Herndon VA; McLean VA; Quantico, VA; Reston VA; Overseas
French Archimedes Global, Chenega; CSC, General Dynamics Information Technology, L-3, ManTech, Pluribus International, Quick Services LLC, Raytheon Herndon VA; Djibouti; Germany (AFRICOM); RAF Molesworth UK
Georgian KEYW, TASC Ft. Meade MD
Haitian-Creole Boeing, TASC Ft. Meade MD
Hausa AllWorld Language Consultants; Archimedes Global Germany (AFRICOM)
Hebrew AllWorld Language Consultants, CACI, Pluribus International, Professional Solutions Ft. Meade MD; Overseas
Hindi ProSol Associates, SAIC, TASC Ft. Meade MD; McLean VA
Hungarian ProSol Associates
Igbo AllWorld Language Consultants
Indonesian (Bahasa Melayu) Chenega; Dynamics Information, Technology, ManTech, ProSol Associates Herndon VA; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Japanese AllWorld Language Consultants
Kazakh Boeing, TASC Ft. Meade MD
Korean AllWorld Language Consultants, General Dynamics, L-3, ManTech, PARSONS/McMunn Associates (MAI), Pluribus International, ProSol Associates, SAIC, STG Monterey CA; Ft. Meade MD; Suitland MD; Herndon VA; Reston VA; Northern VA; Overseas
Kurdish Acclaim Technical Services, General Dynamics, ManTech, Pluribus International, STG Ft. Hood TX; Herndon VA; Overseas
Malay ProSol Associates
Pashto Acclaim Technical Services;  AllWorld Language Consultants, Camber, General Dynamics Information Technology, iNTELLITREX, L-3, LG-TEK, ManTech, Pluribus International, ProSol Associates, SAIC, STG, TASC MacDill AFB FL; Ft. Gordon GA; Ft. Meade MD; Herndon VA; McLean VA; Northern VA; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Polish ProSol Associates
Portuguese Archimedes Global, Pluribus International,TASC Ft. Meade MD; Germany
Punjabi (Western) Pluribus International, STG
Russian Acclaim Technical Services, AllWorld Language Consultants, General Dynamics Information Technology, ManTech, PARSONS/McMunn Associates (MAI), Pluribus International, STG Ft. Meade MD; Suitland MD; Herndon VA; Northern VA; Overseas
Somali Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, Camber, Chenega, Ed Wallach Search Group, iNTELLITREX, KEYW, L-3, Linc Government Services, Navanti Group, STG, TASC Ft. Gordon GA; Ft. Meade MD; Ft. Belvoir VA; McLean VA; Djibouti; Overseas
Spanish Acclaim Technical Services; Boeing, CACI; L-3,ManTech, Pluribus International, SAIC, TASC Ft. Gordon GA; Ft. Meade MD; El Paso, TX; Lackland AFB TX; Herndon VA; Northern VA
Swahili Archimedes Global, CACI, Chenega; General Dynamics Information Technology, iNTELLITREX Ft. Gordon GA; Ft. Meade MD; Germany (AFRICOM); Kenya
Tajik AllWorld Language Consultants, Pluribus International, Quick Services LLC Herndon VA
Turkish AllWorld Language Consultants, Ed Wallach Search Group, ManTech, STG Herndon VA; Overseas
Uighur/Uyghur General Dynamics Information Technology, SAIC Reston VA
Ukranian AllWorld Language Consultants
Urdu Acclaim Technical Services; AllWorld Language Consultants, Ed Wallach Search Group, General Dynamics Information Technology, LG-TEK, ManTech, Navanti Group, Pluribus International, ProSol Associates, Quick Services LLC, STG, TASC Monterey CA; Ft. Gordon GA; Ft. Stewart GA; Ft. Meade MD; Ft. Belvoir VA; Herndon VA; Northern VA; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Overseas
Uzbek General Dynamics Information Technology
Waziri ProSol Associates
Yoruba AllWorld Language Consultants

The Threat Machine

Been on vacation and am going through the bits of curiosities that have made it into my inbox, my files, or my head in the week I was away.  I’ll write about some in the coming days.

On the most important immediate questions, the Afghanistan war continues to be defended despite public support and any plausible end-point worth the expenditure of any additional American treasure or lives.  There is not even stability inside the government’s Ministry buildings and “military advisors” is becoming too frequent code for perpetual presence.

There hasn’t been a war with Iran, and despite abundant cheerleading from the news media, the threats of war seem to have had no impact on Tehran.  Again, it is the end-point that is the issue here, whether a nuclear Iran is even a plausible possibility and actual threat, and second, what Iran’s striving for nuclear weapons represents.

Which brings us to the third issue of nuclear weapons and the Obama administration’s supposed commitment to deep reductions and nuclear disarmament.  On so many levels, this is the proper focus and thrust for American foreign policy and international security, but it lacks any public traction or support, especially in a world where the WMD-obsessed counter-terror elite and the Washington war-mongers clamor for any kind of conflict – actual or imagined – for their sustainment.

Related is the endless cycle, the FBI now says that cyber-attacks are becoming the top terror threats.  In other words, nuclear war, nuclear smwar.  Secretary Panetta told CBS News that “The reality is that there is the cyber capability to basically bring down our power grid to create … to paralyze our financial system in this country to virtually paralyze our country.”

No wonder all of the nation’s state-level Guard leaders and 49 governors signed letters to the White House protesting planned military cuts, saying the Air National Guard in particular is taking an unfair hit.  First of all, who’s the retarded governor who didn’t sign?  Second, we decry pork-barrel politics and earmarking and Congressional interference but ignore that defense spending, and promotion of a perpetual threat, has become a way of life for us.  Governors?

Defense By the Numbers: An Analysis of the Budget

The FY 2013 defense budget request to Congress totals 125 volumes (so far), a half-a-gigabyte of data in hundreds of thousands of pages.  I’m looking for gold, even insight, but until then here is another word analysis of what the budget says (DHS yesterday).

How many times something is mentioned is a questionable methodology for insight into anything, and yet, there’s China while Syria and Iran are hardly to be found.  As if the same case with al Qaeda, and Islam.  Of course, terrorism does rule, including cyber-terrorism, the latest-latest, but for those who advocate (or fear) nuclear disarmament, one can’t help notice the enduring value of weapons of mass destruction language as the main threat.

“Soft” power also seems a tough sell, at least in the budget, because, well, what is it that you are buying to make it?  That’s not the case though with unmanned systems, which rule, even though the Pentagon hates to use the word “drone,” which just happens to be the media’s hot-button.

The Geography of the Budget (times word is mentioned in defense budget materials)

OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) 2534
Diego Garcia 2155
Afghanistan 1320
China 799
Iraq 765
Japan 395
Russia 303
Korea 291
Guam 281
Mexico 259
Pakistan 113
India 89
Cuba 42
Peru 15
Egypt 13
Colombia 10
Iran 10
Israel 3
Syria 0

The Threats

nuclear 6490
chemical 2709
border 2336
terror, terrorism, terrorist, terrorists 2272
biological 2035
anti-terrorism 1725
WMD 1345
CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives) 816
counter-terrorism 329
virus 72
WMD-terrorism 68
Narco-terrorism 58
Bioterrorism 56
biological warfare 48
extremism 46
extremists 35
Al Qaeda 19
counter-unmanned 18
suicide-bomber 12
radical 11
Pandemic 9
Islamic, Islamists 9
agro-terrorism 8
homegrown 4
Muslim 4
radicalization 2

The Buzz

analysis, analyses 22086
Networks 15860
target, targeting 12573
threat, threats 11351
intelligence 10634
future 9909
architecture 9125
enterprise 8080
detection 7852
strategy 7770
surveillance 7267
studies 7261
global 6795
strategic 6103
homeland 5106
cyber, cyberspace, cybersecurity 4641
human 4606
awareness 4572
survivability 3984
reconnaissance 3926
identification 3724
secure 3451
realtime 3354
situational 3112
expeditionary 3047
enforcement 2633
collection 2516
net-centric 2026
autonomous 1762
exploitation 1724
persistent 1560
fusion 1512
denial 518
transparent 217
human-centric 86

The Bureaucratic Stuff

OCO (overseas contingency operations) 21536
Change 14540
Special 8285
modernization 8097
Readiness 7619
reduce 5257
metrics 4026
reductions 3955
increases 3709
decreases 3069
legacy 2869
oversight 2664
obsolescence 2492
complex 2379
transformation 2135
vision 2004
sharing 1729

Fighting for the Money

aircraft 27916
missile, missiles 13062
ship, ships 10262
sensor 8916
munitions, ammunition 7518
vehicles 6848
radar 6703
sensors 6286
unmanned 4664
engine 4521
submarine 4340
antisubmarine 4047
satellite 3805
laser 3675
carrier 3565
infrared 3360
GPS 3177
precision 3013
aerial 2994
P-3A 2848
DCGS 2828
mobility 2751
ASW 2719
acoustic 2600
ISR 2579
propulsion 2519
countermeasures 2454
nonlethal 2391
UAS, UAV (unmanned aerial systems/vehicles) 2383

English Words (Almost)

combat 15477
fire 6239
strike 3613
battle 3195
explosive 3140
duty 2922
kill, hard-kill, killings 1170
destroy, destroyed 329
death, deaths 246
hunter-killer 64
soft-kill 60

War of the Words

security 21235
warfare 11130
protection 10535
warfighter, warfighting 7522
war, wars 4004
combatant 2534
disaster 2417
peace, peaceful, peacekeeper 216
violence 52

Pay Attention

traumatic 231
suicide 224
TBI (traumatic brain injury) 79

Questioning Death from Above

Today in Secret History: February 6

Six years ago today, the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) was unveiled, affirming “irregular warfare” as “the dominant form of warfare confronting the United States, its allies and its partners.”

The shift from 20th to 21st Century warfare, the QDR, state “must account for distributed, long-duration operations, including unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and stabilization and reconstruction operations.” The document has been the basis for the abandonment of the so-called two-war strategy that had dominated U.S. military planning since the end of the Cold War. And it opened the war for irregular everything.

The 2006 QDR was the triumph of special operations forces (SOF), and on the same day, the Pentagon announced that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) commander Army Maj. Gen. Stan McChrystal would be nominated for a third star and that JSOC would become a three star command.

“SOF will increase their capacity to perform more demanding and specialized tasks, especially long-duration, indirect and clandestine operations in politically sensitive environments and denied areas. For direct action, they will possess an expanded organic ability to locate and track dangerous individuals and other high-value targets globally. SOF will also have greater capacity to detect, locate and render safe WMD,” the QDR stated.

In those two sentences, every aspect of the growth of “black” special operations since 9/11 is explained. JSOC now has its own Joint Intelligence Brigade, a beefed up headquarters, its own drones, its own airlift, communications, networks, and its each of its core commands (Delta force, Navy SEALs, Air Force special tactics) has significantly increased in size. JSOC is actively hiring contractors to work at its Ft. Bragg, N.C. headquarters, particularly in intelligence and information technology. And The New York Times reported Saturday that the United States would shift to these “elite units” as conventional forces are whittled down in Afghanistan.

That article, of course, could have been written any time in the past five years, and indeed it has been many time – on May 26, 2010, The Times reported pretty much the same thing, minus the Obama’s administrations election year promise. What’s interesting to me, now that black special ops – clandestine, long-duration, missions to “locate and track” high value targets – is bipartisan policy and conventional wisdom is that so few seem to question whether killing individual one at a time in this way is a winning strategy.

There is no question that reducing the U.S. military footprint in this part of the world will reap enormous benefits. But a combination of constant death-from-the-sky clandestine attacks and not really withdrawing (i.e., forces still in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, the Stans, Pakistan, and the Indian Ocean, not to mention Afghanistan and Iraq), will undermine the benefits of withdrawal. And death from above, even on its own terms, needs to be more closely examined as a strategy. I get the sense that now that JSOC and the intelligence world have perfected the process – hence success with Osama bin Laden – there is mechanical acceptance of the pursuit.

The Super Bowl: Jeez, Say Something

Jeez, Say Something

Janet “The American Commandant” Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, must be a hell of a football fan.  She’s employing the full might of the Department’s “If You See Something, Say Something” ™ public awareness campaign to secure Super Bowl XLVI.  Napolitano has toured the security operations at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, overseeing the additional security being brought in to screen cargo, secure the air space and provide security screening.

No less than the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey has also delivered a Super Bowl message to the troops.  The Defense Logistics Agency began planning the left hook to Afghanistan in June.  They have now delivered thousands of pounds of mozzarella cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers, chicken mini bites, chicken wings, pork and beef meatballs, turkey wings, chili, pizza, french fries, onion rings, potato chips and non-alcoholic beer to wash it all down.   Ironic, I guess, that America’s warriors in the field will be the only Americans not drinking; but then so many aren’t old enough to drink.

And it isn’t just homeland security and the Pentagon who are involved.  The FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center are monitoring the intelligence.  I don’t know how many feds or intelligence people are involved in this year’s event, but for the last Patriots-Giants meeting in Super Bowl 42, according to a briefing I have, security included:

  •  300+ personnel working interior
  • 500+ personnel working exterior
  • 600+ specialty personnel available
  • 60+ agencies involved in planning
  • 24+ months of planning & preparation
  • 8 Interoperability Meetings specifically related to Super Bowl
    • 90+ attendees, 50+ agencies represented

Here how the Arizona battlefield looked then.

For last year’s Super Bowl, the combined federal agencies issued a nine page “for official use only” intelligence report, suggesting properly cleared personnel should consult the further intelligence available on the Secret-level SIPRNET and the Top Secret-level JWICS.

But here was the punchline; the report said: “The FBI, DHS, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), and Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex-area (DFW-area) law enforcement agencies have identified no credible terrorist threats to Super Bowl XLV or its associated events and venues.  Nevertheless, the Super Bowl’s high profile could make it a desirable target for violent organizations or individuals seeking to exploit intense media coverage to promote their cause.”

I know, I know, this is important, this Superist of American battles.