Tag Archives: Kuwait

Kuwait has a secret military band!?

I last wrote about the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing and its classified location.   But this little news clip from the Air Force even more demonstrates the inanity of official secrecy, as the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, location classified, held an open house with the “host nation,” inviting families on the undisclosed location.  Even the “host nation band” — that’s all the Air Force can say — played.

Secret Kuwaiti Military Band Playing at Classified Kuwaiti Location

According to the 386th Wing “Welcome Packet:”

“Due to host nation sensitivities, the 386th AEW is in a non-releasable location.  It can’t be referred to by name, nor can you list the host nation. It must be referred to as a “deployed location” or an “undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.” It can also be referred to as 386th Air Expeditionary Wing or the “Rock.”

Wikipedia and other web sources readily identify the 386th as being deployed at Ali al Salem airbase in Kuwait, which is where it is, even stated in its own official Packet.  Has anyone seriously examined what the cost is to us (or to Kuwait) of having these bases that are known to all and our adversaries but are official secrets?

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Feeling Surrounded?

A routine Air Force promotional release about a top chaplain visiting airmen at an “undisclosed location” in Southwest Asia got me thinking again about secrets, and about war with Iran.  That’s because the location he visited used to be Balad air base in northern Iraq, home for a long time to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.

Brig. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander and the final commander of Joint Base Balad, relinquished command of Balad during a ceremony December 4th last year, the Air Force reported.  An Air Force article about the final days of Balad said the once busy base was “transitioning to the next undisclosed location without missing a sortie.”

“Believe it or not, I deployed to this particular undisclosed location exactly 10 years ago this week–just six months after 9/11,” the chaplain remarked about the new location.  “Just six months ago, this installation was literally covered in dust–several inches thick in many places, including the chapel interior,” he said.

So what base is it?  In what country?  My guess is Kuwait, particularly Ali al Salem airbase, but I don’t know.

I imagine Tehran knows.  But otherwise, it continues to be a kneejerk official secret.  I wonder if that secret, and the importance of that secret, is known even to Congress?

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.