Tag Archives: Pakistan

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

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.

Today in Secret History – February 3 – Death in Pakistan

Death in Pakistan

Three Army Special Forces soldiers were killed and two were wounded in a suicide bombing in northwestern Pakistan on February 3, 2010.  Overall ten died and 70 were injured at a new girls’ school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Officially, the five were part of the Office of the Defense Representative, Pakistan, a 200 strong Islamabad-based organization that provides cover for special operations.

Cover?  It is well know that clandestine CIA and “black” special operations routinely take place in Pakistan, but the public face is to describe any activities as routine, innocuous, and humanitarian.   After the February 3rd attack, for instance, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad announced that the team was in the Lower Dir District to “conduct training at the invitation of the Pakistan Frontier Corps.”  The statement said they were in Lower Dir to attend the inauguration ceremony of a school for girls that had recently been renovated with U.S. humanitarian assistance.”  “The service members were assigned to the Office of the Defense Representative, Pakistan to conduct civil affairs-related training at the invitation of the Government of Pakistan,” U.S. Central Command said.

I’m not saying they weren’t.  But according to a Pakistani journalist traveling in the convoy, the U.S. soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes and “Pakistani military guides referred to the foreigners traveling with them as journalists,” The Associated Press reported.

And Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the news media that U.S. military trainers were spread out across various locations throughout the country.  Meanwhile, the country’s leading Islamic political party called it evidence of the “ambiguity surrounding the presence of U.S. military and intelligence in Pakistan.”

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said that it had carried out the attack.  A TTP spokesman accused the men of working for Blackwater, the security contractor that changed its name to Xe in 2009. “We will continue such attacks on Americans,” Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told Reuters by telephone.

Richard Holbrooke denied the Blackwater connection.  “It is very revealing that they were on their way to the inauguration of a school. That’s what Americans do,” Holbrooke, then the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan also told Reuters.  “Ever since I have joined the Foreign Service, we have had people who have given their lives in a cause that we believe in.”

The three American soldiers were later identified as Sgt. 1st Class David J. Hartman, 27,  of Rosamond, Ca., and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew S. Sluss-Tiller, 35, of Callettsburg, Ky. – both part of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne), out of Fort Bragg, N.C. – and Staff Sgt. Mark A. Stets, 39, of El Cajon, assigned to the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), also at Fort Bragg.

A curious end to the story is that no less than Lt. Gen. John Muholland, commander of Army special operations, attended the funeral of Sluss-Tiller on a hill overlooking his home in Burnaugh, Ky.  “He was embarked on a very important if not critical mission that is directly tied to the security of this country,” Muholland told the local media.  Sgt. Sluss-Tiller’s mother told a local newpaper that her son grew a beard for his latest mission.  WSAZ.com reported that in a recent phone conversation, Sluss-Tiller hinted of a dangerous top-secret mission that could be his last.

American trainers are in Pakistan to help with intelligence gathering and technical knowledge and equipment, Gen. Tariq Khan, the inspector general of the Frontier Corps told local a ABC stringer.  And Ft. Bragg officials later described what the three were doing as a “low-profile mission.”

Secrets sure are seductive.   In this case though, there are so many counter-productive layers.  If this was just a routine civil affairs and humanitarian mission, then why conduct it as “low profile.”  And though It is what Americans do, why is it American soldiers rather than State Department or USAID representatives?   And what’s the benefit and value anyhow in Pakistan of having soldiers operating in civilian clothes when the local assumption is that military people are there to spy or kill.  So, what, put them in civilian clothes so that the locals think they are Blackwater or CIA?  The contradictions and consequences are numerous and unexamined.  At this micro level, you gotta ask: What, exactly, did these three give their lives for?