04/15/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

News and Commentary by Dave Maxwell.  Edited and Published by Daniel Riggs

1. Man arrested for creating fake army unit

2. FDD | Covid-19’s origins remain unknown. Holding China and the WHO accountable is necessary.

3. The FBI Takes a Drastic Step to Fight China’s Hacking Spree4/15/2021 Korean News and Commentary

4. Key Findings of the Inspector General’s Report on the Capitol Riot

5. Quad is not ‘Asian NATO’, India never had ‘NATO mentality’, Jaishankar says

6. Biden’s Foreign Policy Starts at Home

7. Exit Strategy

8. Seven Pillars Revisited: The Myths and Misreadings of T.E. Lawrence

9. The Next National Security Strategy and National Resilience Through Education

10. The Secret Spies Keeping Baghdad Safe

11. Digital Identity Is a National Security Issue

12. Afghans Wonder ‘What About Me?’ as American Troops Prepare to Withdraw

13. How Biden’s team overrode the brass on Afghanistan

14. U.S. Wins Allies’ Blessing on Afghanistan Withdrawal

15. Biden’s gamble: Will pulling troops out of Afghanistan revive extremist threat?

16. CIA’s Big Afghanistan Problem

17. Understanding the Iran Threat Network

18. Joe Biden gives up on the war in Afghanistan, leaving a weak ally

19. Biden and Suga should take a hard stand on human rights

20. Will Japan Confront China? A Visit to Washington May Offer a Clue.

21. Biden Finally Got to Say No to the Generals

22. Army Band HIJACKS Ballad of the Green Berets! | SOFREP


1. Man arrested for creating fake army unit

Reuters · by Reuters Staff · April 14, 2011

Chinese “unconventional warfare” for profit???

Excerpt: “Deng charged more than 100 fellow Chinese nationals a fee of between $300 and $450 to join the fake Army unit, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

He called his bogus squad the U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit, or MSFR for short, and he gave himself the lofty title of supreme commander, prosecutors said.


2. FDD | Covid-19’s origins remain unknown. Holding China and the WHO accountable is necessary.

fdd.org · by Craig Singleton and Mark Dubowitz · April 14, 2021

Conclusion: “For years, American political leaders have confused checkbook diplomacy with real leadership in multilateral bodies. After the devastation wrought by Covid-19 and the inability of the international community to objectively investigate the pandemic, continuing these failed policies at the WHO would be nothing short of diplomatic malpractice.”


3. The FBI Takes a Drastic Step to Fight China’s Hacking Spree

Wired · by Brian Barrett · April 14, 2021

Excerpts: ““If the Microsoft Exchange servers they interacted with were fully patched and they actually deleted any and all web shells on the backdoor servers, it should be quite effective,” says Steven Adair, founder of security firm Volexity, which first identified the Hafnium attack. “Assuming these Microsoft Exchange servers were just backdoor with web shells, they were essentially sitting ducks. These actions potentially save these organizations from future harm.”

There are two important caveats here. First, removing a web shell doesn’t get rid of any malware that may already have snuck through, or return any data that has been stolen. Second, if the underlying vulnerabilities remain on a system, someone could always just plant another web shell.

In those limitations, Tait sees an encouraging degree of restraint on the part of the FBI. “What they’re doing is actually unusually narrow,” he says. The FBI could have asked to scan for ransomware or illicit materials that might be present on the server, or to proactively patch servers that were still vulnerable. “Then I think you would have more serious privacy concerns, like is the FBI piggybacking on this to look for other crimes?” 

Instead, the agency got in, defused the bombs, and got back out.

Five years ago, an operation like this would have been highly unlikely, if not impossible. In December 2016, however, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure was updated to make search and seizure orders more applicable to cybercrime. Rather than having to get a warrant in every individual court district where suspected illegal activity occurred, law enforcement could instead get sign-off for broader efforts from a single judge, as long as officials could demonstrate that the activity took place in five or more districts.

“The big mismatch has always been between the way that legal rules are tied to physical geography and that cyberoperations extend beyond it,” says Doss. A target’s vulnerabilities are more important to a hacker than what state they’re in, especially for large-scale hacks, like Hafnium’s Exchange server assault or SolarWinds or the creation of a botnet. 


4.  Key Findings of the Inspector General’s Report on the Capitol Riot

The New York Times · by Nicholas Fandos · April 13, 2021

This will be an interesting hearing. I am surprised the NY Times did not provide any of the findings on how the military performed.


5. Quad is not ‘Asian NATO’, India never had ‘NATO mentality’, Jaishankar says

theprint.in · April 14, 2021

A view from India.

We have tried NEATO, SEATO, CENTO and they did not work. I do not think there can be a NATO-like security arrangement. The conditions in Asia are much different than in Korea.


6. Biden’s Foreign Policy Starts at Home

defenseone.com · by Peter Nicholas

Some fascinating insights in this article. I agree the line between domestic and foreign policy is increasingly blurred and that foreign policy must be explained in terms of how it affects the American people.


7. Exit Strategy

defenseone.com · by Eliot A. Cohen

Conclusion: “This is, then, a humbling moment for the United States. It is a moment of relief for the parents of servicemen and servicewomen who would otherwise deploy to a war in which their politicians do not believe. It should be a moment of reflection for the leaders of institutions that performed less well than they ought to have. It is a moment for diplomats to rebalance and reconfigure elements of American foreign policy. And it is most definitely a moment of moral responsibility. If Americans take that responsibility seriously, welcoming to freedom and citizenship those who put their faith in American words, American commitments, and American ideals, then something redeeming will be saved from the wreck of a decent cause.”


8. Seven Pillars Revisited: The Myths and Misreadings of T.E. Lawrence

mwi.usma.edu · by Sam Wilkins · April 15, 2021

To be effective in conventional, irregular, (or even nuclear) war, you must be a student of war and study the full spectrum of conflict. One trick ponies cannot endure with only one trick. We should all strive to achieve the coup d’oeil (military genius or the inward looking eye) Clausewitz advocated we develop and that Lawrence obviously possessed after his intense study of war combined with his experience on the ground. 


And in these times of uncertainty we should be investing in more education rather than cutting educational programs such as the Army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies. As General Schoomaker used to say, “Train for certainty. Educate for uncertainty.”

Conclusion: “Johnson effectively captures how Lawrence’s successes were not due to some innate genius or mastery of set principles of irregular warfare, but rather the product of an intense study of war. As a student at Oxford, Lawrence poured over volumes of military history in an attempt to understand the challenges faced by great commanders. While he did not recognize it at the time, Lawrence was following the advice of Prussian thinker Carl von Clausewitz, who urged commanders to undertake such a “critical analysis proper,” as opposed to “the plain narrative of the historical event.” Nor did his self-development stop during the desert campaign; Lawrence proved willing to learn from his own mistakes and those of his partners.

Today, Lawrence’s example should inspire serious reflection on “how small wars fit into big ones.” In an era of increasing geopolitical rivalry, irregular warfare will remain a vital supporting pillar to conventional operations against peer competitors. If they wish to avoid the mistakes of the past, irregular warfare practitioners should pay close attention to Johnson’s book—both as a superb analysis of the desert campaign and as an antidote to misapplications of Lawrence’s ideas on war. As Lawrence himself wrote, “If we must fight, we have no excuse for not fighting well.”


9. The Next National Security Strategy and National Resilience Through Education

thestrategybridge.org · by Ryan Kort · April 15, 2021

Key point in the conclusion. Unfortunately there are an awful lot of educated people who believe in the conspiracy theories that contribute to the divide in our country.

“To compete effectively, the U.S. must have a well-educated populace. In addition to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the United States must also emphasize civics and history courses, with a solid grounding in historical and empirical facts about the history of our national institutions and constitutional form of governance. While several competing projects involve historical interpretation of pre and post-revolutionary U.S. governmental policy—such as the 1619 Project and the 1776 Project—the overarching goal of any civics education program must be to provide an inclusive, truthful accounting of the history and functions of the U.S. government. Such education must focus on making better informed and involved citizens who can participate constructively towards the common future we all share. Media literacy should begin at an early age.[23] The U.S. government can also reinforce this early education through public education campaigns and expanded national service opportunities.[24] Additionally, a decline in participation in civic organizations is precisely why a civics education renaissance in primary through university levels that focuses on presenting a broad survey of contemporary civic issues to expose students to divergent viewpoints can enhance their knowledge of actual public policy, tolerance of others, and engender a sense of legitimacy of democratic outcomes.[25]

As previous National Security Strategies articulated the case for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to enable American prosperity, so too must the next National Security Strategy articulate the case for civics and media literacy education, accompanied by a renewal of civic engagement to live up to American values and expand our influence abroad. Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster succinctly captured the importance of education in his book Battlegrounds: “Educated citizens are best equipped to foil efforts to divide communities and pit them against each other.”[26] The ability to function as an engaged, media literate citizen within civic society is not just essential for the continued strength of our democracy; it is an essential foundation of competition and directly counters an asymmetric method for adversaries to gain advantage over the United States to further their own ends.


10. The Secret Spies Keeping Baghdad Safe

guernicamag.com · by Lindsey Hilsum · April 14, 2021

Interview with the author, Margaret Coker, of the book, The Spymaster of Baghdad.


11. Digital Identity Is a National Security Issue

warontherocks.com · by Patrick Hearn · April 15, 2021

Perhaps gives new meaning to “finding yourself.” And you certainly have to “know yourself” to be successful in war at least half the time. (Apologies for the attempts at humor).

Excerpt: “Secure digital identity is as important to all Americans now as providing secure credentials to U.S. government employees was back in 2008. By elevating digital identity to a national security and counter-intelligence priority, the Biden administration can set in motion several initiatives to keep the country and its secrets safe. The United States should prioritize centralizing digital identity efforts at the White House, creating best practices across agencies, and arming Americans with accountable tools to protect themselves. By doing so, the White House can help build a strong digital infrastructure that is essential to the country’s digital safety, privacy, economy, and democracy.”


12. Afghans Wonder ‘What About Me?’ as American Troops Prepare to Withdraw

The New York Times · by Thomas Gibbons-Neff · April 14, 2021

I expect Thomas Gibbons-Neff (TM) will be one of the few journalists in Afghanistan who will be writing about the plight of the people (as much as his NY Times editors will allow him to do so.


13. How Biden’s team overrode the brass on Afghanistan

Politico · by Lara Seligman, Andrew Desiderio, Natasha Bertrand, and Naha Toosi · April 14, 2021

It was not a “Pentagon decision” to “override.” It is a decision that can only be made by the president whether we like the decision or not. He may have “overrode” their recommendations or the options they provided, but they did not have the authority to make a decision that could be overrode. 


14. U.S. Wins Allies’ Blessing on Afghanistan Withdrawal

WSJ · by William Mauldin

Excerpts:NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the withdrawal decision wasn’t easy and entailed risks.

“The alternative is to stay, but then we need to be prepared for a long-term, open-ended military presence and mostly will have to increase the number of NATO troops in Afghanistan to withstand increased Taliban pressure,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Mr. Austin declined to comment on the views of military commanders and officers in the U.S. about the decision. “I won’t speak for them,” Mr. Austin said, adding it “was an inclusive process, and their voices were heard, and their concerns taken into consideration as the president made his decision.”


15. Biden’s gamble: Will pulling troops out of Afghanistan revive extremist threat?

militarytimes.com · by Robert Burns · April 14, 2021

Are there options if the gamble does not work? I hope DOD, the IC, and State are coordinating and collaborating on those options.


16.  CIA’s Big Afghanistan Problem

spytalk.co · by Jeff Stein

Excerpts:The prospect of such a scenario conjures up nightmarish memories of the apocalyptic debacles in Saigon and Mogadishu.

Imagine some 30,000 Afghans—in particular the women we have empowered— storming the airports to escape or, barring that, trying to make it overland to neighboring countries under Taliban attack, an intelligence officer told me when the prospect of an emergency exit was just a scary thought: There are no rivers to sail “boat people” into a nearby sea, like when Saigon collapsed in 1975—nor helicopters to wing desperate U.S. diplomats, CIA people and their Afghan friends from the American embassy to the safety of aircraft carriers offshore. The 38-mile drive from Kabul to Bagram air base has long been such a Taliban shooting gallery that U.S. personnel opt for helicopters. If it wants, the Islamist guerrillas can presumably pour mortar and rocket fire down on the airfield and transport planes.

Once a nightmare, a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan is now an all too real possibility. It’s not clear whether U.S. leaders have truly grasped that. They’ve been kidding themselves about victory in Afghanistan for two decades now.

“The Americans have the watches,” the Taliban is fond of saying, “but we have the time.”

And now that time has come.


17. Understanding the Iran Threat Network

rand.org · by Ariane M. Tabatabai, Jeffrey Martini, Becca Wasser

The full 27 page report can be downloaded at the link.


18. Joe Biden gives up on the war in Afghanistan, leaving a weak ally

The Economist  · April 13, 2021

Conclusion: “On September 20th 2001, as American forces geared up to invade Afghanistan, President George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress that “this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion.” He was right about that.


19. Biden and Suga should take a hard stand on human rights

asiatimes.com · by Ted Gover · April 15, 2021

And President Moon should be part of the effort as well for all the areas discussed in the article and north Korea.


20. Will Japan Confront China? A Visit to Washington May Offer a Clue.

The New York Times · by Motoko Rich · April 14, 2021

It is going to have to be prepared to do so eventually.

Excerpts:Mr. Biden may also try to pull Japan along on climate change. Both Washington and Tokyo are working toward drastic reductions in carbon emissions, and Mr. Biden is hosting a climate summit next week. One goal is to persuade Japan to stop its financial support of coal projects abroad, which it has already started to reduce.

Mr. Suga may hope that a fruitful trip to Washington will bolster his standing at home, where he is politically vulnerable. The Japanese public is unhappy with his administration’s management of the pandemic and a slow vaccine rollout (although Mr. Suga has been cleared to travel after being vaccinated himself), and a majority oppose the decision to host the Olympic Games this summer.

The trip’s success may depend in part on whether Mr. Suga develops a rapport with Mr. Biden. Seasoned watchers of Japan will be closely tracking Mr. Suga, who is not known for his charisma, especially after his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, spent considerable time and effort wooing Mr. Biden’s predecessor.

“We have two older and very traditional politicians in a lot of ways,” said Kristin Vekasi, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine. “I will be curious to see what they do.”


21. Biden Finally Got to Say No to the Generals

The New Yorker · by Susan B. Glasser · April 14, 2021

We seem to be trying to make this into some kind of civil-military divide but this seems to be the president making a decisive decision that only he can make whether we like the decision or not.

Excerpts: “The world of 2021 is just not the world of 2001. The list of more pressing concerns—recited by Avril Haines, the director of National Intelligence, and elaborated on in the report—began with an aggressive China and extended to Russia, Iran, North Korea, cyberattacks, climate change, global pandemics, financial crises, rising authoritarianism, international terrorist groups, and, in a striking acknowledgement for this annual national-security ritual, domestic violent extremists, such as the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, on January 6th. No wonder that Mark Warner, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called Haines’s testimony “a list of about as many awful things as I have heard in ten minutes as I may have heard in recent times.”


Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan must be understood in that context. After a pandemic that has killed close to six hundred thousand Americans, new thinking about what constitutes a threat to the United States is desperately required. More Americans were dying every day during the pandemic’s height than in the entire two decades of the U.S. involvement in the Afghan war. And it was Americans seeking to stop the peaceful transfer of power who attacked the seat of American government, in January. National security is no longer a matter purely of foreign policy. Biden admitted he was making a choice, and maybe it will even prove to be the wrong one. But it’s a choice, he said, to “fight the battles for the next twenty years—not the last twenty.”


22. Army Band HIJACKS Ballad of the Green Berets! | SOFREP

sofrep.com · April 13, 2021

Not a critical national security issue of course.  

I have been told that it was Dolly Parton who wrote the extra verse. Compare the lyrics here

Other than the controversial verse I think the Army Band should be commended for a beautiful rendition of the song of the Special Forces Regiment.




Science must become Art….Of the two fields into which we have divided the conduct of war, tactics and strategy, the theory of the latter contains unquestionably, as before observed, the greatest difficulties, because the first is almost limited to a circumscribed field of objects, but the latter in the direction of objects leading directly to peace, opens to itself an unlimited field of possibilities. 

War is part of the intercourse of the human race. We say therefore, war belongs not to the province of arts and sciences, but to the province of social life.

– Clausewitz


“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”

Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight; (2) he will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces; (3) he will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks; (4) he will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared; (5) he will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.” 

– Sun Tzu


Thu, 04/15/2021 – 9:47am

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