04/17/2021 News & Commentary – National Security

News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs.

1. The Russia Bounty Story Was Always Murky

2. A Platoon Leader’s Takeaways from the Anti-Extremism Stand-Down

3. Remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Suga of Japan at Press Conference

4. Ukraine’s Unconventional Warfare Plan to Resist a Russian Invasion

5. How Delta, Rangers, and the Green Berets’ unique training would pay off in an Arctic war with Russia

6. The simple reasons online disinformation may never be fixed

7. America’s Come-From-Behind Pandemic Victory

8. ‘A long way to go:’ Why TikTok still has a QAnon and COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theory problem

9. Unconventional Supply Network Operations: A New Frontier in Global Competition

10. Huawei was able to eavesdrop on Dutch mobile network KPN: Report

11. How State’s Disinformation-Fighting Arm Uses Artificial Intelligence

12. What America’s Vaccination Campaign Proves to the World

13. Norway to allow U.S. military to build on its soil in new accord

14. The U.S. Marines Just Gave Us a Preview of How They Would Fight China

15.  Eight cadets at West Point expelled for cheating, over 50 set back a year

16. US should accept that its FONOPs have political implications

17. Biden Delegation Pledges US Support for Taiwan Self-Defense

18. Hard strategic realities keep US and Japan apart

19. The Contradiction That Doomed America’s Mission in Afghanistan

20. Trump-era Efforts to Boost Military Readiness Produced Mixed Results, GAO Finds

21. Trumpism lives on in new thinktank – but critics say it’s ‘just a grift’

22. The Claremont Institute’s Counterrevolution to Save America

23. Opinion | How Kash Patel rose from obscure Hill staffer to key operative in Trump’s battle with the intelligence community

 

1. The Russia Bounty Story Was Always Murky

vitalinterests.thedispatch.com · by Thomas Joscelyn

Excerpts: “From the beginning, the U.S. intelligence community wasn’t really sure whether the Russians actually paid for any anti-American operations. In other words, they didn’t know whether the alleged bounty offers had any real effect.

The reality is that the U.S. intelligence community is inundated with “low to moderate confidence”-type reporting all the time. Why did the alleged Russian bounties deserve front-page attention? It’s natural to suspect that anything Russia-related stood out to officials during the Trump years, when the president was widely accused of being a Russian asset and a Kremlin hook could instantly hype any story.

Again, the U.S. government should be forward leaning when it comes to protecting American troops, especially as they are withdrawn from Afghanistan. But that doesn’t mean this story deserved all the attention it received.”

The more I think about this entire incident the ​more I think this was a successful information and influence operation to exploit the existing divide in our country as well as the gullibility of the biased press on one side of the political divide. And the biased press on the other side will make the same hay over these recent intelligence assessments.

 

2. A Platoon Leader’s Takeaways from the Anti-Extremism Stand-Down

fromthegreennotebook.com · by Connor Collins · April 16, 2021

This platoon leader answered the proverbial LT questions: “What do you do now, Lieutenant?” Agree or disagree with this him, he did something.

Conclusion: “Therefore I offer three simple suggestions for junior leaders to act on personally and with their units. Each one flows from my three main points. First, peruse the Constitution once a year and talk honestly with colleagues about its (in)significance to you. Second, talk politics and be prepared to listen to different opinions. And third–perhaps the hardest of the three–examine yourself as a citizen of the internet. If small unit leaders can do these things personally, and perhaps even encourage their subordinates to do the same, our military will be better prepared for the wide range of challenges it will face in the coming decades.”

 

3. Remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Suga of Japan at Press Conference

Office of the President of the United States  • APRIL 16, 2021 

Key excerpts: Prime Minister Suga:

“On North Korea, we confirmed our commitment to the CVID of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, and agreed to demand North Korea to fulfill its obligations under Security Council resolutions.

On the issue of abduction, we reaffirmed that it is a grave human rights issue, and that our two countries will work together to seek immediate resolution by North Korea. Encountering North Korea, and for the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific, both of us recognize that trilateral cooperation, including the ROK, has never been as important as today, and agreed to promote such collaboration.”

President Biden: “We committed to working together to take on the challenges from China and on issues like the East China Sea, the South China Sea, as well as North Korea, to ensure a future of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Again note the reference to UN Security Council resolutions as well as trilateral ROK-Japan-US cooperation on north Korea. Prime Minister Suga is “on message.”

 

4. Ukraine’s Unconventional Warfare Plan to Resist a Russian Invasion

coffeeordie.com · by Nolan Peterson · April 13, 2021

The employment of resistance. Possibly to achieve unconventional deterrence (Robert Jones, Deterring “Competition Short of War”: Are Gray Zones the Ardennes of our Modern Maginot Line of Traditional Deterrence? https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/deterring-competition-short-war-are-gray-zones-ardennes-our-modern-maginot-line 

Here are some references that apply for those who want to look at the concept of resistance against revisionist powers. These provide the intellectual foundation for studying and understanding resistance.

JSOU: Resistance Operating Concept (ROC) by Otto C. Fiala Foreword by Major General Kirk Smith Brigadier General Anders Löfberg: https://jsou.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=54216464

SOCEUR: Resistance Operating Concept: https://nsiteam.com/social/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/U-SMA-Brief-SOCEUR-Resistance-Operating-Concept.pdf

USASOC ARIS Project:

Resistance Manual: https://www.soc.mil/ARIS/books/pdf/resistance-manual.pdf

Science of Resistance: https://www.soc.mil/ARIS/books/pdf/science-resistance.pdf

Understanding States of Resistance: https://www.soc.mil/ARIS/books/pdf/understanding-states-resistance.pdf

Tactical Pocket Reference – Resistance: https://www.soc.mil/ARIS/books/pdf/tactical-states-reference.pdf

Resistance and the Cyber Domain: https://www.soc.mil/ARIS/books/pdf/resistance-cyber.pdf

 

5. How Delta, Rangers, and the Green Berets’ unique training would pay off in an Arctic war with Russia

Business Insider · by Stavros Atlamazoglou

 

6. The simple reasons online disinformation may never be fixed

sciencefocus.com · by Nina Jankowicz

Depressing but probably accurate.

Excerpts: “I used to use the term ‘media literacy’, but now I talk about ‘information literacy’. Being information literate is broader than understanding how social media platforms work and how they target you. It’s about the whole ecosystem that a consumer of information online needs to understand to have the full context, like why am I being targeted with this?

In terms of how we fight this, there’s no easy solution. Fact checking people individually doesn’t work. People tend to stand their ground when they see something that tells them that they’re wrong.

I’ve found that getting into a conversation has some success. Ask them, “Why do you believe this article? What appeals to you about it?” Understand where they’re coming from and then hopefully equip them without saying, “you’re wrong.” Instead, we can say, “I know you care about child trafficking. Here is a better source than that.” And then, over time and with better evidence, they come to change their minds.

The emotional approach takes so much more time and energy, but it’s what you need to do to counteract disinformation online.”

 

7. America’s Come-From-Behind Pandemic Victory

Foreign Policy · by Hal Brands · April 16, 2021

Very interesting assessment from our Grand Strategy expert, Hal Brands:How much of this is a direct result of COVID-19? Probably quite a lot. National security hawks had been trying to convince Americans for years that China was a dangerous rival, but it was only during COVID-19 that the proportion of Americans who see Beijing as the country’s greatest enemy more than doubled, from 22 percent to 45 percent. In 9 of 12 countries surveyed, negative views of Xi increased by double digits between 2019 and 2020. Granted, international audiences also think the United States did a horrible job handling the pandemic. But the United States has an opportunity under new leadership to rebuild its credibility. Xi is not going anywhere, and the worst characteristics of China’s COVID-19 response—particularly the secrecy and vicious dishonesty that have been there from the start—are intrinsic to the Leninist, one-party system he runs.

In retrospect, COVID-19 may loom largest as the moment when Beijing, in more openly revealing its ambitions and tactics, also unintentionally helped to derail them. This argument may sound ridiculous after a year when the United States lost so many of its own citizens. And the United States hinges on its ability to make the most of the opportunities before it—after a period when the country’s reputation for pursuing the bold, positive policies that are needed today has itself taken a beating.

But COVID-19 would hardly be the only example of an international crisis that ultimately produced geopolitical outcomes at variance with first, or even second, impressions. The pandemic is not done tormenting the United States just yet. It is, however, moving into a new phase that is less likely to reveal a struggling superpower and more an impressively resilient one.”

 

8. ‘A long way to go:’ Why TikTok still has a QAnon and COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theory problem

USA Today · by Jessica Guynn

These ideas are not limited to TikTok. I see them all the time on social media (and among “closed” Facebook groups!). And there are non-QAnon adherents who believe and further disseminate these ideas.

The latest QAnon and COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy videos on TikTok advanced debunked theories that members of the U.S. government are trying to “overthrow our constitutional government,” and that Bill Gates and Dr. Anthony Fauci caused COVID-19 to profit from it.

 

9. Unconventional Supply Network Operations: A New Frontier in Global Competition

realcleardefense.com · by Daniel Egel and Ken Gleiman

From two of my favorite unconventional strategic thinkers.

Conclusion: “Building cross-functional, multi-domain strategies, tactics, and organizational models designed to dynamically map, monitor, and then either manipulate or attack these complex, adaptive supply networks could be one of the next great challenges of international security. The United States lacks appropriate operational frameworks, strategies and tactics, as well as the accompanying advanced tools to, at speed and scale, gain the necessary forensic understanding for these operations.

 

10. Huawei was able to eavesdrop on Dutch mobile network KPN: Report

nltimes.nl

Sure, Huawei is not a security threat.

 

11. How State’s Disinformation-Fighting Arm Uses Artificial Intelligence

nextgov.com 

Technology is great and fighting disinformation is important but what about offensively getting our superior message out? Our values? Our desired American narrative? When are we going to be proactive instead of reacting and trying to counter the narratives of the revision and rogue power and violent extremist organizations?

But as Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” This is the most frank and honest and accurate assessment I have read by a US government official. Kudos to Mr. Kimmage.

“If I could really use one word to characterize the whole philosophical approach of the Global Engagement Center, its partnerships,” he added. “We realize that the U.S. government is, in most cases, not the most effective communicator with most audiences, and the U.S. government is not always going to be the most innovative, because there are all kinds of constraints in a big bureaucracy. So, what we try to do is identify and support partners who are at the cutting-edge of innovation, who are thinking creatively about what’s going to happen next.”

So much of the activity GEC tracks is on digital platforms via technical tools. The center established a technology engagement team that works with the officials in the tech sector to identify innovative tools that could be put to use to combat the threats. They maintain a testbed and have biweekly demonstrations.

“We’ve reviewed over 200 tools,” Kimmage said. “We’ve done more in-depth testing on 25 tools and some of those are now being put to work by some of our partners.”

GEC also maintains an online platform and community of interest—disinfocloud.com—to connect with relevant stakeholders.

“We’re very eager to engage,” Kimmage said.

 

12. What America’s Vaccination Campaign Proves to the World

The Atlantic · by Anne Applebaum · April 10, 2021

Excerpts: “But an opportunity for the U.S. might lie precisely here, in the authoritarian drive to politicize the vaccines. The best answer to Russian and Chinese strongmen who offer thousands of vaccines to countries that say nice things about them is to flood the market with millions of American doses, helping everyone regardless of what they say about the U.S. or anyone else. After Trump, the American political system won’t win much admiration again anytime soon. But if American democracy is no longer a trusted product, American efficiency could be once again. Within a matter of weeks, a majority of American adults will have had their first dose of a vaccine. What if the U.S. then begins to pivot from mass-vaccinating its own citizens to mass-vaccinating the rest of the world? Americans can’t do social trust, but we can do vaccines, plus the military logistics needed to distribute them: planes, trucks, cold-storage chains. The best cure for propaganda and disinformation is real-life experience: If people see that the vaccines work, they will eventually get one. We can end the global pandemic, improve the economy for everybody, protect ourselves and everyone else, and create the relationships that can help us deal with crises to come.

The U.S. might even have an opportunity to turn a mass-delivery effort into something more permanent. If the World Health Organization has become too bureaucratic and too reliant on China to enjoy the complete confidence of the rest of the world, then let’s use this moment to build COVAX into something new, something more trustworthy: an institution that provides smarter delivery systems, more efficient biomedical cooperation, and links among production centers in Europe, India, Africa, and elsewhere in the world. Vaccine nationalism is small-minded, self-centered, and ultimately self-defeating, because COVID-19 will not cease to be a problem until no one has it. This is the moment to think big, the moment for generosity and big ideas. As our massive logistical investment in refrigerated transport begins to pay off, the question for Americans is not just how we can enter the game, but how we can change it.”

 

13. Norway to allow U.S. military to build on its soil in new accord

Reuters

Another issue for all the anti-US overseas base haters to protest over.

 

14. The U.S. Marines Just Gave Us a Preview of How They Would Fight China

19fortyfive.com · by Caleb Larson · April 16, 2021

 

15.  Eight cadets at West Point expelled for cheating, over 50 set back a year

USA Today · by Tom Vanden Brook

Oh no. Not again. But I suppose the military remains a microcosm of our society.

 

16. US should accept that its FONOPs have political implications

asiatimes.com · by More by Mark Valencia · April 17, 2021

Perhaps this is part of an IO campaign to show the US is not solely focused on “containing” China and is asserting FON rights regardless of the country. Of course I would hope this kind of action would be coordinated behind closed doors with India if that were the case

 

17.  Biden Delegation Pledges US Support for Taiwan Self-Defense

thediplomat.com · by Nick Aspinwall · April 17, 2021

Emphasis on “self?”

 

18.  Hard strategic realities keep US and Japan apart

asiatimes.com · by Andrew Salmon · April 16, 2021

Again to paraphrase Clint: “A country’s got to know its limitations or the limitations of its allies.”

 

19. The Contradiction That Doomed America’s Mission in Afghanistan

The New York Times · by Max Fisher · April 17, 2021

 

20. Trump-era Efforts to Boost Military Readiness Produced Mixed Results, GAO Finds

defenseone.com · by Elizabeth Howe

The question is do we need a new way to measure readiness? Or even to define what is readiness? And readiness for what?

 

21. Trumpism lives on in new thinktank – but critics say it’s ‘just a grift’

The Guardian · by David Smith · April 17, 2021

AFPI.

 

22. The Claremont Institute’s Counterrevolution to Save America

realclearwire.com · by Mike Sabo

Conclusion: By reasserting Americans’ control over their political institutions, Claremont seeks to help recover republican government.

 

23. Opinion | How Kash Patel rose from obscure Hill staffer to key operative in Trump’s battle with the intelligence community

The Washington Post · April 16, 2021

With all due respect to the many great young political appointees and civil servants serving in our government the Africa resource mission by the SEALs indicates how youth and inexperience can hinder real world operations and lead to tragedy.

Excerpt: “Anger toward Patel within the national security bureaucracy mounted after an Oct. 31, 2020, hostage rescue mission in Nigeria. The incident, never previously reported in detail, was described by four high-level sources.

It was a rescue mission that was nearly aborted partly because of inadequate coordination by Patel. SEAL Team Six had been assigned to rescue 27-year-old Philip Walton, a missionary’s son who had been kidnapped by gunmen in Niger, near the border with Nigeria. Patel, as a senior counterterrorism adviser, had assured colleagues that the mission had a green light, according to several sources. The SEALs were ready to parachute into the rescue site from high altitude (one source estimated 30,000 feet) when there was a last-minute hitch.

But as the SEALs were about to jump, military commanders and State Department officials realized that one necessary item hadn’t been completed: The Nigerian government hadn’t been informed prior to the operation inside their country, as required.

A frantic last-minute effort to obtain the necessary permission ensued. The SEAL team’s aircraft held over the target, flying in a racetrack pattern, for about 45 minutes while the State Department tried to locate a Nigerian national security official who could receive the official notice. Finally, just 15 minutes before the operational window closed, the Nigerians were given word, the SEALs parachuted down, and the hostage was rescued.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were angry that, in their view, Patel had prematurely said the operation was fully cleared, according to knowledgeable officials. One senior Pentagon official said he was “incensed” at Patel. A second senior Pentagon described Patel’s actions as potentially “dangerous” for the SEALs.

 

Young political appointees and civil servants would do well to remember General Schoomaker’s adage: “Don’t ever confuse enthusiasm with capability.” This is also worth a read

 

————–

 

“One can define their way to failure, but one must understand their way to success.”  

-Robert Jones

 

“I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

– Voltaire

 

“Having a strategy suggests an ability to look up from the short term and the trivial to view the long term and the essential, to address causes rather than symptoms, to see woods rather than trees.”
– Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History

 

DanielRiggs
Sat, 04/17/2021 – 1:04pm

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