Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing"

Sunday, March 27, 2005

'Toothless' System Administrators: the State Dept's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization

"[W]e are working to strengthen international capacities to address conditions in failed, failing and post-conflict states. . . . President Bush already has charged us at the State Department with coordinating our nation's post-conflict and stabilization efforts." -- Secretary Rice, February 17, 2005

This quote in part sums up the underlying theme behind the newly formed Office for the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) at the US State Department. Created officially in August 2004 by then Secretary Colin Powell, the basic premise behind the Office is in step with concepts laid out by strategic thinkers such as Dr. Thomas Barnett and Mark of Zenpundit. Their concepts include the formation of a ‘System Administrator’ force to not only react to post-conflict situations, but to proactively prevent or stabilize areas in which civil conflict and strife are inevitable. In essence, the S/CRS hopes to pre-empt any of the difficulties that the United States has encountered in post-war Iraq while planning for and reversing conflict escalation in other trouble spots around the world. In order to do this, the Office would ‘bring together civilian experts in such field as political administration, law enforcement and economics and give them a seat at the table alongside the military during the planning of U.S intervention in troubled states’. This is a big step in the right direction and ensures that the ‘everything else’ in any military conflict is taken into greater consideration. By putting teams of individuals from several government agencies together, as well as from private-sector groups, the head of the S/CRS, Carols Pascual, will attempt to ensure communication and sufficient planning will occur when instabilities are targeted for US intervention and that the areas and states are brought back into a sustainable path of peace, democracy, and a market economy. There is also hope for these teams to serve as an early warning system to help identify nation-states which seem to be failing or show signs of internal conflict. Perhaps some aspects of the Nation-State Failure concept by Robert Rothberg can serve as a set of guideposts in determining the tell-tell signs of a nations failing nature.
As listed on the State Departments website the Core Objectives of the S/CRS are:

-Monitor and Plan

-Mobilize and Deploy

-Prepare Skills and Resources

-Learn from Experience

-Coordinate with International Partners

One thing that appears to be missing is any mention of a security or ‘Protector’ role, either in coordination or in implementation, as Mr Safranski lays out in his Zenpundit blog, “A System Administrator is a protector, mentor and coordinator”. This idea sounds much like the foundation the State Department is attempting to lay, using the S/CRS as its cornerstone, but again lacks the security aspect. Most, if not all, of the situations that the S/CRS will be involved with will be in highly insecure and destabilized areas and the quickest way to fail in such a situation is to come either poorly armed or worse - - not armed at all. In such situations,force will need to be applied immediately and security established fso the inter-agency/private sector teams of the S/CRS can fulfill their mission effectively. For example, the situation of Somali in the early 1990s; the force of thousands of US Marines was applied throughout the city of Mogadishu during the beginning stages of the intervention, and the relief agencies were able to perform their basic tasks in relative safety and accomplish what they set out to do. Upon the removal of the Marine Corps contingent and the establishment of the Army Ranger base at the airport, civil strife began to creep back in and the ensuing Blackhawk Down incident occurred. The point is that while the show of force was in their midst, those that are part of the conflict and strife are able to be controlled or influenced in a way so the rebuilders and re-connectors can accomplish their goals. Once local government functions and security forces have been established and properly trained, then phased pullouts of the SysAdmin security forces can begin.

As written in an earlier post, “State Department Soldiers, the beginning of the SysAdmin”, the Defense Department seems to be moving parallel with the State Department and much can be said for these revolutionary changes. In keeping with the concept of a System Administrator force to deal with pre and post conflict reconstruction and stabilization, it is integral for the US military and specifically the Marine Corps to be intricately involved. The Marine Corps is becoming quite adept in the role of carrying the “big stick” of force projection as well as “walking softly” in the post-conflict to help reconstruct infrastructure and restore basic service. This is evident in the post-war Iraq rebuilding of electricity, water and sewage plants as well as providing basic health and medical services. Truly one cannot think of a better synergy of the two departments of State and Defense than to combine the applied force projection of the United States Marine Corps with the multi-faceted experience in re-building afforded by the S/CRS. With such a combination, a true System Administrator force can begin its seemingly daunting task of prevention, preparation, stabilization and reconstruction of conflict prone and failing nation-states.

New State Dept. Office Aimed at Postwar Aid
Washington Post
: March 25, 2005

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

"State Department Soldiers" and the beginnings of a 'SysAdmin' Force?

A Pentagon in the “Context of Everything Else”

It seems that the Pentagon and the Secretary of Defense himself are beginning to come around to many of the same conclusions that Thomas Barnett has ascertained concerning the Pentagon's role in 'war in the context of everything else'. In a document that outlines a new 'visionary' agenda for the military that will include a larger focus on ‘battling terrorists and insurgents’ (GWOT campaign, Afghanistan, Iraq) ‘over conventional military challenges’ (rising China, resurgent Russia). The new goal is to drive the armed services to design and develop new systems and means of using them against 4 core problems;

-Combat Internal Terrorist Threats in Failed and Collapsed States (The non-integrating Gap), by forming relationships in military training and aid

-Continue to provide a defense of the homeland against terrorist attacks

-Persuade possible future near-peer countries (China, Russia) from aggression

-Stop and rollback WMD proliferation.

The major point of this shift seems to be rooted in the attempt to ‘prevent problems from becoming crises and crises from becoming all-out conflicts.’ So instead of waiting for an Islamist group to launch attacks in a failing state, the Pentagon will seek to equip and train the local government to effectively protect themselves as in the case of many current GWOT deployments in Sub-Saharan Africa. Also when a crisis arises such as what occurred in the Philippines in the past few years with their on-going battle against Abu-Sayyef, increased support has been given including on the ground military advisors. Underlying these concepts in the Pentagon is the belief that the United States is now engaged in a sustained global conflict that warrants a more proactive approach, ‘focused on changing the world instead of just responding to conflicts’.

Although this review will soon be sent to Congress, it does not require any approval and will then be sent to the Bush Administration to help guide future defense spending and engagements. Even though this is the case there will be some heavy political battles in the near future as big ticket defense items and their contracts will be cut and possibly shunted into new technologies and deployments that the review highlights.

State Department Soldiers, the beginning of the SysAdmin”

One very big component of the SecDef’s review and subsequent revamping of the military is the apparent push for solutions that include the deployment of small ‘culturally savvy’ teams to train indigenous forces (Green Beret Style) as well as the ability to deploy these and other small US military forces to places where conflict is eminent to support the failing governments forces against any guerilla or terrorists groups from turning into a widespread insurgency. Officials behind the review hope to have several of such teams around the world in a proactive attempt to prevent failing and collapsed states from becoming havens for terrorist training and logistical basing.

This is probably one of the most revolutionary changes in the thinking of the Pentagon upper echelon as it puts the focus of the future war not in near-peer adversaries like China or Russia, but in the non-state actors that run rampant through the ‘non-integrating Gap’, using the relative lack of rule-sets and coherent governance to launch attacks on the ‘functioning Core’. Leading to charge to fill this position seems to be the Marine Corps by ‘shifting away from its traditional amphibious assault missions to new units designed to work with foreign troops’. By developing and equipping a force to deal proactively with these type of threats and doing so in a way that allows them to be culturally sensitive and with a goal of restoring order while maintaining the capabilities of an effective fighting force, these soldiers could become the foundation of a future SysAdmin force envisioned by many strategic thinkers.

nods to ZenPundit and strieff at RedState

Pentagon Prepares to Rethink Focus on Conventional Warfare
Washington Post: January 26 2005

Rumsfeld Details Big Military Shift in New Document
Wall Street
Journal: March 11 2005

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

From Bad to Worse. Israel Leaks Plans to Attack Iran

Israel Plans to Hit Iran Nuke Plant-Sunday Times

ABC-Reuters March 13 2004

In the community of international relations it seems that perception is a large part of dealing with your neighbors, your distant relatives and the neighborhood troublemakers. Sometimes you need to give the outward perception of a big, menacing force that can quickly and easily ruin any troublemakers day (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan). Other times you need to speak forcefully with others in order to help them see the error of their ways and when that doesn’t work; you pull out your wallet portfolio of what can happen (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan). Still other times you put away the portfolio and the harsh language and instead attempt to reason with and offer positive incentives to those who cause fear and instability, in an attempt to help them realize a rational means of change and reform (i.e. Iran).

In recent weeks the United States has gone from a hard-line stubborn nose approach to dealing with Iran to a more slightly softer, hard-line approach in order to try and prove that it is willing to work with the Islamic Republic with regards to the nuclear enrichment row. Joining with the EU, the US has offered to not block Iran's badly needed ascension into the WTO and allow US made spare part for its aging jetliner fleet to be sold to Iran. Of course, in a classical mullah'move (im trade marking this as a term to define every time in which the ruling clerics/elite, make a move that seems purely propagandist in nature and of no realpolitik substance), they have subsequently rejected any US offer of economic assistance or breaks, saying that it is their right to have and pursue 'peaceful' uses of nuclear technology. In regards to the body of the NPT, they are right and are allowed to perform 'some' enrichments but they are also in breach of about 35% of the treaty and so don’t have too much of a leg to stand on there. Still, the writing is on the wall and here is what it says, “We (Iran) will have nuclear technology and if we choose, nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them." This writing is obvious to many as they look though the history of the Iranian nuclear agreements and negotiations, as a pattern of 'ok give me A, B and C and I will stop enriching Uranium, but not really'. So if the Iranians are hell-bent on obtaining nuclear weapons regardless of pokes, prods, sticks or carrots, what can we do to stop them? That is for another post and an upcoming whitepaper; Re-Connecting Iran, a roadmap for change that will be released very soon. The argument of this author is that military action, unilaterally by the Israelis, with or without American help is the single WORST option available. As good as Israeli and American intelligence is, the intel is murky at best on Iranian nuclear facilities. Learning from the earlier attack in 1981 on the Iraqi Osirik reactor, Iran has spread out its facilities all over the Islamic Republic and most are buried directly under residential neighborhoods. Any Israeli attack would need to be a coordinated ground and air attack in an effort to destroy as many of the facilities as possible and with the least amount of collateral damage. Still in such a scenario, even with a mission success rate of 75-80%, many of the key facilities would be left intact and would no doubt prompt the IRGC to ramp up nuclear weapon production significantly. This is not even the worst part of the entire scenario. By attacking Iran proper itself and not having even a slight idea of the internal infrastructure, collateral damage is an almost certainty. The Iranian people are not Arabs, but are a proud population of Persians that have been invaded and attacked by the surrounding world continuously throughout history and each time their ferocity has increased. An attack on Iran, by whatever outside force will result in the galvanization of the Iranian people (who do not like nor agree with their leaders) to stand solidly behind them and cause the US lose the last best chance for reform in Iran and stability in the region. Even though the United States might sit this one out, it would still be seen by the Iranians that the US 'let' or 'helped' the Israelis and this would undoubtedly be true (Use of US air bases, re-fuelers, intelligence, air space). At this point, diplomacy will truly be dead and future US Military involvement will no doubt be soon to follow. If there are those that believe that the Iraqi insurgency is a nightmare scenario, the images of young soldiers carrying their own coffins to the front lines and the 8 million Iranians that were killed in the Iran-Iraq war should paint a picture of things to come.

Israel no doubt must be allowed to defend herself against all enemies foreign and domestic, but they must also understand the ramifications of acting prematurely. Iran has stated several times throughout its Islamic Revolution period that the Jewish state is a sworn enemy but this is the case more in rhetoric than in truth. Most Persians do not consider themselves to have anything to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are quick to point out that they are not Arabs. If the Israeli military strikes, this will change quickly, willingly and without question.

The Iranian government is not utterly incompetent and in most cases, has shown that they are a very rational political body, worried more about survivability than much of the rhetoric that are spewed at large rallies and protests. While it may be hard to see this from the perspective of a resident of Tel Aviv, well within the range of a nuclear tipped Shahab-3 ballistic missile, it must also be seen that Iran realizes that such an attack would end only in their own demise and as any politician knows, that is a fate worse than Hell.

Israel, do not yet cast our last option in regards to Iran. Do not incite a wave of violence from the Persian and Shi'ia communities that will reach Biblical proportions in its magnitude and severity. While we might yet be forced to use a military option, that time is not yet at hand. Surprise, Intelligence and Will is not with us and so is neither victory.

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
-Sun Tzu, the Art of War

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Friday, March 11, 2005

South Korea prepares for Re-connection with the North

South Korean Aid to North Increases Tensions with U.S.

Wall Street Journal: March 11, 2005

The South it seems is preparing for the sooner rather than later fact that the Northern regime will ultimately collapse and does not want to be left holding the 'bag' of a broken and devastated North Korea. Boasting the world's 10th largest economy, South Korea is deathly afraid of the aftermath of a North Korea collapse rather than the threat of nuclear or conventional weapons raining down on Seoul. So afraid in fact that they are beginning to pour investments, aid and basic materials in the North in an effort to 're-connect' the North's non-existent infrastructure and help ease the pain associated with any future re-unification. Taking the East/West German event as a case study, Seoul is building a large industrial park just over the border and increasing its exchange programs between the two Koreas.

All of this is sparking some concern in DC, where most see this as placating Kim Jong-Il and his despotic regime, further keeping his power afloat. It could also be seen as being counterproductive in the ongoing six-party talks that are attempting to prevent Pyongyang from producing more nuclear arms and stronger ballistic missiles. Not that this concern and tension between South Korea and the US is anything new or to not be expected. Many in the ROK feel that Washington just does not understand the depth at the dangers that they face in either a continued 'whacky' North Korea or even a collapsed regime. In both cases, the people of S. Korea are on the receiving end of a bad deal, one where they are under threat of invasion/massive conventional artillery strikes or severe economic and social damage from integrating a weaker than weak North.

All in all this is the best option for the South as facing the future prospect of a re-unification with a regime as badly damaged and broken as the North's. To move forward without planning and on some level attempting to help raise the level inside their neighbor would be a disaster for not only Seoul but for the region as well, as any major decline in the South's major economy will no doubt have ripple effects through that of Japan and China and at a crucial moment as they struggle to find a common monetary reserve. Although the fact exists that in doing so they may prolong the inevitable collapse of Kim Jong-Il, they will not extend that by much and may just make a transition to a unified Korean pennisula that much more smooth.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Sec General Annan says 'UN must accept Hezbollah', is al-Qaeda next?

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations must recognize Hezbollah as a force to be reckoned with in implementing the U.N. resolution calling for the withdrawal of all Syrian forces from Lebanon and the disarmament of the country's militias, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday. Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Now when I first saw this headline, I thought surely this is farce piece from the Onion or similar satire news outlet. Surely the head executive for the United Nations and representative of so many great nations did not just publicly endorse or concede that a major transnational terrorist organization with a stated goal of 'the destruction of Israel' should be accepted.... Now I will in admit in the previous post I pointed out that Hezbollah seems to be making overtures that might one day lead to evolving into a legitimate form of political party, but that "some day" is not anytime this week nor in the next 160.

During the questioning from reporters, Annan says:
"But even the Hezbollah - if I read the message on the placards they are using - they are talking about non-interference by outsiders ... which is not entirely at odds with the Security Council resolution, that there should be withdrawal of Syrian troops," Annan told reporters.

"But that having been said, we need to recognize that they are a force in society that one will have to factor in as we implement the resolution," he said.
Yes, Hezbollah is a force within Lebanese society, but they have already been factored in the actual text of the resolution in question, UN Resolution 1559. Resolution 1559 Calls upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon; (i.e. Syria) and Calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non- Lebanese militias; (i.e. Hezbollah)

So how exactly can the United Nations Security Council, pass a resolution for the removal of something that the head executive of that very same Council (Mr. Annan), says we should 'accept'? My only wonder is that if Secretary General Annan is so easily swayed by one of the world's deadliest producers of terrorist activity, seconded only by al-Qaeda after September 11, how can he be counted as an ally in a Global War against Terrorism(islamist)? Must we remind Mr. Annan and the Europeans that it was Hezbollah that attacked and killed over 300 US Marines and French Peacekeepers in Beirut in 1983 and is date responsible for over 185 terrorist acts, worldwide resulting in over 808 deaths and 987 serious injuries. Possibly mentioning to them that they also support and train Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Ansar Allah would help them to change their minds about 'accepting' Hezbollah and their private television station al-Manar.

Bottom line. As of May of last year, Hezbollah was still launching terror attacks on Israelis and Lebanese. This means in all definitions of the word, that they are a functioning terrorist organization and any attempts at legitimizing or accepting without them first declaring cessation of hostilities and denouncement of terror operations, will only be seen as a victory in their eyes over the West. My only hope is that if al-Zawahiri or Zarqawi of al-Qaeda ever "seem" to be an acceptable group in the eyes of the UN Secretary General, that we will quickly, willingly and without question, remove him from office and place him firmly within the genocidal Darfur region of Sudan (Since Annan does not believe genocide took place or that large numbers of 'different' people were slaughtered).

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Hezbollah: Emerging Viable/Legitimate Actor or Just more of the same?

The large gathering of people (Lebanese and Syrian) in downtown Beirut today (March 8th) can best be described using 3 key words; massive (estimates of 200,000 to 1 million), peaceful (for one of the most active transnational terrorists groups that is), Hezbollah (the backers, organizers and participants). This harkens so many more questions than answers that I hardly know where to begin let alone what exactly to say. Underpinning this entire day has been the fact that democracy is even more on the march now with the advent of dueling pro and anti-Syrian protests that were largely anti-climatic and involved no bloodshed. In the exact place that until only the last decade was wrecked by constant and devastating civil war and strife, these same opposing parties (minus the Israelis) have waged a different kind of battle using words and influence. That in its self is an amazing feat, never before thought possible, even in the most optimistic of circles. Even looking beyond this and accepting that the Lebanese people are ready for change, you have to look in confused wonder at the large and open display from the world's largest producer of terrorism and before September 11th, the group responsible for killing the greatest number of American Citizens, Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, a Shiite fundamentalist organization sponsored by both Syria and Iran, is infamously know for its heinous attacks on Israeli and American citizens and military personnel as well as enemies of the Iranian and Syrian governments. Boasting a large and well-equipped force in southern Lebanon's Bekka Valley, Hezbollah has been able to continuously harass its enemies and then retreat to the well-guarded areas under Syrian control. Recently however, Hezbollah has begin to shy away from spectacular and frequent attacks on its declared enemies and instead through the direction of its Chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has been sowing its seeds in more traditional and peaceful ways. Attempting to become a regional power broker and redefine itself as a legitimate political party, Hezbollah now holds a dozen or so seats in the Lebanese parliament and due to its numerous community social programs, it has a powerful sway over the Lebanese Shi'ia community (30% of the population)

So are we witnessing the evolution of a brutal transnational terrorists organization into a viable and most of all, legitimate political and social authority?

Not necessarily. It is quite possible that Hezbollah is positioning itself to take power of a wide swath of Lebanon, left by the supposed vacuum from exiting Syrian forces. They may see an opportunity in which to provide much of the same stabilizing effect but at a much higher cost. Although Hezbollah has evolved in light of September 11th into a much more tame or at least subdued organization, the 'party of God' still carries its violent and rageful hatred of the United States and Israel and will more than likely continue to be support and carry out acts of terrorism. Another possibility includes an ulterior motive of keeping a pillar of Syrian influence and dominance in Lebanon as it is forced under to pressure to pull its forces. This would leave an element behind which could be directly controlled by Damascus and Tehran and could be used in a variety of ways in direct opposition to democratic elections to be held this May.

In either case, Hezbollah is in a continuing state of transition as it evolves from a guerilla group of the brutal Lebanese Civil War to a modern day legitimate regional non-state actor. Considering the current power Hezbollah wields today; 12 members in Lebanese parliament, financial and logistical support from Syria and Iran, a large and quickly dominating Shi'ia population and enough high-tech weaponry that allows them to patrol southern Lebanon with UAVs(unmanned aerial vehicles), they occupy a position the necessitates the consideration in any power changes in Lebanon. It could very well end up that by pressuring Syria out of Lebanon, that Hezbollah could become more of an oppressor and harbringer of destruction. Or it could be the turning point in the history of a declared and heinous transnational terrorists group.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Re-Debut of the Weekly CITAR Threat Brief and Newsletter

After a long deserved hiatus, the weekly threat briefs are back! Every Monday we will release an HTML email complete with the previous weeks threat related news and reporting, recent analysis, whitepapers and news regarding happenings at the Center.

To sign up for the weekly threat brief, you can click on the subscribe link on the top of our main page. To preview this most recent newsletter to see a glimpse of what you will receive, click here.

In the coming months we will be continuously improving the newsletter as well as adding an additional monthly e-journal complete with contributed articles and more in depth analysis. This blog and the main site will keep all apprised of the details as they become available.

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Read, Review, Repeat... Upcoming review of "Security, Reform, Peace; The three pillars of US Strategy in the Middle East"

Sorry for the lack of postings lately. I am currently working on a decent sized white-paper on Reconnecting Iran as well as reviewing the Presidential Study Groups' Security, Reform, Peace; The three pillars of US Strategy in the Middle East.

I will be posting both very soon (this weekend perhaps), as well as some news about upcoming updates to the Center.

Stay Tuned and as always

For the latest in threat news and research, visit us at the Center for Independent Threat Analysis and Research.