Posts Tagged small wars journal

Quotes: Mexican Cartels Are Now Operating In Over 1,000 US Cities; Up From 195 Cities

This is a startling revelation, and this just came out in the National Drug Threat Assessment for 2011 I posted earlier.  A big hat tip to Small Wars Journal and Dr. Bunker for pointing out this fact and definitely follow the discussion over there if you are following this war.

I also wanted to mention that this weekend Borderland Beat posted a video and story that showed the execution of two men by a cartel execution squad. They cut one guy’s head off with a chainsaw, and the other guy’s head was cut off using a knife. The video was brutal to watch, and I will not post a link to it on this blog, but the imagery is left to your imagination. I have also seen this imagery and type of video elsewhere in the world, and that was in Iraq. Extremists cut off the heads of their captives and filmed it as well.

With both examples, the desired outcome of filming these executions was to send a message of horror and terror.  And believe me, I see no difference between how the cartels or terrorists deliver that message.

But the interesting point here that I wanted to make is that Iraq and Afghanistan are ‘over there’, and the war in Mexico is in our backyard.  Hell, with this report, the Mexican cartels are on now on the doorstep and seeping through the floor boards of the house. This is the war to be concerned about, and yet there is very little reaction to this in America.

It is like it is too awful to look at or acknowledge, much like the video of the chainsaw execution. But it happened, and the war in Mexico is happening, and we need to come to grips with that reality. Especially as these criminals infiltrate and turn Americans into traitors with their money and product.

Another example is the reaction the US has to a terror cell that is found and arrested on our soil. Politicians and the media get all riled up about such a thing, and terrorism is front and center on everyone’s minds.  Visions of 9/11 and a fear of a second attack just freaks people out.  That is terrorism.

But how are the cartels any different? They don’t just have one cell, but thousands of cells or groups throughout the US, and they sell drugs that have led to the deaths of thousands of Americans. Those same drugs have created addicts that go on to commit crimes and destroy families, all with a drive to get even more drugs. This addiction cycle has a profoundly negative impact on society, and this drug threat analysis clearly identified those issues.

The cartels profit off of American addiction, and they are infiltrating into this country in order to help create addicts, and then sell to those individuals for the lifetime of their addiction. These cartels find those who will help facilitate that process, and in war, you could actually view these individuals as traitors to this country. To provide a terrorism metaphor, it is a lot like how Al Qaeda looks for individuals that they can turn or convert into human weapons. Al Qaeda uses religion as the drug to make those individuals members of their cause, and the Cartels use drugs to make individuals ‘members of their cause’. The problem though is that it is far easier for a cartel to achieve their goals, compared to groups like Al Qaeda. That is the war, and that should trouble anyone that cares about the safety of their country. –Matt



Mexican Cartel Strategic Note
by Robert Bunker
September 25, 2011
Mexican Cartels (Transnational Criminal Organizations) Now Operating in Over 1,000 US Cities; Up From 195 US Cities
The recent publication of the US Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), National Drug Threat Assessment 2011 ( (August 2011) provides an important strategic insight into Mexican cartel penetration into the United States. On p. 8 of the document, a single sentence states:
Mexican-based TCOs were operating in more than a thousand U.S. cities during 2009-2010, spanning all nine OCDETF regions.
The corresponding note (g) is as follows:
Included are traffickers who purchase illicit drugs from TCO associates and distribute them on their own, cells that function as an extension of the TCO to traffic illicit drugs in the United States, and cells that provide warehousing, security, and/or transportation services for the TCO.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Publications: The Use Of Pseudo-Operations In The AFPAK Theater, By Dr Ronald Holt

     Awesome stuff and these are the topics I really dig discussing.  The more we talk about this concept, the more people can start looking at the pieces and make a ‘snowmobile’ out of it. What I really like about this paper is that it talks specifically about Afghanistan and Pakistan, which will help us to focus the discussion and make it more relevant. Especially check out the comments section at Small Wars Journal for this topic. –Matt


The Use of Pseudo-Operations in the AFPAK Theaterby Ronald Holt

September 15, 2010

Download the Full Article: The Use of Pseudo-Operations in the AFPAK Theatre

What would be the effect if we had small integrated groups of former Taliban and US Special Operators working together, masquerading as Taliban, living off the villagers as the Taliban do, and feeding USSOCOM actionable HUMINT?

This short paper is designed to be a “thought-piece” with the purpose of stimulating “out of the box” ideas. Pseudo Operations involve recruiting and training ex-insurgents to operate as insurgents and produce intelligence, cause enemy casualties, and create distrust between the local population and the insurgents. Such on the ground intelligence gives a deeper picture of enemy intentions, infiltration routes and support amongst the local population. Real- time intelligence can lay the groundwork for successful direct actions missions. Sometimes pseudo-operators will disguise themselves as members of adjacent countries’ military in order to operate in enemy sanctuaries. In this paper I will argue that Pseudo-Ops might be of use given the current situation in AFPAK and particularly in southern Afghanistan and in areas of Pakistan such as North Waziristan or even Baluchistan.

Download the Full Article: The Use of Pseudo-Operations in the AFPAK Theatre

Dr. Ronald Holt is a tenured Professor of Anthropology and Fulbright Scholar. He was the senior social scientist for Human Terrain Team AF-1 at FOB Salerno Afghanistan in 2008. Dr. Holt has done fieldwork in several Islamic countries and with Native American tribes.

Link to post at Small Wars Journal here.

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Publications: Tribal Engagement–The Jirga And The Shura, By Major Jim Gant And William ‘Mac’ McCallister

     Excellent little paper on the nuances of calling for and attending a Jirga or Shura.  I put this up on the blog because contractors attend these meetings all the time, as well as the military.  That means we can hurt the war effort or help the war effort, all based on how we conduct ourselves at these kinds of meetings. Do you want to be the guy or the company that completely pisses off a region or village because you did not know how these meetings worked?

     My intention here is to get individual contractors thinking about this stuff, and try to apply some of these lessons learned to their own processes out there.  That is Kaizen and that is what is required of any company or individual that claims to have a learning organization or claims to be a student of warfare. Check it out and let me know what you think.

     Also, if you go to this link at Small Wars Journal, you can follow along in the conversation and talk with the authors about the subject. Enjoy. –Matt


Tribal Engagement: The Jirga and the Shuraby Major Jim Gant and William “Mac” McCallister

According to NATO’s military chief of intelligence in Afghanistan, the Taliban now maintain shadow governors in thirty-three out of thirty-four provinces. While we like to see the world in black and white, the complexities of relationships and alliances in the village and valley make it anything but a straightforward contest between two parties. The U.S. strategy of stripping away Taliban loyalists is not easy in a very complex socio-political landscape. This landscape includes different types of traditional authority, local rivalries and the various configurations of social power in each village and valley.

The rubber of U.S. strategy meets the road in the village assembly. It is in the local assemblies where Coalition Forces speak directly with the local inhabitants and indirectly with the shadow governors of the Taliban. Identifying ahead of time the familial, sectarian, security, economic and political alliances represented in a given village or valley assembly will assist in identifying how these alliances might influence group decisions. We must also contemplate, identify and differentiate between two very different village assemblies: the jirga and shura.


Major Jim Gant is currently assigned to the Afghanistan Pakistan Hands (AFPAK Hands) Program as a Tribal Engagement Advisor. AFPAK Hands is designed to develop cadres of officers (and civilians) from each of the military’s services who agree to three to five year tours to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. He will be returning to Afghanistan in the near future.

William “Mac” McCallister is a retired military officer. He has worked extensively in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He has applied his study of tribal culture in assessing reconstruction efforts, as well as insurgency and counterinsurgency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror.

Download the paper here.

Link to Small Wars Journal post and discussion here.

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Publications: Pseudo-Operations To Neutralize Extremist Networks, Insurgents, And Terrorists

   I found this gem of a paper over at Small Wars Journal and wanted to get it out to the FJ readership to consume as well.  If  you follow the link to SWJ, you can actually talk with the author in the comments section of their post.

    Basically, Mr. Wheeler was reinforcing the ideas that Mr. Cline talked about, and tried to convey how important these types of operations would be to the US goal in the GWOT.  I agree, and to me, we should be trying to turn every captured Taliban and Al Qaeda operative we can.  Or they can sit in that resort called Gitmo and rot away.

   As to any new thoughts on pseudo operations?  I think for today’s enemy, the Ft. Hood Shooting and the Underwear Bomber attack should be closely examined with the lens of pseudo operations trade craft development. This was some radical stuff, and the guy that turned these two into human weapons was the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He is using religion and the internet in order to reach out to folks that he could potentially convert, and he is succeeding.  That is powerful, and to replicate that and find out the method, would be very valuable. –Matt


Pseudo-Operations to Neutralize Extremist Networks, Insurgents, and Terrorists

by Major Seth Wheeler

Terrorism is a threat to the stability and national security of many countries, and has undermined countless governments. However, technological improvements within the last century have allowed greater, more spectacular attacks and broadened the means by which terrorists may broadcast their message. Although previous terrorist attacks against United States citizens have drawn a measure of global attention, the world became acutely aware of the effects of terrorism on 11 September 2001 during the World Trade Center attack orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden and his terror group al Qaeda. The psychological impact of such a devastating attack—conducted so efficiently at such little cost to the attacker—jumpstarted a global level of effort to defeat terrorism and extremism. Indeed, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates identified terrorism as a Global National Defense priority in his 2008 National Defense Strategy, and discussed terrorism on 15 occasions throughout his 23-page report. Degrading terrorism requires full-spectrum deterrence and counter strategies: the incorporation of effective foreign policy measures against state-sponsors of terrorism; international security forces assistance programs to ensure competent counter-terror skill-sets within our allies’ ranks; military or police action to kinetically defeat armed resistance or restore sovereignty; and other internal defense and development programs to deny terrorists sanctuary or resources and political advantage.

That stated, terrorists’ geographic or political sanctuaries that the United States cannot directly or indirectly influence through foreign policy initiatives will remain in certain pockets of the world, such as the remaining insurgent-terror organization FARC controlled areas of Colombia or Somalia. Assuming that some terrorists will remain irreconcilable for a variety of reasons not discussed here, and that comprehensive deterrence strategies or counter-terror efforts may prove ineffective, then how does the United States influence or neutralize irreconcilable terrorists protected by a foreign population? What tools can be implemented to eradicate, deflect, isolate, or neutralize typically suicidal extremists employing terror as a weapon? One consideration is pseudo-operations. Penetration of terrorist and insurgent groups by foreign services is inherently difficult, due to the existing mistrust within the organization and extensive vetting required for membership. Pseudo-operations may overcome these challenges and create conditions congruent with the interests of the United States, as several case studies will demonstrate in a later section. However, an overview of what pseudo-operations are and what they can do is first necessary.

Download the full article: Pseudo-Operations to Neutralize Extremist Networks, Insurgents, and Terrorists


Major Seth Wheeler, U.S. Army, graduated with a M.S. in Defense Analysis – Irregular Warfare from the Naval Postgraduate School in December, 2009. He is currently attending CGSC ILE at Fort Belvoir, VA, and will join the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in June, 2010.The views expressed above are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Link to post here.

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Strategy: ‘The Toyota Horde’ And More Hybrid Warfare Stuff

   I love papers like this, because these are the kind of deals that ruffle the feathers of Tankers and Armor fans, as well as status quo military thinkers. Thanks to Small Wars Journal for publishing it. Basically, William has presented some excellent low cost hybrid warfare concepts that should be of great interest to the military and PMC’s. It’s a different way of looking at armor and maneuver warfare as it applies to small countries and armies, and today’s wars.

   The concept revolves around using small pickups that are easily available throughout the world as a means to transport troops and really modern weaponry–like Javelins for example.  He goes into how Hezbollah fought the Israelis in 2006, and used that war as an example of the kind of fight that would benefit from the Toyota Horde idea.

   Especially if Hezbollah actually had better proficiency with their anti-tank weapons.  If they had actually trained with those weapons and got proficient before that battle, they could have easily upped the numbers of kills.  Javelins and other fire and forget weapons would have been a game changer and the Israelis would have really felt the sting. But just basic anti-tank gunnery skills would have really changed the dynamic.

   The pickup can also be used for the hard work of fortifying a region or prepping the battlefield, much like what Hezbollah did.  They planted IED’s all over the place, set up tank traps, built rocket hides, you name it.  Cheap local trucks, that can quickly transport people, bombs and tools all over the place, are all you need for that endeavor.  And with fortified regions, hybrid armies actually want to be attacked so they can suck in armored columns into their traps.  Then attacks on the logistics can be set up, as well as attacks on individual tanks and APC’s, all using the stuff that was planted.  Much like what Hezbollah did.

   The trucks can also disappear into the population.  Hell, you could use taxis as transports, and really blend into society.  If the trucks are attacked, a group like Hezbollah could kill some civilians, throw them in those trucks, film it and put it all on youtube and say the attacking force killed these innocents.  In essence, these local vehicle/military transports, are the ultimate tools for hybrid warfare and playing the propaganda game to your advantage.

   Now to put on my PMC hat.  Imagine contracting your services to a country, in order to build up regional fortifications and set up this Toyota Horde and Hezbollah style hybrid warfare concept?  It would be cheap, quick to get off the ground, and pretty effective if done correctly. You could also use the country’s current weapon systems to add to those regional fortifications, much like what William was talking about in his paper.  You could also use these ideas, if PMC’s ever had to fight other PMC’s in the coming future. (big if) Notice that the New Rules Of War fit nicely with this paper as well. Interesting stuff and maybe the ‘Somali technicals’ are the wave of the future? lol –Matt


The classic Somali Technical…. Bring on the Toyota Horde!!

The Toyota Horde: Examining a Lost Cost Military Capability

by William F. Owen

Download the full article: The Toyota Horde

The subject of this article is a broad technical and operational examination of how almost any country on earth can currently gain a viable level of military power by building on the enduring elements of combined arms warfare. These elements are enduring and appeared in the first twenty years of the twentieth century. It is further suggested that skillfully applied this type of capability may enable its user to confront and possibly defeat NATO type expeditionary forces.

A number of popular opinions about the future nature of warfare have created a substantially misleading impression that the skills and equipment required for formation level combined arms capability, such as that possessed by NATO during the cold war is no longer needed, because few potential enemies possess similar peer capability. Thus the object of the article is to show just how simply a peer or near-peer capability can be acquired, and maintained.

Contrary to popular belief, there are many examples of where military action by irregular forces has inflicted battlefield defeats on regular forces. The most famous are the Boer defeats of the British Army during “Black Week” in December 1899 and the Hussite Wars of the 15th Century, where irregular forces, using improvised barricades made of ox wagons (wagenburgs) were able to stand against and defeat the armoured knights of the Holy Roman Empire. In both cases each irregular force was able to generate conventional military force from fairly meager resources. There is nothing novel, new or even complex, in this approach. It is common, enduring and proven.

Download the full article: The Toyota Horde


William F Owen is British and was born in Singapore in 1963. Privately educated, he joined the Army in 1981, and served in both regular and territorial units until resigning in 1993 to work on defense and advisory projects in Kuwait, Taiwan, Algeria, the Philippines, and Sierra Leone. An accomplished glider, fixed wing and helicopter pilot, he works as a writer, broadcaster and defence analyst.

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Cool Stuff: Small Wars Journal $8,000 Writing Competition

    This is great and I hope to see some FJ readers submit a paper.  Good luck. –Matt


Small Wars Journal $8,000 Writing Competition – Warning Order

July 17, 2009

Papers are sought on the topics below. Winning entries and select others will be published in future special volumes of Small Wars Journal. For each of the two topics, a $3,000 Grand Prize and two $500 Honorable Mentions will be awarded. Hence $8,000 total purse.

Papers should be 3,000 to 5,000 words in length. Papers will be blind reviewed and judged primarily for clarity of presentation, relevant insights to the question asked, and overall significance of the key points made to the practice of small wars. No extra points awarded for length, name dropping, or how epic the incidents discussed were as distinct from the weight of the insights. Papers need not be OIF- / OEF-centric. Papers must resonate beyond a single silo, i.e. they must touch on at least some aspect of joint, coalition, interagency, multi-disciplinary, or cross-cultural significance.

Papers are to be submitted by midnight on November 10, 2009, with winners to be announced in January, 2010. One entry per author per question. Standard writing competition mumbo jumbo will apply, we will publish a final announcement shortly with those gruesome details, including detailed submission instructions.

We will not answer questions about this competition submitted in individual emails. Submit any good questions publicly in the comments below, but let’s not split hairs. The topics are what they are.

We greatly respect the works and insights of the usual suspects from the many DoD-centric writing competitions and anticipate some great and hard-to-beat entries from them. We would really like to see some stiff competition from fresh new voices and experience sets not often heard. Please spread the good word about this competition to the far reaches of the empire of important participants in the vastly broad and complex field of small wars. This is a level playing field, and let’s get all the players on it.

The topics are:

1. Security vs. [Jobs & Services & etc.] — horse and cart, or chicken and egg?

The “security is the military’s job” camp at an extreme expects more order than can be obtained by kinetic measures without a scorched earth approach. Alternately, it demands that the armed forces exceed their organizational mandate in early phases and then obediently (and wastefully?) hop back into their military box until things go awry again. Other camps may err by expecting too much from non-military actors in non-permissive environments, understating the risks they already do or should accept, or tinkering with building massive non-lethal expeditionary capabilities that may be unsustainable.

What does security really mean in a small war, how much is needed when, and how do you make meaningful security gains through the pragmatic application of affordable capabilities? How does security relate as an intermediate objective or an end state? Include examples of real successes and failures.

2. Postcards From The Edge – the practical application of the Whole of Government approach.

Organizational issues are being discussed from Goldwater-Nichols II to unity of effort and simple handshake-con. Whatever the structure on high, people from different walks of life and different functional expertise need to work together on the ground at the pointy end of the spear to deliver effects that matter. Discuss real experiences (personal, known firsthand, or researched and documented) of real people facing real challenges that offer relevant insights into the conduct of a small war.

Consider any, all, or none of the following:- Discuss what worked and/or what didn’t, and why.- How did participants from different agencies, branches, nations, etc. look at problems differently, and how were those views eventually reconciled (or not)?- Discuss personal challenges.- Discuss the moral and ethical challenges of small wars.- Approach as a turnover guide to a successor.- Inform operational approaches and “grand” tactics, techniques, and procedures.- Inform human resourcing / manpower / training & education.- Relevance for national resource strategy.- Relevance for go-to-war decisions and conflict strategy.

Story here.

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