Posts Tagged surge

Somalia: P.M. Calls for Plan Like U.S. Afghan Strategy

     You know, this PM has a point.  We are investing a lot of troops and resources to Afghanistan, but there are other centers of gravity for the enemy that we should be focusing on.  One of them is Somalia, and the enemy is gaining momentum there as well. Money and manpower issues come to mind as to why we are not ‘surging’ into Somalia.

   He also mentioned another fantastic point.  For the amount of money we are spending on all of these massive navies to go after small little boats with pirates in them, we could certainly re-evaluate that process and use that money for a better return on investment.

   We could instead force the shipping industry to provide their own security, and then the costs could easily be passed down to the companies, and then to the consumer. It is already happening like that, but instead of security costs, the shipping companies are having to pay for increased insurance do to kidnappings.  I say lower the kidnapping potential by increasing security on the boats. Invest in security, and not insane insurance costs that only go up as the pirates capture more boats.  That makes economic sense.

    Also minimize the naval presence out there, and focus on being a quick reaction force or QRF to all these security contractors on boats.  The taxpayers of all the countries are paying for these massive naval operations that are not effective. It’s like using elephants to kill mice.

    Thanks to David who sent me the article below this one, this only strengthens the point that large navies are not that effective at stopping all of these small scale attacks.  They cannot be every where and at all times.  But security on boats can be on scene at the right time, and every time.  The monopoly on the application of the use of force, must be loosened, and there must be an effort to allow and even encourage the hardening of these boats.

   But back to the money.  Just imagine if instead of spending millions every day for all of these navies, to instead put that down on a land based strategy with some teeth?  It could happen, but it will take a re-thinking of the proper allocation of money and manpower for this to take place.  It would also take political will to communicate why this needs to happen. –Matt


Somali PM Calls for Plan Like US Afghan Strategy

05 December 2009

VOA News

In a letter published Saturday in the British newspaper ‘The Times,’ Omar Sharmarke said Obama’s plan for Afghanistan, announced in a speech Tuesday, ‘marks a sea change in international support to troubled countries.’

Somalia’s prime minister is asking for U.S. President Barack Obama’s vision for Afghanistan to be applied to his country.In a letter published Saturday in the British newspaper The Times, Omar Sharmarke said Obama’s plan for Afghanistan, announced in a speech Tuesday, “marks a sea change in international support to troubled countries.”Prime Minister Sharmarke said Somalia needs similar aid, to restore an effective government and train security forces, to police Somalia’s waters to ensure only Somalis profit from the fish, oil, and gas, and to launch a vocational training program for young people. Read the rest of this entry »

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Afghanistan: 30,000 Troops Will Be Sent to Afghanistan–So How Many Contractors?

   So this is it. This is the magic number that everyone was anticipating.  I guess you could call this surge-light maybe? Anyway, my focus is on what does this mean for security contractors and contractors in general?  Well we can certainly expect to see a civilian contractor surge to accompany this troop surge, if history is any indicator.

   The difference this time around, as far as comparing the Iraq surge to the Afghanistan surge, is geography.  Everything depends upon geography.  That, and weather.  We can always count on the enemy to do what they do too. But the real deal is geography, and this is where the heart of the discussion should be.

   All of these troops will need a place to sleep, food to eat, ammo and spare parts for their guns, and transportation to get them around in a country the size of Texas.  In Iraq, the logistics were pretty smooth because we didn’t have mountains to worry about, and the roads were pretty decent.  We also had a port to ship stuff to, and Kuwait was right next door.  The geography was kind to us in Iraq.

   In Afghanistan, there are mountains galore, roads are crappy and in some places non-existent, and there are no ports to ship stuff to.  So the way this thing is going to shape up, is lots of aviation work-helicopters and transport.  And to top it off, an increase in convoy work through mountains infested with enemy.  There will also be an effort to provide stuff locally to fill the needs, but for things like fuel or ammo and all of our little goodies that the troops ‘have to have’, we will be depending largely on flying it in or convoy work through some very dangerous and rough terrain. Expect to see long serpentine style convoys, snaking through the mountain passes, and pissing off all sorts of people.  These convoys will be massive, and they will be juicy targets for the enemy.

   Of course the second story I posted is a little old, but still relevant.  Contractors currently out number the troops in Afghanistan.  In the realm of security contractor numbers, Afghan security contractors are the dominate force there.  They are also doing a lot of fighting and dying up in those hills as they transport those goods.  And in some cases, they are causing issues, and especially when they go through population centers and engaging with the enemy there. Think Nisour Square, but at a local level, and these guys are not winning many friends when it comes to fire discipline.

     As these security companies continue to get into trouble locally, and the Afghan government doesn’t do anything to shore up their PSC’s, then that will only hurt the overall war effort. The Taliban will narrate the whole thing as ‘these companies and militias are killing locals, and it is all the infidel’s fault because they want all of these supplies’. And there is even some piracy going on, with the enemy attacking these convoys and taking the loot. Pffft.  What will be interesting to see is that with this new surge of troops, will there be a new push to use expat contractors to insure the security contracting aspect of the surge does not hinder the war effort?

   The other area of concern are these damn pay offs to war lords and the Taliban.  That has to stop, and we must get a handle on this activity. These local PSC’s can be better managed by the Afghan government, and with this upturn in work, there must be an effort on our part to get this in order.  If not, PSC’s will be painted with a broad brush as corrupt and working with the enemy.  I think if contracts were properly written to reflect reality and to reflect what the desired outcome of the contract should be, then this could be fixed.  It takes leadership and a trust but verify attitude to ensure these contracts are being carried out properly.  If not, then withhold the money and claim a default on contract or do something similar.  The guy that writes the checks, should definitely demand quality of service, and should have all the power.

   Back to numbers.  Can we expect upwards of around 30,000 to 35,000 contractors (a one to one ratio maybe?)? I think that is a reasonable amount.  Could we see an increase in expat managed security contracts, as well as an increase of expat security contractors to keep local national teams in line?  I think so. Will we see an increase in helicopter contracts, along with security/support teams for helicopters and transport?  Most definitely. (I also predict a PMC search and rescue element emerging because of this increase) Will the enemy try to shoot down more of these contractor helicopters? You bet.  How about an increase in TWISS style contracts in Afghanistan, complete with local national guards and even Ugandan guards to man posts?  Yes, and I have posted several reports to indicate that.  Will more contractors die in the line of duty?  Unfortunately, yes.  Will the nation and the world recognize that sacrifice and the civilian contractor contribution to the war effort?  Probably not.

   Now onto strategy, or the lack there of, when it comes to this coming contractor surge.  Where is the talk about shoring up these local national PSC’s, so they ‘don’t’ ruin the COIN strategy we so carefully crafted?  Why is Karzai wanting to get rid of foreign PSC’s, yet has not discussed how he plans to keep his own PSC’s in line?  Or how about Karzai telling these local PSC’s to stop paying protection money to the enemy? Or what is being done to insure all expat security contractors and LN contractors that will be interacting with and around the local populations, will not negatively impact COIN strategy in Afghanistan? I have yet to hear a General or think-tanker address this specifically, yet there are more contractors than troops in Afghanistan?  Hmmmm, how frustrating.

     Finally, if logistics is key to winning wars, and it will be contractors primarily tasked with protecting those logistics in Afghanistan, then what are we doing to insure their success? Are we going to actually give these convoy teams the means to protect themselves, or give them communications gear for unity of effort in the fight, or assign aviation assets to watch over these essential war goods?  Will we actually use these convoys as a means to engage with the enemy, and draw him out for the fight?  Who knows, but these are a few things that I have yet to hear being talked about in regards to the war effort in Afghanistan.

     We need to start talking about some of this stuff, because the surge is on like Donkey Kong, and there will be a whole bunch of us security contractors and regular contractors coming in right beside these 30,000 troops. –Matt

Edit: I noticed after today’s speech, the numbers have changed from 34,000 in reports, to 30,000.  So as you can see, I have made the edits up top.


34,000 troops will be sent to Afghanistan


Other nations to be asked for more forces

By Karen DeYoung and Scott WilsonWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, December 1, 2009

President Obama will outline Tuesday his intention to send an additional 34,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials and diplomatic sources briefed Monday as Obama began informing allies of his plan.

The new deployments, along with 22,000 troops he authorized early this year, would bring the total U.S. force in Afghanistan to more than 100,000, more than half of which will have been sent to the war zone by Obama.

The president also plans to ask NATO and other partners in an international coalition to contribute 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, officials said. The combined U.S. and NATO deployments would nearly reach the 40,000 requested last summer by U.S. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the coalition commander in Afghanistan, as part of an intensified counterinsurgency strategy.

The new troops are to be sent in stages beginning in January, with options to delay or cancel deployments, depending on the performance of the Afghan government and other factors. Defense officials said that, beyond Marine units deploying next month, no final decisions have been made about specific units or the order in which they would be sent.

Details of Obama’s plan emerged on the eve of his prime-time address from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He will use the Tuesday speech to explain his Afghan strategy to an American public that is increasingly pessimistic about the war after eight years and rising casualties.

Even as he escalates U.S. involvement, Obama will lay out in his speech what amounts to an exit strategy, centered on measures to strengthen the Afghan government so that its security forces can begin taking control of their own country. He is expected to specify benchmarks for Afghan progress on both the military and political fronts, according to U.S. and allied officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the strategy.

White House officials remained tight-lipped, but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown — with whom Obama spoke Monday — offered a preview of aspects of the strategy when he addressed Parliament.

The military objective, Brown said, is “to create the space for an effective political strategy to work, weakening the Taliban by strengthening Afghanistan itself.” Over the next year, he said, the Afghan army will be expanded from 90,000 to 134,000 troops, with 10,000 of them going to Helmand province, where U.S. Marines and British forces have focused their fight against the Taliban. Further increases are envisioned for later.

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Law Enforcement: Iraq’s Lessons, On The Home Front

    I found this article to be fascinating.  Partly because this is a social experiment of the highest order, and partly because the proof in the pudding for COIN, is to be able to apply those principles to ‘other than war’ insurgencies.  So this is a test, and if they can actually get it to work in Salinas, then maybe other law enforcement agencies will catch on.  This will be a very interesting experiment to watch, and perhaps if the mayor kept a running blog on this effort, then we could see what worked and what didn’t.  Much could be learned from this effort. –Matt


Iraq’s lessons, on the home front

Volunteer veterans help California city use counterinsurgency strategy to stem gang violence

By Karl VickWashington Post Staff WriterSunday, November 15, 2009

SALINAS, CALIF. — Famed to readers as the birthplace of John Steinbeck and in supermarket produce circles as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” the city of Salinas carries darker renown in the netherworld of California’s prisons. Instant respect is accorded any inmate tattooed with the words “Salad Bowl” or “Salis” — gang shorthand for a city now defined most of all by ferocious eruptions of violence.

In the space of 11 days this year, seven people were murdered in Salinas. Each killing, like the record 25 homicides the previous year, spilled from the gang warfare that this summer pushed the homicide rate in the city of 140,000 to three times that of Los Angeles. Residents retreated indoors at night, and Mayor Dennis Donohue affirmed his decision to seek help from an unlikely source: the U.S. military.

Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been advising Salinas police on counterinsurgency strategy, bringing lessons from the battlefield to the meanest streets in an American city.

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Afghanistan: Hundreds of New Civilian Employees Proposed for Afghanistan

     And here comes the Civilian version of the surge.  This needed happen a long time ago, and we have some serious catching up to do.  The reporter for this does have a point with the UN post as well–we paid for it, we might as well make the best out of it and get someone in that deputy ambassador slot that can make the most of it.

     The one part of this article that is really not discussed that much, but is important to our industry, is the protection of this civilian army.  Do they want to use the military to protect these individuals, or use a smaller footprint and go with civilian contractors through the WPPS program, or what?  

     It would make sense to me, to use the smaller footprint.  Hell, use a bunch of guys like Tim Lynch and company to protect these individuals.  I am sure they will be way more effective that way.  My fear is that this larger presence of civilian employees will be smothered by large military protective details, and that might really piss off the local populations.  Especially if these larger details attract the bad guys, and the villages get stuck in the middle.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out and will keep my ear to the tracks.  –Matt 


Hundreds of New Civilian Employees Proposed for Afghanistan

By Karen DeYoung

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 18, 2009; 3:43 PM

Hundreds of additional U.S. diplomats and civilian officials would be deployed to Afghanistan as part of the new civil-military regional strategy that President Obama’s top national security advisers plan to present for his signature next week, according to administration officials.

Leading this proposed civilian expansion will be two veteran senior diplomats: Peter W. Galbraith, who will be the deputy to the top United Nations official on the ground; and Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., who will get the unprecedented title of “deputy ambassador” to boost the diplomatic heft of the U.S. Embassy. Obama last week nominated Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the former U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, as the country’s ambassador.

Other civilian officials are to be drawn from government departments such as Agriculture and Justice, and hundreds of new “full-time, temporary” positions are planned under a hiring program authorized by President George W. Bush four days before he left office.

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Publications: Civilian Surge, by Binnendijk and Cronin–What about Incident Command?

   I briefly read through this, as well as went through this summary by SWJ, and the one thing that struck me was that there was no mention of Incident Command? I have written about this in the past, and it still cracks me up that no one out there is catching on.  There is already a framework and model for managing complex operations, that is consistently used with great success every summer during the fire seasons in the US. It was also used at ground zero during 9/11, the Space Shuttle crash back in 2003, and the Katrina Hurricane disaster. It is a system that is remarkably simple, yet scalable and easily understood by all.  It is a command language and system that all the groups mentioned in this paper could easily understand and follow if implemented.  

   The question I have is why was there not one person on the panel of authors and experts, that had some kind of expertise in this department.  A quick call to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho would have yielded some contacts.  Matter of fact, if any of the authors are reading this, I have a point of contact that could help you out.  He teaches the 400 series of Incident Command at NIFC, and was a Type 1 Incident Commander (kind of like a General of fire) and a Forest Management Officer.

     I could be wrong, but it sounds like this think tank kind of missed the boat on this.  Maybe an author could correct the record on why Incident Command wasn’t discussed or mentioned?  Like I said, I want to be wrong on this, so please correct the record for me.   

    In my opinion, if we want to get serious about organizing complex operations, with a unified command that could join military and civilian operations, then this is the system you need.  I have seen it first hand join together contractors, with federal/state resources, with multiple agencies, and with military and law enforcement even–all for fighting a complex fire operation.  For fighting fires, Incident Command is the glue that joins the pieces of that effort, and it can certainly be applied to the current war effort.  It deserves to be studied at the least and there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  Thanks to Small Wars Journal for posting this. –Matt 


Civilian Surge: Key to Complex Operations

Posted by SWJ Editors on 

February 6, 2009 3:07 PM 

National Defense University’s Center for Technology and National Security Policy has just released an online report – Civilian Surge: Key to Complex Operations – by Hans Binnendijk and Patrick M. Cronin.

The United States needs to develop the capacity to conduct complex operations that require close civil-military planning and cooperation in the field. This study is comprehensive review of this national need and examines how the need can best be met.

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Mexico: US Plans Border ‘Surge’ Against Any Mexican Drug Wars

    A big thanks to Doug for sending me this, and this is kind of a follow up to my other post.  The thing I ask myself is what would a ‘spill over’ into this country look like, if things got worse in Mexico?  Already, drugs/people/weapons are all being smuggled across the border–through tunnels and over land.  The kind of spill over I am thinking of, is if these drug cartels feel threatened at all by the US support of Mexico in this drug war and decide to hit back.  I think in terms of what Colombia looked like at it’s worst during it’s drug war, and then I try to apply that to what this situation could look like in the present and near future for Mexico.  

   The other angle I am looking at, is the contracting opportunities if this gets worse.  Surveillance stuff and some training opportunities will be the big ones.  Maybe some aviation stuff as well.  But if we need muscle on the border, and the troops are already spread thin, would security contractors come into play?  Security contractors are already being used to help secure borders or train the border patrols of Afghanistan and Iraq, they could easily be used for the US border efforts. We are a resource that has been used in the past by the federal government for disasters, namely hurricane support, and a disaster at the border is no different. Of course that is only my opinion on the matter.-Matt


 U.S. plans border ‘surge’ against any Mexican drug wars

By Randal C. Archibold

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The soaring level of violence in Mexico resulting from the drug wars there has led the United States to develop plans for a “surge” of civilian and perhaps even military law enforcement should the bloodshed spread across the border, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Wednesday.

Chertoff said the criminal activity in Mexico, which has caused more than 5,300 deaths in the last year, had long troubled American authorities. But it reached a point last summer, he said, where he ordered specific plans to confront in this country the kind of shootouts and other mayhem that in Mexico have killed members of warring drug cartels, law enforcement officials and bystanders, often not far from the border.

“We completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge ? if I may use that word ? capability to bring in not only our own assets but even to work with” the Defense Department, Chertoff said in a telephone interview.

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