Worth a Look: Colin Gray on Stratey at US Army Strategic Studies Institute

Colin Gray

Colin Gray

Dr. Colin S. Gray

Dr. Colin S. Gray is Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading, England. He worked at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London) and at the Hudson Institute (Croton-on-Hudson, NY) before founding the National Institute for Public Policy, a defense-oriented think tank in the Washington, DC, area. Dr. Gray served for 5 years in the Ronald Reagan administration on the President’s General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament. He has served as an adviser to both the U.S. and British governments (he has dual citizenship). His government work has included studies of nuclear strategy, arms control, maritime strategy, space strategy, and the use of special forces. Dr. Gray has written 25 books, including: The Sheriff: America’s Defense of the New World Order (University Press of Kentucky, 2004); Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005); Strategy and History: Essays on Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2006); Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace and Strategy (Potomac Books, 2009); National Security Dilemmas: Challenges and Opportunities (Potomac Books, 2009); The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010); War, Peace and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History, 2nd Ed. (Routledge, 2011); Airpower for Strategic Effect (Air University Press, 2012); and Perspectives on Strategy (Oxford University Press, 2013), which is the follow-up to Strategy Bridge. Dr. Gray is a graduate of the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.

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May 3

Chuck Spinney: Kurdistan Emergent

Chuck Spinney

Chuck Spinney

The below Reuters report describes one of the emerging regional complexities being unleashed by the Syrian civil war.  At issue is Syria’s Kurdish Question — yet another legacy of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire that continues to haunt the Middle East and the world after almost 100 years.  President Wilson’s reckless promises of nationhood to all minorities in his 14 Points were not fulfilled by the machinations and back room deals of the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919.  Today the Kurds, with a population of about 25 million, are the world’s largest ethnic group without a state.  But this population sits astride the modern borders Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, as the map below shows.  And so, the Kurdish Question is grounded in the tectonic fault lines of (1) Turkish-Arab-Persian-Kurdish cultures, (2) the shared Fertile Crescent water resources of the Tigris/Euphrates watershed, (3) the larger Sunni-Shia religious schism (most Kurds are Sunni, but some Kurds in Iran are Shia), (4) the wealth and poverty of the northern tier of the Persian Gulf oil basin, and (5) the toxic legacy of Western colonialism (including the Israeli poison pill inserted into the region by an opportunistic then guilt ridden West).  In recent years, most of the world’s attention has been focused on the Kurdish subquestions in Turkey and Iraq, and to a lesser extent in Iran (don’t forget the US sellout of the Iraqi Kurds with the help of the Shah of Iran, who had his own Kurdish problem), while Syria’s Kurds have been the most forgotten of these minority questions — but as the attached report shows, the Syrian civil war has unleashed a new dimension to active Kurdish separatism that greatly complicates an already complicated regional situation.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

Syrian Kurds’ military gains stir unease

BY ERIKA SOLOMON AND ISABEL COLES

BEIRUT/ARBIL Mon Nov 11, 2013

(Reuters) – With a string of military gains across northeastern Syria, a Kurdish militia is solidifying a geographic and political presence in the war-torn country, posing a dilemma for regional powers.

Long oppressed under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father before him, Kurds view the civil war as an opportunity to gain the kind of autonomy enjoyed by their ethnic kin in neighboring Iraq.

But their offensive has stirred mixed feelings, globally, regionally and locally, even among some fellow Kurds, who say the Kurdish fighters have drifted into a regional axis supporting Assad, something they deny.

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Nov 12

2012 Robert Steele: Addressing the Seven Sins of Foreign Policy — Why Defense, Not State, Is the Linch Pin for Global Engagement

Short Persistent URL: http://tinyurl.com/Kerry-Flournoy

John Kerry

I wrote this with John Kerry and Michele Flourney in mind, but regardless of who is eventually made Secretary of Defense, the core concept remains: the center of gravity for massive change in the US Government and in the nature of how the US Government ineracts with the rest of the world, lies within the Department of Defense, not the Department of State.

John Kerry, Global Engagement, and National Integrity

It troubles me that John Kerry is resisting going to Defense when he can do a thousand times more good there instead of sitting at State being, as Madeline Albright so famously put it, a “gerbil on a wheel.”  Defense is the center of gravity for the second Obama Administration, and the one place where John Kerry can truly make a difference.  Appoint Michele Flournoy as Deputy and his obvious replacement down the road, and you have an almost instant substantive make-over of Defense.  Regardless of who ends up being confirmed, what follows is a gameplan for moving DoD away from decades of doing the wrong things righter, and toward a future of doing the right things affordably, scalably, and admirably.

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Nov 15

Search: federal government spending osint

ROBERT STEELE: The IC, DoD, and oversight agencies such as OMB and GAO have not sought to audit government spending on OSINT and probably could not do so effectively with the combination of ignorance on the part of the auditors and recalcitrance on the part of those who should be audited.  The closest anyone came to setting the stage for this was in 2000 when Sean O’Keefe, DD/OMB, established code M320 to tag all spending by the US Government on contractor provision of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).  When O’Keffe moved to NASA, the impetus for getting OSINT right died.  More recently, Joe Markowitz and Robert Steele met with senior civil servants at OMB and got a second approval  for the Open Source Agency (OSA) contingent on a Cabinet secretary asking for it.  There was universal agreement the OSA should not be under secret community management but rather under diplomatic and/or commercial agency auspices.  Joe Markowitz and Robert Steele continue to favor Markowitz’s original idea, that the OSA be a sister-agency to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).  It would of course provide near-real-time feed of all OSINT to the high side, the secret side, but all OSINT would remain outside the wire for liberal sharing with any other actor US or foreign.

Robert Steele

What is known is that DoD treats OSINT as a technical processing challenge (this is ineffective since 80% or more of OSINT is not published, not digital, and not online); that ABLE DANGER was a very expensive program that included both digital OSINT and the digitization of visa application; that Document Exploitation (DOCEX) has received a great deal of investment within DIA, to the point that seriously silly claims have been made to justify new SES/DISL positions, e.g. that DOCEX is its “own” discipline.  The two largest contracts in OSINT, both hosed by the client with the contractors going along, are the L-3 provision of OSINT technical and subject matter support to the CIA’s Open Source Center (the latter is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, a national capability, just an over-hyped internal capability whose budget has been cut in half since the conversation from being the Foreign Broadcast Information Service) and the SOS International contract with USSTRATCOM to provide butts in seats that pretend to do IO/online OSINT monitoring (more idiocy).

Over-all, including classified projects, including DARPA and IARPA and hidden relationships with Google, Facebook, and Twitter, among others, and including non-secret non-national security element spending on open sources and what pass for methods, is no less than one billion a year, probably around three billion a year, and when counting all the buried pieces (e.g. contractors doing Mission X and creating their own OSINT support that is still not available for the CIA OSC), perhaps as much as five billion a year.  All out of control, lacking any combination of intelligence and integrity, as much if not more of a waste than the $80 billion plus spent on technical collection that is not processed, with little regard for human intelligence and advanced analytics, all to provide “at best” 4% of what the President or a major commander requires to make good decisions.

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Aug 10