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7 Facts You Might Not Know About GEN. James “Mad Dog” Mattis

SECWAR Poster

Our new SECDEF or as we like to refer to him, Secretary of War, General James Mattis isn’t your typical political figurehead. In fact, without trying, he’s still twice the candidate compared to the other ones.

Here are a few facts about Mad Dog that you may not have known.

  1. He’s a bachelor, a lifelong bachelor – Referred to as the Warrior Monk, the good general has never been married and never had kids (that he knows of.) While there may be some little barrel chested Mattis minions running around Thailand, Mattis devoted his life to slaying bodies rather than Saturday morning soccer games and alimony payments. If he were to have a wife, the Marines would have issued him one.

2. He served four decades in the Marines, joining in 1969 and retiring in 2013.

3. Mattis started out as enlisted and later transferred over to the officer ranks in 1972, Apparently, LCPL Mattis wasn’t appealing for the future Secretary of War.

4. He once pulled Christmas Duty for another officer – In 1998, Mattis was seen pulling duty for a Major who he sent home to spend the holiday with his family. We have yet to hear of another General Officer pulling duty on Christmas Day.

5. General Mattis has over 7,000 books in his personal library and often carries books with quotes from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius into combat.

6. He served in three wars; Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the Persian Gulf War.

7. He has the most savage ass quotes that will make your pants tight. Some of his quotes include

  • “I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential of failure. I cannot even spell the word.”
  • “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”reft16_generalmattis_shirtback
  • There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great.”
  • You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s quite fun to fight them you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling. 
  • Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine. 

 



Estonia Prepares for War

Soldiers with the Estonian Defense Force practice assembling an M2 .50-caliber machine gun during a combined preliminary marksmanship class Aug. 27, at Tapa Army Base. The training was part of Operation Atlantic Resolve an ongoing series of training events and exercises designed to build relationships, trust and interoperability between the U.S. and its NATO allies. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt, 13th Public Affairs Detachment)
Soldiers with the Estonian Defense Force practice assembling an M2 .50-caliber machine gun during a combined preliminary marksmanship class Aug. 27, at Tapa Army Base. The training was part of Operation Atlantic Resolve an ongoing series of training events and exercises designed to build relationships, trust and interoperability between the U.S. and its NATO allies. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt, 13th Public Affairs Detachment)

It’s no secret that Eastern European countries worry about Russia’s intentions.  They have good reason to.  Between cyber and physical attacks, Russia’s activities in its former sphere of influence aren’t exactly an extension of the hand of friendship.  Add to that a little bit of uncertainty about the United States’ dedication level to its NATO allies, and you have some valid concerns building up.  These countries remember what it was like to be in Russia’s orbit, and they have no intention of ending up there again.

The New York Times ran an article in early November that profiled an aspect of Estonia’s response to this uncertainty – they are openly preparing for a guerilla war.  The Estonian Defense League, a sanctioned paramilitary organization, trains and drills civilian volunteers to prepare them for guerilla operations.  The Times profiled the “Jarva District Patrol Competition, a 24-hour test of the skills useful for partisans, or insurgents, to fight an occupying army, and an improbably popular form of what is called ‘military sport’ in Estonia.  The competitions, held nearly every weekend, are called war games, but are not intended as fun. The Estonian Defense League, which organizes the events, requires its 25,400 volunteers to turn out occasionally for weekend training sessions that have taken on a serious hue since Russia’s incursions in Ukraine two years ago raised fears of a similar thrust by Moscow into the Baltic States…

…Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.”

A member of the Estonian Women's Home Defense team applies first aid to an Estonian Defense League soldier role playing as a casualty during the second annual Admiral Pitka Recon Challenge Aug. 8 near Tapa, Estonia. Hosted by the Estonian Defense League, the challenge tested the strength, speed, endurance, intelligence and willpower of 26 teams from six countries to include eight Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the Maryland National Guard through a series of obstacles and simulations along an 81-mile route through the Estonian countryside. The Women's Home Defense team placed 20th in the three-day event hosted by the Estonian Defense League.
A member of the Estonian Women’s Home Defense team applies first aid to an Estonian Defense League soldier role playing as a casualty during the second annual Admiral Pitka Recon Challenge Aug. 8 near Tapa, Estonia. Hosted by the Estonian Defense League, the challenge tested the strength, speed, endurance, intelligence and willpower of 26 teams from six countries to include eight Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the Maryland National Guard through a series of obstacles and simulations along an 81-mile route through the Estonian countryside. The Women’s Home Defense team placed 20th in the three-day event hosted by the Estonian Defense League.

Essentially, the Estonians are acknowledging that their 6,000 member army isn’t going to be capable of stopping the Russians (or whoever else may be a threat), but they plan to make any invaders pay dearly and thereby make the idea of an invasion unpalatable.  Lest we consider this strategy to be foolhardy, keep in mind that it is essentially the Swiss defense strategy.  So let’s take a look at the two:

The Swiss

There are significant differences in how the Swiss would execute their strategy versus the Estonians.  As far as manpower is concerned, the Swiss have compulsory service in the armed forces for all males.  This produces an entire populace that is well-acquainted with conventional and mountain warfare.  The Swiss have built their entire defensive strategy around being able to mobilize the population for a conventional war.  They purchase equipment with enough parts to sustain it throughout its planned service life.  They have agreements with major manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs that allows the government to maintain stockpiles, then return the goods to the manufacturer for sale after a set time.  The government only pays for the goods if they use them, and the manufacturer still gets to sell the items and realize a profit.  In case of invasion, the populace would report to conventional military units such as infantry, armor, and air; would blast bridges, tunnels, and factories into uselessness; and then would fight a conventional battle of attrition until the invader loses the will to fight.

Swiss Army soldiers cross a checkpoint during the 49th Annual Marche Internationale de Diekirch, Diekirch, Luxembourg, May 22, 2016. This is an annual international marching event hosted by the Luxembourg Army and the city of Diekirch. Military participants must complete 80 kilometers during a two day period around the vicinity of Diekirch, Luxembourg. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Cathey/released)
Swiss Army soldiers cross a checkpoint during the 49th Annual Marche Internationale de Diekirch, Diekirch, Luxembourg, May 22, 2016. This is an annual international marching event hosted by the Luxembourg Army and the city of Diekirch. Military participants must complete 80 kilometers during a two day period around the vicinity of Diekirch, Luxembourg. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joseph Cathey/released)

An interesting development in the Swiss military system is the creation of private military associations that conduct voluntary training in between required military drills.  Members pay a small fee that helps fund the association, and use their issued arms and equipment for the drills.

The Estonians

The Estonian population also has compulsory military service for males, with an active force of around 6,000.  The objective of the Defense League is to train volunteers that are either not subject to compulsory service, or are past their service age, to conduct unconventional warfare and civil defense missions.  Essentially, they function almost like a State Guard in the United States, but with a war-fighting capability.  The current Estonian plan seems to assume that the invader will achieve conventional victory, but would then be forced to maintain an expensive occupation force that would sap its will to fight.  To that end, “[t]he number of firearms, mostly Swedish-made AK-4 automatic rifles, that Estonia has dispersed among its populace is classified. But the league said it had stepped up the pace of the program since the Ukraine crisis began. Under the program, members must hide the weapons and ammunition, perhaps in a safe built into a wall or buried in the backyard.”

Pvt. Kalmer Simohov, of Parnu, a volunteer with the Estonian Defense League, receives his U.S. Army Airborne wings following the joint airborne operations exercise July 23, at a drop zone in Nurmsi, Estonia. The event was part of Operation Atlantic Resolve an ongoing series of training exercises designed to build relationships, trust and interoperability between the U.S. and its NATO allies. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt, 13th Public Affairs Detachment)
Pvt. Kalmer Simohov, of Parnu, a volunteer with the Estonian Defense League, receives his U.S. Army Airborne wings following the joint airborne operations exercise July 23, at a drop zone in Nurmsi, Estonia. The event was part of Operation Atlantic Resolve an ongoing series of training exercises designed to build relationships, trust and interoperability between the U.S. and its NATO allies. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt, 13th Public Affairs Detachment)

Unlike Switzerland (which is neutral), Estonia is a NATO member, and would be eligible under Article 5 to call for collective self-defense.  What many people forget when they talk about Article 5’s collective defense, though, is that Article 3 specifically states that members “will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”

We all hope that Estonia’s preparations won’t be necessary, and that the threat of NATO’s collective self-defense will maintain the border sanctity of the former Russian satellites.  But hope is not a plan, and as long as the sabers keep getting rattled, the Estonians will prepare to make an occupation untenable.

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.



Use of Force and Total War in Cyberspace: Part II

This is the second part of a paper I wrote for the Naval War College.  In part one, we discussed whether or not a cyber attack can rise to the same level of use of force as a kinetic attack.  The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Naval War College or the Department of the Navy.  I am by no means an expert on the cyber realm.  This is a conceptual argument, nothing more.

Total War

The theories of absolute war and total war cause a great deal of confusion.  Absolute war (or ideal war) is a theoretical construct raised by Carl von Clausewitz in his treatise On War.  Clausewitz views absolute war as a war without limitations to means of victory.  He does note, however, that absolute war is a purely theoretical premise and acknowledges that in reality, political considerations will limit military commanders in their conduct of war (Clausewitz, 1976).

Total war, on the other hand, is a war conducted short of absolute war that involves the full mobilization of the nation’s civilian populace and infrastructure in support of the war effort.  Because the populace and infrastructure fully mobilize as part of the war effort, they become valid targets for the opposing army.  An example of total war is the pillaging of Confederate states during the American Civil War under the justification of breaking the will of the people to fight while depriving the Confederate Army of needed war supplies (Janda, 1995).  More recent examples of total war include the deliberate carpet-bombing of both British and German targets during World War II, along with the conversion of civilian production lines to tank or bomber production.

In the cyber world, everything is connected.  The hard distinction between a military target and a civilian target does not exist.  In order to target the power to a military base, attackers could target a nearby power generation plant or a power grid.  However, taking down that power plant or grid could “bleed” into blackouts in surrounding critical infrastructure.  That bleed could have severe effects on the local civilian population, especially if done during extreme weather conditions or on a grid with a hospital or other emergency services nexus.

Spc. Isaiah Anderson, an Information Management Officer with U.S. Army Alaska updates the anti-virus software on a stand-alone, off-network computer in the signals section of USARAK headquarters. Cyber security is important on both military and civilian networks.
Spc. Isaiah Anderson, an Information Management Officer with U.S. Army Alaska updates the anti-virus software on a stand-alone, off-network computer in the signals section of USARAK headquarters. Cyber security is important on both military and civilian networks.

Scenario

Cyber-attacks offer an opportunity for substantial effects at relatively low cost.  Take, for example, a future conflict between China and the United States.  China is rising, and its goals are not clear.  If they choose to pursue regional hegemony, they must push out the American influence from their sphere in the Pacific.  If they pursue great power status, conflict may be inevitable, a possibility foreshadowed by the conflict between Athens and Sparta between 500 and 400 B.C. (Allison, 2015).  From the perspective of a modernized military, China lags significantly.  They certainly possess a numerical superiority, but they also suffer from an inability to move those numbers the distance required to use them to affect the continental United States.  China knows this, and they must seek a way to defeat the United States in a deniable way that avoids a physical battle.  As Sun Tzu said, “Thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy’s army without battle.  They capture his cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations.” (Tzu, 1963)  Cyber may prove to be the key.

China could pursue a dual-pronged strategy that would first destroy the people’s will to fight, while also impeding any military response to the attack.  Targeting the economic, technological, electrical, and logistical structure of the United States creates an opportunity to distract the American leadership while China makes moves that would normally merit a military response.  A simple glitch in the system provides no benefit, it must be a sustained outage that deprives the American people of necessities and conveniences long enough to cause pain, not mere discomfort.  It need not rise to the level of physical death to people, although once power and supply chains are attacked, the death toll will rise as the duration of the shortages lengthen.  As American General Philip Sheridan once said: “Death is popularly considered the maximum of punishment in war, but it is not; reduction to poverty brings prayers for peace more surely and more quickly than does the destruction of human life, as the selfishness of man has demonstrated in more than one great conflict” (Sheridan, 2004).    A simultaneous, or closely following, attack on the military’s command and control and logistical systems would disrupt the military’s ability to provide a cogent response, whether kinetic or cyber.

This strategy is not without serious danger, however.  First, it plainly falls within the category of both a use of force and armed attack.  Under the United Nations Charter, the United States would be well within its right to respond either kinetically or in the cyber realm.  Second, due to the international connections of the financial sector, an attack on the economic structure of the United States could easily affect many more nations than originally targeted.  While this may cause further confusion under which China could move, it would also broaden the number of countries eligible to respond under the Charter, and possibly forge them into an alliance.  Third, and closely related to the second point, China requires a market for the goods it produces.  Causing massive economic harm could backfire rapidly unless China has a well thought out strategy for the aftermath of the attack.

Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and sailors with 553 Cyber Protection Team, monitor network activity during I MEF Large Scale Exercise 2016 (LSE-16) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug 22, 2016. The overall purpose of the exercise was to practice the deployment of a fighting force of more than 50,000 military personnel to a partner nation and incorporate both live-fire and simulated combat scenarios against a near-peer enemy force. 553-CPT is a team of cyber defense specialists with Fleet Cyber Command. The team advised I MEF while setting up the command element’s networks.
Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and sailors with 553 Cyber Protection Team, monitor network activity during I MEF Large Scale Exercise 2016 (LSE-16) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug 22, 2016. The overall purpose of the exercise was to practice the deployment of a fighting force of more than 50,000 military personnel to a partner nation and incorporate both live-fire and simulated combat scenarios against a near-peer enemy force. 553-CPT is a team of cyber defense specialists with Fleet Cyber Command. The team advised I MEF while setting up the command element’s networks.

Conclusion

Though the gap diminishes with every passing year, the United States remains the world’s most powerful military.  However, weaknesses in our cyber infrastructure provide an opportunity for an adversary willing to wage a total war and suffer its backlash.  A massive attack aimed at both military and civilian targets could provide the “shock and awe” and disruption necessary to prevent a kinetic or cyber response, or at least minimize it.  Total war in the cyber realm involves many of the same risks as kinetic war, and could be every bit as devastating to the belligerents and the international order.  The advantage to cyber-attack lies in its ability to strike far beyond the range of kinetic weapons and avoid attribution.  It could prove to be the equalizer between nations with extreme disparity in kinetic forces, allowing weaker countries to assert their areas of influence without ever firing a shot.

Bibliography

Allison, G. (2015, September 24). The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War. The Atlantic. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

Clausewitz, C. v. (1976). On War. (M. Howard, P. Paret, Eds., M. Howard, & P. Paret, Trans.) Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Janda, L. (1995, January). Shutting the Gates of Mercy: The American Origins of Total War, 1860-1880. The Journal of Military History, 59(1), 7-26. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2944362?origin=JSTOR-pdf

Schmitt, M. (Ed.). (2013). Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyberspace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/nato_ccd_coe/docs/tallinnmanual?e=0/1803379

Sheridan, P. H. (2004, June 7). The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Volume 1. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from Grant Under Fire: http://www.grantunderfire.com/civil-war-resources/various-memoirs/sheridans-memoirs-vol-2/

Tzu, S. (1963). The Art of War. (S. B. Griffith, Trans.) New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

United Nations. (2016, October 5). Charter of the United Nations: Chapter VII. Retrieved from United Nations Web Site: http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-vii/index.html

United Nations. (2016, October 5). United Nations Charter: Chapter I. Retrieved from United Nations Web Site: http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-i/index.html

About the author

Joel is an 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Will There Be A U.S. and Russia Alliance?

There is a decided difference between the cohesion of a single army, led into battle under the personal command of a single general, and that of an allied force extending over 250 or 500 miles, or even operating against different fronts.  In the one, cohesion is at its strongest and unity at its closest.  In the other, unity is remote, frequently found only in mutual political interests, and even then rather precarious and imperfect; cohesion between the parts will usually be very loose, and often completely fictional.
– Carl von Clausewitz, circa 1832

On September 12th, the United States and Russia announced a ceasefire in Syria.  While certainly not the first attempted ceasefire in the war, this one involved a particularly interesting promise: if the ceasefire held, the United States and Russia might begin sharing intelligence and targeting data.  Both sides laid out very specific details regarding the intelligence sharing.  The United States would be required to discourage rebels it backs from joining Fath al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra or the Nusra Front).  The Russians would be required to exert pressure on the Syrian government to limit their attacks to Daesh.  Neither side would agree to the sharing until after the ceasefire held for seven days.

U.S. Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command 16.2, disarm ordnance on an F/A-18D Hornet returning from a mission at an undisclosed location in southwest Asia, June 8, 2016. VMFA(AW)-533 operates and conducts strikes as part of the Aviation Combat Element of SPMAGTF-CR-CC in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert/ Released)
U.S. Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command 16.2, disarm ordnance on an F/A-18D Hornet returning from a mission at an undisclosed location in southwest Asia, June 8, 2016. VMFA(AW)-533 operates and conducts strikes as part of the Aviation Combat Element of SPMAGTF-CR-CC in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert/ Released)

After this week’s events, it seems incredibly unlikely that the intelligence sharing will move forward.  Hostilities flared over the weekend, including barrel bomb attacks by Syrian forces and the mistaken bombing of Syrian forces by American warplanes.  Russia called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the American bombing (but made no mention of the Syrian bombing).  Aid supplies destined for starving and injured civilians still have not made it to their intended destinations.

So what difference, at this point, does it make?  As Clausewitz said, cohesion in alliances “will usually be very loose, and often completely fictional.”  When you examine the lay of the land in Syria, who stands to gain more from this alliance?  What are the possible pitfalls of this alliance, not just in Syria, but internationally?  I’m not a professional State Department type, so these observations are based primarily on reading a lot of talking heads and formulating my own opinion…

Putin longs for the days when Russia (then Soviet Russia) was the big kid on the block.  What’s more, he’s not afraid to take what he thinks will get him there.  He’s already invaded two countries in Europe in the name of “protecting Russian citizens;” and the fact that both of those countries were seeking alliances with the West just prior to the invasions was a total coincidence, per his propaganda machine.  In each case, he’s gotten something out of it – in the case of Georgia he set a precedent and chilled the desire of former Soviet republics to seek out NATO and the West.  In the case of Ukraine, he gained a permanent home for the Black Sea Fleet.  He used the chemical weapons crisis in Syria to show that he is a player on the world stage, negotiating a deal when the United States sat around issuing “red lines” with no real consequences to back them up.  Since then, he’s  sponsored the International Syria Support Group.  The ISSG facilitates negotiations to bring peace to Syria, and Putin is racking up his creds as a world player yet again.

The United States and Russia support very different sides in the civil war.  Russia supports the Assad regime, and has been conducting offensive operations against any and all rebel factions, including Daesh, al-Nusra, and the “moderate” Free Syrian Army.  The United States, on the other hand, supports the FSA in their fight against Daesh and al-Nusra/al-Sham.  However, since you really can’t support the FSA solely in their fight against extremists without them also using their training and weapons against the Syrian regime, the United States finds itself in the de facto position of fighting the Assad regime.  Russia wants the regime to continue because Syria currently hosts the Russian naval base that allows Putin’s navy to operate in the Mediterranean and the Gulf.  Officially, the United States has no position on regime change, and just wants Daesh and al-Sham gone.

So why would Russia be willing to share intel for targeting now?  Simply put, Putin thinks he’s going to get something out of it.  In the world of international relations, Putin falls under the category of realist, someone who acts out of self-interest (as opposed to a constructivist, who acts out of respect for an international construct).  If Putin is ready to share intel and targeting, he thinks that sharing is going to get him somewhere.  So let’s look at the conditions outlined above.  First, the Syrian government would only be allowed to target Daesh.  That benefits Russia, as Daesh has long been the strongest force fighting Assad, and they haven’t suffered near the defeats in Syria that they have in Iraq (at least not yet).  The United States is to discourage FSA members from joining al-Sham.  This also benefits Russia, as despite their infighting with Daesh, al-Sham has worked together with Daesh, and still boasts more victories than the FSA.  The United States will obviously continue to push the FSA to attack Daesh, as that remains our stated goal.  So now, with the Syrian government no longer in danger of falling (thanks to Putin), Putin is ready to turn the screws on

160913-M-MK246-006 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Sept. 13, 2016) An AV-8B Harrier II with 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), launches from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) on Sept. 13, 2016. The 22nd MEU, embarked on Wasp, is conducting precision air strikes in support of the Libyan Government of National Accord-aligned forces against Daesh targets in Sirte, Libya, as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John A. Hamilton Jr.)
160913-M-MK246-006 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Sept. 13, 2016) An AV-8B Harrier II with 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), launches from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) on Sept. 13, 2016. The 22nd MEU, embarked on Wasp, is conducting precision air strikes in support of the Libyan Government of National Accord-aligned forces against Daesh targets in Sirte, Libya, as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John A. Hamilton Jr.)

the opposition.  Putin may not necessarily want total annihilation of the opposition, but he wants enough concessions at the end to make it worth his while.  With the two most successful opposition groups out of the way, the FSA probably won’t be looking at any roaring success on its own when the Syrian government turns its full might towards the FSA.

So, in the end, if this agreement were to go forward, Russia comes off as the winner.  Would Daesh be pushed out of Syria, giving the United States a win?  Possibly.  But Daesh has already started moving operations to other countries.  We’ll whack a Daesh here, and it’ll pop up over there.  Daesh also continues to encourage homegrown terrorism, and has quite a few claimed attacks to their name – including one this weekend in Minnesota.  Would it be a total loss for the United States?  No, but it wouldn’t really be a win either.

About the author

Joel is an 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Daesh’s Global Presence and Homeland Threats

The smallest  action  you  do  in  their  heartland  is better  and  more  enduring  to  us  than  what  you would  if  you  were  with  us.  If  one  of  you  hoped  to reach  the  Islamic  State,  we  wish  we  were  in  your place to punish the Crusaders day and night.
ABU MOHAMMED AL-ADNANI
ISIS Audio Recording
May 2016

Following up on my last article regarding new research about the typical patterns of radicalization of lone and solo actor terrorists, this week I’m bringing you the House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security’s August “Terror Threat Snapshot.”

Their recent report Terror Gone Viral: Overview of the 100+ ISIS-Linked Plots Against the West.  Yes, there’s a connection, it’s not just me trying to plug the last article.  First off, some stats – according to the report, since 2014, there have been 103 plots to attack the “West,” which is  “countries  located  in  Europe  and  North  America,  as  well  as Australia, or targets affiliated with those countries outside of the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq.”  The report does not cover

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies before Congress.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testifies before Congress.

Daesh attacks within Syria or Iraq, Africa, or Asia unless there was an affiliation to the countries mentioned above, meaning that there are many attacks not considered.  In 2016, Daesh was successful in 44% of their plots, up 13% from last year.  Of those plots, 47% were directed Vice inspired, up 12% from last year.  Back to the previous article, this 47 % fit the profile of a solo actor versus a lone actor (the “lone wolf” tag in its truest sense it refers to lone actor terrorists, meaning an attacker who is inspired by but receives no assistance from, a terrorist group).  The successful attacks are also more deadly, with an average of 58 casualties per attack in 2016, up to an average of 10 per attack over 2015.  Those numbers only run through July.  40% of the 103 plots targeted the United States and its interests.

Apparently, Daesh continues to globalize their operations, which U.S. intelligence has been warning would happen as Daesh continues to lose ground.  While recent success in Iraq is certainly fantastic news for those who have suffered under Daesh’s direct rule, it doesn’t mean the threat is anymore neutralized.

Reports estimate that Daesh has 34 groups pledging allegiance and eight official branches, located in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories (Gaza), Pakistan, Philippines, Russia (North Caucasus region), Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.  Of these, the Libyan group is considered the most dangerous outside of the Iraq/Syria theater.

Their reach isn’t limited to far away lands.  In the span of seven days in July, three U.S. citizens were arrested for planning attacks.  Each was either actively receiving direction from Daesh, had previously met with Daesh representatives, or was actively seeking direction from Daesh.  Referring back to the research in the last article, at least one of these individuals had friends who knew of his allegiance, and he had posted on Facebook of his intentions.  FBI Director James Comey testified in May that as many as 800 of the FBI’s over 1,000 active “homegrown terror investigations” are linked to Daesh.  The threat isn’t just limited to active attack plots.  Since 2014, 105 individuals had either been arrested or charged in absentia for plots, traveling to join Daesh, or providing material support to Daesh.  For those of you who follow the news it’s no surprise, but in those same years we’ve seen seven terrorists killed

Incoming Commanding General Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend (second left) chats with Commanding Officer Training Task Unit Task Group Taji Lieutenant Colonel David McCammon, DSM (right) and Commander Task Group Taji Colonel Andrew Lowe (second right) during his visit to the Taji Military Complex in Iraq. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve is a multinational effort to weaken and destroy Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant operations in the Middle East region and around the world. (Australian Defence Force photo by LSIS Jake Badior)
Incoming Commanding General Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend (second left) chats with Commanding Officer Training Task Unit Task Group Taji Lieutenant Colonel David McCammon, DSM (right) and Commander Task Group Taji Colonel Andrew Lowe (second right) during his visit to the Taji Military Complex in Iraq. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve is a multinational effort to weaken and destroy Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant operations in the Middle East region and around the world. (Australian Defence Force photo by LSIS Jake Badior)

carrying out five attacks in four states.  According to the reporting, “(n)early 90 percent of the ISIS supporters charged in the U.S. are male and approximately 35 percent of them are converts to Islam; their average age is 26.”

Six months into 2016, and almost eighteen months into the military battle against Daesh, gains have been made on the ground, thanks to U.S.-supported Iraqi forces; however, Daesh continues to be a threat around the world and has demonstrated its ability to strike globally and with deadly effect.

Further Reading:

https://homeland.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/100-ISIS-Linked-Plots-Report-.pdf

https://homeland.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/August-Terror-Threat-Snaphot.pdf

About the author

Joel is a 12 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served in various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for many National Special Security Events in the US. He is the owner of Hybrid Defensive Strategies, LLC in Chesapeake, VA, and can be contacted on Facebook and Instagram. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Coast Guard or the US Government.

Get Your Money Right with Our Guide to Financial Readiness

Ballin

 

For a large portion of our military force the idea of financial readiness plays second-fiddle to tactical, physical and mental readiness. While this is not necessarily a bad thing it is something that we need to work on as an organization. This is due to the fact that being financially unready can create secondary and tertiary effects that can delude the mission at hand. When someone spends most of their day worrying about the next paycheck they are less likely to be mission ready. Over the course of this article I will attempt to give some ideas of how to be financially prepared and set yourself up for life both in and out of uniform. These practices range from creating a budget to preparing for retirement.

 

In order to create your personal roadmap to financial freedom you must know where you are and where you want to be. At its core is the first idea of creating a budget. For many this is the hardest part because it forces you to take a serious look at where you currently stand financially. In some cases you may find that you are doing things right and in others you may be confronted with some hard truths. There are many tools on the internet to assist in creating a budget or you can ask a financial advisor who can work with you. Some advisors will build a budget for free while others will require payment for the service so make sure you ask before they start.

 

As a part of your budget you will want to ensure a 6-month minimum nest egg for emergencies. That nest egg should be your priority if you don’t have one. Another extremely important portion of your budget is ensuring that you give a portion of your paycheck to a “personal fund.” This fund will allow you to take vacations, buy niceties and pay for hobbies. If you don’t do this then you will have a harder time keeping to the budget over the long term.

 

Once you have created a budget that will give you an idea of where you currently stand. So the next step is determining where you want to be. The easiest place to start is to look at what your dream for retirement looks like. However, when it comes to this stage create at least three retirement plans. One for the dream, one for the acceptable and one for the absolute requirements. It is important that you do this so that when you get to the next step you have flexibility and a realistic outlook. As a part of this you will need to figure out exactly how much each of those plans will cost based on estimated retirement age, expected length of retirement, where you plan on retiring and what you plan on doing.

 

Now that we have established the two anchors to our finances we can create the vessel to get us there. If you did your budget correctly then you will have a much easier time during this phase. At the start of this phase you will set goals for the years between your current age and expected retirement age. I typically suggest using 1, 3, 5 and then every 5 years afterword’s. The idea is to create a savings and investment plan that will get you to your dream retirement. I highly recommend working with a financial advisor for this even if you consider yourself financially savvy. That advisor will help keep emotion out of it and ground your expectations in reality. They will also provide a profile of your financial personality that will guide your investments into the future.

 

By doing all of these steps you will have a complete picture of your financial world. For some of you this picture may be less than impressive. Do not let this get you down because now that you have an accurate picture you can begin to “right the ship” so to speak. By following the plan that you create you will not only improve the quality of your life but you will actively be working towards the life that you want.

 

For those of you who created your plan and were able to realistically and honestly say that you are ahead of your requirements do not let up. If you lose sight of your end goal then you may spend money unnecessarily and end up behind. Being behind is not where you want to be. The closer you get to retirement the harder it will be to adjust your investments without taking risks that should be avoidable. You may also want to set a stretch goal to ensure that you keep on track.

 

As each one of you follows these simple steps at some point you will see how much can be accomplished that you may have pushed off years ago. The idea is that with a budget and roadmap to the future you will no longer have to wonder if you are doing the right thing. You will know that you are pursuing your aspirations in life and that in itself will provide the freedom each of you desires. I will leave you with this last piece of advice; financial advisors are not the enemy and working with one will make life a lot easier on the financial side.

 

If you want to talk specifics for any of these things RE Factor Tactical can provide my contact information.

 

About the Author

 

Collin is a 13 year veteran of the US Army, where he has served in various units and holds MOS’s in Armor and Logistics. He has deployed to the Horn of Africa as a Mil-2-Mil trainer in Djibouti and Rwanda as well as a deployment to Afghanistan working directly with the Mongolian Expeditionary Task Force. Collin has also trained with nearly a dozen other nationalities both stateside and deployed. Stateside he works as a Budget Analyst and was a Financial Advisor for several years. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army or the US Government.

For more information on financial services visit our friend Julia Bourlakov

How Pulling Troops Out of Iraq Led to the UK Pulling Out of the EU

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“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” ~Isaac Newton

This is not a political rant or a suggestive post on what we as the United States need to do moving forward in foreign policy but rather a look at how one event in international politics can lead to great changes in world diplomacy.

Yesterday the United Kingdom voted for to leave the European Union.  This existential move now threatens the entire stability of the EU and its quest as a unified economic powerhouse that began following WWII.

In 2011 the United States pulled troops out of Iraq, leaving a de facto Shiite government in place at a time where the nation’s stability lingered in the hands of an unfit military and militia groups.  The Shiite government soon emplaced century old tactics between Shiite and Sunni and gave power to Shiite politicians and families while oppressing Sunni groups.  This led to distention and eventually the rise of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) led by the Sunni radical Al-Baghdadi.  The void of the US and allied troops left the Iraqi military weak and unable to suppress the ISIS uprising.  The terrorist group quickly took over large portions of western Iraq and soon spread into Syria.  Because Syria was engulfed in a civil war the Al Assad Government of Syria was unable to protect its Eastern front which eventually led to an almost autocratic ISIS nation spreading across Western Iraq and Eastern Syria.

The war-torn nation eventually led to large groups of Syrian refugees spreading from Iraq and Syria to the European Union as men, women and children attempted to flee the conflict zone.  Destabilization of the region leaked into neighboring countries, causing larger swaths of refugees trying to escape to the EU who welcomed the refugees in the millions.

The massive influx of refugees into the EU created an acidic political climate among European leaders who argued over the decision as to whether they could and or should support the fleeing refugees.  One of the major opponents of the refugee sanctuary was Britain, a nation that offers its high residence levels of public services at the expense of the taxpayers.  UK leaders argued that their economy was unable to support the large amounts of refugees who migrated within the EU and were not paying taxes.  The burden of taking care of the refugees began to destabilize the economy and eventually led to the UK leaving the European Union.

The exit of the UK from the EU now threatens the world economy and will undoubtedly create a period of economic turmoil.  While the EU, UK, and world economies may stabilize quickly, we will most likely see a period of panic and political discontent among allied nations.

While this isn’t the only reason, the UK left the EU it is certainly a catalyst.  One could argue that the UK set itself on a course to leave the EU years ago however the reason geopolitical events play a vital part in could be blamed as the missing piece.  Also, refugees are also fleeing from war-torn regions of Africa, so we can’t say the influx of refugees originates solely from Syria.  However, they do hold the lion’s share.  In the end, it is important for world leaders to look at how short-term political actions can create a large negative impact on international affairs.

What else can happen from here?

A weaker EU arguably strengthens the Russian might that threatens surrounding nations, Europe, and the United States.  An exit creates a destabilized region in which any number of powerhouses will step up to fill the power vacuum.  While it’s difficult to see how this will effect the EU economy, it could lead to some nations such as Spain and Greece who struggle to keep themselves out of economic turmoil to tank.  Also, this departure may push other countries within the EU to leave in fear or going down with an already sinking ship.  In the end, Britain’s departure could lead to the complete separation of the EU and a completely destabilized region.

 

The Challenges With Partner National Building

 

071011-N-1810F-224 MOSUL, Iraq (Oct. 11, 2007) - Army ISOF attached to Battalion 64 train Commandos from 7-1Iraq Special Operations Force (ISOF) on proper weapons handling techniques. Coalition Forces conducts Foreign Internal Defense in the Ninewah Province of Iraq to develop select Iraqi Security Forces' capability to independently conduct the security aspects of counter insurgency in order to contribute to the establishment of a stable environment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Todd Frantom
071011-N-1810F-224 MOSUL, Iraq (Oct. 11, 2007) – Army ISOF attached to Battalion 64 train Commandos from 7-1Iraq Special Operations Force (ISOF) on proper weapons handling techniques. Coalition Forces conduct Foreign Internal Defense in the Ninewah Province of Iraq to develop select Iraqi Security Forces’ capability to independently perform the security aspects of counter-insurgency to contribute to the establishment of a stable environment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Todd Frantom

 

“The challenges we face collectively today are both traditional dilemmas and unconventional threats that transcend national borders. We must be prepared with a collective solution. We must train together and develop a unified response. We must train together to strengthen our trust. And we must train together to increase our understanding – of each other and our shared interests.” MG Gregory Bilton

In today’s multinational environment we are confronted with an ever-changing international landscape. This environment is complex and takes years of painstaking work to understand, prepare for and execute the missions that are required. When working with our non-US counterparts, we are tasked with building a lasting relationship that intertwines our unique skillsets into one cohesive fighting force. If we do not foster these relationships, we can find ourselves alone on the battlefield. I will attempt to give guidance on some of the proven methods I have used to build upon both existing partnerships and those that are newly created. One note before I get started is that these techniques will need to be flexible as each nation has different values and cultural norms that must be accounted for, as well as the mission you are conducting, will vary.

 

The first thing to note is that patience is the single greatest attribute that can be displayed. These partnerships will not develop overnight. Even well-established partnerships will go through growing pains whenever there is a change in personnel. The amount of time it takes will vary and in some cases, due to an operational requirement, not be enough to be anything more than a bandage until ample time is available. A point worth making is that none of the relationships I have built over the years have taken more than a week to make operational and I still have friends to this day in each of these partnerships.

 

One of the easiest parts of any relationship, new or old, is finding common ground to which both parties can relate. Since most of the readers here are service members, this is a solid common ground to start with. Due to the stature that military service holds in almost all cultures, it is easy to see how this would work. Start with basic infantry tactics and see where it leads. In Rwanda, I took the first few days just to watch how they operated and tried to see how the U.S. system could be incorporated. It turns out that despite our differences we had quite a bit in common.

 

Another relatively easy way to incorporate yourself is to learn a few key phrases in your partner’s language. I spend quite a bit of time learning basic phrases both before and during my time with each group. The amount of respect you earn from this is immeasurable because it shows mutual respect for one another. They are going to attempt English for us so we must attempt to repay this kindness.

 

The last thing I will discuss and arguably one of the hardest hurdles to overcome will be the desire to correct them. This tends to be especially hard for NCO’s due to the U.S. system that emboldens our NCO’s to mentor and train. It is important to remember that these Soldiers that we are working with were trained before your arrival and the majority of the things they do are because of that training. Never go into a partnership assuming that our way is the only way to fight. If you do this, I guarantee you will have a much harder time working with them, and in some cultures, the damage may be nearly unrepairable.

 

When building or establishing a partner nation relationship understand that there will be hiccups and there will be tension. Do not let this interfere with the mission at hand and work together to overcome and adapt to each other’s personal differences. I have successfully built partnerships with nearly a dozen nations from five continents, and I have used these techniques in each one. If you are unwilling to at least attempt to create partners in today’s operational environment, then you will inevitably have a tougher time as you move upwards in your career. We are just too global of an organization to accept anything other than international cooperation. One more thing, these are not the only methods that can be used, but they are a foundation to success and can be scaled for unit operations.

About the Author

Collin is a 13 year veteran of the US Army, where he has served in various units and held MOS’s in Armor and Logistics. He has deployed to the Horn of Africa as a Mil-2-Mil trainer in Djibouti and Rwanda as well as a deployment to Afghanistan working directly with the Mongolian Expeditionary Task Force. Collin has also trained with nearly a dozen other nationalities both stateside and deployed. Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Army or the US Government.

Here’s Who Gets Special Military Pay And Why

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US military service members can receive different added pay bonuses on top of their base pay for a number of different reasons.  So what are these differing payments and who gets them?

Special Duty Assignment Pay (SDAP)- is pay given to service members who hold special positions such as Special Operations or EOD.     There are six tiers of SDAP paid on a monthly basis.

SD1 $75
SD2 $150
SD3 $225
SD4 $300
SD5 $375
SD6 $450

SD1- This is given to White House positions as well as air traffic controllers

SD2- This is given to Command Sergeants Major and Sergeants Major assigned to a Two Star General position, some cyber positions, some White House personnel,  RL-1 level air traffic controllers, CID agents and some other specialized units.

SD3- Given to squad leaders and platoon sergeants serving with warrior transition units, CSMs assigned to a three star general, and supervisors within the White House staff.

SD4- Some special mission units (SMUs), NCOs within the 75th Ranger Regiment, soldiers assigned to the 160th SOAR, some recruiters, drill sergeants, supervisors within the White House staff.

SD5- Some special mission units, CMF-18 (Special Forces) soldiers and EOD.

SD6- Some special mission units and the Sergeant Major of the Army.

Jump Pay, $150/mo- This is given to any service member on jump status.  The service member must be on jump status in order to receive the pay, not just jump qualified.

High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) Pay- $225/month.  This is given in place of jump pay and is given to HALO certified personnel on HALO jump status.

Demo Pay- $150/mo. Given to select engineers, SMUs, Special Forces Engineer Sergeants, Navy SEALs and other duties where personnel are required to handle explosives as part of their job description.

Dive Pay- Given to various positions to include dedicated divers, combat divers (Special Forces, PJs etc.) and Navy SEALs

 

Type of Diving Duty

Enlister Rate Officer Rate
Training at dive school 1 $110 $110
Diver second class $150 N/A
Salvage diver $175 N/A
Diver first class $215 N/A
Combat Diver 2 $215 $215
Master Diver $340 N/A
Marine Diving Officer 3 N/A $240

Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus (FLPB)- FLPB is given to service members who receive a payable score on the DLPT or Defense Language Proficiency Test.  The payment amount depends on the language but is up to $500 for a single language and $1000 for two languages.

Toxic Duty Pay, $150/mo- Given to service members working with aircraft missiles containing toxic materials.

Experimental Stress Duty Pay, $150/mo- Given to service members assigned to experimental stress duty.

Hazard Duty Pay- Hazard Duty Pay is paid out to a number of different personnel for a number of different reasons.  The pay ranges from $150-250/mo.  Officer air crew members receive the highest amount.

Assignment Incentive Pay- This is given to personnel who are involuntarily extended on combat tours.  The pay can be up to $3000/mo for some missions.

Hardship Duty Pay- This is given to military personnel living in austere conditions while on deployment.  The pay can be $50, 100 or 150, depending on the location.

Family Separation Allowance, $250- Given to service members assigned to duty locations without their families.

Flight Pay- Flight Pay is given to pilots and air crew and ranges from $125-$840/mo depending on years on flight status and rank.

Career Sea Pay- This is given to military personnel who are assigned to lengthy sea assignments.  The pay is based on rank and years at sea and ranges from $20-750/mo.

Hostile Fire and Imminent Danger Pay, $225/mo- This is given to anyone serving in a designated area such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Philippines  or Pakistan where they are in danger of hostile fire, land mines or other forms of imminent danger.

Submarine Duty Pay- Paid to sailors serving on a submarine.  The pay is based on both rank and time on duty and ranges between $75-875.

While this isn’t the full list it does cover most of the pays available.  Other special pays include Veterinary Pay ($100/mo), Dental Pay and Medical Officer Pay.