Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: ops and Intel update:

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    Monday, November 19, 2007

    ops and Intel update:

    Shifting its strategy, the United States has drafted a proposal to build an armed tribal paramilitary force in Pakistan's frontier areas by enlisting local leaders to counter the expanding base of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region.

    If adopted, the proposal is likely to expand the presence of the US military trainers in Pakistan, directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force, that until now has proved largely ineffective, and pay militias, who agreed to fight Al Qaeda and foreign extremists, the New York Times said, quoting officials.


    But Osama has had a tough six years. Consider the consequences of 9/11. His Afghan bastion fell quickly. Yes, the Taliban still murder villagers and send suicide bombers toward Kabul, but the Taliban of today is a fanatic fragment of the organization that once ruled 90 percent of Afghanistan by terror.

    Osama also sought to transform an intra-Muslim war. Sept. 11 was his violent magic trick, the sensational abracadabra that would cover the Muslim world's fissures and fractures with the facade of a pan-Islamic jihad. Osama, of course, would serve as the new caliph, thank you.


    In August 2004, for example, the U.S. military deployed satellites, high-flying U-2 spy planes, and 16 surveillance drones to stare at a 20-kilometer stretch of road from Baghdad to Balad. The idea was to spot any improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, being planted on the critical route. Despite hundreds of thousands of pictures taken, not a single bomb was found.


    First, let's start with an underreported explosion that occurred in a Syrian military base outside Aleppo on July 26. Jane's Defense Weekly reported, citing Syrian defense sources, as saying the explosion took place during a test to fit a "Scud C" missile with a mustard-gas warhead. It quoted the sources as saying the explosion occurred when fuel caught fire in the missile production laboratory.

    But there might be another explanation. Kuwait's Al Seyassah newspaper recently reported that a Shiite Lebanese religious cleric claimed the Iranians were allegedly supervising a chemical weapons manufacturing program and that tens of Iranian experts and engineers died as a result of that explosion. He also said Israelis attacked the base. He added that Western officials told him they received proof from Israel on the Syrian chemical weapons program. Even if Israel's involvement is not proven, what remains sure is that it must be very happy that a chemical weapons facility in Syria has been partly destroyed.

    You can read the rest here.


    I'm sorry, I just never tire of the idea that there's a JTAC on the ground, under fire, who calls in for CAS to a pilot in a trailer in Nevada, who sends a command to a robot plane buzzing overhead, which drops the bomb perfectly, which kills the enemy, which saves the JTAC and his unit.


    According to a short story by Walter Pincus in the Washington Post, the State Department has a small crew of Arabic speakers whose job is to zorch around the internet and dive into Islamic and mid-East-oriented blogs when they take a nasty, anti-American turn.

    The State Department, departing from traditional public diplomacy techniques, has what it calls a three-person, "digital outreach team" posting entries in Arabic on "influential" Arabic blogs to challenge misrepresentations of the United States and promote moderate views among Islamic youths in the hopes of steering them from terrorism.
    The department's bloggers "speak the language and idiom of the region, know the culture reference points and are often able to converse informally and frankly, rather than adopt the usually more formal persona of a U.S. government spokesperson," Duncan MacInnes, of State's Bureau of International Information Programs, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on terrorism and unconventional threats on Thursday.
    "Because blogging tends to be a very informal, chatty way of working," MacInnes said, "it is actually very dangerous to blog." So State has a senior experienced officer, who served in Iraq, acting as supervisor and discussing each posting before it goes up. "We do not make policy," MacInnes added.
    The State Department team's approach is to join a blog's conversation, often when it turns to the motivation for U.S. policy toward Iraq, and when others are claiming that the U.S. occupation is meant to help Israel or to secure oil. "Our job is to address that motivation issue and show them that that's not the motivation," MacInnes said.

    But it seems to me State's internet commandos are well aware that they could be raked over the coals, and they're careful in how they approach the blogosphere.

    Even though the State Department employees were not going into hard-core terrorist sites, the worry, MacInnes said, was that after identifying themselves and using their own names, "we would be, in the parlance of the Internet, 'flamed' when we come on" -- meaning their entries would be subjected to intense attacks.
    They were not, and there were such posts as, "We don't like your policies but we're sure glad you're here talking to us about it,"


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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    That is so cool how they can sit in Nevada and command a strike in a "far" away place..

    Looks like the AP has some splanin to do about this. A Pulizer Prize reporter tied to terrorists? Nah, say it ain't so..

    12:18 AM  

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