Friday, November 16, 2007

The other military-policy debate, the one about Iran

Here's another discussion about US military policy in Iraq, not about withdrawal of conventional forces, but about the implantation of non-conventional forces to confront Iran, a debate that is time-sensitive because in order to carry out this kind of preparation there's nothing better than the "distractions" and the cover provided by the conventional forces, so the idea is that this should get well under way before they leave.

David L. Grange is a retired US Army general, president and CEO of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and founder and president of a Washington-based special-ops boutique called ViaGlobal Group. When he talks military policy and minimizing media coverage of the important points, we should listen.

With a co-author, and with input from several members of "the special forces community," Grange has written an essay called Confronting Iran: Securing Iraq's Border: an Irregular Warfare Concept. In the section headed "Moving forward", Grange says the Executive Orders signed by Bush, such as the one designating the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, "allow a more aggressive approach against Iran." And in particular:
Through these Orders, some effective options to defeat Iranian influence include: Information Operations, Unconventional Warfare, Zones of Separation (ZoS) and Demilitarized Zones (DMZ), [and relevant factors in doing this kind of thing will include] US Armed Forces Withdrawal, the Media, and Diplomacy.
Under "US Armed Forces Withdrawal", his point is not that these proposed special forces programs depend on US policy being for the continuation of regular forces operations in Iraq. Rather, his point is merely that in order to get started in border operations, the cover provided by having regular forces operations going on at the same time is key. He puts it this way:
The debate on proper SOF application in Iraq also hinges on when the US will pull out conventional ground forces. While conventional forces challenge some unconventional initiatives and disrupt some counterinsurgency operations, SOF personnel and adtivities can benefit from hiding and blending among the large force activities to screen sensitive SOF movements. The conventional force distractions to media and insurgents can provide additional time to build SOF camps and communications networks, while large force elements still remain. SOF practitioners can gradually implement a plan that isolates their activities. SOF plans should commence immediately, provided [he means "while"] the conventional military elements remain in Iraq, while media coverage remains centered on conventional "surge" forces, Department of State security contractors, roadside IEDs, sectarian violence, and local car bombings.
In other words, this is a time-sensitive proposal. Now is the time, Grange is saying, to start implanting the camps and networks in the border regions, before the conventional forces leave, so that the SOF operations can take advantage of the cover provided by large-scale conventional forces operations, and the media "distractions" connected with their presence and operations. For Grange, in other words, the debate about US troop withdrawal has quite a different meaning from what the public is being let in on via the debates involving Colin Kahl and the others.

Back to the question of what types of activities Grange thinks will be permitted under the Bush Executive Orders, the first he calls "Information Operations". You can read the whole thing under that heading in the report, but in a nutshell what he says is that in addition to the US Executive Orders, the UN Charter permits embargos in cases of military aggression, and he says an "electronic embargo", taking down Iran's electronic communications with the rest of the world, would be much more effective than conventional embargos, and he adds:
Should Iran choose to counter such a UN-mandated (apparently referring to the Charter provision on embargos) embargo, with cyber attacks against the US or the West, it would open itself to large-scale military operations by the US, a US-led coalition, or--with UN approval--a UN force under Article 42.
In other words, war.

But even without the whole electronic embargo, he says there should be an information operations campaign using conventional means, including radio and so on, in order to spread disinformation and sabotage:
Content will be sewn [he means sown] in the form of sabotage, distrust, persuasion, impersonation, conformity [?], and ingratiation, and multiplied by widespread dissemination, expecially televisive [!] dissemination deeper within Iran's territory.
After going on a bit more about information operations, Grange turns to Unconventional Warfare (UW). He talks about the US Defence Dept definition of UW, and he recalls the US used the Kurds in this type of thing in support of the Shah of Iran in the 1970s (observing by the way that the Mujahedeen e Khalk could be another surrogate currently), talks a bit about the experience in Laos, then says:
Through UW, the US can perform a similar broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations, conducted through indigenous or surrogate locals, to accomplish subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities, agent recruitment, and guerrilla warfare...
And this isn't intended as some kind of a temporary set of operations either. Grange envisions a special operations regime implanted in the border area for many years to come. He puts it this way:
The duration of SF stay should be committed in terms of years...Long stay activities win hearts and minds, and generate trusted information sharing...Trust is built through years of SF presence through unabated medical, construction, engineering and educational assistance...These schools should focus on children in order to create future relationships, and build immediate communication bridges and area sensors for adversarial movement information.
Under "Media", Grange's main point is that efforts should be made to minimize press coverage of the Special Forces operations, taking care to try and avoid the outright fabrications and lying that hurt credibility in the VietNam war. Reporters and news organizations should be continually reminded that coverage can adversely affect the troops, and when that reporters are wounded it is an additional drain on resources.

You can read all this and more at the SmallWarsJournal website linked to above. And if you should be a government official thinking of taking him up on the "electronic embargo" idea, you know where you can turn: As it happens, just that kind of thing appears to be one of the specialities of Grange's Washington-based firm, ViaGlobal, which says on its website:
Information Operations

In today's world, we no longer deal principally with threats and challenges from nation states that respond to the traditional levers of military, diplomatic, or economic influence. The new paradigm requires an organization able to:

- Anticipate Conflicts or State Failure
- Shape Events or Mitigate Effects
- Utilize Non-Kinetic Influence

Information Operations have become essential and necessary tools of U.S. diplomacy, military effectiveness and international business. Dealing with today's threat requires:

- Knowledge of the Human Terrain
- Understanding Cultural Nuances
- Skills to Effectively Influence the Enemy and Those Who Support Them


Blogger D. Ghirlandaio said...

I sent this link to a few people. I even got a thank you from Laura Rozen, but not one pur it up:
"He denied ever being asked to fabricate evidence, adding: 'We're not asked to manufacture information, we're asked to find it. But if a detainee wants to tell me what I want to hear so he can get out of jail... you know what I'm saying.'

Other military intelligence officials in Iraq refused to comment, but one said: 'The message is, "Got to find a link with Iran, got to find a link with Iran." It's sickening.'"

And I see John Singlaub (he of the World Anti-Communist League), is a consultant on the paper you link to. SWJ is where Malcolm Nance called waterboarding torture, without discussing outsourcing as complicity (let alone the School of the Americas).
Nice bunch a guys. And Nance is now the liberal's hero.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Esfandiar Khodaee said...

you said: it seems clear that the U.S. and U.N. actions have enlivened Iranian moderates.
this is not true US betrayed moderates and doesnot support reformists for its benefits

9:30 AM  
Blogger Esfandiar Khodaee said...

Lets exchange links

9:46 AM  
Blogger badger said...

I'm not sure what you're referring to with the "you said..." and the fact is I don't know enough about Iran to comment anyway. This post is just about US "special forces community" thinking about how to gin up another war.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you say "pubic" you mean "public"

10:55 AM  
Blogger badger said...

corrected, thank you

3:30 PM  

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