History / Intelligence / Iraq

The Chilcot Report

Professionally, I do a lot of work on the decision to go to war with Iraq. That involved a lot of work with now-declassified documents pertaining to Iraq, its alleged nuclear, biological and chemical programs in the 1990s, efforts to procure something called yellowcake, alleged connections to al-Qaeda, and so on. I read books, I watch videos, I study memoirs, and I swim through history. This morning, the British government finished and posted to its website (here) a 6505 page, 6.5 million word report summarizing British involvement in Iraq, from the run-up and decision to invade, to the withdrawal

Iraq

Tehran and Yemen

I’ll be honest – I was pleasantly surprised to see that the good folks at Huffington Post had, um, convinced someone to let them post one of an article about Iran and Iranian support to the “civil war” in Yemen, right there on the Huffington Post website. They convinced Dr. Majid Rafizideh, president of the International American Council of the Middle East (it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page – so…) to write an article, Six Reasons Why Iran Will Not Leave Yemen, presumably for free. I’ll skip linking to the original post – not just because it’s on Huffington, but

Iran / Iraq / Syria / etc.

Frontline: The Secret History of ISIS

It is good to see organizations like PBS take on the history of ISIS, with their piece this week, The Secret History of ISIS. It’s not horrible, and it’s good to see that they were able to interview some of the key players – original sources matter. You should make time to watch it; it’s about 45 minutes in length, and it will stream on just about any device. Three things, though, after you watch it. 1) Frontline does a good job of pointing out that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) / Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) had been

Intelligence / Iraq / Syria

American strategy and politicization

Geoff Arnold pointed me towards a great article in The American Conservative, The Pentagon Fights Back. I’m going to plan to use it in future iterations of one of the classes I teach, ISSA 3302, Fundamentals of Intelligence Analysis, specifically during the section about the perils of politicization. Giraldi makes a good point, comparing current American actions and apparent strategy to a thinking of that of 1938 in Munich. I don’t think it’s just Rwanda that hangs over the head of this Democratic administration (Bill Clinton regrets how he handled it), but other atrocities and acts of genocide, to

Education / Iraq / Research

Google Searches and Alerts

I just created another Google Search today. I thought I would share with you what I used and how. As background, I have an ongoing interest in the Shia (and Sunni) militias in Iraq. The Shia ones have a long history of being supported by Iran, directly and indirectly. In 2014, the Iraqi government rolled many of the Shia ones into an umbrella organization, in response to the fall of Mosul and the need to officially bring these groups – armed – into the fight. Think of that action as mobilizing a well armed militia, in accordance with the US’s

Army / Iraq / Syria

America on being, or not being, in Syria today

The White House announced Friday that the US is going to deploy Special Forces personnel to Syria. The announcement specified that these SF personnel, described as intending to number less than 50, are going there as advisers to moderate rebel groups fighting against ISIS/ISIL. Today, President Obama faced questions from NBC Nightly News about his September 2013 pledge to not put troops on the ground in Syria. Back then, President Obama had stated, “My answer is simple. I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will

44 Days / Army / Iraq

On Stifled Innovations

I have been spending a lot of time recently reading, re-reading, and talking with fellow captains about an April 2002 paper, ““STIFLED INNOVATION? DEVELOPING TOMORROW’S LEADERS TODAY.” Dr. Leonard Wong, of the Strategic Studies Institute, wrote it. The first time I read it, I cheered. The second time, I stewed. Now, it just gets me thinking, and worrying, about the company commanders to follow. The description of the paper is tantalizing – “The author examines the current company commander experience and concludes that the Army values innovation in its rhetoric, but the reality is that junior officers are seldom

44 Days / Army / Iraq

Coming out of Command

I’ve spent time today rebuilding my main computer, and with that, moving and backing up a lot of files.  I ran across a file, the contents of which are below, from an online interview I did with the folks at companycommand.com, back in 2003 or 2004, about capturing and sharing lessons learned about wartime command.  I’d almost forgotten I’d done the interview.

Army / Blogging / Culture / etc.

As we use to say, History is Written By the Winners

I still love that quote, from George Orwell. It was the title of a column he wrote in 1944, you can read it here. I bring it up because China – the People’s Republic of China, or as it’s also called, Communist China – just celebrated the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II. The Atlantic, and one of my favorite features they do, In Focus, has great photos up that relate to both this topic, and this great quote from Orwell.

Iraq / Running

Week 5

I made it through another week, injury free. That, though, is getting tougher as the lunar month comes to a close this week and the moon goes away. Running it darkness can be awesome, but it can be tough on ankles. After five weeks of running, I am .29 miles ahead of the training plan. Not too bad. It’s always give and take with me — lots of little days of just a pinch more than required, and then the one or two days where I come up short a mile or two. My shortfall was the other week