State Department: Expedite now in Libya to prevent another Afghanistan
After the Bonn Agreement, Afghanistan shortly lived in peace knowing the Russian occupiers retreated back into the Soviet Union. That sense of freedom only lasted a short period of time. Internal tribal fighting, an increase in radical Islamic extremism, and failure in international assistance induced a diatribe of civil unrest which later harbored Al Qaeda. With the death of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya very well could be the next Afghanistan.
It is known that within the Libyan National Transition Council, a severe magnitude of internal fighting exists. Multiple factions comprising of Islamists, Socialists, Liberals, and even Conservatives exist throughout Libya. The nation is incredibly tribal in nature which could also fuel additional complexities.
Muammar Qaddafi had an unprecedented amount of weapons stockpiled. To date, it is known that Libya has approximately 20,000 Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) –only 500 are accounted for. Chemical and biological weapons have been secretively hidden in underground weapon storage facilities—none of which have been seized and destroyed by the international community.
Qaddafi is dead yet the threat is more alive today than ever. The domestic threat in Libya has international byproducts which could eventually make Libya the next Afghanistan. If the United States had not learned its lesson after Charlie Wilson’s Afghan endeavors, we will soon be faced with an incredibly austere Libya.
The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee acknowledges the situation in Libya. The State Department seeks initiatives through the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) and the Nonproliferation Disarmament Fund (NDF) to seize Libyan weapons of concern—all pending Senate approval.
The United States cannot take too much time in funding these initiatives. Time is of the essence in Libya. If we learned anything from Afghanistan, delaying initiatives in newly freed nation states can eventually come back to haunt us—Afghanistan being the case in point.
Ahmadinejad’s regime once again boasts its military capabilities by threatening the coast of the United States with its “supreme naval might.” Security experts have immediately discounted Iran’s recent claims. But could Iran actually conduct a naval operation against the U.S. seaboard?
Considering Iran’s oceanic naval force consists of approximately six frigates and destroyers and three submarines, Iran’s vision is highly unlikely. While they do possess other naval vessels, they are incapable of prolonged oceanic voyages. But with a small handful of capable vessels, Iran’s threat should not be discounted.
Iran has an incredible track record of utilizing Shiite radicalized forces to conduct suicide missions. In fact, since 2005, Iran established an actual martyrdom training camp called Gharar-gah-e Asheghan-e Shahadat (Congregation of the Lovers of Martyrdom). Considering the current Iranian naval capacity is weak at best due to its nautical mileage capabilities, the only possibility for Iran to achieve its recently released threat to the United States is through a naval martyrdom operation.
Considering Iran has an incredibly unique friendship with Venezuela and Cuba, both countries would be needed assisting any maneuverability for Iran’s naval endeavors. They could utilize Venezuela and or Cuba for refueling operations. If this were conducted, the likely U.S. target would constitute our Gulf States.
Getting from Tehran to the Florida Key’s wouldn’t be easy. According to timezonedistance.com, Iran’s navy would need to be capable of traveling 6321.6 nautical miles. While they do have Russian made Kilo Class diesel-electronic propulsion submarines capable of traveling distances of approximately 7,500 nautical miles, they are limited and would only be capable of such voyage without any worthy protective fleet to accompany such.
Excluding submarine vessels, Iran’s current naval capabilities entering U.S. territorial waters is virtually impossible without going detected. However, considering the U.S. Gulf Coast territorial waters are incredibly short before entering international waters, Iran can possibly stage in Caribbean international waters. From there, they can launch attacks into the United States easily hitting cities like Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, etc.
U.S. Gulf cities can be attacked by Iran’s navy. Just this week, Iran’s publicity department of the defense ministry announced deliverables of the Ghader cruise missile to the Islamic Revolution’s Guard Corp naval force. The Ghader missile is capable of launch from land or sea and it has a range of 200 kilometers or 124.27 miles. This news demonstrates its naval intent.
Iran’s naval threat should not be discounted. Very few ever imagined 19 fully embraced and ideologically demented martyrdom seeking Islamists ever take over three U.S. charter aircraft–but they did. Very few ever imagined one vehicle born improvised explosive devise driven by a radicalized martyr kill over 241 service members back in 1983—but it happened. Virtually no one could have imagined a nation state build a martyrdom training camp like Gharar-gah-e Asheghan-e Shahadat—Iran did. Iran mastered the social conditioning ideological practice of martyrdom. Today, Iran’s threat to the United States with a naval force is not unlikely if they incorporate martyrdom into their naval strategy.
I told myself not to write an article about Afghanistan’s 10 year war anniversary. As the saying goes, “Momma always said that if you have nothing nice to say—say nothing.” Well, I have found that after serving in and out of the Afghanistan and Pakistan region for the past ten years, writing has become somewhat therapeutic. Many may not like what I have to say, but personally, I know the great majority of the tactical warfighter, the men outside the wire day in and day out and those sitting in remote outposts, will understand my points better than anyone.
September 2001 changed the lives for every American. Watching national news in my North Carolina home only minutes away from Ft. Bragg, I remember seeing the first plane crash into the World Trade Center. I woke up my roommate and immediately informed him that we were under attack. I grabbed my pager anxiously awaiting the code to grab my kit. As we both drank coffee watching the second plane hit later witnessing American’s taking their last leap of faith out the windows of those buildings prior to their collapse, “Ack” and I sat in complete amazement. As we both sat in awe, my hands profusely sweat holding that pager knowing soon, the alarm would sound.
Of course with due time, that pager sounded. What normally took only a few minutes to get through Riley Gate now took hours. Local news informed the entire Ft. Bragg populace to stay home and only essential personnel needed to be on base. We were at war.
In only a few weeks, U.S. Special Operations staged around all of Central Asia and the Middle East. Some were on aircraft carriers, others were on U.S. mega bases, and a select few created their own safe houses in remote lands near the Afghan border. Intelligence inside Afghanistan was weak at best. We relied heavily on foreign assets who had contact with unique anti-Taliban units like the Northern Alliance—again, no assets immediately inside Afghanistan.
With time, foreign assets assisted in source development later used to work alongside our Special Operatives and their civilian counterparts inside the CIA. This process moved like lightening because within weeks of not having any worthy “in-country assets” the U.S. was capable of building an entire localized unified Afghan force ready to topple the Taliban regime.
That localized force, contrary to popular belief, wasn’t just the Northern Alliance. There were Afghans from Uzbek, Tajik, and other ethnic populations ready and willing to defeat their longtime radicalized Deobandi Islamic enemy—the Taliban.
Within only a few hard months, the Taliban retreated into the mountainous regions of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border due to a barrage of military might. The initial mission was a complete success—Taliban were no longer in control of the country. By the end of 2002 or early 2003, everything started to go ass backwards.
A new Afghan political regime was created by the United States. We created a monster that would later prove an utter mistake due to corruption. U.S. Special Operators who looked as if they have become Avatar’s of Afghanistan due to their wearing of local garb and lacked grooming standards were soon ordered to shave and wear American military uniforms—nothing beats bringing garrison into a war zone.
Conventional forces came into country with a force ready to clean house of the remainder pro-Taliban support mechanisms. Unfortunately, those conventional forces brought with them a very conventional attorney induced politically correct leadership—elitists from the military and State Department. Rules of engagements were set and the mission dramatically changed—a hole would soon be dug virtually impossible for us to climb out of.
Nation building was never a focus in Afghanistan until the 2003/2004 timeline. By 2003, the first Provincial Reconstruction Team was operational in eastern Afghanistan. By 2006, PRT’s became official entities for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Arguably, the PRT concept, which spends billions annually in reconstructing a nation that was never reconstructed after the Russian Afghan War, can be partially responsible for weakening the U.S. economy.
Tactical warfighters, not the FOB sitting hobbits often referred to as FOBIT’s, soon realized how asinine this war had become. They took every initiative to take the fight to the enemy only to find themselves often being refused artillery or air support due to some bureaucratic established ROE. Their lives were placed in grave danger. This caused many of them to forget everything they were taught in convoy operations, infantry, or other ground pounding kick ass and take names schoolhouses.
The enemy caught on to our tactics. They would shoot one or two rounds at a moving convoy. The convoy’s often stopped in place which contradicts every field manual. U.S. forces would return fire with thousands of rounds, young children would rush around the vehicles picking up brass only later to be sold somewhere in Peshawar. Combat action badges would be awarded to every trigger puller during such engagements. In the end, such combat scenarios served the enemy as an economic adventure depleting U.S. armament simultaneously making localized disgruntled villagers monetarily fruitful.
PRT’s and conventional forces, often without ever realizing it, became their own worst enemies on the tactical battlefield. One group would do their best to “win the hearts and minds” while the other would attempt to destroy anything in its path. Joseph Nye’s “Soft Power” became a catch phrase later replaced with an oxymoronic concept of “Smart Power.”
Catch phrases became promotional items. Anyone listening could hear such ridiculous words by just sitting in tactical operation centers—Battle Rhythm, Battle Space, Organic Unit, Atmospherics, Human Terrain, Full Spectrum, Full Spectrum Operations, or Full Spectrum Warfighter, etc. This week, I have just learned of a new one which will likely replace Asymmetric or Unconventional threats—Hybrid Threats.
None of these catch phrases will assist in defeating the enemy. Intelligence is needed more than anything. That intelligence comes in two forms: 1. cognitive intelligence from the human mind and 2. the more national security type of intelligence often defined as a process of directing, collecting, analyzing, processing, producing, and disseminating information. The first type of intelligence seems to be gravely missing among a great handful of military and political leaders. The second type has consumed in the technical predominantly relying on Signals Intelligence. Human Intelligence, well, that is virtually non-existent.
HUMINT has become a complete joke for the local Afghans. Due to an American risk adverse culture, today’s HUMINT has become one of two things—Interrogations or Walk-In’s. Media has decried interrogator operations claiming cruel and brutal tactics due to waterboarding. The public listened to our media causing uproar in today’s political spheres. Walk-In’s have become money makers for the local populations. They turn in old weapons or homemade IED’s and make money for the exchange. Those who actually go outside the wire to collect intelligence on the locals are often forced to utilize military vehicles and more often than not conduct such operations in military style convoys—a complete blunder in real HUMINT tradecraft.
The list of idiotic issues in Afghanistan is endless. ROE’s, intelligence, promotions, ego’s, etc. have all hindered tactical success. Media is also partially responsible as they have socially conditioned many worldwide viewers in believing false realities—a similar issue we faced during Vietnam. Shoot, most media pundits call people from Afghanistan “Afghani’s” without realizing an “Afghani” is a form of currency neglecting the real term to describe an individual from the country—an Afghan.
Yes, I am more than disgruntled after operating in Afghanistan. There are a million lessons to be learned from this poorly executed war. Books can be written on such. Who knows, maybe U.S. led operational flaws in Afghanistan serve an actual purpose. Maybe Afghanistan is really just a scrimmage. Maybe Afghanistan is just a test and evaluation game played with service members lives for the real war. What that war is or where it will occur, no one knows. Maybe it will be Iran. If that is the case, hopefully a real leader within the United States, a football coach like Paul William “Bear” Bryant type or a real military leader like George S. Patton type, will show up and lead the fight—not some politically correct egotistical elitist like so many of those who destroyed the initial successes in Afghanistan.
With all this said, make no mistake; I support our troops like the majority of red, white, and blue die hard American patriots. They are my brothers and sisters in arms and I love them equally as my own blood. I would do anything for them as a great many realize this considering my own going commitments in supporting them either inside war torn nations or in support capacities here inside the United States. My gripe is not the American tactical warrior—no, my gripe is the political correctness which hinders their successes. America is no more secured today than it was ten years earlier prior to the invasion of Afghanistan. Why–because America lacks real leaders willing to instill unprecedented chaos and havoc on our enemies.