Please bookmark Orders of Battle as a backup in case site is inaccessible.
We began after September 11, 2001 as America Goes To War. With the US out of Iraq and preparing to leave Afghanistan, we now cover whatever interests the Editor.
Poland 4/8/2013; Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba 3/31/2013; New Zealand 03/31/2013; Australia 3/29/2013; Argentina 3/28/2013; Panama 3/27/2013; Guinea-Bissau 3/24/2013; Guinea 3/23/2013; Greece 3/22/2013; Germany 3/21/2013; Guatemala 3/10/2013; Grenada 3/9/2013
The document is being posted in stages
All historical orbats are being made open access in stages (5 added 6/27/2012 including detailed Soviet forces in the West, June 22, 1941)
Several articles posted to Center for Indian Military History, and one to Center for Pakistan Military History
New General Data LLC imprint
We should have mentioned this earlier: our parent company has a new imprint, Madhavi Lata Books, with a first publication of four books in the fantasy/sci-fi/romance genres. You should still be able to get two books free promotion on Amazon (e-reader): Volumes II and III of "Chauhan Agnivansh" which aside from incorporating the three genres is also an alternate universe epic. Amazon Prime members can borrow all four books free.
Friday 0230 GMT May 17, 2013
· Russia Spy Scandal So a US Embassy Moscow 3rd Secretary was arrested and then expelled for trying to recruit a Russian citizen to spy for America. Yawn. Glad someone at the US Embassy Moscow is out on the street working. But then the Russians have announced they are surprised at the clumsiness of the attempt. Now we’re surprised at how crude the Rooskies are. Why are they pushing this and making braying asses of themselves? The whole thing was a setup, for which the 3red Secretary fell. How do we know this?
· Because the Russians say that the American recruiter offered an immediate $100,000 down as proof of good faith – piles of 500-Euro notes were shown as seized from the 3rd Sec; the Russian was to receive $1-million/year, and more for really important information. Puleeeese. Get real, Rooskie fiends. These sums are not just in your dreams, they are in your high-doses-of-controlled-substances dreams.
· We say this again: if you need an air tight story made up, email the Editor. He is a skilled professional. You all are pathetic amateurs. Hopefully the Russians who were responsible for making up these incredible sums are getting daily whippings at Head Office, with the dreaded Limp Lettuce Leaf.
· So no sooner than the deficit for the year comes down a bit then we’re hearing mumblings about the need to increase spending. Just as Editor expected. The deficit is down to a still-frightening $650-billion thanks to higher taxes and reduced spending, the only practical way to bring it down. But this is still 4% of GDP. We need immediately to bring the deficit down to 3% of GDP, and when the economy recovers, push it into a surplus.
· Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, we do understanding that when the economy is in trouble you increase deficit spending and when it is expanding you increase the budget surplus. But Editor has been saying that we totally lack discipline. We spend more in recessions, and we continue spending when the economy recovers, so the deficit just keeps getting bigger. Yes, we do understand that the US is in a different position from other countries because we print our own currency and are the currency of last resort and so on and so forth.
· But may we point out something? In 1945, US had more than 40% of the world’s GDP. Today we’re down to something like 18% if we recall right. If the developing world grows at 6% a year and we grow at 3%, it’s possible in 30-years or so we’ll be down to 10% or less of the world’s economy. Who is to say the dollar will remain the currency of last resort? Who knows but that we may actually have to compete with other countries to sell our bonds? Interest are 2% for 10-year bonds, the interest on the national debt is some piddling figure, $200- to $300-billion if we recall right. Halcyon days indeed. But what if we have to start paying 6% some years down the road?
· Okay, so the spend-spend-spend lot may say “we’ll deal with that when we come to that.” But unless we start getting into good habits now, we will not be prepared to reduce spending when the time comes. As it is, so much of the deficit financing we’re doing is going to benefit the financial markets, we are not investing in the future, say in infrastructure and R and D.
· No, no, no UK, you are hindering evolution A British teenager got run over by a train because she was listening to music and didn’t hear the train coming. Obviously that she was crossing tracks meant nothing to her. So now the cry goes out “We must do something!”. Please, folks, obviously we must not do anything. How is evolution going to improve the human race if we protect those who cannot cope with the modern world? When apes first took to the trees and started crashing to earth because of misleaps, did all the other apes start agitating for the government to place safety nets in the jungle? Obviously not. Instead they said “One less fool trying to hinder our evolution to humans.”
· Actually, that didn’t come out quite right. Given what humans are, you can argue the apes underwent a degeneration, not a survival of the fittest. Maybe if the government had placed safety nets in the jungles, apes would not have degenerated into us humans. A fitter species might have been ruling the world. Like the Great Indian Dung Beetle.
· $40K on daycare Washington Post had a story yesterday on the anxious search for day care vouchers in the Metro area. A young lady with two little kids, a toddler and an infant, was interviewed. She makes $20,000/year. Full market cost daycare for two is $40K. (Actually it isn’t, its much less, but lets go with the Post which has a reputation for being math challenged. We can see the kind of day care a CEO of a large company would want would indeed be $40K).
· Okay, before our liberal friends go off on this shows people in America don’t earn a living wage, let us agree that making it in the Washington Metro area on $20K/year is very, very hard. AT Washington prices, $10/hr is equal to $6/hr in most of America. Half that is going to go in getting just a one bedroom in a reasonably safe area – at least. We agree American capitalists brutally exploit American labor. Say whatever bad you want, we’ll agree with it – and we are not being facetious.
· But in the liberal outrage, one simple point is being lost. Why does this lady have two kids when she is single and earns minimum wage? Yes, surely she has a valid backstory. The most common is fathers who disappear. Nonetheless, folks, any woman born after 1960 knows that fathers disappear. They disappeared in earlier times too, but less frequently. Any woman born after 1960 has access to inexpensive, effective contraception so that in 99% of cases there is no need to have a child unless you want to. In the days when contraception was neither inexpensive, easily available, or that effective, unwanted babies were born too. They were put up for adoption. Heartbreaking, we agree. Its unfair the burden is on the women while the men get away, we agree.
· But YOU were responsible for YOUR behavior. The state did not come to your aid. It is NOT progress to say we do things in so much more a sane manner now. What we do is insane, because we shift resources from those who have lived their lives responsibly to those who do not. BTW, its much, much worse in UK.
· A person loses their job, if they’ve been prudent savers but still need some help, it’s the right thing to do to give it to them. It’s the right thing to do to provide some basic level of medical care for everyone, rich or poor. You want more, pay for it. And so on. Senator Edward Kennedy’s dying wish that everyone in America should have the medical care he received free was total, complete, utter nonsense.
Thursday 0230 GMT May 16, 2013
· Remembering Billie Sol Estes This won’t mean a thing to most Americans, but once upon a time this was tough country run by tough men. Editor recalled that when reading Estes’ obituary. Estes was – how to out this delicately so as not to offend the tender sensitivities of today – a wheeler dealer. Actually – don’t read this to your friends if you suspect they have weak hearts – he was a Class A fraudster who consorted with the country’s top politicos, including Senator/Vice-President/President Lyndon B. Johnson. And boasted of his connections even while being carted off to jail, as the Washington Post reminds us (page B5, yesterday). He channeled big money to the president and others, yet there was no real investigation of his links with the biggest organized crime family in the US, the political class. It was understand that of course everyone was on the take including His Preziness, and this was just the normal way of doing business.
· When people close to him and au courante with his fraud might have had thoughts of squealing on him, they merely turned up dead. A USDA inspector who opened an investigation into Estes frauds on the US government was found dead, shot five times with his own bolt-action .22 rifle. Investigators deemed it a suicide. His accountant was found dead in a car with tubing running from the exhaust. Except there was no CO in his lungs. Obviously another suicide, said local investigators. Two men indicted with Estes also died. Obviously suicides. (You can read more about all this at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKestes.htm )
· As far as Editor recalls, no one thought any of this was particularly strange. No one called for inquiries on Estes’ connections with the politicians including with the White House because everyone was on the take, an honor among thieves code prevailed. Everyone is still on the take, but now they have a dozen lawyers and accountants to scrub things. As for the dead people, well, everyone knew if you poked your nose into power peoples’ busy-ness, you risked turning up dead. Business as usual, move along, nothing to see here.
· Ah, the good old days. When American men were men. Now the people who run this country are certified wimps.
· No greater evidence of wimpiness is needed than the very recent shock, horror, turgid stomach syndrome since someone took a video of a rebel Syrian fighter eating an enemy’s heart. Apparently another rebel barbecued his enemy’s head. The media has rushed to lengthy analyses about “ this has forced Washington to reconsider aiding the Syrian rebels” and all that garbage. There are good reason to aid or not to aid the rebels, but for heaven’s sakes people, get a grip. Neither of these episodes, or episodes where rebels have executed prisoners, has the least relevance to the question.
· Just what exactly do Americans think happens in a war? The above is mild stuff, unworthy even of comment. Oh yes, an American soldier is to be tried because he urinated on an enemy’s corpse. Well, the enemy is dead so presumably he did not feel a thing. Where’s the beef? Oh, okay, we the great, sensitive, politically correct American people don’t disrespect enemy corpses. What complete hypocrisy. Americans in wartime have no problems killing folks who disagree with them, and the bigger the explosion the more thrilled we are. You know what’s really disrespectful? Killing someone. That really hurts a guy’s feelings. Urinating on his corpse? Not so much.
· What is this self-flagellation supposed to prove? That we’re culturally superior to the bad guys who don’t follow our conventions? But look, isn’t there a contradiction here? Isn’t the fact we’re killing the bad guys imply we consider ourselves culturally superior to them? Otherwise it’s his viewpoint versus your viewpoint, and as they teach you from pre-school onward, we must respect other folks’ opinions. You can kill someone only because you consider your opinion the right one. That means you assume moral superiority. The enemy has no problem killing those who don’t share their opinions, they don’t need validation via cultural superiority facades such as treating corpses with respect.
· Grow up, America. If you feel so guilty about killing someone that you punish your own soldiers for showing “disrespect” to enemy corpses, we suggest you get out of the killing business and take up knitting socks.
· And: not to mention the current scandals So anxious are some folks to bring Hilary/Obama down that they have been touting as a real a cable that is apparently forged. What these people are doing is not hurting Hilary/Obama, but making utter fools of themselves and undermining their own credibility. Stop already, fools! Can you not carry your loaded weapon without blowing off your foot?
Wednesday 0230 GMT May 15, 2013
· Sigh. There goes America again. No need for its enemies to try and destroy America, the country is managing quite well, thank you very much. At a time when America needs to rework itself from the ground up, the country is busy with petty issues. So after Benghazi we now have IRSgate. With Benghazi, some have been opining that that was the worst coverup in American history, and Mr. Obama needs to be marched out of the White House, if not actually tarred and feathered and ridden out of town facing backward on a mule.
· With IRS gate people are opining this is as bad as Watergate, and have jumped to the conclusion because the IRS is part of the federal government, there has to be a link back to Mr. Obama and now, this time, finally, at last, Mr. Obama will be impeached. We won’t even mention the alleged Associated Press – Justice Department “scandal”, which is supposed to prove that we all need to get more guns to fight an oppressive government.
· By the way, before you get into this guns thing, Editor wants to boast that a medical professor (or something like that) of Indian origin has all you native Americans beat hollow. Aside from being accused of trying to blow up his senior at the place he worked, he stockpiled no fewer than half-a-million rounds of ammunition and 98 hand grenades. See, Muh Feller Markins, as LBJ used to say, you all is a bunch of wimps. India rules, ha ha ha ha neerer wiener. Etc. But we diverge from our point.
· So will it shock everyone that Editor doesn’t consider Watergate much of a scandal? American politics used to be a rough sport, and still is in different ways. Opposition research was routine. It is still is, but now instead of burglarizing anyone’s offices you hack his computers and buy his political workers to give you the Juicy Couture news. Or are we getting our metaphors mixedup with the Bangladesh garment workers’ scandal? So many scandals, so little time.
· Oooopsies! Did we just say something about hacking we shouldn’t have? Never mind. We didn’t really say that. We were misquoted by us. Nixon, it appears, broke the law. Anyone remember the ballot box stuffing to get Vanilla Clean Bean JFK elected? That was breaking the law, not this piddly little whiffle ball limp spaghetti offense of Nixon’s. Of course, people who are even older than Editor – he believes there are a few – will object and say “Ballot box stuffing was a time- honored American tradition, my boy. The REAL scandal was giving African-Americans and women the vote.” Yes, you can guess Editor does go back a few years.
· A fellow resident of Iowa was telling Editor the other day of when he visited Maine. On the trip back, this all-American blue-eyed blond family with All-American husband, wife, and kids, was being all but strip-searched by the Homeland Security goons, and how odd it all seemed. Particularly with the wife repeatedly saying “Do you really think I am about to blow up a plane with my children on board?” Had Editor been there, he would have hushed the lady, because saying this kind of thing to law enforcement is 100% certain to get you not just a strip search, but a full cavity search including X-Rays and radioactive isotope testing of you right testicle, which might be a surgically implanted bomb. Yes, yes, we know women don’t have testicles, though with American women you do have to sometimes wonder, but you get the point we’re making here.
· We had to explain to our good friend that Homeland Security knew full well that the All-American family were not terrorists, but their manual specifically says: “To avoid charges of racial profiling by the ACLU, search at random one of ten every All-American families, every third quadriplegic, and every fifth person without a head. Let the politicians dressed as Clowns alone, as to date ACLU has shown no interest in the rights of Clowns of any ethnicity, religion, or political belief, and the most dangerous weapon a politician has deployed so far is hot air. Hot air actually helps provide lift for the aircraft, reducing the use of aviation gas, which in turn reduces greenhouse emissions. Yes, we are aware that politician emissions are one billion times as deadly as six-bean quiche, but the greenies have no raised any issues with six-bean farts, gigantic as they may be. These are “natural” – yes, you may think Austin Powers.”
· So you see what we’re saying here. The IRS should have demanded details on all political 501(c) groups, not just those with Tea Party, Rand Paul, Jimi Hendrix, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in their names. It doesn’t matter that conservative republicans use 501(c) to avoid taxes on Black Money to their favored candidates. When we say “Black Money”, it is in the sense of covert, as in Black Helicopters, not that the patrons made it from smuggling cocaine or sell N-weapons to Al Qaeda. These days, of course, no one really knows what people are really up to.
· George Will of the Washington Post would say the right to spend 1 Bazilion Dollars to buy an election is a right conferred by the 1st Amendment. Editor would say Democrats are just jealous that conservative republicans have more money by far than anyone else. It really is not worth investigating 99.99% of Democratic 501(c) because they have less money in them than Editor’s Piggy Bank. Besides which, editor might add, Mr. Obama and the Chicago style cash raising machine have not done too badly for themselves. In 2012 the Democrats raised more money from large individual donors than the GOP.
· Then we have the DOJ think, where the department says it needed records to show who was leaking critical information or whatever. What gets the Editor at how hilarious the press is. “This has a chilling effect on the freedom of the press, which is the only check on the government.” Really? We always thought the so-called free press plus the government were only pawns in keeping the money-interests – regardless of politics – in charge of the country. To speak of a free press when the bulk of the media is owned by big corporations and driven primarily by the need to sell advertising is ironic. Only small blogs like this one are free to say what they want, and of course they have zero resources to ferret out real news. BTW, some of the bigger blogs had best stop indulging themselves in the hubris of criticizing the Main Stream Media because these folks are increasingly relying on the same instruments the MSM relies on: monied interests and advertising. The bigger blogs are also just as MSM as the traditional media, so they can jolly well get those smug expressesions off their faces and tinsel self-made halos off their heads.
· Editor recalls a public policy class he took – talk about lack of freedom of expression, no need to go farther than American academia including think tanks – where the discussion was about suppressing information in the interests of national security. The specific case was: “You have learned the US is about to launch a rescue attempt of the Teheran Embassy hostages. Should you publish this information?” Twenty-four of twenty-five students said “Obviously not”. The last student, a media person, repeatedly said “the American people have a right to know and I would publish it.” No mention of the press person’s furtherance of her career, just a selfless dedication to the American public. Hahahahahahaha. Anyway, said media person was young, good looking, and perky, so Editor forgave her. So did the professor who for some reason spent much time trying to convince everyone he was the oldest and wisest person in the room when clearly editor was the oldest. Wisest, obviously not. That was a person who never opened his mouth. Probably the undercover FBI informant.
· Editor’s point is simple: given the state of America, should we be at each other’s political throats, ensuring more deadlock, filling up our time with Benghazi, IRS, and the Associated Press? By all means, it’s a free country, let someone investigate. But should this country’s so called leaders be devoting their time to tearing each other down, Democrats as much as Republicans? By the way, have you heard the one where the aliens land and tell the human “take us to your leader” and the human takes them to meet Bobo The Clown? No? Actually, we hadn’t heard it either. We made it up on the spot and we agree it’s not funny. But this is America, and Editor has the right to make lame jokes and demand people laugh at them, else he will be so offended and sue for discrimination.
· Here is one thing that is far more serious than the rest of Washington put together. The news is that the Nigerian Islamic group Boko Haram, after being pushed out of northern cities last year, is back in strength and starting to hold ground. Maybe just 5% of Nigeria, but if that is not a potent we don’t know what is. Why are they back? Well, they’ve now got access to a mother load of arms, ex-Libyan, and have tied up with Al Qaeda in the Mahgreb. This is a very serious development that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Obama and the GOP should be discussing?
Tuesday 0230 May 14, 2013
· Pakistan’s New Prime Minister Redux Yesterday we said that Nawaz’s reelection changes nothing for India . Now, since he has immediately proclaimed a message of peace and love for all around, including India, Afghanistan, the US, and even the Pakistan Army which deposed him in 1999, might not our assessment be pessimistic? Unfortunately, no.
· There is much talk going around that Nawaz Mark III (or Version 3, to use the American nomenclature) III is not the same man as he was 14-years ago. He is said to have matured and has become less impetuous. Certainly his overtures to all his enemies – including his invitation to his political opponents to join him in the government – indicate this is all true. In the case of India he has suggested greater trade and a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir problem. The greater trade is music to India’s ears and India will welcome it. But greater trade for India also means greater cultural trade. Will Nawaz reverse Pakistan policy and permit that? We don’t think so and you will see why in a moment.
· India’s biggest problem with Pakistan since 1947 has been Kashmir Sweet words are fine, but can Nawaz deliver peace on Kashmir? You be the judge. For India peace means (or at least meant) the acceptance of the Line of Control as an international boundary. The Simla Agreement 1972 was supposed to lead to this blessed state: Bhutto used a lot of political capital to come to India and sign that agreement, considering his angry and upset Pakistanis were about India’s role in the partition of Pakistan.
· But things ended very badly Unlike most Indians, Editor is not about to blame Pakistan alone for the subsequent problems. Like it or not India has to bear its share of responsibility. Mrs. Gandhi saw Pakistan’s 1971 partition as a model for another partition: Balochistan and Sind, which would have left Pakistan with the NWFP, West Punjab, and a third of Kashmir. She attempted to exploit the internal insurgencies/civil disorder in both these provinces and failed. Meanwhile, the Pakistanis returned the favor by supporting the Sikh insurgency in the 1980s, and failed. Then, when the jihadis saw the Soviet Union off, Pakistani tried to replicate the model in Kashmir, and also failed. Nawaz was very much part of this effort for all that he may choose to blame the Army. He may have tacitly approved the 1999 Kargil War, but Indians blame the Pakistan Army rather than him because they know how little power Nawaz had in actuality. Nonetheless, it is fair to see that the vast majority of Pakistanis supported both the Kashmir insurgency and the Kargil War. They would have done so even had there been no Bangladesh or India’s interventions in Balochistan and Sindh. Seizing Indian Kashmir is the central, fundamental basis of Pakistan’s internal and external policies. Is this going to change?
· An enormous complication in all this has been Pakistan war of terror against India, coincident with the rise of the global terror war. This has completely shattered any goodwill India has for Pakistan. But still, even though two generations have passed since Partition 1947, most Indians would like nothing better than to be friends with Pakistan. Indians, more than Pakistan, are fairly forgiving of Pakistan’s 1947 and 1965 attempts to take Kashmir. But the insurgency they will not easily forgive. The damage of the Kargil War 1999 could be healed. India might even in time forget the terror war. But can Nawaz end the Kashmir violence and the terror war?
· In Editor’s estimation, there is no chance at all that he can. It is not even that the probability is low, it is impossible.
· Look no further than a big reason Nawaz won this election. It is because of the Pakistan Taliban. These folks told the secular parties that their version of democracy, i.e., secularism, is un-Islamic. They did their best to disrupt secular parties, and had a big impact. The PPP, for example, had to give up normal campaigning. Yes, the PPP would still have lost. But not as badly. The Taliban did not disrupt either Nawaz or Imran Khan because both have taken a strong line against US UAV strikes. Can Nawaz stop the Taliban? He and whose Mama? If he turns against the Taliban, between the Pakistan Army and the Taliban, depending on gets to kill him first, he is a goner. The only question being in how many days after he makes a speech saying the Taliban will be destroyed if they don’t lay down their arms.
Monday 0230 GMT May 13, 2013
· Congratulations, Pakistan Naturally according to the nitpickers the election was not perfect – few are. But the internal security situation in the country it went off well. Nawaz Sharif returns to the prime ministership for the third time. He is likely to end up a few seats short of an absolute majority, but that is inconsequential as minor parties and independents will join him. Indeed, in a signal that business will not be as usual, he has invited his two main rivals, the People’s Party of Pakistan and Imran Khan to join him in the government.
· Did we just say business will not be as usual? Inside Pakistan, perhaps. But as far as relations with India are concerned, it will be the same old, same old. This is no reflection on Nawaz. Pakistan’s was created because many Muslims believed they could not live in India. Pakistan’s identity is defined as Not India. Though many blame the Pakistan Army for refusing peace with India to safeguard its unique place in domestic politics, the reality is even the civilian government cannot afford to make peace for the simple reason India will eventually economically and culturally swamp Pakistan and reabsorb it. That has been the course of history for three thousand years and it will not change.
· No Pakistan government can afford to give up its claims to Kashmir, though India has at times appeared willing to accept the Line of Control as the international border. No longer, however, the insurgency and Islamic terror has left India traumatized and radicalized. If Nawaz were to say “live and let live” regarding Kashmir, then that concedes that Muslims can live freely in India (which they can), which then undermines the rationale for the creation of Pakistan.
· Moreover, obviously with the US leaving Afghanistan, regardless of what happens there, 5-10,000 militants will be freed to fight India. Both the civil government and the military will be only too happy to facilitate them because (a) it suits Pakistan’s strategic objectives; and (b) it keeps the militants occupied. There is yet another dimension to this, which is the more extreme militants themselves want to fight India to restore – at least partially – the Caliphate. And that means, at the minimum, Northwest India.
· India, for once, has for several years anticipated events as they will unfold. The Indian Army has said since the last few years it is ready for another round with Pakistan’s insurgents. Normally Editor would have believed the Army, but his faith in the military has been severely shaken by the recent contremps with China in Ladakh. The Army will blame the civilians, but sorry, in this case it doesn’t wash. The Army is equally to blame. Editor is a patriotic Indian and proud of the Indian Army, but it is not his job to blindly swallow its spin and to blame the civilians alone. The positive thing is that the Army does not to get more ready than it was when it defeated the 1997-2005 insurgency (dates vary). The fences are construction, UAV numbers keep increasing, and though it will not happen tomorrow, more helicopters and advanced sensors will be installed.
· What does Nawaz’s return mean for the US? It means bad things, because Nawaz is truculently anti-American. As well as he should be, because the Pakistan Army has been the bane of his life – and will again. And the US has been solidly behind the Pakistan Army. Now, if the US has any sense, which clearly it does not, it will leave South Asia altogether. This is the third time intervening on the Asian land mass has worked out badly: Korea, Second, Indochina, and now Afghanistan. But no one must ever make the error of thinking America will learn from its mistakes. That is a most un-American concept. Treason, even. The US will hang around until it is thrown out lock, stock, barrel, and the kitchen sink etc.
· It will not find Nawaz as cooperative as it has found the two previous Pakistan regimes, one military and one civilian. Very silly, childish people in Washington mutter darkly “If they don’t cooperate we’ll stop our aid”. Okay, and so what? The Pakistan elite has been stuck on American bribes for sixty years, but the sums are tiny and at some point a nation’s pride has to force the elite to stop accepting the bribes. Perhaps Editor is wrong, and perhaps Pakistan will be just as ready to accept American money. But even if America leaves 10-15,000 troops behind in Afghanistan it is not going to be the major actor in Afghanistan after 2014. Afghanistan will be settled between Afghanistan and Pakistan – who just happen to live there. What an amazing coincidence. America is only a tiresome intruder with a very short attention span. There is a real question how long Pakistan will accept US UAV strikes. We could be wrong, but we don’t think Nawaz will give permission, tacit or otherwise.
Saturday 0230 GMT May 11, 2013
· For once we don’t feel we are imposing on readers by going on and on like Aeolus because the main part of this update is a correction. Reader Luxembourg sends the day’s headlines he knows will interest Editor, sometimes twice a day. In the latest articles he sent, Editor saw something he had earlier missed because he had no interest in the statements by various parties immediately after events. The military part (or rather, non-part) was more interesting.
· Nonetheless, Editor has been saying that the Administration initially said the attack was part of a demonstration because the CIA said so. That still remains so. What has to be added – at least until more information arises – is that the CIA changed its initial story based on information received, and said it was a terror attack. Meanwhile, the Administration continued saying it was a demonstration, until the Administration got in line with the CIA.
· So you have a time gap where the Administration is sticking to the CIA’s original information and CIA has updated its story. If you are familiar with these things, you will know this is not an unusual state of affairs, i.e., someone is behind the curve. Part of the reason is the Administration has to work out if this is the final CIA version before saying “here is the final version”. Because if it isn’t, and CIA comes up with something else, then administration will look pretty silly for the tacking and yawing it is engaged in. (Not sure we have our small boat maneuvers down right. All Editor knows about small boats is they should be avoided at all costs.)
· Now, we can hear the skeptics going “Oh, right, that’s really feeble even for you, Editor”. To which we say: we have no intention of speaking for the Administration. They’re all big boys and girls, they can speak for themselves. After all, when it turned out Mr. Bush had launched a war that cost us 4600 lives and near a trillion bucks on a big fat lie – which he and his knew was a lie, did the Editor pile on Mr. Bush’s critics? Nah. Editor was like “Well. Let him explain it.” Ditto Mr. Obama. All we’d like to say is those who think that there is material for an impeachment here or for a knock-out blow to Hilary have even more hyperactive imaginations than Editor. And that’s saying something.
· Meanwhile, Editor has inferred from the various bits and pieces being released that the Benghazi consulate was indeed closed. This makes no difference to anyone except the Editor. Since the consulate was closed, what Ambassador was doing there is anyone’s guess. And seeing as there was a general alert that the embassy in Tripoli might be attacked under cover of a demonstration, and everyone knew that Benghazi was unsafe, why the gentleman set off for Benghazi is beyond us. We also know that the embassy was so worried about an attack that when they heard about Benghazi, they evacuated the embassy and headed for the safe annex. CIA no doubt.
· BTW, does anyone else think this combination of State and CIA we are seeing revealed in Libya is peculiar? Editor thinks it’s very peculiar. There was a lot of that going on in Afghanistan too, and in Iraq, no doubt. And this business of the State Department having its own paramilitary force is also strange. No? Okay, Editor gets the hint. Readers want to say “Nothing to see here, move along”. We’ll move along, but REALLY it is strange.
Friday 0230 GMT May 10, 2013
Back to Benghazi (Groan)
· There are two Benghazi stories. One is the political one of a lying President and Secretary of State, which even those of us not versed in the arcane world of Washington politics can tell is not going anywhere. Honestly, no one is going to cast one vote less for Hilary, should she stand in 2016, because she said at first the Benghazi attack was a mob angry at some foolish video. The reason is that was not her judgment, it was Central Intelligence’s, which the Director said was the best available at the time. When people start getting into clock time in the minutes and seconds and tenths of a second about how long it took SecState and Prez to call it a terror attack, only partisans can get satisfaction, those who already support Hilary will not be moved.
· Meanwhile, and interestingly, the GOP’s star witness who was supposed to destroy the Obama presidency has managed only to support the government’s story about why help was not sent
· But there is another, far more interesting story. And yes, there is a cover up on the story, but one made because of national security. This concerns what the US Ambassador was up to and what went wrong. Here is Editor’s analysis on facts as revealed in the press so far.
Ambassador Stevens and his Benghazi visit
· The ambassador went to Benghazi with two armed escorts. At the consulate were three other American armed personnel. When other missions were trying to get out of lawless Benghazi, apprehending various threats, why was the US ambassador blithely sailing into town with insignificant protection? It can’t be – as the narrative relates – that he was heroically doing his duty to show the people of Benghazi America cared about them, and went to ribbon-cut a school. Unless he was foolish, in which case State would simply have said he went of his own accord despite the situation and warnings.
· We don’t know why he went, except there is a massive cover-up of his trip. It has been suggested he went for an assignation. But as we have said, unless something more definite emerges than rumors he and Mrs. Ambassador were not getting along, we cannot responsibly use this theory. There have been rumors it was something clandestine, possibly to do with a CIA covert operation to use Libya arms to support US interests in Syria. This would account for the cover-up, but it doesn’t explain why Ambassador was playing CIA games. Career diplomats are not CIA folks under cover.
· One possible explanation, which is really just a guess, is that Ambassador had better trust with the folks he was to meet than did the CIA, and the folks said “no deal unless he comes and we meet no one else”. There have been vague mumbles about his excellent contacts with Benghazi folks, but nothing definitive.
· Regardless of what he was up to, why did he have so little security? Here is Editor’s inference: because the same local militia used by State and CIA for security were to provide security. Okay, so why didn’t they? After all, the militia was present at all the fighting after the ambassador was ambushed. The Bad Guy militia numbered several hundreds; it was not just a handful of State and CIA paramilitaries who fought back and stopped the Bad Guy militia.
· Possible reason why the militia did not provide security: they were not asked to. In which case Ambassador’s visit was seriously clandestine. But someone betrayed the visit to the Bad Guys, who ambushed Ambassador at the consulate. Who, where, why, and when? No clue. Might a faction of the US militia have gone rogue? If so, that is a big reason to throw a national security blanket over the affair. Readers know in the clandestine biz things go wrong, but the American public and Government opposition, who all think they are crack lawyers, would get into the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” thing and it would make both State and CIA look bad.
· Editor thinks US militia was not involved because it took CIA time to contact the militia and get a rescue going. Had a faction of the US militia gone bad, given there were at least 60 bad guys, the main militia would have come to know and moved to counter them. BTW, it’s entirely possible there were just a handful of baddies who approached the consulate under the guise of a demonstration.
· That’s all of it. Wait, you say, Editor promised to reveal something, if not all. What is this lame business of saying Ambassador’s visit was a deal gone bad? Lame it is, but that’s all that’s known to John and Jane Q. Public.
· Nonetheless, there are questions one should ask. (a) Why did the Tripoli Embassy apprehend an attack to the extent they evacuated to their safe annex? Could this mean there was advance notice that something was going down but the Ambassador went to Benghazi anyway? Which only adds to the mystery of his visit.
· BTW, the 4 SF personnel who were ordered to stand down? In any case they intended only to help secure the Benghazi evacuation because they could not get to Benghazi airport before 8 AM, fighting was over, evacuation was in progress. We now know they were told they were needed to secure the Embassy. So end of “scandal” about help not sent.
· (b) This is a very big question. What was a Lt. Colonel doing as head of the 4-man detachment, or even of the 12-man detachment there earlier? This was due to be pulled out before the trouble, because their HQ needed them somewhere else, and you really cannot use SF assets to protect embassies. A handful were kept back, we don’t know why.
· Think about this. A Lt. Colonel would command an entire SF battalion, or be someone senior on the HQ staff. Why is this man in charge of a tiny team, which at peak would have amounted to an Alpha team commanded by a captain.
Thursday 0230 GMT May 9, 2013
An embarrassment of riches – II
· The inanity of India’s Ministry of External Affairs One of the peculiar things about the Indian MEA is the mental caliber of its officers is the highest of all Indian civil servants. This needs explanation. The Indian civil service is recruited by a joint exam; the service you get depends entirely on your position on the exam. It is, of course, a nationwide exam of fierce competitiveness. Something around half-a-million people a year take the exam, which is really a series of about 11 exams and a personal interview, and about 3 of 1000 make it. Used to be the first 10 on the list of 1000 went to the Foreign Service. Now with so many new countries and international organizations and what not, about 20 are chosen. That is 0.0004 or 0.00005.
· It’s not the first 20, because of various reasons. One is that men and women planning to marry bureaucrats will choose the Indian Administrative Service, so that both spouses can be posted together. Another is that the foreign service no longer has the glamor of postings overseas, because Indians can now travel, visit, tour, or live in other countries pretty much as they choose. A third is many youngsters prefer the real power of the Administrative Service to the zero power of the Foreign Service. So, for example, a family that lived in the same street as Editor’s paternal family before Partition and remained close friends with us, had three daughters get into the Foreign Service but all three chose the Administrative Service
· Nonetheless, you can see the Indians are far, far more selective than the Americans. Editor while living in India knew many, many foreign service folks and even he has to admit they are a very bright lot. No shortage of talent.
· But something happens once these terribly bright folks pass into the maw of the Indian Foreign Service. They are made into hacks. Conformity with what the senior-most officers impose is absolute; else you can forget your career. Short of extreme moral turpitude you cannot be fired from the Indian bureaucracy, the idea is to prevent political interference in the civil service. Nonetheless, your service bosses and political bosses have ways of making you miserable. Creative thinking comes to an end.
· Further, the IFS doesn’t really answer to the minister, who generally knows so little about his own bureaucracy and the world that he is briefed by his bureaucrats and does as they want. Theoretically the FM answers to the Prime Minister, but with one exception Indian PM’s have been entirely clueless about foreign policy. The exception was Jawaharlal Nehru, and he mucked up foreign policy so badly the country has yet to recover.
· The IFS operates on two principles: (a) take no risk; (b) give no information to the proles because they are too stupid to understand the IFS’s fine reasoning. The proles are the public, but also include the rest of the government, the military, the intelligence services, and the political bosses.
· With this background, all readers need to know that is that the IFS has had but a single policy toward China, deeply reinforced by the Indian defeat of 1962. This is Lick Chinese Boots. Do not get the Chinese mad at us. Cringe before being asked to cringe. Why? Because the IFS, like the rest of India, is frightened to death of the Chinese.
· Now you know this, the rest is easy. The IFS will go to any extent to avoid confrontation with China. Because no one else has the sophistication and insider knowledge the IFS has, and certainly not the armed forces, the IFS manipulates the political leadership even when the military wants to stand its ground. In all fairness to the IFS, most of the time the Indian military really, really, really does not want to aggravate the Chinese either. It’s not just the Ifs and the politicals are cowards, it’s the whole darn country including the military.
· So, all that happened is this. We’ve discussed how the Chinese have been pushing India back from the Line of Actual Control is complete violation of the political agreements they have signed. The only ones who seem to be surprised that the Chinese are the biggest liars on the planet is the Government of India and its agencies. Starting in the late 2000s and into today, the Indian Army at least decided it had had enough and decided to stand its ground. Truthfully, its been a terribly pathetic standing of ground, because not only is the Army mentally a weak reed, but everytime the politicals are needed to show some spine, they force the Army to back off. So most of the senior officers have the attitude: why get into hassles with the Chinese to begin with? This also suits the Indian temperament: live and let live, even if the other guy has his boot on your neck and his jaw clamped firmly around your ankle.
· As part of the Army Get Tough policy, the army built observation bunkers on its side of the LAC in the Demchok (SE Ladakh) sector. because of the terrain, which is flat, India can quite easily use armor to cut the Aksai Chin highway between Sinkiang and Lhasa. Chinese got paranoid, demanded India withdraw. India said no. So the Chinese intruded where India was the weakest, near the Karakoram Pass. Army wanted to throw out the Chinese; the last few army chiefs have not been spineless. Ministry for Foreign Affairs persuaded the government that it was Foreign Affairs job to sort this out, and there was no options to negotiations or war would result. Instant piddle puddle in the political leadership. Army was told to demolish the bunkers. Chinese promised they will withdraw from their intrusion in the north. As usual, they haven’t actually promised anything or written anything down – heck, they wont even tell the Indians what exactly is their claim line, allowing them to intrude everywhere, anytime, as they chose.
· Ministry for Foreign Affairs, lying like a rabid rat as usual, said no deal had been reached. Indeed, had it not been for the press, none of this would even be known to the public, including the intrusion. And the only reason the press got to know this time is the Army, fed up to its teeth, leaked information to the press.
· India’s political establishment and government and intellectuals and so on are very relieved. Heck, even most of the Army is very relieved. The press is being blamed for its jingoism and immaturity that could have led to war.
· The point is, where does Indian stop running? Its been running for half-a-century. The only certainity is the Chinese will press again, harder. As an irate letter writer to an Indian newspaper demanded: Where do we draw the line? When the Chinese come down to the plains? When they take over Central India? When they rule South India?
Wednesday 0230 May 8, 2013
An embarrassment of riches - I
· One of the nice things about calling two different countries home is that you have twice the opportunity to make fun of their governments. With the US Congressional hearings coinciding with the Indian fiasco on the Ladakh Line of Actual Control, Editor is overwhelmed with targets.
· Since most of our readers are Americans, let’s take the Congress first and India tomorrow. A US diplomat has become a military expert to the extent clearly his next job must be head of the Joint Chief of Staff at the Pentagon. He has shyly let on that he thinks a jet fighter or two flown over Benghazi might have saved one of the two lives lost in the fight near the CIA annex. He, and his paternally encouraging “questioners”, who are proud as ducks whose egg has hatched to reveal a chicken, were told – and he has said this – that there was no way jet fighters could be scrambled because (a) tanker support was not available; and (b) more important, the US is not in the habit of throwing military assets into action without a reasonable idea of what was going on.
· So that should put an end to the fighters buzzing Benghazi story, but apparently not. BTW, this hero in pinstripes acknowledges that US would need permission to enter Libya airspace, and does not see it as a problem. Neither do we. But how long would it have taken to get permission, in the middle of the night? It would not have been so magically easy as pinstripes thinks. And he should know – he’s a bureaucrat. Question: how do you stop an American diplomat from doing something incredibly stupid? Answer: you tell him he’s got lint on his butt. He’ll never locate that part of his anatomy.
· Why does this gentleman think a jet or two buzzing Benghazi would have caused the rebels to break off, thus ending the action, thus saving the life of the US paramilitary on a roof who was struck by a mortar shell? Because, you see, the bad guys would have known what US airpower could do and would have run with fear. Amazing. We wonder if yon bonny dip knows that the US Air Force does not come down to the deck to buzz hostile positions to scare off people on the ground, in imitation of Tom Cruise’s buzzing his carrier in the movie Top Gun – had there been aircraft available. If he doesn’t, may we suggest he first learn how US air power is deployed in combat and then pontificate?
· Our heroic dipstick also looked outraged as he explained to the proud committee, who looked on with the same approval you or I do when the neighbor’s pet rabbit has hopped in to make a poopy on your priceless Persian rug – or perhaps the committee members were constipated and unable to make their morning poopies and were dyspeptic rather than approving? Anyway, we were saying this hero, who apparently has bigger testicles than SF soldiers – as attested by an officer, presumably he measured using accurate calipers – was horrified when a Special Forces team was refused permission to get on to a C-130 and fly to Benghazi. Oh the coverup! Oh the lies the Administration told! Get out the impeachment hearings, the tar and the feathers – or should, in the case of this committee, be the white hoods and the rope?
· How many folks were on the SF team? Four. They were to catch the C-130 for a 6AM take-off, on their own initiative. Gee Golly Grandma’s Green Galoshes. Who knew that every US SF soldier is actually Rambo in disguise and capable of non-stop heroic deeds? Has our dipstick figured that the C-130, if departing at 6AM, would have reach Benghazi at around 8AM, by which time the fighting was done? Has he information not shared with us that the CIA wanted reinforcements and asked for them? Did he have a secret plan to get the four men from the airport to the CIA annex, keeping in mind the US paramilitary team from Tripoli and their militia got held up at Benghazi airport for several hours while negotiating passage to the CIA annex? Would he have offered to commit hara kiri if the team had taken his suggestion and ended up getting shot the hundreds of crazed militia in Benghazi? Would the committee members have signed their last wills and testaments and jumped from their mattresses to a certain death, crying “Goodbye, cruel world?” Obviously not, everyone would have been blaming the Administration for recklessly risking more American lives, crying “Impeach him! Impeach him!”
· Here is the incredibly boring reality. The ambassador was where he should not have gone and had the very minimum of security. This is not because Mrs. Clinton denied him security, it is because the ambassador on his own decided he had business in Benghazi more important than proper security. The CIA did come to the diplomatic teams rescue, even though the ambassador and another state officer were dead by then. Remember the CIA team also had difficulty getting to the consulate nearby because of the militia. Reinforcements to the number – we think – of five DID arrive. The CIA and State paramilitaries DID win the fight. Two men were lost. So what is it the Congressional committee is now saying? That the government is negligent because two men got killed?
· Now look, people. There is no dispute that the Administration first said the consulate attack was done by people aggrieved over some inane film made by some equally inane person. But does it occur to anyone the administration said this because that was what it was told? How does it follow that the Administration lied to protect Obama’s relection? Who thinks Obama would have gotten one vote less if he’d said it was a terror attack? In fact, he well could have gotten MORE votes – the horror, the horror – because Americans are so mindlessly patriotic they would have started singing “Take me out to the ball-game” and done their patriotic duty by getting further into debt. That’s showing those miserable jihadis!
· The real question is: when Administration found out better, why did it not simply apologize and say “we spoke earlier on information we had, now we know better”? They seem to be hiding something. But it isn’t what media seems to think.
· We have our own questions. Why did the ambassador come to Benghazi when other missions were hightailing it out because trouble was expected? Why did he come with just two guards considering the consulate had just three American guards? What aircraft did he fly in on, and where did this aircraft go after dropping him off at Benghazi? If he intended to spend the night in Benghazi – a stupid idea – where did he plan to do so? Who betrayed him? What were the four SF men doing in Tripoli? And, quite important, where was the C-130 going? Was it the one that was to evacuate the Americans from Benghazi? Oh, also, was it a Libya Air Force C-130 or a US aircraft?
Tuesday 0230 GMT May 7, 2013
· Just like that the Sino-Indian crisis has ended Both sides have withdrawn their troops. But as the Chief Minister of Jammu& Kashmir state sarcastically asks, since India was on its territory well west of the Chinese claim line, where has it withdrawn to? Shouldn’t this crisis have been resolved by the Chinese withdrawing their troops?
· A brief flashback. When the Chinese attacked India in 1962, in Ladakh they advanced to their claim line and stopped, virtuously telling the world that they had only taken what was theirs, and as such they had not committed aggression. Back in the day, China and India were competing for leadership of the Third World, the so-called non-aligned block, and the one thing the “non-aligned” countries were wary of is aggression. So it was important for the Chinese to put up a farcical explanation, which the Third world did not buy. Someone better acquainted with the history will have to detail what exactly happened re. the non-aligned world, but as far as we recall, the feeling was that China should have negotiated without first jumping into India and then attacking when India tried to get them to stop.
· When the Chinese finished thrashing India in 1962, they gave India an order: you are not to approach within 20-miles of our border. The border being the Line of Actual Control. So for decades a wimped and terrified India did just that – stayed away. That did not mean intrepid patrols on the ground did not enter that China-defined buffer, or even cross the LAC, but this kind of aggressiveness dies down, and the Indians certainly did not build any permanent structures or outposts within the 20-mile buffer.
· Now, when China began futzing around in the first decade of the 21st Century, making hundreds of intrusions a year, India decided to hang tough. It started patrolling up to the LAC and in some cases built bunkers on its side of the LAC. The Chinese have been loudly demanding that these be removed, which India obviously did not, whereupon the Chinese destroyed a few of the bunkers when they were left unoccupied for the long winter and before India got back. These particular bunkers are in the southeast Ladakh sector, and the Chinese helicoptered in and out in style. None of that grubby trekking on foot for the new, modern, advanced Chinese Army (we are being mordant here). The Chinese have also been demanding that the Advanced Landing grounds it reactivated toward the end of the first decade of the 21st Century be shut down again. But India did not pull back from the positions it had set up.
· So: can it be a coinky-dinky that the Chinese now intrude into an area where India’s line of communications are probably the most non-existent, i.e., in the Daulet Beg Oldi sector, making retaliation the most difficult option for India? Is it also a coinky-dinky that the Chinese do this just before India’s foreign minister is due in Beijing and the Chinese premier in Delhi?
· Unlikely. The Ministry for External Affairs is putting out “we hinted we might cancel our visit to Beijing and the Chinese backed down.” Rolling On The Floor Laughing Our Butts Off With Snot Running From Our Ears. It is far more probable that the Chinese put the forthcoming diplomatic exchanges on the table, knowing the Indians would cave first. And cave the Indians did. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-to-give-up-Chumar-post-for-Chinese-withdrawal/articleshow/19921512.cms
· All throughout this nonsense in Daulet Beg Oldi, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has been saying there is no crisis, the issue will be resolved by negotiations. The Indian Foreign Ministry took up this theme. Now negotiations, as far as we know, and we do not know much being from Iowa, means I give up something and you give up something. The idea of a unilateral Chinese withdrawal and a complete Indian victory can be tossed into the garbage.
· The Ministry of External Affairs thinks that these are still the days of the British Raj, when happenings on India’s frontiers were decided by a handful of men with no reference to the Indians. You can see this was so, India was a colony of the British. The old habits of secrecy have carried over to the modern MEA. Indians have been kept in the dark by the MEA from beginning to end. The only information given has been done by a highly irate Army that – reasonably – thinks this intrusion and others are military matters and MEA should keep its Big Fat Nose out of things. Well, the MEA got its Big Fat Nose shortened by the Chinese Dragon, but since everything is secret, it is going around pretending it has won.
· The military services in India have very little say in security matters. The military doesn’t even control the border forces, which serve as the first line of defense. The Home Ministry controls them. For sixty years the Government of India has steadily cut the prestige and heft of the armed forces in national security decisionmaking. And we’re going to tell you something heretical: large segments of the Army will at this moment, be breathing sighs of relief that we do not, after all, have to take on the Chinese in a full-mobilization and crossing of the LAC. If you talk to the Army, they will say “we’re not ready”.
Monday 0230 GMT May 6, 2013
The Ladakh situation: Chinese forces
· Last Friday we detailed Indian deployments in Ladakh, current and planned. On China’s side the situation is quite simple. The Lanzhou Military Region has two army corps, one of which has been reduced to three independent brigades. The Xinjiang Military District has an unusually large number of independent formations, giving the MR 1 armored, 3 motorized or mechanized, and 1 infantry division, plus seven infantry, mechanized or motorized, and armored brigades.
· There is no particular reason why today these seven division equivalents cannot be deployed against India in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Personally, we have doubts about the efficiency of these troops, who have spent decades in (relatively) comfortable garrisons, have no experience in mountain warfare, and except a few senior generals have never heard a shot fired in battle. But none of this matters, because China does not intend to fight India in the high mountains as in 1962.
· Primarily it counts on Indian political cowardice to forestall any aggressive action on India’s part. But should that fail, the Chinese plan to let India comes down from their mountains to the plains of the plateau, and crush them there using light and medium armor. Not a bad strategy given they lose very little if they lose their high altitude outposts, because their mountain positions are shallow.
· To reiterate, in Ladakh we had postulated that soon there will be the equivalent of two infantry divisions and an armored brigade. It may appear on the surface of it that India is outnumbered three-to-one and in a very bad situation. At least the political types and Ministry of External Affairs, who are always holding out olive branches to the Chinese, would like Indians to believe that. Impressing on the nation its weakness reduces domestic pressure to take a hard line, and lets people believe “well, we have no choice but to compromise”. Naturally, Indians who cannot remember what happened yesterday and have zero interest in tomorrow, don’t ask why after 50-years and after the creation of the world’s largest mountain warfare force this should be so. No one who operates in a western frame of logic can explain anything India and Indians do.
· In reality there is no 3-1 superiority for China because if we are talking of the Xinjiang theater, India can, without difficulty, reinforce Ladakh-Himachal-Uttarkhand with additional divisions to quickly bring itself up to parity in the theatre.
· To problem is, what then? China is not about to launch a full-scale attack on India. The Chinese are arrogant and run their mouths like sewing machines, but they are not fools. They will get nowhere with an attack because their troops will have to dismount and slog it out in the mountains, where they will be at tremendous disadvantage. India is not about to attack China because of the lack of political will.
· But, readers will object, aren’t you forgetting the highly unfavorable Indian logistical situation. So we can push additional divisions into the Ladakh-Himachal-Uttarakhand sectors, but how are we going to support an offensive? The days are gone when an Indian mountain division needed just 200-tons of supplies a day. Back in those days a Chinese division got by with 50 or less because their divisions had little artillery (in the mountains) and few vehicles. Ah yes, simpler times – Editor gets quite nostalgic. Now the division artillery alone would need 200-tons/day in the attack. Moreover, how is India going to get artillery and vehicles to the mountain passes and across down to the Tibet plateau when roads are lacking?
· And what about an even greater problem: India has almost no east-west interconnectivity because of the mountains. Every sector has deployments like the open fingers of a hand, each finger proceeding up a steep, narrow valley, but the fingers cannot switch forces between them. For the Chinese that is no problem because they are on the plateau and have an excellent east-west main trunk road, plus other roads.
Sunday 0230 GMT May 5, 2013
An email discussion with a friend re. the latest on Benghazi
· Thanks for the Fox Benghazi article. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/04/benghazi-names-whistleblower-witnesses-revealed/ This is the first we hear of requests for beefed security at Benghazi. I am still unclear whom the additional security was supposed to protect as the consulate does not seem to have been staffed except for five US/local guards. I considered that the staff might be living off campus and have gone home before the attack, but have to rule that out because given the security situation in the city the staff would have been housed at the consulate.
· It would be useful to know if the consulate was still functioning - I aver not because no other personnel but the guards have been mentioned. If so, the lack of additional security for Benghazi was irrelevant. It may be that additional security was being requested to reopen the consulate, which again would have no bearing on the Stevens matter.
· Unfortunately I no longer have contacts with the State Department. I think it is important to know why the ambassador arrived with just 2 security guards when other missions were hightailing it out of Benghazi. I also no longer have any CIA contacts, it’s also important to know what exactly the CIA was up to and how many folks they had there.
· How did Stevens get betrayed? Clearly someone told the militia in question he was at the consulate with almost no protection.
· Let’s see if the Wednesday hearing clear up some of these mysteries, though I am not hopeful. I see the GOP committee members have kept lips zipped, which means heavy secrecy has been imposed. GOP are not the ones to give Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama a pass. You already know about the speculation he was on the job to acquire or to transfer Libyan arms to Syria. Though I have problems with this scenario because why would State be involved when the CIA is there in full rig. I also must reject the thesis Stevens was there on some romantic matter: there is simply no evidence of this. If he arrived to extract someone he cared for and was killed, why wouldn’t State simply say that and add he was there on his own initiative.
· The names of the ‘whistleblowers’ that Fox has learned are clearly from the lawyer, Tosening. I had mentioned she is a well-known Washington lawyer but now someone tells me she is involved with the Republicans; no details provided and in case I do not understand the workings of this town. That she has gone on the attack suggests that her client/s too do not have clean hands and she is trying to influence the public before the administration puts its case forward.
Friday 0230 GMT May 3, 2013
The Daulet Beg Oldi area
If you use the information below in blog posts or
articles/papers, kindly credit Mandeep Bajwa and Ravi Rikhye.
If you use the information below in blog posts or articles/papers, kindly credit Mandeep Bajwa and Ravi Rikhye.
· For those who like to know these things, the entire East Ladakh Line of Actual Control with China is under 3 Infantry Division at Leh. The division was hastily raised in 1962, and took over two brigades. One brigade, 114, was raised in 1959 when the East Ladakh crisis first erupted, with two battalions of locally raised troops, the Jammu & Kashmir Militia. Later, two regular army battalions were inducted. 70 Brigade arrived as a reinforcement after the war began. Later, 163 Brigade was pulled from the Pakistan border and given to 3 Division as division reserve. Still later, 121 (Independent ) Infantry Brigade was raised at Kargil, and put under the division’s command. At some point after 1963, the East Ladakh LAC was bifurcated between 22 Sector north of the Changchemo River, with 114 Brigade at Chushul and 70 Brigade at the southern end of the line at Demchok. 22 Sector has at least two subsectors, with Sub Sector North being responsible for DBO possibly down to the Galwan River.
· Strictly speaking, our intrepid South Asia correspondent Mandeep Bajwa should be telling you all this, as he knows much more about the independent Indian Army’s history that the Editor. The above is to Editor’s best recollection, but likely he’s made errors as he was always more concerned with orbats than history. Still is. But Mandeep is mad at Editor for some reason (he won’t explain why) and refuses to answer emails and chat requests. Please twitter him @MandeepBajwa and tell him to get with the program.
· Okay. In 1971 163 Brigade was withdrawn to Foxtrot Sector in the Punjab for the forthcoming Pakistan War, and it was not replaced because it was appraised there was no longer a China threat. In 1984, 102 (Independent) Brigade was raised at Thoise for the Siachin sector facing Pakistan, and 121 Brigade went under the newly raised 28 Division at Nimu. 102 Brigade was put under 3 Division.
· In 1999, on account of the Kargil War, 70 Brigade went to 8 Division, a formation brought in for the Kashmir Counter Insurgency from Eastern Command and stationed in Kashmir. 28 Division, minus 121 Brigade, went to Kupwara in the Kashmir Valley for the CI. So when the Kargil thing blew up, for operational reasons it was decided not to shift 28 Division back; instead 8 Division took over. Editor believes that 114 Brigade was also withdrawn for a time, leaving the China front denuded of regular troops. Anyway, 114 Brigade came back, and now, 14 years after leaving Demchok, 70 Brigade has come up. So you can see how seriously India was taking Chinese incursions. I.e., not at all seriously.
· To show how urgently India reacted to the threats in the decade 2001-2010, after opening DBO airfield not a single An-32 flight took place. Sub Sector North continued to be protected by outposts of the Indo Tibet Border Police, a high-altitude mountain warfare force raised after 1962 for patrolling the China border with Ladakh, Himachal, and Utter Pradesh. After the 1962 War, a new locally recruited force was raised, the Ladakh Scouts. These used to operate in companies, but after their steller performance in 1999 Kargil, they were given the status of a regular regiment and have, Editor thinks, six battalions. Sub Sector North is protected by 5 Ladakh Scouts, but till the other day this was not forward deployed. The rest of 22 Sector consists, as far as we know, by an infantry battalion, a Ladakh Scouts battalion, and a heavy mortar battery (12 x 120mm mortars), now for some peculiar reason called a heavy mortar regiment.
· After the Operation Trident fuss in 1986-87, India stationed a tank regiment and a mechanized battalion at Leh, under 3 Division; these became part of Corps troops when XIV Corps (Leh) was raised after the Kargil War. After the 2000s Chinese intrusions, India decided to sanction an armored brigade for Ladakh, which is now being raised, slowly. A T-90 tank regiment has gone to Leh and presumably it, plus the mechanized battalion, will form the nucleus of the new independent armored brigade, which will be under HQ XIV Corps as far as we know. India also okayed the raising of an infantry independent brigade group for the middle part of the Ladakh LAC with China. Something is happening, but we don’t know what since Mandeep is unavailable. Our assumption is that this will be based around Changchemo.
Thursday 0230 GMT May 2, 2013
· Aaaargh! Not Benghazi again Unfortunately yes. The partisan media refuses to let this story go, and to the extent nothing they have said so far makes sense from a military viewpoint, we have to continue with the story. There is an interesting new development, though it might mean nothing.
· By now we think – or rather, we hope – that the business of State department refusing to beef up Libya security has been resolved. First, it is established that generally cables sent from Washington to overseas missions are automatically signed in the name of the Secretary of State. So whatever those cries of triumph claiming to have found a memo signed CLINTON were about – we’ve lost track of what this was about – the discovery is meaningless. Second, requests for Libya mission security concerned the Tripoli embassy, not Benghazi, so any complaints that security was not increased at Benghazi are also meaningless.
· The media has let at least one other thing go, at least mainly. This is the drone question. There was a lot of hooha about the drones were in the area fotographing everything but no one fored a missile. Most people other than hard-core squirrels now accept the UAV on station in the region was unarmed, it was on its way out, and its replacement also was not armed. Besides this point, we’d like to inform folks that even if you have an armed UAV in the area for whatever reason, you don’t send it to fire missiles during a night gunfight without the most careful reconnaissance, targeting, and communication with the ground. One simple reason is that UAV armament like the Hellfire missile is designed to bust tanks, and you don’t want to shred your people to pieces along with the bad guys.
· Then there was a theory that F-18s could have been sent from Italy. This is not much mentioned these days, we hope because folks have realized that you don’t lay in air support across the Mediterranean with 15-minutes’ notice. Like UAV strikes, tactical air takes a lot of planning, reconnaissance, communication, air-refueling, rescue helicopters and do on. Also, you don’t want to drop 250-pound or 500-pound bombs unless your side is separated from the bad guys’ side, else 1 or 2 of these things basically off anyone within a given radius.
· Then there was a theory that airborne troops could have been dropped. Well, all we can say is that if anyone believed it then, it takes time to gather the troops, make sure they are properly equipped and rigged and briefed, and you also have to have exact knowledge where you’re going to drop the men. An unplanned night drop in hostile territory is not something that makes any service thrilled and delighted. As with fighters, you also have to make sure no one is going to fire shoulder-fired SAMs at you. People see too many action movies and read too many thrillers. Real Life for the military is excruciatingly complicated. Even the simplest things are hard.
· The latest theory is that a small force which is at the disposal of the theater commander for real emergencies was available. Some TV media has found a person on the team who says they were on an exercise north of the Mediterranean and might have made it to the scene in time to help with the second fight that took place, between the baddies and the CIA/Diplomatic Security Service near the CIA annex. Let’s assume this person is genuine, not a self-promoter that has interpolated himself into a promising media story.
· Again, we have to repeat the obvious. Having troops available and organizing a rescue are two different things. We don’t know why we have to keep saying this. What if the rescuers had gotten into trouble? Then the partisans would be screaming for blood, asking “why was this sloppily planned rescue allowed to get underway?”
· But that isn’t our real point. Our real point is: so some troops were available. Aaaaaannnnnnd?
· Did the CIA ask for help? More important, did it NEED help? Did the people on the ground need to be rescued? Not really. They won their fight. They lost two men. Casualties happen. Surely no one is arguing that those two lives could have been saved if a rescue mission was sent? Maybe those two lives could have been saved, but just as maybe, without proper planning the rescue team might itself have needed rescue. Mogadishu 1993, anyone?
· Further, the rescue team arrives at Benghazi airport and then what? Remember the Triploi team arrived fairly quickly. Now it turns out they had to hijack a private airplane and force the pilot to fly to Benghazi. They paid him $30,000 – guess these diplomatic Service Security and CIA chaps just walk around with wads of Benjamins. Nonetheless, supposing something had gone wrong there. “US troops hijack civilian plane at gunpoint, force pilot to fly them to Benghazi”. Nice story, no? Would you like to be the government spokesperson explaining that to the media? Be that as it may, this part of the story will make Tom Clancy fans happy, because this is just the kind of stuff Clancy’s heroes do.
· Okay, so the Tripoli team arrived quickly, but lost hours as they negotiated vehicles to take them to the scene. Same thing happened with the CIA team that went to the ambassador’s rescue. They had to wait until the friendly militia turned up and arranged gun trucks required to take on the bad guys. So would the rescue team from Italy or wherever the exercise was taking place have even arrived on time to give help that was not needed? Question to ask: was the team anywhere near an airplane? We’re just asking, we have no idea. Being on an exercise, as far as we are concerned, is that the gentleman are hoofing around some rough terrain; requiring team to respond to a recall. If someone has information, do let us know.
Wednesday 0230 GMT May 1, 2013
· In case you’re wondering what’s happening about the Chinese intrusion 19-km into Indian territory, the news you’ve been hearing is all wrong. There is no intrusion. There is no crisis. Nothing to see here, move on.
· But what about the headlines and the photographs of Chinese troops and so on? Not a problem. They’re not in Indian territory. Not in India’s territory, you ask? Then what the heck is going on?
· Very simple. India has capitulated without a shot. The foreign ministry has said there is no intrusion. The army has been told that it is not to provoke the Chinese under any circumstances. See? No crisis, no intrusion. Alice’s Red Queen the Government of India have much in common. If the Red Queen said black was white and white was purple, that was it. That’s what it was, and off with your head if you contradicted the Queen of Hearts, another BFF of Alice. So in this case reality is what the Government of India says it is. (Do we have the queens mixed up? There were two, one each in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.)
· It is impossible for us to do anything about the Chinese intrusion because, you see, India doesn’t have a road link with Daulet Beg Oldi, which is almost at the Karakoram Pass. If you look at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/China_India_western_border_88.jpg you can see China’s roads in Indian Ladakh, but you won’t see anything leading to DBO except a mule track.
· It’s not as if India cannot build a road to DBO. After all, it has built a road along the western Shyok River to past Sasoma (it shows as a track on the map likely because the map is old), and this is not exactly Shangri-La. The only way to get to Murgo, which is south of DBO, is by a 16-day mule journey. And at that the track is inaccessible for at least half the year because of snow and extreme cold, going down to minus 30-Centigrade. Once at Murgo there is presumably no way to get by land to DBO. You can see a schematic map at http://www.indianexpress.com/news/45-yrs-after-china-conflict-delhi-to-build-roads-linking--ladakh-outposts--------/31463/0 Possibly there are manpackable trails, but it makes more sense to use helicopters or An-32s to get into DBO. In 2009 India finished upgrading the long abandoned airfield there, and from fotos we have seen it’s a solid job though at least as of 2009 the runway was packed gravel, not cement or asphalt.
· Okay. So in 2001 the Government of India decides a road has to be built to DBO, because the entire line of outposts in Northeastern Ladakh is without road access. In 2007, the Government announces the road (along with many others) will be built by 2012 on top priority. This is after the Chinese began seriously needling India all along their common border. Well, here it is, 2013 and we believe the road has yet to be begun. India fail.
· China, on the other hand, has a nice road along the Chip Chap River leading almost to DBO. Of course the terrain is smoother on their side. But the point is the Chinese occupation of Indian Ladakh was complete by 1959, and the China war took place three years later. So you’d think by now India would have built roads. Nah. India has only in 2007 started to build roads needed to reach forward outposts. Please don’t ask why, just accept this is India Shining: can’t wipe its bum even if someone is holding a loaded gun at its head.
· Now, this business about not being able to do anything because there’s no road is just a huge excuse. For one thing, nothing stops India from making an equal intrusion into China-held territory at a location where India’s logistics are easier. For another, if the Indians put their backs into it, using helicopters and aircraft they can built up their positions by mid-summer and toss the Chinese out. If the Chinese escalate, counter-escalate to using airpower. If they Chinese want a war, give it to them.
· At which point “sane” folks in India will ask if Editor is mad. We’re not ready for war with China, they’ll say. It will be like 1962, when we weren’t ready but the politicians told the Army to attack anyway. By the way, it then took India three years to station one brigade in Ladakh and three in what was called the North East Frontier Agency, now called Arunachal Pradesh. When the Chinese attacked, India within weeks sent the equivalent of a division into Ladakh and two into NEFA. Go figure.
· Okay, so just when are we going to be ready? 2062? 2112? 2162? Before the sun goes red giant? Before the stars go out? Before the atoms come unglued? In the universe’s next incarnation? Not then? Okay, how about will India be ready in an infinite number of years? After all, that’s a safe bet: infinity never arrives. And India will never be ready.