Special Operations Expertise
For the Courage of the Founders
Articles & Documents
Don't Stand Too Close
Lisa starts off part three discussion!
I had a couple questions on this section.
Tom wrote (pg 77)...
“Without the ability to clearly represent the exact and true situation, to include all that is known and what things are unknown.”
I'd love a concrete example of this thinking because I'm thinking if it’s unknown how can you know…. How do you plan for unknowns? what am I missing here?
And Tom wrote..
“ A person who threatens has a different mind than one who builds a weapon that is a threat.” Tom can you tell us more ? How does this apply or not apply to Osama Bin Laden ?
I found the differentiation of WME and WMD to be useful. I agree with Tom he wrote( Pg 76) “Weapons of Mass Destruction was mentioned previously.Without semantics and assignment of specific definition, the term is used to describe everything from a minor amount of anthrax or nerve agent to the most powerful of nuclear weapons. The problem is that in current usage the term demands attention; attention which may not be warranted."
Tom wrote (pg 65)
“The intent of terrorism is specifically to inculcate fear in the target population and affect the psychology of the society.”
IMO, this point cannot be said enough. Every time we think about terrorism, hear of a potential threat, watch or read something about terrorism in the media, listen to the government or hear about an attack we need to remind ourselves of the “terrorist intent.” Especially considering what Tom wrote on pg 79
“Keep in mind, to move toward victory the terrorist does not have to kill people, he only needs to keep the target responding within the parameters and perception that the terrorist has created.
On pg 67 Tom wrote…
“The statement: “If this saves one life, it is worth the effort?” cannot be the national threshold.”
I think it’s salient point and I agree….and he wrote
“ because action and security may have to be deferred to ensure that the terrorist idea is being defeated.” Pg 74
and I was thinking yes, yet when I read pg 68 that “The Soviets lost 20 million…” “…..an acceptable threshold is not in the thousands –and may not even be in the tens of thousands”
I want to say forget it, I have difficulty saying Yes to that point, even though I know logically it should follow. I know we find 43,000 motor vehicle deaths a year to be an acceptable level, as we go with the plans we have in place to keep driving safe, we don't panic, and over haul the whole system or throw an inordinate amount of money in to attempting to making roads safer…( although maybe we should do more than we do. )
No, we accept that lost of 43,000 some fellow citizens per year, every year, and have for quite a few years. Not that we don't feel for them, their families, and wish is wasn't so because we do. But, our lack of focus on it, our lack of overhauling the whole transportation system, by our lack of demanding cars be safer etc, we are in essence accepting that level of loss on a yearly basis. Saying we find that loss acceptable. So then I have to ask myself, why are the potential deaths of citizens from a potential terrorist attack unacceptable but 43,000 motor vehicle deaths are acceptable ? Why are we more focused on what might happen then on what is already happening on a daily basis ? Fear of the unknown? I don't have a good answer and I hate to consider that it does indeed boil down to fear !
Opening of part three comments
So--let's get the party started
janet w has left a new comment on your post "Psyop":
Them's Fightin' Words!
When I read John McCain's oft-repeated line, that the transcendent challenge of the 21st century is radical Islamic extremists" I hardly know where to start parsing the sentence. Words do matter and saying "transcendent", "challenge", "Islamic" inflames the situation, imo, and leads not to solutions but to the intensifying of positions and that is not helpful.
How can we dial back or tone down the exaggerated rhetoric of a campaign year?
Laura has left a new comment on your post "Psyop":
Section 3 is my favorite so far even though I am only a short way through it. I totally agree with Tom that for a nation to succeed it "will not avoid risk; it will avoid decline." When I think of the word "decline" I immediately think "and fall". The decline and fall of the Roman Empire as an example. How can we fight decline? Toms says "We cannot allow ourselves to be put into situations where we cannot utilize our inherent advantages." But we cannot rely on one sole strength such as military power or borders or technology. We must diversify our strengths. I believe we must look at decline in the long term. The economy ebbs and flows and we mustn't panic right away. History proves Tom's statement that "there appears to be a constant churn that allows a country or a power to rise to preeminence and then sucks it back down in a few decades or centuries." The US has a special consideration as a super power. We have responsibility and Tom says "Part of that responsibility is to act with extreme caution and malice of forethought to maintain a stable world environment." I interpret this to mean that the US cannot and should not stand alone as we make decisions. We have to realize that every action we make affects the entire world to some degree. That does not mean we should put the world first. We must find ways to measure our strengths and successes in a long term view and to stave off decline. We must change with the world situation and adjust to new political situations and technology. But we must do this while keeping before us that "the United States was created for freedom, not safety." and it is based on a "government of law." What do you think we can do to ensure that the US remains a strong super power rather than being relegated to the history books like the Roman Empire?
some questions I promise to get to
Beginning on pg 21 I have serious questions. Tom says "to question the government could be construed to be aiding and abetting the enemy." I heartily disagree. Most glaringly obvious is that Tom has published this book and yet remains free to move about the country and work with dangerous materials. All of us are discussing this book and I know I have yet to have a knock at the door or anyone questioning my loyalty to the US. Turn on the tv, open a newspaper, check out a bookstore. The media seemingly does nothing but bash our nation's leaders past, present and future. If we truly were targeted as aiding and abetting the enemy every time we questioned the government, then all of us and those in the media would be in a dank cell somewhere.
On pg 23, Tom addresses security saying that the US "was adequately physically secure." Who defines "adequately secure"? What is acceptable in criminal activity? How do you quantify this? a certain number of crimes...percentage of violent crimes?
This leads me to ask who determines the "real truths (risks, threats, strengths, weaknesses, etc.)" that Tom says are necessary to create a strategic plan? I'm not trying to be argumentative; rather trying to understand how it will be possible to create a viable strategic plan.
On pg 25, Tom says we have "allowed 19 zealots to change the course of America." What role does the opinion of other nations play in our response? Does world opinion or should world opinion influence our response? I don't think that 19 zealots were the only thing that influenced our response. Certainly if those had been acting alone, I could agree. But these men were part of a greater network. That network was then aided and abetted by other countries. To me this exposed those who would help anyone who wanted to hurt the US and its citizens.
On fear, pg 26 "We want fear inculcated throughout our society so that we can justify aggression, single mindedness, an inability to take advice from long time friends, a willingness to give up the liberties that others died for." Who is we? Do you mean the American people? Why on earth would this be our wish? I can certainly understand the need you explained to elevate our foe to a worthy opponent, but this does not resonate with me. I do not want to live in fear, justify aggression, cause political enmity with our allies or give up my liberties. I am exercising them right now to disagree with Tom and to even discuss this. What American do you know who would agree with this?
As we speak about the terrorists I am finding that the views seem contradictory. If the terrorists are short-sighted and their goal was not just to kill but to instill fear causing us to restructure our society, then isn't that a long term goal? They have played beautifully into Tom's definition of asymmetry. OTOH if we refuse to react and spit in their faces, are we taunting them to attack us harder? I don't know if it is so, but I see us as kids on a playground saying "Is that all you've got? You don't hurt me." What reaction can we give that doesn't further antagonize them? Also since Tom has said that someone has thought of the risks beforehand of scenarios, hasn't the government already (albeit tacitly) said this was an acceptable risk? Going back to the terrorists as short-term thinkers, if the threat is short term then shouldn't our response be also? Tom says our response is a short term one.
One last question, how do you fund courage? Tom speaks repeatedly of education and funding and rights. Tom, how would you or how would anyone reading this suggest a plan to promote and fund courage?
Great Discussion on PSYOP--as always
...and sorry for my absence in it. A few things-
In the conversation about Information Warfare--Information Warfare is largely defensive, it is the protecting of your information while trying to exploit the information systems of the enemy. Like all warfare areas, there is an inherent overlap with other warfare areas. So the information warfare folks would be involved in finding weak spots or critical nodes in an enemy's information systems, they likily would not make the decision on what to do with them--though they do maintain an ability to hack into systems. I do not consider psyop as a subset--two critical things that always have to be remembered about psyop---there is no kinetic act--so, keeping in mind that warfare areas overlap, the psyop people will use a kinetic attack to broaden the effect of the attack--perhaps by broadcasting it in advance---one of the interesting things about the leaflets drops conducted leading up to Iraq---the Iraqis were not influenced by the messages but were interested in the military's ability to hit them with paper. the other thing to remember is that psyop is about influencing thought---the case has been made all warfare is psyop--as in order to win you have to make the enemy willing to quit--so dropping the second atom bomb was about convincing Japan to quit--but does not really fit a psyop---Doolittles raid, on the other had, influence thought and strategic planning--and I think fits a psyop profile.
with regard to sleeper cells, I think that the promotion of that possibility by radicals is a huge psyop----because we lack the baseline assessment of what risk we are willing to accept, no FBI DHS person is able to talk the threat down or disavow it--because it is in the realm of possibility.
on to the next section!! (let me know any specific questions remaining)
PSYOPS or Psychological Operations: Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives.
Strategic Imperative Redux
Okay, fabulous discussion. My initial intent and effort here was to allow the conversation to run its course and then comment. That might have been a bit too much to try and bite off but we'll give it a go.
So lets table the word strategic for a moment and focus on "imperative". A caveat first though, and that is that we are talking about the nation as defined by the Constitution. That is important because as the only formal document that says "What America is" it provides a useful limit to the conversation.
So what is an imperative?
An imperative is defined as something impossible to deter or evade; pressing. As we look at the imperative let us use this simple example to frame our discussion. For an average US citizen, is it imperative to eat or to breath? Hopefully everyone picked breath. ..And hopefully everyone is ready to post but you will die if you don't eat eventually--which is true--thus introducing the impact of time and change on what is imperative. So how does that change how we view imperatives? I believe that it essentially shifts imperatives away from action and into idealogical systems to support action---which circles us back to the Constitution. So the initial Constitution--minus the bill of rights--is simply a plan for an way to govern seated in the rule of law. The bill of rights then places some marker in the ground that sort of says, "But within this system of governing, we will never ever do this this and this (x3.33)" Further amendments generally addressed specific changes in the world that had to be accounted for within the United States defining document--or at least were thought to.
So, it is a bit of a circular argument, but if the document defines the system that becomes the United States, that document and that system become imperative to the survival of the country they define. It is the only pure imperative--it is the air for our aforementioned person.
Now we get to the strategic part---and this is really nothing more than how do we ensure that person will always be able to breath---how do we ensure that we will be able to allow our defining system to work. What is the plan. Okay, so we go back to our person who is currently breathing and happy for it. But, being as how our person is in Massachusetts that person is only going to last about 3 hours without shelter, so in order for the person to be able to breath in three hours she is going to need shelter in two. And though she can survive on urine for a little while, she will need water within two or three days so she may be able to breath---foul water will work but eventually it needs to be clean BUT it will never have to be gatorade--ever. Likewise our person will need to eat within a week or so, but will be able to continue to breath for a long time at 800 calories a day---and will never ever have to eat apple cobbler ala mode to be able to breath-----everything directly necessary to support breathing becomes a necessary part of the plan--but only as it is tied to breathing---thus those things that are strategical imperatives are those that are directly tied to the survival of our system.
Keep in mind that there was a specific reason that I chose to say "There is no strategic imperative to fight GWOT", and that is because the act of deciding exactly where the lines are between imperative, "really need to do", "really ought to do" etc was beyond the scope of this effort. Preventing the casualties and impact that terrorists can reasonably inflict, I believe, is well below anything that could be considered an imperative--now, as I state, if we choose to conducted it--that is another topic entirely--but it is a choice---and as we fund that choice we need to make sure we are not putting "ought to's" in front of imperatives.
Now, just as a single strand digression--and this is how these types of priorities need to be segmented--in order to have and maintain our system as defined by the Constitution, clearly we need lawyers. In order to have lawyers, we need an education system, a court system, etc etc. Keeping in mind the various people that have to be functioning to support all of that, does the education system that we create need to be free and equal to all citizens?
Apple Cobbler ala mode anyone?
From Lisa A: "It's a good thing we are reading this slowly. I got as far as page two and stopped at strategic imperative.. anyone else? I certainly can define the words individually, strategy ~ a plan, and imperative~ absolutely necessay.
I've read For The Courage before and still I stopped and thought before I continue, I need to grasp what I think are some strategic imperatives in the Umited States, so I can put Tom's assertion..There is one crucial fact that the United States must accept if it is to hope to be sucessful in its fight against terror: there is no strategic imperative to conduct a war onterror, global (GWOT) or otherwise.
in concrete terms.
Did anyone else pause here? What US strategic imperatives are universally accepted ? What are your thoughts on this?"
Group Discussion---READY TO SUPPORT!
Tom, It's the New Year, an election year, and combating terrorism is a relevant issue. It has been a major focus of politicians, of citizens of our country, and the world since 9/11. A few of us said we wanted to read or reread FOR THE COURAGE OF THE FOUNDERS this year, and we had the brilliant idea to do it as a small group. I believe paramount to all of us, is expanding our understanding of combating terrorism.
We hope to have fun, to learn from what you've written in- depth about in your book, and your insight. We hope to learn from each other, from the questions asked, from the points that resonate with us individually, from the perspectives we each bring to this discussion and I'm sure from some differing opinions. This group has varied starting points, some of us enjoy politically important topic discussions, and some in the group, are out of their comfort zone discussing issues such as terrorism. Yet, terrorism, and combating terrorism are so important issues they are jumping in anyway!
We thank you in advance, for the board on which to discuss your work, and for your service to our country, where you gained your experience, and insight into combating terrorism. We look forward to discussing..... " The Fundamental argument of this book is that since terrorists are inconsequential in real terms and operationally inept, they should not receive the level of attention or funding they currently enjoy. "
Tom you wrote The fundamental argument of this book is that since terrorists are inconsequential in real terms and operationally inept, they should not receive the level of attention or funding that they currently enjoy.
So bin Laden (I know the audio has been verified not sure about the video part) released his own video tape and his news coverage surpasses that of some of the most powerful leaders of the world ! The video was released in the middle of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC) meeting in Sydney where President Bush has met with President Hu Jintao of China, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia John, President Roh Moo-hyun of South Korea, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, President Arroyo of Manilla, etc. President Bush has also met informally with all 21 leaders of APEC. Yet, our media led not with what was discussed by China's President Hu Jintao and President Bush but with the Bin Laden tape. Granted the afore mentioned leaders did not release a tape of their conversations but still the 9:00 PM cable news shows commenced with 15 minutes on Osama bin Laden and the release of his tape. Larry King assembled a panel of "experts" on bin Laden, one of which noted bin Laden has said that 90% of this war will be fought in the media! In contrast I didn't see any panels of China "experts" discussing what transpired, or was discussed at the APEC meeting. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind how much more powerful China is then Bin Laden? We know the majority of our TV news shows focus on the sensational and not substance but I can see how the terrorists use this to their advantage.
Also I read the beginning of Bin Laden's transcript, this part stood out for me, bin Laden says...to preface, I say: despite America being the greatest economic power and possessing the most powerful and up-to date- military arsenal as well; and despite it spending on this war and is army more than the entire world spends on its armies; and despite it being the major state influencing the policies of the world, as if it has a monopoly on the unjust right of veto; despite all of this , 19 you men were able- by the grace of Allah , the Most High “to change the direction of its compass, and in fact , the subject of the Mujahideen has become an inseparable part of the speech of your leader, and the effects and signs of that are not hidden.
Since the 11th, many of Americas policies have come under the influence of the Mujahideen
When I read that part I was immediately reminded of the advice you offered in one of your YouTube videos., and how accurate your advice was! Tom, you said... Terrorism is an effects based operation, they simply can't defeat us militarily they are trying to effect the way we use our force, our political willpower
and You are enabling them to continue meeting their organizational immperatives,
And They still have to recruit and fund their organization and in order to do those two things they need to be able to show successes¦ those recruiters can go back to their money people and say look, when you bomb the Cole and the US Navy never goes into Yemen again those guys are sitting there going look if we would have had 2 more guys , two more of your sons we could have gotten them entirely out the region .. you have to stop at every turn feeding them those successes
¦ In FOR THE COURAGE OF THE FOUNDERS you talk about our relationship with the terrorist. You wrote An interesting question is would the attacks of 9/11 have occurred if we had developed a different relationship with terrorists ? What if the attacks on U. S. interests increased the presence of those interests? What if there was a casino on the pier in Yemen?
I laughed out loud at the thought of a casino on the pier in Yemen ... it was one of my favorites :) What an EXCELLENT question and a persuasive point!!
I know I read Osama bin Laden's transcript differently as a result of having read FOR THE COURAGE OF THE FOUNDERS and hearing your advice on your YouTube video. I had a different insight..thanks Tom! Any thoughts on the bin laden tape other then we are giving it too much attention ?
Tom replies: Apparently there is a grass roots effort to turn 9-11 into a "good will" or"kindness" day. I think that that is an excellent idea---imagine, the result of the a terror attack being that people go out of their way to help each other!!
As to Bin Laden, it appears that people, including the intel community, is coming around to the view point that he is "Virtually impotent", which of course has been my thought all along. Howevere, now I think that more importantly he is actually impotent. There is a problem in that he did commit a crime for which we can never stop hunting him, but that aside, there really is no reason to give him a second thought. Incidentally, I think it was a huge mistake by President Bush to promise to catch him--if only that it made one victory for Bin Laden to easy to achieve.
All that said I do think that Bin Laden has good writers---he presents circular logic in a very subtle way---"you pay attention to us, thus we matter to you--since we matter to you you must pay attention to us". Unfortunately his main point seems to be correct---he was able to change the way we think, the question is, can he/they continue to do so?