Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The unit of elite soldiers, which includes members of the special operations community and the Delta Force get their orders directly from the Pentagon in Washington and operate outside of the chain of command of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) or as the staff of General McChrystal once called it…the ”I Suck at Fighting” Command.
The existence of this special force is by no means a secret, but top military officials have refused to discuss its controversial mission: the deactivation of top Taliban and terrorists by either killing or capturing them. The TF 373 unit works according to classified lists of enemies compiled by the coalition troops that are called "Joint Prioritized Effects Lists" (JPEL) in military jargon. In the close to 92,000 logs leaked, 84 pertain to JPEL-related actions, and together they provide a bounty of information about a force whose work has at times resulted in civilian deaths. This organization has worked under other various names in Bosnia, Iraq and now Afghanistan with amazing success. All of the major captures of terrorists in Afghanistan have been attributed to this organization.
Even though the revelations in the leaked war logs involve the American component of the fight, the new information about its operations could also prove embarrassing for others such as the German government. Roughly 300 men with TF 373 have been stationed on the grounds of Camp Marmal, the German field base in Mazar-e-Sharif, since the summer of 2009. The special unit has chosen a strategically advantageous and shielded location on the airfield, where it operates from the Regional Command North, which is under the command of Germany's armed forces.
The elite soldiers, together with a few Afghan units they had trained, had just returned from a five-day air and ground offensive against the Taliban stronghold Gul Tepa northwest of Kunduz. According to the US Army there were 130 dead, all of them insurgents. The German government refused to take part in the attack. The secret military documents contain only two references to the five-day operation with the geographic coordinates of Gul Tepa. The operation became a model for similar operations in the coming months. While the US units were hunting down the Taliban, the only evidence the Germans had of the nightly missions were the closed areas of operation and the detonations, which could be heard clearly at the Kunduz base.
When the commanders of the German ISAF contingent were offered the targeted killing of the German enemies, as a service of sorts, it was done so almost officially. After seven German soldiers had died within a short period of time in the spring, a senior US officer at headquarters in Kabul promised the highest-ranking German ISAF officer, General Bruno Kasdorf, that the Americans would hunt down and kill the people behind the attacks on the Germans. And indeed, several Taliban fighters were eliminated in the ensuing weeks.
It’s a shame that all the work of these fine special operations personnel will be questioned as well as ridiculed if only out of ignorance. I just watched the MSNBC piece with the Director of WikiLeaks speaking about this incident…typical…no remorse at bringing this to light or for putting personnel at risk. As far as I am concerned he just became public enemy number one!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Life On Point Consultants (LOPC): The company I founded in 2007 has seen a “re-birth” if you will in regards to ongoing support to the US Government. Currently I have received three requests for proposals for quantitative work across the globe for LOPC. In addition I have aligned closely with a Not-for-Profit organization in California and in conjunction with my partner will be lending support to operations in Central Asia and the Near East.
So there you have it…you are up to speed and I will begin writing daily again as of 28 July 2010. As an aside I am sure that many of you have been following the leaked papers on Wiki-Leaks regarding Afghanistan…suffice to say that General McChrystal got out just in time…a news article today almost made it sound like General Patreaus has already lost the battle…he has not but as previously detailed…McChrystal is a very smart man...looks like he may have left at the right time...no matter how well we are doing at the tactical level...folks in DC are determined to loose this war!
Monday, July 5, 2010
Many have asked what I thought about the General McChrystal fiasco...I sat with a former team-mate earlier today and we discussed how such a poised and educated officer could have run afoul of the Administration...and my comments previously about the General "always having a plan" resonated with my buddy as well. He, like me, is waiting on the tell all book of the failure of the United States in succeeding in the "long war"
Take a look at the article in the Guardian...one of the few British news outlets not prone to lies and deceit. This piece talks about one of the finest British Officers who was on General McChrystal's staff - Graeme Lamb...a former SAS Officer (think British version of DELTA Force) - his comment about the General is spot on...and that is what the Administration is afraid of regarding Afghanistan....how long it will take to succeed ... "It is not about winning and losing, it is about setting the conditions for progress and change"
And that is the problem...the term progress...progress can not be projected in a timeline to meet the Administration's "promise" to the American people that we would be out of Afghanistan in 2011. In the United States that is a great thing to "want" but the reality on the ground is that timeline will not be met...and that was the General's problem...argue with an Administration that wont get it or wait for a year and let them hang the failure around his neck...he is not that kind of soldier!
This is the link and its a very short read...but Graeme Lamb is a fantastic officer and somebody that we as conscious American's will hear from in the future.
Well...fear not...I will be back on Blog NLT 12 July...but given everything going on in the world...probably sooner!
Friday, July 2, 2010
I have been a TDF fan since I was a child…imagining as I raced in the Salem Witches Cup and the Boston 50K race...as well as many others stage races across the country…that I was the iron man Eddy Merckx; the robot-like Bernard Hinault or even the flamboyant Laurent Fignon…all past TDF Champions…but on 3 July...just like many others across the globe…I will be rooting for Lance Armstrong…not because he can do it but because the guy just never quits…no matter his age. Having lived and worked in Kazakhstan for many years I was always a big Team Astana fan...(Kazakhstan's capital city and Lance's Team for many years) ...the team that has been atop the podium in the TDF over the past 10 years...now Lance races for Team Radio-Shack...or as it's called in the 21st century...The Shack!
The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race that covers approximately 2,200 mi throughout France and bordering countries. The race lasts three weeks and attracts cyclists from around the world. The race is broken into day-long segments, called stages. Individual times to finish each stage are totaled to determine the overall winner at the end of the race. The rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of each day wears a yellow jersey. The course change every year but it has always finished in Paris. Since 1975, the climax of the final stage has been along the Champs-Élysées. I have traveled to France numerous times and have had the great pleasure of running early morning on the Champs-Élysées…and remember feeling honored and humbled at the site…knowing that the greatest athletes in the world have passed over these streets since 1905. It was a moment for reflection…even if I don’t hold France in high esteem.
If you have not watched the TDF the coverage is great on VS (Verus) or you can see it via the internet at http://www.versus.com/
Either way…to hell with the World Cup…it’s time to ride!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
The premise for last evenings piece was the purchase of three 4x4 vehicles off the Bolivian version of “Craig’s List” and then drive them through the rain forest. It sounds easy enough but the comedy of getting them off the barge (yes...I said barge) and onto the riverbank was comical…watching them carve a trail through the jungle was humorous…but the highlight of the show was watching them discuss how to maneuver down a sand dune that was 3000 feet high…the problem is that one of them forgot to put the emergency brake on while searching for a safe route below…as they stand there looking over the edge here comes the vehicle right past them…it rolled over and over for roughly 2000 feet…one of the funniest things I have seen in quite a long time. We laughed hysterically…
Ian’s sense of humor mirrors the attitude and mannerisms of the people in this show and is quite…dare I say…British…but he has always been that way! I think it’s in part because of the “youngest son syndrome” as well as having traveled extensively in Britain since he was a youngster…you can tell he has inherited my “cynicism” for France as well…He has even begged me to sell off Jake’s car and purchase a Mini Cooper as his prime means of transport…and yes…he wants the Union Jack atop the roof as well.
Ian has always been an observant and thoughtful person…as evidenced in the way he is with animals…and folks he is just meeting for the first time. At a recent party Ian was introduced to many friends/neighbors and military personnel…he was able to hold his own not only in the conversation but also the topics selected by the adults; skiing, auto racing, sky diving, military life, lacrosse and adolescent endeavors. He was not out of place at all!
Ian once penned an article for one of his teachers at Holy Cross Academy…it was about what he liked most about his dad (me!)…in it he talked about how it was very important for me to be with my kids…and how I did not necessarily want to be rich…and I did not want to be poor…I just wanted to be in the middle…for in the middle is where you find true happiness. This from a 9 year old boy…I knew he was destined for greatness! I kept that piece and look at it quite often now…and draw strength from it as well.
When I told you about Ian being a thoughtful person I need to illuminate another aspect of his personality…family!
When we ski…no matter where…Gunstock, Canada or West Virginia…or Utah…Ian ALWAYS asks me “do you want me to ski with you, Dad?” … it is a constant between us that transcends time and space…Ian has always been at my side in skiing as well as life…and during some critical times...we were both diagnosed with “exposure to TB” in 1997 and had to medication for 1 year together…as well as all those blood tests…he does not remember it quite as vividly ...but just like the trips to the aforementioned ski locations…I do!
Last season Ian had really gotten into snowboarding…partly because of Jake but more because he wanted to…as many of you know I am not a big fan of “boarding” but I have resolved myself to the fact that they will both go to “dark side” … I could not teach them boarding as I don’t do it…but suffice to say that the skills needed have been honed on the slopes as skiers first…and I am fine with them being dual winter sport fanatics!
That said…and even with a new sport and an older brother calling out to him…Ian still asked me…”do you want me to stay with you Dad?”
No Ian…I will be fine…but thank you…for everything!