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5 NatSec Things - 03 May 2018

Today's things: Pompeo gets pompous; Indiana goes to Niger; opium makes money; CNAS makes a maybe; fi
May 3 · Issue #52 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Pompeo gets pompous; Indiana goes to Niger; opium makes money; CNAS makes a maybe; fighting ‘queep’.

Quote of the Day
“A lot of the joint training focused on reacting to an ambush, conducting a raid, taking information provided by locals and using that for future mission planning.” – Area SF soldier in Niger, with no discernible irony
Pompeo: US needs diplomats everywhere but the gay bits
Today in people I’d rather not have know me
“I have a great deal to learn. But as people, I know who you are. You chose to be a Foreign Service officer or a civil service officer. You came here because you’re patriots.” – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just before learning patriots can also be gay
The amazing Samantha Bee on the Secretary of State
All that time at the CIA changed him
Because when you think “Secretary of State,” you think “gay hating, Muslim hating, guy who thinks we can solve all the things by going to war with Them and yes the ’T’ is always capitalized.”
Good thing we got rid of the Texas oil tycoon and got us a former CIA director to be the engineer on the Diplomat Express. He seems like the kind of progressive leader you’d have when your president is a genital grabbing white nationalist philanderer. But at least he’s bringing back the meet-and-greets.
In all the countries he traveled to, Pompeo paid brief visits to the U.S. embassies for “meet and greet” receptions with staff, a common activity for visiting secretaries of state. Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, initially skipped several ritual meet and greets, engendering some resentment among employees who often place framed photographs in their homes of themselves and their children posing with the secretary.
Good to see the adults are in charge over at State.
It can always be worse
Getting past the pettiness of people missing out on the grip-and-grin photo ops, and the last guy to be Secretary was doing a fine job of gutting what arguably is one the most important institutions the United States government has at its disposable.
I say “arguably” because if you’re the kind of people who get pissed because you didn’t get your pic snapped during mandatory drinkies with the HMFIC, well, maybe we don’t need you running around representing the United States in the first place. 
But boy, can he handle the press
There is no independent record of what Pompeo said at the embassy events. Reporters traveling with Pompeo were allowed to watch him arrive but were ushered out of the room before he spoke.
Which is the kind of no-holds-barred access that Michelle Wolf put in jeopardy with her evisceration of how the current administration handles the press corps. And the truth. Because whatever the new secretary was saying to his crack team of picture-taking fanboys, it wasn’t for public consumption. 
If Secretary Pompeo is anything like CIA Director Pompeo or Representative Pompeo, we’re going to find a way to go to war with whatever gay Muslims have had the temerity to believe that being a gay Muslim is kind of an OK thing. 
Indiana Guard ends up in Niger thinking it's short for 'Nigeria' Indiana Guard ends up in Niger thinking it's short for 'Nigeria'
Because preventive sounds better than pre-emptive
“Africa matters to us because it is a preventive-medicine theater versus an emergency-medicine theater. What I mean by that is these threats, as they exist in Africa, are at a level where they can be dealt with.” – Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks shooting an ad for Children’s Benadryl
Go Guard, and leave the war to us
Can’t fault the “journalist” that wrote this since it’s a press release by the US military, but the fawning attention being paid to the Special Forces detachment attached to the Indiana National Guard in this bit on international training being conducted in Niger and other parts of Africa is par for the special ops hagiography that colors most military reporting of late.
At least they’re not at war
Noteworthy is the presence of the National Guard in a place like Niger for non-war purposes, which is a nice change of pace for that same Guard, which had its ass handed to it in the early stages of the Iraq War, rumbling north from Kuwait in whatever scrounged together armor plating they could find on hand.
Where’s Niger, anyway?
Even though our president should probably know something about countries in Africa, he’s not alone in not being more aware of what’s happening on the continent.
The US has decided that Africa is where one of the next wars could happen, and is making a point to provide assistance wherever the threat of extremism looms.
Which is a lot of places these days, and partnering the SF with Nigerien partners today should make the war we’ll probably have to fight there tomorrow a little easier.
Afghan farmers like money, so they grow opium
It’s called self interest, and it’s rational
“We tried to discourage farmers from sowing poppy seeds but they continue to ignore our orders because they want to earn more money.“ – Akbar Rustami, spokesperson and lousy economist
Subtle, I know.
We’re still talking about drugs
Probably because Nancy’s dead, and we’re probably overdue for a “brain on drugs” PSA for your average Afghan farmer. That’s got to be why opium poppy cultivation is soaring in the graveyard of eradication. Otherwise the Americans and their Western partners would have to concede that Afghan farmers grow opium instead of other products because they can make more money.
Market forces are a wonderful thing
Afghan farmers grow opium poppies because they can make more money off that than they can by growing wheat. Afghan farmers, like farmers everywhere, like to feed their families. Because that takes money, Afghan farmers will continue to grow opium until that changes.
If we’d buy less, they’d grow less
The price of opium’s high because the price of heroin’s high and the price of heroin’s high because the rest of the world refuses to legalize it so there’s still a lot of illegal money to be made and your average heroin junkie will pay good money for their smack.
Fix that, and you fix the opium “problem” in Afghanistan. 
Then you’d make it a legal crop and use it for things like morphine. Which would then make morphine less expensive. And then the drug companies that make it would…oh. Right. 
Market forces again.
Explosions are bad for your head, CNAS finds
Maybe he’s just got a hittable face
“When you fire it, the pressure wave feels like getting hit in the face. If you’re looking at a large anti-tank rocket that a soldier would carry on his or her shoulder, that’s now a pretty large explosion — and it’s happening right next to your head.” – Paul Scharre, Honor Graduate of the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Ranger Indoctrination Program And Guy Who Puts Things Like RIP Honor Graduate In His CNAS Bio
It’s a definite maybe for CNAS
So I’m riffing on a reporter’s read on a CNAS study, which is always a perilous proposition. Because then I’ll get curious and see what the actual study has to say. And then get into the footnotes. And learn that what RIP Honor Graduate Scharre’s saying about the TBI suffered by troops who use large caliber weapons like the Carl Gustaf is only true-ish.
The main premise of the article here is that those soldiers who regularly fire off things like AT-4s, Carl Gustafs, Barrett anti-material rifles, and LAWs are at risk for traumatic brain injury on the same level as those troops who have suffered TBI due to being hit by an IED.
So I know this one dude who totally fires the Carl Gustaf a lot
Except that the studies cited in the CNAS paper point out a whole lot of maybes. That firing those kinds of weapons appeared to have some impact in lab tests, and as a result the recommendation was that troops should fire said weapons in training less. Which might could help fix a problem that the researchers weren’t sure existed.
How many times is a Carl Gustaf being fired on a daily basis in training then? More than 20, according to the CNAS report. 
Which led me to a footnote. 
Which footnote said, “Personal communication with Carl Gustaf gunners.”
Which made me sad.
Headbanger’s Ball just called and they want their research back
Head injuries in troops in the modern age of war is a thing. It’s a big, scary, needs-to-be-addressed thing. Because with all the new and exciting ways around to rattle your brain in your skull, the military medical establishment has to come to grips with this.
And yes, safer weapons training (if that is actually the problem) needs to be part of the solution. We can’t wait until the problem gets even worse to address it. But let’s not chase bogeymen on this one. Even if you were the RIP Honor Grad.
Air force special ops hates 'queep'
This is what a memo sounds like when it goes clank
“The 1 SOW is not going to wait to implement necessary change until AFIs, publications and other documents are updated if the policies are outdated. In the interim, I will accept, at my level, all risk and responsibility assumed with this change.” – Col. Tom Palenske And His Brass Cantaloupes will be playing all weekend at the Briscoe County Fairground Pavilion
Be vewy quiet, I’m hunting "queep”
There’s at least one wing commander who’s tired of his airmen being subjected to a lot of unnecessary bullshit. Which bullshit is known in the Air Force is known as “queep.” And if one of you bright bulbs out there can find me the origin of the word, I’d be obliged. Because all it does is make me giggle.
All about that checklist
The USAF, like all the other services, suffers from a training problem, mainly that all the mandatory training requirements, much of it computer based, is taking time away from doing actual training for tasks they might encounter once we go to war.
Yeah, I’m skipping right past “if” and dropping the hammer on “when” on the war question.
This is what leadership looks like
No snark, we need more Col. Palenskes, if only for this reason: to ensure that our soldiers, sailors, and airmen have exactly what they need before heading off into harm’s way. That kind of leadership means more of them will be readier than ever before for what they’ll experience when the shooting starts. More leading, less…queeping?
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