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5 NatSec Things - 05 Apr 2018

Today's things: small holes in Kunduz kids; NG to the border; KSA/UAE pledge $1bn in Yemen aid; F-22/
April 5 · Issue #42 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: small holes in Kunduz kids; NG to the border; KSA/UAE pledge $1bn in Yemen aid; F-22/F-35 not talking; mass grave in Mali.

Quote of the Day
“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!” – Trump on Twitter on the wall
1. An Afghanistan thing
Taliban now using little bullets to kill kids
See? The holes are too small…wasn’t us
“Our MD-530 helicopters attacked them, but the wounded brought to the hospitals were hit by bullets and small-arms fire.“ – Gen. Mohammad Radmanish, Afghan MoD spox
This is why the AAF can’t have nice things
Talked about the reports of an airstrike killing civilians in Kunduz yesterday, when the Afghan government said that no civilians were killed. That every single person that died around that mosque was an insurgent.
OK, maybe really short insurgents.
OK, maybe some children.
But the Afghans are saying they didn’t do it, because if they’d been killed by MD-530 helicopters with the rockets and the machine guns, the holes in the bodies would be bigger. 
So the official Afghan government position on dead kids in Kunduz is that the Taliban opened fire on the crowd.
Good thing the Americans are keeping an eye on things
It’s all part of the learning process: first your kid crawls, then they start walking, and before you know it, they’re ready to kill civilians all by themselves. And you don’t even need American aircraft to do it. 
Isn’t capacity development grand?
Really really small holes
Governments at the best of times are not known for transparency. When the US did its own gun run on Kunduz a few years back, they did a fine job of investigating themselves and then clearing themselves of any wrongdoing. 
Have to give the Afghan Ministry of Defense credit for the most creative explanation yet that they weren’t the ones that killed people because the bullet holes weren’t big enough.
Easier to believe the current narrative that the Taliban opened fire if the same government hadn’t totally denied any civilian deaths the day before. 
2. A wall thing
Troops gear up for Operation Spring Break Troops gear up for Operation Spring Break
But the National Guard isn’t see-through
“We are going to be guarding our border with the military.” – President Trump to foreign leaders
Hands along the border
Because Congress isn’t coughing up the billions Trump would need to build an actual wall, he’s ordering up National Guard troops to do the job. Even though it’s not entirely clear what that job is going to do. 
The president announced his current plan at a meeting with several Baltic state leaders. Who, presumably, don’t have any stake in what’s happening in Mexico. 
But because it’s Trump, well, he’s not known for sticking to the talking points. The Twitter points, boy, is he ever racking those up, though.
Is this something new?
Here’s where things get messy, because no: every president since Reagan has mobilized the National Guard to support border security to varying degrees. The largest such activation was in 2006 under Bush, and Obama did a smaller mobilization a fews years later.
Where this gets tricky is that US troops cannot be used to enforce US law. That’s not their job. So any real “guarding” in terms of detention has to be handled by law enforcement agencies already on the border. 
The most likely usage of these troops is going to be for logistics and other support, which is what they’ve done in the past.
Where can I send my money?
Difficult posse comitatus issues aside, this is going to be expensive. Not as expensive as building a wall, but still pricey. Somebody/somewhere gets to pay for that. Hellooo taxpayers!
It’s not the worst idea Trump’s had, and if there’s indeed a surge of illegal traffic at the border, this makes sense from a national security standpoint. Except that it’s being done by a racist president playing to his racist base. 
Good idea, bad intentions. 
3. A sad UN thing
Saudis/Emirates honor Yemen's "You bombed it, you rebuild it" policy
Thank you for paying for the house you burned down
“We all know who … the parties to the war (are). But the two things need to be seen separately, independently of the fact that there is a war. There are humanitarian obligations that are assumed by countries.” – U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Saudis are pretty good at this kind of thing
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been leading an air campaign and supporting blockades aimed at Houthi rebels in Yemen for three years that’s killed 10,000 people and left 22 million people in desperate need of aid. 
Now those countries have pledged $1 billion in aid to Yemen, which is generous. Ignoring, of course, that they’re the ones that blew it up in the first place.
It’s getting uglier
It’s the war that most Americans don’t pay attention to, because outside of the occasional not-so-great Special Operations raid, it’s not a conflict that’s going to get a lot of headlines in the US. 
Recently the war has escalated, with the Houthis getting their hands on missiles that have hit Riyadh.
Hashtag #SoWhat
War is always an ugly thing, but the way the Saudis in particular are going about this conflict conspicuous in its awfulness. The aerial bombing campaign has targeted the civilian population, and while the US is lauding the aid dollars the KSA and the UAE have now pledged, the Americans have kept their mouths shut for the most part.
That’s because the Saudis and Emiratis are the kind of partners the US wants in the Middle East to bolster the region against the rise of another ISIS. Which, given how the war in Yemen is going? Probably likely.
4. An avoidable thing
F-22, F-35 not on speaking terms
Really should have paid that Sprint bill
“There’s a lot of improvements that could have been done and should have been done 15 years ago. The Air Force postponed a lot of things for [the] F-22.” – said David Rockwell, a senior defense electronics analyst with Teal Group.
Can you hear me now?
In theory, both the F-35 Lightning and F-22 Raptor are fifth generation fighter jets. But because the F-22 is an older airframe, the millenial F-35 has some communications upgrades that means the two aircraft can’t communicate with each other. 
That kind of system-to-system communication was key to the F-35’s development in that part of its role with all the super slick (and super expensive) sensors it has on board, it can communicate a whole lot of information about the battlespace that older generation fighters can’t.
Same ol’ same ol’ with the F-35
Not really, because part of the problem is that the Air Force didn’t get all the F-22s it wanted. Those aircraft do just fine yakking away at each other, and if there were more of them, they could work together without necessarily having to add the F-35 into the mix. 
Still, yeah, it’s indicative of the military’s acquisition process as a whole, that instead of thinking through complementary communications, a whole new system got built.
Is this thing on?
Right now, instead of sending data automatically aircraft-to-aircraft, F-35 and F-22 pilots are using a secure radio workaround. Which seems to be doing the job for now. Planned upgrades mean more money thrown at the aircraft, both of which are pretty pricey to begin with.
5. An unbelievable thing
Mass grave found in Mali probably put there by the army
How’d they pull the triggers in handcuffs, tho?
“I see in these allegations that the international community is trying to justify its presence in Mali. The facts in question took place in an area of great community tension and it may be civilians who killed each other.” – Col. Diarran Kone, Mali army spox
Going back to Mali, to Mali
Mali’s army may have arrested folks, killed them, and then buried them in a mass grave. That’s the allegation leveled by resident of Dogo village, who claim that the six bodies found in the grave are those of men arrested on March 22 by Mali’s military. 
It’s another in a series of similar disappearances blamed on the Mali military, with the UN continuing to investigate several reports of similar instances in 2017.
We care about Mali because…
Mali’s another West African nation scrambling to do something about the spread of extremism. That’s one of the reasons foreign troops (mainly French) continue to conduct counter-terror operations in the country, as well as Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. 
It’s part of the West’s efforts to get ahead of the spread of extremism in the region before it gets to the point of a full on real war.
So we’re in Africa now?
What’s interesting about the Mali army’s response is that they don’t want foreign troops poking around in their business. 
And it looks like some of the extra-judicial killings being carried out by the army are ethnically related. 
Which would be another reason why the army would be less than enthused by international troops being in the area.
What’s frustrating to see is the continued use of arms as a means to counter terrorism and violence. Sure, it makes for a great photo op, and there’s something gratifying about putting bad guys in the ground. 
But it doesn’t lead to long term stability, and is only a temporary fix until the next time someone decides they’re ready for their own insurgency.
Anyone who runs is Taliban. Anyone who stands still is well-disciplined Taliban!
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