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5 NatSec Things - 09 Apr 2018

Today's things: Big Brother's coming; Pentagon footing NG bill; Nigeria's cop problem; big guns for K
April 9 · Issue #44 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Big Brother’s coming; Pentagon footing NG bill; Nigeria’s cop problem; big guns for KSA; robot convoys; I get petty.

Quote of the Day
“We’ll figure it out. It will be consistent with law and the spirit of Congress. No problem.” – Mattis on how we’re going to pay for the NG troops headed to the border
1. An Orwell thing
DHS wants list of journalist, 'media influencers'
You say database like it’s a good thing
“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers.“ – FedBizOps on its RFI for new media monitoring contract
We hates the 1st Amendment, precious
The Depart of Homeland Security (DHS) has put out a request for information (RFI) for a media monitoring contract. Seven companies have already expressed interest, because someone’s got to profit from setting fire to the Constitution.
The contract would monitor over 290,000 outlets worldwide, covering 100 languages, and instantly translating any articles into English. 
It’s cool, though, because they just want to keep up on all the blogs. And what those blogs have to say. And how they’re saying it. 
Nope, not at all like 1984.
Let me see your journalist papers
This comes on the heels of a few alarming things in all things journalism lately. 
Among those things are calls for journalists to be licensed by an Indiana state representative, worries about "fake news” in general in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, and a letter sent last month by several members of Congress questioning whether Al Jazeera should register as a “foreign agent.” 
Add to that the current president’s contentious relationship with any media outlet that’s not Fox News, and we’re all looking at way more scrutiny about what’s being said in the press than any of us should be comfortable with.
Freedom isn’t free, it costs $75
That’s the amount Jim Lucas, the Indiana state representative, wanted to charge professional journalists every year. And have them submit fingerprints. Because I’m sure that’s what the framers had in mind. 
We’re way past the point where any of this is funny. I’ll still make jokes about it, but it’s terrifying. 
It’s being couched in the same terms used after 9/11, when more than a few freedoms disappeared into the “it’s for your own good” rabbit hole. Right about now, the Patriot Act isn’t sounding so bad. 
And that worries me even more. 
2. A money thing
Mattis sends 4,000 troops to border, says check's in the mail Mattis sends 4,000 troops to border, says check's in the mail
Mobilization announcements via the thumbs
“Always Ready, Always There! Moving up to 500 #NationalGuard troops immediately on the SW border security mission. Vehicles, equipment & helicopters on the way tonight.“ – National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel via Twitter
NG go full Ice Cube, that they’re down for whatever
Trump’s plan C for his border wall is now in effect as 4,000 National Guard troops will eventually mobilize to the border with Mexico. 
Authorization for the deployment comes under Title 32 vs. Title 10, which makes this a National Guard deployment, and not activation of the National Guard as part of the active duty military.
That’s a key distinction, because besides making it legal what can and cannot be done by those troops, it also limits the length of deployment of those troops, which cannot exceed a maximum of 270 days. A Title 10 activation can last longer. 
It’s because he’s orange, right?
When Obama did it, no one raised an eyebrow. Maybe an eyebrow, but no one got nearly as bent out of shape. Or when Bush mobilized even more troops before Obama, again, not much in the way of eye batting.
Because neither of those presidents were as belligerent as the current Cheeto-in-Chief in their rhetoric toward Mexico. Or anyone else for that matter.
The use of National Guard troops to supplement border operations isn’t a new thing, and the cooperation between the military and law enforcement has been a fact of border operations for years. 
This time it just feels like we’re doing it angry.
This should fix it for good
If you’re trying to stop the flow of drugs and crime into the United States, the border isn’t the problem. It’s all the boats and airplanes that continue to smuggle massive quantities of narcotics into the US.
And the flow of immigrants coming into the USA has slowed over the years, mainly thanks to the economic crisis that started in 2008.
This isn’t about security, then, it’s about making a point to your xenophobic base that you’re doing something about the brown people. Which is racist AF. 
Maybe not let’s do that.
3. A TK thing
Nigerian military picking up slack for Nigerian cops
Let’s be cops
“Look at the numbers: We are 180 million people and we have 400,000 policemen in the country. The police can’t be everywhere because of their low number.” – Nigerian presidential spox Garba Shehu
Cue up the Whitney
If you have 400,000 cops, and 150,000 of those are woking on personal security details, that only leaves 250,000 police to protect and serve all of Nigeria. In a country with 180 million people, that’s not great math. 
And because Nigeria continues to battle civil unrest, Islamist militants, fights between farmers and ranchers, kidnapping, and general banditry, that means the military has been increasingly called up to fill the gaps. 
Given Nigeria’s history of military rule, that’s not terribly progressive.
It’s a police job, but the military’s gotta do it
The situation in Nigeria and elsewhere is why the US and other Western powers are ramping up the placement of troops across parts of the African continent. It’s the bitter irony of progress toward democracy and then the march back into the past that seems to be necessary thanks to continued insecurities in the country.
“I don’t want to talk about this again.” 
So long as those in power see the police force as their own private Kevin Costner, these kinds of things will continue. And do. With alarming regularity in places like Nigeria. 
Because the status quo has been for so long that those in power get to do whatever they want to keep that power in their hands, what’s resulted is a never ending cycle of insecurity that then leads to another cycle of military and police crackdown that in turn leads to more insecurity. 
It’s almost like the oppressed don’t like being oppressed.
4. A Saudi billions thing
Gonna be a hot time in old Sana'a
All about that interoperability
“This sale will increase the Royal Saudi Land Force’s (RSLF) interoperability with U.S. forces and conveys U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization.“ – statement by Defense Security Cooperation Agency
We’re gonna need a bigger howitzer
The United States just approved the sale of a crap ton of artillery equipment and upgrades to existing artillery systems to Saudi Arabia. Which totally needs them for like defensive reasons. And the Americans want them to have them so that when everybody goes to war with everyone else, we’ll all have the same guns.
Thought we weren’t selling guns to the KSA
There’d been a halt on sales for a while thanks to the whole "let’s-blockade-Qatar” debacle. But since the Saudis are prepared to pay in actual money, the US has been willing to overlook a little thing like aggressive trade actions against another regional partner.
Plus there’s that whole bit about making sure the guys you want to go to war with have the gear they need to make a difference if/when that time comes.
Show me the defense money!
This is about US defense contractors and US jobs and Trump and company being able to tell the world that they’ve inked historic deals on all things war machine. So that’s a large part of this.
There’s also something more pragmatic, in that the US needs partners like Saudi Arabia, who despite their horrific track record when it comes to, I dunno, exporting terror, at least in public would be on the side of the angels if the Middle East ever erupted into a full out shooting war.
5. A robot thing
The robot Army keeps rolling along
It’s cool, we’re on cruise control
“The specific leader-follower concept is in many ways much less ambitious than autonomous cars; it’s much more like intelligent cruise control.“ – Paul Scharre, CNAS
Tired of metaphorical robots, the Army wants real ones
The US Army is moving ahead with semi-autonomous convoys, where a manned lead vehicle would be in charge of seven additional unmanned vehicles. The concept would be one of follow-the-leader, which almost sounds like a train, but it’s not, because the other trucks are separate. 
I still like the train idea, because I like trains.
This was inevitable
Convoy operations are a few things, and one of those things is expensive, not just in terms of equipment, but in staffing. Because sometimes what hobbles the movement of equipment along the battlefield isn’t vehicle availability, it’s people to drive said vehicles. 
Plus there’s the risk factor, in that if the convoy gets hit with an IED, worst case you only lose one crew and the accompanying vehicles, vs. multiple crews. So it makes sense if we’re only looking at ROI.
Makes things easier for the bad guys
If your convoy gets hit, and one vehicle goes down, the rest of the convoy’s there to secure the rest of the vehicles, equipment, and supplies. 
If you’re the only manned vehicle in the convoy, what happens in this scenario is a little different. Unless, of course, your robot convoy’s being protected by other robots overhead. In which case the only thing you have to worry about is what the other side’s robots are going to do.
We’re fast approaching a type of war that’s only fought by robots. Shooting at other robots. Which sounds cool, so long as you can keep building robots. 
Bonus: Because I'm a small person
Fox & friends lose minds over vet pageant winner Fox & friends lose minds over vet pageant winner
First off: I’m being petty, because this kind of thing bothers me. I am not a good person. 
It’s worth watching the Fox & Friends B-team fall all over themselves to be super impressed with Mrs. New York and her ability to shoot targets at 300 meters. 
That’s not being a “trained sharpshooter,” that’s basic training, and helps draw a big fat line under the phrase “civil/military divide.”
My shenanigans elsewhere
On that last bit: this newsletter will always be free. However, if what I do here and elsewhere is something you’d pay for, I do like money. 

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