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5 NatSec Things - 09 May 2018

Today's things: How many crashes mean crisis?; ANG gets its border war on; Malaysia, Hamas BFFs; US L
May 9 · Issue #55 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: How many crashes mean crisis?; ANG gets its border war on; Malaysia, Hamas BFFs; US LTC now UAE GEN; Chelsea for Senate.

Quote of the Day
“I’m a major general for the United Arab Emirates. I hold the duty, rank, the responsibilities of a major general. I’m not currently in their armed forces.”– LTC Stephen Toumajan (ret.) who has the weirdest job ever in the UAE
Pentagon: Military aviation crashes don't mean 'crisis'
“This is not a crisis. But it is a crisis for each of these families. And we owe them a full investigation, and to understand what’s going on. But these are across services, and these are different individuals and different circumstances.” – Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White who will be playing the Tin Man this summer
The PAO has tin ears
I’m not sure how Dana White defines crisis, except it’s not fiscal 2018 on course to be the deadliest year for military aviation since 2011. 
Because, and I’m not making this up, according to the military they take a look at averages over five years, and everything’s still within tolerances for dead people in uniform.
But they got all that money this year
Yes, the DoD just got the kind of check that would give your average Publisher’s Clearinghouse winner a terminal seizure, except that’s going to fix all the damage already done by years of high operational tempos which in turn has led to less training which means more accidents are going to happen.
Don’t run the numbers, have a heart
Outside of the terrible optics of saying that it’s perfectly normal for a C-103 to fall out of the sky in Georgia and kill everyone on board, this kind of message from the Pentagon tells the force rank-and-file that while they hear you, you can probably go fuck yourself with some airplane parts.
Which they’d gladly do, except they don’t have the parts. Because all the parts went to keep planes running for deployed squadrons and the like. 
So what’s left is broken as shit and it’s probably going to kill more people.
This is what happens when middle military management doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to tell upper management that fuck no, we can’t go to war with what’s on hand, because in the not-so-distant future more people are going to die needlessly.
Arizona National Guard already at the border Arizona National Guard already at the border
“We’re National Guard. We like to drink and play cards.” – from “Mortaritaville” because there isn’t a single damn quote in this article
It’s different down here
Fun bit in a local newspaper pointing out that the Arizona National Guard has been running counter-drug ops on the Mexico border in conjunction with law enforcement for years already. 
Because that’s what happens in Trump’s America: people living in places where they feel threatened by a porous border look to a state government that kinda wants to do something about it.
You’re not paranoid if they’re there
For Arizonans living on the border with Mexico, it can be an alarming place. Because it’s not just migrants wanting a better life coming over, it’s drugs on a grand scale that continue to slide over the fence that has Arizonans awake at night. 
And using the National Guard to supplement law enforcement efforts is within the state’s power to do. So it has done.
It’s not the Dreamers they worry about
For every bullshit soundbite on CNN where some MENSA dropout in a MAGA hat says something ignorant about immigration, there’s a lot of other people living next door to smuggling routes who think something more needs to be done, and they’re not wrong.
Not saying the answer is increased militarization. What I am saying is just because the Xenophobe-in-Chief is making a big deal about it now doesn’t mean that it’s a new problem. Or a new thing that’s never worried voters before.
It’s just never worried voters north of the border.
Hamas finding itself right at home in Malaysia
“If they come in peace and do not create any problems, then what is the issue?” – Inspector General of Police in Malaysia last year about Hamas, who are pretty peaceful so long as they’re in Malaysia
Just don’t kill anyone in Kuala Lumpur already
It’s not easy being Hamas: all the places you used to run around in with impunity are shutting down, thanks to things like the ISIS and just general upheaval in their own neighborhood. 
So the terror group has found a new home in Malaysia, which is oddly OK with their presence there because I assume they bring a lot of money with them.
It’s nicer than Gaza, that’s for sure
Hamas and Malaysia’s symbiotic silliness made it to the headlines in April when Fradi Al-Batsh, a Hamas arms guy was gunned down on the street by a couple of bikers on BMWs. 
Said bikers were most likely Mossad agents, which given Al-Batsh’s propensity for making things to shoot at the Israelis, makes sense.
No country for Hamas
Malaysia gives Hamas what they’re missing: a developed nation that’s willing to turn a blind eye to their external operations, and given Malaysia’s stated policy of neutrality and predominantly Muslim population, it’s been a good fit.
What’s notable is that the global village also applies to terrorists, and so long as nations like Malaysia see some kind of common cause with groups like Hamas, these kinds of relationships will flourish. 
And so long as Israel feels comfortable sending assassins to gun down Hamas operatives overseas, I’d keep an eye on the BMWs.
That time a US LTC become a general in the UAE
“The two operational guys that they rely on to run the fucking war for them is Mike Hindmarsh and Stephen Toumajan. Basically they’ve got foreign mercenaries fighting the war — or commanding the war, I should say.” – retired CIA official just before his Narcos audition
Well that got weird
Erik Prince isn’t the only guy making big bucks off his military credentials in the Middle East. Only this story from Buzzfeed is even weirder than what the Blackwater founder’s been up to. 
An American lieutenant colonel retires from his aviation career with the US Army, and ends up running aviation operations for the United Arab Emirates. 
Where his title is general. 
Can’t wait for the Lifetime movie.
At least he’s not hurting anybody
Not directly, anyway, because in theory if he’s in charge of military aviation for the UAE, then the helicopter that shot up a boat full of unarmed Somali migrants in the Hodeidah port in Yemen that was probably flown by a UAE pilot was under his command. 
And 42 dead civilians shot by a helicopter could qualify as a war crime.
So are they hiring?
What LTC/GEN Toumajan is doing isn’t technically illegal. Maybe. And it’s not like he’s doing anything that a lot of other fine Americans who were actual generals before they left Uncle Sam’s Good Time Intervention Band haven’t done already. 
Including the current Secretary of Defense, who acted as an unpaid adviser to the UAE before joining the Trump administration.
Again: global village. And the Americans turning mercenary after their military service is complete aren’t just trigger pulling wannabe operators with combat beards on the streets of Baghdad. 
And if they’re working with partners the US wants to keep as part of whatever alliance Emperor Orangeade is building, that works in American interests.
Chelsea Manning's Senate run should be interesting
“Success for me is survival.” – Chelsea Manning who will likely not get a lot of vets voting for her
Vote vets, except this one
Chelsea Manning’s a fine American, veteran, and transgender activist who wants to run for US Senate in her adopted home state of Maryland. No one’s got beef with Chelsea Manning. It’s Bradley Manning they kind of want to string up and use as a human piñata.
All vets is heroes unless they’re traitors
Before coming out as transgender while she was in jail, Chelsea Manning was Bradley Manning. Bradley Manning took an oath of service, then felt that conscience trumped service, and dumped a lot of state secrets into the loving arms of Wikileaks.
This is a thing a lot of American service members find unforgivable. 
She’s not going to win, but green is not a good color on you
“It feels to me almost like it’s part of a book tour — that this is her moment after being released from prison. I don’t think this is a serious effort.”
That’s Dana Beyer, a transgender woman who leads the Gender Rights Maryland nonprofit, and 2nd time Democratic candidate for state senate, having lost the primary in 2014. She’s also born in 1952, which puts Ms. Beyer firmly in the generation that’s not Chelsea Mannin’s and the kind of person that is pretty OK with waffle stomping the political aspirations of a fellow LGBTQ candidate. 
For some, Manning’s story isn’t complicated: traitor got released from jail way too early. Except that her story isn’t that simple, and it’s becoming the story of an America that’s finding out that it’s not so post-racial after all.
Maybe we’re all on the book tour, released from a blissful eight years where we thought that hate, if not dead, was at least headed out the door.
It’s Trump’s America now, and if we want that to be different, maybe we take another look at the Mannings of the world and figure out how we get there together, not apart.
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