Mark Collins – World War II US Intelligence: Oh So Social–or Not

Current US Army special forces give a look at the past:

(W)Archives: Understanding the Office of Strategic Services

The US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) has added another excellent resource for the study of special operations.  First Paul Tompkins reprised the Assessing Revolution and Insurgent Strategies (ARIS) project from the 1960′s era Special Operations Research Office (SORO).

Now USASOC has established a web site with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Primers and Manuals.  Both the CIA and SOF share their lineage with the OSS.   This web site should be of use for those who want to look to history for an understanding of intelligence and unconventional warfare operations.  As the commanding general, LTG Cleveland says in the below note, “it is important to understand how the past has influenced Army Special Operations Forces.”..

Earlier from the CIA, eventual successor to the OSS:

The Office of Strategic Services: America’s First Intelligence Agency

Plus from the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6):

Official History

‘MI6: A history of SIS 1909 -1949′

Nothing like the above from our government’s, er, organs.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Big Euro Ransom Funding for al Qaeda–and a Canadian Bit

NY Times [and AP earlier] serious reporting at its best:

Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror

Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for Al Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe.

While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.

In news releases and statements, the United States Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that, taken together, put the total at around $165 million over the same period.

These payments were made almost exclusively by European governments, who funneled the money through a network of proxies, sometimes masking it as development aid, according to interviews conducted for this article with former hostages, negotiators, diplomats and government officials in 10 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The inner workings of the kidnapping business were also revealed in thousands of pages of internal Qaeda documents found by this reporter while on assignment for The Associated Press in northern Mali last year…

The stream of income generated is so significant that internal documents show that as long as five years ago, Al Qaeda’s central command in Pakistan was overseeing negotiations for hostages grabbed as far afield as Africa. Moreover, the accounts of survivors held thousands of miles apart show that the three main affiliates of the terrorist group — Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in northern Africa; Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in Yemen; and the Shabab, in Somalia — are coordinating their efforts and abiding by a common kidnapping protocol.

To minimize the risk to their fighters, the terror affiliates have outsourced the seizing of hostages to criminal groups who work on commission…

Only a handful of countries have resisted paying, led by the United States and Britain. Although both these countries have negotiated with extremist groups — evidenced most recently by the United States’ trade of Taliban prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — they have drawn the line when it comes to ransoms.

It is a decision that has had dire consequences. While dozens of Europeans have been released unharmed, few American or British nationals have gotten out alive [emphasis added]. A lucky few ran away or were rescued by special forces. The rest were executed or are being held indefinitely…

[Canada] $91.5 million has been paid to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

 2008-9    $1.1 million  [Paid by] Could not be determined   2 Canadians

As early as 2008, a commander holding two Canadian diplomats angered his leaders by negotiating a ransom on his own.

In a letter discovered by this reporter in buildings abandoned by the jihadists in Mali last year, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb blamed the commander, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, for securing only the “meager sum” of €700,000 — around $1 million — saying the low amount was a result of his unwillingness to follow the instructions of the group’s leadership in Pakistan…

More on the Canadians:

Ransom paid for Canadian diplomats, leaked cable suggests

Robert Fowler – The Grave

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – 2013: Media “Challenges” for Then-New Canadian Minister of National Defence

Sure are a lot of them, veterans’ issues aside–got to manage and massage centrally those messages.  Here’s a nice bit of info accessing by Carl Meyer of Embassy magazine:

A copy of the departmental binder given to Defence Minister Rob Nicholson after being shuffled into the position in July 2013, obtained by Embassy under access to information legislation, devotes 16 pages to public and media relations, noting “strategic challenges” and “opportunities” and filling in the minister on which topics were controversial and attracted media scrutiny.

The briefing notes show DND’s sprawling media relations machine keeps tabs on tens of thousands of newspaper articles a year, handles thousands of media requests, and has kept a close eye on coverage and public criticism of its many procurement projects…

The briefing notes expanded on the department’s efforts to centralize its message. The department has “over 13 independent public affairs organizations,” and the government’s “federated approach to communications,” the notes state, can be “detrimental to the effective communication of government of Canada and departmental priorities.”

This multitude of voices “can lead to surprises and delays,” and limits the assistant deputy minister’s “ability to enforce deadlines,” the notes continue. The approach can even “undermine the institutional reputation” and “be damaging to media relationships.”

As a result, the department is looking at options, the notes read, like “a stronger onus on internal co-ordination and chain of command approval” and “making greater use of approved channels” like backgrounders, and media briefings to crack down on “impromptu interviews.”..

The department’s issues “tend to receive a fair amount of national-level coverage” because of national security, the size of the budget, and Canadians’ interest, the notes argue. Another reason DND gets lots of coverage, the notes state, is the “conglomerated nature of Canadian media outlets (Postmedia, Sun Media, [Canadian Press]),” meaning articles are reprinted in local newspapers across the country.

The briefing notes say the department and the military are “mostly covered by traditional mediums and are rarely a subject of interest on social media sources (Twitter) [really?].”..

Read on, lots of procurement, er, challenges.  Meanwhile the department and forces certainly are good at suppressing information, even very innocuous.

Oddly enough procurement issues (unlike veterans’ problems) get much more major media coverage in Canada than in the US.  One supposes one reason is because opposition parties here hammer on them much more than in the States, where legislators’ districts from both parties all across the country benefit broadly from military monies–however well-spent or not–than in Canada.  Moreover Americans take for granted the need for expensive defence capabilities in a way that Canadians do not.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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Mark Collins – Top Dragon Purging, Cont’d (plus that Canadian energy angle)

President Xi looks to be carrying out an unprecedentedly (in my memory, and I was a Chicom analyst back when Hua Guofeng got the chop) rapid and serious consolidation of personal power.  Further to this post, and the first part of this one yesterday,

China in Canada: Corporate Corruption and Oil Sands; Cyber Attack on Federal Government

here’s the latest:

China [read Zhou] Puts Ex-Security Chief Zhou Yongkang Under Investigation
Move Marks Highest-Ranking Official to Be Investigated in Decades

Son of security tsar Zhou Yongkang at centre of China corruption investigation Wealthy oil industry equipment investor Zhou Bin arrested for ‘involvement in illegal business operations’ [there's a US angle]

Profile: China’s fallen security chief Zhou Yongkang

Plus more with Canada:

1) Athabasca’s Dover oilsands deal held up by Chinese corruption probe: Dover sale delayed as 2 former Canada-based executives recalled to Beijing [Li Zhiming and
Margaret Jia, Zhou's sister-in-law]

2) Hunt for corruption strikes at its biggest ‘tiger’ yet

The alleged flow of ill-gotten gains stretched around the world, touching Canada, too, after Li Zhiming, once the chief executive of Alberta-based Brion Energy, was detained by Chinese authorities earlier this year. Brion is a Chinese joint venture company active in the oil sands; at least one other person involved with Chinese oil investments in Canada has also been detained, according to a report by the Beijing-based Caixin news service [website here]. Mr. Zhou is believed to have ties to some of the executives who operated in Canada.

Mr. Zhou built a career in China’s energy industry, rising to the top of China National Petroleum Corp. in the mid-1990s, before taking the reins of the country’s security apparatus. During his tenure, the domestic spying budget exceeded that of China’s military…

Stay tuned as one says–or twittered.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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Mark Collins – China in Canada: Corporate Corruption and Oil Sands; Cyber Attack on Federal Government

Two angles to the increasingly, er, complex relationship–note unusual admission of Chinese being behind cyber attack:

1) Oil Sands:

Chinese Corruption Probe Stretches Into Canada
Billion-Dollar Oil-Sands Project Is Left in Limbo

A Chinese government anticorruption investigation that already has swept aside dozens of officials is now stretching into Canada. A shake-up has hit state-run China National Petroleum Corp.’s [website here] Canadian operations and a billion-dollar oil-sands project is now in limbo.

The head of a key China National Petroleum subsidiary was recalled to Beijing last month and has since fallen from public view, according to people familiar with the matter. Also in recent weeks, an email announced the replacement of China National Petroleum’s top representative in Canada. The two are being succeeded by a single executive dispatched from Beijing who will play senior roles at both units, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Canadian authorities are aware of “these investigations being conducted by Chinese authorities into Chinese officials,” a government official familiar with the matter said. “At this point there is no reason to believe that any Canadians are involved or being investigated,” the official said.

The shuffling provides a glimpse into the unexpected impact that Beijing’s graft probe, which has hit China National Petroleum particularly hard, is having on efforts to exploit the world’s third-largest oil reserve. The two Chinese executives who recently left their posts helped to make billions of dollars worth of investment commitments. Both were board members of trade organizations in energy-rich Alberta and had enough clout to summon meetings with senior Canadian lawmakers at short notice [emphasis added]…
The corruption crackdown that China’s Communist leadership launched in late 2012 has reached into government bureaucracies and state-run companies [see also: "Top Dragon Purging? Collective Leadership?"]. China National Petroleum has been a target, with at least a half-dozen current and former executives detained. Many of those worked for or had ties to now-retired political leader Zhou Yongkang , who once ran China National Petroleum before rising to the inner circle of the Chinese leadership. He hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing and couldn’t be reached for comment…

2) Cyber attack:

Chinese cyberattack forces computer shutdown at National Research Council 

The federal government’s National Research Council [website here] was forced to shut down its computers to stop cyberattacks from China, CTV News has learned.

Sources told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that Chinese hackers had been trying to get into NRC computers for the past month.

On Monday [July 28], it was decided that a complete shutdown was necessary to stop the hackers from stealing sensitive information.

The cyberattack was primarily focused on the NRC, but sources say it has wider implications because the government has converted 43 departments into a shared data service system [morehere and here].

The National Research Council is Canada’s top science and technology research organization. It handles leading-edge research related to satellite technology, space and industrial innovations and modified foods, among others.

This is not the first time hackers from China have penetrated Canadian government computers. They have previously targeted the Finance Department, the Treasury Board, the Bank of Canada and even Parliament Hill [from 2011: "Canada Lagging in Cyber Security"]…


Feds confirm Canadian spy agency detected Chinese cyberattack

In a statement released early Tuesday [July 29], the NRC said the country’s electronic spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada [see here], had “detected and confirmed a cyber intrusion” on the agency’s IT infrastructure.

The federal government’s Chief Information Officer also confirmed the cyber-intrusion “by a highly sophisticated Chinese state-sponsored actor [that pinning of direct responsibility is most unusual].”

The agency said it is now working with its IT experts and security partners to create a new secure infrastructure.

“This could take approximately one year [help!], however; every step is being taken to minimize disruption,” the statement said…

Our federal government is not exactly best prepared:


CSIS Director Rings Cyber Security Alarm Bell

Canadian Government Cyber Security Blah, Blah, Blah

Canadian Government Cyber Security Blues

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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Mark Collins – The Other Civilian Dead in Eastern Ukraine Besides MH 17

Further to the second part of this post, two headlines:

1) NY Times:

Enmity and Civilian Toll Rise in Ukraine as World’s Attention Is Diverted

A woman walks by an apartment complex in Snizhne, Ukraine, that was hit by a rocket attack on July 15. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times…

2) Politico.Com:

Letter from Donetsk

This Is What a War in Europe Really Looks Like

A headless body on a city street. Bombed summer cottages. Gunmen at the morgue.

By ANNA NEMTSOVA [more here]

Some attention now.  Meanwhile someone thinks Canada should sell defence equipment to Ukraine to help its military re-conquer the Crimea.  Lunacy.
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Sunni Islamism Rising–Rampant?

It’s not just al Qaeda anymore.  A very senior US intelligence officer gives a big picture and takes on the president:

US is no safer after 13 years of war, a top Pentagon official saysThe outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency says that new players on the scene are more radical than Al Qaeda, and the core Al Qaeda ideology has lost none of its potency…

“We have a whole gang of new actors out there that are far more extreme than Al Qaeda,” says Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which employs some 17,000 American intelligence collectors in 140 countries around the world [website here]…

America is less safe today in large part because of the emergence of terrorist groups like the Islamic State, formerly know as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group is stoking regional wars in Syria and Iraq that will only continue to increase in complexity, Flynn said.

Then what about the claims from those within the Obama administration that core Al Qaeda is on the run?

On this point, Flynn – a strong personality who is slated to retire from the US military next month after clashing with higher-ups in the intelligence community – took issue as well.

“We throw this phrase ‘core Al Qaeda’ out.” But rather than people, “core Al Qaeda” is an ideology, he said.

“I, you know, have been going against these guys for a long time. The core is the core belief that these individuals have – and it’s not on the run,” he added. “That ideology is actually, sadly, it feels like it’s exponentially growing.”..

Another growing aspect:

Why young Europeans are becoming jihadis 

More, including Canadians:

Syria: A Division’s Worth of Foreign Jihadis

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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Mark Collins – “Tripoli Airport Ablaze, Rockets Leave Libya in Chaos”

Further to this post,

Not So Good News Libyan Update: Tripoli Airport, Islamists
[note last two comments]

July 28 update at Maritime Today (that oil leaves by tanker):

Diplomats flee Libyan chaos; Politicians appeal for international intervention. Clashes in Tripoli, Benghazi kill around 160 over two weeks, while Libyan capital face fuel, power shortages.

A rocket hit a fuel storage tank in a chaotic battle for Tripoli airport that has all but closed off international flights to Libya, leaving fire-fighters struggling to extinguish a giant conflagration.

Foreign governments have looked on powerless as anarchy sweeps across the North African oil producer, three years after NATO bombardment helped topple dictator Muammar Gaddafi. They have urged nationals to leave Libya and have pulled diplomats out after two weeks of clashes among rival factions killed nearly 160 people in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.

The Netherlands, the Philippines and Austria on Monday [July 28] prepared to evacuate diplomatic staff. The United States, United Nations and Turkish embassies have already shut operations after the worst violence since the 2011 uprising.

Two rival brigades of former rebels fighting for control of Tripoli International Airport have pounded each other’s positions with Grad rockets, artillery fire and cannons for two weeks, turning the south of the capital into a battlefield [lots more detail follows]…

Libya’s oil production was at 500,000 barrels per day last week, down slightly from previous levels when output had began to recover following the end of the port blockade. Oil ministry officials on Monday declined to give updates on output.

Production was more than three times as high before the civil war that toppled Gaddafi. The desert country depends almost entirely on oil exports to feed and employ its population of around 6 million people…

‘Twas a splendid little war.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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Mark Collins – Gaza, or, “German Protesters: Gas the Jews”

Another caption at this CNN video: “French Protesters: Death to the Jews”.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – Worthy Words From Chairman, US Joint Chiefs

All sorts of Good Thing thinking but what might it all mean in practice?  Excerpts from a piece in Foreign Policy:

The Bend of Power
How the U.S. military can overcome the challenges of complexity in a rapidly changing world.  
BY Martin E. Dempsey

…In each region of the world, we face serious — but very different — security challenges, from rising state-to-state tensions in Asia and Europe to escalating sub-state violence in the Middle East and North Africa. Moreover, technologies and capabilities once confined to states are moving beyond their control. The result is an international order under duress with as many things working to pull the world apart as to pull it together.

Just like after 1945, we now confront a situation in which the U.S. military is shrinking as calls for our leadership around the globe are expanding. With the opportunity cost of each of our actions increasing, we must be judicious in the application of military force and seize innovative ways to use it to best effect.

The U.S. military is up to this challenge. We are becoming more agile in how we manage our forces, employing our assets around the globe in dynamic and purposeful ways. We are updating our efforts to build the capacity of our partners, emphasizing regional and multilateral approaches. We are better integrating military efforts with those of the other instruments of national power, including diplomacy and economics. Ultimately, the United States must continue to underwrite the international order…

The United States — and those partners with whom we share common values — confronts a dizzying assortment of challenges. There’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution. But there are some common best practices that we should follow. First, wherever possible, we should view problems through a regional lens — not one country, one group, and one crisis at a time. Second, we should carefully integrate all our instruments of power, making sure that our policies leverage each instrument to its best use…

To deal with our most pressing security challenges, the U.S. military will not be the only tool we use, nor should it be the principal one in most circumstances. Often the military is best used in a supporting role — especially if we want to achieve meaningful and enduring results. And we should “go it alone” only in the rarest of circumstances.

The problems of the Middle East, for example, require much more than hard power. Our experiences there have demonstrated that good governance, economic development, and strong and equitable institutions are prerequisites for sustainable peace. The challenges confronting the Middle East will take a generation or more to resolve, and the people and leaders of the region must lead the way. In such circumstances, patience and perseverance will be necessary [emphasis added, good luck] — the changes will not come overnight…

The emerging security environment also demands that we update our approach to building partner capacity. Armored divisions and bomber wings can blunt our enemies, but they cannot single-handedly preserve the peace. To do that, we need to construct stronger security partnerships with like-minded nations, so that all can contribute to the collective defense.

Building partner capacity has long been a hallmark of America’s defense policy [Iraq?]…

The security environment today is more complex than it has been at any other time in my 40-year Army career. But the U.S. military remains as committed as ever to underwriting peace and stability around the world. We will not shrink from the challenges of complexity. We will adapt ourselves to overcome them.

One is tempted to respond: “Blah, blah, blah.”

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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