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Implications of Gates I and Gates II at CIA on Gates as SecDef


Before George Tenet there was Robert Gates; the politicization of intelligence and the punishing of those who resisted 'shaping' exercises did not originate with Tenet. Gates aggressively pursued intel shaping that matched preferred administration policy. Analysts through the ranks came to understand their new brief or left.

That is an ineradicable stain for a DCI. It may not significally detract from a role as SecDef in 2006. I think reader opinion of Robert Gates as SecDef will depend upon their familiarity with this chronology:

  • DCI William “Wild Bill” Casey
  • First confirmation hearing of Robert Gates, floundering on Iran-Contra, and concerns of misleading Congress, concocting false chronologies, et al. Gates withdraws
  • DCI William B. Webster
  • Second confirmation hearing of Robert Gates, battered again by Iran-Contra but brutalized by charges of politicization of, and interventions in, intelligence analysis. Gates prevails
  • DCI Robert Gates

A skilled inside-the-beltway colleague once counseled me in writing a critique of performance or action inside the federal bureaucracy,"Always write in sorrow, never in anger. Things written in anger are pariahs." It is instructive to see two articles on Gates effectively covering the same material with similar conclusions, written in each style. Partisans aside, one definitely warms to sorrow over anger.

I suggest that readers considering Gates' merits start first with the Toynbee-like sweep of John Prados' Gates-related excerpts in Safe for Democracy; second, Robert Parry's 'written in sorrow' The Secret World of Robert Gates, ; third, Ray McGovern's definitely 'written in anger' and indignation, The Cheney-Gates Cabal; and fourth, if you want to know everything public, the National Security Archive's The Robert Gates File.

The post-Rumsfeld SecDef has a different role to play in 2006-2008. He or she must administer the prenegotiated recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, rebuild trust and relationships with the military, reign in – or at least harmonize – DoD intel efforts with Negroponte and Hayden’s CIA, manage a defense establishment whose equipment faces enormous wear and replacement demands from Iraq, and balance allocations and training needed to combat a rising class of asymmetrical opponents. Gates may well have those skills.

Gates is bright but the polar opposite in style to Rumsfeld, is a pragmatist instead of a Neocon, was selected over the objections of Cheney. Former Director NSA and CIA Deputy Director, Bobby Inman, compares Gates to Johnson’s Clark Clifford who replaced SecDef Robert McNamara during the Vietnam war. Inman says that Gates is a “good listener [who]after he makes up his mind, is very decisive,” is “impatient” without being “arrogant.”

Gates has been “privately critical of the administration’s failure to execute its military and political plans for Iraq, and he has spent the last six months quietly debating new approaches to the war, as a member of the Iraq Study Group.” Although Gates left ISG upon his nomination as SecDef, I find it hard to believe that ISG will present recommendations at odds with Gates' thinking. Co-chaired by Brzezinski and Gates in 2004, Iran: Time for a New Approach offered a then refreshing approach to negotiating with Iran, suggestions that have yet to be implemented. Gates noted that, “One of our recommendations is that the U.S. government lift its ban in terms of nongovernmental organizations being able to operate in Iran… Greater interaction between Iranians and the rest of the world sets the stage for the kind of internal change that we all hope will happen there.”

John Deutch, DCI and Deputy SecDef under Clinton and no fan of Iraq policy, gives Gates high praise for reasons close to my own: Iraq, reconnecting to the military, reintegrating DoD’s intel ops and navigating forthcoming readiness replenishments. Deutch also believes that Gates has learned the Iran-Contra lesson and can control covert operations.

Prados says this of what I call ‘Gates II,’ the DCI Gates that attempted to make amends for Iran-Contra and intel politicization:

"As director, Robert Gates's vision involved gradual, planned change. He put teeth into the idea of support for military operations. One of the task forces worked on that alone. He tried to turn the agency toward the challenges of proliferation and transnational threats. Director Gates wanted more and better training for analysts, use of open source information, and techniques like competitive analysis. He ordered the revamping of CIA file systems. He opposed restructuring, including talk of a national agency for mapping and photographic interpretation, but agreed with the Pentagon on reforms at the National Reconnaissance Office. When Gates came to Langley, 6o percent of the CIA budget aimed at Russia; when he left that figure had dropped to 13 percent..."

I hope that Gates II is a different fellow than the Gates I that politicized intel production. That Gates II is greatly needed, as is the ISG. It is interesting that a group formed as a sop to congressional questioning has now become the vehicle to present the least bad bits of realism to a heretofore intransigent POTUS. One only has to read Steve Clemons' Nightmare Confirmed: Things Are Soooo Bad. . . to grasp the magnitude of our descent.

Iraq Study Group
United States Institute of Peace

About the Iraq Study Group
Expert Working Groups

Nightmare Confirmed: Things Are Soooo Bad. . .
Steve Clemons
Washington Note
November 16, 2006

Aye, Spy
Op-Ed Columnist
New York Times
November 15, 2006

Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger Replaces Robert Gates on Iraq Study Group
Iraq Study Group
United States Institute of Peace
November 10, 2006

The Robert Gates File
The Iran-Contra Scandal, 1991 Confirmation Hearings, and Excerpts from new book Safe for Democracy
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 208
Posted - November 10, 2006

Excerpts from Safe for Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA
By John Prados
Ivan R. Dee, 2006
Pages 572-574

The Secret World of Robert Gates
By Robert Parry
Consortium News
November 9, 2006

The Cheney-Gates Cabal
Ray McGovern
Tom Paine
November 09, 2006

Robert Gates, a Cautious Player From a Past Bush Team
New York Times
November 9, 2006

Rumsfeld, a Force for Change, Did Not Change With the Times Amid Iraq Tumult
News Analysis
New York Times
November 9, 2006

Congress forms panel to study Iraq war
Panel to recommend Iraq policy to Congress, White House
From Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau
Wednesday, March 15, 2006; Posted: 2:43 p.m. EST (19:43 GMT)

Time to pull out. And not just from Iraq.
John Deutch The New York Times
IHT/New York Times

Iran: Time for a New Approach - Council on Foreign Relations
Director:  Suzanne Maloney
Chairs:  Zbigniew Brzezinski & Robert M. Gates
Council on Foreign Relations Press
ISBN 0-87609-345-4
July 2004

Gordon Housworth

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Indications and Warning (I&W)


Part 1

"No one was ever killed by a fast noise." [Guidance from an early combat pistol instructor who impressed upon me that speed and accuracy were inseparable. So it is in all disciplines.]

Central to the CENTCOM Indications & Warning (I&W) validate Iraqi civil war, Indications and Warning (I&W) form an essential element of military Information Warfare (IW) along with attack and defense capabilities, targeting, and battle damage assessment (BDA). I&W affects far more than military operations and Operations Other Than War (OOTW), a notable example being the CERT Coordination Center dealing with vulnerability and incident analysis, and enterprise survivability in the face of computer security threats. I&W is central to predictive analysis yet is too often missing in commercial risk analysis.

Indications are observables of an evolving system that is only partially revealed to the analyst, e.g., fast breaking, fragmentary news. Only when the system is fully revealed are Indications understood in terms of their individual cause and effect, e.g., an After Action Report or the historical record. Too often do I see Indications listed as a checklist, stripped of their systems context without the means to value one Indication above others for a particular analysis. This note speaks to themes I think critical to good I&W analysis.

FM 34-1, dtd Jan 94 defines Indicator as:

Positive or negative evidence of threat activity or any characteristic of the AO [Area of Operation] which points toward threat vulnerabilities or the adoption or rejection by the threat of a particular capability, or which may influence the commander's selection of a COA [Course of Action]. Indicators may result from previous actions or from threat failure to take action.

Neil Garra runs a colorful but useful site for the S2, or intelligence officer, that will give you the basics here and here. Then look at State Collapse and Ethnic Violence: Toward a Predictive Model.

I tilt to the view shared by many terrorism analysts that terrorism presents an especially difficult challenge to the intel community, a challenge marked by lack of massively better humint and the contextual understanding of local conditions to interpret that humint. I believe that the challenge can benefit from better analytic tools, but nothing can substitute for a competent analyst capable of non-linear thinking with an eye for the outlier datum. Analytics that blunt that ability lead to disaster.

The Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course describes the difficulty in predictive analysis:

The challenge of predictive analysis is that it is both difficult and risky. The Military Intelligence Officer must stretch his or her intellectual resources to the limit to conduct predictive analysis, and still runs the risk that events predicted will not come to pass. This difficulty and risk apply less to the production of capabilities intelligence. As a consequence, there is a tendency to avoid predictive analysis and stick to beancounting. The bottom line, however, is the Commander needs to know enemy intentions as well as enemy capabilities [especially so] when the Commander initiates an action or when the enemy poses a vital threat to friendly forces.

Never easy in combat operations, successful prediction demands even more attentive analysis in Operations Other Than War (OOTW) as there is either too much or too little data, i.e., too many dots or not enough dots to define a pattern changing over time.

The enemy of good I&W, Denial and Deception are almost always present to confuse the opponent's analysis. Here is a summary of deception tactics and strategies, with some thoughts on counter-deception drawn from the 2004 US election campaigns:

The centrality of Boyd's OODA Loop

Indications are generally perishable and demand a high clockspeed in order to get ahead of the adversary's planning - and in Iraq that is often multiple adversaries, each pursuing their own agenda and targets. The I&W cycle must contract so that it operates inside the adversaries timing, otherwise you are in the business of Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA), a nasty catch-up game. LTIOV, or Latest Time Information of Value, takes on new meaning.

One of the best examples that both defines and explains the use of the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act Loop in a fluid 4GW environment is Fourth Generation Warfare & OODA Loop Implications of The Iraqi Insurgency.

Systems mindset and mental models

All analysts should study Russ Ackoff. Start here and dig deeper: Applying Ackoff's rules of system interdependency, Part I and Ackoff on Reductionism and Expansionism, Part II. The Berlin Wisdom Model describes a knowledge gaining process essential to an analyst. Analysts are often required to make sense of a system of which they have an insufficient understanding. They often lack an awareness of the most appropriate mental model, formal or informal, by which to study it. Commenting on the evolving nature of modeling systems, Coensys' Chadna wrote:

  1. Appropriate modeling requires that the modeler understands and is proficient in all techniques. If all you have is a hammer.......
  2. Use the paradigm that is the most natural fit to the aspect/characteristic being modeled ( I would use SD [Systems Dynamics] for modeling diffusion of scents, while using agents to model people looking for food in the food court [or navigating battlespace], the food preparation assembly line might be best modeled using DES [Discrete Event Simulation], use the state charts to trigger process exceptions)...
  3. You could start with a SD and/or a DES model and selectively turn some entities into agents based on the need for differentiation or autonomy/agency in behavior. Every step you take, you can evaluate to see whether you see something that is new and interesting in the behavior - if not, maybe you need to look at some other aspect…

The changing nature and subtlety of Indications

Back to the Basic Course, Indictations in OOTW are "observable or discernible actions that confirm or deny enemy capabilities and intentions" divided into a hierarchy of:

  • Imminent/Immediate Threat indicators: "threat actions of an immediate nature, both violent and non-violent. These are highly perishable and the emphasis [is] on force protection"
  • Preparatory Threat Indicators: "threat planning which must be done before executing an attack (or other mission)"
  • Secondary or Circumstantial Threat Indicators: "threat activity among the population or the environment"

If it were only so easy. Paramilitaries and autonomous, loosely coupled groups can assemble without the logistics and maneuver tail common to conventional combat forces. And when the adversary's weapons are common task to task, it is difficult to isolate preparatory indicators that tell the analyst "specifically what is being trained or what equipment the threat is being trained to use."

They get it more correct in defining the secondary indicators as the disappearance of things, i.e., things or personnel have gone missing (We love to say that, "The Hole is as good as the Donut.") and "intangibles such as fear or joy among the population." They get it right in noting that the "analysis of secondary indicators [requires] in-depth knowledge of the local culture, habits and customs and must also take into consideration history, society, geography and climate to fully understand their importance or value." And we sent brigade after brigade into Iraq without so much language training as to say hello in Arabic. Worse, units often called their Arab US nationals acting as translators, sand niggers. Whoops.

Part 3 to follow, Too small, too few, too sparse, too irregular, too contextual

Nong Ye
Arizona State University
Final Technical Report
September 2005

An OODA Loop Writ Large - 4GW and the Iraq War
Comment #534
Defense and the National Interest
December 23, 2004

Fourth Generation Warfare & OODA Loop Implications of The Iraqi Insurgency
G.I. Wilson, Greg Wilcox, Chet Richards
December 2004

By Scott K. Swanson
Military Intelligence Corps Association

Homeland Security: Intelligence Indications and Warning
By guest analyst Lt. Col Kenneth A. Luikart, USAF
Strategic Insights, Volume I, Issue 10 (December 2002)

Focusing Intelligence
Part 1 - Formulating useful PIR
Neil Garra
The S2 Company

Focusing Intelligence part 2
Building SORs
Neil Garra
The S2 Company

January 01, 2000

VIRTUAL INTELLIGENCE: Conflict Avoidance and Resolution Through Information Peacekeeping
by Robert David Steele
Virtual Diplomacy, United States Institute of Peace
Washington DC, April, 1997

Toward a Functional Model of Information Warfare
L. Scott Johnson
Studies In Intelligence Vol. 01 No. 1, 1997

State Collapse and Ethnic Violence: Toward a Predictive Model
Pauline H. Baker and John A. Ausink
Parameters, Spring 1996, pp. 19-31

Employment of Indications and Warning Intelligence Methods to Forecast a Potentially Hostile Revolution in Military Affairs.
Brent A. Morgan
SEP 1995

Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course
Fort Huachuca, Arizona 85613-7000
February 1995

Gordon Housworth

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Globally dispersed, indigenously sited communities of terrorists upgrading to locally produced chembio agents


The marriage of John Robb's GLOBAL GUERRILLAS IN THE UK with my Designer bioagents: Why a potential Iranian, or existing Pakistani or DPRK, nuclear weapon does not overly excite me creates the terrorist chembio agent landscape that the UK's head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, has elected to describe in a rare public address.

Manningham-Buller uncloaked to "set out my views on the realities of the terrorist threat facing the UK in 2006; what motivates those who pose that threat; and what my Service is doing, with others, to counter it":
[My] officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1600 identified individuals (and there will be many we don't know) who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas. The extremists are motivated by a sense of grievance and injustice driven by their interpretation of the history between the West and the Muslim world. This view is shared, in some degree, by a far wider constituency. If the opinion polls conducted in the UK since July 2005 are only broadly accurate, over 100,000 of our citizens consider that the July 2005 attacks in London were justified.

What we see at the extreme end of the spectrum are resilient networks, some directed from Al-Qaida in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it, planning attacks including mass casualty suicide attacks in the UK. Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices; tomorrow's threat may include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology. More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the Internet...

We are aware of numerous plots to kill people and to damage our economy. What do I mean by numerous? Five? Ten? No, nearer thirty - that we know of. These plots often have links back to Al-Qaida in Pakistan and through those links Al-Qaida gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers here on an extensive and growing scale. And it is not just the UK of course. Other countries also face a new terrorist threat: from Spain to France to Canada and Germany.

I think Robb appropriate in his observation that:

Dame Eliza's MI5 has identified are clearly the tip the of the iceberg. The dynamics of this model of warfare dictate that for every group identified... there are dozens more in formation or fully functional without direct connections to known sources of danger (without a direct connection to a known terrorist group or individual, it is nearly impossible to differentiate dangerous networks from benign ones). [Furthermore] these groups will:

  • Continue to form under their own steam [more on that below]
  • Increasingly move towards economic and social systems disruption
  • [Increase] Connection to transnational crime
Robb reminds us of earlier English support to anti-Turk Arabs in which the English aided rather than overwhelmed a fluid community that "formed in response to a central premise: to expel the turks from Arabia," exhibited "little formal structure (a nest of relationships)" in which " participants flowed in and out based on their fill of loot, honor, religious fervor, and revenge (benefits of membership..)."

Read the short
A Brief Introduction, Social Network Analysis, then Krebs' Organizational Network Mapping and Uncloaking Terrorist Networks, and if you're still reading along, Ronfeldt and Arquilla's, Networks, Netwars, and the Fight for the Future. In 1996, Krebs noted, "The mantra "It's the connections, stupid!" may be a key in functioning effectively in the new economy." His comments to the Learning Org list often spoke to how incipient leaders emerge and lead, how knowledge and training is disseminated. Even his comments on learning had much to do with social networks as opposed to top down rigid hierarchies:
You learn by becoming a member of the community -- learning is a social activity -- collaborative problem solving[we each bring part of the expertise needed] and apprenticeship. If you destroy the community, you destroy the ability to pass the learning on. Listed below are some of the principles of learning from the Institute for Research on Learning [IRL]:
* Learning is fundamentally social
* Knowledge is integrated in the life of communities
* Learning is an act of membership
* Knowing depends on engagement in practice
* Engagement is inseparable from empowerment
* "Failure" to learn is the result of exclusion from participation

Look at Krebs' community links image of dense connections of "the core leadership of the organization" (yellow), the "active members... tightly connected to the leadership nodes (red), those not "formally connected to the core group [but] actively working on ways [to] connect to the "group"" (blue), and "lurkers and potential members [that] may or may not undertake actions that are in line with group goals" (green).

Predation by the US and Israel on yellow and highly connected red ranks have made large operations more difficult by decentralizing the network. Unfortunately, the opportunity for smaller operations is growing as are the number of potential actors; Deep yellow actors have minimized their signature, acting through human and web proxies, while blue and green actors continue to form autonomous groups capable of independent operations. (Robb feels that the London 7/7 bombers were blue nodes.)

Intersect this informally linked, blue/green learning community, leaping over amateurish efforts to extract Ricin, to produce nerve gas via microfactories or designer biological agents via simple gene splicing:

The countdown to "highly dispersed, easily achieved asymmetrical use of designed bioagents, even "de novo" or newly created biological agents, by multiple actors working independently or in concert tempers" has commenced... The threat of designer bioagents exceeds that of organophosphate (nerve agent) production via miniaturized microfactories, but I expect to see the chemical attacks first as components are already commercially available...

The impact of designer bioagents is so great that it satisfies the superempowerment characteristic of emerging Fifth Generation War:

The range of effect for each individual soldier ( or terrorist) will be vastly increased even as the economic costs are driven down by market forces and proliferation of dual-use technology to the civilian consumer.
It is not infeasible to envision high value metropolitan areas bearing the brunt of multiple agent attacks by unrelated protagonists. We are on the cusp, arguably within the decade, of a diversified 'beneath the radar' capacity to cheaply produce designer bioagents for which the defense community has acknowledged that there is no current workable defense, no means of designing and distributing an appropriate vaccine. (Forget stockpiling as a designer agent may well demand a designed vaccine.) Worse, our labyrinthine bureaucracies will most likely hobble us in attempting to interdict these many agile actors driven by a widening range of grievances.

The difficulty of the US position will increasingly become a global risk:

Within the current [US administration], the largely implicit but powerfully entrenched assumptions are that the danger derives mainly from hostile foreign sources and that it can be managed primarily by controlling access to dangerous pathogens themselves. Understandable and perhaps inevitable as that reaction may be in political and emotional terms, it is highly dysfunctional in terms of scientific reality and will almost certainly intensify the underlying peril...

It is all to easy to agree with Manningham-Buller's assessment:

That threat is serious, is growing and will, I believe, be with us for a generation. It is a sustained campaign, not a series of isolated incidents. It aims to wear down our will to resist.

Part 2, Indications and Warning (I&W)

John Robb
Global Guerrillas
Friday, November 10, 2006

MI5 tracking '30 UK terror plots'
BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 10:46 GMT

Eliza Manningham-Buller profile
BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 10:30 GMT



John Robb
Global Guerrillas
Thursday, July 21, 2005

Uncloaking Terrorist Networks
By Valdis Krebs
First Monday, volume 7, number 4 (April 2002),

Networks, Netwars, and the Fight for the Future
by David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla
First Monday, volume 6, number 10 (October 2001),

Organizational Network Mapping
Tactic #17, Chapter 4
Managing Core Competencies of the Organization
The Advisory Board, 1996

Gordon Housworth

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CENTCOM Indications & Warning (I&W) validate Iraqi civil war: Indications without limit but warning politically ignored


An 18 October, 2006, US Central Command (CENTCOM) Indications & Warning (I&W) summary validates an Iraqi civil war. The only good news one can take from this is that the military is not, and apparently has not been, internally lying to itself over the tracking period of the indicators:

The slide shows Iraq as moving sharply away from "peace," an ideal on the far left side of the chart, to a point much closer to the right side of the spectrum, a red zone marked "chaos." As depicted in the command's chart, the needle has been moving steadily toward the far right of the chart.

An intelligence summary at the bottom of the slide reads "urban areas experiencing 'ethnic cleansing' campaigns to consolidate control" and "violence at all-time high, spreading geographically." According to a Central Command official, the index on civil strife has been a staple of internal command briefings for most of this year. The analysis was prepared by the command's intelligence directorate, which is overseen by Brig. Gen. John M. Custer.

From an analyst's viewpoint, I am saddened to see the I&W produced in PowerPoint instead of as an output from online/original intel but that will be a future note. The "key reads" are:

  • Political/religious leaders increase public hostile rhetoric
  • Political/religious leaders lose moderating influence over constituents
  • Provocative sectarian attacks/assassinations
  • Unorganized spontaneous mass civil conflict

Significant factors moving the "Index of Civil Conflict" toward "chaos" are sectarian violence and militia activity, ineffective and/or infiltrated Iraqi security forces (ISF), lapsing moderating influence of political and religious leaders, and Iraqi administration's declining ability to govern and restore infrastructure. Secondary indicators include "activity by militias, problems with ineffective police, the ability of Iraqi officials to govern effectively, the number of civilians who have been forced to move by sectarian violence, the willingness of Iraqi security forces to follow orders, and the degree to which the Iraqi Kurds are pressing for independence from the central government."

These factors are evaluated to create the index of civil strife, which has registered a steady worsening for months. "Ever since the February attack on the Shiite mosque in Samarra, it has been closer to the chaos side than the peace side," said a Central Command official who asked not to be identified because he was talking about classified information.

These findings track closely to the key findings of the Center for American Progress Action Fund's Progress in Iraq: A 2006 Report Card on the Bush Administration's Iraq Policy:

Iraq today stands between civil war and utter chaos, hardly the hope of a bipartisan majority of 79 U.S. Senators who nearly a year ago called on President Bush to put forward a strategy for "the successful completion of the mission in Iraq"... With fewer than three months remaining in 2006, our third quarter assessment [finds] Iraq on the brink of collapse, with growing violence, increased sectarian tensions and divisions in the Iraqi national government, and few significant advances in Iraq's economic reconstruction... Iraq is a weak and failing state, with tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed and at least two million civil war refugees and internally displaced Iraqis... [The US] has not achieved sufficient progress towards [key goals set out in the November 2005 National Strategy for Victory in Iraq]

1. Security: On the Brink of Total Collapse. Iraq's conflict is now worse than civil war; it's on the brink of total collapse. The country suffers from at least four internal conflicts that risk further spiraling out of control - a Shiite-Sunni civil war in the center, intra-Shiite conflicts in the south, a Sunni insurgency in the west, and ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds in the north. Violence has increased in 2006, and recent estimates of Iraqis killed over the last three and a half years range from 40,000 to several hundred thousand. At least 2 million Iraqis are refugees or have become internally displaced.

2. Political Transition: Divisions Persist, Extremism Rises. Iraq's political transition hangs by a thread. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki introduced a national reconciliation effort that is ongoing. Ethnic and sectarian tensions persist, human rights abuses are endemic, press freedom has faced new restrictions, and women and religious minorities face new threats.

3. Economic Reconstruction: Iraqis Still Lack Basic Services. After spending more than $30 billion of U.S. taxpayer money on reconstruction efforts, Iraq's basic services and key economic indicators lag below pre-war levels. More than 5.6 million Iraqis live below the poverty line.

4. Iraq War's Impact on U.S. National Security. Sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies found that the Iraq has helped Islamist extremists cultivate support around the world. In addition, the war in Iraq has diverted military and intelligence assets from capturing top al-Qaeda leaders and finishing the mission in Afghanistan. The war in Iraq also has weakened U.S. ground forces and undermined the readiness of our armed forces to respond to other crises.

Many in the analyst community, myself included, saw the NSC's Victory in Iraq as little more than a domestic political instrument. The gap between ground truth and administration policy has been stark and widening since at least 2003 despite the many military and independent analyses that pointed to rising damage of a "stay the course" posture whose rhetoric was only dropped in October 2006 unaccompanied by any significant policy redirection.

Taking my own turn in 2004 at divining the entrails of the Iraqi goat, factored by my own experience in the Middle East, I saw an Iraqi polity and resistance that was squarely at odds with a Neocon vision:

Here are some items that have resonated with me:

I highly recommend a 2004 Iraqi briefing produced by three retired 4GW experts, Wilson (Marines), Wilcox (Army) and Richards (AF), that was built around Boyd's OODA loop in which the warfighter must Observe the environment, Orient to similarities with and differences from past understanding, Decide what to do, then Act. Grossman makes a good intro to this OODA application to Iraq, noting that their presentation rose from a September 2003 talk that one of the authors made to an IW conference. It is galling to see such good analysis and recommendations go wanting.

The briefing recommends the development of "a coherent grand strategy" to "ensure that success in combat does not repel the [local] population, potential allies, the uncommitted or even ourselves." At this level... even agility in orientation is not as important as "adherence to the values we claim to espouse." Examples might include giving increased priority to protecting the local population with police and security officers, cultivating indigenous support for and participation in development and reconstruction projects, and ensuring operations adhere to established international law...

Fallows notes that the trio:

use a broad combination of "hard" and "soft" measures to weaken the insurgents, reduce their propaganda advantage, and turn the population against them. The report... emphasizes that any one approach in isolation is likely to fail. It draws on a concept introduced in 1999 by General Charles Krulak, then the commandant of the Marine Corps, about the need to pursue several different kinds of warfare all-out and all at once. To defeat insurgents, Krulak said, the United States must simultaneously launch ambitious humanitarian and reconstruction efforts; use its advanced weaponry selectively when enemy forces decide to stand and fight; and aggressively deploy small, independent teams of specialized anti-insurgent operators who would constitute a kind of American guerrilla force. The last step would represent the greatest departure from standard hierarchical American practice. Indeed, Krulak called his concept "The Strategic Corporal," with the idea that the war would turn on the skill and cunning of privates and corporals on both sides.

There is a lesson for those who would freely bomb and/or invade Iran in Desert Crossing, a declassified 1999 wargame of an invasion of Iraq which "suggests we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground:

  • A change in regimes does not guarantee stability... A number of factors including aggressive neighbors, fragmentation along religious and/or ethnic lines, and chaos created by rival forces bidding for power could adversely affect regional stability.
  • Even when civil order is restored and borders are secured, the replacement regime could be problematic _ especially if perceived as weak, a puppet, or out-of-step with prevailing regional governments.
  • Iran's anti-Americanism could be enflamed by a U.S.-led intervention in Iraq... The influx of U.S. and other western forces into Iraq would exacerbate worries in Tehran, as would the installation of a pro-western government in Baghdad.
  • The debate on post-Saddam Iraq also reveals the paucity of information about the potential and capabilities of the external Iraqi opposition groups. The lack of intelligence concerning their roles hampers U.S. policy development.
  • Also, some participants believe that no Arab government will welcome the kind of lengthy U.S. presence that would be required to install and sustain a democratic government.
  • A long-term, large-scale military intervention may be at odds with many coalition partners.

Two senior analysts from the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, have accurately forecast the declining Iraqi situation in 2003 and 2005. Prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2003, Crane and Terrill warned that an invasion would likely be a military win followed by a political loss, that Debaathification and disbanding of the constituted Iraqi armed forces would be disastrous, US actions would alienate a broad spectrum of Iraqis, armed resistance would grow and political stability would be difficult to achieve.

In 2005, Terrill and Crane stated that it was "unlikely" that the US could "crush the insurgency prior to the beginning of a phased U.S. and coalition withdrawal," that the US would have to accept a modestly stable undemocratic state in preference to civil war (moreover, "U.S. vital interests have never demanded a democratic state in Iraq before 2003"), that it was not at all certain that the US could field viable, self-sustaining Iraqi police and military "no matter how long U.S. forces remain," that sectarian militias were more likely, and that a phased withdrawal timetable will end Iraqi cooperation with the US as Iraqis ally themselves with insurgents, Baathists and militias. The only value proffered in a timetable was a covert US resignation of a dying administration.

Just recently Zbigniew Brzezinski coined "blame and run" in this 28 October, 2006, interview:

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Now, suppose [benchmarks against timetable are] not met. They're not likely to be met in total. So we're going to be in this vague situation a year from now and maybe even 18 months from now. Killings are continuing; Americans are still dying. Some benchmarks are being met; some are not being met. What do we do then? Now, there are two alternatives: either staying the course without saying it, which means more of the same mess; or perhaps blame and run, not cut and run, but blame and run.
JIM LEHRER: Blame the Maliki government and say...
JIM LEHRER: ... he didn't meet the benchmarks, we're out of here?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: You didn't meet the benchmarks, therefore, you leave. And I think we have to start thinking very seriously about alternative strategies, and I think blame and run is not a good strategy. I have serious reservations about the notion of partitioning Iraq, because if you partition Iraq, we are going to be carving up the country and being stuck in it at the same time, because we'll be drawing the boundaries, and then we'll have to enforce these boundaries, because they'll be contended.

While ordinary Iraqis cannot run, and our troops in Iraq cannot run quickly, the Neocon aristocracy is bolting and blaming, denying that their agenda was ever at fault, that it was problems by Condi Rice, the military. Rose's interviews in Neo Culpa make sad reading as does Filkins' Where Plan A Left Ahmad Chalabi.

Writing in 2002, Anthony Cordesman framed the magnitude of effort in successful I&W:

Ever since the beginning of the Cold War, the United States has conducted postcrisis indications-and-warning reviews. Some have produced scapegoats, and some have led to significant improvements in "I&W" capabilities. In general, however, indications and warning analysis has simply kept pace with the evolution of threat techniques. The probability that any post-Afghanistan improvement in indications and warning will be enough to prevent all future attacks from succeeding is probably near zero...

[It] seems highly doubtful that improvements in intelligence can markedly improve the prospect for warnings of future wars or major terrorist attacks over what was possible before 11 September. The United States had long seen al-Qa'ida as an enemy and had blocked several previous attacks. The 11 September attacks succeeded because al-Qa'ida changed its methods, produced an unusually expert group of attackers, and was lucky. As has been noted previously, it seems likely that future attackers will also innovate and that some will be highly professional, or at least lucky.

I predict that the 2007 Who lost Iraq? debate will rival the Who lost China? debate that went on for a decade after the People's Republic was declared on 21 September, 1949, thrashing a Democratic administration, the State Department's China Hands and energizing Joseph McCarthy.

Part 2: Indications & Warning

Where Plan A Left Ahmad Chalabi
New York Times
November 5, 2006

1999 War Games Foresaw Problems in Iraq
The Associated Press
November 5, 2006; 2:45 AM

Post-Saddam Iraq: The War Game
"Desert Crossing" 1999 Assumed 400,000 Troops and Still a Mess
Introduced by Roger Strother
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 207
Posted - November 4, 2006

Neo Culpa
Vanity Fair Exclusive: Now They Tell Us
by David Rose
November 3, 2006

"Iraq War Sapping U.S. Influence in Lebanon," Landis interview with Gwertzman of CFR
Interviewee: Joshua Landis; Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor CFR
Syria Comment
November 3, 2006

Military Charts Movement of Conflict in Iraq Toward Chaos
New York Times
November 1, 2006

Iraqi Realities Undermine the Pentagon's Predictions
New York Times
October 25, 2006

President Bush Calls Iraq Violence a 'Serious Concern'
Jim Lehrer interviews Zbigniew Brzezinski
October 25, 2006

Progress in Iraq: A 2006 Report Card on the Bush Administration's Iraq Policy
Larry Korb and Brian Katulis
Center for American Progress Action Fund
October 24, 2006

Bush Drops 'Stay The Course' Phrase
But White House Rejects Calls For Dramatic Policy Shift In Iraq
CBS News
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2006

Precedents, Variables, and Options in Planning a U.S. Military Disengagement Strategy from Iraq
W. Andrew Terrill, Conrad C. Crane
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
ISBN 1-58487-220-9
October 2005

Getting Out Right
Warnings from many experts went unheeded before we entered Iraq. Let's listen as we prepare to "shape the exit"
by James Fallows
Atlantic Monthly
April 2005

Out of the Ordinary: Finding Hidden Threats by Analyzing Unusual Behavior
John Hollywood, Diane Snyder, Kenneth McKay, John Boon
ISBN 0-8330-3520-7

An OODA Loop Writ Large - 4GW and the Iraq War
Comment #534
Defense and the National Interest
December 23, 2004

Fourth Generation Warfare & OODA Loop Implications of The Iraqi Insurgency
G.I. Wilson, Greg Wilcox, Chet Richards
December 2004

The Rush to Invade Iraq: The Ultimate Inside Account
by Bryan Burrough, Evgenia Peretz, David Rose, and David Wise
Vanity Fair
May 2004

Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario
Conrad C. Crane, W. Andrew Terrill
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
ISBN 1-58487-112-1
February 2003

Anthony H. Cordesman
Naval War College Review, Summer 2002, Vol. LV, No. 3

Gordon Housworth

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Hezbollah used Chinese cluster bombs as China benefits from its cluster bomb clearance of Israeli-dropped US cluster bombs


The intersection of Information Operations, vibrant nonstate newsagents reporting in near real-time, asymmetrical access to advanced technology - cluster munitions in this case, 4GW combat intermingling military and civilian actors, military strategy and execution created a near perfect storm in which states like China, India and Pakistan, not to mention statelets as Hezbollah, are seen as conservators and rebuilders of Lebanon while Israel and its US patron are seen as wanton, thoughtless killers of its civilians.

Use and aftermath of cluster munitions in Lebanon are a special case of the general condition covered in the series:

[O]ne of the cheapest air-delivered weapons available… [all] cluster weapons consist of two primary elements: a container or dispenser; and submunitions, often called bomblets. The container can be a purpose-constructed bomb casing released from an aircraft, missile, rocket or artillery projectile which carry submunitions towards the target area and incorporate a system to release them close to or above the target area. It may also be a re-useable dispenser attached to an aircraft and designed to release the submunitions close to or above the target area. These cluster weapons encompass the whole range of submunition types and, especially in the case of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), have the capacity to blanket large areas of territory with bomblets or mines from considerable distances. Submunitions or bomblets are explosive projectiles, which normally incorporate some design feature allowing them to separate and spread as they are dispensed from the container/dispenser in order to achieve the optimum ground coverage.

Submunitions form four main categories: antipersonnel (fragmentation); antimateriel (explosion and/or shaped charge); Combined Effects Munition (CEM) combining antipersonnel, antimateriel and incendiary; and landmines (antipersonnel or antitank). The downside to being cheap in relation to the dispersal area covered is the very high number of UXO (unexploded ordnance) or duds (5% to 25+% due to manufacture; movement, aging and storage; loading, flight and landings; and ground impact) and the de facto "indiscriminate" pattern when noncombatants are in the intended or accidental dispersal area:

Military experts recognize that unexploded cluster bombs transform themselves into landmines. A South African army officer at the Certain Conventional Weapons conference in Vienna in October 1995 completed the sentence of a nongovernmental representative in revealing fashion. The NGO representative was speaking about unexploded "bombies" in Laos. "When they don't explode on contact," began the NGO representative, ". . .they become mines," finished the officer.

A quick look through this photo gallery shows how hard it is to detect many bomblets, while others are painted yellow and are immediately attractive to children as "toys":

A U.S. military service procedures report on unexploded ordnance corroborates the S.A. officer's statement, noting: "Although UXO is not a mine, UXO hazards pose problems similar to mines concerning both personnel safety and the movement and maneuver of forces on the battlefield." Reports from the Gulf War underscore this claim. For example, "When US Marine Corps forces attempted a night assault against Iraqi-occupied Kuwait International Airport, they reportedly were held up, not by fierce resistance, but by unexploded coalition cluster-bomb submunitions and mines."

It is not as if cluster munitions have not been used previously, and widely: Laos and Vietnam (Vietnam War), Iraq (Desert Strom and OIF), Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Yugoslavia/Kosovo, Chechnya, Colombia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Lebanon (commencing in 1970s with Israel's first incursion to oust the PLO), Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Turkey and elsewhere:

During the air war carried out between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. executed more than 580,000 bombing missions over Laos. Some 2.3 million tons of bombs, a large percentage of them cluster bombs, were dropped, making Laos the most heavily bombed country in the world. On average, a plane load of bombs was dropped every eight minutes, around the clock, for nine years...

In the first gulf war, U.S. planes dropped more than 24 million submunitions on Iraq, leaving roughly 1.2 million duds which resulted in over 1,600 Kuwaiti and Iraqi civilian deaths and an additional 2,500 injured following the war. The cost of clearing these duds and other unexploded ordnance was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 1995 in Bosnia, U.S. military officers reportedly banned the use of cluster bombs because they were seen to present an unacceptable risk to civilians. However, 3 years later, during the NATO air campaign in Yugoslavia, U.S., British and Dutch military aircraft dropped more than 295,000 submunitions. The U.N. Mine Action Coordination Center estimated that more than 20,000 live bomblets remained after the war, and the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that in the year following the war there were 151 reported casualties due to cluster bombs.

The U.S. Air Force has used cluster bombs in Afghanistan, where, predictably, they have caused the deaths of innocent civilians. Additionally, the appearance of the yellow bomblets bore a remarkable similarity to food aid parcels being airdropped. Civilians searching for food instead have found a hidden death. Also, the bright yellow of the bomblets attracted children, who thought it might be a toy.

How few outside the combat areas complained even as those in the target areas suffer terribly. Operating in the 807th MASH unit in Desert Shield, Brian Ginn chronicled their first civilian cluster bomb deaths in March 1991:

The first civilian cluster bomb victim died today. It was a child. These insidious bombs were sprinkled all over the desert. Despite numerous warnings to the contrary, people could not leave them alone. They seemed to be drawn to them, almost mystically.

The devastation they caused on explosion was unbelievable. Shrapnel flew everywhere. Limbs were severed by the force of detonation. Massive abdominal bleeding and pulmonary pressure wounds occurred.

Even innocent bystanders far from the point of the blast ended up with shrapnel injuries. All these patients needed surgery, whether to halt internal bleeding and complete partial amputations in the severe cases, or just to clean and debride the wounds in the case of those less severely injured.

The number of patients exceeded our modest abilities, so we improvised and moved some of the less seriously ill and injured into the medical supply tent. Fifty patients were treated and more continued to arrive, along with their families. Three children were admitted with flash burns, and again our need for a pediatric specialist showed. Civilian casualties from unexploded ordnance and ammunition continued to arrive daily.

Cluster bombs were extensively used by NATO forces in Kosovo in 1999 against Serbian assets (which Serbia vociferously objected even as they used cluster munitions against the Kosovars):

By late April [1999], the [LA Times and AFP] were reporting on the extensive damage done by cluster bombs in Kosovo. Dr. Rade Grbic, a surgeon and director of the main hospital in Pristina, reported an unprecedented number of amputations as a result of the bombs. Through a translator, he stated that:

I have been an orthopedist for 15 years now, working in a crisis region where we often have injuries, but neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen such horrific wounds as those caused by cluster bombs.... They are wounds that lead to disabilities to a great extent. The limbs are so crushed that the only remaining option is amputation. It's awful, awful.... Most people are victims of the time-activated cluster bombs that explode sometime after they fall.... People think it's safe, and then they get hurt.... There are villages here where large portions of the area cannot be accessed because of a large number of unexploded cluster bombs.... Even when all of this is over, it will be a big problem because no one knows the exact number of unexploded bombs.

Dr. Grbic reported that Pristina's hospital treated between 300 and 400 people wounded by cluster bombs, roughly half of those victims civilians. He also said that because the number does not include those killed by the bombs, and only covers the area of Pristina, the casualty toll is almost certainly higher.

Lebanon is different:

  • Lebanon is not remote but central to all frontline states in the Levant.
  • Israel is involved, as is Hezbollah, and so is at the center of Arab, and increasingly Muslim, attention.
  • The battlespace is different, compact and often urbanized such that combatant and noncombatant operate side by side (often by design on the part of Hezbollah so that Israeli counterfire injures noncombatants and inflames local sentiments against Israel).
  • Civilian technology is different in that noncombatants have their own means of reporting, e.g., weblogs, camera-phones and cellphones, that make the battlespace porous in terms of information control and shaping.
  • Hezbollah is mastering Information Operations vastly better than the Israelis and the US such that their excesses are shrouded while those of the Israelis are painted in vibrant hues.

John Rendon of The Rendon Group is said to have insisted that "information is terrain and someone will occupy it, either the adversary, a third party, or US."

The most important concept to remember about IO is that it is not a weapon per se; it is a process. IO is a way of thinking about relationships. IO is an enabler, a "source multiplier," a tool that increases one’s ability to shape the operational environment. It is a planning methodology, which supports the strategic, operational and tactical use of traditional military forces. It is also a strategy, a campaign, and a process that is supported by traditional military forces. IO does this by using planning tools to synchronize, synergize, and deconflict activities as well as enabling the horizontal integration of these activities across the interagency spectrum.

Information Operations is essential to the future of warfare even as the "warfare area is changing the way that the military is organized and how it conducts operations in the information age":

Information operations (IO) are described as the integrated employment of electronic warfare (EW), computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC), in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.

Now the cluster bomb story - merely different actors but the same story of grief - shoots across the Muslim world as well as penetrating into the Western high street press where it had only been in the specialist press of the committed collectors such as Human Rights Watch:

Suddenly a strange object caught Sikna’s eye. It was small, round and metallic, with a tip that looked like a cigarette end. She picked it up to show her cousins. Marwa and Hassan remembered warnings not to touch strange objects. "It’s one of those bombs," one of the children cried. Sikna panicked and dropped the cluster bomb, which exploded instantly.

"Hassan was flung about two to three metres and I flew to the other side," she said, speaking slowly in her hospital bed. "I was on the ground with blood coming out of my stomach and I started to cry and scream. My stomach was making a funny noise as if it was whistling."

Doctors discovered later that shards of metal had penetrated her liver. While Marwa received relatively minor injuries, Hassan was wounded in the abdomen. "My intestine came out and I held it and began to run, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest)," said Hassan. "I collapsed, my uncle picked me up and they took us to hospital."

Like Sikna, he spent two days in intensive care. Both children are struggling to comprehend what happened. "They left us toys that will kill us," said Hassan blankly.

Part 2 to follow, Impact and aftermath of cluster bomb employment by Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon

Lebanon/Israel: Hezbollah Hit Israel with Cluster Munitions During Conflict
First Confirmed Use of Weapon Type
Human Rights News, HRW
Jerusalem, October 19, 2006

Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW): First Look at Israel’s Use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon in July-August 2006
Briefing Delivered by Steve Goose, Director of Human Rights Watch Arms Division, at the Fifteenth Meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts
Human Rights News, HRW
Geneva, Switzerland
30 August 2006

Cluster bombs leave ‘toys’ that kill children
Hala Jaber, Yuhmur, South Lebanon
The Sunday Times (UK)
August 27, 2006

Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon
Israel Must Not Use Indiscriminate Weapons
Human Rights News, HRW
Beirut, July 24, 2006

Information Operations
Joint Publication 3-13
13 February 2006

Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq
Human Rights Watch
HRW Index No.: 1564322939
December 12, 2003
Full report PDF

Mapped: The lethal legacy of cluster bombs
September 11, 2003

Floor Statement of Sen. Patrick Leahy on the use of Cluster Bombs and Landmines in Iraq
Patrick Leahy
US Senate
April 10, 2003

Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and Their Use by the United States in Afghanistan
Human Rights Watch
Vol. 14, No. 7 (G)
December 2002

Landmines: War's Lingering Menace
Vietnam Passage, PBS
May 2002

By Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall, Lt Col, USAF
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
April 2002
Note: Readers should be aware that the US has failed to deliver the information dominance in Arab/Muslim minds that this author had outlined. The reality is bluntly the reverse.

Information Operations: The Hard Reality of Soft Power
Joint Command, Control and Information Warfare School
Joint Forces Staff College, NDU, 2002

Above the Law and Below Morality: Data on 11 Weeks of US Cluster-Bombing of Afghanistan
Marc W. Herold
Cursor, Feb.1, 2002

CLUSTER BOMBS: The military effectiveness and impact on civilians of cluster munitions
By Rae McGrath, edited by Richard Lloyd
Commissioned by The UK Working Group on Landmines and Mennonite Central Committee US
UK Working Group on Landmines
ISBN 0-9536717-1-2
August 2000

Cluster Bomb Use in the Yugoslavia/Kosovo War
By Virgil Wiebe
Mennonite Central Committee
June 1999
Original scrolled off

Drop Today, Kill Tomorrow: Cluster Munitions as Inhumane and Indiscriminate Weapons
Prepared by Virgil Wiebe, Titus Peachey
from the Mennonite Central Committee
June 1999 [first published December 1997]
Original off line
Mirror in html

807th MASH Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm 'Restore to Serve'
Brian Ginn, 1995
Original no longer active
Mirror as: 807th MASH, Mar. 1991 - Jun. 1991

Operation Desert Storm: Casualties caused by the improper handling of unexploded US submunitions
August 1993

Gordon Housworth

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Tangible statistical evidence of the long denied civil war in Iraq


Numbers of dead - even directional if not exact, who caused those deaths - and who did not, and the means by which death was inflicted are excellent measures to evaluate causal conditions of war, i.e., while they are necessary but not sufficient indicators of root cause they can, by process of elimination, point us to root cause. For example, deaths in Iraq due to, say, aerial attack would point to coalition forces as its cause while deaths due to thermobaric weapons (offering near-nuclear effects in confined spaces) could either be coalition forces or insurgents employing say, Russian, Ukrainian or Czech weapons flowing through friendly states or purchased through the global arms market. Deaths due to car bombs or IEDs point to insurgent/jihadist sources while deaths due to small arms fire could be any participant.

The recently released, and incandescently received, 2006 survey, Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey and the earlier 2004 Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey , both in The Lancet, has offered this observer the first concrete statistical corroboration of an inter-Iraqi civil war, long denied by the US and Iraqi administrations, that is distinct from coalition activity to suppress an admittedly robust and rising insurgency

Absolute numbers aside, directional differences between the two surveys show that causes of Iraqi deaths shifted from primarily coalition aerial action, with victims among adult males, children and women, to primarily non-coalition-caused gunshots, IEDs and explosions, with an overwhelming number of adult males with few children and women. While deaths due to coalition action continue to rise in absolute terms, those deaths are dwarfed by deaths due to actions by Iraqi nationals. Iraqi-on-Iraqi, Sunni on Shia, and Shia upon Sunni predation have become the major causes of death, and have ramped significantly in 2005-2006.

The singular implication of that analysis in concert with years of obvious, rising anecdotal violent death data is that Iraq is firmly in a state of civil war.

As this note was going to release, there are waves of retaliatory Reprisals between Shias and Sunnis, calls to halt the sectarian government, and a "bloc of Sunni insurgent groups marked the [one-year anniversary of a referendum on a U.S.-backed constitution] by declaring a separate Islamic republic in Iraq, stretching from the western province of Anbar to Baghdad, Kirkuk and other parts of the north" as it noted the "creation of a separate Kurdish republic in northern Iraq and a push by some Shiite parties for a separate republic in the south":

Anthony Cordesman, an analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said by telephone: "If you total up the number of people that are being killed, that are being wounded, that are being displaced and are being forced to leave the country, and the zones in which there is major civil conflict . . . trying to declare there isn't a civil war borders on the absurd."

What the data tells me about civil war in Iraq

2004: Cause of violent death was overwhelmingly due to coalition action.

Results were calculated with and without data from Falluja, ultimately excluding Falluja data given the intense combat operations there. From cluster data, 46 deaths were reported prior to March 2003 and 142 deaths post invasion, Of the 73 violent deaths, 84% were due to coallition action and of those, 95% were due to helicopter gunships, aerial bombardment, artillery and other forms of aerial weaponry. 46% of violent deaths involving coalition forces were men ages 15 to 60, but 46% were children younger than 15, and 7% were women.

2006: Cause of violent death overwhelmingly shifted to non-coalition action.

Coalition caused deaths now drops to 26% for June 2005 to June 2006, with 30% by other fighters, and 44% undetermined. Causes of death from 302 deaths show 56% gunshot, 14% ordnance explosion, 13% car bomb, 13% aerial attack, 2% unknown violent and 2% accident. Most of the deaths are of military-age men, undifferentiated between civilians, insurgents and Iraqi security forces:

Of the deaths reported by the study population since 2003:

  • 92% were from violent causes, more than half from gunshots.
  • Only about a third of violent deaths were attributed to actions by coalition forces.
  • The percentage of violent deaths attributed to coalition action has fallen, though the absolute number of deaths per year from that cause has climbed.
  • Men and boys aged between 15 and 44 accounted for 59% of violent deaths, despite making up just 24% of the population.
  • Despite disruptions in sanitation and health care, death from non-violent causes do not appear to have climbed significantly.

The chart accompanying this NYT piece offers a useful graphic rendering of the shift between 2004 and 2006. The 2006 study indicates that civilian death estimates are in line with the Vietnam War and other conflicts. The interpretation of the 2006 report states:

The number of people dying in Iraq has continued to escalate. The proportion of deaths ascribed to coalition forces has diminished in 2006, although the actual numbers have increased every year. Gunfire remains the most common cause of death, although deaths from car bombing have increased.

I take the next step in interpreting this pattern as civil war divorced from coalition action.

Shooting the messenger (again): attacking the survey method to blunt the message

Cluster sampling is the 'gold standard' of epidemiological research and of determining mortality rates in areas where infrastructure collapse degrades surveyor access or where local security cannot protect the surveyors.

The same cluster sampling survey methodology used in the Johns Hopkins 2004 and 2006 surveys has been used in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (here, here and here), Kosovo (here and here) and in Darfur (here and here) without dispute. Even when Burnham and others were investigating Iraqi small arms usage there had been no complaint. The only occasions where the methodology has been attacked are the two Iraqi casualty surveys where parochial and political interests have an intense interest in discrediting its results.

Both surveys were criticized for predicting higher casualty figures than that tabulated from bodies reported, but such tabulation is difficult in a culture that requires burial in a day, many areas are remote to authority and hostile to investigators, and Iraqi government has closed public posting of morgue lists.

The 2004 survey by Johns Hopkins and the Al Mustansiriya University estimated more 100,000 Iraqi deaths from all causes, excluding Falluja households to gauge mortality rates:

[Roberts and Burnham's] regular technique is to estimate total mortality by personal surveys of a sample of the households in the area under study; this method being chosen in order to avoid the undercounting inherent in using only reported deaths in areas so chaotic that many deaths are unreported, and to include those deaths not directly attributable to violence but nevetheless the result of the conflict through indirect means, such as contamination of water supply or unavailability of medical care. The baseline mortality rate calculated from the interviewees' reports for the period prior to the conflict is subtracted from that reported during the conflict, to estimate the excess mortality which may be attributed to the presence of the conflict, directly or indirectly. This technique has been accepted uncritically in the previous mortality surveys [as noted above].

Because of the impracticality of carrying out an evenly distributed survey, particularly during a war, Roberts' surveys use "cluster sampling", dividing the area into a number of randomly-selected, approximately equally-populated regions; a random point is chosen within each region, and a fixed number of the households closest to that point are surveyed as a "cluster". While not as accurate as an evenly distributed survey of the same number of households, this technique is more accurate than merely surveying one household for each selected point.

Interestingly, Burnham is the lead course faculty for Johns Hopkins' Quality Assurance Management Methods for Developing Countries program, has substantive experience in humanitarian and health development programs in what I would call challenged areas of the globe, and is one that would not be expected to use dodgy methods.

The only 'criticism' of the 2004 report that I recommend to readers is that of Jack Straw, then UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. While it also relies on the other lower numbers as its principle defense, it was the only one that addressed the uncertainties in the survey and, in the process, offers information about the Iraqi condition. It shames all commentary from the US administration on either the 2004 or 2006 surveys.

The OECD defines Cluster sampling (Échantillonnage par conglomerats) as:

When the basic sampling unit in the population is to be found in groups or clusters, e.g. human beings in households, the sampling is sometimes carried out by selecting a sample of clusters and observing all the members of each selected cluster.

Readers can get a quick Wiki intro but are recommended to Description and comparison of the methods of cluster sampling and lot quality assurance sampling to assess immunization coverage:

In a cluster sample, the population is divided into non-overlapping subpopulations usually based on geographic or political boundaries. For a simple cluster sample, a random sample of subpopulations (clusters) is obtained and, within each selected cluster, each subject is sampled. More often, a two-stage cluster sample design is used where a random sample of clusters is selected and, within each cluster, a random sample of subjects. The two-stage design can be expanded into a multi-stage one, in which samples of clusters are selected within previously selected clusters. A benefit of this type of cluster sample is that a list of the units in the population is only needed for those clusters that are selected…

Statisticians go here.

The 2006 survey claims a 95% certainty in its prediction that "the number of Iraqis killed violently during the war ranges from 426,369 to 793,663" with a probable value of 601,027 having "suffered violent deaths since the March 2003 invasion." Worse, their data indicates that Iraq had become more violent in 2005-2006.

Criticism devolves, again, to the fact that its figures are "out of whack with every other estimate" rather than a realistic examination of the survey methodology. The comparison figures are based on notoriously unreliable data from the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Baghdad morgue:

The Johns Hopkins researchers said methods that relied on morgue data or news reports may be inaccurate and undercount the deaths. Paul Bolton, an associate professor at the Boston University School of Public Health who reviewed the study at the behest of the authors, said official statistics were often less reliable than surveys. "Most of the time people would trust a random sample more than they would any kind of official reporting or official statistic," Bolton said. "Often we use this type of study to check if the official statistics are accurate."

Regarding the 2006 survey, Human Rights Watch (which had initially criticized the 2004 report, saying that its casualty projections were high and that HRW data indicated that fatalities were due more to ground action than aerial attack) said that its "group had no reason to question the accuracy of the new survey" and "If there is surprise about the size of the figure, it has more to do with our existing death tolls… The conventional wisdom is based on shoddy information." Just as in the response to the 2004 survey, a Pentagon spokesman said that "the U.S. took care to avoid civilian casualties, whereas insurgents deliberately targeted civilians" and "referred questions on civilian deaths to the Iraqi Health Ministry."

Burnham notes that "This clearly is a much higher number than many people have been thinking about… It shows the violence has spread across the country." Burnham stated that "the researchers' intent wasn't "to try to find a precise number" and, in a conference call with reporters, added, "If it turns out that we were able to do a much bigger study and we found that the death rate was 580,000 that would be essentially the same magnitude as what we're turning up here."

Burnham says that he expected criticism due to the implicit indictment of US and UK claims of war-related deaths and the political implications of coalition actions or inactions in the rising death toll. Lost in the criticism of both the 2004 and 2006 surveys is the fact that Johns Hopkins had originally expected to find that health and environmental issues were leading causes of death, not hostile action.

Dozens Of Iraqis Killed in Reprisals
River Towns Trade Sectarian Strikes As Militias Move In
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin
Washington Post
October 16, 2006

A deadly Iraqi numbers game
By Sanjay Suri
Asia Times
Oct 13, 2006

Survey says 600,000 have died in Iraq war
By Clive Cookson, Science Editor, and Steve Negus, Iraq Correspondent
Financial Times
Published: October 11 2006 17:37 | Last updated: October 11 2006 17:37

Study Puts War's Iraqi Death Tally at More Than 600,000
The research team was criticized for its high estimates two years ago, and it again draws flak.
By Julian E. Barnes
LA Times
October 11, 2006

Iraqi Dead May Total 600,000, Study Says
New York Times
October 11, 2006

Death Toll of Iraqis Exceeds 600,000, Report Says (Update2)
By Nadine Elsibai
Oct. 11, 2006 - Last Updated: October 11, 2006 12:54 EDT

Enormous death toll of Iraq invasion revealed
Debora MacKenzie news service
13:32 11 October 2006

Huge Iraqi death estimate sparks controversy
Authors of study deny accusations of political bias.
Jim Giles
Published online: 11 October 2006

Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey
Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, Les Roberts
The Lancet
Published Online October 11, 2006

Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a nationwide survey
Benjamin Coghlan, Richard J Brennan, Pascal Ngoy, David Dofara, Brad Otto, Mark Clements, Tony Stewart
Lancet 2006; Vol 367: 44–51
January 7, 2006

Data Shows Faster-Rising Death Toll Among Iraqi Civilians
New York Times
July 14, 2005

Darfur: Counting the Deaths
Mortality Estimates from Multiple Survey Data
Debarati Guha-Sapir, Olivier Degomme with Mark Phelan
Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)
University of Louvain, School of Public Health
May 26, 2005

Iraq Living Conditions Survey 2004
Volume II: Analytical Report
Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology
Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation, Baghdad, Iraq
UNDP, First published in 2005

The Role of Small Arms during the 2003–2004 Conflict in Iraq
By Riyadh Lafta, Les Roberts, Richard Garfield, Gilbert Burnham
A Working Paper of the Small Arms Survey

Chapter 5 Cluster Sampling
Lecture Notes, Semester 2, 2005
620-374: Sample Survey Section
University of Melbourne

Disasters: Introduction and State of the Art
Eric K. Noji
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington, DC
Epidemiologic Reviews
Volume 27, Number 1. pp 3-8, doi:10.1093/epirev/mxi007
accepted for publication March 18, 2005

Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Results from a Nationwide Survey
Conducted April - July 2004
Reported by Ben Coghlan, Rick Brennan Pascal Ngoy, David Dofara, Brad Otto, Tony Stewart
International Rescue Committee
December 2004

Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey
Roberts L, Lafta R, Garfield R, Khudhairi J, Burnham G
The Lancet - Vol. 364, Issue 9448, 20 November 2004, Pages 1857-1864
PMID: 15555665 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Note: This abstract also points to a series of comments and author replies
Full Text Mirror
2nd Full Text Mirror

Iraq (Casualty Estimates)
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw)
17 November, 2004

100,000 Civilian Deaths Estimated in Iraq
By Rob Stein
Washington Post
October 29, 2004

Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
October 28, 2004

Horrific death toll in Darfur revealed
12:41 01 October 2004 news service
Katharine Davis

Retrospective Mortality Survey Among the Internally Displaced Population, Greater Darfur, Sudan, August 2004
World Health Organization
European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training
15 September 2004

Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Results from a Nationwide Survey
Conducted September November 2002
by Les Roberts, Pascal Ngoy, Colleen Mone, Charles Lubula, Luc Mwezse, Mariana Zantop, Michael Despines
International Rescue Committee
Reported April 2003

Kosovo Living Standards Measurement Study Survey 2000
Poverty and Human Resources
Development Research Group
The World Bank
October 2001

Description and comparison of the methods of cluster sampling and lot quality assurance sampling to assess immunization coverage
by Stacy Hoshaw-Woodard, Ph.D
Center for Biostatistics, The Ohio State University
World Health Organization, Geneva
WHO/V&B/01.26, 2001

War and mortality in Kosovo, 199899: an epidemiological testimony
Paul Spiegel, Peter Salama
International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Lancet, Volume 355, Issue 9222, Pages 2204-2209
PMID: 10881894 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

The Rapid Assessment of Health Problems in Refugee and Displaced Populations
Michael J. Toole, M.D.
Medicine & Global Survival (M&GS) 1994;1:200-207

Gordon Housworth

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Designer bioagents: Why a potential Iranian, or existing Pakistani or DPRK, nuclear weapon does not overly excite me


Watching the countdown to highly dispersed, easily achieved asymmetrical use of designed bioagents, even "de novo" or newly created biological agents, by multiple actors working independently or in concert tempers my risk calculus of one or a few nuclear events. It is not infeasible to envision high value metropolitan areas bearing the brunt of multiple agent attacks by unrelated protagonists. We are on the cusp, arguably within the decade, of a diversified 'beneath the radar' capacity to cheaply produce designer bioagents for which the defense community has acknowledged that there is no current workable defense, no means of designing and distributing an appropriate vaccine. (Forget stockpiling as a designer agent may well demand a designed vaccine.) Worse, our labyrinthine bureaucracies will most likely hobble us in attempting to interdict these many agile actors driven by a widening range of grievances.

The threat of designer bioagents exceeds that of organophosphate (nerve agent) production via miniaturized microfactories, but I expect to see the chemical attacks first as components are already commercially available. See my earlier Manufacturing efficiency gives rise to a new arms race: convergence of legitimate pharma-chemical, illicit drug, and CW/BW agent.

The Long War (extended 4GW of indefinite duration), or the Wide War (many simultaneous locations), which has morphed from the GWOT, contains an unrealistic timeframe, i.e., we do not have the time implied to defeat our adversaries using current methods and tools. Consider the asymmetrical victory that Hezbollah inflicted on Israel using conventional, even simplistic means; a major regional power possessing excellent air dominance, tactical air and artillery - including counter-battery fire, mechanized infantry and armor capacity was beaten by anti-tank missiles, IEDs, snipers, simple rockets (RPGs, Qassams and Katyushas), local knowledge, bunkers, weapons dispersal and motivation.

The impact of designer bioagents is so great that it satisfies a characteristic of emerging Fifth Generation War, that of superempowerment:

Superempowerment: The range of effect for each individual soldier ( or terrorist) will be vastly increased even as the economic costs are driven down by market forces and proliferation of dual-use technology to the civilian consumer.

I agree with John Robb's assertion that "we are in a phase transition from classic 4GW guerrilla warfare to something worse. In my view, that something worse is ultimately going to be the super-empowered individual that can use the technologies of self-replication to collapse/kill on a grand scale. That is, in a nutshell, is what 5GW is all about. It is the end game in human conflict."

Push conventional means to even simple biologic means in the hands of asymmetrical attackers and any group can take on a larger opponent at multiple points simultaneously, even with multiple agents. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's successor in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir Abu Ayyub al-Masri) has publicly initiated the effort in earnest, calling to those skilled in "chemistry, physics, electronics, media and all other sciences — especially nuclear scientists and explosives experts":

We are in dire need of you… The field of jihad can satisfy your scientific ambitions, and the large American bases (in Iraq) are good places to test your unconventional weapons, whether biological or dirty, as they call them.

The historical restraints placed on the use of biological weapons by nation states does not apply to many asymmetrical attackers or lone individuals. Proliferation will be increasingly difficult to constrain within the same groups as they acquire personnel with the needed skills or steal product from a widening supply of biologic investigators.

For those readers in recoil, saying that it can't happen, that it is propaganda, consider how rapidly the technology moved in the past five years and how time and cost to produce has plummeted. And it has plummeted most quickly with viruses:

2001: Hope and reality at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

"This isn't trivial to do and no-one has yet reported doing it" [Eckard Wimmer is already halfway through the project and will report it in 2002.]… "There's enough bad stuff out there now. So far, there is no reason to believe that this technology is going to make things any worse."

"Am I worried about a synthesised virus? No, you only worry about it if someone does it out of malicious motives."

"You don't have to synthesise a genome from scratch to be able to make a version of smallpox… You could get a close relative and use standard genetic engineering. You could probably do that right now."

2002: First synthetic virus (poliovirus) made from a chemical map available on the web, with existing technology, with chemical supply mail-order materials, and without cellular material. Over two years required.

Viruses are a good place to start:

Viruses are unusual because they have characteristics of living and nonliving entities. Poliovirus, which the researchers call a "chemical with a life cycle," has a mere 7,500 nucleotide bases in its entire genome. (A typical bacterial genome has millions.) The virus invades cells, where its RNA genome is translated into various proteins. Simultaneously, it replicates the genome thousands of times. The new RNA can be combined with proteins inside a viral coat and then released for invasion of other cells.

Eckard Wimmer showed that "it is possible to synthesize an infectious agent by in vitro chemical-biochemical means solely by following instructions from a written sequence."

Simple but time consuming:

Trained as a chemist, Wimmer was convinced long before bioterrorism became an issue that viruses are chemicals with a life cycle and, thus, viruses could be synthesized. Wimmer [focused] on poliovirus, an agent that he has investigated for more than 35 years. The key was to chemically string together a sequence of nucleotides, the building blocks of nucleic acid. This was done through the assembly of oligonucleotides (sets of nucleotides about 60 units long), all simply bought from a biotechnology company. The resulting synthetic nucleic acid corresponded to a copy of double-stranded DNA of the viral genome, roughly 7500 base pairs long. Since poliovirus is an RNA virus, the synthetic DNA was transcribed into genomic RNA that, in turn, produced authentic virus in a cell-free system.

The synthetic virus was "almost indistinguishable" from its natural counterpart; mice injected with it were paralyzed, lapsing into death.


Driven by "an urgent need to understand, prevent and cure viral disease;" financed by DoD as part of a biowarfare response program:

Wimmer wanted to [show] hypothesis of viral synthesis was viable. One axiom of biology holds that proliferation of cellular organisms or viruses depends on the presence of a functional genome that instructs the replication process, he said. "Of course, in our case, we didn't need a viral genome. All we needed was the Internet; no natural template was necessary. The virus was made from information, available in the public domain—that is, from the known nucleotide sequence of its genome. This presents a proof of principle that is applicable to the synthesis of all viruses."

Wimmer notes that "it was possible that viruses like Ebola could be assembled in laboratories, but there were only a few people in the world with that skill."


The stitching took "more than 2 years of painstaking work" to complete.


Any virus thought eradicated in the wild, and for which vaccination has largely ceased (think polio and smallpox), could be reconstituted from its genetic map. So much for fixated protection of US and Russian specimen stockpiles.

2003 Second synthetic produced (PhiX174, harmless to humans). Accomplished in two weeks.

Smith and Venter's team was able to synthesize the bacteriophage's genome with a technique to "assemble large pieces of DNA with relative ease and unprecedented speed. The technique, which will not be patented, allowed the complete genome of a small virus to be synthesised in just 14 days." At some 6000 DNA bases, the PhiX 174 genome is similar in size as the poliovirus synthesized by Wimmer in 2002. Wimmer said, "I'm impressed. If I had to do it again I'd use their method."

Smith et al, were able to assemble up to 130 pieces of synthetic DNA into one long double-helical molecule over 5,000 nucleotides in length. Purification of the initial DNA mixture reduced the error rate and, therefore, also the number of needed repairs to the sequence. The final assembly of 5386 base pairs matched the natural virus genome and was accomplished in only 14 days.

They "modified a common laboratory technique known as PCR so they could paste together hundreds of oligonucleotides in one test tube. The molecules then self-assembled into the right sequence. The resulting DNA was placed into bacterial cells where it replicated, creating new and infectious viral particles. [The] method is not yet suitable to make [an] artificial chromosome [as] the viruses produced were not perfect, it turns out. They had mutations most probably introduced by initial errors in the original oligonucleotides, so the technique will have to be coupled with others designed to correct those errors."

The ultimate aim of the project, funded by the US Department of Energy, is to create microbes with special properties, such as the ability to sequester carbon dioxide or consume toxic waste. The speed of the technique means it could also help accelerate any research in which large sections of DNA are used, for example gene therapy, vaccine research or agricultural biotechnology. But the method equally makes it much simpler to manufacture a deadly virus for use as a bioweapon. The simple precursors needed would be impossible for governments to keep out of the hands of would-be biowarriors.

Late 2004

Short stretches of DNA (50-100 nucleotides in length) can be chemically synthesized automatically, and, in a series of relatively simple steps, joined end to end to make a single long DNA molecule. The challenge to making these long DNA molecules (5,000 to 10,000 nucleotides) is to achieve accuracy with longer and longer molecules, but this challenge is being met through the development of methods for repairing mistakes. Several [firms] assemble long (up to 18,000 nucleotides) double-stranded DNA sequences with essentially no errors at costs as low as $2.35 per base-pair…

[New] technology is now also making it easier to "write" DNA, or create it from scratch using chemical building blocks… Today, customized strings of DNA can be ordered from several companies. A single gene can still cost $4,000 or more. But costs are dropping rapidly. "If you look at the curve, it's headed to about zero in 2006."

Terrorism and inadvertence

We take it as an axiom that, on average, each generation of technology takes half the time of its predecessor as tools, knowledge and practice diffuse into the industry. In the biologic sciences it may be even faster. Put the progressions noted above into the context of inadvertent or deliberate destructive applications of biology:

Any individual or organization dedicated to destruction but only capable of undertaking small-scale operations might plausibly choose advanced biology as the instrument of choice… [An] attack with an especially virulent pathogen might in principle induce a disease epidemic sufficient to disorganize an entire society or degrade an entire economy. Otherwise a clandestine operation could only accomplish genuinely massive social destruction by the use of nuclear explosives, and the fissile material required is currently much more elaborately protected than are pathogens. Biotechnology is one of only two technologies that truly deserve the label "agent of mass destruction" and it is by far the more accessible of the two.

Basic knowledge required for bio-terrorism can be extracted from legitimate global research:

The relevant biomedical research community is very extensive and globally distributed. More than a million scientific articles are published every year and seminal results are generated in all parts of the world. Information flows rapidly among leading-edge scientists and knowledge of fundamental developments also transfers rapidly to those in training. [Yet] current regulation of advanced biology is conducted primarily by national governments and is principally concerned with the localized containment of dangerous pathogens, the safety of research personnel, the treatment of research animals, and the preparation of distributed products such as drugs and vaccines…

Since compelling good and appalling harm cannot be disentangled at the level of fundamental science, a burden of management is being imposed that human institutions are not currently prepared to handle [yet] efforts to devise an effective response are still at an embryonic stage…

All of which makes the US position difficult as:

Within the current administration, especially, the largely implicit but powerfully entrenched assumptions are that the danger derives mainly from hostile foreign sources and that it can be managed primarily by controlling access to dangerous pathogens themselves. Understandable and perhaps inevitable as that reaction may be in political and emotional terms, it is highly dysfunctional in terms of scientific reality and will almost certainly intensify the underlying peril…

The limits of ethics

The problem is that the ethics embodied in Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism: Confronting the Dual Use Dilemma, the work of the expert panel chaired by Gerald R. Fink and now commonly abbreviated as the Fink Report, designed to prevent malicious applications of "dual-use" research in the life sciences, or more frankly put "to prevent the life sciences from becoming the death sciences through bioterrorism or biowarfare," do not apply outside the community that submits to voluntary oversight and regulation.

In the near to medium term, the Fink Committee considered microbial pathogens and toxins as the primary threat, and proceeded to identify seven process-based rather than organism-based "experiments of concern" that "will require review and discussion by informed members of the scientific and medical community before they are undertaken or, if carried out, before they are published in full detail":

  • Demonstrate how to render a vaccine ineffective
  • Confer resistance to therapeutically useful antibiotics or antiviral agents
  • Enhance the virulence of a pathogen or render a nonpathogen virulent
  • Increase transmissibility of a pathogen
  • Alter the host range of a pathogen
  • Enable evasion of diagnostic and detection modalities
  • Enable the weaponization of a biological agent or toxin

All seven classes will be targeted by asymmetrical bioengineers wherever they operate.

Part 2 to follow, Specific US actions, bureaucratic and biological, to contain bioterrorism

Al-Qaida in Iraq leader recruiting scientists
Jihad an opportunity to test weapons, tape says
David Rising
September 29, 2006
Columbus Dispatch

Tactics that have kept the Middle East's most powerful army at bay
From Nicholas Blanford in Tyre, Daniel McGrory in Beirut and Stephen Farrell in Haifa
The Times
August 10, 2006

In the fight against terrorism, the long war is the wrong war
Sooner or later, terrorists will get, and use, WMD
John Arquilla
San Francisco Chronicle
July 16, 2006

Losing the Long War
Tom Porteous
Agence Global
May 28, 2006

Defining the Long War: Tony Corn's 4GW
posted by Draconian Observations
February 12, 2006

Commentary on:
World War IV As Fourth-Generation Warfare
By Tony Corn
Policy Review
January 2006

Controlling Dangerous Pathogens: A Prototype Protective Oversight System
John Steinbruner, Elisa D. Harris, Nancy Gallagher, Stacy Okutani
Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
December 2005

Francis Collins Interview
The Stuff of Life
By Robert Krulwich
October 2005

By Mark
Sunday, July 17, 2005

Biologist Venter aims to create life from scratch
By Antonio Regalado
The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Mirror at Post Gazette

Biological Weapons: From the Invention of State-Sponsored Programs to Contemporary Bioterrorism
By Jeanne Guillemin
Columbia University Press
ISBN 0231129424
Jan 17, 2005
Synopsis, Google book search, Amazon

Synthetic Genomes: Technologies and Impact
Biological and Environmental Research (BER)
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
December 2004

Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism: Confronting the Dual Use Dilemma
Committee on Research Standards and Practices to Prevent the Destructive Application of Biotechnology
National Research Council
The National Academies Press: 2004

Fifth Generation Warfare?
On War #53
By William S. Lind

Biotechnology in the Age of Terrorism: Confronting the Dual Use Dilemma
Presenter: Ronald Atlas, PhD
What are the Boundaries?
National Security & Biological Research
The New York Academy of Sciences
November 11, 2003
posted Jan 12, 2004

Synthesis of Poliovirus in the Absence of a Natural Template
Eckard Wimmer, PhD
What are the Boundaries?
National Security & Biological Research
The New York Academy of Sciences
November 11, 2003
posted Jan 12, 2004

Generating a synthetic genome by whole genome assembly: phiX174 bacteriophage from synthetic oligonucleotides.
Smith HO, Hutchison CA 3rd, Pfannkoch C, Venter JC.
Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives, 1901 Research Boulevard, Suite 600, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 23;100(26):15440-5. Epub 2003 Dec 2.
PMID: 14657399 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Virus synthesised in a fortnight
Sylvia Pagán Westphal news service
12:31 14 November 2003

Chemical synthesis of poliovirus cDNA: generation of infectious virus in the absence of natural template.
Cello J, Paul AV, Wimmer E.
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5222, USA.
Science. 2002 Aug 9;297(5583):1016-8. Epub 2002 Jul 11.
PMID: 12114528 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Abstract, Full Text, PDF, Supporting Online Material

For the first time, scientists create a virus using only its genome sequence
By Sarah Post
Genome News Network (GNN)
July 23, 2002

Q&A: First synthetic virus
12 July, 2002, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK

First synthetic virus created
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor
11 July, 2002, 23:28 GMT 00:28 UK

Synthetic virus nearing reality
By BBC News Online's Jonathan Amos in San Francisco
BBC News
21 February, 2001, 04:15 GMT

Gordon Housworth

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Lessons for Lebanon from the Gran Chaco War and Spanish Civil War, part 2


Part 1

Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

I see the war in Spain as a likely model for future fractionalized combat in which there are many disparate groups that will not tidily line up, and that much effort will be required to understand each and then reach out to these groups in what may best be described as a 'herding cats' coalition:

The Spanish Civil War pitted two odd coalitions against each other. The split was essentially between the left and the right sides of the Spanish political spectrum, but many parties on each side of the conflict hated or feared other parts of their coalition. The Nationalist were a coalition of groups on the right side of the spectrum. That coalition contained Fascists, monarchists, old-line conservatives, many people who feared a communist or anarchist takeover of Spain, and many people who just happened to be in areas taken over by the Nationalists at the start of the revolt. The Republican side was primarily the left side of the political spectrum. It consisted of Socialists, Communists, Trotskyites, adherents of something called Anarcho-Syndicalism, and a lot of people who simply felt that the Republicans were the legitimately elected government of Spain.

The war started after the parties that became the core of the Republicans won a hotly contested election. The parties of the right never really accepted their defeat, and they became more and more radical in their opposition to the government as political violence spiraled out of control after the election. The Nationalists tried a coup on July 17-18 of 1936. That coup succeeded in Spanish Morocco and several parts of Spain. It failed in Madrid and several other major cities. Spain divided into a set of untidy enclaves, with the Republic controlling Basque country in northern Spain, the eastern coast of Spain, and a large part of Central Spain. The Nationalists controlled northwestern Spain, part of Central Spain and an enclave in southern Spain. Little pockets of territory held by the ‘wrong’ side were sprinkled on both sides of the line.

I find it very interesting that Germany advised both the losing side in the Americas and the winning side in Spain, i.e., Germany did not possess invincibility, failed to learn or value key lessons from Chaco, and misapplied key lessons from Spain.

Oppenheimer is one of the few to holistically discuss the lessons learned during Operation Magic Fire, 1936-1939, but ultimately misapplied, in which the Condor Legion (German military units sent to assist the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War) tested "air warfare doctrine and equipment in military action, [learning] much in the way of strategy, tactics, logistics, and operations." Oppenheimer fulfills a much overlooked mission by showing "the Spanish War provided ambiguous benefits to the nascent Luftwaffe. [That while] the Condor Legion [proved] an invaluable training and testing opportunity, the lessons it taught were occasionally interpreted erroneously." Lessons learned in Spain propelled the Luftwaffe through the early stages of WW II, but failed it in its latter stages:

In the concrete realm of day-to-day operations, the Spanish War furnished a mother lode of knowledge, although at time; this knowledge was misapplied. The combat experience gained by Condor Legion pilots was invaluable particularly because many of these pilots became instructional officers in pilot training schools in Germany. The pilots also learned the importance of detailed maps, the benefits from rapid, positive target identification and the need for adequate radio communications. As a catalyst for the development of technology, the conflict emphasized the value of weather forecasting. radio directional systems, [the] use of pathfinder aircraft, and incendiary flares for effective night bombing. With regard to aircraft. Spain was a very helpful testing ground and incubator. [Biplanes demonstrated obsolescence] as a fighter when matched against the Russian monoplanes and fruitfully exchanged that role for one of close ground support... During the course of 1937, the Bf109 fighter, the Ju87 Stuka dive bomber and the He111 and the Do17 bombers were introduced in Spain and all showed their value as combat aircraft.

The mistakes engendered by the Spanish War, more than the successes, indicate the difficulty in drawing general conclusions from an unusual and specific conflict. Because Legion bomber squadrons rarely encountered much opposition after the Nationalists attained air supremacy, the introduction of the He111 fast bomber suggested incorrectly that bombers required only a light armor and little fighter protection. The high command mistakenly believed that bombers could rely on speed alone to penetrate the enemy's defenses. Berlin failed to perceive that even high performance, well-armed bombers in mass formation could not protect themselves against detetmined fighter opposition, particularly dluring daytime missions. This oversight caused the Luftwaffe to neglect the coordination of fighter and bomber development. After realizing that bombers needed fighter escorts. the Luftwaffe command discovered that their fighters lacked the range to protect the bombers during the missions. A similar nearsighted rationale approved of the concept of an all-purpose aircraft for strategic and tactical operations. Indeed, Hitler demanded that heavy, multi-engined bombers possess both a strategic and dive bombing capability. The resulting hybrid aircraft, the Ju88, was unable to carry out either mission properly. The success of the 88mm flak guns in Spain suggested that flak cannons wete the best weapon for air defense, and that therefore little attention need be paid to a fighter defense system to protect Germany. The horrific losses inflicted on Germany by USAF and RAF bombers attest to the inaccuracy of this belief. The most valuable lessons taught in the laboratory of the Spanish War was the tactical concept of combat operational doctrine. The Spanish experience established within the Luftwaffe the belief in close ground support tactics as the preeminent and foremost task of the German air force. This belief produced both the Luftwaffe's most spectacular success in Poland and later contributed to the Third Reich's utter defeat...

Over four years, the Luftwaffe showed the world air power unexcelled. The essense of its strategy was air superiority. Without superiority in the air, troops could not be easily transported, motorized ground units could not move rapidly, enemy troop concentrations could not he disrupted, and enemy fortifications and communications could not he destroyed. When the Luftwaffe failed to attain air superiority, as at Dunkirk, it failed to win. The lessons learned in Spain, and enlarged and elaborated in the succeeding European campaigns, were faithfully though not always correctly applied. After the fall of France, the Luftwaffe's neglect of heavy bombers, long-range fighters and radar manifested itself. The British began to outproduce the Luftwaffe, and the Russian quagmire swallowed entire squadrons. There can be no question that the Spanish Civil War decisively affected the development of LuftwaffeLuftwaffe rendered indispensable assistance in the triumphs over Germany's enemies. At the same time, the Luftwaffe's deceptively easy victories hid the seeds of its defeat. Although this defeat was a long time in coming, often masked by brilliant German inventions and innovations, come it did. Like the air forces it had helped vanquish, the Luftwaffe too learned defeat.

Germany and the USSR made financial bonanzas from Spain that helped to accelerate their rearmament programs. Spain divided Western states "while giving the Soviet Union an opportunity to portray itself as the only active opponent of fascism," a position that "drew many opponents of fascism in the west toward communist parties." Overlooking Chaco, Spain was widely seen as the "first conflict between reasonably modern armies since World War I" and so drove protagonists and bystanders alike to draw lessons that took them into WW II with varying degrees of success.

McNerney submits a tall order for the US to achieve necessary preconditions for innovation to meet 4GW threats:

  • Expand education opportunities for both officers and non-commissioned officers, including varied global institutions not "limited to the institutionalized professional military education programs currently offered"
  • Eliminate parochial barriers within and between individual services
  • Eliminate "disproportionate service representation in joint agencies and creating service regulations that actually match joint regulation"
  • Shift from centralized, hierarchical HQ control "toward a "top-sight" function in order to provide deconfliction and intelligence to combatants"
  • Expand "investment in human intelligence, informal network exploitation, and surrogate recruitment [to] expand the awareness of the battlespace characterized by insurgents and sub-state actors

It is cold comfort that McNerney sees the "prognosis for U.S. military innovation today [as] questionable [but not] impossible."

Military Innovation in Times of Conflict--Is It Too Risky?
Major Michael McNerney, USAF
Air & Space Power Journal
15 June 2005

The Visual Front
Posters of the Spanish Civil War from UCSD's Southworth Collection
by Alexander Vergara, with Kevin Ingram, Enrique Sanabria, Theresa Smith
UC San Diego

Art and Propaganda in Republican Spain

ALBA Educational Modules
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA)

Shouts From The Wall: Posters and Photographs Brought Home from the Spanish Civil War
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA)

German Propaganda Archive
Randall Bytwerk
Calvin College

The Spanish Civil War: Lessons Learned and Not Learned by the Great Powers
James S. Corum
Journal of Military History
Vol. 62, No. 2, 313-334.
April 1998

Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military
Stephen P. Rosen
ISBN 0801481961
Cornell University Press, 1991, 1994

From the Spanish Civil War to the Fall of France: Luftwaffe Lessons Learned and Applied
Journal of Historical Review
Volume 7, No. 2 -- Summer 1986

Gordon Housworth

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Lessons for Lebanon from the Gran Chaco War and Spanish Civil War


The Gran Chaco War and Spanish Civil War were transitional military events of their day, although the former is too often overlooked. Both are useful guides in interpreting Hezbollah's success in Lebanon and offer pointers and cautions for modern forces seeking to keep apace of emerging asymmetric warfare (4GW) opponents:
  • Paraguay implemented decentralized maneuver warfare against vastly larger Bolivia in the Gran Chaco War, 1931-1935, nearly pushing Bolivian forces completely out of the Gran Chaco. The cease-fire of June 12, 1935, was followed by "a full truce in 1938 that granted Paraguay three-quarters of the Chaco Boreal region and denied Bolivia the waterway to the Atlantic Ocean it had hoped to gain."
  • Germany's Condor Legion refined tactical aerial warfare in support of the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, with the resultant unconditional surrender of the Republican army and the recognition of the Franco regime by the UK and France.
Both wars are a study of innovation in wartime; Stephen Rosen writes that wartime innovation:
can proceed from wartime learning, but learning that goes beyond improvements in the application of existing organizational routines involves the development of a new measure of strategic effectiveness. The military has to learn what to learn about, and how to learn. If pursuit of the old performance goals only makes the problem worse, then a new strategic goal has to be defined.

McNerney observes that Isaacson, Layne, and Arquilla propose factors indicative of military innovation ("high external threat, revisionist aims, relative resource constraints, societal cohesion, past failure, product champions, and career paths") and then proceeds to simplify them into external factors ("domestic and global influences that affect the organization") and internal factors ("institutional characteristics within a military organization"):
  • External Factors
    • Existence of a perceived threat (as opposed to the presence of significant external threat)
    • Leaders possessing "thorough understanding of the threat and the boundaries of the battlespace they are operating in"
    • Domestic politics, including quality of leadership, presence or absence of corruption or incompetence
    • International politics
  • Internal Factors
    • Environments promoting decentralization and creative thought
    • Recruitment and promotion of junior officer and NCO grades who possess organizational and developmental skills
    • Education integrates "cutting-edge technical, organizational, and doctrinal training" with analysis of historical cases
    • Education remains dynamic, resisting becoming institutionalized and possibly stagnating
    • Inter-service cooperation
Overall, I believe that a military group's internal, institutional factors outweigh its external factors, but I find them the hardest to create and maintain and that is not at all a good sign for established militaries dealing with constantly changing and adapting asymmetrical opponents.

Gran Chaco War, 1932-1935

Petroleum discoveries in the Andean piedmont led to the belief that the Chaco Boreal would be rich in oil, complicating a longstanding series of Paraguayan settler migrations into disputed land that had been a forgotten backwater of the Bolivian viceroyalty; Standard Oil backed Bolivia while Shell Oil backed Paraguay. Already punished by Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in the War of the Triple Alliance, Paraguay was ready to fight to prevent what it "perceived as its last chance for a viable economy fall victim to Bolivia," even though the
Gran Chaco plains are known as the Green Hell for extreme weather conditions spanning desertic droughts to torrential rainforests. Bolivia was the dominate regional power while Paraguay was immeasurably poorer and had one third the population:

Paraguay being one of the most poor nations on earth could barely afford to equip her self adequately with small arms, aircraft and artillery never mind something as exotic and expensive as tanks or state of the art aircraft. Bolivia on the other hand had considerably better credit ratings abroad and could afford such luxuries. Consequently it was Bolivia that dominated the skies above the Gran Chaco and it was to her that the dubious honor fell of being the first (and to this day only) S-American country to use tanks in battle in a fully declared war against another nation on S-American soil.

Paraguay "was considered almost helpless" by most Western observers but Paraguay had commenced "covert procurement of weapons during the late 1920's, and received military advice from officers of the French Army" as well as some intelligence from Argentina (who had just warred against Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance). While Paraguay, under Lt. Col. Jose Felix Estigarribia, won the first major confrontation with Bolivia at high cost after a lengthy siege:

Estigarribia realized that his smaller forces would be unable to succeed if he continued to wage head-on offensive battles against the larger Bolivian forces… Estigarribia, therefore, decided to abandon the "defense dominance" lessons of World War I, and instead employed small decentralized forces. These forces effectively used 81 millimeter Stokes-Brandt mortars and maneuver warfare while avoiding heavily fortified fortines [bunkered garrison outposts] to destroy key portions of the Bolivian logistical lines… Estigarribia also understood the limitations and advantages of Paraguayan airpower. He worked closely with Paraguay’s air group commander [to] maximize the support that the air forces could provide to the war. In one instance, Estigarribia [mobilizes] the entire air fleet to deliver ammunition onto an improvised airstrip at Nanawa, allowing ground troops to hold their position. In another instance, the naval air forces dropped 800 pounds of bombs on Bolivian fortines during the first night time bombing campaign in the Western Hemisphere.

Seemingly the losing bet in the fight against larger, better equipped Bolivian forces operating under German trained command, Paraguay possessed useful preconditions for innovation:
  • Internal
    • Strong emphasis on education for Paraguayan officer corps, with a majority attending staff colleges abroad in Italy, Belgium, Argentina, and France. (Bolivian officers "rarely pursued any education following their commission")
    • Recruitment of professional and creative soldiers, then "forming them into cohesive units by balancing their strengths and weaknesses." (Bolivia "heavily recruited Indian peasants and miners, and created ad hoc units")
    • Encouragement of innovative ideas from Paraguayan troops
    • Decentralized operations to small unit commanders dispersed across the Chaco, allowing "the Paraguayan army to operate far more effectively than their counterparts." (Bolivian troops "suffered under the strict, centralized management of General Hans Kundt")
    • Overcoming Army and Air Force parochialism in order to create integrated operations. and innovative contributions to Paraguay’s success. (Estigarribia "trusted his air force’s reconnaissance reports" while Bolivians did not, allowing Paraguay to achieve better battlespace awareness.)
  • External
    • Bolivia posed a significant, even terminating, threat to Paraguay such that Chaco was seen as "a fight for Paraguayan survival."
    • Estigarribia "had the complete trust of the political leaders of Paraguay, and was granted autonomous authority, even to the point of ignoring basic army doctrine." (Bolivia's army and government engaged in perpetual squabble)
    • Paraguay "had much better knowledge of the battlespace [as they] had already settled much of the Great Chaco and had excellent intelligence and maps of the area." (Bolivia "did not have a single document on the area until August of 1931")
    • Paraguay "increased their battlespace knowledge through careful study of their adversary, especially the Bolivian transportation network and troop dispositions." (Bolivia didn't make a similar effort)
Part 2, Spanish Civil War
Military Innovation in Times of Conflict--Is It Too Risky?
Major Michael McNerney, USAF
Air & Space Power Journal
15 June 2005

The Chaco War, 1932-35
Andrew Clem

Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military
Stephen P. Rosen
ISBN 0801481961
Cornell University Press, 1991, 1994

The Chaco Dispute
L. H. Woolsey
American Journal of International Law, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 796-801
, doi:10.2307/2189587
October, 1932

Gordon Housworth

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Succinct "ground truth" on supplier entry and operation in China


Refreshingly succinct "ground truth" for supplier entry to, and operation within, China was provided by a co-presenter, Charles Freeman of China Alliance, at a recent conference on automotive supplier investment in China.

His observations are pertinent to any firm envisioning entry into China or continuing its operations there. We second his comments on risks to supplier Intellectual Property (IP). Remediation of those risks are the focus of our IP protection efforts. Freeman commenced his points with the "three 'knows'":

1. Know the context. Laws are only one factor in understanding a Chinese landscape.

The Chinese treat law as a thing in flux.  It is important to note that there are no penalties in Chinese law. Law is more of a guide than a set of specifics such that an agreement is a mere starting point of a relationship. "China is a culture of shame not guilt" such that it is more critical to be caught than to feel remorse.

2. Know who you're dealing with.

It is essential to understand with whom you're dealing and not attempt to impute more to the relationship than is warranted. The Chinese prize stability over intimacy or friendship. You may be friendly, forming a working relationship, but don't make unwarranted assumptions of the reach of your presumed friendship.

3. Know what your supplier wants from the transaction.

Your view of sustainability and viability may not be what they want. Do not presume that your opposite wants what you want. The Chinese love us because we say too much; learn to practice silence. You have a far higher bar to climb in learning what your opposite prizes than the reverse.

4. Don't believe everything you hear.

Businesses will often tell you "yes," while government will often tell you "no." Neither is likely true. Take what you hear as a position, an opinion, without reaction on your part. Keep working the issue; firmer positions will emerge from which you can make advantage or avoid a fault.

5. Maintain your attitude.

Have a backbone; you're not a supplicant. The best that you can expect is mutual respect. Work for it. They can lie, but you can't. Do not confront if you're lied to.

6. Beware divide and conquer.

The Chinese are good at divide and conquer, often threatening that another firm or competitor will grant the terms that the Chinese request.

7. Chinese will hit you up for your technology.

Chinese are generally scored for the investment that they attract and/or the technology that they attract. Assume that your technology will be stolen at some time. Forget attempting to try an IP case in China. You won't have any better results back home as many US courts find IP cases far too complex.

8. The value of maintaining government relations.

Build government relations into your Chinese plans from the onset. Government relations contribute directly to your bottom line, either heading off or managing government relations. Don't let your joint venture partner, even if they are the larger partner, handle this for you. Relationships can unravel and you could be left without a viable working relationship.

9. The primacy of hiring your HR manager.

The HR manager is a prime hire that ranks with your most senior Chinese hires. All future Chinese hires will owe him their job.

10. Stay active, stay involved.

Things change rapidly in China. China is not a place that you can manage at arm's length or fail to be constantly attentive in changing commercial and governmental conditions.

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Intellectual Property Theft Public  


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