December 5, 2006
Outside access to Pentagon email accounts may be shut down
MAJOR CLARIFICATION: It appears that only remote access to email has been suspended. Perhaps the hackers gained access via remote web access, something like Microsoft Webmail. Original post follows:
A tipster notes that Pentagon email has been restricted to sending and receiving to other Pentagon accounts. No messages from other domains may enter the system. This measure has been instituted because a foreign government hacked the Pentagon's computer systems.
I'm not sure if this includes all dot.mil accounts or only certain domains.
Looking for confirmation elsewhere . . .
UPDATE: Looks like the hackers were Chinese. Strategypage reported this several days ago:
December 4, 2006: For the third time in five months, Chinese based hackers attacked a Department of Defense computer network. In mid-November, the U.S. Navy's War College had to shut down it's computer network because, as one instructor explained to his class, Chinese hackers had gotten in, and the Naval War College servers had to be scrutinized to see what was taken, changed or left behind. The is the latest of several attacks on Department of Defense computers, that could be traced back to China.Perhaps the damage is wider than they thought. The information I received was very specific that email accounts in the Pentagon itself will not be receiving messages from outside domains for the time being.
Portions of The Adventures of Chester Open Source Analysis Policy may apply to this post. If you need to contact me, my email address is in the sidebar.
UPDATE: Here's more info on the original attack.
November 29, 2006
The silent service
The Washington Times carries an interesting article detailing modifications made to naval submarine doctrine and usage after 9/11.
Submarines have two attributes that make them effective against terrorists -- stealth and persistence. Unlike surface ships, submarines can stay concealed in the sea, rising to periscope depth to take pictures, listen to electronic transmissions and collect other intelligence. Unlike the airplanes or satellites that pass over a target, submarines can stay on station for weeks or months.
The fast attack submarines, in addition to traditional torpedoes, are armed with 12 cruise missiles with conventional warheads. The submarines can also land six-man special operations teams to collect intelligence or conduct raids, then return to pick up the teams.
The Pacific submarine fleet has had so many missions assigned to it recently that it no longer sends submarines to the Persian Gulf or Arabian Sea to support the war in Iraq. That duty has been turned over to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
During the next five years, about eight submarines will be reassigned to the Pacific Fleet from the Atlantic, meaning the Pacific Fleet will account for about 60 percent of the submarine force. Two will be the USS Seawolf and USS Connecticut, the most advanced boats in the fleet. The home ports to which they will be assigned have not been decided yet, said a spokesman for the Pacific submarine command.
The newest addition to the Pacific Fleet is the USS Ohio, which has been converted from a ballistic missile submarine to a boat armed with 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles that can be fired covertly one at a time or many in a salvo. When launched near land, the cruise missiles can duck under a radar screen to hit targets before an adversary can react or they can loiter over a target shortly before striking.
I love submarines. You know what submariners call surface ships? Targets.
September 4, 2006
Defense Forum Washington 2006
Tomorrow (Tuesday the 5th), I'll be attending the Defense Forum in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Marine Corps Association and the US Naval Institute, two outstanding professional organizations for the Naval services.
While there, I'll be sending email dispatches throughout the day to Pajamas Media, so look for updates on their homepage.
The schedule of events looks really interesting and I'm especially looking forward to the panels entitled "The Long War: Where Are We Now?" and "Fighting on the Terrorists’ Turf: Lessons Learned in Iraq & Afghanistan and the Gap Between Expectations and Realities".
If there's a chance during the panel discussions, I'll be sure to ask a question or two from the back of the room. If any readers have questions you'd like me to try to address, please send them on to my email account, listed in the sidebar to the right.
I'll be attempting to file my dispatches while using my Motorola RAZR phone in a modem capacity for my laptop. There's a backup if it doesn't work, but it will be pretty cool if it does!
June 20, 2006
The Rocket's Red Glare
The North Koreans are declaring their sovereign right to ballistic missile tests:
TOKYO - North Korea declared Tuesday it has a right to carry out long-range missile tests, despite international calls for the communist state to refrain from launching a rocket believed capable of reaching the United States.There are rumors meanwhile that the US may shoot down any such missile launched:
The Pentagon activated its new U.S. ground-based interceptor missile defense system, and officials announced yesterday that any long-range missile launch by North Korea would be considered a "provocative act. . . .There are several very good reasons to go ahead and down any missiles launched by North Korea: it would provide a real test of our incipient missile defense systems; such a shootdown would reinforce the doctrine of nuclear assurance as it applies to Japan, one of our staunchest allies; and tactically, denyng the North Korean military the advantage gained by telemetry and other such data gathered from the flight could play no small role in retarding the advancement of their military capabilities. But the most compelling reason to shoot down any test missiles is simple and scarier: how does one really know it is a test? This is no soubt what the Japanese are wondering. I was there in the 90s when the North tested their last missile, and it was . . . not well received.
Two Navy Aegis warships are patrolling near North Korea as part of the global missile defense and would be among the first sensors that would trigger the use of interceptors, the officials said yesterday.
The U.S. missile defense system includes 11 long-range interceptor missiles, including nine deployed at Fort Greeley, Alaska, and two at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The system was switched from test to operational mode within the past two weeks, the officials said.
One senior Bush administration official told The Washington Times that an option being considered would be to shoot down the Taepodong missile with responding interceptors.
For a detailed look at the US missile defense system, readers are encouraged to see Alan Dowd's piece in today's TCSDaily.
For a more in-depth look into ballistic missiles in general, missilethreat.com [h-t to Dowd] is a cornucopia of info on ballistic missiles and the threat they create. The scenario page there features high-quality animation of possible conflict scenarios involving ballistic missiles.
While it is tempting to view international terrorism and ballistic missiles as inhabiting two separate ends of the conflict spectrum, the one being non-state organizations employing low-tech and creative means, the other being a weapons system most likely produced and fielded by a state military, it might be better instead to view them both as features of our system of globalization: while murderous ideologies propagate through the globe like viruses, high-tech missile know-how does the same. As Dowd notes in his article, 30 years ago, only 8 nations possessed ballistic missiles, whereas now, by his count, there are 25 with ballistic missile arsenals.
When we envision Robert Kaplan's "coming anarchy", or Thomas Barnett's Gap, our mental images usually involve low-intensity warfare, pestilence, famine, resource scarcity, and crushing poverty, along with intractable conflicts. But these are images that, while scary, and needing to be contained if not rolled back, don't threaten the US imminently.
Adding to that picture the continued propagation of complex weapons systems like ballistic missiles adds a new urgency to our concept of the Gap, or the anarcy of the developing world and its failed states. Imagine another war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but with ballistic missiles; or a Rwandhan genocide with airstrikes. While it's true that roving bands of thugs probably don't have the training to maintain and operate exceptionally complex military hardware, it's not a safe bet that the threats of the Third World will always remain as roving bands of thugs.
October 22, 2005
Chaos in the Littorals
Wretchard's latest post at Belmont Club is The Far Line of Sand in which he tracks the development of future naval forces and deduces a possible outcome:
If form follows function the shape of the 21st century US Navy suggests that the "dark-green ... almost black" coastlines of the Third World will again become a theater of operations with this fundamental difference: areas that 19th century Europeans once sought to penetrate are now localities that need to be contained. No longer are arms being landed on those whispering coasts in hopes of conquest. The flows now go the other way. Today they must be blockaded against the outflow of weapons, armed gangs and multitudes of desperate people bent on escape from their misery. The USN by restructuring itself in response to the logical implications of terrorism, is anticipating a crisis that, to use Thomas Barnett's terminology, the "Core" governments have yet to face: how to bring freedom, prosperity and functionality to the "Non-Integrating Gap".I think Wretchard is right on the money, but don't want inland operations to be neglected in our concept of the future. As he writes in the comments to the post:
I've often wondered whether it would be possible to write history, not from newspaper clippings, but from a time lapse analysis of the world's militaries. Like watching a silent movie and deducing the story from the action. On the principle of observing, not what men say but what men do.Keeping that same idea in mind, we might examine what the land forces are doing too. A past post examined the American Enterprise Institute's conference, The Future of the United States Marine Corps [for some reason, the AEI website is not responding right now, but I have a printed copy of the transcript]. Here is an excerpt from a presentation about one possible conception of the future of the Marine Corps:
This would be a Marine Corps that'd be going back and working within its historical legacy of small wars, in essence, embracing what I would call the "second small wars era," which is how one could define the future environment.General Mattis, in charge of writing doctrine for the Corps, has even more to say on this topic, that of small wars and our handling of them in the future:
I remember General Krulak, several years ago, talked about the future of warfare, you know, we'd be focusing on the stepchild, the stepchildren of Chechnya, and I would just extend that to it would be the stepchildren of Fallujah, would be the things we'd be focusing on, and that would include extensive urban combat.
We'd be prepared for the savage wars of peace that Max has written so eloquently about. The Marine Corps would not become a contributor--right now we have our little toe, you know, at SOCOM, and there's arguments for maybe sticking a leg in--but this'd be a Marine Corps that might be the major component to SOCOM or at least make a contribution of at least 30,000 Marines to that particular command.
But we've got to have people who are comfortable operating in austere, very complex environments where firepower is not the primary means to victory and you can see some of the things we're looking at there that allow us to transform the Marine Corps to make it even more relevant to what the nation needs from right now. We do see the Army, the Special Operations Forces, and the Marines as perhaps comprising a new triad. Remember the old triad to make certain we didn't go into nuclear war were strategic bombers, you know, land-based missles and submarines, of course, our at sea with the missiles on them.Another member of the conference, Mike Vickers, a former Green Beret and CIA operations officer, had this to add:
We, to confront this new enemy, there may be a new triad that we need to put together.
Now as far as controlling terrain, which relates to this, I thik the problem that we see in Iraq, and Afghanistan, really may be an anomaly in the long-term war on terrorism, in the sense that we overthrew two governments and we're now trying to make sure those places don't go bad.Compared with the picture of the future of the Navy that Wretchard offers, these concepts of land forces working in small groups, decentralized, in culturally and linguistically sensitive ways, are complimentary.
But the long-term problem is really shoring up lots of governments across a global landscape. As I mentioned, there are cells in some 55, 60 countries, there are insurgencies in 18, and so the only -- and they swim in a sea of people, remember all the Mao stuff, of 1.2 billion people, including lots of folks in Europe where the problem is getting worse.
And so the idea that you can do this by physically controlling -- with any amount of U.S. forces -- is ludicrous to me.
I mean, the idea that you -- the long-term GWOT problem will be working with locals in smaller groups, to make sure that problems don't rise to a certain level, and so the terrain we're trying to control, in a sense, is really global and the only way to do that is with an indirect approach and with this low visibility but persistent and culturally sensitive presence.
Two notes: first, such decentralized and small land forces could be used in two ways, either at their own initiative, or at the explicit direction of policymakers. They can be used to keep a lid on things, to keep local conditions from reaching a certain state, as Vickers suggests, or they may embark on wholesale change in the areas in which they operate. The choices they make, or are forced to make, may form much of the future of history in many parts of the world.
The second note is the difference in mentality that these operating conditions requires on the part of the soldier or Marine, whether professional or reservist. T.R. Fehrenbach wrote in his history of the Korean War, This Kind of War [via GooglePrint] about the difference between the kinds of war that soldiers thought they were to do in Korea, and what they actually did, and the effects on the populace at large.
Reservists and citizen soldiers stand ready, in every free nation, to stand to the colors and die in holocaust, the big war. Reservists and citizen-soldiers remain utterly reluctant to die in anything less. None want to serve on the far frontiers, or to maintain lonely, dangerous vigils on the periphery of Asia . . . However repugnant the idea may be to liberal societies, the man who will willingly defend the free world in the fringe areas is not the responsible citizen-soldier. The man who will go where his colors go, without asking, who will fight a phantom foe in jungle and moutain range, without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint, is still what he has always been, from Imperial Rome, to sceptered Britain, to democratic America. He is the stuff of which legions are made.That idea, first authored in 1953, was meant to