Carpe Diem!


Two button darted tweed with three button cuffs and open patch pockets in a classic gun club check, recent ebay score. 100% made in USA old Brooks Brothers, none of the “correct” details. Those “rules” we follow were never as strict as we think they were.

Rules are meant to be broken. If it looks good, wear it.



Two button darted tweed with three button cuffs and open patch pockets in a classic gun club check, recent ebay score. 100% made in USA old Brooks Brothers, none of the “correct” details. Those “rules” we follow were never as strict as we think they were.

Rules are meant to be broken. If it looks good, wear it.


June 22, 2012

On Adversarial Mindsets and Syria


Adversaries cheat. We don’t. In academic institutions around the world, students understand that they will be expelled if they violate their college’s honor code or otherwise fail to play by the institutional rules. The dissonance between how our adversaries operate and how we teach our students puts our students at a distinct disadvantage when faced with real world adversaries who inevitably do not play by the rules. Breaking through the paradigm where students self censor their ways of thinking to a new paradigm that cultivates an effective adversary mindset is both necessary and possible.

— Gregory Conti and James Caroland

Thanks to the New York Times rather…imaginative interpretations of proper disclosure when it comes to covert actions, we the citizenry have been treated to a typically breathless headline: “CIA Said To Aid In Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition”.

How neat!

WASHINGTON — A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.


The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

An inspired decision.


I believe very strongly in American exceptionalism. Of this, I am unashamed. However, I believe even more so in the basic courtesy of ensuring our collectors, paramilitary operations officers and general purpose/special operations forces know what they’re deploying into — before we commit them to any endeavor, no matter how noble or well-intentioned.

It is for the above-mentioned reasons I suggest we reassess our reasons for intervening in Syria. Instead of committing American manpower and materiel to be captured and killed ‘helping’ the Syrian populace, policymakers should strongly consider taking steps to confront the oft-dismissed but very real Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, their Qods Force assholes elements and MOIS.

How do I propose we do this? By prolonging the civil war. We draw in the Iranians. And then we kill them, one by one. By VBIED, and whatever else we choose to utilize. Properly motivated, I’m sure IARPA senior officers junior officers and enlisted at DARPA, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity or the Asymmetric Warfare Group can dream up an even better IRAM:


There’s your counter-proposal. You want to intervene in Syria? Fine. Let’s intervene: to kill IRGC-QF and MOIS personnel.

We kill a lot of them on our terms, preferably with arms supplied by the Gulf states that we don’t spend a penny on. Ironically enough, the New York Times is more than helpful in this regard, since they saw fit to allude to just this kind of capability being built.

American officials and retired C.I.A. officials said the administration was also weighing additional assistance to rebels, like providing satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements. The administration is also considering whether to help the opposition set up a rudimentary intelligence service. But no decisions have been made on those measures or even more aggressive steps, like sending C.I.A. officers into Syria itself, they said.

Perish the thought! Who needs audacity when you’re content with risk adversity and mawkishness? 

Clearly, moves are already afoot to train and equip a synthetic force. Ostensibly, America would control (for a finite period of time) these synthetics and they would function as our proxies — literally and figuratively. However, the downside of this is that you can never be sure whether they will advance your interests or not.

To deal a blow to Iran however, on Syrian soil (and on our terms) is absolutely worth it. That said, careful consideration should be paid to the strategic framework that would guide such action. After all, it’s not just private security contractors and paramilitaries from the Emirates we’d have to think about — among some of the first people on the ground would be select men and women of the United States Armed Forces and national intelligence agencies.

Hell, even the Air Force would be involved.

DAGRE [Deployed Air Ground Response Element] is an advanced training program that equips security forces personnel with the skill set to provide enhanced security for special operations forces.

“When our operators deploy, they can concentrate on the specific mission at hand and feel confident about who has their back regarding security and force protection,” said Colonel Clifford “Skip” Day, deputy director of AFSOC installations and mission support.

Airmen with the DAGRE qualification are trained to meet security and force protection demands of SOF air assets and personnel when deployed at austere airfields lacking appropriate security or in locations where there is none at all, Day said.

IRGC and MOIS have operated with impunity, before and after Iraq. They deserve to suffer some cruelty at our hands along with their favored client state Syria. Syria, who lifted nary a finger to stem the flow of arms and personnel across their ratlines emanating from their soil. 

The majority of foreign fighters have entered Iraq either by coming across the Syrian border, or flying into Iraq from Syria.

The official said intelligence had shown that the majority of suicide bombers in Iraq in recent months had come into Iraq via airports in Syria after arriving there from their home countries.

Call it whatever you want. EAGER-series falls under Central Command’s bracket, but call it whatever you want. Just don’t call it JUST CAUSE (partly because it’s not and partly because we’ve already had one of those.)

Guest post: Michael Ross: as the Defense Clandestine Service takes shape, look to the Mossad for a proven model

With the creation of the new Defense Clandestine Service, the Defense Department has also created an opportunity to get back to the basics of providing foreign intelligence that will defend the United States and its allies. Unlike their civilian counterparts, the military’s fundamental motivation is to win wars, protect its personnel, and stay on the mission for which it has been tasked. These strengths combined with the military’s clearly defined and flatter command structure can also make for a more secure service by avoiding the burdening overlap and stultifying layers of bureaucracy and management.  
The fine art of collecting human source intelligence in this era of irregular warfare has in large part become lost in the relative comfort of relying exclusively on intelligence gathering technologies. Unfortunately, this reliance has been coupled with the tendency to rely on practices and procedures that ostensibly reduce the inherent risk of seeking out and engaging potential sources for human intelligence recruitment.  Clandestine HUMINT makes up only about 20% of the Department of Defense intelligence collection effort and it’s not imprudent to link this lack of human source intelligence collection to terrorist outrages against the U.S. and allies as well as the unchecked proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Near East and South Asia.
In the case of emulating existing successful models currently under deployment, the Defense Clandestine Service could resemble in many ways a self-contained and strictly compartmented operational division within the Mossad known as “Caesarea” (Kay-sar-eah). Originally a military intelligence unit within the Israel Defence Forces, this unit was re-structured and enhanced by other versatile components already existing within the Mossad’s operational and non-operational infrastructure. To this day, Caesarea still maintains much of its military character in both command and capability while operating as an elite intelligence collection entity.
As a means to avoiding the pitfalls of the CIA’s mission drift and excessive U.S.-focussed activity (estimates vary but according to reports almost 90% of CIA officers operate domestically), the Defense Clandestine Service should adopt the following guiding principles and practices:
1. Reject the temptation to operate on a geographical station model. Terrorist networks and non-conventional weapons proliferators do not operate geographically.  The station system is analogous to fiefdoms in a feudal system and only encourages turf wars and a culture of conflict between command and the field.  Hierarchical constructs and regionalism cannot effectively combat networks.
2. Abandon the State Department cover system. Embassy-based intelligence collecting entities are counter-productive. Operations should be conducted overseas through deep cover operational platforms that are in no way connected to any diplomatic or official USG entity.
3. Focus case officers exclusively on gathering human intelligence overseas.  The U.S. military has a large number of officers trained by the CIA that can be deployed globally in operational platforms. These platforms can operate autonomously with tasking, intelligence, and logistical support from HQs representatives.
4. Devote resources to status and operational cover possibilities and promote a culture of innovation, conception, flexibility and imaginativeness in this regard.
5. Tasking functions should focus on high quality targets for human source intelligence that can provide information on strategic intent and not exclusively on trivial sources that only provide tactical and capability-based intelligence.
6. Defense Clandestine Service personnel should reside in a culture of the highest levels of compartmentation and operational security. Officers should have rare interaction with other operatives and not have connection with HQs where possible.
7. Training should be conducted at a separate facility to which no other agency has access.
8. A proactive and autonomous CI component with clear mandates should be integrated into the service.
9. Career advancement and promotion should be tied directly to operational success in the field. Lengthy service at HQs should not be regarded as a means to advance in the organization. All senior management up to and including the heads of operational divisions in the Mossad, are veterans of lengthy service in operational assignments overseas.
10. Co-ordinate national-level HUMINT efforts. Inter-agency cooperation and deconfliction protocols should be established early on to avoid a redundant collection effort. Working relationships and understanding mutual objectives and mission mandates is critical for success.
11. The requirements and tasking process for the Defense Clandestine Service should shift from war zones and areas of conflict to epicenter target countries such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and China.
Human source intelligence collection is as much a psychological and emotional construct as it is a political, military, or national security one.  When broken down to its lowest common denominator, HUMINT is not an academic exercise that can be understood by rote formula or analyzed by a linear thinking process. This new defense intelligence enterprise should readily adopt an organizational culture that rejects parochial perspectives while fostering continual adaptation and innovation.
Typical defense intelligence priorities must undergo a conceptual shift. The tradition of providing tactical intelligence to support military commanders is extremely important; but only understanding our adversaries’ capabilities without knowing their intentions means we’re only winning half the battle.

Michael Ross is the author of The Volunteer and an expert on intelligence and terrorism and a former Mossad officer who served in the Near East, Africa and Asia for eleven years, and was the Mossad’s counterterrorism liaison officer to the CIA and FBI for two-and-a-half years.
Twitter: @mrossletters