Category Archives: Unconventional Warfare

How Martial Law Ends

Over at Lines of Departure, his regular column at, Tom Kratman addresses dissatisfied lefties like Rosie O’Donnell, who publicly called for martial law. Tom points out rather graphically that she would not like martial law.

He quickly boils the possible scenarios down to the likely point upon which they all converge, in the end.

So either way, whether Trump takes the oath and the military follows him, or he doesn’t and the military rebels against their senior officers and follows him, the result is ultimately the same: Martial Law but in hands that hate you.

What does that look like, by the way, as it ultimately plays out? Well, I want you to imagine a long ditch, Rosie. You’ve been made to help dig it, except that in the interests of time and efficiency a backhoe was brought it to help on your section and a few others. No, no; it’s not part of the dreaded wall that will keep your side from importing and turning into clients a hundred million illegal Latins. No, this ditch has another purpose.

In this ditch you, and a whole bunch of your political allies and comrades, are kneeling, shoulder to shoulder, with your hands tied behind you and, I am sure, rivers of tears running down most of your filthy faces. There is a captain behind the line, might be Army, might be Marines. Hell, he might even be Air Force or Navy Lieutenant. He is not crying; indeed, he is smiling. He has a pistol in one hand. He walks the length of the ditch, a private following him with a bag full of loaded magazines. The captain walks slowly, stopping about every two feet. Whenever he stops he faces the line of kneeling, sniveling, crying people who once thought martial law was just such a splendid idea. He aims carefully, and then shoots each one of you, once, in the back of the head. He’s at least a competent enough shot that he never misses at this range. Every thirteen shots he removes the magazine, hands it to the private, takes a fresh one, and reloads. Click.

And there you are, Rosie, shivering in terror and wondering if maybe that whole martial law thing was really such a good idea. You’re afraid to look but you can hear the shots getting closer and closer to where you kneel. Suddenly, there is a massive bang and the guy kneeling next to you flops forward. You can’t help it, you look down and can see into his half-pulverized brain. You start to scream and then….bang.

Do Read The Whole Thing™.

Of course, it isn’t just lefties who sometimes express a wish for martial law, or a coup, or a civil war; although they do seem to be spring-loaded in the revolution position. At least, if someone else takes charge of the gritty revolutionizing, because most of them are all wind. All Foucault and no Pol Pot, you might say.

We tend to dismiss such calls for civil war or martial coups as childish hyperbole. But there’s nothing magical in American soil, no unique American genotype, that prevents such things from happening here. Indeed, in states that were rocked and even destroyed by civil wars and revolutions, there seems to have been a rapt complacency up to the very moment of calamity.

Among the casualties are, almost every time, the initial revolutionaries. Imitate Robespierre if you like, but Robespierre did not die in bed.

Fighter / SF Soldier Tim Kennedy Retires

From the ring, that is. He’s still in as a part-time soldier, and there’s a story in that. Tim was on active duty in Special Forces when he first began to fight in mixed martial arts competitions. The command took no notice.

Then, he began to win. A lot. The command discovered that one of their warriors was actually one of the world’s top fighters. They should have celebrated their good fortune and wrung a PR and recruiting windfall out of it. (What Would The SEALs Do?) But no, that’s not what they did.

They ordered him to quit. 

Instead, he quit active duty, continuing to serve in the National Guard, and kept fighting. A recent deployment and the associated pre- and post-deployment activities kept him out of the ring for a couple of years, and when he went back in the ring, he lost… and he knew that this was it. 

Every athlete knows that there will be a time to hang up the gloves (or whatever). Some receive that signal when it comes in, embracing a graceful end to a young person’s career. Some don’t, and become that guy, hanging around trying to capture the feeling of ever-more-distant glory. Tim wasn’t going to be that guy.

Sitting in the ER at Saint Michael’s hospital in Toronto, Canada after my fight, I looked up at my buddy Nick Palmisciano who had ridden in the ambulance with me. He is a friend I didn’t deserve and guy that stood with me from the beginning. Fighting is a lonely thing. You train with your team. You bleed with them. You trust your coaches but ultimately you are in the cage alone. This wasn’t our first time in this situation and thankful I had someone by my side. We had been here a few times in our past decade together. Sometimes for wins and sometimes for losses. The end result always looked the same: Nick carrying five bags that should have been split among three corners and me and my face are bleeding and swollen.

“That’s it man,” I said. “We’re all done.”

We had talked about it a lot over the past few years. I’d spoken to Nick, to my wife Ginger, and to Greg Jackson and Brandon Gibson ad nauseam about the coming end. No matter how hard I trained, I knew this ride wouldn’t last forever. But saying it out loud definitely brought me both sadness that this chapter was complete and overwhelming relief that it’s a decision I could make without worrying about taking care of my family.

I had just lost to Kelvin Gastelum, a really respectful and hard-working young fighter who went out and did all the things I consider myself good at, but did them better. He actually reminded me of me when I was younger, except I was kind of a jerk back then. As losses go, I was kind of happy I lost to a guy like him.

A lot of my coaches, friends and fans immediately tried to build me up again. “Kelvin has the right skillset to beat you and it was your first fight back.” “You had ring rust.” “You’re still a top 10 middleweight.” I appreciated their comments and I don’t think they are wrong. I know I am still a good fighter. I know I was away a while. But they didn’t feel what I felt, and that’s being 37. I felt like I was in slow motion the entire match. I felt tired for the first time ever in a fight.

I’m the guy that once graduated Ranger School – a place that starves you and denies you sleep for over two months – and took a fight six days later in the IFL and won. I’m the guy that is always in shape. And I was for this fight. I worked harder than I ever have before for this fight. But I wasn’t me anymore. My brain knew what to do but my body did not respond. I’ve watched other fighters arrive here. I’ve watched other fighters pretend they weren’t here. I will not be one of them.

Do Read The Whole Thing™ at Tim Kennedy’s Facebook page. He is, it turns out, a gifted writer, and the whole thing is worth reading.

We at wish Tim Kennedy all the best in his future endeavors. He leaves like he entered, and like he fought: with heart, class and sportsmanship.

He may never step into the ring again, but his name lives for evermore.

That colonel that demanded that he quit UFC, what was his name? Dunno. We forgot.

Israeli Defense Forces CT Operation

For the Israel Defense Forces, CT never stops. Here’s a story straight from the IDF, about the Lotar CT unit.

Naturally, it’s a filtered recounting, but it’s interesting to see what friendly foreign forces are up to. (And, against the global jihad, everybody fighting it is a friendly foreign force).

At 16:00, eight terrorists infiltrated the village of Naham and went on two killing sprees. A team of soldiers from the Duvdevan unit were the first to respond. After exchanging fire twice, the terrorists fled to a nearby building and took 15 civilians hostage. The soldiers killed two terrorists before they entered the building. In exchange for the hostages, the terrorists demanded the exchange of 426 prisoners before 00:30.

Duvdevan maintained their observation posts around the building and snipers fanned out to cover it from all angles. Nearby, two Lotar assault teams prepared to breach the building.

Snipers are often thought of as primarily shooters. But that’s not how military and CT planners think of them. We know they’re precise sources of combat intelligence, sensors that collect unfiltered ground truth. Their observation and intelligence collection abilities are why we raise, train and employ them — their ability to deliver precision fire is a welcome bonus. This operation illustrates that pretty clearly.

In a hostage crisis, information is the most vital resource there is. You need to know the layout of the building, how many terrorists are inside, where they’re located, and what weapons they’re using. The town hall sent the building blueprints, and IDF intelligence teams were searching through pictures and videos to find where the doors, windows, and other entrances are located.

Intel began to arrive. Snipers saw a terrorist playing with wires on the third floor. The hallway was open to the outside, like a balcony. The building had both a ground floor entrance and an entrance to the second floor.

By 23:00, the two Lotar assault teams had divided the responsibilities.

Do Read The Whole Thing™. to see what happened next.  We will spill one spoiler, though: this realistic-sounding operation was a training exercise for the Lotar and Duvdevan units. Given its complexity, it sounds like a certification or a course culmination exercise, much like we’d do to certify a bunch of new guys.

It was actually the Israelis who first taught us not to take terrorist prisoners, “because the [censored]s just inspire more hostage taking.” Instead, you ID ’em and give ’em two in the hat. The canoe across the River Styx, as it were. Dunno if that’s still Israeli (or American) practice. It should be. All these assclowns play tough guy when interrogated, anyway; you learn more off a dead guy’s PC than you’re going to learn off the live guy, so why bother?

In any event, the article is a rare glimpse into IDF CT training. Enjoy.

(Editor’s note: We know what you’re thinking. Where’s the Civil War Sharpshooters article? Hung up in the writing. It’ll be published when it’s good. Sorry ’bout that. -Ed.)

CDR Salamander on Europe’s War of Identity

Ancient History? (Carthage, proof that war doesn’t solve anything… oh, wait).

We’ve discussed Wars of Identity before, which we’ve defined (in the Codex Nasicus for example) as:

A war where the two sides are not fighting over anything material, but over what one or both of them are.

And we’ve even formulated Hognose’s Law of Wars of Identity.

in Hognose’s Law of Wars of Identity, there are only three possible outcomes: one side defeats and exterminates or expels the other, one side defeats and assimilates the other, or the war reaches an equilibrium of violence that is acceptable to both sides.

Comes Commander Salamander (hat tip, Peter Grant) with his own formulation of something very similar, w/r/t Europe’s Hajj from Hell.

“Refugees” express gratitude, France 2014

Unlike past terrorist problems in Germany with The Red Army Faction and similar Communist cells that were political in nature – the latest threat is religious and ethnic. It is easier to undermine the Strategic Center of Gravity for political terrorist organizations; you just remove the political underpinnings and people will adopt a new political philosophy with less militant aspects – in this case, the Green Party or Die Linke.

It is a completely different effort to go after religious and ethnic based violence. One is exceptionally difficult to change – the other almost impossible to change inside generations of assimilation – if that.

Well, there you go. Here’s a man who’s probably never heard Hognose’s Law before, but he certainly can apply it.

To one degree or another, this totally avoidable disaster is playing out roughly along the lines expected. The post-war global Western liberal consensus is being torn apart by its own internal contradictions that keep its political mechanisms paralyzed to inaction.

If not for the political and personal cowardice by politicians from both sides of the aisle who were afraid of being called names or not being invited to the right conferences and dinner parties, the present situation would not exist. Sure, certain newspapers and magazines would call them nasty things, paint them as uncaring, and the usual suspects would tut-tut them to try to hurt their feelings  – but the nation they are trusted with would not be subject to a permanent deployment of military forces policing streets from a threat coming from within. Large segments of their major cities would not be “no-go” areas for public services. Rape would not become common.

via CDR Salamander: Germany is Turning Itself in to What it Didn’t Want to Be

His main point, you see, is that unlimited unassimilable immigration is requiring Germany (inter alia) to become a police state, something that the German character, the German constitution and the global consequences of prior German police-state history make extremely undesirable.

But undesirable or not, keeping the floodgates open for the teeming masses yearning to loot the wealthy West and then burn it down, turning it into the same inbred Islamic failed states they’re teeming out of, pretty much guarantees a nativist backlash and a police state that, once spun up, is unlikely to stop with the invaders (any more than the Gestapo stopped with its initial targets).

The Hijab Jab

To steal a gag from the mighty Horwitz brothers (and Larry Feinberg): Hasan Ben Sober. Eric Fanning’s model soldier.

In a last-minute strike at the service he worked tirelessly to undermine and disrupt, outgoing Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning issued a rule subordinating Army uniform regulations to mohammedan dress codes. Now commanders must allow scruffy beards, turbans, hijabs, and other ancient Arab dress affected by extremist moslems.

Brigade-level commanders now must grant religious accommodations to any soldier seeking to wear a religiously mandated beard, turban or Muslim hijab while in uniform with only a few exceptions, Army Secretary Eric Fanning wrote Tuesday in a memorandum. Previously such uniform exemptions had to be approved by the secretary.

“The soldier’s brigade-level commander will approve a request for a religious accommodation …unless the commander determines the request is not based on a sincerely held religious belief, or identifies a specific, concrete hazard that is not specifically addressed in this directive and that cannot be mitigated by reasonable measures,” Fanning wrote, noting the new policy would be added to Army Regulation 670-1, which defines the Army uniform appearance standards.

Supporters of the “Social Justice Secretary” have been spinning the rule as an accommodation for the handful of unquestionably loyal Sikh soldiers that the Army has been blessed with over the years, but its real intended beneficiaries are moslems like Nidal Hassan, the failed doctor turned Al-Qaeda murderer at Fort Hood.

The Army has granted several Sikh soldiers temporary appearance waiversin recent years to wear neatly groomed unshorn beards and hair under a turban while serving in uniform. Those waivers were applied on a case-by-case basis, and most of them were granted only after the soldiers filed lawsuits seeking their uniform exemptions.

The new accommodations will be made permanent for soldiers throughout their careers once granted by their brigade-level commander, Fanning wrote in the memo issued in the final weeks of his tenure.

Meanwhile, Fanning’s office met with silent indifference the death of an SF support guy in Jordan.

A 23-year-old cook assigned to a deployed Special Forces group is the fourth soldier from that unit to die during their current mission.

Spc. Isiah Booker was operating construction equipment when he was killed Saturday in a non-combat related accident in Jordan, according to a Defense Department release. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.

A 2,000-soldier task force is in Jordan under Operation Inherent Resolve, an amusing name for anything under the command of this waffling, trimming, difference-splitting Pentagon. The core of that effort is a Special Forces battalion, 2/5th SFG(A). Three soldiers from the unit were killed last year by a Jordanian guard in an apparent friendly fire incident. While Jordan is not without extremist elements, and the massive refugee presence is a threat to the nation’s stability, the Jordanian man in the street is far and away the most pro-Western and pro-US of any Arab nation.

National Guard Troops: 5,000. Armed? Zero.

The very last thing that will be executed under Jeh Johnson’s leadership, if that’s the word, of the Department of Homeland Security, is the 2017 Inauguration. The Secret Service plans to flood the DC zone with armed defenders. The Washington Examiner:

Washington is beefing up security in the run up to President-elect Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, including the deployment of 5,000 National Guard troops downtown amid security concerns.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said despite increased security concerns, the city is prepared and ready for the event, she said Friday at a press conference with U.S. Secret Service and other security forces.

“We prepare for the biggest number possible,” Bowser said. Secret Service special agent Brian Ebert said the Washington field office is “well-prepared and ready for this inauguration.”

In addition to the 5,000 National Guard troops being deployed in the city, 3,000 security officers from multiple jurisdiction will also be on the ground, according to security officials.

Many of the 3,000 LEOs are detailees from other Federal agencies, assigned to scut work and standing posts by the Secret Service. (That’s pretty normal for any big even the Secret Service is protecting). These law enforcement officers will be armed with their customary sidearms.

But the National Guard soldiers? Some of them may have weapons, but most will be unarmed. Even any that do carry weapons will simply be window dressing: neither Johnson nor the Secret Service considers them sufficiently loyal or well-trained to be trusted with firearms.

There is a technical term for a soldier in uniform, but unarmed. This technical term is understood by the soldiers, and by the would-be lone wolves and homegrown wolves of ISIL.


They’re not “beefing up security.” They’re beefing up security theater. They might as well put the TSA in charge.

Going Out with a Whimper

Let’s play Jux Ta Position! That fun game in which we take several news stories and put them together, and see what brilliant insights emerge. Shall we?

First contestant: President Barack H. Obama.

In the world of press releases and the media that dutifully rephrase them, a war leader whose legend eclipses Alexander is hanging up his sarissa, with no more worlds to conquer after eight years of effortless triumph.

DOD Zero-Integrity Flack Lisa Ferdinando has a hilariously, near-North-Korean fawning piece on an official website, where she carefully transcribes the lofty praises the palace eunuchs raise over the great and wondrous works of our own Kim Jong Supreme Personality of Godhead:

Other notable achievements as listed by Carter include the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, standing with NATO allies to lead a united response to deter Russian aggression, and securing an accord that is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

With any luck, she’ll be swept out with the rest of the political appointees in two weeks.

There is no Second Contestant, as the First Contestant has consumed all the oxygen in the room.

Interesting fact: First female Marine Grunts report for duty!

After eight years of command-influenced squeeze, here come three drops of juice.

All three of the infantry Marines graduated from the School of Infantry as part of the service’s gender integration research, said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Philip Kulczewski.

“The Corps applauds the time and efforts of those Marines who volunteered,” Kulczewski said. “As we continue to move forward…..”

Defense Secretary Ash] Carter had refused an earlier request by the Corps to keep women out of combat jobs after the service’s gender integration study found that mixed-gender teams did not perform as well as all-male teams and that female Marines were more likely to get injured. ….

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s nominee for defense secretary, told Military Times in September that “shortsighted social programs” could make the U.S. military less effective.

You mean, like the Marines’ own study. Heresy! Burn him!

The three women are one rifle, um, operator; one machine gun crew, uh, member; and one, er, mortar person. Several female officers have been placed in the battalion to act as zampolits for the three Unique and Special Snowflakes™.

First Contestant responds: Women are as Strong as Men!

The outgoing First Contestant knows all he needs to know about the military.

“Joe Biden and I know that women are as least as strong as men,” he said.

He’s probably projecting from his own experience. Michelle looks like she could snap his spine, but doesn’t need to, because just a scowl makes him cry and fold. (The mullahs and Putin had the same experience with him).

During his speech, Obama called the American armed forces the greatest fighting force in the world,,,


…and celebrated its new found committment to diversity.

Oh, that.

He explained that the new social changes were part of the reason why the military was one of America’s most respected institutions….

Of course, because what everyone wants the military to do is be a global leader in Social Justice. “Sir, our mission is to fly anywhere in the world on 24 hours’ notice to provide an example of diverse vibrancy and genderfluid postmodernism, on direction of the National Command Authority.”

No, no, that just sounds like laughter, it’s how terrorists quake in their boots. Honest, a spokesman said. 

And As Deserved as the Nobel Peace Prize

The First Contestant then declared himself the winner, and awarded himself a medal. No, we are not making that up.

Technically, sure, Ash Carter awarded him the medal, as you see in the image; and in addition, it seems to have become a pro forma end-of-tour award for Presidents. But still, it reeks of caudillismo, and Obama shouldn’t have done it, and Bush before him, and anybody else, shouldn’t have done it, either. You’re the President of the United States, for Pete’s sake. Even the freshest private knows that it’s unseemly and just not done to give yourself medals.

And yes, having a fawning toady give you the medal counts as giving yourself a medal. If President Obama ever turned a corner abruptly, Secretary Carter would suffer a broken nose.

One wonders what Carter, whose carambolage of inept improvisation has given MacNamara’s legacy a run for the money, awarded his own self.

Thomas Lifson at American Thinker noticed something about the ceremony:

The ceremony took place at Joint Base Myers-Henderson, before a crowd that had an awful lot of empty seats, almost as if the military service members who attended were there on orders.

No, honest, a private or corporal loves nothing more than to be used as a prop by some politician. “Make sure the ones in the background have plenty of minorities!” We’ve gotta have “college-brochure-picture diversity,” because Diversity is Our Vibrancy™.

Yeah, the Russians Probably Did Penetrate the DNC

Since the election, we frequently hear the charge that the Russians were behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s poorly-secured mail systems, and that they did it in order to influence the election. This is what has led the outgoing president to expel some three dozen Russian diplomats, some of whom are most certainly intelligence officers, and some of whom are probably just diplomats. It is interesting to note that he did not react to anything Russian intelligence has done for the last eight years, until it became entangled with the fortunes of his own political party. Iranians murder Americans, he did nothing; Russia invades neighbors, he does nothing; Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorism, he does nothing; China expands its borders onto Vietnamese or Filipino territory, he does nothing; Syria gasses civilians, he does nothing. Only The Party is worth defending.

Customarily, an expulsion of diplomats (often when an intelligence net is rolled up) is followed pro forma by the tit-for-tat expulsion of their opposite numbers by the competitor nation. By not doing this, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has expressed his and his nation’s contempt for Obama and his supine administration.

“The Russian diplomats returning home will spend the New Year holidays with their relatives and dear ones,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin website. “We will not create problems for U.S. diplomats. We will not expel anybody.”

“Moreover, I am inviting all children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas parties at the Kremlin,” he said.

Troll level: Tsar. It gets even better, though:

Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, took to Facebook to call the Obama administration “a group of foreign policy losers, angry and ignorant.”

“My country, may it always be right, but my country, right or wrong,” is a noble statement, but it is hard to argue with Miss Zakharova’s assessment of the outgoing Russian policy of irregularly alternating periods of groveling supplication and periods of infantile tantrum that have comprised the last eight years.

Let’s get back to the crime at issue. Technically, it wasn’t a “hack,” this penetration: the “hacker” used social engineering, spearphishing, to induce officials at the target (and many others) to admit them onto the network and give up access. As is often the case, senior officers of the organization think they’re above the laws and rules that apply to mere mortals (consider the wrist tap David Petraeus received for mishandling classified, or the non-prosecution of the Bush-era leaker Richard Armitage, who was not prosecuted because he was too well-connected).

We believe that the Russians probably are responsible for the penetration, but that’s only one of the allegations that are made. In a moment, we’ll share our evidence for Russian responsibility, but we have to say that evidence for the proposition that the DNC was particularly or uniquely targeted is lacking, especially in light of the fact that the same APTs targeted their Republican opposite numbers, albeit less successfullly; and evidence of Russian motives is entirely absent.

Many in the media seem to assume that V.V. Putin preferred Trump because he feared Hillary Clinton, which is in our view both a vast underestimation of the Russian supremo and an overestimation of his would-be American opposite number. The only thing Russia had to fear from a Clinton Administration was more of the illogic and unpredictability of the Obama years. Trump could be predicted, perhaps, to behave rationally in American interests, and Russian leaders and diplomats might be relieved to have that, after the 2008-16 World Apology Tour.

Here is a technical breakdown of the DNC break-in, from consultants that the Committee itself used, which dates from prior to the election; in fact, the hack and the cybersecurity firm’s involvement date to 2015.

CrowdStrike Services Inc., our Incident Response group, was called by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the formal governing body for the US Democratic Party, to respond to a suspected breach. We deployed our IR team and technology and immediately identified two sophisticated adversaries on the network – COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR. We’ve had lots of experience with both of these actors attempting to target our customers in the past and know them well. In fact, our team considers them some of the best adversaries out of all the numerous nation-state, criminal and hacktivist/terrorist groups we encounter on a daily basis. Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none and the extensive usage of ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter. In particular, we identified advanced methods consistent with nation-state level capabilities including deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ tradecraft – both groups were constantly going back into the environment to change out their implants, modify persistent methods, move to new Command & Control channels and perform other tasks to try to stay ahead of being detected. Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.

COZY BEAR is a CrowdStrike name for something other researchers call APT 29 (Advanced Persistent Threat is a term of art for competitive or adverse nation-state level permanent cyber establishments) and is associated in unclassified literature with Russian civil intelligence services, either FSB (internal security, broadly similar to FBI-National Security, or MI5) or SVR (external intelligence, similar to CIA or MI6).  FANCY BEAR, APT 28, is associated more solidly with Russian military intelligence, the GRU.

One of the more interesting observations by CrowdStrike’s Dmitry Alperovich is that there is no apparent coordination between the two APTs, with COZY and FANCY not only not working together, or even not deconflicting (as Western cyber entities might try to do), but not being aware that the other was at work here.

The implication of both military and civilian intelligence agencies targeting a single target is that the target is on the target list (EEI or CCIR, “Essential Elements of Information” or “Commander’s Critical Information Requirements,” depending on when you learned your acronyms) of some authority level to which both military and civilian intelligence are responsible. We leave finding that level on a Russian org chart as an exercise for the reader.

The “intelligence community” report published by the DNI seems to be a rewrite of a version of this report by CrowdStrike, probably the original, as provided to their client, the DNC (which tells you all you need to know about the incumbent DNI). There is much more on the CrowdStrike website about the DNC penetration, for the technically adept. Note that what would have prevented this is not some magical software or big-dollar consultant, but the basic blocking and tackling of network security, software updates, and better education of senior officials who think they’re too important to pay attention in the cyber briefing. In other words, prevention is very simple, but very difficult in the real world.

As far as Russian election-altering intent goes, Lew Amselem, a retired diplomat, “ain’t buying it,” and neither are we.

Regular readers of this blog may find another report by CrowdStrike, on the GRU’s use of cyber to negate a Ukrainian artillery threat, of greater interest. We mean to write about this but we’ll put the link here in case we don’t get to it.



202 BC: Scipio Uses Hannibal’s Spies Against Him

The battle of Zama in 202 BC was the end of the line for Carthage’s brilliant general Hannibal Barca and the Second Punic War. After the Roman victory, Carthage faced terms more punitive than those of the notorious Treaty of Versailles: they were disarmed of their naval and military power, and subject to fifty years of tribute. When the Carthaginians made their final tribute payment, the Romans would soon demand the Carthaginians further disarm — and then  destroy the Carthaginian city, civilization, and people utterly in the Third Punic War.

In the  Battle of Zama which decided the Second Punic War, and greased the skids for the complete elimination of Carthage in the Third, there were many reasons for Roman victory. The Romans had logistical advantages, a better field position, far superior infantry (n quality, at least), and at least equal cavalry, thanks to some Numidian horsemen changing sides. But the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio enlarged those advantages by playing a trick on Hannibal Barca, his Carthaginian counterpart.

Now, what we know the battle is limited to the tales told by two Roman historians, Livy and Polybius, writing from a position far away and after the fact. The site of the battle has never been confirmed or even found. And the two of them  disagree about some details of this tale. But in most things, their two stories are consonant.

Plus, it’s a good story!

in ancient times spies were as much a part of warfare as they have been ever since, and then, as now, or perhaps, even more than now, a spy faced great risk with little prospect of reward. So three Carthaginian spies, who fell into the hands of Roman patrols shortly before the battle, must have commended their souls to their heathen gods and braced themselves for a miserable death.

The key question Hannibal needed the answer to, his EEI or CCIR to use more modern acronyms, was this: had Scipio’s infantry and Masinissa’s Numidian cavalry joined forces? In that case it would be better to refuse battle. Or was the enemy camp one of the forces, alone? In the latter case the African had the advantage over his Italian enemy.

In Hannibal’s Last Battle, Carey writes:

These three spies were taken prisoner by the Romans about the same time that Masinissa arrived at the camp with Numidian reinforcements. This force consisted of 4,000 light cavalry and 6,000 infantry.

Here the Roman historians’ stories diverge, and the authors consider what that signifies:

Polybius and Livy differ on the timing of these events. Livy maintains that the spies arrived after Masinissa, and reported back their numbers, while Polybius states that the Numidian king arrived the next day unobserved by the spies.320 Both authors agree that Scipio ordered the spies to be treated well and given guided tours of the camp and to report back to Hannibal what they observed. Polybius’ account would make sense if it were Scipio’s intention to mislead Hannibal into believing the Roman’s were weak in cavalry. This may be why Hannibal continued to march west towards Scipio. Livy’s account would ring true if the spies returned to Hannibal’s camp with intelligence on Roman troop strengths that worried the Punic general.

Of course, there’s another possibility: Scipio was simply playing a dominance game with Hannibal, the equivalent of a ballplayer trash-talking his opposite number, or a gorilla beating his chest. In any event, Hannibal met Scipio five or six days’ march west of Carthage, at the still unlocated field of Zama, and the two leaders met between their armies, with only each one’s dragoman in attendance.

Hannibal regretted that Rome and Carthage had ever pursued conquest on the other’s side of the great sea; was there any way to resolve the nations’ open issues without bloodshed?

Scipio’s response was long, flowery, and recounted a litany of Carthaginian misdeeds relative to Rome, ending with an offer of the only terms that would prevent the battle: unconditional surrender.

The fact is that you must either put yourself and your country unconditionally into our hands, or else fight and conquer us.

(This would have been known to Roosevelt and Churchill, both better educated than their modern counterparts, when they made their “unconditional surrender” decision in World War II).

With no way to avoid the defeat except by fighting, the fight was on, and the next day they fought. Hannibal survived and was not captured, but the Carthaginians wound up unconditionally surrendering.

At first, the Romans planned to destroy the city and enslave the citizens, but they were talked around to simply imposing harsh terms. Cary reports:

The terms Scipio set to end the Second Punic War were very harsh, no doubt set as a reminder to the Carthaginians of the truce which they broke when the convoy was attacked off the coast of Carthage in early spring 202. According to the treaty Carthage would:

  • Lose all territory outside of Africa and recognize Masinissa as the king of a greatly expanded Numidia.
  • Reduce her fleet to only ten triremes.
  • Have all her war elephants confiscated.
  • Pay an annual indemnity of 10,000 silver talents for fifty years.
  • Refrain from making war outside of Africa unless Roman permission was obtained.
  • Return all Roman prisoners and deserters without ransom.
  • Supply Rome with three month’s worth of food and supplies and pay the occupying Roman army’s wages until the treaty was ratified by the Roman Senate.
  • Pay reparations for the loss of the convoy and its supplies.
  • Finally, Scipio demanded hostages from the leading Carthaginian families to ensure their cooperation

The Roman prisoners were freed, but the fate of the deserters was different — crucifixion for Romans, or beheading for Rome’s foreign levies, as the wages of treason.

The Carthaginians met the terms, but war came soon after the tribute’s half-century ran out. The Romans had rejected an offer to repay it early, in 191 BC, because they wanted to keep their Mediterranean rival on a short leash. The Romans threatened to invade again, and demand the Carthaginians disarm. When the Carthaginians did so, handing over 200,000 sets of individual arms and equipment and 2,000 siege machines, the Romans invaded anyway, and took the city after a three-year siege, destroying it utterly in 146 BC.

To exit, here is a wargame-produced simulation of the battle of Zama in its context of the Punic Wars.



Carey, Brian Todd. (Allfree & Cairns, maps). Hannibals Last Battle: Zama and the Fall of Carthage. Barnsley, South Yorks., England: Pen & Sword, 2007.

NSA, CIA Complacency Allowed Snowden Compromise

First, before we burn NSA and CIA bureaucrats at the stake for the risk to future warfighters they might have prevented, we need to remember that it was Snowden, himself, that decided to steal a three-mile-high pile of documents that weren’t his business (and that in most cases, he didn’t even understand), and Snowden, himself, who decided to provide them to anti-American media persons and then, further, to the Russian government.

But he’s under the guardianship of his FSB owners, now. So let’s get those bureaucrats sorted out, and bring us some ever-lovin’ kindling.

The first finding is that investigators blew opportunity after opportunity to, well, investigate.

Snowden was described as a “serial exaggerator and fabricator” who intentionally lied about his past in order to promote himself….

CIA and NSA failed to recognize that Snowden was likely to betray the government’s trust and disclose significant U.S. intelligence capabilities that have been lost or restricted as a result.

NSA security officials failed to conduct a routine check of Snowden’s educational background.

Snowden is a high school dropout and listed a nonexistent school on his security clearance paperwork. They didn’t catch the lie, because they never checked.

Snowden also was granted a “top secret” security clearance … despite an associate warning security investigators he should not be given access to secrets.

He made a false complaint of harrassment. He was relieved of a position overseas for modifying software and insubordination. (The “modifying software” is the reddest of red flags, and anyone with a tech background knows what it means in personnel reliability terms. God alone knows why they didn’t open a CI case on him right then and there). Still, he left CIA, not under investigation, if on poor terms. Yet he…

…then applied for work at NSA and was hired by an NSA contractor in 2009.

What, when the CIA had already flagged him as a dirtbag? Er, no. They dumped him as a dirtbag, but never got around to setting the flag. Yes, that’s ate up.

CIA failed to update a security database with derogatory information about Snowden. As a result, NSA failed to learn of his problems at CIA before hiring him.

Incidentally, he had to take a test. What he did. since he had access to the network at admin level already, was download the answers. Hey, best test results ever. And one more flag to Snowden’s integrity — or complete lack thereof — went unnoticed.

The polyincompetent Office of Personnel Management — you know, the guys who lost everybody’s SF86 data since 1984, which now rests in the hands of more foreign powers than even Snowden’s disclosures, those guys? — then had to investigate him for the NSA gig. That’s when they caught him, right? Wrong. You already know the spoiler, they didn’t catch him. As the story says, with “an investigation later found to have been incomplete.”

How many other Snowdens are out there, having received similar half-assed, pencil-whipped investigations? Quoth the report that inspired the article we’re quoting here:

Among other flaws, the investigation never attempted to verify Snowden’s CIA employment or speak to his CIA supervisors, nor did it attempt to independently verify Snowden’s self-report of a past security violation—areas where further information could have alerted NSA to CIA’s concerns.

And as the article notes:

  • Investigators “failed to check job references”;
  • They only checked his mother and girlfriend. (Yep, they exist! Box checked);
  • His co-workers knew he was not right, “squirrelly”;
  • He “voiced sympathies for China based on meetings with Chinese hackers”
  • He defended Bradley Manning (not surprising, traitors hang together).
  • NSA had no IDS or real-time usage monitoring on NSANet or JWICS.

McDonalds protects the secret ingredients of its “special sauce” better.

His methods were not sophisticated. He used file download tools available to any beginner admin, wget and DownThemAll. There are some details in the article, and the whole who-shot-John is in the report. Redacted report (original is TS/codewords, NOFORN):