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Defense Tech Radio

EikMcChrystal

We’re going to live blog the House Armed Services Committee hearing tomorrow morning at 0930 featuring Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Amb. Karl Eikenberry. We’ll have panelists and guests swooping in and out of the CoveritLive-style blog during the hearing, and we’ll also be keeping an eye on the DoD Buzz Twitter feed as Colin Clark posts his up-to-the-minute content at the hearing.

You can watch along by visiting the HASC web site and clicking on their live hearing link.

See you then…

– Christian

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afghan-training-team

I’m going to be talking today at 1400 EST to Andrew Lubin, a freelance journalist, blogger and Military​.com contributor about his recent trip to Afghanistan.

Andrew has some rather controversial impressions from his visit — is the Army losing its fighting spirit, can McChrystal win the counterinsurgency fight, what makes the Marines’ strategy so successful?

We’ll answer all those questions and more live today on our Boots on the Ground podcast. Please join us for a listen.

UPDATE: Below you’ll see the final version of the podcast. You can also feel free to subscribe to Boots on the Ground with iTunes.

Andrew paints a pretty bleak picture of Army operations in the East…a contingent of troops who lack the aggression and are unwilling to assume the risks inherent in a true counterinsurgency campaign. Lubin also says that while the overall commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is a solid Soldier, it’s unclear that he lacks the “Big Army” mentality to streamline the decision making, shift the emphasis from force protection to “clear, hold and build” in a simultaneous way and to win over the Afghans who respect aggression and decisiveness.

Lubin also tells of some pretty harsh restrictions on fire support missions and feeds in some reporing he’s uncovered about what went wrong at Wanat and Camp Keating which were both nearly overrun by Taliban assaults. This is a must listen.

 

– Christian

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I just finished an interesting Podcast with Jake Allen, former PMC contractor and Marine officer who’s in the private security biz and a regular contributor to Defense Tech and The Private Military Herald online e-zine.

Jake and I had a conversation about the stories surrounding the CIA contracts with Blackwater to form al Qaeda kill/capture squads and service lethal drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While Jake never worked for Blackwater, he’s got many colleagues who have and he’s well enough connected within the industry to deliver thoughtful insights into the controversy and some unique perspectives on how the CIA contracts and what their capabilities are.

To Jake, the CIA hit team contract shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to anyone except that it was with Blackwater — a company whose image personifies everything that was bad about the Iraq war. And on the Predator servicing contract, Jake said “if it were Raytheon, Lockheed Martin or any of the other big named aerospace contractors that could have done this kind of work nobody would have batted an eye…”

Agreed…

But Jake wasn’t necessarily defending Blackwater. He did say the company had benefitted from a lack of government oversight and that more should be done to keep an eye on how taxpayers’ dollars are being spent by PMCs.

Be sure to listen (or download) the entire interview and be sure to check back next month when the hearings kick off on both controversial programs.

– Christian

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Was he dead? Was he still alive?

Do we trust the AP on stuff like this? Or is Roggio more credible?

That’s precisely the back and forth we’ve had today on the story of the Predator strike on Baitullah Mehsud, the vicious commander of the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan and a key al Qaeda ally.

First, it was the MSM claiming he’d been killed in a Predator strike at his father in law’s house.

Then we had Roggio writing that his sources were telling him the leader had not been killed, but that he might have been injured in the hit.

Who to believe?

Well, why not hear it from the horse’s mouth.

I spoke with Bill this morning about the story and his reaction to the two versions. Let’s just say he’s glad he’s batting at least a 900 on his reporting of these commander killed rumors.

– Christian

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Good morning folks. Sorry for the delayed post…playing catch up.

I wanted to let you know that I’ll be participating as a panelist on a Live Web chat with Frontline documentaries on a new project they’ve launched called “Digital Nation.”

This documentary looks at how digital technology has impacted our daily lives, including how it has changed the way the military does business. Today I’ll weigh in on that subject with Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, the commander of 8th Air Force, and Dr. Albert “Skip” Rizzo, director of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies and creator of the military’s “virtual Iraq” PTSD treatment program.

I hope you’ll join us today at 11am EDT for the online chat over at Frontline’s Digital Nation project site.

– Christian

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Back by popular demand, we’ve scheduled another episode of “Boots on the Ground” (or in the water, this time) to chat with security consultant and former PSC operator Jake Allen, and our recent contributor addition Joe Buff, who’s a noted fiction writer and naval expert, about the recent pirate standoff and what it means for maritime strategy, naval planning and security on the high seas.

You can tune in to the podcast and stream it live — and even ask your own questions — or you can download it later here on Defense Tech or on iTunes.

Hope you’ll join us!

– Christian

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Military​.com Editor Ward Carroll had a great interview last Friday with president of the Center for a New American Security and former Army Lt. Col. John Nagl on counterinsurgency, Iraq mistakes and a look ahead at Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy.

Here’s an excerpt of an article I wrote to accompany Ward’s podcast.

One of the intellectual godfathers of President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy and a noted expert on counterinsurgency strategy is warning that the White House is dangerously short changing efforts to create a viable Afghan army to help defeat a Taliban insurgency.

Though he attended Obamas unveiling of the new strategy March 27 and applauds the presidents new, more aggressive Afghan push, retired Army Lt. Col. John Nagl says he is worried that the U.S. commitment to building local forces to secure the country wasnt given enough emphasis.

The long-term answer has to be an expanded Afghan national army, and this is the policy I hoped to hear [at the speech] but did not, Nagl said during a March 31 seminar sponsored by the Foreign Policy Initiative think tank in Washington. The Afghan national army is the most respected institution in that country and must be expanded to 250,000 … to prevent Taliban re-infiltration of the population.

The current U.S. plan is to build the Afghan army to 135,000 troops.

During his March 27 White House speech, Obama pledged 17,000 more U.S. combat troops for Afghanistan this year and an additional 4,000 troops to act as trainers for Afghan national army units. The president also claimed his administration would emphasize civilian mentoring for Afghan governance and development, using diplomats, agricultural experts and government legal officials to help rebuild Afghan civil society.

Nagl, now president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for a New American Security think tank, is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife thought among most military strategists to be the intellectual impetus for the services current shift to counterinsurgency training and strategy. The former president of CNAS, Michelle Flournoy, was appointed by Obama to be the Pentagons top policy official.

Nagl called Obamas troop increase and trainer push a down payment on whats needed to defeat a resurgent Taliban and keep extremists from taking over Afghanistan once more.

Building Afghan security forces will be a long-term effort that will require American assistance and advisors for many years, Nagl added. But there is simply no viable alternative.

– Christian

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Pentagon chief Robert Gates is conducting a news conference today on the release of the DoD Budget for fiscal 2010. As we’ve heard for the last several months, there’s probably going to be a bunch of dramatic cuts in there and it will be interesting to see what makes it and what doesn’t.

According to DoD Buzz editor Colin Clark, The Hill will get the bad news around noon.

DoD Buzz’s contributing editor Greg Grant is going to be live blogging Gates’ press conference today while it streams on the Pentagon Channel at 1:30pm. Colin will be at the Pentagon to cover the presser for a story later on.

So be sure to tune in to Buzz’s live blog today at 1:30.

– Christian

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In this episode, we talk to DT contributor Kevin Coleman who takes on his critics, talks breaking news on new cyber warfare organizations and discloses previously unreported vulnerabilities in computer hardware that may be impossible to secure.

– Christian

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Sorry for the delay folks, technical issues…

And be sure to check us out on iTunes!

– Christian

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