• What Video of the Attack on Our Embassy in Yemen Reveals

    September 14, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    It’s not good.

    Video is afloat on the internet showing the attack on America’s Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. Any casual look tells you this is not a good thing, but there is more on display than first meets the eye.









    OK, Embassy vehicles on fire, people trying to bust through the protective glass, which actually is doing its job and taking a l-o-n-g time to give in. That’s what it is supposed to do, delay attackers to give anyone inside time to get away. Such glass, as well as Embassy doors and safes, all come with three time ratings: how long it will take an average person to bust it, how long for a determined/skilled person or persons, and how long for someone with the right tools or explosives. If it was your home’s front door, (made up numbers), the rating might be 10-5-2, ten minutes for some jerk pounding the door, five minutes for a group kicking at the hinges, and two minutes for a guy with a crowbar.

    But what don’t you see? Any Yemeni cops around? Any host country forces trying to restore order? Nope. Let’s look at another clip; watch towards the end, around 0:54:


    There’s the Yemeni security guy, a soldier or a cop. He’d been watching the whole time. He only fired his 20mm cannon– into the air– when the mob seemed to get too close to him. He and whatever colleagues of his were around did not intercede to stop the riot.

    Most people do not know that foreign embassies and consulates are protected primarily by the host country, the local security forces. It’s that way in the US, in Tokyo, in Yemen. No country wants lots of foreign troops hanging around and that, plus diplomatic tradition, places the burden of security on the locals. US Embassies do traditionally have a US Marine detachment, but except under extraordinary circumstances, even at large embassies, that might still only be 20 or so troops armed with light weapons. They are the last ditch internal defense force, not a full spectrum defense. Almost all US Consulates, branch offices of the embassy if you will, have no US Marine presence. Like in Benghazi, Libya. When more help is needed, such as now in Tripoli, the Marines can send in a FAST team, maybe another 50 men, specially trained for embassy work.

    The video shows that the Yemeni security forces either can’t, or more likely, wouldn’t, defend the US Embassy from the mob. This is bad, really bad. It could mean the Yemeni government is on the side of the mob, or, more likely, that the Yemeni government is more afraid of the mob than the US. That as far as we can tell from these videos the Yemenis stood by and let the mob ransack the Embassy is a very, very ominous sign for the future.

    UPDATE: The day after the events shown above, likely under US-pressure, the Yemeni police did engage the mob, killing four. Twenty-four security force members were reported injured, as were 11 protesters, according to Yemen’s Defense Ministry, security officials and eyewitnesses. SecState Clinton said “All governments have a responsibility to protect those spaces and people, because to attack an embassy is to attack the idea that we can work together to build understanding and a better future.”

    BONUS UPDATE: State Department Spokesdrone Victoria Nuland confirmed her lack of connection with reality by saying “We determined that the security at Benghazi was appropriate for what we knew.”



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Military

    Counterinsurgency Tips, No. 453: Nazi Stuff = Bad

    February 19, 2012 // Comments Off on Counterinsurgency Tips, No. 453: Nazi Stuff = Bad

    For those Marines who slept through their counterinsurgency lessons, let’s try again. Using Nazi symbology is bad:



    Peeing on Taliban, also bad.



    It all reminds people of this:



    Any questions, please see your chain of command for more information! Otherwise, continue to follow the plan of the day.




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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Military

    Hip Hop COIN Diplomacy: Awww, P*ss on It

    January 12, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    Here is the viral video (social media!) that “purportedly” shows “alleged” US “Marines” Corps urinating on “what are believed to be” Afghan corpses. All of those words are in “quote marks” because the US is still “investigating” whether or not the video is “authentic.”

    “While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps,” ABC News quotes an official statement.

    So let’s watch and see for ourselves:



    If the embed is not showing up, follow this link to the video

    Anybody out there want to argue the video is not somehow “authentic”? The people in it dress like Marines, carry the right gear, are wearing the right boots, carrying the right weapons, same sense of humor as Marines (“Have a great day, buddy,” one of the alleged Marines can be heard saying on the footage.)

    A couple of points:

    –We can assume that this video is now on every cell phone in Afghanistan and is rocketing across the Middle East. The “bad guys” do not need to produce their own propaganda when we do it for them.

    –The expected statement from the US side, that these are “rogue” Marines, not representative of the many fine men and women in the Corps, will mean absolutely nothing to anyone outside the US. It is possible for something to be both true, and irrelevant, at the same time.

    –Most online boneheads will say things like “Well, the Taliban does worse things!” Yeah, but the Taliban is not trying to win a COIN war in a foreign country they invaded 10 years ago. Also, see above, it is possible for something to be both true, and irrelevant, at the same time.

    –About 90% of the US effort will be spent countering the domestic US reaction to the video, 9.9% that of our allies and 0.1% that of the Afghans themselves.

    –The US media will respond as trained, with only 0.1% still carrying the story in a few days. About 90% of Muslim world media will keep talking about this.

    –Absolutely nothing about this on US Embassy Kabul web site, Twitter or Facebook. So much for the use of social media. Can you say “we are irrelevant”?

    –All the happy talk hip hop diplomacy and smiley face 21st century Statecraft in the world can be rendered as useless as dust in the wind by acts like this. That’s what makes counterinsurgency such a dead end proposition. Our side has to only get it wrong once in awhile to lose.

    –As one online commenter, who identified himself as a veteran, said: “Thanks fellas, you just pissed away everything me and my boys fought for.”

    Abu Ghraib



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Military