US Military to conduct “Walking Dead” Zombie Apocalypse psy-op

What is the intelligence community working on?

By JULIE WATSON | AP | OCTOBER 30, 2012

Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special ops, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.

“This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party,” said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. “Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn’t happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we’re having a little fun with.”

Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.

In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bit by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment.

“No one knows what the zombies will do in our scenario, but quite frankly no one knows what a terrorist will do,” Barker said. “If a law enforcement officer sees a zombie and says, `Freeze, get your hands in the air!’ What’s the zombie going to do? He’s going to moan at you. If someone on PCP or some other psychotic drug is told that, the truth is he’s not going to react to you.”

The keynote speaker beforehand will be a retired top spook former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

“No doubt when a zombie apocalypse occurs, it’s going to be a federal incident, so we’re making it happen,” Barker said. Since word got out about the exercise, they’ve had calls from “every whack job in the world” about whether the U.S. government is really preparing for a zombie event.

Called “Zombie Apocalypse,” the exercise follows the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s campaign launched last year that urged Americans to get ready for a zombie apocalypse, as part of a catchy, public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.

The Homeland Security Department jumped on board last month, telling citizens if they’re prepared for a zombie attack, they’ll be ready for real-life disasters like a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake or terrorist attack. A few suggestions were similar to a few of the 33 rules for dealing with zombies popularized in the 2009 movie “Zombieland,” which included “always carry a change of underwear” and “when in doubt, know your way out.”

San Diego-based Halo Corp. founded by former military special ops and intelligence personnel has been hosting the annual counterterrorism summit since 2006.

The five-day Halo counterterrorism summit is an approved training event by the Homeland Security Grant Program and the Urban Areas Security Initiative, which provide funds to pay for the coursework on everything from the battleground tactics to combat wounds to cybersecurity. The summit has a $1,000 registration fee and runs Oct. 29-Nov 2.

Conferences attended by government officials have come under heightened scrutiny following an inspector general’s report on waste and abuse at a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that led to the resignation of General Services Administrator Martha Johnson. The Las Vegas conference featured a clown, a mind-reader and a rap video by an employee who made fun of the spending.

Joe Newman, spokesman of the watchdog organization Project on Government Oversight, said he does not see the zombie exercise as frivolous.

“We obviously are concerned about any expenditure that might seem frivolous or a waste of money but if they tie things together, there is a lesson there,” Newman said. “Obviously we’re not expecting a zombie apocalypse in the near future, but the effects of what might happen in a zombie apocalypse are probably similar to the type of things that happen in natural disasters and manmade disasters. They’re just having fun with it. We don’t have any problems with it as a teaching point.”

Defense analyst Loren Thompson agreed.

“The defining characteristics of zombies are that they’re unpredictable and resilient. That may be a good way to prepare for what the Pentagon calls asymmetric warfare,” Thompson said.

Organizers can also avoid the pitfalls of using a mock enemy who could be identified by nationality, race or culture _ something that could potentially be seen as offensive.

“I can think of a couple of countries where the local leaders are somewhat zombie-like,” he joked. “But nobody is going to take this personally.”

U.S. Military Openly Admits to Conducting Cyberwarfare

Destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries.

By NOAH SHACHTMAN | WIRED.com | AUGUST 29, 2012

There was a time, not all that long ago, when the U.S. military wouldn’t even whisper about its plans to hack into opponents’ networks. Now America’s armed forces can’t stop talking about it.

The latest example comes from the U.S. Air Force, which last week announced its interest in methods “to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries [sic] ability to use the cyberspace domain for his advantage.” But that’s only one item in a long list of “Cyberspace Warfare Operations Capabilities” that the Air Force would like to possess. The service, in its request for proposals, also asked for the “ability to control cyberspace effects at specified times and places,” as well as the “denial of service on cyberspace resources, current/future operating systems, and network devices.”

The Air Force says it will spend $10 million on the effort, mostly for short programs of three to 12 months; the service wants its Trojans and worms available, ASAP. And they should be available to both the top brass and to the “operational commander,” too. In other words, cyber strikes shouldn’t just be the prerogative of the president, to be launched at only the most strategically important moments. Malware should be a standard component of a local general’s toolkit.

These digital weapons could even be deployed before a battle begins. The Air Force notes that it would like to deploy “technologies/capabilities” that leave “the adversary entering conflicts in a degraded state.”

Such an open discussion — even one so vague — might seem like a bit of a surprise, considering the Obama administration is actively investigating leaks to the press about America’s online espionage campaign against Iran. The Senate Intelligence Committee considered the disclosure so dangerous, it passed a controversial bill last month that creates new punishments for leakers of classified information.

But this isn’t 2007, when the Pentagon was still insisting that it had a “defensive mindset” in cyberspace. New pieces of military-grade malware — apparently linked to the broader U.S. cyberspying push — are being discovered constantly on Middle Eastern networks. Besides, the Air Force is hardly alone in talking about its desire for — and use of — network attacks. They are becoming a regular part of the military conversation — so normal, in fact, that generals are even beginning to talk about their troops’ wartime hacking.

 Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, who led coalition forces in southwestern Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, bragged at a technology conference last week that his troops had broken into militants’ communications. “I can tell you that as a commander in Afghanistan in the year 2010, I was able to use my cyber operations against my adversary with great impact,” Mills said. “I was able to get inside his nets, infect his command-and-control, and in fact defend myself against his almost constant incursions to get inside my wire, to affect my operations.”

Mills added that the Marines had recently put together a company of Marines, stationed at the headquarters of the National Security Agency, to give the Corps “an offensive capability.” A second company “will be designed to increase the availability of intelligence analysts, intelligence collectors and offensive cyber operations and place them in the appropriate unit, at the appropriate time, at the appropriate place, so that forward deployed commander in the heat of combat has full access to the cyber domain.”

The day before Mills’ talk, the Pentagon’s leading research division announced a new, $110 million program to help warplanners assemble and launch online strikes in a hurry and make cyber attacks a more routine part of U.S. military operations. The effort, dubbed “Plan X” by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, isn’t supposed to formally get underway until Sept. 20. But Darpa has already awarded a no-bid, $600,000 contract to the Washington-area cybersecurity firm Invincea to start work on “Plan X.”

Invincea wasn’t immediately able to comment on the “Digital Battlefield Understanding Study and proof-of-concept demonstration” that it intends to produce for Darpa. But a military document justifying Invincea’s sole-source contract notes that the company submitted an “unsolicited proposal” for the project on June 26. Less than a month later, it was approved. “Invincea is the only source who possesses the particular commercial software and knowledge necessary to rapidly address technical insights in modeling a cyber battlespace and optimizing digital battle plans,” the document notes.

Invincea isn’t the only military contractor working on the tools of cyber war, however. These days, the build-up of America’s online arsenal has become the subject of all sorts of open talk and deal-making.

US Military wants Drones over Latin America

LATINO VOICES | JUNE 14, 2012

The U.S. Military is looking to relocate some of their predator drones, sending some to South and Central America, according to a new article in Wired Magazine.

As US forces come home from Afghanistan, the US military seems to have a surplus of predator drones — remotely operated unmanned aircraft vehicles often used to carry out attacks and intelligence gathering missions. Drones previously used in Afghanistan will be given to “operational missions by previously undeserved” commands, including those in the Pacific and in Southern America, according to Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz. While the exact number of drones, which will be sent to Latin America remains unknown, the implications of their presence remain hotly contested.

Some question whether their presence in the region is even necessary or whether they will be effective in thwarting drug traffickers. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations told Wired Magazine that while the drones could help with spy missions in South America, there is no good reason to use their attack capabilities.

“There is no strategic rationale for the United States to be responding to the flow of drugs from Latin America with the tactical use of kinetic force against drug planes or boats you happen to be able to find, ” he said. Furthermore, Zenko noted that the drones might be better used for United Nations peacekeeping operations in regions like Southern Sudan.  “3,800 troops deployed right now for an [area] of 2,100 kilometers, with poor roads that wash out in the rainy season,” Zenko told Wired Magazine. “The deployment of these [spy] capabilities, and associated logistics and training infrastructure, would make a huge difference.”

Just days after the announcement that drone presence will be increased in Latin America, the Pew Research Center released a study suggesting that the Obama administration’s use of unmanned drone strikes to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world. On Wednesday, Pew reported that in 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, “more than half of the people disapproved of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia,” according to The Associated Press. But a majority of Americans, 62 percent, approve the increased drone strikes.

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Truth, lies and Afghanistan

How US military leaders have let us down

by Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis
AFJ
February 6, 2012

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

 Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.

My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.

I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.

I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.

From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.

FROM BAD TO ABYSMAL

Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified. But I can say that such reports — mine and others’ — serve to illuminate the gulf between conditions on the ground and official statements of progress.

And I can relate a few representative experiences, of the kind that I observed all over the country.

In January 2011, I made my first trip into the mountains of Kunar province near the Pakistan border to visit the troops of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry. On a patrol to the northernmost U.S. position in eastern Afghanistan, we arrived at an Afghan National Police (ANP) station that had reported being attacked by the Taliban 2½ hours earlier.

Through the interpreter, I asked the police captain where the attack had originated, and he pointed to the side of a nearby mountain.

“What are your normal procedures in situations like these?” I asked. “Do you form up a squad and go after them? Do you periodically send out harassing patrols? What do you do?”

As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.

“No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!”

According to the cavalry troopers, the Afghan policemen rarely leave the cover of the checkpoints. In that part of the province, the Taliban literally run free.

In June, I was in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, returning to a base from a dismounted patrol. Gunshots were audible as the Taliban attacked a U.S. checkpoint about one mile away.

As I entered the unit’s command post, the commander and his staff were watching a live video feed of the battle. Two ANP vehicles were blocking the main road leading to the site of the attack. The fire was coming from behind a haystack. We watched as two Afghan men emerged, mounted a motorcycle and began moving toward the Afghan policemen in their vehicles.

The U.S. commander turned around and told the Afghan radio operator to make sure the policemen halted the men. The radio operator shouted into the radio repeatedly, but got no answer.

On the screen, we watched as the two men slowly motored past the ANP vehicles. The policemen neither got out to stop the two men nor answered the radio — until the motorcycle was out of sight.

To a man, the U.S. officers in that unit told me they had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area — and that was before the above incident occurred.

In August, I went on a dismounted patrol with troops in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. Several troops from the unit had recently been killed in action, one of whom was a very popular and experienced soldier. One of the unit’s senior officers rhetorically asked me, “How do I look these men in the eye and ask them to go out day after day on these missions? What’s harder: How do I look [my soldier’s] wife in the eye when I get back and tell her that her husband died for something meaningful? How do I do that?”

One of the senior enlisted leaders added, “Guys are saying, ‘I hope I live so I can at least get home to R&R leave before I get it,’ or ‘I hope I only lose a foot.’ Sometimes they even say which limb it might be: ‘Maybe it’ll only be my left foot.’ They don’t have a lot of confidence that the leadership two levels up really understands what they’re living here, what the situation really is.”

On Sept. 11, the 10th anniversary of the infamous attack on the U.S., I visited another unit in Kunar province, this one near the town of Asmar. I talked with the local official who served as the cultural adviser to the U.S. commander. Here’s how the conversation went:

Davis: “Here you have many units of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF]. Will they be able to hold out against the Taliban when U.S. troops leave this area?”

Adviser: “No. They are definitely not capable. Already all across this region [many elements of] the security forces have made deals with the Taliban. [The ANSF] won’t shoot at the Taliban, and the Taliban won’t shoot them.

“Also, when a Taliban member is arrested, he is soon released with no action taken against him. So when the Taliban returns [when the Americans leave after 2014], so too go the jobs, especially for everyone like me who has worked with the coalition.

“Recently, I got a cellphone call from a Talib who had captured a friend of mine. While I could hear, he began to beat him, telling me I’d better quit working for the Americans. I could hear my friend crying out in pain. [The Talib] said the next time they would kidnap my sons and do the same to them. Because of the direct threats, I’ve had to take my children out of school just to keep them safe.

“And last night, right on that mountain there [he pointed to a ridge overlooking the U.S. base, about 700 meters distant], a member of the ANP was murdered. The Taliban came and called him out, kidnapped him in front of his parents, and took him away and murdered him. He was a member of the ANP from another province and had come back to visit his parents. He was only 27 years old. The people are not safe anywhere.”

That murder took place within view of the U.S. base, a post nominally responsible for the security of an area of hundreds of square kilometers. Imagine how insecure the population is beyond visual range. And yet that conversation was representative of what I saw in many regions of Afghanistan.

In all of the places I visited, the tactical situation was bad to abysmal. If the events I have described — and many, many more I could mention — had been in the first year of war, or even the third or fourth, one might be willing to believe that Afghanistan was just a hard fight, and we should stick it out. Yet these incidents all happened in the 10th year of war.

As the numbers depicting casualties and enemy violence indicate the absence of progress, so too did my observations of the tactical situation all over Afghanistan.

CREDIBILITY GAP

I’m hardly the only one who has noted the discrepancy between official statements and the truth on the ground.

A January 2011 report by the Afghan NGO Security Office noted that public statements made by U.S. and ISAF leaders at the end of 2010 were “sharply divergent from IMF, [international military forces, NGO-speak for ISAF] ‘strategic communication’ messages suggesting improvements. We encourage [nongovernment organization personnel] to recognize that no matter how authoritative the source of any such claim, messages of the nature are solely intended to influence American and European public opinion ahead of the withdrawal, and are not intended to offer an accurate portrayal of the situation for those who live and work here.”

The following month, Anthony Cordesman, on behalf of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that ISAF and the U.S. leadership failed to report accurately on the reality of the situation in Afghanistan.

“Since June 2010, the unclassified reporting the U.S. does provide has steadily shrunk in content, effectively ‘spinning’ the road to victory by eliminating content that illustrates the full scale of the challenges ahead,” Cordesman wrote. “They also, however, were driven by political decisions to ignore or understate Taliban and insurgent gains from 2002 to 2009, to ignore the problems caused by weak and corrupt Afghan governance, to understate the risks posed by sanctuaries in Pakistan, and to ‘spin’ the value of tactical ISAF victories while ignoring the steady growth of Taliban influence and control.”

How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding and behind an array of more than seven years of optimistic statements by U.S. senior leaders in Afghanistan? No one expects our leaders to always have a successful plan. But we do expect — and the men who do the living, fighting and dying deserve — to have our leaders tell us the truth about what’s going on.

I first encountered senior-level equivocation during a 1997 division-level “experiment” that turned out to be far more setpiece than experiment. Over dinner at Fort Hood, Texas, Training and Doctrine Command leaders told me that the Advanced Warfighter Experiment (AWE) had shown that a “digital division” with fewer troops and more gear could be far more effective than current divisions. The next day, our congressional staff delegation observed the demonstration firsthand, and it didn’t take long to realize there was little substance to the claims. Virtually no legitimate experimentation was actually conducted. All parameters were carefully scripted. All events had a preordained sequence and outcome. The AWE was simply an expensive show, couched in the language of scientific experimentation and presented in glowing press releases and public statements, intended to persuade Congress to fund the Army’s preference. Citing the AWE’s “results,” Army leaders proceeded to eliminate one maneuver company per combat battalion. But the loss of fighting systems was never offset by a commensurate rise in killing capability.

A decade later, in the summer of 2007, I was assigned to the Future Combat Systems (FCS) organization at Fort Bliss, Texas. It didn’t take long to discover that the same thing the Army had done with a single division at Fort Hood in 1997 was now being done on a significantly larger scale with FCS. Year after year, the congressionally mandated reports from the Government Accountability Office revealed significant problems and warned that the system was in danger of failing. Each year, the Army’s senior leaders told members of Congress at hearings that GAO didn’t really understand the full picture and that to the contrary, the program was on schedule, on budget, and headed for success. Ultimately, of course, the program was canceled, with little but spinoffs to show for $18 billion spent.

If Americans were able to compare the public statements many of our leaders have made with classified data, this credibility gulf would be immediately observable. Naturally, I am not authorized to divulge classified material to the public. But I am legally able to share it with members of Congress. I have accordingly provided a much fuller accounting in a classified report to several members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, senators and House members.

A nonclassified version is available at http://www.afghanreport.com. [Editor’s note: At press time, Army public affairs had not yet ruled on whether Davis could post this longer version.]

TELL THE TRUTH

When it comes to deciding what matters are worth plunging our nation into war and which are not, our senior leaders owe it to the nation and to the uniformed members to be candid — graphically, if necessary — in telling them what’s at stake and how expensive potential success is likely to be. U.S. citizens and their elected representatives can decide if the risk to blood and treasure is worth it.

Likewise when having to decide whether to continue a war, alter its aims or to close off a campaign that cannot be won at an acceptable price, our senior leaders have an obligation to tell Congress and American people the unvarnished truth and let the people decide what course of action to choose. That is the very essence of civilian control of the military. The American people deserve better than what they’ve gotten from their senior uniformed leaders over the last number of years. Simply telling the truth would be a good start. AFJ

U.S. Leaves Iraq in time for Israel to Air Attack Iran

By Rowan Scarborough
Washington Times
December 15, 2011

The U.S. military’s fast-approaching Dec. 31 exit from Iraq, which has no way to defend its airspace, puts Israel in a better place strategically to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iraq has yet to assemble a force of jet fighters, and since the shortest route for Israeli strike fighters to Iran is through Iraqi airspace, observers conclude that the U.S. exit makes the Jewish state’s mission planning a lot easier.

Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said the Iraqi military will maintain radars to monitor the country’s airspace, but it has not taken possession of American F-16s to guard that space.

“The country has a capable and improving capability to see the airspace, a viable system to provide command and control, but no system to defeat incoming air threats until it gets either the F-16s or ground-based systems or, optimally, some of both,” Gen. Buchanan told The Washington Times.

Iraq made the first payment in September for 18 F-16s that will not arrive until next fall at the earliest. This means Israel would have a theoretical window of about 12 months if it wants to fly over Iraq unimpeded by the Iraqi air force.

Retired Air ForceGen. Thomas McInerney, who advocates a U.S. strategic bombing raid to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites, agreed that Iraq’s open airspace would make it easier for an Israeli mission.

“Yes, it will be,” he said. “However, it will be much easier for Iranian forces to get to Israel through Iraq via land and air.”

Gen. McInerney said he thinks there is a good chance that Iran, stretched economically by Western sanctions and fearing threats from Israel, will launch a war against the Jewish state through Iraq.

“Our departing Iraq will be a huge strategic mistake,” he said of the Dec. 31 deadline for all U.S. forces to leave.

Iraq’s ruling Shiite majority has historic ties to Iran’s dominant Shiite society, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned Tehran against meddling in his country’s politics.

Unknown is the role of U.S. jet fighters stationed outside Iraq but within striking distance from Navy carriers in the Persian Gulf, or possibly Kuwait.

“I would hope we would jump to defend Iraqi airspace,” said James Carafano, a military analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “These are the kinds of contingency plans that ought to be put in place.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, like his predecessor, Robert M. Gates, has downplayed the impact that an airstrike might have on Iran’s quest for an atomic bomb. The Islamic republic has denied that it is trying to make a nuclear weapon.

In an appearance this month at the Brookings Institution, Mr. Panetta said U.S strikes might set back the nuclear program two years and acknowledged that some Iranian targets remain elusive.

“The indication is that, at best, it might postpone it maybe one, possibly two years,” said Mr. Panetta, who also has mentioned three years as a possible delay. “It depends on the ability to truly get the targets that we’re after. Frankly, some of those targets have been difficult to get at.”

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