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Asymmetrical Attack on America & Possible Responses
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 03:34:54 -0500 (CDT)
[OK, This on the surface has little to do with information security,
(So you could delete this now if you're not interested) but if you're
like me, you have been glued to CNN, MSNBC, TechTV or any of the other
24 hour a day news channels in the last week, for me its been mainly
CNN. Lately it seems like every defence analyst that has ever
submitted a paragraph to Janes has been on CNN and more than half of
them are just completely clueless, so good information on the future
war is getting to be hard to come by. Staying with basically with what
C4I stands for (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence) or
as its also known, "The Battlefield Big Picture" I do want to give
everyone here the big picture, solid open source intelligence from
several different viewpoints to look at things and make quality
decisions. This viewpoint is from a person I do respect from afar, yet
to meet, and look forward to reading future briefings whenever he
publishes them. - William Knowles - 9.22.2001]
Asymmetrical Attack on America & Possible Responses
by Brian Boquist - September 17, 2001
Upon the request of a member of Congress, the following paper was
written in regard to the recent attacks on the United States of
America. The positions held in this paper are based on first hand
experience operating against asymmetrical warrior societies in
Liberia, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Sudan, and a host of experiences over
24 years of military and international business operations on five
continents. They are not my thoughts alone but rather those of men
who have fought this kind of war over the past decade.
Ten years ago, LTG Paul Riper and LTG Edward Rowney expressed
concerned that we might not understand the future threat. Less than a
decade ago, MG Harley Davis pressed hard for US special operations
forces to maintain regional and cultural orientation so to focus on
unconventional war as a basis to respond to the 21st Century threat.
Three years ago, Colonel Charles Dunlap, USAF, conducted a series of
lectures on Information Operations and Asymmetrical Warfare. As a
result, the US military started addressing the IO portion of this
threat. Today, author, Ralph Peters, LTC retired, and Professor John
Keegan both have written and lectured on the asymmetrical war to be
waged in the future. As Mr. Peter's basically said in the Wall Street
Journal last week, the future war is here today but nobody listened.
The term asymmetrical warfare is less than three years old. Simply
put it means total unconventional war where a smaller terrorist or
warrior society wages war against a larger conventional country
defeating it by focusing on its relative weaknesses. It is total war
with no rules waged by an enemy that has zero regard for human life,
ethics, justice or any norms of decency. It will be waged on the
streets of America with women and children being the primary targets.
It will be a war of terrorist propaganda.
We started briefing this in 1999 to US Army Special Forces Command.
After three years, until few days ago, few people at Defense, State or
elsewhere listened. A copy of the 1999 briefing is attached. You can
skim these in two minutes, as they are critical. The number one point
is 95% of the world is not like us, do not think like us, and do not
believe in the values of America.
In relation to our briefings, a War College level paper outlined the
exact scenario of the defeat of the United States of America. The
reality is it has begun. They are winning right now. I will find a
copy of this paper for you. The terrorist goal against the US is to
defeat the "will of the people" and inflict economic damage beyond
our level of acceptance. Terrorists now believe the US will cave or
surrender rather than suffer casualties: examples are Lebanon,
Somalia, Kosovo etc. where we will accept no casualties, and try to
negotiate out of every hostile act. Right now, the country is
economically paralyzed. Every rumor stalls the government and
instills public fear.
TVs are filled with "terrorist" experts from corporate America and
various police agencies. While good intentioned, this is war. The
notion of justice, liberty, freedom, and human rights does not exist
to these modern warrior societies. We have seen two types of warrior
societies emerge: "economic" and "fundamentalist" of which you've
seen two yourself i.e. the RUF in Sierra Leone (economic) and the
Islamic (fundamentalist) of the past week. The fundamentalists have
no fear or concept of death in a western sense. Both groups have
years to decades of combat experience in total war. They operate in
smaller groups with exceptional coordination but can mass in the
thousands. This is not a legal or justice issue at all. It is total
war with no rules whatsoever completely outside the bounds of nation
Past responses. I'm going to avoid the exceptional law enforcement
successes of the past few years, and past week. Instead, my focus is
the Clinton Administration's military responses used for political
statements. Note this is not anti-Clinton but rather eight years of
history. However, nothing has changed in military thinking or
leadership. The same overall government bureaucracy still exists.
Our responses have been to target hard installations or locations with
cruise missiles or air strikes. These attacks make good news stories,
you can see the destruction, but really does not destroy terrorist
infrastructure. What it does is create terrorist martyrs.
The point is these warrior societies operating outside of nation state
governments have flourished. The "feel good" military strikes and law
enforcement have had visible effects but these armies have grown,
expanded, and become more capable. Thus strikes have not succeeded.
Note in January, nearly 400 of their emissaries met in Lebanon, and
again in April and/or June to coordinate activities. Attendees are
the who's who like Bin Laden, Hizballah, Gama'at al-Islam, Al-Jihad,
Palistine Jihad, Hamas, Abu Nidal, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Revolutionary United Front, National Islamic Front, Colombia's IRA,
etc. etc. You will note many of these operate freely in the USA,
Mexico and Canada. So freely, the FAA gave some of them licenses to
Today, we hear of the "same old same old" response. The building of a
coalition to respond. NATO chapter 5, possibly UN chapter 7, and
other "moral" commitments. This is similar to Gulf War coalition but
Islamic nations will not successfully go this far. Recall, 95% of the
world is not like us. These nations, NATO and Islamic, will morally
help but in specific long-term support, a general world war, this
support may likely vaporize over time. The reason is simple; the new
asymmetrical societies will threaten these countries, or attack them,
to send the message not to help. The "out" for these countries is
"violence does not beget violence." Remember, the so-called terrorist
coalition operates across the face of the Earth so their reach is very
great. Thus these nations may lend moral support but stay neutral in
terms of military support or military access in the long term. In the
next few weeks, it might look like they will cooperate but as time
passes this support will decrease. It is not the Gulf War; there is
no occupying force.
Everyone is talking about "strikes" and "swift military responses" but
we need to look at the options in terms of actual sustained capability
in the US military if not NATO. First, we have had huge troop cuts in
the past decade as have our supposed allies. We have the equal of ten
plus air force style divisions that are short of cruise missiles and
have few production lines for bombs. We have warships and carriers
restricted to watered Earth. We have roughly twelve active divisions
(10 USA, 2 USMC +/-), 5 SF groups plus 2 ARNG SF groups, 13 ARNG
separate brigades, and a USMCR division. The active units are over
committed and understrength as are the reserve units. We have major
troops deployed, that cannot be moved, in Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo,
Colombia, and Middle East. While we have troops in hundreds of other
places around the world these troops could be moved without major
Recall, it took seven months to move into the Gulf to fight a war.
We were completely unopposed in this preparation. We had to activate
the CRAF for air movement, and special sealift, which was non-American
simply to get by. Now, our forces are half the size and twice
committed in terms of places and operational tempo.
Two immediate lines of rhetoric have risen. The disaster occurred
because of a lack of funding to intelligence, and funding of defense.
Money is not the answer. In the intelligence area the issue is human
Money will not fix the lack of human intelligence as we need people.
Unfortunately, we need both American manpower and sources. Terrorist
sources are not nice people. Congress and others wanted a "nice human
rights respecting" intelligence system without "sources" who were not
bad guys. You want to get inside the terrorist organizations then you
need a terrorist to do it. The bottom line is it takes experienced
people to jump-start the effort, people who have left since the Carter
Administration, and up through the Clinton Administration. We have no
time to "seed" for the future. We need to recall "old men" who still
know the terrorist opposition.
People who worked police, intelligence, commercial or military
operations over the past twenty-five years. Anybody who might know
somebody who can help. Team the "old guard" with new people to get
America a quick start. This is going to be a long war; we don't have
time to start training "new" people from scratch.
The same applies to military contacts in any of the potential
terrorist countries; Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria,
Saudi, Sudan to name a few. A review of foreign officers attending
schools, seminars or forums over the past twenty years should be
completed. Find the US officers or soldiers who attended the same
events, and try to make a match with someone who can re-establish a
friendship. A captain twenty years ago may be a general today. A
colonel ten years ago may be an important businessman with contacts
today. As to businessmen, who in American business has operated in
these countries, and whom do they know? As was said last week, "you
are either with us, or you are against us." The same applies in
American business. You want the privilege to be American, then pay
As to the military, all the fancy technology will not help us either.
Because of our lack of willingness to lose troops i.e. we will not
accept casualties, the cuts have been in the combat troop area. A
recent soldier poll result indicated 52% of women in the military
opposed warfighting in the military, and 30% plus of men in the
military opposed warfighting. We have feminized society so the
military reflects society. These very educated asymmetrical terrorist
societies have noted the US unwillingness to accept casualties.
At this point, we need to interject a bit on the types of tactics that
will be used to "defeat our will to fight." Peters, Dunlap and
others, outlined hypothetically how propagandists would use the media
to broadcast pictures of captured white female soldiers being dragged
through the streets naked and publicly whipped, or how gang raped
female soldiers would be displayed naked in cages. Note the use of
"white" women is not a racist issue but simply the most effective
avenue to spread terror. The black POWs would face the same
treatment. To the authors, and readers, this may have been simply an
illustration. However, it is factual.
In West Africa and Asia, these same types of tactics for waging the
propaganda war have been refined over the past five years by economic
and fundamentalist warrior societies. These warriors cut off the
breasts of women and hands of children then sent them into villages to
spread fear. In fact, they cut of body parts in the thousands.
Ambassadors Hirsh, Wright, Jeter, Melrose, and Congressmen Wolf, Hall,
Cooksey and Payne can confirm these type of common atrocities in
Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
Keep in mind, infidel women are considered property by many of these
movements. Bin Laden's allies are deeply involved in modern day
slavery. Men are not kept for slaves but rather women for use as
concubines, extra wives (up to four), and servants. This
fundamentalist warfare ideology in practice says the "means" are
justified if the "end" result is the death of the Americans. There
are no rules. There will be no American POWs in the end. The men
will be killed once the propaganda value is gone, and women will be
sold as slaves.
This leads us to what are our real ground capacities. Note the air
war of the past decade has led us to this point. Yes, bombing is
fine, carpet-bombing is an option, but other than "feel good" it will
not solve the problem. As said elsewhere, it will create "martyrs."
Also, the number of bombs and missiles for aircraft are limited, as we
have not produced many lately.
Let me address actual rifle shooting combat capability in conventional
terms. Here is what is available in 90 days but includes all troops
in Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Middle East. Twelve AC divisions,
13 ARNG separate brigades, another USMCR division. Later we would get
some ARNG bottom tier divisions as replacements. So in round terms it
is 16 divisions, 3 brigades each division, 3 battalions to the
brigade, 3 companies to the battalion, 3 platoons to the company, 3
squads of maximum 11 men per squad. This is 42,768 rifle shooting
front line soldiers in an ideal world. However, the understrength of
the Army is in these ranks. Up to 6000 short in fact. Further, some
divisions only have two brigades, and some brigades have less
battalions. Plus take out Korea, Bosnia and Kosovo, and possibly
others. Further, it assumes Congress will mobilize nearly 100% of the
Army National Guard and US Army Reserve i.e. over 400,000 reservists.
Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo and Middle East must be addressed at this point.
The US weakness in terms of "will power" and military may come out in
the next few months. This will increase the potential aggressiveness
of North Korea which is a rogue terrorist supporter. Bosnia and
Kosovo based troops are faced with numbers of Islamic radical
opponents if not terrorist allies. The troops in Kuwait, Saudi and
UAE protect our jet fuel access to wells in Kuwait and Saudi. Note we
need the Kuwait and Saudi crude for jet fuel production. Worse, these
nations could take a neutral position in terms of military action.
In fact, terrorists could do the same to these three nations as has
been done to us. Also note the FARC could step up oil line attacks in
Colombia to block exports to the USA.
The mid-conclusion is we have limited conventional force numbers to
deploy, and while bombing the "daylights" out of targets might be an
option, the final results will not be great. Obviously, we could raise
new divisions but recall the JCS has told Congress it takes two years
to train such a division.
We would be talking about ten or more new divisions, which may still
be fairly useless in this situation. Recall, all the success claims
in Kosovo of targets bombed turned out to be less than 25% of actual
destruction. Since this is the opening days of a "total war" against
the USA, the feel good actions and public displays of bombings will
have little real impact against these asymmetrical organizations.
However, bombing may be critical to improving the morale of the
American public. Do not discount bombing for public relations and
psychological benefit of sustaining the "American will to fight."
As Afghanistan is at the top of the news, keep in mind nobody in two
centuries has successfully invaded or operated in this country. The
British and Russians have been defeated. The Russians lost 12,000
plus then pulled out. In the Russian case, their military had access
to over 1000 kilometers of shared border from which to operate.
Americans, and Russians, have no such common border now. The likely
only neutral or passive access to Afghanistan for the US ground forces
would be through Pakistan. The closest southern ground access from
Karachi seaport is 1028 kilometers, and the northern access to the
Khyber Pass toward Kabul is over 1929 kilometers north by road.
These small roads would be through Islamic territory that would be
passive at first then possibly hostile. One or two roads would have
to handle 95% of the logistics going north. Further, the Government
of Pakistan stability may well be threatened by the presence of
Americans. Noteworthy is Uzbekistan's offer of assistance but it is
landlocked by former Soviet republics.
This leaves the question of how would conventional forces get to
Pakistan if it were a launching point for ground operations against
Afghanistan. How would they be sustained. The distance is farther
than by the sea and air route to the Gulf War during 1990-91. We have
less shiplift and less airlift today. It would take a year to get
half the size of the force raised in the Gulf War to Pakistan, and
during this time support would erode, and local Islamic forces would
turn against America. Further, our heavy forces are tied to fuel
restrictions due to a lack of fuel trucks and general truck transport
let alone heavy tank truck transport. So not only is the sealift
farther, it would require a truck transport capability larger than
that of the Gulf War. As a side note, Congress already knows the
dismal readiness of our aircraft and helicopter fleets. Has someone
thought about Winter conditions at 8000-12,000 feet in these
What are the immediate (six months) options besides air strikes. The
US has over 52 agencies involved in counter-terrorism thus
coordination is poor at best. Our intelligence system is so
bureaucratic, as is Defense, the ability to react quickly on the
ground is limited. What is clear, is the country must form a leaner,
meaner, faster moving unconventional military-civilian force who has
the authority to operate outside the bureaucracy. This cannot be a
law enforcement force, and should have no such mentality. Again, this
is total war. However, the military's experts in unconventional war
are limited, and special operations forces are under strength as many
good men have left the service. The only quick way to enhance special
operations is to recall those personnel but this is of questionable
value if they return to Army, Navy or Air Force commands. The
bureaucracy of inaction exists in the commands of these same forces.
Part of the problem is technology now allows DC (DOD, DOS, NSC) to be
involved in every detail and action. Thus everyone is second-guessed
in advance, which results in inaction. Thus a combination of military
special operations strike forces, and civilian forces capable of
intelligence gathering and unconventional warfare support need to
While some special operations forces can strike at terrorist cells
around the globe, we have many allies fighting terrorist governments
and fundamentalists regimes. Simply put, we do not have enough forces
to go around. So the use of civilian advisors and logistics experts
who came from special operations to support our allies on the front
lines against terrorists makes sense. Specifically, such examples may
be the Afghan resistance, Liberian resistance, Sudanese resistance,
Iraqi resistance, Colombian government, Philippine government, and a
host of African arenas plus a few in Asia. These terrorist groups are
linked, and these societies must all be attacked. Terrorism is a
Medusa not a single entity. Keep in mind, if Bin Laden is killed, his
replacement, and followers, will continue on to reign terror. It may
not be wise to eliminate the first head until our intelligence system
is ready to track the other existing heads, and the new head that
would replace Bin Laden.
It is worth noting, American special operations forces have suffered
the same brain drain and retention problems as the rest of the
military. They have been run ragged and wasted for political
purposes. If the first or second tier of a long-term war is to be the
special operations forces, the operational tempo must be lashed
immediately. President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld both have
expressed a desire to reduce US overseas deployments. Now is the time
for action. SOF forces need to be pulled back to prepare for a long
campaign. They need rest, retrofit, reorganized, and training time to
prepare. This includes putting soldiers into language schools from
SOF forces and the conventional military. Additionally, we need to
press civilians with foreign language capability into action. In the
end, you will be asking for miracle not a victory if the operational
tempo is not cut in half to prepare for the long road to victory.
The notion of involving multiple tiered civilian forces to support
this new war cannot be discounted. If the USG determines Iraq is
connected with Afghanistan and Bin Laden, coupled with Bin Laden
financial resources out of Sudan, the threat is simply too large for
any military force or command. The Medusa must be carved into
manageable pieces. Not only must the actual terrorists be targeted,
but so must their auxiliary and underground organizations that provide
logistics and finance. This will be ugly as some close oil allies are
on the list of passive and financial supporters. The USG has
supported many of these governments due to their oil production,
hosting of military bases, and large defense industry purchases.
These countries have to make a choice.
It will be tough as many of these oil regimes only exist because of US
military support, and the USG ignorance of their human rights
violations and undemocratic rule. Many of the Arab oil states are
dictatorships in reality. This is tricky as Islamic rebels have
legitimate reasons to overthrow these governments. The question
Congress, and Americans, must ask: are we willing to let terrorists
kill Americans in the streets of America in exchange for supporting
oil regimes that passively and financially support terrorists? To
date, the USG has been unwilling to hold these countries accountable.
The fullest of Secretary Powell's diplomatic skills will be put to the
test if these countries are to be brought into even a passive support
The concern we should have is whether the military and diplomatic
response is going to be symbolic or real. Even if tactical nuclear
weapons were used against a select nation state, it will not end the
threat. This is raised for two reasons; to avoid military casualties
somebody may raise the nuclear issue, and more importantly, the Middle
East oil countries must stop supporting these groups under the table.
These new asymmetrical fundamentalist societies have extended families
and large business assets in countries across the Middle East.
Further, there is a growing extension of this system in the South
Pacific Islamic nations. All of these organizations and countries
must be acted upon simultaneously and with synchronization. Thus the
need for extraordinary organizational measures to be implemented in
this time of unprecedented danger. Simply put, it is time to put
ourselves in the moccasins of the enemy. We need to start thinking
outside of the box.
Not only do we need to build an international coalition but also we
need to build an internal coalition of new thinkers, old operators,
and America's fighting men. Not since World War II's Manhattan
Project have we needed such action to create a 21st Century version of
the OSS. In fact, it is exactly the old Office of Strategic Service
that needs to be recreated. Remember, USAID started out this way in
the 1960s. It can be done, and in the end it will be done if we are
to save this country. Likewise, intelligence must be centralized.
Information overload is created by dozens intelligence gathering
entities with no central clearing house at the Presidential level.
Again, we need to think outside of the box. The US Commission on
National Security proposed the creation of a Homeland Defense Agency a
year ago March.
Such radical schemes were not well received by the "established"
bureaucracy. Neither will the idea if even a temporary OSS task
force. However, the "old men" that left do not trust the existing
bureaucrats or leadership. While they left for various reasons, the
"leadership" could not convince them to stay. In many cases, they
were "cut" because they would not conform to the "kinder gentler"
approach required by Congress and several Administrations. Now, we
need to get those "skeletons" and "dinosaurs" out of the closet, press
them into service, and defend our nation not on our soil but in their
own backyard. The alarm has been raised; it is time for the wake up
In closing, the question is are we prepared? Does the U.S. Government
understand the real threat? How to respond? Do we have a plan?
This past January, the U.S. Commission on National Security gave a
report to President Bush arguing that a "catastrophic attack against
American citizens on American soil is likely over the next quarter
century. The risk is not only death and destruction but also
demoralization that could undermine US global leadership. In the face
of this threat our nation has no coherent or integrated government
structure." They said it to the President, not me.
Having raised all these issues, it needs to be stated the vast
majority of the Moslems of this world are just as peace loving as the
average Americans. Unfortunately, the largest terrorist societies are
fundamental Islamic, thus it is going to look bad in religious terms.
Always remember, 95% of the world does not think like us nor share our
values. Don't be deceived by our own media, the international press
is not treating us well at all. America will go it alone in the end.
Prepared by Brian J. Boquist, ICI of Oregon Foundation, Salem, Oregon,
telephone 503-589-1437, facsimile 503-371-7285, www.icioregon.com,
dated September 17, 2001.
Mr. Boquist is an international businessman, farmer, rancher, and
father of six children. His company operates in high risk countries
around the world.
Their foundation specializes in peacekeeping and unconventional
warfare education. He commanded infantry and special forces units in
several branches of the military rising to the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel. In June, he was a panel member at the National Intelligence
Council forum on African militaries. He was the Republican challenger
in Oregon's 5th Congressional District in the last cycle.
"Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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- Asymmetrical Attack on America & Possible Responses InfoSec News (Sep 22)