Signal, Sygnet and Sigil - Shadows on a Moonless Midnight
The article below was inspired by an article I read by Josh Manchester whose blog is the Adventures of Chester. I have been reading this blog for some time and endorse it.
My article discusses in brief ideas I have been developing for years, as well as conversations over time with some of my friends regarding these matters.
I suggest reading Josh Manchester's Article as well.
One of the main and most persistent problems of this entire conflict has been the general failure by the public, as well as by many in the military and Intelligence communities to recognize the links between criminal activity directly associated with terrorism, overall terrorist strategy (on a regional and global basis), terrorist propaganda efforts (both directed towards their own potential recruits and used as a vehicle to suppress or depress opposition efforts - psychological and political attacks against the War Efforts in Iraq for instance), and the art of infiltration.
Terrorism, and terrorist recruitment is an underground, undercover, and clandestine effort. Propaganda efforts aimed at new recruitment is a clandestine operation and effort. Yet the United States fights our own propaganda war in an open and overt manner, completely losing all potential advantages of waging a covert propaganda war.
The US is also terrible at infiltration, dis and miscommunications, and undercover penetration of terrorist cells and the criminal organizations and rogue regimes that support and enhance their operations. Why? In my opinion for no better reason than a psychological resistance to the idea of adopting the operational methodologies of the enemy. Yet that is exactly how we should be operating, as the enemy does.
Obviously our goals differ, as would the methods by which we would seek to achieve both our war and peace objectives, but we could learn much and should learn much from the techniques of the enemy. This is a guerilla and Indian war. This is not a war against states with hierarchical organizational structures, though many rogue regimes assist terrorist aims, and many other nations, such as China and Russia and France indirectly assist those aims as well.
We should have a long time ago developed our own shadow forces; Forces, Teams, and Organizations (be they military, law enforcement, undercover, infiltration, or intelligence) that operate as mirror images of terrorist cells. These would be counter terrorist teams but their job would be to operate exactly like terrorist cells. I intend to write a more detailed paper about how these forces should be constructed, the benefits to be derived from the proper development of such forces, and how they would operate, for the B Reader, but suffice it to say for the moment that their operational purposes would include deep infiltration, intelligence gathering and construction (that is they could construct intelligence operations built upon anticipations and projections they make based upon the fact that they are mimicking real world terrorist cells), undercover work, covert and background psychological operations and propaganda warfare, and recruitment of operatives and agents in Islamic territories and organizations.
To beat, to overwhelm, to corrupt, to undermine, and to eventually convert the populations of those who oppose us we must become like the enemy, we must operate in a fashion and mode that the enemy understands. We must become better terrorists than they. Not with the intentions of undertaking terrorist acts, but in understanding and anticipating terrorist actions and in understanding and anticipating the actions of those regimes which support terrorist activities.
Currently we are woefully inadequate at the arts of infiltration, of undercover operations (both against International Criminal Cartels and against Terrorist cells), of counter-recruitment and of turning terrorist operatives, and most especially at the propaganda wars. You can win a war against another military force by military action alone, but you cannot win a successful peace by military action alone. It takes a combination of cultural, military, social, religious, political, economic, law enforcement, intelligence, and propaganda-mission oriented efforts. We have been very successful militarily, but only moderately to minimally successful along the political, cultural, social, economic and intelligence spheres of operations. We are an utter failure and disgrace thus far at our efforts concerning the religious, law enforcement, and propaganda based aspects of our strategy. And I would go so far as to say this is primarily due to the fact that we have no real strategies, or only immaturely developed strategies to exploit these absolutely important aspects of infiltration and undercover warfare. For too long we have fought this war as a reactionary conflict, when we should have been fighting it as an anticipatory set of actions designed to overwhelm our enemies. Currently we either react to enemy attacks or attempt to thwart future or attempted enemy attacks. But we almost never preempt terrorist structures and actions in the same sense in which we attempted to preempt rogue regime support for those actions by invading Iraq. I am not against the War in Iraq, I think that if properly exploited Iraq would help to cripple Islamic fascism throughout the region, and by having a functional and effective base of operations for Western Ideals in that area help to eventually crush Islamic fascism on a global scale. In addition a successful Iraq could have beneficial effects upon other enemies, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. If it works it could help to stabilize the entire world over time giving us specific and unique leverage in that vital area of the world. However we must properly exploit Iraq both for the good of the Iraqi people we have helped to liberate and for our own national and international interests. And we are not properly exploiting Iraq because we are fighting a reactionary and police state war there when we should be fighting an Infiltration and Undercover/Clandestine war.
We cannot fight and win a war, which is based upon deception, disinformation, propaganda, recruitment, infiltration, and clandestine action, when we are unwilling to develop the types of forces and counterforces necessary to fight enemies who intuitively understand the types of warfare in which the world is immediately engaged.
The United States must become far better at deception, disinformation, miscommunication, propaganda, recruitment, deception, infiltration, undercover operation, and clandestine action than any enemy we are likely to encounter. We must operate as a state army, as a national security force, but we must infiltrate as if we were a small guerilla and terrorist force whose very survival depends not upon technological superiority but psychological strength and cunning and guile and craft.
The Soldier of the United States learned to fight and was formed in the crucible of the Indian War, of the guerilla fight, of the Swamp Fox. We must return to those roots, both tactically and strategically. Our governmental strategy, the course plotted in the Pentagon, the covert plan of our State Department must make allowance for and assume certain basic ideals and practices of operation, chief among these being the fact that being better at what the enemy does than they are is not a disgraceful manner of behavior, it is a necessary and even brilliant one. We must hunt as the wolf hunts. We will hunt for different reasons of course, and to a different end, but we must become even better than the wolf at tracking, at infiltration, at cover, at disguise, at camouflage, at stealth, at methodology, and at penetration. And when the War on Terror is finally over then historians will be able to look back and say, "the terrorists were good, but the Americans, by God, were like Shadows on a Moonless Midnight."
We can win a Midnight War; of course, we’ve done it before, but not if we insist on doing all our fighting at High Noon and in broad daylight.
© JWG, Jr. 2006
P.S:I also encourage everyone to read Eric Egland's broad, excellent and insightful article about redesign of War Plans and Tactics in Iraq. It echoes many of the discussions my buddies and I have been having on this very issue for years.
I think though that these recommendations could be well applied to the overall War on Terrorism, no matter the theatre of operation.
Six Steps to Victory