25 January 2006

Fighting the Wizard Wars

Arthur C. Clarke has said it best with his Three Laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
I remember watching a Special Forces soldier working in Afghanistan during the opening of that conflict against the Taliban. He was there with just one other soldier and had met up with a Northern Alliance member that led him into a town (and I do forget which one) where the Taliban was going to make a stand. Together they found a local sympathizer who would lead them to the top of a house so that he could point out Taliban strongholds and buildings. He would point to one and say 'That is an armory that they use'... one soldier would nod looking out with his binoculars, while the other was using a transmitter.

As the local finished pointing, a puff of smoke arose from the building. The man looked at the soldier, amazed. He pointed to a schoolhouse that the Taliban had taken over.

It, too, saw a puff of smoke within a minute.

The man started pointing... here... and there... there... the governates house... that barricaded street...

Again and again and again and again explosions and puffs of smoke arose...

The man stopped pointing. The soldier asked what was wrong. The man responded, 'Those are all the places they WERE'.

The soldiers packed up, went off with their Northern Alliance compatriots to the next man that knew where some Taliban might be...

To the Afghani who was doing the pointing, it was magic. He was directing fire against those that had oppressed him. He did not care about laser rangefinders, automated coordinate uploads, small diameter bombs, Global Positioning System... the effect was...


The war against terrorism is a war of Wizards. Terrorists of all stripes believe that they can hide amongst civilians by cowing them into submission through terror. By killing and torturing and raping and living off of the fruits of their labor, they believe that they are safe. That civilized countries cannot find them, will not harm them amidst civilian populations. That through using the crafty means of cryptography, anonymous networked systems and other such things that they will be hard to find and target.

They think that they can use modern devices and technology against the very people who made and designed them. These terrorists will use any subterfuge, any ruse, any tactic, to gain their ends, because they believe they are safe.

They are wrong.

The United States is developing and fielding newer means of tracking and locating these people. The Shadow Warriors work in front of monitors, use advanced software... they listen... they watch... they piece together small bits of information to make a coherent whole. China attempts to do this with thousands upon thousands of listeners and analysts, but that method is slow and cumbersome and not flexible to the modern rate of change. No one else attempts to do what the US does.

Who else thinks that most bombs are too BIG for safe use amongst civilians.

From our friends in the UK comes the JDAM concrete bomb. We happily use good ideas that our friends make available. Tanks under bridges are no longer safe from 500lbs of concrete at terminal velocity gliding in to miss the bridge... and hit the tank.

Together we design new weapons to do the impossible: take out one story of a high rise and not damage the structural integrity of the building, bombs so small they will only do damage in a small room.

And we still have big bombs when they are needed, of all sorts and shapes and sizes... and all are pinpoint accurate.

From the forces on the ground comes the demand for airpower... not bombers... not close assault aircraft (although the A-10 is loved dearly and damn congress of that era for not building more of them)... no.... none of those... UAVs are what they want... from the entire theater to the brigade, as damn close the squad level as you can get them. So they can see the enemy. And target them.

Other countries make some things just as good... but are not noted for the American capacity to integrate and exploit capabilities across the entire spectrum. Seeing through walls via thermal emissions, then fire a grenade that will only burst once it has gone through that wall and will not arm a millisecond before that.


An Iraqi soldier from the old Iraqi Army gave a litany of things wrong with the old Army: no boots! no water while being trained! one uniform! only ammunition if it was to test fire a weapon! And on and on and on and on...

Then asked about fighting the Americans: they hit us when we can't see! night goggles didn't work! and then in daylight doing the *exact* same thing! where were those Americans that were killing us??? No one could find them....

And then asked about the New Iraqi Army: you Americans train us, to aim and expect us to actually *hit* what we aim at over and over and over again! then from further away! and even further! in the old Army it was 'Inshallah!' standing up long enough to fire and fire and fire not seeing what you fired at and not caring... we have boots now! and uniforms! and plenty of water! and good food! and our pay isn't stolen!

If you want to read and read and read about Iraq and US Forces and the bravery and courage and determination of the New Iraqi Army, visit Michael Yon's site. These are volunteers, not dragooned nor conscripted. Young men and older stepping forward into the line of fire from all walks of life in Iraq. They stepped forward for the same reason the founders and forefather's of the United States stepped forward: to protect family and country and *home*.

They are being trained by Wizards.

Wizards that are men and women out to save a people and protect their home. Letting terrorists know that the people that we save can absolutely see the difference between a "strong horse and a weak one".

Does a strong horse need to swim amongst a sea of fish to disappear?

Does a strong horse *target* children to kill?

Does a strong horse run and hide and threaten and bully when they are faced with opposition?

Terrorism has no 'end game'. No way to victory. Guerrilla forces that establish a government and a place to call *home* is a known and respected way to victory or defeat. It takes a brave and daring group to found a place to call home and protect it with their lives. To not only be willing to *die* for it... but to LIVE for it. That is the honorable way to fight.

The right way to fight.

The only way that is respected internationally, by all concerned.

Show courage.

Raise a flag.

Adhere to laws, no matter how warped, and give your enemy respect when you fight.

Show mercy in victory.

Show who you are and be willing to die for your beliefs and daring enough to want to live them out to the end of a fruitful life.

If you strike from shadows, strike without flag, strike without honor, only put yourself to death so that others may die with you. Be warned.

There are Warriors in the Shadows. Those that watch. Those that learn. Those that target.

And then the Wizards strike again.

"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger."

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