The Human Factor: The Phenomenon of Espionage

by W. Patrick Lang

­­June 2022 — The just released second edition of Col. Lang’s classic work on the art of human intelligence is now available to order from Amazon or iUniverse. 
Publisher’s Weekly’s Booklife calls The Human Factor, “A vital, succinct primer for anyone interested in understanding the art of human intelligence gathering and espionage. 

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From the Publisher’s Weekly Review:
“Lang’s revised and updated debut examines the art of espionage and human intelligence gathering. Lang — a retired colonel who has since authored many other books, including a memoir on his time in the military  and a trilogy of historical fiction novels based during the American Civil war — offers a succinct guide on all facets of modern intelligence gathering, laying out the history of  intelligence  gathering through  the  stories of spies and heroes,  explaining the  systems and institutions that have traditionally emerged in modern nations to facilitate espionage work, and illuminating the delicate art and practice of gathering human intelligence today and in the future.”

More Books by Col. W. Patrick Lang

Tattoo — A Memoir of Becoming

June 2022 – Released in January 2021, Tattoo continues to excite both interest and praise as an altogether unique memoir of a soldier, scholar and spy. Readers call it, “a riveting, century-spanning soldier’s epic.”

Order here from:

“Brilliant prose and exceptional history of the wars of the late 20th century.”                                              –Amazon Reader Review

A close-up history of the U.S. military’s global engagements in the fractious second half to the 20th century… overflows with revealing–sometimes harrowing–stories of military life.         –Publisher’s Weekly

With a scrupulous eye for detail, Tattoo illuminates every international conflict Lang saw and offers a fascinating portrait of what soldiering means.                                                –Booklife Magazine

Lang recounts a memorable career in the Army—as eventful as it was accomplished.                                            –Kirkus Review

Posted in History, Intelligence, My books | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

The October Surprise Came Early

Biden orders FBI raid on his political opponent from the 2020 election. Zelensky showed how it is done. At least Hunter Biden is still free. We all know what the FBI did with that investigation. Thank goodness there’s an honest president in Washington D.C..

Trump statement:

I’m sure we’ll see a fair election with what is looking more and more like a Democratic Landslide this November. More to come in this developing story. Fred

Posted in Current Affairs, Fred, government, Justice, Politics | 12 Comments

“A Guatemalan town remakes itself in Indiana” – TTG

All the participants in a September basketball tournament in Seymour, Indiana, are members of the local Chuj community, Indigenous migrants from Guatemala. Jamie Vicente, Filipe Miguel, and Diego Martin play for Los Bulls from Rantoul, Illinois.

SEYMOUR, INDIANA  On a balmy day last September, hundreds of people gathered for a raucous, all-day basketball tournament in Gaiser Park, one of the sprawling, well-kept green spaces in this small midwestern town. All the players and participants were members of the local Chuj community, Indigenous Maya immigrants from a remote region of Guatemala in the country’s mountainous north, nearly 4,000 miles away.

Chuj people began migrating to Seymour some 20 years ago from the town of San Sebastián Coatán, in the province of Huehuetenango. Word about employment and the quality of life in Seymour soon spread to small villages nearby, and now Seymour has more than 2,000 Chuj residents, comprising over 10 percent of the town’s population. Thousands have moved to other small towns in the Midwest, such as Columbus and Logansport in Indiana, Cookeville and Shelbyville in Tennessee, and Rantoul, Illinois. On this day, the basketball teams from each of those towns—Los Primos (Cousins) from Seymour, Los Alcones (Hawks) from Columbus, Los Bulls from Rantoul, and others—battled each other on the court for local fame, glory, and a chance at a two-foot-tall plastic trophy.

Scenes like this are becoming increasingly common across small-town America, according to Pedro Pablo Solares, an attorney and immigration analyst based in Guatemala City. “Small-town America has been the destination for a majority of the present migration that comes from rural Guatemala,” says Solares. “I do not see any reason that would not continue to be the same in the future.”

Every year, more Guatemalans arrive at the U.S. southern border than from any other country other than Mexico. Increasingly, Solares says, these migrants are headed not to the major urban centers that have long-established immigrant communities like Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City, but to small towns in the rural Midwest and South where they have an influence on local economies, school systems, and cultures. They are also changing the face of small-town America.

Comment: This is a typically enlightening National Geographic article on the nature of Guatemalan immigration to the US. These Chuj Mayans are not escaping government repression or drug cartel violence. They are escaping poverty and death by starvation. I am perplexed that death by starvation is not a valid reason for seeking asylum under US law or even UN protocols. Death is death, whether it be by corrupt politician, drug lord or empty belly.

What we see between the people of Seymour, Indiana and San Sebastián Coatán, Guatemala is a real symbiotic relationship. It seems to be a good fit. Employers get the work force they need and the migrants’ presence doesn’t seem to tax local resources or piss off the citizens of Seymour. The town is being revitalized, albeit with a Guatemalan flavor. Even a die-hard Trumper was quoted as saying he had no problem with the Mexicans and others who now live in Seymour. The migrants are making good lives for themselves and their families and the remittances sent back to San Sebastián Coatán are allowing the families left behind to also live well. All this without federal, state or local expenditures by the US or Guatemala. It’s an immigration answer from the ground up rather than imposed from above… community-based migration.


Posted in government, Policy, TTG | 21 Comments

“California is no Garden of Eden. It is now a woke basketcase whose rich and poor are fleeing alike”

Paradise Lost

” … basketcase Britain seems to be preferable to California. It’s not just Clegg: Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, owned by Facebook parent group Meta, and the firm’s chief marketing officer Alex Schultz, have also chosen to relocate to Britain. Clegg, who six months ago was promoted to head of global affairs at Meta, in charge of handling its incessant political firestorms, said in an interview in last year that his “heart belongs massively 5,000 miles away” and that he feels “European”.

Clegg’s Remainiac heart notwithstanding, he is one of thousands who no longer feels even remotely Californian. Rich and poor are calling time on the Golden State. Billionaires Larry Ellison, founder and chairman of Oracle, Joe Lonsdale, founder of Palantir, and Elon Musk of Tesla, have all relocated their companies to cheaper, friendlier states. Even Mark Zuckerberg’s main residence is Hawaii.

For everyone else, with remote work becoming mainstream in Covid lockdowns, net emigration has hit record highs. In 2021 the population of California fell by 117,500. People are fed up of soaring taxation, the high cost of living, groaning regulation, an authoritarian impulse on full show during Covid, and stagnating job growth. The heavy-handed state continually fails to solve the lethal social problems that are on permanent display, from mass shootings, which happen about every eight days (this is still lower than the national average), to spiralling homelessness. California’s dynamism and sense of possibility – where, despite high prices and social strains, those with hustle and good ideas could become fantastically successful – has been sucked dry. Why would you stay?

It is sobering to watch the state most associated with the miracles of American capitalist and creative glories become scorched earth – consumed with fires both real (this year has already seen whole settlements in northern California razed by flames) – and metaphorical.

The sad truth is that California is reaping what it has sown: not simply with its heavy-handed regulation, but in its deep and committed embrace of wokeness, which permeates from its courts via Hollywood to schools and hospitals. The ideological disintegration of the state was always going to hasten its economic decline and now, as the rest of the country descends into full-scale cultural war in the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade and the ghastly normalisation of mass shootings, there is no wider structure to act as a bolster.

The Californian rot, long in place, became pronounced in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in 2020. Amid soaring crime rates, the mayors of both Los Angeles and San Francisco announced plans to defund the police, slashing hundreds of millions from budgets. It wasn’t the smartest plan: Los Angeles was experiencing a terrifying rise in homicides.

California’s committed progressivism has been evident in its embrace of illegal immigrants, offering drivers licences and free health care. If this boosted the economy and made life better for everyone, then great. But such measures do not go down well with those they are supposed to celebrate. 

Blacks and Hispanics – according to US Census Data – fare worse in California than almost anywhere else in the US, with a third of Latinos living in poverty compared to the 21 per cent average elsewhere. Since 1990, the black population of Los Angeles county has dropped by nearly 200,000. More than half now express interest in leaving the state. Woke hasn’t worked.”

Comment: Lived there a couple of times. The first was ’49 to ’53 in the LA area. It WAS a kind of paradise. Weather, infrastructure, general culture, the works. All gone now. pl

California is no Garden of Eden. It is now a woke basketcase whose rich and poor are fleeing alike (

Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

“Pro-Russian officials ‘assassinated’ in Kherson ahead of Ukraine offensive”

Urban Guerrilla

“Ukrainian partisans appear to have launched a campaign of assassinations of pro-Russian officials in occupied Kherson ahead of a planned offensive to recapture the region.

On Saturday, Vitaly Gur, the Moscow-installed deputy head of the town of Nova Kakhovka, near Kherson, was shot as he stepped out of his apartment block. He died on his way to hospital in Crimea, according to Russian media.

Investigators reportedly found discarded bullet casings from a Makarov semi-automatic pistol near Gur’s house. The reliable Makarov pistol was the standard-issue sidearm for the Soviet military, KGB agents and police.

“He has died, as far as I know,” said Vladimir Leontiev, head of the pro-Russia collaborator Kherson region government. “He was in hospital. Military doctors tried to save his life.”

Nova Kakhovka, a town of around 45,000 people on the southern bank of the River Dnipro, is a vital hub for Russian efforts to resupply the city of Kherson, 35 miles further downstream on the northern bank of the river.

Ukrainians step up attacks on pro-Russians

It comes a day after the pro-Russia mayor of the city suddenly fell so ill that he had to be put into an induced coma. Vladimir Saldo was sent to Crimea and later flown to the Sklifosovsky Emergency Research Institute in Moscow for toxicology tests.

Russian news reports differed on what Mr Saldo was suffering from. Some reported that he had suffered a stroke, others that he was ill with Covid. Opposition media said he had been poisoned.

Over the past couple of months, saboteurs and assassins have increased their attacks in the Kherson region.

In June, car bombs killed the collaborator head of its prison service and a senior pro-Russian official in the civilian government. In July, a bomb blew up a car with two policemen inside, reportedly killing one.

The assassinations come as Ukraine gears up for an offensive to retake the strategic region. Russian forces captured the area, which lies next to Crimea, without a fight in the first few days of the war.”

Comment: This increase in partisan activity probably reflects the presence of US Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets) advising and training. This is our preferred mode of operation. It is why we were created. DOL. pl

Pro-Russian officials ‘assassinated’ in Kherson ahead of Ukraine offensive (

Posted in Russia, The Military Art, Ukraine Crisis | 44 Comments

“China’s military exercises are an intel bonanza — for all sides”

“China’s massing of ships, aircraft and missiles near Taiwan is giving the U.S. a never-before-seen glimpse of how Beijing might launch a military campaign against the island. But China is also learning plenty of lessons that could eventually prove more important in how it plans for any future strike against the island of 23 million people.

For all of China’s military might, the People’s Liberation Army has limited real-world experience outside of highly-choreographed domestic military exercises and hasn’t fired a shot in anger since border scraps with Vietnam that ended in the 1980s.

That makes these quickly assembled exercises around Taiwan a critical test for Beijing. China has brought dozens of aircraft, 13 ships, missile batteries and their crews to bear in the last days, signaling an ability to deploy quickly, even if it’s close to home. Its ability to sustain those operations over time, if that’s what Beijing decides, will be a critical test for the military, and closely watched.

The dozens of warplanes flying daily over the median line in the Taiwan Strait and warships prowling the waters off the coast represent a significant and ominous change to the status quo, and one that could have enormous consequences for the defense of Taiwan in the future, experts and officials said.”

Comment: Yup. Nothing better than to catch’em showing off. When they are really full of themselves, they drop their pants to show you what they have. pl

China’s military exercises are an intel bonanza — for all sides – POLITICO

Posted in China | 11 Comments

New York, Washington? Send them to …

C’mon man! They need to go to Wilmington, Delaware (70,000 inhabitants) and Rehoboth Beach (1100 permanent residents) where Joe and Dr. Jill have their beach house. pl

Posted in government | 6 Comments

“Pentagon denies DC’s request …”

“Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has turned down a request from Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) to deploy the National Guard to help with migrants being bussed into the city from Texas and Arizona, a defense official told The Hill.

Bowser requested the Guard in mid-July in a bid to help the city as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) bussed thousands of migrants from the southern border to the capital over President Biden’s immigration policy.

However, Austin “determined providing this support would negatively impact the readiness of the DCNG and have negative effects on the organization and members,” the official said.

“We understand SAMU First Response has received grant funding through FEMA’s EFSP [Emergency Food and Shelter Program], and has indicated that sufficient EFSP funds exist at this point to provide migrant assistance,” they added.”

Comment: Laughable. Because DC is not a state the feds have direct control over its NG, but Joe could have overruled SECDEF sometime between naps. pl

Pentagon denies DC’s request for National Guard to help with bussed migrants | The Hill

Posted in government | 10 Comments

“China is too weak to invade Taiwan successfully” Con Coughlin

A paper dragon

” …. despite the vast sums the Chinese Communist Party has spent developing its forces, the country is still playing catch-up in terms of acquiring the strength to challenge America’s military supremacy.

The development of China’s two new aircraft carriers is a case in point. While naval powers like the US and Britain have been building this highly specialised military capability for the better part of a century, China only acquired its first carrier in 2012, and is still on a steep learning curve when it comes to making optimal use of them.

Another important consideration is that the Chinese military has not been directly involved in a major war since the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, so it lacks the real-time war-fighting experience acquired by the US and its allies in combat theatres ranging from Afghanistan to the Falklands.

So even if the Chinese continue to make bellicose gestures in response to Mrs Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei this week, their ability to launch a direct assault against Taiwan is limited, as the Taiwanese themselves would be the first to concede.

From Taiwan’s perspective, the most likely threat to its survival is likely to come in the form of political instability similar to the domestic unrest that hastened the demise of democratic rule in Hong Kong. For this reason, many Taiwanese are more concerned about China’s constant efforts to subvert their democracy through support for pro-Beijing political activists and cyber attacks than the possibility of a full-scale Chinese invasion.

The limitations of China’s military strength is certainly a consideration Western policymakers should take on board as they weigh up how best to deal with the more confrontational attitude Beijing has adopted under President Xi Jinping’s leadership.”

Comment: I used to read this man’s things on the IRA. I offer this as an alternative view. pl

China is too weak to invade Taiwan successfully (

Posted in China | 34 Comments

KPLO (Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter)

Destination: Elliptical Orbit
Mission: Lunar Exploration

Posted in Science, Space | 1 Comment

A matter of logistics – TTG

This Twitter thread was posted by Chris Owens (@ChrisO_wiki) on 1 Aug 2022. He’s billed as an independent military history author and researcher and author of “Ron the War Hero,” a true story of L. Ron Hubbard’s military career.

Overnight news of a devastating Ukrainian HIMARS strike against a Russian ammunition train suggests to me that the Ukrainians have been rather clever in exploiting the limitations of the local rail network. The attack took place at Brylivka railway station, south-east of Kherson. Coincidentally, it’s an area I remember from a visit many years ago. The whole area is a vast, flat, arid and frankly monotonous farming region watered by irrigation canals. Brylivka owes its existence to the railway line, which was built in 1944 under Stalin to provide a second rail route to Crimea (the main line is further east, running from Melitopol to Simferopol). The village was founded the following year, presumably to house railway staff.

But the line at Brylivka has three peculiarities. First and most importantly, the entire line from Kherson to Dzhankoy is only a single track line. Single track lines have a very limited capacity to carry trains. (Thanks to for the map.)

There had been a plan to upgrade the line to double tracks with electrification during the 2010s, but this fell through due to Russia’s seizure of the Crimea in 2014. Second, Brylivka is equipped with a large set of passing loops (or passing sidings) which are long enough for large freight trains. Passing loops allow trains to pass in both directions on a single-line track. The Russian ammo train would have been stopped here. Third, Brylivka is just south of the North Crimean Canal, which waters the entire area (and Crimea). The railway line crosses it on a single-track bridge – given its strategic importance, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr HIMARS paid it a visit soon.

The line has not been very busy in recent years. Russia’s takeover of the Crimea meant that long-distance and freight traffic ceased in 2014. Prior to the 2022 invasion, it reportedly only had 2 passenger trains a day between Kherson and Vadim, the last Ukrainian-held station. However, given Russia’s dependency on railways for its military logistics (as noted by @TrentTelenko and others), the Russians are likely to have been making heavy use of the line to resupply their forces in occupied areas of Kherson oblast. They have also within the last month reopened the line from Kherson to Dzhankoy for passenger traffic, though I would imagine the timetable will be somewhat disrupted now.

So I think it’s likely that the Ukrainians could predict where the ammo train would be stopping, because the single-track layout of the line likely required a stop at Brylivka’s passing loops.

 Whatever else happens, the track is likely to remain single, there will continue to be a need for a passing loop at Brylivka, and trains will continue to need to stop there to allow other trains to pass. So this vulnerability isn’t going to go away. /end

Comment: This wasn’t the only train mishap that day. Another train carrying military equipment and ammunition arrived at the Kalanchak railway station further south on the same Kherson line. The Russians began unloading the train the following morning. In order to mask the unloading process and protect against HIMARS strikes, the Russians employed a smoke screen. A few hours into the unloading process, an explosion rang out in the work area. It was not possible to accurately determine its nature due to the thick smoke screen. However, immediately after the explosion, the train took off back towards Crimea. A video shows Russian troops scattering in panic. This appears to be an “own goal” due to an accident in the unloading of ammunition or generating the smoke screen. Or it could have been sabotage or a raid by the local partisans and/or Ukrainian SOF.

The Brylivka strike involved a train of forty or so cars carrying ammunition, equipment and troops. Judging by the videos available, the ammo included a good amount of rockets. Well, at least the Russians don’t have to worry about the difficulty of ferrying that ammo across the Dnieper. This strike  is part of Ukraine’s preparation of the battlefield. They are wisely concentrating on the weak links in the already weak Russian logistics situation on the Kherson front. Here the rail lines are few and the supply routes are long. Another month or two of this and the Russian troops west of the Dnieper may be reduced to a bunch of hungry rock throwers. 

In the Donbas, Russian supply routes are far shorter and more routes are available. This is evidenced by the Russians’ continued ability to shell Ukrainian positions. Granted the rate of shelling has diminished largely due to the interventions of Saint HIMARS, but the continued shelling does allow the Russians to make minute gains on this front at a great price. But even here, the Ukrainians may also be able to mount limited offensive actions, as the Russians inexplicably abandon some of their positions around Izyum without a shot. Are they shortening their lines to reinforce the Kherson front?  Are some Russian and DNR/LNR troops just walking away? 

The Ukrainians are still bleeding in the Donbas, but they are not hemorrhaging like they were at the height of the battles for Lysychansk and Severodonetsk. They now have the time to patiently wait until the Russian logistic situation at Kherson is so degraded that a Ukrainian offensive advance will not result in the horrendous casualties of those earlier Donbas battles. If the offensive is undertaken by unmounted infantry rather than armored formations, they could wait until Rasputitsa or the Winter snows. No hurry. Fight smarter, not harder.


Posted in The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis | 29 Comments