Briefing the options …


That is the badge worn by members of the Joint Staff.  This staff is the central military planning organ of the US government.  It should be understood that neither the Joint Chiefs themselves nor their staff decide anything other than when to go to lunch.  Their function is to give advice to the civilian government, to do the detailed planning necessary for operations and to oversee the execution of the government's decisions by the Combatant Commands; CENTCOM, EUCOM, PACOM, etc.  For any planning action a number of senior staff officers are designated as "The Planner."  This person heads a team that works on the plan.  I was the designated Planner for eight years for intelligence aspects of all JCS plans involving the ME and South Asia.  I was in DIA but DIA was then the intelligence agency in direct support of the JCS.  I worked on a lot of national level plans and operations.  DIA was the J-2 (intelligence) section of the Joint Staff as well as having many other responsibilities.

The essence of the process is the formulation of alternative Courses of Action, (CoA) i.e., options.   After thorough examination these are reduced to just a few to avoid confusion and a difficulty for the decision maker in arriving at a choice of option.

In the case of the options meeting concerning Syria at the White House on Friday, it seems clear that what was briefed was a set of options generated by the Joint Staff.  In this meeting the president/CinC met with the chiefs to discuss the options and their secondary effects.  Others may have been invited; the DNI, the Director of CIA, the Secretary of State, the CENTCOM commander, but they would essentially be "strap hangers", i.e., observers at what was essentially a JCS "show."  An accomplished briefer would have presented the Courses of Action.  This would be followed by discussion led by General Dunford, CJCS.

The president could then have; approved a CoA, disapproved the lot, sent the planners back to modify one of the options, or, suggested an option of his own.  Once a decision is made in this process a final form of THE PLAN is published internally and the affected combatant commands write implementing plans and all then await an Execute Plan XXX order from the president.

This is called the "Deliberate Planning Process."  Once the fighting starts the process becomes greatly abbreviated on a daily basis.

This is what  President Clinton will have at her disposal.  pl


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72 Responses to Briefing the options …

  1. mike allen says:
    Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL tweeted that the “NSC meeting yesterday reviewed simultaneous pressure on remaining #ISIL strongholds #Dabiq, #Raqqa, #Mosul.”

  2. The Beaver says:

    WRT Syria
    ISSG has resumed in Lausanne
    Apart from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, also present at the talks are the foreign ministers of Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

  3. LeaNder says:

    I was in DIA but DIA was then the intelligence agency in direct support of the JCS.
    Sorry, here I stopped here, and now is integrated into the overall intelligence structure? Seemed to make at least theoretically sense at the time.

  4. turcopolier says:

    The J-2 function has been separated from DIA I am told. DIA was always a coordinated part of the intelligence community. The IC is run by a committee of the heads of agencies who more or less coordinate their actions. DIA supports the DoD as a whole and analysis that the J-2, of the Joint Staff needs is done by DIA. pl

  5. The Beaver says:

    @ mike allen
    From what I have read so far this morning , looks like FSA will take Dabiq back with air support from the USAF.They are already in control of Arshaf

  6. crf says:

    How do those plans incorporate Allies (other countries)? For all the plans in recent history, have allies effectively been window dressing, or are allies actually relied upon?

  7. turcopolier says:

    Combined (planning with allies) usually takes place after the US Joint (inter-service) plan is approved. In WW2 Combined planning was obviously quite essential. These days, a coalition is mostly political window dressing. pl

  8. Allen Thomson says:

    > An accomplished briefer would have presented the Courses of Action.
    As a slight aside, I worked for a while at a Beltway Bandit who had hired a former JCS briefer, a retired USAF O6, as a pitchman. The guy was a scarily good briefer — I’ve never seen anything else like it.
    The briefers, O3 and O4 IIRC, at the nuclear weapons familiarization course at Kirtland were similarly good on first hearing, but after a couple of times you realized that they were reciting a script, albeit very ably. The O6 was not only smooth, but knowledgeable of the topic, very supple in taking questions and responding to the audience.

  9. turcopolier says:

    Allen Thompson
    Yes, to be really good briefer is a gift not give to many. Here is a snippet from one of my novels in which such a person appears. He is briefing A. Lincoln in the War Department during Chancellorsville.
    “Abraham Lincoln had an ingrained prejudice against dandies. They made him uneasy. In the western region from which he had emerged, men dressed plainly, or roughly, but never obsessively. Lincoln found it surprising that the War Department staff officers who regularly briefed him were such dandies. Their bandbox perfection of dress and physical beauty puzzled him. He asked Henry Halleck why they all looked the same.
    Halleck had not at first understood the question.
    The president restated it another way, asking if they were all West Pointers.
    The general in chief at last grasped the nature of the president’s inquiry. He had shown both sympathy and amusement. He told Lincoln that this procession of the well born, well connected and well dressed was really the outcome of a process of “natural selection” as Professor Darwin would describe it. He gave it as his opinion, based on long observation of army politics, that nothing in the nature of a permanent change could be expected in this process. It was just the nature of things that the “rich got richer” in the army as in all other spheres of human effort.
    One of these gorgeously uniformed creatures was attempting to brief him now. It was hard to focus on all the details. He looked out the tall windows at the sunlight disappearing from Seventeenth Street. The White House looked golden in the fading day. His legs ached. Sitting in these low chairs made his knees hurt after a while. The briefing officer paused, uncertain of the degree of attention he was receiving from the commander in chief. Lincoln looked at him, indicating that he should continue. The youthful major tightened his grip on the wooden pointer in his right hand. “And thus, Mister President,’ he said. “You can readily see that it is most likely that the Rebel attack against General Hooker’s main force which occurred west of Fredericksburg this noon must be a diversion intended to cover his withdrawal from the defense positions which he occupies in strength just south of Fredericksburg.” The slender, handsome major held the point of his stick on the big, hand drawn map which covered most of the wall behind him.
    The president found the maps produced by the Army’s topographic engineers to be art objects in their own right. This one was a mass of brown contour lines, blue streams and green forests. The watercolor washes which made up the larger blocks of color gave the room a strangely gay aspect.
    The major’s stick still showed the area of the Southern attack that seemed to have frightened Hooker so. The point of the stick lay on the eastern edge of the big green wood near a symbol which identified a church. Abraham Lincoln fished in a vest pocket for something, finally retrieving a scrap of paper. He looked at it for a few seconds.
    The roomful of officials and officers waited.
    “And so, Major,” Lincoln began. “It is the opinion of the General in Chief that Lee is going to retreat?”
    “Yes, Sir. He has no practicable alternative. He cannot take the risk of destruction of his army that the present situation imposes if he continues to defend behind Fredericksburg. General Hooker’s plan has succeeded.”
    Lincoln looked around the room. Secretary Stanton and General Henry Halleck were conspicuous by their absence from this late afternoon presentation of information to the chief executive.
    A general murmur of discontent ran round the room. Resentment at the role assumed by the briefer and his presumption in drawing a conclusion of this importance was evident.
    “How far south do you think he will go?” Lincoln asked. “I mean Lee,” he said. His heavy eyebrows knit together in concentration.
    Confusion and a trace of fear manifested itself in the major’s handsome face. He did not like the audience’s reaction to his earlier remark. “I, I do believe he will have to go back to the North Anna, Mister President.”
    Lincoln leaned forward. “And that is where on the map?”
    The major’s stick traced the alignment of the Telegraph Road south from Fredericksburg to a wide blue line running west to east at right angles to the road. It was the North Anna River.
    The distance was impressive.
    Lincoln considered the map. “Twenty-five miles?” he asked the major.
    The young man swallowed twice and nodded. “Yes, Sir,” he said.
    Lincoln meditated upon these matters a moment. He then turned to a brigadier general seated at the large table with him. “Philip,” he said. “Why has Hooker drawn back if all this is as described? The opportunity lies before him.” He raised the hand containing the small, irregularly shaped morsel of paper. “According to this note, which I made at one of these sessions a week ago, Lee has something like, 70,000 at most and our army around 120,000. Lee is divided between Fredericksburg and wherever it is that he is, over there in the west, by the woods.” He waved at the map.
    The major hastened to show the probable position of the Rebel force on the edges of the Wilderness.
    “Why doesn’t Hooker attack? Now!” Lincoln demanded of the brigadier general.
    The general flushed red to his collar line. He attempted to make a good case for General Hooker’s need to “straighten his lines.” He explained that the forest itself was a major obstacle and factor in the operation. It surely had caused a “disturbance” in the organization of the army. Hooker would undoubtedly attack in the morning in accordance with his original intention.
    Lincoln listened quietly, respectfully. His hands made a tent before his features. “Mister Devereux?” he finally said without turning his head.
    “Which of us do you mean, Mister President,” Claude asked from his seat four rows back.
    “Patrick,” Lincoln said. “Will Lee think he must retreat?”
    Heads turned toward the two men in civilian clothes seated side by side in the back of the room. It would have taken a keen observer to interpret the almost imperceptible nod which passed from one to the other.
    “The logic presented here is impeccable, Mister President,” Patrick said, “but he will also reason that he must fight you somewhere and turn back your army or face eventual defeat. Would the North Anna be a better place? I think not. The men would be discouraged by the retreat itself and he would be afraid they might not fight as well as they would farther north..”
    Lincoln pulled his chair around to face them, and the rest of the group. His back was to the major. “You are a judge of men I think, Claude. Why has Hooker stopped in this way?”
    Claude looked at his brother.
    Patrick would not meet his eyes.
    “There is something terrible in Robert Lee, Mister President,” Claude began, “something, savage. It is normally hidden, but it emerges at times like this. The numbers, the geometry of that map all support both General Hooker’s plan and the major’s explanation, but I would guess that there was something about that Rebel attack today that did not fit with the logic of anything. Lee attacked as though he is not compelled to do anything! General Hooker is a smart man. He must be trying to figure out what it is that Lee is really going to do.”
    Lincoln swiveled around to stare at the brigadier general.
    The red faced man shook his head. “No. No. General Hooker will attack in the morning. Lee will withdraw,” he said.
    Lincoln glanced at the major. “You do not seem as certain, young man,” he said.
    The staff officer did not respond.
    The President of the United States left the room without goodbyes.”
    From “The Butcher’s Cleaver ”

  10. mike allen says:

    Beaver –
    Good that Iran is there in Lausanne. I understand that the UN never invited them to the Geneva talks earlier.
    In these ISSG talks I would hope Kerry talks as much to the FM of Iran, Mohammad Zarif about Syria as he does to Lavrov. Not that Kerry would get anywhere, as Zarif is a career diplomat and has studied international relations in both San Francisco State and the University of Denver compared to Kerry’s lack of diplomacy background and education.
    But it would be worth the effort. Russia and Iran have different goals in Syria. Kerry needs to understand that Iran will never give up Assad, their only ally in the MidEast.

  11. The Beaver says:

    Looks like MosulOp is ON
    #US artillery has reportedly started pounding Da’ish targets near Mosul. Airstrikes being reported too. Could signal start of #MosulOp.

  12. BrotherJoe says:

    Please permit me to correct your typo. “It is what President TRUMP will have at HIS disposal.” Don’t feel bad Col. Anyone can make mistakes.

  13. wisedupearly says:

    very interesting details and a view into a part of the real world that we never get to vote on (that’s a good/bad situation). Let’s pray that it never falls into the Borg trap — oops, all ready has — bureaucracy moribund.
    One point missing from the post is the trigger. Can the President submit a plan requirement that is extremely specific?
    As in, 3000 boots on ground in Yemen city XYZ on or by March 6 2017.

  14. VietnamVet says:

    This is an interesting post. I remember the chain of command poster from basic. I have the impression that it wasn’t too long from Richard Nixon down to the training company commander.
    I’ve seen too many movies and was only an E-5 for a year so it did not sink in to me that the Joint Chiefs are outside the chain of command. There is a completely separate planning bureaucracy centered on the White House. The National Chain of Command is the President, Sectary of Defense, Unified Combat Commanders, Joint Task Forces, Service Components/Forces. All Unified Commands are located outside Washington DC. There is lots of talk of civilian control of the military but one reason for the forever unwinnable wars and repeated SNAFUs might be that those who are doing the fighting are not doing the planning. The military planners do not control the operations and haven’t the slightest idea what is happening on the ground except what is on the video screen.

  15. The Beaver says:

    @ mike allen
    From what I read:
    Kerry had a tête à tête with Lavrov and then Lavrov had one with Zarif before the meeting of the non-Syrians discussing Syria.
    After 5 hours of meeting – the outcome is once again ZILCH (heard that Zarif was sitting across the table from the Saudi chihuahua)

  16. Bill Herschel says:

    In the words of Descartes, oui et non. Yes, from just about every practical point of view a coalition is at best a substitute for Security Council blessing.
    But, everything you have described leaves out the United States Congress:
    Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 :[The Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
    Cameron made the forced error in 2013 of submitting military intervention in Syria to Commons who voted No. Congress would not have approved military intervention in Syria and at the very least there would have been a long and acrimonious debate. Obama was stymied.
    A President Clinton can have her daisy chain with the JCS, but she must work day and night to make sure that Congress never gets involved. It is a great pity that there is no one on either side of the aisle who seems to care about this. The power to appoint Supreme Court Justices? Do they cost $500 billion a year and the lives of countless Americans? What about the power to declare war?

  17. aleksandar says:

    Sir, Normally,during General staff briefing a presentation of ENI COS is insluded. Is it the case during these JSC briefings ?
    Could they have talked about Russian and Syrian Cos in case of attack on Syrian army ?

  18. Chris Chuba says:

    Yes indeed and I bet there will be no daily tally of civilian casualties at Mosul like we are getting at Aleppo.
    Whenever I see U.S. cable news, I see a daily tabulation of civilian casualties at Aleppo from Russian and Syrian air strikes as if no militants are ever killed, yet there is never such curiosity about any project we are engaged in.
    Operation, ‘Elect Hillary Clinton’ is officially on and will be completed by election day. No amount of carnage at Mosul will spoil the party. If the Russians really were ‘meddlers’ and ‘spoilers’ they would introduce resolutions at the UN calling for ceasefires and make accusations about warcrimes but they won’t.
    Col. the last sentence in your main topic sent a chill down my spine but yes, it is best to start accepting reality now. The Borg Queen will have the full power of the U.S. military, State, Intelligence, and Treasury Dept.’s to exercise her will and she is a very vindictive person who wants to make history. She wants some foreign country to erect a statue of her like they did for Bill at Kosovo.

  19. J says:

    I expect asymmetrical responses from Russia if/when D.C./CIA start their errant cyber attacks. Those Russian asymmetrical responses IMO will leave the CIA with their mouths open. The Russians have not been sitting on their laurels the past few years since Putin started running things. A meaner leaner deadlier Russian response my gut is telling me, is in the offing.
    Russia will go asymmetrical in a real world fashion if D.C. decides to stupidly go into Syria. They have already so much as stated so.
    Why D.C. can’t simply leave Syria to the Russians, and tell the Israelis and Saudis that they’ll have to take their oil and gas drilling elsewhere.

  20. In the 1990s, the Army had the Combined Arms and Services Staff School (CAS3) out at Fort Leavenworth for senior captains and majors. It taught staff planning and briefing, but seemed to live and die around PowerPoint briefings. Although it was supposed to be mandatory, I managed to stay away from it through grandfathering. No one i knew wanted to attend. From that point on, military briefings consisted of unimaginative PowerPoint slides that stretched out to the crack of doom. Before that it was often “death by viewgraph” when the briefer came in with a six to ten inch stack of viewgraph slides. Hard to believe we used pads of butcher paper and magic markers before that… if we used anything at all.

  21. turcopolier says:

    It was a half assed version of C&GSC designed to make officers capable of brigade level staff duties. pl

  22. turcopolier says:

    “ENI COS” What is that? pl

  23. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    Well, that was my point, was it not? As I have written here before, the power to make war and the power to declare war are two different things. She will have the power to make war. pl

  24. pl,
    I think he meant enemy courses of action.
    aleksandr: If this is what you mean, this is often expressed as probable enemy course(s) of action and is included in paragraph 2 (Enemy) or the Intelligence Annex of operational plans, contingency plans and operation orders at every level of command I am familiar with. I am guessing that this is true at the JCS level. I never came close to working at that level. Colonel Lang can tell you for sure.

  25. pl,
    CAS3 was universally despised in my circles. Perhaps the non-combat arms types benefited from it. C&GSC was eagerly sought by all I knew. As a reservist, I took it by correspondence.

  26. turcopolier says:

    CAS3 was basically a consolation prize designed to make people who would not go to C&GSC more useful. It was a horrible idea that created feelings of inferiority in the officer corps. pl

  27. turcopolier says:

    aleksandr & TTG
    A briefing to the National Command Authority does not follow the model of a five paragraph field order. Possible repercussions would be described in the context of each option. pl

  28. optimax says:

    There will also not be any pictures of dead or wounded children coming from Mosul, at least, not in US MSM.

  29. different clue says:

    If anyone here remembers “Y2K” and all the concern about the computers maybe going down and the internet going black and how we might have to all survive a few pre-digital weeks or months, perhaps people should find and re-read all their dusty guidebooks and freshening up their “survival-in-place” supplies and stockpiles and protocols. Or am I being needlessly panicky?

  30. Castellio says:

    A straight forward question: when or where did the Russians say they would go asymmetrical?
    As to your last paragraph; the Syrian war isn’t primarily about the oil and gas pipelines, although they have a role to play. It is much more about Hezbollah, the Golan and the Syrian – Iranian relationship.

  31. Castellio says:

    How politicized is the analysis of the “possible repercussions”.
    That is, are the people who do that analysis chosen for their width and depth of experience, as well as their objectivity and lack of prejudice?

  32. turcopolier says:

    In Rumsfeld’s time the DIA analysts were so objective that Rumsfeld created an office within OSD to try to force the DIA people to accept neocon BS. When Flynn was director of DIA, his analysts provided the material with which to argue against the war party at the WH. Just so you understand the options paper would not be an intelligence paper. It would be prepared and briefed by the plans section (J-5) of the JS. pl

  33. Lemur says:

    Thinking of how the Russians could respond if there is a sneaky attack on loyalist forces…
    Idea: Iran and Russia both send fighter jets to join the SAAF for a united front. Declare a no-fly zone east of Palmyra (Turkey may continue to operate over ISIS and Kurdish held areas).
    The advantage is positioning on the legal high ground, escalating without attacking US assets (which would force an American response to save face), and forcing the Borg before the eyes of the world to become the clear initiator of open hostilities.
    Another option would be sending a long range Strategic Bomber patrol round the coast of Yemen to put the fear of the devil into the Saudis. Maybe drop some humanitarian aid off to the Houthis, as an implicit threat *other* things may end up there that the KSA’s Shia Suppression Force/Social Welfare club may find unpleasant.

  34. pmr9 says:

    CNN reports that “Officials now say it’s unclear whether US destroyer was fired on near Yemen; radar malfunction possible.”
    Although this story is about a second possible attack on Saturday 15 October, as with the first incident there are “initial unconfirmed reports of missiles possibly being fired from positions both ashore on Yemen and by small spotter boats operated by Houthi rebels.”
    This implies that the small boats were seen only on radar, and that the first incident also could have resulted from misinterpretation of radar signals. The Gulf of Aden has a large and diverse population of seabirds: could these be mistaken for incoming missiles or small boats?

  35. LeaNder says:

    DIA was always a coordinated part of the intelligence community.
    Yes, it seemed like that in an unclassified testimony by you in the Jeffrey Sterling case Marcy Wheeler linked to. To the extend I recall it, there was a chapter on the Process.
    DIA supports the DoD as a whole and analysis that the J-2, of the Joint Staff needs is done by DIA
    Not sure if I understand. A superficial guess: The J-2 only gets the necessary information for the implementation needed for the different branches of the military.But on the policy or implementation level the USDI functions as some type of gatekeeper?
    This is a lot harder to understand for someone with not the least experience in the field.

  36. Vic says:

    The briefing on COAs that the President got was from the NSC not the JCS. I bring this up to highlight the point that the US military has done planning for ages. This has resulted in a very reliable, robust planning system that generates very effective plans.
    I suspect that the same can not be said for NSC planning procedures. The books that I have read on the NSC seem to imply that each new President has imposed his unique desires concerning how the NSC will do business. History would also seem to indicate that the NSC planning processes have not resulted in good high quality planning.
    As I mentioned before in another post; the military is usually not the “problem”. More often than not we achieve the military objective. Too often in contemporary times this military effort has NOT led to the desired political end. I lay that failure on the NSC’s inability to link military efforts with political goals through its planning processes (or lack of).
    Syria today is yet another example of military means not achieving the desired political goals due largely to the failure of NSC to do rigorous, logical, planning.
    I suspect that this last NSC meeting was more of the same old stuff. None of the military options floated in the press will bring about the desired political end state. The President ought to fire all the NSC staffers and get some fresh talent who have had a military planning background. They know that you must link “ways”, “means” and “end” to have a viable grand strategy. Today’s NSC seems to be be brain storming (more storming than brains) and just throwing out ideas. That is NOT planning.

  37. sillybill says:

    I’d like to ask a question about ‘process’ in this type of meeting. I’m familiar with Roberts Rules of Order, and the lefty ‘consensus meeting’ process, but how is such a meeting run? I would guess that the agenda and major questions and decision points get set beforehand but does the Chairman run the meeting, picking out who gets to make comments or questions when appropriate – or is another officer the impartial facilitator of the meeting? I guess the President gets to interupt whenever they feel like it?

  38. Fred says:

    I’m sure they’ll also buy the data from whoever hacked the OPM database. Just think of the asymmetrical fun they’ll have with congressional staffers and all the sundry rear echelon folks. I wonder, just how safe is similar data on all the folks in Brussels?

  39. 3000 boots divided by two mean 1500 soldiers, assuming all personnel have two feet.

  40. Castellio says:

    Clear. Many thanks.

  41. J says:

    Russia Reads US Bluster as Sign of War
    As U.S. politicians and pundits have fun talking tough about Russia and demonizing President Putin, they are missing signs that Moscow isn’t amused and is preparing for actual conflict, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
    By Ray McGovern

  42. charly says:

    Windows, IOS, Android and MacOS are all American. Any cyber attack will kill them first. Russia will ask Microsoft, Apple and Google to defeat the American attack. If they can’t for obvious legal reasons then all that American software will be death in Russia, China, India etc. That is the real asymmetrical attack of any cyber war

  43. Kooshy says:

    After watching FZ and Bill Maher on CNN this morning, IMO Trump don’t have a chance to win this next presidency of US. This is, since as he claims, the election here is fully rigged, and controlled by the Borg through the media. But,IMO,nevertheless he exposed not only to US voters but to the world, how corrupt the US political system is. As result, IMO the next US president will not have the necessary legitimacy to govern as before, both internally and on international seen.

  44. Donald says:

    By way of the Naked Capitalism blog, here is an article by Chas Freeman
    There is also an interview with him on the Nation website, but my iPad is acting funny, so I am just going to post this without going off to link the other. But it is worth reading too, I think.
    Clearly I was impressed, but I am no expert, so I was wondering what the Colonel and others thought.

  45. J says:
    Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Chief of the Directorate of Media service and Information of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, has also basically said the same regarding to Russian asymmetrical responses regarding U.S./West incursions in Syria.
    Kirby’s errant references to sending Russians home in body bags has not been taken lightly by the Kremlin. Somebody should have IMO put a dirty sock in Kirby’s errant mouth regarding such bluster. Kirby forgets just how old Russia is compared to our U.S., and all the threats and attacks by different enemies that Russia has weathered through the Centuries. Sorry but our CIA/D.C. bluster isn’t a patch on a Brown Horde attack from the Mongol steeps that Russia has weathered in the past, or the repeated attacks by the Polish crowns.

  46. J says:

    Now why did the Russian SVR get a new boss? Sergey Naryshkin, graduate of the КГБ schools in the 70’s and assignment to the Soviet Embassy in Brussels in the late 80’s.

  47. turcopolier says:

    I know Freeman well. He is an excellent man who would be an excellent choice. pl

  48. turcopolier says:

    everyone stands when the principal enter the room. In this case this would be the president. If this is a JCS briefing the president nods and the chairman says something like, “Colonel Smedlap,proceed” and Smedlap starts briefing. The president can askwhatever he/she likes whenever. There is, of course, a written agenda before the main people. Questions may or may not be invited when the briefer ends. pl

  49. turcopolier says:

    If the NSC staff ran this meeting then it is IMO almost certain to be either no decision made or a bad one. The civilians in the NSC and State tend to treat such meetings as though they are college seminars. At the same time they have no real understanding of military affair and usually want to use military forces to make symbolic gesture or for signaling. pl

  50. turcopolier says:

    the Joint Staff is a coordinating body that exists to draw the relevant aspects of a plan or operation together. Thus, the Joint Staff has sections for; personnel (J-1), intelligence (J-2), operations (J-3), logistics (J-4), plans (J-5), etc… The J-2 section is in charge of making sure that the intelligence aspects of the plan are part of the process of writing the plan but the J-2 is not a research institution. DIA ia research and collection of information institution, something like a university. This is where the in-depth knowledge and expertise are lodged. The J-2 section os a consumer of the DIA product. pl

  51. Haralambos says:

    Thanks for this; I was just about ready to put the link up. I have always had a great deal of respect for Freeman’s expertise and judgement.

  52. Imagine says:

    Obama has decided to start a cyber war with Russia:
    Remember, what can be done FOR us, can be done TO us.
    What could possibly go wrong?
    I’ll start the list. Not my specialty, so speculations:
    –air traffic control
    –power station control
    –water station control
    –nuclear power plant control
    –railroad station control
    –gasoline company delivery schedules
    –food company delivery schedules
    –Amazon servers DOS attack, no one buys on Black Friday
    –SWIFT banking attack
    all these seem so obvious I see no harm mentioning, but feel free to edit.

  53. mike allen says:

    J –
    Wasn’t Naryshkin an old friend of Putin in St Petersburg in the nineties?
    He is also reported to be on the board of directors of Russian shipping & oil companies, and a TV network.

  54. Imagine says:

    There was a study a long time ago that America was so vulnerable to attack, because of so many high-value targets, that it is critical to get along well with neighbors. There is so much to lose, that we take for granted.

  55. sillybill says:

    Thank you.

  56. rjj says:

    Kooshy, keep in mind a very large segment of the news watching public are metaviewers who are morbidly fascinated by the spectacle of an a$$h*le pageant … and/or tune in to be outraged.

  57. Imagine says:

    Obama’s revenge is for DNC getting hacked. CIA? says “confident” it was the Russians. But if they were “certain” they would produce evidence, meaning they don’t have clear evidence, just a say-so. Putin says Russia gains no benefit from hacking DNC. What are odds “confident” is politically motivated, from the top/ from factions in the middle?

  58. Larry Stack says:

    Just caught your blog and wanted to say hello. I was a captain in the 2nd battalion, 525th MI Group from April 1968 until April 1969. We drank some beer together, though I doubt you will remember me from so long ago. I was initially in Bien Hoa as CI Team chief and later with the 25th Div at Dau Tieng and Tay Ninh. I recall seeing a lot of you in print and on TV back in 2004-5. Keep up the good work!!!
    Regards from an old buddy.
    Larry Stack

  59. Lemur says:

    Trust in the media is low and not everyone watches cable news. The latest polls were grossly slewed in favour of dem leaning voters. Trump is still in with a fair chance, and there are more wikileaks to come.

  60. Imagine says:

    DIA is lawful and follows the rules, whereas CIA has a talent for being chaotic. Clapper even lied to Congress (as did O.North). Cheney had a shadow gov’t going. The CIA has overthrown something like 30+ gov’ts under various different presidents. Ukraine and Syria don’t seem like Obama’s style (I could be wrong). The first goal of any org is to preserve its existence. How likely is it that the CIA has fiefdoms/factions inside it that are quietly running pet projects, in a semi-autonomous manner, as opposed to taking direction purely from the top? How likely is it that Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Russia, the drones, were come up with by someone else, and then rubber-stamped by Obama, as opposed to originated/directed by Obama?
    Could some of this be coming from retired/outside, e.g. Diamondback’s Kappes / Kagan? It all just seems so weird, sir.

  61. turcopolier says:

    Larry Stack
    Good to hear from you buddy! I remember being in 3rd Battalion but as you say it was a long time ago pl

  62. Imagine,
    The CIA does have fiefdoms/factions, but they would not run pet projects without authorization. They will aggressively champion and market their pet projects to leadership and to Congress to keep the funding (and authorization) flowing. They will use “restricted access” to control info about their project and will use deep insiders as contractors for their ability to influence as much as their expertise.
    Although these pet projects may originate within the CIA fiefdoms, they are not run without proper authorization. Rogue CIA operations exist only in the movies. That doesn’t mean they don’t dance around the edges within these projects.

  63. FB Ali says:

    b reported this in a comment on another thread (Who done what?). He thought the captain of the USS Mason, and others up the chain of command, should pay a price for this.
    No way! Egregious error, so long as it’s against the bad guys, is not punishable – in fact, the contrary (eg, the USS Vincennes).
    In fact, where policy intrudes, even one’s own can be sacrificed (eg, the USS Liberty). Perhaps the modern version of the saying should be:
    Oh Policy, what crimes are committed in thy name!

  64. Imagine says:

    Thank you.

  65. Will says:

    The J-2 comment is intriguing- that the DIA is the J-2 for the JCS. There is a table of the J positions in the wiki article
    gotta a couple of questions: The brigade HQ company has the J- positions, is that right? then the higher groupings would also have their own staff?
    was there an equivalent to the generalstab or Generalquartiermeister in the Confederate or Union armies? Do, I understand it right that in the old Staff system, the staff officer could do more than just advise. But the Goldwater_Nichols act changed that for the U.S.? In the “Strike the Tent” triology, guess Butler and his buddies would have been part of the J-2 for the Union, and C. Devereaux & J. Benjamin (actually the whole secret service) part of the J-2 for the Confeds? Would the cavalry that was supposed to screen and discover the enemy part of the corps or Army J-2 or they would report to the aide adjutant? What exactly did Professor Venable (Major Venable) do for RE Lee? i’ve always been interested in Venable when I found out Venable Hall (Chemistry) in UNC- Chapel Hill was named after his son who was a professor and chancellor. Also NC State has a D.H. Hill Library, named after Gen. D.H. Hill’s son and Stonewall Jackson’s nephew.
    Interesting the Soviets had a dual command system with embedded political commissars that could make military decisions, or at least set a process in motion to remove commanders?
    Have to ask another question to show my ignorance- why is there both a CIA and DIA? Is it true that Truman reconsidered and wanted to do away with the covert operational part of the CIA? Could we have managed w/o the covert operational part? I don’t know who made the remark that the reason the U.S. government has never been overthrown is b/c there’s no U.S. Embassy in Washington, D.C. (oh yea- it was probably the Castros)
    How is the Khedive book coming along? Just finished a bio of Napoleon. The Mamelukes he defeated in Egypt were nominally under Ottoman allegiance, whereas prior to 1586 or so, they had been independent. After the British gave the French free transportation to leave Egypt, then the Albanian Ottoman Officers stepped into the vacuum and began to set up their own dynasty.

  66. J says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t cyber attacks been incorporated under Terrorism definition in U.S. code. And those who take part in any phase of cyber attacks, are considered Terrorist and prosecute under U.S. Law.
    Isn’t what the White House and CIA doing regarding cyber attacks planned against Russia, liable under U.S. law?

  67. charly says:

    Google probably has my wifi password. Microsoft also. And i try to protect my privacy. So the scale what the US can do with cyber to Russia is so much bigger that it is not even a competition. But after the attack Google, Apple and Microsoft software are death in some very big countries. That is why a real cyber war is deathly for the US

  68. Will says:

    “J said…
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t cyber attacks been incorporated under Terrorism definition in U.S. code. And those who take part in any phase of cyber attacks, are considered Terrorist and prosecute under U.S. Law.”
    Further, consider the case of the U.S.-Israeli Suxnet virus. Not just an information stealing hack, but a weaponized virus that can take over nuclear power machinery and spin stepper motors out of control. It has spread far from its intended Persian target. And when did Congress declare War on Iran?
    It gets me that for a “finding” to destroy a country, one of the grounds are that they are inimical to the foreign policy of the U.S., no matter how contrary to law and America first interest the foreign policy set by the Israel Firsters is.
    I’m kinda slow, somebody explain these two propositions to me:
    1. Why are the medieval headchoppers of Saudi Barbaria who have exported Wahhabi takfiri jihadists worldwide preferable to the relatively more modern and more ecunemical Persians?
    “Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work, but does not allow them to practice their faith openly. Because of that Christians generally only worship within private homes. Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are prohibited.”
    “The government guarantees the recognized Christian minorities a number of rights (production and sale of non-halal foods),[citation needed] representation in parliament, special family law etc” proslyteziation and conversion are dealt with harshly. But bottom line, how many churches are there is KSA? zilch. In Iran, many
    2. Related question. Other than the takfiri jihadist interest of KSA and settler Israel of doing in the Syrian government (delegitimized by calling it “regime”), how does it serve the interests of the American people to replace the secular multiconfessional elected Syrian government with an Islamist regime? Didn’t work out all that well in Egypt.

  69. LeaNder says:

    Sorry, you told us this before. I certainly have this strong déjà vu.
    The external link to the document by James D. Marchio (DIA) also seems to contain a little that surfaced in discussion here: The Evolution and Relevance of Joint Intelligence Centers
    I spent quite a bit of time following links, to related matters and into some CV’s. Got a vague idea what might be beneath your hesitancy towards Political Science guys from the military perspective.
    Thank’s Pat.

  70. turcopolier says:

    My aversion to poly sci/IR has nothing to do with the military. My problem with this academic field is that it is detached from reality and if allowed to influence government seeks to impose ideas on policy that are impossible to fulfill because they are alien to human nature. pl

  71. Will says:

    stuxnet, misspelled it. has it been that long? 4 years. seems like only yesterday. And it worked on the controllers that regulated the centrifuge motors.

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