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Somalia strike - "a cautionary tale"
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Washington Post talks about an over-the-horizon strike conducted by the US Navy against an al-Qaeda leader in Somalia. The attack was made with a Tomahawk missile.
Aden Hashi Ayro, the man who was killed, deserved the label of "evildoer." As chief of the extremist al-Shabab militia, he supervised and probably participated in the murder of foreign aid workers, teachers, an Italian nun and a British journalist while directing al-Shabab's insurgency against the shaky, internationally backed Somali government.
Great. Got one. And by all accounts, we got a bad one. If we believe Somali reports, we also "got" 20 civilians who were in and around the house (the ubiquitous "collateral damage").

Some, of course, will argue that the deaths of such innocents are sometimes a necessary evil we must endure in order to take out a much larger evil. I disagree. I always bring such statements down to a personal level to try to sort out my feelings about such things. I'm sure I'd find it less than acceptable if a foreign government fired a missile at a house near mine to kill an alleged terrorist and also ended up killing some of my family members who knew nothing about the man but happened to be outside working in the garden.

I'm not saying that's what happened or that all the civilians killed were "innocent". In fact it may very well have been nothing but bad guys. We just don't know.

But what it does point out are the very large limitations on this sort of a strategy. It is hardly a "hearts and minds" approach to winning a war that involves civilian populations. What the WaPo does is use that argument to describe what it calls a 'cautionary tale' for the likes of the Obamas of the world:
Somalia is a cautionary example for those who, like Barack Obama, favor rapidly withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and managing any threat from al-Qaeda with an "over the horizon" strike force. Such forces indeed have the ability to target and kill leaders. They do nothing, however, to change the conditions under which al-Qaeda finds refuge and recruits. As Gen. David H. Petraeus is demonstrating in Iraq, successful counterterrorism requires providing security for the civilian population, economic reconstruction and the brokering of political accords — in other words, nation-building. That's as true in Somalia as it is in Iraq.
That's the purpose of AFRICOM, the new military command in Africa. It is there to help African nations do what is necessary to "provid[e] security for the civilian population, economic reconstruction and the brokering of political accords — in other words, nation-building."

In fact, that's the one of the underlying themes of our new doctrine (FM3-0 [.pdf]) recently published.

Anyone who thinks, as Bill Clinton did, that one can successfully battle terrorism with "over-the-horizon" strikes hasn't learned a thing in the past 10 years. It has its place, and there are certainly instances when it is appropriate to use OTH, but for the most part, defeating terrorism and insurgencies is boots-on-the-ground warfare. The best way to avoid having to fight a counter-insurgency is to help failing nations do those things we're presently attempting in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The key, of course, is to accomplish those things prior to there being a need to resort to combat. But, as the WaPo points out, if anyone thinks that terrorism and counter-insurgency can be successfully waged by withdrawing from these areas and relying on technology and the push of a button, they are sadly, and dangerously, deluded.
 
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One is tempted to comment, simply, "Oh, grow up." Instead, let me ask you: if 20 civilians —- indistinguishable from combatants, we’ll note, since the combatants don’t exactly have an ’I am al Qaeda’ sign on their backs —- if 20 civilians are too many, how about five? Three? How many people were likely to be killed by Aden Hashi Ayro in he weren’t stopped? And if we wanted to stop him, and weren’t to use a standoff weapon, how many US military killed in action would it take to balance the tables? A few? Twenty? Fifty? What happened the last time we tried to not use standoff weapons in Somalia? Do you recall?

It’s easy to say "oh it makes people mad at the US when civilians are killed", but it’s not like it doesn’t make people angry at the US when we kill combatants. If nothing else, it might at least be that people will stop inviting these bad men to parties.

Life sucks sometimes, and sometimes there are no perfect choices. The US is being careful to minimize civilian casualties; it we weren’t, we’d just level the town with saturation bombing. Failing to act is a choice too, and in this case, it’s a choice that also would kill people.

Come to think of it, this is just a longer-winded way to say "Oh, grow up."

 
Written By: Charlie (Colorad)
URL: http://explorations.chasrmartin.com
Life sucks sometimes, and sometimes there are no perfect choices.
Yeah.

And that makes it all okay, as I’m sure you’d say if your family was among those incinerated.

You’d just embrace the suck, wouldn’t you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It is impossible that these people don’t know who is living in their midst.

Living around a terrorist should and must be a dangerous thing. Only when they are pariahs will we have a chance of eradicating them.
 
Written By: Phelps
URL: http://phelps.donotremove.net
So you would rathers us, say, send in some Blackhawk Helicopters with Rangers and try and get him that way?

Cause that worked out GREAT the last time we did that...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
It is impossible that these people don’t know who is living in their midst.
Actually it’s not impossible since these people have a tendency to be secretive because they don’t want exactly what happened to happen to them.
Living around a terrorist should and must be a dangerous thing.
Well heck, the same thing could be said about wanted criminals, so would you sanction a tomahawk strike on one in your neighborhood?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I knew as sure as spit that the entire thrust of the post would be subverted to this but on we go:
So you would rathers us, say, send in some Blackhawk Helicopters with Rangers and try and get him that way?

Cause that worked out GREAT the last time we did that...
A rather black and white view, wouldn’t you say?

And if you go by casualty figures, which apparently most of you don’t really care about given the fact that 20 civs dead is no biggie, rangers kicked *ss that day, taking out an estimated 800-1200 Somali gunmen to their 18 lost.

That part of the post simply leads into the reality we face if we’re really and honestly attempting to win the war on terrorism. You can’t do it by lobbing missiles into cities.

Certainly there are times when we may feel we have no choice but to do what happened in Somalia. If we do that we ought to at least have the balls to recognize it is a rotten way to do business and no wave it off as no big deal or try to rationalize it as something the civilians had coming to them because they "should have known".

In the bigger scheme of things we also should recognize that it should be a tactic of last, not first resort (which is what the post speaks too). The best way to keep such last-resort tactics from having to be used (tactics which don’t at all help promote our overall aim) is to work preemptively with failing states to change their status.

That’s why this post is called a "cautionary tale". This is not the preferred way to accomplish our strategic goal of defeating terrorism, no matter how much emotional gratification we may get from blowing the hell out of one bad guy.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net



"It is impossible that these people don’t know who is living in their midst."

Right. Do you know what these terrorist leaders look like and whatever name they might be using? Do you know everything that goes on in your neighborhood? What makes you think that some illiterate third world type who has never been more than ten miles from his home, seen a television, or read a newspaper knows who these guys are or what they do?


"The US is being careful to minimize civilian casualties; it we weren’t, we’d just level the town with saturation bombing"

Not really. Saturation bombing is too expensive, an unnecessary waste of resources. They would have probably done exactly what they did, launch a fire and forget weapon at a target which may or may not be at ground zero when the weapon arrives.

"So you would rathers us, say, send in some Blackhawk Helicopters with Rangers and try and get him that way?"

If he is such an important target that lives need to be risked, then why not risk American lives?


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I knew as sure as spit that the entire thrust of the post would be subverted to this...
Discussions have reverted to a rhetorical agree with me or die, it is sad to see it red on red, or even blue on blue. It makes shallow ones claim to be inclusive.
In the bigger scheme of things we also should recognize that it should be a tactic of last...
The biggest I’d say. What disappoints me most from friends of the left is the tacit approval of disagreeable tactics and unconstitutional practice on the grounds that it benefits "the greater good," really quite frankly, their bias proclivities. "Yeah, let’s outlaw SUV’s" or "let’s impose carbon taxes" may seem cool... until that legal precedent is used to stop you from driving your Audi AllRoad or imposed upon your mowing of your own lawn.

Secondarily, but not by much, is the real affect this kind of action has upon those within whom we are trying to engender good rapport. Yeah, it’s cool in the hollywood sense, but as Bruce points out, real people died, and thus far, we have no idea whether or not they were legitimate targets, acceptable collateral deaths, or innocent bystanders. Explaining the killing my sister because, as a minister of the UCC, she happened to be attending a conference at which Rev. Wright appeared, will not sit well with me.

And I think that is the point Bruce is trying to make. We can, in fact, do what ever the he!l we want (as can any person, affiliation, or government can) but we are citizens of the USofA; we damn well better live up to the exceptional, abet realistic, ideals of our founding documents.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I am going to say that in a society like Somalia, yes, you may know exactly what your neighbors are up to - they aren’t all surfing the net in ranch homes, but living in communal villages. Otherwise what’s the point of making friends with the locals if they "know nothing." That said, maybe they don’t know exactly the risk they are running, etc.

But I am also thinking that before we fire a cruise missile, we must have some pretty good intel and run it by the lawyers, too, so I am guessing this wasn’t done lightly.

In any case, McQ’s point isn’t about whether you do this or not, but to realize that being over the horizon isn’t going to magically make people love us again (if they ever did) but in fact might exacerbate the situation.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I dunno, if some of my family members were being forced to act as human shields to protect an evil man and then some other country fired a missile at them, I might understand. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but if the bad guy is dead he can’t use anymore human shields.
 
Written By: jows
URL: http://
And if you go by casualty figures
I care very deeply about exectly two set of casualty figures...

How many US military personell die

How many "others" die.

The first should be as close to zero as possible, the second can be as high as it wants so long as the first is as low as possible...

Zero US casualties means I care very little about how many others went on to Glory...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
It’s the same problem I have with the torture argument - "How would you like it if YOU were tortured?"

If I’m captured by any of our enemies, I WILL be tortured - as are our troops unlucky enough to get captured. No, I won’t like it, but I would EXPECT it.

It’s still a silly argument here - "how would you like it if another country lobbed a missle into your neighborhood and killed your family?"

If another country COULD do it, they WOULD do it. Whether I like it or not does not even enter into the equation. It has nothing to do with the basic principle that makes the world go ’round:

Might makes right.

To paraphrase Joe Haldemann - The universe is not interested in "fair" or "right and wrong". The universe is interested in survival.

If Pol Pot can get away with (and he did) murdering millions of Cambodians, then he was right by the only standard that the universe recognizes: Because he could.

How can people who believe in evolution not understand this? I’m with Scott Jacobs on this one - Our people come first. Everyone else comes in second, or not at all. Everyone.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
I care very deeply about exectly two set of casualty figures...

How many US military personell die

How many "others" die.

The first should be as close to zero as possible, the second can be as high as it wants so long as the first is as low as possible...

Zero US casualties means I care very little about how many others went on to Glory..
That’s easy sh!t to say when you’ve never had to see and live with the results.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s the same problem I have with the torture argument - "How would you like it if YOU were tortured?"
I’m sorry Jeff, but that’s NOT the argument. It has nothing to do with you being tortured.
Might makes right.
Well then throw the Constitution out the window because its express purpose in life is to refute that exact assertion.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
If I had had a chance to blow up Hitler in 1939 (knowing now what was not too apparent to me then), and incidentally also blow up a hundred innocents, I would have done so. I think most Americans and Brits would say the same thing. Same with other megalomaniacs in the world that have taken millions of lives on their own responsibility. I think of Stalin, Pol Pot, El Duce, Ho, and so on. Well, moving down the scale, their lieutenants should suffer the same fate, and their subalterns the same, on down the hierarchy some distance.

So, one more bad leader taken out at the cost of some casualties is still a geat plus. That is, if you agree with the first paragraph above.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Please don’t come back at me with that "do it and live with it" crap. I have been there.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Please don’t come back at me with that "do it and live with it" crap. I have been there.
Not a matter "I’ve been there". It is Preach it, Live by it. The "it" being our constitution. You want to totally debase "it" as acceptable ’collateral damage’ while taking out those who you deem unacceptable? Fine, then man up to the likely consequence.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
In the short term our side may have had zero casualties. What about the long term? Things like this can make excellent recruiting material. I also seem to recall some discussion here and other places about the morale boost the terrs get from our anti-war folks. It seems to me that slaughtering innocent civilians would seem to give some substance to the charges that we are fighting a war against Islam, etc.

." I have been there"

How wonderful for you. So what will you tell your kids when they say "What did you do in the war, daddy?"
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
A couple of thoughts, most of which will be speculation...

Though the point of launch was over the horizon on some Naval vessel somewhere, the decision to launch was likely made in the Pentagon, in Langley, or perhaps even somewhere higher in the chain of command. (What would be "higher" than the Pentagon or Langley? The White House?)

I don’t think that decisions of this sort are made impulsively. I suspect a significant amount of data is acquired beforehand, and a calculus of collateral damage goes into the decision.

I’m also inclined to believe that we had intelligence on the ground quite near the point of attack. This person can not only verify the coordinates of the target, but can also provide feedback once the missile hits.

Suppose the target changed location one minute after the cruise missile was launched. Would we not need an eyewitness to report back to the controllers that the course of the missile needs to be changed, or that the attack needs to be broken off? Killing "civilians" along with an al Qaeda strong man is problematic enough. Killing civilians without hitting an al Qaeda strong man is a nightmare which can kill careers and change the course of politics.

Or, suppose the fourth graders are on a field trip to visit their local al Qaeda strong man. (You know what I mean — children in the impact zone.) That would be extremely important information that only an eyewitness could provide.

So, my speculation is that attacks of this sort occur when the data is plentiful and "first hand", the upside is really up, and the risks are very low. And how the attack is reported after the event may be disconnected from reality.

—-John Johnson








 
Written By: John Johnson
URL: http://johnson.johnson.jon
What a candy cane person you must be, timac... Never been there yourself, but you can moralize from your couch very well. Anyone ever tell you that war is hell? Civilians find themselves in the wrong place quite a lot, and pay for it with their lives. There is not much you can do about that, either. Deliberately taking out a house full of people to get one leader happens rather often these days. It doesn’t matter one whit whether the rest of the group were sinners or innocents, they are just as dead. What you focus on is the positive result that such leaders can no longer command the death of many other people in their career, and the command chain is interrupted for a while.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
While I am ranting about war being hell, I might as well say also that once in a war, or conflict, or engagement, a soldier uses his weapon to kill the enemy. Often, he does not know exactly who he is shooting at, or where his rounds will land eventually. Ever think of where the rounds will land? But, he is trying to kill the enemy. Does it sink in that war is killing, sometimes indiscriminantly and accidentally, no matter the care taken to minimize civilian casualties?

John J. is correct. There must have been a team near the target to designate it and observe the results. Not just one man, but an A-Team of six to twelve men. Those men were at great risk of being spotted, surrounded, tortured, mutilated, and then killed. Let us hope they got out safely. They did their job well.

 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Tomahawk missiles don’t need to have a target designated.

They have an inertial guidance system or use GPS to follow a preset course. When they hit land they switch over to Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM).

Terminal guidance comes from Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation (DSMAC) system. Reportedly it’s accurate to within 10 meters.

So I hate to disappoint the emotional narrative, but no, there wasn’t a team of six to twelve men "at great risk of being spotted, surrounded, tortured, mutilated, and then killed."

The TLAM is a fire and forget missile. And that’s exactly what happened.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
If I had had a chance to blow up Hitler in 1939 (knowing now what was not too apparent to me then), and incidentally also blow up a hundred innocents, I would have done so. I think most Americans and Brits would say the same thing. Same with other megalomaniacs in the world that have taken millions of lives on their own responsibility. I think of Stalin, Pol Pot, El Duce, Ho, and so on. Well, moving down the scale, their lieutenants should suffer the same fate, and their subalterns the same, on down the hierarchy some distance.
Replace innocents with members of your family and closest friends. Now, how do you feel about it? I doubt so cavalier.
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
"What a candy cane person you must be, timac...Anyone ever tell you that war is hell? ...."

Oooh. I love it when you big, virile, manly men talk rough. It makes me tingle in my special place. I’ll bet you have a big gun, too. Please, tell me more about what a wimpy miserable excuse for a man I am. I need some discipline. Oops, I think I need to attend to some personal needs.
Ta.




"If I had had a chance..."

And if I had a Ferrari...
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Why, I stand corrected: it was a Tomahawk. But, of course, the GPS coordinates had to be fed to the ship somehow. DSMAC required a scene to match with. Just who acquired the scene pic with the correct overhead views? Someone flew a recce mission, perhaps? How did the recce pilot know where to fly to get precisely the images he needed? Was he guided into the target area? Who determined the exact house? How? The timing was critical, I imagine, if the leader was just visiting. How did they know just when to launch, if it was a tight window? How?

Or, maybe it was satellite imagery, but the same problem persists: correlation of the image with target ground truth and GPS coordinates down to the ~meter level, together with the proper timing of launch. How? Please enlighten me.

All of which leads to an inserted team and direct observation of the target.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Is:
Same scenario, same result. Far more painful, but still far, far more humane than allowing Hitler to proceed with his plan to conquer all of Europe, his "Final Solution" for Jews, and his specific attack on Russia, entailing ultimately the loss of well over 20 million people, and the West’s losses of millions. What idiot would refuse to go on with it, family or not?

You either believe in the greater good, and the existence of evil or you don’t.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
So, it was a gedanken experiment. So was your Ferrari. At least mine had a significant point to make, Candy Cane.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
But, of course, the GPS coordinates had to be fed to the ship somehow. DSMAC required a scene to match with. Just who acquired the scene pic with the correct overhead views? Someone flew a recce mission, perhaps?
You mean something like a UAV? Global Hawk is ready when you are.
All of which leads to an inserted team and direct observation of the target.
Or that same UAV loitering over the target, huh?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
There are many ways to designate a target, both in real time and slow time. But it has to be designated accurately and surely if you are going to take it out. Plus, it most certainly helps if you have first-hand reporting of the results, as John J. pointed out earlier. Laser designation isn’t the only way, you know.
A fire-and-forget weapon must have an accurate target designated to its guidance system by whatever means available. In such an instance as we have here, direct observation with target coordinates fed back to the ship would be the standing protocol for the situation. The missile itself needn’t be designated if it has precise coordinates and a shape discriminator system (which itself needs a designation of its final view).

Certainly it is possible to use a GH or similar in both modes—final view and coordinates, plus limited BDA. There would still be the need for more direct observation because of the need for designation to GH somehow, the timing problem, the confirmation of target coordinates, and for backup if the GH were to falter, plus more accurate BDA. My vote would be to insert a team as well for insurance. Yes, and with the added risk.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Of course, timing is everything. We have to get a ship in position, recce done, coordinates fed, imagery fed, a team inserted given enough time, a GH vectored over the target if that is used, and the target has to be "ripe" for enough time to launch, and fly to the target.

The long lead here would seem to be the recce/GH getting there, and the inserted team getting there and setting up. How much lead time we have before the target gets ripe, and how long it will stay ripe are key factors. Then too, are there other sources of information that we can exploit that might obviate the need for our own observation team? Lots of variables to cope with.

But, I come back to two points: 1) do we need insurance; and 2) do we care if the missile misses due to any of a million glitches in all these targeting and communications efforts. This must depend on how valuable the ripe target is evaluated to be. If it were OBL, then the answers would be yes!

I am painfully aware of the B-52 sticks that fell some 100 yards away from the true line they were supposedly aiming at because someone entered the wrong GPS coordinates in the nav systems to begin with. Murphy lives.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
There are many ways to designate a target, both in real time and slow time.
Precisely ... and in this day and age, targets like the one in Somalia don’t require a single American set foot in the country.
Certainly it is possible to use a GH or similar in both modes—final view and coordinates, plus limited BDA.
Not only is it possible, it is also the most likely scenario.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Unless we are told the details about this particular mission the argument is moot. Unless we are told the complete operating policy and protocols for OTH engagements, we are really guessing. I ask simply two more questions: How did a GH find this target in the first instance (one house out of many like structures in a row), and how did the operators know when to launch the weapon?

It seems to me that valid direct information from a ground observer was the start of the process, and this observer was able to confirm the correct house to hit back to the targeting system, GH, and then to verify the timing for a ripe target. This could have been someone from the native population, but I think that we would not shoot without reliable verification.

Perhaps the observer, whoever he was, painted a big red X on the roof of the house, or on the roof of the house next door, and gave an offset. Perhaps the GH is good enough to read the address on the house (!), but he’d still have to be told the address by someone.

Anyhow, this dead horse has been kicked enough.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Not before we demonstrated some of us are as casual about being callous as any member of Al Queda.
Rationalize all you like.

Regrettably both sides use intelligent devices to deliver explosives and the results are nearly identical to bystanders.
Guided munitions are actually about as ’pin-point’ in limiting the area of destruction as your average vest wearing homicide bomber, so my comparison can stand.

If we wouldn’t do it this in Denmark, or Norway, or Panama, we shouldn’t be doing it this way in Somalia.

Does the term "ACT OF WAR" have a familiar ring to it? Good that Somalia isn’t in a position to do anything about this isn’t it? Just like Sudan.
It was wrong when Clinton tossed munitions around this way, it’s still wrong.
Is it okay that we were THEM the other day when we killed the target (yay!!!!) and a slew of others we can’t be sure about?
We have met the enemy and for some of you it’s okay that he is us.

That’s my opinion.
Add .75 cents and that will almost buy a cup of coffee at 7-11.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Isn’t it a grand thing that we have a few "callous" yet experienced military men who volunteered to defend the nation and fight our wars overseas? They provide many others with the security we are used to. Some of the others, it seems, that wouldn’t lift a finger in anger at our dedicated enemies, much less pick up a rifle and act like a soldier when the need arises.

So be it; that is part of the burden our troops and our leaders carry, but it is horribly distasteful nevertheless.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Anyhow, this dead horse has been kicked enough.
Translation: "Yeah, you’re probably right and I have nothing to come back with."
Isn’t it a grand thing that we have a few "callous" yet experienced military men who volunteered to defend the nation and fight our wars overseas? They provide many others with the security we are used to. Some of the others, it seems, that wouldn’t lift a finger in anger at our dedicated enemies, much less pick up a rifle and act like a soldier when the need arises.
Yeah, well, you know, after 28 years of doing it, I felt it was time to let other, younger "callous" men take over.

And you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Hello! Nothing to come back with? A rediculous statement since you have not refuted my position in the least. Merely stating the desirability of not inserting US personnel, which is quite obvious and quite immaterial if the situation demands insertion, does not constitute a winning argument. I was simply pointing out that the subject had been covered, at least to my satisfaction, if not yours. Snark for snark.

For me, it was four years in the Korean Conflict, trained as a sniper and radio mech for forward observer teams. That was certainly enough shooting for me, so I got out in ’54 and spent the next 3 years getting my BS in Physics, then 43 years in the defense industry. I am now retired.

For the Army, I was directly involved in TACFIRE, TOS, CS3, and MLRS.
For the Air Force I was involved in a number of recce programs, both airborne and ground processing systems, the E-4B, and TACS. For the Navy, I was involved in AEGIS, the Mk-48 FCS, and, in Holland, The Dutch Frigate systems, NADGE, and a system called Goalkeeper, a 30mm GAU-8 version of the US Phalanx with Dutch fire control. My "involvements" were as principal or deputy system engineer or as project manager for my company at the time in most of these efforts.
The companies included E-Systems, IBM, RCA, SAIC, and HSA. Intel, Comm, C&C, and Fire Control was my business.

 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Oh, by the way, you never answered my last two questions, choosing instead to sieze upon my dead horse statement as surrender! Not in this lifetime!

So tell me about that GH operator looking down his pipe at a row of houses, with all of the usual comings and goings of urban life. How did he get put onto that area, that row, and who picked out for him the one house of importance? Then tell me how he knew the timing for his main target.

And then tell me how the Commander made his decision to fire on a largely civilian area, with little or no direct confirmation of the target and the arrival/departure of the Man.

Then, you might just answer how they knew that they got the Man if all they could see from a drone is rubble and smoke?
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Nothing to come back with? A rediculous statement since you have not refuted my position in the least.
That’s because the most probable scenario refuted your "position" quite handily. There was no reason, none, to send in anyone when we routinely use (and have) technology to do what was done.
For the Army, I was directly involved in TACFIRE, TOS, CS3, and MLRS.
Nothing so glamorous for me - infantry for 28 years.
So tell me about that GH operator looking down his pipe at a row of houses, with all of the usual comings and goings of urban life. How did he get put onto that area, that row, and who picked out for him the one house of importance?
Ever hear of indigenous assets?
And then tell me how the Commander made his decision to fire on a largely civilian area, with little or no direct confirmation of the target and the arrival/departure of the Man.
See answer above. Who do you suppose could most easily fit in, observe and report without raising suspicion? 12 Americans trying to stay hidden or a couple of well-paid Somali assets?
Then, you might just answer how they knew that they got the Man if all they could see from a drone is rubble and smoke?
Same answer.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
if you actually read my posts, instead of scanning them, I clearly pointed out the possibile use of native assets. I also suggested that the Commander may well want greater assurance that the correct target data was sent before blowing up houses and people. There doesn’t have to be a full team of 12 either, depending on the reliability of the assets in place.

But, you see, even the native assets had to be there to finger the house and the timing. So you have conceeded my point that men on the ground are needed . Then the question still arises of the reliability of these native assets, especially in the mind of the responsible officer. Under these circumstances, one or maybe two of our guys could go with the natives to make the measurements properly and identify the Man, work the radio, etc. Looks to me like three or four men might do the trick. It might well be the case that we already have a team operating in country, which could be drawn upon for one or two for this mission, together with the native pair.

Think a little further into the scenario as well. I do doubt that this mission could demand the services of a GH. But Predators have been flown into Somolia rather often for this kind of mission with some success, and there are other, smaller drones that could have been employed, even ship-launched. Then too, there is the question of time-on-station for any drone versus the timing on the ground. Again, the advantage of having our capabilities on the ground to coordinate this encounter is evident, at least to me. Even just one good man.

As I think about it, I remember that the one mission where a Predator took out two men in a car with a Hellfire was orchestrated by our ground assets in country. But, this was in Yemen, I believe. Same scenario, and with a moving target.


 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Let me ask one more question. If you were the officer of ultimate responsibility, would you shoot a Tomahawk into a city in a nation that we are not at war with using only the targeting data from natives that you don’t really know? That is the crux of this matter. I would not. Parhaps you would.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
if you actually read my posts, instead of scanning them, I clearly pointed out the possibile use of native assets.
Whoop freakin’ whee ... what has that to do with US lives at risk (other than a nice attempt to shift the goal posts)?
But, you see, even the native assets had to be there to finger the house and the timing. So you have conceeded my point that men on the ground are needed.
Conceded your point? As far as I can tell you’ve yet to make a point.

If anyone has conceded a point here it is you abandoning the necessity of US personnel being the human assets (if, in fact, there were human assets involved).

Timing can be established by watching the pattern of behavior and reporting, for instance, what vehicle he travels in or any other likely identifier of his presense.

Then all it takes is a UAV to monitor and a TLAM to do the rest. No human asset need be anywhere near the house in question.
If you were the officer of ultimate responsibility, would you shoot a Tomahawk into a city in a nation that we are not at war with using only the targeting data from natives that you don’t really know?
No, would you?

But you’re assuming something not in evidence here (as usual). The fact that it was launched seems to indicate they not only knew the asset but trusted the asset. I also suspect they’d have confirmed the intelligence by other means as well (UAV, etc).

So again, there most likely wasn’t any need for a human asset to be within 50 miles of the place when it was launched.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Now who is assuming! You are assuming what you would like to prove. That they launched means they thought they had correct and reliable data, period. You are assuming no US assets were there, therefore...it MUST have been natives that did the initial targeting!

That is not necessarily true, and you know it. At least you now admit, belatedly, that you would not launch without target data that you trusted. I would not trust a native team all by itself, for it represents all kinds of possible scenarios with the power to bring down Tomahawks on their enemies, and not ours, or to turn and help the bad guys for some reward or another. Or, they could simply be unable to do the job correctly. Even poor English would be a big hazard!

After the publicity and TV data shown on such strikes, it would be logical for important men to disguise their goings and comings by some simple tricks, such as a single car arriving, not a convoy, or two cars arriving at an hour’s spacing, or two hours, etc. with the entourage tucked under a grove or two a click away. Then too, the Man could arrive on a motorscooter or simply walk in alone...so the operator would not gain any info about the arrival worth launching on. The Man would have to be recognized from up close.

So you are saying that you would trust, or you believe that a missile ship commander would trust, natives to do the sightings and target coordinates without US assets involved on the ground when shooting into a city at a particular house in a non-combatant nation.! Unbelievable!

Perhaps in the future it will come out for this mission just what transpired, and who did what to whom. You believe your scenario and I will believe mine. If we did have our own guys in there, it most certainly would not be divulged any time soon. In fact, it would be an advantage to let people think we do launch on flimsy data...you for instance.

In any event, I hope they keep Commanders that would launch on native data only on a very short leash indeed; they are too great a risk to be let out alone with Tomahawks under their control.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Now who is assuming! You are assuming what you would like to prove. That they launched means they thought they had correct and reliable data, period. You are assuming no US assets were there, therefore...it MUST have been natives that did the initial targeting!
Nope. I thought I was fairly clear that it could have been a target developed by completely different means.
That is not necessarily true, and you know it. At least you now admit, belatedly, that you would not launch without target data that you trusted.
"Belatedly" ... point out to me where I ever said I would do it any other way to begin with.
I would not trust a native team all by itself, for it represents all kinds of possible scenarios with the power to bring down Tomahawks on their enemies, and not ours, or to turn and help the bad guys for some reward or another. Or, they could simply be unable to do the job correctly. Even poor English would be a big hazard!
What you would or wouldnt do isn’t relevant to what was done, is it? Especially since you seem to have a very limited understanding about how intel and targets are developed.

Again, we have a TLAM (which needs no one to designate the target) and we have intel developed somehow and one assumes, verified somehow.

It may have been a signal intercept. It may have been verified by a UAV on station. You don’t have any freakin’ idea, yet you yammer away about how it had to have gone down with out first knowing the weapons system used and secondly without understanding the myriad of ways a target can be developed.

So excuse me if I don’t particularly find much in your screeds of value.

Occam’s razor. Or the modern military equivalent - KISS. Look it up.
So you are saying that you would trust, or you believe that a missile ship commander would trust, natives to do the sightings and target coordinates without US assets involved on the ground when shooting into a city at a particular house in a non-combatant nation.!
Good lord, man ... the commander on the ship has absolutely nothing to do with determining a target’s validity. He has nothing to do with that. He simply carries out a fire mission given to him by a superior. If you don’t understand something as basic as that, I can’t imagine any further value to this discussion.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Fraid your navy experience is dead wrong. The Captain and his Weapons Officer are directly responsible for the final decision to fire, and will take responsibility for the results as well. Therefore, it is his responsibility to ensure that all has been done that he could effect, including ensuring the validity of the firing data. The uppers here merely give direction to engage and permission to engage without taking responsibility for just how the engagement takes place.

28 years in the Army—you shulda learned that even if you never saw a ship.
Look up the shootdown of the Iranian airliner by an Aegis ship, and then tell me who was on the carpet. It wasn’t the Fleet Commander. It wasn’t the CNO. It wasn’t anyone but the Captain.

The one thing I agree with you on is that this discussion is over.
 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
That is, unless you try to get the last word, to try to slide out from under your presumptions of no people on the ground, your faulty mini-KISS, and your ignorance of navy policies for Commanders of vessels in a combat zone. Go speak to a Captain who has had combat experience. I worked with five of them for nearly ten years, one of whom wrote the book on small ship engagements.

Gee, I wonder what the SEALS had to do with this mission?

 
Written By: mannning
URL: http://
Give it up, McQ. Let him have the last word. You have better things to do with your time, like wait in a parking lot in Brunswick.
 
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