Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Arnold's in

The LA Times and NY Times websites both carry the banner that Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to run for Governor of California in the Oct. 7 recall election.

My prediction: we're about to be deluged by trite Arnold-related headlines, metaphors, and leads by the media. Who wants to bet that some paper will run the headline tomorrow "Total Recall"? Or that someone will use "terminate" as a verb in their story with respect to Arnold's intentions towards Gray Davis? Or that the phrase "true lies" will be used to describe Arnold's campaign literature? Or that some political cartoonist will borrow the Conan motif for a cartoon? Or that "hasta la vista, baby" will be printed on t-shirts by the Recall Gray Davis crowd?

Update: It appears that Arnold has drawn first blood (trite Stallone action movie reference) by invoking several of his own lines on Jay Leno, according to the LA Times:
The studio audience whooped and cheered after he made the surprise announcement. In the course of his interview with Leno, the popular movie star and former body builder invoked several of the lines that made him famous, including, "Say hasta la vista to Gray Davis," and "When I go to Sacramento, I'm going to pump it up."
Ouch... I hope that Mr. Schwarzenegger has a good speechwriter in the wings who can ween him off these lines as quickly as possible -- for the good of California.

Military blood supplies run low -- Pentagon launches blood drive

The Pentagon announced today that it desperately needs more Type O blood to support continued operations in Iraq. The Armed Services Blood Program is currently running a campaign to gather blood donations from service members who meet its donor criteria. The ASBP's situation is complicated by the fact that it only accepts donations from active duty service members, government employees, retirees and military family members. Additionally, DoD policy proscribes blood donations from soldiers who have recently redeployed from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Korea, or any other area where malaria is endemic. In particular, the ASBP says it needs Type O blood.
"Type O donors are the first line of defense for trauma victims. Until a blood type can be verified, Type O blood is used to keep trauma victims alive," said Air Force Lt. Col. Ruth Sylvester, Armed Services Blood Program director. "Once their blood type is determined, type-specific blood is transfused. But without Type O blood available, many patients would never make it until the test results came back."

A single battlefield injury victim can require more than 40 units of blood in an emergency. Type O donors are especially important to readiness because their blood can be transfused safely for all blood types, especially in remote areas where it's not possible to test for blood type.

The Armed Services Blood Program also needs Type O blood to maintain its frozen blood reserve. The military maintains a supply of frozen red blood cells to use when fresh blood is not immediately available. Since frozen blood can be safely stored for up to 10 years, it ensures that blood is always readily available to meet the military's needs worldwide.
Bottom Line: If you have a DoD affiliation, give blood to help your brothers and sisters in arms. If you don't have a DoD affiliation, you should contact your local Red Cross to give blood there instead. It's one small thing that we can do to help those in need.

TIA becomes a reality... in Florida

The Washington Post reports that Florida , in conjunction with the the federal Department of Homeland Security, has plans to field the "Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange", or "Matrix" program. At its core, this system is a database designed to integrate information from several different sources, correlate it, look for non-obvious relationships, analyze it, and produce intelligence for police and security agencies to use in the war on terrorism.
Organizers said the system, dubbed Matrix, enables investigators to find patterns and links among people and events faster than ever before, combining police records with commercially available collections of personal information about most American adults. It would let authorities, for instance, instantly find the name and address of every brown-haired owner of a red Ford pickup truck in a 20-mile radius of a suspicious event.

The state-level program, aided by federal funding, is poised to expand across the nation at a time when Congress has been sharply critical of similar data-driven systems on the federal level, such as a Pentagon plan for global surveillance and an air-passenger-screening system.
* * *
Some civil liberties groups fear Matrix will dramatically lower the threshold for government snooping because other systems don't allow searches of criminal and commercial records with such ease or speed.

"It's going to make fishing expeditions so much more convenient," said Ari Schwartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit that monitors privacy issues. "There's going to be a push to use it for many different kinds of purposes."

The Justice Department has provided $4 million to expand the Matrix program nationally and will provide the computer network for information sharing among the states, according to documents and interviews. The Department of Homeland Security has pledged $8 million, state officials said.
* * *
Matrix is short for Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. The name was chosen somewhat whimsically by a Florida law enforcement officer, an agency official said. Florida officials say the system will be used only by authorized investigators under tight supervision. They said it includes information that has always been available to investigators but brings it together and enables police to access it with extraordinary speed.

Technical challenges include ensuring that data are accurate and that the system can be updated frequently.

"The power of this technology -- to take seemingly isolated bits of data and tie them together to get a clear picture in seconds -- is vital to strengthening our domestic security," said James "Tim" Moore, who was commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement until last month.
Put simply, this is a local version of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program. It does almost the same things, except the Matrix does not integrate as much information from as many sources. Matrix also does not tie-in to the intelligence community the way TIA was supposed to. Nonetheless, the concept is the same: to use a large, sophisticated database to sift through large numbers of "indicators" in order to put the dots together for counter-terrorism analysts. I think this is a good system and that the civil liberties risks can be managed. I also think it's a great idea to put this system in the hands of local police where the real anti/counter-terrorism takes place. More to follow...

Update I: Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

Update II: DailyKOS has some interesting comments and predictions on this system, and what may result from its implementation in Florida.
While proponents claim this information is already available to law enforcement, none of it is available correlated. Simply put, the Matrix will combine your credit history, criminal record and address into one, easy to read database and your inclusion has nothing to do with your criminal history. An abusive police officer husband could use this to track and terrorize an ex-spouse as easily as it could track a supposed terrorist. Information could be illegally sold to criminals, detective and other interested parties as well.

TIA was rejected by Congress because of its potential of abuse. Now, DOJ is funding a project by someone who's already lost federal contracts and is now willing to create a deeply intrusive database with massive potential for abuse.
* * *
We assume that this capacity exists, mainly because of set designers in movies. Hit a buttun, up comes a dossier and current address. In reality, it can take days and court orders to compile all this information. The problem is that the potential for abuse is tremendous and there is no guarantee that this information will not be turned against the government by corrupt officials.

This is an unwise program, one which, in the end, will be subject to Congressional investigation and lawsuits. Instead of relying on common sense and trust, yet another dubious, politically dangerous techological solution is drawn up.
I think DailyKOS's factual propositions are correct, but I don't agree with his conclusion. Fundamentally, I think the difference is this: there are people who trust the government to use this data, and there are people who don't trust the government to use this data. I've worked in the security community long enough to trust the people who would be invested with this authority, and to trust the institutional mechanisms which would police that use. But I also recognize that many Americans distrust those same individuals and agencies -- often for legitimate reasons. Support for TIA and TIA-like programs usually boils down to a matter of trust -- either you have it or you don't.

Update III: An intelligent reader wrote me to suggest that this Florida program may in fact be a DARPA program in sheep's clothing. I hadn't considered that yet, but it's possible that the Pentagon, DoJ and DHS have decided to farm out TIA to local authorities who could test and prove their concept on a smaller, local level. This does not sidestep any of the legal, ethical, operational or political issues; it merely outsources them to the state/local agencies. But it does reduce the project to a manageable scale, and that's important for operational testing reasons. Testing a TIA-like program in some local setting will also help answer the legal, ethical, practical and operational questions were raised in Washington over TIA.

Bottom Line: I don't know that this is an intentional test of the TIA concept, or if this is connected to DARPA and TIA in anyway. The concepts look similar enough for me to make that leap, but it's still a guess.

Rumsfeld's new Army chief fires several top Army generals

InsideDefense (subscription required) reports (and the San Antonio Express-News confirms) that Gen. Peter Schoomaker has asked several top officers in the Army to step down early in order to make way for his new team. Schoomaker was plucked out of retirement by SecDef Rumsfeld to serve as the Chief of Staff of the Army, and he has been widely seen as someone who will kill a few sacred cows in order to serve the SecDef's the hamburger he wants. This story is the first major indicator of his intentions, and if this story is true, I think it's a pretty bold move.
High-ranking officers asked to leave the service, these sources said, include Lt. Gen. John Caldwell, military deputy to the Army's civilian acquisition director; Lt. Gen. Joseph Cosumano, commanding general of the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command; and Lt. Gen. Dennis Cavin, commanding general of the Army Accessions Command. Caldwell and Cavin have told their staffs they are retiring, but Cosumano has not, Army officials said.

Those told to retire are just the first wave of nearly a dozen Army generals on Keane and Schoomaker's list, according to a number of senior defense officials.
* * *
Gen. Paul Kern, who commands the Army Materiel Command, is also among those tapped for early retirement, according to one defense official. Kern will have served just two years at his four-star rank as of late October, and is already appealing for an exception to being taken down a notch in rank upon retirement, the official said this week.

Keane also asked Lt. Gen. Johnny Riggs, director of the Army Objective Force Task Force, to retire, according to senior officials. But Riggs, who was promoted in August 1999, has spent more than three years "in grade" and thus is eligible to retain his full rank after retiring.
Sig Christenson, a veteran Pentagon beat reporter, gives us the Pentagon's response in the San Antonio Express-News:
The Pentagon contended Tuesday that the personnel actions and others apparently in the wings after Gen. Peter Schoomaker took command Friday don't translate into friction between Rumsfeld and senior Army leaders.

A top Army spokesman, Col. Joe Curtin, said about a dozen lieutenant generals will retire this year. Over the past five years an average of 11 three-stars have retired annually, he said, adding 2003 is not unusual "based on the statistics."
True . . . but this is still an abnormal spike in the number of retirements for one point in time. I think it's somewhat disingenous to say that it's just part of normal operations, and that there's no animus on display here. In fact, my friends in the Pentagon tell me there is quite a bit of animus at work here, and that these retirements are indeed being forced.

Personally, I think the SecDef ought to come out and say "Yes, I'm asking these generals to retire because I have a new vision for the military and they don't agree with it." I think the average American expects some amount of "housecleaning" by any new executive, whether its the CEO of GE or the Chief of Staff of the Army. It's not illegitimate to say these officers have served their country well, but now the time has come to bring in some new officers with new ideas. This sort of candor about personnel decisions can only help the push for transformation, by making it clear that you either get on board the train for transformation -- or get off at the next stop.

Caveat: These officers did serve their country well, and in all cases, carry a wealth of institutional knowledge. I had the opportunity to meet Gen. Paul Kern while I was in 4ID, and to brief him on FBCB2 and other digital combat systems. He really knows his stuff when it comes to transformation, and I think he's a valuable asset to the Army. In the rush to replace old officers with new ones, we should be careful that we don't cast aside some of our best and brightest simply because they don't agree with us. If that means offering these men positions at the Army War College or some other institution to keep their knowledge on tap, then I think we ought to do those things.

An "embellishment worthy of the New York Times"?

An Air Force lieutenant colonel's letter appears in today's Washington Times to rebut an article which appeared on Aug. 4, 2003, which implied that the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was overflowing with casualties. If the letter author is right (and I imagine he is), this is a pretty bad treatment of the facts. Here's the full text of the letter:
A clear case of embellishment worthy of the New York Times was the article by Jon Ward, "War casualties overflow Walter Reed hospital" (Page 1, Monday).

I have stayed in the Mologne House. This is not an outpatient facility. The Mologne House is an on-post hotel, period. The hotel is within walking distance of Walter Reed Hospital. Like any other hotel, it has a restaurant, maid service, etc. The hotel is frequently booked up, not because of the war, but because of its close proximity to the hospital and its proximity to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The hotel is usually full of medical personnel who are on temporary duty at Walter Reed or the Institute of Pathology. The need to farm out personnel for lodging at other hotels in the area is nothing new and is frequently done on other posts, bases, etc. when the need arises. When I was there earlier this year, before the war, I often saw people arriving at the front desk and being referred for lodging elsewhere (at government expense).

While the need to give priority to outpatients from Walter Reed is not lost on this reader, what the author suggests between the lines is also not lost. Once again, the need to make things read worse than they really are has taken precedence. The hospital is not overflowing with war casualties. That it is not is testament to the efficiency, professionalism and dedication of our ground forces in Iraq (and the military medical personnel between Iraq and the United States). If the author of the piece desires a comparison to the current patient flow, I would suggest that he contact personnel that worked at Army or Air Force medical facilities in Hawaii, or the West Coast in the late '60s or early '70s. I believe they could provide some perspective on what 'overflowing' with war casualties is really like.

--Lt. Col. Thomas M. Seay, M.D., USAF, San Antonio, Texas
Post Script: If you're wondering how an Air Force physician in San Antonio could keep up with the news in Washington, you're asking a pretty good question. The Defense Department runs a great news service called the "Early Bird", which is open to DoD active, reserve and civilian personnel. The site bills itself as "A daily (duty days) concise compilation of the most current published news articles and commentary concerning the most significant defense and defense-related national security issues. Available by 0515 hrs." It's a great resource -- if you have a DoD affiliation, I highly recommend making the Early Bird your one-stop shop for news.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Rebirth of the Weinberger/Powell doctrine

Remember the Powell doctrine? It was really an adaptation of the Weinberger doctrine, which itself was a response to Vietnam. The Powell doctrine essentially said the U.S. would not get involved anywhere militarily without a clear mission, a clear end-state, and a large enough force to do the job with minimal U.S. casualties. The doctrine has become the mantra of the U.S. military officer corps, and in general, I think of it is as pretty good planning guidance.

Today, in a press conference, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers used this doctrine in a discussion of Liberia, and troop constraints presently facing the Pentagon.
Q: General Myers, on the Liberia. If the U.S. commits a brigade set of soldiers, there's going to be inevitable cries from analysts and commentators that the U.S. is stretched too thin militarily and this is another example of them being stressed. From a purely military perspective, what problem would that cause, if you sent 2(,000) or 3,000 soldiers to Liberia, from just that military stress on the force perspective?

Myers: Tony, I think that's one too many what-ifs. The secretary's exactly right in describing the situation, describing what the U.S. is prepared to do. In terms of U.S. forces, we know right now that we're very busy in Afghanistan, we're very busy in Iraq. We've talked about -- our people have talked about the rotation scheme down here, so we have -- we are working that very hard. We're trying to put predictability into the lives of our soldiers, their families and the reservists and their employers. So all that is working. We have sufficient force to do what is required in the world today, however, so -- I mean, there is not a crisis in terms of that -- in that respect. But to try to "what-if" what would happen is --

Q: Okay. And one follow-up. Some commentators have said this could be another Somalia if the U.S. goes in there without a clear objective, and, you know, harkening to 10 years ago.

Myers: Let me assure you. Let me assure you this -- I'm not going to speak for the secretary, but I think I'll -- I think I can say for both of us --

Rumsfeld: Oh, go ahead. (Laughter.)

Myers: Okay, I'm going to speak.

There will be no commitment of troops anywhere in the world without some of the essentials that we need, and that is a clear mission, a clear end state, and sufficient force to do the job. That's not an issue. I don't know who's talking about Somalia. This is not the same situation. People that really care ought to figure out what's really going on in Liberia and then develop some of the intelligent options. But we're working that.
So... we're not going to do any missions where:

- We don't have a clear mission
- We don't have a clear end state
- We don't have sufficient force to do the job

Does this apply to Iraq? Were these principles printed out on a PowerPoint slide and posted in the work cell of the planners who fashioned the occupation force? There appears to be a disconnect between this doctrine -- which has served us well -- and what we are now doing in Iraq.

A failure of the imagination

That's how Slate columnist Fred Kaplan describes the Pentagon's failure to effectively or adequately plan for the security and stability of post-war Iraq. Kaplan argues that the Pentagon's leadership should have known what was coming, because of recent experience in previous nation-building endeavors. The sad part is that there were thinkers in the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz circle who knew these things, and even wrote about them, but their ideas were dismissed before the war.
Through much of the Bush administration, Wolfowitz could merely have picked up the phone and called a colleague named James Dobbins.

Dobbins was Bush's special envoy to post-Taliban Afghanistan. Through the 1990s, under Presidents Clinton and (the first) Bush, Dobbins oversaw postwar reconstruction in Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia. Now a policy director at the Washington office of the Rand Corp., he has co-authored a book, America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq (released just last week), which concludes—based on research done mainly before Gulf War II got under way—that nearly everything this administration has said and done about postwar Iraq is wrong.

One pertinent lesson Dobbins uncovered is that the key ingredient—the "most important determinant," as he puts it—of successful democratic nation-building in a country after wartime is not the country's history of Westernization, middle-class values, or experience with democracy, but rather the "level of effort" made by the foreign nation-builders, as measured in their troops, time, and money.

To see just how wrong Wolfowitz was, look at Dobbins' account of how many troops have been needed to create stability in previous postwar occupations. Kosovo is widely considered the most successful exercise in recent nation-building. Dobbins calculates that establishing a Kosovo-level occupation-force in Iraq (in terms of troops per capita) would require 526,000 troops through the year 2005. A Bosnia-level occupation would require 258,000 troops—which could be reduced to 145,000 by 2008. Yet there are currently only about 150,000 foreign (mainly American) troops in Iraq—about the same as the number that fought the war.
Analysis: I recommended Mr. Dobbins' new book last week because I thought it was a good study of an important aspect of American foreign policy -- "nation building". Until reading today's War Stories column, I didn't know about the close connection between Mr. Dobbins and the Bush Administration. A number of scholars have convinced me in recent years that the most dire threats to America's security in coming years will come from failed states (e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan) as opposed to powerful states (e.g. China and Russia). If that's true, then an awful lot of nation-building may be our future to pre-empt these threats. Mr. Dobbins' book seems like awfully good reading for this summer.

But with all due respect to Mr. Dobbins, this isn't something you need a PhD to figure out. I wrote in May 2003 that American planners had failed to adequately incorporate the lessons from Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan into the plan for Iraq, in this piece for The Washington Monthly.
The architects of the war might be forgiven for misgauging the number of troops required had the war come a dozen years ago, when the United States had little experience in modern nation-building. But over the course of the 1990s America gained some hard understanding, at no small cost. From Port-au-Prince to Mogadishu, every recent engagement taught the lesson we're now learning again in Iraq: America's high-tech, highly mobile military can scatter enemies which many times outnumber them, in ways beyond the wildest dreams of commanders just a generation ago. But it's not so easy to win the peace.

Consider the lessons of Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. In Bosnia, America won its war with a combination of muscular diplomacy, air power, and covertly armed Bosnian-Muslim and Croat proxy armies on the ground. That mix of tools brought about the Dayton Accords in the fall of 1995. But when it came to making that treaty work, America had to send in its heaviest armor divisions, putting a Bradley fighting vehicle on nearly every street corner to enforce the peace. NATO initially sent 60,000 soldiers into Bosnia, and almost eight years after Dayton, America still has several thousand soldiers on the ground in Bosnia, as part of a 13,000-soldier NATO force. Winning hearts and minds took a backseat to overawing malcontent factions with an overwhelming and, for all intents and purposes, enduring show of force.

Like Bosnia, Kosovo was taken without any American ground commitment. There the United States won its war by unifying air power with what now-retired Gen. Wesley Clark calls "coercive diplomacy." But to win the peace America had to send in substantial ground forces. NATO quickly deployed a force of nearly 50,000 troops to the tiny province that is roughly 1/40 the size of Iraq. Truly pacifying Kosovo--a process that has really only just begun--means leeching it of its toxic ethnic hatreds and endemic violence. Most indicators hint that NATO will have to maintain its mission in Kosovo for at least a generation.

In Afghanistan, the pattern was much the same. It took only 300 U.S. special forces on foot and horseback--supported by 21st-century aircraft, GPS-guided bombs, and a force of Northern Alliance fighters--to bring down the Taliban. But once the government in Kabul had fallen, thousands of U.S. and allied troops had to come in to secure the country. Today, 15,000 American and allied soldiers remain there, 50 times more than it took to win the war.

Even the failures of these previous missions demonstrate that manpower is less important to the achievement of military victory than to coping with victory's aftermath. In Kosovo, according to retired Gen. Montgomery Meigs, then commander of the Balkan stabilization force, we were forced to "do less" because the Pentagon claimed it could not send more peacekeeping troops. As a result, says Meigs, "we were unable to run operations inside Kosovo to interdict the internal movement of arms and Albanian-Kosovar fighters to [neighboring] Macedonia." Those armed separatists set off a civil war in Macedonia--stopped only by the timely deployment of more Western troops, including Americans, into that country.

Something very similar happened in Afghanistan. Our biggest failure there occurred in the mop-up stage, following the flight of the Taliban government. Because we had so few troops on the ground, we failed to cut off and destroy the remnants of al Qaeda--including, most likely, Osama bin Laden himself--as they fled into the lawless mountain regions of the Afghan and Pakistani frontier. Our subsequent efforts at nation-building on the cheap have yielded similar results. Our unwillingness to put many troops on the ground has made a mockery of the president's promise for a "Marshall Plan" for Afghanistan. The Western-oriented, U.S.-installed president, Hamid Karzai, controls little more than Kabul, and the rest of the country has already drifted back into warlordism.
Coda: It's hard to tell exactly how well (or how poorly) things are going in Iraq. We appear to be gathering, analyzing, and exploiting intelligence in the hunt for Saddam and his henchmen. We also appear to be building some institutions, and moving closer to a free, stabile and prosperous Iraq. On the other hand, we continue to take casualties from guerilla attacks on a daily basis. (Footnote: the media tends to only report fatalities. This masks the numbers of non-fatal attacks that are either fought off by our well-trained soldiers or that don't result in a fatality because of outstanding medical care and body armor.)

I still think we have insufficient numbers of troops in Iraq to do the job right. Mr. Dobbins' research appears to confirm this. But getting more troops is a challenge of Herculean proportions. It does not appear that the reserves and National Guard can sustain this deployment for more than a few years. The active-duty force certainly cannot do so. Our only option is to seek support from our allies in NATO and elsewhere. That means going back to the UN for support, since our allies (namely France, Germany, India and most of NATO) will not send troops without the UN's blessing. It may be tough; it may take a lot of political capital; it may result in a large plate of crow being eaten by several senior administration officials. But if we truly care about getting the job done right in Iraq, it must be done.
to UCLA professor, fellow blogger, and friend Mark A.R. Kleiman for this piece in Slate. Mark has one of the most brilliant minds around when it comes to social policy, and he's also no Ivory Tower wonk -- he's actually practiced in this field as a policy consultant and analyst. In his Slate piece, Mark dissects the reported success of one of President Bush's faith-based initiatives to reduce recidivism among criminals.
You don't have to believe in faith-healing to think that an intensive 16-month program, with post-release follow-up, run by deeply caring people might be the occasion for some inmates to turn their lives around. The report seemed to present liberal secularists with an unpleasant choice: Would you rather have people "saved" by Colson, or would you rather have them commit more crimes and go back to prison?

But when you look carefully at the Penn study, it's clear that the program didn't work. The InnerChange participants did somewhat worse than the controls: They were slightly more likely to be rearrested and noticeably more likely (24 percent versus 20 percent) to be reimprisoned. If faith is, as Paul told the Hebrews, the evidence of things not seen, then InnerChange is an opportunity to cultivate faith; we certainly haven't seen any results.
Interesting... and worth a read. I also recommend Mark's book Against Excess, which remains one of the seminal works on drug policy, and his weblog for continuing commentary on various issues.

PS: The recently-passed California budget contains no salary increase for UC faculty, as well as hefty fee increases for me. I appreciate the decision by Slate's editors to accept this article from Mark, since their stipend will help to offset the legislature's inability to adequately fund the university. I hope Slate continues to help the UC retain quality faculty in this way, since the Ivy League schools are probably chomping at the bit to exploit California's budget crisis as a way to lure top faculty to the East Coast. If only I could sell a few more articles, I could offset this fee increase too . . .
Update to "The downside of outsourcing"

Several smart readers wrote me to criticize this note as naive, saying that in essence, this was a business deal and these contractors should be able to walk away from a bad business deal at the cost of any purely contractual damages. That's one perspective, and it's a valid one. But I admit to being a little more moralistic than this, especially where contingency contracting is concerned. I think these contractors did a great disservice by backing out of contracts where they could reasonably foresee the risks involved.

However, there are two caveats that are important to note as a matter of goverment contract law:

- The great majority of clauses in a government contract are specified by the Federal Acquisitions Regulation ("FAR") and agency versions such as the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation ("DFAR"). These terms are generally incorporated into every government contract, and they are not open to negotiation. A contractor would have very little ability to change these terms during negotiations with the government. Essentially, government contracts are a package deal, and you can't negotiate the terms the way you can a private document.

- The contractors' decision to scrap their contracts probably took place in the context of a "change". (See Notification of Contract Changes, 48 CFR 43.104) I don't know this, but it's an educated guess. At some point after April 9, the contractors probably looked at Iraq and said that the security situation did not look as good as the Army promised when they agreed to the contract. That situation necessitated increased security and insurance, which increased the cost of the contract. The contractors probably argued that they deserved more money in order to cover these costs, and the Contracting Officer probably rebuked them. Rather than lose money in Iraq, the contractors decided to abandon the contracts, seeing execution as more risky than breach of contract. That may have been a wise business decision.

Ultimately our soldiers are the ones left holding the bag. But that does not reflect so much on these contractors as it does on our political leaders who have made the conscious decision to outsource so much of America's defense capability. Put simply, our military cannot go to war today without a legion of contractors in support -- to maintain everything from computers to helicopters to latrines. It should come as no surprise that the current Pentagon leadership wants to outsource even more of the military's support missions -- possibly as many as 320,000 uniformed positions. As we consider this proposal, I think we should carefully weigh the risks, as demonstrated by the problem with getting contractors to go to war.

Update II: For more on the art and science of contingency contracting, see this webpage hosted by the Army Materiel Command on the subject.

Update III: I've beat up on government contractors a little, and perhaps unfairly. The AP reports today that an American civilian contractor was killed in Iraq by a remote-detonated explosive as he traveled in a convoy of trucks.
The contractor was employed by Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, a Houston-based oilfield-services and construction company. Halliburton, the former company of Vice President Dick Cheney, has major contracts for reconstruction in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
* * *
Kellogg Brown & Root has been doing work at the Baiji refinery and pipeline terminus about 30 miles north of Tikrit, the hometown of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, about 125 miles north of Baghdad.
Clearly, there are risks to doing business in Iraq.

Monday, August 4, 2003

Culture Clash: CIA v. Homeland Security

Bruce Berkowitz, a former CIA official himself, writes today in the New York Times that there are fundamental differences in the ways that the CIA and Department of Homeland Security use information -- and that these differences will continue to complicate the use of intelligence for domestic security operations. Berkowitz writes from a position of authority, and this argument sounds a lot like what he wrote in The New Face of War.
Talk to intelligence professionals about their work, and you will hear them bat around this term: tradecraft. It's the combination of skills, procedures and, especially, the culture that guides them in their jobs. Tradecraft is similar to what people in the private sector call a business model, and just like any corporation, an intelligence organization develops its own tradecraft.

At the C.I.A., where I started my career, the "business model" goes something like this: "Collect information other countries don't want us to have. Deal with unsavory characters and organizations. And keep all of this a tightly guarded secret so we can keep doing it as long as possible."

Homeland security, however, requires a totally different business model: "Collect information from as many sources as possible. Get the product out quickly to thousands of local officials and emergency workers so they can anticipate threats and respond effectively. And do all of this while respecting the civil liberties of Americans."

Effective homeland intelligence will depend on people who can find blueprints for factories in Michigan, electric grids in California and communications lines in Kansas, and correlate them with other databases like visa records. They will need to schmooze with local Rotarians, religious leaders, city officials, civic groups and small-business owners — even journalists. In essence, the new department needs people who operate more or less the opposite of how C.I.A. analysts are trained to operate.
Analysis: Ultimately, Berkowitz concludes that the culture gap is too wide and that a new intelligence center is a better answer than trying to pound the square CIA into a round hole. I'm not so sure. The CIA has a great deal of institutional knowledge and competence that can't be built overnight in a new domestic security agency. It may be the case that the two cultures cannot effectively be combined under the same roof. But starting a new agency to deal with a professional threat is like letting the Bad News Bears go up against the Dodgers -- not a good idea. In the long term, this may be right. But until such time as we can create an American version of MI-5, we need the CIA and FBI to work together and shoulder the load.

CONGRATULATIONS to Prof. Norman Abrams, who was selected as interim dean for UCLA's law school. Prof. Abrams is an expert on federal criminal law and evidence law, and has served on the UCLA faculty since 1959. I helped him put together a casebook on Anti-Terrorism and Criminal Enforcement, and he is advising me on the course I'm teaching on that subject next year. I think Prof. Abrams is the right choice for the job, and think the school will do well with his hand on the rudder.

The downside of outsourcing
Soldiers in Iraq learn to live without contractors who failed to show up or perform

David Wood reports for the Newhouse News Service from Washington that a number of government contractors have gone AWOL on the Army. Specifically, contractors that were supposed to deliver goods, provide ervices, build facilities, and perform other tasks have declined to a) enter the combat zone or b) do the job once there. Some of this may owe to the ongoing guerilla conflict, and the unwillingness of contractors to have their employees shot at. But our sons and daughters in Iraq are the ones left holding the bag.
Though conditions have improved, the problems raise new concerns about the Pentagon's growing global reliance on defense contractors for everything from laundry service to combat training and aircraft maintenance. Civilians help operate Navy Aegis cruisers and Global Hawk, the high-tech robot spy plane.

Civilian contractors may work well enough in peacetime, critics say. But what about in a crisis?

"We thought we could depend on industry to perform these kinds of functions," Lt. Gen. Charles S. Mahan, the Army's logistics chief, said in an interview.

One thing became clear in Iraq. "You cannot order civilians into a war zone," said Linda K. Theis, an official at the Army's Field Support Command, which oversees some civilian logistics contracts. "People can sign up to that -- but they can also back out."
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It got "harder and harder to get (civilian contractors) to go in harm's way," said Mahan, the Army logistics chief.
Analysis: First, it should be said that some contractors are doing an outstanding job in Iraq. But this last quote is certainly true. The government cannot order these contractors into combat the way they can order soldiers there. All the Army can do is sign a contract based on a mutual agreement between the parties. However, the government does have a whole host of penalties available to them, including suspension and debarment from competition from future government contracts, and substantial penalties. I would hope that our Justice Department looks into this story, and the conduct of government contractors with respect to Iraq. Where proper, I think the government should pursue civil actions to recover damages from contractors who agreed to these missions and then reneged. Our soldiers deserve better.

Could the DARPA terrorism market have worked?

Lou Dobbs, the prominent financial news anchor, argues in U.S. News that the planned terrorism futures market may have been the best predictive tool available for the complex irrational phenomenon of terrorism. Dobbs isn't a terrorism expert, but he is an expert on market behavior, and he thinks that markets make a good tool for quantifying collective opinion where a "swag" (super wild a**ed guess) is all you've got.
There is a minor problem with all their declarations about the Policy Analysis Market: It just might have been the most accurate predictor of terrorist activity available to us in the war against radical Islamists. Instead of asserting the all-too-familiar orthodoxy of both Washington and New York, the capitals of politically correct-inspired conformity, Wyden, Dorgan, and the editors of the New York Times might have asked how useful a tool the market could have been in the war on terror.

Smart money. As it turns out, such markets are actually very successful at predicting nonfinancial outcomes and events. The best-known and possibly most successful example is the Iowa Electronic Markets, a system set up in 1988 at the University of Iowa as a way to examine the behavior of markets. Results from the IEM have been better at predicting the outcome of political elections than opinion polls. Since its inception, the system has successfully predicted the outcome of every presidential election. Robert Forsythe, board member and cofounder of the IEM, told me the way that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency exchange was going to work appeared logical. "[It would have run] contracts whose payoffs were tied to the GDP of Iraq and Iran; that could make a lot of sense to me."
Analysis: This may well be right, but it's irrelevant. PAM failed because the powers that be failed to understand the political reality of the situation. DARPA's program officers failed to gauge how much the public would tolerate, and how much distrust lay dormant within the American public towards the government at this moment in time. The program concept itself was probably sound -- especially if the planned market would have been open by invitation only to experts and market professionals. But as the maxim goes: "politics is the art of the possible." You can't do what you can't pass, and in this case, DARPA didn't have a prayer of passing PAM.

Friday, August 1, 2003

American military stretches to get the job done in Afghanistan

Greg Jaffe and Christopher Cooper report in this morning's Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that the U.S. Army is experiencing significant difficulty in making ends meet across all of its global commitments. Specifically, the mission in Iraq is taking away critical specialty units from the mission in Afghanistan -- civil affairs, MPs, Military Intelligence, and others necessary for nation-building.
Frustrations such as this are becoming more common as the Pentagon rejiggers its forces to fight terrorism, handle the reconstruction in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and prepare for potential new missions in places such as Liberia. That is a broader portfolio than the Pentagon used to plan for; prior to Sept. 11, 2001, its strategy was geared to simultaneously handling two intense wars of limited duration. "I've been telling my soldiers the truth: You do need to understand that this is a changed world," says Gen. James Helmly, commander of Army reserve forces.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have begun hearing the same thing. At his Senate confirmation hearing this week, recently appointed Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker said he plans to focus on maintaining the right mix of soldiers for various missions. He said the number of the Army's civil-affairs officers, now in short supply in Afghanistan, hasn't much changed in years, and "I don't think we can count on that forever."
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One senior Army official involved in personnel said that if the military sticks to one-year deployments for civil-affairs soldiers, it could use up its roster of these specialists as soon as next year. Gen. Schoomaker agreed, saying that while he hadn't studied the issue completely, "I'm going to take a little risk here, and I'm going to tell you that, intuitively, I think we need more people. I mean, it's just that simple."
Analysis: Josh Marshall criticized the facile argument that the war on Iraq took away from domestic security funding, e.g. federal sky marshals. For the most part, I agree with him that this is a useless point to make, because the federal appropriations process is much more complicated than that. You can't simply pull money out of the National Defense Authorization Act or DoD emergency supplemental act and put it into the Department of Homeland Security's budget. (But maybe you should be able to, if you really want to be adaptive and flexible enough to respond to a nimble threat like Al Qaeda. . . )

That said, this military resources problem is a zero-sum game where this argument holds water. There are a finite number of Civil Affairs, Military Police, and Intelligence soldiers in the Army -- both active duty and reserve. That finite number is set by Congress every year in the National Defense Authorization Act and by the Pentagon in its force structure documents. It cannot be altered without an act of Congress and a subsequent revision by the Pentagon of the force structure. SecDef Rumsfeld is trying to alter this mix right now, bringing more of these "nation building" units onto active duty. But that will be a tough fight, and we're not there yet.

The point is this: the mission in Iraq deprives the mission in Afghanistan of resources like these "nation building" units. There are so many go to around, and the Pentagon has designated Iraq as the priority location right now. It would be a shame if that prioritization caused the situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate. Iraq is an important place for a lot of reasons. But Afghanistan is the place where Sept. 11 came from, and it's the failed state that we ought to be most concerned with.