Sunday, March 25, 2012



The U.S. embassy complex in the Green Zone in Baghdad comprises 21 buildings on a 104 acres site, it is the largest U.S. embassy in the world.

The embassy compound includes:

Six apartment buildings
Water and waste treatment facilities
A power station
Two "major diplomatic office buildings"
A gym, several tennis courts and an Olympic-size swimming pool

The entire complex is heavily fortified with deep security perimeters, reinforced construction, and five highly guarded entrances.

After the pullout of US troops from Iraq on 18 December 2011, the bulk of security manpower for Department of State operations throughout Iraq fell to an army of private contractors. Configured roughly into 50-70 man elements nominally led by "security managers" whose job description mirrors that of a Special Forces Company Sergeant Major, the Department of State Security (DSS) operation represents an estimated 5,000-manpower requirement. This was viewed as job security for people in my line of work.

This past February I visited the northern Virginia headquarters of one of the companies that provides this contract manpower - this organization shall remain unnamed for the purposes of this article, although their presence in Iraq and elsewhere is not secret. That day I became aware of a new development in the Iraqi saga; security personnel scheduled to work the DSS contract in Iraq could not get visas to enter the country. Worse; those already in-country who had departed for R&R or medical reasons, could not get visas to return. For whatever reason the Iraqis are sitting on the visa process.

This past week I spoke with an old friend - like me, Mike Golf (a pseudonym) is an immigrant to this country and a Special Forces veteran. Mike had been working as a civilian contractor in Coronado, training SEALs. The company that had that contract - NEK - lost out to a new outfit on the block - Oak Grove Technologies - in October 2011, and for the first time in his life Mike was unemployed. The problem is the overseas work is drying up, and contractors are scrambling for whatever positions are available here Stateside.

I shared my observations with another Special Forces colleague - Juan Casantigua (not his real name) worked in Iraq and Jordan as a private businessman before the Iraq invasion of April 2003. Juan left the region only to serve on the Karzai detail in Afghanistan, before returning to Iraq where he served as a "strategic asset" providing ground truth and security services to the State Department and to US forces throughout the years of heaviest combat operations.

Juan commented that the Iraqis see the big money that accompanied the U.S. military presence was drying up, and their sitting on the visas is their way of saying they don't need us anymore - the old "Yankee go home." Juan remarked that the Iraqis will sort things out, and that they probably could have sorted things out a whole lot earlier without the instability created by the tons of money we poured in there.


The term 'Crusader castles' has been adopted by analysts and commentators since at least 2006 to describe the US and NATO situation in Afghanistan.

Ruins of the crusader castle at Kerak, overlooking the Kings Highway south of Amman, Jordan.

The comparison refers to the historical Crusader experience in the Holy Land, where Christian forces eventually withdrew to castle strongholds, from which they could only emerge in heavily armed columns. Likewise in Afghanistan; NATO forces are tied down to heavily fortified perimeters. Within these perimeters, little outposts of Western civilization exist to include American fast food franchises and all the comforts found on bases worldwide.

The US experience in Afghanistan began as a decisive military campaign which featured spectular missions executed by elite Special Operations forces operating in small teams. At some point the mission to wipe out al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts morphed into "nationbuilding". We have long since ceased to manoever on the enemy.

What goes down in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Since the recent events - the Koran burning event and the mass murder war crime by an American soldier - NATO forces cannot venture into the countryside, towns and villages without significant force. Efforts to "win the hearts and minds" of the population have gone from challenging and difficult to impossible; this begs the question - for what reason are we there?

The enemy has harnessed the sentiments of the local population, and in doing so has effectivly tied us down. It is time for us to depart, and to seek other battlefields to engage the terrorist enemy. There is no shortage of venues.


I will be on the road for the next week and a half - posts will be sporadic - S.L.

Today's Bird

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