Loose Canons

Flying Debt Ceiling SGO

Catching up with the global reality show.

By 8.15.11

Send to Kindle

Fifty years and two days ago, the Soviet Union began building the Berlin Wall. It seems almost that long since Senate Democrats passed a budget. But now that the glass debt ceiling has been shattered, and a congressional Supercommittee has been created to vouchsafe to us our economic future, we have a moment to catch up with the global reality show.

There's an awful lot of important SGO we've ignored in during the debt ceiling mess, so we have to do at least a quick roundup. (For those just joining us, "SGO" is the comprehensively-useful acronym for "s*** goin' on" invented by my pal and former SEAL, Al Clark.)

President Sarkozy's excellent Libya adventure goes into its sixth month without noticeable effect on Muammar Gaddafi. President Obama, playing Sancho Panza to Sarkozy's Don Quixote, has kept the operational tempo of US Air force sorties sufficiently high to conceal our allies' inability to go it alone. So, while the Supercommittee debates defense budget cuts, just how is the Libya operation being paid for?

According to congressional sources, the Air Force is robbing its training budget to pay for its part of the Libya operation. I can only guess which part of the training budget is being raided, but I'm sure it's not being taken out of the funding to train airmen on how to accept openly-serving homosexuals in their ranks. The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is being implemented as the Obama regime's top military priority. Maybe the Libya costs are being taken out of the budget for training of Air Force pararescue jumpers. You don't know the PJ's: they train much like the SEALs do, but their mission is combat search and rescue. Their school is known in the spec ops community as "superman school," so the PJ's probably won't be cut by the Supercommittee, if only out of professional courtesy.

So the Air Force is probably taking the Libya operational costs out of the training budget for our fly-guys. That's no problem because now-retired Defense Secretary Bob Gates was sure that we'd never have to fight a conventional war again. So if every hour of flying over Libya is paid for by canceling an hour of some graying lieutenant colonel flying against a few greenhorn lieutenants to teach them how old age and airborne treachery overcome youth and enthusiasm, it's no big deal. Until some of the young'uns have to fly air combat maneuvers in something other than a flight simulator.

And as well as things are going in Libya, they're just as good elsewhere in the Middle East. While we are playing tag with Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad -- the Syrian guy whose daddy achieved a coveted spot on the "state sponsors of terrorism" team in 1979 -- is merrily massacring his subjects. According to Hillary's State Department, Bashar has devolved from "reformer" to "illegitimate" in just a few months, merely for murdering a few thousand Syrians who are left to his mercies while we defend innocent Libyans, if any such there be.

The Big Question in the White House is whether Barry should demand Assad's resignation. As the Washington Post recently editorialized, a presidential demand for Assad's resignation would be the "last handkerchief" to be dropped. The Post is wrong. Barry has a whole drawer full of handkerchiefs. The presidential gauntlet has been sent to a GSA warehouse to be placed aside Indiana Jones' lost ark.

We have an immediate and compelling interest in removing Assad from power. The facts that we are engaged militarily in Libya where we have no such interest, and that Barry is tossing wet hankies at Assad, will not go unnoticed by enemy and friend and nations such as Iraq, which is both.

And while we're guessing how quickly our Iraqi experiment in nation-building will fall apart (it's even money which will go first: Iraq or Afghanistan), it's anyone's guess how many covert cyberwar missions were blown by McAfee's revelation of "Operation Shady Rat." The aforementioned Rat was an enormous cyberespionage operation against 72 entities -- governments, companies and even the International Olympic Committee -- which the computer security company said indicated was the creation of a "state actor." In this case, as McAfee's report implies at length, the "state actor" was clearly China.

That China would be responsible is not exactly a surprise. "Shady Rat" is the apparent successor to the "Titan Rain" Chinese cyberespionage op of the late 1990s to early 2000s. The severity of the Chinese cyperespionage campaign cannot to be overestimated. As McAfee's report said:

What we have witnessed over the past five to six years has been nothing short of a historically unprecedented transfer of wealth -- closely guarded national secrets (including from classified government networks), source code, bug databases, email archives, negotiation plans and exploration details for new oil and gas field auctions, document stores, legal contracts, SCADA configurations, design schematics and much more has "fallen off the truck" of numerous, mostly Western companies and disappeared in the ever-growing electronic archives of dogged adversaries.

McAfee's report, according to a source in the cyberwar community, may have done more harm than good because it indirectly divulged that McAfee was doing its own cyber-counterattacks. It said:

McAfee has gained access to one specific Command & Control server used by the intruders. We have collected logs that reveal the full extent of the victim population since mid-2006 when the log collection began.

McAfee and our intelligence and military cyberwarriors should -- absolutely and comprehensively -- be on the counterattack, as I argued in the latest AmSpec magazine. The obvious question that my source said was worrying our intelligence and law enforcement communities is whether the revelation that McAfee gained access to the [Chinese] command and control server resulted in the adversary's ability to track and terminate several classified cyber operations against them.

Classified information, contrary to the liberal meme, is not made public for damned good reasons. I'm betting that the McAfee report didn't release something that the Chinese didn't already know. That's not likely the case in the White House's latest escapade.

First the tragedy, and then the outrage.

The Jedi -- aka "DevGroup," formerly known as SEAL Team 6 -- lost seventeen of its men in the Taliban shootdown of a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan. About thirteen others -- sailors, airmen and soldiers -- were also lost. We must grieve for them all. And -- if you'd like to do something to help the kids of these brave men -- please visit www.specialops.org, the website of my friends at the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. SOWF helps the children of fallen spec ops guys get into college and pays their way all the way through their degree. Last week, the SOWF board voted to extend their scholarships to all killed in the Chinook crash, whether they were spec ops guys or not. Please give generously.

At about the same time, we learned that the Obama regime was cooperating with a group of Hollywoodenheads producing a movie about the DevGru operation that got Osama bin Laden. The producers are being given access, according to many reports, to military, intelligence and special operations information, as well as to White House and administration officials. Inevitably, much of what they learn will be highly classified information. Whether or not all they learn ends up in the movie, it will all become public.

That movie will -- coincidentally, I'm sure -- be released about a month before the November 2012 election to maximize the political benefit bought with classified information.

Never mind the SEALs, the Night Stalkers who flew them, the USAF assets in the air and the CIA people on the ground. I can't wait to see how Obama and his White House Supercommittee heroically pulled it all off.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.