171026 War From The Cheap Seats

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Welcome to the 26 October 2017 edition of War from the Cheap Seats - your weekday dose of 5 NatSec th
 

5 NatSec Things

October 26 - Issue #2 - View online
Your Daily Look at War from the Cheap Seats

Welcome to the 26 October 2017 edition of War from the Cheap Seats - your weekday dose of 5 NatSec things and snark. If you’re new here, hooray and welcome: Monday through Friday I pick what I think are the top 5 war-related stories from the interwebs and share ‘em. Sometimes with GIFs.

Top NATO general says he hasn't seen evidence of Russia arming Taliban | TheHill
There’s a difference between saying something doesn’t exist and saying you haven’t seen proof that said thing does, in fact, exist. It’s like watching a special on Bigfoot: no one wants to say Bigfoot doesn’t exist, but they can say they’ve never seen evidence to support that theory. 
It’s an adorably agnostic approach that’s consistent with statements from people like General Nicholson, NATO and US commander in Afghanistan, who in April said he was “not refuting” similar reports. Because what no one wants is another proxy war with Russia. Particularly in Afghanistan. 
Watching the generals dance around Russian involvement in Afghanistan is kind of like watching junior high kids at their first dance: no one wants to commit to crossing that divide across the gymnaudiluncheteria and ask someone to dance. Because once you do that, you’re committed. 
Russian support for the Taliban in terms of the Kremlin wanting to hedge the fuck out of its bets in the region. And when the inevitable power brokering gets sorted out and the Taliban get a piece of the power pie in Kabul, Putin & Co wouldn’t mind said Taliban being a little more beholden to Moscow. This is about the long game, a game the Russians are better at than the Americans.
Qatar opens military office in US amid Persian Gulf tensions
This was a blurb on a few feeds, and the source here is PressTV, which means I had to find it at least one other reputable place on the interwebs before posting it, but it looks like it’s legit. And at first blush this isn’t all that remarkable. Except for a couple of things: the largest US airbase in the Middle East? In Qatar. 
For those of you just joining us from home, Qatar’s still in the middle of battling with neighboring Gulf states against charges that Doha’s been funding terrorists and they need to knock it off. Also stop cozying up to Iran. 
And even though the Cheeto-in-Chief has said he could do without the facilities at Al Udeid back in July, that’s just not workable for US interests in the region. It’s been key to supporting the air war against ISIS, and promises to continue play a key role as the Americans attempt to continue and project military power in the region.
If we can get past the pot and kettle hilarity of Riyadh saying someone else is sponsoring terrorism, this is an important step by Doha. Because while the office is small, the Qataris are making it clear that they’re still relying on the US at some level and, more importantly, that they support the American approach to counter-terrorism. 
Philippines take delivery of Russian equipment | Jane's 360
The Russians keep showing up in this thing because lately they’re everywhere, cozying up to people the US has, in the past, thought of as their exclusive BFFs. But it’s 2017, and it takes a village to waffle stomp people’s freedoms. So now Manila’s buying AKs and trucks from the Russians. And this is the starter kit for future Russian influence-buying in the region. 
We could look at this one of two ways: the first is the old school paranoid “the Russians are coming” approach, which means this is another attempt by the Evil Empire to be the biggest baddest colonial power in the Philippines. The other would be to see it as another world power bearing some more of the burden of countering terrorism.
Because the Philippines definitely has a terrorism problem, and while guns aren’t the answer, additional assistance from the Russians to counter terrorists here might not be a bad thing for US forces already stretched alarmingly thin in other places around the globe.
In a First, Marines Shoot HIMARS Rocket from Amphibious Ship - Defensetech
Early stages of HIMARS-on-a-boat testing
This is what happens when you let Ricky and Skeeter get creative with weapons testing: 
“Hey man - what if we put a truck on a boat and shot missiles off that shit?” 
“Fuck yeah, man…I’ll get the boat!”
Which is another reason Marines can’t have nice things. There’s some stuff in there too about this helping improve Marine/Navy cooperation and increasing capabilities, but at the end of the day, someone took a truck, parked it on a boat, and shot some shit up. 
This is the most ‘murcan thing that happened in NatSec today.
Norfolk Naval Shipyard Wasted $21M On Equipment For Unauthorized Security Force
For those of us waiting for the DoD documentary version of Let’s Be Cops, our day has come. Right after 9/11, the fine folks in Norfolk built themselves a private police force, which they then proceeded to use to abuse the civil rights of the local populace. 
In doing so, the division purchased more than $200,000 in unnecessary police gear, weapons, ammunition and training, though the force had no law enforcement mission; and it operated equipment without the proper qualifications. In at least one instance, a non-licensed operator used the division’s high-speed boat to “run down civilian jet skiers” on a waterway near the shipyard, the report says.
 That’s some straight up 80s teens-go-to-camp shit right there. Because that’s the only place where a “run down jet skiers” plot point makes any sense. What’s alarming about this little nugget isn’t so much that it happened, but that it went on for years. Good thing 9/11 made the gubment more vigilant, huh? 
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