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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 07, 2008


By Ed Morrissey 

After the second straight losing cycle, Republicans want new leadership in the party — and they may well get it. In 2007, the House Republicans replaced most of the leadership positions, with a promise to strengthen the party’s “branding”. That didn’t work out well, and now Republicans understand that “branding” isn’t enough:

Younger, more conservative lawmakers moved yesterday to assert their influence in the House Republican caucus as the GOP began the traditional period of soul-searching that follows a major electoral defeat. Conservatives also began jockeying to fill the post of Republican National Committee chairman early next year.

Republican leaders, especially on Capitol Hill, said the GOP had strayed too far from its traditional principle of limited government and must reclaim its reputation as the party most committed to cutting spending and taxes. But some were also deeply concerned about the drubbing the party’s standard-bearer, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), absorbed among Hispanic and well-educated voters, as well as affluent suburbanites, and said that a more fundamental rethinking of the GOP message is in order.

On Capitol Hill, House GOP leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) appeared likely to hold onto his leadership post, but the No. 3 Republican, Adam H. Putnam of Florida, a major proponent of the $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan, resigned his post late yesterday.

The fate of the No. 2 Republican, Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), was uncertain, and one of the younger party mavericks, Virginia’s Eric Cantor, was poised to replace him amid widespread discontent among party rank-and-file with the Election Day performance.

Blunt resigned thsi morning from his position as Minority Whip, after the Post published this article. That only leaves John Boehner, who has already said he will fight to retain his spot at Minority Leader. That has some activists seeing red, such as Erick Erickson at Red State, who has a more pungent take on the question:

Here’s where I am on the House and Senate GOP leadership races.

The whole lot of them should be rounded up and hanged. Slowly.

When you lose two elections in a row, you pull out the ginsu knife and go for seppuku. Honor demands it.

Real leaders know when to get out of the way. People too comfortable to be effective do not.

Erick is, of course, speaking figuratively. At least, I hope he’s speaking figuratively.

Obviously, changes have to be made, but as Erick himself notes, we need to make sure we have effective leaders to replace the current team. It will take real efforts at change, and not just “rebranding”, in order to convince voters to trust Republicans with power again. But it will also take skilled leaders willing to deal with all of the frustrations of minority status to tangle with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for the next two years.

In looking back at the 110th Congress, both Boehner and Mitch McConnell did a pretty good job in derailing Pelosi, Reid, & Co from their efforts to lose the war and run wild with taxpayer money. Part of that can be attributed to the threat of vetoes from George Bush, who finally figured out how to accomplish them. In fairness, though, both Boehner and McConnell did their share in forcing Democrats out of the lane on left-tilting policies.

The question will be whether we have candidates ready for that task now. In the meantime, though, let’s forget about “branding” and focus on a return to the principles that unite the Right: limited government, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and property rights, and peace through strength. We need leaders who can restore our credibility on these issues. Thursday, November 06, 2008


By Allahpundit

From the Times, an interactive snapshot of voter trends county by county. Blue means the district went more Democratic than it did in 2004, not that Obama won it; for a breakdown on that, choose “County leaders” at the link (or, better yet, “County bubbles” to weight each district by population). Aside from Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and a few scattered blotches in the south, the trend was universal. Discounting McCain’s home state, I spy exactly two counties west of Texas that went heavier for Maverick than they did for Bush. Worse still, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada have trended increasingly blue for two straight elections now. Maybe that’s just a function of the candidates each cycle (each state is comparatively redder now than it was in 1996 when Clinton crushed Dole), with the lesson here being not to get your hopes up when you’re running against a guy with $650 million to spend, especially when you’re saddled with a president whose approval rating is in the 20s. But when you can drive coast to coast and never enter a district where the GOP picked up votes, it seems … noteworthy.

If that’s not depressing enough for you, see Greg Mankiw’s chart of youth voters. Ruffini claims they were worth 72 electoral votes to The One this time around and five percent to Democratic House candidates. How to turn that around will be at the top of the agenda at the powwows among conservative leaders going on now and in the coming months. If you think going to back to Reaganite basics is the key, fair enough, but aside from social security and abortion, it’ll take an awful lot of persuadingThursday, November 06, 2008




By Steve Kelley 

Political Cartoon by Steve Kelley




By DJ Elliott 

The November 2008 updates to the Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle are now available at the ISF OOB homepage. The significant changes to the Order of Battle that occurred in October are summarized below.

Provincial Iraqi Control.

On Oct. 23, Babil Province transferred to Iraqi control. Wasit Province followed suit six days later on Oct. 29. Both of these provinces transferred slightly ahead of the schedule published in the last 9010 Quarterly Report to Congress. That report from September had them both scheduled for November.

At the ceremony for the Wasit transfer, the Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwafaq al-Rubaei stated "...next weeks will witness the hand over of the security file of Kirkuk and Salah el-Din." This indicates that those provinces, scheduled for January 2009, will transfer sooner. This is significant since it indicates that the Article 140 dispute over Kirkuk's status as a part of the Kurdish Regional Government, is no longer delaying the transfer of Kirkuk. Of note, current rotations of US forces indicate a reduction from brigade to one battalion in Kirkuk by the end of the year. This reduction is similar to the two-battalion replacement of the 3/101 Brigade in south Baghdad. The pattern for US reductions in a given area, as the situation allows, is to replace a brigade with two battalions, two battalions with one battalion, one battalion to a company-sized training team, and then to zero.

Iraqi Navy Development.

On Oct. 15, six Defender Fast Small Boats arrived at Umm Qasr. There are 20 more to follow.
When these deliveries are complete, the Iraqi Navy will have 24 Fast Attack Boats and 26 Fast Small Boats providing enough lift for approximately 400 Iraqi Marines. The Iraqi Marines are responsible for platform security, Umm Qasr port security, and Vessel boarding, search, and seizure. The schedule for the Larger vessels of the Iraqi Navy has not changed and pre-commissioning training is ongoing for the Patrol Ship 701's crew:

"The training in Umm Qasr will last for two months and was designed to prepare the Iraqi sailors for the three-month long ship-specific training package they will undergo in La Spezia, Italy. This training will enable them to learn how to operate and maintain their new vessel. After a further two months of onboard, whole-ship training in La Spezia and at sea, the sailors will take the ship on the 6,000 nautical mile passage back to Iraq. She is due to arrive alongside Umm Qasr in July 2009. Training for each of the four ships is staggered over three-month intervals. The crew of PS702 will begin their training in January 2009."

Iraqi Arms Procurement and Salvage.

While reports of Iraqi arms shopping in Europe and possible arms purchases for the Iraqi Army from the Czech Republic are floating around, the only details on recent European purchases (other than Navy) have come from the French arms buy.

The Iraqis are buying 30 French helicopters with an option for 20 more and spares for older 1980s purchased equipment. The mention of spares for the older equipment is significant because the amount of spares has to be major to get mentioned and, of the equipment purchased from France in the 1980s, only the 90mm gun and 60mm gun/mortar armed Scout Cars are likely to be in any condition to refurbish. Like the battalion's worth of EE-9 Scout Cars refurbished last year, these would probably be partnered with other wheeled armor to form brigades like the 37th Brigade.

The 37th has 98 BTR-80 armored personnel carriers and 35 EE-9 90mm gun armed scout cars. As previously noted, the announced planned purchase of LAV-25s and their support/command variants equates to four sets of 98. This purchase indicates that 90mm gun armed Scout cars will be refurbished for use with the LAVs vice the previously speculated tanks. That would require 140 scout cars to be refurbished to partner with the 392 LAVs and form four Light Armored Reconnaissance or Light Armored Cavalry Brigades. Of note, with one exception, Iraqi purchases from South Africa and Greece have only been identified after delivery.

T-72s of the 2-34/9 Battalion in training.

T72s have been noted in training with 34th Armored Brigade and 36th Armored Brigade during October. These brigades were previously noted with only T55 tanks and are prime candidates for upgrade with the planned NATO T72 donations. This seemed to indicate that the Iraqis were taking delivery of those T72s. However, Colonel Naething and Lieutenant Colonel Delarosa of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq's Coalition Army Advisory Training Team reported that (In Naething's words): "These are their old T72s. They had a few that were in running, although not good, shape. I was up watching them as well." And concerning the donated T72s (Delarosa): "A team will go inspect them late Oct prior to delivery next year." The numbers of tanks seen in this training means that, at least two companies of old Iraqi T72s have been made operational. This combined with the EE-9 refurbishment, and the French parts purchase indicates a renewed review of Iraqi military bone yards for what equipment is salvageable for return to duty. Of note, the T72s with 2-34/9 have heavy cavalry battalion markings.

On Oct. 15, a contract was announced that "...is necessary to expand the Command & Control (C2) capability for Iraqi signal platoons and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance battalions." This is the first mention of ISR battalions. This could mean the expansion of the divisional scout companies or it could be part of standing up the corps' subordinate battalions.)

Iraqi Army (IA) Force Training.

The Iraqi Army continues to receive counter Improvised Explosive Device (mine) training across the force. They are to get mortar training at Besmaya. Since M1 tanks are to be bought, the IA and Multi-National Security Transition command-Iraq are starting the training of soldiers to equip the M1 battalions. Schools of Artillery and Armor are being established at Besmaya. Actually, the Armor school at Taji is moving to Besmaya for training of M1 "and other kinds of tanks." (No Further Info.) Warrior (refresher) training continues and includes equipment upgrades like additional HMMWVs. The two battalions in Warrior Training are 2-15/4 Battalion in Kirkuk and 2-30/8 Battalion in Numaniyah. Communications, Command/Control, and Intelligence are future focus. Currently, the Czech Republic is training Iraqis on T-72s at Taji under a bilateral arrangement. This is the activity that helped identify the salvaged T72s in 34th Armor Brigade and 36th Armor Brigade.

The 4-9/3 Battalion and 4-10/3 Battalion graduated the Unit Set Fielding program on Oct. 16. Only 1,160 personnel were at that graduation. Responses to requests for information from Multi-National Force-Iraq and Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq confirmed that they graduated under strength. They further noted that 3rd Iraqi Army Division is over strength as a whole and they will be cross-leveling and filling these two battalions out when they get to home stations.

Intelligence training continues to increase. The Iraqi Intelligence and Military Security School intends to add 10-15 new specialty courses during 2009.

Of note, there is an unconfirmed story from questionable sources that 2nd Iraqi Army Division is rotating out of Mosul to Anbar. While the reasons given in the article reflect Iraqi political spin, the 2nd Division is overdue for refresher and advanced training, including the airmobile training requested last January. Unlike most of the other divisions, the 2nd has not been able to spare significant numbers of troops from Mosul for this required training. This could be early indications of a rotation for training of part or all of 2nd Division. 2nd Division is the prime candidate to become the airmobile division for the northern corps. The 4th Division is the candidate for the Quick Reaction Force (Corps). The 17th Commando Division fills that role for the central corps and the 8th Commando Division for the southern corps.

Iraqi Army (IA) Force Developments.

The development phases of the Iraqi Army were mentioned. There is a long-term plan to develop them during 2008-2020. Stage 1 is 2008-2011 and includes an armor, infantry, and artillery focus. They are adding an infantry division into the current plan (18th Division). Stage 2 is 2012-2015 and Stage 3 is 2016-2020. (no further information).

The 3rd IA Division troops have added a commando company. Put that company with the 3rd Divisional Scout Company and you have the potential beginning of forming divisional reconnaissance battalions. The 2-38/10 Battalion is receiving air assault training. This is the second 10th Division battalion reported to receive this training and the other was also from 38th Brigade. These illustrate the continued emphasis on establishing airmobile forces.

Combat engineering duties continue to have a strong priority. The 8th Division has started getting ILAV Badgers. These are route-clearance MRAPs and are used by divisional and brigade engineers, as well as select battalions in the division that are planned to be combat engineers. While they have been receiving the vehicles for some time now, the remote arm (claw) system and training has only recently been arriving to upgrade. The 1-31/8 Battalion had elements graduate from Iron Claw Academy for route clearance on Oct. 20. In the 17th Commando Division, ILAV Badgers have been noted with the 1-23/17 Battalion. In 10th Division they are lagging behind. The first route-clearance team in 10th Division was established in October and no Badgers have been seen issued. De-mining operations in Iraq are transferring to the Iraqi Security Forces.

Logistics support also continues to develop in the Iraqi Army. There is some confusion in reporting on Iraqi Divisional Location Commands. The Location Commands are Iraqi Sustainment Brigades with the subordinate Military Police Battalion (Base Defense Unit), Maintenance, Motor Transport Regiment, Medical Company, and Administrative Company. It is also the term for its headquarters battalion, which includes the separate companies and was previously called the Base Support Unit. The Iraqi General Transport Regiment graduated from the Unit Set Fielding program. This battalion-sized trucking unit of 600 personnel includes tank transporters and other heavy trucks that provide the transport between the National Depot and the Divisional Location Commands. A support battalion has been noted with Ninawa Operations Command. This is part of the development of the Operational Commands preparatory to their conversion to Iraqi Army corps and Ministry of Interior Regional (corps) headquarters. Ninawa Operational Command is expected to split into MoI Region 2 and the northern IA corps headquarters.

Iraqi National Police (INP).

The Ministry of Interior is forming a National Sustainment Depot to fill the supply role for MoI formations. In response to an information request, Sergeant Murphy of Multi-National Force-Iraq's Media Operations Center said that the new depot will be at

"Tajiyat just North of Baghdad. When complete (construction will begin very soon) this Tajiyat logistics complex will contain the MoI Vehicle Maintenance Complex, the MOI Logistics Warehouse and Training Center, and the National Police Sustainment Brigade. (Roughly 200 acres will be the physical size of the complex.)"

In response to an information request, Tech Sergeant Chris Stagner of Multi-National Force-Iraq Media Operations Center Press Desk provided a listing of major Iraqi National Police:

The HQs of the 1st Division (Palestine Street/Baghdad).

The HQs of the 2nd Division (Al-Kadimiya, FOB Justice).

The HQs of the 3rd Division (Almansour-Al Bijiyah) -- In the future this Division will be assigned to Samarra.

The Mechanized Division (Al-Qadsiyah Province).

The Logistics Support Brigade (Al-Harthiya).

Abo Risha Brigade in Ar-Ramadi.

Al-Mosul Brigade (two battalions currently in Mosul).

Al-Basra Brigade (two battalions currently in Al-Basra).

Alaskreen Brigade in Samarra.

The earlier reported purchase of 160 M1117 fits with forming two, possibly three, more brigades of National Police Mechanized, depending on what other vehicles are being bought (e.g. Reva APCs from South Africa). And "...there are future plans of at least a fourth division within the next year." However, this is the first mention of the planned formation of a Mechanized National Police Division and that it is to be based in southern Iraq. The other division inferred is the previously mentioned transfer of the Kurdish Regional Guards Special Police Division to the National Police that is apparently still in negotiation. Budget problems could cause delays in the INP expansion.

The home of the Phase III Caribanarie training, Camp Dublin is doubling capacity by Nov. 9. Currently, 600 personnel of the new 1st Battalion, Knights Ride Brigade, 3rd INP Division is in Phase III training while the rest of the new brigade is apparently partnered with the 2/1 INP Brigade at Taji for field training. The new 3rd Battalion, Abu Risha Brigade, 3rd INP Division is partnered with the 7/2 INP Brigade in Baghdad's Doura District. Both of these new INP brigades are being called light INP brigades. These apparent partnerings are a first for the INP and indicate that the 2/1 INP Brigade and 7/2 INP Brigade are far enough along in capabilities to fill the training partner role usually filled by US units. The second INP battalion other than the INP Emergency Response Brigade has participated in an air assault. The 1-8/2 INP Battalion had elements participate in a joint air assault in eastern Baghdad.

The former Iraqi National Police Emergency Response Unit is no more. It is actually a brigade as of this summer and is under the direct command of the Ministry of Interior. According to Sergeant Murphy:

"The ERB contains four operational battalions and one support battalion. At least one of the operational battalions is still forming. The ERB is a national unit; they are no longer subordinate to the NP and receive their missions direct from the MoI."

Additional information indicates the National Emergency Response Brigade has its own training battalion as well. This brigade is a prime candidate for transfer to the Counter Terrorism Bureau when it legally becomes a separate ministry.

Iraqi Police (IP).

Restructuring of provincial Iraqi Police is in progress.

"We assign [police officers] with military backgrounds to the special response teams and the checkpoints," Brig. Gen. Alawy Hussein Alsaray, of the Iraqi police, said. "Those who have been trained solely as police officers are assigned to the community police stations. That way, those with a military background work in the areas that are most military-like. The others are assigned to investigations and other traditional police roles."

This probably explains much of the increasing numbers of provincial paramilitary formations. There are more personnel with former military experience than there are fully trained as police in the Iraqi Police. Maysan Province now has seven battalion equivalents of paramilitary police with the addition of three new emergency battalions. Diyala also has seven identified battalions and both provinces show signs of further expansion to divisional structure like Anbar's Provincial Security Force. Ninawa also has at least seven battalions, but is already split into two separate emergency response brigades, Ninawa ERB and Mosul ERB.

There is single source reporting of an "Emergency 4th Division" operating in Mosul. This could be the designation of Ninawa's provincial paramilitary police or from an augmenting force. Also, there is single source reporting of a "5th Emergency Police Corps". This corps' casualty was reported in the story as being on leave, which means the corps, if it actually exists, could be located anywhere in Iraq. However, most police are locally recruited and this report was from Mosul. These reports are not confirmed and US military sources apparently do not know what they are. The Iraqi Government has not responded to requests for information.

The transfer of Facilities Protection Service (FPS) elements to the Ministry of Interior continues. The 10-battalion Oil Police Directorate shifted in early 2008. "An additional seven battalions are planned to be formed in 2009, with a total of 22 battalions planned for fielding by 2012." Little information on these battalions or those in other ministry's FPS is available. At least three of these battalions are located in Bayji, Kirkuk, and Basrah. A listing is being built on page 11 of the ISF OOBThursday, November 06, 2008



By Charles Johnson

We don’t know what the McCain campaign’s excuse is, but way back in June we pointed out that the Obama campaign’s web administrators were making ridiculous, amateurish security mistakes: Highlights: Newsweek’s Special Election Project.

The computer systems of both the Obama and McCain campaigns were victims of a sophisticated cyberattack by an unknown “foreign entity,” prompting a federal investigation, NEWSWEEK reports today.

At the Obama headquarters in midsummer, technology experts detected what they initially thought was a computer virus—a case of “phishing,” a form of hacking often employed to steal passwords or credit-card numbers. But by the next day, both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: “You have a problem way bigger than what you understand,” an agent told Obama’s team. “You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system.” The following day, Obama campaign chief David Plouffe heard from White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, to the same effect: “You have a real problem ... and you have to deal with it.” The Feds told Obama’s aides in late August that the McCain campaign’s computer system had been similarly compromised. A top McCain official confirmed to NEWSWEEK that the campaign’s computer system had been hacked and that the FBI had become involved.

Officials at the FBI and the White House told the Obama campaign that they believed a foreign entity or organization sought to gather information on the evolution of both camps’ policy positions—information that might be useful in negotiations with a future administration. The Feds assured the Obama team that it had not been hacked by its political opponents. (Obama technical experts later speculated that the hackers were Russian or Chinese.) A security firm retained by the Obama campaign took steps to secure its computer system and end the intrusion.


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