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From the Grey Cell Information Network: World events marginalized this week by mainstream media.
NEED TO KNOW: Week Of 21 November
Libya – Where Monkeys Start Wars
Fighting between rival tribes in the Libyan city of Sabhā has killed at least 25 people and wounded as many as another 100, nearly 30 of whom have been airlifted to Tripoli or Misrata for critical medical care. The Gaddadfa tribe (from whence former dictator Kadhafi hailed) and the Awlad Suleiman tribe have been feuding Muammar Gaddafi lost his grip on power. Sabha, in Libya’s arid southern Fezzan region, has been teetering on the edge of a localized civil war for half a decade. Apparently a shopkeeper’s monkey may have tipped the scale.
Reports indicate the fight began last Thursday in the Al-Manshiya district, where elements of both tribes live in close proximity. According to multiple anonymous sources in Sabha, the trouble began when several young Gaddadfa men either turned a shopkeeper’s monkey loose or actually threw it (accounts vary) at two young Awlad Suleiman girls walking home from school. The monkey pulled one girl’s head scarf off and scratched her face, after which the fighting began.
The monkey was one of the first casualties. As of last Monday 22 people had been reported dead by the Sabha Medical Center, the Libyan Red Crescent and other sources. Other casualties have almost certainly gone unacknowledged.
The fighting quickly escalated until it involved crew-served weapons, technicals and mortars. Although it has been regional thus far, there is (well justified) concern the conflict will spread — the Awlad Suleiman are allied with the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli, while the Gaddadfa are aligned with military strongman Khalifa Hafter, the de facto commander of Libya’s army. A tenuous peace in the city was previously maintained by the presence of the ‘Misratan Third Force’ militia, but that unit was recently retasked to assist in Operation Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos, the GNA’s AFRICOM supported drive to retake the city of Sirte from Daesh (IS).
Libya’s Council of Dignitaries has yet to completely address the situation, not least because three other tribal groups (the Tuareg, Toubu, and Werfella) withdrew from a proposed summit and ended any talks before they began. Sebha’s mayor says, however, that “…mediation by elders and notables from across Libya” had brokered an uneasy cease-fire.
The monkey referenced in this story paid the ultimate price for his shenanigans.
Japan Deploys Offensive Forces to The Sudan
In an effort to bolster the fledgling state of South Sudan, the UN has been standing between two rival war lords and chaos. After recent attacks against UN peacekeepers, systemic rape, and the pillaging of an unarmed civilian populace, the UN is changing tactics. They are reportedly shifting from passive observers to a more law enforcement type role. One element of that new initiative is a Japanese Civil Engineering contingent, a 350-member strong infrastructure construction regiment that for the first time has been authorized to use force in enforcing UN mandates while taking on the task of kaketsuke-keigo (coming to protection of individuals related to operations in response to an urgent request).
This represents an extremely significant departure from the traditional use of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSF) units. The JGSF was established to protect, hold and improve the Japanese infrastructure, but has, since the the end of WWII, been constitutionally forbidden to offensively engage any foe—until now.
The Japanese parliament and Prime minister agreed to allow Japanese forces to offensively engage enemies as far back as 2015. This agreement authorized, for the first time since World War II, the use of force to solve localized political problems. This month’s assignment of Japanese troops to the UN missions reflects the first time Japanese troops have actually deployed with their new authority.
Recent erratic North Korean activity, coupled with an aggressive China posturing in the Yellow and South China Seas, Japan has found it necessary to re-authorize and likely publicly reiterate its troops the ability to protect themselves and enforce policy.
The JGSF engineers will be joining a contingent of over 12,000 UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) troops on the ground. With the new mandate, several things are likely to happen: The civilian population may likely see an initial uptick in violence, testing the UN resolve. The UN may respond with force, potentially plummeting the region into another chaotic African war and allowing the region to backslide into anarchy. On the other hand, it’s possible the conflicting sides (there are more than two) will reconcile, or at least conduct themselves with a UN-enforced civility. The UN will need another 30,000 peace keepers in order to achieve the force superiority necessary to maintain order and completely establish the rule of law in South Sudan. In the meantime, authorizing the Japanese troops to use force is a good first step. The international implications will depend a great deal on the Japanese troops performance and conduct.
The KGB Comes Back and Russians Attempt Assassination of Montenegrin President
Co-conspirators Expelled from Serbia as Putin Restores Stalin-era Ministry of State Security
Lots of things going on over Московия way. Not too long after we learn that Vladimir Putin has resurrected the KGB, we see overwhelming evidence presented to Serbian and Montenegrin officials unveiling Moscow’s surreptitious attempts to thwart regional sovereignty. To the latter point, two Russian citizens were expelled from Montenegro after evidence connecting them to efforts to assassinate Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. Additionally, several more Russian citizens were reportedly caught in nearby Serbia with advanced communications monitoring equipment and weapons, leading to their indictment as plot co-conspirators. All were forcibly removed and sent back to Russia. This comes at a time when Western support in the region is waning, and just weeks after retired Serbian general Bratislav Dikic was arrested for planning an alleged coup. Montenegro split from Serbia a decade ago, and has since established strong ties with the EU. It is also seeking to join NATO.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
Economic and cultural struggles continue to frustrate Serbian and Montenegrin citizens, threatening to push them into a closer relationship with Russia. This has manifested as a hard shift further right, to the populist and Russian supported political views. However, the recent unveiling of the evidence indicting Russian operatives attempting to meet Moscow’s agenda via assassinating pro-Western candidates may counter this trendy by creating public consternation over self-rule.
Since the regional Balkanization resulting from the breakup of Yugoslavia, smaller enclaves have been unable to exert signficant economic impact on the European Union. With recent major distractions like the Greek financial crisis and the immigrant influx, the EU has been unable to devote the necessary capital to invest in smaller nations in the Baltic region, thus creating an opportunity for Moscow. Russian clandestine efforts to frustrate Western influence and to stalemate any UN efforts in neighboring countries stems from Putin’s interest in re-establishing the Soviet-era Balkan influence and apparent interest in reigniting a new Cold War. The UN and EU need to recognize this fact and move to counter with economic stimulus measures or more of these events will be the regional norm.
To better understand Russia’s regional strategy, read the Business Insider article, paraphrased below. The main point of the article summarizes Russia’s regional desperation. What is true of the Ukraine, is also true with regards to the Baltic states, so their experience with regards to Moscow is interchangeable:
The Russians have to assume that the Euro-American interest in creating a pro-Western regime has a purpose beyond Ukraine. From the Russian point of view, not only have they lost a critical buffer zone, but Ukrainian forces hostile to Russia have moved toward the Russian border.
It should be noted that the area that the Russians defend most heavily is the area just west of the Russian border, buying as much space as they can.
At the same time, the West cannot assume that Russia will stop there. Therefore, we are in the classic case where two forces assume the worst about each other. But Russia occupies the weaker position, having lost the first tier of the European Peninsula. It is struggling to maintain the physical integrity of the Motherland.
Russia does not have the ability to project significant force because its naval force is bottled up and because you cannot support major forces from the air alone. Although it became involved in the Syrian conflict to demonstrate its military capabilities and gain leverage with the West, this operation is peripheral to Russia’s main interests. The primary issue is the western frontier and Ukraine. In the south, the focus is on the Caucasus.
It is clear that Russia’s economy, based as it is on energy exports, is in serious trouble given the plummeting price of oil in the past year and a half. But Russia has always been in serious economic trouble. Its economy was catastrophic prior to World War II, but it won the war anyway… at a cost that few other countries could bear.
Not to be left out in the cold, Russia is dusting off its old play book and doing its best to bring back the Cold War. As a Cold Warrior, it is what Vladimir Putin knows best.
Putin was a KGB officer assigned to the First Chief Directorate Soviet intelligence, headquartered in Moscow’s Dzerzhinsky Square. His responsibilities included so-called“active measures.” Dezinformatsia is political warfare to include media manipulation, propaganda and disinformation. Soviet active measures were designed to discredit the United States, conquer world opinion and provide Mother Russia the resources it needs to maintain that position. The Cold War doctrine has not changed, the US has merely forgotten it. But Putin has a well-worn play book that is getting used again.
The resurrection of the Ministry of State Security ( Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, Joseph Stalin’s secret service) is clearly part of that strategy. The old KGB existed from 1954 until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. The newly restored KGB will reportedly subsume the current FSB and Russian foreign intelligence service, and effectively puts Russia’s security apparatus directly under his control.
“There is no such think as a former KGB man,” Putin said a decade ago.
Putin is a clever, totalitarian Necromancer. He’s bringing the corpse of Old Russia back to life, using the tactics that historically worked very well. He has trusted allies in every key position — two of his former personal bodyguards are now regional governors. The West, the new POTUS and the new SECDEF will need to pay attention to the Russian situation write large, which means they’ll need to scrutinize even the smallest things.
Ignoring history won’t change the current World situation. It will only cause us to repeat the same mistakes.
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About the Author: It might not be too surprising that David Reeder, who never met a $50 word he didn’t like, one of the “leaders” of the pedagogic and frequently obstreperous Breach Bang Clear team — insomuch as they have a leader (the terms orchestra conductor and rodeo clown are equally apropos). A former POG who tastes like chicken, Reeder cannot play the harmonica. He founded Breach-Bang-Clear quite accidentally at his young son’s behest several years ago. He is the Mad Duo’s Chief Wretched Flunky and Breach-Bang-Clear’s HMFIC. A LEO for many years and former AF Security Forces SNCO, he was an O/C at the National Homeland Security Training Center for many years and a longtime MOUT instructor at the Bold Lighting UWS. Reeder has appeared on Fox News Business and written for a number of publications, from US News & World Report and Military.com to RECOIL Magazine and Soldier Systems Daily. All of that sounds way cooler than it actually is. You can read more about him here. Follow his banality on Instagram, @davidreederwrites.
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