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NightWatch 20100908


For the Night of 8 September 2010

North Korea: Premier Choe Yong Rim said 8 September that hastening economic growth as a way to improve living standards is of critical importance for North Korea. Speaking at a national assembly marking the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Choe said the public and the army should work to develop agriculture and light industry, as well as metalwork, electricity, coal and railway infrastructure.

Comment: The premier's public statement is significant for several reasons. First it suggests the 3rd Party Conference has not begun. More importantly, it is the latest manifestation that Kim Chong-il's government has made a major change in strategic priorities in favor of non-military development. Choe's comments are the most explicit to date in directing that the army should support the civilian sectors in promoting general prosperity.

Old hands will recall that Kim Il-sung, President forever, reached the same conclusion in 1993. Kim Chong-il's Father suspended the seven-year national planning system in December 1993 because it failed. He reprioritized national activity as agriculture-- food production, consumer goods for daily living, goods for export and goods to support the armed forces. This order of effort had no precedent in Korean communism. North Koreans were malnourished in danger of starving.

Kim Chong-il, under threat of a military revolt and for his survival, rejected the legacy of his Father and made military production first, from mid-1994. Sixteen years later and facing death, Kim apparently has had an epiphany about the wisdom of his Father. Once again , under Kim's leadership, North Koreans are malnourished in danger of starving.

The elder Kim recognized that the state and the army could not survive unless the people from whom they are drawn and on whom they depend are healthy. Kim Chong-il is late in reaching that insight.

The message for outsiders is the infrastructure that supports the North's military capabilities is hollow. Kim Chong-il's rule has been a waste of time and resources, repeating mistakes his father made. Nevertheless, the North Korean people will never be permitted to draw those conclusions.

The North's media and sympathetic commentaries in Japan ascribe the new priorities to the third son, Kim Chong-eun. That callow youth has not dealt with the entrenched vice marshals and corps commanders of the Korean Peoples Army. Nor has his mentor and regent Chang Song-taek, who is a party aficionado, not a military man.

Thus Readers might expect the 3rd Party Conference to endorse a new set of strategic priorities in which food production is the highest national priority. That does not mean the Army will follow the Party Conference's lead. More later.

Pakistan-US: Pakistan's armed forces have continued the fight against Islamist militants in the country's west and northwest despite floods, a senior US officer in charge of U.S. military aid in Pakistan said 8 September, Agence France-Presse reported. According to the report, a very senior US military officer said some "aviation resources" have been dispatched for flood relief and rescue operations, but the Pakistani military has remained focused on operations against extremists.

Late on 8 September, the Pakistani Ambassador to the United States flatly contradicted the senior US military official. He said all the resources of the armed forces are committed to flood relief at the expense of the fight against terrorists. Flood relief  and recovery are the highest national priorities..

NightWatch Comment: Agence France-Presse reported the strange American military statement and relayed it around the world. US and international media reported the Ambassador's statement. The issue begs for some perspective, if only for educational purposes.

The US military statement portrays the Pakistan armed forces as if they were irresponsible in the face of a national calamity. The Ambassador's statement clarifies that the US statement is flat wrong and the Pakistani armed forces are doing exactly the same tasks the US national guard undertakes to cope with natural disasters.

US  personnel must come to understand that Pakistani Ambassadors, Generals and Admirals are the best sources for commenting on the uses of Pakistani military resources in support of national disaster relief in Pakistan.

The Pakistani leadership - civilian political leaders and flag officers - are in step, rather unusually, that flood relief, stabilization and recovery are exponentially more important as national security tasks than anything else. By some Pakistani accounts, a third of the population has been displaced by the flooding.

Even a novice should understand that all national resources must be committed to alleviating the effects of such flooding. No Pakistani leader is asserting that the Pakistan armed forces are continuing counter-extremist operations as usual. With a third of the population affected by the floods, every Pakistani in government and in uniform has a relative in trouble because of the floods.

Finally, there is the phenomenology of limited national resources. When a nation generates its armed forces to prepare for war, it distorts civilian normality and draws resources from the civil sectors to increase national military, combat power.

Increases in military power come at the expense of civilian normality. This is true even for small border skirmishes that only require civilian trucks to move forces to the border. It is uneconomical, inefficient and foolish to devote wartime levels of resources to the maintenance of the armed forces in peacetime. Thus, prudent leaders designate in advance those otherwise productive civilian resources that the government will commandeer in wartime and only in wartime.

The rule also works in reverse, in that the armed forces of a state are usually the only reservoir of manpower and organized technical resources that can be applied to alleviate a civilian disaster. The Pakistani response of using military assets to assist the civil sector during the flooding is typical of all nations.  The draw down of military normality  -- combat readiness -- is essential to stabilize a civilian disaster.

This is appropriate and typical. The most salient examples of the reverse flow of resources from the military into the civilian sectors occurred during the Chernobyl disaster, the North Korean famine and the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.

In Chernobyl, containment of the nuclear disaster required the engineering resources of the entire Soviet armed forces for a year. The Korean famine in 1995 and 1996 resulted in the Korean Peoples Army guarding grain fields in addition to growing food themselves. In the US, the use of the national guard for civilian relief has become a routine feature of a state's reserve assets for civilian relief and recovery.

The operations of the Pakistan armed forces, especially the helicopter crews, are four-square in the mainstream of the proper use of military forces to support civil authorities. The Pakistani relief effort is another textbook example of how resources shift in support of national priorities.

For new analysts: The lessons are inerrant and unmistakable. Always watch the interface of civil and military resources to diagnose national behavior.  Whenever civilian normality is disrupted and the direction of resource flow is towards the military so as to increase military power, real war preparations are occurring -- always and in every country.

Whenever military assets are being used to support civilian disaster relief, the activity is not a cover for war preparations. The direction of flow of military resources to support civil authorities is an unambiguous indicator of a genuine national disaster.

The Pakistan floods are an obvious case, but in many crises and countries in the past 40 years, the situation has not been so clear because natural disasters occur during war preparations. The most reliable discriminator for distinguishing war preparations from civilian relief operations is the direction of flow of the resources.

Afghanistan-Taliban: Ramadan update. In an end-of-Ramadan message posted on jihadist websites and sent by email in the name of Afghanistan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, the Afghan Taliban leader said the Americans and their allies will soon leave the country.

"The victory of our Islamic nation over the invading infidels is now imminent and the driving force behind this is the belief in the help of Allah and unity among ourselves. …In the time to come, we will try to establish an Islamic, independent, perfect and strong system."

Omar's email informed the American public that the US military had failed to achieve its objectives after nearly nine years. "You should know that your rulers have continuously told you lies since the beginning of the aggression on Afghanistan until this very day. They have wasted hundreds of billion of dollars of your tax money in the shape of financial expenditures and your manpower in Afghanistan and have still been wasting them. Therefore, they should abandon their headlong stubborn policy. Otherwise, the Americans will themselves face humiliation and disgrace before any one else does that."

Comment: Omar makes no promises for which he can be held accountable, which is typical of the coward. He only promises to try to do better than the last time he governed. It remains unclear why he deserves a second chance because most of the men who served him in 2001 - some of whom were genuinely able Afghan leaders -- have long since been killed, while he and his cohorts thrived in Pakistan.

Iraq-Iran: The Iranian ambassador to Iraq said today, 8 September, that Iran will work with an Iraqi government formed from any political bloc. Ambassador Danayeefar said his country considers infighting over who will become Iraq's next prime minister to be an internal affair to be determined by Iraqi political parties but that, as neighbors, Iraq and Iran should work with one another.

Comment: The messages behind the statement are two, at least. The first message is an assurance that Iran is not orchestrating Iraqi Arab politics. The second message is that Iran considers the outcome of the Iraqi elections win-win for Iran, no matter who becomes prime minister and forms a new government. The implication is that Iran is pleased that all contenders for the position of prime minister are Iraqi Arab Shiites and, most likely, on the Iranian payroll in some fashion or another.

Mexico: Five unidentified gunmen killed EL Naranjo Mayor Alexander Lopez Garcia in his office in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, El Universal reported 8 September. This is the third mayor killed in the past month, as reported by public media. The obvious conclusion is that some interests want to discourage people from running for public office who are not approved by those interests.

NightWatch Special Announcement:

Kforce Government Solutions (KGS) is pleased to announce that it will sponsor the first ever short course entitled "NightWatch Concepts of Analysis" on the afternoon of 29 September at the AFCEA auditorium. The Instructor/Facilitator will be Mr. John F. McCreary, founder of NightWatch.

Please follow the link below to register for the course and to obtain further information about the course, the instructor, the location and the fee schedule.

End of NightWatch for 8 September.

NightWatch is brought to you by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.

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