Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors

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If truth is the first casualty of war, author Kerry Patton has ably attempted to correct that dictum in his highly entertaining novel, Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors, a fictionalized account of the heroic but overlooked work performed by civilian contractors in Afghanistan.

As a military veteran and expert in intelligence, security and counter-terrorism who has worked at the highest levels of government, including the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, Patton initially began Contracted as an autobiography.

However, fear of breaching intelligence secrets led Patton to switch gears, writing a fictionalized story instead, one based on true events, but told through the voice of Declan Collins, a former military man recruited out of civilian life by the CIA for intelligence work in Afghanistan.

There, Declan and his civilian partner, Rex Browhart, himself a former military vet, find themselves assigned as military advisors at a Forward Operating Base in eastern Afghanistan.

At the FOB, Collins and Browhart form a working alliance with a varied group of officers and enlisted men on a plan to arm Afghan warlords eager to fight the Taliban, a plan Collins believes will save American lives.

Most of the men aiding Collins in this task are a mixture of Special Forces, including Delta Force, Navy Seals and Army Rangers and Green Berets. To Collins, these men are modern day warriors, part of a dying breed, driven to sacrifice their lives for God, family and country.

It’s a patriotic theme Patton employs throughout his book, one in which money isn’t the primary motivating factor driving these contractors — most of whom are former military — but rather a deep love of country further fueled by an abiding loyalty to aid their brothers-in-arms.

Unfortunately, the press has helped to paint a picture of civilian contractors as either nothing more than mercenaries in search of a quick paycheck or out-of-control homicidal maniacs, such as those in Blackwater, the private security consulting firm employed by the US government during the Iraq war.

Not surprisingly, that negative portrayal tends to overlook the heroism and sacrifices that many contractors have performed and endured once they have left the comfort and safety of the civilian world for life in a combat zone.

In fact, it is to that point that Patton reportedly wrote Contracted, noting it is “truly meant for those unsung heroes who never get recognized yet often get chastised.”

Patton also doesn’t neglect the hardships faced by the family and loved ones left behind, weaving into his book the struggles and fears faced by Collins’ new young wife, Brannagh. As Patton has noted, “This book is not just for them (the contractors) but for their friends and family as well. They too deserve some recognition.”

That recognition comes at the same time as the use of civilian contractors in combat zones by American corporations, defense contractors, and governmental agencies — including the DOD, State Department and CIA — is growing in both prominence and danger.

Specifically, in 2012 American civilian contractors constituted 62 percent of the US presence in Afghanistan. These contractors are used in many unarmed roles, including transporting supplies, staffing food services, building homes and commercial facilities and serving as interpreters.

However, they are also employed in armed capacities, jobs which include providing security for State Department and Pentagon officials, guarding US installations, gathering intelligence and training the Afghan army and police.

Still, whether operating in armed or unarmed roles, the risks these civilian contractors face are great. In 2011, 430 American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan — 386 who worked for the Defense Department — and 1,777 injured or wounded.

Read more at Front Page

Frank Crimi is a San Diego-based writer and author of the book Raining Frogs and Heart Attacks. You can read more of Frank’s work at his blog,www.politicallyunbalanced.com.

Did the US have enough indicators and warnings for Algeria?

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In the intelligence world, indicators and warnings are essential. They are key pieces of data expressing enough insight allowing an analyst to determine threats, proposed threat levels, and assist in forecasting. With the ongoing hostage situation still unfolding in Algeria (still ongoing as this is being written), it’s critical to question whether the US or our Western allies had enough indicators and warnings to caution citizens living and or working in Algeria.

In May, Homeland Security Today published a piece titled West Africa: Al Qaeda’s New Home. It revealed how Al Qaeda shifted its base from Afghanistan and Pakistan into West Africa—specifically Mali. There was enough information found within to allow any open source intelligence analyst to obtain what is known as “chatter.” That chatter could be observed as the first warning.

Then, in October, Homeland Security Today released another article title The Quint-Border Region: The World’s Most Under-Reported Terror Hot Spot. Within it, five key nations were identified in western Africa demonstrating unprecedented amounts of activities which have unfolded over the years via Al Qaeda linked terrorist groups. These incidents were sheer warnings.

The first week of December could arguably be construed as one of the biggest indicators demonstrating how austere the region has truly become. Online media outlet Magharebia divulged in an article title Belmokhtar breaksaway from AQIM. Anyone who ever worked intelligence knows when key leaders break away from a large terror group, they later form their own. And that’s exactly what Mokhtar Belmokhtar did.

Belmokhtar broke away from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magrheb and formed his own Islamist group called Al Muwaki un bi Al-Dima (Signatories of Blood). A video tape of the one eyed Islamist was created and delivered to at least one international media outlet explaining his intent.

Belmokhtar is no small fish in the Islamic terror world. He is a highly skilled and trained fighter who quickly moved up the ranks in Al Qaeda after fulfilling his mission in Afghanistan back in 1991. He eventually returned to Algeria where he was born and later assisted in a horrifically violent coup of Mali’s government.

Only a few weeks after Magharebia posted their news about Belmokhtar’s split from AQIM, the Jamestown Foundation released a very well written report on the situation in West Africa, specifically revealing Belmokhtar’s future endeavors.

With this information, why did the United States State Department’s Office of Securityand Cooperation release just two travel warnings for Algeria in 2012? Worse, why were they created in May and September having nothing more recent knowing the entire West African region was imploding?

Yes, these two travel warnings could have also sparked interest for an intelligence analyst to create something more suitable for the Western free world, specifically Americans living and working in the region.

The truth is, America and our western allies knew how volatile the entire west African region had become. Yet for some reason, similar to Benghazi, they sat on the back of their heels proving to be inept protectors of their citizens.

Now, as the tragedy in Algeria continues to unfold, reports have revealed at least 35 hostages and 15 terrorists were killed in Algerian military led airstrikes. This reporting remains extremely vague and maintains limited details.  As mentioned last night on Canadian Television News, this tragedy would end in bloodshed.

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled Veteran is author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors.

Law makers look the wrong way while investigating “Zero Dark Thirty” leaks

imagesCAOOSOE2By Kerry Patton

The historical fiction movie “Zero Dark Thirty” depicts the heroic actions of America’s best and brightest intelligence officers and US Special Operators who not only located but killed Osama Bin Laden. Today, a select group of elected officials are outraged over “Zero Dark Thirty.” They have taken an initiative to destroy the careers of US operatives who may have potentially leaked classified information to the movie’s producers.

They are looking at the wrong people to investigate.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), and her team of corrupt “feel-gooders” like Senators McCain and Levin are on the warpath. The Intelligence Committee’s panel has begun a review of contacts between the makers of the film “Zero Dark Thirty” and CIA operatives. Nothing like using intelligence officials as the fall guys when things get ugly.

Before getting too far ahead of the “Zero Dark Thirty” investigation, let’s not forget statements made by key US officials that prove how untrustworthy they really are when it comes to handling classified information.

January 2012, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta conducted an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.” It was here the world first learned about the life of a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who once served as a human source to the US intelligence community. Days after the OBL raid, Afridi was tracked down by Pakistani authorities in the Torkham border, apprehended, and approximately four months later in May sentenced to 33 years in prison for treason.

May 2012, the New York Times released an article titled Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will. It quotes White House national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon, Obama’s chief of staff in 2011 William M. Daley, and Obama’s White House counsel Gregory B. Craig. The quotes used by these three men are actual leaks of information linking to classified material.

In June of 2012, Hot Air published an article titled McCain: Top-secret leaks coming from “highest levels” of White House. At the time, McCain and Feinstein were deeply concerned over leaks of information pertaining to US clandestine cyber warfare operations that dealt with Iran’s nuclear developments. He and Feinstein directly attacked the White House for these leaks.

July 2012, Sen. Feinstein was quoted as saying, “The White House has to understand that some of this (classified leakage) is coming from their ranks.” She later added, “There’s one book they can read and they’ll see it very carefully,” alluding to journalist David Sanger’s book that reveals the US and Israel developed a cyber-tool used to interfere with Iran’s nuclear arms program.

Now, let’s go back to the whole” Zero Dark Thirty” controversy.

Hampton Roads had revealed in their September 2012 article titled Feds: Hide Navy SEAL name given to Hollywood that an interview was conducted by Politico staff members. In that interview, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers specifically informed screen writer Boal about the name of someone he could speak with to assist in writing “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Boal was informed by Vickers, “the only thing we ask is that you not reveal his name in any way as a consultant.” Why make such a request? Why tell Boal to hide a name when Vickers himself failed in hiding it?

Vickers knew the individual he referred Boal to either served in or continues to serve in a classified position. The individual’s name was meant to remain secret. Vickers had absolutely no right to divulge this mysterious individual’s name to Boal in the first place. Vickers is guilty for leaking this information to a non-security clearance holding Hollywood screenwriter.

Leon Panetta is just as guilt as Vickers. Remember, he was the first American elitist who divulged information about a human source for the world to know about. Any decent researcher could have put pieces of the OBL raid together to make a decent movie script just based off his statements in that “60 Minutes” interview.

When it comes to enhanced interrogation techniques, Boal and Bigelow didn’t need a classified source. The technique of waterboarding can be observed on YouTube. A million open sources can be found on the internet that reveals the technique was utilized in the early years of the Afghan War. And even Sen. John McCain along with many other elected officials can be observed discussing the technique through Congressional hearings.

Senators Feinstein, McCain, and Levin are going after the wrong people. They are looking for a mid to low level fall guy. They refuse to do a little research and find links that will prove any leak provided to Baol and Bigelow came directly from the highest levels of our government.

This entire investigation is a huge scam and a waste of US tax payer money. Director Kathryn Bigelow and Screenwriter Mark Boal were provided inside material related to the Bin Laden raid. That is known. It is also known that inside material came and was directed from the highest members of our government—not some mid to low level operator.

But just like Benghazi, elected officials have once again proven to the American people how much they despise our intelligence community. They will do anything to cripple the morale of intelligence officers. Sadly, working as an intelligence officer for the US government comes with serious risks—risks from the enemy and risks from the enemy–the second being the enemy from within.

Kerry Patton is the author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors order a copy now.

The Quint Border Region: The World’s Most Under-Reported Terror Hot Spot

By Kerry Patton:

Anyone who researches terrorism has likely come across a place in South America known as the Tri-border region, a remote area where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina border one another that is often mentioned as a safe haven for Islamic radicals. But as more and more intelligence officers begin to understand this very old South American safe haven, they also need to start paying attention to another hotspot: The Quint-border region in Africa.

South America’s Tri-border region is certainly unique. Very few travel inside the region. And for good reason; it is a remote, semi-lawless and often times extremely dangerous place. But imagine that there’s a new place in the world that’s very similar to the Tri-border territory — that includes an additional two nation states. That’s the Quint-border expanse, and it’s just as remote and lawless, but also far more dangerous.

The Quint-border region is thousands of miles from South America situated in the west-southwest region of Africa. It’s called the “Quint” region because it consists of five different borders — Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. It’s the location counterterrorists need to begin paying close attention to in order to stay on top of our enemy’s initiatives.

The Tri-border region in South America may never have become what it is today if it weren’t for the treacherous terrain in the region. It is comprised of heavy jungle with thick canopies making it difficult even for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) air platforms to monitor.

But with all things considered, a lot of hard evidence is missing from much of the continuing claims about this region being South America’s terror “hot spot.” While there’s little question that the Tri-border region is filled with illegal activity that ranges from black markets to organized crime, the extent of Islamist terrorist groups operating in the region remains questionable.

Terror groups such as Hezbollah, Al-Jihad (Islamic Jihad), Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group), Hamas and Al-Qaeda probably had a presence in the Tri-border region – evidence points to this – but most of this evidence is historical; there’s little proof that these groups have a significant presence in the region today. Multiple nation states’ have worked to weed out some of the bad guys from the region.

Today, there is absolutely no definitive evidence of any largescale terrorist operations in the region. Yes, some active terror supporters have been captured in the region as of late, but that does not mean the region should still be considered a terror hot bed.

When it comes to definitive evidence about terror hot spots, though, there is substantiation that one such area location exists, and it’s the Quint-border region. Africa is unique. Over the years, it has shifted multiple times from a heavily influenced Islamic region to a Christian zone. Today, it is shifting back to a very influential Islamic continent. Geospatial mapping shows a rapid movement of Islamic infiltration throughout Africa, starting in the north and moving southward. Unfortunately, this Islamic shift is filled with extreme radicalization.

Read more at HS Today

Kerry Patton is a combat service disabled veteran who has worked in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe focusing on intelligence and security, and has interviewed current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban. Author of, Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies, you can follow Kerry on Facebook or at www.kerry-patton.com.

 

What’s Missing From Our New National Strategy for Counterterrorism

By Kerry Patton:

On June 28, the White House released its 2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism. This twenty-six page document could be observed as an extremely narrowly focused strategy—possibly too narrow. Al Qaeda is the main focus within the plan and, for many reasons, rightly so. Most of our major command’s areas of operations are identified as well but one crucial region is missing—South and Central America.

First, it’s critical to understand the importance of a strategic plan and how it is developed. For starters, a Strategic Plan is created by Strategic Intelligence. Strategic Intelligence is defined as:

- Intelligence that is required for forming policy and military plans at national and international levels.

- Intelligence that is required for the formulation of military strategy, policy, and military plans and operations at national and theater levels. (DOD)

- “Intelligence employed in the formulation of policy and military plans at the national and international levels.” [Polmar, Norman and Thomas B. Allen. The Encyclopedia of Espionage. New York: Gramercy Books, 1997, p. 538]

- “Warning of the enemy intention to attack, and ‘tactical’ warning, i.e., the detection of actual physical preparations for an attack.” [Luttwak, Edward and Dan Horowitz. The Israeli Army. 1975]

So, in understanding the different types of definitions related to Strategic Intelligence, one can see that prior to a plan being developed, it is critical to have the proper collection and analysis of a broad range of insight globally to formulate plans to secure the nation–known as Strategic Plans.

Read more at Fox News

Kerry Patton is co-founder of the National Security Leadership  Foundation,  a non-profit organization with a pending 501c (3) status. He has worked in South  America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, focusing on intelligence and  security interviewing current and former terrorists, including members of the Taliban.  He is the author of “Sociocultural Intelligence: The New  Discipline of Intelligence Studies” and the children’s book “American Patriotism.”  You can follow him on Facebook.