My good friend Robert Bryce tries to inject a little truth into a green technology known as Carbon Capture. He is author of several energy-related books, including the the book shown below.
May 12, 2010
A Bad Bet on Carbon
By ROBERT BRYCE
On Wednesday John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman introduced their long-awaited Senate energy bill, which includes incentives of $2 billion per year for carbon capture and sequestration, the technology that removes carbon dioxide from the smokestack at power plants and forces it into underground storage. This significant allocation would come on top of the $2.4 billion for carbon capture projects that appeared in last year’s stimulus package.
That’s a lot of money for a technology whose adoption faces three potentially insurmountable hurdles: it greatly reduces the output of power plants; pipeline capacity to move the newly captured carbon dioxide is woefully insufficient; and the volume of waste material is staggering. Lawmakers should stop perpetuating the hope that the technology can help make huge cuts in the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions.
The search term brings up appropriate results, but the fact of the search gives us an opportunity to provide comment.
1) Nothing now being used by governments, and certainly not iBase or Palantir, both aging technologies that do not scale and have too many fat-finger handicaps, fulfills the originial requirements documents crafted in the late 1980’s.
2) The ONLY programs that have gotten anywhere close are COPERNICUS plus plus, and SILOBREAKER. However, both of these have been slow to recognize the urgency of integrating–fully integrating–capabilities that address each of the eighteen functionalities. Below is the list of softwares now in use by US Special Operations Command J-23 Open Source Intelligence Branch along with the STRONG ANGEL TOOZL and a couple of other things.
The global standard for multinational information-sharing and sense-making is in the process of being designed, funded, and distributed. If you think you have something relevant to that, generally only open source software will be considered, get in touch with any of the individuals above.
The following spaghetti diagram has been making the round of Versailles … it purports to summarize the strategy for winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans. But this is just the tip of the systems dynamics iceberg. This diagram is based on an attempt to model the non linear feedbacks implied in General Petraeus’s Counter Insurgency Manual, FM 3-24. I do not know whether this is the product of a contractor or the military, the author of the technique was a Navy officer in 2008, but this is 2010 and the graphic has a contractor logo.
The author of the famous Afghan Spaghetti diagram is Navy Capt Brett Pierson, who worked on the JCS staff in the Pentagon. Pierson’s bis is, reproduced below:
“Captain Brett Pierson is a 1987 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1989. Fleet assignments have included VS-38, VS-33, and a command tour as the Commanding Officer of VFA-147. He has been deployed in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, RESTORE HOPE, and IRAQI FREEDOM. Brett is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was named the 1997 FORCE Test Pilot of the Year and 2002 USAF TPS Outstanding Flight Instructor. Captain Pierson has over 650 carrier arrested landings and 3,500 flight hours in 50 different aircraft. In December 2006 he reported to the Pentagon for duty on the Joint Staff where he currently serves in the Warfighting Analysis Division of J8. While on the Joint Staff, he was awarded the 2007 DoD Modeling and Simulation Award for Excellence for his work developing a system dynamics model of counterinsurgency based on the Army Field Manual FM 3-24.”
Reference A: System Dynamics and Coin Modeling 2010
The intellectual framework in the preceding briefing was then tailored specifically for Afghanistan in a the brief that culminated in the famous spaghetti Diagram. That brief is attached here. Note the explanatory comments are more in the manner of hypothecated assertions rather than empirically derived relationships.
For those of you who think these spaghetti diagrams reflect a new or innovative way of thinking about systems I refer you to the following figure of the comm links in Europe that were being designed in the mid 1970s to deal with a Soviet led attack on the Nato countries in Western Europe — the chart was produce in the mid-to-late 1970s and reached the four star level in the Air Force. The figure was later reproduced in my book, Defense Facts of Life: The Plans Reality Mismatch (Westview 1985).
This Powerpoint Briefing is the dynamics model of FM-24, the Counterinsurgency Manual for which Pierson one the award in 2007. It is converted into PDF format for easier access.
Phi Beta Iota: All of the above is earnest, well-intentioned, even brilliant in its conceptualization–like the movie Top Gun–it’s wonderful right up to the point where it crashes and burns from its complete disconnect from reality. USA does not have the collection, processing, analysis, or decision-making capacity to leverage any of these concepts. The ONLY way to get this right is to start with integrity in the first place (don’t send our troops in harm’s way based on lies, ideology, and treasonous misappropriation of the public purse), and to have hundreds of thousands of human brains that are trained, equipped, and organized for multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, and multidomain information sharing and sense-making (M4IS2) without regard to secrecy, technology, or money. The US Government is, in one word, stupid, at the same time that its leadership (both political and professional) is completely lacking in integrity.
The Inevitable Collapse of McChrystal’s Afghan War Plan
Bound to Fail
By FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
Nisos Kos, Greece
In the 11 May issue of CounterPunch, apparently based on White House and Pentagon sources, Gareth Porter, one of the most able journalists covering the Afghan debacle, reported that General McChrystal’s war plan is in the early stages of unravelling. To appreciate why this was entirely predictable, consider please, the following:
On January 2, during an interview with Drew Brown of Stars and Stripes, McChrystal described his plan to create an ‘arc of security’ in the most densely populated regions of Southern Afghanistan. The green shaded area in the following map of Afghanistan overlays McChystal’s arc on the distribution of population densities. I constructed it from the information contained in Brown’s interview. As you can see, McChrystal plan opens his biggest military campaign to date by invading a region that has seen many invasions and much fighting during the last two thousand years, including operations by Alexander the Great (also shown on the chart), both of the 19th Century Anglo-Afghan Wars, and the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s.
Historically minded tribal cultures, like the Pashtun, have had plenty of time to learn and remember the strengths and weaknesses of this terrain by resisting these invaders using the timeless arts of guerrilla war. Note, for example, the stunning similarity of Alexander the Great’s invasion route in the figure to that of the Soviet’s shown here.
McChrystal’s first move in implementing his pacification strategy was to invade Marjah (which is in the western part of the shaded area) in mid February. The aim of this operation was a variation of Marshall Lyautey’s ink spot theory: namely to clear the Taliban out of Marjah, secure the area, and prevent the return of the Taliban. Success in this operation would set the stage spreading the area of pacification by clearing the Taliban out of the more populated city of Qandahar. And so, moving from west to east along Alexander’s (and the Soviet’s) route, the ink spot would spread to Qandahar in the eastern part of the arc.
Without being critical, I note that neither Porter nor his sources mention the role of Afghan army and police forces in the unravelling of McChrystal’s plan. Porter is certainly aware of these limitations, having written several important reports on this subject. Nevertheless, the implication of the Taliban re-infiltration of the Marjah region is clear: the Afghan security forces in the region are either insufficient or ineffective (or both) to perform their job of protecting the people by permanently cleansing the area of Taliban.
The inability to spread the “ink spot” McChrystal tried to insert with the Marjah offensive has its roots in the central flaw highlighted last September in my critique of McChrystal’s escalation plan, which was submitted to President Obama last summer. This inability also means that US forces will be needed to provide security to the Marjah region, if McChrystal sticks to his strategic aim. This requirement, which would have been easily foreseen, had McChrystal presented Mr. Obama with a straightforward assessment of the very limited capabilities of the Afghan security forces, will now result in our forces being spread out to protect this region, assuming we want to protect the Marjah “ink spot.” The deployment of US pacification troops will probably take the form of an array of strong points and outposts, backed up with quick reaction reinforcements, kept on alert in nearby bases, together with airpower.
If our troops are being deployed this way, they will be unavailable for the upcoming Qandahar offensive. Moreover, they will become vulnerable to being attacked piecemeal in a series of irregular, but frequent hit and run attacks on bases and supply routes. This kind of rope-a-dope strategy will keep our troops on edge and put them under continual mental and physical stress — and they will be vulnerable to being ground down much like the British troops were last summer. The continuing pressure will naturally increase the jumpiness of our soldiers and marines and, if past is prologue, will likely increase their trigger-happiness, including more calls for artillery and air support. More firepower means more civilian deaths in the “pacified” region, and the rising bloodshed will play into the Taliban’s hands by alienating the hearts and minds of local population we claim to be protecting, a process which is already in progress.
This hydra of emerging pressures, which is probably just beginning to be appreciated, is probably why the looming offensive to secure Qandahar that McChrystal was broadcasting in April is now being scaled back in its aims.
Later this summer, as these problems become more apparent and American mid-term elections loom, we can expect to be subjected to a unseemly spectacle finger pointing and a search for scapegoats. In the end, the debacle will be fault of Obama and by extension the Democrat’s, because the President ignored Sun Tzu’s timeless wisdom, when he approved McChrystal’s fatally flawed plan, despite the cabled warnings of retired Army general Karl Eikenberry, his ambassador to Afghanistan.
Franklin “Chuck” Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon. He currently lives on a sailboat in the Mediterranean and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org