by Sam Culper
A large part of what made fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq so difficult is (just one part of a laundry list) that the enemy observes and adapts. After the New York Times published the article that US Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) was picking up bin Laden’s and al-Qaida’s satellite phone calls, the organization started using couriers. We lost that capability and therefore a very large advantage in collecting information and targeting senior leadership.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) evolved from simple command-detonated road side bombs to radio/remotely-controlled, victim-initiated, and infrared-triggered IEDs (to name a few). There were daisy chains, offset command wires, offset battery packs, varying radio frequencies, low metallic pressure plates – Lord, the list goes on and on. Every time we identified what was going on, the enemy would change up what they were doing. For each Coalition Force (CF) countermeasure, there was an equal and opposite reaction, so to speak. They were tricky sons of bitches and they killed a lot of Americans.
But that’s the nature of any enemy who sticks around. One of my all-time heroes, Jack Welch, said, “If change is happening faster on the outside faster than on the inside, then the end is in sight.” That goes for any adversary, but it goes doubly for you when you’re at any disadvantage. (He also advised, “Change before you have to”).