Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Loose lips sink ships

In From the Cold raises a delicate but important question.

Too Much Chatter

But did recent disclosures about the bin Laden raid give the Taliban an edge in downing that Chinook? So far, a definitive link hasn't been established. Indeed, our enemies in Afghanistan have been observing our special forces for almost a decade, and they've clearly learned a great deal about our tactics and techniques. We also know that Taliban gunners routinely attempt to engage our helicopters with RPGs, their preferred weapon-of-choice. Unfortunately, the enemy gets lucky once in a while, with deadly consequences for our troops.

Still, we can't completely dismiss the notion that the recent focus on special ops missions has at least affirmed our operational tendencies for enemy planners. For example, The New Yorker piece explains the use of quick reaction forces (QRFs) to supplement the primary team, providing additional airlift and fire support as necessary. When one of the HH-60s crashed while attempting to insert SEALs inside bin Laden's compound on 1 May, a Chinook from the QRF was quickly dispatched to pick up the operators and the chopper crew, once the raid was complete.

There is plenty of evidence that our enemies use open source intelligence when they plan operations. (See two examples here and here.) The attack on FOB Chapman in December 2009 demonstrated that even al Qaeda gangs in remote Waziristan have fairly sophisticated intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities.

The never-ending victory lap for taking out bin Laden has put much once secret information into the public record. This puts our forces at risk.

It is time for it to stop.

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