The Best Defense

Underestimating the enemy

Turns out that Iraq insurgents were able to watch live feeds from American drone aircraft. Reminds me of Japanese hubris about their codes during World War II.

If anything, I think the enemy, being smaller and less bureaucratic, tends to be more technologically agile than us. I remember after the Anaconda battle in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 seeing solar collectors in an al Qaeda command and control bunker high atop "Roberts Ridge." From the wires I could see it looked to me like they used it to power their communications. (I didn't want to climb down into it because I was worried it was boobytrapped, and also because there were unused RPGs and all sorts of other stuff cluttering the ground.) Anyway, solar power sure beats carry hauling batteries up the pathways along those 10,000-foot-high razorback ridges. 

Deb Smith/U.S. Air Force/Getty Images

The Best Defense

Mexico: Just below the level of war?

The Mexican navy, operating far inland, whacked a major drug lord. (Apparently the navy has good intelligence and is less corrupt than other security forces.) I think the situation in Mexico is shaping up as something less than a war but more than a criminal action. What to call it? Given Mexico's location, this should be of more than academic interest to the United States government and its military. My CNAS colleague and mentor Bob Killebrew is doing a study on the merger of crime and terrorism in Mexico and other western hemisphere nations.

Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images