South Korea: Too good to omit. South Korea's defense chief dismissed three officers and apologized in public after his troops failed to spot a North Korean soldier defecting to the south across the Demilitarized Zone. No one detected the soldier - even though he scaled barbed wire fences on the South Korean side - until he knocked on the door of frontline South Korean barracks to say he was defecting.
Comment: NightWatch hypothesized that the defector had contacts on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone to facilitate his crossing. That hypothesis is not true, but one might wish it were because the truth is that South Korean soldiers apparently do not maintain a high state of vigilance along the Demilitarized Zone.
One incident does not make a trend, but this is not the first time this has happened. In one incident in the 1990's a woman who worked at the Yongbyong nuclear site managed to walk half the length of North Korea, cross the Demilitarized Zone and walked up to South Korean soldiers.
A couple of points are important. The Demilitarized Zone, supposedly the most heavily mined border in the world, actually is rather easily traversed. Soldiers from both Koreas know the probability of war is low and the costs of high vigilance are high. Demilitarized Zone guards surge on orders, meanwhile they appear to be in regular contact.
The irreducible fact is that the Demilitarized Zone is the only border in the world in which a million armed men face each other without going to war. It is normal. In Korea, that has been the condition for 60 years. The great success of US and allied policy is that such a condition is stable.
That is not what happens when India and Pakistan pit a million armed men against each other, most of the time.
Iran-Hezbollah-Israel: Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi confirmed that an unmanned aerial vehicle recently sent into Israeli airspace by Hezbollah had been developed by Iran, ISNA reported on 15 October.
Comment: An Israeli F-16 fighter shot down the remotely piloted vehicle on 6 October as it flew over the Negev. Israeli news outlets reported the Hezbollah UAV photographed secret Israeli military bases.
Following the Israeli and US lead, every state with a substantial army is developing and using UAVs. And if they are developing and using UAVs, one must assume they also have developed countermeasures.
Libya: Special Comment: For the record. Readers need reassurance that the US uses an inter-agency approach to crisis management all the time every time. All relevant resources are applied to evaluate the situation, limit damage, establish control and stability and restore normality. That is the way national security crises always are managed in Washington. Information flows vertically first and then laterally.
In the 4 decades between 1970 and 2010, there never was a time when an American diplomat was injured by hostile action, an embassy or consulate attacked, an aircraft shot down, a ship attacked, an official attacked or kidnapped or many other lesser incidents, especially when they involved damage to US official persons or property, in which the J3 and J2 in the Pentagon failed to set up a crisis action team or group. Similar teams or cells would be created in the responsible military commands and every agency involved in national security affairs.
During a crisis, all crisis action teams issue situation updates to the national command authority and to each other, often hourly at first. All are in communications with each other. The White House Situation Room is always in the loop, if not the real time crisis management clearing house, for all reporting on the crisis, in support of the National Security Council staff and the inter agency crisis management process.
An attack on an ambassador is an attack on the United States and the US national security enterprise always takes that as its starting point for crisis management. Every agency is involved plus the military commands, not just State Department, for example.
News coverage of the Benghazi attack does not reflect the basics of US national security crisis management practice nor the diligence and competence of the people who make it work and would have been on duty on 9-11-2012.
End of NightWatch for 15 October.
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