Strategic Intelligence Summary for 15 February 2018

Strategic Intelligence contains intelligence reporting on the state of global security and instability, geostrategic issues affecting the United States, pre-war indicators, and assessments on the current risk of war. This report is available each week for Strategic Intelligence subscribers.


In this Strategic Intelligence Summary: (4,990 words)

  • Hackers targeting thousands of government websites to mine Cryptocurrencies
  • Egypt launches anti-terrorism operation in the Sinai
  • Venezuelans are so poor they’re getting rid of their children
  • China’s J-20 stealth fighter enters service; poses serious challenge to American planes
  • Israel using social media to ‘combat’ Hezbollah, Iranian propaganda war
  • Iran displays nuclear-capable, domestically produced ballistic missiles
  • Syria continues to be the most likely conflict zone for the U.S., NATO and Russia
  • Iranian, Hezbollah threat to Israel rising
  • ‘Decision time’ coming on North Korea: U.S. intel chief
  • Has America already lost the battle for the South China Sea?
  • House Homeland Security committee hearing on Border Security and Agent/Officer perspectives

In Focus: The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea have led to a temporary decrease in tension on the peninsula, but as U.S. intelligence officials are well aware, it is just temporary. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has shown no signs he is backing off development of nuclear weapons. The Trump administration has signaled a willingness to open dialogue, but that’s looking like a last resort, especially if Pyongyang begins missile and/or nuclear tests after the Olympics are over, which experts think is likely. Meanwhile, Syria continues to be the place where the U.S. and Russia face the greatest danger of direct conflict, especially after American-led forces killed at least 100 mercenaries recently that were very likely sent and paid by Moscow. Some believe China may have already ‘taken over’ the South China Sea because they don’t believe the U.S. has the will or wherewithal to oppose Beijing at the end of the day, as Iran and Syria provoked a nasty Israeli response that could prove to be the spark igniting yet another war in the region.

As Venezuela continues its heart-breaking and wholly avoidable descent into economic chaos, there are also some eye-opening details in this week’s summary about the state of the U.S.-Mexico border that are little-discussed but often over-politicized outside the halls of Congress.  Thank you for subscribing and enjoy this week’s Strategic Intelligence Summary. — JD


Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the new indicators of disruptive events that could cause global or regional instability?

PIR2: What are the latest military and security developments exhibited by the U.S. and their peer and near-peer adversaries?

PIR3: What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four flashpoints? (North Korea, China, Russia, Iran/Israel/Middle East)

PIR4: What is the current security situation along the U.S.-Mexico border and south of the border?


PIR1: What are the new indicators of disruptive events that could cause global or regional instability?

Hackers targeting thousands of government websites to mine Cryptocurrencies

In the ‘old days’ of hacking, individuals would target government websites for defacement, replacing content with propaganda or other politically motivated messaging. But now hackers are injecting scripts into sites to mine cryptocurrencies. Thousands of government websites around the world have been found to be infected with a specific code/script that secretly forces visitors’ computers to mine cryptocurrency for attackers. Some 4,000 sites in all have been found to be infected so far. They include those belonging to UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the Student Loan Company, and data protection watchdog Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Queensland legislation, as well as the US government’s court system. [source] Analysis: Cryptocurrency just seems to have energized the hacking world as never before. After all, it really just exists in the virtual world, and billions have already been stolen/hacked from various exchanges. We expect this activity to increase as cryptocurrencies grow in prevalence and value.

Egypt launches anti-terrorism operation in the Sinai

The Egyptian military has launched what officials are calling a “comprehensive” security operation aimed at “terrorists and criminal elements” throughout the country. According to a military spokesman, Col. Tamer Raifai, the plan is to eliminate the presence of armed organizations in the Sinai Peninsula, parts of the Nile River Delta, and the Western Desert. “Law enforcement forces began this morning implementing the plan of comprehensive confrontation against the terrorist and criminal elements and organizations in the north and central Sinai and other areas in the Delta of Egypt and the desert back in the west of the Nile Valley,” he said in an ‘urgent’ televised statement. “This comes in addition to training and other operations on all strategic directions in order to tighten control of the ports of the Egyptian state.” Meantime, the army has ordered Egyptian hospitals to be on high alert — which entails preparing extra beds and adding medical personnel — to deal with ‘emergencies.’ [source] Analysis: Some believe that this operation is tied to next month’s elections; President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stands for reelection and may be launching this as a means of shoring up support and projecting himself as a strong leader well-prepared to do what it takes to ensure Egyptian security.

Venezuelans are so poor they’re getting rid of their children

As the administration of President Nicolas Maduro continues to double-down on failed socialist economic policies, Venezuela continues to descend into economic and social chaos. Ordinary citizens are now becoming so hard-up they’re abandoning their children at state-run orphanages — that is, when they’re not simply dropping them off somewhere in public with notes begging someone else to feed them. “People can’t find food,” Magdelis Salazar, a social worker, told an American journalist. “They can’t feed their children. They are giving them up not because they don’t love them but because they do.” Said one mother interviewed: “You don’t know what it’s like to see your children go hungry. You have no idea. I feel like I’m responsible like I’ve failed them. But I’ve tried everything. There is no work, and they just keep getting thinner.” [source] Analysis: The country’s current disaster began during the previous administration of the late Hugo Chavez, who won election by promising the people what every Marxist/socialist leader does: A bigger piece of the pie, which consists of the government taking over the private sector and redistributing the spoils — until there are no more companies to loot and no more spoils to distribute. It’s just a matter of time before the economic situation in Venezuela leads to political revolution, possibly led by the military.


PIR2: What are the latest military and security developments exhibited by the U.S. and their peer and near-peer adversaries? 

China’s J-20 stealth fighter enters service; poses serious challenge to American planes

The Chinese air force’s new stealth fighter, the J-20, has entered combat service and represents and new, substantial challenge to American air superiority in any contested region. A spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, Shen Jinke, told Chinese media that deployment of the J-20 to frontline combat units would “help the air force better shoulder the sacred mission of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.” The spokesman added that the air force was looking to substantially upgrade its capabilities to operate on all fronts to control, contain, and win a war. The plane officially entered service last fall and was being put through testing since, including nine days of drills with less-advanced J-16 and J-10C fighters in January. [source] Analysis: Pay particular attention to PLAAF spokesman Shen’s comment about “safeguarding…territorial integrity,” because it directly implies that the J-20 will be one of China’s advanced air, sea, and land weapons systems it will deploy to defend its outsized claims to practically all of the South China Sea. As to the capabilities of the plane itself, the U.S. Naval Institute assesses that it is a serious threat to American aircraft, warships and bases, especially if China manages to put a substantial number of them into service; so far, only about 20 have reportedly been built. According to the Defense Department, China views stealth fighter technology as transformational for its air force, from “a predominantly territorial force to one capable of conducting both offensive and defensive operations.” The Center for Strategic and International Studies views the J-20 as able to provide the PLAAF with “a variety of previously unavailable air combat operations” while enhancing its “capability to project power.” Translation: This is a very capable plane.

Israel using social media to ‘combat’ Hezbollah, Iranian propaganda war

In addition to combating Arab-aligned enemies in conventional ways, the Israel Defense Force has recently begun waging information warfare against the forces of Hezbollah, Iran, and others presenting challenges to the Jewish State. “Social media is the new battlefield; we have to be there and be creative,” said IDF Maj. Maj. Avichay Adraee, who is leading the effort. According to one report: “Adraee entered his position just as dramatic changes were beginning to unfold in the media world. During 2006, he would mostly give interviews to Arab television channels or newspapers surrounding major events such as the kidnapping of Corp. Gilad Shalit by Hamas in June, or the Second Lebanon War in July and August. But under his command, the Arabic desk of the IDF spokesman also established a strong presence on social media. ‘The idea was to use social media not only to disseminate press releases but also to generate discourse among specific target audiences,’ he said. ‘We are looking to influence, not just do PR.’” [source] Analysis: The Israelis know they regularly lose the public relations war throughout the Middle East, not necessarily because anti-Israel propaganda is effective but because it fits pre-conceived narratives already embraced by the country’s enemies. The IDF has figured out the best ‘offensive’ against this kind of information warfare is to meet the enemy head-on in the same domain. It’s effective.

Iran displays nuclear-capable, domestically produced ballistic missiles

In a recent large military parade the Iranian military showcased some new, locally-built ballistic missiles that appear to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. According to several experts who studied the missiles, they appear similar to North Korean designs; Pyongyang has been known to sell/share its missile technology with Iran. The missiles are estimated to have the range to strike Israel from inside Iran, which raises the stakes in any potential future conflict, even if the missiles don’t carry nuclear warheads. [source] Analysis: The display carries a dual message. The first one is aimed at dissidents in the country who continue to agitate for political and social change; it means the hardliners currently in charge of the government have the power to quash domestic opposition. The second is clearly aimed at Israel and came within a day of the IDF downing an Iranian drone in Israeli airspace and then striking Iranian military positions inside Syria.


 

PIR3: What is the current situation report and risk of war in each of the four? (North Korea, China, Russia, Iran/Israel/Middle East)

NATO-Russia:

Syria continues to be the most likely conflict zone for the U.S., NATO and Russia

As we noted on The Watchfloor [source] this week, that hundreds of fighters, including Russian mercenaries, were killed in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region. Russian sources told American media that the fighters were mercenaries fighting on behalf of Syria and were not part of the Russian military. However, if true, the 200-plus deaths would be the deadliest clash between the former foes since the Cold War.

U.S. military officials put the official death toll at around 100, with 200-300 wounded. American media noted further: “The Russian assault may have been a rogue operation, underscoring the complexity of a conflict that started as a domestic crackdown only to morph into a proxy war involving Islamic extremists, stateless Kurds and regional powers Iran, Turkey and now Israel. Russia’s military said it had nothing to do with the attack and the U.S. accepted the claim. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the whole thing “perplexing,” but provided no further details.” [source]

Thus far the Russian government has not acknowledged the deaths, falling back on a boilerplate response that it only tracks casualties that occur in the country’s officially-recognized military.

Various reports claimed that the mercs were paid by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that doesn’t seem likely: A Juley 2017 assessment of the Syrian government’s assets and the massive level of destruction throughout the country has left the Assad government debt-ridden and broke, with few sources of income. [source] So that means the money to pay hundreds of mercenaries would have had to come from a source — like a nation-state — with means.

Like Russia.

Creating ‘foreign legions’ isn’t a new concept; nations have been funding mercenary armies to do their bidding for centuries. Mercenaries give governments lots of latitude and flexibility in terms of achieving policy objectives, but more than anything mercenary forces give governments deniability along with a cloak of secrecy. As for Russia specifically, remember that Moscow sent “little green men” to annex the Crimea, and while it is generally believed those were regular Russian troops, it’s entirely possible that mercenaries were used as well. And Russia is definitely using mercs in Ukraine. [source]

Outlook: Some analyses of this failed raid have already noted that it is the first documented clash between former Cold War rivals — most likely — since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. [source] It’s not likely to be the last, especially if the Putin regime continues to maintain and support mercenary forces in Syria, which is likely given the depleted condition of the regular Syrian army. [source]

Meanwhile, the Trump administration doesn’t seem interested in pulling American forces out of Syria anytime soon — which means Russian mercenaries and U.S. forces are more likely to exchange fire again in the near future, not less likely.

The thing to remember is that the alleged common U.S.-Russian enemy, the Islamic State, is essentially defeated, despite the fact that diplomatic and military officials on both sides like to claim otherwise. So that means Washington and Moscow are hanging around in Syria for other reasons each has determined is strategically necessary. For Russia it is to protect its Black Sea base at Tartus, as well as its interest in ensuring that the Assad regime remains intact. For the U.S. it is preventing ISIS from filling another void and assisting the Israelis in preventing Iran and Hezbollah to gain substantial footholds in which to spread influence throughout the region.

What will Russia do now that it’s mercenary force has suffered a major defeat — double down or withdraw it? Was the attack against the U.S.-allied position really just a ‘rogue’ incident or was it conducted with Moscow’s blessing (which seems more likely if Moscow’s paying their salaries)? Will Moscow send the force back for another go-round, in which American forces could be killed, thus further embroiling the U.S. and Russia in conflict, proxy and otherwise?

And finally, if both sides up the ante in Syria, what role will NATO countries play, given the Alliance’s mutual aid provision?

Middle East: 

Iranian, Hezbollah threat to Israel rising

Last week the Israeli military published a short video showing one of its attack helicopters intercepting and destroying an Iranian drone that had entered Israeli airspace, as well as the destruction of the Iranian control vehicle just inside Syria that was allegedly guiding the drone.

The Israelis did not stop with the drone and its control vehicle. The incursion into Israeli airspace — which Syria and Iran both denied — led to more than a dozen Israeli airstrikes against Syrian government and Iranian military bases and assets inside Syria. Israeli fighter/bombers were met by Syria air defense units, which managed to down at least one plane.

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire; it crashed and was completely destroyed with the pilots hospitalized with moderate-to-severe injuries. “This is the beginning of a new strategic era which puts an end to the violation of Syrian airspace and territory,” Iranian proxy group Hezbollah said in a statement published by Lebanese media.

In all, the Israel Defense Force said in a statement that at least 12 sites were hit “including aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria.”

In an interview, Iranian Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami would not initially confirm that Israel had destroyed one of Tehran’s drones “because Israelis are liars.” But oddly, he went on to warn that Iran allegedly has the capability to destroy all U.S. Army bases in the region and “bring hell upon the Zionist [Jewish] regime.”

Meanwhile, IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that his government was holding Iran directly responsible for the drone incursion. “This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory. Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn’t know how it will end. Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price.” [source]

Following the strikes, Israeli military and political leaders issued a series of warnings, including full-scale war against Iranian and Syrian forces inside Syria. An IDF statement noted: “Iran and Syria are playing with fire. The IDF acts with determination against the attempt of the Iranian-Syrian attack and the violation of Israeli sovereignty. The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and will continue to act as necessary.” [source]

Outlook: Following the incursion and the downing of the Israeli jet, PM Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a message to his Cabinet and the Israeli people: “We inflicted … a heavy blow to Iranian and Syrian forces. We made clear to everyone that our rules of engagement will not change in any way. We will continue to harm anyone who tries to harm us. This was our policy and this will remain our policy.”

Netanyahu was merely restating what has long been Israeli intentions with regard to the increasing Iranian and Hezbollah presence in Syria and Lebanon, which is that Jerusalem will never tolerate a substantial military presence by either on its borders. “Iran wants to establish a forward operating base in Syria whose goal is attacking Israel. We will not allow it. We will not allow Israeli citizens to be threatened. We will not allow Iran to threaten the stability of the entire region,” Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, incoming chief of the IDF’s Northern Command, told local media. “We are not inclined toward escalation, but we have high-level capabilities and we will not hesitate to use them.” [source]

The Israeli strikes following the infiltration of the Iranian drone were designed to be disproportionate because they were meant to send a clear signal to Tehran that escalation of hostilities or attempts to change the political and military equation will not be tolerated.

Despite Iranian rhetoric, it’s clear that Tehran got the message; few analysts see the conflict escalating at this point simply because Iran, Hezbollah and Syria do not possess the combat power to defeat the Jewish state.

But clearly the Iranians and Syrians — directly and through various proxy forces — are testing Israeli resolve. In order to keep the situation from escalating further, Israel will need to continue responding heavily and disproportionately in order to keep sending the message that escalation is not something Iran and Syria can win, but also that escalation on any level brings a heavy cost.

As the battle against anti-regime rebels inside Syria winds down, expect Iran and Hezbollah to continue hardening their positions inside Syria and Lebanon in anticipation of attacking Israel. 

North Korea:

‘Decision time’ coming on North Korea: U.S. intel chief

As the world watches a ‘new unity’ between the Koreas during the ongoing Olympic Games in South Korea, the Trump administration has continued to weigh its options regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Pyongyang presents “a potentially existential” threat to the United States and is likely to conduct more weapons tests this year, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee this week during open session. “Decision time is becoming ever closer in terms of how we respond to this. Our goal is a peaceful settlement. We are using maximum pressure on North Korea in various ways.”

Coats’ warning comes on the heels of an earlier one from CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who told American lawmakers that North Korea may be only “a handful of months” away from being able to attack the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile. During the Senate hearing, Pompeo noted further that Pyongyang has not given U.S. intelligence officials any reason to believe that “there’s any strategic change” in Kim Jong-un’s quest for a nuclear weapons capability.

Coats added: “In the wake of accelerated missile testing since 2016, North Korea is likely to press ahead with more tests in 2018, and its Foreign Minister said that Kim (Jong Un) may be considering conducting an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean.” [source]

Separately, American media reported that North Korea’s ballistic missile threat has matured to the point where additional U.S.-based missile defense assets are required for Hawaii and the West Coast. Adm. Harry Harris, head of PACOM, told lawmakers that Kim Jong Un had made “rapid and comprehensive improvement” in his missile and nuclear programs over the last year, posing an unprecedented threat to the United States and its allies.

“While some in the U.S. might dispute both the reliability and quantity of the North’s strategic weapons, it is indisputable that Kim is rapidly closing the gap between rhetoric and capability,” Harris told members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Harris, who has been nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Australia, said that South Korea and Japan had been “living under the shadow” of North Korea’s threats for years. “Now the shadow looms over the American homeland,” he said. [source]

At the same time, the Trump administration appears to be making one last attempt to solve issues diplomatically. Administration officials have said they are open to preliminary talks with North Korea; this is a change from the administration’s previous position of no talks before Pyongyang took concrete steps towards abandoning its nuclear weapons program. South Korean officials hailed the change of heart as a breakthrough, but Trump administration officials were more guarded, saying only that talks were possible, not full-fledged negotiations. [source]

Outlook: The key component to this week’s North Korea SITREP was Pompeo’s statement to Congress that there are no indications as of yet that Kim Jong-un is abandoning his quest for nuclear weapons. That means there is not likely any shift in the Trump administration’s stance that Washington won’t permit Pyongyang to develop and deploy a functional nuclear threat.

The Olympics are just a distraction, one in which Kim is using to maximum propaganda effect, helped in no small part by major American media outlets who have praised his ‘outreach’ effort. It’s a ruse meant to buy political goodwill with American, South Korean and Japanese audiences and in turn buy more time to develop his nuclear program.

Coats noted that Kim is very likely to stage more missile tests this year. When he does, his actions will speak louder than his propaganda. Expect tensions to rise again on the Korean peninsula.

South China Sea:

Has America already lost the battle for the South China Sea?

Even as U.S. political and military leaders make regular visits to America’s Asian allies, those allies increasingly believe that Washington is losing control over the post-World War II international order it helped establish to China. This perception is causing U.S. allies in the South China Sea region to seriously reconsider their relationships with Washington and Beijing, even as some of them add more capability to their respective militaries.

America’s “era of primacy” in Asia “is close to an end. In fact, the U.S. strategic position is eroding so quickly that even sharing the region with China isn’t really a valid option any longer, argues Hugh White, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. America’s allies in Southeast Asia and Australia say they don’t want to choose between the U.S. and China, but underneath those platitudes, nobody in the region wants to make an enemy of Beijing. All the more so because officials increasingly doubt the U.S. will be there in the end, according to White.”

While both nations are economic behemoths and neither would fare well should an ‘economic war’ break out, White and other analysts believe that if there were ever a direct confrontation over, say, South China Sea claims, America would ‘blink’ first because, ultimately, they believe the region is far less important to the United States than its Chinese rival. [source]

Outlook: White makes it clear he has no faith in President Trump to reverse the trend he sees of a loss of American influence in Asia. I’m assuming he means, in part, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Accords, though I don’t know for certain that’s what he is referring to.

And clearly, China is a rising power that, under President Xi Jinping, will seek to exert far greater influence throughout Asia and the world as the country grows more powerful militarily and economically.

But I think White, like many U.S. politicians, academics and liberal worldview foreign policy wonks get Trump wrong in believing he will become ‘the president who lost Asia.’ Trump’s withdrawal from those trade-and-climate pacts had little to do with abdicating U.S. global leadership and more to do with extricating the American economy and the American people from “really bad” deals that provided much more benefit to the other signatories.

There is also the emphasis the Trump administration is placing on reassuring our allies in the region the United States has no intentions of abandoning the region or abdicating our security responsibilities.

Finally, I believe Trump’s push to reinvigorate the U.S. military — including dramatically growing the Navy, which is vital to defending our claims in the South China Sea against a Chinese navy much closer to home — does not comport with analyses that conclude we’re prepared to abandon our global position, anywhere.

Trump will contest any part of the world where American vital interests rest, and that includes Asia in particular, because it is the greatest emerging market in the world and holds much potential for the American economy and U.S. growth. China ignores this reality at its peril. — JD

PIR4: What is the current security situation along the U.S.-Mexico border and south of the border?

House Homeland Security committee hearing on Border Security and Agent/Officer perspectives

In early January the House Homeland Security Committee met to discuss security along U.S. borders and maritime security, to include perspectives from line officers and agents with the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and others. Below are some relevant statements and observations from the proceedings:

— Agents along the U.S.-Southwest border, especially, are regularly attacked and assaulted, often from beyond the border. Many suffer gruesome, debilitating wounds. These attacks are rising in frequency, not falling. That’s because there is an increase in the number of criminal aliens attempting to breach the border who would rather resist arrest than face jail. Congress should do more to punish those who assault agents.

— For more adequate border security more agents are needed. Currently a dearth of agents is contributing to a growing national and economic security gap. CBP is “critically understaffed,” falling below its congressionally-mandated personnel levels by thousands. CBP and BP are losing more personnel every month than they are putting in the field. Retention levels are unacceptable; hiring new agents takes far too long (292 days on average). Committee Chairwoman Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) has made recommendations to quicken the hiring pace, including polygraph waivers for most separating military members as well as current federal, state and local law enforcement personnel who apply.

— In addition to additional personnel and physical barriers, border agents and the U.S. Coast Guard also need modern assets to interdict drug and human smugglers on land and at sea.

— Persons on U.S. terrorism watch lists are more frequently encountered by border agents along the U.S.-Canadian border than the U.S.-Mexico border. Most also present at ports of entry rather than attempt to physically cross into the country.

— Until the U.S. better secures its borders, violations of territorial sovereignty and immigration laws will continue to dominate the national debate, as well as endanger communities and national security. Politicizing border security prevents solutions.

— 40-60 percent of illegal border crossers are apprehended; the percentage drops “exponentially” when it comes to drug smuggling.

— A ‘secure border’ is achieved when it becomes too difficult for criminal cartels to turn a profit and the risks outweigh the rewards.

— Foreign criminal cartels know that U.S. border enforcement is reactive, not proactive, so it is easy for them to remain a step ahead of U.S. law enforcement efforts.

— The president’s pledge to enforce immigration laws sent illegal border crossings plunging, but as rates (and smuggling profits) went down, assaults on federal border agents climbed 76 percent. The current elevated level of violence against agents has become the new normal.

— Agent retention is vital to the border security mission; agents work in unforgiving environments, long hours, and in communities that lack basic healthcare and other services — all of which harm retention. Border Patrol agents also experience a large pay disparity with other federal law enforcement agencies.

— Border agents’ attrition rate of 6 percent is nearly twice that of 3.2 percent for all other federal law enforcement agencies.

— The polygraph is the biggest impediment to new-agent hiring; Border Patrol fails two of every three candidates in the polygraph. Part of the problem is applicants are treated like criminal suspects.

— Building new fencing or a wall without adding sufficient manpower is a waste of taxpayer dollars and not prudent.

— Securing ports of entry is just as vital to border security as securing borders between ports of entry. Manpower needed for that mission.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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