UncategorizedModern Warfare Lessons Learned, Kyiv Ukraine, April 2024, Retired US Army Special Forces LTC Perry Blackburn

2024-05-01by Sun Tzu0

Retired US Army LTC Perry Blackburn, reflecting on his experiences in Afghanistan and current efforts in Ukraine, emphasizes the power of grassroots action and networking in effecting change. He discusses the founding of AFGFree.org to aid Afghan partners and stresses the role of individuals over government in making a difference. Addressing subversive activity, he highlights the importance of messaging and information operations to sway public opinion and leverage grassroots support. Blackburn also identifies low technology warfare, particularly drones, as a significant threat requiring urgent attention and compares it to past challenges like improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He emphasizes the need for innovative solutions to protect soldiers and underscores the impact of individuals in shaping military strategies.

Perry Blackburn Modern Warfare Lessons Learned

You just hit the theme of today. And that is Us. Don’t listen to the politicians. Don’t listen to the mainstream media. Look around and see what you have right here today. This is happening all over Ukraine. It’s people like us that are getting together that are affect change. We are making the change.

I did not know you guys were doing the same thing that I’m doing. So I founded  AFGFree.org a nonprofit organization in 2021 to help our Afghan partners that we left behind. And part of that was the evacuation of Afghanis, American citizens, and our translators. And we were pretty success at that. As a people, as a network of folks. Not as a government. A government failed us in Afghanistan in 2021.

But the people made the difference.

And today, sitting here, alright, absolutely. Just listening to all the stories before we came on, believe that’s what’s gonna make the difference here in Ukraine. Because we are here, my network is here, we are doing the same thing, We feed people in occupied areas of Ukraine and we also provide medical supplies and we help train how nonprofits work so that we can help people and you have to network.

And all the folks that are out there right now that I see that are streaming. If there’s anything that you’re gonna get out of today, look, look across this network right now and start connecting with each other because that’s the that’s the difference maker.

There’s one thing I learned. Not being in the military. But being in this space, nonprofit. It’s answer the phone. Answer a text message. You never know. Who is contacting you? Who needs help, or who can help you?

Who can you leverage to help you in this space?

Who can you talk to, to provide the help of one person and that one person will make a difference?

It’s been incredible in my life. In 2021, I had US senators. Governors and Congress people. Who found my number on LinkedIn? Cause I put on LinkedIn who I am and my phone number to everybody and if you need help call me and I will do whatever I can to help you.

And they called me to help me get their people out because they couldn’t do it. That’s the politicians. That’s not us. Who we are, are difference makers.

Who we are, People that are willing to sit across the table like we are right now. Talk with each other. Help each other and make each other better.

I was talking to some nonprofit folks the other day. About the difference between US and NGO’s. Nonprofits will go where the danger is at. And I work with Ukrainians here to make that happen. NGO’s are not going to do what we do.

But our nonprofits will sharpen each other’s iron. Sharpens iron. We will sharpen each other and make each other better.

And hearing you talk about the efforts of feeding 50,000 people and the efforts that we have feeding people in Ukraine. What an incredible investment we have. Together for Ukraine.

It’s like we’ve never seen before.

And it’s not just veterans.

We socialize this. On different social networks, people join all the time and they do it for free. Nobody’s getting paid.

There’s nobody in my nonprofit organization that gets a penny. Nobody paid me, the governor. Nobody paid Mike to be here. It’s not about money. Never has been.

It’s about how we can help each other, how we can help you.

Why is it important to me? I tell you why it’s important to me.

Not only do I have a touch point, not only do I know people in Ukraine. But it’s the moral right of what we’re doing.

At some point in time in your life. If you learn anything. You gotta be on the right side of morality.

You cannot sit on the fence.

You cannot play both sides.

You have to make a decision and when you decide the moral right, you gotta be all in. Absolutely all in and do whatever you can, whatever your experience level is, and not be afraid to help out and not be afraid to contact somebody, which is another great lesson learned.

Do not be afraid to talk to people that you think are in higher places.

Nobody is doing more for you in this country than you are.

Nobody. Don’t be afraid to contact people that you think are in higher places and talk to them and tell them and move them in the right direction.

Just like back in the States. I know you guys are hearing, you know about the states, the politicians and you know it’s become political about whether or not how much aid we’re gonna support Ukraine with the. We contact our Congress people and our senators. We’re not afraid to talk.

Call them and talk to them about the investment and why it’s morally important to invest in Ukraine and make a difference the humanitarian effort that is required. That they need to be on the right side of morality. This we can learn. This we can do together. And it all starts with this right here, networking and helping each other out. So I appreciate the opportunity to be here. I I think that we’re going to learn a lot from each other and do not be afraid to contact each other during this event and afterwards so we can continue moving forward with helping Ukraine.

Regarding subversive activity.

When you when you talk about full scale operations. You really are talking about also the irregular operations, actions and activities of bad actors. And how those bad actors can move or sway the population opinion. In a certain area. We work, we’re not only seeing it here in in in Ukraine, but you just look across the world of what’s going on really since October 7th when the Palestinians came over to Israel and how that narrative changed from, you know, an aggressive activity that was irregular from the Palestinians that initially everyone was looking at the Israelis and certainly had seventy form to where that.

Change to the have something for the Palestinians, right. So you take that and you look at what we’re doing here. What’s going on here with the disparate organizations that may be bad actors? And particularly your adversary.

The people that you’re fighting. And I would say that. Again, bringing it down to the grassroots, the People – you really have to start leveraging the people in Russia. And that’s gonna be the change to me that’s gonna affect. A certain level of change.

They, those folks, the people in Russia have the same concerns with their military persons that are over here that you have with your people.

How do you leverage them? To then. Sway their government to stop. The actions and activities that they’re doing in Ukraine, because it starts from the grassroots level, it starts from the people. So you have to, you have to at all cost push your narrative and your messages to the people. People again are gonna affect the change.

We’ve seen it here in Ukraine from 2022 to now that the difference in the population. And how we are affected by different things that happened in Ukraine. Initially when the war started, we heard the “Sirenes.” You know, everybody rushed to.

Now, as things have progressed, we don’t. Right.

So there’s a cyclical change that occurred among the population, how that happens and how we work with that to help sway our adversary to our side is exactly what I’m talking about with these disparate groups to get them in support of you guys.

The second thing is I’d say and it goes along with what Mike said. Everybody has a bad kind of something bad about them that they hear each person individual human is human nature.

Whatever that is that we think that that the that the world looks at Ukraine as either an isolationist, we gotta change that message. And I think there is that.

I think that the world now looks at this is an isolated incident and everybody’s moving on with their lives. Right?

You’re not moving on with your life you’re living with it every day. We’re not moving on because we’re helping it every day.

We’ve got an also take that message to the rest of the world, particularly in Europe.

That message you that we’re not isolated. This event is not an isolated event. This event could go global really quick.

Initially a lot of the European nations were afraid of that. They’ve now become so used to this happening, and nobody’s targeting that information that they still is a potential global threat that they’re not concerned with it. It’s an isolated event.

This is not isolated. We gotta understand that.

So there’s a lot of different ways of messaging and information operations that certainly we need to start attacking and this allowed to do. I get it, but it’s persistent. You gotta persistently do this, and we’ve over however long it takes to win this effort.

And it starts with us too, on the ground, with the grassroots. Talking to people, Talking to people on social media.

Letting them know. Letting me know that, you know, I got my brother here right next to me, you know, lost a leg. They need to know that there’s heroes like this that are out there fighting for their country. This cannot be an isolated event that nobody knows about.

You know, we talked with some Ukrainians there at Moshchun. We tried to talk about the tactical level and then we had some discussions about operational, strategic level stuff but. And governmental governments and how this all is working out. And I mean we’re solving the world’s problems you know on the battlefield kind of thing is and but it kept coming down to one thing. And that’s the people on the ground, the tactics that are used on the ground, and they haven’t changed much. And I think we get caught up in the big in military industrial complex and the big ticket items of warfare. MLRS. Artillery Rounds. Big military types of equipment.

But as I’m listening to the soldiers on the ground, I’m listening to the folks. The number one thing that they’re concerned with is low technology warfare. And it’s “Irregular and it’s this drone problem. And I get it. Not only is it is it AA. And and an instrument that causes. It reeks havoc with death and destruction and naming people, but it has a psychological element to it.

Do you hear a drone?

On the battlefield. That psychologically moves people. To react differently and we really don’t have good defense mechanisms against this low tech weapon system.

And you’re really talking about a sensor that’s coming across. Also can carry a payload. Payload mean a bomb or something. And drop that and at the same time provide information on where you’re at without a human having to be there calling in fire.

So this is a game changer. We all understand that. But it appears that our military industrial complex, because it’s not a big ticket item, does not understand this. Is not willing to put forth the effort to figure out how to combat drones.

And it’s affecting the United States of America.

Three of our soldiers were killed in Jordan by a drone who were supposedly we had a defense mechanism. On that FOB, the forward operating base that those soldiers were at. But in reality, we didn’t.

And we still, as a country have not moved forward quick enough to combat that. And I correlate that to the IED’s. That we were faced with in Iraq and only did I invade on horseback with Afghanistan, but I was a part of the invasion force in in Iraq. It’s like it was back-to-back.

And, another low tech instrument warfare was IED improvised explosive devices. That they were literally getting these munitions off the battlefield and you can use them as projectiles that kill soldiers.

That was low tech, low cost. High effect. Activity used by adversary. To kill our main our soldiers. And it got to a point where the mainly like when I say name I mean people were losing limbs just like you have.

It almost went back like we were in the Civil War, like people were losing limbs so quick because of these IED’s, but the people back home in the US didn’t put up with it. They demanded a fix. To the problem with these IED’s. And so the MRAT, which was a a hardened armored vehicle, was designed to protect soldiers.

That’s what’s gonna happen here, too with this low technology drone problem. And it’s  serious enough. It’s as serious as the IED’s are.

It does not take high tech, high cost weapons. To produce a severe psychological or human toll as far as life, limb. And and something sometimes eyesight on the battlefield. So that’s one that was the big thing that kept coming. That conversation today, walking around the battlefield, kept coming back to drones. And how do we combat that, the low technology.

I mean, I look at it Mike. We went to war for over 20 years because a bunch of guys got on an airplane with box cutters. That was low tech and they drove those planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and then what? I’m driving to the ground because of the passengers on that plane made a difference. It was the people again, so. Think we get caught up with this big military complex and big payoff to get items, but at the end of the day? You know, it’s there’s things that affect the soldier on the battlefield that we have to move forward to, to protect them against.

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