The following interview with Raymond Marciano [1], a Certified Protection Professional, former Counter Terrorism Instructor, Security Operations Manager for the U.S. Army and owner of Marciano Security Management Solutions was carried out on July 18, 2012 by Patrick Renz and Frauke Heidemann in Van Buren, Arkansas, U.S. The main topics of the interview were first of all his personal background with the army, then Afghanistan, Maritime Security and then the Role of China. All footnotes are remarks by Patrick Renz and Frauke Heidemann, aimed at giving some additional background knowledge and especially giving the links to the cited documents so that the reader can follow up on these issues easily.

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Personal Background

Where have you been deployed to while you served in the military?

I was deployed to Panama, Cuba, Iraq, Kuwait. Those are deployments. Now, deployments to me and to the U.S. military means differently. But I have also operated in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas (that was a tough one) – you know you’ve got to pay all those rough ones to get a good one now and then – and then of course across Germany. I spent a good deal of time in what was then the Federal Republic of Germany and thereafter Hungary and Bosnia. I think that is about it. As far as it comes to actually conducting operations.

And what was your main focus in these operations?

I was a military police soldier. We do law enforcement, security and we have a combat operations mission also. So we have three different main areas that we work in and I did a lot of planning for counter terrorism and anti-terrorism in my later years. You see, I did a bunch of different things. We joke, MP means Military Police, we called it “Multi Purpose”. In short, what we did had mainly a security focus, anti-terrorism focus and a combat operations focus with law enforcement. [2]

That is quite a range of duties. What is your focus in your profession as CEO of Marciano Security?

What we do is offer security consultant services for companies and other entities. We provide strategic planning, assessments and we also provide management in the case where someone has a project or a concern and he needs management but doesn’t have the internal resources for it. So we provide the management service for them. That’s in a nutshell what we do. [3]

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Afghanistan

From your experiences in Iraq, what do you think of today’s situation in Afghanistan, with the U.S. troops leaving. Do you think there is a possibility that the country will have peace and stability?

No. I don’t think so. And I could be wrong and really hope I am. But I don’t believe that the job is done. I don’t believe that it was done correctly to begin with. In fact, I don’t believe that any civilized nation could have done the job the way it needed to be done with today’s society. If you look at American history, the last war that America has won was the Great War, was World War II. We haven’t won a war since. But we haven’t fought wars the same way since. After WWII we started fighting limited warfare. We have a war on terror. What is that? You can’t fight a war against a tactic or a strategy. A war is fought against a nation. A war needs to be fought against an entity. So you can go to war against Al Qaida. You can’t go to war against terrorism. You can’t go to war against drugs. It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t work. Even how we handled Iraq I think it would have been done quicker, and I say this understanding that there would have been a lot more personal tragedy fighting it the way it needed to be fought, but actually it would have lasted less time which would have meant it wouldn’t have been prolonged. You are fighting a war to defeat, you don’t go to war against Saddam Hussein. You go to war against Iraq. If the people of Iraq have allowed a leader and a power to remain in power that drove them into that war, then there is a price to pay. Unfortunately, women and children are casualties of war. But we have come to this believe, that we are going to wage a war, but we are not really going to kill anyone. But it’s war. Eisenhower said: “War is hell.” Unless you are ready to go to hell, don’t go to war. And I firmly believe the American people have been educated away to a mentality where we can never successfully wage a war as a nation ever again. Unless somebody attacks us. It is not that I don’t believe that there is a necessity. War has its place. There is a necessity for it from time to time. But you have to be careful in going into that because if you don’t, if you are not careful, you find yourself in a war that you truly aren’t committed to and that you are not ready to do the things that are needed to win. If you think about it, we fought Germany and Japan. We really only fought Germany on the ground for a year and there was a little bit of time before that in North Africa and Italy but really, intense combat in Europe, for one year. Before that we bombed and Hollywood would tell you the story, there are some great movies about it, and there is a movie that I personally love “Memphis Belle [4]” . It is about the bomber pilots and they are flying over Germany and he has good 100 planes with him and he says “We can’t drop the bombs because we can’t see the target and there is a school nearby and we can’t hit the school.” Now, do you really believe that is what happened? No. There is no way they would hazard 100 aircraft for a people that as a country, we learned to hate. We didn’t fight a war against Hitler, we fought a war against Germany as a nation. We didn’t fight a war against Hirohito, we fought a war against the Japanese as a nation. And that is the last time that it was won, relatively quickly. If you think about it, we island-hopped across the Pacific in four years. That’s phenomenal. You don’t do that, surgically hitting this guy and that guy. It doesn’t work that way. So I believe that the problem is we approached Afghanistan wrong. If we were truly committed to taking out Al Qaida and wouldn’t have done it the way we did – at least we removed a good base of operations for them – they wouldn’t been able to move to Pakistan, Yemen and back into Africa. So we haven’t really defeated Al Qaida and I don’t think that we ever will. By pulling out, the attitude that America has now, because we didn’t fight it all in, we didn’t go all in to begin with, I believe that we wasted the lives of all these young men and women we’ve sent over there from the whole coalition. There are a lot of other countries that had some skin in this game and they all lost people.
So I don’t think that pulling out is a good idea, but I also think that if we are not going to commit to true victory, that we shouldn’t stay. But we’ll be back or Al Qaida will eventually. The Taliban is already resurging into the country and it won’t be long before Al Qaida moves back in with them.

Do you believe that it could destabilize the entire region including Pakistan, not only Afghanistan?

Pakistan’s government is fragmented. It depends on which clan has control over which part of their government and what their basic ideology is. Are they more capitalistic and just trying to get ahead and build something or do they want to go back to the fundamental Islam. It is no secret what side their intelligence agency (ISI) is on. [5]

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Maritime Security

What is the most important topic when you hear maritime security with regard to piracy?

From a piracy standpoint it is similar to the Al Qaida/Taliban question. It is about strong governments that are capable of controlling their waters. The reason for the success of piracy especially in the two regions that we have been talking about – which is Southeast Asia and off the coast of Africa – is that there are a couple of countries with no real government in place. No real strong central government. So they can use those countries as a base of operations. If they have a base of operations, they can operate. Without a base of operations, organized operations become difficult. So Indonesia has a very weak national government and when I say week I mean in the way of security. Somalia has really no government. I mean they have a government but it is not really stable. Because there is no government the security structures in those countries aren’t there to prevent or to take away that safe haven for pirates, which means, that pirates are able to operate. So really what you need is a strong security apparatus within a government that has the control over its coastal waters. If you look at the Strait of Malacca that’s where the majority of the Southeast Asian piracy occurs and you have piracy off the coast of Vietnam and Thailand and Cambodia but those are really very small, just little gang operations. They have their boats, they don’t have a great deal of range and they can just shoot out so far, target an opportunity, get some money or steal a smaller vessel, and then they quickly have to get back into their home base. Not very effective, you stay off those waters, stay off the coast and your safe. But the Strait of Malacca is a great example because you have Malaysia and Singapore that have a very good security apparatus in their government. They have good coast guards and good coastal protection. Then you have Indonesia, which has been improving over the last few years. There has been some progress but in general there are really not there yet. So those pirates really operate out of Indonesia. As they are island nations with thousands of islands, you really need good coastal protection. Pirates can just skip from one island to the next, which makes it really easy to conceal. Therefore, a strong coastal protection or at least nations taking ownership of their coastal waters and protecting them effectively is very important. Another great example is the Gulf of Aden where you have Somalia and Yemen. Similar situations. You have some governance in Yemen although very much embedded with their internal strive. How much attention are they really paying to their coastal waters? And then you have Somalia, which is free for all. So they can go in and out, they take whole tankers and hold them hostage in Somalia.

You said that the country itself should be able to enforce law with its navy or coast guard on their coastal waters. How do you see the role of private military companies?

This is our reality now: We have different national navies, that are in the Gulf of Aden and throughout the Indian Ocean because the Somali pirates have increased their capabilities. They have motherships that push them out, expand their range and then they just launch the assault craft or they use the mothership as a tender to refuel, to extend the range of their assault craft. This means that they are able to go as far as India and conduct their piracy operations there. So really what you may see in the future is – and this would be very bad – the Southwest African pirates and the Southeast Asian pirates, going to cross over territories. This could happen very soon if we don’t stop it and they might even join forces, maybe become an international criminal organization. That could actually happen. I’m not saying it will, but that is a scenario if we don’t get control over the West African pirates.
What we have now are the navies from several countries out trying to do counter-piracy operations and we had for a long time the insurance industries and the shipping companies saying we don’t want armed guards on our ships, we do not want to arm our ships. Well now they are at the point were armed guards are at their ships and there is even talk of forming a private navy. One of the major shipping insurers is floating the idea of forming a private navy. When the ships go through the Suez Canal they will have to wait on the other side and – in order to maintain their insurance – form a convoy, a WWII style convoy with escort vessels, to protect them from the pirates. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with that, provided clear rules of operation and engagement.
The rules have to be clear on both sides and what I mean by that is the private military industry has run into a lot of problems, especially the American companies. It has to do with politics, it is all about politics. Right now we have an administration that is not friendly to private military companies at all. So what do we do? We have some men who – the facts are obscure – they got into a firefight in Bagdad [6] and there was the possibility that maybe they were acting inappropriately and had killed some people who shouldn’t have been killed. But the greater possibility is that they were actually acting in self-defense and the evidence was gone. Because that is what happens after a battle: a lot of the evidence disappears. In a crowded market, AK 47s they don’t stay on dead people for long because someone else wants an AK 47 so they go and pick it up and the brass from the ammunition, that’s worth money to people who don’t have a lot of money. So it gets picked up very quickly. Therefore to say that there was no evidence is really taking a fact out of context. So what happens with private military companies is, they operate alongside a set of rules but then a very corrupt media – which is what we have, our media is not reporting anything factually, it is all based towards an agenda for either sides of the political spectrum – is getting their people involved. All of a sudden, politicians have to take a grand stand. So we have politicians who are not acting in their earnest and best interest of their country and they tell a story and they tell it many times. Joseph Goebbels [7] was the first one to say, that if it is a lie and I say it enough times, it becomes truth and that’s what is happening. This is the problem with private military action in any case. Their stories will not be told correctly. That wasn’t a boatload of armed Somali pirates approaching after being warned not to approach several times, it was a boatload of poor Africans just trying to make a living. It becomes this twisted reality and now you have honest men who are making a living doing something that others are not willing to do, in jail. So my real problem with the private military intervention is the same problem with any military intervention, it is commitment. Not on the part of the military personnel or the private military personnel – they will be committed, they will do their job. But the people who are either authorizing them to do their job or who are directing them to go, and you know private companies can be just as bad as politicians, saying they didn’t say that, that wasn’t what they told them to do. It is difficult to navigate, it really is. Those are my problems with it.
I don’t have any problem with someone owning a piece of property – in this case a vessel – and defending it. Defending it against armed force with armed force. I see no problem with that. I don’t think that there is a moral issue and I don’t see any legal issues, except those created by people twisting the law to use it for themselves.

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The Role of China

Some Chinese scholars are arguing that the U.S. should stay out of the Asia-Pacific region. Do you see any way that the Chinese naval forces could defend their waters against pirates the way the U.S. is doing?

It could. China is a big nation, they are powerful and they have a big military. Is it as technologically advanced as the U.S. military? Probably not. As the British navy or any of the other navies? No, not as much. But it doesn’t take a lot of technology to do this. It takes presence and then it takes clear mission statements. Telling them this is what you do and training, how do you go after pirates. This is what you do when you come across pirates. I found – working with numerous militaries – at the end of the day, soldiers, sailors, marines, they are all the same, regardless of the country they are from.

Do you think the U.S. would leave some parts of the sea lanes of communication completely under the control of the Chinese?

No. We will always have a presence. It has more to do with numerous philosophies all combined into one driving direction. From one standpoint, the U.S. believes that power projection, being able to show the world, that we can project our power anywhere we want, is a security measure. It really is. There was a time, in the first Gulf War – I was told about this – that they took some B-52 bombers, flew them from Louisiana on a bombing mission in Bagdad. We didn’t have to do that. We did that to show the Russians we could do it. You know, it was a demonstration of capabilities. The other thing is, it is another way to put your eyes out there, to see what is going on first hand and have trusted people report back and say what they see. We learned in Afghanistan that this is important. If you think about it, from 1993 to 2001 we had no people on the ground in Afghanistan. We had limited presence in the rest of the Middle East except for some bases that we left in Kuwait and in Saudi Arabia. We really had almost no presence in the Middle East, and nothing in Africa. And that really allowed Al Qaida just to blossom without any intervention. So I think we will always have a presence but how much – do you think we want to spend millions of dollars a day in order to operate an aircraft carrier in a region just to chase pirates? We could refocus our efforts elsewhere if the Chinese would protect their sea lanes. But are they really that adverse to the Americans doing it for them and spending their money and their assets? Are they really that upset or is it just diplomatic wrangling where they say what people expect them to say?

Do you see China as some kind of security threat?

China is a security threat. As I read, the majority of electronic attacks and security hacks in the U.S. originate in China [8]. It is a security threat for various reasons, whether it is industrial espionage, whether it is actual espionage on a national level, whether they are trying to influence our economy in a certain way. They just want to learn more, get insights into our economy to improve their manufacturing. So it is economic espionage, it is military espionage, it is all kinds of espionage and China is waging it. They are a security threat, hands down. I read one report and I know that this one was in Security Management Magazine where they talked about some corporations – American corporations – that were doing business in China [9]. When their people go to China, they have special devices, in other words, cell phones. I don’t carry any of my computers or cell phones with me. I have a sanitized cell phone and a sanitized computer that I carry to China, because as soon as I connect to a network, they get hacked, to get the information off of it.
It doesn’t matter if I work for the government or for a private corporation. They are getting the information they need to leverage, to be able to conduct business better or to know what we are thinking to negotiate a business deal. They are very good at hacking. The reason they are very good at hacking is because they are a closed society. Have you seen how many Chinese are on Facebook? When you restrict people’s freedom, they’ll find a way to break out. So if you restrict their electronic freedom, you got thousands of high school kids and college kids in China who are just hacking their way out. They have actually developed a great hacking demographic that when the government realizes who the good ones are, bring them in and puts them to work. And not just the government but all these companies which are supposedly kind of privately government held, however that works over there. They are a security threat.
Now as far as a military threat – are they going to attack the U.S.? Not at the moment. Could it evolve to that. Oh yeah. I mean who is to say.

Do you think it is important for the U.S. to have all the aircraft carrier battle groups in the Asia-Pacific? As far as power projection goes, don’t you think the Chinese military already got the message?

The projection is not just telling them we have the strength, it also tells them that we are capable and willing of using the strength. If we have all the strength but we keep it all close to home, our aircraft carriers stay in American ports and we don’t project out, people say “Well yeah, they’re there but what are they gonna do? They’re not going to do anything.” America has a reputation of intervening and of getting involved. If you look at it there are great by-products where the world has benefited from having American military power projected out. Look at the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Who was some of the first responders there? One of the first international responders was the US Navy and Marines, bringing all the benefits of having helicopters, having a nuclear power plant floating that you could bring in and run shore-line power to produce fresh water. Look at the tsunami in Southeast Asia. The U.S. Navy was one of the first humanitarian forces there. Haiti, the U.S. Navy was one of the first humanitarian forces to arrive. Our power isn’t there or in other words we didn’t build this military power for humanitarian purposes, but the by-product of it is. I believe as an American and as a conscious observer of times, that we go out with our military to do more good than any other country in the world that I’ve seen has done. There were times during the 90s when pretty much all we did was humanitarian operations.

Thank you so much for the interview.

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[1] If you are interested in the work of Raymond Marciano, visit: http://marcianosecurity.com.
[2] For more information on the military police in the U.S. Army visit: http://www.wood.army.mil/usamps/default.htm.
[3] For more information on the services provided by his company visit: http://marcianosecurity.com/about-us.
[4] Go to: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100133/.
[5] For some background knowledge on this accusation against the ISI visit the Council on Foreign Relations: http://www.cfr.org/pakistan/isi-terrorism-behind-accusations/p11644.
[6] The 2007 so-called Nisour Square massacre and most recent developments in court: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/05/blackwater-guards-lose-appeal-iraq-shooting.
[7] For more information about the propaganda methods of Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany go to: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb56.htm.
[8] For the official U.S. view on cyber security and China’s capabilities, the “ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, 2012” go to: http://www.defense.gov/pubs/pdfs/2012_CMPR_Final.pdf.
[9] As the content is restricted to subscribers, it cannot be accessed online. To get some insight of the security measures taken by scholars and professionals travelling to China visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/technology/electronic-security-a-worry-in-an-age-of-digital-espionage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

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