Where are the Submarines?


Rethinking Cyber Security

In the United States reported spending by corporations in 2018 on cyber security may have exceeded $200 billion. Some estimates are higher – putting the total spent at over $300 billion.

Regardless of the exact number, spending is very high and is likely to climb. Yet we face a basic problem that poses the question: are all these billions wasted? The terrifying reality is that each and every cyber security measure developed and applied is out of date: the hackers are well ahead of whatever is being put in place. It is an almost hopeless arms race diverting funds from truly productive purposes.

So, what to do now? We do need submarines.

105 years ago, Europe went to war. Part of that war was arguably a result of a 15-year arms race pitting Britain’s Royal Navy against the Imperial Germany Navy commanded by my much-maligned great-grandfather Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. In hindsight it was a pointless arm race as to which of the two nations could build the largest and best giant battle ships such as those of the famed Dreadnought class.

The cost of these ships started to rapidly outstrip naval budgets and did threatened to bankrupt both naval services. The battleships did see some action including the Battle of the Skagerrak or Jutland, handily won by the Imperial German Navy. Apart from that, these ultra-expensive floating fortresses had little use – partially because they were obsolete, the moment they were launched.

One naval weapon, the submarines – cheap and effective – would cause sleepless nights at His Majesty’s Admiralty, concerned that the United Kingdom would lose access to ever more vital supplies of beans, bullets and band aids.

Neither naval service saw much utility in submarines at first. Admiral von Tirpitz was not a fan and his counterparts in Britain, notably Admiral Fisher, were equally cool to these “newfangled” contraptions. Sure, submarines or U-Boots do not look great in a Naval Review – just a little tower sticking out of the water. Yet Germany’s rapidly expanding (and cheap) submarine fleet almost brought Albion deservedly to its knees.

So why this history lecture?   Today we find ourselves in a similar arms race in the cyber war: ever more powerful IT departments are spending growing amounts of funds for purposes that do not produce revenue. I believe that much of this spending is a waste.

I know based on anecdotal evidence that the galloping increases in IT spending have forced pharmaceutical firms to cut vital R&D budget; airlines to shortchange maintenance; industrial firms to make unpardonable shortcuts which, possibly, could result in costly product liability issues.

What’s worse: the moment new cyber defenses are emplaced, the hackers already know how to overcome these barriers and then, IT departments respond with yet another wave of spending, implementing technology solutions likely to be obsolete within days. The global economy has yet to mount an adequate defense against the rise of cyber-attacks, according to new research. The impact could be $3 trillion in lost productivity and growth in the next seven years. Are we doomed along what Thucydides wrote 1,400 years ago?

It must be thoroughly understood that war is a necessity, and that the more readily we accept it, the less will be the ardor of our opponents, and that out of the greatest dangers communities and individuals acquire the greatest glory. Since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

It will draw the ire of IT “experts” around the globe when I urge that those with brains must now find the submarine and get out of this horrible spend and spend more cycle. Much of the IT spending is wasted. What’s more, the majority of senior IT executives believe their defenses can be overcome, according to a recent study by McKinsey.

The situation is somewhat akin to the four years of trench warfare in World War I – none of the very highly educated generals on either side could find a way out of that mess apart from throwing men into the meat grinder. Only the arrival of the U.S. Expeditionary Force under the command of General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing would change the situation: the U.S. Forces did not follow trench warfare rules and quickly presented innovative war concepts.    The U.S. Forces changed the war just like the submarines did on the high seas.

So where are the submarines? What are the recommendations and solutions?

  • Let us return to the old and effective standby lessons propagated by such luminaries as Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, or Mao: collect intelligence.

o          Who are the attackers and how can they be dealt with? We know that the most effective cyber warriors come from China and Russia. But do we work with the government to go after these criminals?

  • Let us use low cost low technology means: often analog technology will defeat digital. Keep things simple and maybe, just like the Russian’s recently did, invest in typewriters.

o          Using the collected intelligence we need to define what is truly sensitive data – much of what can be found on corporate networks is of little commercial, strategic or tactical value. But companies and governments have large bodies of vital data. This data needs to be placed on stand-alone computers that are not connected to the web. Hackers cannot get at those.

o          Who in an organization is “leaking: information or directly aiding the enemy?   Honest and frequent background reviews are essential. Many of the data breaches can be traced back to insiders. Better background reports are essential.

  • Surprise the enemy and engage in deception: Place false information on your computers – basically have a simple sting operation in place.

o          By doing little in terms of expensive yet ultimately worthless cyber defenses you will drive the enemy batshit crazy. The hackers will want to know just what is going on? Where is the gold?

Agostino von Hassell

The Repton Group LLC

Hungary, Bavaria, Turkey, Russia, America, South Africa and now Germany…. AGAIN!

July 2018

The Storch grand-grandfather

This is written with deep concern introspection and sadness over the state of our world and as well a fear for our civilization. I am setting aside the corrupt and inhumane as well as lunatic U.S. President Donald R. Trump who that is very difficult to take who cannot be taken seriously anymore. He has distributed and displayed his disgusting hate messages globally and thanks to fake news, the corruption of the creepy digital landscape, and intolerance of other people’s values and beliefs. This has resulted in the global acceptance of lunacy, deception, and injustice and made it acceptable globally.

His bigotry sets an unjustified stage does do not justify for the evolution of inhumane totalitarian regimes in once respectable nations such as Hungary, Poland or Turkey. It is incomprehensible that Trump encourages the murderous “elite” in China. Trump has emboldened Russian (shall I say Soviet?) President Vladimir Putin to drop any pretense that there is a democracy… and the radical right media organizations have no mercy in drenching their audience with a curated and misconstrued message that justifies this behavior and portrays his actions as heroic and necessary. Putin just murders opponents (as do the Chinese). Mr. Trump has not progressed that far… yet!

But now we must look, sadly, at Germany. The Trump idiocy should not be used as an excuse for the rapid growing extreme right to say that the Nazi era is “just a speck of bird shit in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”         This disgusting comment came just a few days ago from Alexander Gauland, the head of Germany’s far-right, nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Other AfD politicians – now with over 12 percent in the German Parliament – are now poised to gain a major victory over the conservative Christian Socialist Union in the Bavarian election this coming October. Recall here that Hitler’s first major successes where in Bavaria.

Prussia – so maligned – never voted for Hitler and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a moral leader fully supportive of the racial, political and cultural tolerance’ that was a Prussian hallmark for hundreds of years. Tolerance is where we can gain hope for a better tomorrow. “In my state, every man can be saved after his own fashion,” said Prussia’s great ruler, King Frederick II. He – in stark contrast to today’s sentiments – also said:” If Turks and heathens were to come to populate the land, we shall build mosques and churches.'”

The vicious hate for migrants (shared by a large percentage of Trump Americans, Hungarians, Bavarians, Austrians and others globally) is raw racism. The states of the German federation welcomed – and yes invited – immigrants for hundreds of years. It also makes economic sense: struggling with a rapidly graying population such as the federation on German tribes, need young people.   This is one key argument for hope.

Bavaria is where the hate for Jews, liberals, gays, Gypsies, or Muslims is barely covered up under a veneer of shiny lederhosen and pretended joviality.

Beatrix von Storch is a senior leader of the AfD who showed her true “brown’ colors in hateful messages. She tweeted that Muslim men are “gang-raping’ and “barbaric.” Alice Weidel, the party’s joint leader in the Bundestag, stated: “Our authorities submit to imported, marauding, groping, beating, knife-stabbing migrant mobs.”   These are unfair broad accusations on entire groups of people.

Storch serves as Deputy Leader of the Alternative for Germany. This woman was born as Beatrix Amelie Ehrengard Eilika, Duchess of Oldenburg. Her grandfather, Johann Ludwig Count Schwerin von Krosigk, was. convicted, as a war criminal in Nuremberg and was the last chancellor of Nazi Germany. Note that at least one Count Schwerin died trying to kill Hitler. Ulrich-Wilhelm Count von Schwerin von Schwanenfeld was hung for his role in the failed plot on September 8, 1944 – next to my own grandfather (I guess – to quote a U.S. Secret Service officer, Prussian nobles are not that good at coups.)

Not only Muslims are targeted by the AfD – so is the LGBTQIA community, the Jews and the other cohort in the gas chambers the “unassimilable” Gypsies.

The Storch grand-grandfather

This woman – among men and women in that party – of most questionable ethics is believed to try to rehabilitate many Nazis. AfD supporters have gone so far to question whether Germany was even guilty for World War II and claim that the Holocaust of the Jews, gays, and Gypsies was caused by the victims themselves.

Germany’s honor – so hard fought for over the past 70 years – is at risk. Now we must fight back. The AfD must be demolished fast and a return to basic human values is imperative to build a future. All should support such a goal of tolerance.

My next report will list companies (such a Dr. Wick Chemie, Wahl-Bau GmbH, senior BMW executives as well as major Bavarian beer producers to name a few) that finance this right-wing extremist group. Ethical global consumers the world over should boycott their products.

It is time to take a stand and lead by example. Let us fight now. Please! There is hope.


Agostino von Hassell



Recall this:

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:


First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.


Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.


Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.


Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Mourgh – (Afghan Chicken)

One more recipe from my last post on “A taste of war”

Mourgh – (Afghan Chicken)

The key here is to slowly marinate the chicken in yogurt and garlic overnight. For four people Working Time: 90 minutes

  • 2 Cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tea spoon of salt
  • 2 Cups of plain yogurt
  • Juice and pulp of 1 large lemon
  • ½ tea spoon of course, cracked black pepper
  • 4 individual chicken breasts, skinned and deboned

Serve with fresh warmed pita bread and fresh yogurt


  • In large ceramic blow combine the salt and garlic and mix well. Then add lemon and pepper.
  • Add the chicken and the yogurt and mix well. Make sure the whole chicken is covered.
  • Marinate in a sealed bowl overnight in the refrigerator
  • When ready to serve, remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
  • Grill or broil the chicken for about 9-10 minutes
  • Serve with fresh yogurt and pita bread

Qabili Palao Recipe

Here is one of the recipes from my last post; “A taste of war”


Critical flavors in this cuisine are spices such as cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon which tend to add a sweet aroma to all dishes.  Afghan food is not “hot” or “spicy” but tends to create a deep flavor, resulting for many hours of marinating. Typical is the key classic Afghan dish Qabili Palao – made with either chicken or lamb or both – and enhanced with browned rice, spices, golden raisins and carrots.

Qabili Pilau

This dish – cooked with either lamb or chicken or both – and rice, raisins and carrots is a classic Afghan dish adapted here for use by the home cook. For four people. Working Time:90 minutes


  • 2 cups basmati rice – soaked in cold water for 20 minutes and then drained. This prevents the rice from sticking together.
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (such as olive oil)
  • 5 lbs lamb on the bone or 1.5 lbs of chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks 3 cups water
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and julienne (i.e. cut into thin sticks) cut into matchstick size pieces
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron diluted in a tiny bit of cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar


  • In a large sauce pan and on medium heat, sauté the onions in oil until translucent, then add the meat and brown it on all sides.
  • Add the spices (cumin, salt, cinnamon, and the saffron)
  • Add the water
  • Cover the sauce pan and over low heat boil the mixtures for about one hour; stir occasionally.
  • Then remove the meats and set aside.
  • Preserve the water in which the meal was browned
  • In a small sauce pan sauté the carrots and the raisins for about five minutes; drain and set the carrots and raisins aside.
    Bring the juices where the meats were to a boil and add the rice; cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Mix the meats and rice together in a large oven-proof pan; bake for about 60 minutes at 350 F.
  • To serve, place the meat and rice mixture on a platter and place the raisins and carrots on the side.

A Taste of War

Cooking from Afghanistan A Simple Lesson in Freshness

Afghani restaurants have become a common sight in American cities since the 1980s as the invasion of the Soviet Union forced many Afghanis into refugee status.  The combat actions in Afghanistan since 2001 have created a strong desire among combat veterans to again taste the special foods of this mountainous region which has been marred by war for thousands of years, starting with Alexander the Great.

Veterans of combat in Afghanistan almost universally praise the local food and the most common recollection is freshness and good taste. Afghan cooking blends the spices and flavors of the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, India and Pakistan. Rice dishes spiced with raisins and carrots or tomatoes are just as much a staple as the traditional hot flat bread or pita bread.


Writes Captain Mark Reinhardt, USMC, who fought in Afghanistan: “I found the food in Afghanistan to be measurably better than that in Iraq for one reason:  it was fresh. Stationed in the far reaches of the country, in the “Tribal Administered Area”, we had no chow halls.  The upside of this was that we did not have to provide security escort to the sanity-testing Jordanian food convoys like we did in Iraq.” “The downside was that our chow logistics system involved a small herd of medium-sized, very stubborn, occasionally violent donkeys.


“I tried to eat one meal a day with the ANA (Afghan National Army) at their small camp very close to the Pakistani border, usually evening chow to go over the plan for the next day.  “There was a jury-rigged chow hall that had set out frozen pizzas, half-frozen lunch “meat –for some reason it was always salami – and the occasional hot tray-ration.  I liked it because it was something different and American but truth be told we ate better quality food with the Afghans.”

“At the ANA camp, we always tried to buy as much as possible from local farmers.  That meant the majority of our fruits and vegetables were fresh. We also hired a baker and a cook for the camp as well as a shepherd for the herd of goats.


“A major perk was the fresh bread.”  We dug a Dutch oven six feet underground and four feet wide at the opening, and enjoyed new bread every day.  After lighting the fires at around 05:30, the baker would mix roughly equal parts flour and water; add salt and sugar, then roll the dough into flat ovals about eight inches wide and 15 inches long.  He would then sprinkle water on the flat pieces, adhere them to a large pad attached to a stick about five feet long, lean into the oven and slap the dough up against the clay side of the oven.  After five minutes or less, he would reach into the oven with a two-pronged spear, skewer four or five pieces of bread and bring them up.

A quick breakfast was usually a piece of this hot, freshly baked flatbread torn into pieces and dipped in very thick cream (almost like clotted cream) with copious amounts of sugar sprinkled on top.  As the day progressed, the bread became noticeably staler but made an excellent eating utensil.  Lunch was generally a quick bite of leftovers or, if on patrol, part of an MRE.”

“At around 15:00 the cook would begin to prepare dinner. The staple meal was a stew of onion, tomato, potato, any other vegetable we happened to come by, and goat. The meat was cut into chunks that somehow managed to never come from a part of the animal that was identifiable.  This was put in a large cauldron with sliced onions, tomatoes and enough salted water to just cover it, then slow-cooked for three hours. Cut potatoes were added about 30 minutes before serving. This cooking method broke down the onions and tomatoes into a thick stew with very tender pieces of goat meat, given body by the potatoes.  This stew was served over a large bowl of rice and beans.  Everyone sat Indian style around the bowl with a piece of flatbread as a sort of trencher.  We would dig in with our hands (always the right hand) and bread.  It got a little dicey when, to be polite, one of the officers would “cut” pieces of meat with his hand and put it in front of me.  Afghan food is surprisingly un-spicy (though not bland) and I was surprised that the MRE Tabasco sauce never found a place in it.

A variation of the stew was a soup, made by adding more water and removing the tomatoes from the mix.  For a “formal” dinner, such as one to which we had invited some of the local village elders, we would augment the stew with pieces of meat by themselves, roasted chicken, slices of raw tomato with salt, and watermelon with salt for dessert.  Afghan watermelons are smaller and rounder than ours, more the size of a honeydew melon. Throughout every meal we drank huge amounts of chai (tea) which is essentially a cup of sugar with a splash of tea added.”

“From time to time we would spend a week or so on one of the platoon sized observation posts.  The OP troops were issued MREs and had hot chow delivered by donkey once a day.  Sometimes we would bring a goat with us, slaughter it, and hang it on a tree to feed us for the week.  We covered the carcass with a tarp to keep the flies off.  It brought a welcome change from the stew as we would make kabobs and roasts seasoned with spices that I unfortunately did not get to identify.”

Critical flavors in this cuisine are spices such as cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon which tend to add a sweet aroma to all dishes.  Afghan food is not “hot” or “spicy” but tends to create a deep flavor, resulting for many hours of marinating.  Typical is the key classic Afghan dish Qabili Palao – made with either chicken or lamb or both – and enhanced with browned rice, spices, golden raisins and carrots. Another very common dish are variations of Kebabs and Aushak –  dumplings typically served over garlicky yogurt sauce and layered with a thick ground-beef, tomato sauce with dried mint and crushed red pepper sprinkled on top.   Endless variations of this dish can be created

(see these web sites for recipes: http://papayamessiah.livejournal.com/5199.html and http://www.recipezaar.com/152701)