View Full Version : Q course, FAO, PSYOP... to the field

Bill Meara
01-25-2007, 06:10 AM
Some of the threads got moved around a bit with the reorg here at SWJ. I thought that people in this part of the discussion board would be interested in my book. A big part of it describes the courses I took at SWC, and how they affected subsequent work in the field (in Central America).

See: http://www.contracross.com

01-25-2007, 08:55 AM
Welcome Aboard !

Sounds like a very book...I ordered mine !

You have a very interesting past, and I think having served in the US Military then later joining State will provide those Embassy folks with a greater appreciation for US.

I loved the Azores, but have to admit, didn't know we had diplomats there :o

Regards, Stan

Tom Odom
01-25-2007, 01:50 PM

I will happily order a copy; you may know some of my friends who were Latin America 48s in El Salvador.

Stan and I spent 40 days on the ground in Goma out of a year together in Zaire.

Welcome to the forum!



Ordered via SWJ link to Amazon
- Ed. You are a saint, Tom. No better way to order a book (http://smallwarsjournal.com/site/support/). - SWC

Bill Meara
01-26-2007, 05:12 AM
Yes, the transition from the U.S. military to the State Department is an interesting one. Two very differenct cultures. Someone wrote a paper entitled "State is from Venus, DOD is from Mars." It described some of the more obvious and apparent differences, but because the authors had never themselves been in the green machine, they really didn't understand how things look from that perspective.

My book does discuss a lot of this.


Bill Moore
02-03-2007, 08:51 PM

My reading backlog is growing daily, so I doubt I'll be running out to buy your book in the immediate future; however, I'll bookmark it and get to it when I can. I, and I imagine others, would like to see some of your insights posted here, so we can discuss them. That is what this council is all about. You obviously have an interesting background, so let's hear some of your thoughts on how we should be employing PSYOP in small wars based on your lessons learned please. Look forward to hearing from you, Bill M.

02-03-2007, 09:02 PM
Indeed, please pass along your experience and thoughts regarding your transition from "Green to Foggy Bottom" and PSYOPS as well.

Bill Meara started out as a teacher at a Catholic school in Guatemala, but he went on to become one of fifty-five U.S. military advisers assisting the Salvadorans in their fight against communism.

I thought I was strange going from Catholic school to the US Army !!!

Regards, Stan

02-06-2007, 06:43 PM
I just ordered Mr Meara's book and am really looking forward to reading it. My husband was in El Sal '82-'83 time frame so once I've finished with Contra Cross he can read it.

Bill Meara
02-07-2007, 07:04 AM
Indeed, please pass along your experience and thoughts regarding your transition from "Green to Foggy Bottom" and PSYOPS as well.

I thought I was strange going from Catholic school to the US Army !!!

Regards, Stan

Well, the transition wasn't as difficult as some might think, because I never found anything morally objectionable about what we were trying to do in El Salvador. I think we were on the side of the angels.

I did have problems with the way we were doing PSYOP in that war. The junior and mid-level Salvadoran PSYOP personnel were well prepared to carry out effective campaigns, but the senior level military leaders simply did not know how to use them effectively. And on the U.S. side we were focused on gadgets and gizmos, not on the message that should have been going out. It was really a no brainer: Gorabachev was going wobbly on some of the main points of the communist ideology. We should have been making the FMLN hear about that. A lot. Constantly. Multi-media. But that requires senior leaders who can think in political terms...

02-07-2007, 08:02 AM
Thanks Bill !
I should have your book soon. We receive APO but once a week here.
Glad your transition went smoothly. Of the 9 embassies I've been in, the US Military were considered little more than a necessary evil. It would only be later with knowledge of culture and 2 languages, that my reputation in Sub-Sahara took me out of the "necessary evil column". Even then, I would still be ignored on matters Congolese.

I think those Americans who gave aid and comfort to the Sandinistas and the Salvadoran communists should feel guilty. They were on the wrong side in the Cold War.” These were, he said, what Lenin called “useful idiots”.

Tom and I were often wondering about the other folks "helping" in Zäire and Rwanda during the civil wars and subsequent refugee crisis. There were moments when the cause seemed to be the same, but agendas were like night and day.

“Cultural factors really are the equivalent of a terrain feature that cannot be ignored [in surrogate wars].” And: “Fluency in foreign languages is the indispensable key to understanding.” “Regional expertise and experience are crucial. People working on insurgencies shouldn’t be doing so on their first trip to the region.”

Nothing more to add here....Extremely well put !

Regards, Stan

Bill Meara
02-08-2007, 05:54 AM
Stan: The smooth transition I was referring to was from Catholic school volunteer to U.S. Army officer. That was realtively easy. The shift from the U.S. Army to the State Department was much more difficult. Lots of culture shock in that one! Mars and Venus stuff.