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MountainRunner
03-12-2007, 01:12 AM
Andrew Natsios apparently made a comment at the Jan 31 SR conference in DC saying USAID did COIN in Thailand in the late 1970s.

Does anybody know what programs he was referring to?

AFlynn
03-12-2007, 03:21 AM
I don't know, but I might be able to talk to someone who does.

Mike in Hilo
03-13-2007, 01:22 AM
I was in USAID/Guatemala at the time, and don't know either...since the Asia Bureau was in another world, bureaucratically...Maybe this long-winded reply will shed some light. I assume he used the term COIN very broadly. A paper posted on this site a couple of weeks ago described in detail Royal Thai Gov't anti-communist COIN in NE Thailand under General Prem during that timeframe. Logically, USAID would have focussed its development efforts to assist the economy of the targeted area in a complementary effort. Typically, this may have been what we called an "area development program," which would usually include infrastructure construction (anything from roads to irrigation to schools--and if schools, would include teacher training), and for direct assistance to peasant farmers, there would typically be a program providing access to ag credit, and if agronomically appropriate, introduction of higher value crops. I doubt there was a more direct COIN effort, since USAID's organizational culture since at least the CORDS days viewed COIN with an less than rational phobia. USAID viewed the support it was forced to provide to CORDS (personnel and associated costs) as an albatross hanging about its neck, and after CORDS, tried mightily to fire its handful of FSOs (like yours truly) who were selected to stay on in CORDS's successor outfit, the Embassy's Special Assistant to the Ambassador for Field Operations (SAA/FO) program.

The USAID line was that they ought only do pure economic development.
(--This is not necessarily the same as COIN--ex.: Nhon Trach District, Bien Hoa Province, RVN, 1969 0r '70, was recognized by USAID for leading the country in acreage under IR high-yielding rice. The early IR rice was poor quality and the Vietnamese generally refused to consume it, using it for animal feed when they did plant it. We soon found out that the reason for the USAID success in Nhon Trach was that the NLF [VC] had told the peasants to plant the high yielding rice because "our forces need rice." Feeding the insurgents is not COIN.)

In fact, when USAID/Guatemala proposed a project in 1976 modelled on the development aspect of the Vietnam RD Cadre activity, that would have had teams of trained cadre organize Guatemalan villagers to do community development projects, USAID/Washington turned down the proposal with a vengeance. Said one of the LA Bureau honchos, with obvious disdain, at the review meeting at which I was present, "We don't do that sort of thing."

John T. Fishel
03-13-2007, 10:40 AM
Mike--

An interesting footnote to your Guatemalan story is that by the 80s the Guatemalan Army had created its Civil Affairs units that organized their Polos de Desarrollo (Development Poles) program - sort of strategic hamlets with a heavy dose of development, PSYOP, and controlled local militia called Patrols/Patrollers. As i recall, the Guatemalans credit the idea to training in Taiwan - they also disparaged US style civic action. Nevertheless, the idea appears to have come indirectly from US and UK sources and looks like a military executed example of much of what AID was responible for in CORDS and what you described as proposed for Guatemala in 76.

BTW, for those who don't know, the Guatemalans won their civil war, because of the things they did right - not because of the brutal things they did wrong.

Cheers

John

John T. Fishel
03-13-2007, 02:41 PM
There is an outstanding book, LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT: OLD THREATS IN A NEW WORLD, Edited by Edwing G. Corr and Stephen Sloan, Westview, 1992 - out of print but Amazon can get 8 copies - 7 are under $10, one is $32+. One chapter, by Robert F. Zimmerman, is on Thailand. Zimmerman was AID. He addresses the role of AID in COIN there and concludes that its effect - of the entire effort - was mildly and indirectly positive but hardly decisive. He quotes from the FY 75 "Mission Strategy Memorandum":

"Perhaps the most serious weakness in the U.S. effort stems from the quality of the U.S. advisory input, particularly in the field. The fact is that the skills required to advise Thai on counterinsurgency - including language, area knowledge, and sufficient level in advisory role to gain RTG [Royal Thai Government] confidence - are scarce and it has not been our policy to devlop them or to encourage successful practitioners to stay until the job is done."

In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, "When will they ever learn, oh, when will they ever learn?"

MountainRunner
03-13-2007, 03:33 PM
Mike and John,
Great (inside) information.

The Dylan quote reminds me of the Twain (?) quote: the problem with history is that it repeats itself. Or was that Will Rogers?

DraconianObservations
03-13-2007, 03:45 PM
The FRUS volume covering the period until 1972 shows how US AID did COIN-related stuff that may supplement the earlier posts. Just scroll down, open "Thailand" and search for "AID": http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/nixon/xx/

Dracobs

MountainRunner
03-13-2007, 04:11 PM
Thanks to Henrik (http://draconianobservations.blogspot.com/index.html) for sending me the link to State's archives for SE Asia, (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/nixon/xx/)


A couple of nuggets to share from the Thailand PDF (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/77889.pdf)(1.16mb, 393p):

In a letter from our Amb to DASoS regarding support, 10 April 1969:



At the opposite end of the spectrum,
the Thai donít want our direct military involvement in their insurgency,
although they certainly are counting on our continued contribution
through MAP and AID to the support of their own counter-insurgency.
There is, unfortunately, an ambiguous middle area between an invasion
and the insurgency and I think it is here that our most difficult
policy problems lie.


But better is 22 Jan 70 memo from SecState Rogers to Nixon (p100 of the archive):



That you approve the continuation in FY 1970 of the A.I.D. program
in Thailand, consisting primarily of advisory and financial support
of Thai police and developmental measures to prevent the growth
of Communist insurgency in the North and Northeast, at a total obligational
level of approximately $30 million of grant funds. No PL 480
assistance is proposed.




Our assistance to Thailand plays a three-fold role by: (1) providing
actual resources to help carry out Thailandís counterinsurgency effort;
(2) promoting greater Thai attention and resource allocation to
counterinsurgency measures and providing us an opportunity to influence
the direction of this Thai effortóthe primary aim of our program;
(3) demonstrating continuing high-level interest in Thailand.


This memo is very rich in linking COIN/AID. Have to go offline but suggest checking out the memo for yourself, extracted from the larger PDF and posted here (http://mountainrunner.us/files/pages_from_77889.pdf). There may be more in State's archives...

Mike in Hilo
03-14-2007, 01:01 AM
Mountain Runner's quote has reminded me of the one USAID program that really did support COIN efforts very directly-worldwide- until its (congressionally-mandated, as I recall) termination in 1973, viz., the USAID Public Safety Program, aka the police advisers. In VN, for example, most USAID activities proceeded outside the CORDS enclosure. For example, by the time I arrived in 1971, even the Land Reform advisers were in the USAID chain of command rather than CORDS. The highly appropriate exception was the USAID police advisers, who were members of each CORDS Province Team. Otherwise, USAID's relation to CORDS was mainly as a hiring hall for CORDS civilians, and analysts are still scratching their heads over this one, since CIA would seemingly have been a more appropriate institutional housing. Anyway, to fill civlian CORDS slots, USAID hired freshly retired army field grade officers for mid-level and senior positions, former company grade oficers with VN experience and former peace corps volunteers for the junior positions. Others were seconded from State. We were advised that when CORDS ended, we'd be let go. And we did not do USAID work. For example, the former colonel who was a Province Senior Adviser (PSA), if he did his job properly, would likely be found beside his counterpart, the province chief cum sector commander, grease pencil in hand, before a map with that acetate overlay, refining the plan for the upcoming batalion-size RF operation.

Cheers,
Mike.

Mike in Hilo
03-14-2007, 01:24 AM
John--or any readers who could point me in the right direction. This should properly be posted under "Requests for Information," but continuity favors right here. I've been looking for an unclassified, dispassionate analysis of General Rios' 1982-3 COIN campaign written from the COIN point of view, with detailed description and analysis of TTPs and strategy, and an assessment of effectiveness. I tried Google, but aside from genocide testimony and short Wikepedia or newsmagazine blurbs, "no hay na'. " We worked with Rios Montt in the '70's when he coordinated donor and NGO assistance after the devastating earthquake. In that capacity, he demonstrated impressive personal integrity in the face of great opportunities for personal enrichment at the public expense.

Cheers,
Mike.

John T. Fishel
03-14-2007, 11:08 AM
Mike-- and others,

The Corr and Sloan book I mentioned in the previous post has a chapter by Cesar Seresres on Guatemala. He has written extensively on the Guatemalan insurgency. An academic at UC Irvine, he served at State in the 80s working for Luigi Einaudi. So any book or article by him is a good palce to start.
The Zimmerman chapter goes into a lot more detail than the small quote I included on AID/COIN in Thailand and clearly expands the assessment not just of that relationship but of the COIN as a whole.
CORDS is usually held up as the way to best integrate US civil - military operations. I have taken this approach my self many times. Your description, however, suggests a larger distance between institutions than I though had existed. So, how does one achieve the required unity of effort when institutional resistance to unity of command wins out?

Cheers

John

Tom Odom
03-14-2007, 12:49 PM
Mountain Runner's quote has reminded me of the one USAID program that really did support COIN efforts very directly-worldwide- until its (congressionally-mandated, as I recall) termination in 1973, viz., the USAID Public Safety Program, aka the police advisers. In VN, for example, most USAID activities proceeded outside the CORDS enclosure. For example, by the time I arrived in 1971, even the Land Reform advisers were in the USAID chain of command rather than CORDS. The highly appropriate exception was the USAID police advisers, who were members of each CORDS Province Team. Otherwise, USAID's relation to CORDS was mainly as a hiring hall for CORDS civilians, and analysts are still scratching their heads over this one, since CIA would seemingly have been a more appropriate institutional housing. Anyway, to fill civlian CORDS slots, USAID hired freshly retired army field grade officers for mid-level and senior positions, former company grade oficers with VN experience and former peace corps volunteers for the junior positions. Others were seconded from State. We were advised that when CORDS ended, we'd be let go. And we did not do USAID work. For example, the former colonel who was a Province Senior Adviser (PSA), if he did his job properly, would likely be found beside his counterpart, the province chief cum sector commander, grease pencil in hand, before a map with that acetate overlay, refining the plan for the upcoming batalion-size RF operation.

Cheers,
Mike.


Mike

This was also the case in the Congo in the mid-1960s; it sometimes proved embarrassing in the round up the locals approach used by the GOC at that time.

And I should also note that while USAID was not doing "COIN" in Rwanda after the genocide, we (the CT) did track USAID toward justice system resurrection programs that included police and investigative training as well as courts. In a way we were doing COIN support in that the burning issues by late 95 were two-fold: the threat and active raids from the UNHCR run camps and the Catch-22 dilemma of the prisons on what to do with genocidal killers when there were no courts. The latter was a critical component to the GOR's COIN effort in that what happened would affect reconciliation.

Of course if you look at the link to the blog on "Africa News" that I posted yesterday, the US dark cabal that put Kagame in power was actually running things :wry:

Best
Tom

Mike in Hilo
03-15-2007, 01:58 AM
1) Thanks very much for the tip on the book. Incidentally, Zimmerman's a good guy--was one of our instructors 1970 when I was a trainee at the CORDS VN Training Center--lots of experience with the Montagnards, as I recall--wealth of knowledge.
2) Re: Institutional Coordination, etc.: Much that has recently been written about CORDS by those who weren't there seems to exaggerate the purview of CORDS over other institutions. But I do not believe the actual situation, in which CORDS encompassed fewer players, reflected a failing. By 1970-71, I believe MACCORDS itself saw that its role needed to be more focused. The organization realized that its focus ought to be on those activities that directly drove a wedge between the population and the insurgents and supported security. It was quite all right for USAID to do economic development--one more headache MACV did not need. (I might add that critical COIN player CIA was, for operational reasons, never a part of CORDS--an arrangement of obvious appropriateness.) So, CORDS focused mainly on (a) assisting in organizing Vietnamese villagers to commit themselves to their own self-defense (RF/PF and PSDF); (b)vigorously prodding the GVN to root out the VC infrastructure (this would encompass spreading the national police presence and certain RD Cadre activities as well as Phoenix); (c) in areas where war had resulted in large population displacements, ensuring that the GVN did not neglect the relocated/displaced civilians; and (d) a wide array of political and other reporting on what was going on in the countryside. CORDS also encouraged all the organs of government in the provinces simply to do their job (which they were basically well capable of doing, since they were engaged in this since the early 1950's). And, because of an institutional relationship with a GVN counterpart organization, it supported a variety of village community development activities. The last item was, in my view, not a critical one (and, in my view, off-focus) because it proved, in the event, irrelevant to affecting whatever hold the VC had on the population--often the VC would also benefit from the income generating projects. And in a period of full employment and economic boom resulting from the huge US military spending in-country, the economic impact of such small projects was de minimis, even at the hamlet level. I intended the unfortunate instance of IR rice feeding the enemy as an example that economic development and COIN can diverge. But I have no reason to believe that if USAID/Ag were squarely under CORDS, they would not have pushed IR rice anyway. Security improved dramatically in Nhon Trach by 1971, and with it, the VC ability to command such mass obedience was degraded considerably. But lack of real commodity/food control remained an overall failing. We never did use leverage, while we still had it, to break the GVN's political accommodation with the enemy that allowed the Shadow Supply System to flourish.

Cheers,
Mike.

goldbug
04-05-2009, 01:18 PM
USAID was in all parts of Thailand in the 1970s. Tanham talks about it a little in his book, "Trial in Thailand." He discusses at length the U.S. effort to aid Thailand in COIN, mostly from the coordination viewpoint. But it's an early 1970s look.

USAID has historical docs for sale that might help. See: http://dec.usaid.gov/index.cfm?p=projects.projectSearch&CFID=10798595&CFTOKEN=91434395.

If the docs are not readily apparent, shoot them an e-mail - they will reply.

I'm not sure how active USAID was past 75-76. Internal political pressure and the US using Thai air bases w/out permission for the Mayaguez incident caused them to kick us out in the 75-76 time period.

But they asked us back shortly thereafter when the Vietnamese took the western portion of Cambodia and massed on the Thai border, poised for invasion. The main US effort at that time was a massive conventional buildup at the specific request of Bangkok. So I'm not sure if AID came back with that conventional asst.