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Thread: Gazing in the Congo (DRC): the dark heart of Africa (2006-2017)

  1. #481
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    "We are training an initial battalion," Garvelink added, "and hopefully that's a platform from which additional training of Congolese troops can be done by very well trained Congolese troops. So we hope that the training will continue and expand under the direction and leadership of the Congolese military itself."
    If I well remember, the pretorian guard from Kabila and his first circle were "well trained" and almost disciplined. (more or less)
    They were the ones sent in a first time to Dungu and the relation with the population were not that bad.
    The main point at that time was the fact that they got payed regularly (as you know, Tom and Stan, the main problem) and not too badly. Which will be the remaining issue over time anyways.

    But yes, 1 bataillion on the what? 20 of the FARDC + the integrated not too mixed former NCDP... Does not make much.

  2. #482
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    M-A

    I have come to believe that pay while important as a factor in the behavior of troops is not the deciding factor. that is especially true when discussing the Congo.

    The critical element is a central belief that the role of the soldier is to serve honorably, regardless of mission and circumstance. Tied to that is a real sense of national pride that lasts longer than the initial exchange of fire. Most Congolese forces never received fire because they never fought anyone who could shoot back.

    You can buy uniformed thugs all day long in the Congo; whoever pays the head legume the best rate, gets the best thugs. Every single donor/sponsor who has ever spent a dime in the Congo has used this same approach; create a new unit. Call it special and pay it a bit more than its contemporaries. Here is the list:
    --France: 31st Para
    --Egypt: Guarde Civile
    --Israel: President Special Brigade (and later Division)
    --US: Military logistics support and special programs (air force and other)
    --Belgium: Army units and the SARM
    --PRC: Kaymanyola Division

    A mutual friend of Stan and I recounted jumping is A Team with the 31st Para when they were at their best in the mid-80s. When one of the SF guys was injured, the 31st Paras nearest him immediatle set upon robbing him--until he pulled a sidearm and held them off.

    Kabila's thugs were from his long standing cadres bucked up with a stiffening of Rwandan "advisors".

    I remain a severe sceptic when it comes to the Congo and its various militaries.

    Tom

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Actually, I tend to agree with you.
    I made some research on the military tradition in Congo and my personnal opinion is that since 16th century, the army has a tradition of brigant and no more a tradition of soldiers.

    I came to that conclusion through the study of the evolution of the military engagement of Kongo empire and the various effect of first the slave trade by europeans, and then the mercenaries of Leopold and the belgium colonisation.

    Qui vivra verra...
    Let see, one day may be...

  4. #484
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Actually, I tend to agree with you.
    I made some research on the military tradition in Congo and my personnal opinion is that since 16th century, the army has a tradition of brigant and no more a tradition of soldiers.

    I came to that conclusion through the study of the evolution of the military engagement of Kongo empire and the various effect of first the slave trade by europeans, and then the mercenaries of Leopold and the belgium colonisation.

    Qui vivra verra...
    Let see, one day may be...
    I see we are in agreement.

    The issue is tied to why I found Hochschild's book, King Leopold's Ghost ultimately patronizing. For all the faults of the Congo Free State and King Leopold, the horrors of the Congo were not merely a product of the Europeans who exploited the area and the people. King Leopold did not commit the original sin by biting the African apple, although he was infamous for declaring his desire for a slice of the African cake.


    C'est le Congo

    Tom

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey MA !
    Since the three of us are reminiscing about Zaire/DRC, I might add that Kabila was also known for shutting down Telecel without a single shot being fired

    Under his guiding helm, government (unpaid) receivables came to the tune of about 25 million bucks. No wonder he could afford to pay his thugs well

    Even under Sese Seko and 3 pillages, Telecel for all it was and was not, still functioned.

    I recall the constant concerns at Country Team meetings as the end of the month neared. While pay was certainly a good indicator of what would follow, as Tom put it so well, there was just no national pride. The FAZ certainly was not concerned with public opinion polls - more fear factor would be the trick.

    The MTT I led back when Kinshasa was Kin La Belle, nearly died before our men were in place. Nearly all of the tools and spares were stolen before training even began. It was clear from the start that these articles were to be later donated to the state, and that obviously meant someone else higher on the food chain would have dibbs

    Regards, Stan

    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    If I well remember, the pretorian guard from Kabila and his first circle were "well trained" and almost disciplined. (more or less)
    They were the ones sent in a first time to Dungu and the relation with the population were not that bad.
    The main point at that time was the fact that they got payed regularly (as you know, Tom and Stan, the main problem) and not too badly. Which will be the remaining issue over time anyways.

    But yes, 1 bataillion on the what? 20 of the FARDC + the integrated not too mixed former NCDP... Does not make much.
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  6. #486
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I see we are in agreement.

    The issue is tied to why I found Hochschild's book, King Leopold's Ghost ultimately patronizing. For all the faults of the Congo Free State and King Leopold, the horrors of the Congo were not merely a product of the Europeans who exploited the area and the people. King Leopold did not commit the original sin by biting the African apple, although he was infamous for declaring his desire for a slice of the African cake.


    C'est le Congo

    Tom
    Tom,

    Well, we can be in agreement. Not on everything but that's life.

    I personally think that what ever Leopold did, he just emplfied an existing behaviour.
    What really estanished me in my research was that before the coming of the Portugese and then the Brits and the French in Kongo Empire, the notion of soldier was pretty much "modern".
    Alright, they fought on other tribes and killed women and children and took slaves but it was for defense purpose or to expend the imperium of the Empire. Which was not that unified but still, had some very common roots with what was done in Europe at that time. The Army was a nobel profession and its purpose to defend the land and the people.
    When the Portugeses arrived, they disturbed that military tradition by imposing slave trade to a first willing King and then an unwilling King. After the fall of the last King of Kongo, the army tradition changed and the practice of razzia and political deportation through slave trade became the army bread and butter.
    Leopold's mercenaries came after and took benefit from it.
    I do believe that it did influence deeply the Congolese understanding of governance and security management.

    Stan,

    You're so right. the network was so crazy in Goma. But what was funny in the end was that we all figured out that if celtel was down it would mean someone is coming or CNDP was giving trouble to the FARDC.
    We just had to look at the UN choppers:
    If they were in the sky: VIP visit,
    If none in the sky: CNDP. (great parties to forget that the city was only protected by Nkunda will to not take it).

    C'est comme ca. Petit a petit, l'oiseau fait son nid.

    M-A
    Last edited by M-A Lagrange; 08-26-2010 at 07:10 AM.

  7. #487
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hmmm...

    Tout d’abord, l’oiseau doit s’assurer qu’il est en sécurité



    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    C'est comme ca. Petit a petit, l'oiseau fait son nid.

    M-A
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  8. #488
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Yes, well... The bird is here to be eaten in the end

    But tell me, Did you, or Tom, put your hands on the last report from the Human Rights Commission fom the UN on the war crimes in DRC between 96 and 2003 ?

    Apparently, sometimes, even for wolfs time are tuff.
    I'll be happy to get a copy, could not find it in open sources yet.

  9. #489
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    I read about the leaked report at this blog, but I haven't seen it on any of the secured sites I frequent. But then, most of the sites I work with probably couldn't find the DRC on a map

    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Yes, well... The bird is here to be eaten in the end

    But tell me, Did you, or Tom, put your hands on the last report from the Human Rights Commission fom the UN on the war crimes in DRC between 96 and 2003 ?

    Apparently, sometimes, even for wolfs time are tuff.
    I'll be happy to get a copy, could not find it in open sources yet.
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  10. #490
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    Default U.N. Congo Report Offers New View on Genocide

    U.N. Congo Report Offers New View on Genocide
    By HOWARD W. FRENCH
    New York Times
    Published: August 27, 2010

    A forthcoming United Nations report on 10 years of extraordinary violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo bluntly challenges the conventional history of events there after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, charging that invading troops from Rwanda and their rebel allies killed tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group, including many civilians.

    Killings in Congo and Rwanda have led to long inquiries.
    The 545-page report on 600 of the country’s most serious reported atrocities raises the question of whether Rwanda could be found guilty of genocide against Hutu during the war in neighboring Congo, but says international courts would need to rule on individual cases.

    ...

    While Rwanda and Congolese rebel forces have always claimed that they attacked Hutu militias who were sheltered among civilians, the United Nations report documents deliberate reprisal attacks on civilians.

    The report says that the apparently systematic nature of the massacres “suggests that the numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage.” It continues, “The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who were often undernourished and posed no threat to the attacking forces.”

    The existence of the United Nations document, titled Democratic Republic of Congo, 1993-2003, was first reported by the French daily newspaper Le Monde. But participants in the drafting of the report have described its progress and difficulties over a period of seven months to The New York Times, which obtained the most recent version of the report.

    ...

    The release of the report appears to have been delayed in part over fears of the reaction of the Rwandan government, which has long enjoyed strong diplomatic support from the United States and Britain. There is concern in the United Nations that Rwanda might end its participation in peacekeeping operations in retaliation for the report.

    ...
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  11. #491
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    The release of the report appears to have been delayed in part over fears of the reaction of the Rwandan government, which has long enjoyed strong diplomatic support from the United States and Britain. There is concern in the United Nations that Rwanda might end its participation in peacekeeping operations in retaliation for the report.
    Not sure that would be such a bad thing. We cannot have 2 weights for such things as genocides. What ever your contribution is, the political challenge of replacing you (and please not by zimbabwean soldiers...) cannot compete with the gravity of the crime.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Not sure that would be such a bad thing. We cannot have 2 weights for such things as genocides. What ever your contribution is, the political challenge of replacing you (and please not by zimbabwean soldiers...) cannot compete with the gravity of the crime.
    When the (Zimbabwean) Gukurahundi genocide took place in the early 80's the Brits (Margret *#@*# Thatcher) let it slide, then the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides saw Bill #@*#@ Clinton frozen in indecision after the "Black Hawk Down" debacle just sit on his hands.

    Did anyone think a deterrent with regard to mass murder/rape and genocide had been established? I suggest the thugs of the world thought "see they got away with it then so can I".

    Now we read that some gutless bureaucrats at the UN delay the publication of the report based on a concern about upsetting the (alleged) perpetrator.

    When was the last time we had significant political leader with balls?

  13. #493
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    When was the last time we had significant political leader with balls?
    When was the last time we had the political will to support intervention in Africa? Political leaders in a democracy are accountable to their constituents, not to their testicles, or to anyone's perception of the greatest good of humankind. For better or for worse, voters in the US and Europe aren't willing to see their governments commit large scale resources to interventions in Africa. It's not a question of balls, it's a question of popular support, and it just isn't there.

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    Default airpower in Zaire/DR Congo 1980 - 2001

    There hasn't been much activity on the Air Combat Information Group website lately (a great resource on some of the lesser-known modern air wars)... but a few days ago, this update popped up:

    Zaire/DR Congo 1980 - 2001

    The last 15 years of the civil war in Congo have seen quite some use of air power as well - frequently at an unexpectedly (and largely unknown) high level. Considering the size of the country and the number of involved fractions, as well as the complexity of this conflict however, this is not surprising. This exclusive report was prepared on the basis of years of intensive research, which enabled the authors to privde very in-depth information about composition and operations of involved air forces, but also about the general conduct of this war.
    To my non-expert eyes, well worth a read for those interested in the conflict.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Default Location of Mapping Report on Scribd.com

    Probably anyone who's interested has already seen that the UN Mapping Report has been leaked on Scribd.com, but just in case:-

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/38549929/U...ed-Aug-27-2010

    Cheers

  16. #496
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Two Genocide suspects arrested in Belgium
    from Brussels indicate that Belgian authorities, Tuesday morning, arrested two Rwandans accused of taking part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

    Ernest Gakwaya, alias Camarade, and Emmanuel Nkunzuwimye, also known as Bomboko, were picked up from their residences, in the wee hours and taken into custody.

    Both were notorious members of the Interahamwe militia,

    When contacted, the Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, told The New Times that his office has not been officially informed, but had heard about it.

    “We have for years, been jointly working with Belgian investigators on these cases. The arrests do not come as a surprise, it was expected,” Ngoga said.

    According to survivors, Ernest Gakwaya, alias Camarade, is a notorious name in Nyamirambo, a popular Kigali suburb. As an ardent member of the Interahamwe 16 years ago, he left an indelible mark in the widespread killings during the Genocide.

    Nkunzuwimye, on the other hand, was the side-kick of Jean Marie Vianney Mudahinyuka, alias Zuzu, Who was recently deported from the USA.

    He is currently serving a 19-year jail sentence that had been passed down in absentia by a Gacaca court.
    Difficult to say it's a bad news. But difficult to say it's a good one. The both of them were invited by Kagame in Rwanda and would have remained un arrested if they decided to stay there.
    But still, one by one... The hunt is going on

  17. #497
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Child Soldiers

    A C4 documentary in the excellent series Un-Reported World, with Aidan Hartley as reporter and alas only two days left on the web left. Link to summary and the programme itself:http://www.channel4.com/programmes/u...2011/episode-2

    I have adjusted the thread's title; I had thought there was a thread on the subject already.
    davidbfpo

  18. #498
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    David:

    That was quite interesting. I thought most child soldiers were abducted. According to this production many of them are displaced from their families for one reason or another. If they were in Kinshasa they would have become shegues, streets kids. There are tens of thousands of shegues in Kin. They often group up in small numbers and make their way somehow. In Kin they become shegues, in the east they go into the bush with the Mai Mai or whoever. Interesting.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  19. #499
    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    In 2004, in Ituri, some child soldiers explained to me that they were "recruted". May-May, UPC and Bemba soldiers would come to see them in the bush after an attack did occure in a close by village. The officers would tell them that there parents were dead or that the village would be attack soon and they could protect them.
    On this, I advise to follow the Lubanga and Katanga trials at ICP.

  20. #500
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    Default 'Dancing in the glory of monsters'

    A US observer directed my attention to this book, the full title is: ''Dancing in the glory of monsters: The collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa' by Jason K. Stearns, which was reviewed in the Washington Post:http://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...BQE_story.html

    This thread has a strong Rwandan theme and so I enjoyed this military feat:
    Stearns describes the Kitona airlift of 1998, a daring raid that, had it been carried out by Americans, would be the subject of movies. Instead of advancing on foot again, the Rwandans commandeered a Boeing 707 and sent a tiny force leapfrogging across the country, hoping to take the capital, Kinshasa, by surprise. They had a secret deal that the Congolese garrison at a nearby airstrip would switch sides and welcome them, but they were not sure it would be honored. As they approached, the pilot fretted that they would be shot down. The top Rwandan officer on board told him not to worry and radioed to a man he said was the commander on the ground. A surprisingly clear voice reassured the pilot that it was safe to land. He did not realize that he was talking to a Rwandan officer lounging in the back of the plane. The Rwandans captured the airstrip, flew in reinforcements, seized a dam and cut off the power supply to Kinshasa....
    Link to Amazon.com for reviews plus:http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-Glory-...4940958&sr=1-1
    davidbfpo

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