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Thread: Africom Stands Up 2006-2017

  1. #241
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    Default US Military Plans Operations in Africa

    US Military Plans Operations in Africa

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    Default Africa: A New Front in the US-Iranian Cold War?

    Africa: A New Front in the US-Iranian Cold War?

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    Default White House expands covert war in North Africa

    WASHINGTON - Small teams of special operations forces arrived at American embassies throughout North Africa in the months before militants launched the fiery attack that killed the U.S. ambassador in Libya. The soldiers' mission: Set up a network that could quickly strike a terrorist target or rescue a hostage.

    But the teams had yet to do much counterterrorism work in Libya, though the White House signed off a year ago on the plan to build the new military task force in the region and the advance teams had been there for six months, according to three U.S. counterterror officials and a former intelligence official. All spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the strategy publicly.
    http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/w...rica-1.4066968
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    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Read this article this morning and the last part had me scratching my head:

    http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.o...st.aspx?ID=960
    Last edited by gute; 11-03-2012 at 03:05 PM. Reason: I don't know my geography

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    Default AFRICOM's aligned BCT, based in RoK

    Quote Originally Posted by gute View Post
    Read this article this morning and the last part had me scratching my head:http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.o...st.aspx?ID=960
    Gute,

    You are being polite! I assume you refer to this phrase:
    The 1st Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, based in South Korea, will support U.S. Africa Command.
    Even I know as a civilian this brigade is "heavy", let alone the distances involved in any deployment to Africa and given the potential for untoward events in NE Asia, could the US ever release even a BCT?

    Logic would suggest the independent airborne brigade, long stationed in Italy, would be the RAB of choice.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    The first of up to seven new Army units, created to train and help foreign militaries will be operational by the next fiscal year. The first of these "Regionally Aligned Brigades" will be assigned to Africa Command, but will be stationed in the continental United States....

    The brigade will be responsible for working with foreign militaries on stability, security and training operations and should be ready to go by by fiscal 2013....These military cooperation units will be roughly the size as a brigade combat team....
    The only demand signal for this is inside the US military. "Building Partner Capacity" is the new "COIN." It is based upon a very flawed understanding of why certain countries are hot beds of instability, with associated insurgent groups among their populaces and exploiting UW actors working among them for reasons of their own. It also is much more about what we want to do rather than about what needs to be done.

    As often as not, these countries are not unstable because they lack the "will or skill" (a term that we love to use that is so inaccurate, but that validates our perceptions), but rather because of the excess application of security forces to keep dissatisfied populaces in check.

    If a family is in chaos because a man abuses his wife and children, you don't solve the problem by issuing the guy a bigger baseball bat and teaching him how to use it with greater efficiency. Or by providing "ops-intel fusion" to tell him which of her friend's homes she is hiding at for refuge from his abuse. Yet this is the general premise behind "BPC."

    Rotating entire brigades in and out of deployment windows to perform this task is a recipe for disaster. This is why the Army developed its tremendous Special Forces, CA and MISO capacity in the first place. The recognition that some jobs are simply inappropriate for larger combat formations.

    I realize the desire to retain force structure is driving much of the rationale behind this. As is the belief coming out of recent operations that conventional forces can and should do these missions. But if everyone is trying to do special operations, who is doing conventional operations?

    Some may remember that after the Gulf War the Army decided that the Homeland mission already fully serviced by the National Guard was what they needed to do, so they were busily trying to elbow the Guard out of their way when the Balkans started to heat up. At that point Big Army dropped homeland missions like a hot potato, and ran to doing what they really wanted to do. Same will be true with BPC.

    It was suggested to big Army nearly a year ago that they could actually become a major player in FID ( an operation they hate and do not understand) if they would be willing to adopt a true regimental construct and tailor and dedicate a single brigade to each GCC AOR; ideally on a post co-located with the Special Forces Group working that same region. This would allow them to not only develop true expertise and shape their training, manning and equipping to the unique aspects of the mission, but that would facilitate true "SOF-Conventional integration" as current strategies are calling for. But that doesn't validate much force structure, and it does not work within ARFORGEN, and it would most likely keep that conventional BDE in a supporting role as a force provider of conventional capacities to SOF-led operations. Needless to say it was rejected off hand.

    No, instead we will attempt to deploy the lion-share of an entire BDE, who will want to own their "battlespace" (I can hear Ambassadors now, "battlespace??") with SOF-conventional integration meaning having that ODA work for the conventional battalion commander who's multi-country "battlespace" he happens to be in.

    I hope we have the wisdom and courage to step away from this. It will no server our national interests well, and it will cause as much pain as it cures for the people it affects.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    If a family is in chaos because a man abuses his wife and children, you don't solve the problem by issuing the guy a bigger baseball bat and teaching him how to use it with greater efficiency. Or by providing "ops-intel fusion" to tell him which of her friend's homes she is hiding at for refuge from his abuse. Yet this is the general premise behind "BPC."
    i

    Great insight!! Can I quote this elsewhere?

    This is what most Africans fear about AFRICOM, that it will lead to more violence and more instability.

    A few days ago, the Nigerian Army basically executed about 30 young men in the North East (hot bed of Boko Haram). What, exactly, can AFRICOM do except give them better guns and training to do more of the same in future and put the US in an even more precarious position in Nigeria?

  8. #248
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default U.S. military behind Africa news websites fighting terrorism

    NAIROBI, Kenya - The website's headlines trumpet al-Shabab's imminent demise and describe an American jihadist fretting over insurgent infighting. At first glance it appears to be a sleek, Horn of Africa news site. But the site - sabahionline.com - is run by the U.S. military.

    The site, and another one like it that centers on northwest Africa, is part of a propaganda effort by the U.S. military's Africa Command aimed at countering extremists in two of Africa's most dangerous regions - Somalia and the Maghreb.

    Omar Faruk Osman, the secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists, said Sabahi is the first website he's seen devoted to countering the militants' message.

    "We have seen portal services by al-Shabab for hate and for propaganda, for spreading violence. We are used to seeing that. In contrast we have not seen such news sites before. So it is something completely unique," Osman said.
    http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/...ac=fo.military
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    Default Missteps Define US Strategy in Africa

    Missteps Define US Strategy in Africa

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  10. #250
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    Default The Pentagon is wilfully blind to local realities?

    After Mali rightly we should ask what went wrong - for the USA - especially using its agent, the Pentagon (DoD) and AFRICOM.

    The title is shorter version of this comment:
    It’s not DoD’s fault that an officer trained in U.S. military schools led a coup in Mali last March, one more thing which destabilized a weak state, but it is certainly the Pentagon’s fault that it enacts policies which seem wilfully blind to local politico-ethnic realities. Mali is hardly the first place DoD has followed an unwitting own-goal policy, but here the consequences were swift and painful.
    Last fall Paris – which has better connections in its former African colonies than the U.S. ever will – was warning that Mali was on the verge of state collapse, with a jihadistan stretching over the region being a real possibility.

    French concerns, however, were blown off rudely. General Carter Ham, the AFRICOM commander, stated bluntly that military intervention in Mali would fail, while our always tactless UN Ambassador Susan Rice publicly mocked French plans to bolster Mali against the jihad, which had regional African backing, as “crap”. Of course, last week, when American-trained Mali forces fell apart under jihadist assaults, leaving the country vulnerable to takeover by madmen, it was U.S. plans and policy which were revealed to be crap.
    Link:http://20committee.com/2013/01/16/the-lessons-of-mali/

    The author cites another article Adam Garfinkle's article:
    The U.S. counterterrorism training mission in Mali made the stupefying mistake of choosing three of four northern unit commanders to train who were Tuareg. As the article says, when the Tuareg rebellion in Mali gained steam after the denouement of the Libya caper, greatly stimulated by the return of heavily armed Tuareg brethren from that fight, these three Tuareg commanders defected to the rebels, bringing soldiers, vehicles, ammunition and more to the anti-government side. Anyone who was surprised by this is an idiot, or at the very least a terminal ignoramus. And anyone in the U.S. military who failed to understand the ethnic composition of the country’s politico-military cleavages, such that he let U.S. Special Forces training be lavished on Tuareg commanders, was clearly insufficiently trained to do his job. And believe me, that’s about as nice a way to put that as I can summon.
    Link:http://blogs.the-american-interest.c...flogging-mali/

    I do wonder how AFRICOM in particular will respond, given its reputation within Africa; as reflected in the thread: 'AFRICOM and the perception mess':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14537 Also relevant is
    'Africom Stands Up':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=6167

    On Mali specifically there are two threads, 'Mali mainly, 2012 coup, drugs & more':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=9254 and 'Ripples from Mali: events plus outside Mali':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=17365
    davidbfpo

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    David,

    Can I put it a bit more bluntly? The US simply lacks the understanding/context to form an effective military partnership with many African states.

    Why is this so? You cannot understand a nation from the comfort of a fortress-like embassy in the capital. The US will either get played or have to depend on the judgement of former colonial powers like Britain and France (who might have their own agenda).

    How does the US break this vicious circle? Don't know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    David,

    Can I put it a bit more bluntly? The US simply lacks the understanding/context to form an effective military partnership with many African states.

    Why is this so? You cannot understand a nation from the comfort of a fortress-like embassy in the capital. The US will either get played or have to depend on the judgement of former colonial powers like Britain and France (who might have their own agenda).

    How does the US break this vicious circle? Don't know.
    Over the past few decades I have come to believe that our Department of State really doesn't mind driving blind. They're not an organization that habitually questions their assumptions. They push whatever their agenda is and seek the most expedient means to pursue that agenda, and in many cases do so without even trying to understanding of the context and how this will play out over time. Of course even if they wanted to gain understanding, that understanding will remain elusive if they don't navigate outside of diplomatic circles. This is not true for all embassies, but it does reflect the culture of most. The classic book, "The Ugly American" still accurately represents the culture of our country teams in too many cases.

    The military is little better as this particular example points out. We too quickly rush to the easiest path so we take a "by, with, and through" approach. Any willing surrogate will do, and then we'll fool ourselves into believing we're on the legitimate path to victory regardless of how flawed our surrogates eventually prove themselves to be.

    If we continue to rush in without first gaining understanding it is probable that we'll continue to create new problems, sometimes more problems, than the ones we attempted to solve. I think the only way to move beyond this haphazard approach is to make a concerted effort on gaining a holistic understanding of these issues in collaboration with multiple others (our views need to be challenged to see if they stand up to the sniff test). How we organize to do this is the million dollar question. Another issue in my opinion is that we all too often have policy influenced by think tanks in D.C.. They should be voice, but over the years they gained excessive influence.

    The good news for us is that all we're all collectively stupid. I haven't seen any other powerful nations do it any better than we do, so relatively we're not that bad, but that shouldn't be our standard.

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    Default Trained Indifference

    from Bill Moore:
    Over the past few decades I have come to believe that our Department of State really doesn't mind driving blind. They're not an organization that habitually questions their assumptions. They push whatever their agenda is and seek the most expedient means to pursue that agenda, and in many cases do so without even trying to understanding of the context and how this will play out over time. Of course even if they wanted to gain understanding, that understanding will remain elusive if they don't navigate outside of diplomatic circles. This is not true for all embassies, but it does reflect the culture of most. The classic book, "The Ugly American" still accurately represents the culture of our country teams in too many cases.
    Besides full agreement with what you say above, your cite to "The Ugly American" brings back memories of reading it as a serial, starting in the Saturday Evening Post, October 4, 1958. Of course, that was something of a "pastel" world - not yet colored by Vietnam:



    So, one has to "adjust" (refine, tweak) "The Ugly American" to meet current realities.

    But, this point is as valid today as it was then: "Of course even if they wanted to gain understanding, that understanding will remain elusive if they don't navigate outside of diplomatic circles." I was reminded of that not that long ago because of an experience that must remain confidential. Simply stated, Embassy X not only elected not to navigate outside of diplomatic circles, it was unmannerly to boot.

    Of course, as the old saying goes: "Discipline is a matter between officers; manners are a matter between gentlemen."

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default Ugly American was the good guy

    As you well know, Mike the "ugly" American, COL Hillanddale - a very, very thinly disguised Ed Lansdale - was the hero of the book. He always got out of both the Embassy and the capital and the military compounds. The FAO program is designed to make its officers educated in the language and the cultures of the regions / countries they are assigned to. For the most part, it does a good job although I have educated some FAOS who never quite succeeded in comprehending the culture where they were assigned. I know a number of FSOs - some of whom have become ambassadors - who can immerse themselves ina culture as well as any FAO. At least one such FSO - Bill Meara who was occasionally online here when I joined - is one who was not only an FSO but a FAO, SF, and qualified Psyop officer. Part of the answer of getting out of the embassy is to remember that the FS is a commissioned service and to do your job you must take some risks.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Anyone care to offer an explanation how AFRICOM's future looks post-Mali? In particular if Congress wants to make a cut in spending.

    The thread title was topical and useful. I don't think only the Pentagon is wilfully blind to local realities. Yes the DoD and AFRICOM can point the finger at other USG partners - did anyone within USG say "not sure about this boss or ma'm?"
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    ... did anyone within USG say "not sure about this boss or ma'm?"
    And watch their boss demolish their career while completely ignoring the warning?

    How well do you think Hillary Clinton or Susan Rice would react to be told that maybe, just maybe, there might be something in the situation they'd overlooked, and the decision they'd made might make things worse?

    This get's to the essence of the problem KingJaja brought up: "Can I put it a bit more bluntly? The US simply lacks the understanding/context to form an effective military partnership with many African states."

    Because it isn't the good people John T. refers to who are in control, it's credentialed idiots who call the shots.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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    Default Hey John,

    My complaint did not rest upon "The Ugly American", Col. Hillanddale (Lansdale), FAOs (like Tom Odom), or even with "The Quiet American" of Graham Greene.

    Nope, it rested upon straight-up DoS Foggy Bottom diplomatic types who would do well to read and follow their own protocol manuals and avoid insulting potential indigenous friends.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default jmm99,

    We are in violent agreement.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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    This statement by General Carter Ham shows that the US doesn't get it.

    “We’ve focused exclusively on tactical and technical,” General Ham said in a speech in January in Washington. “We didn’t spend probably the requisite time focusing on values, ethics and a military ethos that says when you put on the uniform of your nation, then you accept the responsibility to defend and protect that nation, to abide by the legitimate civilian authority.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/wo...anted=all&_r=0

    I guess the good general is unaware that MANY African officers have passed through Sandhurst and Saint Cyr. They received better training there than AFRICOM could ever hope to deliver.

    He probably isn't aware that a good number of really nasty leaders/insurgents had advanced degrees in philosophy/political science etc (examples include Robert Mugabe & Hissen Habre).

    All Nigerian regular combatant officers pass through a Military University (they do four year courses in Engineering, Arts, Sciences) & all short service officers are college graduates.

    (Officers lead most revolts & plan most coups).

    The second naive assumption is that the US is going to train children, that none of these men had motivations for joining the Armed Forces. The life of an African soldier is rough, extremely rough - and nobody willingly submits himself to that life without expecting something in return - you can figure out what that means.

    I went for a series of interviews for Military School, none of the guys I met where in any doubt about their motivations for joining the Army.

    To assume that US training will simply erase those motivations is extremely naive. (The Nigerian Army is very prickly about the condescending tone of "US training").

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    Default U.S. Army Hones Antiterror Strategy for Africa, in Kansas

    U.S. Army Hones Antiterror Strategy for Africa, in Kansas

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