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FID & Working With Indigenous Forces Training, advising, and operating with local armed forces in Foreign Internal Defense.

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Old 12-07-2011   #1
White Rabbit
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Default A question on the controversy of FIDs

Statement:

In 1959, a French military mission is created in Buenos Aires where French officers--all veterans from Algeria--translate Roger Trinquier, hold classes and publish articles in military revues.

In the mid-1960s, they move on to the School of the Americas where they teach American instructors and, eventually, directly teach special forces at Fort Bragg.

Special forces then put to practice what they have learned in Foreign Internal Defense programmes, particularly in Latin America.


Given the fact that Trinquier sanctions torture in Modern Warfare (1), and in the light of atrocities perpetrated in Latin America during the same period as Foreign Internal Defense programmes where in place (e.g. in El-Salvador), my question is the following: despite that FIDs programmes evolved in the right direction, to what extend is this history known and, accordingly, to what extend are FIDs controversial in the U.S.?

.

(1)
Quote:
No lawyer is present for such an interrogation. If the prisoner gives the information requested, the examination is quickly terminated; if not, specialists must force his secret from him. Then, as a soldier, he must face the suffering, and perhaps the death, he has heretofore managed to avoid
Source: R. Trinquier, Modern Warfare (Praeger Security International, 2006), p. 19. Nota bene, it is even more explicit in the original, French, version.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-07-2011 at 01:17 PM. Reason: Citation in quotes
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Old 12-07-2011   #2
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Default Hi White Rabbit

Welcome to the Small Wars world. As you read the primary sources, you'll see the first hand accounts of why these types of wars are messy, and many come to the conclusion that we should limit our involvement in others affairs unless absolutely necessary.

As for FID, you'll have to be more specific and ask about a certain country. Each mission can test the moral fiber of the service member. Yesterday, over at Tom Rick's blog, "Leroy the Masochist" provided a very good description of how he dealt with his moral dilemmas as a military advisor to the Iraqi Army,

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Usually the right thing to do is obvious. Other times... during my MTT deployment one of the hardest things we had to do as a team was sit down and get consensus about how much corruption we would tolerate in the Iraqi officers we advised. If we, per "doing the right thing all the time" as preached by [take your pick: Army, USMC, Service Academy, etc] doctrine, had decided to tolerate zero corruption, we would have had to push for the firing of two-thirds of the Iraqi officers in our battalion; the remaining one-third, we didn't have solid evidence on.

The integrity vs. loyalty dynamic is in my opinion the hardest one for leaders to negotiate at the small-unit level. The terrible choice between either not ratting out your buddies (loyalty) or standing up for what is right (integrity/ethics) has always been, and will always be, one of the demons haunting the profession of arms.

The problem is, where do you draw the line. Doing things by the book would have destroyed our ability to advise the Iraqis effectively, but "going native" and completely abrogating any semblance of professional ethics wasn't a choice either, obviously. We did end up purging the battalion of a couple of guys who were particularly egregious; this had the ancillary effect of getting the less-corrupt guys to tone it down a bit.
Me, personally, I had to place an Iraqi company commander in jail for torturing and murdering prisoners, and I had to really work hard to mentor another company to stop torturing. It was a very difficult environment to work in. At the time, tensions were very high, and a lot of violence was going on.

Last edited by MikeF; 12-07-2011 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 12-07-2011   #3
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Default Did torture plus travel to historical FID?

White Rabbit,

I think I see what you are looking for - how does the inter-nation transfer of COIN doctrine and practice work, using the application of whether torture became part of FID.

It might help to look at the field of intelligence ethics, a good starting point is here:http://intelligence-ethics.org/confe...rence_2011.pdf

Which touches upon the separate Anglo-French experience and indicates SME work to check for.
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Old 12-07-2011   #4
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Mike, David, thank you for your inputs--very interesting although they go beyond the answer I am looking for.

To be honest my question is more superficial, i.e. if in the U.S. and the U.S. military, there has been, or is, a reluctance to use FID as it has been portrayed as leading to rather messy outcomes, including death squads in the case of El-Salvador.

P.S. Because of the sensitive nature of the subject, I just want to emphasis the fact that I am not merely looking to point fingers at someone or something just for the sake of it. I am genuinely wondering if there have been, or is, some reluctance regarding the "re-birth" of FID alongside COIN doctrine, e.g. due to the aforementioned death squads in the case of El-Salvador.

Last edited by White Rabbit; 12-07-2011 at 03:52 PM. Reason: Added precisions
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Old 12-07-2011   #5
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I can’t tell you the first thing about how FID is currently looked upon within the U.S. Military or by civilian policymakers within the Federal Government, but at the risk of going off-topic I do want to comment on the below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by White Rabbit View Post
To be honest my question is more superficial, i.e. if in the U.S. and the U.S. military, there has been, or is, a reluctance to use FID as it has been portrayed as leading to rather messy outcomes, including death squads in the case of El-Salvador.
From what I know of Salvadoran history events such as the Mozote massacre look like patterned behavior the antecedents of which precede the existence of the Special Forces or the CIA. As someone who is particular with semantics, I myself consider statements to the effect that FID lead to such events during the Salvadoran Civil War to be poorly informed. I don’t feel like that lets U.S. policymakers off the hook in regards to aid military or otherwise to the Salvadoran Government during the conflict, though. They either did not know who they were getting into bed with (i.e., were reckless), did not care who they were getting into bed with (i.e., were promiscuous), or knew who they were getting into bed with and thought they were going to be able to make an honest woman out of her (i.e., were some mix of naïve and supercilious).
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Old 12-07-2011   #6
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Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
As someone who is particular with semantics, I myself consider statements to the effect that FID lead to such events during the Salvadoran Civil War to be poorly informed.
I take the criticism.

This was presented to me by a (B.A.) university teacher I knew as biased. Further light Internet research led me to two WikiLeaks pieces which are available over here and here (the manual is a great read).

I nonetheless wanted to get an idea of how FIDs are perceived within the U.S. and U.S. military and Small Wars Journal seemed the best place to get some general information, as your post proved it.

Thank you for the links by the way...

Last edited by White Rabbit; 12-07-2011 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 12-07-2011   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White Rabbit View Post
I take the criticism.
No need to. It wasn’t a criticism of anything I necessarily took to be your own personal opinion. I was weighing in on the type of portrayal you mention.

Quote:
Thank you for the links by the way...
To you, as well. Happily I am not dreaming of employment with the State Department so I am free to peruse.
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Old 12-07-2011   #8
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In the 70s and 80s there was certainly a broad perception that US FID and military training condoned human rights abuses or didn't do enough to stop them. There may be some substance to that. In the post-Vietnam environment a lot of Americans still felt that we lost because we had to fight with one hand tied behind our backs, and respect for human rights was still widely (and bizarrely) seen as a disadvantage in the war against communism.

Still I think that the trend is generally overstated. The people we were working with needed no instruction or assistance to abuse their people; they'd been doing it for years on their own... and it's not likely that anything the US would say or do was going to stop them.

Today of course this is largely ancient history, except to the Chomsky-wing left and others like them. In the Philippines the US has attained a fair degree of popularity in areas where we're doing field FID, and that's less because of development work than because of a perception that the Philippine military behave better when Americans are around. Can't speak from direct experience of other areas currently, but I'd be curious to hear of any recent claims that US FID is aiding and abetting abuse. No real point in warming over the old stuff yet again.
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Old 12-08-2011   #9
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Seems like we may be confusing CT, COIN and FID. Foreign internal defense (FID) is the participation by civilian and military agencies of a government in any of the action programs taken by another government or other designated organization, to free and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness, insurgency, terrorism, and other threats to their security. The focus of US FID efforts is to support the host nation’s (HN’s) internal defense and development (IDAD), which can be described as the full range of measures taken by a nation to promote its growth and protect itself from the security threats described above.

I agree that the French and Brits both influenced our COIN doctrine in the 70s and 80s, even if they didn't get credit for the influence. And yes, rougher methods were generally more accepted during the Cold War as the cost of doing business. Perhaps not a stated policy, but in practice we did follow the he may be a bastard, but he's our bastard rule. Our objective was to contain communism, and the ends were generally more important than the means. However, as Dayuhan pointed out no one needed to teach these guys how to torture or abuse anyone, they were abusing their people and prisoners long before they met any American advisors.

Did the U.S. teach these methods? I can only speak from my experience in the 80s (we cleaned up our act in the 90s). The short answer is no, but I accept there "may" have even some U.S. persons involved who promoted these methods based on their personal views, but I'm not aware of doctrine that promoted these abuses. I'm referring to the military only, the three letter agency folks can speak for themselves. I recall seeing a few abuses over the years in more than one developing nation, and during that time frame we had no mandate to intervene like we do now. None the less, I did intervene in two separate incidents in two separate countries to stop (at least for the moment) foreign troops from abusing their own people (such as beating up a local civilian to get information, when he wasn't even a suspect, it was just normal practice). We would attempt to mentor them later on why that behavior was counterproductive, but we had no mandate to stop it or disengage with them if they did, like we do now. My general impression was no one in the USG was supportive of this, and worked patiently to change this behavior. What the CIA may have done the 70s in Latin America is another story, but like most of us on SWJ, we only know what we read, and suspect a great deal of that is inaccurate.

The bottom line is these were cultural norms, and since in FID we were advising and assisting we didn't make the rules, but mentored and in some cases instructed. We were teaching the importance of a proper relationship with the populace long before population centric COIN became vogue in 2006 or so. The focus wasn't the population, but defeating the insurgency, but realizing you couldn't do that effectively if you alienated the population.

All that said I'm not opposed to a tough interrogation run by a true professional. Intelligence is critical, and the best intelligence for these types of conflicts is human intelligence, especially in those days. A tough interrogation conducted by a professional is not torture.

Finally, the brutal tactics employed by the French worked, so it would be naive to dismiss them as ineffective, but that isn't point, it simply isn't the way we fight based on our national morals, which are for the most part codified into law.
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Old 12-08-2011   #10
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Dayuhan, Bill, thank you for sharing your experiences.

Without going too much into the philosophical, they confirm one of the rare facts of life as far as I am concerned: nothing is black and white, everything is grey.
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Old 12-08-2011   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Finally, the brutal tactics employed by the French worked, so it would be naive to dismiss them as ineffective, but that isn't point, it simply isn't the way we fight based on our national morals, which are for the most part codified into law.
If the reference is to Algeria, I have never understood the reasoning behind the assertion that what the French did there was effective. I know that had politics not taken the turn they did that the FLN would likely have been soon reduced to a non-factor, but the conflict in Algeria helped generate the political context that brought de Gaulle to power.
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Old 12-08-2011   #12
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Default But there’s some overlap, no?

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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Seems like we may be confusing CT, COIN and FID.
As someone with no background of military service my intuition regarding the three would be something along the lines of the following. During my Reagan Era childhood, Delta/1st SFOD-D/CAG was described as a/the counter-terrorism unit, so in my head I associate hostage rescue, snatch and grab, and assassination with CT. Having first learned of the concept of counterinsurgency as a 20–year–old living in Guatemala in the early ‘90s my reflexive thought when I read or hear discussion of COIN is in line with W. George Lovell’s statement that “[k]illing Maya Indians and laying their communities to waste does not solve the problem of reluctant native labor. But it has served effectively to traumatize survivors into submission.” I sort of take the adoption of the abbreviation to be a rebranding while having a vague notion that what used to be a bludgeon is now more like a stick and that some substantial carrots have been added into the mix. As for FID, I happen to have known a fellow who was with the Special Forces in Vietnam (he walked away from a football scholarship at Marshall en route—some guys have all the luck! ) so when I see reference to that term I think of some version of my friend out in the bush/hills/jungle running drills with some version of the Montagnards. So I did a quick search for the doctrinal definitions to see if I was anywhere in the neighborhood and I turned up the following:
  • CT Operations that include the offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, preempt, and respond to terrorism. (JP 1–02)
  • COIN Counterinsurgency is military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency. (JP 1–02)
  • FID FID programs encompass the total political, economic, informational, and military support provided to another nation to assist its fight against subversion and insurgency. (JP 3–07)
Am I accurate here? I kind of hope I am not, because given the amount of overlap amongst them it is almost as if the definitions were created to engender confusion…
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Last edited by ganulv; 12-08-2011 at 04:10 PM. Reason: added a link
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Old 12-08-2011   #13
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Default Warfare is massive overlap in all directions...

You're accurate and so are the definitions.

Warfare is not only overlap, it is confusion writ large. That is not really a problem except for those who don't cope well or who wish to make it one...
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Old 12-08-2011   #14
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Default But clear directions are always better. To a point…

In my dealings with others I take as received wisdom something my mother once told me—“Matthew, some people are only good for following directions.” Pro: Such people are much more likely to do as they are told than are other folks. Con: This may include driving into the building the GPS does not know is there.

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Warfare is not only overlap, it is confusion writ large. That is not really a problem except for those who don't cope well or who wish to make it one...
And what employee of a large bureaucracy would ever want to make anything a problem?
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Old 12-08-2011   #15
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Default Your Mother was right...

And those are the folks that don't cope well and / or who wish to make most everything a problem (occasionally so that only they can offer a solution...) and who relish or hide behind the bureaucratic approach.

Coping with complexity requires minimal direction, a major problem with "clear directions" is that, as with GPS, one can develop target fixation to a dangerous extent...

(Not to mention that one conditioned to GPS has great difficulty coping when the system is down... )
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Old 12-09-2011   #16
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Posted by Ganulv

Quote:
If the reference is to Algeria, I have never understood the reasoning behind the assertion that what the French did there was effective. I know that had politics not taken the turn they did that the FLN would likely have been soon reduced to a non-factor, but the conflict in Algeria helped generate the political context that brought de Gaulle to power.
To point out that is complicated is an understatement and a statement of the obvious. I'm not going to debate the morality or the strategy at the national level, because there are many sides to each that can be rationally argued to no real end. On the other hand the tactics the French employed did militarily defeat the armed wing of the insurgency.

The insurgents/rebels were just as cruel as the French, so there were no good guys. Neither side effectively rallied a majority of the populace to its side, so the decisive factor on the battle field was intelligence and fighting ability (mobility, fire power, tactics, etc.).

Strategically the French were defeated for a lot of reasons, most of them had to do with politics on the home front.

I have no issues with your definitions of CT, COIN and FID, and yes the lines between the three are often blurred, and while can involved more providing advise and assistance, FID is generally viewed as such, while COIN and CT are largely doing (of course that isn't accurate, but that is the general assumption). My point is if the HN is torturing people while conducting COIN and CT, that doesn't mean we advised them to do so while conducting FID.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 12-09-2011 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 12-09-2011   #17
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Taking it one step further... what's the best policy in engaging an allied military force that wants and needs help, but that has a record of human rights abuse. Do you refuse to have anything to do with them, or work with them in an effort to improve things?

Obviously that depends on our assessment of the problem and the likelihood of it improving, and on political evaluations of just how important the alliance in question is. The questions remain, though: how bad do they have to be before we refuse to have anything to do with them? Is a refusal to engage going to make any difference? Is it possible for intervention to produce lasting changes?

Not that there's a universal answer, but it's a question worth considering, as in practice many of the governments and militaries we work in FID roles with have and will continue to have less than spotless records.
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Old 12-09-2011   #18
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Posted by Bill Moore

Quote:
To point out that is complicated is an understatement and a statement of the obvious. I'm not going to debate the morality or the strategy at the national level, because there are many sides to each that can be rationally argued to no real end. On the other hand the tactics the French employed did militarily defeat the armed wing of the insurgency.

The insurgents/rebels were just as cruel as the French, so there were no good guys. Neither side effectively rallied a majority of the populace to its side, so the decisive factor on the battle field was intelligence and fighting ability (mobility, fire power, tactics, etc.).

Strategically the French were defeated for a lot of reasons, most of them had to do with politics on the home front.

I have no issues with your definitions of CT, COIN and FID, and yes the lines between the three are often blurred, and while can involved more providing advise and assistance, FID is generally viewed as such, while COIN and CT are largely doing (of course that isn't accurate, but that is the general assumption). My point is if the HN is torturing people while conducting COIN and CT, that doesn't mean we advised them to do so while conducting FID.
A note on history...

Bill, your post made me remember that many of the French officers in Algeria--which I think includes Trinquier although I have to double-check that--often were resistant during the Second World War. Accordingly, some of them were tortured.

While not justifying the use of torture, it might explain their use of it. If they saw it as a technique which worked on them, it is likely that they came to the conclusion that it will work on others.

If I remember correctly in the Army of Shadows, Jean-Pierre Melville--who was himself a resistant--even depicts the use of torture by resistant on fellow resistant.

Last edited by White Rabbit; 12-09-2011 at 11:50 AM. Reason: Added "A note on history..."
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Old 12-09-2011   #19
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Posted by Dayuhan

Quote:
Taking it one step further... what's the best policy in engaging an allied military force that wants and needs help, but that has a record of human rights abuse. Do you refuse to have anything to do with them, or work with them in an effort to improve things?

Obviously that depends on our assessment of the problem and the likelihood of it improving, and on political evaluations of just how important the alliance in question is. The questions remain, though: how bad do they have to be before we refuse to have anything to do with them? Is a refusal to engage going to make any difference? Is it possible for intervention to produce lasting changes?

Not that there's a universal answer, but it's a question worth considering, as in practice many of the governments and militaries we work in FID roles with have and will continue to have less than spotless records.
The questions I ask myself are:

. what are the benefits of engaging in FID within those countries?

. what are the risks of engaging in FID within those countries?

And ultimately:

. to what extend are the U.S. ready to take the risk of loosing their legitimacy at the international level (which, in my view, already has eroded to an extend that was unimaginable a few years ago)?
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Old 12-09-2011   #20
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Default Trinquier

He served in China (as a French officer) for the duration of WWII. His knowledge of WWII resistance in France was second-hand from what I've read. He did later write favorably of the courage of the resisters.

Trinquier's view of terrorist interrogation has a quasi-religious theme, which saw one end result of the terrorist's confession to be redemptive. From Modern Warfare (online at CGSC):

Quote:
The terrorist should not be considered an ordinary criminal. Actually, he fights within the framework of his organization,. without personal interest, for a cause he considers noble and for a respectable ideal, the same as the soldiers in the armies confronting him. On the command of his superiors, he kills without hatred individuals unknown to him, with the same indifference as the soldier on the battlefield. His victims are often women and children, almost always defenseless individuals taken by surprise. But during a period of history when the bombing of open cities is permitted, and when two Japanese cities were razed to hasten the end of the war in the Pacific, one cannot with good cause reproach him.[*]

[*] Yassef Saadi, chief of the Autonomous Zone of Algiers (Z.A.A.), said after his arrest: "I had my bombs planted in the city because I didn't have the aircraft to transport them. But they caused fewer victims than the artillery and air bombardments of our mountain villages. I'm in a war, you cannot blame me."

The terrorist has become a soldier, like the aviator or the infantryman.

But the aviator flying over a city knows that antiaircraft shells can kill or maim him. The infantryman wounded on the battlefield accepts physical suffering, often for long hours, when he falls between the lines and it is impossible to rescue him. It never occurs to him to complain and to ask, for example, that his enemy renounce the use of the rifle, the shell, or the bomb. If he can, he goes back to a hospital knowing this to be his lot. The soldier, therefore, admits the possibility of physical suffering as part of the job. The risks he runs on the battlefield and the suffering he endures are the price of the glory he receives.

The terrorist claims the same honors while rejecting the same obligations. His kind of organization permits him to escape from the police, his victims cannot defend themselves, and the army cannot use the power of its weapons against him because he hides himself permanently within the midst of a population going about its peaceful pursuits.

But he must be made to realize that, when he is captured, he cannot be treated as an ordinary criminal, nor like a prisoner taken on the battlefield. What the forces of order who have arrested him are seeking is not to punish a crime, for which he is otherwise not personally responsible, but, as in any war, the destruction of the enemy army or its surrender. Therefore he is not asked details about himself or about attacks that he may or may not have committed and that are not of immediate interest, but rather for precise information about his organization. In particular, each man has a superior whom he knows; he will first have to give the name of this person, along with his address, so that it will be possible to proceed with the arrest without delay.

No lawyer is present for such an interrogation. If the prisoner gives the information requested, the examination is quickly terminated; if not, specialists must force his secret from him. Then, as a soldier, he must face the suffering, and perhaps the death, he has heretofore managed to avoid. The terrorist must accept this as a condition inherent in his trade and in the methods of warfare that, with full knowledge, his superiors and he himself have chosen.[*]

[*] In France during the Nazi occupation, members of the Resistance violated the rules of warfare. They knew they could not hide behind them, and they were perfectly aware of the risks to which they were exposing themselves. Their glory is to have calmly faced those risks with full knowledge of the consequences.

Once the interrogation is finished, however, the terrorist can take his place among soldiers. From then on, he is a prisoner of war like any other, kept from resuming hostilities until the end of the conflict.

It would be as useless and unjust to charge him with the attacks he was able to carry out, as to hold responsible the infantryman or the airman for the deaths caused by the weapons they use. According to Clausewitz:

Quote:
War . . . is an act of violence intended to compel an opponent to fulfill our Will.... Self-imposed restrictions, almost imperceptible and hardly worth mentioning, termed usages of International Law, accompany it without impairing its power. Violence . . . is therefore the means; the compulsory submission of the enemy to our will is the ultimate object. . . . In such dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are the worst. As the use of physical power to the utmost extent by no means excludes the cooperation of the intelligence, it follows that he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to the bloodshed involved, must obtain a superiority if his adversary uses less vigor in its application. . . .To introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity.
These basic principles of traditional warfare retain all of their validity in modern warfare.
This is a long quote, but it is necessary to show from whence this very complex man came.

A good comment on Trinquier by Tom Odom is here (from 2008).

Regards

Mike

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