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02 March 2013


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Alba Etie

Bonne Chasse !
Wonder how one says Happy Hunting in Chadean ? Or in Taureg ?
Wonder how much the drones in Niger helped in finding the AQIM leadership ? Wonder how much a role the Algerians played in this operation ? Wonder if the salafis from Syria really are going to the Sahel ?
Tunde are you lurking about , what have you heard from Nigeria ?


I suspect the intel has far more to do with people on the ground than any drones in Niger.

robt willmann

It looks as if confirmation of the death of both Zeid and Belmokhtar is still pending.



In addition to the operational lessons we should draw, there may be others of a political/information nature. Most obviously, these situations all have their peculiar features. Mali is not Yemen, Afghanistan or any other place - it's Mali. There have been elements in the equation of capital importance that eluded the kind of deductive thinking that prevails in the White House and among the commentariat. First, the threat (outside Mali) was hugely exaggerated. Second, the bad guys' unity and capability was grossly inflated, and their leadership misrepresented. As a result, Obama was so afraid of getting involved - and thereby spoiling his legacy as the "end our wars" presidency that he even refused to help the French refuel their planes. Then we got the wave of scare stories about how the rebels would retreat to their mountain bastions (actually hills)whose Atlantic Wall redoubts would make extricating them a forever project.

Where does all this BS come from and why? Studies ignorance for one; practiced deceit (and some outright lying) for another. The media are lazy, complacent and wear their ignorance as a badge of honor. Our officials seem nearly as ignorant and routinely see facts as speed bumps in the way of whatever story they're selling.

Last bit of bad news: the price of Marlboros in Algeria is rising sharply now that cartel mastermind Belmokhtar is out of the way. Lessons, too, for the other "war on drugs?'

Charles I

The reporting I heard on CBC radio this morning claimed both deaths, as well as the destruction of "terrorist and drug trafficking infrastructure".


Permit me one additional comment. Among the operational issues the Colonel refers to, perhaps we should take a close look at the Army/Special Forces training missions that Africa Command has set up on the model used elsewhere. To recap the awkward story. We were there for four years.We trained 4 elite commando units - 3 of whom defected to the other side (which elements of the other side unknown).We also trained, there and here, senior officers who led the coup after the military debacles of last year. Obviously something is awry since the paramount goal of these msissions, as stated by the Pentagon, is to strengthen resistance to Islamist insurgencies while giving us inight and influence on what's happening politically.
This comment is not meant to disparage the people on the ground who have been given one mission impossible after another for 11+ years. But isn't the philosophy, the plan and - above all - the leadership badly in need of skeptical analysis? Yet we hear nothing about this - while General Ham goes on and on about the great things Africa Command is going to do next.

The beaver

Mr Brenner

One thing that no one has talked about: Moktar BelMoktar was from the Kabile community as most members of the AQIM and they don't consider themselves Arabs . Similar to the Tuaregs and since before WWII they have been fighting for their independence - first from France and then from Algerian govt after 1962.
It has also been reported that BelMoktar didn't see eye to eye with Abdelhamid Abou Zeid and reason he broke away from AQIM.


What does training provided by SF have to do with the loyalty of the foreign troops being trained? Surely the SF was never going to make American's out of them nor are they supposed to ensure their loyalty to a particular government.

Alba Etie

Tauregs live there .

Alba Etie

Do you think the al Nusra and others are leaving Syria for Mali as Xinhua reported earlier this week . It looks like there is no other reporting that says the salifisare leaving Syria for Mali.



I do not believe that we were training them to fight an invading army - none was conceivable. We were training them for counter-insurgency and, above all, to put us in a place of influence in the government. That latter was foreseen as keeping us abreast of political developments in Mali and the Sahel generally - and to have friends in power in the event of a regime change. This is no secret. All the documents and statements from Africa Command and McRaven say this explicitly and repeatedly. In Mali, we failed completely. Shouldn't those two be sacked as a prelude to a rethink of the entire strategy of having the Pentagon displace the State Department and elbow aside the CIA - also made clear in those documents.

Could someone with the appropriate experience also please enlighten us as to what 1,300 staffers at Africa Command in Stuttgart do with their time? By all appearances, they certainly were not deepening their awareness of what was going on. We've been through this repeatedly since 9/11. When is enough enough?

Sorry for the imtemperance - but the dishonestly of those at the top, from the Oval Office on down, for whom dupliciy (and unaccountability)has become a way of life has to be confronted IMHO


Re. McRaven

His longest public statement on the subject was nade January 13, 2012 and reported in the NYT on January 14. He said: "SOC will be mandated to do active intelligence gathering, to engage in political penetration of other countries and governments, to undertake training and liaison with foreign militaries, and address underlying conditions that spark insurgencies."

Raven modestly admits that “we’re not yet ready….to run the global war on terror.” We must wait awhile for that happy day to arrive. Moreover, the Admiral wants the authority to make independent decisions when and where to deploy Special Forces without going through standard Pentagon procedures. The State Department has yet even to be briefed on the plan that bears the formidable name of Global SOF Alliance.

It is very hard to define political madness. But one knows it when one sees it.



McRaven wanted that but it was not given him. We have been through this before here. What would DoD look like in structure and function if you could re-design it? pl

robt willmann

The following article speaks to the situation in Africa, particularly the Sub-Saharan area--


It contains an interesting map within the article, compiled by its author from some Washington Post stories and other sources, that tries to depict U.S. African bases and areas of Muslim populations.

It links to a different map from the Le Monde Diplomatique (English version), of the Saharan and Sub-Saharan areas--


The article also contains a link to written questions (called Advanced Policy Questions) in the form of a pdf file submitted to Gen. David M. Rodriguez, along with answers, regarding his nomination to be the Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, from February 2013.


The way you conceive it - which would free it the various infirmities we've been seeing. Dempsey seems to be on the right track and I assume will work in tandem with Hagel.I have not the experience or knowledge to suggest anything more. A serious person in the White House also would help.

The beaver

OT: Foggy Bottom versus WH during first term


"A new book by a former senior State Department policy expert paints a sharply critical picture of the Obama administration’s handling of foreign policy, detailing destructive turf battles and policy debates that challenge the White House’s claim that its management of the Afghan war is a vital accomplishment."

More in


finally, the Poodles of War have been unleashed!


I do not know. It would probably be too much to ask if some actually were.


"We were training them for counter-insurgency and, above all, to put us in a place of influence in the government."

So we provided military training, lasting a few months? Was that to overthrow the Malian governmnet? I think not. We failed? How so? By providing training? That wasn't the causation of a coup in Mali. Losing influence? Surely US Government influence in Mali shouldn't be dependant on military training of some portion of their army.

" but the dishonestly of those at the top, from the Oval Office on down, for whom dupliciy (and unaccountability)has become a way of life has to be confronted IMHO"

I certainly agree with the last sentiment.


Nairy a peep here re Mali. Nigerian military are, however, scrambling for the promised EU money to be channeled via ECOWAS. There has been some interesting assymmetry to Op Serval. A large multinational O&G company has recently withdrawn dependents out of the capital. Contractors in the North are being targetted for kidnapping. Deploying troops have been ambushed.


The Algerians have found Abu Zeid's weapon, but have not been able to confirm that the body they have is his.


Alba Etie

Thank you Tunde.

Will Reks

I like to criticize Obama as much as anyone else but I think the issue over the planes was to make the French pay for refueling services. If indeed true, I don't think it was an unreasonable demand.


As TTG had blogged about earlier. Horrendous terrain......

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