Well if anyone reading this has actually made it to the end of Shadow Warfare, you know that one of the things we tried to do was to outline the emergence of the Joint Special Operations Task Forces, their roles in the counter-terror effort following 9/11 and at least some insight into where they operate, and what they do.
One of the first groups to go into the field was the Joint Special Operations Task Force for the Philippines (JSOTF-P). Most people are aware that the majority of the 9/11 terrorists were out of Saudi Arabia and had trained in Afghanistan. Fewer are aware that they were operationally directed by individuals who had been very involved in setting up al Qaeda initiatives in Yemen, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Philippines task force has been one of the most successful counter insurgency operations on record – to a large extent because the Philippines government got behind the effort and took a number of significant steps to make itself more trusted and more of a resource in the areas where the insurgents were operating. In fact the effort has been successful enough that the southern campaign has been declared a success and JSOTF Philippines is now moving from an operational role to a strictly advisory function. By 2015 the Task Force will be disbanded and the remaining American military personnel assigned to a military advisory role.
This is a pretty notable success because the Philippines insurgency had been growing and raising a good deal of money through kidnapping and hostage taking. Unfortunately the other Task Forces – Horn of Africa and Trans Sahara – are having much tougher going. As it always is, if the government they are working with is not in touch with its people, has “abandoned” regions, is largely focused in the region of the capital and above all develops a reputation for skimming its countries money – counter insurgency just does not work until that government changes. Right now Yemen in Horn of Africa and both Mali and Nigeria in Trans Sahara are in just that situation. Its always a real trap for the United States and we have lost way to many service people trying to hold up governments which didn’t deserve it. The link to this article on the Nigerian Army shows the considerable challenge in trying to assist its army with any task:
Currently Washington is acting more pragmatically – and a lot less knee jerk like – than it has in the past. Either sending very limited numbers of personnel or literally laying the cards on the table for the regimes involved. Its a level of pragmatism we haven’t seen since JFK started to lay down the law to the leadership in Saigon….only to be succeeded by that ultimate knee jerk politician – “if its good for the next election its good for me” LBJ. I suppose I shouldn’t say ultimate, he certainly has company in that class.
But speaking a bit more about Task Forces, I’ve just finished by Benghazi writing in my newest manuscript – which has received tentative acceptance for publication – which deals with surprise attacks on America. Its amazing what is in the actual data on Benghazi that has not been discussed in the media, and how much of what has been in the press has proved to be just flat wrong (or misunderstood if you wish to be charitable). In any event, we have know for some time that there was evidence of heavy CIA operations in Libya. Interestingly I find that not only was the Annex admittedly a CIA operations base (not a CIA station mind you but a clandestine ops facility with a Chief of Base – think Laos, Pakse and David Morales). But beyond that the reports indicate that DOD but not AFRICOM was aware of the CIA Annex. Even more interestingly, there were Task Force Trans-Sahara military personnel stationed in Tripoli. Its beginning more and more clear what the unarmed Predators were doing flying over far eastern Libya at the time of the attack, long after the NATO military operations were long over. Think weapons convoys.