Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Analysts: An Evolution in US Counterterrorism

I really have to take exception to Linda's statement here.

“In Afghanistan, village stability operations and local police was the largest such initiative since [the war in Vietnam in the 1960’s]. They have over 25,000 now standing local defenders. To me, that experiment has really rescued a forgotten skill set of the Special Ops forces so they can go out into the villages and live with [civilians] and help those willing to stand up and defend themselves. That is a sustainable solution where you get countries [providing for their own internal security], denying safe haven to terrorists,” said Robinson. 

Perhaps the US government and the press and pundits thought it was a forgotten skill set but I can tell you that the Special forces I served in never forgot those skills and has been practicing them in various forms continuously since the Vietnam era.  And we should not forget that 5th and then 3d Special Forces Groups (as well as 7th) in Afghanistan never forgot these skills and tried to get buy in for executing this way in various initiatives since 2002.  From the Doctrine for Foreign Internal Defense that was continuously in US FID manuals until 2007 (why it was eliminated I do not know):

Remote Area Operations. These operations take place in insurgent-controlled or
contested areas to establish islands of popular support for the HN government and
deny support to the insurgents. They differ from consolidation operations in that
they are not designed to establish permanent HN government control over the area.
Remote areas may be populated by ethnic, religious, or other isolated minority
groups. They may be in the interior of the HN or near border areas where major infiltration
routes exist. Remote area operations normally involve specially trained
paramilitary or irregular forces. SF teams support remote area operations to interdict
insurgent activity, destroy insurgent base areas, and demonstrate that the HN
government has not conceded control to the insurgents. They also collect and report
information on insurgent intentions in more populated areas. PSYOP and CA
programs help in obtaining local support for remote area operations. Success is
more likely if—
A significant segment of the local population supports the program.
The HN recruits local personnel for its remote area paramilitary or irregular
HN forces conduct remote area operations to interdict infiltration routes in areas
nearly devoid of people. In this case, SF teams advise and assist irregular HN
forces operating in a manner similar to that of insurgents but with access to superior
combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) resources.

October 14, 2013

Analysts: An Evolution in US Counterterrorism

by William Eaglehttp://www.voanews.com/articleprintview/1769718.html

The United States recently launched two raids on suspected terrorist hideouts in Somalia and Libya. In Somalia, Navy SEALS attempted to seize a senior leader of the radical terrorist group al-Shabab. In Libya, U.S. forces captured a senior al-Qaida figure wanted in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 15 years ago. Analysts from the RAND Corporation in Washington say the raids show an evolution in US policy - away from killing terrorists with a drone strike to taking them alive.

Alleged al-Qaida operative Abu Anas al-Libi is now in the US after spending several days on an American warship in the Mediterranean being interrogated.
Angel Rabasa, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation with a focus on radicalization in Africa, says incidents in other parts of the world show the importance of capturing terrorists. For example, in Indonesia, the government has successfully pursued the leaders of the armed Islamic group Al Jamaah Islamyia.

“The Indonesian police and intelligence agencies have been very successful in breaking up the group and capturing leadership. They say 90 percent of the information they obtained about the group came from people who were captured and corroborated [details] with the authorities, or by defectors. The practice of the U.S. of using drones to get terrorists has been counterproductive - once you kill these fellows, you don’t have the ability to derive any information from them,” said Rabasa.

Examples abound of captured terrorists providing critical information. One of the leaders purged by al-Shabab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubayr in Somalia was Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a senior leader and founder of now disbanded group preceding it, al-Itihaad al-Islamiya.  After the purge, he fled and surrendered to Mogadishu authorities. He is now a prisoner and could be a source of invaluable information in the counter-terrorism effort.

Some analysts think experiences from Afghanistan and Indonesia have shown that direct U.S. military involvement - including putting troops directly into a conflict zone -- can increase local support for radical extremists, especially in regions with large Muslim populations.   

“There is a danger to inserting the U.S. into direct conflict with some of these groups that not actively plotting against the U.S. [domestically].…One lesson from a different theater applies to Africa and to groups like al-Shabab: the U.S. in 2009 took out the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Baitullah Mehsud with a drone strike with Pakistan’s  support. [However, in response] the next year, [the group] put a SUV with explosives inside Times Square [driven by] Faisal Shahzad.  He had problems building that bomb, but we went from an organization that was very parochial [and pushed them] to respond by targeting the US homeland.  So we have to be careful with how we deal with some of these organizations that are not actively plotting [an attack within the US],” said Seth Jones, the associate director of the RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center.

Linda Robinson, a senior international policy analyst with RAND with expertise on joint force development and special operations forces, points out that there are alternatives to high-profile interventions by the U.S. For example, Washington can work with other countries that share an interest in eliminating terrorism in their region.

“The broad tapestry of the menu I characterize as ‘soft partnering’ includes a wide variety of [options for US defense and intelligence officials]. They can provide direct support, like aerial feed reconnaissance. They can put together intelligence packets. They may accompany the host nation or partner forces up to a target, but let them prosecute the target… So there is a whole range.  They can stay behind the wire and just provide training; they can help write campaign plans. They can advise ministries. So there’s a whole gamut that falls short of doing a joint combat raid, which is yet another mode that they’ve been doing alongside the Afghan commandos in Afghanistan,” explained Robinson.
(Continued at the link below)

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