Monday, October 30, 2017

Cluelessness and the Africa Challenge

One the strangest things I've seen in the last few weeks has been the attempted Benghazization of the deaths of our Green Berets in Niger.

Sadly, many in the natsec left, who are smart and should know better, made a go of it and lost a lot of credibility in the process. Still, there were others in the press and general public who kept trying to politicize it.

I've come to the conclusion that they have such narrow news sources and interests that they simply missed the whole story. That or are so blinded via politics-uber-alles they refuse to see it. 

Outside natsec pros, there is the fact that so many left leaning people narrow their information sources - and in the last year can't seem to get Trump out of their head - to a degree there isn't room to keep track of the big picture.

Some of the info that they are getting is complete garbage. Take the latest from ViceNews;
... the U.S. military has already seen significant action in Africa, where its growth has been sudden and explosive. When U.S. Africa Command, the umbrella organization for U.S. military operations on the continent, first became operational in 2008, it inherited 172 missions, activities, programs, and exercises from other combatant commands. Five years in, that number shot up to 546.

Today’s figure of 3,500 marks an astounding 1,900 percent increase since the command was activated less than a decade ago, and suggests a major expansion of U.S. military activities on the African continent.
No context. No ability, even in 2017, to understand the nature of Global War on Terrorism - and the critical "bleeding edge" where Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb meet in Sub-Saharan Africa. As we move them out of one area, they will move to the next etc. We knew that they had Africa as their back yard right after 911 when we first began HOA OPS - it is even more true now.
“The huge increase in U.S. military missions in Africa over the past few years represents nothing less than a shadow war being waged on the continent,” said William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
“This military-heavy policy,” said Hartung, “risks drawing the United States more deeply into local and regional conflicts in Africa and generating a backlash that could actually aid terrorist organizations in their recruitment.”
If you get your news from ViceNews, you are getting it from an organization that isn't even trying in this case to educate anyone. This is the worst form of natsec yellow journalism.

Ever heard of "Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy?" If you are a serious person, probably not.
The Center for International Policy (CIP) was founded in 1975, in the wake of the Vietnam War, by former diplomats and peace activists.
In the late 1970s, the Indochina program promoted the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

In the 1980s, CIP staff turned its focus to Central America.
...the effort to end the counter-productive isolation of Cuba,...
Yeah, those guys.

Oh, for the love of Pete, this guy;
“There is a notion,, in some circles at least, that training missions are ‘safe,’ and that U.S. troops are not exposed to the same level of risk as if they were engaged in direct combat,” said Hartung. “There may be an element of truth in this, but when push comes to shove, training missions can easily cross the line into combat operations.”
What circles? Your drum circle? 

I hated those Commie loving bastards in the 80s, can't abide them now.

Did ViceNews make any effort to talk to anyone who actually knows about the mission? Might have a bit better historical knowledge of the subject?

“We’ve seen a significant increase in U.S. military training to the African continent in recent years,” Colby Goodman, the director of the Security Assistance Monitor, which tracks U.S. spending on foreign militaries, told VICE News. The number of African troops trained by U.S. military personnel jumped 89 percent, Goodman notes, from 22,825 trained in 2014 to at least 42,815 individuals a year later.
Hartung shared similar concerns and said it was critical for the public to stay informed of the military’s often quiet expansion. “Congress and the public need to pay more attention to far-flung U.S. military train-and-equip missions, both in Africa and globally. They can too often sow the seeds of greater U.S. military involvement,” he said.
Who is "Security Assistance Monitor?" Glad you asked, it is just a project of CIP. A human centipede of knowledge this is.

ViceNews has done some good work in the past. Like PBS, now and then good stuff is pushed out there.

Here is an idea for ViceNews. Look at the demographics and economic trends we are seeing in Sub-Saharan Africa and discuss how that is trending WRT creating a place where people have opportunity ... or not.

What are those implications? What are the mitigation options? That is a story.

Of note, there was also the story about a decade+ ago about Yemen and the societal tensions caused by demographic and economic realities pressing on an already tender ethnic and religious situation.

How did that work out for you? Did Yemen sneak up on you? If so, you are a repeat offender.

Ignorant people make dumb decisions. Everyone needs to up their game for the collective good.

As a side note, not to toot our own horn - but there's some fair stuff on Africa here, just click the tag below. You can also listen to one of the Midrats episodes of many we did on Africa, this one from FEB 2015 with the Commander of CJTF-HOA.

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