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Going Rogue: America’s Unconventional Warfare in the Mideast | Al Akhbar English

Posted by satyrikon στο 7 Ιουλίου, 2012

English: Contrasting Conventional & Irregular ...

English: Contrasting Conventional & Irregular Warfare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stages of U.S. Army Special Forces doctrine fo...

Stages of U.S. Army Special Forces doctrine for unconventional warfare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The structure of a simple guerrilla warfare or...

The structure of a simple guerrilla warfare organization (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The intent of U.S. [Unconventional Warfare] UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives…For the foreseeable future, U.S. forces will predominantly engage in irregular warfare (IW) operations.

So begins the 2010 Unconventional Warfare (UW) Manual of the US Military’s Special Forces.

The manual attached here (TC 18-01) is an interim publication,

developed to address the definition of Unconventional Warfare and some

other inconsistencies in UW Doctrine. The new UW document (ATP 3-05.1)

is in the initial draft and not yet available, though sources tell me it

is unlikely to differ much from TC 18-01.

But most of us have not had the pleasure of leafing through this

truly revelatory blueprint that shows how America wages its dirty wars.

These are the secret wars that have neither been approved by Congress,

nor by the inhabitants of nations whose lives – if not bodies – are

mauled by the directives on these pages.

A quote from President John F. Kennedy in 1962 opens the document.

These few lines illustrate a core Washington belief that US forces have

the right to destabilize, infiltrate, assassinate, subvert – all in

service of questionable foreign policy objectives, with no evident

consideration of a sovereign state’s preparedness or desire for change:

There is another type of warfare—new in its

intensity, ancient in its origin—war by guerrillas, subversives,

insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat, by

infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and

exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It preys on unrest.

Target: Middle East

The Bush Doctrine paved the way for the mainstreaming of

unconventional warfare by establishing the principle of pre-emptive

actions against a state that may one day pose a threat to

American interests. It didn’t offer any specific criteria to gauge those

threats, nor did it attempt to explain why anyone outside the United

States should be held accountable for US “interests” – be they

commercial, security or political.

The doctrine went largely unchallenged, and has been played out with

disastrous results throughout the Middle East in the past decade. The

prime targets of UW have traditionally been nations and groups that

oppose US primacy in the region – mainly the Resistance Axis consisting

of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas – but UW has been carried out to

some degree in virtually any nation where this Axis carries some


The most nefarious aspect of UW – aside from the obvious violations

of international law pertaining to sovereignty, territorial integrity

and loss of human life/property, etc – is the proactive and aggressive

effort to psychologically sway a population against its government. It

is at this entry point where UW fails every American test of “values.”

The Arab Intifadas of 2011 provided a unique opportunity – amidst

regional and sometimes domestic chaos – to ramp up UW activities in

“hostile” states, whether or not populations sought regime change. Prime

examples are Iran, Syria and Libya – all of which have been UW targets

in the past year, at different levels of infiltration and with markedly

different results.

Here is a chart from the Special Forces UW manual that demonstrates the scope of activity at the early stages:

Click to enlarge

February 14

was supposed to be the kick-off in Iran, but the Islamic Republic was

already on guard, having gained experience with UW subversion in the

aftermath of the 2009 Iranian presidential elections.

The use of social media to coordinate protests and widely disseminate

anti-regime narratives in Iran’s post-election period marked a new era

in the internet revolution globally. The Pentagon lost no time in

claiming cyberspace as an “operational domain” and in the past year has

substantially increased its budgetary allocation to subversion

activities on the web.

Last July – as I wrote in this article

– the technology arm of the Department of Defense, DARPA, announced a

$42 million program to enable the U.S. military to “detect, classify,

measure and track the formation, development and spread of ideas and

concepts (memes)” within social media.

Wired magazine calls the project the Pentagon’s “social media propaganda machine” because of its plans for “counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations.”

In order to “allow more agile use of information in support of

[military] operations” and “defend” against “adverse outcomes,” the

project will enable the automation of processes to “identify

participants and intent, measure effects of persuasion campaigns,” and

ultimately, infiltrate and redirect social media-based campaigns

overseas, when deemed necessary.

The UW campaign in Iran appears to more or less have faltered at

technology sabotage, social media infiltration and assassinations. Libya

is at the other extreme – and the following chart gives a bird’s eye

view of the UW manual’s playbook for operations of that magnitude:

Click to enlarge

The Libyan scenario of course was slightly different in that it was

conducted under NATO cover, with the US military “leading from behind.”

In addition, the large-scale UW operation’s success relied less on

ground combat than on air cover and intelligence-sharing for attacks

conducted largely by Libyan rebels.

Target: Regime Change in Syria

In Syria, the UW task would have been a mix of the two. Because of

the domestic popularity and strength of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

revealed here in a 2006 Wikileaks Cable,

UW activities would necessarily need to start with some subversion of

the population before graduating to a Libyan-style scenario.

Just as the Wikileaks cable recommends identifying “opportunities” to

expose “vulnerabilities” in the Syrian regime and cause

sectarian/ethnic division, discord within the military/security

apparatus and economic hardship, the UW manual also instructs special

forces to “exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and

psychological vulnerabilities.”

The Syrian demographic landscape is reflected in the UW manual: “In

almost every scenario, resistance movements face a population with an

active minority supporting the government and an equally small militant

faction supporting the resistance movement. For the resistance to

succeed, it must convince the uncommitted middle population…to accept it

as a legitimate entity. A passive population is sometimes all a

well-supported insurgency needs to seize political power.”

To turn the “uncommitted middle population” into supporting

insurgency, UW recommends the “creation of atmosphere of wider

discontent through propaganda and political and psychological efforts to

discredit the government.”

As conflict escalates, so should the “intensification of propaganda; psychological preparation of the population for rebellion.”

First, there should be local and national “agitation” – the

organization of boycotts, strikes, and other efforts to suggest public

discontent. Then, the “infiltration of foreign organizers and advisors

and foreign propaganda, material, money, weapons and equipment.”

The next level of operations would be to establish “national front

organizations [i.e. the Syrian National Council] and liberation

movements [i.e. the Free Syrian Army]” that would move larger segments

of the population toward accepting “increased political violence and

sabotage” – and encourage the mentoring of “individuals or groups that

conduct acts of sabotage in urban centers.”

Now, how and why would an uncommitted – and ostensibly peaceful –

majority of the population respond to the introduction of violence by

opposition groups? The UW manual tells us there is an easy way to spin

this one:

If retaliation [by the target government] occurs, the

resistance can exploit the negative consequences to garner more sympathy

and support from the population by emphasizing the sacrifices and

hardship the resistance is enduring on behalf of “the people.” If

retaliation is ineffective or does not occur, the resistance can use

this as proof of its ability to wage effect combat against the enemy. In

addition, the resistance can portray the inability or reluctance of the

enemy to retaliate as a weakness, which will demoralize enemy forces

and instill a belief in their eventual defeat.

And so on, and so forth.

The Bush Doctrine today has morphed under President Barack Obama into

new “packaging.” Whether under the guidance of the recently-created «Atrocity Prevention Board»

or trussed up as “humanitarian intervention,” the goals remain the same

– destabilization of lives and nations in the service of political and

economic domination, i.e., “American interests.”

When Arab governments yell «foreign conspiracy,» whether or not they

are popular leaders they are surely right. There are virtually no

domains left in key Arab countries – from the innocuous-sounding «civil

society» filled to the brim with US-funded NGOs to the

military/intelligence apparatuses of these nations to the Facebook pages

of ordinary citizens – that are untouched by American «interests.»

The Ugly American just got uglier. And within these intifadas raging

in the region, any Arab population that does not shut itself off from

this foreign infiltration risks becoming a foot soldier in an

unconventional war against themselves.

Click here for the Arabic version of this article.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter @snarwani.

Note: This article has been censored by AOL-Huffington Post

μέσω Going Rogue: America’s Unconventional Warfare in the Mideast | Al Akhbar English.

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