U.S. Training Nigerian Counter-Terrorism Forces. Why?

Nigerian soldiers (courtesy cknnigeria.com)

It’s one thing to train highly-armed, mobile counter-terrorist teams in developed countries where the rule of law is firmly established. It’s quite another to train up soldiers in countries where democracy is either impossible or undesireable (to the natives). As Chairman Mao famously opined, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Giving guns and training to elite units in countries without basic human rights (such as the natural right to keep and bear arms) does nothing to protect those rights, and much to destroy them. I mention this because of the U.S. reaction to Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping campaign. The New York Times reports that . . .

United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa that American officials say are pivotal in the widening war against Al Qaeda’s affiliates and associates on the continent, even as they acknowledge the difficulties of working with weak allies.

Catch that? “The difficulty of working with weak allies” could mean a lot of things, none of them good for fans of democracy and human rights. Anyone remember whose boy Saddam Hussein was back in the day? Or Osama Bin Laden? Shall we talk about African military coups by soldiers trained and equipped by the U.S., or just U.S.-supported military coups generally?

The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in LibyaNigerMauritania and Mali.

The goal over the next few years is to build homegrown African counterterrorism teams capable of combating fighters like those in Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls last month. American military specialists are helping Nigerian officers in their efforts to rescue the girls.

“Handpicked.” You gotta love that. By whom? According to what criteria? The troops ability to find and kill terrorists or their loyalty to the government that let the U.S. in? Their desire to protect the people of their country or their ability to put paid to the old maxim absolute power corrupts absolutely? NOTE: it’s not just me saying these things.

“You have to make sure of who you’re training,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, the commander of United States Army soldiers operating in Africa. “It can’t be the standard, ‘Has this guy been a terrorist or some sort of criminal?’ but also, ‘What are his allegiances? Is he true to the country, or is he still bound to his militia?’” . . .

J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center of the Atlantic Council, a policy research group in Washington, said the United States must make tough political judgments before investing in ambitious counterterrorism training programs. Mr. Pham cited the lessons of Mali, where American-trained commanders of elite army units defected to Islamic insurgents that seized the north last year.

“The host country has to have the political will to fight terrorism, not just the desire to build up an elite force that could be used for regime protection,” Mr. Pham said. “And the military has to be viewed well or at least neutrally by a country’s population.” . . .

American officials say trainees must be carefully screened and monitored for possible human rights violations or shifting allegiances. “Any unit we train could be used to go after political opponents rather than Al Qaeda,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has visited Libya frequently.

Good luck with that [see: Mao quote above].

Meanwhile, I have a better idea: arm the citizenry. Let the people of Africa exercise their natural, civil and perhaps one day Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Does anyone seriously believe that Boko Haram could have kidnapped 300 school girls if their parents had been armed?

Sure there’d be an “adjustment” period as alliances shifted (to say the least). But as long as everyone is armed, no one power can emerge that will engage in the abhorrent practice that’s common to humanity around the world – from Mexico to Mali – mass murder. Unless they disarm the populace, of course.

comments

  1. avatar surlycmd says:

    Idealism Fail. Generations of killing each other simply will not stop. Arm the civilians and the weakest will still be subjugated.

    1. avatar ArtM says:

      So, it’s better to leave all the civilians weaponless and defenseless to be be slaughtered by whoever happens to come by?

      Let me phrase your concept another way … Americans have been killing each other for generations. The weakest are not qualified to protect themselves. We should take all their guns away.

      Ideally, all humans should have the means of self-protection. It’s worked pretty well for the Mexicans recently.

      1. avatar P.M.Lawrence says:

        No, surlycmd is right. As I commented elsewhere, in a time and place with tribal ways of responding, but in which tribes have been weakened: the arms will be corruptly diverted to “big men” instead; the arms will reach the civilians who will then be disarmed or destroyed by gangs that take the guns; or the civilians will become a gang like that themselves, which will hurt everybody else the same way. The way round that is to turn the civilians into groups that will act responsibly, before arming them; it’s a false dichotomy to make out that it’s a choice between leaving them vulnerable and arming them.

    2. You did not understand the point. Farago did not say that arming the citizens would create a utopia overnight. He said that better than training the government loyalists only, would be to allow the public to arm themselves for protection. You sound like a progressive elitist who would rather restrict freedoms because “the people can’t be trusted with those freedoms”.

    3. avatar surlycmd says:

      Blah, blah, blah. I state a point different from what you think so I must be a progressive statist. You both missed my point. The idealism is the problem. No where did I did I say I was for or against the idea of arming civilians. I simply stated the idealism is a fail. Train and arm selected elites or arm the entire populace. There will be more than an “adjustment” period. The slaughter will continue for generations.

      1. You made more sense at Bla Bla Bla. What makes you think that arming citizens will mean “The slaughter will continue for generations”?
        That is the exact definition of elitist. You trust yourself with a gun but can’t trust anyone else.

        1. avatar surlycmd says:

          So what do you think will happen if the populace is armed? Will it be romantic freedom fighting love or tribal wholesale slaughter? I fully support the population to have the natural right of self defense no if ands or buts. I don’t expect there to be simple defending against tyrants. I expect to see people with the new ability to get revenge on those who have oppressed them. It will go beyond defending villages from radicals. It will be more tribal civil war. The killing will escalate exponentially.

          Shed the idealism and just understand what will really happen. If you don’t understand my point then I lack the ability to make it any clearer.

        2. It is either a choice of arm a Nation that will wage war against you in the future or arm the populous that will fight internally.
          I don’t think the article advocated either. I took it to mean that the latter would be a better choice.

      2. avatar Roscoe says:

        Yes, “idealism”, and this administration is nothing if it isn’t made up of unicorn breeding idealists who would give up all leverage for just the chance that “can’t we all just get along” would come to pass. Most Democrats should never be trusted with guns or the power to employ them. If nothing else, the recent events in Santa Barbara is another shining example of that rule of thumb.

    4. avatar A samurai says:

      Idealism Fail. I agree. When I think of all places in the world where it’s hard to get guns, Africa does not come to mind. I know that “laws” and “governments” in Africa restrict gun ownership… But really, I see photos all the time from Africa of tribal peoples who have nothing, live in dirt huts, and wear loin cloths, who are holding AKs. One day I hope we have the free time to fix the whole world. But for now, we are fighting for our right at home, where there IS a government who can (try to) take guns away from citizens. I care much more about that.

  2. avatar Roscoe says:

    More lefty Democrat Obama administration foreigh policy “experts” with no grasp on reality trying to micromanage a flacid response designed to LOOK like the US is doing something when in fact all they’re doing is political posturing. The REAL question is; are people who know how to get results organizing a solution in the background. Only time will tell.

    Maybe this inept Democrat administration can trade the name and picture of the closest CIA Station Chief for some of the school girls they are holding.

  3. avatar neiowa says:

    Perhaps Obumer is giving up on the futile idiocy of a “Palestinian solution”? Going for an achievable goal?

    Not likely. Have to keep chasing that arab rabbit. For the legacy.

  4. avatar Anon in CT says:

    I am no fan of pretty much anything done by this maladministration, but Robert you just went full Alex Jones.

    And just remember, a lot of those “citizens” you’ll be arming are also radical Islamists. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support any quixotic disarmament campaigns, but I would rather that we not directly arm the NEXT Bin Laden either. Boko Harem is just a spin-off of the same Muslim Brotherhood that the Obama Admin supported in Egypt. All the hashtags in the world won’t change that.

    1. So let me get this straight…
      The US is training a corrupted or soon to be corrupt Government…Bad Idea.
      Farago suggests allowing the citizens to bear arms as a better idea…Bad Idea.
      You say NUKE THE WHOLE F***ING MIDDLE EAST AND LET GOD SORT IT OUT…Great Idea!
      Is that about right? Or are you just against the right to self defense except for the priviliged?

      1. avatar Anon in CT says:

        Clearly you are responding to the voices from the radio in your head, and not anything I wrote. Wow.

    2. “And just remember, a lot of those “citizens” you’ll be arming are also radical Islamists”
      And we all know that radical Islamists obey the laws of their Governments including it being illegal to bear arms.
      No wonder the Libs over here have taken control with arguments like that from the supossed Conservatives.

  5. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “U.S. Training Nigerian Counter-Terrorism Forces. Why?”

    Because our illustrious leader has his roots there(Africa), that’s why…

    1. avatar Karina says:

      You are a grade-A retard.

      1. avatar WI Patriot says:

        Really…??? What about my statement is false…???

        effin’ troll…

  6. avatar DrVino says:

    To your titular question:

    So they know how to fight off the “Syrian opposition” that the US will also be training and arming…..

  7. avatar AngryAZ says:

    This is even a worse idea then Barrack Obama! The kind of idea that will go bad for decades!

  8. avatar Dave in VA says:

    I’m not really sure what this has to do with the RKBA, but why? To appease all the hashtag activists and the First Lady into thinking the US contributed something to the effort.

    1. Terrorists thrive in countries that do not allow citizens to bear arms. Only the outlaws will have guns. Does that ring a bell? This has everything to do with the RKBA.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        +1

        The same is true for our own nation. That’s why shall not be infringed is so crucial for our present and future.

      2. avatar Dave in VA says:

        All I am worried about is the RKBA in America. If other countries want to restrict the rights of their citizens; then their citizens need to do something about it. While many view it as a universal right; America shouldn’t be leading the charge into the affairs of other countries. I don’t appreciate it when citizens of other countries try to infringe our rights. I don’t care what the UK, Japan, or Canada do with their gun laws. I’m not a citizen of those countries.

        If terrorists want to hide in other countries and do harm to America; drop a JDAM on their heads.

  9. avatar last marine out says:

    Africa is super rich in resources , China is already making inroads to grab the goods, and with the West being broke now, we want in too…morals and money no longer count , We pay the bills for the WHOLE WORLD now….all about building the NEW WORLD ORDER!

  10. avatar dh34 says:

    Because Michelle tweeted #bringbackourgirls

    Blackhawk Down West Africa version, act one.

  11. avatar Mike says:

    Another post having with a nebulous connection to anything firearms related of concern here in the US.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      International terrorism has been used as impetus to infringe upon our rights here at home; and not only the right to keep and bear arms. Our government is, yet again, supporting tyranny abroad and arming some of those who would harm Americans here and abroad. Our government is making enemies around the world and arming those enemies. Our government uses those enemies as a reason to strip our exercise of rights while they are also empowering those enemies to become more of a threat. Your dismissal of these events as not affecting us here at home is myopic, IMHO.

    2. avatar Dave in VA says:

      I agree.

  12. avatar Gordon Wagner says:

    “AFRICOM” is the CIA’s wet dream from 1975 come true — US boots on the ground in Africa. Anyone remember how Viet Nam ramped up? “Just some advisors” — look at what is happening. The US wants to match China step for step in Africa in order to get as much of Africa’s resources as we can. Sad but true.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Aye! Sadly, I believe that you are correct. It certainly looks that way.

  13. avatar tdiinva says:

    You either can have the locals take care of their own security or have the United States do it. Which do you prefer?

  14. avatar Steve says:

    Calling it now;

    If it truly IS their own people going in, more than half, if not all, of the girls will die.

    If more than half survive, it’s because we’ve sent in our own forces and let them take the credit. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  15. avatar DJ says:

    The problem with the arm everyone approach – at least in regards to Africa – is that it virtually guarantees there will be tribal violence. The loyalty to the tribe is always stronger than the loyalty to the central government.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      That is the nature of people. The People have to start somewhere at being free. Instead of spreading this democracy bullshit around the globe, the United States ought to be spreading Liberty. Sure, it might be bloody for a few generations but the end result is a government by the People and for the People. They are just as capable of working it out the same as our nation once did. Give them the tools and an opportunity to do so. That is, unless you believe that the African people are less human and less capable of being free than us… 😉

  16. avatar BDub says:

    Whats wrongs with doing neither, since both have so many possibilities for unintended consequences?

    Non-interventionism is the better policy.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      I prefer non-intervention. However, if our government is set on doing something, then I prefer the alternative of arming the People and spreading the message of individual Liberty.

      1. avatar Dave in VA says:

        Sure, let’s facilitate genocide. Awesome foreign policy.

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          Please read what I wrote again. I prefer that we not get involved. However, if our government is dead set on intervening then should back Liberty and not tyranny. Our nation is founded on the idea of individual liberty. Why wouldn’t we want our government’s actions to reflect that if it insists on messing in foreign affairs?

          Here’s a direct question. Are the people in Africa just as capable of being free as we? Are they not just as human, good and bad? Or, are they incapable of being free and must be subjugated by government?

  17. avatar Another Robert says:

    Just one small correction: Niger is not the same country as Nigeria. I mention that because the snip RF quoted said the US would be training troops in Niger, not Nigeria (where the schoolgirls were kidnaped). The people of Niger are called ‘Nigeriens”, not “Nigerians”.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Yes, there’s a big difference between Nigeria and Niger. The former is an oil producing nation. The latter is the world’s 4th largest producer of uranium.

  18. avatar Skyler says:

    We have no business in Nigeria. I don’t care if they kidnap women. Not our business. We were strangely inactive when millions of boys were kidnapped to be child soldiers.

  19. avatar John in Ohio says:

    The individual right to keep and bear arms is a universal truth. It doesn’t stop at the US border. We didn’t invent it. We described an aspect of it and enshrined that description in a document with the intent to protect it from government encroach. When a government arms and/or trains another government that already infringes upon the individual right to keep and bear arms, it is perpetuating tyranny. OUR government is, once again, facilitating tyranny. What does this tell us about our own government today?

    1. Welcome back John. I hope your weekend was superb. Consider this a plus ten to your comment and keep up the great work.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        Hey Michael! The weekend was great. it was a wonderful gathering of Liberty minded individuals enjoying fellowship and relaxation. My batteries got a much needed recharge. I hope that you also enjoyed your long weekend. Keep fighting the good fight, my friend, and carry on!

  20. avatar OakRiver says:

    Simple fact is that AFCOM cost a heck of a lot to set up, and the Chinese are already setting up deals with various African countries to secure vital minerals, and made these deals without any human rights clauses.

  21. avatar Padawan says:

    We’re training them so we don’t have to go in and rescue kidnapping victims ourselves. A large group of armed but untrained civilians does not a successful hostage rescue make.

  22. avatar chris says:

    Nothing new they trained the zetas in Mexico,and some of the troops that raped and killed this nuns in the 80’s. Look up the college of the Americas program.The training was how to extort,rape and kill any civilian they felt like.

    1. avatar Ian says:

      The Zetas are a perfect example. They became the very thing they were trained to combat. Their very own cartel/gang. The only big difference I can see between the Zetas and this new effort is what the new troops are going trained to combat. I don’t think the bad guys in Nigeria have the financial backing to simply buy out their US trained opposition. Not that I have high hopes this will work out the way it was drawn up on paper, but at least that likely source of corruption is limited in this scenario.

  23. avatar David_TheMan says:

    I don’t understand how anyone with sense can look at this and say something to the effect of “obama caused this”.

    This is/was going to be done whether and GOP/Dem was elected baring Ron Paul. Fact is like has been mentioned before this is the US trying to contain China in Africa through the hollow excuse of the bogus war on terror.

    If the US was really against Al Queda why the hell did they work with them in Libya and Syria to the point of training and arming them. SMH

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      Spot on. It’s a statist thing that originates from a misunderstanding of true individual Liberty and all that it entails. Groups seem to want freedom without the associated risks and responsibilities. It ain’t gonna happen… not then, not now, not ever.

  24. avatar Pashtun6 says:

    Condsideing the US has been sending military advisors (Sometimes Army SF) to train other nations armies for years this isn’t really as big of a deal as it may seem to the uninformed or uninitiated. Nigerias army isn’t the best an is our typical African military (aka 99.9999999999% incompentant conscripts running around with beat up AK and FAL pattern/ similar weapons). I do agree we shouldn’t help those who hate us as Americans and but alas, FID (Foriegn Internal Defence) is the current mission there, and it basically comes down to trying to combat terrorism internationally without committing a huge amount of resources. Hell, the advisors could even be private contractors, it wouldn’t surprise me this day in age.

  25. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

    What could possibly go wrong?

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