Tuesday, January 09, 2007
my war, you're one of them, you say that you're my friend but you're one of them:
Give credit to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross where it's due. He has a dynamite story today at Pajamas Media --hat tip to this guy who apparently isn't Daniel McK -- that answers the question: Why did some doofy PAO once say there weren't "officially" U.S. troops in Somalia? Well, because unofficially...

U.S. ground forces have been active in Somalia from the start, a senior military intelligence officer confirmed. “In fact,” he said, “they were part of the first group in.”

These ground forces include CIA paramilitary officers who are based out of Galkayo, in Somalia’s semiautonomous region of Puntland, Special Operations forces, and Marine units operating out of Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. ...

The ground forces have been serving in the role of military advisors. Their duties include identifying ground targets for the Ethiopian air force.

“The goal is to take the ICU apart so they don’t come back,” a military intelligence source said. Sources within the U.S. military, intelligence community, and Somalia’s transitional federal government are concerned that the ICU will mount an insurgent fighting campaign if it is not eviscerated.

So, the idea is to wipe out an ICU insurgency before it takes root. Maybe this is a wise idea. Maybe it isn't. Maybe it can be accomplished with minimal cost. Maybe it can't. If this is truly as open-ended a commitment as that sounds, then this is really the sort of thing that should be, you know, debated openly and then voted upon.

--Spencer Ackerman
"The ground forces have been serving in the role of military advisors. Their duties include identifying ground targets for the Ethiopian air force."

As you say, this may or may not be a good thing, but this language is eerily reminiscent of the early days of Vietnam, no?
Blogger fnook | 5:16 AM

Perhaps a good piece would be one that talks about how easy it is for "advisers" to become combatants, and analyzes why that is. Vietnam is only one such example. My vague impression -- ignorant and quite possibly wrong -- is that U.S. advisers in El Salvador didn't always stay on the sidelines.
Blogger spencerackerman | 6:39 AM

It seems to me that the "advisor" line is just another one to try and minimize our involvement with meaningless distinctions. It's a favorite administration trump-card; see, e.g.Dan Bartlett's statement that oh, by the way, those 20,000 more troops in Iraq? Only acting in support of Iraqi forces, guys! Who can argue with support?!

Anyway, it's meaningless every time, particularly when "identifying ground targets for the Ethopian air force" becomes "American air strikes" in under a fucking month.
Blogger M. LeBlanc | 8:10 AM

If it hasn't already.

Everybody welcome a particularly sexy commenter, famous from UnfoggeDCon & Bitch Ph D, as well as her own blog...
Blogger spencerackerman | 8:44 AM