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  •  Actually we did not so long ago (1+ / 0-)
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    allenjo

    with the Marine Combined Action Program. We were not in "towns" but in rural areas, villages and hamlets in Viet Nam. A significant part of our job was protecting our villagers from marauding groups of poorly disciplined "friendly" military units who liked to "fuck with people".

    In one area where I was we had already destroyed their villages and killed their farm animals. We lived among them, shared their humble homes and their war torn surroundings. We had no barbed wire, no bunkers, no compound.

    Although unwelcome we were treated respectfully if we were respectful towards them and their customs. On personal levels some long-term friends were made. I have returned to the area, most recently 6 months ago, and have met both former friend and foe.

    Their family members opposed us. We discovered that small children were stealing our grenades. We killed some of the local resistance fighters and took others as prisoners. We convinced others to turn themselves in to the government side. Some of our people were killed and wounded also.

    In the long run it was for nothing. Everyone would have been better off if we would have left them alone. They and their ancestors had been fighting foreign occupiers decades before we ever arrived on the scene. There was no way we were going to change their minds in a year or two or three.

    There was another similar type program in which Special Forces troops lived among the Van Kieu people, various non-ethnic Vietnamese tribes, in the highland areas.

    From what I know of Afghanistan it seems we have comfortable bases from which we venture out on patrols to let our selves be seen now and then and mix with the people. I expect the local elders, as Ann Jones has written, know how this will end as they've seen it all before.

    Being outside the wire had filled me with sorrow as I watched earnest, heavily armed and armored boys try to win over white-bearded Afghans -- men of extraordinary dignity -- who have seen all this before and know the outcome.

    Ann Jones - Doing Good to Afghans

    I believe this program, the one mentioned at the beginning of this comment, was the source of our promotion of COIN tactics. In my view the success was blown all out of proportion from what it actually was, however compared to the tactics of search and destroy and attrition of the enemy, it could be seen as having been relatively successful. Perhaps so but there was no way we could have "won the war" with COIN.

    “Humankind can not bear very much reality.” - T.S. Eliot

    by truong son traveler on Tue Mar 13, 2012 at 03:50:20 AM PDT

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