When I wrote Task Force Desperate, I made some predictions that haven’t quite panned out (and this is not necessarily a bad thing).  I expected the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime in Egypt to last a lot longer than it did.  And only a year or so after the book came out, it was looking like Al Shabaab was well and truly on the rocks.

Not anymore.

http://www.voanews.com/content/somalia-al-shabab/3306919.html

As the article points out, Western powers pay for most of Somalia’s armed forces, and the EU pays AMISOM a fair piece too.  This is an issue we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, too.  We sink a lot of money into dysfunctional local militaries, probably a lot of that money gets skimmed off the top in local tribal graft, the troops are rather less than the highest quality, mostly joining up for the paycheck.  When the paycheck no longer becomes worth the risk, they stop being effective fighters, especially when faced with ideological true believers like Islamists.

What’s the solution?  There are a couple of possibilities.  Training local forces is Special Forces’ primary mission.  MARSOC has tried its hand at FID (Foreign Internal Defense) as well.  But for it to be done right, it has to be done within the cultural context of the locals, not through a Western lens.  Now, I’m not talking about the kind of “cultural sensitivity” that SFC Martland came up against.  I’m talking about getting down to understanding what’s going to make the locals effective warriors, and doing that.  It’s probably going to be dirty and distasteful, but it’s the cost of doing business.  A couple of examples might be beatings for infractions or the execution of deserters.  Discipline isn’t built through paperwork, especially not in a culture where paperwork is either nonexistent or the tool of tribal bureaucracy intended to enrich the tribe in power by robbing everyone else.

The other option would be PMCs.  Most PMCs these days are what Sean McFate calls “military enterprisers,” essentially trainers for hire.  “Mercenaries” are armies for hire.  Think Executive Outcomes or the Free Companies of the Thirty Years War.  It would be possible to build a force of “military enterprisers” to function for hire in the role that SF or MARSOC would, but without as much political oversight, and therefore a freer hand in getting results.  Same thing with an offensive, mercenary PMC.  It worked in Sierra Leone.  180 South Africans destroyed the RUF in a year, where 17,000 UN peacekeepers had failed.

In the short run, however, Islamism appears to be on the rebound in East Africa, much like it has been elsewhere.  How and why is complex (while the US’ foreign policy of recent years doubtless has an impact, it is only one factor of many).  The defeat of any enemy is a long, arduous process, and this kind of dispersed, franchised, tribalistic enemy is going to be longer than most.

Somalia Going The Way Of “Task Force Desperate”
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Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Works by Peter include: The American Praetorians Series Task Force Desperate (October 2012) - ebook , paperback and audiobook Hunting in the Shadows (June 2013) - ebook and paperback Alone and Unafraid (August 2014) - ebook and paperback The Devil You Don't Know (June 2015) - ebook and paperback Lex Talionis (June 2017) - ebook and paperback The Jed Horn Series A Silver Cross and a Winchester (October 2013) - ebook and paperback Nightmares (January 2015)- ebook and paperback The Walker on the Hills (December 2015) - ebook and paperback Older and Fouler Things (September 2017) - ebook and paperback The Brannigan's Blackhearts Series/Universe Kill Yuan (Spring 2016) - ebook and paperback Fury in the Gulf (November 2017) - ebook and paperback Burmese Crossfire (January 2018) - ebook and paperback Enemy Unidentified (March 2018) - ebook and paperback Frozen Conflict (May 2018) - ebook and paperback High Desert Vengeance (August 2018) - ebook and paperback Doctors of Death (December 2018) - ebook and paperback The Unity Wars Series (P.L. Nealen) The Fall of Valdek (July 2018) - ebook and paperback The Defense of Provenia (August 2018) - ebook and paperback The Alliance Rises (September 2018) - ebook and paperback Short Stories Rock Meet Hard Place (Part I) - Baen Books Blog Non-Fiction Operation Redwings: The Rescue Story Behind Lone Survivor (December 2013) - ebook only The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam (SOFREP) (November 2014) - ebook only

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