Washington once again has grand designs, a new “Great Game”, only a decade after the “revolutionary in military affairs” reached an abrupt ending, and less than a few years after “counter-insurgency” doctrine was widely trumpeted as the pinnacle of empire building.
The future of the planet is the terminator planet, whose earth and seas are surveyed by a mobile force of Predators and Reapers that loiter in the sky. The environment writ large has become both the means and object of national security strategy.
Nick Turse’s recent post on TomDispatch reveals a number of interesting trends, facts, and futures.
1). The U.S. military’s “pivot” is migrating east from the Greater Middle East to the Asia-pacific. A movement that parallels the shift from ground wars to aerial combat and pointillist, secretive deployments. Shadow wars.
2). Lean, mobile, special forces and “trainers” that work in companion with “host” countries are an increasingly used tactic for the Obama administration. This is part of a wider “militarization” of spying and intelligence, which includes drone aircraft and cyber-attacks.
3).For many yers the U.S. military has promoted the idea of “jointness”, which is really about “blurring” the lines between military, paramilitary, and civilian wings of state power. “Think of it as “blur-ness,” a kind of organizational version of war-fighting in which a dominant Pentagon fuses its forces with other government agencies — especially the CIA, the State Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration — in complex, overlapping missions around the globe”. In April 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the creation of a new CIA-like espionage agency within the Pentagon called the “Defense Clandestine Service“. According to the Washington Post, its aim is to expand “the military’s espionage efforts beyond war zones.”
4). Africa, Africa, Africa. “Under President Obama, operations on the continent have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years. Last year’s war in Libya; a regional drone campaign with missions run out of airports and bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles; a flotilla of 30 ships in that ocean supporting regional operations; a multi-pronged military and CIA campaign against militants in Somalia, including intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, secret prisons, helicopter attacks, and U.S. commando raids; a massive influx of cash for counterterrorism operations across East Africa; a possible old-fashioned air war, carried out on the sly in the region using manned aircraft; tens of millions of dollars in arms for allied mercenaries and African troops; and a special ops expeditionary force (bolstered by State Department experts) dispatched to help capture or kill Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his senior commanders, operating in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic (where U.S. Special Forces now have a new base) only begins to scratch the surface of Washington’s fast-expanding plans and activities in the region”.
“The U.S. is also conducting counterterrorism training and equipping militaries in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, and Tunisia. In addition, U.S. Africa Command (Africom) has 14 major joint-training exercises planned for 2012, including operations in Morocco, Cameroon, Gabon, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Senegal, and what may become the Pakistan of Africa, Nigeria”.
4. Black ops in and around the continental U.S., especially anti-drug operations in Mexico (involving drones) and Honduras and Guyana. “The U.S. military has been similarly active elsewhere in Latin America, concluding training exercises in Guatemala, sponsoring “partnership-building” missions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru, and Panama, and reaching an agreement to carry out 19 “activities” with the Colombian army over the next year, including joint military exercises”.
5. Still in the Middle East. “In fact, Yemen, like its neighbor, Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden, has become a laboratory for Obama’s wars. There, the U.S. is carrying out its signature new brand of warfare with “black ops” troops like the SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force undoubtedly conducting kill/capture missions, while “white” forces like the Green Berets and Rangers aretraining indigenous troops, and robot planes hunt and kill members of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, possibly assisted by an even more secret contingent of manned aircraft“.
Don’t forget cyber-war, as in Iran, and also anti-propaganda teams that post online jihadist forums.
All of which has the possibility for unforeseen circumstances: blowback.