Sunday, October 17, 2010

Border War Nothing New – We've Been Here Before

Cartel wars resemble Laotian border campaign of the 60's, Contra Wars of the 80's

“There's a lot of money in that white powder.” - Santino Corleone, “The Godfather”

Application of even the most basic components of critical thinking to recent events on the border between Texas and Tamaulipas State sends up red flags in an observer's mind.

The only basic difference is that this hassle is a lot closer to home. You've seen it in southeast Asia, Central America, Africa, Lebanon, Gaza, Israel and in numerous colonial wars fought by British troops during the Victorian era.

Look at the basic parts of the conflict and you see the same story all over again:

* drugs and other illicit goods, including slaves and cash;
* covert and mercenary fighting personnel trained by the U.S.;
* murderous insurgent tactics borrowed from other conflicts in other lands;
* arms and ammunition manufactured and supplied by the U.S.;
* an overall strategy of plausible deniability by U.S. Officials;
* prosecution of hostilities by unnamed special forces types.

The weekend's news from McAllen brought the brick through the window pronouncement that Tiffany Hartley, wife of a man murdered by Zetas gunmen in boats on Lake Falcon Oct. 1, has given a second statement to Mexican authorities.

Pity. When she visited the Mexican Consul's office in McAllen, “Mrs. Hartley provided valuable information that will allow federal investigations to continue,” but, according to a statement issued by the Mexican Attorney General's office. “The agency did not give any specifics on her statement,” the Associated Press reported.

As to what the public has been made aware of, the only thing Mrs. Hartley has ever changed about her story is her opinion that the Mexican authorities are not really looking for her husband's body. She and her father-in-law both retracted earlier bitter statements to that effect.

To compare and contrast this series of skirmishes with the sub rosa Laotian war fought as a side show to the Vietnam war between the Viet Cong and NVA and their southern neighbors and American Military Assistance Command – Studies and Observation Group (MAC-SOG), begin with an article published in a no less red-blooded, all-American publication than the NRA's “American Rifleman” of May, 2008.
According to Maj. John L. Plaster, USAR, Ret., in “Wreaking Havoc One Round At A Time,” then-Col. John Singlaub of SOG, under the direct command of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, had special ops types from the Green Berets and SEAL Teams lead Hmong tribesmen into Laos on raids of VC ammo dumps.

How could we forget General Singlaub, who helped mastermind the covert resupply schemes carried out by Col. Oliver North from his office in the basement of the Reagan White House during the Contra Wars of the 80's?

The truth is, we haven't, have we?

The Study and Observations Groub captured cases of AK-47 rounds and 82 mm mortar projectiles and brought them out of the jungles where the CIA did some work on them.

It was a laborious task, but the CIA had its armorers pull the bullets and disassemble the mortar rounds and substitute high explosives that looked like gun powder. Only a few rounds were reinserted in the cases so that it would be unlikely that more than one round at a time would wind up loaded in a magazine or a guerilla's satchel of mortar rounds.

The result was a terror campaign that had the VC and NVA troops questioning their Chinese Communist supplies of ammunition. When a round loaded with high explosive would go off, the resulting explosion would drive the assault rifle's bolt back through an exploded receiver and into the eye of the man firing the weapon. Similarly, the mortar rounds would explode in the tube of the launcher, turning gun steel into splintered shrapnel and killing or maiming the crew instantly.

From there, it was a simple matter of propagating phony communist communiques about how the problem had been solved, since all the rounds from lots numbered so and so, or higher, issued on such a date, were certified as not having been sabotaged.

Problem. There were no supplies of those rounds. Everything the enemy had was loaded in China many years before the phony date mentioned in the bogus memoranda.

Meanwhile, large quantities of raw opium crossed the Laotian border under the guard of Thai and Hmong soldiers supervised by SOG officers, who then transshipped the material via CIA proprietary air services such as Air America or Southern Air to remote laboratories to be turned into the infamous “China White” grade of heroin and sold on the U.S. Market. It was so pure, many junkies died before they got the needle out of their arms.

No matter, it all generated huge amounts of illicit cash to finance further covert actions.

When Henry Kissinger went on record later saying “No American stationed in Laos has ever been killed in ground combat operations,” he was technically correct. All the troops that crossed over from South Vietnam did not count. Said SGM Herbert A. Friedman, Ret., in a book-length article, “Ground operations” meant he could ignore all the deaths from aircraft downed by the enemy. CIA people did not count because they were 'invisible' anyway. The Thai mercenaries did not count because they were not American...”

According to SGM Friedman's military assessment, objectives for Laos were:

* maintain an outward appearance of strict neutrality for diplomatic purposes;
* maintain a relatively stable balance of political, military, and economic positions betweeen the communist and the pro-U.S. Factions in Laos;
* maintain a friendly or at least neutral government on the boarders of Thailand;
* achieve maximum attrition and disruption of North vietnamese logistics flow through the use of air power.

Sabotage of enemy ammunition goes back to British tactics used in what was then Western India and is now Pakistan border skirmishes during Victorian times.

Use of mercenaries is something Marcus Aurelius, Sun Tzu and other warriors have written about for many centuries.

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