Political Killings, Part of U.S.-Phil. Counterinsurgency Strategies

Counterinsurgency and the “war on terror”

After The World Trade Center attacks in 2001, the U.S. went into war-footing. It subsumed its goals and plans in a National Security Strategy, which guides the political, military, and economic policies of the U.S. From this is based the goals contained in the Quadrennial Defense Review.

The 2006 QDR revealed that U.S. military operations had and would stress on unconventional, irregular, foreign internal defense, counterterror and counterinsurgency operations. Consistent with this, all units of the U.S. Armed Forces would be trained in these types of operations to free the Special Forces which would, in turn, prioritize the conduct of trainings to surrogate armies and conduct special operations. Consistent with this thrust, U.S. Special Forces would be increased by 15 percent. It would also increase Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs units by 3,700 or 33 percent.

With the strategy of pre-emption, the CIA and Special Forces units are given a free hand in conducting assassinations and renditions of suspected “terrorists.”

The counterinsurgency and counterterror strategies and tactics described in the previous section were developed by Special Forces and are in line with the current thrusts and stresses of the U.S. Armed Forces. The only difference is that these types of operations, such as assassinations and abductions, which used to be part of clandestine operations, are now openly acknowldeged by the Bush regime. This makes overt and covert operations less distinct and official policy and operations more blatantly brutal.

Evidences of this type of counterinsurgency operations can now be seen in Iraq.

Since June 2004, people suspected of being hostile to the regime and their supporters were being kidnapped and killed by police commandos from the notorious Wolf Brigade. It is the most notorious and best known death squad created, funded and directed by U.S. advisers. A majority of its officers and personnel served in Saddam Hussein’s Special Forces and Republican Guard—veterans of killings, torture and repression.[12]

Foremost among the U.S. advisers are retired Colonel James Steele and former DEA officer Steven Casteel who are both veterans of the dirty war. Steele served in El Salvador. In El Salvador, Colonel Steele commanded the U.S. Military Advisor Group, training Salvadoran forces between 1984-86. Steven Casteel worked in Colombia with paramilitaries called Los Pepes that later joined forces to form the AUC in 1997. These were responsible for most of the violence against civilians in Colombia. Casteel was instrumental in forming Special Police Commandos, known as the Wolf Brigade, in his capacity as senior advisor to the Iraqi Interior Ministry. [13]

Wolf Brigade operatives “came in white police Toyota Land Cruisers, wore police commando uniforms, flak vests and helmets” and were armed with 9mm Glock pistols.” Their links to the U.S. military are confirmed by their equipment. Glock pistols are standard issue for many U.S. law enforcement officers. The same type of sidearms was issued to Iraqi police by the U.S. military.

On September 8, 2005 the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq issued a human rights report stating that, “Corpses appear regularly in and around Baghdad and other areas. Most bear signs of torture and appear to be victims of extrajudicial executions…. Serious allegations of extrajudicial executions underline a deterioration in the situation of law and order…. Accounts consistently point to the systematic use of torture during interrogations at police stations and within other premises belonging to the Ministry of the Interior.” [14]

On January 16, 2005 USA Today reported that Isam al-Rawi, a geology professor who heads the Iraqi Association of University Lecturers, has been cataloguing assassinations of academics in occupied Iraq and has documented 300 of them. On January 14, 2005, the Newsweek reported that Interim Prime Minister Allawi, a former agent of both the Iraqi Mukhabarat and the CIA, has been a principal proponent of applying the “Salvadoran option” in Iraq.[15]

The Associated Press tallied a total of 539 persons killed by the Wolf Brigade from April to Octrober 7, 2005. When Casteel was asked regarding the killings, he blamed insurgents “impersonating” police commandos.

With these, it is no wonder then that the same counterinsurgency strategy and tactics dubbed the “dirty war” which was employed in Vietnam and El Salvador are now being seen with increased intensity in Iraq and in the Philippines. After all, Iraq, together with Afghanistan, is the first front in the U.S. “war on terror” and the Philippines is the second front. (Bulatlat.com)
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[1] The 1962 U.S. Army manual of Psychological Operations (FM33-5) defines unconventional warfare as “inherently psychological” so that psywar operations must be included in each stage of special forces operations.

[2] Michael McClintock, “Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, Counterterrorism, Pantheon Books, 1992

[3] Abner Bolos, Death Squads, the CIA and Political Killings in Central Luzon, Bulatlat, May 28-June 3, 2006

[4] Ibid

[5] Department of the Army, “Human Factors Considerations of Undergrounds in Insurgencies,” Army Pamphlet 550-104 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, September 1966), p. 184.

[6] Tim Cavinder, “The Coup and the Phoenix: Spanning a Decade of Covert Operations

[7] Steven Metz, “A Flame Kept Burning: Counterinsurgency Support After the Cold War

[8] Victor M. Rosello, “Lessons From El Salvador,” Parameters, 23 (Winter 1993-94), 102

[9] Lisa Haugaard, Textbook Repression: U.S. Training Manuals Declassified, Covert Action Quarterly magazine, September 1997

[10] David Kirsch, “Death Squads in El Salvador: A pattern of U.S. Complicity, Covert Action Quarterly, Summer of 1990

[11] Ibid

[12] Steven Harris, “Who’s Behind the Active Death Squads Running in Iraq, Al Jazeera, July 20, 2006

[13] Nicolas J.S. Davies, “The Dirty War in Iraw,” Z Commentary Online, November 2005

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

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