U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Cuba and the Philippines Essay
U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Cuba and the Philippines
In January 2002, The United States Special Operation Commands, Pacific (SOCPAC) took on an arduous task of assisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with a specific mission for ousting the terrorists forces of Al Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group(ASG) and to carry the humanitarian operations in the islands of Basilan which was considered as the most dangerous place. The United States Special Forces (SP) unit along with the specially equipped forces and scout rangers of the AFP formed the Light Reaction Company.
This Light Reaction Company along with the SOCPAC were deployed at Basilan with the sole motive to reject the ASG sanctuary, undergo surveillance on the key positions, support the villagers, conduct regular training to boost the morale of the AFP and support the strike forces of AFP and assist in the civil affairs operations. This was the part of the Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (OEF-P). In this operation, 350 operating personal were deployed and other 750 were providing logistics support to the headquarters in Zamboanga on Mindanao.
The main purpose of the Mission was to help AFP in curbing the stronghold of Abu Sayyaf and as a result, the declared members of the Abu Sayyaf group reduced to 80 from 700. Another project that took place was Operation Smiles, a program to give medical aid to the local civilians of Basilan where the intensive fighting was taking place. The result of this operation was the establishment of 14 Schools, seven clinics, three hospitals and more than 20 fresh wells.
Fighting again resumed in 2005 and 2006 between the government forces and the Abu Sayyaf group who was aligned with the New People’s army. By the end of 2006, hundreds of guerillas and soldiers were killed, and NPA was left with 7,000 fighters whereas Abu Sayyaf with 2,000. United States took up a different approach in Cuba by interfering in their internal private affairs. When the United States felt threatened by the Cuban revolution in 1959 and rise of communism under Fidel Castro, they formed a special committee to launch an attack on Cuba.
They faced the danger of the coercion of the communist parties in Cuba that they would unleash their communist movements in America. They formulated the plan to infuse the anti-regime spirit and overthrow the government. They made thirty different plans to over throw the government and disrupt their economy. Among these were included the use of American Green Berrets, destruction of their sugar crops and mining of harbors. To overcome the crises, Cuba began to establish the trade relationships with Soviet Union.
On April 17, 1961, United States conducted air strikes across the island to eliminate the Cuban air force, and enabling the Brigade 2506 to have a complete control over the island much before their actual landing at the Bay of Pigs. This failed because the invasions were not conducted as planned and Fidel Castro even resisted an armed invasion of 1,500 CIA trained Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs. This was another excuse for America to increase their propaganda against the Cuban government. In 1962 Operation North wood, plan was initiated with the intention to use false flag as an excuse to attack Cuba.
Every month since 1962 there was one plan or the other to destabilize the communist regime either in the form of publishing views against Castro, equiping militant opposition groups with armaments, helping them in establishing guerilla bases and preparing them for their military interventions in Cuba in October. Many of the plans were devised by the CIA with the sole purpose to assassinate Fidel Castro which included the use of hair removal powder to fall the Castro’s beard, a poisoned wetsuit, the exploding cigars and the placing of explosive seashells in Castro’s favorite places including the place where he used to go for diving.
This project was originally decided to put into action in October 1962 with an open revolt and ultimately to the overthrow the Communist regime. This action was planned when the Cuba was at the peak of the Cuban Missile crisis due to the Soviet Unions’s presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, and could have led to the nuclear war between Soviet Union and United States. Therefore on 30th October the operation was suspended, but they had already deployed three of ten six-man sabotage teams in Cuba. One team infact was successful in blowing Cuban industrial facility on 8th November, 1962.
This whole Cuban Project was known as Operation Mongoose. United States broke all the diplomatic relations with Cuba and imposed sanctions against it in 1962. The relationship between the two nations improved in 2000-2001 but again deteriorated when George W Bush came to power. Bush termed Cuba as an outpost of tyranny and his undersecretary to the U. S. State Department John R. Bolton levied accusations against Cuba of keeping and maintaing bioweapons program. Bolton even declared that Cuban leader had visited US enemy countries like Libya, Iran and Syria.
Cuba was also declared as a State Sponsor of Terror by the United States department of State but Cuban government in turn accuses America for sponsoring terrorism against Cuba. Thus American Government again started their activities towards overthrowing the Cuban government and through the media propagated against the government to the extent that the opposition parties, supporting United States in Havana started displaying messages on a scrolling “electronic billboard” and to counter these Cuban government constructed large number of poles, carrying black flags with white stars, to obstruct these messages.
On 12th September, 2006, the United States formed five interagency working groups to monitor Cuba and to carry their policies. These groups were set up quitely in War like rooms. According to the U. S. officials, three of these created groups; diplomatic actions; strategic communications and democratic promotion are headed by the State Department. One more group which coordinated humanitarian aid to Cuba is run by the Commerce Department, and the fifth group tackles migration issues, is being run jointly by the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security.
These prcocess is being undertaken to restore democracy. Thus the counter insurgency operations with Philippines was to help the Philippine regime to crush the terrorists activities of the Al Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group(ASF) whereas the United States Policy towards Cuba was to eliminate the Communist regime by supporting the opposition parties and to counter the Russia’s missiles in Cuba.
United States Counter Insurgency operations in Philippines were over and all successful, and the reasons behind these successful efforts were the comprehensive operations, adopting strategy of attacking the enemy’s line of attacks and disrupting their alliances and this was achieved by strengthening the Philippine government institutions and local security so that the daily lives of the people can move on smoothly. The measures were also undertaken for civic development to provide necessary amenities to its population.
These operations being carried out in Basilan led to the ousting of the ASG from the island simply because they lost the support of the population and lost the combat operations as well as bases. But, there were certain strategic errors that led to again the emergence of ASG who “Lived to fight another day” with the sole help from the JI and MILF. The ASG is again rising on the southern islands of Jolo and Tawi Tawi where Forces of the United States are not allowed to give assistance to AFP. This situation arises due to the certain strategic errors by the United States.
The first strategic error was inability of the OEF-P, American leaders to fruitfully understand their own forces. They could not understand the basic traits of SF in an arena of employment and their capabilities to take out the combat advisory mission during unconventional warfare. Instead of fully understanding the situation, combatant commander and the Secretary of Defense imposed restrictions on SF soldiers. Over and above, the restrictions were also imposed on these SF advisers to operate at battalion level with their AFP counterparts but were not disallowed to operate at lower tactical echelons.
U. S. leaders at the highest levels also could not able to comprehend fully the unconventional warfare. This led to the second strategic error and that is over-reliance on technical reconnaissance assets. The Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the Navy’s P3 Orion began to be used for locating the ASG and the hostages on Basilan. These they used again for protection minimizing the risks to U. S. personnel. These though reduced the patrolling in remote areas, but this kind of surveillance was unconventional, and the forces on the ground were not allowed to use these reconnaissance assets.
The third reason cited because of the prohibition of the U. S. leaders to assist the SF units because the negotiations were going on between the AFP and MILF, so forces were removed from MILF and because AFP was desperate to take the advice and assistance from U. S. Military, AFP troops were shifted from MILF-controlled areas. This led to the creation of de facto ASG sanctuaries giving boost to the ASG and MILF strong relationship. Many people staying in the area are also the members of these two organizations. (Tzu Sun, May-June 2004). The United States strategy in Cuba did not get desired results.
The CIA wrote an internal report that blamed the internal incompetence on failure. The administration thought that the troops could retreat to mountains and conduct guerrilla war if they lost in open battle. But they did not realize that the troops could not reach the mountains by foot. The second reason was that the troops were deployed in swampland, where they were easily surrounded. The third biggest fault was their thinking that Cubans would be great full to them to give them liberation from Fidel Castro and would join in the battle, but the Americans could not gain the support of the population.
It was basically due to the agency’s weak positions on the ground in Cuba. CIA’s witnessed the mass support of Castro and those who were against the Castro were rounded and arrested by him. (Bay of Pigs invasion, encyclopedia) Looking at these failures and strategies the soldiers in order to win the war against terrorism first of all should analyze the ground situation where the war is to be fought, take the local population into confidence, never underestimate the enemies, and use the reconnaissance assets at the appropriate situation and at the appropriate moment.
1. Bay of Pigs Invasion All Experts: Encyclopedia Retrieved April 5, 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://en. allexperts. com/e/b/ba/bay_of_pigs_invasion. htm 2. Maxwell S. David (May-June 2004) Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines: What Would Sun Tzu Say? The U. S. Army Professional Writing Collection Retrieved April 5, 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://www. army. mil/professionalwriting/volumes/volume2/june_2004/6_04_3. html
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 February 2017
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