The Long War, by LTC Reid Sawyer, USA


The following report was forwarded to Your Business Blogger(R) by John Howland editor of the USNA-AT-Large. It deserves a wide audience.

Presentation by LTC Reid Sawyer, USA,


Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)

U.S. Military Academy

West Point New York.

Hosted by the West Point Society in Tampa Florida

September 17, 2009.

Report by Captain Raymond Burke “Buddy” Wellborn, USN/SS (retired), USNA Class of 1959.

“The CTC is not a self-licking ice cream cone,” opened the Director of the CTC, who then elaborated on their uniqueness as a center for the study of terrorism. Colonel Sawyer then stated that 80% of the CTC’s budget is privately funded as a “think tank” for studies on combating terrorism.

Colonel Sawyer further elaborated that the CTC also is “contracted” regularly for instruction on terrorism by other national agencies, such as the CIA, FBI, STATE, et al. The CTC provides on-site instructors to teach the culture and strategy of terrorism as well as current tactics and counters that those officers could expect to face in the field.

He somberly closed his opening remarks with the by-word of the CTC, to wit:

“We are a nation at war.”

Al-Qaeda is a species of the terrorist genus. They perpetrate terrorism on the international stage. They are most resilient, and as such are very robust in their pursuit of heinous acts. One of the more subtle purposes for the pursuit of spectacular violence is to get it aired on worldwide news agencies as sensationalism.

One might presume that al-Qaeda is akin to fire-truck chasers and disaster junkies, but their actions are much more disdainful than that. They perpetuate terrorist acts just not for extortion, but also to gain press coverage in the worldwide media. Such reporting of their acts is sensationalism at its best, and most definitely helps them milk more funding from their donors– who deceitfully wish the West, and the US in particular, no well.

As another species of the same genus, the Taliban (Arabic for “students”) in Afghanistan from Pakistan are more localized. They are dissidents who were ousted as the governing party in Afghanistan. In essence, they are a national insurgency striving to regain what they once governed.

It is estimated that active loyalists for the Taliban number about 200,000, in the sixth most populated nation in the world–Pakistan, which has a little less than 200-million people. It also is estimated by human-intelligence sources that of that number they field some 20,000 fighters of which only about 2,000 are hard-core, trained fighters.

In that the Taliban is a “party” without national backing, the “host” country does not share their culpability, per se. The perpetration of civil disorder and crimes against humanity by Taliban forces should be proscribed by lawful nations as being at best resurgent belligerents, and at worst, virulent militants.

The Taliban receive about $100-million per year in “donations” — in that alms-giving is one of the pillars of Islam. Most of the donations come from the coffers of mosques in the Persian Gulf States, as does most of the funding for al-Qaeda. In addition, the Taliban net about $400 million per year from the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda, however, strives to internationalize terrorism so as to solicit a larger donor-base. Terrorism, although gaining notoriety, is also gaining donors, and therefore there is a concomitant increase in capacity for violence with even more spectacular attacks that producers of the international media air as sensationalism–to attract more advertisers.

Apparently, the strategic plan of the Taliban to defeat the US (and its dwindling Western partners) is with the support of al-Qaeda. The plan is to perpetrate scattered, yet spectacular, violent acts, which can be staged covertly. When executed overtly, these acts tend to embarrass the Super Power in defiance of security and stability.

Such actions gain the attention, and the headlines, of the international media. In turn, this will help them solicit more funding from their donors to continue their pursuits, which will aid and abet them in attaining their goal of returning to governance.

Most particular to this strategy, is their assessment that USA involvement will dwindle if it doesn’t show signs of success in 12 months. Critical to this strategy is to gain regional control in the north of Afghanistan–among the warlord chiefs of the Northern Alliance. As they do, they also will pursue destabilization of US coalition partners in the south, particularly the Germans and the Brits.

When asked afterwards to opine on whether our commanders on the scene considered the current ROE, Rules Of Engagement, too restrictive and/or endangering our troops unnecessarily, he replied, “No, we can work with (around?) them.”

The implication was that our commanders in the field are well schooled on the importance of gaining the hearts and minds of the civilian populace. Moreover, it was inferred that the locals understand very well their plight in such a hostile environment. They are slowly but surely learning that US forces have their best interest in mind–and, at heart.

They accept the danger of USA doing what we have to do to rid them of evil. Therefore, one can deduce that the canceling of the call for fire mission for artillery support, when women and children were seen in the target area, was a special case with extenuating circumstances.

A closing op-ed note by [Wellborn], “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil — But, because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1958)

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