The US shadow war in Somalia

NY Times:

In Somalia, U.S. Escalates a Shadow War

With lessons from the “Black Hawk Down” battle of 1993, the Obama administration has intensified America’s military role in the past year.
The problem in the Black Hawk Down episode involved a fundamental misunderstanding of the war that raged in Somalia.  The US and others thought the famine that took places was a by-product of the war when, in fact, it was a strategic part of the way wars are fought in that part of Africa.  The fighters try to win by starving the opposition  forces and their families.

By intervening and providing food, the US was unwittingly taking sides in the war and that is the reason its forces came under attack.  I do not think the Clinton administration ever understood this.

The current fighting is mainly by special forces units that are used in raiding attacks on Somali Islamic terrorists.  The Special ops fighters seem to have better intel on what is going on on the ground and have made some devasting attacks on what the terrorist thought were their sanctuaries.

The problem with raiding strategies is that they tend to be indecisive. They can harass and inconvenience an enemy, but they rarely persuade the enemy that his cause is hopeless, which is necessary to make him quit fighting.  They tend to take longer and also are usually bloodier.


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