Civilian Operator 101: Survival Lessons from South of the Border

SURVIVAL LESSONS FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER

One of the best articles I have read in a long time on practical ways to survive in hostile environments, especially south of the border.

Be sure to bookmark the guys website also: Edsmanifesto 

 

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Security News: Private Security Companies Flourish South of the Border

PSF

This article originally appeared at InSight Crime.

The growing number of private security firms in Guatemala speaks to the state’s inability to provide protection for its citizens, but this booming industry is vulnerable to criminal co-option and could generate security concerns of its own.

Guatemala now has over 200 private security firms and 150,000 security guards — five times more than the country’s 30,000-strong police force, according to the BBC. Less than 100 of the firms are legally registered.

These private services have flourished in the country as a result of public distrust in state institutions such as the police, security expert for the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) Adriana Beltran told the BBC. Heads of private security companies say the demand for these services continues to grow.

Businesses and individuals pay fees of $545 a month to keep a security guard on site, and $1,500 a month for personal bodyguards. Seguridad Integral, a private security firm founded in 1990, charges up to $26,000 to provide security at events. Other services include hiring patrol cars to accompany product deliveries at a price of $2 per kilometer.

One security firm owner told the BBC that in the 1990s, his clients felt that the greatest threat to them was kidnapping. Security concerns have evolved with time, however, and recent years have seen a surge in extortion.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring

Cold War Files: The Cold War’s Deadliest Battleground

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When young Americans are taught about the Cold War, we learn that it was exactly that — a decades-long standoff based on the threat of war, one without mass casualties, tanks and guns. Sure, there were spies, assassinations and intrigue, but even history teachers who cover proxy wars tend to leave out one whopping chapter: Angola’s role as surrogate battleground.

During the Cold War, Angola saw the second-largest American deployment of covert aid.

Only Afghanistan’s mujahideen got more aid from the U.S. And the conflict in Angola was very bloody: By the time the Americans and Soviets backed away, in 1991, hundreds of thousands of people had perished. Angola’s ensuing civil war, which ended in 2002, killed 1.5 million, according to some estimates. Turns out the Cold War wasn’t so cold.

It all started with a coup in Portugal — the colonial rulers of Angola — that ushered in a wave of Portuguese decolonization of its African territories. The transition was abrupt, and its sudden power vacuum prompted a violent three-way bid for rule. The U.S. threw its support behind Angola’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, UNITA, and the Soviets backed UNITA’s enemies, the Movement for the Liberation of Angola, MPLA.

The Soviet Union and the U.S. weren’t alone in their meddling. Cuba — led by an ideological imperative to help install a Marxist regime in power — partnered up with the Soviets and poured some 50,000 troops into Angola. The U.S., meanwhile, sidled up to apartheid South Africa to send its troops into Angola. Despite all the spending, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger denied involvement in the southwest African country to Congress for years. With the American public reeling from Richard Nixon’s resignation and the conclusion of the disastrous Vietnam War, the CIA did what it does best: It kept its involvement in Angola secret.

Why Angola? Many scholars argue it was far more than a battle for hearts and minds — the ideological alignment of the powers and their proxies was shaky at best. Instead, the superpowers saw a chance to deplete the other side of weapons and munitions and to maintain physical control of a country valued for its diamonds and oil. The U.S. saw Soviet dominance-by-proxy of Angola as catastrophic, says Keith Somerville, a scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies. It would give them power over parts of the Cape shipping route around the tip of Africa as well as the export of a whole range of minerals — uranium, copper, platinum, coltan and diamonds — from its next-door neighbors, he says.

In the end, the Cold War subsided and the superpowers pressured the warring parties into signing peace accords in 1991. The MPLA won the mandated elections (its leader, José Eduardo Dos Santos, is still in power today). The U.S. abandoned UNITA and established formal diplomatic relations with Angola. UNITA, in retaliation for its loss, reignited a war that raged on until 2002. No doubt foreign meddling prolonged and deepened the conflict — including by leaving Angola with the highest number of land mines in the world — but for many, the persistence of war long after Soviet-American withdrawal shows that the “core issues were there” and foreign powers “exacerbated the situation with arms and ammunition,” says Alex Vines, Africa researcher at Chatham House.

 “Everything changed” after the Cold War “in terms of the way major powers looked at Africa,” Somerville says. Trade became the name of the game. After all, Angola is the second largest oil producer in Africa, after Nigeria. Even today, though, UNITA feels slighted. During Hillary Clinton’s visit to the country as Secretary of State, UNITA expressed dismay that it did not receive a sit-down with its former Cold War backer. Her likely thoughts: Got oil?
Read the Original Article at OZY

Military History: 10 Notorious Death Squads

In 1984, George Orwell gave his readers a shocking glimpse into the mind of authoritarianism when he put these words in the mouth of state torturer O’Brien: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” This image of complete state control (which Orwell lifted from Jack London’s 1908 dystopian novel The Iron Heel) has haunted readers for decades, especially considering that the history of the 20th and 21st centuries has been one of violence and terrorism. Death squads, or extralegal and paramilitary units tasked with carrying out extrajudicial executions, embody the eternal boot of tyranny like no other organizations on Earth.

Although most death squads, both government-funded and private, came to international attention during World War II and the subsequent Cold War, they have existed in one form or another for centuries. Nations as diverse as Russia, Egypt, and Brazil have all utilized death squads at one time or another, and today, death squads can still be found in those nations rotten with corruption, social strife, and deep political divisions. While death squads have been legitimized under the slogan of, “Sometimes bad things need to be done in order to keep worse things from happening,” their sole purpose is to kill and kill again.

10. The Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance

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Beginning in 1943, Argentina fell under the spell of Peronism. Founded by army colonel and one-time labor minister Juan Peron, Peronism remains the guiding philosophy of Argentina’s Justicialist Party. While today, there are both left- and right-wing Peronist factions, during the first age of the movement, Peron voiced a strong populist message that embraced nationalism and promoted the interests of urban workers. As such, before being ousted in a military coup in 1955, President Peron was an incredibly popular and charismatic leader who enjoyed widespread support from both trade unionists and the lower- and upper-middle classes.

By the 1970s, however, Peronism had devolved into various squabbling factions. Making matters worse was general instability in the form of multiple coups which were rocking South America, thereby threatening Peronist power in Argentina. Right-wing Peronists tried to solve this instability by eliminating what they considered to be their internal enemies—left-wing Peronists and Marxists. In 1973, the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance was formed in secret in order to counteract growing leftism in Argentina. During the administration of President Isabel Peron (1974–1976), the “Triple A” death squad was particularly active and worked closely with the Argentine military and police.

Before being disbanded by a military coup in 1976, the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance is believed to have carried out anywhere between 428 and 1,000 assassinations. Later investigations in the 1980s and 1990s established that the Triple A death squad recruited its members from the army, the police forces, and the various trade unions of Argentina. On top of that, the group enjoyed healthy funding from sympathetic senators and government ministers. Even though the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance was officially outlawed by the military junta that came to power in 1976, said junta had many of the same political enemies as Triple A and continued to use the group’s methods against its opponents.

9. Esquadrao Da Morte

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Referenced in the 1973 US film Magnum Force, the second Dirty Harry movie about a rogue death squad within the San Francisco Police Department, Brazil’s Esquadrao da Morte, or “Death Squad,” was first formed in 1964 following the successful coup that inaugurated the Brazilian military dictatorship. Until 1985, Brazil’s military government oversaw sweeping campaigns to establish order inside the country. What this often meant was that the Brazilian authorities conducted extralegal assaults and kidnappings aimed at their Marxist opponents. While Brazil enjoyed economic success under the military government, it also witnessed approximately 500 deaths and disappearances. Most of these victims were either leftists or those whom the government deemed enemies of the state.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the first death squads were formed in the country’s southeast in order to combat rising crime rates. Unlike later Latin American death squads, Brazil’s Esquadrao da Morte was not a single, collective organization. Several death squads existed at once and were primarily directed by professional police officers. While political opponents were sometimes targeted, Brazilian death squads in the 1970s tended to focus more on torturing and executing drug dealers, gangsters, kidnappers, and murderers.

One infamous death squad was headed by Detective Milton Le Cocq de Oliveira. Based in Rio de Janeiro, Le Cocq’s team consisted of handpicked officers who were instructed to never accept money for assassinations or to kill unarmed citizens. Despite this, Le Cocq’s group, which was noted for its bravery, became a death squad hell-bent on eradicating the many bandits that controlled Rio’s sprawling slums.

8. Thailand’s Anti-Drug Police

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Starting in February 2003, Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra began a “war on drugs” that officially targeted drug trafficking and the gangs in charge of distributing drugs all throughout Thailand. Given that Thailand has experienced an upsurge in drug use and abuse, along with salacious stories about drug dealers giving homemade methamphetamine to children, it’s not surprising that the government would pursue a hard-line policy against drugs. That being said, human rights groups across the world quickly began to criticize the campaign as an unlawful attack on Thai citizens. In particular, Human Rights Watch published a finding that claimed that in the first three months of Prime Minister Shinawatra’s campaign, 2,800 extrajudicial killingshad taken place. Four years later, another study found that more than half of those killed during the drug war had no connection to drug trafficking at all.

Similar charges against the Thai “war on drugs” were argued by Amnesty International in 2003. The group asserted that a “shoot-to-kill” policy was encouraged by high-ranking officials in the Thai government, which resulted in 600 deaths in a three-week period alone. Most of these deaths were connected to Thailand’s police forces, especially those given the responsibility of cracking down on the country’s drug problem.

Ultimately, Shinawatra’s drug war concluded with the military coup of 2006. In the aftermath, the new military government decided to look into charging Prime Minister Shinawatra with various offenses, but by 2008, a new drug war was already underway in order to tackle yet another explosion in illegal drug trafficking.

Read the Remainder at ListVerse

Outsourcing Govt. and Military Security is DUMB

Something I have been screaming for a LONG Time.-SF

ASSER

It is not a theory that delegating the protection of our embassy and military personnel to other countries risks lives. It is a reality bathed in American blood.

The latest reports on Benghazi released this week underscore the persistent dangers of outsourcing security.

By all accounts, the security conditions at the State Department’s consular facility in Libya were “deplorable,” as the House Benghazi committee’s final summary report described it.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been warned a month before the attack that violence was “on an upward trend” and “unpredictable;” “lawlessness was increasing,” and local militia groups that were providing security in many areas were at the same time “undercutting it in others.

One of those local militia groups just happened to be in charge of providing interior armed security at the Benghazi Mission compound: the February 17 Martyrs Brigade militia.

Yes, we entrusted armed Islamic strongmen — linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, supportive of al-Qaida, and financed by the Libyan defense ministry — to guard our diplomats. No, this is not an Onion parody.

Instead of serving as a “quick reaction force” as they were contracted to do, the Muslim militiamen fled. (What’s Arabic for “cut and run force”?) Two days before Ambassador Chris Stevens was scheduled to arrive in Benghazi, the “martyrs” informed State’s Diplomatic Security Agents that they would no long provide off-compound security during transport or meetings off-site. “The meeting underscored that the militias in Benghazi controlled what little security environment existed there,” the House Benghazi final report noted.

The other entity providing internal security support was the British-operated Blue Mountain Guard Force, which employed unarmed personnel at three entrance gates and inside the compound. As documents previously obtained by Judicial Watch revealed, BMG guards had been abandoning their posts for three months before the attacks out of fear for their safety. Officials warned the State Department that they were “undermanned.”

Reuters interviewed the Libyan commander in charge of the local guards at the mission, who had applied with BMG after hearing about the company from a neighbor. “I don’t have a background in security; I’ve never held a gun in my life,” he told the news service.

As Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton concluded, the internal communications showed that the “U.S. Special Mission at Benghazi was a sitting duck. … All security indicators were flashing red and, perhaps, with a show of strength to secure the Benghazi mission, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods might be alive today.”

The same is true of two U.S. Marines, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, who lost their lives three days after Benghazi. Remember Camp Bastion? On Sept. 14, 2012, three days after the deadly siege on our consulate in Libya, the Taliban waged an intricately coordinated, brutal attack on the base in Afghanistan. Fifteen Taliban infiltrators decimated eight U.S. aircraft, refueling stations, and a half-dozen hangars, in addition to killing the heroic Marines and wounding a dozen others.

As I’ve reported over the past four years, the Bastion families discovered to their horror that watchtower security at the besieged and vulnerable facilities had been outsourced to soldiers from Tonga who had been widely known on base to fall asleep on the job.

Compounding the insecurity on base, President Obama’s politically correct military leaders insisted on disarming Marines out of respect for their Afghan allies.

Two years after Benghazi and Bastion, the Obama administration still had learned nothing. A November 2014 federal inspector general’s audit exposed how the State Department’s outsourced contractor in Kabul, Aegis Defense Services, failed to properly vet guards hired from Nepal and failed to obtain proper training documentation from explosive detection dog handlers. A separate contractor, Armor Group North America, shelled out $7.5 million to settle claims it had misrepresented the work experience of 38 third-country national guards it contracted to do work at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

From Benghazi to Bastion and beyond, cutting corners has cost too many of our best and brightest. American forces and American diplomats deserve the best in American-led protection and security abroad. If we can’t look after our own people, we have no business sending them to look after the rest of the world’s.

Read the Original Article at Ammo-Land