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Old 03-06-2005, 01:38   #7
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
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"FID" Series (Part 6)


The town of San Jorge was the capital of this vast department. The Partner Nation classified the different regions – what we would refer to as states – as departments. There were a total of 17 departments and we were in one of the largest in the southern region. Also, by virtue of the soil composition and the high incidence of rain throughout the year, the particular department where San Jorge was located accounted for nearly 27% of the coca plant yield in country for 2001 alone. As late as 1997, the area was largely contested between the right and left wing guerrilla groups. The right wing group, a paramilitary organization originally conceived to eradicate the left wing insurgent group, fought a very bloody campaign to acquire undisputed control. A nearby town is notorious for the massacre of about 25 of its inhabitants at the hands of the right wing paramilitaries due to the inhabitants' alleged relationship, however dubious or indirect, to left wing guerillas. People were brutally tortured and hung and their limbs hacked while they were still alive. The bodies were thrown into the nearby river for sheer shock value. This coupled with national army incursions into the area, wrested control away from the left wing group. The national army and the right wing paramilitaries fell into an uneasy symbiotic relationship. The right wing paramilitaries had unquestioned control of the department's capital city and, indirectly, tremendous influence over the surrounding land and landowners. Like any such organization, they thrived within the protective circle of collaborators, auxiliaries and armed support from within the legitimate national police and national army.

These facts were very well known to us and it provided us with tremendous motivation for increased situational awareness. The road towards the town was replete with choke points and lent itself for some very successful ambushes should the enemy have the courage to wager their existence in the area to touch us. Armed with recent months of intense training in shooting and combat convoys, as well as the best weapons and equipment in the area, we were a formidable force to challenge. Nevertheless, we were hundreds of miles from the nearest US SF soldiers in the region and had no reliable air support. An engagement would be costly for the enemy; I had no doubt, yet, would have to be over in seconds. Back at the US Embassy, we were advised to only carry concealed weapons down town and to blend in to the population. This was truly an unrealistic approach in my view. There was no way that a small population as homogeneous as this would overlook three very fit and light skinned men, with relatively long hair and above average height in their own backyard. Blending in was feasible in the capital, where the US Embassy was located. But, it was an unrealistic expectation in this very small and tight knit community. Our mere presence would set off immediate information requirements by the local paramilitary intelligence apparatus.

During our planning, we developed Courses of Actions (COAs) for the possibilities outlined by our available intelligence. The intelligence we did have was minimal and this led to few facts from which to formulate viable COAs. This led to logical assumptions based on pattern analysis. Our assumptions generated other questions which we expressed in the forms of Requests for Information (RFIs). Any RFIs that were answered, in turn, generated more COAs. We developed COAs for the most likely occurrences and COAs for the most dangerous possibilities. The unanswered RFIs could not yield enough solid information to generate into COAs, so this we rectified with well practiced battle drills. We anticipated that it was likely that the local paramilitaries would attempt to gather as much intelligence about us as possible; covertly. We also assumed that due to the vast economic interest that the area provided the paramilitaries, in terms of illicit drug production, they would be careful to not cause a direct engagement. Any direct engagement against US forces in the area, we felt, would force the “microscope” of the US Embassy to focus in this tiny, highly lucrative piece of ground – the paramilitaries would not want that. There was also the possible left wing guerrilla threat. As this area was right wing controlled, and occupied by a battalion of national army and a company of police, we felt that the most likely scenario for an encounter with a left wing guerrilla would be in the form of a suicidal individual – not very probable – or, a highly trained small “killing” cell, designed for just that type of job. The last possibility, while not likely, was the most feasible for that type of action. The most dangerous course of action would be for a left wing guerrilla to infiltrate the town and attempt to kill, at least, one detachment member.

This, logically, would necessitate a bit of surveillance on the part of the guerrilla organization, as well as some connection and support from any locals willing to risk life and limb to support a left wing objective. Our mitigation to this, then, would be to go to town fully armed, and overtly so. The “enemy” was going to notice us regardless, so, I wanted them to see us as a very hard target and as one that would cost a tremendous price to engage. Also, we were going to interact with the local population. Special Forces are the best special operations force in using the population to thwart an enemy and this was our purpose exactly.

- Retired Special Forces Officer -
Special Forces Association Lifetime Member

Last edited by Basenshukai; 03-06-2005 at 01:50.
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