Is the US military as good as it claims to be?

In June, an American Green Beret was reportedly strangled to death in Mali by U.S. Navy SEALs, allegedly in connection with a shadowy money-skimming scheme. (The military is currently investigating.) In July, The Intercept, the London-based research firm Forensic Architecture, and Amnesty International. revealed that a drone base used by U.S. forces in Cameroon was also a site for illegal imprisonment, brutal torture,and even killings on the part of local forces. (The military is investigating.) In August, according to a blockbuster investigation by the Daily Beast, U.S. Special Operations forces took part in a massacre in which 10 Somali civilians were killed. (The military is investigating.) In October, four Special Operations soldiers were killed in murky circumstances during an ambush by militants in Niger. (The military is investigating.)

This spate of questionable, or even criminal, activity involving U.S. forces in Africa should come as little surprise. Over the last decade and a half, operations on that continent have exploded. A cast of thousands is now carrying out about 10 separate missions per day, ranging from training to combat operations, which are up 1,900% since last year alone. U.S. commandos sent to that continent have jumped from 1% of special ops forces deployed overseas in 2006 to nearly 17% today, the highest total outside the Middle East. There have also been numerous indications of U.S. forces behaving badly from one side of the continent to the other, a sign of lousy morale. Few in the mainstream media or among those tasked with oversight of such operations have, however, taken any significant notice of this. (Nick Turse. TomDispatch) 12/17/1917.


  1. Also worrying is the extraordinarily high levels of sexual assault against female soldiers. It seems that the army attracts a particularly violent and nasty sort of person. Of course, not all soldiers are nasty or violent. But the violent nature of being a soldier makes the profession more appealing to people of bad character. More thorough vetting of potential recruits is required, I think.

    • This is very interesting. I haven’t seen any stats on assaults on women in the military. It doesn’t in the least surprise me. When President Obama started insisting on the military taking on women, especially in frontline jobs, I thought it was a really stupid decision, a decision that supports equality of opportunity, yes, but one that would be regretted, not because women could not do the job or are not as strong, but because of the male military culture, which would be hugely difficult to change, and , if you did succeed in changing it it could alter the whole point of having trained killers in uniform.

      When I was in the army I was stationed in a locality where most people were old, the young having moved or emigrated. There was one single, very beautiful young Greek Cypriot woman who lived fairly near the camp. She was the subject of almost incessant discussion among the men. The Commanding Officer had to announce that if anyone was seen even talking to her, they would be shipped back to England pronto – strong words, but he was right. For all I know she could have run the whole British Army with no problem (we needed someone who could do that!) , but my job was to keep the attention of my men on the dangerous job in hand, not have them chasing young women, minds off the job in hand, and probably inflaming local tensions.

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