Robert Ramsey's historical study examines three cases in which the US Army has performed this same mission in the last half of the 20th century. In Korea during the s, in Vietnam in the s and s, and in El Salvador in the s the Army was tasked to build and advise host nation armies during a time of war. The author makes several key arguments about the lesson the Army though it learned at the time.
Among the key points Mr. Ramsey makes are the need for US advisors to have extensive language and cultural training, the lesser importance for them of technical and tactical skills training, and the need to adapt US organizational concepts, training techniques, and tactics to local conditions. Accordingly, he also notes the great importance of the host nation's leadership buying into and actively supporting the development of a performance-based selection, training, and promotion system.
To its credit, the institutional Army learned these hard lessons, form successes and failures, during and after each of the cases examined in this study. However, they were often forgotten as the Army prepared for the next major conventional conflict. These lessons are still important and relevant today. In fact, prior to its publication the conclusions of this study were delivered by the author to several of the Army's current advisory training task forces.
Advising indigenous forces : American advisors in Korea, Vietnam, and El Salvador
Other books in this series. Public War, Private Fight? Add to basket. Out of Bounds Jr Thomas a Bruscino.
Circle the Wagons Richard E Killblane. One observer to noted;. The heavy handed and corrupt government of South Vietnam actually made the countryside fertile for the insurgency of the Viet Cong and the communist. Successive governments left much to be desired and too readily turned a blind eye to corruption and incompetence. A western style military cannot function in the absence of a transparent, population centric, legitimate government. The failure to effectively address civil structures ignored the advisory requirement for a whole of government approach driven by a comprehensive, realistic understanding of the government, the host nation force, and the culture within which they exist.
Misaligned American military advisory efforts and the failure to contend with the whole of government ultimately lead to conclusion of the advisory effort in Subsequent rapid reduction of financial and materiel support lead to the fall of South Vietnam in Endemic governmental and cultural flaws exacerbated by the U. On Oct 15, , a military coup in El Salvador ignited a civil war that claimed 75, lives. The conflict was intensely political, with brutal right wing and fractious leftist forces united under the aegis of the Frenti Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional FMLN.
The U. El Salvador is the smallest, most densely populated country in Central America and featured a largely undeveloped social structure long dominated by an authoritarian government. ESAF attacks against Roman Catholic priests and nuns were especially destructive to the national fabric.
The El Salvadoran case study reinforces the criticality of a realistic assessment of the nation and the force in which advisors are determined to effect change. In El Salvador, humanitarian concerns were so extreme that they could not be ignored. Additional concern for mission creep and the lessons learned in Vietnam meant U. A central, critical indicator of the success of that reform was the reduction of human rights abuses. In the early s;. Without the military and economic assistance the insurgent threat may have taken over the country.
The United States tied its military aid and economic assistance directly to the issue of human rights. If President Reagan could not tell the American people that the state of human rights was gradually improving in El Salvador, Congress could force the American aid to be halted. By , advisory efforts yielded a military that supported the democratically elected Duarte government while allowing opposition without fear of reprisal.
That they effected that change in only four years is remarkable. Ironically, it may have been an unexpected by product of limiting the MILGROUP to fifty-five personnel, supporting a contention that an advisory force tailored to the central mission minimizes mission creep and focuses the effort on the critical tasks. Likewise, the restricted scope of U. As organizational constraints and restrictive authorities prevented U. Consequently, the El Salvadoran people come to see their military as a protector at a time when FMLN resources were diminishing congruent to diminishing Soviet ability to support them.
Advisors in El Salvador made clear the value of quality over quantity, both in the advisors and the advised. Army Special Forces. The nature of the mission and the dearth of other opportunities to do real world military work saw advisors volunteer for twelve month advisory duty, with some performing repeat engagements. The Embassy Country Team saw that period as too short, but in contrast to the day or less advisory missions of today, it was critical and reinforced the centrality of committing to the advisory mission for the duration required by conditions on the ground vice political expedience.
The experience of the MILGROUP and OPATTs reinforced the maxim that advisors require a comprehensive, realistic understanding of the government, the host nation force, and the culture within which they exist and they must address the whole of government. Over twelve years the ESAF evolved into a professional force capable of significantly blunting an internal threat. The duration of the U. The critical period of the U. Department of Defense DOD unprecedented entry into the counter-narcotics effort.
DOD personnel increased the number and complexity of missions in Colombia and trained U. Law Enforcement, who in turn supported and advised Colombian military and police. In the early s the widespread collapse of communism, a growing cocaine epidemic, and the persistent concern for foreign entanglements led to an elimination of U.
The increased tempo of counter-narcotics operations reduced narcotics cartels to elements more easily dominated by the FARC who taxed them to finance operations. Unfortunately, counterinsurgency and counter-narcotics were inextricably linked.
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Max Manwaring highlighted the need for a comprehensive, flexible strategy based on clear and accurate analysis of start-points and ways and means of achieving realistic end-points is critical to optimal results ;. The United States has focused its money, training, and attention almost entirely on the counterdrug campaign.
It has seen the Colombian crisis in limited terms, the number of hectares of coca eradicated, and the number of kilos of coca that have been detected and destroyed. And, even though the United States and Colombia have achieved a series of tactical successes in the coca fields, the laboratories, and on the streets, the violent non-state actors remain strong and become ever more wealthy.
In the meantime, Colombia continues to deteriorate and becomes ever more fragile. In Colombia, no such strategy existed before Plan Colombia did not synchronize U. The primary U. By , with one year left in Plan Colombia, the Congressional Research Service was of mixed opinions about the efficacy of the plan;.
Military operations against illegally armed groups have intensified, but the main leftist guerrilla group seems no closer to agreeing to a cease-fire. Ten years after its planned conclusion, Plan Colombia is cited as a joint U. Ironically, given U. If Plan Colombia was conceived as a six-year plan for execution between and , why is it only transitioning to a tenuous peace sixteen years later? Colombian-driven and U. However, in focusing on military or para-military support to counter-narcotics, U. As Manwaring observed;.
The first involves the political, coalitional, and multi-organizational partnership requirements that mandate doctrinal and organizational change for strategic clarity and greater effectiveness in any conflict situation. This in turn depends on a second effort: the development of professional civil-military leadership that will ensure not just unity of military command, but unity of civil-military effort. Both these efforts demand a carefully staffed, phased, and long-term validation, planning, and implementation program. Conversely, though Plan Colombia and the preceding forty years failed to effect civil change as comprehensively or rapidly as expected, it had the critical effect of professionalizing the Colombian military and police force.
As professional militaries are vastly less likely to commit human rights violations on an appreciable scale, this accomplishment was significant. Though a national peace referendum failed in October , [xix] the continued dedication to the peace process from both sides is encouraging, with a revised deal before the Colombian Congress at this writing.
That the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have lasted longer than anticipated is no revelation. Afghanistan is an initial success that mission-creeped its way into a strategic morass.
The U.S. Army has recently embarked on massive adv
Iraq will go down as one of most significant foreign policy blunders in American history. While vastly different countries with regard to development, economic possibilities, societal construct, and the accessibility and exploitability of natural resources, there are genuine parallels between Iraq and Afghanistan. Jump to. Sections of this page. Accessibility Help.
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