If Plutarch was living today, surely he would write one of his «Parallel Lives» (one of two collections of his works), dedicated to trying and comparing the not crewed planes («death from above») and the suicidal yihadists («Allahu Akbar»). In effect, both are annoying and asymmetrical weapon, directed against the personnel and the mental and volitional factors of the enemy. That are not tactically decisive. And whose military effects are limited, but accumulative.
The Not Crewed Planes of exploration (reconnaissance) and ground recognition and of bombardment.
They are technologically advanced weapons, which began to develop several decades ago, destined to eliminate a minimum of «designated enemies», so much real as «ideological or potential «. And to minimizing the own losses. Which does irrelevant his economic cost for their rich owners. They have a highest effective range and are of the category of «intelligent». Though are not yet authorized to decide the moment to throw their missiles, once acquired the target. Their operational strategic use might be named the «War of the Drones».
The specific tasks that were distinguishing the CIA and the Pentagon, were intermingling during the first decade of the 21st century. This was owed to the operational and strategic failure of the USA in the long asymmetric wars of IV th generation (be read of guerrilla warfares and, be added or not, as be the hostiles, of national liberation) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Actions that they carried out after their short «armed conflicts» after 11/09/2001 against the masses armies (of second generation) of their tyrannical regimes. And using in them their trained and very technologically equipped forces (of III rd generation). Closed in false the Iraqi front and initiated the retreat in Afghanistan, the White House is endowing the CIA of more military means to give hunt to the salafists terrorists. So she has increased his drones or planes without crew fleet. And is considering to authorize an increase of the Pentagon’s spies’ network, to exercise a bigger control on the refuges of al-Qaeda in the Arabic peninsula and in the east and north of Africa.
These changes in the strategic and operational aims of the CIA and the Pentagon and the suitable endowment of means, culminated during the Barack Obama’s first mandate. The CIA has taken more active part in the eradication of the international jihadism, and has expanded notably his program of assaults with missiles thrown by drones. In the summer of 2011, Obama nominated the former director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, chief of the Pentagon. And the commander of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and chief of the Central military Command, David Petraeus, was nominated director of the CIA. Petraeus, before resigning 9/11/2012, for that of the erotic (his biographer) of the Power, asked Obama for a reinforcement of the drones fleet of the Agency. To be able to effect assaults beyond the habitual aims in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. The Agency and the Pentagon have their looks put in Mali and Libya, in view of the increase of the activity in the zone of the franchise «al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”, the Ansar Dine group and the Anzawad’s Islamic Republic, seated at the north of Timbuktu. The tuaregs have changed his former employer Gaddafi for the salafists terrorists. To whom Gadafi accused of being his armed opposition. And that are destroying the universal heritage of Timbuktu, under the pretext that its monumental representations rival with Allah. Sources of the North American intelligence say that the drones fleet of the CIA does not excel 35 at the end of 2012 and Petraeus requested ten more.
The CIA has a list of «threats» to the USA, of which he has authorization to kill. In September, 2011 he got a famous success on having killed in Yemen the imam Anuar al-Aulaki, an American well-known personage of al-Qaeda. The Pentagon also has his «ist of authorized targets». That are checked every week by approximately 100 security analysts of the Administration. Their function is to recommend to the president the changes of names in the list. The procedure is semi officially called the «Tuesday of the terror» in the White House. The CIA and Joint Command of Special Operations of the Pentagon cooperate in many of these attacks. Their targets are supposed leaders and even simple militants of al-Qaeda and associate groups of jihadists. And the tactic is to exterminate them before they act. This is one more step in the foundations of the military doctrine of the USA. Determined for decades by the contradictory parameter of «not suffering losses in any war or conflict «.
The Obama’s «war of the drones» has much of «preventive» character”-– before that crime has been committed–and the executions are summary, without judicial sentence. And ,for this reason, it supposes attributing the right to realize extra judicial executions in any part of the world. So, Obama’s right hand in this theme, John Brennan, a veteran of the CIA, is called the «Czar of the Assassins». The program «Death of the Sky» (Death from Above) is legitimized only » by the person of the president «. The executions are legal, because the president decides and arranges them. Obama has obtained with the drones a weapon to appear «hard and effective» in the fight against al-Qaeda, without turning out to be unpopular with the voters. But, according to Christopher Griffin, in an article published by «Rolling Stone», «Obama’s secret war supposes the major air offensive not driven by human beings, never realized in the military history». And paraphrasing Churchill, he adds «never so few had killed so many people by remote control».
The Administration does not admit explicitly the existence of the program of drones, for safety motives. Though the White House declares in her calculated filtrations, that the not searched victims are almost non-existent. Not all the analysts accept this “surgical precision” without authentic information, attributed to these assaults from well away the horizon. An important problem is that the drones terrify entire areas, with some of them flying a lot of time over the settlements. On the other hand, as is the case of Pakistan, the «basic information» for the creation of intelligence for the mission, is facilitated by the local paid people. That also offers false information. More important and controversial is the question of the euphemistically so called «collateral falls», as if they had less importance on having been caused by the imprecisions and the operational mistakes. Some assaults with drones have caused tens of civilians deaths, including women and children, as is the case of Saleh Mohammed al-Anbouri in Yemen in December, 2009. And only in Pakistan, according to The Guardian, the drones would have killed around 3000 persons, of which a third were clearly civil, between 2008 and 2011.
The assaults against the human aims are realized by missiles thrown from drones. Since 2002, the USA has realized almost 450 missions of this kind in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. President Obama authorizes the assaults in Somalia and Yemen. But he is consulted only about a third of the missions in Pakistan. Where the «operational at charge» decide on the basis of “general received orders”. The Pentagon also uses the drones in his operations of exploration and of assault in Afghanistan. The CIA has his principal role in Pakistan. Where exists internally an ambiguity calculated of the FFAA, the intelligence services (the ISI is the most important, with much) and the Government in the relations and preferences towards: his foreign ally, the USA, the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban and the pashtunes tribes of the frontier zones, near the former Durand line, and the southern baluchis (the Baluchistan). A strategic national aim for Pakistan is to support an important, preferably decisive influence, in the internal Afghan matters. And a strategic military aim at the east of the country is to have monitored, controlled and neutralized his own Taliban and other hostile minor groups, at the east of Peshawar’s meridian, and without they act at the east of the Indus river.
George Bush’s strategic national doctrine established, but without being due explained, not accepted tacitly by both Parties, that «asymmetrical wars» (irregular and with low level of military means) were carried on and were necessary, to keep away from the American territories and those of his allies, the threats of the “foreign fundamentalist terrorism” of any origin, religion or ideology. This justified the post war occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But, with an exploded fiscal and exterior deficits and with a democrat Administration, is necessary for the USA to save more in military resources. To dedicate them «to constructing a nation here, at home». This way, the USA qualitatively lowers the bar of the exterior terror, putting al-Qaeda as almost the only not national violent enemy. This terrorist salafist internationalist «network», without own territory, with his operational chiefs known, fled and not wished as guests in a normal country, is a more attainable, adaptable and manageable aim for the American forces and means of «rapid punctual incursion».
This justifies the increase of the use of the drones, spy satellites, own or local agents in the hostile area, attacks with limited aim by elite small units and small expeditionary forces and units of Marines amphibious assault, transported in «ships of control and transport» of strategic projection with his naval escort. The deployments of tens of thousands of military men and his luggage and equipment for several years in a theater of operations, are rejected indefinitely by the new «doctrine» of the «diminishing defense». This way, the Pentagon has to operationally center on the counter terrorist tactics and technologies. And he seeks to reinforce his own espionage branch, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The reason is simple and clear: as the CIA has been effective giving hunt to terrorists abroad, the Pentagon wants to be more like it, and less as an army at use, to adapt to the new aims and national strategies. In November, 2012, Panetta asked Obama to allows him to recruit 1600 new spies. It would double the size of the DIA. At the end of this month, the secretary of Defense declared that: «The campaign against al-Qaeda will take place out of “declared combat zones”. And using tactics that leave little track, with precision operations».
The principal not crewed planes are the Predator and the Reaper. And cost more than $13 millions of dollars per unit. The Pentagon possesses approximately 19000 for the tasks of espionage and combat. The CIA has his own fleet, with reserved information. The General Atomics makes the drones. Their weapon more devastating are the missiles AGM-114 Hellfire II, the Lockheed Martin. In October, 2012, the USA entrusted 24000 missiles for his use and that of allied authorized countries. There exist the variants of antitank hollow load (HEAT), antipersonnel (with diverse types of explosion and fragmentation, reinforced or not) and with self guided (fire and forget). Each one weighs 47 Kg., with 20 % of useful load (warhead), it is guided by laser with diverse technologies and has a range of 8 Km. The effect of a volley of several of them on a block of houses of adobe or masonry is devastating. But it guarantees the elimination of the human selected target.
The equipment of the base is very simple and highly elaborated: the remote control of the drones, several screens and a pedal, in front to the ergonomic chairs of the pilots. The drones have cameras that transmit their views to the pilots in land. A deliberate observation precedes an assault. The pilot of the drone and the controller of the camera, which form one «killer team», observe to his «designated aim» during the whole day, checking his activities. The assault would be realized when, for example, his family has gone shopping. In fact, all the «teams» talk about an «established intimacy» with the Afghan families, observed during up to weeks. Thing that, for example, the foreign soldiers of the ISAF on the area would not know. Neither it seems, according to the medical statistical studies realized, that the pilots and observers were affected by the enemies dead in an important way. Also they reject that their work is like a video game. Though some of them argue that they do not know any video game that is required to observe the aim for hours.
The US Air Force of the Pentagon possesses more than 1300 drones pilots, being employed at 13 bases in the USA. And he would need at once approximately 300 more, at least. The majority of the military missions are in Afghanistan. The Pentagon calculates that for 2015, the Air Force will have to count with 2000. Already he trains more pilots for drones that for the conventional flights: 350 in 2011. And from 2012 the formation is specific for them: the pilots only pass 40 hours on board of a Cessna, without flying in fighters or bombers, learning to direct a drone. The chief of the Air Force HHQQ, general Norton A. Schwartz, recognized that the pilots of drones might overcome the classic ones in the next years. The halo and the combat pilot’s profession change for that of “armchair screen viewer civil servant”. And air bases in the USA increasingly stop dealing with traditional flights «to «direct» drones.
In November, 2011, after an assault with drones in the border with Afghanistan, where died at least 24 Pakistanis soldiers of a control fort, Pakistan blocked the way of the logistic convoys of the NATO following the routes of Khyber and Shaman to Afghanistan, from Peshawar. They are two crucial routes in order that the soldiers of the ISAF, that have used them during the last 10 years of asymmetric combats, receive fuels, equipments, provisions and military material. The Pakistani Defense minister, Ahmad Mukhtar, indicated at the end of 2011, that they might reopen them to the ISAF, if they pay for it. And, according to sources of the Pentagon, Pakistan forced them to dismantle also a platform of drones installed in a base in the southwest of the country, principally manned by the CIA. Washington lost temporarily one of his more powerful weapon: the permission to throw missiles from the not driven planes against the insurgents in the provinces of the northwest of Pakistan, tactics that generalized there from 2008. In turn, Panetta, also indicated then that the USA is «coming to the limit of his patience» with Pakistan,»for his disability to act against the armed groups in the tribal zones». At the beginning of 2013 the drones pulverized the so called mullah Nazir in the province Pakistani of Southern Waziristan (in the tribal zones). The volley of rockets thrown to reach him, also killed two of his more nearby collaborators, Rafey Khan and Atta Ullah, who were accompanying him in the vehicle. Already the USA had previously realized several assaults to finish with his life. This guy belonged to the «neutral» Taliban in Pakistan. And, at least, it was giving cover, helps and logistic support to the members of al-Qaeda and to the Afghan Taliban, who operated at the other side of the border. And probably he was a collaborator of Pakistani «authorities» during some long periods. It is confirmed by the fact that in November, 2012 Nazir was object of an unsuccessful suicide attack at Wana’s market, the provincial capital.
In a declassified report of the Central Command of the Pentagon, published in December, 2011, is assured that «the catalyst of the assault was the opening fire by the PAKMIL (the Pakistani Army)”. But are added that «the cooperation and collaboration in the border were disabled by a mutual distrust climate»; that the orders given by the NATO «were lacking clarity and precision», and that the goal of the mission was «inadequate». The final result was that the Marines’ James Mattis, in charge of the Central Command, ordered a series of changes in the protocols for the frontier operations. And, would not it be that for routine and lack of commitment with the missions, those which existed were not fulfilled well? Finally, bureaucracy will kill the initiative and the inventiveness. And it will turn out that, as with the black greyhound of the Han Chinese, when, being tied, he was asked to catch unattainable hares…
The mutual distrust exists in all the cooperation areas between the USA and Pakistan. Since both countries were sealing an alliance after 11-S, to fight al-Qaeda, the Congress of the USA has sent $ 20000 millions as «economic aid» to Islamabad. The real and practical results of this «alliance» are lean and scanty and the loyalty of Pakistan to the interests of the USA, for which this collaboration is paid, is questionable. Because Pakistan keeps his firm loyalty to the aims of his great or national strategy. Several members of the USA Congress asked for a change of approach in his relations in this geostrategic region. The representative to the Chamber, Duncan Hunter, declared that «Afghanistan needs economic and political stability, to guarantee that the victory of the USA is lasting. And the relation between the USA and Afghanistan must be also a point of interest, not only for the future of Afghanistan, but for the whole region». And Frank Wolf indicated: «It is clear that to manage to triumph in Afghanistan, we must solve first a series of problems in Pakistan. To obtain a military victory in Afghanistan is a thing, but our general success depends on more factors».
The authorities of Pakistan and Yemen, allied of the United States against al-Qaeda, have protested several times, so much for the violation of theirs sovereignties with war actions, as for the death of people who did not have any relation with the conflict. And they warn that this war carried out secretly, destabilizes them and gives arguments to the jihadists.
(to be continued)