Small Wars Journal

Why Niger Proves America's Counterterrorism Tactics Are Failing

Why Niger Proves America's Counterterrorism Tactics Are Failing by Amitai Etzioni - The National Interest

The tragic loss of four American fighters in Niger reminds one that the United States has learned little from the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. It still believes that it can send its troops into a faraway country, in this case a particularly underdeveloped one, and that they will be able to stop ISIS from spreading. This is to be achieved not by the United States doing the fighting, but—the magic formula goes—by advising and training. The main problem with this idea is that all too often the locals would much rather have the Americans do the fighting. Thus, in Niger we learned from a Nigerien involved in the ambush that “the Americans had more sophisticated weapons and so we let them confront the enemy while we took cover.” The Guardian noted that “US special forces 'fought Niger ambush alone after local troops fled.’”

In Mosul less than one thousand ISIS insurgents got thirty thousand Iraqi troops to flee—this after they had been trained and advised for a decade and a half. One may say that these days the Iraqi army is finally doing better. Still, most of the fighting is done by Kurds and Iranian-led militias.

One major reason most local troops are so reluctant to fight is the high level of corruption in their government, including that of the military hierarchy…

Read on.