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Priest - The Mission (2004) - Synopsis

Priest - The Mission (2004) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of Dana Priest, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military (New York & London: W.W. Norton, 2004). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on September 6, 2004.
Synopsis of Dana Priest, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military (New York & London: W.W. Norton, 2004). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on September 6, 2004.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on Jun 02, 2009
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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper: September 6, 2004, 7:00 p.m.
Dana Priest,
The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’sMilitary 
(New York & London: W.W. Norton, 2004).Introduction: Pax Americana
. Gen.Anthony Zinni visits embattled YasirArafat in Ramallah in April 2002 (11-12).Zinni: “No military solution to terrorism”(11). “Yet U.S. leaders have been turningmore and more to the military to solveproblems that are often, at their root,political and economic. This has becomethe American military’s mission and ithas been going on for more than adecade without much public discussionor debate. Vanquishing terrorism is thelatest example” (11). “Newunilateralists” in the Defense Department(12). U.S. military “unmatched by factorsof ten” (13). Political and economic role“de facto”: “The military simply filled avacuum left by an indecisive WhiteHouse, an atrophied State Department,and a distracted Congress. . . . But“decision-makers understand less andless about their military” (14). Women inVitina, Kosovo, press bill of rights on U.S.infantry officer in Nov. 2001 (14-16).CinCs (16-17). Special forces (=SpecialOperations Forces) (17-18). Mismatch of military culture and new mission (18-19).Methodology: 1998-2002 research; 18-month leave from
Washington Post 
; visitsto 13 countries with 4 CinCs; visitedspecial forces teams in Colombia,Nigeria, Kosovo, & Afghanistan, U.S.Army Special Forces Command at FortBragg, NC, and 5
Special Forces Groupat Fort Campbell, KY; special research on82
Airborne Division in Vitina, Kosovo.
Ch. 1: A Different Kind of World.
Rumsfeld shakes up military, rejects“military engagement” supported byGenerals Shelton, Zinni, and Franks (21-34). 9/11 (34-37). “Rumsfeld’scampaign to rein in the armed forces”ends abruptly on Sept. 11 (38-40).
Ch. 2: The Rise of the AmericanMilitary.
Clinton reaches
modus vivendi
with military tasked with newresponsibilities (41-49). Sec. of StateMadeleine Albright (51-54). Gen. JohnShalikashvili (54-57).
Ch. 3: The CinCs: Proconsuls to theEmpire.
Zinni in Vietnam (61-65). Rolein post-Gulf War Kurdish relief mission(65-66). CinC Central Command (66-69). Youth, values (69-70). Regional CinCs aspower centers (71-77). Biannualredrawing of CinCdoms (73). Staff,intellectual centers, training andeducational programs, intelligencecenters (74-76). Travel, communications,aides-de-camp (76-77).
Ch. 4: The Royal CinCdoms of thePersian Gulf.
Gulf states: “The UnitedStates hired out its military as a regionalmercenary force for Arab rulers whocould not raise their own armies. . . . nocoherent strategy” (78-79). U.S. MiddleEast policy (82-85). “Central Command”(83). Permanent troop presence inKuwait disguised as “exercise” (84).Vinnell Corp. (85). Zinni’s visit in May1998 with Senator Ted Stevens, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, toSaudi defense minister, Prince Sultan binAbdul Aziz [one of the “Sudairi Seven,”the seven sons of the favored wife of Abdul Aziz (a.k.a. Ibn Saud, the king andfounder of modern Saudi Arabia), fatherof Bandar Bush, a passenger in the spaceshuttle
in 1985, heard fromand gave Osama bin Laden theimpression he had accepted (though hedid not) a proposal to wage jihad againstSaddam Hussein after invasion of Kuwaitin 1990, alleged to have funded severalIslamic charities that provided al-Qaeda
at least $6 million acc. to Craig Unger’s
House of Bush, House of Saud 
(2004)]:“Come! Please. Sit with me. You are myshield!” (85-86) Zinni’s view of SaudiArabia as benevolent monarchy (87-89).Confused lines of authority in U.S.policymaking (89-91). Problem of military organization and service rivalries(91-95). Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986(95-96). Cheney, Aspin, Perry, Cohen assecretaries of defense (96-98).
Ch. 5: The Invisible Front Line of Central Asia.
Zinni promotesengagement with the “‘stans’ of CentralAsia” ― Pakistan, Uzbekistan,Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan (99-104).Oil reserves; terrorism (105-08). Humanrights; debate whether to engage or toisolate authoritarian regimes (108-09).Pakistan (109-14). Sanctioned, but “thePentagon found a quiet way to maintainrelations . . . By 1993, Special OperationsCommand had essentially created itsown separate foreign policy track” (110-11). After Musharraf’s coup and Clinton’sprotest, Musharraf calls Zinni (112-13).CinCs’ overseas “engagement programs”hidden from Congress (114-15). Zinni:“We [CinCs] already have [politicalauthority]” (115). Fourteen-day May2000 visit to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan (115-17). Zinni finds lackof U.S. “leadership” (117-18).
Ch. 6: Inside the Wire with SpecialForces.
Visit to Camp Bondsteel inKosovo in Nov. 2001 (121-22). Specialforces culture (122-23). Rick Turcotte, Team 055 sergeant (123-25). Armyorganization: A-team (10-12 men),Operational Detachment Bravo (5 A-teams & HQ), Operational DetachmentCharlie (3 Bravos & HQ), Special ForcesGroups or SFGs (3 Charlies + supportgroup company + HQ = approx. 1,380men); also, there are OperationalDetachment Delta, the covert “DeltaForce” units (126). 1
SFG works inPacific Command [its 2
& 3
battalionsare based at Fort Lewis], 3
SFG in Africaexc. Eastern Horn, 5
SFG in CentralCommand, 7
SFG in Central and S.America, 10
SFG in Central & E. Europe,Balkans, Turkey, Israel, & Lebanon, and19
& 20
SFGs are reserve groups(126). SFGs are staffed and trainedunder U.S. Army Special ForcesCommand at Fort Bragg, but aredeployed as assets of regional CinCs(126). Navy (SEAL units) and Air Forcealso have specialized special forces units;together, all SF units are called SpecialOperations Forces (SOF); the Marines,exempt from the 1986 legislation thatcreated U.S. Special OperationsCommand, maintain “forward-deployedSpecial Operations Capable MarineExpeditionary Units” (127). Training andmission (127-29). Alpha-male culture(129-35). Origins of special forces;Vietnam (135-38). Delta Force (138-39).Nunn-Cohen amendment to 1986Goldwater-Nichols Act elevated specialoperations to its own joint command(139). SOFs are now “the unofficial fifthservice,” with a classified budget, civilianoversight conducted by an asst.secretary of defense, and self-determinedforce structure, funding requirements,equipment procurement, training, anddeployment (139). Panama, Gulf War,Somalia (139-40).
Ch. 7: A-Teams in Afghanistan.
Account of Team 555 of Army’s 5
SFG inAfghanistan. Rendez-vous with “Hal” and“Phil,” CIA paramilitary operatives (142,148-49). “UW,” or unconventionalwarfare (154-55). “Terminology game”permits civilian targeting (155-58; 163). TSC-93 satellite terminal (159). Technology
warfaredistinguished from technology
warfareby 1
Sgt. Mike Murray (160). Team595’s sergeant: “The problem we haveas soldiers is we don’t make policy”(161). Unity-of-command doctrinecontroverted (165). Team 574; bombing
error (168-71). Team 532 builds an armyfor Jeff Naderi/Sayyed Jaffar, thenbecome embroiled in local politicalstruggle (171-74).
Ch. 8: Below the Radar in Nigeria.
SFtraining project (delivered by a Russianhelicopter owned by a joint U.S.-Russiancharter company [175,188]) leads toanti-American violence after Sept. 11(175-78). Operation Focus Relief (179). Theme of book: “Using the Americanmilitary to address global problems hadbecome almost a reflex in Washington.But even the best U.S. troops could dealonly with the symptoms, not the causes,of incipient problems. Military programsdid little to help political systems movefrom dictatorship to democracy, oreconomies from government control tofree market” (179). “The two CinCs whodivided Africa” ― Zinni & Wesley Clark ―debate “engagement” in the Ritz-Carltonin the Pentagon City mall in Nov. 1998(180-81). Corruption in Nigeria (182-83).Nigerians want weapons and planes, nottraining (183-85). Nigerians resistcomplying with Leahy amendmentrequiring vetting of foreign soldiersreceiving training (185-86). 3
SFG hasdone training in 26 African countries;soldiers as diplomats (187). Benuemassacre: “human nature in its rawestform . . . man’s evil soul,” says an SFmajor (188-89). Training at the Serticamp (190-92). Nigerian troops in SierraLeone (192-94).
Ch. 9: Gambling with Green Berets inColumbia.
Background (195-203).Military assistance limited to Fightingdrug trafficking (203-12). Trainingexercise (212-14).
Ch. 10: The Indonesian Handshake.
 The Indonesian military (TNI) (216-17).East Timor atrocities lead Congress toban Indonesia from Int’l MilitaryEducation and Training (IMET) program(217-18). Indonesia “a case study in howpersistent CinCs in the Pacific, and theirsupporters in the Pentagon, workedaround congressional and StateDepartment roadblocks to maintainmilitary ties (218-19). CommanderSubianto Prabowo of Kopassus(Indonesian special forces) (219-22).Military uses Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program to evadeCongressional restrictions (222-24).Abuses lead to suspension of JCET in May1998 (224-5). Adm. Dennis Blair as CinCin the Pacific vs. Ambassador RobertGelbard (226-42). Resumed militaryrelations (242-43).
Ch. 11: Force Trumps Diplomacy inthe Balkans.
Gen. Wesley Clark’sadvocacy of war intervention in Kosovo(248-50). Clark’s background (250-52).SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander,Europe) post (252-54). Defining themilitary’s role (255-57). Clark advocatesaggressive, improvisational post-warpractices (257-64). Clark’s conduct of the war (265-74).
Ch. 12: Waging Peace in Kosovo.
Restrictions on Apache helicoptersfollowed by limits on peacekeepers (275-79). Peacekeeping mission in Kosovo(279-83). Frustration at lack of clearmission (283-91).
Ch. 13: Drita’s Kosovo.
Drita Perezic,Albanian-American from Staten Islandhired as a translator in Kosovo war (292-302). “The growing civilian-military gap”(298-99). Cultural difference andprejudice (300-02).
Ch. 14: Ellerbe’s 82
Lt. Col. Michael Ellerbe (303-05). 82
Airborne mystique (305-06).Command Sgt. Maj. Kalinofskiindoctrinates recruits from
(civilian world) (306-08).Ellerbe’s optimism (308-11). Kidnappingof two Serbian teachers (311-12). Ellerbedetermined to investigate (312-15). Brig.

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