Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Operational Security in Africa

The recent Ethiopian invasion of Somalia was heavily supported by the US, that lend air-support by the AC-130 gunships and special operations forces. But due to an early leak, the involvement was portrayed as a veritable puppet show, with the US as the masters and the Ethiopians as the stooges. And considering the history of US involvement in the area and the general sentiment among Moslem leaders and populations to the notion of being an US proxy, the involvement backfired somewhat.

Esquire has an interesting article on the new US Africa Command, describing the leak: The Americans Have Landed

Those involved in the Central Command operation suspected two sources: 1) somebody in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who couldn't wait to trumpet their success to bitter personal rivals in the State Department, or 2) a dime dropper from our embassy in Kenya who simply couldn't stand the notion that the Pentagon had once again suckered State into a secret war.

The first New York Times piece in early January broke the story of the initial AC-130 bombardment, incorrectly identifying a U.S. military base in Djibouti as the launching point. That leak just let the cat out of the bag, tipping off the main target, a senior CIC leader named Aden Hashi Ayro, who, according to Centcom intelligence, had been completely fooled up to that point, thinking the Ethiopians had somehow gotten the jump on him. Ayro survived his injuries, and he's now back in action in Mogadishu and, by all accounts, mad as hell at both the Ethiopians and the Americans.

Six weeks and a second Times story later, the shit really hit the fan in Addis Ababa. Now the intensely proud Ethiopians, who had done all the heavy lifting in the operation, were being portrayed as bit players in their own war -- simpleton proxies of the fiendishly clever Americans. After angry denials were issued (Meles's spokesman called the story a "fabrication"), the Ethiopians decided that if the Americans were so hot to mastermind another intervention in Somalia, they would just wash their hands of this mess as quickly as possible.



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