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To: flattorney
Charlie Wilson's “brain” runs the war on terror?
Foreign Policy by Blake Hounshell
Mon, 12/31/2007

One of my favorite characters in Charlie Wilson's War (the book, not the schlocky Hollywood flick) is Michael Vickers, the wonkish ex-Green Beret and CIA paramilitary officer who, at the tender age of 31, masterminded the weapons and guerrilla warfare strategy used by the Afghan mujahedin to fight the Soviets. By all accounts, Vickers is brilliant, and he was critical to the success of the CIA's covert program, in which the United States funneled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons through Pakistan's intelligence services. Though the CIA never funded al Qaeda and the Taliban did not yet exist, many people blame U.S. policy—in which Vickers played such a key role—for fanning the flames of Islamic radicalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan that later came back to bite the United States on 9/11.

For years, Vickers toiled away on boring but influential reports(1) for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank with close ties to the Pentagon. But as of July 2007, Vickers is now an assistant secretary of defense with an enormous portfolio: winning the war on terrorism. Vickers oversees Special Operations Command, whose budget has recently doubled to $6 billion in 2008, and he's especially concerned about... Pakistan's growing Islamic radicalism. Funny, that.

Testifying before Congress back in March 2006 (2), before moving to the Pentagon, Vickers predicted that the future of the global war on terrorism (GWOT) would "likely be a protracted, indirect and clandestine fight in scores [of] countries with which the U.S. is not at war." He added:

The GWOT is an intelligence and special operation-intensive war. Getting this aspect of interagency organization right, and making full use of special authorities to wage the indirect and clandestine fight, is imperative. Particularly important in this regard is leveraging the CIA's Title 50 authority for [Special Operations Forces] operations through flexible detailing of SOF personnel to the Agency.

What Vickers is reportedly doing now as assistant secretary, described in Friday's Washington Post(3), seems to reflect the same approach:

Vickers's plan to build a global counterterrorist network... is focused on a list of 20 "high-priority" countries, with Pakistan posing a central preoccupation for Vickers, who said al-Qaeda sanctuaries in the country's western tribal areas are a serious threat to the United States. The list also includes Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia and Iran, and Vickers hints that some European countries could be on it. Beyond that, the plan covers another 29 "priority" countries, as well as "other countries" that Vickers does not name.

Since 9/11, there have been occasional tensions between U.S. diplomats on the one hand, and the DOD and the CIA on the other, over clandestine activities that have gone on without the knowledge of the ambassador. If Vickers is inserting more special ops teams around the world, those tensions are bound to increase.

One of Vickers's former colleagues says he "tends to think like a gangster." It's a mindset that has served Vickers well in the past, yet it carries risks. If Vickers's teams nail Osama bin Laden in northwest Pakistan, he'll be hailed as a genius. If, on the other hand, they cause an international incident...

(1) Michael G. Vickers "White Papers", Presentations, and Position Statements

(2) 03.15.06 Implementing GWOT Strategy: Overcoming InterAgency Problems (PDF)
- - By Michael Vickers, Director of Strategic Studies

(3) Military Planning: Sorry, Charlie. This Is Michael Vickers's War
- - - -

Related FR Posts by FlAttorney
12.29.07-FR: Special Michael G. Vickers FR Section

12.29.07-FR: Interview with Michael Vickers

12.29.07-FR: The National Security Archive: Afghanistan: Lessons from the Last War

Posted for FlAttorney by TAB

3 posted on 01/02/2008 6:47:10 AM PST by flattorney (See my comprehensive FR Profile "Straight Talk" Page)
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To: flattorney

I went to see it this weekend. Did not put dims or Charlie in a very good light in my humble opinion. The weapons left were purchased by Wilson and others and then left for use on our own soldiers who have been shot by the then 14 year old afgans....

4 posted on 01/02/2008 7:00:22 AM PST by JFC
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Ping for further reference.

5 posted on 01/02/2008 7:08:25 AM PST by SatinDoll (Fred Head and proud of it!)
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