The US Was Operating In Mali Months Prior To French Incursion: Meet The "Intelligence and Security Command"

Tyler Durden's picture

Last week we reported that in the aftermath of the so far disastrous French campaign to eradicate "rebels" in the north of Mali, because of their implied threat fo Europe, that "US Drones, Boots Arrive In Mali." Turns out we were wrong, and as the case virtually always is, for some reason there was already a US presence of at least three US commandos in Mali in the summer of 2012. What they were doing there remains a mystery, as it is a mystery if the ever co-present flip flops on the ground were there inciting the perpetual scapegoat Al Qaeda to do this, or that. Or maybe it was not the CIA. Maybe it was the Army's "little-known and secretive" branch known as the Intelligence and Security Command. Regardless, what becomes obvious is that while the US was on the ground and engaged in secret missions, it needed an alibi to avoid "destabilizing" the local situation once its presence became conventional wisdom. It got just that, thank to one Francois Hollande just over a week ago.

From the WaPo, as of July 8, 2012:

In pre-dawn darkness, a ­Toyota Land Cruiser skidded off a bridge in North Africa in the spring, plunging into the Niger River. When rescuers arrived, they found the bodies of three U.S. Army commandos — alongside three dead women.

What the men were doing in the impoverished country of Mali, and why they were still there a month after the United States suspended military relations with its government, is at the crux of a mystery that officials have not fully explained even 10 weeks later.


At the very least, the April 20 accident exposed a team of Special Operations forces that had been working for months in Mali, a Saharan country racked by civil war and a rising Islamist insurgency. More broadly, the crash has provided a rare glimpse of elite U.S. commando units in North Africa, where they have been secretly engaged in counterterrorism actions against al-Qaeda affiliates.


The Obama administration has not publicly acknowledged the existence of the missions, although it has spoken in general about plans to rely on Special Operations forces as a cornerstone of its global counterterrorism strategy. In recent years, the Pentagon has swelled the ranks and resources of the Special Operations Command, which includes such units as the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force, even as the overall number of U.S. troops is shrinking.


At the same time, the crash in Mali has revealed some details of the commandos’ clandestine activities that apparently had little to do with counterterrorism. The women killed in the wreck were identified as Moroccan prostitutes who had been riding with the soldiers, according to a senior Army official and a U.S. counterterrorism consultant briefed on the incident, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.


The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, which is conducting a probe of the fatal plunge off the Martyrs Bridge in Bamako, the capital of Mali, said it does not suspect foul play but has “not completely ruled it out.” Other Army officials cited poor road conditions and excessive speed as the likely cause of the 5 a.m. crash.


U.S. officials have revealed few details about the soldiers’ mission or their backgrounds, beyond a brief news release announcing their deaths hours after the accident.


In many countries, including most in Africa, Special Operations forces work openly to distribute humanitarian aid and train local militaries. At times, the civil-affairs assignments can provide credible cover for clandestine counterterrorism units.


But in Mali, U.S. military personnel had ceased all training and civil-affairs work by the end of March, about a week after the country’s democratically elected president was overthrown in a military coup.


The military’s Africa Command, which oversees operations on the continent, said the three service members killed were among “a small number of personnel” who had been aiding the Malian military before the coup and had remained in the country to “provide assistance to the U.S. Embassy” and “maintain situational awareness on the unfolding events.”


Megan Larson-Kone, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy in Mali, said the soldiers had stayed in Bamako because they were “winding down” civil-affairs programs in the aftermath of the coup while holding out hope “that things would turn around quickly” so they could resume their work.


Two of the soldiers, Capt. ­Daniel H. Utley, 33, and Sgt. 1st Class Marciano E. Myrthil, 39, were members of the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, which is based at Fort Bragg, N.C.


For two months after the crash, the U.S. military withheld the identity of the third soldier killed. In response to inquiries from The Washington Post, the Army named him as Master Sgt. Trevor J. Bast, 39, a communications technician with the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir.

Enter the Intelligence And Security Command

The Intelligence and Security Command is a little-known and secretive branch of the Army that specializes in communications intercepts. Its personnel often work closely with the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees missions to capture or kill terrorism suspects overseas.


During his two decades of service, Bast revealed little about the nature of his work to his family. “He did not tell us a lot about his life, and we respected that for security purposes,” his mother, Thelma Bast of Gaylord, Mich., said in a brief interview. “We never asked questions, and that’s the honest truth.”

Why Mali?

U.S. counterterrorism officials have long worried about Mali, a weakly governed country of 14.5 million people that has served as a refuge for Islamist militants allied with al-Qaeda.


With only 6,000 poorly equipped troops, the Malian armed forces have always struggled to maintain control of their territory, about twice the size of Texas. Repeated famines and rebellions by Tuareg nomads only exacerbated the instability.


About six years ago, the Pentagon began bolstering its overt aid and training programs in Mali, as well as its clandestine operations.


Under a classified program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors were deployed to West Africa to conduct surveillance missions over the country with single-engine aircraft designed to look like civilian passenger planes.


In addition, the military flew spy flights over Mali and other countries in the region with ­longer-range P-3 Orion aircraft based in the Mediterranean, according to classified U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.


In what would have represented a significant escalation of U.S. military involvement in Mali, the Pentagon also considered a ­secret plan in 2009 to embed American commandos with ­Malian ground troops, diplomatic cables show.


Under that program, code-named Oasis Enabler, U.S. military advisers would conduct ­anti-terrorism operations alongside elite, American-trained ­Malian units. But the idea was rejected by Gillian A. Milovanovic, the ambassador to Mali at the time.

The stumbling block:

In an October 2009 meeting in Bamako with Vice Adm. Robert T. Moeller, deputy chief of the Africa Command, the ambassador called the plan “extremely problematic,” adding that it could create a popular backlash and “risk infuriating” neighbors such as Algeria.


Furthermore, Milovanovic warned that the U.S. advisers “would likely serve as lightning rods, exposing themselves and the Malian contingents to specific risk,” according to a State Department cable summarizing the meeting.


Moeller replied that he “regretted” that the ambassador had not been kept better informed and said Oasis Enabler was “a work in progress.” It is unclear whether the plan was carried out.

Moeller was right, and neighbors such as Algeria eventually did promptly respond in "popular backlash" that led to the deaths of at least one US hostage.

But back to the US Commandos, and, lo and behold, prostitutes:

The soldiers died of “blunt force trauma” when the vehicle landed upside down in the shallow river, crushing the roof, the Army said.


The Special Operations Command said it could not answer questions about where the soldiers were going, nor why they were traveling with the unidentified Moroccan women, saying the matter is under investigation.


Larson-Kone, the embassy spokeswoman, said the soldiers were on “personal, not business-related travel” at the time, but she declined to provide details. Officials from the Africa Command also said that they did not know who the women were, but they added in a statement: “From what we know now, we have no reason to believe these women were engaged in acts of prostitution.”

Hookers or not, what is obvious is that the US did have a largely secretive presence in Mali, which may or may not have led to ongoing social destabilization, which ultimately provided none other than the US with the ultimate cover to engage in whatever "anti-terrorist" operations it so chose. The name of the cover?


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Oh regional Indian's picture

It' for the starving children.

No wait, it's to save the women from the evil moooslims...

No no, it Uncle Ciaduh..

It's to get Bin Laid-in...or is it Moosaaaawi, or Ben Safir...

No it's oil.

Wait, it's Uranium....

Aaah...Fuck, we just love war...


Watauga's picture

I suspect that U.S. spec ops and/or CIA operatives are on the ground in every country where the U.S. intel community perceives some probability of risk, or of rising risk.  I guarantee U.S. spec ops personnel have been on the ground in Mali since at least 2004, and that they probably have maintained that presence constantly, one way or another.  

Why are they there?  Intelligence gathering.  No engagement.  Simply observe and report.  If an emergent situation would dictate the use of force, they would be in place to identify targets and such.  

This is COMMON, EVERYDAY practice for U.S. spec ops in the 21st C.  It will become even more common.  Moreover, the CIA will become much more active abroad.  With a diminishing military, spec ops and CIA will be the tools used to carry out national policies abroad.

Xibalba's picture

Allahu Akbar, bitchez!

Fortunate Fool's picture

Tyler, I can see you're at it again...

"the so far disastrous French campaign to eradicate "rebels" in the north of Mali"

Well, not so much it seems since the French army starting their operations on the ground... It's funny that you're not reporting the fact that the Malian army, "helped" by the french, just retook Konna, the only real strategic city conquered by the Islamists on the way to the capital Bamako... And as far as Diabali is concerned, which you proclaimed was "strategic", well, it seems that this one too is about to fall back into the hands of the Malian army, if not done already...

But again, why let the facts get in the way of a good, misinformed and manipulated, story, right?

Oh, and it seems also that the French is also weakening the Islamists strongholds in Northern Mali (Gao and Timbuktu).

Seems you don't seem to have access to this information, here is it for you: 


One last thing that you seem to ignore or hide. The head of the military coup last year is Amadou Sanogo. Here is a bit of his biography from Wikipedia:

"A participant in the International Military Education and Training program,[8] he received training "at training programmes in the United States, in Georgia and at the Marine Corps base in QuanticoVirginia",[9] but his American instructors "never marked him out as future leadership material".[6] He also studied English at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.[6]"


The french version of his biography on wikipedia is even more explicit: "He received a thorough military training in the United States between 2004 and 2010, first in a basis of the Air Force at Lackland in Texas, then an intelligence officer training at Fort Wachica Arizona finally, from August 2010 to December 2010 in the training of infantry officers of the Army at Fort Benning in Georgia"


Now tell me, who failed in Mali? Looks like the US to me, as they did in Somalia... Again, you have zero credibility when it comes to reporting what's going on in Mali.

Totentänzerlied's picture

" QuanticoVirginia"

You are a fool if you think the US has failed, you just cannot perceive its intent.

PS: It's "Fort Huachuca"

Freddie's picture

The USSA has "failed."  The cuntry is being driven into the ground by Isla-MAO.   Bankrupt and destroyed.  Kids killed for no reason.  Privacy destroyed.  Domestic enemies and threats are suicided.

AgAu_man's picture

Freddie, what are you smokin' my friend.  He is neither.  Rather, he is so totally in The Tank for the Fed and the NWO crowd.  Stay focused!

foxenburg's picture

sounds to me like cia placeman Amadou Sanogo is doing a good job. the cia are hardly likely to say so.

jeff montanye's picture

and sometime you have to destroy them to save them, even if they are creatures of your own design (cf. o. bin laden).

trav777's picture

Durden is in the business of eyeballs, not truth.

The US has military advisors and teachers brother was deployed to SL for months to train snipers there for eventual supposed deployment of pan-africa force in somalia. 

The US is all over the place and it's no sign of anything sinister.  But it riles up the conspiracy nuts here who click ads I guess...?

prains's picture

i love that, "advisers and teachers" such a benevolent ring to it, well slanted to the righteous and heroic trav

Muppet Pimp's picture

The posts do sometimes borderline on tmz dbag trash anymore...blame it on the rags owners can the authours continue t deal with this loss of focus

jeff montanye's picture

whether it seems sinister may have something to do with whether you are part of the snipers or the snipees.

Boeing Boy's picture

Another great post FF keep socking it to them.  A muslim hostage gave himself up to the islamists in the algerian hostage crisis.  The kidnappers let him go immediately, saying that, "we are only here to exterminate christians".  Their wish is to recreate their forefathers, the moors in southern spain and push on through europe.  Just wonder,when the t*ssers on ZH are going to wake up to that fact.   


Meanwhile in latest opinion piece ZH expresses shock that US Spec Ops personnel are on the ground in Mali......

AnAnonymous's picture

The french military campaign is disastrous because it exposes 'americans' and shows that people perfectly know how to manipulate 'americans'.

'American' duplicitous nature is well known.

And was played by both the leader of the separatist faction in Mali and Algeria.

The fact is that all 'american' nations but France have worked to get Mali parted in two, in order to reset the resources control in the area.

France stepped in to re assert their control over the area.

All the other 'american' nations have no interest in them succeeding. All of them have interest in them failing.
Therefore, while this military operation is put under the great cause of fighting terrorism, that super uber threat to humanity ('american' classical move), every other 'american' nation has only paid lip service so far.

Both Algeria and the Franklin profiled separatist leader have played 'americans' here.

First, the rebel leader, by planning long time in advance a move in Algeria, that potentially rear base for the seperatist faction.

This operation was triggered and led successfully. Capturing 'americans' of many countries that would have prefered to stay on the sidelines.

Algeria steps up the game by taking the opportunity to assault the terrorists and killing in the doing 'american' hostages.

The move is brilliant and is a win win situation for both Algeria and the Franklin profiled separatist leader.

Now the latter can ask France to cease all military operations in Mali or they will be more 'american' casualties.

It puts every single 'american' nation in a disastrous position as it exposes all of them for their duplicity.

None of the 'american' nations can surrender to the demands of the terrorists since 'american' nations do not yield to terrorist demands. Doing it for a case involving the integrity of a nation would be so telling (but it will happen very likely)

France cant condemn Algeria because they could turn in a rear base for the separatist faction. French 'americans' have to green the killing of other 'americans'

Other nations, as they have casualties killed by a terrorist attack, should immediately prepare for military action. But they do not want as they support the separatist faction in order to gain that reset of resources control that is so important to them in these economic conditions. In other words, they will sit down on their casualties in order to pursue that reset.

It shows that the eternal nature of 'americans' is known by many and that it is used to play 'americans'.

It is disastrous.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

What's the point of this text? Withdrawal from reality?

Always made me laugh to read this kind of big delusion.

Words of Chinese citizenism big propaganda ringing hollow, again.

Still, intellectuals have to justify their paycheck.

prains's picture

AnANlogous ANus

man I love yoo

Seer's picture

"I suspect that U.S. spec ops and/or CIA operatives are on the ground in every country where the U.S. intel community perceives some probability of risk, or of rising risk."

Can we actually talk about what the REAL risk could be?


(if we're protecting any children it's those belonging to the major shareholders for the energy companies there- mustn't let them get close to experiencing the "middle class" lifestyle, let alone the poverty one)

AFRICOM started up in 2008.  First exercise location? Mali.

TotalCarp's picture

War is the best export product US has.. boots on the ground/drones in the air and all that. For as long as the military dominates US Dollar will not stop being reserve currency - those 2 things are very closely interconnected. Now decline in both may occur simultaneously but one cannot "collapse" without the other.

Military dominance is vital now as economic dominance has been squandered. Watch this space and dont delink this from the global economic positions. Africa is yet again the key cold war front - this time with China (and potantially Russia). Sadly this will cost lives of numerous locals - but lets be honest that is a cost that US planners can live with. 

world_debt_slave's picture

My money is on the CIA and special ops more active in the USofA.

Lore's picture



Re: "Why are they there? Intelligence gathering. No engagement. Simply observe and report. If an emergent situation would dictate the use of force, [US spec ops and/or CIA operatives] would be in place to identify targets and such."

We need them closer to home. Expect busloads to converge around bankster headquarters in the weeks and months ahead.

AgAu_man's picture

"I suspect that U.S. spec ops and..."

Special Ops & Command has an acronym:  SOCOM.  Based on McDill AFB, in Tampa, FL.  Need Top Secret+ clearance to get close to these guys.  This excludes the ZH crowd from getting within a mile -- even those working in/with Langley and trolling this site, who are too lowly.

Remember, even the bright, brave SOCOM bunch and their .mil bosses are just puppets, and do what their real masters in DC tell them.  This includes their former boss, Gen. Petraeus.  As long as that is the case, all their bravery and patriotism is -- regrettably and tragically -- in the "useful tool/fool" category.  My heart goes out to them.  Even for Petreaus, who, as it turns out, was not that special to them either.  What a snake-pit DC is!

ItchyBeard's picture

This is a quote from the movie - The International (2009) - where one of the characters explains the true nature of banking:

"...Their objective isn't to control the conflict, it's to control the debt that the conflict produces. You see, the real value of a conflict, the true value, is in the debt that it creates. You control the debt, you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt..."

The Gold, Oil, uranium etc are just an added bonus I guess.

otto skorzeny's picture

great quote from great movie. death and mayhem are just the cost of doing business.

ToNYC's picture

"If we didn't do it, the other guy would."

Perpetual justification by nullification = BS on high. Checkmate for the Kindness next time.

Seer's picture

Yes, but without commanding physical resources somewhere along the line you're not going to be able to get people to sign up (either personally or via govt "campaign").

ALL WARS ARE ABOUT RESOURCES.  Banking is just a method of tying power to resources, albeit, and as you present, an extremely effective method.

ItchyBeard's picture


We can also take it one step further - It's about TOTAL CONTROL over people, their impoverishment and enslavement. The resources are required just to keep the party going. In 1984 George Orwell describes perpetual warfare as a means to destroy extra resources and keep the standard of living of the workers from rising.

ATM's picture


The goal is the the same for the Green movement. Force the little, non-Algores to live on reduced energy, reduced food and have to beg the rulers for a crust of bread.

That is how you reinstitute a totalitarian monarchy.

AgAu_man's picture

+50!  The clever screenwriters were rephrasing very nicely what the 5 successful bankers of Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome and Vienna were taught by their banking father:  That there is no business like the war business.  They realized that the largest ROI's and surest paybacks are from monarchs, who will not only tax their own people, but also those on the losing side to pay for the war(s).

That's how modern banking started: When these guys moved up on the monetary food chain -- from local gold and money changers, to kings of the world.

Of course, these days, the Fog Of War is also a useful Magician's Trick diversion for all sorts of nefarious political and monetary policy sins.  And the addicted-to-war industries are all to happy to get their financial MRE's.

Seer's picture

I'd love to start a campaign to paint over every bit of propaganda of "terrorists" with "Hobgoblins."  Should be enough people who can bring up google...

Eireann go Brach's picture

Every military member I ask hates Obama, 3 are family members! But they love the benefits otherwise known as "handouts". A symbiotic relationship upon which one will eventually eat the other!

otto skorzeny's picture

and then we get to the root of the question -will military and cops fire upon American citizens-and the answer is-YES-as long as the checks clear

hannah's picture

...and we in the last ten years bumped their pay from nada to $150k a year with retirement at 45 and benefits for life....gee i wonder why. dont want those benefits to ever end.

Seer's picture

But... they hate Obama, right? </sarc>

In case there are still naive ones out there: Praetorian Guard (also look up Agents Provocateur for some added fun).

Pseudo Anonym's picture

contract law.  this is the key:

they love the benefits otherwise known as "handouts".

by accepting gov't benefits, you consent, thus, a contract is created, thus, you must obey and do as told

logically possible's picture

@Eireann go

Your statement explains the situation, the other three comments above point out the problem, the real question is what is the solution?

Totentänzerlied's picture

History has the answer, but you won't like it. The only way to make soldiers tire of war is ... to have a really big war.

Law97's picture

Not true in the officer corps, but admittedly, officers tend to be more political than the rank and file. 

As for handouts, he hasn't expanded "handouts," but he has protected those already in place. Obama has only continued the status quo in place long before he came into office.  

Zer0head's picture


In an October 2009 meeting in Obamako with Vice Adm. Robert T. Moeller, deputy chief of the Africa Command, the ambassador called the plan “extremely problematic,”

magpie's picture

'Obamako' ? Kind of them to rename it just in time for the inauguration

Motorhead's picture

I thought a P-3 Orion was an anti-submarine aircraft.

JungleJim's picture

Most P3 airframes are configured for the ASW role, but it's a great airframe and very versatile, good loiter capability/long legs.

francis_sawyer's picture

The only pertinent question left is "How much GOLD is still there"?...

ItchyBeard's picture

The folks at BuBa hold their breath . . .