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.
Darth Silver's picture

Bingo. My thoughts exactly. Mali is a gold producing country. Very interesting how both USA and France are involved given Germany's 7 year gold request.

Stack em early and often.

AgAu_man's picture

+5.  Correct, FS!  As I indicated in a posting of a couple of days ago, when the Mali story broke, I quickly Googled for "Mali gold mining", and learned that it is the 3rd largest AU producer in Africa.

"And another mystery is history!" ~ Shaggy, Scoobee Doo

Muppet Pimp's picture

Obama has created such a schism in our military that suicides now outnumber combat deaths.  Seems it is tough mentally being in a military that serves at the pleasure of a freedom hating tyrant. 

I wonder if this is the first time in the history of this country that military suicides outnumber combat deaths?

Imagine if you had signed up to defend your country and found yourself here

training to go up against your own people under Obama's order?

If you know any enlisted, please forward them the Oathkeepers 'Declaration of Orders we will not obey' here:

otto skorzeny's picture

maybe many members of the military are figuring out that they are doing the bidding of the Jewish bankers and american "freedom" has noting to do with anything

Muppet Pimp's picture

Demoralization of the enemy is what Obama seeks (freedom loving americans).  He does it by preying on the weak, convincing them they are victims.

Imagine being a lawful gun owner serving in our military for an administration that not only floats guns to our enemies but says thing such as this:

He thinks our military men should cower.  Eric Holder is a national disgrace, and only keeps his position because O runs with a lot of unsavory characters and by having Holder run DOJ he can see that they are not prosecuted.  If O were to choose an honest sherriff to run DOJ he would not have that assurance.

Seer's picture

What a bunch of blabbering party pussy shit.

Why can't you cretins understand that it's about POWER, not what banner/flag it flies?

You'll toss out one bastard and then put your own in place and call your bastard a saint.  Fuck off you closet statist.

supermaxedout's picture

You are writing: I wonder if this is the first time in the history of this country that military suicides outnumber combat deaths.

If this is true it is because there is not so much actual combat. Its more a technical killing thru drones, IED etc. The better end (lesser casualities) is held by the Americans because their training and material is superior. They are the best equipped, best trained professional soldiers ever walking on this planet. Their enemies are seldom a match for them.

The reason why suicide cases do rise in the military is only indicating that the mental health of the soldiers is endangered. Suicide = clinical depression: clinical depression = an originally total normal brain which went completely out of balance because of the emotional overload of the person.

A clinical depression develops in most cases over months or years. To make it a 100% success you need just two or three the following ingredients:Stressful work, trauma, family problems, divorce, being in a strange enviroment (country, culture, circumstances), having to follow orders only ( being remote controlled) and so on.

In other words,  even a person  with a robust emotional constitution can reach very fast the end of the pole when he encounters several of such problems at the same time.  As longer as a person is living under such stressful conditions the higher the risk to get seriously ill in the brain.

However there exist people which are not endangered to get a depression but these people are rare. These kind of people are not normal in an other way. People like Saddam Hussein, highly intelligent but living extremely dangerous and ruthless for most of his life. Or Stalin, or Hitler.  In short people one can not scare, real mad men and extremely dangerous extreme cold blooded. The old German tribes called such persons "Berserker".

If one is not in this group he has to live with the danger to get a clinical depression. It just depends on the circumstances and the level and duration of the emotional stress.    Nobody is save. The professional group which has usually the highest suicide rate are , surprise, surprise Psychiatrists. They know everything about depressions etc but it does often not protect them from getting ill themself. In their case the reason is crystal clear. Its the emotional overload of these people. They deal only with persons having experienced extreme situations and traumata in their lifes. To listen to all the horror stories imaginable is the daily bread of psychiatrist working in a mental ill hospital.  Over time it kills quite many of these brave doctors. They are often overwhelmed by the misery and suffering of their patients. Their resistance is getting weaker over the years. They take the drugs, they smoke and so on trying to feel better.

The long term deployed soldier is in a similar situation even its interrupted from time to time by holidays. He has to suppress all the horrors seen and done by not thinking about it. But the capacity to suppress things is quite limited in normal human beeings. When its too much then the problems start to kick in.   I heard a few weeks ago on AFN in Europe the news, that appx 25% of the US soldiers do have a serious drinking problem. Having a serious drinking problem means one starts to drink already in the morning and maintains his level through the wake hours.  Another 40% are heavy binge drinkers. Its normal that soldiers do drink a lot but this are alarming numbers when one thinks about it.  Alcohol abuse = self medication.

Soldiers are just human beeings its that simple. One can be a tough guy but even the back of the strongest camel is breaking when you put one straw to much on it.

Depression is a very dangerous sickness. The mortality rate is appx 50% over the long run (suicide).  Imagine that the Army has of course realized the problem. Anti Depressiva, Psychological help etc is for sure relative easy available for the endangered soldiers. But despite that you have this high numbers of suicides.  I have never been a soldier but as far as a clinical depression is concerned I know what Im speaking about by personal experience.   It makes me think that the morale in this army must be extreme low. And this is understandable because the wars never end and this is taking its toll on the mental state of the personel.  THats why in my opinion the day is not far, that the killing is done by autarkic machines (robots and drones). The machines do not get depressions no matter how long a war draws on. Problem solved.


fiftybagger's picture

The depression comes from being duped and the damage it does to a person's conscience.  Most people can live with themselves and their deeds if they are the "good guy".  But if they find out they are really the bad guy, it creates a type cognitive dissonance that many are unable to bear.  In their mind there's no way out except suicide because they cannot escape from their own conscience which is constantly accusing them.  What they fail to realize is that their conscience is doing exactly what it was designed to do,  convince them of sin and their need for forgiveness.  forgiveness is the only way these souls will find peace:

dick cheneys ghost's picture

I thought we were broke??



falak pema's picture

dick cheney and therefore his ghost are; not the new, new potus and his Vizir the official fiat printer.

They still have lots of other people's money, all certifed green backs to put in their banks (all first world TBTF), as payment for debt incurred by Potus land. 

Remember Potus is Caliph of Saud, he holds all those nukes and also controls the daily black gold pukes. 


ItchyBeard's picture

Not until the printers run out of squid ink.


UGrev's picture

AFRICOM bitches.. where fuck you all been? 

CPL's picture

Not reading news i would suppose.  I wonder what people really think 'NGO's" are?

UGrev's picture

They are exactly opposite of what they state they are..:D

CPL's picture

Weird how people are completely unable to figure that out

...hey if everyone is broke this year, how much money did the US population donate to 'feed' africa to help all those missionaries spread the good word?

CPL's picture

I would guess not enough gold though.

Seer's picture

NED.  IRI.  It's all sickening.

Smedley Butler.  John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man): it is debatable whether this is fact or fiction, but it does provide a compelling story as to how things really work.

Motorhead's picture

Sitting in Stuttgart.

Law97's picture

You know your AFRICOM. 

BattlegroundEurope2011's picture

I hope TAX Payers money was not used to purchase the services of those Hookers and it came out of those operatives own finances instead.



Volaille de Bresse's picture

And the CIA trained local Malian troops to the art of modern warfare. Then said troops deserted and joined the ranks of the Islamic terrorists. 


They should have named this op "Operation Boomerang"!  WAY TO GO AMERICA! A+!

CPL's picture

Rules changed in what USD is worth in the last six months.  Which is squat and soon to be sweet fuck all.. The million USD in yesterday is not the same million it is today.


Medival cheftain warlords don't want to hold a declining asset anymore than a hedge fund manager does.

Oh regional Indian's picture

"Medival cheftain warlords don't want to hold a declining asset anymore than a hedge fund manager does."

Indeed CPL.

..... in fact they are advised by the best (hedge fund) minds from the city of london... they very arrangers who set up said medi-evil chieftains in the first place.

Totentänzerlied's picture

The American military/intelligence apparatus has been training locals around the world for over a century. You really believe they didn't figure out how the game works, long, long ago? Despite the media's efforts to convince you otherwsie, the CIA, et al, is not a frat house full of bumbling idiots. They know what they are doing, they know how the public will perceive what they do. You think the US leadership really gives a single flying fuck whether Islamist militants or nominally democratic politicians run Mali? It's about money, resources, and power, and the US has only two tactics: prop up the local regime if it cooperates, destroy it if it doesn't. If in the process things appear to be going awry, the propaganda is working. Did the debt increase? Then they won.

AgAu_man's picture

Geil!  Affengeil!

I shall play your the theme song of your moniker (DeathDanceSong) in your honor.


q99x2's picture

Corporate mercinaries they meant to say.

Corporations using teenagers to kill blacks and steal their property.

Something doesn't seem right.

Kaiser Sousa's picture

the dying empire that doesnt realize its a dead man walking just cant help itself....

this will end end with another US "black eye" like everything else has it has undertaken in the last 20 years in the name of hegemony...

knock urself of broke ass M I C - Military Industrial Complex...expedite ur enjoying the theatre...........................................


Oh regional Indian's picture

Imagine that Kaiser...addicted to killing....


optimator's picture

Imagine that Chancellor Hitler getting into a two front war against the advice of all his generals.

otto skorzeny's picture

what the fuck do the generals care-it's free mossad whores,fat pensions and a cushy MIC job to wrap it all up

AgAu_man's picture

That's no way to slander Petreaus! 

Petreaus?  Who said anything about Petreaus?  ;-)

Kaiser Sousa's picture

Hey Tylers - 

for some reason i can no longer edit my comments to correct errors...

can maybe someone tell me why and help me ammend?

thanks and sorry for interupting the discussion for technical reasons ya'll...

ItchyBeard's picture

You cannot edit your post if someone has replied to it.

earleflorida's picture

try to stay controversial? you'll get better reads and more respect without the at-a-boy's!

H E D G E H O G's picture

i've been UP keying your comments. i just hope the NSA can't follow the thread back to me after all of my UP keys as they store and decipher your post's. just kidding...

Volaille de Bresse's picture

"so far disastrous French campaign"


Where? On Faux-news? Don't let intellectual onanism and cheap hatred blind you "TD". Or are you the last neo-con on Earth left? 

Totentänzerlied's picture

The Malians already lost thanks to France. Now Hollande is pissing on a grave.

A Lunatic's picture

We will free the shit out of them soon............

bankonzhongguo's picture

There has been a cold war in Africa against the Chinese for more than 15 years.  Most banks consider Africa to be worth at least $10-15 trillion in new debt and the colonial power have always considered the untapped/under-developed resources of Africa to be their personal piggy banks - especially the French.  There is a gold rush on in Africa - to contain China, place debt and find rare earth elements, gold and oil.  Why do you think George Clooney (Mr Kinder and Gentler CFR) worked to hard to slice Sudan in two.  Southern Sudan oil bitchez and road to the white house. The C4I complex in Djibouti is but one complex amid a half dozen new bases and MAC air strips popping up in Central Africa.  The continent is the size of the US AND China combined.  Did you really think inquiring minds at Oxford would consider an entire ancient continent that could never domesticate all those animals to be filled with an equal people?  Bill Gates just sank $1 billion into a huge North African construction and agriculture combine.

Ah.  The sun and surf of West Point, Monrovia, Liberia in the morning. 

Oh regional Indian's picture

Fascinating in-sight and well said to boot Bankon...

Totentänzerlied's picture

"could never domesticate all those animals"

Well considering that to this day no one has successfully domesticated any of these African species you refer to, perhaps the problem lies elsewhere. The intellectuals have invented a kindler, gentler excuse for pillaging Africa (and everywhere else), after their last one was exposed and blown up.

Seer's picture

Can we have more of people like you who actually get WTF is going on?

jonjon831983's picture

Bill's investment was in a construction subsidiary of Egyptian company Orascom.


Eric Schmidt of Google noted after his DPRK trip that the 3G network of North Korea built by JV with Orascom.



Cathartes Aura's picture

following the activities of one Erik "Crusader" Prince confirms what you share bankonzhongguo,

The man who built up Blackwater - the giant private security force that guarded US diplomats in some of the world's most dangerous places, including Afghanistan and Iraq - sees Africa as his future.

After Erik Prince sold his firm to investors about two years ago, the former officer in the Navy SEALs - the special US military force that killed Osama bin Laden last year - set up a new company called Frontier Resource Group (FRG) early this year.

FRG is an Africa-dedicated investment firm partnered with major Chinese enterprises, including at least one state-owned resource giant that is keen to pour money into the resource-rich continent.

"Africa is so far the most unexplored part of the world, and I think China has seen a lot of promise in Africa," Prince said during a brief trip to Hong Kong last week to meet potential Chinese investors and partners. "But the problem is if you go alone, you bear the country risk on your own. You have to get support and maintenance there," Prince, FRG's managing partner, told the South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview.

lindaamick's picture

Mali must be resident on some US resource. 

Also the CIA is always and everywhere stirring up chaos.  Can't have any development anywhere nor democratically elected officials.  That would thwart US interests. 

National Security means bombing any country into the ground that does not freely relinquish its resources to the transnational corporations that rule the world.

GMadScientist's picture

You really think Islamic extremists need someone to tell them to target their rage at French colonialists?