The new Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has a choice today. He should either admit he is totally over his head for the job or admit he is willing to lie for President Trump to Congress and US people.
Deep Background Information
- President Bongo is a long term dictator in the West African country of Gabon
- Last year President Bongo on a visit to Saudi Arabia was described as having a heart attack; however, MBS has detained Lebanese President Hariri, assasinated US based journalist, invaded Bahrain, and blockaded Qatar. It is clear MBS is a President Trump henchman.
- Oil production in Gabon has steadily fallen over last decade threatening US/French financial interests
- France has 300 troops stationed in Gabon
- December 2018 had constant demonstrations and civil disruptions in Gabon and the country verged on a coup the entire month.
USA Military Assessment
Current situation is fluid and hostile. On Friday 4 January 2019 President Trump, as required by law, notified Speaker Pelosi of the deployment of 80 combat troops to Gabon with appropriate equipment to follow. The stated purpose was the potential unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the eve of election results.
It appears the unit was from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response unit and not from the Marine Security Augmentaiton Unit, which is a backup unit to protect US embassies. (unconfirmed). Nor did they deploy the hyper-capable Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST). (unconfirmed)
The distinction is critical because these units are specially trained in EXFIL and intense combat situations, which would be required if the deployment was to protect US citizens. Whereas, the deployed units do not appear to have this special training.
DRC Election Sitrep
After 17 years of strongman rule Joseph Kabila agreed to elections in the DRC. After postponements and fraud, a vote was held and the results were due to be announced on 6 January 2019. Kabila’s strongest opposition and most explosive region is the Eastern Congo which is over 3000 miles from Kinshasa. This analyst worked in Kinshasa and can verify it is a heavily garrisoned city by friendly Kabila troops; however, Eastern Congo is highly disputed with opposing militia and the FDLR which are the remains of the former Rwandan government that commited the 1994 genocide.
It is unlikely that a force of 80 combat troops would be effective in Kinshasa. First, Kabila’s troops would be openly hostile. Second, Kinshasa is a slum ridden urban centre where ten thousand demonstrators could easily flood the streets within an hour, which would, without much effort, overwhelm any USA force. (Think Blackhawk Down.)
Third, the most likely point of conflict will be in Eastern Congo over 3,000 miles away and the USA has a very capable force in Uganda near the Eastern Congo border. The USA Uganda force (thought to be primarily US Army Special Forces) would be the most likely deployable force for Eastern Congo violence.
Based on the above information, this analyst believes the 80 person force recently deployed to Gabon was targeted at Gabon and not the DRC elections violence.
Within 24 hours of the US troops arrival announcement, five Gabon senior officers staged a coup attempt. This analyst believe it is important to note that US military is currently training Gabonese troops. USA has access to top levels of command. As part of its mission, it regularly performs leadership assessments. There is zero chance that this came as a surprise to USA military command.
The current reporting is that the coup was squashed and the leaders arrested. Until this anlayst receives more accurate information, it is difficult to assess if the USA promoted the coup or was there to support non-coup officers.
It is clear, at least by this analyst’s view, President Trump and Secretary Shanahan misled the United States Congress, which is a crime. It is clear President Trump has consolidated his grip on the US miltary and found an ally in SecDef Shanahan who is more willing to serve the President than the terms of the US constitution.