Morale-building activities in foreign armies

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As elite US special operations fighters, they had years of specialized training by the US military to protect America. But now they were working for a different master: a private US company that had been hired by the United Arab Emirates, a tiny desert monarchy on the Persian Gulf. Their armed attack, described to BuzzFeed News by two of its participants and corroborated by drone surveillance footage, was the first operation in a startling for-profit venture. Many experts insist that Al-Islah, one of whose members won the Nobel Peace Prize , is no terror group. They say it's a legitimate political party that threatens the UAE not through violence but by speaking out against its ambitions in Yemen.

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When they arrived at at night, all seemed quiet. The men crept out of the SUV, guns at the ready. One carried the explosive charge toward the building. But just as he was about to reach the door, another member of the team opened fire, shooting back along the dimly lit street, and their carefully designed plan went haywire. Drone footage of the operation in Yemen to assassinate a Yemeni leader of Al-Islah, an Islamist political party. The operation against Mayo — which was reported at the time but until now was not known to have been carried out by American mercenaries — marked a pivot point in the war in Yemen, a brutal conflict that has seen children starved, villages bombed, and epidemics of cholera roll through the civilian population.

The company that hired the soldiers and carried out the attack is Spear Operations Group, incorporated in Delaware and founded by Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition. The revelations that a Middle East monarchy hired Americans to carry out assassinations comes at a moment when the world is focused on the alleged murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, an autocratic regime that has close ties to both the US and the UAE.

The Saudi Embassy in the US did not respond to a request for comment.


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Riyadh has denied it killed Khashoggi, though news reports suggest it is considering blaming his death on a botched interrogation. He argued that the US needs an assassination program similar to the model he deployed. Maybe I should be in jail. Modern counterterrorism combat has shifted away from traditional military objectives — such as destroying airfields, gun emplacements, or barracks — to killing specific individuals, largely reshaping war into organized assassinations. War has become increasingly privatized, with many nations outsourcing most military support services to private contractors, leaving frontline combat as virtually the only function that the US and many other militaries have not contracted out to for-profit ventures.


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The long US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have relied heavily on elite special forces, producing tens of thousands of highly trained American commandos who can demand high private-sector salaries for defense contracting or outright mercenary work. Experts said it is almost inconceivable that the United States would not have known that the UAE — whose military the US has trained and armed at virtually every level — had hired an American company staffed by American veterans to conduct an assassination program in a war it closely monitors.


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Another was a special forces sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. And yet another, according to four people who knew him, was still in the Navy Reserve as a SEAL and had a top-secret clearance. The CIA said it had no information about the mercenary assassination program, and the Navy's Special Warfare Command declined to comment. Companies that provide military services to foreign nations are supposed to be regulated by the State Department , which says it has never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country.

And with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money.

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Spear Operations Group, according to three sources, arranged for the UAE to give military rank to the Americans involved in the mission, which might provide them legal cover. Despite operating in a legal and political gray zone, Golan heralds his brand of targeted assassinations as a precision counterterrorism strategy with fewer civilian casualties. But the Mayo operation shows that this new form of warfare carries many of the same old problems.

And their strike was far from surgical: The explosive they attached to the door was designed to kill not one person but everyone in the office. Aside from moral objections, for-profit targeted assassinations add new dilemmas to modern warfare. If the mercenaries had killed a civilian in the street, who would have even investigated?

The Mayo mission exposes an even more central problem: the choice of targets. Golan insists that he killed only terrorists identified by the government of the UAE, an ally of the US. But who is a terrorist and who is a politician? What is a new form of warfare and what is just old-fashioned murder for hire? Who has the right to choose who lives and who dies — not only in the wars of a secretive monarchy like the UAE, but also those of a democracy such as the US?

It did not, as Gilmore recalled, begin well. Their host was Mohammed Dahlan, the fearsome former security chief for the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, they made an unlikely pair. Golan, who says he was born in Hungary to Jewish parents, maintains long-standing connections in Israel for his security business, according to several sources, and he says he lived there for several years.

Golan, who sports a full beard and smokes Marlboro Red cigarettes, radiates enthusiasm. A good salesman is how one former CIA official described him.

Golan says he was educated in France, joined the French Foreign Legion, and has traveled around the world, often fighting or carrying out security contracts. He is considered competent, ruthless, and calculating, said the former CIA official. Dahlan, who did not respond to multiple messages sent through associates, grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza, and during the s intifada he became a major political player. He later met President George W.

Morale Building Activities in Foreign Armies

Dahlan was once touted as a possible leader of the Palestinian Authority, but in he fell from grace, accused by the Palestinian Authority of corruption and by Hamas of cooperating with the CIA and Israel. A man without a country, he fled to the UAE. Why were they any better than Emirati soldiers? Golan replied with bravado.

The Palestinian gestured to an attentive young female aide sitting nearby. The UAE, with vast wealth but only about 1 million citizens, relies on migrant workers from all over the world to do everything from cleaning its toilets to teaching its university students. Its military is no different, paying lavish sums to eager US defense companies and former generals. Retired US Army Gen.

And as BuzzFeed News reported earlier this year, the country embeds foreigners in its military and gave the rank of major general to an American lieutenant colonel, Stephen Toumajan, placing him in command of a branch of its armed forces. The UAE is hardly alone in using defense contractors; in fact, it is the US that helped pioneer the worldwide move toward privatizing the military. Indeed, the main risks identified in the military assessment leaked last week are from traffickers taking advantage of the U. Trump has never enjoyed especially robust support among active-duty service members, with his favorability only slightly higher among the military than among the general public.

A Military Times survey released just last month found that his support among active-duty military personnel has been declining, with His favorables are just barely higher, at With this election-eve spectacle on the border, Trump is hoping to leverage the popularity of the armed forces and get some of it to rub off on himself and his party.

The board is expected to meet as soon as this week and potentially consider a proposal for Mr. Any attempted coup is a gamble: Mr. Neumann still has allies among the directors and the ability to fire the entire board thanks to shares he controls that carry extra votes. Trump is once again more than happy to keep talking about an issue he advanced to damage a Democratic presidential candidate.

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Jude Catholic Church were targeted with incendiary devices in an attempt to start fires at the churches in May and June. The churches were damaged, but no one was injured. The churches serve a primarily Hispanic community still reeling from a mass shooting targeting Latinos in which 22 people were killed at an El Paso Walmart last month. A record 50 percent say they dislike him personally and dislike his policies, while another 19 percent say that they dislike him but approve of his policies.

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Just 29 percent say they like Trump personally, with 25 percent saying they also approve of his policy agenda and 4 percent saying they disapprove. On this measure, the high degree of personal dislike for Trump differentiates him from his five most recent predecessors. Majorities of voters said they personally liked Obama, Clinton, George W. Bush, George H. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, even though they might disagree vigorously with their political agenda. Bush in March , after Hurricane Katrina.

When President Gerald Ford visited the island in — the only sitting president to make such a visit — he and first lady Betty Ford traveled by horse-drawn carriage. Today, traffic jams are popping up unexpectedly in previously quiet neighborhoods around the country and the world. Although his discussion on immigrants focuses primarily on the decades after the Great War, his findings help one understand the complexities of ethnic patriotism during that conflict.

Bodnar found that all patriotic commemorations contain "powerful symbolic expressions-metaphors, signs, and rituals-that give meaning to competing interpretations of past and present reality. The military was, therefore, faced with two serious challenges that at first seemed to be practically contradictory: instilling Americanization and building morale.

Ultimately, the War Department did not simply force a choice between America and one's native culture. Instead, they used Americanization methods similar to those of social welfare reformers who respected Old World ways while laying the foundations of Americanization.

This required a complex alliance between military officers, Progressive reformers, and prominent ethnic leaders. New civil-military relationships forged a union between the United States military and hundreds of prominent leaders of immigrant groups who played a key role in helping define military policies concerning foreign-born soldiers.

Ethnic community leaders gave patriotic speeches, taught English, translated social hygiene literature and war propaganda material, and worked to counter enemy influences. Much of this effort had the underpinnings of American patriotism. However, these leaders participated on their own terms; they also pressured the military to recognize and meet important cultural and religious needs of the foreign-born troops and demanded fair and just treatment of the men.

Immigrant leaders argued that celebrating ethnicity and meeting the cultural and religious needs of the foreign-born troops could only increase troop morale. They successfully convinced the military to grant special leave for religious holidays, secure immigrant clergymen, celebrate cultural holidays, hire foreign-speaking secretaries in hostess huts, and forbid officers to use ethnic slurs.