I retired 180-A, Special Operations Technician and spent the majority of my Special Forces time working in Central and South America. I earned a CIB in Operation Desert Storm prior to my retirement in 1992 and was a member of the coveted P.I.G Team, also known as a “Green Light” Team in 7th SFG. I am a qualified as HALO, SCUBA, Sniper, Operation and Intelligence, Special Operations Training Course, Spanish language, and more.

For years, I spent the majority of my time deployed. For those years I was training and going on operations with the local indigenous forces of many different countries. I began to believe that we were training the bad guys, the very same guys that one day would use our training, tactics and weapons to kill Americans, leading the U.S. down a dark path.

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In the 1980s, I deployed on a CIA-contracted mission to Central America, when I witnessed the following. I was at a soccer game in the main city stadium, full of spectators. As the game was in progress, the military surrounded the stadium and closed off all exits. The only way out was for the locals to show their identification proving that they had served in the military for their mandatory conscription.

What I saw was that the military would pick up these young kids, some appearing to be as young as 14 or 15, load them into their trucks and take them off to military bases. They might stay for the next year or two. No notification to the families, nothing. I had other sightings of young men and teens running and hiding every time a military convoy passed them, for fear of being taken from their homes.

My thoughts then and now are when these young men left the military for more money and opportunity, they took their military training skills with them. In turn, they would hire on with the bad guys, the guys with the money. The bad guys are typically involved with illegal drug trade and insurgent groups, up to and including terrorists.

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Let me tell you the level of training the bad guys, the potential enemy we fight, are receiving.

We were located in a secure isolated location for the purpose of training the most Elite Commandos from this country. Our mission was to train them in counter narcotics operations, counter insurgence operations and hostage rescue forces. This training included shooting, sniper training, room and structure clearing and more.

The level of training we were providing would be equivalent to our country’s Delta Force, CIA, DEA and FBI tactics, conditioning, planning, shooting, door kicking (QCB), multiple entries and coordinated assaults using snipers and more. We trained these guys to breach day and night, with sniper support, clearing structures with agency and Special Forces combined tactics, to move shoot and communicate and not necessarily in that order. This operation took place in the early to mid-1980s.

JimWest
Jim still sporting his incognito look a few days after deployment

We had a hand-picked team of Special Forces members from 7th Group. Each member had to be vetted through an agency selection process, including interviews in Tyson’s Corner. I was involved with all aspects of training, with my primary function being a sniper instructor, hand to hand, physical trainer. I was also detailed to the breaching, entering and room clearing team. As time elapsed, during our time in country we worked as advisors, during interrogations and combat operations.

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I was watching the news recently about ISIS and other terrorist groups and reflected back to these very operations that we performed in the ’80s.

It seemed to me that we were constantly sacrificing our soldiers while reducing our nation’s ability for our troops to adequately defend our nation by sending them into combat with rules of engagement. These rules, I believe, are a leading cause of our troops dying at home and on the battlefield.

First, we are told not to put a bullet in the chamber and not to fire unless fired upon and more placing our soldiers in the line of fire. While abiding by these rules of engagement, our troops are embedded daily with foreign soldiers and the enemy. In my opinion we seem to be repeating the same behavior and training and befriending the enemy. Why do I call them both friend and enemy? I do so because when we are embedded with them we develop a pride and loyalty to these foreign soldiers. Once we leave or their conscript is up, they are still going to work for the enemy. Many times they don’t have a choice. In America we do have a choice. I have witnessed far too many foreign soldiers we have trained and given our best, turn their weapons on us!

My experience has been that, during the day they are being trained by us, and at night they are stalking and even killing our men. They give up vital information and intelligence to their family members who, in turn, use this against us. This pisses me off. In fact, our soldiers are sent into combat and live with the enemy not being able to tell day to day who’s the good guy and who is the bad guy. They are not all ‘bad guys’, but trust me, enough of them will be.

Another aspect is when our troops come home, at times they can’t tell the difference day to day between good guys and bad guys. When we are deployed, it is difficult to determine within the very ranks we train. This is nothing new. A Captain in Vietnam was blown to bits by his 12 year old shoe shine boy. You think we would learn.

After living in that environment, how do our soldiers come home and feel safe? How do they determine who the enemy is when they are embedded with the enemy? Belive me, the enemy is well trained, because we trained them.

Approximately 8,000 American soldiers are committing suicide each year after coming home. In some cases they have recently been handed a pink slip while they are still on the battlefield. They are being forced out of the military. Do you ever wonder why sometimes even our own lose site of their loyalty? It’s one thing to not know the enemy. When this is combined with no job and no real outlook or future, constantly feeling paranoid about their surroundings and not knowing the enemy, the bad guys have the upper hand, they are well trained and we trained them how to operate and how to kill.

To give you an example of how effective and qualified the enemies we train are, after six months of selection and vetting, a brutal training process for the Commandos I was working with on this agency detail to Central America…

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One night, we set up the students to clear a shoot house at night under extreme duress. We even used “knock down drills” for more realism and added stress to see how they would perform under fire and after being hit in the chicken vest (bullet proof vest). By the way, the best vest money could buy and being paid for by tax payers.

After a hell of a selection process and months of day and night training for room clearing, we ran a final exam prior to real missions. We set up the rooms with good guy and bad guy targets for discriminating fire. That means being able to pick out the good guy from the bad guy while moving at the speed of light.

Prior to this night, for six months we put the commandoes under extreme physical stress, sniper training, and QCB pistol training and while shooting and moving. We trained them at day time and night time without much sleep and they were physically depleted. For example, we would get them up at any time during the night or day and have them wear their full combat gear, including vest and carrying weapons and ammo and run 12 miles, then PT, followed by hand-to-hand and spending time on different ranges and structures. They trained on the average about 18 hours a day. The only time they got off was when they failed or quit. We paid them extra money in hopes they would stay with the unit and not go off to work for the druggies, now terrorists.

We took a daytime practice run, preparing the guys for individual evaluations under stress in the shoot house, with targets. Later we would put them through at night under even more stress.

Here is the specific example of how real our enemies, we trained might be. Each individual would line up in the heat of the day. They did a weapons check and wore full operational gear, including vests, ammo, load carrying equipment carrying three weapons, two 9mm Barettas and a Remington 870 shotgun for breaching. Each one had to do 100 push-ups, then run about 200 yards to the target house, and position themselves outside the door in a crouched position. We instructed them for the first run to use the high port position.

At this time, we were screaming at them with bull horns and shooting the back of their legs with pellet guns for a touch of realism. When we gave the command to execute, they had to breach with the shotgun, sling the shotgun to their back, use the 9mm to enter. We intentionally put a misfire in the first 9mm by releasing the magazine so they would have to either clear the misfire or go to the backup weapon all the while entering the structure, being yelled at with bullhorns and pelted with pellets, clearing the fatal funnel.

Here is the interesting twist: we intentionally put them in the high port position for entry, and they had to enter the room this way, leaving their chest partially exposed. We placed a mattress behind the door. No one was informed of a knock down drill. As each person entered the structure after and during being stressed, once the shotgun breach was performed and after the door kick, they entered the room with live ammo to engage the first target. Once the misfire occurred we would hit them in the chicken vest with a baseball bat when they were going for the backup weapon, to simulate taking a round.

This is how good they are. One of the commandoes I could never forget. He was hit in the chest so hard his feet left the ground. He deployed the backup weapon and engaged the good guy/bad guy targets by double tapping on his way to the ground. He immediately regained his feet continuing to engage targets. Successfully clearing two rooms and exiting the structure, he then placed his 9mm back in the holster and then blacked out from the blow with a baseball bat in the chest when he first entered the room, the knock down drill.

It took him 10 seconds to clear both rooms, he did not hit any good guys and placed two rounds in all of the bad guy silhouettes right in the 10 ring. Then he blacked out! This is pure instinct, survival and training. I have never been so proud about how good we can train foreign soldiers to survive in any battlefield!

Do you see the problem? There is virtually no incentive for these guys to stay in their military. When their conscription time is over, many of these well-trained soldiers are scouted by the bad guys, often friends and family, to work against the US interests both abroad and at home.

I believe we have to prepare our troops and the minds of our public to the reality that we are being targeted by the enemy. The real problem is that most of us have a difficult time identifying or even relating to the enemy, Too many times, we underestimate their skill and intent. This is one example of why we as a nation need to change our mind-set and train ourselves.