Nairobi Star (Nairobi)
8 December 2011
But instead of this predicted incompetence, the Kenyan forces effected a textbook ‘blitzkrieg’ attack, of the kind most brilliantly exemplified in the German invasion of France at the onset of the Second World War. A classic ‘blitzkrieg’ generally has three stages: first use a highly mobile advance group to drive deep into enemy territory to throw the enemy forces off balance and win public confidence back home; then avoid any major pitched battles while you allow your supply chain and reinforcements to join the spearhead battalions; and finally, settle down to a siege of your major strategic targets, instead of rushing in blindly to try and finish off the war in record time.
The SLDF at one point seemed to have set up a parallel government around Mt Elgon – specifically a military dictatorship. It was alleged that the SLDF had about 35,000 soldiers; they openly wore army camouflage uniforms; gave interviews to selected journalists deep in their forest hideouts; and seemingly had no shortage of AK-47s. They even imposed their own tax regime on the inhabitants of that area. But when the army was sent it in, it took them just a few months to wipe out the SDLF for good, and to kill its vaunted military commander, Wycliffe Matakwei.
We know how merciless these terrorists are. How readily they focus on civilian targets. Are we to assume that they have such capacity and have decided to spare us? Or that they have their own strategic reasons for holding back? My guess is that if they have not harmed us thus far, it is because they lack the capacity. Whatever networks they had in this country have most likely been thoroughly infiltrated and compromised. That is the most likely explanation for the fact that all we have seen thus far are a few grenades tossed at isolated targets, and there has been no large scale retaliatory attack from the Al-Shabaab.
Although these journalists are usually said to be “reporting from the front-line”, the truth is that they are very far from the actual scene of operations at any one time. They only know what their military hosts choose to reveal to them. It would indeed be morally and strategically indefensible for the soldiers to allow the reporters anywhere near the battlefront. As such, the embedded journalists cannot be taken too seriously, and their on-screen performances should be regarded as a form of “reality TV”.
The writer comments on topical issues.
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