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A Vet on Russians Killing Our Troops
By Bob Anderson
I have no idea if Russia paid some of the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan and I am no fan of Donald Trump but I have some questions about how our media is presenting this new issue. I say this because I saw similar actions myself while in Laos during the 1968 Battle of Tet. It was our government paying tribesmen to kill North Vietnamese soldiers.
I was an E.O.D. (Explosive Ordnance Disposal, bomb disposal in civilian terms) technician with the US Air Force. On paper I was assigned to Thailand. Some of us with Top Secret security clearances would often be sent on covert assignment with the CIA into Laos. We had no official military presence in Laos so this had to be kept from the American people. Everyone else knew we were there. On these missions we flew out of Thailand dressed in civilian clothes and carried State Department ID cards.
One day during Tet some of us were picked up at a base in Thailand on an unmarked CIA Plautus Porter special short runway take off and landing aircraft and flown to a forward location. This time it was South of the plain of Jars along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. One of our aircraft had been shot down and all the ordnance onboard had to be recovered or destroyed quickly.
We landed OK and our supplies were quickly unloaded from the small plane. I was sitting on a stack of boxes of C-4 plastic explosives listening to a couple American military personnel who were dressed like me in civilian clothes. They were talking to a group of very young Laotian men, boys. The Lao were sitting around with their rifles which seemed larger than themselves. The American men had opened a box that contained a 35mm camera. They were passing it around to the men who I later learned were Hmong tribesmen, our version in that war of the Taliban.
The Americans were instructing the Hmong how to use the camera. I did not think this odd until I heard the message being translated that they were to stop bringing in the ears of men they killed to get credit. Now they only needed now to take photos of their kills of North Vietnamese soldiers along the Trail to get paid.
On one trip I was on a C-47 flying from one CIA location to another loaded with a big bundle of poppy plants, which were to be processed into opium to pay the Laotian regular army soldiers who worked for us.
Years later after the war I got to know a Navajo ex-Green Beret here in Albuquerque who told me the type of missions he carried out in South Vietnam. Because Navajo can pass for Asian, he had been assigned to a unit of American soldiers who dressed in black pajamas. Some special units of the North Vietnamese Army wore black pajamas. My Navajo friend and his group would go into South Vietnamese villages and kill leaders who might be neutral or not fully supportive of our war efforts. The goal was to force others over to the American side. This we learned was part of the infamous Phoenix Program run by the CIA and our Army which killed an estimated 40,000 South Vietnamese before the war was over.
So many of us were involved in this these kinds of actions that in the latter part of the war some of us formed Vietnam Veterans Against the War. We held an event called the Winter Soldier Investigations to expose these actions to the American people.
When you think about it, in our war back in the 1980s in Afghanistan we did the same thing by hiring Osama bin Laden and his followers to kill Russians. This later backfired on us with the attacks of 9/11.
One has to wonder why this story of Russians paying Taliban to kill Americans in our current Afghanistan war is anything new or different than what appears to be part of larger war strategy. The question to me now is the politics of it. Why is this being pushed now with an election so close? The Democrats in the campaign of Joe Biden are using it as a way to revive the Cold War as we go to November. But a larger question is why is the American media are being so one-sided and blind to the historical context of these kind of stories.
Robert Anderson of Albuquerque, NM was in the US Air Force 1964-1968 serving during the Tet Offensive in Laos, Thailand & Vietnam. An E4 he was arming & disarming explosive ordnance; recovering downed pilots; he saw CIA members paying Hmong tribesmen to kill N. Vietnamese soldiers; he helped found Vietnam Veterans Against the War in New Mexico. He was an active participant in the Wounded Knee 1973 insurrection with the American Indian Movement. He co-authored the documentary book: Voices from Wounded Knee. He is retired now raising three adopted teens.