Robert D. Kaplan's America's African Rifles, in April's Atlantic, provides insight on U.S. military training for indigenous troops in poor, unstable countries; specifically, Niger. The article, free of proselytizing about U.S. military training backfiring when the regimes we train become our enemies, focuses on the gritty interaction between U.S. and indigenous troops. Some excerpts from the article:
...imperialism has always been less about proconsuls than about local alliances and the indigenous troops, both of which allow the imperial authority to project power with minimum risk and fanfare. This was true for Rome, and it was particularly true for France and Britain, two thirds of whose campaigns consisted of soldiers enlisted in their colonies. Today it is also true for the United States.
[Nigerian] soldiers had proced their willingness to die in defense of not only their own but also of U.S. interests...
I mentioned to [U.S. Marine] Staff Sergeant Long that coups, being a feature of modernization, tend to happen wen a military is more institutionally advanced than its civilian authority. Long, a stocky, red-haired thirty-two year old with piercing eyes, who had been tagged for me by Major Baker as one of the brightest Marines in the unit, broke in about the Filipino military and the inefficiency and corruption of successive civilian regimes in the Philippines. His insights were impressive...Marines suck up knowledge wherever they can. And because their personal experiences are so different from those of journalists and academics, their company is invigorating in an intellectual sense.
With the training of indigenous troops at the heart of imperialism, and the rifle range at the heart of such training in our era, the range is truly the center of it all. "Every time you fire, a bad guy should bleed!" Sergeant Rivera yeleld. "Aim for the high center torse. Any hit is good. Don't worry about carving up the bulls-eye. This isn't target shooting. It's about fighting with a gun."
"Don't bend down. Just let the magazine drop. Minimize your movements or you're gonna fucking die." He demonstrated shooting and changing magazines while closing the distance from twenty-five to fifteen yards. The impressive thing was what wasn't happening: there were no wasted movements. "Notice," he said, "I'm not fast. I'm just smooth. It's not about speed but about efficiency."
"This isn't target practice!" he kept shouting. "This is about killing people!"
Rivera liked the fact that the targets were man-shaped silhouettes rather than concentric circles. "If you're aiming at a bulls-eye, you're being programmed to shoot paper. If you're aiming at a silhouette, you're being programmed to kill motherfuckers."
"...At a hundred yards I'll drop to the prone in two seconds, but then I'll methodically put two in his chest so the mutherfucker will die before he can find his iron sights. That way I'll live. And I wanna live, because back in America there are a log of women that love me." ...his soldiers laughed loudly.
"...you're still fucking up. Remember, you're not learning how to shoot, but how to fight when you're tired and dirty. When you're tired and dirty and hurting, I want you to reach down and grab your balls. To find out what you're made of!" Everybody laughed. This wasn't about being mature or sensitive. This was about motivating young African soldiers.