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Insurgent to ambassador: journal editor tells harrowing tale

MAXWELL-GUNTER AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AETCNS) -- When Algerian-born Remy Mauduit, editor of the new French edition of the Air and Space Power Journal, sees terrorism and insurgency taking place in Iraq, he recalls a time when he, too, was an insurgent.

Life was not good for Algerian citizens in the early 1950s. After French colonization, native Algerians were prisoners in their own country.

"We were second-class citizens," Mr. Mauduit said. "The French had all the highest positions, all the land, basically everything. We (Algerians) could never get anywhere, regardless of our education."

Tired of the occupation, a group of Algerians formed the National Liberation Front (FLN), rebel guerrilla fighters who would fight the French army in what is now known as the bloody Algerian War of Independence.

As a young man, Mr. Mauduit joined the FLN to assist in the liberation of his homeland.

"At 15 years old I didn't know anything about politics," he said. "But the only way to change things was to throw the French out."

For the next five years, Mr. Mauduit and the FLN continued to battle the French, with guerrilla warfare and even terrorism, but according to him it was not the same terrorism we see today in Iraq.

"In Algeria, terrorism was used as an arm of the guerrilla war as a whole," he said. "It was used in specific target areas, not for destruction to civilians. That is the contrast with what we see in Iraq today. There, it is just blind killing everywhere."

As the Algerians continued to battle for independence, French intelligence agencies began to divide the FLN by creating suspicion within the organization. Soon high ranking FLN members were pointing fingers at each other resulting in the imprisonment and torture of countless innocent individuals.

Unfortunately for Mr. Mauduit, he was not immune from the allegations. At the age of 20, he was imprisoned and tortured for 15 days until he managed to escape.

"I joined (the FLN) to free my country, and after five years I was tortured for no reason," he said.

At that point, with options limited and feeling deeply betrayed, Mr. Mauduit decided to join the French army. "I joined when the French government realized they had to give the Algerian people the right to choose what they want." Algerian independence was still a top priority for Mr. Mauduit, even as a member of the French army.

Once again, Mr. Mauduit would be betrayed, this time by the French. Once French President Charles de Gaulle conceded defeat, Mauduit joined a renegade group led by senior French army officers who opposed President de Gaulle's policy.

"We didn't make it and were defeated virtually the moment we started," he said. Once again, Mr. Mauduit was a prisoner, this time in Paris.

After more than a year in prison, he was released and decided to come to the United States. Once he was granted a passport in 1965, he acted immediately.

"The day I got my passport I left for America," he said.

He soon found life in America to be quite an improvement from his previous life. "It was a free country where I could do whatever I wanted to do, something I never experienced before," he said. "This is my country now."

Despite having been stationed here since 1965, Mr. Mauduit speaks and writes perfect French, which made him an ideal editor candidate for the ASPJ-French.

According to Lt. Col. Paul Berg, the ASPJ's English editor, the goal of the foreign versions is to be a tool to "support the professional development of foreign militaries."

The French version is particularly designed for African nations.

"Many people think it is for France," Colonel Berg said. "Much like the English version is not for England, this is not aimed at France; it is aimed at Africa."

Air University's College for Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education here, which also produces Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic language ASPJs, intends to send Mr. Mauduit to Africa to begin building his network of friends and associates through the journal.

"Editors (of foreign ASPJs) are similar to ambassadors in that they understand their language, their culture and can make friends with (high ranking foreign military leaders)," Colonel Berg said.

Mr. Mauduit also realizes the importance of his role in the mission. "I think it is a tremendous idea. Even in areas we have friends they don't always know who we really are," he said. "That is what (the journal) does, tell them who we are in their language."

With the addition of the French version and the Arabic version last year, the ASPJ is now published in five different languages and is distributed to more 90 nations worldwide, including 20 in Africa.

All ASPJ editions are available at www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil.
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