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Has The US Military Created A Small Class Of Killers?

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The thin cold air of the Hindu Kush, those legendary mountains, poured through the gunner’s windows onto my shoulders. The 10-minute call went out and I started to check all my gear as I had done maybe 30 times already. It was so dark that I couldn’t see the faces of the men sitting next to me, but I knew them all.  Many had spent three or four, in some cases five, years of their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some had lost friends or family or watched others get hurt.

The guys we were going after were hardcore jihadists. One was the child of a Mujahedeen father and a Pashtun mother; he was literally born from the anti-Soviet Jihad. On our bird was a warrior class, touched by the fire and pain of years of continuous combat and at our destination that night was a group of jihadists whose personal history mirrored our own.

I survived the night, but a few weeks earlier a Green Beret leading an Afghan force trying to prevent the capture of Lashkar Gah did not. In death, he joined the around 350 Americans and over 500 other coalition soldiers killed trying to defend the same ground over the previous 14 years.

As his flag-draped coffin was loaded onto a C-17 in the Afghan dawn, I was struck by the thought that perhaps my children will one day fight in those same valleys against the children of my former enemies.  I was shaken by the idea of dying for a vaguely defined cause that could send nearly 1,000 men to die in some shit-hole corner of Afghanistan one year only to abandon it the next and then send more men to die to retake it a few years later.

On the plane home I wondered what would have happened if we never tried counterinsurgency.  What if we had decided to treat our fight with jihadists like a generational feud where the goal was simply to kill as many of them as possible at the lowest cost to the United States? We would be right where we are today.  The only difference would be we wouldn’t have spent trillions of dollars and thousands of lives trying to turn benighted countries into democracies.

Since SOF and the CIA, alongside their increasingly effective partner forces, started their quiet war against jihadist groups from a few major bases, just over 100 Americans have died in jihadist terrorist attacks in the U.S.  It is more likely that an American will be shot by a police officer than a jihadist. It is safe to say we have mostly solved the problem presented on September 11th, 2001.

People often complain that killing our way to safety is, to use one of my favorite phrases from the Global War On Terror, “just mowing the grass.”  They mean that raids and airstrikes eliminate one generation of terrorist only to have another generation grow up from the roots. More sensitive souls worry that asking a small warrior class to do this preemptive killing for decades may privilege some the worst instincts of our sons and daughters; drug abuse, alcoholism, broken marriages, suicides, violent crime, and brutality in combat.  It is a rough world to see up close.

Yet these worries miss the point because the fight against jihadist groups isn’t like a crusade against tyranny or a limited war to keep the communists from expanding their territory. Like previous struggles against pirates, anarchists, and violent crime this fight doesn’t end conclusively. One day, like the great feuds of the Icelandic sagas or the age of anarchist terror, it will simply stop, and no one will remember exactly why it started or why it killed so many people.

To get to that point, America will turn to increasingly smaller circles of elite forces forged over a generation do the killing. Few Americans will actually be touched by this grim fight. This means the circles of sorrow that spread from the loss of a young man or woman remain small. It also means that the resources available remain moderated so that America can continue it.

The dark truth is all the killing at night in far-away places is keeping us safe and we need to continue it indefinitely while keeping the scars on our society and costs to our country a small as possible. America cannot afford to mortgage its future prosperity and spend the capital of its youth on remaking countries in its own image.  Because at the end of the day, the leaders go home to paint pictures, passing classified information to their biographers/mistresses, and collect huge speaker and consultant fees while tens of thousands of boy and girls don’t come home or have their lives changed forever.

As a former grunt, my hope for future generations is that the U.S. government and the generals don’t forget this and leave the killing to a small tribe of rough men and women.

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Op-Edge

Why Photos Of Osama bin Laden’s Corpse Are Still Not Available to Public

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Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri

A years after the Osama Bin Laden, the notorious terrorist leader, was killed there is still many conspiracy theories about his death He was killed on May 2, 2011, by US Navy SEALs operators at his compound in Abbottabad, Abbottabad, Pakistan. The operation was codenamed as Neptune Spear. In an article published on TheNewsRep, author Jack Murphy writes about the fact that so far there are no publicly released photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse. Down below you can find his opinion on this topic:

There are a lot of puzzled expressions on people’s faces when it comes to the subject of the late Osama bin Laden and why the White House has not authorized the release of any pictures of his body. Photographs and video were released of Saddam Hussein’s hanging, as well as post-mortem pictures of his criminal sons, Uday and Qusay after Delta Force took them out. Why not release a few pictures of Public Enemy #1 to prove that he is dead and show the world what happens when you take on the U.S. of A?

Matt Bissonnette, one of the SEAL Team 6 operators on the bin Laden raid, partially outs the reason in his book “No Easy Day.” The book reads, “In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing. Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.”

But this is perhaps the most measured and polite description that one could give of how operator after operator took turns dumping magazines’ worth of ammunition into bin Laden’s body, two confidential sources within the community have told us. When all was said and done, Osama bin Laden had more than a hundred bullets in him, by the most conservative estimate.

Was this a one-time incident or part of a developing trend of lawless behavior? Consider these two other incidents:

•In 2013, The Associated Press reported that SEALs attached to SEAL Team 6 were investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service after $30,000 in cash strangely vanished from Capt. Richard Phillips’ lifeboat. Phillips had been taken a hostage from the Maersk Alabama ship. SEAL snipers shot and killed his pirate captors using night-vision goggles, laser target designators, and multiple rounds. They took control of the lifeboat — and presumably the money.

But the money was never recovered — and its disappearance remains a mystery to this day. Phillips described the incident in his book this way: “Two stacks of hundreds, one of the fifties, then twenties, fives and tens … I never saw the money again. Later, when they gave me a sack to lean against, I felt the stacks of money inside, but I never spotted the cash out in the open again. “The case was eventually closed because there was no substantial evidence linking the SEALs to any wrongdoing.

In Eric Blehm’s book “Fearless,” he openly writes about illicit drug use by an active-duty SEAL stationed on the East Coast who ultimately went on to serve with SEAL Team 6. How this same person managed to pass a top-secret background clearance despite having 11 prior felony convictions is perturbing and revealing at the same time.

You may not care if bin Laden got some extra holes punched in him — few of us do — but what should concern you is a trend within certain special-operations units to engage in this type of self-indulgent and ultimately criminal behavior. Gone unchecked, these actions worsen over time and in the end risk creating a unit subculture that is hidden from senior commanders, that is more “Sons of Anarchy” than “American Hero.”

So is putting a few extra rounds into the enemy illegal?

Under the Laws of Land Warfare, a soldier is fully authorized to put a few insurance rounds into his target after he goes down. Provided the enemy is not surrendering, it is morally, legally and ethically appropriate to shoot the body a few times to ensure that he is really dead and no longer a threat. However, what happened on the bin Laden raid is beyond the permissible. The level of excess shown was not about making sure that bin Laden was no longer a threat. The excess was pure self-indulgence.

And if there’s any truth to the rumors floating around the special-operations community related to illegal activities at home and abroad, it will be a sad day of reckoning for America in many regards. When the truth comes to light, honor will have been betrayed by actions that are not aligned with the very principles these warriors swore an oath to uphold, the same ones that distinguish good guys from the bad.

Of course, these attitudes and behaviors do not come out of anywhere. Endless back-to-back combat deployments, post-traumatic stress disorder, broken families and the ugliness of more than a decade of war all play into it. War is ugly, ugliest of all for the warriors required to do the actual wet work, and Americans would do well to keep this in mind before passing judgment.

Now you know the likely reason why the Obama administration has not released pictures of Osama bin Laden’s corpse. To do so would show the world a body filled with a ridiculous number of gunshot wounds. The picture itself would likely cause an international scandal, and investigations would be conducted that could uncover other operations and activities many would do anything to keep buried.

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Op-Edge

This Might Be the U.S. Military’s Worst Idea Ever

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us military - This Might Be the U.S. Military's Worst Idea Ever

The Pentagon wants a mobile nuclear reactor. The goal is to provide reliable electrical power to remote forward operating bases and during quick-response humanitarian missions. But the project also raises questions of nuclear security and keeping atomic materials from falling into the wrong hands.

On January 18, the Pentagon published a Request for Information on the feasibility of developing a portable nuclear reactor in support of a program known as “Project Dilithium.” The reactor is in response to a 2016 Defense Science Board report that found that fuel and water accounted for as much as 90 percent of supplies sent to outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which in turn exposed U.S. truck convoys to ambush (air-dropped fuel cost as much as $400 per gallon).

With power use only likely to grow with the advent of power-hungry systems such as high-energy lasers to shoot down missiles and drones, the report recommended nuclear power as a solution, with “the need and benefit outweighing the difficulty in achieving nearly limitless energy on the battlefield.”

In its RFI, the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office extolled the virtues of a mobile reactor for both overseas and domestic use. “Small mobile nuclear reactors can make the DOD’s domestic infrastructure resilient to an electrical grid attack and fundamentally change the logistics of forward operating bases, both by making more energy available and by drastically simplifying the complex fuel logistical lines which currently support existing power generators operating mostly on diesel fuel. Additionally, a small mobile nuclear reactor would enable a more rapid response during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. Small mobile nuclear reactors have the potential to be an across-the-board strategic game changer for the DOD by saving lives, saving money, and giving soldiers in the field a prime power source with increased flexibility and functionality.”

The reactor should be able to supply 1 to 10 megawatts of power at least three years without refueling. It should weigh “less than 40 tons total weight, sized for transportability by truck, ship, and C-17 aircraft,” and be passively cooled by ambient air.

The reactor should be “semiautonomous,” capable of safely functioning without the need for human operators, and requiring minimal monitoring. The reactor should require less than a week for shutdown, cool down, disconnect and preparation for transport, and require less than three days to begin generating power again.

Given that a mobile reactor is likely to generate as much controversy as electricity, the military wants an “inherently safe design, ensuring that a meltdown is physically impossible in various complete failure scenarios such as loss of power/cooling.”

There should also be “no net increase in risk to public safety by either direct radiation from operation or contamination with breach of primary core. Minimized consequences to nearby personnel in case of adversary attack.”

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