We start today’s RED Friday post by mentioning two Marine Raiders who will never read these words. They died doing a dangerous, scary job, and they deserve to be honored. Their regimental commander, Col. John Lynch, said of them, “Both men epitomize what it means to be a Marine Raider. They were intelligent, courageous, and loyal. They were dedicated leaders, true professionals in their craft, and willing to go above and beyond for the mission and their team.”
We lost two more warriors on Thursday, and “a UK national”, in a rocket attack believed to have been launched by “an Iran-backed Shia militia in Iraq”. Defense Secretary Esper reiterated, ““You don’t get to shoot at our bases, kill and wound Americans and get away with it.” According to Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman, “options were on the table and awaiting final options and a decision by the president.”
UPDATE: our President doesn’t waste time:
And Taps with honor to Medal of Honor recipient Tech Sergeant John Chapman, who died defending his extraction team from al queda soldiers dug in in machine gun nests, and Navy SEAL Chief Britt Slabinski, who also engaged the enemy on this mission. There is a very fuzzy black and white video of T/Sgt. Chapman’s final moments of combat at this link. The complete account of the mission and Chapman’s death is there He even engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat near the end. God give you peace and honor, Sergeant Chapman.
There have recently been some hideous, truly evil crimes committed by US Marines and Navy SEALs, sometimes even against members of other branches of the military. I don’t want to minimize or excuse that. The Army is not immune, either. Evil should be punished proportionally. Murder is murder, and murderers should be executed. Period. I do not believe that even PTSD should be acceptable as an excuse for committing murder. I do not believe in life sentences for murderers, whether they are service members or not. Execute them. End of story. But …
If you want the ultimate special warfare soldier, you’re going to have to stress hard in training to identify them, train them to their limits and beyond, equip them well … and send them out knowing that with the strain of repeated deployments and minimum home time, a relatively high percentage of them will break bad. This must be discouraging for those who do not break. How do you believe in your own honor if a high percentage of your own unit brings shame on your uniform? If public perception of your unit is that you’re a bunch of dangerous near-rogues at the best of times?
There is no such thing as a human being who can not be broken. The US has been in constant warfare for more than twenty years straight in the Mideast. The Mideast is home to possibly the most vicious, relentless, remorseless enemies America has ever faced. As in Vietnam, there are far too often enemy among the “friendly” forces. “Insider” shootings by these raise everyone’s stress levels far beyond the norm. When you can’t even trust those who are supposed to be on your side, when you have to be constantly alert for the slightest warnings of betrayal … Most of us have no idea what that level of stress feels like. When tasked with “special warfare” against such an enemy, especially with repeated deployments and minimum decompression time at home, people will begin to break. The toughest will break the baddest. That’s not an excuse for crimes. It’s just an unavoidable fact of life.
There is a frightening statistic from the Heritage foundation – the Navy’s Trident Review Boards “have removed more than 150 Tridents from Navy SEALs in recent years”. That‘s a lot of extreme misconduct, considering that as nearly as I could discover, there are less than 800 active-duty SEALs, not including their command, delivery, and support staff.
But it seems to me that the gruesome nature of the crimes committed by a few Marines and SEALs, the betrayal of this nation’s trust in them, the 100% lack of the most basic standards of normal human decency by those whom we expect to have the highest standards of honor, may have prejudiced some Americans against the vast majority of their branch of service. I think some thought should be given to this matter. It appears to me we have a terrible choice: do we need these hard-trained, highly specialized, dedicated troops? if so, we have to understand that human wreckage will result, and we will have to deal with the wreckage. If not, then we need to disband the units that show this extreme level of failure. And we need to be sure, whenever we deal with alleged criminal actions by members of any military unit, that warriors are given the same rights as any of us expect if we are in court, presumption of innocence being paramount among those.
According to the Heritage Foundation the total number of Marines as of 2019 is about 186,000, down from 202,100 in 2011. Heritage makes this statement about deployment times versus home time: “The stated ideal deployment-to-dwell (D2D) time ratio is 1:3 (seven months deployed for every 21 months at home).”
I think that few active duty US military in any branch can hope for anything close to that. Generational warfare, on multiple fronts, has made that uncommon. Comments from those in the military now or recently are welcome. Balance Careers had this to say in August of 2019:
“After 18 years of near constant deployment cycles, all the services are stressed and the Army has given many of their soldiers the deployment downrange that they wanted and more. For the past ten years, dealing with the high operational tempo (OPTEMPO), the Army has gone from 18 month deployments, to 15 month deployments, to 12 month deployments, to 9 month deployments, to six month deployment cycles. Soldiers are eligible for two weeks leave after a six month period within a 12+ month deployment. The Army is trying to reduce the deployment lengths to the 6-9 month zone, but it depends on the unit, mission, and the needs of the Army at the time.”
One of the most sensational cases of alleged criminal conduct on the part of a Navy SEAL was that of Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, who was accused of several counts of criminal conduct including murder. Unfortunately, his case was botched from Day One, and President Trump didn’t help by intervening before the case had run its course. Both the Heritage Foundation and U. S. Submarine Veterans Bremerton Base agreed with the final, eventual, long-delayed disposition of the case on review by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which found Gallagher not guilty of any charge except posing for an inappropriate photograph.
**You have to scroll down to find it: “NCIS Took ‘Corrective Action’ Against Agents In Wake Of SEAL Case”.
SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher has created a foundation for other military members who are wrongly accused or denied justice by the military justice system. You can read about it here.
There is a wildly varying group of supporters – you have to see it to believe it – who have formed “United American Patriots” to defend American military members who are unjustly accused or suffer injustice even from the military justice system. Take a look. The list of supporters will surprise you.
Finally, let’s have a little comic relief! It’s disastrous, it’s expensive, but it’s hilarious! I suspect that Fumblefingers will be peeling potatoes or on latrine duty for the rest of his military career.