Super 6-1, twenty years later


I tire of hearing "The Battle of Mogadishu" (aka "Blackhawk Down") labelled as a defeat.  As a bloody, black eye, on the history of our Military Operations.  People forget that the military, at least in this country (and many, many more around the world), does not operate on its own.  It does not just up and decide to go into places like Mogadishu to beat up on some mean old warlord who is starving his own people.  Military operations are supposed to be, the extreme last resort of political interactions.  This operation was the very same one where the first teams coming ashore were met with TV News cameras because of "leaks".

This raid was a rousing success!  The rangers and other special operations teams inserted and obtained their objectives.  When this helicopter was shot down, while a heartbreaking experience for the families of those men, is a part of war.  People are shooting at you!  They intend to do harm to you!  Warfare is not an even exchange where we are trying to make sure everyone goes home with a trophy. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson said it best with this sentiment, "The time for war has not yet come, but... ...when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard."  It is the objective of any armed force, to inflict as much violence upon their enemy so as to break their will to fight back.

This country has forgotten what the true toll of combat is.  World War II was the last time the U.S. truly appreciated, and SUPPORTED their troops.  It began to wane after that, through the Korean War, and then even more so during the "Police Action" known as Vietnam.  It has gotten so that the American population is revolted by the casualties we have sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.(1)While i have personal issues with the 'causes' of heading into Iraq, people have obviously forgotten the 'why' we are in Afghanistan... for those confused about the latter, please review your history of 11-September-2001.

Our politicians are too flippant in their unleashing of the "hounds" of the U.S. Military (arguably, THE best military the world has ever seen to date).  While i disagreed with the "whys" for the Iraq "II" involvement, and still do today, once those boots hit the ground, the only option in "Supporting our Troops" is to let the leash loose, and let the "Dogs of War" do what they are trained to do - within the rules outlined in the Geneva Convention(2) of course.  But, it HAS to be understood that once the bullets start flying, people are going to die - and THAT is why 'armed conflict', so casually tossed around needs to be held so much more sacred.  War devastates all involved.  From the men and women at the tip of the spear, to the locations where the engagements are fought, to the support systems of both sides - to include the very families of the men and women on the ground.

The engagement now known as "Blackhawk Down" is, to me, a resounding success story of our elite special operations teams.  These men swooped in, obtained their objective in efficient and spectacular fashion, and - even after "the shit hit the fan" and the battle plan went out the window - they regrouped, secured the prisoners, the wounded, and the dead, and managed to get all but six (four crewmen from 'Super 6-4', and the two Delta Snipers, Randy Shugart and Gary Gordan) of their fellow soldiers, back to base.  Yes (approximately) 100 of the 160 (and again, approximately) were either dead or wounded, but they fulfilled that promise to never leave a man behind (they eventually secured the bodies of the Delta Operators and bodies of the crewmen, and later obtained the release of CWO Durrant), but considering the numbers of enemy combatants they were constantly engaged against while they were out there, this is an AMAZING feat.

The "failure" of situations like Mogadishu, Iraq, etc., is not in the soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines - it is the men and women who put them in those situations, and then failed to "support the troops".  They allowed political positioning, image, and pride, to interfere, not realizing that they failed them before those combat losses ever took place.

If you are going to commit the lives of men, women, and engage in combat operations, don't give them an empty clip to put in their weapon, or impede their ability to fight and defend themselves by ludicrously complicated "rules of engagement.(3)

I encourage everyone to take the time, read the first hand reports, and learn the details of how things went.
A Special shout out of thanks to the teams at SpecialOps.Org (they brought the 60 Minutes YouTube footage to my attention via Facebook) and 11Bravos (they shared the 'Grunt' picture above), for their tireless support of our men and women in uniform.

  1. I am not dismissing, or diminishing, the sacrifices of these men and women, and/or their families.  Their deaths, and lingering injuries, are not 'little' things.  I truly believe the saying, "The ultimate sacrifice", because that is exactly what it is.  One can simply not give more than their futures, either in severe injury or in death.
  2. I am not a fan of using Wikipedia as a source, but it can be useful, so long as one checks the sources, etc. that they cite.
  3. Please do note assume that i believe in just shooting and blowing everything up.  That is NOT the case at all.  But take the time, try and think through the eyes of the "boots on the ground" and try and get just a fragment of a picture of what they have to deal with, all the while there are people shooting at you.

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