AN Security

In Defense of the US Navy Seals

In blackwater killings, courts martial, national security, navy seals, war in iraq on November 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Is the U.S. Turning against its own forces? In defense of the U.S. Navy Seals

Psychological warfare

What is happening to our brave sailors is such a deep insult to our national honor that I am almost overcome with fear. This fear is about what seems to be a growing trend to use not only regular combat troops and other military personnel as pawns but a direct attack on personnel fighting with the elite forces. We need these guys, we really need people with the moral and physical strength to go into that dark battlefield and wage the quite fight while the rest of us sleep tight. In my service I have met many a great special forces person and noticed they have not only a great deal of pride and professionalism, but they do what they do because of love of country, and because they have purpose. They also show sense of humor in spite of the dangers they face and it’s encouraging to know that these people are dedicated to protecting our way of life and sacrifice their own safety.

Soon after the invasion of Iraq I met a young former Marine who was trying to get back in the field after the Blackwater personnel were brutally murdered in Fallujah. Well, it turned out one of those guys was his cousin. I could see where he was going and why. Frankly I would have done the same thing; to find a way to deploy and be part of the war effort. Truly, the pursuit of justice for those men was a huge task but a noble one as Americans don’t leave their own behind and this was a most egregious act. The enemy we’re facing has no fear of death, no fear or shame in destroying the innocent, even their own people. Their objective is to inflict psychological harm as well; a most lasting effect in everyone who encounters them in battle. To find the ringleader of this atrocity against Americans should have been the biggest positive story of the year. Finally, justice is done and the bad guy caught alive to answer for his crimes, but not today

In having said that, we should have seen this coming. The accelerated troop drawdown last June set off cause and effect issues that changed the role of our armed forces in Iraq, placing them at greater risk. I’m not surprised to see the Iraqi authorities complain about an alleged case of prisoner abuse. What we’re not looking at closely anymore is that back in June the U.S. so eagerly shoved the turnover of responsibilities to the Iraqi government and Iraqi forces to suit the political agenda. It was the result of an election year promise. Let’s get those troops out of Iraq and start focusing on the war in Afghanistan, right? So there was political urgency to get the pullout started right away; after all, Mr. Obama was going to bring hope and change. May I offer another more plausible cause for this persecution of Navy Petty Officers Matthew McCabe, Jonathan O’Keefe and Julio Huertas?

Nothing happens in Iraq or Afghanistan without the US State Department being involved. The big push was to rush nation building while there was still a shooting war going on (and still is so), which goes against the very nature of nation building or stability operations. Once the agreements to return sovereignty to the Iraqis were concluded, many an Iraqi citizen probably feared for their futures. We should have also noticed that one of the most vulnerable times for troops to be targeted by insurgents is during a drawdown. The enemy is smart enough to study our order of battle and do plan how they are going to mitigate our strategies. This is not news, of course. The Iraqis are not ready to go at it alone. Anyone who has the presence of mind to observe how these people adapt to all these changes, the advent of self-rule, the introduction of western-style rule of law can be too overwhelming for them to absorb in a short period of time. Remember that this war has been going on for eight years and this is not an overnight process but for the political agenda, expediency is the order of the day and with expediency comes danger.

The turnover caused the rules of engagement to change drastically. US-led coalition forces suddenly went from advisors to followers waiting in the sidelines and wondering if each and every mission will be successful and if they will make it. The restrictions on patrols and searches have placed the Iraqi forces up front, which normally would be ideal, and forced US forces to step back and watch and sometimes unable to participate directly. Iraqis for the most part want to improve their lives and want the help we’re giving them however the trend we see here has a terrible impact on troop morale, it opens up elite forces for public scrutiny (will these guys be able to go back to conducting black ops after their names have been made public?). At this point there is clearly no objective for US troops to be there if the Iraqis are in charge. The Green Zone has shrunk to almost nothing and US personnel are surrounded by Iraqis who have been thrust more responsibility overnight. This does not mean that responsibility is applied; it only means that the power shifts lack balance.

Iraqi forces – military and police – consume time, manpower, fuel, food, transportation, instruction and political support from US forces every day. I cannot describe how we have spent with abandon to nurture a culture so different than ours and only to take a back seat (read this for some insight http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/06winter/felicetti.pdf). What happened with these Seals is simple; as the CIA has been targeted as the bad guys; the abuse of prisoners, scandals over contract interrogators and such, this is the culmination of the trend. Unfortunately it could not have come at a worst time. America could have used a big intelligence and counterintelligence win like this one to show how we fight and to further encourage pursuing more of these terrorists.

One case in point is the infamous show thrower, Muntazer al-Zaidi (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraqi-shoe-thrower-beaten-in-custody-1192844.html), a reporter who so brazenly broke with Iraqi and Islamic custom by showing disrespect to a head of state. After the shoe-throwing incident Mr. al-Zaidi was arrested by local authorities and locked up until his hearing. After a prolonged incarceration he was released and he promptly claimed he had been beaten while incarcerated. Back then there was no backlash to US forces and such because the Iraqis had placed him under arrest and had him in custody but there is a strong correlation between the two incidents. There is no question that the Iraqi police had a history of civil and human rights abuses before the US-led invasion in 2003 which came to a violent and abrupt end only days and weeks after the invasion as Iraqis realized they were ‘free’ to exact revenge of police and other government officials. It was total chaos.

Ultimately, even Iraqis don’t trust their own military and police forces often calling on US and Coalition troops to conduct patrols (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article6157590.ece). They feel safer with the US there and still do not trust their own people. That should tell you that if Iraqis have trouble trusting their law enforcement then you can imagine abusive prisoner treatment is not so far off the mark. What I’m saying is, let’s not take these charges at face value just yet. I would not trust Iraqi justice or law enforcement over our own people.

Admiral’s Mast versus Courts Martial

A bench trial, after being accused for a simple ‘assault’ is about fighting for their personal and professional honor. These sailors do not want to be punished for something that was probably staged and even if was true; these types of missions, such as the one which led to this terrorist’s capture can sometimes go down easily or very violently. The fact that the captured terrorist is alive and in one piece shows the Seals’s dedication and strong ethic in that they want the guy to be tried for this terrible crime but do not be confused for a moment; Iraq is still a shooting war. This is not a law enforcement mission either. This is an enemy combatant being captured. So if he gives himself a fat lip in his cell wanting to exploit our judicial system is not surprising since the Obama administration has set the precedent of affording terrorists and other enemies of the state full-blown citizen status. It was wise for these sailors to choose a Courts Martial over mast (NJP or Non-Judicial Punishment or process under article 15).

I’d skip the mast myself. The only way to clear their names and re-focus our attention on the real issue of national security is to showcase it and very publicly. Perhaps a defense fund should be accrued now; it may be a long process. By offering these sailors the option of Mast would cover up the situation and take away their right to fully address a wrong and those of us who have served in the military should remember that is a right within the UCMJ. Article 138 addresses the right of the service member to defend against a wrong caused by the commanding officer, whether it is unfair treatment and application of regulations (discrimination) or even frivolous charges. This is clearly a defamation of character case though I wonder who is the ultimate authority making the charge, the CO or a higher authority?

This is a serious national security threat. Navy Seals have published their names in the media because they were forced to defend their honor. Also, troop morale is affected and must be watched because it’s evident that serving in the US Armed Forces has become a criminal act. This case has almost the same effect as Tokyo Rose had on Allied forces. Little by little the good guys are made out to be the enemy.

In the meantime, the enemy grows stronger and they are quick studies.

Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,576646,00.html

Iraq Restricts U.S. Forces: U.S. Commanders are concerned about new Iraqi restrictions on American troops

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/17/AR2009071703634.html

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: