Tag Archives: Green Berets

Commander in chief shows disregard for military

I have to ask: How in the name of pride in our military does the president of the United States get away with the utter denigration he heaps on distinguished military personnel?

Donald Trump did it (in)famously in 2016 when he said the late U.S. Sen. John McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured.”

Trump went on to win the presidential election after declaring he knows “more about ISIS than the generals.” Then he surrounded himself with current and former four-star officers, proclaiming some sort of phony affinity for the expertise they bring.

And now the latest tumult has erupted. The president has disparaged the May 2011 raid that killed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and, particularly, the man who coordinated that effort, retired Admiral William McRaven.

McRaven, a decorated Navy SEAL, headed the Special Operations Command when President Obama issued the order to kill bin Laden.

Trump now says we should have taken bin Laden down “a lot sooner.” Again, the commander in chief has denigrated a war hero and has mocked the effort that was carried out with precision and professionalism by a dedicated team of SEALs, Army Green Beret pilots and CIA deep-cover operatives.

Moreover, he gets away with it! The “base” that adores him gives him a pass. They don’t care that the commander in chief thinks so little of the brave men and women who volunteer to do something that the president waffled on when he had the chance when he was of draft age during the Vietnam War.

I do not get it. I never will get it.

Good news: Osama bin Laden is still dead

I have been grappling emotionally with how I should approach the crux of this next blog post.

I’ll start with the positive aspect first. Seven years ago today, a group of Navy SEALs, along with CIA operatives flew into Pakistan under the darkness of a moonless night. They departed their helicopters and killed Osama bin Laden, the world’s most notorious international terrorist — and the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks on New  York and Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama issued the order after examining months of intelligence-gathering. Our anti-terror effort found bin Laden in a compound in Abbattobad, Pakistan. The president then issued the order to take bin Laden out.

The team performed flawlessly. There were no casualties on our side of the fight.

The president made a gutsy call and to his great credit, praised the work of our nation’s anti-terrorist efforts that began during President George W. Bush’s administration.

The SEAL team delivered justice to Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. It could have gone badly, causing the president irreparable political harm.


Then a curious development arose not long after bin Laden’s death. One of the SEAL team members, Robert O’Neill, stepped forward to take credit for firing the shots that killed the despicable terrorist.

O’Neill’s public pronouncement drew immediate criticism from others in the military, notably those who serve in special forces such as the Army Green Berets, other SEALs and Air Force rescue commandos. They said O’Neill violated a code among those who serve in this high-risk, high-danger form of military service. That code is designed to protect the identities of those who actually pull the trigger on fatal shots. The Marine Corps calls it “espirit de corps,” or “spirit of the group.” No single team member should stand above or in front of the rest of the members of his team.

O’Neill violated that code by speaking out.

But now he’s coming to Amarillo later this month to speak at a public event designed to honor our nation’s veterans.

I am torn over this. O’Neill’s service as a SEAL deserves a nation’s eternal gratitude. I just wish organizers of the Amarillo event could have found a keynote speaker who hadn’t violated a code that aims to prevent our elite fighters from seeking individual glory.

Syria fight to get some U.S. ground help


I have great respect and admiration for U.S. Sen. John McCain.

The Arizona Republican, though, needs to stop insisting that it’s time to put more American “boots on the ground” in places where they don’t belong.

President Obama has ordered 250 U.S. Special Forces to Syria to “assist and advise” frontline troops who are battling the Islamic State.


McCain’s reaction was quite predictable. He called the deployment a “welcome” development but then said it is “insufficient” and is doomed to fail.

I happen to disagree with the failure prediction.

Having said that, I am troubled by the way the president has described the troops’ assignment. He said they aren’t going to be “combat” troops. I am forced to say, merely, “Huh?”

The troops will comprise mostly Army Special Forces … Green Berets and Rangers. These folks are trained to the hilt to, um, fight.

I strongly suspect that if, in the process of advising and assisting the Syrians, that these special operations troops find themselves engaging ISIL terrorists that they’ll know what to do.

The soldiers who are joining the fight against ISIL are going to deliver maximum damage to the terror organization.

On one hand, Sen. McCain should reel back his desire to send thousands more ground forces back into battle.

On the other hand, the president of the United States ought to quit soft-pedaling the threat of combat that awaits these forces.


Do women belong in combat?

U.S. Army Soldiers conduct combatives training during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, Ga., April 20, 2015. Soldiers attend Ranger school to learn additional leadership and small unit technical and tactical skills in a physically and mentally demanding, combat simulated environment. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dacotah Lane/Released Pending Review)

At the risk of being labeled an unreconstructed male chauvinist — and you can add “pig” to it if you wish — I want to offer a view or two about a story that’s been giving me heartburn when I first heard about it.

Two women, both West Point graduates, have completed the U.S. Army’s highly intense Ranger training. Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver went through precisely the same training regimen as their male colleagues.

They deserve high praise and congratulations for completing the course and for earning the admiration of their fellow soldiers, some of whom said the two women rendered critical assistance on the training field.

One of the women is a military police officer; the other flies Apache helicopters. They know the risks associated with the hazardous military duty.

But I keep wondering about this question: Is the percentage of dropout rates among women greater or fewer than it is for men because they cannot meet the strenuous physical requirements of becoming a Ranger?

I am thrilled that these two fine soldiers completed the Ranger training successfully. They now are certified as being among the Army’s elite fighters. But they aren’t going to be assigned front-line combat duty — at least not until the Pentagon decides to deploy women to serve in infantry, armor or artillery units.

There’s been plenty of praise for these two women, who demonstrated that they are as physically capable as their male colleagues to serve as Rangers. I join in praising Capt. Griest and Lt. Haver.

Do they represent the norm among all female soldiers who might want to become Rangers, or Green Berets, or Navy SEALs, Marine commandos, or Air Force special forces?

I keep thinking they’re the exception rather than the rule.

That is what makes me hesitate to endorse the idea of sending women into ground combat.

Heck, women already have engaged in combat operations — flying high-performance aircraft or serving in civil affairs units in hostile territory.

Am I out of step? Maybe. I’ll live with it.



Bastrop County preps for ‘invasion’?

Here’s an interesting take on the upcoming military exercise planned by U.S. Special Forces, including Green Berets and SEALs, in Bastrop County, Texas.

It comes from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who served in the Clinton administration Cabinet.


As the U.S. military prepares to launch one of the largest training exercises in history later this month in Texas, many of the residents of Bastrop County suspect a secret Obama plot to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law. They aren’t “nuts and wackos. They are concerned citizens, and they are patriots,” Albert Ellison, chairman of the Bastrop Republican Party tells the Washington Post. Bastrop’s former mayor, Terry Orr, says the fear “stems a fair amount from the fact that we have a black president,” who people believe is primarily concerned with the welfare of “illegal aliens” and blacks. “People think the government is just not on the side of the white guy.” The current Bastrop mayor, Kenneth Kesselus, says the distrust is due in part to a sense that “things aren’t as good as they used to be,” especially economically. “The middle class is getting squeezed and they’ve got to take it out on somebody, and Obama is a great target.”

An economic recovery that only enriches the top breeds bigotry and invites scapegoating. It has happened before in history.

What do you think?


Here’s what I think. I think Reich’s comment about nature of the current recovery breeding “bigotry” and “scapegoating” is right on target. I also believe that’s just part of what’s fueling this mistrust of the military. I think some of it involves visceral loathing of the commander in chief by those who’ve bought into the myriad conspiracy theories surrounding his election, re-election and his service as president of the United States.

The crackpot Internet baloney that went viral around the world about the so-called Jade Helm 15 exercise being part of some plot by President Obama to declare martial law is a symptom of what’s become of the flow of rumors that get passed around as “information.”

Those who read this stuff, buy into it and then pass it along to gullible friends and acquaintances are contributing to the poisoning of what used to be considered reasonable political discourse.

And look at the comments of the former Bastrop mayor who suggests some of it stems from the president’s racial heritage. Is he right? You be the judge.

Abbott joins conspiracy crowd

Greg Abbott is no idiot.

There. I’ve just declared that the Texas governor, who’s been in office about three months, really isn’t one of the nut jobs who’ve circulated goofy rumors on the Internet about a federal takeover of the states.

But you have to wonder why Abbott would put the Texas State Guard on alert during a federal military exercise slated to occur this summer. He said he wants to protect Texans’ liberties. Against the U.S. Army, for crying out loud?


Jade Helm 15 is a major military exercise being planned in conjunction with Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets. Some crackpots have suggested the feds are going to “invade” Texas. Take us over. Impose martial law.

Abbott seems to be reacting to that nonsense by ordering the Texas State Guard to “monitor” the exercise.

As Dallas Morning News editorial writer/blogger Jim Mitchell noted: “He gives ‘legitimacy’ to the chatter in a backhanded sort of way.”

I’ve known Abbott for a few years, going back to when he was serving as a Texas Supreme Court justice and as Texas attorney general. He’s always seemed to be a reasonable, thoughtful and careful conservative Republican. I actually like him personally.

Then the TEA party faction started gaining traction within the GOP and Abbott has adopted a more ferocious posture. I find it more than a little unbecoming, truth be told.

The Texas State Guard shouldn’t have to be asked to protect Texans’ “safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties” just because the U.S. military is conducting exercises in the state.

This looks for all the world like a reaction to cockamamie Internet nonsense.

Intended or not, Gov. Abbott should be smarter than to send out such a message.

This SEAL is making me angry

Forgive me for the mild case of potty mouth language I’m about to inject into the blog post, but …

Robert O’Neill is starting to piss me off.

O’Neill is the former Navy SEAL who shot Osama bin Laden to death on May 2, 2011 — allegedly.


He’s now speaking to Fox News about the dangerous mission he and the rest of SEAL Team Six executed in the middle of a moonless night in Pakistan. The order given by the commander in chief was as straightforward as it gets: Kill the world’s most notorious terrorist.

They did it with cool precision.

Now comes O’Neill and at least one other SEAL who offer supposedly conflicting accounts of who — precisely — pulled the trigger on bin Laden.

O’Neill told Fox News that, by golly, he “expected” to be killed on the mission.

He said this in an interview set to air this evening, according to ABCNews.com: “‘We’re going to die when the house blows up. We’re going to die when he blows up. Or we’re going to be there too long and we get arrested by the Pakistanis, and we’re going to spend the rest of our short lives in Pakistani prison,’ O’Neill said in an interview for a Fox News Channel special set to air tonight. ”

Well, duh?

Of course the mission was fraught with maximum peril. That’s supposed to be a serious news flash?

What’s so maddening about all of this, of course, is that O’Neill is breaking a long-standing code among SEALs and, for that matter, special operations forces of all the military branches — and that includes Army Green Berets, Joint Delta Force units, and Air Force commandos. It is that you do not speak openly about these highly classified missions. More to the point, you do not take credit for the successes accomplished by the entire team.

Here goes one of those SEALs, a highly trained warrior who helped execute  a mission of intense personal danger to all the men who took part. He’s doing precisely what the code says he shouldn’t do: basking in the glory of a mission that captivated the world.

It was a team effort, correct?




SEAL shooter seeks glory

Robert O’Neill says it “doesn’t matter” if he’s the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden.

So, why is he talking about it?


I must confess to a certain disgust in recent months over the discussion about who among the commando team actually put a bullet into the world’s most wanted terrorist. The SEALs — along with other special ops units, such as the Green Berets and the Delta Force — have a code that says members guard against revealing who does what to whom.

That code has been broken, it seems, by SEAL team members who now are taking public credit for their actions in the May 2011 raid that resulted in bin Laden’s death.

The one thing that O’Neill said in a CNN interview that doesn’t disgust me is his assertion that “He (bin Laden) died afraid, and he knew we were there to kill him. And that’s closure.” Do you think?

Some heavily armed men break into your compound, point high-powered assault rifles at your head. Yeah, anyone — even a monster like bin Laden — would be “afraid.”

The code that O’Neill has broken states that special operations forces must not seek personal attention for the participation in team efforts. Yet here he is, telling the world he’s the shooter — and then saying “it doesn’t matter.”

The fact that he keeps talking about tells me something quite different.

Yes it does matter. If it didn’t, this former commando never would have brought it up.

Community vs. military policing

When Jerry Neal became chief of the Amarillo Police Department in 1981, he introduced a concept that was still fairly new in departments across the nation.

It is called “community policing.” It puts officers in close contact with residents. It encourages more person-to-person contact, seeking to make cops more like best pals rather than intimidating forces to be feared.

If given a choice between community police strategies and a military-style presence in our streets, I’ll stick with the former rather than the latter.

Now we hear that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has the authority to cease giving surplus military equipment to police departments. Mr. Secretary, stop the practice at least until the nation gets a clear and full understanding of what has gone so terribly wrong in Ferguson, Mo.


“The secretary has the authority to rescind and take back equipment that is transferred to local law enforcement agencies if he deems fit. He has that authority,” said Pentagon Rear Adm. John Kirby.

I believe Hagel should “deem fit” a suspension of the policy that provides police agencies the surplus equipment.

Police militarization has become one of the focal points of the Ferguson upheaval, after a young black man was shot to death by a white police officer in the suburb of St. Louis. The cops responded initially with officers donning body armor and weaponry befitting a Green Beret platoon or SEAL team. Let’s just say it didn’t play well in the community.

Emotions will have to settle down considerably in Ferguson for any meaningful change to take hold.

When it’s all over, I’d settle gladly for more community policing efforts in all departments.

Maybe someone ought to call Jerry Neal, who’s now retired, and ask him for some sage advice on how this principle works.