Tag Archives: Navy SEALs

Heroic admiral sounds the alarm

Yes, Admiral William McRaven,  I am afraid. I am quite afraid now at the actions of our commander in chief.

Your op-ed in the Washington Post ought to be read by all Americans. Many of us are alarmed at the actions of Donald John Trump since his acquittal in that U.S. Senate impeachment trial.

I get what you wrote, that Trump’s firing of the director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, because he did his duty in informing members of Congress is a clarion call of alarm to all of us. Maguire wanted to blow the whistle on Russian interference on our 2020 election, just as they did in 2016. Trump reacted not out of concern for the integrity of our electoral system, but out of worry that the revelation would harm him politically.

So, yes, your description of Trump’s huge ego jeopardizing our national security is spot on!

As Newsweek.com reported: “Over the course of the past three years, I have watched good men and women, friends of mine, come and go in the Trump administration—all trying to do something—all trying to do their best,” wrote McRaven, who in 2011 oversaw and orchestrated the Navy SEAL raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed. He later wrote, “But, of course, in this administration, good men and women don’t last long.”

No, sir, good men and women don’t last long. That’s because this president wants to surround himself only with those who profess unqualified loyalty to him. Their oaths to the Constitution or to the greater national good do not matter to this guy, the president.

But you know that already, admiral.

I admire your service. I salute you. I honor you. I welcome that you have spoken out. You, sir, have credibility that few other Trump critics possess. It is born of your service as a SEAL and the heroism you displayed on the battlefield and the leadership you showed in directing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Thank you for your service and thank you also for lending your important voice to this important debate over the fitness of Donald Trump to serve as our president.

SEALs spill beans on one of their own

Special operations forces — be they Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, Delta Force or Air Force commandos — generally aren’t inclined to blab about their colleagues unless they have valid reasons to do so.

So, when a group of Navy SEALs tell investigators that one of their own was known to be an out-of-control killer of innocent bystanders, then I believe we ought to listen and take heed.

What’s more, they are talking about a SEAL on whose behalf Donald Trump intervened. He is Navy Chief Edward Gallagher, who was convicted of conduct unbecoming a special operations warrior. Trump decided the Navy acted incorrectly and ordered that Gallagher retain his SEAL Trident emblem. Yes, the commander in chief interceded on behalf of a SEAL who had been found guilty of behaving in a manner not in keeping with the elite fighting force.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was forced to resign over the matter. The president has come under intense — and justified — criticism for meddling in a military command issue. Yes, he is the commander in chief, but that doesn’t make his meddlesome behavior any more correct.

Now the New York Times has heard from a number of SEALs who served with Gallagher as members of SEAL Team 7. They say that Gallagher shot children. The NY Times acquired some video of the SEALs spilling the beans on Gallagher.

According to the Times: “The guy is freaking evil,” Special Operator (Craig) Miller told investigators. “The guy was toxic, ” Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. “You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving,” Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators.

And yet this is the individual who drew the commander in chief’s attention and for whom the president upset the traditional military chain of command. He interceded where he was empowered to go, but where he should have stayed away.

The SEALs who have outed their colleague have told us plenty about the consequence of a president intervening where he didn’t belong. That they would do so while breaking an unwritten rule that they remain silent about their operations tells me about the enormity of what they witnessed.

POTUS takes on another general

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal is back in the news. This time it’s because he happened to say what many of us believe about the president, that he’s, um, a liar.

What is Donald Trump’s response? He fired off this tweet: “General” McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama. Last assignment a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!

Amazing, yes? Well, I think so.

Trump is right that President Obama relieved Gen. McChrystal of his command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal had been critical of Vice President Joe Biden and other civilian officials. Obama would have none of it, so he demanded McChrystal’s resignation.

Now, was his assignment a “total bust”? No. It wasn’t. Not at all.

However, the retired general has decided to re-enter the fray by questioning Donald Trump’s leadership ability. Given his experience at a high level of military command, he is qualified to discuss what he perceives in the commander in chief.

McChrystal has questioned Trump’s decision to militarize the southern U.S. border. He told an ABC News interviewer that he wouldn’t work in the Trump administration because he values honesty at the highest levels of government. He said the president doesn’t fit the bill. He also has spoken positively of Hillary Clinton’s service as secretary of state, which in Trump’s mind makes him a “Hillary lover” and, in his mind, not qualified to discuss anything of substance.

So, here we are . . . again! A president who pretends to respect military men and women is challenging another one who once served at the highest levels of command. Remember how he denigrated retired Admiral William McRaven for not killing Osama bin Laden sooner than he did? McRaven was special operations commander when the Navy SEAL team killed the al-Qaida leader on May 1, 2011.

Trump’s petulance knows no bounds. This thin-skinned chicken hawk should toughen up if he’s going to seek to be thought of as some sort of steel-spined world leader.

However, he won’t.

Rep.-elect Crenshaw showing serious class and dignity

I want to concur with a friend of mine who said over social media that he is beginning to like Dan Crenshaw more each day.

The Texas U.S. representative-elect has reached out to “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson after hearing about the mysterious Instagram post that suggested Davidson might be contemplating suicide.

Davidson, you will recall, mocked Crenshaw on an “SNL” segment, poking fun at the former Navy SEAL’s war wound; Crenshaw lost one of his eyes in Afghanistan when he was hit with an explosive device. Crenshaw showed up on an “SNL” segment to poke fun at Davidson. Crenshaw, a Republican, demonstrated a wonderful sense of humor in response to Davidson’s mocking of him.

Now we see yet another side of Crenshaw. According to Fox News: “I talked to him personally (Sunday),” he said. “We don’t go back very far. We’re not good friends. But I think he appreciated hearing from me. I told him everyone had a purpose in this world. God put you here for a reason. It’s your job to find that purpose. And you should live that way.”

I, too, hope that young Pete Davidson finds his way out of whatever dark place he’s in at the moment. Some heartfelt words of encouragement from a newly elected member of Congress certainly can provide help.

I join Rep.-elect Crenshaw in pulling for Pete Davidson’s sound emotional health.

Yes, I am liking Dan Crenshaw more as well.

Trump doubles down on bin Laden raid criticism . . . but, why?

Donald John Trump had the hubris and the gall to criticize the head of U.S. Special Operations Command for not taking down Osama bin Laden sooner than he did.

Retired Admiral William McRaven coordinated the raid that on May 1, 2011 killed bin Laden in a daring operation. Trump’s response to criticism from McRaven, who said Trump’s assault on the media poses the “greatest threat to democracy” he has seen was to disparage the bin Laden mission.

Here’s my question: What difference would it have made had U.S. intelligence been able to confirm bin Laden’s location earlier and then we killed him earlier.

Everyone with any semblance of common sense knows this truth about bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization he led: Another religious pervert would step in immediately after bin Laden would be taken out. That is what has happened since the SEALs and the CIA operatives killed the monster in Pakistan. It makes no difference when bin Laden met his death.

As for Trump’s assertion that McRaven somehow was responsible for the timing of the raid, I need to remind Trump of one more thing.

McRaven was in the military; his obligation was to follow lawful orders. The order came from President Obama after U.S. intelligence, through painstaking work over the course of two presidential administrations, had concluded without a doubt that bin Laden could be found and eliminated.

All that aside, for the current president — who many refer to as Private Bone Spurs, owing to his avoidance of service during the Vietnam War — to criticize a heroic Navy SEAL who has served with honor and heroism during his decades in uniform is laughable and disgraceful on its face.

RNC backs POTUS in attack on McRaven

Well, here we go.

The Republican National Committee, I guess to few people’s surprise, has backed Donald J. Trump in his idiotic attack on the Navy SEAL who coordinated the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The RNC says that retired Admiral William McRaven “reportedly” was on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s short list of potential running mates when she ran for president in 2016.

Hold … the … phone!

The president went off on McRaven during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” He contended that the Special Operations Command chief was a “Hillary Clinton backer” while he was criticizing him for not getting bin Laden “a lot sooner” than he did.

“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace sought to mention that McRaven was a SEAL at the time of the bin Laden raid, but that didn’t dissuade Trump from alleging that McRaven was some sort of partisan hack.

What a joke!

Whether he was on anyone’s short list is utterly beside the point.

McRaven retired from the Navy after 37 years of service in 2014. Clinton ran for president two years after that. The raid that McRaven coordinated occurred on President Obama’s watch. The date was in May 2011, when McRaven was an active-duty Navy officer.

His colleagues all have testified to a person that McRaven is the consummate military professional who didn’t put politics ahead of his mission. Indeed, he has responded to Trump’s criticism by noting that he served under President George W. Bush as well as under President Obama. Republican or Democrat, it didn’t matter to McRaven.

So, for the president to accuse him of being some sort of cheap partisan disserves not only Admiral McRaven, but also the SEALs as well as other Special Forces troops in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps . . .  not to mention all the men and women who wear the uniform in defense of the country.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone, I suppose, that the RNC would weigh in with its own cheap political shot.

Despicable.

Now they’re offering salutes

AMARILLO, Texas — There’s a first time for everything, as in everything.

Those of us who saw duty in Vietnam have been receiving belated — but still quite welcome — greetings from our fellow travelers.

Today, while walking through a grocery story in west Amarillo, a gentleman saw the “Vietnam Veteran” cap on my noggin and snapped a salute, while thanking me for my service.

My thought in the moment? Oh, my. Moreover, the nature of the salute this fellow snapped told me he, too, once served in the military. I returned his salute and thanked him.

Those of us of a certain age know how it used to be in this country. We didn’t the kind of homecoming that vets are getting these days, and deservedly so!

I actually remember the first time anyone said, “Welcome home” to me after learning I had served for a time in Vietnam. That “welcome” came from a former Vietnam War SEAL and a Medal of Honor recipient. It has stayed with me.

But … that’s ancient history. The nation has rediscovered its respect for veterans.

For that, this veteran will be forever grateful.

Twitter becomes a disgusting weapon

This is one of the things I hate about Twitter.

It can be used for disgraceful purposes, such as what a Chicago man did the other day. Fortunately, it cost him his job.

Daniel Grilo went on Twitter to make a disgusting commentary on the widow of a Navy SEAL who (a) had been killed in combat and (b) had been invited to hear Donald Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress.

The president called attention to Carryn Owens, wife of slain SEAL William “Ryan” Owens. She stood and cried while the audience cheered for her. I guess Grilo didn’t like it. So he posted something utterly distasteful about what he had witnessed on television. He tweeted: “Sorry Owens’ wife, you’re not helping yourself or your husband’s memory by standing there and clapping like an idiot. Trump just used you.”

That’s the bad news. The good news — from my standpoint — is that the financial firm for which he was set to start work dismissed him.

I hate a lot of things about Twitter … although I do use it myself. I have fired off more than 14,600 tweets over the years, but I have sought to avoid the kind of personal insults that we too often read on this social medium.

We all get 140 characters to say whatever it is we want to say. I try to be more discreet than the idiocy fired into cyberspace by the likes of Daniel Grilo.

Grilo did apologize to Mrs. Owens and to the president in subsequent tweets. I’m sorry to inform you, dude, the damage was done and as an old friend once told me, “You cannot unhonk a horn.”

In Trump World: Buck stops … somewhere else

Commanders in chief are supposed to know a fundamental truth about sitting atop a large and complex military chain of command.

They are allowed to take some of the credit for success, but they also must take responsibility when missions don’t go according to plan.

Donald J. Trump signed off on a mission to kill or capture some top al-Qaeda leaders, to collect some intelligence on the terror network and, presumably, to return all the men assigned to carry out the mission back home.

The mission that occurred in Yemen in late January. A Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens died in the fire fight. A state-of-the-art Osprey V-22 tiltrotor aircraft was lost. Some al-Qaeda leaders died in the battle. So did some civilians, including at least one child.

Military and national security officials are still trying to assess the value of the intelligence collected. We keep hearing conflicting assessments. The president, of course, says it is of high value.

But the current commander in chief has done something that is quite extraordinary — and inexcusable. He is laying the blame for Petty Officer Owens’ death on the military planners. “They” lost the SEAL, Trump has said.

Wait a flippin’ minute, Mr. President! The buck is supposed to stop at your desk. One of your predecessors, President Truman, famously posted the sign on his Oval Office desk that said “The Buck Stops Here.” President Kennedy once declared that “victory has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan” after the failed Bay of Pigs operation shortly after he became president.

Trump’s response? He has declared that the planning for the Yemen raid was done by President Obama’s national security team. They crafted the plan that failed, Trump has implied. It’s their fault, too!

This is not what commanders in chief do. Under any other circumstance, presidents stand up and take the heat when things go badly. They do not blame others — namely the military brass or their predecessors. JFK’s failed mission in Cuba was actually conceived by his predecessor, President Eisenhower, but the new guy took the hickey, accepted full responsibility for the mission’s failure.

A military man who just a few years later would become commander in chief himself, devised a strategy to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower — supreme commander of Allied Forces — launched the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France in June 1944. The mission succeeded, Europe would be liberated.

But Ike had written an alternative announcement he would have read over the radio had the mission failed. In the message that was never broadcast, he took full responsibility for its failure.

That is what leaders do.

I am not going to wander into the muck over whether the Yemen raid was a success or failure. The president’s assertion that the generals were to blame for the death of a brave young SEAL suggests to me that he has doubts about the mission’s overall success.

Whatever the case, the event occurred on the commander in chief’s watch and it is that person — no one else — who should be held fully accountable.

Trump declines to mingle with ‘the enemy’

We might have seen this one coming.

Donald J. Trump announced today he won’t attend the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, an event that attracts noted journalists, assorted celebrities and politicians — and usually features a blistering bit of self-deprecation and jabs at others from the president of the United States.

It’s a whole lot of fun for those who attend. At least it’s supposed to be fun.

Trump, though, will forgo the event. “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Is anyone surprised? Really? I didn’t think so. Trump, after all, has labeled the media the “enemy of the people.” Why would he want to mingle with such “dishonest” individuals and organizations?

The president has gone on the warpath against the mainstream media, going so far as to ban certain media organizations from attending routine White House press briefings. He has called them “fake news” outlets. He has accused the media of making stories up, of hiding their sources and attribution.

It is all — if I may borrow a term — “unpresidented” of the president to say these things about the media.

However, the White House Correspondents Dinner has been notable at many levels for many years. Perhaps the most notable event occurred in 2011, when then-President Obama joked about Trump — who was in the audience — concocting all sorts of conspiracy theories, starting with whether the president was born in the U.S. of A. Trump, at the time a mere real estate mogul and reality TV celebrity, took the ribbing stone-faced

What we didn’t know at the time, of course, was that earlier that day Obama had approved the commando mission to kill Osama bin Laden, who was holed up in a Pakistan compound. The president  carried on as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

The dinner, which occurs on April 29, will no doubt include plenty of barbs tossed at the president from the podium.

I’m willing to consider taking bets on whether Trump unloads via Twitter in response when they start flying at him. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, either.