When I was a new guy at SEAL Team 3 there was a Warrant Officer with the nickname “Half Ass.” He earned the name because he had half of it (his ass) shot off during enemy contact with the north Vietnamese. It was a great time to be a SEAL because we had a handful of the old school Vietnam guys still around the Team area, and listening to their stories was fascinating.
A lot has changed since then, and a decade of war with back-to-back combat deployments has done some serious damage to the lives and families of the SOF community. The guys I speak with are stretched thin these days. Best we take care of them, and not waste resources on half baked intervention plans. This includes many SOF veterans who now serve within the CIA’s paramilitary groups.
It’s hard not to get angry when I think of some armchair quarterback in DC who’s been to the safety of the Green Zone in Iraq, and now considers himself/herself an expert on conflict and what’s best for the Warfighter.
I was reading up on Syria this morning and couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust as I made my usual rounds on the web, and came across this article that the NY Times wrote. The President, Congress, and the Senate are an embarrassment as a whole these days. Infighting and political jockeying outweigh real leadership. And now we’re seeing another half ass effort in Syria, and for what? What’s the end goal, who will fill the void if the regime is toppled? Would love to hear about your plan, Mr. Kerry.
Check out the NY Times piece below, and you’ll see what I mean. It reads like that HBO series on Rome.
From the New York Times
WASHINGTON — A month ago Obama administration officials promised to deliver arms and ammunition to the Syrian rebels in the hope of reversing the tide of a war that had turned against an embattled opposition.
But interviews with American, Western and Middle Eastern officials show that the administration’s plans are far more limited than it has indicated in public and private.
In fact, the officials said, the administration’s plans to use the C.I.A. to covertly train and arm the rebels could take months to have any impact on a chaotic battlefield. Many officials believe the assistance is unlikely to bolster the rebellion enough to push President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to the negotiating table.
The plans call for the C.I.A. to supply only small arms, and to only a limited segment of the opposition — the actual numbers are unclear. In addition, much of the training, which is to take place over months in Jordan and Turkey, has not yet started, partly because of Congressional objections.
The cautious approach reflects the continued ambivalence and internal divisions of an administration that still has little appetite for intervention in Syria, but has been backed into a corner after American and European spy agencies concluded that Syrian government troops had used chemical weapons against the rebels. Mr. Obama had declared the use of chemical weapons to be a “red line” leading to American action.
Many in the administration say they are still seeking to satisfy themselves that they have taken all precautions possible to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of Islamic extremists in Syria. To them, the plan carries echoes of previous American efforts to arm rebels in Angola, Nicaragua and elsewhere, many of which backfired. There is also fear at the White House that Mr. Obama will be dragged into another war in the Middle East.
But others, particularly many in the State Department, argue that the United States must intervene to prevent a further deterioration of security in the region and to stop a humanitarian crisis that is spiraling out of control, officials said.
“In my meetings with American policy makers I often detect a conversation between ghosts,” said Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador in Washington, speaking of the debate. “The ghosts of Afghanistan and Iraq are vying with the ghosts of Rwanda and Kosovo.”
The plan — made possible after Mr. Obama signed a secret “finding” that circumvents international laws prohibiting lethal support to groups trying to overthrow a sitting government — continues to face bipartisan skepticism in Congress.
Read more here.
Main photo courtesy: NPR