This is a preemptive call to the media and Democrats — a plea — to not try to turn this month’s Special Forces operation in Niger into another Benghazi-style controversy. What happened to the fallen Special Forces men in Africa is not comparable to what happened in Benghazi. Nor should what happened in the course of that African operation be used as a brickbat to bludgeon President Trump.
Let me state up front, too, that I am in no way making an argument one way or the other when it comes to Benghazi, and specifically, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s actions in the course of that event. Simply put, I was not there, I do not know the details, and I am not comfortable wading into that fight. Others with firsthand knowledge of those events can and have carried that water.
I should also clarify that I am not referring to how the President might have handled his call to the family of fallen soldier Sergeant LaDavid Johnson in the aftermath of the Niger operation. That has turned into its own separate controversy. I am leaving that one alone. I am supremely uncomfortable critiquing the sacred moment when a President calls the family of a fallen American service member. I do not believe that should ever be turned into a political issue. We need boundaries when it comes to what we politicize here in America, and I think this issue crosses one of those boundaries.
Now, most of you that read my material here on SOFREP, and who follow me on Twitter, probably have surmised that I am not the world’s biggest Donald J. Trump fan. There are plenty of legitimate issues over which to criticize the current President. The Niger operation, however, is not one of them. I do not think he bears responsibility for what might have gone wrong there.
U.S. Army Special Forces, first off, operate across the globe performing their Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission, among others. They operate alongside indigenous forces, and they operate out front of, and without, the protection of conventional U.S. military forces. Immediate air support is not always available. Adequate intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support is rarely ever provided. They know that, and they operate where they do anyway, because their mission is so important.
To attempt to blame a presidential administration for those things not being available is unfair. Army SF does not rely on those assets because they know they will not always have them. Furthermore, to cite an ambush of U.S. Special Forces as some kind of “intelligence failure” is also misleading and wrong. Ambushes are an unfortunate and inevitable danger when a unit is operating in a war zone, or even a zone where militant or terrorist groups maintain a robust presence.
The Special Forces troops were in the region for a reason, after all, because it is judged that there is an enemy presence in the area that merits the presence of an American force that can work together with local forces to keep that enemy presence in check. We want our forces there, and we need them there, to make sure that the region does not become another safe zone for terrorist groups to plan attacks on America and Americans.
You can never manage the risk out of military operations in a hostile area. It simply cannot be done. No risk assessment or administration can ever make it entirely safe for American forces to operate in those areas. To ask them to do so is unfair and unrealistic. This is not a situation where a U.S. diplomatic facility came under attack, such that questions were then raised as to why it was not defended properly, and why the response to the attack was not adequate. The two scenarios are not the same.
One should not allow political motivations to drive them to use this military operation as a political weapon. Those who would do so are doing no beneficial service to the men who lost their lives there, nor to the many others still out there on the front lines trying to get the job done.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia.