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White House Spokesman Sean Spicer introduced a curious new logic into the analysis of American military action in his most recent press conference. If a service member is killed in action, Spicer appears to believe it ceases to be legitimate for anyone to question the value or success of that action.
Speaking Wednesday to the White House press corps, Spicer said that the recent raid in Yemen was "absolutely a success. I think anyone who would suggest it's not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens."
In other words, because Owens died on the mission, his death trumps, as it were, reasoned analysis.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 8, 2017
As it happens, I am not and do not claim to be equipped to judge the success or failure of the mission in question. I have never had and likely never will have access to the mission records, and will never see whatever intelligence was gathered.
But all of that is entirely irrelevant.
By Spicer’s logic, we no longer have the right even to discuss whether or not a mission or a battle or a war is successful if anyone dies executing it. The dead service member is an argument stopper, that blocks all commentary or criticism. Once someone dies, any declaration of success is unassailable because to question such a declaration is to dishonor the sacrifice of the deceased.
This is, of course, in conflict with how the military itself goes about its business when things are working right, something Spicer, a commander in the Navy Reserve, surely knows. After any contact with the enemy (as well as many other, more mundane activities), the personnel involved conduct after action reviews. These wide-ranging discussions above all require honesty and self-criticism, and a willingness to speak truthfully about how successfully or unsuccessfully a mission achieved its goals. I have attended a couple after-action reviews (for an airshow, of all things), and it was remarkable to see how self-critical people were after an event that to my civilian eye was a gigantic success.
Spicer’s outrageous logic would invert this. From one perspective, any death on a mission is by definition a failure. I know many fine leaders of all ranks, and every single one of them considers the loss of even a single member of the team as a devastating failure that tarnishes even an otherwise glowing success.
Indeed, the perversity of Spicer’s logic is damning. If we are to honor the loss of life that is the tragic but frequent result of military action, we are obliged to be most self-critical when service members die. They serve knowing that they are assuming risks that most of us will never assume — that I have never assumed. We do not dishonor the dead by asking for honest evaluation of a mission, but by pretending — insisting —that the death of a service member must protect political leaders from the consequences of the decisions that put the dead in harm’s way.
Spicer went on to suggest that anyone who “undermines the success” of the raid “owes … an apology” to Owens. Nonsense. Spicer is the only one who owes an apology, for attempting to shield his boss from criticism by hiding behind the death of an American service member. Those who take the risks this SEAL took, and pay the price he paid, deserve much better from our political leaders.
With northeast Syria engulfed in the fog of war, the Turks, Russians, and Kurds have all launched their own propaganda campaigns to win the battle over information.
One of the biggest unknowns at the moment involves exactly how many ISIS fighters and their families previously captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces have managed to escape since Turkey invaded Kurdish-held Syria on Oct. 6, 2019.
But while Defense Secretary Mark Esper has blamed Turkey for catalyzing the release of "many dangerous ISIS detainees", a senior administration official was unable to say on Monday exactly how many ISIS prisoners may have escaped.
Based on open source reporting, about 850 women and children affiliated with ISIS are believed to have fled a detainee camp at Ayn Issa and another five ISIS prisoners escaped from a prison at Qamishli, said Caitlin Forrest, director of operations for the Institute for the Study of War think tank in Washington, D.C.
Few things say "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum" like a Navy amphibious assault craft absolutely covered with Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters ready to bomb an adversary back to the Stone Age.
That's the logic behind the so-called "Lightning Carrier" concept designed to turn those "Gator Navy" amphibs into ad hoc aircraft carriers — and the Corps appears to be moving slowly but surely into turning that concept into a new doctrine for the new era of great power competition.
NTSB releases preliminary report on cause of fatal B-17 plane crash at Bradley International Airport
The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report into the fatal crash of a B-17 bomber crash in Connecticut earlier this month.
Shortly after takeoff at 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, the pilot of the vintage WWII-era plane signaled to air traffic control at Bradley International Airport that he sought to land.
While America's forever wars continue to rage abroad, the streaming wars are starting to heat up at home.
On Monday, the Walt Disney Company announced that its brand new online streaming service, aptly titled Disney+, will launch an all-out assault on eyeballs around the world with an arsenal of your favorite content starting on November 12th. Marvel Cinematic Universe content! Star Wars content! Pixar content! Classic Disney animation content!
While the initial Disney+ content lineup looks like the most overpowered alliance since NATO, there's one addition of particular interest hidden in Disney's massive Twitter announcement, an elite strike force with a unique mission that stands ready to eliminate streaming enemies like Netflix and Hulu no matter where they may hide.
That's right, I'm talking about Operation Dumbo Drop — and no, I am not fucking around.
US officials reportedly considered pulling nuclear weapons out of Turkey, effectively ending the US-Turkey alliance
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that U.S. officials were considering plans to move the U.S. nuclear arsenal from Inçirlik Air Base in Turkey.
This move would be likely to further deteriorate the tense relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, which has rapidly devolved as Turkey invaded northeastern Syria in assault on the Kurdish forces that fought ISIS alongside the U.S.