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Is Trump At Fault For The Yemen Raid? One Army Ranger Doesn’t Think So
On January 28th, only a week after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, a small team of Navy SEALs raided a high value target located in Yemen. The mission was costly to both sides, with Chief Petty Officer William Owens killed in action, in addition to three more SEALs wounded in the fight. Fourteen militants were killed on the raid, along with reports of dozens of civilian non-combatants being killed during the course of the mission.
Critics have hammered the President on his decision to green light the mission, including Owens’ father, as well as his response to those same critics. Some have said he should have been in the situation room monitoring the mission, while others have said planning and intelligence was lackluster. Owens’ father has also questioned whether it was appropriate for a ground attack to take place instead of “missiles and drones.”
To criticize Trump for not taking full responsibility for the outcomes of the raid is entirely fair. In an interview with Fox & Friends that aired this morning, the president said, "This was a mission that started before I got here. This is something that they [the generals] wanted to do. They came to see me; they explained what they wanted to do.” Although he is certainly not the first president to act this way, Trump is essentially trying to pass the buck on to President Barack Obama as well as his current military leadership.
I can’t help but feel disgusted every time a politician does this. As a leader, and especially as the sitting president of the United States, you should do nothing but accept all the blame for any shortcomings or failures regardless of the mission. In times of success, you should be humble enough to give all the praise to those in your charge. Doing anything less is the mark of a weak backbone.
That said, it’s unfair for the critics to expect that Trump would be in charge of vetting the planning and execution of this raid, as opposed to trusting his advisors. His error was not in giving this mission the go-ahead.
The mission in question was allegedly targeting Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula. He is still at large, and considered the third most dangerous terrorist in the world. The Obama administration had sat on the target for months, eventually passing it off to the Trump team. That’s not surprising, as many lame duck presidents are not willing to do anything overly risky during their final days in office. When presidents do act, however, the extent of their involvement usually ends after they give the green light.
I have been in the room when missions that required presidential approval were being planned, and I can tell you that I never saw President George W. Bush or President Obama sitting next to the route planner as he configured primary and alternate paths to the objective. I never saw a president weigh in on the conversation about whether to land on the X or do an offset infil. I’ve never heard of a president sitting in the JOC watching the predator feed and counting how many pax were on target. These are just things that presidents don’t do.
A president is the commander in chief. He does not deal with anything at the tactical level. He is briefed on the strategic implications during the pitch they receive on these high level missions, and then he makes a decision after conferring with other advisors on any potential policy implications. Once that decision has been made, those who will be on the ground as well as those who directly support them will go through the mission planning process. At this point in the war on terror, this is a process that is nearly second nature for special operations forces.
To that end, when bad things happen on target, the president doesn’t have any control, and probably won’t even be aware of it until after the mission is over. I think the American people seeing a picture of the Obama team intently staring at what was probably a live feed of the Osama bin Laden raid may have misled them to suppose the Commander in Chief watches every high-risk mission go down. With the exception of the mission to kill bin Laden, that never happens. I can assure you that when the same unit that performed this Yemen raid killed Linda Norgrove on a botched hostage rescue mission, Obama was not watching a live feed or directing the troops on the ground. Obama (correctly) wasn’t blamed for her death either.
As Americans, we have grown accustomed to laser-guided precision bombs and special operations troops capable of regularly pulling off the seemingly impossible with surgical precision. Don’t be fooled by that. War is bloody, it’s messy, and people die. Sometimes it’s not just the bad guys either. It doesn’t matter who the president is, what happens on the field of battle is often uncontrollable and erratic. As much as I disagree with him on other facets of his presidency thus far, he was right to trust the military to pull this mission off. He should not be blaming them for what went wrong, but he should not be blamed for trusting them.
The Joint Special Operations Command has a track record of overwhelming success in these types of missions, there was no reason to believe they couldn’t pull it off. We should all join him in mourning the death of one of our best. If trying to kill or capture the third most dangerous terrorist in the world isn’t worth that risk, then I don’t know what is.
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.