SEALs ELIMINATE BIN LADEN, JUSTIFICATION FOR AFGHAN WAR AND PAKISTAN SUPPORT
The two dozen commandos who stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound and killed that evil menace with bullets to the head and chest are part of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six. They entered the compound at about 1AM Pakistan Standard Time on Monday, May 2 (3PM Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, May 1) and then proceeded through multiple points of entry to create a chaotic environment inside, precisely the kind of surprise and disarray on which they depend to overwhelm their opponents. They, along with the Army’s Delta Force, are the face of elite American military power in the world, capable of eliminating those abroad who murder Americans with surprise, stealth, overwhelming yet precise force, and complete anonymity. SEAL Team Six has conducted successful missions to destroy key value targets in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan, most of which are still secret. They rescued USS Maersk Captain Richard Phillips in 2009 when he was being held by Somali pirates in a lifeboat. Within the last year, the SEALS have quadrupled their attacks in Afghanistan. The Delta Force works largely in Iraq, where their units captured Saddam Hussein in 2003 and killed Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay earlier that same year. The unilateral U.S. mission that successfully eliminated Bin Laden cuts the legs out of arguments offered by the Administration to justify the Afghan War and financial support for Pakistan. We should end the war and Pakistan funding and dedicate the $111 billion per year in savings to funding the national debt.
The federal government denies the existence of SEAL Team Six, the special operations force that killed Bin Laden, because the unit’s membership and operations are closely guarded state secrets. It is instead known officially as part of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (“DEVGRU”), headquartered in Dam Neck, Virginia, under the Joint Special Operations Command (also having tactical supervision of the Army’s Delta Force). SEAL (which stands for Sea, Air, Land) is a Navy unit whose members (referred to within the military as “all stars”) spend almost every day of the year engaged in intense physical and psychological training exercises in preparation for stealth captures and kills. Sharp, physically fit, cool under intense pressure, capable of performing at the highest states of readiness in all kinds of environments, and fearless, the SEALs and their brothers in the Army, the Delta Force, are the nation’s greatest human military achievements. No other nation can claim a force equal to these remarkable warriors. Among the SEALs, the best of the best are those in SEAL Team Six, carefully selected from other SEAL team units because of their extraordinary capabilities, forming a complimentary team of experts in killing.
The SEALs learn to master multiple munitions, stealth, diversion techniques, application of maximum force from multiple locations on a single target, operation while wounded, electronic surveillance and intelligence gathering. SEAL training is so difficult that about 80 percent of the specially selected and invited trainees who commence the training are forced to drop out, and virtually no SEAL can stay active for more than three years. The SEAL Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD/S) school is notoriously difficult. Before a SEAL is deployed on a first mission, and after successful completion of BUD/S training, he can expect to spend two and a half years in near constant, grueling exercises.
Since the Iraq War, the SEALs have worked closely with the CIA, feeding off intelligence from both CIA and military intelligence operatives in targeting, capturing, or killing militants. It was therefore no surprise when word came that the raid on Bin Laden’s compound was under the ultimate charge of CIA Director Leon Panetta. Although involved in issuing basic commands, Director Panetta properly gives ultimate credit for the success of the raid to the two dozen SEALs who performed the mission. They exercise independent judgment on the ground based on training, instinct, and perception that determined precisely how to execute the raid, which rooms to enter and when, what munitions to discharge and when, and who to capture or kill and when. The effectiveness comes from decades of honing skills in actual combat operations. Every SEAL before entering the program has a history of exemplary combat service. While they can succeed magnificently, as in the Bin Laden raid, they can also fail miserably, as when they inadvertently killed British hostage Linda Norgrove held by Afghanistani militants in a botched 2010 rescue mission. They operate in highly volatile environments and outcomes are anything but predictable.
The treasure trove of intelligence found in Bin Laden’s compound is being combed over with zeal by foreign language intelligence officers inside the CIA. Every day that passes without action to follow-up on that intelligence creates a risk of losing trails that could lead to more Al Qaeda operatives fit for destruction. Each such day invites a higher risk of a terrorist counterstrike that is all but certain to occur to avenge the death of Bin Laden. Indeed, spontaneous efforts are likely soon with more detailed measures occurring in future as individuals vie to fill the void created by Bin Laden’s death.
The raid on Bin Laden’s compound will stand in the annals of American military history as one of the most well executed attacks on an enemy of the United States. It also establishes an immediate and profound precedent, that those who hunt Americans are themselves the hunted and will sooner or later face a brutal end at the hands of some of the most expert killers in the world.
It is imperative for those from foreign lands who plan to kill us to appreciate that each such heinous act will set in motion a dogged pursuit that will ultimately end in their own demise. They must come to understand that the weapon they discharge in the murder of an American is in fact always a boomerang that returns to obliterate the one who caused the weapon to be discharged in the first place. The assurance of that demise creates a major disincentive not for the suicide candidates but for those who direct them. Only through this constant process of identifying, tracking, and killing those responsible for the murder of Americans can we ultimately establish beyond peradventure of doubt in the minds of every person dedicated to our destruction that the effort is ultimately futile.
Those who hide, as did Bin Laden, are cowards. They succeed in manipulating misguided others into losing their lives in acts of genocide mistakenly professed to be martyrdom when they themselves have neither the interest nor courage to perform the same acts. Those who direct others in this way now form America’s hunted class. Their days are numbered.
While defense of Americans’ lives and interests warrant vigilance, including the dispatch of forces like the SEALs and Delta Force in response to specific threats around the world, the United States has never had a sound justification for maintaining armies of occupation in either Iraq or Afghanistan or in any campaign of nation building. Indeed, the presence of hundreds of thousands of troops in those countries not only fails to serve America’s interests, it is enormously expensive. The U.S. spends approximately $110 billion per year to maintain the operations of about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. The purported goal of the Afghan invasion was to destroy the Taliban regime because it harbored Osama Bin Laden. Justified on a shaky foundation from the start, the war has been a costly diversion involving the U.S. in domestic disputes of tribal peoples that have no bearing on America’s vital interests. There are an estimated one thousand or fewer Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The aim of destroying Al Qaeda, a worthy goal requiring no need for an army of occupation, is feasibly achieved through use of forces like the SEALs, Delta Force, and unmanned aerial and ground vehicles against identified targets. The U.S. should immediately withdraw its forces from Afghanistan and rely on special operations and unmanned vehicles to achieve strategic interdiction of targets.
In addition, and inexplicably, the United States gives Pakistan approximately $1.3 billion a year. That country’s leaders have made Pakistan a safe haven for Al Qaeda for years, helped create and still support the Taliban in Afghanistan, and maintain an abiding hatred for virtually everything American. Our payment of tribute is viewed as cowardice and only deepens disrespect for the United States in the region. We should immediately cut off all funding to Pakistan and ally ourselves strongly to India, Pakistan’s nemesis, a true democracy with an open market. If the money given Pakistan has been paid on the notion that Pakistan will be vigilant in weeding out Al Qaeda if only we bribe them to do so, we now know that they are inherently unreliable and duplicitous, of little value in capturing and killing our enemies (certainly not worth the cost). Bin Laden lived in a middle class neighborhood in Abbottabad within a mile of a Pakistani military base and security offices. The complex was distinguished by its overt security, unusually large size, and obsessive secretiveness. SUVs would arrive at the compound late in the evening and leave in the evening. Neighborhood residents were never invited into the compound and compound occupants never ventured into the neighborhood. Not even local children attempting to retrieve soccer balls kicked over the eight foot tall cement wall topped with barbed wire that surrounded the compound were allowed to do so. The place was the subject of concern by some community members who believed it likely served as a base of operations for criminals. Pakistan’s statements that its military and intelligence communities were oblivious to the fact that Bin Laden lived there, even if true, do not excuse them from failing to conduct any inquiry whatsoever.
It was too suspicious not to investigate. A decision not to investigate undoubtedly could only be made by those who knew Bin Laden lived there. In any event, if the U.S. could only achieve the destruction of the most wanted man in the world through unilateral action, then what reason do we have to believe that remaining Al Qaeda leaders are likely to be found by Pakistan rather than our own unilateral action?
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In short, the great achievement of SEAL Team Six in eradicating the world’s most notorious criminal is grounds for celebration and proof beyond peradventure of doubt that the time is long overdue to end American occupation of Afghanistan and cut off all funding to Pakistan. The $111 billion saved should be spent on paying down the enormous national debt, which poses a greater threat to America than all global threats combined.
© 2011 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved