Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Delta Force, nuclear forces, and SEALs

Something does ring correct about the recent Delta Force mission to capture Benghazi mastermind abu Khatallah;

The Obama administration has come under withering criticism because the whereabouts of abu Khatallah have been generally known. Journalists in Libya were able to interview him, critics asked, so why couldn’t American special operators track him down, too?

But other U.S. officials, who spoke to The Daily Beast anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the press, said the mission to grab abu Khatallah had been planned for more than a year. Indeed, the Benghazi ringleader had been in the sights of Delta Force operators at the end of August, according to these sources, but no order was given at the time. A senior administration official told The Daily Beast that the delay in apprehending the suspect was due in part to requests from the Justice Department to gather appropriate evidence to prosecute him in criminal court. --The Daily Beast

Unlike the way missions are portrayed in the movies, special ops missions are well planned out and yes, I believe Delta Force had abu Kallah in their sites for months.  What I don't buy is the timing of when the "green light" was given to capture Khatallah despite quotes to the contrary in the same article:

While Benghazi has been an issue that has bitterly divided Democrats and Republicans since the attacks in 2012, none of the officials who spoke to The Daily Beast suspected the timing of the mission this week was political. “This is a great win,” the contractor said. “These kinds of things take a long time, you can’t put this on politics.”--The Daily Beast

Too many things have been going wrong for the White House lately.  Syria, Crimea, and Iraq have not worked out well for the administration.  The negotiated release of Bowe Bergdahl has basically backfired for the White House.  It needed a win to take some of the heat off of it.  

Up until the release of the five prisoners from GITMO, the Obama administration killed terrorists.  The change to apprehending and arresting is extremely suspect. Remember, this is the same Department of Justice and Attorney General that gave us Operation Fast and Furious.  This the same administration that had the NSA wiretap the New York Times.  

President Obama has ruled out air strikes for now in Iraq.  Not surprising as the situation in Iraq really isn't the thing for air strikes to solve.  The best hope for the White House is their enemy, Iran.  Unfortunately, the current occupants of the White House have not shown the ability to see what's coming.  If Iran is successful in helping Maliki stay off a Sunni takeover, it will in effect marginalize the Sunnis even further in the future and Iran will have in effect taken over Iraq.  The White House will be on the sidelines trying to explain this away.

The events in Iraq and with the capture of Khatallah are playing out just in time for Hillary Clinton's anticipated run for President in 2016.  First Monica Lewinsky came back on the stage and then Hillary's book is not doing well.  One would imagine this means Hillary won't run but don't be so sure.  She has thus far avoided any entanglements from Benghazi and if Khatallah is put on trial, she most likely will take credit for his capture and/or conviction.  I'm not prepared to count her out of running much less winning in 2016.

There's part of me that wants to believe we are avoiding World War III by containing most conflicts to local regions.  But then if that is the case, and the evidence strongly suggests that it is, why then does our nuclear forces continue to make headlines?

"The United States is falling behind potential adversaries, such as Russia and China, in modernizing its nuclear deterrent, and the bills for that modernization are coming due at the worst possible time," said Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, strategic deterrence chief on the Air Staff. "Almost everybody else is modernizing, certainly at a pace beyond ours," he said during a Capitol Hill speech on June 17 sponsored by AFA, the Reserve Officers Association, and National Defense Industrial Association. "Part of the problem is a lot of these things should have been taken care of 25 years ago. We took a procurement holiday when it comes to strategic nuclear modernization" while our rivals have, in many cases, kept a steady pace since the end of the Cold War, he said. Now, with budget sequestration in force, and money becoming scarcer, the United States is saddled with having to upgrade or replace everything from ICBMs, bombers, and submarines, to warheads, cruise missiles, and command and control infrastructure at once, said Harencak. "It's just a fact," he said. Air Force Association Daily Newsletter

The United States relied on nuclear weapons to end the war with Japan and keep the Soviet Union at bay during the Cold War.  Nuclear weapons have never been part of the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) doctrine.  It is worrisome that this administration keeps focusing on the readiness of our nuclear forces, specifically those employed by the USAF.  The old Strategic Air Command (SAC) lead the way in the USAF for readiness and adherence to regulations (often the SAC supplements to USAF regulations were better and more comprehensive).  But the end of the Cold War and Gen Merril McPeak combined to destroy that benchmark.  Perhaps the readiness of nuclear forces had been diminishing all along but it seems the Obama administration is more concerned of late.  The new emphasis on nuclear readiness just seems too coincidental with increased tensions with Russia.

I started with Delta Force let me finish today with another special ops group, the Navy Seals.  The Navy has their own version of the Gadsden Flag, known as the First Navy Jack.

Navy personnel closely associate the logo with the global war on terrorism because then-Navy Secretary Gordon England authorized it on May 31, 2002, as the official jack, or maritime flag, for the Navy for the duration of the global war on terrorism. The entire Navy began flying the Navy Jack on Sept. 11, 2002, the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It has been widely worn on the left shoulder by sailors deployed in war zones since then, including SEALs.

The Gadsden Flag has become associated with right-wing political movements such as the Tea Party.  More recently, thanks to the husband and wife psychopaths out in Las Vegas, the federal government will become associated with anti-government movements.  All of the reasons have caused some SEAL commanders no to wear the patch.  Special operators are notorious for not following the customs of other units and telling a SEAL in theater not to wear this patch is just asking for the opposite to happen.

The Navy has disavowed any knowledge of such a ban and the US Navy Special Warfare Contracting office has announced its intent to buy more patches.  I guess I won't have to remove the Gadsden flag from my range bag anytime soon.

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