Updated: Nov 8, 2020

And let us hope this trend continues.

It is in the news that Saturday past, 31 October 2020, US NAVY SEAL TEAM 6 rescued a kidnapped US Citizen in Northern Nigeria. Apparently, he was kidnapped a few days before in Niger, the same country where four SOF members died in 2017. Sadly, not one US Senator even knew where the country is or could explain what happened. He was then taken across the border into Nigeria where the rescue took place.

To be honest, I don’t rate US SOF highly and said in numerous books that their standards are too low. By their own account, they have serious problems at every level including drug abuse. A January 23, 2020 bombshell report consisting of 69 pages, said in effect that “America’s special operations forces have developed a problematic culture that overemphasizes combat to the detriment of leadership, discipline and accountability. Time on the battlefield is seen as the ultimate expression of competence, and those with combat experience are held as almost an infallible standard-bearer for the rest of the organization to emulate - seemingly regardless if it is a positive or negative standard. Missions by special forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, often boil down to little more than raids - assaulting targets and killing enemy fighters - which some operators bluntly refer to as kicking in doors and shooting people in the face. The frequent deployments have also bred problems in the training and career pipeline, from raw recruits up through the leadership ranks: an overemphasis on physical fitness and workouts for trainees, and an overemphasis on weapons and tactics among field leaders, often to the detriment of training in leadership and ethical standards. Trainees who enter the elite forces directly from civilian life, rather than transferring in, are most at risk for developing an unhealthy sense of entitlement that could lead to problems later on. Instructors chosen for their combat prowess may lack the appropriate balance of character and competence needed for the job.”

The warning signs were there to see once you escape from your patriotic bubble of “exceptionalism.” Something that I don’t suffer from. For me, it is only about the hostage and no innocent deaths. Innocent deaths cause terrorism and failure. The negative January report was entirely predictable and due in no small part to the close to useless high command strategies that simply do not understand counterinsurgency nor counterterrorism. We will find out later, perhaps, how many innocents were murdered during the rescue. At this stage, it seems that 5 out of 6, or 6 out of 7, hostage-takers were shot dead. No innocent deaths are reported but fully expected to come to light in the days to come. Nevertheless, I am glad for the men involved, for the hostage, and for a successful operation which I hope will continue in the future. But let me be blunt, it will take much more than one successful operation against a bunch of small-time crooks to restore confidence.

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