Never Bring a Box Cutter to a Jihad
Thursday, June 06, 2002
I have this from a Navy oficer friend. It supports reports I have been receiving. It is reported to be written by a Navy flag officer.
I deleted the sender, a serving Navy officer...jim dodd
LCDR USN, (Ret.)
Saturday, May 18, 2002 09:19 AM
This was sent by one of our General Officers, they usually don't send emails like this...good reading, the last paragraph is the best.
>From Anaconda AO...
Ground war will be run by CINC's man on the spot, the Commander of 10th Mtn Division. (The CINC isn't trying to run the war via video from Tampa - he has a hell of a lot more to run besides Afghanistan, and that is his job and his place). As any other senior officer who has grown up in a branch culture, the 2-star 10th Mtn Division commander is most comfortable with Army and will primarily rely on them to be the lion's share of the offense on the ground. That's the way they are designed and supported. I think the performance during ANACONDA was a bit of an eye opener. Intel very hard to pin down - it's not a perfect world with Afghans often playing both sides of the fence, thus the senior leaders have to be cautious. Don't think they thought resistance would be as bad initially as they found. Al Qaeda were well-entrenched and prepared to fight. UK SAS had a significant cave fight on a small complex last fall, and it was a brutal close quarter battle.
That should have keyed us to always be thinking they will do the same anytime we find pockets of them, especially if you intend to surround them and provide no "back door" for escape (setting up ambushes to catch them just as they think they've gotten out. ANACONDA AO almost impossible to close off (huge and rough terrain), and locals supported Al Qaeda in many ways. We nailed a lot of them, but a lot got away. We can expect more of the same in the future. Certainly not a failure, and we'll take them out 100 at a time or 2 at a time, it matters not. The end will be the same, just might take longer.
SF A Teams doing dynamite mixing in with locals and doing their thing. USAF CCT doing incredibly well calling in heavy fire and bombs from above with precision. USAF PJs have been on every hot mission supporting as combat medics. Unfortunately, there's still some mistaken concept out there that SEALs are only comfortable in water. A target is a target, and very few are on water. SEALs learned long ago to conduct raids, ambushes, recon missions, hit buildings, bridges, and encampments anywhere they exist. Multiple units of SEALs are on the ground searching caves, conducting raids, and moving by helo and organic ground combat vehicles (yes they have some), taking the fight to the enemy. (SEALs have had a mountain warfare capability for decades - they just don't advertise everything they can do. Conventional forces and leaders may not have gotten the word.) SEALs are raiding alongside other raiding brothers from the Army SF's top unit, UK SAS and SBS, Australian SAS, New Zealand SAS, German KSK, Dutch commandos, and Canadian JTF-s commandos and infantry. (When the Pentagon doesn't tell you exactly who is conducting some of these raids, there's a reason. They also don't report every action that takes place) We now also need to get the USMC out there raiding also. There's plenty to go around and rotating troops will help keep them fresher.
The Marines can move fast, however, and having them offshore on the ships for now allows commanders the option to go into other countries quickly if an intelligence windfall identifies something that needs to be hit quickly, such as in Somalia or Yemen. UK 45 Commando now coming in to help out, with more rough terrain expertise.
Air war has been a beacon of technological genius. Unfortunately it can't do it alone. Combined with ground forces, it's extremely lethal. Army Apache gunship helos worked well until they got shot up badly at beginning of ANACONDA (but they delivered a hell of a fight where fast movers couldn't go), requiring re-intro of older (but also extremely lethal) USMC Cobras.
Underestimation appeared in a couple spots at beginning of ANACONDA, but US was always in the drivers seat and will remain so. All helo pilots, USA, USAF, and USMC, have shown extreme courage in their operations under incredibly difficult circumstances. You have to ride these at night into a brown out situation where they kick up dust until you can't see, on night vision goggles to understand. Throw in RPGs and machinegun fire, and most people would be shaking in their boots. These guys all eat it up.
As far as the SEAL story goes, the full truth may never actually come out. MH-47 was hit just before landing a recon team by an RPG that failed to detonate, but went through back end. Roberts was either assisting a USAF spec ops guy who fell on the rear ramp as a result of the hit, or was knocked down as he stood on the ramp. When 2 more RPGs hit the helo, a hydraulic line was severed and the helo went critical, jinxed, and tried to bolt out of there, hydraulic spray all over, peppered by bullets as it flew away. In the confusion in the darkened rear, Roberts fell out off the ramp. He was a SAW gunner and his light machinegun fell inside the helo. He hit the ground with a pistol and 2 hand grenades. The helo, having been shot up badly, was barely able to go 8 kilometers before being put down. They were lucky.
Roberts was noted missing enroute, but the helo was in an emergency mode, pilots fighting to keep it from crashing at any moment, and in no condition to try to double back at the moment. After landing, the recon team immediately boarded a sister helo and went back to get Roberts, inserted nearby and immediately got in a firefight. Meanwhile, Roberts crawled from where he fell about 200 feet or yards (not certain which) to hide, activated his emergency beacon. 60 + heavily armed Al Qaeda in the area. When the rescue helo came back, a machinegun opened up on it as it came in. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Roberts totally disregarded his safety and attacked it with a handgun and his grenades. He was killed in a close quarter firefight, incredibly outnumbered and outgunned. The commandos on the ground were able to hold against heavy odds.
Another rescue force was launched and flew max speed to the area, inserting a couple hours later. Rangers, CCT, PJs poured out and right into an extremely heavy firefight. That's where the other 6 got killed, many wounded. This was a brutal slugfest of a firefight. Close air support called in and the fight was on for about 9-12 hours. US commandos finally won, and more helos and forces inserted to recover wounded, KIA. Roberts body recovered as well. Predator watched after he was shot as 3 Al Qaeda dragged his body from where he was shot - he was already dead.
For my money, Roberts and the others who came to try to rescue him deserve at least the Silver Star if not more. True heroes, taking it to the enemy, so we can all relax at home in the U.S. safer from terrorist attack. Believe it or not, this incident is only one of several unbelievable combat actions yet untold. SAS is pushing for one of their men to get the Victoria Cross as a result of the cave fight last fall. (And he clearly deserves it from all accounts). UK SBS was in an extremely heavy firefight early in the action last fall. There are other US stories that have not (and may not) be told that are equally incredible, if not more. Stay tuned.
Whether we need heroes or not, the forces are clearly and eagerly going hand to hand and man on man with the Al Qaeda. We may underestimate from time to time in small battles, but the Al Qaeda have clearly underestimated what we were going to be like on the battlefield compared to their Soviet experience.
The other reason we need the appropriate top awards pinned on these heroes is this - Let the message go forth to the Al Qaeda, other terrorists, and those who want to back them anywhere on the globe.
Think you're tough? You want to kill our families, blow up civilians? Stand by! We are sending our very best to hunt you down and take you out.
These are the guys who are coming to get you. These are the guys who will climb into the mountains and into the darkened caves halfway around the world and look you in the eye, toe to toe, with any weapon at hand (ours or yours), to take you out. These guys have trained longer, are stronger, harder, faster, tougher, and more relentless and lethal than anything you will ever produce. And we will arm them with the best money can buy, from Spectre gunships and thermobaric bombs to knives sharper than any box cutter you can sneak on a plane. They are now on your trail. They're hunting you down. How's it feel to be a terrorist now? Never bring a box cutter to a Jihad.