Finding One Such Man

Well, I was looking about for something to add to this, and finally came to the conclusion that there is nothing I can add or subtract from the story, except perhaps to echo Ronald Reagan. President Reagan said this in his radio address on May 15th, 1982.

I received another letter from one of our ambassadors in Europe. He wrote that a 19-year-old trooper in our armored cavalry had asked that he send me a message. It was: “Tell the President we’re proud to be here, and we ain’t scared of nothing.”

In James Michener’s book “The Bridges at Toko-Ri,” he writes of an officer waiting through the night for the return of planes to a carrier as dawn is coming on. And he asks, “Where do we find such men?” Well, we find them where we’ve always found them. They are the product of the freest society man has ever known. They make a commitment to the military—make it freely, because the birthright we share as Americans is worth defending. God bless America.

From the Navy:

Summary of Action

Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt Slabinski:
For his actions during Operation ANACONDA in 2002, to rescue teammate Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts.

In the early morning of 4 March 2002, then-Senior Chief Slabinski led a reconnaissance team to its assigned area atop Takur Ghar, a 10,000-foot snow-covered mountain in Afghanistan. An enemy rocket-propelled grenade attack on the insertion helicopter caused Petty Officer Neil Roberts to fall onto the enemy-infested mountaintop below, and forced the damaged helicopter to crash land in the valley below. Fully aware of the risks, a numerically superior and well-entrenched enemy force, and approaching daylight, without hesitation Senior Chief Slabinski made the selfless and heroic decision to lead the remainder of his element on an immediate and daring rescue back to the mountaintop. Senior Chief Slabinski’s team, despite heavy incoming enemy fire, was subsequently successfully inserted on top of Takur Ghar. Senior Chief Slabinski, without regard for his own life, charged directly toward the enemy strongpoint. He and a teammate fearlessly assaulted and cleared one enemy bunker at close range. The enemy then unleashed a murderous hail of machine gun fire from a second hardened position twenty meters away. Senior Chief Slabinski exposed himself to enemy fire on three sides, then moved forward to silence the second position. With bullets piercing his clothing, he repeatedly charged into deadly fire to personally engage the enemy bunker with direct rifle fire, hand grenades and a grenade launcher on the surrounding enemy positions. Facing mounting casualties and low on ammunition, the situation became untenable. Senior Chief Slabinski skillfully maneuvered his team across open terrain, directing them out of effective enemy fire over the mountainside.

Senior Chief Slabinski maneuvered his team to a more defensible position, directed danger-close air support on the enemy, requested reinforcements, and directed the medical care of his rapidly deteriorating wounded teammates, all while continuing to defend his position. When approaching daylight and accurate enemy mortar fire forced the team to maneuver further down the sheer mountainside, Senior Chief Slabinski carried a seriously wounded teammate through waist-deep snow, and led an arduous trek across precipitous terrain while calling in fires on enemies engaging the team from the surrounding ridges. Throughout the next 14 hours, he stabilized the casualties and continued the fight against the enemy until the mountain top could be secured and his team was extracted. His dedication, disregard for his own personal safety and tactical leadership make Master Chief Slabinski unquestionably deserving of this honor.

Official Citation

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

SENIOR CHIEF SPECIAL WARFARE OPERATOR (SEA, AIR, AND LAND)
BRITT K. SLABINSKI
UNITED STATES NAVY

For service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while assigned to a Joint Task Force in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. In the early morning of 4 March 2002, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Slabinski led a reconnaissance team to its assigned area atop a 10,000-foot snow-covered mountain. Their insertion helicopter was suddenly riddled with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire from previously undetected enemy positions. The crippled helicopter lurched violently and ejected one teammate onto the mountain before the pilots were forced to crash land in the valley far below. Senior Chief Slabinski boldly rallied his five remaining team members and marshalled supporting assets for an assault to rescue their stranded teammate. During reinsertion the team came under fire from three directions, and one teammate started moving uphill toward an enemy strongpoint. Without regard for his own safety, Senior Chief Slabinski charged directly toward enemy fire to join his teammate. Together, they fearlessly assaulted and cleared the first bunker they encountered. The enemy then unleashed a hail of machine gun fire from a second hardened position only twenty meters away. Senior Chief Slabinski repeatedly exposed himself to deadly fire to personally engage the second enemy bunker and orient his team’s fires in the furious, close-quarters firefight. Proximity made air support impossible, and after several teammates became casualties, the situation became untenable. Senior Chief Slabinski maneuvered his team to a more defensible position, directed air strikes in very close proximity to his team’s position, and requested reinforcements. As daylight approached, accurate enemy mortar fire forced the team further down the sheer mountainside. Senior Chief Slabinski carried a seriously wounded teammate through deep snow and led a difficult trek across precipitous terrain while calling in fire on the enemy, which was engaging the team from the surrounding ridges. Throughout the next 14 hours, Senior Chief Slabinski stabilized the casualties and continued the fight against the enemy until the hill was secured and his team was extracted. By his undaunted courage, bold initiative, leadership, and devotion to duty, Senior Chief Slabinski reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Biography

MASTER CHIEF SPECIAL WARFARE OPERATOR (SEAL) BRITT K. SLABINSKI

Britt Slabinski is from Northampton, MA. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout at age 14 and upon graduation from high school in 1988 enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Slabinski attended boot camp in Orlando, FL. Upon completion, he received orders to attend Radioman Class “A” School in San Diego, CA. There, he trained on the basics of naval communications graduating in spring 1989. Fulfilling a life-long dream to be a U.S. Navy SEAL, he qualified and was accepted into Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S) at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, CA. He graduated in January 1990 with BUD/S Class 164.

Slabinski’s operational assignments include SEAL Team FOUR, 1990 to 1993; Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), 1993 to 2006; and Command Master Chief of Naval Special Warfare Tactical Development and Evaluation Squadron TWO, 2006 to 2008. He was the Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Joint Special Operations Command, Washington, DC Office, 2008 to 2010 and Command Master Chief, Naval Special Warfare Group TWO, 2010 to 2012. Slabinski retired after serving as Director of Naval Special Warfare Safety Assurance and Analysis Program. He has completed 9 overseas deployments and 15 combat deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism, including Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.

Slabinski has various military and civilian qualifications including Naval Special Warfare Scout Sniper, Military Free Fall Parachute Jump Master, and has an Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic National Certification. He is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy and Command Leadership School.

Slabinski’s military decorations include the Navy Cross, Navy/Marine Corps Medal; Bronze Star with Valor (five awards), Combat Action Ribbon (two awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal (two awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), Good Conduct Medal (eight awards), and numerous other personal and unit awards and decorations.

Slabinski retired in June 2014 after 25 years of service and is self-employed as a corporate consultant. He has one son who is also an Eagle Scout.

As we enter Memorial Day weekend, where we commemorate the war dead of America, including the one-sixth of the population who died to restore the Union and free the slaves in the 1860s we should ponder George Orwell’s words back in 1942:

We sleep soundly in our beds, because rough men stand ready in the night to do violence on those who would harm us

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H.R. McMaster on Easy War

{This first ran as The Pipe Dream of Easy War here back in the Summer of 2013. It’s a pretty good indication of why our foreign policy suddenly looks like the adults are in charge again}

Michael Kamber for The New York Times

United States troops in Latafiya, Iraq, in 2007, marked the landing spot for a resupply helicopter with green smoke.

H. R. McMaster is an Army major general and the commanding officer at Fort Benning, Ga., who led the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq as a colonel in 2005 and 2006.

That is, of course true but rather cryptic. H.R. McMaster is one of America’s rock star generals and he’s been on everybody’s list since 26 February 1991 when Captain McMaster’s Eagle troop of the 2d ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) (Toujours Prêt) charged on in, and took apart the Iraqi Tawakalna Division of the Republican Guard in the Battle of 73 Easting, an action that has been compared favorably with Joshua Chamberlain’s defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg and Major John Howard’s capture and defense of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. General McMaster knows all about seeing the elephant. And now he is National Security Advisor to President Trump.

FORT BENNING, Ga. — “A GREAT deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep,” the novelist Saul Bellow once wrote. We should keep that in mind when we consider the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — lessons of supreme importance as we plan the military of the future.

Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past.

We engaged in such thinking in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; many accepted the conceit that lightning victories could be achieved by small numbers of technologically sophisticated American forces capable of launching precision strikes against enemy targets from safe distances.

These defense theories, associated with the belief that new technology had ushered in a whole new era of war, were then applied to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; in both, they clouded our understanding of the conflicts and delayed the development of effective strategies.

Today, budget pressures and the desire to avoid new conflicts have resurrected arguments that emerging technologies — or geopolitical shifts — have ushered in a new era of warfare. Some defense theorists dismiss the difficulties we ran into in Afghanistan and Iraq as aberrations. But they were not aberrations. The best way to guard against a new version of wishful thinking is to understand three age-old truths about war and how our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.

First, war is political. As the 19th-century Prussian philosopher of war Carl von Clausewitz said, “war should never be thought of as something autonomous, but always as an instrument of policy.”

In the years leading up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thinking about defense was driven by ideas that regarded successful military operations as ends in themselves, rather than just one instrument of power that must be coordinated with others to achieve, and sustain, political goals. Believers in the theory known as the “Revolution in Military Affairs” misinterpreted the American-led coalition’s lopsided victory in the 1991 gulf war and predicted that further advances in military technology would deliver dominance over any opponent. Potential adversaries, they suggested, would not dare to threaten vital American interests.

The theory was hubristic. Yet it became orthodoxy […]

Second, war is human. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor and interest. But in the years preceding our last two wars, thinking about defense undervalued the human as well as the political aspects of war. […]

The hard-learned lesson: Defense concepts must consider social, economic and historical factors that constitute the human dimension of war.

THIRD, war is uncertain, precisely because it is political and human. The dominant assumption of the “Revolution in Military Affairs” was that information would be the key to victory. Concepts of “network-centric warfare,” “rapid, decisive operations,” “shock and awe” and “full-spectrum dominance” suggested that near-perfect intelligence would enable precise military operations and point a straight line to success. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, planning did not account for adaptations and initiatives by the enemy. American forces, deployed initially in insufficient numbers to keep pace with the evolution of those conflicts, struggled to maintain security. The lesson: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like all wars, were contests of will that unleashed dynamics that made future events impossible to predict.

Fortunately, in Afghanistan and Iraq, American forces adapted. For example, in 2005, in western Nineveh Province, our enemies had pitted sectarian communities against one another in a bloody civil war. In the city of Tal Afar, our cavalry regiment first sought to understand the complex environment while building trust with local Iraqi security forces and a beleaguered population. Alongside United States Special Forces and Iraqi soldiers, our troops sought not only to fight the enemy, but also to build security for civilians and promote conflict resolution among competing groups. As Tal Afar’s mayor, Najim Abdullah Abid al-Jibouri, recalled, “Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi …Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner.” But when the Americans came, he added, “With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.”

What we learned: American forces must cope with the political and human dynamics of war in complex, uncertain environments. Wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be waged remotely.

Budget pressures and persistent fascination with technology have led some to declare an end to war as we know it. While emerging technologies are essential for military effectiveness, concepts that rely only on those technologies,[…]

Although the defense budget is under pressure, clear thinking about war costs nothing. What we can afford least is to define the problem of future war as we would like it to be, and by doing so introduce into our defense vulnerabilities based on self-delusion.

Do go and read it all I truncated sections rather severely,and the reasoning is far more clear with the detail,  The Pipe Dream of Easy War – NYTimes.com.

Essentially the lesson is the old one, War is serious business, not to be undertaken for light and transient reasons, and never should it be separated from national policy. Clausewitz said it best.

“War is merely a continuation of politics by other means.”

It’s fine to substitute policy or Politik at will for politics, the original German is unclear and various translations have made it clear as mud.

 

The Pipe Dream of Easy War

{This looks like it could develop into a short series on the theory of conflict, if so, it most likely will be at irregular intervals as I run across appropriate material. In any case: Enjoy!}

Michael Kamber for The New York Times

United States troops in Latafiya, Iraq, in 2007, marked the landing spot for a resupply helicopter with green smoke.

H. R. McMaster is an Army major general and the commanding officer at Fort Benning, Ga., who led the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq as a colonel in 2005 and 2006.

That is, of course true but rather cryptic. H.R. McMaster is one of America’s rock star generals and he’s been on everybody’s list since 26 February 1991 when Captain McMaster’s Eagle troop of the 2d ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) (Toujours Prêt) charged on in, and took apart the Iraqi Tawakalna Division of the Republican Guard in the Battle of 73 Easting, an action that has been compared favorably with Joshua Chamberlin’s defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg and Major John Howard’s capture and defense of Pegasus Bridge on D-Day. General McMaster knows all about seeing the elephant.

FORT BENNING, Ga. — “A GREAT deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep,” the novelist Saul Bellow once wrote. We should keep that in mind when we consider the lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — lessons of supreme importance as we plan the military of the future.

Our record of learning from previous experience is poor; one reason is that we apply history simplistically, or ignore it altogether, as a result of wishful thinking that makes the future appear easier and fundamentally different from the past.

We engaged in such thinking in the years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; many accepted the conceit that lightning victories could be achieved by small numbers of technologically sophisticated American forces capable of launching precision strikes against enemy targets from safe distances.

These defense theories, associated with the belief that new technology had ushered in a whole new era of war, were then applied to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; in both, they clouded our understanding of the conflicts and delayed the development of effective strategies.

Today, budget pressures and the desire to avoid new conflicts have resurrected arguments that emerging technologies — or geopolitical shifts — have ushered in a new era of warfare. Some defense theorists dismiss the difficulties we ran into in Afghanistan and Iraq as aberrations. But they were not aberrations. The best way to guard against a new version of wishful thinking is to understand three age-old truths about war and how our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq validated their importance.

First, war is political. As the 19th-century Prussian philosopher of war Carl von Clausewitz said, “war should never be thought of as something autonomous, but always as an instrument of policy.”

In the years leading up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thinking about defense was driven by ideas that regarded successful military operations as ends in themselves, rather than just one instrument of power that must be coordinated with others to achieve, and sustain, political goals. Believers in the theory known as the “Revolution in Military Affairs” misinterpreted the American-led coalition’s lopsided victory in the 1991 gulf war and predicted that further advances in military technology would deliver dominance over any opponent. Potential adversaries, they suggested, would not dare to threaten vital American interests.

The theory was hubristic. Yet it became orthodoxy […]

Second, war is human. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor and interest. But in the years preceding our last two wars, thinking about defense undervalued the human as well as the political aspects of war. […]

The hard-learned lesson: Defense concepts must consider social, economic and historical factors that constitute the human dimension of war.

THIRD, war is uncertain, precisely because it is political and human. The dominant assumption of the “Revolution in Military Affairs” was that information would be the key to victory. Concepts of “network-centric warfare,” “rapid, decisive operations,” “shock and awe” and “full-spectrum dominance” suggested that near-perfect intelligence would enable precise military operations and point a straight line to success. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, planning did not account for adaptations and initiatives by the enemy. American forces, deployed initially in insufficient numbers to keep pace with the evolution of those conflicts, struggled to maintain security. The lesson: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like all wars, were contests of will that unleashed dynamics that made future events impossible to predict.

Fortunately, in Afghanistan and Iraq, American forces adapted. For example, in 2005, in western Nineveh Province, our enemies had pitted sectarian communities against one another in a bloody civil war. In the city of Tal Afar, our cavalry regiment first sought to understand the complex environment while building trust with local Iraqi security forces and a beleaguered population. Alongside United States Special Forces and Iraqi soldiers, our troops sought not only to fight the enemy, but also to build security for civilians and promote conflict resolution among competing groups. As Tal Afar’s mayor, Najim Abdullah Abid al-Jibouri, recalled, “Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi …Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner.” But when the Americans came, he added, “With the skill and precision of surgeons they dealt with the terrorist cancers in the city without causing unnecessary damage.”

What we learned: American forces must cope with the political and human dynamics of war in complex, uncertain environments. Wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be waged remotely.

Budget pressures and persistent fascination with technology have led some to declare an end to war as we know it. While emerging technologies are essential for military effectiveness, concepts that rely only on those technologies,[…]

Although the defense budget is under pressure, clear thinking about war costs nothing. What we can afford least is to define the problem of future war as we would like it to be, and by doing so introduce into our defense vulnerabilities based on self-delusion.

Do go and read it all I truncated sections rather severely,and the reasoning is far more clear with the detail,  The Pipe Dream of Easy War – NYTimes.com.

Essentially the lesson is the old one, War is serious business, not to be undertaken for light and transient reasons, and never should it be separated from national policy. Clausewitz said it best.

“War is merely a continuation of politics by other means.”

It’s fine to substitute policy or Politik at will for politics, the original German is unclear and various translations have made it clear as mud.

 

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