Trump Babble and Military Sacrifice

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Event: 030117 – Words: 1064 – Audio: 09:29

The wife of deceased Navy Seal Ryan Owens at Trump’s first address to Congress

This is being written following Trump’s first address to Congress and while I found little out of the ordinary of any substance, his most notable remarks were regarding the demise of Navy Seal William “Ryan” Owens during that recent mission in Yemen that went badly, but has been lauded as a success.  Trump’s remarks were fitting for the

moment and were obviously welcomed by Owens’ wife given her reaction.  The President did one thing correctly, finally.  Obviously there was a bit of opportunity by showing his remorse for Owens’ death as it did provide him the stage to assert the mission was a total success, according to the Chief of Staff (he said, making me wonder if Trump was setting the Chief up for a future fall if some investigation ensued), thus countering the public allegations that the mission was a failure.  But I will accept the face value that Trump’s words were sincere in all respects.  The real value was the reaction of Owens’ wife emotionally accepting her husband died for a greater cause.  That was presidential.

On the other hand,  Owens’ father has been in the news blaming the President for ok’ing a poorly planned mission; refusing to meet with Trump, and calling for a full investigation.  Having been an ex-serviceman myself I’d like to present a couple dimensions to all this.

The role of family.. especially the spouse of a serviceman, is secondary to the needs of the military.  Many people find that a bit off-putting, especially if you are the spouse.  But when I was in the military it was not uncommon for spouses to complain to local commanders about their husbands’ being away for so long, having long duty assignments, or just plain constantly being home late for dinner (believe it or not).  These kinds of complaints were more common with the younger enlistees who recently had gotten married and the wives were on a different agenda regarding the marriage and the military.  More than one spouse was angered by the concept that their husband was married first to the military.

I mention this to attempt to put some perspective on Owens’ father’s objections to the mission parameters leading to his son’s death.  He himself is an ex-Navy veteran so you’d think he would understand this more.   Ryan was a Navy Seal and he had been on more than one mission and had been in the service for a number of years.  He has specialized training to do these high risk missions.  Most importantly, he absolutely knew the risks and he was trained to minimize those risks in order to make missions successful.  These guys are mentally aware of the risks.. totally devoted to God and country, and most importantly, are willing to put their lives on the line for the tough missions.  Navy Seals live for this stuff and thank goodness they do because we need then.  They do not go on these missions to die for their country.  That’s why planning is so critical.. stealth, audacity, secrecy, knowledge, training, brings them home.  Most of the time no one will ever know what they did.

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One has to presume Ryan knew the reason for the mission; in this case, apparently collecting intelligence.  He accepted his role and likely helped plan, train, and certainly execute the mission.  Now, common sense tells me something went wrong when there are reports of deaths of 16-28 people, and an 8 year old child.  Seals are not an armed force to lay siege like an Army or Marine unit, engaging the enemy frontally in full assault, or in long engagements.  It’s not that they can’t defend themselves and do that, it’s just that their mission is stealth and in & out quickly and undetected if possible… and they likely travel light for mobility; not a ton of ammo or heavier weaponry for long engagements.  To me it’s obvious that things went wrong on the ground, a defensive firefight ensued.. likely immediate extraction was impossible, maybe the landing zone was compromised.  Literally, no matter how much planning, shit can happen unexpectedly with any mission… and Ryan knew the risks.  He died understanding the mission and the risks.

Now.. being a parent myself with two sons of similar age I would absolutely question the idea that my son died for a pile of papers and computers disks.  I am sure, like any parent, having a son die saving other people in a grand rescue mission or on a mission to kidnap (or kill) some Isis leader.. would make his death a bit more meaningful and personally acceptable.  But military missions can’t all be rescue missions.  If, in fact, the mission was planned to be an intelligence gathering mission, and they got what they wanted, then it most certainly is mission accomplished and thereby is a mission success, regardless of the lives lost.  Now, was the cost in lives worth the intel gathered?  We will likely never know, although as this is being written the news is reporting action is already being taken based on the information acquired.  I don’t deny one bit Navy Seal Ryan Owens’ place of honor as a fallen hero.  But a part of me wonders why he is being singled out just because he was the first soldier killed in action under Trump.  How many other dead warriors got this much attention?  Politics, sadly.  But I am glad his wife received public affirmation inside a place representing the freedoms Ryan defended and died for.

We are allegedly in a war with terrorism around the world.  Ryan (and the other victims) were a casualty of that war.  He died serving his country and should be honored accordingly.   I understand his father’s remorse, and I would likely respond in the same way if my son had the same end.  But if every parent of every soldier who died in WW2 called for some investigation for why their son died we’d never have finished that war.

Just for some comparative perspective… remember that Wall of Remembrance at CIA headquarters?  Those people died serving their country as well.  I am sure very few of them died on some glory mission.  Most were likely operatives trying to collect information and pass it on.. likely most didn’t even see it coming when it happened.  Most were probably not able to defend themselves.  And, yes, maybe some were on questionable missions not worthy of their death.  Some of them probably never knew the risk… and had they known they might’ve stayed home sick that day.

So.. I can understand a bereaving father looking for answers and I don’t fault him one bit for trying.  He is entitled as a father.  But to anyone else who supports his calls for an investigation…. Think again.  Trump is already accusing the military for not winning wars.  I surely don’t want the military being prevented from winning future battles because of petty public admonishments and political second guessing.

Ryan’s death is the first in the Trump administration and he will certainly not be the last.

Carry On, America.

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18 thoughts on “Trump Babble and Military Sacrifice

  1. Good one as usual…..I agree with you…Ryan being a EAL and taking a part in this mission puts him in the category of hero…that does not change no matter the intel gathered…he did as order and that is all a soldier can do….but to keep using Ryan to justify and claim success is brutal when all info available says not much was taken. Someone needs to tell El Capitan to shut up about this he is not making his case…well not to anyone that knows how the military works…have a good evening….chuq

    • Other presidents have honored relatives of the fallen in public and have not been chastised nor criticized for doing it so get off Donald’s back. He is doing nothing more than what a good president should do and to accuse him of politicizing it is just plain out of touch.

      • I realize your reply was directed at chuq.. but… you have got to wonder why Trump pays his respects at Dover when the casket arrives… then blames the generals for killing Ryan with the following quote…

        “This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something they wanted to do,” he said. “They came to me, they explained what they wanted to do ― the generals ― who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.

        ..then invites the wife to the speech at Congress and takes credit for being commandeer-in-chief to proclaim the nation’s condolences and respect… and actually has to ask the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs before the speech if the mission was a success or not.. I mean, how much more out of touch can the guy get. He reportedly never bothered to go to the Situation Room to follow the progress. I mean, c’mon… you mean at that precise moment that mission was being executed he had better things to do? He wasn’t even in office long enough to have better things to do. He still had to sign off on the mission because it happened on his watch. You just don’t dismiss it as “having been planned before I got here” crap. Jeez.

        • It was something that Obama had going before he left and there is no way for you or I to know whether or not President Trump was in the situation room. I understand the mission of your blog and I know I will not be able to defend Trump on your blog. I am kind of settled on that score. No biggie.

          • According to Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Trump was not in the Situation Room for the raid.

            “The president was here in the residence. He was kept in touch with his national security staff. Secretary Mattis and others kept him updated on both the raid and the death of Chief Owens as well as the four other individuals that were injured. So he was kept apprised of the situation.”

            Defend Trump as you wish on my blog, John… I sometimes berate Trump’s incompetence as I see it on your blog. The whole reason we do this is to exchange opinion.. and once in a while someone makes sense.

        • Did I ever tell you that you always brighten my days when you write? Thanks for the encouragement. I am glad we can agree on occasion. By the way I am still having trouble replying to you on my wordpress.com notification device and yours is the only blog doing this. Can you get hold of a “Happiness Engineer” and ask them if they can see what the problem might be?

          • Yes.. when I read the discourse between you and the other fellas I did make contact with my happiness engineer.. and I am awaiting his report. Seems obvious there’s something I didn’t set right on my end. Thanks very much for pointing this out.
            ..and thanks for saying I brighten your day when I post, John, although that’s not my true goal. Now… when the day comes that our Dear Leader reaches the end of his run and you agree with me on that… you will have made MY day. 🙂

  2. I do not think President Trump is accusing the Military for failing to win wars. I think the President is acknowledging the fact that most of the wars we have been engaged in since Korea have been wars that were never designed to be won or to end for that matter by the hawks who get us into those wars in the first place. We have fought a number of what is called “Holding” actions but we have also learned the language of “Strategic Withdrawal” and I am afraid we have not been allowed to actually “Win” a war for a long time. That is not the fault of the Military and I do not think the President is blaming the Military for not winning the wars. I do think he is dead serious about getting the Military the Manpower and Materiel needed to mount winning wars and I doubt he will be a president given to entering a conflict without a plan to win it. I cannot see how a President who blames the Military for not winning wars would be so hot on building that Military up after years of decline and neglect. He is not blaming the Military for the losses; he is blaming the politicians for not winning the wars and he is determined to build our military up to present a formidable picture of strength to the world and I am sure that if we ever get into another conflict he will be insistent upon winning it and more resistive to leaving the field of battle. That might be somewhat reckless as far as the potential for mounting casualties go, but I also believe he remembers the days when America never “Lost” a war … a position where we need to get ourselves into again — a position that other presidents have been trading and negotiating away for many years now.

    • Well, John.. if that’s what he meant, then I would agree with him. But again he shows his relative inexperience. The true fact of the matter is that all “wars” are not meant to be won… or certainly not meant to be won in the WW2 sense of the word. That’s certainly not a defense for not having won in Vietnam though. Korea was a war certainly for the guys who fought in it.. but it still was a negotiated cease fire. Technically speaking.. World War I was not “won” by the allies.. it was an armistice, although one might argue that we won World War I when we won World War II.

  3. This was a very effective piece of television. With no disrespect to the fallen soldier, or his heartbroken wife, I also found it to be manipulative in the extreme, and distressing to watch. Cynical doesn’t even come close…
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. I think the father’s reaction was a normal one. Any parent would be angry at the loss of a loved-one. Ryan is a true hero. He knew the risks and died for his cause. We will always remember Ryan for his sacrifice. I think Trump’s ‘eulogy’ was fitting.

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