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.
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.