Monday, April 01, 2002

NOTES ON SOMALIA FROM ONE WHO KNOWS
Chris from PA read the Slate link What Black Hawk Down Leaves Out - That Somalia raid really was more a debacle than a victory and wanted to put n his two cents. Keep in mind, Chris actually served in Somalia in the US Army. He has a book about his experiences coming out this year (it's called The Ice Beneath You). He writes:

Interesting article on Black Hawk Down and the Battle of Mogadishu. True enough, many many soldiers were very upset afterward, about the portrayal of what had gone down as a failure.

Indeed, in tactical terms, it was hardly a failure. They achieved the mission goals, and the dead rate was 18 Americans to a low-ball estimate of 700 Somalis.

You need to look at it in context of a war. Had this happened during Vietnam or WWII, it would barely have registered on the American public's radar screen. Either that, or it would have actually been trumpeted as a great success. After all, 700 dead vs. 18, plus mission success, sure smells like a great victory, doesn't it? It's just that, out of the context of a "great war," the American public doesn't like to hear about 18 American dead. Truth is, though, it is absolutely astounding there weren't triple that number killed that day. (And, had there been, we still would have come out on top, tactically.)

So, the ground troops were justifiably pissed off for a long time to have this mission called a "failure."

Now, it WAS a failure in other arenas, but this had nothing to do with the job done by the guys on the ground. The high-level planning of it, for
instance, was fucked. Remember, it resulted in the resignation of Les Aspin shortly after as SecDef. A few generals and colonels should have gone with him.

But, from the time the orders were put in the hands of the grunts on the ground, they did an amazing job with the tools they had.

Not much different from Operation Anaconda, just passed. By the book, the acceptable loss of of our troops was higher, I'm sure, than the number of guys who actually died. No matter what the media and/or public thinks, you just can't plan an action like that and not plan on severe casualties (yes, there is an actual formula). I'm sure the Pentagon expected more dead on Anaconda than we got.

cb, he of Somalia 12/92-04/93

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