28 January 2014

They Are Both Right

...and they are both wrong.

I've been reading analyses of what went wrong with Operation Red Wings and where the mistakes were made.

It started for me reading this blog post: A Marine Corps View of Tactics in Operation Red Wings.

Then something of a rebuttal from: About Some Lone Survivor Controversies.

Then an additional retort from: Responses to Assessment of Lone Survivor.

I was a tank crewman, what do I know?  Unlike the people post above; I know what I DON'T know!

I am not and was not infantry or special forces.

What I do have to hand is a Willard.  He's a vet of the Rhodesian Army Regiment and should have a freaking doctorate in military history if he'd just go back to school and get the sheep-skin.

He  was US Army infantry stationed in Korea (not Korean War) who then cast about looking for the action.

I linked him to the controversy and his assessment:  Both sides are criticizing things based on how they would have done it.

He repeated a quote I'd seen in the comments, "We send big patrols out, they see nothing.  We send small patrols out, they don't come back."

Willard is very critical of special forces, SEALs in particular; but he readily concedes that they can do things at all that conventional infantry can't just because of scale.  But because of that scale, SF is boned if things go a little wrong where an infantry platoon simply has a small firefight.

Four guys hidden deep and not moving around can see things that a platoon sized LP/OP would never get a chance to see because they have too large a foot print.

Likewise, if a fight starts; I'd rather have a platoon of Marines than four SEALs.  SF missions quite often hinge on not being discovered in the first place.  SF is very often high risk - high return; and conventional infantry simply doesn't take such risks or reap such returns.

Having read up on the topic from an ignorant start...

The Rules of Engagement more than anything else is the problem here.  Willard has a lengthy rant about it, I hope to get it transcribed soon.  Shooting the goat-herds or not should not have been a spot decision.  Willard points out that shooting them was irrelevant since the people WATCHING the herders were assuredly already giving warning while the debate about what to do was going on.

Then there's the carte blanche removal of proven weaponry from the inventory that greatly enhances the ability of a teeny unit to break contact and escape from a larger one.

It is almost as if the National Command Authority cares more for the well being of the enemy and strangers than its own citizens and soldiers.

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