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My answer to Do former service members believe General Mattis acted appropriately on December 5, 2001?

Answer by Abbey Laurel-Smith:

Appropriately, yes, if we look at his “well defined” role in that area – first, as a “Marine,” then, as probably a “mission tasked expedition force” commander.

Favorable opinions will be to go along with the “predictable” requests he made for:

  • definite and detailed info. about enemy whereabouts.
  • detailed info. about enemy numbers, strength and precise location.
  • detailed info. about types of weapons deployed by an enemy who has already shot down three flying birds and over gunned it’s technologically advanced SF occupants.
  • time of request – fighting on enemy terms in daylight. And if he had to commit, he will only do so at night and not without the cover of fast aerial movers.
  • he is against the U.S. military attitude of flying helicopters right in to the middle of a firefight.

But if we look at him as the nearest 3 star LTG and as a JSOC qualified commander, then we might argue that he acted inappropriately. Because his action or lack of immediate action on the 5th of December, 2001, clearly shows:

  • he sees himself first as a Marine, committed to only to the Marines. Not the goals of the combined Armed Forces, not ISAF and definitely will not go the extra yard for the nation.
  • he is inflexible and only committed to task at hand, task as given and predictable tasks in/within the defined battle space or the confined area of op. in which he operates.
  • he did not see any need to use Force Recon elements within his beloved Marine Corps for long range recce. – like the two Aussie SF who ended up covering almost eleven kilometers (in knee deep snow) to help at Takur Ghar on the 5th of December, 2001, as soon as the first helicopter was shot down by the Taliban.
  • daylight or not, he is obviously not willing to push the envelope by adapting technology/weapons/materiels/human resources (lots of which he had at his disposal at that particular moment) to meet a need that is new, and a need that is not prescribed by conventional warfare standard.
  • unlike David Hackworth’s (RIP) field specifications about out g-ing the “effing” guerillas, General Mattis action on this date, shows he is not flexible enough to make space for peripheral actions that might call for a need to interfere beyond his sphere of a determined battle space. But then, that was not his assigned task.

Now, as much as these makes it easy for paranoid SF members to say, he might be one of those in the military who sees SF personnels as stupid and dumb to go pick a fight with a larger force without air support, mortar or artillery cover.

We must also never forget to query JSOC, it’s leadership and JSOC components.

  • Where were they when this was happening?
  • If SF operates outside a regular military outfit. They should not be put in a position where they will be seen at the mercy of a brigade or a division commander.
  • How well do they know the enemy?
  • And why did we see same things happening again and again in op.Anaconda, op.Red Wings, etc.
  • What happened to OPSEC. professionalism, equipment familiarity and good infantry training.
  • And why not clamp down on the loose use of TACRAD within the SF.

These are the reasons why a lot of commanders were not willing to commit themselves, their troops and their resources to fighting alongside SF personnels in Afghanistan.

Do former service members believe General Mattis acted appropriately on December 5, 2001?

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