Every now and then a meme pops up featuring the images of several prominent Republicans with the line, “OH MY GHERD! REPUBLICANS ARE CONTINUING TO INVESTIGATE BENGHAZI WHILE THEY ARE CUTTING EMBASSY SECURITY 50%!”
For those of you who have never served in the military, you are probably not aware about particular military facts and military tenets and how they are relevant to this. I will be all to glad to explain them to you. Military Fact: The shell will always beat the armor. This means that an attacking force will always beat a defensive force. The only question is the time frame for the attacker to beat the defender.
A Battleship, meant to deliver (and receive) 16” shells can take a single hit to the armor by such a shell and survive. It may even take two hits to approximately the same spot and remain capable of fighting. The bad news is no armor of any size can withstand multiple hits in the same spot.
Before an attack, the attacking force will know approximately the strengths and capabilities of the defensive force. The attackers will then amass a force superior to the defensive force before they attack. The more superior the attacking force, the shorter time it will take to crush the defenses. This is why defensive forces like Embassy Marines and other security staff are given one basic order if they are attacked: Hold until relieved.
Which brings us to the Military Tenet of leave no man behind.
This passage from Robert Heinlien’s book Starship Troopers lays this tenet out succinctly:
Now I was the victim. “Yes, sir.”
“Are a thousand unreleased prisoners sufficient reason to start or resume a war? Bear in mind that millions of innocent people may die, almost certainly will die, if war is started or resumed.”
I didn’t hesitate. “Yes, sir! More than enough reason.”
” ‘More than enough.’ Very well, is one prisoner, unreleased by the enemy, enough reason to start or resume a war?”
I hesitated. I knew the M. I. [Mobile Infantry] answer, but I didn’t think that was the one he wanted. He said sharply, “Come, come, Mister! We have an upper limit of one thousand; I invited you to consider a lower limit of one. But you can’t pay a promissory note which reads ‘somewhere between one and one thousand pounds’ and starting a war is much more serious than paying a trifle of money. Wouldn’t it be criminal to endanger a country, two countries in fact, to save one man? Especially as he may not deserve it? Or may die in the meantime? Thousands of people get killed every day in accidents ... so why hesitate over one man? Answer! Answer yes, or answer no, you’re holding up the class.”
He got my goat. I gave him the cap trooper’s answer. “Yes, sir!”
” ‘Yes’ what?”
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a thousand, or just one, sir. You fight.”
“Aha! The number of prisoners is irrelevant. Good. Now prove your answer.”
I was stuck. I knew it was the right answer. But I didn’t know why. He kept hounding me. “Speak up, Mr. Rico. This is an exact science. You have made a mathematical statement; you must give proof. Someone may claim that you have asserted, by analogy, that one potato is worth the same price, no more, no less, as one thousand potatoes. No?”
“Why not? Prove it.”
“Men are not potatoes.”
“Good, good, Mr. Rico!”
If you have ever wondered about the reasoning about why our military is so intelligent, aggressive, tenacious and victorious on the battlefield, it is because every man and woman who armors up knows without question that every other American soldier, Sailor and Marine have their backs and will not stop, not rest until they return home.
When you’re far from home and up to your chin in shit you need that reassurance. When you wonder if you will live to see the sunset, let alone the sunrise, these are the sweetest words you will ever hear:
“I am an American soldier. I’m here to rescue you. I’m here to take you home.”
I am not upset about the funding levels for Embassy defensive staff. Those decisions are made dependent on available budget and risk assessments by bean counters. I hate bean counters.
What got me upset about Benghazi is the civilian leadership told our fighting forces, “Stand down. Do not attempt rescue.” I don’t give a rat’s ass, when American soldiers are under fire, you send every unit you have as soon as it is armed and capable of moving. The Obama administration gave the line of, “Our forces would not have gotten there in time.” Until you actually get there, you won’t know if it will be “in time” or not. Those defending forces might hold out longer than anybody realizes.
A rapidly-dispatched American F-16 flying over the battle, armed or not, will give the enemy pause and give hope to those under attack. It lets both sides know, “We’re thinking about you.” Air-to-ground ordinance on that F-16 would add an exclamation point to that statement.
You don’t ever leave troops that you send into harms’ way without knowing how you’re going to get them home when it turns to shit.
This is the major issue with political control over tactical decisions. That prior statement is a 5,000 word major article by itself which I am not going to get into. Right now.
The military has contingency plans for just about everything. We even had a plan on what to do if Canada tries to invade the Continental US. It involved pulling all forces back to the southern border of Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota to give our forces time to regroup and counterattack.
The plans may not always be good, but we are always going to use maximum effort to bring our troops home. The civilian leadership might leave our troops hung out to dry, but the troops won’t. You can take that to the bank.