Friday, May 13, 2011

Fishy Story

The Obama Administration strikes me as being essentially fairly honest, but I’m not sure I can give it high marks for coherence, and especially not in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden mission, given the number of times that story has changed. We now hear from Robert Gates that “we all agreed that we would not release any operational details,” but just hours after the raid National Security Advisor Donilon was babbling those details, inaccurately it turns out, to the press.

We are also being told that President Obama was so farsighted as to order that additional helicopters be included in the mission, but the actual purpose of those extra choppers seems to me to be a bit unclear.

The phrase most often given for those extra choppers is that they were “backups in the event that it became necessary for the mission to fight its way out,” but that description of purpose is self-contradicting. If they were for the purpose of the mission “fighting its way out” they would be full of troops and would not be able to serve as backups, and if they were “backups” they would necessarily be empty and be useless in the event that fighting became necessary.

The “fighting their way out” bit does make some sense. Given the location and the time on target of only forty minutes, the chances of Pakistan rallying any significant number of ground troops to the scene was pretty small, but not zero, so having one or two helicopters full of troops on scene to cover that possibility would be pretty good judgement. I can see the military being too conservative to suggest it and the President bringing it up and insisting on it.

But it doesn’t match with the helicopter being able to carry out the troops originally carried by the damaged bird. Other than the Chinook, which no one is suggesting was used, helicopters carry very small numbers of troops, so any chopper carrying support troops would not be able to serve as a backup to carry those in the destroyed helicopter.

I’m also having a bit of a problem with the bit where the original plan was to have the backups ninety minutes away and that it was Obama who insisted that the backups accompany the mission, for whatever purpose they did so. Our military is not generally stupid, and making a raid in what is essentially downtown Pakistan with emergency help being held a full hour and a half away strikes me as really stupid.

I’m really hoping that was not the plan that our military really presented to the President, because if they presented it to me I would conclude that our military is so inept that we should just surrender and be done with it.

1 comment:

bruce said...

Troops and equipment and all the crap they brought back. Agreed with this analysis. And what about the rest of the changes they made to the story? Of course, any or all of it could be clever dis (mis) information. If the leaders are that clever, of course.

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