The US Military Catch-All Thread


#1

Because we’ve scattered stuff all over P&R about the various ups and downs of Uncle Sam’s traveling circus.

What prompted me is this story on CNN. Apparently, a US Army Special Forces member, who died in Mali a while back, may have been murdered by Navy SEALs. At least, NCIS is investigating his death as a homicide, and the reports are that SEAL Team Six members are the subjects of the investigation.

Now, the Navy has had a rough patch recently, with leadership, readiness, and morale issues galore, mostly in the Pacific. If this pans out, in addition to being pretty horrific in and of itself, it points to even more rot deep within the service. Though in this case I’m wondering if it’s also perhaps related to the vast expansion of special operations forces over the past decade or two. We can’t even fill billets in the line units of the military, reliably. It must be even harder to fill an expanded special operations requirement, given the supposedly high standards those units have.

All in all, it’s getting more and more depressing looking at where we are today.


#2

Follow up report via CNN that sources are saying the SEALs were stealing money from a fund used to pay informants, the Army guy found out, he refused an offer to take a cut to keep quiet…and ended up dead at the hands of the SEALs.

If true, it’s just another indication that our rush to expand special ops units to the point where they really can’t be called elite in the true sense of the term was, at best, ill-conceived and at worst a genuine waste of resources. But it’s also I think a sign that we’ve managed to cheapen the concepts of patriotism and service to the point that it’s sufficient to wear a uniform and shoot stuff; all of the bits about honor and duty seem to have fallen by the wayside.


#3

It’s pretty damning against the SEALs. They claimed it was accident while they were all drunk, but the Army guy didn’t have any alcohol in his system, and some folks close to him doubted he drank at all. So the odds of him getting drunk with a bunch of SEALs, getting a rowdy fight, and then accidentally getting choked to death are extremely unlikely.

Plus, he apparently told his wife that something was weirding him out about the SEALs, and that he would tell her when he got him. Sounds like the wife immediately reported that as soon as she heard the news.

As for corruption, it’s not surprising.

They literally flew in billions in cash dollars and basically gave units tons of bills to distribute as needed. No accounting whatsoever.


#4

It’s almost like nearly 2 decades of never-ending war erodes one’s standards.


#5

Try 50 years of Cold War, where anything was justified if it had anything to do with fighting Commies, then those decades of nebulously-defined, poorly justified, nearly completely useless never-ending war. But, yeah.


#6

No accounting, or accountability. The rot starts at the top. Now I see a story that the Army is lowering standards even further, giving waivers for all sorts of things they didn’t used to waive. Now, some of that is fine–I mean, weed? Seriously?-- but serious stuff like depression and other mental conditions seem reasonable things to disbar someone from joining up and learning how to destroy and kill. But the never-ending wars and imperial entanglements demand more cogs I guess.


#7

Maybe, but that wasn’t actual war for the most part. Real war wears people down and you need to replace them.

Need to feed the grinder, so we keep lowering standards. During the Cold War most of the time they weren’t in actual combat and when you needed them to be, you drafted people. You could keep your standards for the most part because if push came to shove you had the draft to fill the ranks for a few years.

We’re on year 16 of this war with no end in sight. If there was a draft it would have ended a long, long time ago because the populace wouldn’t stand for it. Now that there isn’t one, it’s just other people’s kids and they volunteered anyway.


#8

Oh, I agree with ya, I’m just saying that the broader climate of erosion of values has been in place a lot longer than just since 9/11. Working in the defense industry in the eighties, it was very apparent that “extremism in the defense of (what they say as) liberty is no vice” was definitely a core belief.

But yeah, the acute problem today is largely the result of the combination of abdicating responsibility as a society for our military, and the constant grind of ceaseless low-level warfare (that has the added cost of not actually doing anything for us in terms of results).


#9

They have had waivers in place for years. Weed waiver was a common one. Another was prior arrests and petty crimes. So think about that and the subject of missing cash.

The military has always been a simple microcosm of our normal American mix. Good and bad seemed to be equally represented, and from what I understand, this was no different for the special forces. Showing that you can get through a tough training program doesn’t suddenly put you in the record books for being a wonderful and trustful human being. The only issue we have is that two decades of parading military members around as, “heroes,” is part of the problem with Americans not understanding they are NOT heroes just because they were part of our military.

What I find crazy about this story is that seal team six was involved. Something tells me there was more going on in that region than just the theft of that cash.


#10

Having read far more Marcinko than is healthy I don’t think shenanigans around Seal Team Six are surprising at all.

Oh… you’ve read the books, you’ve watched the films, now wonder as you find out the missing Iraq billions actually happened… well, not really wonder at all tbh. Let me guess, it was stolen by a rogue Colonel, a crazy pilot, a handsome intelligence officer and a black engineer?


#11

I’ve read a lot of him as well and gulp enjoyed them. :)

My thought was more along the lines of: “so what else are they up to if they are this deep into it.”

Team 6 isn’t one they would throw at a routine problem. So what were those fuckers up to?


#12

That was true in the past. Might be true today. But, I have to wonder, it’s just as likely they’ve been co-opted like everything else into being some corporate GOP donor’s private army.


#13

True, and I should have thought through that exact suggestion. With the way we throw the military at the whim of folks in charge these days there is no telling what the purpose might have been. Besides stealing money.

A part of me wonders if the entire thing was orchestrated by someone even higher than the SEAL members being detained.


#14

A very real possibility, though it’s just as possible we have bad apples acting like, well, bad apples. Combine expanding the special ops beyond what the recruitment pool can normally sustain, with nebulous missions, poor leadership, and a culture as you note above that tells anyone in a uniform they are a priori a hero even if they don’t do anything else, and yeah, the recipe does not produce anything good.


#15

I’ll say he was moody!

“The Air Force does not condone violence of any kind and we have every faith in our legal system to act quickly and appropriately in response,” Toner said.

Emphasis added. Strictly speaking, I don’t believe this to be true what with raining fire from the sky and all.


#16

No, no, that’s freedom raining from the sky!


#17

No violence here!


#18

“Hellfire” is a way cooler name than “JAGM” although I suppose the latter’s name could morph into something like “Jaeger”. Then our flyboys could end up taking combat-related “Jaeger” shots!


#19

It’s hard to tell in these sorts of things whether “better” is “better,” and even what the definition of “better” is. Are we talking stuff that isn’t really readily visible, like resistance to jamming or the like, more robust electronics, etc.? Those things are complex to test and often the results are hard to parse outside of a limited technical arena. Stuff like how much it blows up and other easily measurable parameters are much easier to see, but even there, I guess “better” depends on how it’s being positioned and stuff.

But then again, I would not be surprised if the Pentagon in general had zero clue as to what it was doing.


#20

Obvious name for newly designed missile: Brimstone

(Alternate: Damnation)