While the self-inflated egos in the United States Congress debate healthcare reform and a former (and entirely worthless) U.S. President alleges that all opponents of Barack Obama’s socialist agenda are bigoted racists, approximately 7000 miles away in the small village of Ganjgal near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan three young United States Marines and a Navy Corpsman were ambushed while on a training mission with Afghan forces. The NATO led group were detailed to provide guidance to the Afghan military as they searched the village for weapons and met with the village elders in the attempt to establish an agreement to plan police patrols.
Prior to their arrival the terrorist villagers had set up firing positions on both sides of the village and had men strategically stationed in the surrounding mountains armed with numerous RPGs and large automatic weapons. U.S, officials have been quoted as saying that they strongly suspect the terrorists knew about the training mission long before the troop’s arrival. The three Marines and the Navy Corpsman were at the head of the column making its way towards the small village when the terrorists opened fire. They immediately sought cover in one of the nearby houses but the terrorists had them pinned down and unleashed a barrage of gunfire from fortified positions on both flanks and RPG rounds from their positions in the nearby mountains. Some of the Afghan soldiers were killed in the initial burst of fire, but under the withering onslaught of automatic weapons fire and RPG rounds the penned down Americans knew that it would be suicidal to leave their only source of cover. As they returned fire from the dwelling they immediately radioed for assistance, close air support and artillery fire on the coordinates of their attackers. Those requests were denied. During the four hour battle between the trapped Americans, their Afghan allies and the terrorists, multiple appeals were made for assistance and every appeal for help was denied.
Navy medical corpsman James Layton, a petty officer third class, from Riverbank, California was endeavoring to give medical assistance to Marine Lt. Michael Johnson, of Virginia Beach, Va., when both were killed. A Marine Corporal who arrived after the battle reported that bandages and other medical gear covered the bodies and ground around the two men. Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson Jr. of Columbus, Ga., and Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick of Roswell, Ga. were also killed during the ambush along with Eight Afghan soldiers and an Afghan interpreter. Three other American soldiers were wounded during the ambush.
According to the report of one embedded journalist accompanying the soldiers on the training mission the U.S. advisors assisting Afghan forces had been assured prior to the operation that “air cover would be five minutes away.” However, General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan recently issued new restrictions on the use of military force and air raids that could potentially cause civilian deaths and further alienate the Afghan population. The direct consequence of this action is four dead American soldiers, four families left to grieve over the unnecessary death of their sons, a nation full of people deprived of four courageous souls, and a military that will for many years doubt the sincerity of their leadership.
While various versions of the story about the deaths of these four American soldiers have been reported by the American news media, no U.S. news source has mentioned anything about their repreated requests for assistance and the repeated denials they received following each plea for help. To the best of my knowledge the Agence France-Presse has been the only news source to release the full details of this incident. I can not understand why this news has been withheld from the American people by the press, but I suspect that the primary source behind the censorship is our own government.
Personally, I cannot due justice to the outrage I feel concerning the deplorable denial of assistance to American soldiers under direct attack by an overwhelming number of enemy fighters. Witnesses to this ambush later stated that women and children from the village were seen carrying boxes of ammunition and rockets to resupply the attackers. Clearly there were no civilians anywhere in the vicinity that would justify the denial for air support, and the personal conviction held by the author of these pages is that civilians, men, women and children have always suffered during times of war and always will. It is an inevitable and irrefutable fact of every combat engagement and any misguided attempt to mitigate or eliminate the inevitability of civilian casualties in combat situations will always result in The soldiers, bound by entirely ludicrous “rules of engagement” being placed at a distict disadvantage and significantly increase the probability of their being killed, wounded or captured. This is especially true throughout the Middle East where religious fanatics, who are well aware of the restrictive rules of engagement which our soldiers are required to follow, take full advantage of those restrictions by surrounding their firing positions with any available unarmed civilians. Furthermore, most of those unarmed civilians are willing participants fully committed to the fanatic religious belief that their death not only guarantees them an express ticket to Muslim paradise, it also supplies their fellow jihadists with additional opportunities to show the world how barbaric the American savages treat their “innocent” populace. The politically correct demands of misguided American officials to reduce the death of civilians in an area where no innocent civilians exist is directly proportional to the increased number of American soldiers killed and wounded. The best, brightest and most courageous of American youth; the young people who will one day become the future of this nation are being slaughtered needlessly in a distant and savage land that is not worth saving and in a war that history has repeatedly demonstrated is impossible to win. There is no better demonstration of pure unadulterated chaos than that provided by full-on combat situations. Survival depends entirely on excellent training, fast reflexes and good instincts; hesitation results in instant death, and rules of engagement demand hesitation. Under those circumstances survival is very unlikely and failure is certainly assured.
Navy medical corpsman James Layton, Lt. Michael Johnson, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson Jr., and Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick volunteered to serve their nation in time of war. Nobody forced them into becoming American soldiers; the decision to serve their nation’s need was the product of their own determination. Their deaths were unnecessary and avoidable. They were abandoned by their superiors and left to die while their officers, far removed from threat of flying lead and shrapnel, cautiously considered the political implications of giving these brave men the assistance that every American soldier, caught up in similar situations, should fully expect. Semper Fidelis is more than mere words; it represents an oath, a motto, a dedication to selfless service and a life-altering philosophy capable of transforming even the most common of undisciplined juvenile recruits into United States Marines who are capable of accomplishing miracles far beyond the limits of normal human endurance. It is an enduring transformation that can never be reversed and any individual that perseveres throughout the long and arduous process of going from recruit to Marine will remain a Marine forever. The experience behind the words I’ve written here is far in the distant past and I can appreciate the one true fact of life that all things are subject to change; however, despite any changes that have occurred over the last three decades, the thought that four American soldiers were abandoned by their superior officers remains incomprehensible to me. The entire concept simply refuses to compute. The thought that four American soldiers following the orders of their superior officers were caught up in a devastating ambush and unable to escape through the withering crossfire were denied assistance by military officials who fully understood that the consequences of their denied help would inevitably result in the death or capture of those four men is a thought that finds no possible path through my brain. The word “tragedy” does not define it, and “travesty” falls far from the mark. Semper Fidelis is neither a mere phrase, nor it some casually adopted philosophical concept casually picked up like a stray discarded coin from the street of lifetime experience. It is a blazing white hot brand that is seared into the heart and soul of the few who truly grasp its full implications. It is a secure bond and an life time oath of fealty to brothers in need and I personally cannot fathom any direct order, authoritative command or potential threat that has the capacity to overcome, supersede or even slightly reduce the immediate and instinctual affirmative response to render aid and assistance whenever and wherever it is required.
Military officers supervising and directing soldiers in combat situations are often required to direct troops into situations of great danger. They do so despite the knowledge that the men they direct may be seriously wounded or killed while attempting to fulfill the orders they have been given. It is a hard burden to bear. Combat soldiers routinely face death. Superior training, good instincts, fast reflexes, common sense and the sufficient mental discipline required to maintain a constant state of high alert characterizes those who survive but those characteristics do not guarantee survival. The remains of the lackadaisical, distracted grab-assers are bagged and tagged for shipment home when their inevitable fate meets a high caliber round or they stumble over a plainly evident trip wire while bird watching. The death of soldiers following the direction of their superiors is a lifetime burden carried by every combat commander. The faces of the dead and dying provide a lifetime of haunted memories and the stains of their blood burns deep into the soul. The bond that is formed between superiors and subordinates is a bond of trust. No soldier will be left behind if wounded or dead and assistance will be always be given when required. These are not unspoken assurances, they are readily apparent certainties without which, no trust is possible, order becomes chaos and confidence becomes anxiety.
Navy medical corpsman James Layton, Lt. Michael Johnson, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson Jr., and Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick died because their request for assistance was denied by their superiors. They were abandoned and left to die when the assistance they needed and repeatedly requested was available but withheld on the inexcusable basis of political necessity. Their blood forms a shameful stain on the finest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and that shame extends throughout the entire American military. The trust has been violated and the certainty destroyed. The soldiers who voluntarily serve this nation’s interests are all aware of what transpired in the village of Ganjgal even if the American news media has refused to fully disclose the shameful facts. What soldier will serve a nation that refuses to come to his or her assistance? Who can possibly trust a nation that abandons it’s most noble servants in their time of need? What soldier would want to serve under these conditions.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the man responsible for the current rules of engagement that resulted in the unnecessary deaths of those four soldiers has requested an additional 40,000 American troops be sent to Afghanistan. The General justifies this request as necessary to fulfill the counterinsurgency strategy envisioned in the face of growing resistance. Initially, the Obama administration told General McChrystal to put a cork in it for the time being, however, more than 4000 combat trained Marines unaccountably disappeared from the Marine base at Camp Pendleton within the last two weeks. It is not difficult to guess their ultimate destination. The enemy these American soldiers will face are infinitely adaptable and highly adept at using the newly adopted rules of engagement to their fullest advantage. An American victory in Afghanistan is unlikely under the currently existing conditions. Wars can not be won by self-serving politicians in Washington D.C., especially when the controlling majority is made up of inexperienced liberals who detest the American military nearly as much as they hate their own nation. Despite being the most formidable military force on the planet, the best trained, the best equipped and having most highly advanced technology conceivable, these young American soldiers are being sent to their death if they are not allowed to defend themselves as necessary and when necessary. Their ability to achieve success is entirely dependent on their being allowed to do what they were trained to do without the capricious restrictions of inexperienced political hacks demanding control over all situations. If Barack Obama, his administrative staff or the U.S. Congress demands the ability to approve or disapprove every aspect of every situation these soldiers will face in the coming months ahead then our failure is guaranteed and the American death toll will be enormous and the threat of worldwide terrorism will become much greater than ever before. The current administration has intentionally shaped, slanted and withheld information that every American citizen has the right to know. The freedom and liberty of our nation is standing on the brink of destruction, our economy is in tatters, and our government continuously expands its tyrannical control over every aspect of our daily lives. Government regulation of American free enterprise is gradually destroying the capitalistic source of American prosperity and the threat of eternal servitude and slavery of this nation’s citizens is staring us right in the face. While our national defense systems are being dismantled, our nation is being sold off to foreign interests and the pattern of these events displays an ominous unspoken agenda.
Conspiracies do happen and paranoia is often justified. Across this nation an ever increasing number of American citizens are waking up to the fact that out federal government is out of control and has usurped the authority of the people. Congressional representation for the American citizen is now nearly non-existent and legislative acts are being debated and passed despite the overwhelming opposition of the people. None of these things are coincidental. The direction our government is taking is set but we have not been told where it that path leads. The future looks bleak and we are being lied to by our elected representatives and by the news media. Important factual information is purposely being withheld and obscured and there is a reason behind all of it. The American people have the legal authority to hold their government leaders accountable for every action they take. We must exercise that authority before it is taken away from us.
As far as Afghanistan is concerned, if we can’t allow the military the freedom to do the job they are fully capable of doing because our politicians are afraid of stepping on too many sensitive toes, then we need to get the hell out of there until we have a real president who is competent enough to do the job right.
The full Agence France-Presse news report is available at Military.com