Lara Does the Special Forces

My morning email contained a heads up from Mullah John who is home on R&R. 60 Minutes had broadcast a show on the American Special Forces last night and the segment was “disheartening” to quote the good Mullah. After watching it I was left speechless – it was worse then “disheartening,” it was awful. It is hard to know what to say when you see stuff like this but not knowing what to say has never stopped me before so here it goes….

The segment was called “The Quiet Professionals” which of course is a great name for an organization that invites 60 Minutes for a two month embed. Hit the link above to see the piece, because I doubt anyone reading this blog caught it when it aired last night on CBS. It appears to be a 13 minutes of Lara flirting with SF dudes or as a commenter on the CBS website noted about Lara’s narration “It’s like listening to a child explain black holes.”

Lara Logan CBS news chief foreign correspondant
Lara Logan CBS news chief foreign affairs correspondent

Of course the segment has all the annoying crap one associates with Special Forces – only use first names, wearing sunglasses to “protect their identity” and digitized faces for all the Americans not wearing sunglasses. Does anyone believe that the Taliban is going come to America and hunt these guys down some day? Of course not but the Taliban routinely hunt down ANA Commandos in their home villages but none of them have their faces digitized or identities hidden. Why?

The 60 Minutes crew caught three shootings on film which are all in the segment. The first victim was one of the SF team leaders who was shot during a raid by one of the Afghan soldiers they are training. The second shooting was an Afghan Commando who shot himself in the foot during another raid. The final shooting was committed by a member of the SF team who shot two children who were sitting in the back of a vehicle that was approaching a village where the rest of the team was “catching an important Taliban commander.” He was shooting at an approaching vehicle with a suppressed weapon to warn it to stop… great thinking, but we’ll get to that and a recent shooting of an imam in Kabul last week later.

Everything the “Quiet Professionals” did in this story was (to me) suspect, from shooting at targets down range while Afghans are standing right next to the targets, to screaming obscenities at them, calling them “fucktards” and inflicting group punishment because they couldn’t master the “load, unload” drill, which I know from experience your average 11 year old can master in little under an hour of professional instruction.

Want to know something our ‘elite’ SF guys don’t seem to know? Afghans don’t cuss. To call an Afghan a motherfucker (a word used frequently in every conversation in the American military) is a grave insult that would, in the local context, need to be atoned by blood. I cannot stress this point enough and if, during my frequent forays into the tribal bad lands, I used that word even in jest I would have been killed long ago. One of the secrets that I and my fellow outside the wire expats use in the contested areas is respect for local culture coupled with big confident smiles;  that’s why we are able to do what every USG expert contends cannot be done.

I could go through this piece point by point, harping on quotes like wearing beards is “a mark of respect among the locals”  which nonsense but why bother? The piece speaks for itself so let’s get back to this shooting business.

Let me set this up; one of the SF team along with an ANA soldier is pulling security on the road leading into a village where the rest of the team is looking for a ‘high value target’ (HVT in mil speak). When an old truck rumbles down the road towards him the SF guy fires ‘warning shots’ from his rifle which has a suppressor on it. When he runs up to the truck he discovers there were two young boys in the back and he had shot them both.

What should the guy have done when a truck load of males is approaching at “high speed” on the rutted bumpy dirt road leading into the village? He should have done what we do – walk out to the road with a big friendly smile, hold up your hand, have them stop and then tell them to sit tight until the Americans are done. It is that simple – the biggest weapon us Americans have in Afghanistan is a warm smile and the ability to at least say “Tsenga Ye?” (“How are you?” in Pashto). I have been in this exact situation about 100 times over the years and so viewed this incident with no small amount of disgust.

What if the truck is full of Taliban? That’s what binoculars are for. A truck full of bad guys is a target easily defeated by two riflemen who are weapons free and waiting for them within hand grenade range. They are in a truck and can’t use their weapons effectively until they are out of the truck. In other words they would be sitting ducks. That is not true if they stop at some distance away and deploy from the truck which is the Taliban MO. But the truck in this instance didn’t do that – it just drove down the dirt road as fast as the dirt road allowed until the kids in the back started screaming and a crazy American popped out of a treeline and started running towards them. The driver is not going to hear shots fired from a suppressed weapon so until he sees something to make him stop the firing suppressed warning shots tactic is pointless.

There is one more aspect to this story which I find deeply disturbing as a military professional. The SF guy whacks a 14 year old kid dead center in the chest with his main battle rifle from less than 50 yards away and when he runs up to the vehicle the kid pops up and starts giving him shit about it? What the hell kind of main battle rifle are we using these days? Don’t get me wrong; I was pleased to see the child survived, as was the guy who shot him, and everyone else involved. But when you shoot someone in the chest with a military grade rifle then that someone is supposed to go down and stay down. Whatever cartridge, barrel length, and suppressor combination that team is using is obviously less than adequate. They should be carrying 7.62×51 mm rifles. If they can all press twice their body weight then they can handle a few extra pounds of proper battle rifle and ammo. They also can probably handle the strain of carrying binoculars too – killing children is bad on morale especially when you could avoid shooting them using standard infantry techniques like making friend or foe determinations with binoculars.

Better yet they may want to consider slowing down enough to issue a proper raid order with brief backs and inspections. You have to be a 10th degree ninja master to pull a two man covering element job by standing in the middle of the road day dreaming about Lara Logan which is how this unfortunate incident started.

Developing unconventional military tactical skills takes years of dedicated training coupled with mission focused outside the box thinking.

Which brings us to the latest bad news from Kabul; the shooting of an important imam who was in his car with a bunch of his children when a convoy driving down Jalalabad road shot him dead. He reportedly failed to slow down when approaching the convoy which is the standard story you hear from ISAF every time they shoot up a car load of civilians. I think the body count is well over 600 at this point and not one of these unfortunates did anything unusual by Afghan driving standards. You can read about that here.

Here is the thing – I can’t think of any incidence in which a suicide bomber blew himself up in Afghanistan with passengers in the vehicle. I also can’t think of a single incident in Afghanistan in which a military gunner successfully stopped a suicide bomber from driving into his convoy. This escalation of force was senseless. I can recall examples when gunners have been killed leaning out of their cupolas exposed while trying to engage suicide VBIED drivers while the rest of their crew survived the explosion. They would not have been killed had they ducked down inside their armored vehicle.

I am as fond of brave fighting men as the next guy and admire the courage those kids showed trying to protect their fellow soldiers. But the escalation of force tactics currently being used are stupid and should be changed immediately. What happened in Kabul is murder – you can not justify shooting a driver who has a car load of children under any circumstance. We have too much history here and should know what a VBIED looks like – this shooting is just as stupid as the shootings involving Italians in Herat last summer, or the Blackwater guys in Kabul last spring.

When you live behind walls everything on the other side of those walls is a threat. When you isolate your forces from the population you are supposed to “protect,” then your forces have no ability to distinguish friend from foe; threat from normal routine or the good from the bad. Gen McChrystal can gob on all he wants about the importance of “COIN” and, “getting to know the people” blah blah blah…. it doesn’t matter because he sets the operational rules here and under his rules no conventional American troops can leave a FOB unless they have at least four MRAPS and 16 riflemen. How are you supposed to, “protect the people” if you can only roll around in large road-bound convoys? How can you, “protect the people” if every night all your people have to be back on the big box FOB’s eating ice cream and pecan pie?

These SF guys are supposed to be the ones who know how to operate outside the big bases with the local population but did you notice where they are living? On a big box FOB; isolated and removed from their Afghan charges – which was obvious because none of them spoke a word of Dari or Pashto. My children can get through formal greetings in both Pashto and Dari and they were here for just a few months – it’s just not that hard to learn these things when you live in the local environment. Those SF teams should be out here free ranging with guys like The Bot, Mullah John, Panjiwai Tim and myself. They are good troops being poorly served by commanders who keep them isolated and removed from the people they are supposed to be protecting. They will never be able to gain the situational awareness required to do real COIN if they remain confined to the Big Box FOBs. That is the real story, and as usual CBS missed it.

39 Replies to “Lara Does the Special Forces”

  1. Thank you for digging into this – I’d been eyeing it all day with some amount of dread, since I expended a lot of mental energy last night ripping apart a similarly lazy and terrible bit in the New York Times.

    I think you actually downplay two important things here:

    1) CBS wasted an incredible amount of money and time embedding with this ODA, and the best they could do was the same old story (or series of events) we’ve seen in every other news segment about the Special Forces since 2006? (This is related to that terrible NatGeo Explorer episode from Uruzgan, where the crew made itself the story because they saw an IED, even while they filmed two soldiers dying.)

    2) That shooter should be removed from the theater. Right after he was busy bragging that you don’t just pick up your gun and shoot at something you don’t understand… he then picked up his gun and shot at something he didn’t understand. I mean, you explain really well here why that was stupid—but in his case, after bragging/lecturing that you just don’t do this, he then did it! On camera, no less! That should be unforgivable, especially in that environment.

    Anyway, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth—that ODAs are still staffed by chest-thumping neanderthals (claims of super-smartness notwithstanding, almost every place HTS has a team they have to clean up after an ODA brutalizes people), AND that CBS’ top “talent” is too stupid to know an actual story when it’s staring her in the face.

    Okay, rant over. You, keep up the good work 🙂

  2. Baba Tim,

    Here is the thing; I can’t think of any incidence in which a suicide bomber blew himself up in Afghanistan with passengers in the vehicle. I also can’t think of a single incident in Afghanistan in which a military gunner successfully stopped a suicide bomber from driving into his convoy.

    Quoted for truth. Did you hear that, RC-East Commander? Did you hear that, ISAF/USFOR-A? You’re in a goddamn MRAP, stop shooting people who get too close. You’re not in danger!

  3. Don’t forget the bad tactics- bunching, silhouetting in windows, poor use of cover, poor security and being taken by surprise by motorists.

    How about the ever fun (but useless) waste of ammo that is shooting a scoped M-4 in daylight at stationary targets at 15 yards.

    Can someone explain why bench pressing is considered a military skill? I though running up and down mountains all day would be more useful.

    Now for the really serious stuff. There were no warning shots fired. Bullets tend to ricochet along a linear surface they strike and not at the angle of incidence. This is why you don’t put your back against a wall. Does anyone believe that his “warning” shots hit the dirt and then both managed to go up and over the cab and hit the kids? He panicked and was shooting at the driver and missed high.

    How about anger management? Why would an adult become upset that a vehicle is moving down a road at a normal speed? Presumably the SF camo gear cams them so why would you become furious if an Afghan doesn’t see you? Which leads to why not be patient, or wave the truck down or actually fire warning shots (which BTW I think is a stupid and illogical tactic) or hide and let him pass or after seeing the kids wave hello and asking all how they are doing?

    How about language skills? Apparently zero and without even any attempt to pretend they know anything. So much for the opening scene of the Green Berets.

    I saw nothing in the film that I wouldn’t expect a mediocre rifle squad to be able to do. It’s time to lose the beards, get haircuts, start wearing rank and name tags, learn some local languages and demonstrate by example what disciplined soldiers look and act like. With mentors like these is it any wonder the ANA has taken eight years to get to the pathetic level of professionalism it’s at.

    It’s also time to admit that if this crew are army “commandos” then the chances of building ANSF ever capable of standing on their own is zero unless we change the way we have been doing things and stop the current plans to reduce training. We must significantly increase training periods, officer pay and select our officers and NCOs specifically for their desire and ability to mentor Afghans.

    Finally. What was cut from the video? A 2 1/2 month embed should result in a form of journalistic Stockholm Syndrome so what was on 60 minutes was probably designed to be flattering to the ODA. Did nothing go right for over two months?

  4. Maybe it’s time 7th Group went back to doing what they do best – chasing whores in Latin America – and leave the mentoring to more responsible units.

  5. I had the opportunity to go out a couple of times with a 20th Group ODA, they were very professional and very sensitive to Pashtun culture. I did see a generational split in the team – something that seems to be reflected in the SF community as a whole – with the younger guys wanting to focus on direct action and the veterans arguing that unconventional warfare was the true SF niche.

    Babatim is spot on when he notes that, as a general rule, contractors are much less trigger happy than soldiers. One of the main differences is the fact that contractors tend to be much older and more experienced than the average troop and much more likely to spend time outside a FOB.

    One of the issues is that the ROEs cannot be applied literally and thus become a matter of judgment. Making the judgment calls is matter of gaining experience in country and in the AO. I saw this during my year in the PRT in Kandahar City, watching two Canadian military rotations come in and take several weeks to acclimate to the surroundings. The Canadians at the PRT knew that vehicles with small children were not a plausible IED threat, and that expecting civilian vehicles to maintain standoff distances was not practical in a city like Kandahar. On the other hand, soldiers who spent all of their time at the super FOB called Kandahar Air Field, or the coalition troops transiting Kandahar City enroute to Helmand Province, were much more likely to get involved in questionable Escalation of Force incidents.

  6. While most (if not all) SF bods are safely tucked away in bed at night in various FOBs, the SAS clearly know no fear when it comes to being identified.

    I mean just look at Willie Apiata, Mark Donaldson and (okay a little older but still awesome) the legendary John MacAllese.

    To be fair to the SAS (especially the British branch) while the Taliban may not have a team of media spotters scanning UK/Commonwealth media for SAS mugshots I’d put a decent bet that the likes of the Real IRA definitely do.

    That probably makes the idea of adding mosaic to Green Berets faces even more embarrasing. Besides, Maori SAS guys are sexier apparently according to women.

    Once again great thread 😀

  7. OK…this was painful and embarrassing to watch but I have to comment and I will apologize in advance for the length of my reply. First, I will use the fond descriptive term “f*ckt@rd” to ask the obvious question — Who was the f*ckt@rd at USASOC (US Army Special Operations Command) and/or USSOCOM Public Relations office that authorized this footage for release?!?!?

    Where do you even start? Hmmm, let’s see…the first two operations result in fratricide with one SF “shooter” getting shot in has a$$, and the other operation shows one of the Afghan “Commandos” shooting himself in the foot.

    Then we are treated to nothing more than a smoke session back at the FOB. Remember these Commando’s are graduates of the Commando Course because by the time the ODA gets them they will have already graduated from “Commando School”. So, I am left to assume the first problem in a series of many within SOF operating in Afghanistan is the Commando School doesn’t even graduate their students with basic rifle operating skills (i.e. the difference between the safe and fire selector on an M4 rifle!?!?) let alone how to safely maneuver in the dark with a loaded weapon.

    Next we’re treated to another “brazen” night raid that results in what I don’t know except they did get to call in AC-130 gunship fire, which is bad @ss up close but again the point is lost because I am not sure why they’re running around in the dark. Then daylight brings us 9 x EKIA for the gunship’s efforts and we now find our beloved “shooters” holed up in a compound with their Commando buddies doing what again I am not so sure… Perhaps, they were checking out the “suspected Taliban Commander’s” digs and waiting for daybreak knowing the Taliban would most likely come check on their homey following a night of gunship fire. So now we’re left to wonder why the ODA and the “Commando’s” are holed up in a compound during daylight hours shooting it out with the bad guys, while the bad guys maneuver outside the compound enjoying the use of the orchards and canals that characterize the favorable terrain in RC-South (especially Kandahar Province). Perhaps they had a local security element outside the compound walls? I want to hope so since that would be a fundamental FM 7-8 (Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad) type of thing taught in the Infantry basic course not too mention SFQC and Ranger School. I digress for a moment though maybe they had an airborne I-QRF (immediate quick reaction force for the uninitiated), but again it was not apparent from the footage so I am left to wonder why these “operators” were tied up in gunfight until nightfall in one compound with the result being 9 x KIA outside the compound. I am assuming they didn’t get their man (the so-called HVI) or it would have been made apparent to us….maybe…so now we’re three “missions” into the documentary and I am still scratching my head trying to figure out the point of what the SF team is doing.

    Now we’re back on the FOB and like any bad @ss operator we’re at the range during “down time” to work out the aggression and show Lara some skill with the suppressed M4. I especially like the segue sit-down at the range where SSG Brent a.k.a “Killer” says “…you know what you’re shooting at, you don’t just pick-up and shoot…” This is critical stuff in film production because if your audience is paying attention you’re now being told SF operators don’t indiscriminately shoot at things without knowing what their shooting at…

    Now we launch into the “rare” daylight operation to capture the ubiquitous “senior Taliban commander” which is one of my favorite intel characterizations by the way. We’re now hanging out (again) with SSG Brent a.k.a. “Killer” outside the target compound where he appears to be placing a flex charge (of sorts) around a tree?!? Perhaps, he is building an improvised AP device…who knows but what we do know was the security element providing overwatch for the road leading to the target seemed to consist of SSG Brent and one or two of the beloved Afghan Commando “f*ckt@rds”. Also what is apparent is the “security” force is well out of position to effectively stop a potential reinforcement from reaching the target area. Again, this is FM 7-8 and basic Ranger school crap but again I will digress because my favorite is coming up. SSG Brent pulls up his suppressed M4 and fires “warning shots” at the approaching truck, which from the footage and his own admission were in and out of his LOS (line of sight). Then my second favorite part, the ever threatening “fast approaching” motorcycle is entering the scene. If you’ve ever spent five minutes outside the wire in RC-South you know there is something like 80 million motorcycles (an exaggeration) in Kandahar and Helmand. It is the cheapest and most prolific form of transportation in the area used throughout the entire year. So to be alarmed by the mere presence of a motorcycle is ridiculous until you positively identify the target (remember the segue piece at the range, SF guys have discipline and don’t shoot until they know what they’re shooting at)…then the heart tugger comes….poor SSG Brent has apparently and unintentionally recruited two new Taliban members, oops I mean shot two MAMs (military aged males) in the back of the “suspect truck”.

    My God this was by the far the worse piece of US military documentary I have ever seen. I think the May Lai incident came off like the D-Day invasion compared to this crap. Again, I want to know who in USASOC and USSOCOM allowed this to be aired without some serious editing or forethought to the content being aired?!?!?!?!

    Lastly, I had to include the three gayest things I have ever heard muttered from anyone in uniform outside of a crappy Hollywood movie —

    “It’s only pain when you acknowledge it”

    “Self-pity is not a luxury we can afford”

    “It’s a really personal thing when another guy is trying to kill you”

    I had to work hard not to laugh at these a$$ clowns when those words slipped from their mouths. There used to be a time when Army SOF would laugh at SEALs for being prima dona hollywood wannabee’s, but I think that paradigm has obviously shifted thank to ODA 7215. I am really interested in seeing the unedited version of this film…perhaps Lara flashes her boobs in a drunken party on the FOB while the boys whip out their johnson’s in a “who has the biggest” contest. This was simply amateurish and frat house crap that should have never been aired as legitimate war footage or as a documentary of any sort!!

    Tim, you stay safe brother and remember USSOF has got it covered out there!!

  8. That is just pathetic. Time to scrap the SF and let them get back to the gym. Bring back the National Guard Soldiers who performed this job superbly under the previous administration. Bring back the professional’s like the teams of Vampire6, Old Blue and Bouhammer.

  9. Boy, reading this was painful. Painful because I know there are lockstep elements within our supporters that buy into the whole marketing pitch of “the quiet professionals.”

    He should have done what I do walk out to the road with a big friendly wolf smile, hold up your hand, have them stop, and then tell them to sit tight until the Americans are done. It is that simple the biggest weapon us Americans have in Afghanistan is a warm smile and the ability to at least say Singa yai (how are you? in Pashto).

    And that’s always been the rule-at-hand with travel in the broadest sense. From the time we were young, we had it drilled into our heads not to be the ugly Americans when traveling abroad. At what point did that message become meaningless, even scorned? Personally, I blame Rambo because why not? It makes as much sense as whacking a 14 year old in the chest. May the soldier who did that be consigned to having a hellacious time when his own kid turns 14. Karma’s a bitch, yanno.

    The Hubs did very well with the locals mainly because he took the time to learn Pashto, and also treated the patients like human beings. But his skills were honed over a 23 year period of private practice where we ate crow almost every day. By the time he came here …hey, it’s a no brainer, and how freakin’ delighted he is not to be doing battle with CEO’s of insurance companies and hospitals. I think there’s a lot to be said about having older soldiers on the ground.

  10. It’s only pain when you acknowledge it

    – Jesse Ventura- Predator, Scene 17 Take 5.

    1. J you must have done a few deployments in your time – I should have recognized that quote myself from WESTPAC 89 since we watched Predator about 300 times while imprisoned aboard the USS Tarawa. I mean deployed aboard the Tarawa….which means we had less personnel room (being embarked Marines) than a federal prison inmate. To be honest I was shot once in the leg too and it only stung because it was as minor a wound as one could sustained and still say one had been shot. But if Lara Logan had been curled up next to me and purred “when you say stinging are you talking about pain?” I am not sure what the hell I would have said. Men cannot think straight when talking to woman – especially one as attractive so I have to give the wounded warrior a pass on his nonsense statement. I doubt I would have done better in similar circumstances. Thanks for all the comments brother.

  11. “I think there’s a lot to be said about having older soldiers on the ground.”

    It is interesting that Churchill devoted a few paragraphs to this subject in “The Story of the Malakand Field Force” long time ago.

  12. Tim, I agree, it was a puff-piece that could have been handled much better on all sides.

    If i recall the episode correctly, the knucklehead fired “warning shots” at the roadway in front of the truck, and they must have ricocheted up into the kids. That might explain why the rounds (luckily) didn’t kill them… I think the shooter says something to that effect shortly after seeing the wounded.

    Obviously we have a lot to learn yet about how to partner effectively with the locals.

    keep up the good work, and be safe.

    1. Capt C that kid was hit square in the chest and that was why he survived. I know the SF guy claimed to have fired warning shots in front of the vehicle but the statistical chances of two shots hitting a road and ricocheting into the back of the truck hitting the two kids sitting back there is zero.
      If he had fired into the ground first the impact would have taken most of the energy out of the round – had that round then hit a kid in the chest it would not have had the energy to go straight through and probably would have done the normal 70 – 30 split inside the chest cavity causing massive internal bleeding. The kid would have been dead before a medevac got to him. There is no way the straight through and through chest wound could have come from anything other than a direct hit to the chest.

      Even if our hapless hero had fired warning shots – not that anyone would have heard them mind you- he is still not following the escalation of force rules which require a pen flare or other pyro singling device be used before warning shots. Although Lara remains clueless about what she filmed that TV segment should result in at least one (maybe more) JAG manual investigation. We have been at this for nine years and there are thousands of contractors operating in country who would never ever make such a piss poor judgment call. Anyone of us could have been standing watch outside the objective area and not only have stopped all traffic coming in, but have done so while cracking up/amazing the local people with our Pashto speaking ability, sense of humor (which Afghans love) and knowledge of the country. I do it ever stinking day….so does The Bot, and Mullah John etc…. I know we make this stuff look easy and it is if you have just the slightest clue of what is normal and what is not in your area of operations. There is no excuse for shooting children – If one of my Marines had done that I would have preferred charges on him about 12 minutes after we got back to base. If one of my Marines were assigned security for a raid and did the job by standing around day dreaming in the middle of a road – and then had to react when a vehicle came because he obviously had not thought through what to do when vehicles approaches….I mean how much more basic can pulling security be? Teenage boys could have figured out how to do that job better without any additional instruction or supervision from an adult. You can’t have people that stupid and unprofessional around you in combat – they are a threat to themselves and everyone around them.

  13. Capt C: “They must have ricocheted up into the kids”. No. His rifle barrel appears to be parallel to the ground. He was also firing at an angle across the direction of travel of the truck so not only did the bullets (both?)have to ricochet up at an unusual degree but they also would have to turn left. So no I don’t think he fired warning shots into the ground.

    A far more probable scenario is that he shot at the driver or maybe the engine and missed high and knows enough to say he was firing warning shots. All NATO troops are well briefed on ROE and what they should say when things go badly.

    Why would he fire? The truck could have been a VBIED. Ok… so why would he then walk toward it? Remember he didn’t think he hit the driver who would be the trigger man and would have been capable of setting the bomb off as the SF gathered around the truck. The entire episode stinks of incompetence and then cover-up.

  14. quite unbelievable… Folks, pardon a russian for asking, is it just these guys so special or they may have some more fans? Can its just be caused by the powerpoint troubled chain of command of these soldiers? Is it “normal” thing that happens, we just don’t get the feed?
    And last, there has to be atleast some reason for such actions?

    1. Hey Leonid – good to see back my friend and no the actions seen on the 60 minutes piece are not normal as far as I can tell.

  15. Baba Tim, it is evident that the pecan pie issue is still sticking you in the @$$. One day buddy slices of pecan pie and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies (damn are they good) will be passed out on the street corners and our troubles here will fade away. My view on all of this is that these SF types fall into a conundrum or even a psychological state that MANY have become afflicted. That is the ‘cool guy’ image. Many and you can name the service or the service that they are supposed to provide THINK that they are too GD cool for their own good. Let me put this into perspective. If you were to compare all of the education, training, hardware and software that we have brought to bear on this incursion versus the ‘enemy’, how is it that a bunch of guys in sandals and wool and cotton garments are able to have us chasing our tails and will soon, based upon our current political fair-weather friends, be leaving with our tails tucked between our legs? Perhaps it comes down to the fact that we think too highly of ourselves as evidence by the ‘cool guyness’ demonstrated in this landmark segment of 60 minutes? And as previously mentioned, 7-8 is the forgotten foundation for Infantry operations. If you can’t perform those tasks to perfection every time you go out perhaps it is because you ‘think’ that you are beyond those tried and trued methods. This is not just in Mil Ops mind you, ask anyone associated with HUMINT and they will tell you, if in fact they too are not too cool, that our ‘operators’ suck!!! I would suggest that even though the SF guys didn’t come off well at all they are just a cross-section of a larger problem. By they way, as previously mentioned, I hope that someone was able to see Mrs. Logan’s boob… Doesn’t she have a propensity for doing guys in war zones? That is what I have been lead to believe….

    Stay safe and sane Baba

    1. Dude the pecan pie situation has gone from bad to Nishta. Only when I can sneak into the DFAC in Eggers will I find a slice….if this keeps up I may have to head home. A man can only take so much abuse

  16. cripes…

    And here I’ve been calling for more SpecOps types in theater. That’s (the video) not what quite what I had in mind. Guess I was expecting/hoping for more BabbaTimBotMullahJohn types and less of the Rambonater types.

    Were those raids staged for the benefit of Mzz Logan’s (very nice) boobs or did they actually have a legit target for all three? Did her presence on those raids lead to an understandable lack of concentration? I mean I know when she’s on the screen I have a hard time concentrating…


  17. Hmmmm….I won’t enter into an argument about whether there was a ricochet or not but warning shots from a suppressed M4 can’t be heard inside of the cab of a pick-up truck with the engine running. Straight and simple no way, no how…also, Tim rightfully points out (as did I) that the security element was not properly located. It’s daylight so why not simply put a VCP (vehicle checkpoint) on the road with four to five Kandaks and an “operator”? A simple fire team in broad daylight at 300 meters from the target area blocking the road would have been sufficient to keep most threats at bay. Plus, I have to assume they had the element of surprise so the liklihood a suicide bomber would being launched against them is highly unlikely. Those types of missions are planned in advance with reconnaissance and practice runs normally done prior, so I doubt the threat from SBVIED warranted SSG Brent firing at the vehicle.

    Ultimately, I wasn’t there and don’t know all the details, but I do standby my point that some Public Affairs Officer in either USASOC or USSOCOM should have lost their job over this debacle. I have worked with numerous SOF units across different services and this “news piece” is not indicative of the men and women who risk their lives everyday outside the wire. Most act and portray themselves as professionals and display a great deal of humility and maturity about themselves. This 60 Minutes piece is embarrassing and a poor portrayal of what SOF does and how most members behave.

    Lara Logan does seem to have a penchant for SOF types in the combat zone, which is fine but again some idiot at USASOC/USSOCOM allowed this crap to be aired and thus tell the people of the world this is United States best….sad indeed…when Americans want to hear and see something positive about our military’s efforts in Afghanistan they are served up a load of machismo crap of two fratricides, a smoke session at the FOB, some more bungling around in the dark, and then capped off with the shooting of two civilian children. I am no Public Affairs officer but I would have wanted to see a more positive message cast to the public than this crap.

    Lastly, Tim is once again right on target. We are over eight years into this war and we are dealing with crap like escalation of force mishaps?!? Had these been contractors the public and our so-called civilian “leaders” would be screaming for blood. I could see Henry Waxman get a boner with more demands of federal prosecutions and hearings. However, this was a uniformed service member and there were no outcries or people demanding an explanation. This is hypocrisy and stupidity all rolled into one. The majority of contractors are mature, competent, and capable men/women who know the meaning of restraint who are all too often abandoned when the press starts to spin.

  18. Bilbo: I agree with everything you say; one minor quibble that “kandak” is the Afghan word for “battalion.” I’d think 4-5 ANA battalions to do a single VCP might be overkill. I emphasize “might.”

  19. Bruce,

    Thanks for that catch 🙂 I stand corrected…
    I did re-watch the piece again yesterday for some light entertainment. I particulary like the one-liners they are my favorite. If it weren’t cast as a serious news story I would have thought for a moment this whole thing was a joke. The sunglasses, the one liners, and the whole bravado made for some good entertainment. The injuries and fatalities are no laughing matter, but you still have to keep a sense of humor out there. Also, I wonder if any those boys were getting cozy with Ms. Logan? That would have made some real good FOB-style RUMINT…

  20. You know, watching this thing reminded me of something a good friend of mine (and former instructor at SWC) told me a few years back. He said that USASOC was so strained to meet their training quotas that they were having to pass guys that never would have made it a decade ago. Makes me wonder if SSG Brent was one of those marginal guys my buddy was referring to. But this problem is not unique to USASOC, I think it is indicative of the entire military at the moment. It seems that a combination of high ops tempo and leadership failures, coupled with the need to meet certain quotas has led to recruiting less than quality service members and major training shortfalls. And its this combination that leads to SF guys shooting unarmed civilians and the Big Army insisting on swaddling their soldiers in kevlar and armor. Tim or one of the other commenters to the blog said it best with something like “practice good tactics; good tactics are safe,” but when your Soldiers, Marines, etc. are not trained to a high enough standard, you must fall back on ridiculous force protection measures to guard against catastrophic numbers of casualties. Tim’s also right when he says that if we were fighting an enemy like the VC out here in the ‘Stan, we’d be getting our asses handed to us.

  21. I was truly embarrassed and shamed by what I saw in this segment. It is all the more painful reading the comments here, because many of them are spot-on. However, what you watched was not my experience at all. I was an SF medic on an ODA and did three deployments to Afghanistan with the same team. For the most part, my team was professional, committed and respectful of the Afghan people. Our direct action missions were performed using sound tactical judgment and conducted using professional behavior in the myriad situations that arise in Afghanistan, which, yes, included unfortunate events with civilians. As we could not always control these situations, we had to be prepared to mitigate them fairly and expeditiously. Working with Afghan security personnel can be trying, but respectfulness, patience and trust allowed us to conduct both successful training and operations with them. Finally, me and my fellow SF medics treated hundreds of Afghan civilians, often children, as we were usually the only medical personnel available in an area. These were civilians who had been hurt in accidents, fights or, less, frequently, fighting in their locales. In closing, what you witnessed on 60 Minutes was not my experience as an SF NCO in Afghanistan. I know many of my SF brothers will tell you the same.

  22. Wow… guys, generalize much? While I completely agree about all comments made about this particular individual team, I see a lot of stupid comments about SF in general. So I guess if I see some leg infantry unit doing some jackassery, I’m free to paint all leg grunts as knuckle heads. Or if I see bat boys playing stupid ranger games, I guess I can write off the whole regiment. Give me a break with the “these SF guys…”, “get a haircut…” bull shit. Some of the most assinine, tactically unsound bullshit I’ve seen were performed by men with sidewalls and ramrod-straight military bearing. While I’m groaning as much as the next guy at some of the clownery in the video, ITS ONE ODA.

  23. hahahahah…ive been saying this for a LOOOONG TIME. Thank god you said it so well. I used to live in panjwai.

  24. I was reminded of “3 Kings” where SF/MAJ George Clooney is banging that inbeded reporter who was screaming “Trained Warrior, Trained Warrior!!” and the CO walks in…

    I have seen ALOT of changes in the younger generation SOF who are now becoming TL’s and it is only getting worse.

    The professionalism is slowly being replaced with entitlement within many of these units.

  25. Aside from everything else said here, my irritation was Lara Logan’s sultry wannabe attempt of fascinating, powerful journalism. Reminded of a blonde version of Christine Amanapour (sp). Just can’t quite make the cut, stay home and spare us.

  26. Semper Fi BabaTim and Greetings to the rest of you.

    I just got turned onto this via UncleJimbos Blackfive and I have to say that I’m glad. Great stuff all of you, I say again, REPEAT FIRE MISSION over. As a former Recon Marine and Scout Sniper Platoon Sergeant from 77-97 I’m sure some of us have chewed the same dirt. I’m glad to read something else from some of you guys over there doing the deed. Keep up the good work and get home safe. I’d be there withya if I wasn’t so busted up from my time. One of the other blogs I like and have been following is One Marines view. If you have any other links to guys on the ground around you please clue me in so I can keep schooling these folks back home with your front line reports and perspectives. I see all the stuff on the blogroll but you’d know the best and I’d appreciate you opinion.

    As to the video the only things I would add to the above is that it’s hollywood guys. This would not be the first time (nor sadly the last) the media has left the great stories and excellent footage on the cutting room floors in favor of the most horrible anti military slant they can spin. Yeah, it’s a shame (and hopefully prosecutable under the UCMJ) that the Command and ODA gave em so much frigging help; but I’ve had it happen and I’m sure most of you have seen it too.

    NO. I’m not giving any of the amature BS we DID see a pass. Yes, alot of it was goofy or stupid. Much of it was WAY below acceptable. And the shooting; maybe criminal but we’ll probably never know for sure. The points made above about the standards of both Afgan and SF should be investigated. Voluteers? Absolutely some heads should roll; from the Officer who authorized the release, to the Communist Buttpirate Shitheads (CBS), to the gunslinger shooting first and asking questions later. Needless to say I have LONG been a 7.62 advocate.

    I thought to BE SF you HAD to have an ear for language? Hell I’m frigging pretty language impaired in my native tounge, but even I managed to learn enough, wherever I was, to get my points across. Ok, so “more beer”, “nice tits” and “how much” may not be SF material but it worked better than what I saw and heard on the video. Did they edit out any of the going native kinda stuff I had come to expect of the sneaky petes? I agree that there are more questions than answers and it don’t look good for the home team. Thing is; how can we help FIX that? Constructive critisisim means bringing answers along with the questions. We all can plainly see whats wrong, but the suggestions on how to unfuck it are to few.

    I can gurantee we DIDN’t see more than we did and suggest we keep that in mind as to the bigger picture. Ok, so this ODA is caught on tape doing some seriously bonehead shit, the media exploited it, and the command involved either let themselves get screwed or need relieved. To be perfectly honest I prolly did and said some of the same shit when I was young, dumb and full of cum. I saw to much of this cowboyery across ALL the services and nobody seemed totally immune. Don’t try and BS a bullshitter that your service branch or unit NEVER had any of this kinda stuff. Even if you personally didn’t witness it, it does happen to one degree or another. So how bout giving the SF sucks or Marines rule shit a rest.

    IS this endemic? Not from what the guys over there I have talked to say but I’m all ears to hear your experiences. It’s a sad fact we ALL ALWAYS have our 10 percent. Maybe more, maybe less, in some outfits at some times, but on the whole my experience with the sister services SOF was pretty decent compared to that of other countries. I even saw some of the same things in the SAS and French Foreign Legion too. Much less of it and not to the levels exposed here but I heard things like it. Something about young men with lotsa training and combat stresses getting off the chain every now and again…I can’t confirm or deny.

    The last thing I wanted to point out is that I WILL NOT second guess you guys on the ground or armchair quarterback. You get to frigging much of that from DC to Joe couch potatoe. In fact, I’m doin all I can to combat that kinda behavior back here and have your backs. So, please, keep the live feeds coming so we can use your output as ‘real deal’ clubs to whack people over the heads with.

    Not only is what your doing here a boon to truth and justice but it’s great fun too… Nothing like listening to some liberal civilian puke ranting about shit he knows nothing about and smacking him across the face with “Well here’s what the guys who are THERE NOW are saying..” I’d wack em in the balls with it if their ole ladies didn’t have em at home in a jar. LOL

    One Shot, One kill.

    Headhunter out.

  27. I have been involved with SF in both the Army and Navy and this segment in no way reflects our dedication, training, and motivation acuratelly nor respectfully. I am very disappointed at the team members attitudes and professionalism.

    Scott: Amanpour is a terrible reporter. I had the pleasure of throwing out on her butt litterally when we were getting ready to doa raid in Haiti back in 94. Best feeling I had in a long time.

  28. S2: Not sure what she was like 15 years ago. I stand by my assessment as to her current performance.

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