Monday, October 20, 2008


I watched a documentary this morning about the incident in Mogadishu, commonly known in America as the Blackhawk Down incident. This was not the Hollywood version, but rather a documentary made from interviews and recreations involving the soldiers themselves.

To recap, the US was engaged in a United Nations mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, in an attempt to end a bloody civil war where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. You can take a wild guess as to whether any Islamic factions were at the core of the fighting. Somalia was the country that earned notoriety years ago for a widespread famine, made famous by the late comedian Sam Kineson, who yelled at audiences that "plants don't grow in sand."

International relief efforts were being stopped by local militias. Food and medicine were being sold to neighboring countries in exchange for weapons. This is what spurred the UN into action.

A meeting was held at a house of tribal leaders in an attempt to broker a truce. The US received bad intelligence (does this sound familiar?) and the house and all its occupants were bombed to kingdom come. A Blackhawk helicopter flying low over the city was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade, then another one was shot down that came in support of a rescue effort for the survivors. The Somalis were, as a city, outraged, with women and children firing weapons at the besieged US Rangers and Delta Force Army units, who had barricaded themselves in four connecting houses in the city center.

A small international force was slowly assembled outside the city, numbering just over 100 troops. They made their way into the hornets nest at night, protected by several armored personnel carriers (tanks without cannons) and waited there for the survivors. Unfortunately, some American forces were being held hostage, and were unable to make their way to the rescue vehicles.

Before dusk, the vehicles pulled out, leaving behind numerous American troops. Some ran along behind the convoy, yelling "Wait! Wait!" as they were fired on from behind. President Clinton gave explicit orders to the Chief of Staff at the Pentagon NOT to remount another rescue mission. 18 brave men lost their lives in this failed mission. The next day videotape was released to the world showing bodies of American soldiers being dragged through the streets, spat upon, and degraded.

Here is the deal. I have mentioned this before. When you say the word "war," it means total commitment. Not until 18 soldiers die, and not until 4,000 troops die. Those men should not have been left behind. The commander in chief needs to have the wherewithal, the courage, the fortitude, the tenacity, to see a war through to its end, with the only acceptable result as victory. Our next president also needs the wisdom to make choices on when and where to commit our troops.

Freedom is never free. Our freedom comes with a price. We are in a war right now. You and I. Right here. Right now. Every day. But we don't even see or recognize it.

The war I speak of is spiritual. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12 "The believers continued to devote themselves to what the apostles were teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to times of prayer." Acts 2:42

Is the war we are engaged in recognized in your life? You are on the front lines, like it or not.

armchair coach
amateur historian


kwolph said...

Completely agree that freedom is never free and that war is a commitment that must be thoughly examined before actions are taken. I work with Survivor Corps and we make it our mission to unite survivors of war with each other to exchange stories and let out the emotions that dwell in high stress situations such as these. It is tragic that situations like the Blackhawk Down incident clearly only have losers. The documentary is a start to recoginizing the power of war during that time but I hope the soldiers involved find the support they need to continue their commitment to the US government.

John M. B. said...