Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross awarded for actions in Benghazi

My primary frustration with the administration with regards to the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi is the lies, obfuscation, and dissembling.  Many will point out various warning signs before the attack and Hilary Clinton’s failure to address them. That’s a sin, of course, but she is hardly unique in that error of judgment. No, the immediate response of her and Obama was to tout a patently absurd tale of an obscure  YouTube video inciting riots, as well as willfully conflating events in Cairo with those in Benghazi.

The enemy gets a vote. Had the administration been willing to offer a plausible explanation, I’d have been willing to believe it. Would anyone be surprised to learn the CIA and various special operations forces were involved in post-civil war Libya, doing whatever it was they were doing? I suspect they were trying to funnel arms to various Syrian rebel factions, but a cover story about rounding up MANPADS missiles or some such would have done nicely.

But no, the admin lied, and badly at that. Worse, they’ve been doubling down time and again, thereby dragging out the scandal.

We still have no idea what really happened on the ground there that terrible night. But we do know it was a fantastically fierce fight. Via the Washington Times Rowan Scarborough:

In a unique battlefield commendation, a Marine Corps member of Delta Force has been awarded the nation’s second highest military honor for coming to the defense of Americans last year at a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.

Delta Force, a counterterrorism unit in the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), has been thought of as a strictly Army outfit. But it does take on qualified “operators,” as they are called, from other services.

The Washington Times has reported that two Delta Force members were among a seven-person rescue team sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to Benghazi on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. Their mission: rescue diplomats, security personnel and CIA employees pinned down by terrorists about a mile from the U.S. diplomatic mission where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and aide Sean Smith were killed by al Qaeda-directed militants.

The Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross are second only to the Medal of Honor.  One indication of just how fierce the fight must have been is the rapidity with which the awards were made. In a time when some awards languish for years, these two were made in less than a year.  Reading between the lines, one might suspect JSOC is sending a message that they aren’t pleased with the administration.

The part about a Marine being in Delta is interesting, but not really surprising. Delta is pretty open about its recruiting. Every promotable Specialist/Corporal in the Army is invited to a briefing (usually held annually). Delta makes very clear that they are looking for people outside the traditional combat arms. Their thinking is that if you can manage to pass the screening, they can teach you everything you need to know about fighting. What they want is to leverage other skillsets people outside the Army’s infantry community can bring. Delta spends a lot of its time doing stuff that needs more than just shoot/move/communicate small unit skills. And given the small size of the Infantry relative to the size of the Army, why limit themselves in the potential pool of applicants? So it’s not terribly surprising they’re willing to look outside the Army itself for qualified bodies. We’re just curious who else they might have been willing to take on. We recall that the Navy SEALs invited a handful of Coast Guardsmen to take a shot at BUD/S.

At any event, hail to the unknown heroes who have been recognized by for their gallantry and valor. Perhaps some day, their tale can be told.

H/T to This Ain’t Hell who notes:

Even though we’ll never hear about the award from the real folks who earned them, I’m sure we’ll hear from the fifty or so phonies who will claim the awards in the next few years.

The Battle of Mogadishu

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu, where elements of the Army’s  3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta (“Delta’”,  160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and various supporting units staged a relatively small raid to seize high value targets in Mogadishu. What started as a small snatch and grab turned into a day long trial by fire that cost the lives of 18 Americans with another 80 wounded.

 

Michael Durant's helicopter (Super64) heading ...
Michael Durant’s helicopter (Super64) heading out over Mogadishu on October 3, 1993. Super64 was the second helicopter to crash on the Battle of Mogadishu. Ranger Mike Goodale rode on this helicopter before the battle erupted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two soldiers from Delta, MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shugart, would give their lives attempting to support CW3 Mike Durant. Their selfless sacrifice on behalf of a fellow soldier would see them awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

Many other soldiers would be decorated for heroism. Often lost in the discussion is the fact that the Rangers and Delta accomplished their mission. They inflicted overwhelming casualties upon hostile forces. They won the battle.

But the battle was of little strategic significance. A poorly conceived shift in strategy from a humanitarian mission to interceding in a civil war meant virtually no US action would have positive long term results.

The Battle of Mogadishu was a harbinger of future operations in built up areas of the Third World.  Following so soon upon the heels of the overwhelming victory of the US led coalition in Desert Storm, the loss of so many soldiers in a relatively small engagement was the first signal that in spite of our overwhelming technological edge, our enemies would also get a vote on the outcome of any engagement.

Daily Dose of Hoo-ah!

The Navy SEALs have been getting a lot of good press lately, between Act of Valor, rescuing hostages in Somalia, killing Bin Laden, and rescuing Americans held by pirates. Good for them.

But let’s not forget Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta, better known to the public as “Delta Force.”

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