January 22, 2007
Avenging Black Hawk Down
Details are filtering out on the recent Ethiopian blitzkrieg to purge war-torn Somalia from the Al Qaeda inspired Islamic Courts. It is now apparent American forces were heavily involved, including Air Force gunships and helicopters, along with the CIA, Special Forces, and US Marines. All this evokes the earlier Afghanistan campaign, which opened Americaâ€™s counterattack against the perpetrators of September 11, 2001.
The fighting in East Africa also brings to mind an earlier ignominious defeat there for US troops. In 1993, the hunt for a rogue Somali warlord led to the deaths of 18 American soldiers, and an embarrassing withdrawal as ordered by then President Bill Clinton. With the abandonment of another needy ally in the face of American casualties, Al Qaeda head Osama Bin Laden saw an opportunity to expand his power by forcing the West out of the Middle East.
Before 9/11, it would have been unthinkable to return to a nation we have previously deserted to anarchy. Of course, time and again President Bush has proven an unconventional leader. After the devastating attacks on the Worldâ€™s Trade Center, and suicide attack on the Pentagon, rather than another retreat from terror Bush chose to raise the stakes. In two dramatic military operations, our brave and brilliant troops have defied conventions and liberated 50 million people from Radical Islam, meanwhile transplanting Western style democracy in the terrorist heartland.
Thinking America preoccupied with the ongoing War in Iraq, Al Qaeda felt it would have little difficulty taking over in Somalia. The mistake the radical Islamic Courts made was declaring jihad on the ancient and mostly Christian Ethiopia. Backed by the above-mentioned US forces, and with the invitation of the recently deposed legal government, Ethiopian troops numbering 5000 made short work of the newly installed terrorist regime.
Somalia and Afghanistan should be the template for all future US Wars, the kind former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would have preferred to fight. Using friendly native forces as ground troops, these would be backed up by American Special Forces, the latter who can call down unstoppable airpower. The bombers will attack enemy tanks, artillery, and other defenses, opening gaps for our allies to pour through. This way, US causalities would be minimized with proxy nations feeling they have a greater stake in their own liberation.
Another lesson here is to never leave an ally in a vacuum, from which extremist ideals can breed. We were lucky this time to have effective military support from the Ethiopians. Where again would we find such friends as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, plus the newborn democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan, were we to forsake them to the weakened and increasingly desperate Al Qaeda?
My blog is at newwars.blogspot.com ### Mike Burleson is a regular columnist with Sea Classics magazine and an advocate of Military Reform. He resides in historic Charleston, SC. http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/honestnews/ http://newwars.blogspot.com/