Riding to work Monday I learned that to become a member of Seal Team 6 requires at least 5 years of training over and above all the training a person has already received to become a capable member of the military, and that even people who have already become Seals frequently wash out of the program which leads to Team 6 qualification. There were also stories available everywhere concerning the remarkable individuals who made up the group killed in the Chinook crash--people who knew them told of their leadership qualities, their focus and desire. Some wanted to be Seals from early childhood. All seemed to be exemplary Americans.
I have to wonder why in the world anyone thought it was a good idea to pack twenty-two of these highly skilled "resources" into a closely packed target and run them into enemy territory? This seem like a fundamental mistake of all combat--never bunch up, because a group is a bigger and better target. Read Captain Dick Winters' story in Holland, in World War II. He killed some fifty German soldiers with a rifle because they huddled together in a small group. Isn't this simply basic in our high-tech modern military? And worse, is this a symptom of the too many terribly long years our people have been at this Afganistan War? A question for later on I guess, and another feature of our Presidential inertia, which may in historical terms be the overarching feature of the Obama years.
And as a minor footnote--and because I've given Brad Keslowski a hard time for appropriating the American flag in his post race celebrations--cudos to his guts last weekend, and a tip of the hat to his obvious sincerity concerning the loss of the Seals. Maybe we should all see his flag-waving as a genuine salute to the young soldiers who labor on, and thank him for reminding us that their labor continues, even in obscurity. As in all war, it seems like the gruesome absurdity is always ignored at the start, but becomes more and more apparent as time passes. I do not understand why we (and the rest of humankind) do not learn this age-old lesson, which is written in blood across the sky. Mr. Bush's shocking amnesia was one of his most remarkable features to me, back when he cranked up these two wars, a gigantic and open-ended commitment in response to Mr. bin Laden's audacious political theatre of blood. Historical perspective vanished on September 12, 2001. Vietnam was no more, not to mention Inchon, Iwo Jima, Gallipoli, Paschendale. Oh, I forgot. Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg.
The deal is, courage and valor and bravery are tragically honorable human qualities, and perhaps the more so for being so frequently enlisted in the dimmest of larger causes. Reckon we'll ever manage to elect politicians who get this? It seems more and more doubtful, doesn't it. Even after eight years of the obvious, the current crop trudge on and on, in the same bloody footsteps. Like my old fiddling buddy says, "we're just primates muddling through." There's way too much wasted in our American adventure.