‘Act of Valor’ SEAL blasts Washington’s attempts to lower standards in ‘Damn Few’

Rorke Denver Damn-Few

Lieutenant Commander Rorke Denver was the former head of Basic and Advanced SEAL Training. He was one of the stars of a number one movie, “Act of Valor,” in which active-duty Navy SEALs gave Americans an inside look the world’s most elite fighting force. He is now the author of an illuminating book, “Damn Few,” which comes out February 19. And after its release, he’ll be known as the patriot who sounded the alarm on the Beltway political class’ efforts to lower the standards of arguably the greatest fighting force the world has ever known.

Since Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that combat roles would now be open to female soldiers, Pentagon brass has assured Americans that the standards of excellence expected by infantrymen and special operations forces would not be compromised. Those promises ring hollow, given that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Patrick Dempsey, talked out both sides of his mouth in an effort to alleviate fears during a press conference last week: “[If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?”

And that’s where the importance of Lt. Cmdr. Denver comes in. Speaking on the consequences of the success Navy SEALs had in Iraq and Afghanistan, the saving of Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama when he was taken hostage by Somali pirates, and of course the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, Lt. Commander Denver writes:

“The message as it was delivered from General Bryan “Doug” Brown, SOCOM’s commander, was simple: “You guys need to make ’em grow.”
Then an interesting thing happened.
The special-operations forces of the Army, Air Force, and Marines each produced projections of how their units could expand and how they would expand. Those units all expanded as promised. …
There was on notable exception: the SEAL teams. …
It didn’t take long, less than a year, for a fresh directive to find its way to the junior and senior SEAL leadership, this one considerably firmer in tone.
“That wasn’t a suggestion,” was the way it was heard on the ground. “We want more SEALs. You will get us more SEALs.” There was also an addendum to that, unstated by still perfectly clear: “And if you won’t, we will find new leaders who will.”

Lt. Cmdr. Denver’s first-hand experience should serve as a clarion call for anyone who cares about the safety of the American people. Pundits and politicians of all stripes — as well as Pentagon officials — claim that the integrity of our elite units will be maintained when it has already been attacked. “Damn Few” even details how at one point during Lt. Cmdr. Denver’s tenure on the SEAL’s Academic Review Board, candidates were getting “ten, eleven, and twelve opportunities to pass their tests.”

The mindset in Washington is that if teams of SEALs are so effective, the U.S. should simply double or triple or quadruple the numbers — but it doesn’t work that way. Why not just have all soldiers be SEALs while we’re at it? What Congress doesn’t get, and what “Damn Few” does an excellent job of demonstrating, is that it takes a very special, very rare kind of person to even want to try out for the challenge of becoming a SEAL. And then, only the best warriors have the mental and physical toughness to earn the coveted “SEAL Trident.”

Social engineers in Washington and the high-ranking Pentagon officials who want to curry favor with them are trying to turn the “damn few” into the “damn many.” Sadly, the concerns in Lt. Cmdr. Denver’s book may be a harbinger of things to come. At one point he writes of his time as an active-duty SEAL that “it was like being a member of an excellent fraternity, the greatest man club in the world. Maybe the last one.”

Inevitably, some women will have what it takes, physically and mentally, to become SEALs. But they shouldn’t earn that distinction with lower standards. It would be a shame if politicians who claim to act in the public’s interest decimated the one fighting force that consistently secures freedom and liberty around the world. “Damn Few” comes out February 19. For those who take national security seriously, it is a must-read.

Related: American Sniper Chris Kyle: Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account … of a great book

Apparently, the Pentagon isn’t happy with the release of ‘No Easy Day’. Possible national security issues aside — readers will be.

What does a member of SEAL Team 6 do after he’s killed the most wanted terrorist alive — the mastermind behind the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor? He does what anyone else would do: He goes to Taco Bell. By himself.

No Easy Day apparently has heads fuming at the Pentagon, and author Mark Owen might be persona non grata with his former teammates  (his real identity is known, but I’m still going to refrain from using it), but it’s a book that I’m glad he wrote. It’s a story that needed to be told, even if the timing of it could be called into question. And, while some of the information disclosed in the book is surprising, someone should remind the Navy SEALs that they were the ones who also worked with filmmakers on Act of Valor. Owen is most definitely one of the good guys.

There seems to be three factors that drove Owen to write the book. They are:

  1. To inspire other young men to become better than they knew they could ever be.
  2. To vent frustration over having to fight a war increasingly designed to protect the sensibilities of the politically correct civilian chattering class.
  3. To draw attention to politicians in Washington, D.C. who are much more of a threat to OPSEC than a retired SEAL.

As with other standout books by Navy SEALs, such as Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor or Chris Kyle’s American Sniper, where the words make the book worth its hardcover price is in the personal story — not the details of any specific mission. You care about Owen not because he’s a Navy SEAL, but because he’s a good person. You want to keep reading his story — not because he’s a badass — but because he embodies the a kind of honor, commitment, selflessness and love of country that seems endangered in modern America.

The forward says it all:

‘No Easy Day’ is the story of “the guys,” the human toll we pay, and the sacrifices we make to do this dirty job. This book is about a brotherhood that existed long before I joined and will be around long after I am gone.

My hope is one day a young man in junior high school will read it and become a SEAL, or at least live a life bigger than him. If that happens, the book is a success.

It only takes Owen a quick 299 pages to complete his mission. It’s hard to believe that any young man could read No Easy Day without having his patriotic passions stirred.

Since Owen is a smart guy, he also provided plenty of lessons for public policy makers. Case in point:

It felt like we were fighting the war with one hand and filling out paperwork with the other. When we brought back detainees, there was an additional two or three hours of paperwork. The first question a detainee at the base was always, “Were you abused?” An affirmative answer meant an investigation and paperwork. And the enemy had figured out the rules. …

On more recent deployments, they started hiding their weapons, knowing we couldn’t shoot them if they weren’t armed. The fighters knew the rules of engagement and figured they’d just work their way through the system and be back to their village in a few days.

It was frustrating. We knew what we were sacrificing at home; we were willing to give that up to do the job on our terms. As more rules were applied, it became harder to justify taking the risks to our lives. The job was becoming more about an exit strategy than doing the right thing tactically.

The best trained, best equipped, most-disciplined fighting force in the world is asked to go to war — provided it’s a politically correct war. Al Qaeda members sleep soundly in their beds (or caves or on floorboards) because they know they can take advantage of the rules of engagement. “Shoot, move, and communicate” has become, “shoot, move, and do ‘sensitive site exploitation’.” SEALs need to spend endless amounts of time on each mission documenting everything for the kind of person who sees any U.S. military action as an Abu Ghraib waiting to happen. It’s sad and sick, it’s going to come back to haunt us,  and it gets soldiers killed.

Mark Owen’s personality reminds me of a lot of the guys I once served with. He’s an intelligent guy, but he’s humble. He strives for perfection. He never gives up because failure isn’t an option. He’s a professional, and he most-certainly goes about his job with the ‘failure to prepare is preparing for failure’ mentality. He loves his country and has done amazing things for freedom and liberty. He’s a real-life hero, but at the end of the day he’s perfectly content … with Taco Bell. In short, he’s everything I’d like my future son to be.

I highly suggest No Easy Day.

Special Forces in Africa: World’s Dysfunctional Jihadist Centrifuge

U.S. Special Forces have boots on the ground in Africa. Good. Someone has to keep an eye on the Dysfunction Junctions of the world.

There’s been a smattering of news coverage over the contingent of Special Forces troops and advisers sent to Africa in recent days. While the size of the group heading to that region is (perhaps) slightly larger than we might expect, it really should not come as any surprise that American warriors have boots on the ground. There are places in the world that act as dysfunctional jihadist centrifuges, set to send their terrorist bacteria flying in the civilized world’s direction—someone has to be there to keep an eye on the insanity and pick off radical Islamic particles from time to time.

But the U.S. has come back [to Africa], using special forces advisers, drones and tens of millions of dollars in military aid to combat a growing and multifaceted security threat. This time the United States is playing a less obtrusive role but is focusing once again on Somalia…

The Pentagon is paying a lot more attention to Africa than in years past, analysts say. A hardline Islamist group in Nigeria, Boko Haram, bombed the U.N. headquarters in the capital in August, killing 23 people. A Nigerian man tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. The flight was saved only because of a malfunction with explosives the bomber had carried from Lagos, Nigeria. An al-Qaida group known as AQIM that operates in the west and north of Africa kidnaps foreigners, making vast tracts no-go areas.

And, most worrisome to the United States, an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia has recruited dozens of Americans, most of them of Somali descent.

As detailed in previous posts, Barack Obama has gone eerily silent on the Bush-blather-blame-game in regards to the creation of terrorists. Why? He gets the national security briefings now, knows what we’re up against, and has acted (in many instances), accordingly. The Secret Wars aren’t so secret, but they must go on anyway.

Question: How do you “mind your own business” (to echo Ron Paul) and keep the nation secure when so-called “sovereign” countries have large swathes of lawless, ungovernable areas that serve as forward-operating bases for the world’s terrorists? You can’t. The only responsible thing to do is to use prudence as you deploy time, money, and resources into such regions.

Reading about Special Forces troop deployments to Africa shouldn’t keep you up at night; it should serve as a replacement for your nighttime sleep aid.

Stallone, Barack Obama, Marvel Comics and the Very Real Secret War.

Stallone rocks. Why? Because unlike most of Hollywood, he knows the world has some pretty scary characters in it.

Do I write a post about Stallone’s new flick The Expendables, or do I cover the Obama administration’s Secret War tactics in the War on Terror? How about…both!

In the new trailer The Expendables, Stallone’s voiceover begins:

“We are the shadows…and the smoke in your eyes. We are the ghosts…that hide in the night.”

What does this mean? It means that the world is a dangerous place, and sometimes we need people to go in an clean up messes the civilized world would like to pretend don’t exist. Think the BP oil spill is a threat to humanity? Okay. But oily terrorists operating in lawless regions around the world can also cause messy explosions, gushers (of blood) on city streets, and black-charred coatings where beautiful things used to stand…

Sometimes, someone like George Bush comes around and is willing to openly talk

about the world’s scum buckets and dirt bags who’d like nothing better than to make Americans take dirt naps in densely populated urban areas. And people get angry, because if you acknowledge how susceptible free societies are to jihad nuts with a desire to return to the dark ages…it means you have a lot of tough decisions to make.

Even liberal writers like Brian Michael Bendis seem to know (really, really, deep down) that we live in a world where a Secret War or two or three or more…is being waged between competing visions for humanity’s future. The only problem is, when guys like George W. Bush are in office, liberal comic book writers come up with weird Bush-Gitmo allegories that inadvertently make the case for conservatism!

Can someone tell me when Brian Michael Bendis is going to lampoon Barack Obama in the comics for the very real “Secret War” that he’s apparently taken to another level? Don’t hold your breath:

Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials..Obama, one senior military official said, has allowed “things that the previous administration did not.”

How many young voters pulled the lever for Barack Obama under the liberal auspices that we can live in harmony with jihadi head choppers if we just try really hard to “understand” and “reach” them? (My favorite is Richard Gere’s infamous post-9/11 suggestion that guys like Osama Bin Laden just need to be loved.)

It’s all a lie. The world is a dangerous place. Evil exists, despite what the Neal Gabler moral relativist Mole Men tell you. And it’s better to be honest and frank about that, because otherwise you create bizarre realities where “peace activists” (who try to slice through your liver with gigantor-knives when their cargo is about to be inspected) can play the victim-card. You also have scenarios play out where young people say, “Umm…what happened to all that hopeandchange?” (Yes, that’s one word):

The Obama administration has rejected the constitutional executive authority claimed by Bush and has based its lethal operations on the authority Congress gave the president in 2001 to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” he determines “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the Sept. 11 attacks.

Many of those currently being targeted, Bellinger said, “particularly in places outside Afghanistan,” had nothing to do with the 2001 attacks.

Weren’t there a lot of Democrats that voted for that? Hmmm. Nevermind.

The hopeandchange never materialized because it was never there. I bet the kiddies are feeling pretty numb, right now. It’s okay Thunder Kiss, conservatism will welcome you with open arms when the reality hits that it’s a strange, strange world (incompatible with “planned” economies and Youtube Diplomacy).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Stallone trailer to watch.

Hey Bendis, do you mind telling me when you’re going to roast Barack Obama for his Secret War? Want to weigh in, Marvel? Didn’t think so. Hypocrites. Deep down, all of these guys are furious that George W. Bush is going to be largely vindicated.