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How much do we need to know?

October 24, 2017

If you watched the presser by General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Monday, one of the more striking take-aways was just how clueless the national press is about how the military works.

This is not World of Warcraft™, ladies and gentlemen.

Questions like “why did it take an hour for them to call for help” or “why wasn’t there air support” show the problem with never having served that besets public discourse about how things work in combat.

Granted, not every reporter came up with these inanities.  Some of them have been embedded with combat troops and they know better.

Still, enough did “speak stupid”  that you have to wonder where their brains were. One such question concerned why the widow of Sgt. Johnson was advised not to have an open casket or at least view the body.

If you have to ask that question…well, it was a firefight with enemies who routinely mutilate their victims.   Figure it out.

And in truth, if she had insisted, they would have acquiesced. She did nothing wrong by wanting to see for herself, maybe just to say goodbye in person, maybe just so the finality could sink in. But it’s likely better that she didn’t.

Some of the questions asked couldn’t be answered, for the simple reason that General Dunford wasn’t in Niger or involved in the ambush.  Some seemed to suggest incompetence on the part of either the soldiers or their superiors.

Once again, this was a real battle being fought with real bullets, not CGI and sound effects.

Like so much of what we see on from the MSM today, there was a self-serving gotcha tone, a rudeness and coarseness from the press that seemed far more about them, and much less about the event.

Interspersed within that was a quick rush by some members of the Senate to invoke plausible deniability. As noted previously, the deployment of troops to Africa was first reported to Congress by the Obama administration in 2013, and again based on reporting, the increase in troop numbers in the Niger area was communicated to Congress by the Trump administration in June of 2017.

Strangely, members of the House of Representatives not only knew, but knew the exact number as given to them at the time.

Perhaps if the good Senators spent less time grandstanding for the press and more time doing their jobs, they would not be so woefully ignorant.

That leads us back to the original question.

Should the press and the public know about every strategic decision and have the right to give or withhold their blessing upon those actions before they happen?

No.

From → op-ed

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